Jeff Becker and Helmut Wyzisk were friends throughout college and beyond. Like many friends, they always tossed around the idea of starting a business together. They stumbled on the perfect concept inspired by a shared frustration: their earbuds kept falling out during workouts. They decided they would invent an affordable attachment to make standard earbuds fit better. But could their idea become a reality? With the right tools, it was bound to be a success.

From Humble Beginnings

The friends started to raise capital in the same way a lot of entrepreneurs do: the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. They called their product, Earhoox. Within one month, they raised $10,000, and found they'd hit on a mass-market demand. In 2013, they then set their initial run at 1,000 Earhoox and sold them from Wyzisk's apartment. Their next step was to start an ecommerce site and modernize their outdated payment processing system. Knowing that PayPal has a strong reputation as a service that provides flexible payment options, simple setup, and seamless payment, they knew that it would be essential to get their business off the ground.

Love at First Payment

Their first PayPal payment was to the CAD designer who turned their sketch into a usable design file. The entrepreneurs found that PayPal was just what they needed to make all of their vendor transactions. Wyzisk says, "It was a trustworthy way to get them funds that both we and they felt comfortable with." Trustworthy indeed, as PayPal is used by more than 197 million active accounts. 1 The power of brand recognition makes business owners and customers rely on PayPal for protection against fraud. Becker and Wyzisk even benefited from PayPal's streamlined invoicing system: "When we started we didn't even have an invoicing system," Becker says. "It was really convenient to be able to send money via PayPal." PayPal sends customers an online invoice that they can pay directly via PayPal, credit card or debit card. In 2016, there were 1.8 billion PayPal transactions made.

Building Customers and Online Presence

Becker and Wyzisk then used PayPal Payments Standard to process their company's online card and PayPal payments. It was much simpler than their past system, which had so many forms, circuitous agreements, and credit checks. Wyzisk says, "It was by far the fastest choice for our business—our payments system was up and running in a day." PayPal is fast: You can add the PayPal button to your website and start accepting payments online in about 15 minutes. Their next goal was to maximize their online sales and increase their online presence. "A good payment processor helps you target people online," Becker says, "and the e-commerce channel was really where we wanted to put our focus." That targeting helps explain why up to 5.3% more customers are attracted to businesses that use PayPal than that those who do not. 2 Customers are looking for payment flexibility, and research shows that these new buyers will spend more and help contribute to your business's growth. PayPal has mobile app integration, too, which caters to the traveling entrepreneur. Becker says, "I do so much business from my phone, and PayPal is one of the apps I use most frequently." So far, they've sold over 70k online and in more than 1,000 stores around the world.

New Goals and Exceeded Expectations

When Wyzisk and Becker first started their business, they never considered it would go international. Now, they get orders from 84 countries. Wyzisk says that PayPal "gives us the confidence to ship large orders internationally because we know payment is imminent." PayPal lets you accept many different currencies securely from more than 200 markets without any wiring fees or wait time. The business trajectory of Earhoox was much more than its founders expected. And thanks in part to PayPal, they continue to grow today.

Simple friendships can grow into rewarding business partnerships. But the most critical member of that partnership is PayPal. If you're thinking about starting a lifelong dream of yours, consider PayPal for its transparent fee structure, payment method flexibility, and trusted reputation by entrepreneurs worldwide.

PayPal can be a trusted business partner, starting at $0 a month, and signup takes as little as 15 minutes! Follow this link to start accelerating your business with PayPal today.

1An active customer account is a registered account that successfully sent or received at least one payment or payment reversal through our Payments Platform, excluding transactions processed through our gateway and Paydiant products, in the past 12 months. 2As reported in Nielsen's Online Buyer Insights, which measured online & mobile purchasing behavior 52 weeks pre-/post-PayPal integration to calculate lift in net new customers who completed a purchase using PayPal. Weighted average results across a group of 15 small- and medium-sized merchants; findings are based on actual transactions, measured among ~39MM US Zip11 Households. Study completed January 2016. Advertisement

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.

Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.

But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.

Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.

More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.

Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.

Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

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