The first step in starting up any business, whether it's on eBay, on your own Web site, or in the offline, brick-and-mortar world, is to set your goals and objectives and then develop strategies for attaining them. In the traditional business world, it's called coming up with a business plan. A business plan requires you to ask yourself some basic questions of the sort that can apply to your eBay business, too:
■ Are there enough buyers for what you want to sell?
The first question is deceptively simple. It forces you to focus on your goals for your eBay business. Do you want to sell full-time? Do you want to find new customers for a sales business that you already operate, either on the Web or through a storefront? Do you need to expand an e-commerce business that's flagging? Or do you just want to make some extra money each month to help with expenses? The second question is also important: Since you're going to be spending many hours per week on your business, you need to make sure you're working with merchandise you know and hopefully enjoy buying and selling.
The third question involves market research: make sure there aren't a thousand people already selling what you want to sell on eBay. If the market is already flooded, you'll have a hard time breaking in. Switching merchandise or sales categories can help you find more bidders (see "Decide What to Sell" later in this chapter). The final question is essential: envision how you want your eBay business to function ideally once it's up and running. What will make you happy—being able to leave the office and work at home? Being able to help your spouse out with some extra money while taking care of the kids? Or just being able to pay the bills at the end of the month? Defining success will help you design your business and encourage you to feel satisfied when you reach your goals, too.
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