We all have precious objects that are part of our lives, whether for their commercial or emotional value. Quite often we have more than one such object, and sometimes people have many. There are also those who collect specific items such as postage stamps, keychains, porcelain dolls, ceramic cups, and a million other things. And some people gather everything. Literally everything. They seem to be unable to disconnect from any object that comes into their possession. That’s collecting in its worst form — when it turns into hoarding, which is unhealthy and dictates the way of life of individuals.Through the media, today we can meet a lot of hoarders who have asked for professional help and openly discuss their problem of collecting things. However, in the past, hoarding wasn’t a widespread issue to talk about publicly.So when police discovered the apartment of the Collyer brothers in New York City, in 1947, and removed some 100 tons of junk from it, the brothers became the synonym of hoarding.Compulsive hoarding.Homer and Langley Collyer were born in 1881 and 1885 respectively, both highly intelligent and educated. They attended Columbia University where Homer attained a degree in law and Langley in engineering. Langley was also an accomplished concert pianist.They were both eccentric just like their parents, Dr. Herman and Susie Livingston, who were allegedly first cousins. Herman was known for canoeing down the East River from Harlem to the City Hospital on Blackwell’s Island. Other than that, the family seemed to have had a normal life.In 1919, the parents separated and the brothers, 38 and 34 at the time, chose to live with their mother in the family mansion at 2078 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Neither of them ever lived separately from the family. In the following decade, both their parents died, with Homer and Langley inheriting the mansion as well as the family fortune. In 1929, they isolated themselves from society and remained more and more in their home, away from other people’s eyes.The police discovered the apartment of Collyer brothers in New York City, in 1947, and removed some 100 tons of junk.Nobody knew what was going on in the apartment; the brothers kept to themselves, but the things got seriously bizarre after 1933 when Homer lost his eyesight, and Langley quit his job to take care of his brother.He even created a special diet consisting of peanut butter, black bread, and 100 oranges per week, which was supposed to restore Homer’s eyesight. Langley’s obsession with his brother’s sight took another dimension. He started collecting all the newspapers so that Homer would catch up on the news once he was healed.Homer developed rheumatism that left him entirely paralyzed and yet he rejected any medical help. They didn’t have any source of income, and their utilities were shut down due to unpaid bills. As a skilled engineer, Langley improvised with an old Ford Model T which belonged to the family and made it into a generator for the house.As for water, he filled up from the pumps at local parks. He also used a small kerosene heater to warm the house. And his collecting of useless objects that Homer would one day supposedly use to catch up with escalated into out-of-control hoarding that consumed all the space in their house, making them prisoners in their own home.New York recluse Langley Collyer, caught climbing over a fence, who lived with his brother in their 5th Avenue home amid tons of debris they had collected. The brothers died in the house in 1947. (Photo by FPG/Getty Images)Even more ridiculous were the attempts to protect that space filled with junk. To protect their home from intruders and burglars, Langley created tunnels so that he could move around, and a number of booby traps for the unwelcome guests.The story of the Collyer brothers reached the public in March 1947. The police received an anonymous call that there was a dead body in the apartment.Interior shot of a room within the Collyer house. Photo by BettmannWhen the police tried to open the door of the house, they realized that there was so much junk inside that the only possible entrance was through a window.They were forced to remove the junk piece by piece to observe the interior. Once the police were able to enter the apartment, they searched for two hours until they found Homer’s body lying among the trash and boxes.Since they were unable to find the other brother, the police launched a massive hunt believing that Langley had escaped, leaving Homer to starve until death.Collyer Brothers Park, the site of the former Collyer house.After three weeks, Langley was finally found, lying dead only 10 feet from where Homer’s body was found. It turned out that he died of asphyxiation while trapped in one of his own booby traps. Supposedly, Homer died a few days later from starvation.Around 120 tons of junk was removed from the Collyer’s home including 14 pianos, 25,000 books, bowling balls, pickled human organs, the chassis of the old Model T, the folding top of a horse-drawn carriage, hundreds of yards of unused silk and fabric, and bunch of other bizarre items. The brothers were buried with their parents at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. Their house was torn down, and the site was turned into a small park, named in their honor.
When Jeff Bridges tweeted the imminent return of his most popular character “The Dude” recently, Big Lebowski fans’ heads were spinning like bowling balls. “Can’t be living in the past, man. Stay tuned” was the simple message accompanying a video of Bridges in costume. However, there’s been a twist in the tale which brings him face to face with another iconic ‘90s character.Jeff Bridges speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 3.0Stella Artois have turned out to be behind the Dude’s reappearance. Its new TV spot sees cinema’s ultimate slacker enter a bar to order a drink. But not his usual White Russian (vodka, coffee liqueur, cream and ice).This time he’s on the Stella, which he amusingly mispronounces. Yet the person who came in before him knows all the brands and exactly how to pronounce them.Stars Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges at the 2011 Lebowski Fest. Photo by Joe Poletta CC BY-SA 2.0Sarah Jessica Parker has reprised her role of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and The City to cross paths with the original Jeffrey Lebowski. When he sits at the table next to hers, she compliments him on his choice of tipple.As anticipated, it’s to play during the upcoming Super Bowl on February 3rd. The initial teaser featured the date at the end of the clip.Sarah Jessica Parker. Photo by MiamiFilmFestival CC BY-SA 2.0“Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” tweeted the veteran actor when unveiling the new production, one of many famous lines from the 1998 film which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.Written and directed by the Coen Brothers, the movie became a major cult favorite. It even gave rise to a religion known as “Dudeism.” Bridges supplied his own clothes to create the Dude’s much-copied look. The character was based on Jeff Dowd, a movie marketer and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival.Joel and Ethan Coen. Photo by Georges Biard CC BY-SA 3.0The star is certainly happy to be linked to the role. In January, when being presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes, he commented “If I’m lucky, I’ll be associated with the Dude for the rest of my life. I feel so honored to be a part of that film.”Those who hoped Bridges’ was heralding a Big Lebowski sequel remain disappointed. He has expressed interest in playing the part again, though prospects of a Part 2 seem remote.Jeff Bridges, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi in a scene from the movie The Big Lebowski. Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty ImagesIn 2014 a hoax circulated that a second movie was in production which would feature Bill Murray as the Dude’s brother. As reported by WENN, even Bridges believed the news. “There was a pretty good rumor going around recently that got me; I was excited! I had to call my agent and say, ‘Hey, what’s happening?’ (He said), ‘No, it’s just rumors.’”However there is a glimmer of hope for aficionados to cling to. Co-star John Turturro has remade 1974 crime comedy Going Places, and in an unusual move is resurrecting Jesus Quintana for the main character. The film is set for release this year and is recognized as an official part of the Lebowski universe.As for Sarah Jessica Parker, she last played Carrie Bradshaw in 2010’s Sex and The City 2. Based on Candace Bushnell’s book, the TV series ran from 1998 to 2004.What drew her to the Stella Artois ad and a run in with the Dude? It turns out both actors were brought to the table by the involvement of water.org, a charity co-founded by Matt Damon (who worked with Bridges on the Coens’ True Grit).With purchases of Stella going toward the promotion of clean water and sanitation in the developing world, the decision was a no brainer for Parker.Read another story from us: Jeff Dowd: The Real “Dude” who Inspired The Big Lebowski!Speaking to Elite Daily, she remarked, “I found their work not just important but urgent, life-changing, life-altering so it became incredibly easy for me to say yes — not only that, but to feel privileged to be a part of it. I just think it was clever to take these two characters who have these associations with these drinks and show them making this very simple switch.”The high profile spot looks like it’s going to inspire a lot more than just half time refreshment.
Advertisement White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino ripped LaVar on Twitter yesterday, which probably got the President’s antennas up.Wannabe @Lakers coach, BIG MOUTH @Lavarbigballer knows if it weren’t for President @realDonaldTrump, his son would be in China for a long, long, long time! #FACT https://t.co/j2GcY7F4f9— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) November 18, 2017There’s so much wrong with this situation on all sides. LaVar Ball sounds like a jerk for not being gracious for the President’s role in getting his son out of potentially serious jail time in China, but it’s also low rent for the President to be responding to some loud mouth basketball dad in any way, or tweeting impulsively in general.One thing’s for sure, this feud isn’t over yet. LaVar Ball just had a massive free marketing opportunity fall into his lap. You think he’s gonna let it go? Hell no. Stay tuned. Donald Trump has Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin to worry about, but today on Twitter, The President of the United States went on the attack against LaVar Ball, after Ball made comments downplaying Trump’s role in securing the release and return of his son, LiAngelo, following his arrest in China for boosting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store.“What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.” – LaVar BallA pissed off Trump took to the Twitter machine to take a direct shot at Ball, and express his regret for getting his son out of potentially serious jail time in China.Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
The Ball brothers are off and running with their professional careers in Lithuania, and after being held scoreless in their debut against a real team, they combined for 60 points – LiAngelo had 31, LaMelo, 29 – against some inferior competition in The Big Baller Brand Challenge Games.The Big Ballers got plenty of breakaway dunks in this one, but to be fair, the other team looked like a JV team from the suburbs.Here are the highlights. Don’t scroll through trying to find any defense. It’s not happening. Be honest with yourself. This isn’t close to DI competition.
Advertisement The Steelers fired offensive coordinator Todd Haley yesterday, following a disappointing home playoff loss, and many others would like the organization to go a step further and fire Mike Tomlin. Colin has been hard on Tomlin, and has frequently criticized his teams for running too high on emotion and lacking attention to detail, but he disagrees with those that want him axed.Even though Tomlin has historically struggled to beat the Patriots, and mismanaged the final seconds of their crucial Week 15 loss to New England, Pittsburgh finished with 13 wins, and were an instant replay reversal of a Jesse James TD catch away from having home field advantage throughout the playoffs.Colin understands the frustrations with Tomlin, but it’s unfair to call for his job just because he doesn’t stack up to Belichick and the Patriots. No one does.“There’s not utter dysfunction… Jesse James’ touchdown is given to them, they’re playing Tennessee and they’re hosting New England.” — @ColinCowherd says the Steelers will be fine pic.twitter.com/6xD0MPLRaR— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) January 18, 2018
2 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals This story appears in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Plenty of environmentally conscious entrepreneurs already re-cycle paper and computers. They might even drive hybrid vehicles and look for ways to reduce the impact of their businesses on the earth. And now there are ways to continue that philosophy on the internet by getting onboard with a green web-hosting provider. That’s right–we’re talking solar- and wind-powered websites.Affordable Internet Services Online Inc.in Romoland, California, is a green web-hosting service that has been using solar power since 2001. They have 120 solar panels mounted on the roof of their data center, solar tubes providing light during the day and a large bank of batteries storing the power to keep their servers running at all times. “We wanted to help the environment, but we also wanted to get rid of our growing electric bill,” says technology manager Phil Nail. They’ve attracted a variety of clients from around the world that feel strongly about the environment and want to demonstrate that commitment to their web customers.A really good green web-hosting provider should offer all the amenities of any other host. Look for a company that performs regular backups, monitors its servers and has good uptime. Using a green provider doesn’t have to cost more, either. AISO, for example, offers packages starting at $9.95 per month. Some other leading providers to look into are EcoSky, wind-powered Locomotive Mediaand Solar Data Centers.Expect this niche to stay small. Says Nail, “I don’t see any of the large companies going this route because of the amount of solar panels they would need to generate enough electricity.” Still, entrepreneurs looking for a green hosting alternative have several options to choose from. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. November 1, 2005 Register Now »
Ever since Apple first released its now iconic iPhone in the summer of 2007, the purported “iPhone killers” haven’t measured up for entrepreneurial types who prefer to buy their mobile real estate in Apple’s edgier neighborhood. Palm’s new Pre aims to change that. Tech blog Gizmodo called it “the most important handset to be announced in two years,” while Playboy deemed it “lust-worthy.”It’s likely that die-hard Palm aficionados will quietly worship its security features and ability to sync with Exchange and open PowerPoint attachments. But in the company of their hipper, iPhone-toting friends, they’ll brag about the Pre’s slick, compact design and demonstrate how they can jump between functions. The Pre not only plants the Palm in Apple’s neighborhood–it busts through Steve Jobs’s front door and makes itself at home. This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. This story appears in the July 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » 1 min read Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Free June 16, 2009
Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. This story appears in the April 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » March 12, 2010 Mobile advertising network operator AdMob, the focus of Entrepreneur’s Innovators department last month (“The New Advertising Age,” March 2010), credits much of its growth to the release of new devices by Apple (notably the iPhone and the iPod touch) that create more demand for and consumption of mobile advertising. This annotated chart tracks how traffic on AdMob’s mobile ad network has expanded in step with Apple’s milestones. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global 1 min read Register Now »
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. 5 min read Enroll Now for Free September 20, 2012 This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. image credit: ShutterstockIn his book Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business, author Ted Prodromou describes how to best to leverage the networking site as a business tool. In this edited excerpt, the author details the two methods of building connections on LinkedIn.How many connections should you have on LinkedIn? I’m asked that question frequently, and there isn’t a magic number that works for everyone. LinkedIn isn’t a popularity contest where the person with the most connections wins. LinkedIn is about building relationships and connecting with others, which is very different than the monologue communication of Twitter.There are two distinct approaches to networking on LinkedIn. The first, which is used by most LinkedIn members, is called strategic networking, where you focus on quality, not quantity. Strategic networkers usually have less than 500 people in their network and keep in touch with about 100 to 150 people in their network. They have a deep connection with a small number of people.The other approach, which is often used by sales representatives and recruiters, is called open networking; this is where you cast a very wide net. Open networkers often have thousands of connections in their network because their business is a numbers game. The more people in your network, the easier it is to find someone to fill an open position or outreach customers for a sale. As an open networker, you have a limited connection with a lot of people.Most people know hundreds of people and often have more than 500 contacts in their online address book. The question is: How many of those contacts do you correspond with on a regular basis? Some people think they correspond with about 20 percent of their professional network on a regular basis. The reality is that you don’t have time to correspond with 20 percent of your professional network on a regular basis if you have more than 500 people in your network.Related: 5 Ways to Use Your Network to Grow Your BusinessA number of studies have tried to determine the optimal size of a professional network. Some conclude that we can only maintain a stable social network of 100 people, while others suggest we can maintain stable social networks of up to 300. The generally accepted number is 150.Maintaining a stable social network means we know everyone in our network and maintain regular contact with each and every individual. To maintain a larger social network requires more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms, so you are almost being forced to maintain these relationships.Do you maintain a regular relationship with 150 people? If you work for a medium to large-sized company and count your co-workers, you probably do; if you work for a small company, you may not. If you own your own business, you should be communicating with 150 people regularly to generate leads or find opportunities.The average number of connections for LinkedIn members is around 60 people, according to a Nielsen study. I see many members with more than 500 connections. When you view their profile you will only see “500+ connections.” Once you are connected with that person, you will be able to view a list of their connections and can connect with anyone on the list because you have a second-degree relationship with them. A great way to expand your network is by connecting with appropriate second-degree relationships. Use your invitations wisely because LinkedIn gives you 3,000 invitations, after which you have to request more. It shouldn’t be a problem, since you’re trying to keep your network manageable.Related: 6 Steps to Better Networking for Young EntrepreneursOpen networkers on LinkedIn are often called LIONs, an acronym for “LinkedIn open networkers.” LIONs seek to actively increase their connections by sending out and accepting connection invitations. LIONs, in general, accept invites from anyone, so it’s relatively risk-free to invite a LION into your network.Most LIONs take pride in touting their specific number of connections; it’s similar to the way celebrities compete to have the most Twitter followers. The majority of LIONs believe that bigger is better, and that large networks lead to more opportunity.There is no official LinkedIn designation for a LinkedIn open networker. It’s an unofficial designation coined by people willing to connect with anyone to grow their network as large as possible. If you want to be recognized as a LinkedIn LION, you can add LION to the end of your name in your profile or in your profile headline.Being a LION can have its drawbacks. Unfortunately, with any website or online tool that gets popular, people start abusing its popularity. We’re starting to see a steady stream of Tweet spam where people are creating thousands of fake Twitter profiles that automatically re-Tweet Tweets from popular Tweeters.We’re now seeing similar tricks on LinkedIn with fake LinkedIn profiles. Beware if you receive an invitation from a profile with no LinkedIn connections, no picture or a company name or logo. It’s probably a machine-generated profile or someone who isn’t on LinkedIn for the right reasons. If someone isn’t willing to provide their name and fill out their complete profile properly, they aren’t fit for your network.Related: Richard Branson on How to Network. Hint: Early and OftenThis article is an excerpt from Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business, available from Entrepreneur Press. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt published step-by-step instructions on Sunday for people switching from the iPhone to an Android device.Schmidt penned a post that he shared publicly on Google+ titled “Eric’s Guide: Converting from iPhone to Android.” In the detailed note, Schmidt writes, “Many of my iPhone friends are converting to Android. The latest high-end phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4), Motorola (Verizon Droid Ultra) and the Nexus 5 (for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have better screens, are faster, and have a much more intuitive interface. They are a great Christmas present to an iPhone user!”He continues: “Like the people who moved from PCs to Macs and never switched back, you will switch from iPhone to Android and never switch back as everything will be in the cloud, backed up, and there are so many choices for you.”Related: Tell Us: Are Anti-Google T-Shirts a Good Look for Microsoft?The guide then offers a four-step process including how to set up your Android phone, update your iPhone or iPad, connect your music to Google on your Mac, and remove a SIM from the iPhone to place in the Android.A wordy Schmidt offers a ton of advice on how to make the switcheroo. Next up on advice from Schmidt is an upcoming management advice book titled No Adult Supervision Required: How To Build Successful 21st Century Companies, which is due out in the fall of 2014. Register Now » Related: Will the New Patent Law Kill the Garage Inventor and Startup? November 25, 2013 Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. 2 min read
Alcohol distribution. Bevspot is changing how large commercial purchasers of wine and spirits receive their products with its easy-to-use marketplace boasting transparent pricing and a predictable supply. High-end strategy consulting. Marketing and design work is outsourced to professionals in virtual marketplaces (think 99designs). There’s no reason firms won’t outsource strategy consulting in the future. Office space. With the rising popularity of co-working spaces and remote work, there’s a growing market for flexible office space. WeWork and PivotDesk are carving out this space. Soon, you’ll book a workplace from your smartphone as easily as a hotel room. Appointment scheduling. StyleSeat is becoming the OpenTable for booking hair-styling appointments online based on availability, price and recommendations. Appointment marketplaces may spring up in other industries. July 18, 2014 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Enroll Now for Free Talent acquisition. For decades, headhunters and large consulting firms controlled the world’s best brains. America’s largest companies (including GE and Microsoft) are cutting out the middleman and using virtual marketplaces to gain access to talent. TaskRabbit and Handybook have created a market for commodity physical labor, while Behance, Guru and Fiverr host freelancers in creative industries. Personal transportation. Uber and Lyft have changed spontaneous personal transportation, and Bridj is generating mass transport routes based on supply and demand. Vacation rentals. The hospitality industry will never be completely transparent, but the market for vacation rentals, rooms and hostels has been disrupted by Airbnb, HomeAway and Hostelworld, which allow users to view options side by side, compare prices and read reviews. Ten years ago, hailing a taxi with your phone was unthinkable. Today, this service does not just exist — it’s thriving. Uber is a go-to for city dwellers, and it’s one of many virtual services redefining stagnant industries.Virtual marketplaces have changed the way people do business and created new opportunities for startups to overtake larger, well-established companies. Business leaders can’t afford to ignore these opportunities.Matching supply with demand is no easy task. But this changed in 1995, when eBay revolutionized the market for used goods. Seemingly overnight, people who’d been discarding unwanted items were selling them for serious cash, and various goods’ prices dropped because buyers had a viable alternative.Related: A Look at the Economy of the Future (Motiongraphic)Likewise, StubHub matched supply with demand for event tickets. A ticket resale market existed, but opaque pricing and bizarre regulations created massive margins for scalpers. StubHub changed the landscape with a single, easy-to-use connection between ticket sellers and buyers.Here are a few industries that have been reimagined with the advent of virtual marketplaces: Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now How leaders can create disruptive solutions. For a lot of industries, this is uncharted territory. The arrival of easy-to-use, low-cost virtual marketplaces threatens many companies as their fat margins, opaque pricing and sparse supply disappear.Related: On-Demand Grocery Startup Instacart Raises $44 Million From Big-Name InvestorsFor leaders, the time to assert themselves in the space is now. Here’s how to get started:1. Offer customers something they need. When you create a service, center it on a single pain point your customers experience. What keywords do they search? Use Google AdWords to capture the people already looking for what your marketplace sells.2. Take offline experiences online. Find a way to take an inconvenient service (such as finding a web developer or dentist) online.3. Create an easy-to-use platform. A virtual marketplace needs to be convenient, but also easy to understand and user-friendly. That’s why people will return and recommend it to others.4. Offer choices. It’s not enough to offer one option. Your service must provide several high-quality options that can be filtered by preference.5. Provide helpful examples. Project ideas and case studies help people understand how your service can work for them.6. Enlist the help of influencers. Make thought leaders and celebrities your advocates. An influencer’s endorsement can be worth much more than an advertisement.Ready to brainstorm? Ask what your company offers, then consider how you can make it more convenient and seamless. Convenience is why virtual marketplaces exist and why they’ll grow exponentially in the next few years.Someday, people will rent physical assets, real estate and people’s time in mere seconds. Businesses will only employ individuals who are mission-critical — everyone else will sell their skills directly to the end user.The possibilities provide new opportunities for your company to connect with customers and offer something truly groundbreaking.Related: How to Disrupt an Industry in Three Steps This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. 4 min read While no industry remains untouched, a few have been sluggish to transition to seamless, transparent virtual marketplaces:
Register Now » This story appears in the December 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » 2 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. December 6, 2016 When Janice Whiting purchased Gourmet Dreams in 2004, the meal-delivery and catering business was still using a manual credit card swiper and a fax machine. And crazily enough — considering the business is located in Silicon Valley and Whiting has a high-tech marketing background — it stayed pretty much that way until 2014. She’d been focused on the culinary side and couldn’t afford a major tech overhaul. But as her four-employee business got busier, ordering and accounting became time-consuming for Whiting — and a turnoff for her customers.Related: Why Are Companies Using Outdated Systems?The FixGourmet Dreams had been operating like it was 1999: Customers had to download an order form, print it out and submit it via either fax or email. Then Whiting herself manually processed credit card orders and keyed data into QuickBooks accounting software. Eventually she decided to replace all this with 3DCart, e-commerce software she chose because it integrated simply with her company website and QuickBooks, and provided a simple online shopping cart to handle ordering, payment and shipping. The ResultsIf Whiting hadn’t upgraded to 3DCart, Gourmet Dreams “wouldn’t be in business” today, she says. The time she spends on orders, accounting and invoicing each week has shrunk from a day and a half to just a few hours, allowing her to focus more on cooking food and building the company. Since the switch, revenues have gone up roughly 20 to 30 percent annually in the past couple of years. And 3DCart doesn’t take much to run: She pays $36 a month (prices start as low as $20), and unlike some of its competitors, the platform doesn’t charge transaction fees.Related: The Service That Helped an Ecommerce Site Fix Its Shipping WoesA Second OpinionThere are many e-commerce options for small businesses, including Shopify, Volusion and BigCommerce. They can look similar, but they’re not, says Dean Peckenpaugh, a Houston-based e-commerce consultant. “The big questions are: What other third-party systems [such as accounting software] can they plug into? And can the platform be implemented without a developer?” he says. Beyond that, look for — at minimum — a platform with integrated, streamlined shipping and payment tools, plus templates that allow you to customize the look and feel of a website’s cart and individual product pages.