Developing PistonHeads and MotorMutt has taught me an immense amount about starting a business and the many challenges of successfully doing business online. My experiments since then have also demonstrated further to me what works and more importantly what doesn't.
Whilst PH has become an enormous success, it wasn't a smooth ride. Plenty of dead ends had to be explored in order to work out just how to thrive online. That said, sadly there are no silver bullets!
I'm a great believer in not throwing money at solutions. The more innovative and creative you can be, the more likely you are to succeed - and you'll save yourself a lot of worry and risk. PistonHeads was totally 'bootstrapped' as a project and had to drag itself up through creative thinking rather than hard cash.
If you're starting an online business and would like some input from me then please drop me a line. If you're after bit of advice over email or insist on doing it over sticky buns then please get in touch. I'd be happy and interested to help (currently based in Gloucestershire but am in London from time to time).
I've talked to and met dozens of people about their ideas over the last few years and have been pleased to see a number of them come to fruition.