Predictions are already in for the 2014 holiday season, and retailers may have something to be jolly about this year.

AlixPartners, a consulting firm, predicts that 2014 holiday retail sales will rise 4.1-4.9 percent, according to ABC News. E-commerce platform Volusion predicts that small and mid-sized businesses could see their online holiday sales rise 9 percent year-over-year in 2014.

Read on for more holiday shopping season news on OPEN Forum.

Predictions are already in for the 2014 holiday season, and retailers may have something to be jolly about this year.

AlixPartners, a consulting firm, predicts that 2014 holiday retail sales will rise 4.1-4.9 percent, according to ABC News. E-commerce platform Volusion predicts that small and mid-sized businesses could see their online holiday sales rise 9 percent year-over-year in 2014.

Read on for more holiday shopping season news on OPEN Forum.

How do startups that go through accelerator programs scale so quickly? One reason is because they collaborate with and get advice from peers outside of their industries.

“Every Tuesday we come in here and go over everyone’s fundraising deck,” says Maisie Devine of Poacht, a candidate-minded recruitment platform. “Everyone gets feedback on what they’re seeing and what’s confusing. When I think about my deck before I came into this program and where it is now, you wouldn’t even believe it came from the same person.”

Read on for two more reasons why accelerated startups see results faster.

Women business owners at the OPEN for Women: CEO BootCamp event share the best business advice that they have received. These tips—from “take risks” to “be authentic”—are sure to help you in your business.

This Is Why All TED Talks Are 18 Minutes

"[That’s] long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention," TED curator Chris Anderson said in an interview with Carmine Gallo, author of Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. “By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.”

Read on to learn ways to make your presentations more engaging on OPEN Forum.

Flickr user: TEDx Somerville

10 Rookie Mistakes Startups Make When Building Web Traffic

1. Relying on search engine submission services

2. Not having a blog (or equally bad, an off-topic blog)

3. Not using catchy headlines or images

4. Not participating on other established sites

5. Not seeking publicity

6. Not communicating with your email list

7. Not advertising

8. Not paying attention to local listings

9. Not analyzing your traffic to see what works and what doesn’t

10. Not writing a marketing plan for your website.

Read on for how to fix these common mistakes business owners make in their rush to boost website traffic.

This Company Flew Single New Yorkers to San Francisco for a Love Connection

“There’s a running joke that there are more single men in San Francisco and more single women in New York City,” says Lauren Kay, a co-founder and CEO of matchmaking startup Dating Ring. ”So we thought it would be fun if some of them met each other.”

The stunt—their business model doesn’t actually fly out singles on the regular—attracted a ton of attention and investment. Kay spoke to OPEN Forum about the Dating Ring and what it’s really like to be a woman entrepreneur raising funds.

What was it like to fundraise with Y Combinator and afterward?

It was really hard! Demo day with YC is insane—there are hundreds of investors on the floor. It felt like this weird speed dating event where you ask people for money. I was super uncomfortable.

After demo day, I was determined to land additional investment to grow Dating Ring, so I’d go on up to seven meetings per day with angel investors and VCs. Some of them were awesome. After 15 minutes, one investor offered us money because he believed in our vision right off the bat. But other investors would ask me out on dates or openly ask when men would be brought into the company. I had no idea the sexism in Silicon Valley was so bad.

What advice can you offer other female founders to get through it?

Look for investors who aren’t known to be sexist. Talk to other founders that you trust and only take meetings with VCs who have a track record of respecting women. Don’t put up with anything, and leave meetings if you’re uncomfortable.

Mozilla Just Changed the Way We Think About Resumes

Adults are getting their own form of merit badges, thanks to a relatively new digital credential formed by the company that brought us the Firefox browser:

Mozilla’s vision is that Open Badges will provide a permanent record of a person’s capabilities and achievements to be shown to teachers, peers, colleges or employers. Megan Cole-Karagory, director of marketing at Mozilla’s Badge Alliance, estimates that Open Badges are now carried by 4 million people and says Mozilla has made a commitment to reach 10 million users by the end of 2016

Read more about the Open Badge system on OPEN Forum.

Never Hire the Wrong Production Company Again

More and more businesses are using video to stand out in an era where consumers need more than just snappy copy to engage with companies. Video done right can lead to viral successes like HelloFlo. And video done wrong… well, that will never happen if you hire the right production company!

Some advice when you’re trying to find the right team to bring your video dreams into a reality:

Cheap video comes at a premium.Be wary when a production company offers its services at a rate that seems too good to be true—the production team may just shoot from the back of the room on a tripod and call it a day. But it’s more expensive to do it wrong the first time and have to redo it. So find out what’s included in the total package: Are edits included? What about music licensing? Or travel expenses? Watch out for those additional costs that can be thrown in at the end and bust your budget.

Read on for eight more tips for hiring a video production company that delivers.

The Secret to Attracting New Customers

Small businesses need to cultivate a strong customer base: one that includes returning and new business. Luckily enough, there’s a seven-step process that makes the task of attracting new customers seem more manageable:

1. Identify your ideal client. It’s easier to look for customers if you know the type of consumers you seek. Without a composite of your ideal customer, you probably wouldn’t know where to start looking.

2. Discover where your customer lives. Determine where your ideal customer is most likely to be found and then create messaging that targets them there.

3. Know your business inside and out. The people who would be interested in your offerings can see how knowledgeable you are and will seek your assistance.

Read on to learn more about how to find your ideal customers.

After 40 years in business on a historic shopping street, this antique store is going online to beat Brooklyn, New York’s rising rents and to give the owner a well-deserved rest.