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The Business of Selling Services Online

Disruptive companies such as Airbnb and Amazon are helping individuals sell their services online – whether its renting a basement room, giving a cooking lesson or selling handmade goods. These companies allow anyone with a passion to become an entrepreneur.

Elena Castaneda

This is true of Amazon seller Elena Castaneda, founder and CEO of Bling Jewelry, who started her business with a credit card and an Amazon account. After ten years in business, Bling Jewelry employs 40 people and sells to customers in almost a dozen countries. A share of her success is due to the opportunities Amazon provides small businesses.

“Amazon gives you every possible tool you can think of to manage your business and make it successful,” says Castaneda. She attributes some of her success to Amazon Prime Day, where she has been able to achieve growth and hire more employees. “Sales generated on Prime Day have helped us expand our team and move into a larger office space in New Jersey. In fact, since moving to our new space, we have already hired 10 new employees,” adds Castaneda.

In general, small business owners view online retailing as a way to boost sales. According to a 2018 Insureon and Manta poll, over two-thirds (68 percent) of small businesses say Amazon’s marketplace has a positive impact on businesses sales.

Another e-commerce experience helping boost small business activity – while assisting individuals to make extra income – is hospitality service Airbnb. As more travelers want to experience cities like residents do and not as tourists, the short-term rental platform has helped increase tourism to more diverse neighborhoods, generating greater support for local businesses.

Angelica Melendez

For example, Airbnb reports it hosted 236,000 guests in Washington, DC in 2016, and guests spent $160 million in local businesses. District resident Angelica Melendez is one of those hosts, and helped drive foot traffic to her neighborhood’s shops, as she used the platform to help pay for her mortgage while she attended graduate school. She often opens her home to interns looking to offset the high cost of living in the nation’s capital.

“I’m providing a different kind of service to make a job accessible,” says Melendez. She hopes visitors – especially young people – view the short-term rental platform as more than just a tourism app.

The 21st-century new economy has changed how businesses operate, shifting away from “us versus them” to helping individuals thrive. To survive in this new economy, companies must invest in their users – whether it be Amazon sellers or Airbnb hosts – because their success is critical to a company’s standing.

Caitlin Cline