The word Internet no longer appears in the first sentence -- or even in the executive summary -- of every other new business plan. But thumb through a few pages, and it'll turn up. Maybe in the section on marketing. Or customer relations. Or procurement. That change in emphasis bespeaks a change in attitude. Founders who a few years ago gazed upon the Web and thought "What a great place to start a business" now dream of starting a business that -- oh, by the way -- uses the Web.
The start-up category of Inc's Web Awards honors companies that have most effectively used the technology in their launch. These entrepreneurs don't view their businesses as strict dot-coms: many disparage the term. Yet all insist that their companies wouldn't exist without the Net.
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan