Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

You Can Apply for These Small Business Loans with Bad Credit

Monday, June 27th, 2016

You Can Apply for These Small Business Loans with Bad Credit

Small business owners are often turned away by lenders when they have poor credit. That’s because a bad credit score implies you have not managed your finances properly in the past.

Luckily, it’s possible to secure small business loans with poor credit.

A number of alternative lenders are offering loan solutions for bad credit today. These lenders place more importance on the operating history and strength of your business. In other words, they do not focus solely on your credit score when they consider your loan application.

Here are some loans for bad credit options worth exploring.

Small Business Loans with Bad Credit

Kabbage

The best thing about Kabbage is that it does not require a minimum credit score to qualify. It does, however, check your credit history. If you are looking for some short-term working capital, Kabbage is worth trying. You can borrow from its line of credit and repay on an as-needed basis.

To qualify, you should have minimum annual revenue of $50,000 and have been in business for at least a year. You must also have a business checking account, bookkeeping software or an online payment platform.

It takes only a few minutes to complete the online application process and if approved you can get funds in just a couple of days.

Fundbox

Fundbox does not have a minimum credit score or minimum annual revenue requirement. Instead, it takes the value of your invoices and ability to repay the loan into consideration.

Funding is prompt and takes up to just three business days.

To qualify, you must use bookkeeping software or online accounting that can link to Fundbox and have a minimum of six months’ activity in one of these software applications.

OnDeck

OnDeck offers both term loans and lines of credit. You can go for the term loan if you are looking for some quick cash to expand. If you want to manage your cash flow and working capital, a line of credit is your best option.

To qualify for OnDeck’s term loan, you must have a personal credit score of 500 or higher. For a line of credit, your personal credit score should be at least 600.

Once you complete the online application process, you’ll get a decision within a few minutes and funding as soon as the following day.

Interestingly, OnDeck reports your payment activity to the three credit bureaus, which means paying off your loan on time can boost your credit score.

BlueVine

If you lack collateral, have poor credit and unpaid invoices, you may consider BlueVine. The lender offers an advance based on the value of your invoices. Approval is based on the strength of your cash flow and the financial strength of your debtors.

You do need to have a personal credit score of 530 or more to qualify. Also you should have at least $120,000 in annual revenue and have been in business for at least three months.

StreetShares

If you have a new business, StreetShares is a good option to explore. The lender requires a minimum of one year in business and $25,000 in annual revenue. But even if you have been in business for only six months and you can qualify with $100,000 in revenue.

You need to have a minimum personal credit score of 600 or more and a strong cash flow to be eligible.

Dealstruck

Dealstruck is a good option if you are looking for different loan products. The lender offers a term loan for expansion, an asset-based line of credit for businesses with unpaid invoices and an inventory line of credit for businesses that have recurring inventory purchase requirements.

To qualify, you need to have a minimum credit score of 600, although company CEO Ethan Senturia has said that the company accepts scores in the 500 range. You also need at least $150,000 in annual revenue and need to have been in business for at least a year.

A bad credit score may create problems for you when you try securing funds for your business, but it shouldn’t stop you from exploring options. You need to understand your needs and look for options that meet your requirements.

Credit Score Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “You Can Apply for These Small Business Loans with Bad Credit” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Boost Your Productivity by – Standing While Working?

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Boost Your Productivity by - Standing While Working?

Looking to boost your productivity at work? The answer may be simpler than you think. In fact, a recent study by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health found that simply standing at your desk can have a huge impact on productivity.

Standing While Working Shown to Increase Productivity

The university’s researchers studied the productivity differences between two groups of employees working at call centers. The employees who had the ability to raise or lower their desks as they pleased throughout the day were about 46 percent more productive than those employees who only had traditional seated desks.

That doesn’t mean those workers have to stand at their desks all day. The study found that those with stand capable desks sat for about 1.6 hours less per day than the workers who only had regular seated desks. So simply having the option to stand on occasion made that much of a difference.

In addition, the study found that those with the ability to stand at their desks experienced decreased body discomfort over the six-month period of the study. However, the study’s authors did not that many of the results were not immediate. But over time, they did become noticeable.

So as a business owner, what this means is that it might be time to rethink the traditional workspace. Investing in standing desks for yourself and your team may be more affordable than you think. And if over time that leads to a 46 percent increase in productivity, the initial investment could very well be worth it.

In addition, you don’t have to just go with a regular old standing desk. There are plenty of different options out there ranging from desks that allow you to lay down while you work to those that let you constantly walk in place on a giant hamster wheel.

Of course, putting together a bunch of hamster wheels for your team probably isn’t the most practical use of your time or resources. However, if you find a unique work station that could allow you or your team to get up and move around once in awhile, it could be nice to offer special workstations that they can sign up to use from time to time.

Or, you could even practice some basic exercises at your desk just to keep attention and productivity levels up throughout the day. Doing something besides sitting, whether its standing to work for awhile, walking in place or even just moving around at your desk can have a big impact on your team’s overall health and well being. And if you can make a positive impact in that area, you might also be able to improve satisfaction and productivity in the workplace.

Standing Desk Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Boost Your Productivity by – Standing While Working?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Update Your Email Strategy With These 2016 Email Trends

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Update Your Email Strategy With These 2016 Email Trends

Email is an essential communication tool of the digital age. For marketing professionals, an email list is a vital part of any digital marketing strategy. Indeed, one of the most important parts of modern advertising and marketing is to create meaningful interactions with customers. Email allows ample opportunity to do so, but only if marketers carefully analyze and optimize their approach to email marketing.

Most people have a spam folder overflowing with emails they’ll never read or will simply delete upon receipt. If you’re a marketer, hopefully customers are allowing your emails into their inboxes and you’ve made sure that they’re not automatically caught by a spam filter. However, what incentive do your customers have to do so if they don’t consider your messages valuable?

Rethink Your Email Strategy Based on 2016 Email Trends

Many companies fail to put a reasonable amount of effort into their email marketing, and most of the notes to their customers are simply automatically generated responses to customer actions (one ubiquitous example being shipping confirmation emails for online purchases). Some companies send automatic reminders about sales, promotions, and unused bonus offers available to customers, but there are many more opportunities to take email marketing further.

Considering some of the trends in email design that we’re seeing today, here are a few of the things you may consider to breathe new life into your email marketing strategy include:

  • Provide built-in shareable content. Most people are browsing emails on mobile devices or have their desktops configured so they can sign into their social media accounts with a few simple clicks. Incentivize customers to share content in your emails through social media.
  • Ask for feedback. Customers want to know that their opinions and insights are valued. Offer them a simple way to provide feedback in your email, or link to a short survey. Customers may be able to tell you exactly what isn’t working in your marketing strategy.
  • Convey urgency. Limited-time offers and flash promotions are an excellent way to boost the returns you see from your investments in email marketing. If customers are saving money and finding tangible benefits from reading your emails, they’re more likely to continue doing so.
  • Send reminders. If a customer logged in to your website fills a shopping cart but navigates away from your page before checking out, a gentle reminder can be a good way to get him or her to come back and finish the sale. Set up reminder emails to be sent after a set period of time once a customer fills a cart on your website. The user may have simply been distracted.
  • Provide value. Give customers something valuable in your emails. They should look forward to your next message rather than simply dismissing it as soon as it arrives. When you provide real value, customers will be hungry for more—which helps drive engagement.
  • Give updates. Include short sections with recent company updates, especially those that highlight your humanity. Recent tweets and Instagram posts can be a fun addition to any marketing communication (and can be made easily shareable, too). A “Year in Review” email can also show customers the strength and staying power of your brand, and including a message about what they’ve done to help is an awesome way to communicate customer appreciation.
  • Show the power of mobile. Almost every brand now has a proprietary mobile app. Include screenshots of your newest app or updates to existing options in your email, showing customers what it looks like on a phone. This is a fantastic way to increase downloads and further drive engagement.
  • Don’t skimp on visual appeal. Although minimalist visual design has been the golden standard in digital media for years, it’s important that you don’t conflate “minimalist” with “bare-bones.” Your emails should be vibrant, using color palettes that reflect your brand image. Make bold statements with color choices without going overboard and becoming too ostentatious. You don’t want a simple black and white wall of text, either.
  • Use infographics. One of the most engaging ways to provide information in an easily digestible and interesting way is with infographics. A decent graphic designer should have little trouble turning your brand’s year in review or other statistics into a fun and dramatic infographic.

This list delineates a few of the ways you can revitalize your email marketing and turn it from an expected, humdrum communication tool into a powerful force for driving customer interactions. Remember that technology is constantly evolving, as are the ways in which we communicate with each other. For business owners, that means there are always new ways to reach customers, build brand awareness, and foster meaningful interactions.

Email Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Update Your Email Strategy With These 2016 Email Trends” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Tips for Adopting Virtual Reality in Your Business

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Things to Know About Virtual Reality in Business

Small businesses are early adopters of technology, but they also hold on longer when they find solutions that work for them. The latest Annual Brother Business Survey revealed just as much when it comes to printers, scanners, copiers or fax machines. According to the survey, 91 percent of small businesses still use these hardware, but an increasing number of companies are also migrating to the cloud and deploying mobile devices for their remote workforce.

So with virtual reality (VR) now slated as the must have technology, how will the adoption process go for small businesses, and does VR have a viable business application?

First, it is important to note VR is in its infancy, without mass adoption, as of now. However, there are some heavy hitters who are betting on the technology. The most publicized case is the purchase of Oculus by Facebook, but Reuters has also reported some 38 companies have highlighted VR as part of their business plan in their corporate earnings report, a 375 percent jump from the same period last year.

Second, the interest is there, with a huge potential in several segments, such as entertainment and gaming. But does this translate to other industries, and will small businesses be able to capitalize on it? A crystal ball would come in handy right now, but even without one, the future for VR looks very promising.

Just as your printer doesn’t make or break your business, VR solutions will be a technology you can use to improve the overall operations of your company. Granted there will be businesses that will rely on it completely, but for the vast majority, it can and will probably be used as a supplemental piece of equipment.

So if you want to be an early adopter of VR, here are some tips.

Things to Know About Virtual Reality in Business

Educate Yourself

Educate yourself and your employees about VR technology. This includes software, hardware, content, maintenance and usage. You can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars just on cameras alone, or you can get an affordable option such as the Vuze. So you really have to make a concerted effort to know as much as possible about the many options that are available to you.

Don’t Let the Hype Influence Your Decision

There is a lot of hype regarding VR at the moment, and it all sounds exciting. But how realistic is it for you to monetize your investment in the technology. Since the investment can be considerable, depending on your choice of products, don’t get swayed into spending your hard earned money on something that may not pay off for you. Again, it merits repeating, educate yourself thoroughly.

Will Your Product Translate to VR?

There are some industry sectors where VR is an obvious choice, gaming being one of them. But there are also many sectors where it is not that clear. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to use the technology to grow your company. Just as you have used video and posted it on YouTube, VR can be seen as another extension of rich media. This is a new technology, so there are no conventions you have to follow, create your own path.

Form Partnerships With Experienced Users

Even if you educate yourself in the technical aspects of VR, real world applications are going to be much different. Find experienced VR practitioners and form partnerships so you can have the right person guiding you through your early days of development.

Find the Right Content

As they say, content is king, and in the virtual world the quality of your content will greatly determine your success. Whether you create the content yourself or you are having it produced professionally, it has to deliver your message, so know your story. Just because it is VR, it doesn’t mean it will be good, and the quality of the content will be the differentiator as the hardware becomes as common as smartphones.

Test Until You Get it Right

No matter what kind of content you create, test and test again with many different people to see how they respond to it. Find out what works and doesn’t throughout the entire show. Whether it is motion sickness, bad lighting or a weak story line, try to have an end product that is professional.

Know Your Audience

Who are you creating the content for? Are you going to show it in your brick and mortar store, online, a trade show or elsewhere? The length of the production has to mirror these outlets to get as many people as possible in your door, after all you don’t want a customer in your store asking for popcorn and a large soda.

The Importance of Sound

Sound in a VR environment is extremely important. Recording your content with a single microphone will not deliver the full impact of virtual reality. Sound is used to create the right atmosphere and guide the direction of the viewer. If the sound just comes from in front of them, they will not turn around if they can’t hear the sound to their left, right, top or bottom.

Start Simple

Incrementally grow the content you create until you master the technology. A 30 second project can be just as exciting if you have a clear understanding of a 3D environment and you put everything you learned into it.

Selling VR

One of the best ways of selling VR is by delivering a great experience directly to your audience/customers. This of course will take many forms, and until everybody has a VR headset, you will have to find creative ways to give them the experience where they are or make them come to you.

Channels for VR

Eventually VR content will be as common as regular videos on YouTube. The company introduced its 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio recently, which will be the first step towards becoming a fully VR content platform. This will greatly increase adoption rates as consumers, businesses, content creators and hardware manufacturers see the many possibilities of the technology.

The reality of VR becoming a reality

Jeremy Bailenson, head of Standford University’s virtual reality lab told Fortune, “Most things don’t work in VR. If you show me 20 ideas, I’ll say 19 of them would be better in another medium. I think VR is best for special, intense experiences?…?things that are expensive, dangerous, counterproductive, or impossible.”

The truth of the matter is, there is no guarantee VR will work in the day to day operations or activities of a company. But it will provide some value if and when the technology achieves a saturation point that demands businesses to create services to address consumers who own VR devices.

VR Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Tips for Adopting Virtual Reality in Your Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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eBay Hires Alyssa Cutright, Prepares for Post-PayPal World

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Alyssa Cutright - Changes Around eBay Payment Processing May Happen

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY) has appointed Alyssa Cutright as it’s new Vice President of Global Payments. In this new role, Cutright will lead eBay’s global strategy and operations of billing and payments.

The timing of Cutright hire is interesting coming as it does after eBay spun off its PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) payments business last year making PayPal a totally separate company.

Could eBay be readying for a new global payments strategy that no longer centers around PayPal?

New VP of Global Payments at eBay

Cutright has extensive industry experience in the commerce ecosystem, including 10 years working at PayPal, and a resume that includes working for two alternative payment options Plastiq and Square. At PayPal she held a variety of critical roles, including leading the Financial Services (Core Payments), North America Product teams and Risk Management.

Cutright joined PayPal in 2000 from Wells Fargo where she had worked for 10 years. She stayed with PayPal (then still eBay’s payment unit) until 2012 when she left to join PayPal rival Square. At Square, she oversaw expansion into Canada, but left after a year to join Plastiq, according to AllThingsD. Plastiq was founded by an entrepreneur frustrated that he could not pay for college tuition with a credit card.

“We are pleased to welcome Alyssa back to the eBay family. Her experience and leadership in the payment industry will help us deliver improved experiences for our sellers and buyers,” said Hal Lawton, SVP of North America, eBay in a post on the company’s official site.

Changes Around eBay Payment Processing May Happen

PayPal remains eBay’s main payment-processing tool even after last year’s breakup. Many eBay sellers don’t even offer an alternative payment option. However, after separating with PayPal last year and with this new appointment, it is no longer a foregone conclusion that PayPal will remain the defacto means of payment for eBay merchants and buyers.

The appointment suggests eBay is weighing its options regarding global payments, and strategizing for life after PayPal. Could a future eBay incorporate many more payment options besides just PayPal? Or could perhaps eBay even be planning to develop its own payment option exclusive to the platform. It seems as if eBay is weighing its options and trying to determine what payment processor or processors the company might consider in the future now that exclusivity with PayPal is no longer a foregone conclusion. This is where Cutright comes in.

As a former PayPal executive, Cutright is no stranger to the eBay marketplace and what buyers and sellers want. This is why it seems so fitting that she should be the one to lead eBay’s global strategy and operations of billing and payments. It will be interesting to see what changes she brings and whether that will be in partnership with PayPal, or involve bringing in alternative payment methods.

Either way, eBay sellers and buyers may be in for some changes as far as their payment processing options are concerned.

Image: eBay

This article, “eBay Hires Alyssa Cutright, Prepares for Post-PayPal World” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Declining Millennial Entrepreneurship Not Caused by Student Debt

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Millennial Student Debt is Not the Cause of Declining Millennial Entrepreneurship

Are rising student loan levels choking off entrepreneurship among America’s young people? Numerous authors, from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels to Forbes Magazine’s Steve Denning, have argued that they are. But the data disagrees.

Let’s start with the facts. Fewer young people today are in business for themselves than was the case 25 years ago. The Wall Street Journal analyzed data from the Federal Reserve and found that the share of households led by someone under 30 that owned a business, fell from nearly 11 percent in 1989 to less than 4 percent in 2013.

The theory is that rising levels of student loans are exhausting the borrowing capacity of millennials, keeping them from starting companies. Two researchers at Northeastern University found that households with more student debt are less likely than other households to start companies. Researchers at the Philadelphia Fed discovered that counties with largest increase in student debt between 2000 and 2010 had the greatest decrease in micro businesses.

Despite these studies, student debt is unlikely to be the cause of declining entrepreneurship among the under-thirty crowd. These studies only looked at correlations. Households in economically depressed or hard hit areas might be more likely to take on more student debt and be less likely to take on the risk of starting businesses. If that’s the case, then loan levels aren’t the cause of declining rates of entrepreneurship. Declining rates of entrepreneurship and student loan borrowing are both the result of tough economic times.

Is Millennial Student Debt the Culprit?

The rise in student loan debt didn’t occur at the right time to explain the decline in entrepreneurship among those under thirty. Rates of entrepreneurship among young people have been falling since 1989, well before student loan debt began to rise rapidly in 2004. In fact, Federal reserve data show that the rate of business ownership among young households declined more between 1989 and 1998, when student loan debt was largely stable, than between 2004 and 2013, when it was rising rapidly.

As I have written about elsewhere, a change in attitudes is a more likely explanation. Surveys of college freshmen undertaken by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at UCLA reveal that young people today are less interested in being successful entrepreneurs than their parents were at the same age, and are more interested in other life goals. Moreover, the timing of the shift in attitudes better matches the timing of the change in entrepreneurship than the timing of the rise in student loan levels.

There are many reasons to worry about rising student loan levels, and politicians and pundits might be right to call for efforts to reduce the amount that America’s young people need to borrow to get a college education. But they shouldn’t worry that student loan levels are causing fewer young people to start companies today than a generation ago. Falling interest in entrepreneurship among young people better explains the decline in entrepreneurship among millennials.

Student Debt Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Declining Millennial Entrepreneurship Not Caused by Student Debt” was first published on Small Business Trends

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7 Safety and Compliance Tips to Avoid the Product Recall List

Monday, June 27th, 2016

7 Safety and Compliance Tips to Keep of the Product Recall List

With a growing focus on consumer safety, manufacturers from nearly every industry and all parts of the globe are working to ensure the efficacy of their products. Failure to develop products that are safe and user-friendly could result in monetary fines, loss of contracts and even mass recalls. In fact, an all-time high of 51 million vehicles were recalled in 2015 alone.

The automotive industry isn’t the only one to suffer from widespread product recalls. According to a recent study by a Swiss research firm, worldwide food recalls have effectively doubled since 2002. Given trends like this, efforts to ensure product safety and avoid recalls definitely need improvement.

How to Keep Off the Product Recall List

Monitoring Standards and Regulations

Standards and regulations that define product safety are constantly changing, evolving and adapting to new societal trends, needs and demands. In fact, OSHA maintains an online database that provides information and resources regarding new and existing regulations throughout dozens of industries.

OSHA is one of the most prolific and well-known safety agencies, but they’re not the only one. Depending on your specific industry, you may be subject to laws, rules or regulations from any number of other agencies. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, or CPSC, recently won a $15.45 million civil case against multiple appliance manufacturers in China as well as the United States.

With that in mind, entrepreneurs and business owners must pay attention to existing and new regulations alike. By staying on top of these changes, and by attaining new certifications as necessary, you’ll be better poised to avoid future recalls or penalties.

Pursuing Testing and Certification

While institutions like OSHA and the CPSC can provide information, resources and, in some cases, actual safety testing and certification, some processes require third-party interaction, inspection and analysis.

Some companies, like National Technical Systems, offer an array of product testing services throughout several different industries. Their tests, which focus on different standards and regulations, can ensure compliance with safety organizations from all corners of the globe. Specific products that can be tested by NTS include industrial machinery, lighting components and power supplies, audio and video hardware, household and commercial appliances, laboratory equipment and more.

Bolstering Your Supply Chain

Certain companies have even reduced their own product recalls by bolstering their strategies in supply chain management. Increased transparency throughout the entire chain can identify errors quicker and more efficiently while simultaneously improving communications with the general public in the event that a recall does occur.

With today’s emphasis on mobile communications, it’s also important to facilitate mobile accessibility between sales representatives, compliance officers, distributors and customers. Supply chain and e-commerce apps can be coded to work across multiple platforms, including hardwired and mobile devices, which offers on-the-fly access and real-time monitoring.

Establishing a Compliance Team

If necessary, consider establishing a designated team of compliance specialists. It doesn’t matter if these are third-party consultants or in-house experts. Instead, focus on securing reputable compliance specialists that have experience in your exact line of business and industry. While this will require you to allocate additional resources to the new team, the costs of avoiding product recalls and improving safety might be worth it in the long run.

However, it’s important to understand that the establishment of such a team is no straightforward task. A compliance team must avoid or overcome many challenges, including overly complex business models, conflicting viewpoints, stringent industry regulations and more.

Keeping Your Competitors Close

There’s an old adage that tells us to keep our friends close, but our enemies closer. This same saying can be applied to the world of manufacturing: By paying attention to your competition, you’ll be able to identify new safety requirements as soon as they emerge.

Moreover, you may even be able to learn from the mistakes of your competitors and avoid future recalls of your own.

Bucking the Trends

Although product recalls are still common and even increasing in some industries, others have seen significant improvement. According to the CPSC, the overall number of toy recalls has experienced a sharp decline since 2008. The total number of toy recalls involving lead-containing products have been nearly eliminated.

In some cases, a high number of recalls can actually prompt change on its own. According to the American Marketing Association, the number of automobile recalls between 1995 and 2011 eventually resulted in fewer accidents. Statistics like this show that there is a bright side after all.

Maintaining Product Safety Into the Future

As a manufacturer, product safety should be your top priority. There are few better ways to drive away a solid customer base than by releasing defunct or hazardous products. In some cases, the results can be downright deadly.

By sticking to the tips outlined above, and by taking a proactive stance toward manufacturing and consumer safety, you’ll be able to maintain the safety of your products and avoid mass recalls in the future.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Recall Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Safety and Compliance Tips to Avoid the Product Recall List” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Which is the Best Online Marketplace: Amazon, Etsy or Ebay?

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Which is the Best Online Marketplace for Me: Amazon, Etsy or Ebay?

When you sell crafts online, choosing the right platform is paramount. There are plenty of different options available to handmade business owners. Three of the most popular are Etsy, Amazon and eBay. But each one offers different options and benefits for handmade shop owners. Here are some comparisons and basic information that can help you make the best decision when it comes to choosing Handmade at Amazon, Etsy or eBay.

Which is the Best Online Marketplace for Your Crafts?

Amazon

Handmade at Amazon is a relatively new offering from the ecommerce giant. It allows artisans and handmade business owners to set up their own shops on the popular platform.

Audience

Amazon has over 250 million customers worldwide. So there’s definitely access to a wide array of potential customers. However, not everyone who visits Amazon is specifically looking for handmade goods, so it’s not exactly a targeted group of customers.

Listing Fees

Amazon doesn’t charge listing fees, but instead takes a percentage of each transaction.

Image Options (free, charged and limitations)

Amazon lets you add one main image for each product and then up to eight alternate images for each listing, free of charge. Amazon also specifies that main photos should depict only the product for sale, not drawings or renderings, and no props that don’t come with the product.

Final Sale Fees

Currently, Amazon takes 12 percent of each sales, with the sale price calculated to include shipping. Starting August 1, 2016, that rate goes up to 15 percent.

Video options (available or not)

Sellers don’t have the ability to add video to listings. However, Amazon itself can add videos for certain vendors, but only those who are part of invitation-only vendor programs.

Payment options

Amazon accepts a variety of different payments, including credit or debit cards, checking accounts, Amazon gift cards, Amazon Points and even cash on delivery in some instances.

Inventory Management features (can you easily export items to and from your site to these sites?)

You can add your products through Amazon after you apply and get accepted. But you have to add the information for each listing. There’s not a simple import feature for you to add products from another site.

Rules and Regulations

To sell on Handmade at Amazon, you need to apply and get accepted. You also need to sell only items that are handmade by you or a member of your team, if your team is under 20 people. You can also set your own production time and even offer custom products. But Amazon only lets you set production time for 30 days out.

Store Availability (Is a store available versus just individual listings?)

With Handmade at Amazon, you get a unique storefront with a custom URL and artist profile. There, you can tell your story and offer ways to connect with customers. And of course, you can showcase all of your products for sale in that storefront, though they’ll also appear alongside other handmade products on Amazon when customers search or browse within a category.

Etsy

Etsy has long been considered the leading handmade marketplace. The site includes handmade crafts for sale, vintage items and even craft supplies.

Audience

According to Statista, Etsy had about 24 million active buyers as of 2015. Unlike eBay and Amazon, those shoppers are primarily interested in handmade items, rather than a variety of other goods.

Listing Fees

Etsy charges 20 cents per listing. And listings are good for four months before they expire. You can pay an additional 20 cents to relist items that have expired or sold.

Image Options (free, charged and limitations)

Etsy lets you upload up to five photos with each listing. There’s no additional charge for adding photos beyond that initial listing fee. Etsy recommends using photos that are a maximum of 800-1000 pixels wide and landscape or square images for the main photos.

Final Sale fees

Etsy charges a 3.5 percent transaction fee on every sale. You can pay those fees, along with the listing fees, once per month.

Video options (available or not)

You can create and upload a shop video to your main shop page. Etsy doesn’t have strict requirements for these, but recommends videos be around two minutes or less, landscape, and a max of 300 MB.

Payment options

Each Etsy seller can specify which payment methods to accept, including PayPal, credit cards, Etsy gift cards and Apple Pay.

Inventory Management features (can you easily export items to and from your site to these sites?)

You can add each listing individually on Etsy. But there’s no automatic upload or transfer feature.

Rules and Regulations

Etsy allows sellers to list items that are made by hand, vintage (must be at least 20 years old or more), or craft supplies. However, the definition of “handmade” has changed in the past few years, to the dismay of some Etsy buyers and sellers. The site is much less strict now and will allow users to sell items that are mass produced in some ways. So an item can feature original artwork but be actually produced on a mass scale.

Store Availability (Is a store available versus just individual listings?)

Each Etsy seller can set up their own individual store with its own header photo, profile and policies. Shoppers can view your products within your store or within Etsy categories or search results.

eBay

eBay is mostly known for online auctions. But some handmade business owners have found the platform to be helpful in selling crafts.

Audience

eBay’s user base grew to about 162 million active users in Q4 of 2015. However, not all of those users are interested in purchasing handmade crafts. In fact, some active users are primarily interested in selling rather than buying.

Listing Fees

The fees for eBay sellers can vary based on the type of listing, since you can host both auction type sales and fixed-price sales. In general, it’s free to create your first 50 listings per month, and then 30 cents per listing beyond that.

Image Options (free, charged and limitations)

You can add up to 12 images for free with each listing with eBay picture hosting. That also includes zoom and enlarge features so customers can get an up-close view of your products.

Final Sale fees

eBay also charges 10 percent of the total amount of the sale, which includes the item price, shipping and any other costs that you charge to the buyer, aside from sales tax. The maximum fee is $750.

Video options (available or not)

You can add FLASH files for sound or video on each eBay listing. So you can upload a video to a third party service like YouTube, then either link to or embed the video into your listing page.

Payment options

Sellers can select the payment options you want to accept, including PayPal and credit or debit cards. You can also choose to accept payment upon pickup.

Inventory Management features (can you easily export items to and from your site to these sites?)

You can create listings directly on eBay. Or you can upload your inventory data or listing templates through CSV or Excel files.

Rules and Regulations

eBay offers the ability to sell a wide array of items. So you don’t have to worry as much about restrictions on handmade items specifically. However, there are rules about listing items in specific categories. For instance, if you list an item as fine jewelry, it needs to have a fine metal setting or a fine gemstone included. Fashion settings are not permitted without fine gemstones in that category. There are also restricted and prohibited items, such as alcohol or hazardous materials, which generally aren’t allowed on eBay unless they’ve been pre-approved.

Store Availability (Is a store available versus just individual listings?)

You can create a dedicated store if you have an eBay seller account, credit card on file and a verified PayPal account. eBay also offers options for Premium or Anchor Stores as long as you have a high seller performance level.

Knitter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Which is the Best Online Marketplace: Amazon, Etsy or Ebay?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Nomad Wallet Offers Phone Charger for Entrepreneurs on the Go

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Nomad Wallet: A Phone Charger for Entrepreneurs on the Go

What would you say if you knew there was a stylish leather wallet with a built-in charging system for your smartphone?

Well, the Nomad Leather Charging Wallet looks like a normal wallet except it comes integrated with a battery and charging cable for charging up your phone or tablet wherever you go.

Ingenious, right?

The idea is that while it can sometimes be tough to find a place to recharge your phone while o the go, you would seldom leave home without your wallet. That’s where the Nomad Charging Wallet comes in. The wallet doesn’t only hold your cash and cards. It also includes a battery hidden within its spine with enough juice to bring an iPhone 6s up to full charge.

Obviously you can use external battery packs or battery cases to charge your phone on the go, but the thing about these charging solutions is that they tend to be bulky. Also, charging your phone from your car or looking for the nearest receptacle may not always be an option.

And given that some small business owners and entrepreneurs need to travel a lot and constantly have to stay in touch for business, the charger fills a need. Now it’s easy to bring a portable charger that you can never leave behind to help you get through the day. It’s also easy to take on business trips so you never find yourself left in the cold with a dead phone and no power source in sight.

Nomad Chargers – Designed to Fit Seamlessly into a Smartphone User’s Lifestyle

Nomad Goods, Inc., is the company behind the Nomad Charging Wallet, and a number of other innovative tech accessories for smarphones and smartwatches.

The company prides itself in making useful items that double as device chargers. The items fit seamlessly into a user’s lifestyle, freeing you from the need to always have a traditional charger on hand.

Company co-founder, Noah Dentzel, started thinking of these solutions when traveling around Spain. He was tired of trying to keep a phone charger handy. So he thought: why not nest device chargers into everyday items?

Partnering with Brian Hahn, the two co-founders conceptualized the Nomad chargers, starting with the NomadKey. The NomadKey is a small USB jack that clips easily onto a keychain, ensuring you never have to worry about forgetting your charger. Unless you forget your keys,Q of course.

Noah and Brian kept the momentum going with new products, including the Nomad ChargeCard, Nomad ChargeClip, Nomad Plus and Nomad ChargeWallet.

A Peek at the Nomad Wallet

The company claims the Nomad Wallet is crafted from high quality Horween leather. It features a 2,400mAh lithium-ion backup battery that takes roughly 2 hours to fully charge. According to the company, the battery utilizes an advanced SoC (system on chip) microprocessor that allows it to fit into the folds of the Wallet.

Hidden inside the Wallet is also an Apple MFi Lightning or Type C cable that you can pull out and use to charge your iPhone or other device. Simply connect your phone through the Lightning cable to charge.

You would expect the Wallet to be big and bulky considering that it comes with the battery and Lightning cable tucked away inside. The company claims the product is just about the same size as a normal wallet. It measures 9.5cm (height) x 12.5cm (width) x 2.5cm (max thickness), says Nomad.

There are two styles of Wallet: a classic bi-fold option for more cash and card carrying capacity, and a slim version for light and minimalist carry. The Bi-fold can carry six cards, along with bills in the wallet’s main compartment, while the slim fold can carry four cards along with bills in the main compartment.

If you’d like to buy the Nomad Leather Charging Wallet, it is available for pre-order on the company website priced at $119.95. Shipping of the wallets is expected to begin July 30 (for the Lightning) and August 31 (for the USB C), with free shipping in the U.S. and $10 shipping charge worldwide.

Image: Nomad Goods

This article, “Nomad Wallet Offers Phone Charger for Entrepreneurs on the Go” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016

A big problem that so many businesses face is staying on top of what is new in the niche.  But just because something is hard does not mean it’s not possible.  Generating new ideas often comes after a good hard look at what’s on the horizon.  An easy and effective way to do this is with a close examination of what is trending in your business’ market.

Those of us in the mobile business face great challenges when it comes to following trends because technology is changing so fast.  As soon as one idea becomes popular, it is quickly washed away — only to be replaced by something newer, faster, smaller, and more portable.  That is unless you dig deep and find what is on the horizon.

Here are six eye-opening mobile trends for 2016.  By looking at them, you can help yourself think through your next mobile venture.

Keep Your Eye on These 6 Mobile Trends in 2016

Invest in Smart Phone App Development

Smart phones will soon be to future generations what rotary phones were to the “Happy Days” generation, and the numbers support this growth.  This means that the demand for applications for these phones will be on the rise.

Investing in smart phone app development will certainly yield profit.  In fact, Android’s market grew 65 percent in 2015.

Whether you are considering investing in an app for your business or you are tossing around the idea of starting a white label app development company of your own, you are certain to generate some income and stay current with the market trends.

Knowing How to Use Data Driven Decisions is the Key to Marketing

If your business is not using data to make decisions, it’s a good bet that you are close to (if not already) a failed venture.  You have to use data as the backbone of your decisions — especially if you are in the mobile industry.

Data acquisition in 2016 isn’t the challenge that it was years ago.  It has become much easier to collect and much easier to sort.  If you want numbers, you can get your hands on just about any type of numbers you want.  The key is what you do with those numbers.

Your goal should be to use the data to make connections with potential clients. So what if you know that Mrs. Smith visited Store XYZ seven times in the past month on her mobile device. The trick is finding out how Mrs. Smith’s visits to store XYZ can help your mobile business.

The first step in the puzzle is assuring that your IT department and your marketing department has clear lines of communication.  A solid plan for sharing the information is the first step to utilizing the data you collect.

From there, you need a good team that can actually interpret the data.  Ultimately, your goal in any mobile venture is to find a way to simplify the lives of users.  Your team of data analysts needs to be able to interpret the data and supply it to your marketing department.

After your marketing department is given numbers and statistics that are easy to understand, it needs to take creative and innovative risks based on the numbers.  The more you learn about mobile users and their patterns of use, the easier it will be to simplify their lives.

Of course, there are always going to be people who are just able to follow their gut when it comes to innovation and creative thinking.  If you have one of those guys on your team — you know the type, anything he touches turns to gold — don’t dismiss him.

But for the most effective and practical solutions, look at the data and invest in a team that can interpret the numbers to mean something beneficial to your mobile business.

Say What You Need to Say — 2016 Technology Has Your Back

Don’t hold back what’s on your mind.  In fact, in the near future, you will be able to speak it right to your computer.  The best part — it will understand you.  Many of the industries biggest and brightest are battling with young and innovative start-ups to see who will figure out the best and most effective way to use voice computer interfaces.

Most computers come equipped with some type of voice recognition software, but as we journey into the future, these software applications will become much more innovative, which will allow computers to become even more involved in our day to day routines.

Your desktop is not the only form of technology that is listening to what you have to say. Most mobile devices are already equipped with some sort of voice recognition. Mobile devices are also jumping on board to develop voice recognition apps.  Companies across the globe are looking to develop the most responsive voice apps to stay abreast of the changing trends in the mobile market.

While we are not reaching “Jetsons” status just yet, there are several companies breaking ground in this niche, and it is certainly something to pay close mind to.

“Push” Those Ads — It’s the New way to Spread the Word

Push notifications are a great way to get information into the hands of your customers, and the numbers support it.  First of all, 2/3 of the population owns a smart phone.  And that 66 percent of people check their phones approximately 46 times per day.

That means that you have 46 opportunities EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to send push notifications to people who chose to download your app.

With modern technology, you can use radiused and geofenced push notifications to offer promotions to consumers when they are near your stores.  To top off the benefits of the push, the best part is there are character limits, so you can say what you need to say in a short and sweet notice.  There’s no need for elaborate and creative copy.

SMS Marketing is the New Social Media

The social media craze has made its mark in advertising — there’s not doubt there.  You have to have a strong social media presence so your customers can engage with your brand.  They virtually do the legwork for you by sharing what you have to say.  But, it’s time to look past social media.  You need to look for even faster and more personalized ways to reach people.

In the past, this was called telemarketing.  Today, telemarketing is a good way to upset people and get called a name or two.  But, this is largely because people are engaging less and less in phone conversations and more and more in text communication.

Phone calls are a thing of the past.  Heck, you don’t even need to call to order a pizza or make a hotel reservation anymore, you can just text your request.  In fact, the research shows that 73 percent of people text.  Of those 73 percent of people, 55 percent of them send over 50 text messages each day.  As SMS messaging becomes the preferred means of communications, it makes sense to use it to advertise.

SMS marketing lets your customers engage with your brand on a personal level.  In fact, app developers are making messaging platforms that are starting to rival the built-in texting applications that come with phones.  Products such as Handcent, Chomp, and Hoverchat, are dominating the Android market.

What this means to you is that you virtually have a direct line to your consumers pockets.  You can tell them everything they want to know about your product.

Let Millennials and Generation Z Guide Your Thinking

Gone are the days of, “If you will build it they will come.”  Today, app developers have to build apps to simplify the lives of their users.  Simply put, this means that you need to look at the subsets of consumers who have technology needs that need met.  Enter Millennials and Generation Z users.

These guys are the ones who are filling the social media feeds with their thoughts, and they are the ones advertising their every move online — and they are doing it from their smartphones.

This means opportunity for you.  What are they talking about?  What do they need?  These kids put it all out there.  Use this to your advantage.  Find out what they need based on what they are saying, then build it.

Conclusion

If you want to compete in the mobile industry, you have to do your homework.  This means looking at the past and learning what has worked, and what has failed.  It also means looking at the data and trying to predict what is needed in the future.

By paying close mind to what’s trending in the industry, you can set yourself up for a successful mobile venture.  These six eye-opening trends should get your wheels spinning.  Look to apply them to what you know about the business and with some hard work, you can develop the next must have app in the store.

Using Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Six Eye-Opening Mobile Trends for 2016” was first published on Small Business Trends

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