Entrepreneurial

Blind entrepreneurs boost eBay sales

EBay is recruiting an unlikely group of new entrepreneurs into its selling ranks – the visually impaired.

Blind citizens have staggeringly high rates of unemployment, with some 70 percent of working-age, legally blind adults out of work, according to the National Federation of the Blind.

So the online marketplace, in partnership with NFB, began recruiting test sellers in the blind community late last year. In February, it began a pilot program with 15 blind entrepreneurs. In total, they have sold more than 2,100 items, including everything from packing tape to clothing and makeup.

“We have a commitment to making our pages accessible,” said Jonas Klink, senior product manager of accessibility for San Jose, California-based eBay. The company was also the title sponsor at NFB’s national convention in July.

“These 15 pilot program participants have been selling above and beyond even the majority of our sighted community,” said Klink, adding that word has spread through the blind community. “A number have become top-rated sellers.”

Be careful with free Wi-Fi at your business

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

For a small business, free Wi-Fi can be a great way to lure in customers, encouraging them to spend time at your establishment.

However, offering internet access comes with a bit of a risk, opening your business up to security breaches and providing others with a place to engage in illegal activity, such as downloading copyrighted material and viewing child pornography.

Credit crunch forces small businesses to get creative

United National Consumer Suppliers, a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida broker of clothing, toys and other merchandise for discount stores such as Marshalls, has been seeing more suppliers ask to be paid up front amid worries over the uncertain economy.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, said CFO Todd Hartstone, who in exchange for complying can often garner deeper pre-payment discounts.

“We’re going to monopolize on that opportunity,” said Hartstone, whose business has been putting up good sales numbers as consumers seek more bargains from discount stores. “Fortunately having a little cash strength puts you in a position where you can drive the purchase.”

Online freelance industry gaining momentum

Amid the overload of economic doom and gloom, one subset of the workforce seems to be fairing rather well: online freelancers whose services range from graphic design to business writing.

In a country where unemployment continues to hover above 9 percent, it’s no surprise that demand for these contract workers is up more than 61 percent from a year ago, according to data from Elance, the largest online marketplace for this type of work.

“This new way of working has a lot of momentum and is continuing to grow,” said Ved Sinha, VP of interactive marketing for Mountain View, California-based Elance. “Small businesses are increasingly turning to online work because it’s more flexible.

Small business owners turn to pawn shops

– Cynthia Hsu is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. –

Small business owners that are struggling to make ends meet sometimes need business loans – or a pawn shop. Pawn shop loans are now something that some business owners are turning to as a result of the tight economy and lack of lending.

Pawning is probably easier than getting a bank loan, though the interest rates may be significantly higher.

Forcing employees to take time off

– Cynthia Hsu is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. –

Employee vacation policies can vary depending on your business. Some employers choose to have no vacation time during a year, while other employers are now instituting forced vacations for employees.

At the Motley Fool, a 250-employee financial services company located in Virginia, all employees are entered into a monthly drawing where one lucky (or unlucky, depending your perspective) employee “wins” a forced two-week vacation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Creditors’ rights: 5 tips on how to collect debts

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

If you’re in the type of business that extends credit to customers, then you’re officially in the business of collecting debts.

Unfortunately, collecting debts can oftentimes be difficult, time-consuming, and fruitless — not to mention a drain on your financial resources.

Boomer sees business in discarded mannequins

Kara Ohngren is a writer and editor at SecondAct. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

Judi Henderson-Town felt trapped. For years she was unhappy as an account executive at such industry giants as Johnson & Johnson and United Airlines. She found corporate life “soul-destroying.”

“I wanted something more entrepreneurial,” said the 53-year-old Henderson-Town. “But I didn’t know it was an option — no one I knew growing up owned their own business.”

Startup Toovio offers “Minority Report”-type ad service for retailers

Big Brother has the capability to watch – and respond to – your every spending move. That’s the premise behind Toovio, a startup that has created technology to help retailers and other consumer-facing companies market personalized offers to their customers in real time.

Think of the scene in the film “Minority Report”, when Tom Cruise’s character is walking through a mall while his eyes are getting scanned and he is being bombarded by a slew of personalized 3D ads.

“We call it offer orchestration,” said Toovio’s CEO Josh Smith, 31, of the capabilities that allow companies to communicate custom offers over a range of channels that include checkout, website, kiosk and customer-service call centers.

Top 7 moonlighting businesses

– Melinda F. Emerson, known as the SmallBizLady, is an entrepreneur, professional speaker, small business coach and the author of “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months“. This article originally appeared on SecondAct.com. The views expressed are her own. –

In today’s economy, even if you have a job, your money doesn’t go as far as it used to. You’re probably thinking a lot about how you can make some money on the side.

I am a firm believer that the only way to build wealth in America is to build a business, but getting started can be challenging for people who need a weekly paycheck. That’s why it’s best to stick your toes in the entrepreneurial waters with a moonlighting business. It usually takes 18 to 36 months for a new business venture to break even.

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