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Family Businesses Use the Web--and Common Sense

Many have suggested that family businesses lack a place in the new internet economy. Indeed, family firms participated little in the late "e-bubble" of venture capital and public equity markets supporting absurd valuations of untested concepts.

Now that the internet is truly getting down to business and the smoke is clearing, a more realistic appraisal of how the internet can be used as a tool to build profits shows that family businesses are much involved. A Business Week article (March 19) focused on "mini-dots," small businesses using the Web to extend their reach in the marketplace, usually as an extension of an existing business. Described as "small, frugal, and unflashy," Business Week discovered that "a surprising group of Web survivors is emerging unscathed: small businesses ... with just a handful of employees and annual sales of $5 million or less, these intrepid independents are doing what almost none of their venture capital-funded brethren could--make money online."

"They're teaching their bigger rivals a thing or two," writes Business Week's Arlene Weintraub, "including the value of common sense."

A new formula is emerging for Web-based success. Focus on your specific niche. Spend as little as possible. Use the net to save money. Band together for greater clout. Keep expectations in perspective. Put simply, family businesses are doing business as usual but with a new tool that offers the potential to enhance productivity while producing additional market reach through a new sales channel.

In short, the internet is a great tool for family businesses, and family businesses are often a perfect environment in which to put the internet to profitable use.




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