How the Internet Changed Business

1835 Words Apr 28th, 2005 8 Pages
How the Internet has Changed Small Business Forever

Ten years ago, the Internet as we know it hit screens. It was 1995 when Explorer and Netscape emerged as the leading browsers for Internet users. Of course, a lot has changed since the days when it took several minutes to load one Web page. Today, URLs are as common as phone numbers for most businesses.

During the last decade, we 've been to the top of the world—during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s—and back down again, when it all fell apart a few years later. But with the bad came the good: The Web forever changed the business world. The following small-business owners are shining examples of how Web-based technologies can be a businessperson 's best friend.

1. E-mail
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Now I have to go deep in it. I used to think if a someone called and asked for two or three of an item, it was good," says Barnard. "Now I get calls for 40 or 100 of something. We recently sold fake waffles and toast to Tiffany & Co.—thousands of pieces. They never would have found me if it wasn 't for that Google search."

3. eBay
Because it introduced us to online auction sites where we can now buy and sell for our small businesses
Like many small-business owners, Tom Howle 's first headquarters was in his garage. Howle, who sells and services sound and music equipment such as wireless microphones and speaker stands to churches and consumers, opened the doors to his retail store in 1998, two years after he launched his business. Two years after that, he opened virtual doors on the auction site eBay. Instantly, he cast a wider net.

Howle pays a seller fee of about $15 a month plus 13 cents per item for his eBay storefront, where he has 60 to 70 items listed at any time. Last year, about 20 percent of his sales at Sound Services ( http://www.tomssound.com ) in Birmingham, Ala., came directly from auctions. He grossed $570,000, and eBay sales comprised $103,000 of that number.

There are pluses and minuses, he says. For one thing, eBay margins are lower because of competition. But, as he points out, he 's able to unload things that might never sell in his retail store. This means he can be more flexible with trade-ins, expanding his
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