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Transforming the E-waste Landscape: How eWaste Direct Makes a Positive Impact

3 Mins read

It all started at a local furniture auction. My husband and I were a newly married couple looking to spice up our home decor with a few new items, when we stumbled upon an unconventional and unexpected way to create some additional income for ourselves. We came to the auction with the intention of buying furniture, but my husband and I ended up with a surprise – we purchased an entire office-worth of used electronics and had to figure out what to do with it all. On Earth Day 2008 we would open our now full-time sustainable business: eWaste Direct.

eWaste Direct is an electronic recycling company whose mission is to divert electronic waste from landfills by offering multiple services, including the resale of used electronic goods, free electronics recycling, toner/ink recycling, and battery recycling offerings. As the founder, I am proud to share our company’s journey and road to success, a lot of which has been made possible by utilizing an online marketplace like eBay to revolutionize our business model and allow us to make a positive impact on the environment. One of our most significant achievements to date is diverting over 7 million pounds of e-waste from landfills. We diligently track the weight of materials we collect on a daily basis, ensuring efficient management of our front-end business operations.

I hope that through sharing my insights, any aspiring entrepreneurs or other small business owners will be able to see that even during today’s economy, small businesses can continue to thrive by remaining flexible and innovative and leveraging technology that is maybe more readily available than what they expect.

What it means to be a small business owner in today’s economy

Navigating today’s macroeconomic environment has presented its fair share of challenges, yet despite a tighter-than-normal budget, we have discovered new opportunities to grow internally. Having to look at every aspect of our business and re-evaluate certain priorities turned out to be a great exercise that ended up allowing our business to thrive, even during these uncertain times. Instead of hiring new employees, we have added more duties to our existing team, fostering job security, excitement for learning new skills, and increasing pay. Moreover, we have adjusted our selling strategy by focusing on B2B transactions to better maximize shipping efficiencies and profitability through bulk orders. Our commitment to reducing waste extends to reusing boxes and materials, thereby reducing our monthly expenses and minimizing our ecological footprint.

However, we’ve encountered persistent challenges within the resale electronics sector, particularly with pre-owned devices that remained linked to their previous owners. This created concerns about data security and ownership rights. Nevertheless, through collaborative efforts with skilled IT professionals, we successfully implemented methods to remove remote access capabilities, essentially refurbishing these devices to a pristine, like-new state. This solution not only ensured data privacy but also improved the overall quality of our products, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Another valuable piece of advice I’d give to fellow SMB owners is to explore the different tools that online marketplaces have to offer. For example, we hesitated initially about selling internationally, but by embracing eBay’s international shipping program, we witnessed a remarkable 20% revenue increase. This program streamlined the export process, eliminating friction associated with international sales and enabling us to tap into new markets effectively. Furthermore, these tools, particularly research-based tools, have been invaluable in maximizing our revenue. By analyzing price points and market data, we can effectively position and sell our products against the rest of the market, ensuring our offerings stand out to potential buyers.

Where to start and how to get started for those interested in starting their own business

For aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs, I want to share a few key tips and tricks to help you succeed. First and foremost, active involvement in trade associations, networking groups, and niche industry connections is crucial. Engaging with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, participating in relevant social media groups, and joining dedicated specialty communities can open doors to valuable opportunities. Additionally, staying informed through online seller groups, newsletters, and podcasts will keep you up to date with the latest industry knowledge and insights into emerging trends – like the latest happenings with AI and how other online businesses are incorporating the technology into their operations. Understanding the newest age of technology is essential for creating success in your business.

I know there are some common misconceptions about reselling used goods, with some people assuming that these products lack value or authenticity. However, from our experience in the recommerce industry, we’ve discovered that transparency is key to overcoming these misconceptions and building trust with customers. When selling used products, whether through individual listings or your company’s website, it’s crucial to be open about the processes you have in place to ensure functionality and quality.

As an accomplished business owner, my desire is to inspire and empower individuals to seize their own destinies and embrace entrepreneurship. My passion lies in helping others succeed. Owning a business provides a unique opportunity to find that balance between personal fulfillment and making a difference in the world. By staying informed and actively representing the interests of small businesses, we can continue to help those in our community grow, evolve, and succeed.

Angie Cardona-Nelson is the cofounder and CFO of eWaste Direct.

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