When we endorse a particular small business solution provider, we always like to talk to current customers to double check our editors' picks. We all know that PayPal is a huge name, but we wanted to see if it really lived up to its reputation. These three entrepreneurs use PayPal to grow their businesses. Here are their stories.

How Fashionphile Uses PayPal to Increase Payment Efficiency

When Sarah Davis was a graduate student, her interest in fashion led her to start buying and reselling clothes and accessories on eBay. She found that her biggest profit margins came from her vintage handbags. Shortly thereafter, she launched Fashionphile, an online business selling high-end handbags from big-name designers.

At first, she was only able to send items once customers' checks cleared at the bank -- a lag that hurt her cash flow. And since 95% of her sales were through her website, she needed a more efficient option. Once she signed up for PayPal, she was able to get her payments much faster, and ship bags immediately. She says she trusts PayPal's secure payment processing and appreciates its simplicity. Today, PayPal processes 100% of the company's online payments. It's seamlessly integrated with her custom website, staying true to the site's look and feel.

The next step was to sell internationally. With the help of PayPal, Fashionphile now sells $15 million in high-end handbags per year to customers around the globe. Not only can Sarah be confident handling the volume of sales coming in, but her customers feel comfortable making large payments safely.

How Ambush Board Co. Uses PayPal to Grow Business Abroad

Meet Eric Michael Elliot, surfing fanatic turned small business owner. Eric dreamed of opening up a one-stop shop for all the things that he loved: surf equipment, records, clothes, the works. He finally realized his dream by starting Ambush Board Co. in 1997.

By 2001, the store launched its ecommerce website, which generated a lot of buzz. People loved what he had to sell, and with increasing customer demand, Elliot's archaic payment processor could barely keep up. He made the switch to PayPal for all of its credit card processing because of the company's trusted reputation. He also found that PayPal offered lower processing fees and better reporting than he could get from other providers. This was just what he needed to kick his business into the next gear.

Now, he regularly receives international orders and the payment flexibility gives his customers an extra level of comfort. He also gives his customers access to financing through PayPal Credit 1, letting them spread out payments over time. For their part, Ambush assumes no credit risk. Today, Ambush Board Co. is now the world's premier dealer of wakeboards, and generates $7 million in annual sales online, and counting.

How Bee Raw Uses PayPal to Buoy Business and Simplify Finances

Health food was Zeke Freeman's passion. He started Bee Raw in 2005, selling hand-harvested honey in food markets, at lifestyle stores, and online. People loved his honey, and 11 years later, though Freeman was still running his business from his home office, he saw a growth rate of about 20% a year 2. The company uses PayPal to process and manage all of its payments, Freeman says: "We have all of our money coming into one place, which makes it easy to track where sales come from."

Freeman has used PayPal Working Capital loans 3 to buy honey from beekeepers in the summer, so he's fully stocked with inventory when the holidays approach. "PayPal Working Capital gave us additional capital when cash flow was tight, and the loans are paid directly from our PayPal account when we have sales," Freeman says.4 After generating sufficient revenue, Bee Raw was able to easily pay back the loans through their PayPal account.

Another of Freeman's necessities was being able to sell on the go. He used PayPal Here, the mobile card reader, to process payments wherever he was selling, and keep up with his customers, who didn't always have cash on hand. "We want people to taste the honey and understand the different flavors, and we'll ask them to sign up for our newsletters," Freeman says. "So the festivals and markets are just as much about lead generation as they are about sales. When people are ready to buy at the markets, PayPal Here lets us process the purchase so they can take home their honey right away."

PayPal for the consumer is convenient, but PayPal can offer even more to a small business. These entrepreneurs used PayPal to accelerate the growth of their businesses. PayPal can be an all-in-one payment processor for however your business sells today or in the future -- online, in store, on the go, or in marketplaces. PayPal is right for any level of business and entrepreneur -- from those just getting started to those expanding internationally.

Update: PayPal can be your 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.

1PayPal Credit is subject to credit approval, as determined by the lender, Comenity Capital Bank. 2Data is based on the business's own internal analysis. 3PayPal Working Capital is subject to credit approval, as determined by the lender, WebBank, Member FDIC. 4Subject to minimum payment requirement of 10% of the total loan amount (loan + fee) every 90 days. See Terms and Conditions for details. Advertisement

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.