I'm not a business person, I don't have the apptitude for it, but my real fear about these things, which is completely absent in paul's article, is the role that having well-positioned contacts/friends plays, and the importance of being chummy with heavily networked people.
I guess you can say I AM a businessman (sort of anyway), and my experiences are that the contacts are not so much needed as useful. It is kind of like most things in this world. You can do it with very little issue on your own, but it is MUCH easier with the network. People naturally gravitate toward certain people: 1) People that have similar interests, 2) People that have similar goals, & 3) People they know. Frequently it is a combination of all three. That natural gravitation is what makes networks work and why they make business much easier.
Note, I left one thing out that will motivate people to do business with you; and that is why the network is not absolutely necessary. That one last thing is you have something they need (or perceive to need). With competition, it is difficult to provide that perception when their network of friends, relative, etc. do not know or agree with it; hence the networking making things easier. However, this is why you can make it work without the network.
Oh yeah, and by providing the goods or services your business provides, you are building a network whether you want to or not
Enough on that.... back to starting to read the article. (I suppose I should have done that before commenting