"Ours is an emerging industry, so it was only natural for us to start out running our business part time while the demand for our offering grows," says Al Schneider, 57, co-owner of usedmall.com in Englewood, New Jersey. Since the spring of 1996, he and partner Harvey Berlent have been selling electronic classified-advertising listings to companies buying and selling business equipment over the Internet.
"Usedmall.com started as a part-time venture because, in early 1996, the Internet was just beginning to catch on as a cost-effective way for companies to conduct their business activities," he explains. "Since then, we've benefited from increased activity as more businesses have begun participating in this rapidly expanding marketplace. We're getting contacted by companies that recognize our service already has a following."
Despite its growing popularity, usedmall.com continues to operate as a part-time venture today, allowing the partners to spend time on their other business, selling computers via other channels. According to Schneider, this is still possible due to the efficiency with which ads are placed. "From our standpoint," he says, "the ads are automatic. They're entered entirely on a computer at the client's site, so the creation of ads is essentially a hands-off process for us. All we need to do is look over the ads, approve them and post them on our site. This keeps to a minimum the administrative time we must devote to operating this business."
Nevertheless, Schneider foresees the day when he and Berlent will be forced to devote a full 40-hour week to usedmall.com. "We get closer to that point every day," he says. "This business becomes more time-consuming and, luckily for us, the volume just continues to build."