Advantages of Using eCommerce Software in Your Retail Business

advantages of using ecommerce in business
You need money to buy anything, but not necessarily everything.

Again, if you think that only money can make you more money, that is not what I believe firmly. To me, and most of the startups as well, I think it is just the path you choose to make money that matters.

With the advent of open source technologies and the lower cost solutions provided by online store builders, the above statement is very much true. And the results are what you see in various reports.

For instance, PrestaShop, one of the many eCommerce software vendors, is powering more than 230,000 stores so far. What enables them to power so many stores with their open source and cloud solutions, both which they offer for free, making it easy to get started online. There are dozens of similar vendors in the market who are doing pretty similar things.

According to a Forrester Research e-retail forecast, U.S. e-retail sales are expected to grow by 57 percent by 2018. All these lead to the fact that there are enough reasons why eCommerce business has become so popular.

And who, other than startups, could explore the eCommerce domain better and establish it as a next-gen business arena? The process is still on and the advantages of using eCommerce in business are, too.

Startups Need Implementation Help, Not Just Ideas

An idea could be a good recipe for startup success, but it takes much more than that to thrive day in and day out to run a profitable show. The proliferation of online store builders and the acceptability of drag-and-drop, template-based site models by a wider range of users made it very much clear that there is no low-cost alternative to eCommerce solutions.

If you notice, you will see a common trend among today’s young Internet-preneurs. Most of them are fueled with great business ideas, but they are nipped in the bud only because of the implementation support which costs in dollars.

Let us understand their psychology and preferred business model to dive deeper into it. For any startup, you would see a set of common traits.

  • I have no money to start a business, but I would like to start one.
  • I want to make quick and easy money.
  • I want to make money before I spend money.
  • I don’t want to park my savings or depend on crowdsourcing to arrange funding.
  • I can only invest time, effort, and my business intelligence to start a business online.
  • I should not incur heavy losses if I fail in my endeavor.
  • If I need help or additional support from third parties, it should come to me as a free service online.
  • I can take risks, but not at the cost of my savings or capital.
  • I need a reliable platform online that can get my business up and running for free.
  • I don’t want to learn programming languages or coding to setup and run my online store.
  • I don’t want this business initiative to be a burden for me in the next 15 or 20 years.
  • I may expand my online business and go on a large scale in due time.

The path to creating online stores and selling without a brick and mortar store is perhaps the easiest and most popular option.

If you meet PrestaShop’s entrepreneurial team, a family of eCommerce enthusiasts, you will know how easy it is to build and manage a successful online store at no cost.Yes, setting up an online store with all the basic functionalities does not cost you a penny. Of course, there is a cost once you upgrade your store to avail yourself of premium features and take your store to a new height. Perhaps it is that time when your store will grow bigger.

So, what are the most influential factors that drive startups to explore more and more online store building opportunities?

Easy Site Setup to Get Going

Some of the best online store builders can take you through every step of creating and configuring your eCommerce store, right from home page design to adding product details to checkout security and everything in between. Simple and intuitive Web design interface, a large number of add-ons, online community based help, technical support, feature-rich third party apps integration, as well as a bundle of advanced shopping cart features – eCommerce software providers can actually help you setup an online business in hours if not in minutes.

Shorter Selling Cycles

Maximum return at a minimum effort and investment — that is what eCommerce solution providers have been trying to put into their products. Hundreds of quickly installable features with simple mouse-click configuration can simplify day-to-day back office management jobs and help you focus more on saleable properties for your store, not administrative functions.

Easy Payment Solutions

Once your store is ready with secured shopping cart installed, it is all set to make you money. With the powerful payment and shipping tools of shopping carts you can choose from popular payment gateways and accept direct payments through all major credit cards, debit cards, e-checks and more. Once you have installed an eCommerce template, all that you need is to select and install a payment module and then configure payment settings.

No Shipping Worries

Just select a supply zone by country and the carrier you want to install from a handful of payment management solutions. All these built-in services are ready-to-use for an online merchant. Moreover, you can manage logistics details, set discounts and setup tax rules directly from your back office.

Flawless Customer Service

Customer satisfaction and customer delight are the primary goals of any merchant. The more effortless a shopping experience is the better. With a powerful eCommerce platform, your customers have the convenience of PayPal Express, Guest, and Account Checkout as well as ordering over the phone.

You may even maintain a centralized customer management system within your online store and manage new client account creation, order modification as well as retain existing customers. There is no hassle in implementing, managing and modifying the customer service desk.

Built-in Marketing and Shopping Features

The direct access to Internet marketing tools and fully-loaded powerful marketing features makes eCommerce software a ‘Have-it-All’ solution for every online merchant. With built-in eCommerce SEO features your store can rank higher in search engine results and you can invite a wide range of new customers with less effort. On top of it, off-the-shelf marketing analytics and statistical tools of an eCommerce platform can help you analyze real-time data and make better decisions.

Store owners can also set dynamic pricing rules, offer coupon codes and vouchers as well as encourage positive customer reviews at almost no additional effort. Building customer loyalty programs, email marketing, newsletter subscriptions, managing affiliate programs, daily deals and gift certificates — everything can be easily executed with powerful emarketing features of an eCommerce platform.

Help and Support Services

Most of the popular eCommerce software vendors offer substantial amounts of resources to online merchants. Whether it is a training related help, comprehensive documentation help, direct technical support, live chat, video tutorials, live webinar, one-to-one coaching or a help through community forum, an entrepreneur can take all the advantages whenever they need them. And they’re is free!

Just imagine how much pain and time one needs to take while setting up a physical store. It is relieved here altogether. This article shares more about eCommerce shopping carts for small businesses. And you can always take it one step further and learn the approaches that may shape the future of eCommerce.

A Myth about Startups

There is also a myth about increasing numbers of startups creating online stores almost every other day only to try out their luck. Many people think that it is only the money-minded people who adopt this new generation eCommerce technology to run a better businesses. However, this is not the fact. Any business whether online or offline needs a constant and serious effort from its owner.

The only reason startups are using eCommerce as a software solution in leaps and bounds is that it makes their ground work easy and delivers them almost a ready-to-use selling system.Of course, there are a lot of handy options and multi-faceted features of an eCommerce platform that help store owners save on their infrastructure cost and work hours, but that does not essentially make them revenue automatically.


eCommerce software acts as a tool with plenty of add-ons to get you going easily throughout the life of your store. The rest depends on your deliverables, customer engagement models, support system and other USPs that customers expect from an online merchant.

Setting up a website is just the beginning for launching your business online. You cannot use it effectively until you have your own marketing strategies and chain of other associated activities underway.

So clearly making quick money by setting up an online store is not what eCommerce software is meant for or even valued for. The tooling capability and the lower cost technology solution are what make eCommerce software ‘a friend in need, a friend indeed’ for today’s startups. If you are a startup and you have a brilliant success story to share, please share it in the comments below.

eCommerce photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Advantages of Using eCommerce Software in Your Retail Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Silencing Dissent in Russia: Putin’s Propaganda Machine (Trailer)

Despite sanctions, a plummeting economy, and isolation from the world as a result of its actions in Ukraine, a wave of patriotic fervor is spreading across Russia. Thousands of Russians have attended rallies in support of President Vladimir Putin, whose popularity ratings remain sky-high, while voices of the opposition are increasingly stifled. On the streets and in the media, the Kremlin has tightened its grip on power. State-controlled television channels spin facts to bolster the government line, whipping up anti-Western sentiment and paranoia about internal enemies. Independent broadcasters are struggling to make themselves heard as the country grows more dangerous for journalists and popular figures who are critical of the authorities. VICE News traveled to Moscow to find out how the Russian government has suppressed dissent and fostered fear among Putin’s critics. Watch “Inspecting the Ceasefire in Shyrokyne: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 105)” – Watch “Easter Artillery Fire: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 104)” – Read “Pollution, Prisons, Sickness, and Raves: Inside Russia’s ‘City of the Colorful Sky’” – Subscribe to VICE News here: Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:
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Spotlight: BlogPaws is a Media Company That Puts Animals First


For bloggers, connecting with brands in your industry can be a prime source of revenue and opportunity. And those relationships can also lead to additional exposure for the brands.

In many industries, there are companies and platforms designed specifically to connect those brands and bloggers. But Yvonne DiVita and some friends noticed that there wasn’t such a platform designed with pet bloggers in mind. So, they started one.

DiVita is now the CEO of BlogPaws, a pet blogger conference and media company. She’s also one of the winners of Small Business Trends’ recent Brother eBook marketing tip contest. She shared the following tip with the community:

“Surprise people. Bring in laughter, tears, excitement, whatever works! Be emotional! To make your design/image stand out try these ideas: Create a compelling caption (be provocative! be unexpected! think ART, fun, humor!); be funny and/or outrageous; take previously created pictures and update them with new backgrounds, new stories, new messages. Connecting with people emotionally attracts loyalty and stimulates people to respond more positively. No matter what, always, always, be true to your CORE purpose in life”

Read more about DiVita and her BlogPaws business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Connects bloggers with brands and runs a pet blogger conference.

The company connects bloggers with marketing campaigns and companies to facilitate things like product reviews and announcements. It also hosts a national social media marketing conference for pet bloggers.

Business Niche

Working with pet bloggers.

While the company can work with both bloggers and brands in a variety of industries, it specializes in pet-related blogs and the brands that target that niche. And, as such, the company always has to keep the welfare of animals at the top of its priority list. DiVita explains:

“The key here is to understand that, as a group, pet bloggers strive to support shelters and rescues around the world. We embrace the human-animal bond wholeheartedly and do everything we can to share that message.”

How the Business Got Started

As a conference for pet bloggers.

DiVita was at a women’s blogging conference when her co-founder, Caroline Golon, brought up the idea of doing the same type of conference for pet bloggers. Even with a lack of experience, they jumped right into the idea. DiVita says:

“No, none of us (myself, Caroline or Tom, my husband) had ever put on a conference. But we did not let that stop us. Not even when some trusted advisers told us, ‘You should start a community first, and then have a conference.’ We knew the conference had to come first.”

The first conference was successful so the business bloomed from there.

Biggest Risk

Hosting a second conference in the same year.

DiVita says:

“We had just experienced the heady feeling of success with our first event, complete with the many accolades that came with it. We were steadfast in our belief that the pet community was bigger and more powerful than anyone knew! But, all we had to support that was our gut feeling. We didn’t have reports or case studies or industry stats. Not about pet bloggers. We only had our gut feeling.”

Luckily, the second conference, which was held in Denver so that those who couldn’t travel to the first conference in Columbus, Ohio, could attend, was also successful. So, their gut feelings were right.


Biggest Win

Having the ability to help animals in need.

The keynote speakers at each conference don’t collect speaking fees. Instead, BlogPaws donates to a shelter of each speaker’s choice. And even without the ability to collect speaking fees, the company is able to attract quality speakers just because they all have a shared goal. DiVita explains:

“Each year, we attract new, talented keynote speakers, and they all appreciate this opportunity — to give back to a shelter in need. It continues to strengthen our foundation and to show our community that BlogPaws listens to them. Because this is what we all hope to achieve — the rescue of all animals.”

Lesson Learned

Online marketing is incredibly important.

Though the business has been successful to this point, the founders sort of jumped in without learning as much about the ins and outs of things, like marketing, first. DiVita says:

“To date, we’ve been growing well and succeeding in our work, but I have to wonder if we’d be even more successful, had we understood how to activate and support this fantastic network we’re building.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring a business consultant.

DiVita explains:

“I’d hire an expert to come in, review our business, and help us focus on the areas we can be most successful as both a business and a network of bloggers. We sometimes get ourselves bogged down in wannabe land. Wannabe this or wannabe that, or we have folks suggest great ideas that we wish we could implement … in wanna be land. Outside eyes might be able to direct us on where to put the biggest effort, and continue growing into the next decade.”


Business Motto

Pets come first.

DiVita says:

“BlogPaws is a pet-friendly company. We still work from home. Our pets are part of almost everything we do. Even our conferences are pet friendly. In fact, we refuse to go anywhere that pets are not allowed, and we will not hold a conference in a location that has breed specific legislation (banning pit bulls or any other breed). We have yet to consider California for a conference, though many pet friendly locations have courted us, because the entire state bans ferrets.”

If the Business Were a Book

“Oh the Places You’ll Go”, by Dr. Seuss

DiVita explains:

“Not only does this inspire US at the home office, it inspires all of our bloggers. Because, we believe that if you believe in yourself, you can go places you’ve only dreamed of! And yes, you can take your pets with you!”

Favorite Quote

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ~ Will Rogers (actor, A Connecticut Yankee)

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: BlogPaws

This article, “Spotlight: BlogPaws is a Media Company That Puts Animals First” was first published on Small Business Trends

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An Interview with the Leader of the DPR: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 106)

In the latest dispatch, Simon Ostrovsky interviews Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the leader of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, discussing the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, and the leader’s plans for the future of the separatist-controlled region. Watch “Inspecting the Ceasefire in Shyrokyne: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 105)” – Watch “Easter Artillery Fire: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 104)” – Read “Pollution, Prisons, Sickness, and Raves: Inside Russia’s ‘City of the Colorful Sky’” – Subscribe to VICE News here: Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:
From: VICE News
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25 Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100

Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100

Are there really businesses you can start for less than $100?

Laurie Davis started the dating website with $50 and a Twitter account, reports Young, Fabulous and Self-Employed. Her successful enterprise has been profiled by the New York Times, The Washington Post, Good Morning America, and many other media outlets.

Starting something online may be an obvious choice, but the variety of businesses you can start for less than $100 might surprise you. Some can be started with no investment other than your time. The key is to find the lowest-cost way to make a sale and then parlay your profits into the next step. Some entrepreneurs have bootstrapped their way to millions using this basic formula.

You’ll have to decide for yourself when to “formalize” your company by creating a legal structure like an LLC, buying liability insurance, and such. For advice on these matters you can meet with volunteers at SCORE, and there are even places to get inexpensive legal help. Meanwhile, why not pull out a $100 bill and take a look at what you can do with it.

Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100

Auto Parts

To demonstrate the range of potential businesses you can start for less than $100, we begin with an unlikely one.

Steve Farmer, upon graduating from college, decided to start a business wholesaling collision parts. He says, “Within two weeks, I had started my own business with $50 and built it up and ran it for almost three years.”

He used his car until he could afford a truck, and bootstrapped his way to success. Eventually, he sold that business, starting a new one, this time a specialty candy store, his new company’s website reports.

ClickBank E-Products

To start a digital products business with no investment, open an account at for free and promote a few items on your Facebook page or blog.

Once you earn a few commissions, you can pay the $49.95 fee to start a vendor account. Then, create a PDF e-book on any topic you know well (or can research), and you can start selling immediately.

ClickBank takes $1 plus 7.5 percent of each sale, but you set the price and decide how much you want to share with the thousands of affiliates who can also sell your product (50 percent is common).

Some vendors claim to have made tens of millions of dollars in sales through ClickBank.

Used Books

When you see a textbook at a rummage sale, visit using your smartphone.

See what buyers are paying, and then offer half of that or less. The big margins are in textbooks, but online buyers accept many types of used books, and often pay for shipping with a printable label.

Retailing them yourself on is another option. On The Abundant Wife website, one woman tells of selling books from around her house for $371.14 on Amazon — a good way to start with nothing.

Once you learn the market, you can parlay your profits into expansion, perhaps doing some online arbitrage by buying cheap used books from eBay auctions to sell to the big online vendors.

House Painting

In many states, like Florida for example, you do not need a license to be a painting contractor. And if you start with indoor painting, you can get by with a minimum of equipment.

You can learn some helpful tips from YouTube videos on house painting, free Home Depot workshops, and some practice painting around your own home. Matt Shoup tells U.S. News & World Report he started with $100 and went door-to-door, eventually building a painting business with annual revenues of $2.5 million.

Window Cleaning

Another one of the businesses you can start for less than $100 is a window cleaning business. However, to efficiently clean big retail store windows you may need more than $100 worth of equipment.

So start with homes and basic tools, and parlay your revenue into better ones.

You can learn the business online from any one of a number of tutorials.

Pet Sitting

Pet sitters charge as much as $100 for overnight stays, and $20 is typical for a 20-minute visit.

You can start by offering your services to friends and family and use the profits to build your professional credentials, perhaps by joining an organization like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

To grow this business into a large income, you’ll eventually need employees or sub-contractors.

Taxi Service

With ride-sharing platforms like Uber, you can turn the car you already own into a business today without spending a dollar.

If all goes well, you might parlay the money you make into a regular taxi or chauffeur service.

Of course, once again, your goal if you want bigger profits is to eventually hire employees or sub-contractors.


Tutoring is also one of the businesses you can start for less than $100. It used to be more difficult to market your tutoring services, but online platforms make it easier than ever.

If you’re able to help students with academic subjects, sign up with a website like If you prefer to tutor people on a wider variety of subjects, like chess, sports, cooking, or singing, try

Tutors commonly charge up to $50 per hour, and although these websites take a healthy cut of that, they provide a no-cost way to start. From there you can build a local clientele and start hiring others to work for your business.

Tour Guide Service

Again, the Internet has made all the difference in lowering the barriers to starting a business.

Forget about business cards (at least at first) or trying to get travel agencies to recommend your guide service. If you know an area well, you simply sign up with a website like and let them find your customers for a cut of the revenue.

Once you know the ropes and make some money, you can encourage returning visitors to come to you (and your new employees) directly.

Tax Preparation

What better (and cheaper) way to learn a business than to get paid for your training?

Search “tax preparation no experience” on job websites like You’ll find plenty of companies willing to train you for jobs preparing tax returns (at least during tax season). Once you have a season under your belt, it’s time to strike out on your own.

You can start from home to keep costs low, and bootstrap your way into a multi-employee office in time.

Flooring Business

Toby Woodward has been in the flooring business for twenty-five years. He tells Construction News, “I started my business with $50 and a box of business cards.” His company, Aladdin Floors, started out doing just installation in order to avoid the need to invest in inventory.

Again, the lesson is clear: Look for the low-cost entry point and parlay revenues into expanding the business.

Cleaning Service

Again, think of the low-cost entry point to keep your startup costs under $100. You can clean houses with all of the supplies and equipment you already use for cleaning your own home, and then invest profits into specialized equipment for other clients.

Carrie H Johnson was divorced and living in low-income housing when she started a cleaning business with friends, she explains on her website. She built it into a multimillion dollar business with 165 employees.

Flea Market Vending

Flea markets are alive and well in many places around the country, and you can locate the ones closest to you with an online guide.

To start on a budget, find a market that lets you pay for a space by the day (often less than $20). While you’re there, look around for a low-cost niche you can invest your profit into.

What profit? That’s what you made by selling everything in your house that you otherwise would have given away or dumped at a rummage sale.

eBay Sales

Anyone can start on eBay for less than $100.

Start by selling things around the house that you no longer need. With the money you raise, you can look for a niche. For example, some vendors hit rummage sales and thrift stores for cheap goods they can resell.

Others buy in bulk from places like and then sell items individually on eBay.

Homemade Soaps

If you can read and follow the directions of an online soap-making tutorial, you can become a soap maker this week. It involves relatively few materials and tools. To make soap you mix various forms of oil with lye and scents. A basic mold for 12 bars can be bought on Amazon for under $10.

Of course you can’t compete with mass-manufactured soaps, so you’ll want to make specialty products. Finding a new scent or creative approach to packaging and marketing will help. You can sell to friends initially, or invest in a booth at a flea market or craft show.

What’s the potential? Anne-Marie Faiola turned her soap making hobby into a multimillion-dollar business.

Grocery Delivery

If you own a car you have what you need to start delivering groceries. While Webvan and others have failed to make grocery delivery work on a large scale, there is room for small timers, as evidenced by the many shopping services that are online now.

To make delivery affordable for the customer and efficient enough for you to make a decent profit, you may have to service a very limited area. You might start by approaching elderly residents in a residential complex, promising delivery just two days per week in order to process as many orders as you can at once.

To keep payment processing simple, get a PayPal card reader, which attaches to your smartphone. PayPal takes just 2.7 percent of each swipe, with no hidden fees.

Errand Service

An errand service can be a natural business to tie into grocery delivery, or vice-versa. Once again, if you already have a car you’re ready to get started. People often need someone to check on their dog at home, or run to the store if they are homebound.

To start with almost no cost, and to get a feel for what kind of work the business might involve, sign up with, an online platform that connects people who need errands done with those willing to do them for an agreed-upon price. This eliminates the need to spend money on marketing yourself (at least at first).

You might discover a particular niche that suits you and is profitable. For example, if you get a lot of calls to bring pets to vet appointments, you might reposition yourself as a pet taxi service.

Freelance Bartending

You can learn how to mix any one of thousands of drinks with a free online cocktail guide, but to get hired as a freelance bartender it helps to have real experience. That doesn’t have to require a job though. You might volunteer to tend bar for charity events — a good way to get experience and market yourself to potential paying clients. reports the startup costs of freelance bartending at “under $2,000.” But you can keep it under $100 if you start with clients who have the necessary equipment or by bartending for parties where expectations are minimal. says you can make “up to $300 per day when you tally up your wages and tips.”

The next step is hiring help at $10 per hour and billing clients $25 per hour for them.

Dog Training

This is one of those businesses you probably wouldn’t get into without previous experience. On the other hand, you can learn many of the skills needed online from the television personality and dog whisperer, Cesar Milan. There are also many dog training tutorials on YouTube. A stint at a local pet store might help too, and you’ll at least make minimum wage while you get your education and experience.

You can start the business at home to keep costs low. Pet owners can bring their dogs there as well as anyplace else. To build your reputation offer to train the dogs of friends for free or at a discount, and be sure to get testimonials to put on your (eventual) website.

Drop-Shipped Products

What makes drop shipping so attractive is exactly what lands it on this list; there are no big startup costs or expensive investments in inventory. You can sell products online, collect payment, pay suppliers, and let them send out the products — even using your company logo if you like.

It’s easy to find a drop-ship product supplier online. Some provide a variety of products, or, if you’re going to specialize in one product or product line, you can locate a manufacturer that drop-ships.

A website is one way to make sales, although not the only way. You can also sell on auction sites like

Social Media Management

Businesses need help managing their social media presence.

In particular, they need to tweet on Twitter and post on Facebook in order to raise awareness of their companies and promote their products. You may already know how to use these and many other social media platforms.

Learn a little more with online tutorials on how to become a social media consultant. Then contact everyone you know to see if they need this valuable service. Scaling up will require hiring others at some point, so you can focus on getting new clients.

Startup cost? Zero.

Virtual Assistant

If you have a phone, a computer, and Internet access, you can be a virtual assistant (VA). This is one of the hot new businesses you can start for less than $100

The work can be very different with each client, but may include preparing reports, researching, editing, social media management, appointment-setting and many other services.

On her website, VA Amy Andrews says “I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a great work-at-home opportunity and something many people could do.”

Of course, to make it into more than a decent freelance income, your goal will have to be to hire others at some point.

Scrap Metal Recycling

A search of your garage and shed might be all you need to start a scrap metal recycling business. It’s one of those businesses you can start for less than $100.

Copper and aluminum are the most valuable of the common metals, and almost every community has one or more scrap metal buyers. Once you’ve made your first sale, start looking for new supplies.

You can find all the advice you need in an online scrap metal discussion forum. How big can you grow a business like this? Stephen Greer went to Hong Kong with almost nothing after college and built a scrap metal recycling business worth $250 million, according to his book, ” Starting from Scrap: An Entrepreneurial Success Story.”


Okay, so you know enough about a subject to advise others, but you don’t have the money to properly launch a consulting business. Start anyhow!

Spend $10 for business cards from a low-cost provider. Put up a website for $60 for the first year with a domain and website hosting package.

Once you have a few customers who value your knowledge more than a fancy presentation, you can spend some of your profits to build a more professional organization.

Logo Design

If you’re artistically inclined, designing logos is a relatively simple business to start. You can service the high-end, doing very unique logos, or provide low-cost designs that start from templates and are modified to suit the client.

One of the easiest ways to get started is on A look at the stats for the logo designers there shows the size of the market. The top rated logo designer has over 6,000 customer reviews. takes a dollar of each $5 sale, so you might wonder how sellers make money. It’s all about the extra services. Many of the logo designers there keep it real simple for a basic sale (add a company name to a template), but offer extra services that can add $100 or more to an order.

Find that first sale with little or no capital investment and then use the profit to expand. That’s how you start a business for less than $100.

Do you have a low-cost startup story to share? Are you aware of other businesses you can start for less than $100?

Painter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “25 Businesses You Can Start for Less Than $100” was first published on Small Business Trends

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The US Workforce – The Business of Life (Episode 1)

Compared with the rest of the world, Americans work notoriously hard. But as income inequality increases, the growing millennial workforce is redefining what they want out of a job. To unpack the issue, we’ve enlisted Planet Money’s Adam Davidson, journalist Meghan McArdle, and Jamelle Bouie of Slate. Introducing a new kind of talk show from VICE News. “The Business of Life” is a fresh perspective on the most important issues of our time, as told through the facts, figures, dollars, and cents that shape our world. Hosted by journalist Michael C. Moynihan, each episode brings together an eclectic panel of writers, thinkers, policy experts, and scholars to break down everything you need to make sense of the most complicated topics of our time. All content is the sole property of VICE News. Materials presented are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Bank of America. Bank of America, VICE and/or their partners assume no liability for loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided. Subscribe to VICE News here: All content is the sole property of VICE News. Materials presented are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or endorsement of Bank of America. Bank of America, VICE and/or their partners assume no liability for loss or damage resulting from anyone’s reliance on the information provided. Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:
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Bahrain’s Grand Prix Sparks Human Rights Protests

Formula 1’s annual Bahrain Grand Prix opened April 17 to global fanfare, but demonstrators in the small Gulf kingdom off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia have been protesting the motorsports event for weeks, accusing Formula 1’s management of ignoring longstanding human rights abuses in the country. This year’s race comes at an awkward time for Bahrain’s ruling al Khalifa family. On April 2, Nabeel Rajab — one of the country’s most prominent human rights activists — was arrested on charges of insulting the kingdom. VICE News was with Rajab shortly before his arrest, when he accused Western governments of turning a blind eye to Bahraini government abuse. Back in London, activists continue to rally against Britain’s conduct in Bahrain. VICE News met up with members of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy as they protested the arrival of Prince Nassar bin Hamad al Khalifa — nicknamed the “Playboy Prince” — who has been accused of being involved with the torture of political prisoners. Watch “Six Months in Jail for a Tweet: Bahrain Update” – Watch “Bahrain: An Inconvenient Uprising” – Read “Bahrain Arrests Human Rights Champion Nabeel Rajab for ‘Harming Civil Peace’” – Subscribe to VICE News here: Check out VICE News for more: Follow VICE News here: Facebook: Twitter: Tumblr: Instagram: More videos from the VICE network:
From: VICE News
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Manta Business Directory Upgrades to Help You Get Discovered

Manta Business DirectoryEDIT
Manta announced a new set of tools this week the company says will help get your small business noticed.

The Manta business directory is a longtime online resource. Getting your company’s profile listed makes your business more visible, especially locally. The listings have traditionally included vital information like a phone number, site address, or operating hours.

But company says its hoping the new tools expand on its current offerings and help small businesses be in as many places at once as possible while promoting themselves online.

In an interview with Small Business Trends, Manta CEO John Swanciger spoke about the overhaul of the company’s main offering, including a website redesign.

“We focused on the core needs of the small business community,” Swanciger said. “[The new products] are all around helping businesses get found, grow, and succeed.”

Here’s what Manta is now offering small businesses to help them get noticed and to automate their online marketing effort:

Manta Priority Search

This tool helps your business get noticed when people search Google for products.

The Priority Search offering promises to get your business “clicks and calls” by posting your products as available locally when someone searches for them.

Manta says it has conducted its own research to find that search engine referrals are a business’s second most valuable asset.

Manta Ads

Advertising typically helps get your business noticed over the rest. And Manta says this new product will put your business front-and-center when visitors to its site search for businesses like yours.

The company says your business can target thousands of different customers through the use of Manta Ads.

Manta Listing Manager

This new tool may be the most invaluable for small business owners worn out with the sheer number of online platforms where they need to promote themselves on a regular basis. Rather than visiting the umpteen business listing sites and services currently available, Manta can help you get on about 50 of them by filling out a single profile.

Swanciger noted two of these sites in particular, Facebook and Yahoo.

Outside of these automation and advertising tools, Manta has also launched a content hub and upgraded its community forums.

The new content hub is chock full of information on myriad topics that could help small businesses. And there are plenty of participants on these forums sharing their experiences with the rest of the Manta community, Swanciger says.

In an official news release on the company’s website, he explained:

“Our objective advice and their active engagement is the right formula to make well-informed decisions about the unique success factors for their unique business.”

Image: Manta

This article, “Manta Business Directory Upgrades to Help You Get Discovered” was first published on Small Business Trends

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What You Need to Know About Changing From Http to Https

changing from http to https

If you’re going to collect sensitive information or conduct transactions online, you should plan on changing from http to https on your website.

To discover why, let’s start with some definitions:

Http (or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) is the method by which data is moved around the Web. You can see just how integral http is to the online world by looking at the beginning of any Web address.

On the plus side, http is fast and reliable. On the minus side, it’s as secure as a diamond at a cat burglar’s convention. There are lots of ways to hack your way into data being transferred via http and while that’s not a problem for many online data transfers (e.g. watching a video, viewing a website), it is a problem if you need to protect the data that’s being sent.

Https (or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is the answer to the data protection issue. Used on sites that feature eCommerce, banking, and even just a login page, https protects data by encrypting it before sending it either way by using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate.

An SSL certificate contains both public and private encryption keys that are long strings of alphanumeric characters used to encrypt data in a way that’s very hard to crack thus making it ideal for protecting sensitive data.

The Process of Changing From Http to Https

On the surface, changing from http to https is pretty straightforward:

  1. Purchase an SSL certificate,
  2. Install your SSL certificate on your website’s hosting account,
  3. Make sure that any website links are changed from http to https so they are not broken after you flip the https switch, and
  4. Set up 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS so that search engines are notified that your site’s addresses have changed and so that anyone who has bookmarked a page on your site is automatically redirected to the https address after you flip the switch.

It’s just that easy. However, thanks to the overwhelming number of options offered by SSL certificate vendors and packages offered by hosting companies, this straightforward process can become very confusing.

The situation is not helped by the fact that moving your site from http to https requires dealing with more tech than most small business folks feel prefer.

That’s why we’re going to dive into the four steps above only as deeply as necessary to make the business decisions that need to be made and to understand the technical details on a basic level.

Why not go deeper on the technical end? For one good reason that will make the entire process of changing from http to https easier:

Your Hosting Company Can Manage Most of the Process for You

If you already have the technical experience required to change your site from http to https, then by all means, manage the entire process end-to-end.

Many small business folks however, do not have experience with the technical side of this process. As you’ll soon see, there’s enough of a learning curve on the business end.

As a small business owner, you do need to be involved in making the business decisions. However, you may be better off having someone who knows what they’re doing — someone you can trust — handle the technology side. One option might be your website hosting company.

Many hosting companies offer packages including an SSL certificate, the installation of the certificate you select and 301 redirect setup. That leaves you with only one technical task, the straightforward job of changing your website’s links to point at https instead of http.

It may cost you a bit more to purchase a package. However, the amount of time you’ll save, and frustration you’ll avoid, by handing over the technical end of the process to your hosting company will more than make up for the expense.

Below is an example of one hosting company’s https + SSL certificate offerings (SiteGround). Here are a couple of things to note:

  1. You should always contact your web hosting company to make sure you understand exactly what’s included. For example, though it’s not listed, a quick online chat with SiteGround confirmed that setting up the 301 redirects was included in all three packages.
  2. As you can see, you can either use an SSL certificate provided by the hosting company or you can use a certificate purchased from a separate vendor. This changes the pricing of each package a bit (as indicated by the “Other Provider’s Price” row). This will make more sense in a bit.

changing from http to https

As explained earlier, even with someone handling the technical side, you still need to make the business decisions and understand, at least on a basic level, what’s involved technically. That’s the topic of the rest of this post.

Ready to get started? Let’s get to it!

Purchase an SSL Certificate

There are two ways to purchase an SSL certificate:

  1. From your hosting company, or
  2. From an SSL certificate vendor.

While it’s easier to just buy the certificate from your hosting company (especially if it’s part of a specially-priced package), sometimes they don’t offer the type of certificate you require.

Yes, there are many types of SSL certificates and you should select one based on your business needs. Below, the different types of SSL certificates are grouped by validation level (important for marketing) and then by the level of coverage. You should select a certificate that meets your goals in both areas as closely as possible.

SSL Certificates by Validation Level

When you move your site to https, that change is reflected in your browser for your website visitors to see. There are three levels of validation, each providing more assurance to your potential customers than the next. That’s why the validation level you select is also a marketing decision.

All three levels cause a closed lock to appear in a browser’s address bar, an indication that the connection with your site is secure. Beyond that, there are differences in both the information displayed when viewing the certificate in a browser and, at the highest level of validation, in the browser’s address bar as well. You can see these differences within the images included in the descriptions of each validation level below.

Time and money are two more factors to consider when selecting your certificate’s validation level: the higher the validation, the more work and the longer it takes to receive your certificate. That’s because each step up offers more validation of the domain’s owner (i.e. your business) than the step before. It also requires more paperwork on your end and more review on the issuer’s end. In addition, the higher the validation level, the more the SSL certificate will cost

IMPORTANT NOTE: the amount of actual data security provided is the same for all three levels of validation — the additional validation is more of a customer trust builder than anything else.

The three levels of SSL certificate validation are:

  1. Domain Validation — The basic level of validation, domain validated SSL certificates will cause a Web browser to display a closed lock image next to the website address demonstrating that the site is secure. As shown below, when you view the details of this type of certificate within a browser, the “Subject Name” section displays the most basic information. It tells a prospective customer that, yes, this domain is secure. But it does not mention which company secured the domain. And that lack of a company name can be a trust issue with potential customers. For example, it can lead to situations where someone can set up a fraudulent domain (e.g. “” instead of “”) and nab sensitive data from those who are taken in by the ruse.

changing from http to https

  1. Organization Validation (a.k.a Company Validation) – When you obtain an SSL certificate with this second level of validation, the issuer is confirming the fact that the company requesting the certificate does indeed own the rights to the domain for which the certificate is being issued. As you can see below, when you view this type of certificate in a browser, the “Subject Name” section displays more details — including the company name. This extra level of detail provides assurance to potential customers that the site is legitimate and safe to do business with.

changing from http to https

  1. Extended Validation – Extended SSL certificates provide the highest level of assurance that a site is legitimate and trustworthy to do business with. As you can see below, not only is there more information in the “Subject Name” section, the company’s name is also shown directly in the browser’s address bar. (In fact, in some browsers, the entire address bar turns green when the site is viewed.) An extended SSL certificate proclaims that the company owns the rights to this domain and meets the rigid review standards necessary to receive this level of validation. Now that’s good marketing!

Extended Validation SSL Certificate

SSL Certificates by Coverage Level

Another way to group SSL certificates is by the level of coverage they support. The three levels of SSL certificate coverage are:

  1. Single Domain SSL Certificates — This type of SSL certificate will cover one domain and one domain only. For example, you can use a single domain SSL certificate to secure but not
  2. Wildcard Domain SSL Certificates — This type of SSL certificate will cover one domain and all the subdomains underneath that domain. For example, you can use a wildcard domain SSL certificate to secure and and any other subdomain.
  3. Multi Domain SSL Certificates — This type of SSL certificates can be used to cover multiple domains. For example, you can use a multi-domain SSL certificate to secure both and any other domain, say

Installing Your SSL Certificate

Installing your SSL certificate on your website entails generating both public and private encryption keys and entering them in the correct spot on your Web hosting control panel.

If you’re not sure how to do these steps, you have two options:

  1. Allow your hosting provider to do it for you.
  2. Search your hosting provider’s support section for step-by-step instructions. If you can’t find any, just pick up the phone and call their support line.

Search Engine Optimization? Yes, Search Engine Optimization

Back in the summer of 2014, Google announced that it was making a small change in its algorithm to boost sites that use https. The search engine also intimated that the importance of https in search rank might grow slowly over time.

While businesses with https haven’t seen huge search rank increases over at Google, it’s never wise to ignore the search giant. What does this mean as you’re changing from http to https?

Instead of using https on only sensitive parts of your site, you may just want to go ahead and use https for your entire site. This does not affect accessibility or performance in any way and it’s a great way to hedge your bets against future Google algorithm changes.

Changing Your Website’s Links

Changing the text “http” to “https” in all of your links that point to other parts of your own site is likely the one technical task you’ll need to do yourself.

If you haven’t been using relative links (partial links using only part of a page’s entire url like “/2015/03/update-wordpress.html”) you’ll need to review all of your site’s content to find links that point to other parts of your own site. Take advantage of this opportunity to switch to relative links instead of just replacing “http” with “https”.

If you’re using a content management system such as WordPress, make sure to change the permalinks to use https.

Setting Up 301 Redirects

As mentioned above, 301 redirects both alert search engines that your site’s addresses have changed and redirect anyone who has bookmarked a page on your site automatically to the new https address.

It’s likely that your hosting company will make this change for you (don’t forget to ask if it’s part of their package), but if you want to do it on your own, you need to edit the .htaccess file in your root folder by adding:

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off

RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]


If there’s one guarantee about changing from http to https, it’s that you’re going to be confused at some point during the process.

If you can avoid most of the tech work and focus on the business decisions you need to make, you will reap benefits. Those benefits include greater customer trust, super-tight data security and even a slight chance that Google will rank your site more highly.

Secure Site Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What You Need to Know About Changing From Http to Https” was first published on Small Business Trends

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