- Small Businesses Should Embrace Big Data
- 3 Ways Sustainability And Small Business Connect Via Energy
- New Trend: Marijuana — at the Drive-Thru?
- WordPress Announces Yet Another Maintenance Update
- 10 Tips for Selecting Health Insurance Your Employees WON’T Hate
- Which Light Bulb is Best for Your Office?
- 5 Millennial Shopping Trends You Can’t Afford to Ignore
- Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, Leveraged a Local Market for Global Success
- 20 Free Data Recovery Solutions for Small Businesses
- Understanding the Online Platform Economy
Posted: 25 Apr 2017 02:00 AM PDT
First, let's start with the definition of big data. Big data means large sets of structured and unstructured data. It is so large and complex that regular data processing techniques do not work in dealing with this type of data sets. Generally, in the industry, the 3V model is used to describe big data. These 3Vs are; volume, velocity and variety.
Volume is related with how the data is stored. Businesses collect data from many sources such as sales transactions and social media and storing this continuous data was a problem in the past. Nowadays, big data technologies made storing data easier. Velocity stands for real time data. Data streamed in real time must be dealt with immediately. Finally, variety refers to the different formats of data such as text, video, image and audio. Businesses should be able to arrange and store data in all formats.
Why You Should Embrace Big Data
Now that we have an idea about what big data is, let's try to understand what big data means for businesses and why it is important for them.
Republished by permission. Original here.
Data Photo via Shutterstock
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 02:30 PM PDT
Sustainability has been a national conversation in recent years, and with political discussions about environmental issues heating up, the time is right for leaders in sustainability to help demystify the issue. As politicians argue about policies, incentives, and ways to legislate sustainability, many businesses have already started to take action.
A common misconception is that sustainable operations will increase costs and eat away at profits. The concern is that contributing funds to overhauling existing processes just to make them more eco-friendly will have an adverse impact on the bottom line. In many cases, however, the opposite is true: sustainable actions lead to better profits.
Edelman's Good Purpose Study found that 73 percent of consumers said they would switch brands to find one that was closely tied to a cause they found to be important or meaningful. Since environmental issues are important to many consumers, it is a great hot button cause to attach to brand development.
Additionally, there are real operational benefits to making processes more sustainable. Take energy for example. The Department of Energy found that the average American creates $3,052 in energy expenditure on the grid every year. When it came down to commercial use, the number was daunting. Nationwide commercial energy consumption reached 18 Billion BTUs. Businesses that can move some of that consumption off the grid to solutions like solar or energy storage often avoid rising costs during peak demand.
The good news is more and more startups are emerging to help businesses and consumers find sustainable solutions to existing operations without significantly increasing costs. Yoav Lurie, CEO of Simple Energy, an online marketplace for utilities explains, "Sustainable technologies are creating competition in energy markets in a way that benefits energy consumers." This kind of competition tends to create lower costs for consumers and better products for everyone.
Utilities Market Being Disrupted
Any given area is run by a very small number of utilities that have a significant amount of control over the industry. Dominance and lack of competition like this tends to breed a certain degree of complacency. Lurie points out however that many are starting to make major upgrades to that approach. He shared, "Countless utility companies are realizing that updates to the business model can be beneficial, and in some cases, essential for survival." Startups are helping drive that change, making it easier for existing energy and utility companies to upgrade processes to better match demand. Utilities catering to demand is better for business because it will help businesses that are not able to switch to sources like solar or energy storage remain cost effective.
Preventing Fluctuating Expenditures
While the utility market is evolving, it is important to note that there are natural events that cause fluctuations in energy pricing all the time. Take California's drought for example. If the drought had continued much longer, prices for large use of water would eventually have increased, meaning businesses that were not water-wise might have experienced significant unexpected costs. Similarly, any area that experiences rolling blackouts due to heat or problems with efficiency may see a negative impact on budgets. Providing alternatives that allow users to find the best service may help mitigate some of these costs.
Avoiding Public Reactions
While it may seem a bit less tangible than some of the other reasons listed, public opinion is a powerful force that can have a serious effect on any business. BP, Exxon, and countless other companies are all too familiar with what happens when public opinion turns due to issues related to sustainability. While most corporate giants recover from shifts in opinion, small to midsize businesses usually cannot afford extended periods of public upset. Therefore it is vital that brands maintain a clean record on sustainability.
Sustainability and Small Business
While sustainable energy providers are still evolving, it is clear that small businesses need to be thinking of ways to engage with sustainable alternatives. Lurie shares, "Everyone needs to adapt to the ways the market is changing to remain relevant during disruptive periods." Those that do are bound to find new opportunities and secure competitive advantage in their respective markets.
Business Owner Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "3 Ways Sustainability And Small Business Connect Via Energy" was first published on Small Business Trends
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 12:30 PM PDT
Ever since states like Colorado started legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, most customers have had to go into stores to make their purchases. But that's no longer the case for customers of one Colorado business.
Drive Through Marijuana Shop
Tumbleweed Express is a drive-thru marijuana dispensary in Colorado. It's housed in an old car wash. So it also makes creative use of an older building. But of course, the business still has to comply with all laws by ensuring that all drivers and passengers in every vehicle are over 21.
And Tumbleweed Express isn't the only cannabis business to get creative with product delivery methods either. Eaze is a business that will actually deliver medical marijuana right to your door on-demand.
This type of growth makes a lot of sense in this new industry. Other areas like food service offer plenty of different ways for customers to purchase and obtain their products based on their personal preference. So as the legal marijuana industry continues to grow and evolve, we're likely to see tons of new and creative changes to distribution, form and function of the end product itself, and in plenty other areas of operation as well.
Joints Photo via Shutterstock
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 10:30 AM PDT
WordPress April 2017 Maintenance Update
With the new update, uploading audio and video files will no longer result in broken thumbnails. The version’s REST API also received a few enhancements that are related to data handling. And in addition, WordPress 4.7.4 has restored the ability to Shift-click a range of checkboxes. To see a full list of changes visit the release notes page on the Codex.
You can now quickly Download WordPress 4.7.4 or you can alternatively go to your Dashboard, click on "Updates" and simply click "Update Now."
Websites that allow for automatic updates are also starting to get the new changes.
WordPress says that since the release of version 4.7 back in December 2016, the company has registered about sixty million downloads.
WordPress Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "WordPress Announces Yet Another Maintenance Update" was first published on Small Business Trends
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 09:00 AM PDT
The United States Census Bureau pegs the number of Americans with health insurance at 90.9 percent according to their most recent statistics. According to the same set of numbers, over half of the majority with coverage (55.7 percent) got it from an employer.
For those who hold the small business healthcare reigns for their firms, it's a balancing act that often mixes cost against finding a package that retains people. Anthony Lopez is the Director of Small Business Health Insurance at eHealth. He offered some valuable takeaways on navigating what can be an otherwise daunting healthcare maze by providing 10 tips for selecting a healthcare plan your employees won't hate.
Selecting Health Insurance for Your Small Business
"Providing the employees with enough options so they feel comfortable and that they're making decisions on what their healthcare is rather than having the employers owing all of it is important," Lopez says. Offering multiple deductibles of $2,500, $1,500 and $500 lays the groundwork to accomplish this goal.
Look for a Level Funded Plan
This type is also referred to as a partially self-funded plan. Generally these are 25-30 percent less than other traditional plans and the rates depend on the overall health of the group. The benefits are the same with these. The way rates are determined is the big difference.
Take a Survey
Ask and you shall receive as the old saying goes.
"It possible to send out a survey or have a team meeting and ask them what's important to their benefits and what's important to the group," Lopez says adding that many employers are surprised by the results.
"A lot of employees prefer to pay less in their premium and a higher deductible so they can put the money aside for emergencies."
The big ones to offer here are dental, vision and life. If you can't contribute as a small business employer to these, you can make them voluntary whereby employees pay but still get a group rate.
Lopez also suggests doing your homework. As a small business owner, this helps to present the best possibilities to your staff.
"It's good to compare group rates and individual rates as well as the networks for each. Depending on where you're at, you may have a more robust network going with a group plan."
He also says it's a good idea to be sure the doctors your employees favor are part of that network.
Sometimes it makes sense to take an individual plan rather than a group package depending on cost. Lopez stresses that a good agent will walk you through all the different options including this one. In cases where there are only one or two employees, this often makes sense for both groups.
Finding the Right Carriers
A lot of finding the right small business healthcare plan hinges on finding a carrier that will work with your particular set of circumstances.
"You have to make sure that you're meeting not only the requirements for participation, but that you have enough employees in the home state for the carrier to offer coverage," Lopez says adding a good agent will know what all of your options are.
Some smaller groups and start-ups find this aspect frustrating since they have people who work from home in multiple states but still want to provide coverage. Lopez stresses not to give up.
"There's definitely solutions out there. It's just a matter of shopping and making sure your agent is doing their due diligence."
HSA vs. Traditional Plan
The most recent healthcare industry buzzword is health savings account (HSA), but you need to look at the mechanics of these versus a traditional plan before you decide on what's best for your small business. Lopez says understanding the inner workings makes a big difference.
"Sitting down and understanding how the deductible and those office co pays work is very important."
With an HSA, you need to pay out of pocket until you meet your deductible. With a more traditional plan, the deductible is higher and the out of pocket costs lower.
Feedback from Brokers
Going right to the source isn't just about asking your employees what they'd like to see in a plan. Brokers will generally tell you if they've had any specific issues with carriers and that information can help you narrow down your choices.
Brokers and Employees
A question and answer session with your employees and a broker can help to further define the ingredients that go into a health plan that will keep your employees happy.
There's no doubt that getting the right health insurance as a small business can be a little daunting given the current landscape, but Lopez concludes with a solid piece of advice if you're still sitting on the fence.
"Going without insurance is a risk. Whether you get it through the small business or the individual is important because there's not going to be a safety net there this year where, if you're not covered, you'll be forgiven if there's a big claim."
Doctor Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "10 Tips for Selecting Health Insurance Your Employees WON'T Hate" was first published on Small Business Trends
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 07:30 AM PDT
Lighting is a powerful tool. But it can also have a much larger effect on your business too.
When properly optimized, lighting can set the mood and tone of your environment, not only creating a particular look but also influencing certain outcomes. Lighting can shape productivity, creativity and even emotions.
The right lighting can lead to an overall environment fostering inspiration and productivity. The wrong choice can lead to an oppressive mood of monotony where projects seem to drag on forever and no one wants to spend much time collaborating.
But light has another impact on your business — and that is the impact of the bottom line and your business's impact on the environment.
At its very core, light sets the internal schedule for how our minds and bodies operate. It is the natural driving force behind our circadian rhythms establishing our optimum schedules of productivity and rest.
Now that you have some idea of just how important the right lighting for your small business office can be, here is a list of the small business lighting from which to choose.
An incandescent light bulb is certainly the iconic image many think of when discussing electric lights. (This image has been enhanced by the use of an incandescent bulb by many a graphic designer to symbolize that game changing great idea!)
This bulb creates light when an electric current passes through a filament. The only advantage of an incandescent bulb considering the availability of other technologies is that it's cheap. The trouble is it's equally inefficient.
Incandescent bulbs convert less than five percent of the energy they use into actual light. That's a terrible expense — and a terrible blow to the environment.
Fortunately, no matter how inexpensive (at the cash register) they may be, their long-term cost to businesses and the environment has doomed them to extinction.
They are in the process of being phased out in many developed countries around the world and are generally considered obsolete for business use.
Halogens are the modern take on the standard incandescent light — with a twist!
The interior of the bulb is filled with halogen gas — improving their efficiency a bit. They also give off a light that's clear and crispy white.
Halogens are the chosen light-systems for detailed work such as video and photo studios.
Halogen lights are lightweight, which makes them a great solution for portability.
Museums, art studios and any industry that may have a rotation of products will benefit from halogen lighting.
Halogens are also a great option for outdoor use. With components often made of quartz, they can withstand high heat.
And these lights also turn on instantly without the need to be warmed up.
Light-Emitting Diode lamps, or LED's, are the most common lighting fixtures you will find in businesses today.
Companies prefer LED's because of their efficient use of energy. The lifespan of an LED can be up to 50 times greater than the average incandescent. That's a lot less replacing of bulbs, which is better for your wallet and the planet!
In addition, LED lamps feature convenience. This is by design. It turns out most manufacturers have sized these new lights to easily replace their standard incandescent and fluorescent predecessors.
And here's another advantage with LED's: fast activation. Factories and work intensive spaces will appreciate the LED's next to zero wait time to "light up".
LED lights are one-directional so their applications are best used in open spaces as the main source of light. That being said, LED's are constructed in various formats, including tube lighting, allowing their use to be applied in a broad range of industries.
LED lights are extremely versatile and can be used in everything from food production to cold storage to manufacturing. They're also important for outdoor use for everything from sporting events to secure enclosures.
Compact Fluorescent, CFL, bulbs are an alternative to the more expensive LED's, but are still more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
This makes them better for the environment and better for your bottom line.
Just as convenient in terms of sizing without adaptors, CFL's are basically a mini version of a standard fluorescent light.
They exhibit a more subtle shine, more similar to the standard incandescent light, however. So their application may be more suited in areas where an ultra-bright solution isn't necessary.
One of the drawbacks of CFL lighting however may make them a less desirable choice. CFL bulbs contain mercury so they need to be disposed of according to environmental policy.
And in case of breakage, CFL bulbs must be cleaned up properly since mercury is a dangerous heavy metal. So keep this in mind when determining what bulbs are best for your business.
With such a wide selection of lighting options, it's best to contact a lighting professional for your particular needs. Lighting designers along with light manufacturers can provide you with a customized solution according to your specifications.
It's important to note that not all lighting products, even when in the same category, are created equal. So be sure to select the one that's right for your business.
Light Bulbs Photo via Shutterstock
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:30 AM PDT
Good news for small retailers: The ideal millennial retail experience is not a giant superstore full of endless product permutations.
Instead, millennials value simplicity, quality and authenticity, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. A carefully curated store with products that appeal to their tastes will spark millennial spending, according to Kelton, which aims to identify trends before they happen. Here are five trends any retail business targeting millennials needs to be aware of, and how you can do to take advantage of them.
Millennial Shopping Trends
Remember when Target got rid of its boys and girls toy departments, instead displaying toys in gender-neutral fashion? While it riled some people, the idea just plain makes sense to millennials. They don't believe products should be narrowly defined as only for boys or girls, men or women.
You can: Offer gender-neutral merchandise, such as unisex clothing and toys and display it in a gender-neutral fashion. For instance, a clothing boutique with men's clothes on one side and women's on the other is so old school. How about casual clothes on one side and dressy clothes on the other? Finally, make sure your visuals, such as store signage, displays, ads and social media posts, are inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
Less is more for millennials, many of whom are rejecting mass consumption and the waste it brings. Instead, they want to purchase fewer, but higher-quality products.
You can: Introduce higher-quality products that cost more, but last longer. Emphasize your products' quality and durability in your marketing and signage. Encourage reuse of products by offering trade-ins where you give discounts for bringing in old items, then donate the castoffs to charity.
The Snapchat Effect
Millennials are used to quickly changing content, like Snapchat stories that live only 24 hours. They expect your store to keep up by feeding them new stimuli all the time.
You can: Try adding a popup store for a limited time separate from your main location. For instance, if a nearby outdoor shopping center gets lots of summer foot traffic, do a month-long popup there. Inside your store, shift your merchandise mix as frequently as is feasible. This can be as simple as changing your window displays every week or rotating displays from the front to the back of the store. Change the look of your store by adding new signage, displays of art by local artists or other in-store installations. Finally, keep your social media presence enticing with frequent updates.
Millennials prefer to support local, independent businesses, not global chains. The more you emphasize your ties to the local community millennials care about, the better.
You can: Get involved in community organizations and events. Use your marketing to highlight any local suppliers to your store or locally made products you sell. Hold in-store events that celebrate the local community. For instance, a bookstore could hold poetry readings or book signings by local authors. Any type of store can incorporate local artists' work on their walls.
More than any other generation, millennials expect the shopping experience to be seamless. They want to pay quickly and use their smartphones for just about everything.
You can: Update your point-of-sale systems to accept digital wallet payments such as Apple Pay, which millennials are more likely than other generations to embrace. Make sure your loyalty program, too, is digital so there's no need to fumble with plastic loyalty cards. Finally, use tablets and smartphones to accept payments anywhere in store.
Farmer’s Market Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "5 Millennial Shopping Trends You Can't Afford to Ignore" was first published on Small Business Trends
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 05:30 AM PDT
Ma was born in Hangzhou, China, in 1964. He grew up poor and started off by giving English tours to foreigners for free.
Today, his net worth amounts to approximately $28.5 billion with Alibaba — the company he founded — worth more than Facebook.
Unlocking the Potential of a Local Market
A quick internet search triggered an idea that changed Ma's life forever.
When he couldn't find any information on beer from China, he realized he had stumbled upon a business opportunity. Soon he launched a website about China and Chinese products online. On that website, Ma listed Chinese businesses and their products.
It wasn't long before he started receiving emails from people across the world keen to partner with him.
Before Ma, China was an uncharted territory for businesses from other parts of the world. Ma connected with influential government people and investors to take his business venture to the next level.
Following the dot com crash of 2000, Ma refocused his attention on the Chinese market. This strategy paid off and he emerged as the biggest ecommerce player in the Chinese market.
Leverage Opportunities in a Local Market to Take on the Big Players
The burgeoning Chinese market caught the attention of big ecommerce players. Determined to stay ahead of competition, Ma attracted online traders with his commission-free platform.
He offered them value-added services for a small fee. He also acquired some companies to further boost his business against competition.
For a small business, there's a lot to learn from Ma. His local knowledge, for example, helped him grow his business. That's a lesson for businesses that are focused on their local markets.
He has also set an example on how to take on competition, especially from the big players, to gain momentum.
Image: Small Business Trends
This article, "Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, Leveraged a Local Market for Global Success" was first published on Small Business Trends
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 04:30 AM PDT
The best way to protect your small business from data loss is to always back-up your data. However, sometimes, data loss just sneaks right on you. It could be as a result of incompatible software, data corruption, hacking, accidental deletion or even a simple power surge or outage. Whatever the case, there are some free data recovery tools that could help you get back your lost data.
Free Data Recovery Tools
This is an incredibly powerful tool for recovering data. It is available in both free and paid editions, and it can recover files from external drives (USB drives, etc.), hard drives, BD/DVD/CD discs, memory cards. Use Recuva to recover data from Windows 10, 8.1, 7, Vista and XP. Including both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
Pandora Recovery has a paid edition that you can put on a USB disk to recover an operating system drive and a free version that you can use to recover data from secondary drives.
Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery Software
While they also have paid options, Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery solution offers a wide range of features, including the ability to recover lost or deleted files emptied from Recycle bin, recover data from lost or deleted partition, recover deleted emails, photos, audio and videos among many other features.
Expect thorough inspection and file recovery from this Windows compatible tool. PC INSPECTOR recognizes all types of data and you can use it to recover deletions and even total volume loss.
As the name suggests, FreeUndelete is a free tool that you can use to recover deleted files. This is a simple, efficient tool. Pressed SHIFT-DEL or emptied the Recycle Bin? No problem. This tool will recover your files.
ADRC Data Recovery Software Tools
The ADRC Data Recovery Software Tools contains a collection of data recovery tools that support a wide variety of file systems and drives. The tool zooms in to complete critical recovery functions like disk image backup, undeleting files, disk cloning, editing and restoring boot parameters and restoring backup image, among other roles.
NTFS Data Recovery Toolkit
The NTFS Data Recovery Toolkit is built specifically for NTFS volumes. This toolkit comes loaded with data recovery tools, partition manager and disk editor. All tools contain instructions on how to use them.
EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
This is another great recovery tool that features both free and paid versions. Use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to undelete files from optical drives, memory cards, hard drives, and pretty much anything else that Windows recognizes as a storage device.
Wise Data Recovery
The Wise Data Recovery Tool allows you to get back deleted documents, videos, photos and emails from your removable or local drives for free.
CD Recovery Toolbox
CD Recovery Toolbox is a free tool that is designed to recover files from damaged or corrupted optical drive discs — CD, Blu-Ray, HD DVD, DVD, etc. This tool should help you recover files from discs that have surface spotting, chipped or scratched.
UndeleteMyFiles Pro is another amazing free tool that allows you to recover accidentally deleted files from SD cards, hard disks, USB flash drives and other storage media.
MiniTool Power Data Recovery
The MiniTool Power Data Recovery tool is a data recovery tool that's available in both free and paid editions. The Free edition will help you to recover lost, deleted, formatted and corrupt files with ease.
TOKIWA DataRecovery is an effective, standalone data recovery program. It is easy to use, featuring a single program window where you can sort and scan files and undelete them. This tool recovers files from memory cards, USB drives, hard drives, and other external drives.
Bplan Data Recovery
This free data recovery tool can help you to recover lost data even after you have formatted your Laptop or desktop computer hard drive. Bplan unfortunately only works with Windows 7, 8 and XP.
TestDisk is designed to repair drives that are no longer bootable and recover lost partitions. This tool is able to repair most file systems (FAT, NTFS, EXT). It runs under most versions of Linux, BSD, Windows and Mac operating systems.
Active UNERASER is a freeware software that you can use to recover deleted files as well as damaged folders located on Unix UFS/XFS, Apple HFS+, Linux Ext2/Ext3/Ext4/BtrFS, NTFS, FAT and exFAT fikle systems.
SoftPerfect File Recovery
SoftPerfect File Recovery is a free tool that you can use to rescue and restore data that was accidentally deleted from USB flash disks, floppy disks, SD cards, hard disks and other storage media.
This is one of the best programs to use when recovering accidentally deleted files. Undelete 360 is built on a fast and efficient algorithm that will allow you to browse, search, and recover files.
This is one of the best data recovery tools. This free to use software is widely applauded for its powerful recovery abilities. Use PhotoRec to recover data like videos, pictures and documents from a wide range of devices ranging from digital cameras to hard disks.
This is an easy to use and straight forward tool for undeleting files that were directly deleted from Windows or removed from the recycle bin. Restoration does not require installation and works with NTFS and FAT as well as digital cameras cards.
Hard Drive Photo via Shutterstock
This article, "20 Free Data Recovery Solutions for Small Businesses" was first published on Small Business Trends
Posted: 24 Apr 2017 03:30 AM PDT
One of the major changes in the economy over the past two decades has been the rise of online platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer transactions. Instead of paying the owner of a parking garage to park your car or a hotel chain for a night's stay, with these platforms, consumers are renting parking spaces and nightly accommodations from their peers.
The Platform Economy
Online platforms have sprung up to match buyers and sellers in a wide variety of industries. These days there are platforms to match buyers and sellers of work tools, home appliances, house cleaning, car rides, old clothing and a host of other things.
These platforms have made it easier for people to engage in part-time, small-scale, entrepreneurial activity by connecting workers to people needing work done, sellers to buyers of goods, and asset owners to people needing to rent them, removing intermediaries from the process. Some economists attribute the recent rise in non-employer businesses to these platforms.
While participation in the online platform economy is not yet widespread, it is growing rapidly. A survey by consulting firm PWC indicates that only seven percent of the U.S. population are "providers in the sharing economy." Another study, this one by the JPMorganChase Institute, looked at the bank's checking account customers and found that only one percent of adults made money from online platforms in any given month, and four percent made money at some point over the previous three years. Yet those numbers were more than ten times their rates only three years earlier.
The online platform economy is composed of three distinct types of technology-mediated platforms: (1) labor platforms, which provide methods for people to find part-time work (think Uber or TaskRabbit), (2) goods platforms, which provide methods for people to sell goods to other people, (think Amazon or Craigslist) and (3) asset platforms, which provide methods for people to make more efficient use of their assets (think Airbnb or Turo).
The usage of the three types of platforms varies significantly. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that only one percent of Americans used home-sharing platforms to provide access to a dwelling, but 8 percent earned money in the previous 12 months from an online platform that helps them find work, and 18 percent earned money by selling something online. (In fact, more Americans used online platforms to sell used goods – 14 percent – than anything else.) The much higher penetration of platforms that facilitate sales of goods online makes sense since two of the biggest platforms for online sale of goods, eBay and Craigslist, were founded in 1995, while most of the platforms for selling access to capital and labor date only from the mid-to-late 2000s.
A few demographic patterns exist across all three types of online platforms activities. Residents of the Pacific and Mountain states are much more likely than those in other parts of the country to participate in the online platform economy, and those in New England are least likely to participate. The use of these platforms is more common in the service sector than in other industries. Young people are more likely to use online platforms than older generations. And people of all ages are much more likely to use these platforms as a source of extra income than as a primary way to make money.
Flexibility, not earning potential, is the main driver of the decision to become a provider on an online platform. The Pew Research Center survey shows that 45 percent of people who earn money through online platforms chose to offer goods, labor or capital through these platforms because they "need to control their own schedule" – a much higher fraction than provide any other motivation.
Interestingly, this motivation is similar to what surveys show is the reason people they choose self-employment. That’s the reason why some observers believe that platforms are behind the increase in part-time, small-scale entrepreneurial activity that we have seen in recent years.
Online Photo via Shutterstock
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