Be A Great Entrepreneur: Teach Yourself
To call an Internet auction an Entrepreneur's Dream isn't poetic license or part of the get-rich-quick rhetoric. Net auctions are the simplest way on this planet for the little guy to make money 2) There are no start-up costs -- Can you name any other business that has no start up costs For example, Entrepreneur magazine claims that the average franchise costs 70,000 And when you buy your franchise, what do you get with it Employees, rent, government regulations, incredible paperwork, the constant threat of lawsuits, grinding responsibility and twelve hour days phew If you have been an entrepreneur for a while, you may have had the heartbreaking experience of pouring your energy and money into creating a successful business and then have it fall apart for reasons that are not your fault. That's happened to me, and it's a pretty sad experience.
Gin Ho is an entrepreneur well worth studying. Gin is my local dry cleaner who came to the United States only 19 years ago, not even speaking English. He started his own cleaning business in a small shopping center. It is definitely a modest little shop and the owner, or his wife, is always there. They keep incredibly long hours. However, Gin is a shrewd business man. He totally understands that to become wealthy you need to have multiple streams of income.
Then there are the ambitious who view auctions as a serious business. Their goal is to make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, perhaps hire employees and make Net auctions their full time business. These entrepreneurs keep meticulous, detailed records and are constantly studying the sites, looking for trends and searching for merchandise.
As eBay grows in popularity, the fact that many entrepreneurs like you are making good money by selling online is also becoming well known. In addition, eBay keeps records of all of your sales income. It's wise to establish some sort of regular record-keeping procedure, whether that procedure simply involves gathering all your receipts and stuffing them in an envelope, entering data in your hand-held device, or writing your mileage down when you're driving to the post office.
Chapter 1 7 is for those folks who have their own business (or want to be their own boss). Don't be alarmed by this. We're not talking about the owner of an office building with 200 employees. Of course, larger businesses use auctions too but mostly it is the e-playground of the entrepreneur, the owner of the one-person or family business (Small Small Businesses -- SSBs).
Sounds great, doesn't it Before you start looking for a lawyer to get you started, consider that in an S Corporation, like a C Corporation, you must pay an annual corporate tax, and the process of filing for S Corporation status can take weeks or even months. The prospect can be daunting for a lone entrepreneur who's just starting out and has only a few dozen sales a month. It's advisable to wait until you have enough income to hire an attorney and pay incorporation fees before you seriously consider incorporating, even as an S corporation.
Think the most satisfying part of an eBay transaction is making the sale and receiving payment. After that comes the tedious process of fulfilling your orders. You shouldn't feel bad if this is the point that makes you take pause and sigh. Order fulfillment is one of the biggest challenges (and yuckiest chores) that face any mail order or online entrepreneur. The onerous task of packing and mailing is the bane of almost all businesses.
Jeff was an assistant in a New York State economic development agency when he started his part-time business on eBay. Being around entrepreneurs gave him the inspiration he needed to quit his job and take his part-time sales to the next level. eBay has certainly changed his life. No longer a nine-to-fiver, Jeff works more than 60 hours a week. All his life he wanted to run his own business. 'My business model would fail if it were locally based only. With eBay, I'm living my dream and selling my products globally. It's a life of independence, free from the corporate rat race '
If you join that membership site you can read detailed information about multiple online entrepreneurs like you and me that are making 3O,OOO to 2,OOO,OOO each year on the Internet and eBay. Most of them have an information product of some sort that is part of their success.
The Formula More auction hits more customers bigger email list more impulse sales more backend sales later
I've learned a lot about linking policies on eBay in the last year. I've even spoken with ex-eBay employees about this topic. I've come to the conclusion that the rules on linking policies on eBay will never be crystal clear. EBay reserves the right to interpret their own rules to their own advantage. I can't blame them, but what does this mean for us as eBay entrepreneurs It means we have to do our best and stay on eBay's good side .
3) Always remember the back end -- All entrepreneurs need to understand the back end of every business. It is so much easier to sell to an already-existing customer than a new one unless your products are garbage, of course. Marketing gurus claim that it costs at least ten times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.
Contact business owners and ask them if you can auction their products or services. Establish an arrangement to receive a percentage of the profits for the items you sell. It benefits the business because you are bringing them profits they didn't have before. You get to collect the customers email addresses and positive eBay feedback for the future growth of your online business I've learned a lot about linking policies on eBay in the last year. I've even spoken with ex-eBay employees about this topic. I've come to the conclusion that the rules on linking policies on eBay will never be crystal clear. EBay reserves the right to interpret their own rules to their own advantage. I can't blame them, but what does this mean for us as eBay entrepreneurs It means we have to do our best and stay on eBay's good side .
Back in the old days, a business would have had to have a credit card terminal (those machines that an employee swipes your card through) to accept credit cards. This is no longer the case, because PayPal has become such a huge factor in credit card payment acceptance. However, if you have your own business outside of selling on eBay, you may still choose to have your own terminal. I've kept my terminal, because I still get a few customers every month who want to call or fax in their credit card information and don't want to use PayPal.
I keep very good records and report all sales to the state and federal government. Just remember though, that the beauty of running your own business is that you can take a lot of legal deductions for your car and mileage and using your home as a business. Because you're probably running your business out of your home, you can deduct a percentage of your utilities, a percentage of your phone, a percentage of your mortgage, and many other expenses.
Yes, eBay is an important site (duh) for your sales and store, but so is your own business Web site. You should establish your own presence on the Web. And although you can - and should - link your site to eBay.co.uk, don't miss out on the rest of the Internet population. An overwhelming majority of small business owners said online resources would be very or somewhat important for business success in the coming year. Whether or not you have a Web site, this chapter has something for you. We provide a lot of detail about Web sites, from thinking up a name to choosing a host. If you don't have a site, we get you started on launching one. If you already have a site, we give you some pointers about finding the best host. For the serious-minded Web-based entrepreneur (that's you), we also include some ever-important marketing tips.
Business means not running by the seat of your pants. I admit that running by the seat of your pants is fun and exciting, but it's really not a solid business practice. One of the reasons I started my own business is Prepare a chart for your own business, similar to the one shown in Table 52-1. Study your results and find out which months are your strongest. Let the table tell you when you might have to boost your merchandise selection in lagging months to boost sales. It will help bring your planning from Ouija board to reality.
Does your retail business have a name If you don't have your own business (yet), have you always known what you'd call it if you did Your opportunity to set up your business can start with a good, solid respectable sounding business name. If you don't like respectable (it's too staid for you), go for trendy. Who knew what a Napster was Or a Kelkoo Or a Bubblefast, which is a popular shipping supplier among eBay users in the US.
Unlike the warm and fuzzy story of the beginnings of UPS (see Technique 37), where a teenager borrowed 100 to start a business, Federal Express was the brainchild of a rich kid. (Somewhat reminiscent of touching apocryphal stories you hear about a few top-ranked eBay sellers from moneyed backgrounds, who had lots of cash and connections before they ever came to eBay and met with immediate success.)
I've heard many sellers-to-be say they want to start a business on eBay so that they can relax. Since when is running any business a way to relax Granted, you don't need a whole lot of money to get started on eBay and you won't have a boss breathing down your neck. But to run a successful eBay business, you need drive, determination, and your conscience to guide you, as well as a few solid tools, such as a computer and an Internet connection. In this section, I give you the lowdown on these things and more.
We've heard many sellers-to-be say they want to start a business on eBay so that they can relax. Since when is running any business a way to relax Granted, you don't need a whole lot of money to get started on eBay.co.uk and you don't have a boss breathing down your neck. But to run a successful eBay business, you need drive, determination, and your conscience to guide you, as well as a few solid tools, such as a computer and an Internet connection. In this section, we give you the low-down on these things and more.
High profits the goal of every business owner. Possibly the most lucrative products to sell today are information products. There is an insatiable demand for information, especially in smaller, niche categories. At a recent entrepreneurial meeting I mentioned this idea and was met with overwhelming opposition. All of the objections centered around two perceptions that there is very little profit in information products and that certain skills are needed to create these products.
Once you set your PPC campaign running, you'll probably be tempted to look at it every few minutes. In fact, large PPC campaigns have to be monitored almost continually. If you are paying half a million or a million dollars a month on PPC ads, you'll probably want to ensure that things are running smoothly. The average small-business owner doesn't have time to do this, of course. But you can't just walk away either, and then come back a month later. PPC campaigns take work you need to see where your ads are sitting if they drop too low you won't get any clicks. Keep an eye of the click cost, and, most importantly, figure out your Return on Investment.
As a business owner, even if you're a sole trader (see Chapter 15 for information on business types), you should keep your business books separate from your personal expenses. (We recommend using a program such as Quicken to keep track of your personal expenses for tax time.) By isolating the business records from the personal records, you can get a snapshot of what areas of your sales are doing well and which ones aren't carrying their weight. But that isn't the only reason keeping accurate records is smart there's HM Revenue and Customs to think about, too. In the next section, we explain Her Majesty's interest in your books.
In this chapter you will learn how to ramp up your selling on eBay beyond the casual sales designed to clear out a crowded cellar or garage. Selling on eBay as a business is very much both a traditional entrepreneurial undertaking and a totally unique venture. You follow basic steps, just as you would for starting any business. You will need to put together the necessary components of your online business, such as an accounting system, photo and shipping areas, and inventory (what you used to call items to sell ). Once you have built the foundation of your business, you will need to actually run it that is, decide how best to employ the programs, tools, and unique aspects of the eBay community to help you achieve your financial goals. This chapter helps you do this.
If you run your own small business, Microsoft wants to be your pal. The Microsoft bCentral site (www.bcentral.com), shown in Figure 15-6, was designed specifically for small businesses and offers a variety of news, information, and services that can help you run your business more efficiently. bCentral is particularly useful for online businesses, as it presents a number of Web site analysis tools and services including Web hosting and e-commerce management software. It's a surprisingly decent site, with a lot more good stuff than you might expect. Figure 15-6 A Microsoft site for small businesses bCentral. Figure 15-6 A Microsoft site for small businesses bCentral.
Most small businesses that employ web-designer firms to build their sites, or that have designers on-staff, rely on the designers for search-engine optimization. The fact is, though, that very few web-design firms or web designers understand search-engine optimization, even if they say they do. (For competitive reasons, most design firms claim to understand this subject they don't.) It's essential that someone on your team does.
Like Half.com (see Chapter 14), eLance became extremely popular and is now affiliated with eBay. A story on PR Newswire reported that the number of projects outsourced through eLance grew by more than 55 during 2002 as more than 30,000 small businesses used the service. (On eBay, it now goes by the awkward-sounding name eBay Professional Services - eLance, but for the purposes of this chapter I'll just call it eLance.) If you use eLance, you can buy or provide professional freelance services. eLance brings businesses and service providers together like the want ads or employment agencies, with the help of a few special features
A good software package can help save time when it comes to accounting and tax preparation for small businesses. All let you record income and expenses and prepare business reports. QuickBooks by Intuit is also highly recommended by many accountants and small business owners.
You can expect the CRM features of auction management software to grow in the future. In the meanwhile, when you choose an auction management service, you will want to evaluate the CRM features. Also, you need to stay alert for new CRM software that becomes available for small businesses. Give it a good look to see what it can do for you and your customers.
Shipping is a good example of something you can outsource (have done for you by another business). Some small businesses specialize in shipping merchandise for customers. Shipping is a chore. Have a shipping company do it for you. That will leave you time to spend on other customer service activities that you can do better, more effi
Search engine by a substantial margin, a huge number of people find their way to merchandise via Google, and many more via Google than through the other search engines. Indeed, the number one Web marketing technique is to get your website found by Google. Many ecommerce business owners spend a lot of money to do so. Alas, what can we make of all this In my most recent eBay books, I advise people not to get a website (to go with their eBay operations) but to get an eBay Store instead. (Remember, eBay outlawed a link from an auction ad to a website soon after eBay Stores were introduced.) For most small businesses, an eBay Store enables more efficient marketing than a separate and independent website. eBay Stores sell fixed-price merchandise. Using the Froogle data feed, you can
ChannelAdvisor is a highly popular management service for all levels of eBay sellers. They supply listing and management services to everyone from Fortune 1000 companies to the little old lady next door. How They offer three levels of software Enterprise for large businesses who want to outsource their online business, Merchant for midsized businesses and higher-level PowerSellers, and Pro for small businesses and individuals. These powerful software suites help eBay sellers successfully manage and automate the sale of their merchandise.
I've been running a home-based business since the mid-1980s. Because I came from a corporate background working in the newspaper business, I've always known that record keeping is important. But record keeping has always been the bane of my existence. The first thing I did, when I began my home-based business, was to hire a lawyer and a CPA to teach me what I had to do.
The higher the CR the better chances you had of selling just about anything successfully. If you wanted to start a business on eBay, you probably found a great deal of success, without much effort. Unfortunately the market on eBay has changed and the CR has fallen dramatically - down to 54 . I don't want you to get the impression there aren't opportunities on eBay anymore that's not the case. But the opportunities change so frequently now that, for the average person, it's simply harder to make money on eBay than it was a few years ago- even last year.
This can be a huge advantage. My dining room often looks like a warehouse, piled high with merchandise and tape, labels, bubble wrap, etc. Entrepreneurs who have had cases of products from MLM companies stacked in the garage will be especially appreciative of this bonus
Let's say that you invent the Fancy Gizmo Super Spud Peeler, patent it and find a company to sell it in grocery stores. A year later, along comes Eli Entrepreneur who wants to promote this great peeler through mail order. Eli agrees to a five-year agreement with you for the Internet only. He pays you no money up front but the agreement is void if he doesn't sell a minimum of 50,000 Super Spuds a year. Now let's turn the tables around. This time you are the entrepreneur looking for products to market. Where can you find these products .
EBay is a person-to-person marketplace. Although many sellers are businesses (like you), the perception is that sellers on eBay are individuals (as opposed to businesses) earning a living. The home-grown personal approach goes a long way to making you a successful eBay seller. One of the reasons many buyers come to eBay is that they want to support the individuals who had the get-up-and-go to start their own small businesses on the site.
You learn a lot about selling on eBay by talking to the entrepreneurs who already sell there. That might sound obvious, but working at a computer tends to be a solitary operation. (I'm speaking from experience.) After a few successful sales, you think you can do it all yourself, without anyone else's help.
Finlayson is one of the founders of M Networks, a media company that provides training seminars, books, and distance learning on online retailing, in addition to hosting the Small eBusiness World Conference and Expo designed for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Finlayson worked at eBay from 1998 to 2003 as Senior Category Manager in charge of the Toys, Dolls, Hobbies, and Crafts businesses, a segment that generates more than 1.5 billion in transactions annually. Finlayson is co-author of Fundraising on eBay (McGraw-Hill), and she writes much of the curriculum and training materials for eKnowledge Institute's Academy and Business School courses in eBay. Finlayson also worked for The Learning Company, an educational software company. She lives in Fremont, California, and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.
The point here is to work for a share of the profits, not for a salary. Insist on a share of the ownership. That makes you an entrepreneur, not an employee. It may be lean pickings for a while, but if the business is successful, you will make more money over the long haul.
Starting an eBay Business For Dummies picks up where my eBay For Dummies leaves off. The tips I include here give you the opportunity to improve your eBay moneymaking ability, and can possibly turn an eBay novice into a professional running a booming eBay business. I also show the experienced user the prudent way to turn haphazard selling into an organized business. I've combined the fine points of eBay with real business and marketing tools to help you complete the journey from part-time seller to online entrepreneur.
This lovely lady had an ad in a small gardening magazine and decided to try out an Internet auction. They were an immediate hit and she could have sold many, many more. It was the beginning of an auction obsession with her. Since then this entrepreneur has sold countless numbers of plants.
Unfortunately, even eBay retail entrepreneurs have a limited amount of time. Think of your time as an extra bank account with money (in regard to running an eBay retail business) but one with a limited amount of money. There are only so many hours in the day. So, the question becomes the same as the question for money, Which means Yet, there's more to increasing eBay sales than it seems. There are techniques you can use on eBay itself. There are traditional Webmarketing techniques to consider carefully. And there are new marketing techniques that promise to be productive and cost-effective. There are even traditional Web-marketing techniques to be avoided by small businesses. This book is not just a compendium of online marketing techniques. It is about cost-effective marketing. Because the cost-effectiveness factor is so important for small businesses, this book includes a cost-effectiveness review at the end of each appropriate chapter. The purpose of such a review is to determine...
For the initiated, PayPal offers its members an interest-paying Money Fund that is partnered with Barclay Global Investors. By being a part of this fund, you can earn interest on money that you leave in your PayPal account. The money you earn from sales is best transferred ASAP to your own business account at your bank, so many sellers don't leave any money in his or her PayPal account. The membership in the money fund is strictly for PayPal's sake. So they have one more way to verify that you're really you (they have your Social Security number) or that your business is really real.
If you're going the self-employed route, you'll need to obtain health and disability insurance for yourself and your family (if you don't already have it) and, if you're incorporated, for your employees. While eBay offers a health insurance plan to PowerSellers, all other sellers are on their own. Fortunately, you're not in this alone there are many health care providers that offer plans for small businesses and the self-employed. In addition, many business organizations and associations offer group insurance plans to their members. Here are some Web sites you can use to search for small business health insurance
Another possibility is to use a service that covers bad checks. For example, I now have some terrific health insurance that is created specifically for self-employed people. One of the benefits is that they will cover any check up to 2500 and I will receive the money within 48 hours.
The full brunt of that nasty self-employment tax on income doesn't rear its ugly head when you have a corporation. Because you become an employee of your corporation, you pay yourself a salary. The Medicare and Social Security taxes (approximately 15 ) are paid only on the part of your profit that you call wages. Niiiice.
When I travel around the country teaching at eBay University, I often learn about different ways to make a living by using the eBay venue. The legal chop shop is a recurring theme. Entrepreneurial young (some not so young) men and women around the country attend auto auctions and pick up cars that have been in the worst of car wrecks. These cars are only good for one thing parts. So the entrepreneurial shade-tree mechanics bring the cars home, expertly take them apart, screw by screw, and catalog and bag each and every part. Whether you're a collector, home hobbyist, or mechanic, you can take advantage of the low, low prices at eBay, when you're restoring or repairing a car.
Given that accepting credit cards can mean using PayPal, you can see that you don't actually have to be a big traditional retailer in order to open an eBay Store. Any individual meeting the requirements can also open an eBay Store, thus making eBay Stores a great way for entrepreneurial types to get started in retailing.
In my first edition, I said, Restaurateurs are entrepreneurial. This could turn into a really robust B2B auction. Hey, I was right about something. The Restaurant section is going crazy and has blossomed into a smorgasbord of equipment, so to speak. See a nice range stove with oven in Figure 26.4.
Many people routinely buy things for very deep discounts at local estate sales and garage sales and turn around and sell the merchandise on eBay for a profit. There are many other local sources where someone with an entrepreneurial inclination can buy at low prices and sell on eBay for a profit. For more inventory acquisition ideas, read Chapter 22.
Businesses can auction new and used goods and equipment on eBay's specialty auction, the Business Marketplace. These types of transactions are known as B2B (business to business). They take place between businesses rather than between consumers or between businesses and consumers. Although eBay overwhelmingly dominates consumer (personal) auctions, it has focused its B2B efforts on small businesses. The big corporations have numerous B2B transaction hubs for particular industries in which they can participate. Small
What about a company that will do the whole fulfillment chore for you That is, all the packaging and shipping. Unbelievably, for a reasonable flat fee, paDepot (http padepot.com) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will do it for you. in fact, it will even warehouse your inventory. Although there are other services that do this for corporate customers, paDepot does it for small businesses. Compare paDepot's service to Craters & Freighters mentioned under the title Where the Gold Is later in this chapter.
Parcel2go is an online shipping specialist with a remit to provide affordable delivery services to small businesses like your eBay.co.uk shop. Parcel2go is backed by DHL - the monster courier service - giving you a bit more peace of mind that your stuff will turn up on time. The company's homepage is shown in Figure 14-3.
Thousands of small businesses of all kinds -- auction sellers (like you ), service-sellers, local businesses with local clients, affiliates, information-publishers , those with existing online businesses e-commerce sites, network marketers -have used SBI to build a Web site that works See the proof at. http results.sitesell.com
How They offer three levels of software Enterprise for large businesses that want to outsource their online business, Merchant for midsized businesses and higher-level PowerSellers, and Pro for small businesses and individuals. The powerful software suites help eBay sellers successfully manage and automate the sale of their merchandise.
A rider to your policy, called a home-based business rider, may be just what you need. I have found that if you're running a home-based business, some activities and property won't necessarily be covered under your current homeowner's coverage. Often, the policies exclude business use. You can probably upgrade to cover the increased risks caused by the business. You'll pay a little more for a business rider, but the peace of mind will be worth it. Talk to your insurance agent as soon as you can.
The problem for most small businesses is not finding a product or service to sell, or customer service or how to count the money you make .it's How do you find hungry markets for your products or services and make enough sales every day to make a living Another really excellent discussion board for entrepreneurs is Dien Rice's Seeds of Wisdom forum at So, how does the average web site owner or wanna-be Internet entrepreneur begin to generate a constant flow of traffic and sales in less than 7 days from today with ZERO marketing and advertising costs Where did the rest of those funds go Well, since we were a non-profit most of our revenue went directly into economic development programs (entrepreneur training and housing programs) and services that benefited the community. We weren't in it to make a profit, but one of our organizational goals included increasing our operating funds to provide a cushion against hard times. The hardest thing for most small businesses is to ask for...
EBay stores are the secret weapon for knowledgeable eBay shoppers. First, of course, you can consistently find great deals. But you can also help small businesses make it against larger behemoths. Sellers open eBay stores to make searching merchandise easier for buyers stores also help save sellers money because sellers don't need to set up private e-commerce Web sites. Translation Sellers can list items in their eBay stores for even lower fees, thereby passing their savings on to you, the savvy bargain hunter.
If you're wanting to learn how to set goals now for tomorrow's benefit. Then this may be the most important letter you'll ever read. You're About To Learn All About Growth Potential Without Potential Waste And How To Manage Your Money Principles, No Matter How Much Time You Have Had To Prepare. It doesn't matter if you've never experienced entrepreneurship up close and personal, This guide will tell you everything you need to know, without spending too much brainpower!