PracticePeople In PracticeLeader – Act upon early signs of promise.

Leader - Act upon early signs of promise.

Next week's flotation of lastminute.com may prove a turning point in the internet revolution. As the most glamorous brand name of all the British web start-ups, it will emerge either as a guiding light or a cautionary tale for those that follow.

But whatever its future – or, for that matter, wherever you stand on the hype-versus-reality argument when it comes to the vast sums surrounding web start-ups – the business playing field has changed. The e-volution offers accountants perhaps their best chance to show publicly they are more than the number crunchers that outdated stereotype would like them to remain.

Just last week, three start-ups attracted FDs from established companies: Quaker Oats, Scottish biochemicals firm Axis-Shield and textile group Worthington lost out to, respectively, Hemscott.NET, hotel internet venture Articulate Solutions and Health-Media.Net.

In these and other cases, accountants are being sought to bring sound business sense to a sector where sometimes it seems profile matters more than profit. They are being offered the opportunity to set the ground rules – something other business professionals would envy.

And it is not just individuals who can and should benefit. This week sees the English ICA relaunch Webtrust, a ‘seal of approval’ for websites that meet strict conditions of good business practice.

But take nothing for granted. Like the whole dot.com sector itself, let’s hope these early signs of promise are acted upon.

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