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Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition by Michael A. Stelzner

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The Internet as the Great Paralyzer

The Web has changed business forever. It's the kind of change that has really scared established companies. And rightly so! Could this great equalizer also be the demise of businesses?

The idea of selling direct to consumers anywhere in the world has been transformative. It didn't just put travel agents, department stores, and newspapers out of business. It also allowed average Joes like us to compete. All of a sudden a good idea could gain traction and grow.

Businesses like Amazon and eBay became billion-dollar enterprises. Any information on any topic could be found instantly. And rich knowledge was available from anywhere—home, office, car, or the beach. Crazy ideas, like putting people's faces up on a Web site and enabling friends to connect, have brought people together by the hundreds of millions.

But for every Internet success story, there are a million ideas that never come to fruition. The success of the Web also prevents many people from taking action.

For example, back in the mid-1990s, I owned a creative services agency. We helped high-tech businesses look good. Our business was booming—until the day the tech market crashed. We lost a lot of business. I was faced with the ugly and unfamiliar face of change.

I decided to focus my business in a new area. I settled in on writing white papers (persuasive documents that help people make decisions). To my shock and horror, I discovered I was not the first agency to specialize in white papers. ...

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