Entries in Small Business (8)


‘PayPal Here’ Turns Phones Into Credit Card Readers

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- You’re likely familiar with PayPal as an online payment system. The company’s logos are frequently found on eBay pages or on other websites. Click it and you can pay big or small retailers online via credit card or checking account.

But the equivalent of those online PayPal buttons are going to start showing up in the world outside of your computer screen. Or at least that’s the company’s mission.

“The mobile phone has revolutionized the way we shop,” PayPal’s director of communications Anuj Nayar told ABC News. “If you are making a purchase from your mobile phone in store, what sort of purchase is that? Is it an online purchase? The reality is it is all about multichannel retail.”

And multiple options are exactly PayPal’s strategy. The company has a number of solutions that allow consumers to use the service to pay away from the computer, but its newest one — PayPal Here — allows small merchants and independent sellers to take credit cards right on their phones.

The entire solution is based around a small triangle-shaped dongle, which plugs into an iPhone. When plugged into the headphone jack, sellers can swipe a customer’s credit card right along the top, and then process the payment on the phone using PayPal’s backend. The dongle is fully encrypted.

A companion app provides a place for the customer to confirm the transaction and sign. The same app allows the seller to invoice the buyer or record a cash transaction. While PayPal’s Internet services paved the way for small sellers to open up shop, the dongle and an iPhone now let small stores, street merchants and others to create a very mobile, electronic cash register.

If a merchant doesn’t have the new dongle they can use the app to just take a picture of the credit card. The little triangle itself doesn’t cost anything, but sellers are required to pay PayPal a flat rate of 2.7 percent on any transaction. PayPal Here will be rolling out soon to select small merchants. It will also be available for Android phones very soon, says Nayar.

Other companies, like Square, provide similar tools to sellers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


JOBS Act Passes the House, Senate to Move Forward With 'Similar' Bill

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act passed the House 390 to 23, with 158 Democrats voting in favor. The broad bipartisan support came not in small part from an open endorsement by the White House on Tuesday.

The JOBS Act is a collection of six bills with the goal of encouraging small business growth by, among other things, making it easier for them to go public and easing access to capital.

One measure is designed to eliminate SEC restrictions on “crowdfunding.” The term applies to a popular method for small businesses to raise revenue through a pooled fund of contributors, usually organized through the Internet.
At her weekly press conference, Nancy Pelosi didn’t mince words, calling Thursday’s vote “Jobs Bill Light.” The democratic leader also said her counterparts were “off the track” for focusing on the JOBS Act instead of the long-tabled transportation bill, what she deemed was a more robust method of job creation.

“Instead of working together on a transportation bill, which is one of the biggest initiatives Congress can pass, the Republicans are once again bringing to the floor some bills that we've passed before, overwhelmingly -- they're noncontroversial,” Pelosi said.

Republican leader Eric Cantor responded to the comment in a press conference after the vote, saying congress was trying to “regain the confidence” of its constituents and called on Harry Reid to take up the bill in Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., praised the House for moving forward with the small business jobs bill and says they will “try to do something” similar in the Senate to match the bill.

“The House bill is not perfect,” Reid said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “We're glad it is moving forward, and we're going to try to do something here to match so we can get to conference and get this done. I’m hopeful that when Democrats reach across the aisle we'll find willing partners on the other side for a change.”

At a press conference later in the day Reid said that next week the Upper Chamber will hopefully move a “similar bill” in the Senate.  

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., said that since the White House has issued a statement of support for the jobs bill coming out of the House that the senate should pass the bill untouched immediately.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NBA Lockout: Cities, Small Businesses Take Hit

NBA commissioner David Stern. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- NBA franchise cities across the country are struggling as the league’s owners and players continue to battle over billions of dollars in New York.

On Monday, the NBA Players Association rejected a new labor proposal, prolonging the five-month-long formal lockout, and announced that it would disband in order to file an antitrust suit against the league.

The news, which threatens the 2011-12 basketball season, was not only sobering to fans -- local officials say they are having a tough time drumming up the revenues usually brought in by the games.

“It’s a residual effect,” said Peter Auger, city manager of Auburn Hills, Mich. “It’s all in the mom-and-pops [stores] and the little places that are hurting.”

The Palace in Auburn Hills is usually packed with about 22,000 people ready to watch the Detroit Pistons. Auger told ABC News Radio that events like concerts and the circus did not bring in the same volume of people night after night. He said bars and restaurants in the area also were suffering.

“Those places are down 40 [percent] to 60 percent,” he said. “We’re still hopeful that they can have a season, number one. People around here love their basketball but those businesses too could use a shot in the arm around now.”

Tom Penn, an ESPN basketball analyst and former vice president of basketball operations for the Portland Trail Blazers, said the league, players and other entities stood to lose a combined $4 billion if the season was canceled. He said the postponed NBA season was being felt by everyone, from the league’s bigwigs to the part-time arena workers.

According to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, each Oklahoma City Thunder game brings $1.3 million to the local economy. The Atlantic reported that the San Antonio Spurs generated $95 million and the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce says the Grizzlies and its arena generated $223 million in 2010. Cleveland Cavalier ticketholders reportedly spend more than $3.7 million per home game.

“Security, ticket takers, ancillary businesses,” Penn said. “A lot of really good people are not able to work right because of this unfortunate dispute. This is real for them.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Facebook Is Friend to Jobless and Small Business, Says Company COO

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- Sheryl Sandberg is widely considered the most powerful woman in Silicon Valley, and it's little wonder why. Sandberg is chief operating officer of Facebook, which could soon have 1 billion users and be worth $100 billion. A Harvard MBA and former chief of staff of the Treasury Department under Bill Clinton, Sandberg left Google to be CEO's Mark Zuckerberg's partner in crime, tasked with helping him take Facebook from scrappy startup to Internet powerhouse.

The 42-year-old married mother of two rarely gives interviews, but she's speaking out about Facebook's role in trying to solve one of the most intractable problems of the day: unemployment. To start with, she's hiring.

"Great [software] engineers in this economy...are in hugely high demand. And we all fight...for them," Sandberg said in an exclusive interview with Nightline anchor Bill Weir. "More students should study computer science. It's a great way to make sure you can be employed for the rest of your life."

But even if you didn't go to Harvard or can barely work a mouse, Sandberg says Facebook could be the key to your next job.

As everyone says, getting a job is all about "who you know." And chances are, most people you know are on Facebook.

"More than 60 percent of people who find jobs find them through people they know or people those people know. ... If you're looking for a job, you should be telling the people you know you're looking. But if you do that on Facebook ... you can tell all of your friends, and then they can pass it on to their friends," Sandberg said.

There are also job-seeking apps developed specifically for Facebook. Simply Hired, for example, has 5 million listings, Sandberg said.

Sandberg says Facebook helps people actually land jobs by researching potential employers. Over 9 million American business use Facebook to promote their businesses, allowing job seekers to contact companies before they put out the "help wanted" sign, and tailor their approach to what the company needs.

Sandberg says they've seen great success among freelancers or small business owners who use Facebook Ads to help grow their businesses. Chris Meyer, a wedding photographer in the Twin Cities, bought ads targeting women who changed their Facebook relationship status to "engaged." The strategy worked.

"This year will be, hands down, the largest year that we've had. We're due to turn about 250 percent, 300 percent of what we did last year," said Meyer.

Targeted ads, however, can raise fears of privacy violation, perhaps Facebook's biggest albatross. For every new fiancee who welcomed Meyer's ad, there may have been others who were creeped out by it. Sandberg is quick to point out that users' information is never shared with advertisers.

"Privacy is one of the most important things we do, and it's a very firm commitment we have to all of our users. We took his ad, and we showed it to all of those women. But we never gave a single bit of information on any of those women to Chris Meyer. We just show them something they're interested in," said Sandberg.

Sandberg said Facebook, by helping businesses grow, does something the economy has struggled to do: create jobs "in the ecosystem around us," she said.

Citing third-party studies with which the company has collaborated, Sandberg said "the Facebook economy" -- the ripple effect of the company's success that has spawned developers, programmers, and others -- had created "about 250,000 jobs."

As for the overall economy, Sandberg said we need to restore confidence: "consumer confidence to spend money, business confidence to hire."

How? First, a regulatory environment that encourages business and creates "the kind of entrepreneurs America has created: the Sam Waltons and Mark Zuckerbergs and Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfreys," she said.

Second, greatly improved education: "Our education system used to be one of the world's best, or the world's best. It is so far from that. We are failing our children, and we're failing the next generation. And over the long run, our competitiveness will be completely tied to how well we educate our children."

Sandberg has become a prominent role model for women in business, partly as a result of several of her speeches going viral.

Today her wish and advice for women is the same as when she was at Treasury, when as reported in the New Yorker, she would invite junior staffmembers, many of them women, to join the senior officials at the main conference table.

"Women should sit at the table. Don't sit in the back of the room ... Really be there, leaning forward in your career," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Admin. Announces Curbs to 'Dumb' Regulations

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration announced Tuesday final plans to overhaul government-wide regulations in a move it says will save businesses at least $10 billion over five years, and help spur the creation of new jobs.

Federal agencies are rolling out “hundreds of initiatives that will reduce costs, simplify the system ,and eliminate redundancy and inconsistency,” Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote in a White House blog post.

Among the changes are reduced reporting requirements for hospitals and health-care providers, estimated to save $4 billion; streamlined Labor Department hazard warnings, estimated to save $2.5 billion; and a new EPA electronic reporting system for hazardous-waste generators, estimated to save $126 million a year.

The White House says many of the reforms are aimed at small businesses, including defense contractors, who will soon receive accelerated payments from the Defense Department to improve cash flow, and small start-up firms, which will encounter streamlined applications for government-supported loans.

President Obama initiated the regulatory review through an executive order in January, saying at the time that he wanted to curb “unreasonable burdens” on businesses and eliminate regulations that are “just plain dumb.”

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley has given additional instructions to the cabinet secretaries “to minimize regulatory costs, avoid imposing excessive regulatory burdens, and prioritize regulatory actions that promote economic growth and job creation,” Sunstein said Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Conservative critics of the administration say, however, that the administration has itself to blame for excessive regulations, which some GOP presidential candidates are calling job killers.

“During its first 26 months -- from taking office to mid-FY 2011 -- the Obama Administration has imposed 75 new major regulations with reported costs to the private sector exceeding $40 billion. During the same period, six major rulemaking proceedings reduced regulatory burdens by an estimated $1.5 billion, still leaving a net increase of more than $38 billion,” wrote the Heritage Foundation’s James Gattuso and Diane Katz in a blog post last month.

Among the new regulations imposed by the administration are fuel standards for cars and trucks, energy standards for light bulbs, rules for banks and financial institutions in the Dodd-Frank law and new insurance mandates in the health care overhaul.

“No other president has burdened businesses and individuals with a higher number and larger cost of regulations in a comparable time period,” they wrote. “President Bush was in his third year before new costs hit $4 billion. President Obama achieved the same in 12 months.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Protect Your Business, Information from Natural Disasters

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Are you ready if disaster strikes?

The hurricane season has just begun, but last month was the worst on record for tornado destruction.  Yet, most consumers and small business owners aren't prepared for natural disasters.

As Susan Solovik of says, most small firms have never considered a disaster preparedness plan.

"You know it's like burying your head in the sand," she says.

Among the first things business owners should protect are "your computers, your software, your databases...also your vendors and suppliers," Solovik says.

Similarly, households should also have a plan in case of a disaster.

"You need to keep backing up all of your critical information and either store it in a unit that you can keep off site or store it electronically with some sort of cloud computing software," Solovik says.

And don't forget to scan all of your legal documents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nasty Competition Fuels Dirty Business Tricks

Hemera Technologies/AbleStock[dot]com(NEW YORK) -- Stewart Patey, owner of a new mattress store in Everett, Wash., believes a rival business took competition too far by vandalizing his delivery truck. The incident appears to be part of a rising tide of business sabotage both online and offline being reported across the country.

Patey first noticed wiring scraps next to his truck outside his store in Everett last week. A surveillance camera captured video of an unidentified man crawling under Patey's delivery truck at 2:18 a.m. on May 19. Patey, who opened Mattress City in April with his wife, said he believes someone is trying to sabotage his business.

The surveillance video shows the man remained there for about 17 minutes cutting wires, which led to repairs of $300. Before this vandalism, Patey said he has reported three incidents of graffiti, also caught on video. In the six weeks Patey's store has been open for business, he filed four police reports and has paid about $1,600 in repair costs.

Small business sabotage appears to be on the rise, especially in a tight economy.

Competitors are also turning to online sabotage as well. And it's not just the little guys who want to get an edge -- social network giant Facebook admitted a few weeks ago that it hired top public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to pitch anti-Google stories to media outlets, suggesting story lines that Google was invading people's privacy.

Panagiotis Ipeirotis, a professor of information systems at New York University's Stern School of Business, said a virtual cottage industry has sprung up where individuals are paid to write comments boosting businesses -- or knocking others -- on review websites like Yelp or Amazon. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Releases Small Business Report

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- To kick off National Small Business Week, the White House on Monday released a report touting the Obama administration’s investments to support small businesses.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our communities. They create two of every three new jobs in America, spur economic growth and spark new industries across the country,” Obama said in a written statement.  “We will continue to create new incentives to help small business owners hire new workers, promote growth and do what America does best -- invest in the creativity and imagination of our people.”
The report, entitled “The Small Business Agenda: Growing America’s Small Businesses to Win the Future," highlights seven areas in which the administration has worked over the past two years to help small businesses create jobs, including 17 tax breaks through the Recovery Act, $53 billion in lending support and nearly $100 billion in federal contracting dollars.
“There’s very little question that small business is now once again contributing to job creation and to helping to lead a job recovery,” director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling told reporters Monday afternoon. “We feel very strongly we’ve come a long way and that this economy still has a lot further to go. We’re proud of the positive impact the president’s comprehensive policies on small business have had but we’re not satisfied. We’re not done yet. We’re going to stay at it and keep working on this,” he said.
Looking ahead,  Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills said small businesses are the key to winning the future. “When we talk about out-building and out-competing and out-innovating the rest of the world, we are talking about doing it through America’s small businesses,” she said on the call.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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