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The Independent Online

Internet Made Easy

The internet has done much to fuel the growth in small businesses. It has made it much easier and cheaper to start a business and has produced many opportunities.

The problem is that – as is shown by countless examples over the past few years – it is perhaps even more difficult to make money from internet businesses than it is from more traditional ones.

In “Net Profit: How To Succeed in Digital Business (John Wiley & Sons, £14.99), experienced internet entrepreneur David Soskin aims to help would-be internet entrepreneurs and investors through the traps and pitfalls by explaining such matters as how to convert brilliant ideas into money-producing ventures, how to obtain the necessary funding and how to go about finding appropriate colleagues and investors.

Self-help on payments

More than half of British small and medium-sized businesses do not anticipate any assistance from the Government in tackling the late payments issue, and that the number of companies feeling the impact of late payments has fallen by 20 per cent in just six months, according to research by Bacs, the organisation that organises bank payments.

Mike Hutchinson, head of marketing at Bacs, believes this is largely due to the individual companies’ efforts and says: “It’s extremely heartening to see that there are now many companies making great strides to help themselves beat the late payments cycle, by sharpening up their billing and credit control procedures.”

However, there are still a massive 769,000 companies effected by late payments and Bacs’ research shows that the total amount of money owed to these companies is now nearly a third more than it was six months ago, with £24.6bn in total now owed to businesses across Britain.

Fruit processor wins

A scheme to set up a rural supply and processing network for fresh apricots in the Ladakh region of India is the winner of the latest annual Oxford International Youth Business Development Competition. In the final of the contest, held at Oxford University’s Said Business School earlier this month (sept), Organic Fresh saw off competition from an information and entertainment company in Ghana and two other projects in India – a consumer-focused website called Go-Geo and a programme that delivers medical expertise via satellite under the title Healthcare without Borders.

The 2010 contest attracted 130 entries from teams of young entrepreneurs around the world and 20 of these received mentoring from current Oxford MBA students in order to develop their plans. The winner was chosen by a judging panel on the basis of impact, viability and the ability to put the plan into action.