Sunday, November 22, 2009

Six Keys to a Great Internet Business

Only 1 in about 5,000 attempts at building websites results in a successful business (more on these stats in following posts). At our PubCon keynote I outlined the five primary factors that determine the winners:

1. Focus
2. Uniqueness
3. Monetizability
4. Content
5. Community

And the transcendent ingredient:
6. Passion

I'll begin to break these down:

Target one niche or application (at least to start). The more precise the better. Examples: not travel, but cruises. Not hobbies, but scrapbooking. Not students, but colleges (think of Facebok's start). Focus forces you to understand the target better and to build better solutions. Win a single type of audience, only then expand.

At the onset, the business should either be unique or do something much better than everyone else. Over time, competition tries to replicate the success of others, but the best businesses preserve aspects of their uniqueness by continuing to innovate (like Amazon).

Follow the money trails, the commercial trails. Audience alone is sometimes not enough. Not all audiences monetize very well.

Deliver the highest quality content to your target audience. It's the most efficient way to build brands.

Try to build strong community around your site. Good content gets much better when a community interects with it.


Passion is the secret weapon. Beating the competition requires intense energy, perseverance, discipline, and ambition-- attributes that are driven by passion.

I'll have more to say about these ingredients, especially passion, in subsequent posts.

PubCon Las Vegas Keynote, Nov 12, 2009. Photo thanks to Dave Dugdale.


  1. Bob,

    This was a great presentation at Pubcon. It's amazing how many people think an internet business is sitting at home in your pajamas while your computer just spits out money.

  2. Thanks for the great post, Bob. I'm fascinated by the idea that delivering high quality content is "the most efficient way to build brands."

    Your talk at PubCon inspired us to build a layer of content pages at Penguin Magic called "Penguin Guides".. for example, "The Penguin Guide to Cheating at Poker". We're building about a hundred of these guides. We're hoping they'll function as alternative navigation... almost like having an expert guide you around the site.

  3. Quite accurate - except I would take some exception to the #3 item.
    Even google had no idea of what it was going to do for money...Yahoo also.
    The same is true for many, if not most, of the real Web Sites that Matter.
    On the other hand, sites created with money strongly in mind tend to either fail (with a big waste of cash) or stay in the red.

    So to quote a phrase from a dozen years ago, it's all about eyeballs. Everything else will follow.

    We can amend that by saying trust figures in big also.