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VIEWPOINT: Digital tools are key to earning supplemental income

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Kemeshia Greene

I am a wife, mom, full-time nurse, and if that wasn’t enough, a small business owner. I started selling homemade candles four years ago to make some extra money. I don’t know how I find time for it all. 

Fortunately, I use Google, Facebook, and other digital platforms to help on the business side with accessible and affordable digital tools that make running my business more manageable and help me turn a profit.

As any mom and small business owner can tell you, time and money are precious resources. E-commerce, online advertising, and social media make it easier than ever to start a business, especially a side business, to earn extra cash. But I’m worried that Congress is gearing up to pass legislation that would change the digital economy and make it more expensive and time-consuming for small businesses that benefit tremendously from digital tools.

My candle venture started when I bought a candle-making kit for my daughter and I was hooked. Opening a storefront didn’t seem plausible, with my other jobs and responsibilities. Instead, I pulled together a Shopify online shop and pretty soon I was selling on Etsy.

Operating on a shoestring budget, I started using inexpensive Google and Facebook ads to find people like me. Almost overnight digital ads led to more website visits and more sales, and we are only spending about $300 a month on ads. Business was great.

Then COVID-19 came crashing. I survived because digital storefronts don’t close during quarantine. I had over 1,000 orders come through during one four-month stretch thanks to Google ads. Being a nurse during a pandemic means getting unexpectedly called in to work. I can easily say that the convenience and flexibility of digital tools kept me in business.

That’s why it’s frustrating that Congress is advancing legislation that could make Google and Facebook’s digital tools more expensive and less effective. The digital economy works for small businesses, and research shows that 87% of small businesses use digital tools to grow their customer base and 84% to sell products and services. 

If ad costs go up, or Google can no longer display my free Google Business Profile at the top of the search results page, that hurts my business and eats into already slim margins.

I know this is just a side business, but it’s one that I love and puts extra money in my pocket. I’ve been successful thanks to digital tools and want to keep using them. 

Kemeshia Greene is the owner of Greene House Scents in Newark and a member of the Connected Commerce Council.

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