Simon Cowell is, of course, the real winner of The X Factor in spite of the deserved win last night of 18-year-old Joe McElderry.  Even though Joe has been awarded a £1m prize contract, Simon Cowell’s company, Syco, is likely to make much, much more. Whatever you might think about Mr Cowell or his TV programmes, there is little doubt he is a master marketeer. Indeed, it is likely that without him the troubled ITV would have already gone bust. And whatever you might think about the acts that make it through to the finals of The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell is clearly very good at spotting artistes that will be popular.

Joe McElderry winner of The X Factor 2009Sure, he has had some failures, but his successes outweigh them. Take a look at the current chart and you can see that Simon Cowell is responsible for five of today’s Top 30 hits. That’s not a bad – how might you call it – a “hit rate”? Now, we hear that Mr Cowell wants to turn his attention to other kind of “talent shows” including one for politicians. In an interview on tonight’s BBC Newsnight Simon Cowell reveals his desire for a political show in the run-up to next year’s General Election.

So, could Simon Cowell turn his own talents to judging websites? And if he did, would yours come up to scratch? Would you get the Simon Cowell vote of approval or would you receive a tirade of abuse? How confident is your business at putting itself up in front of a vocal judge like Simon Cowell?

Let’s take a look at what Simon Cowell appears to hold dear. He likes people who are committed to what they do and who have a desire for achievement. He likes people who put in hard work and who bounce back in spite of criticism. He likes people who don’t give up and who always want to improve, grow and learn. He dislikes people who appear to think they have a God-given right to success or who don’t want to put in any hard work.

So, the chances are, the vast majority of websites would fail the “Simon Cowell Test”. Few website owners put in much hard work on their pages. They construct a site and then essentially forget about it, leaving it as though it were some lifeless brochure. Few website owners strive to develop themselves in terms of the web; the frequent refrain is “I leave that to my website designer”. Few website owners have a real desire to achieve true online success, remaining happy that they simply have a well-designed site that pleases them.

If you want to succeed online in the measure that Simon Cowell achieves in the music industry here’s what you need to do.

Firstly, you need to commit yourself to a never-ceasing desire to improve your website and your understanding of the Internet. You need to constantly learn, discover new things and adapt to the changing environment. Online success is not a part-time occupation.

Secondly, you will have to work hard. No longer can you simply dump your rough ideas on a web designer, approve their pages and then let the website wander off on its own down the information superhighway. Instead, your website has to become central to your business with your daily involvement.

And finally, rather than arguing with your critics you simply have to bounce back, stronger and more determined than ever to succeed.

In other words, success on the web is much the same as in the music industry. You need to be totally and completely committed to your website and treat it like a developing child in whom you engage completely and totally. You also need the personal desire to succeed and to work hard in improving everything you do online. Only a very few online businesses actually behave like this – and perhaps that’s why only a tiny proportion of businesses online really, truly succeed. Most of them would fail the Simon Cowell Website X Factor. How would you do?

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