BIBLE: Divine inspiration

Making your unique business plan blossom

It's all very well having ice-cold business skills and an instinct for thwarting the opposition, but to get anywhere in the Internet start-up game, the one thing you need is a spot of divine inspiration.

Britain's Internet entrepreneurs seem to find their inspiration in a variety of different places and go through a contrasting array of experiences in order to get off the ground.

James Oliver, one of the founders of lastorders.com , a Web site that has truly tapped into the British psyche by offering discount booze, illustrates this point.

"We found it very easy," he says. "Seven months ago we were toying with the idea of making an awful lot of money over a beer and realised we had to come up with something pretty snappy. We went to see some friendly finance and secured the money we needed over lunch."

Despite Oliver's nonchalant account of starting up Lastorders.com, he displays an awareness of the business world as well as the sort of connections that a lot of would-be entrepreneurs would kill for.

"We knew we had an idea that no-one had done before and that was very fresh, and we did," he adds. "We also pretty much know everyone in the Industry and we spoke to Martha who founded lastminute.com before we got started. We know a lot of investors and have spoken to all the producers in the brewing industry."

Although you undoubtedly need some business sense, there are those who have come from a far more practical angle in thinking up their ideas. Webbaby.co.uk is an all-in-one portal for those who've just heard the patter of tiny feet. Co-founder David Hendon says that he and Kirsty Oliver dreamt-up the concept for the site while Oliver was herself on maternity leave and trying to find information on the Web.

"Kirsty and I trained as accountants but the idea for Webbaby.co.uk came to us when she was actually on maternity leave. It wasn't that we just wanted to join the Internet bandwagon, it was very much a practical thing."

Hendon also reveals perhaps the secret to dreaming up an idea that is guaranteed to work. He says, "You have to have deep content in areas that are obsessions and babies are certainly that. Kirsty says that she still wants to know everything about everything to do with babies."

Agrees with James Oliver's assertion that to be a success online an idea has to feasible offline as well, Hendon reveals that he actually plans to expand Webbaby.co.uk to the world outside the Web. "Our long term plan is to take this offline as well. The whole crossover market needs to be shaken up. We plan to do clothing and cafes for mothers."

An Internet entrepreneur with a very different background is Richard Downs, founder of skiing accommodation Web site, Iglu.com . Downs had the archetypal academic background studying electronic commerce at the London Business School and even spent a year researching the topic in Silicon Valley.

Despite all this Downs admits that he knew he had to come up with an idea that was red-hot. "Originally I thought of just renting property online. This seemed quite good, but then I realised that renting skiing property was the perfect little cottage industry for the Internet. The dislocation between consumers and suppliers is important. Essentially though, the idea has been tweaked to death."

Inspiring confidence that your idea will actually come to fruition in a business environment is also vital according to Downs. He adds, "We were lucky enough to win a couple of awards for our business plan. It's not easy to come up with a unique and value added business plan, and one of the hardest things is actually coming up with a domain name that hasn't been taken."

Take me back to the Startups Bible home page .

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