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eBay: Business Opportunity? You Bet!

Aug 17, 2007
You have probably read dozens of articles about how you can make shedloads of cash from eBay with little or no effort. I just hope that this article doesn't burst the bubble . . .

That eBay is a phenomenon is a fact few could deny. It is a child of its time and its originators were both fortunate and astute in starting their business at a period of intense expansion on the part of the internet. Since the advent of inexpensive broadband access the use of the internet has exploded - I myself spend several hours each day working the web - and this is the first year when online spending could overtake the high street. So - is eBay a viable business option?

You bet it is. Having been part of a 'normal' business for over fifteen years I can say that, for those who may have little or no business experience, eBay is an absolute gift. Consider a few services that eBay provide:

Integrated selling and payment (Paypal) tools. Massive exposure for the tiniest trader. Buyer and seller protection - to some degree anyway. Marketing tools that would cost serious money to develop yourself. Analysis tools that most accountants would sell their mother to get.

So it should be easy for anyone to become a millionaire on eBay!

Wrong. Business, as is said, is business. If you don't understand business, you will struggle to make it on eBay.

I'm not talking about the 'original' eBay dream of a community selling their unwanted goods to like-minded individuals. That business model, though still extant, is of utterly no use to anyone wishing to run an eBay business. Anyone launching on this premise will rapidly grind to a halt as Aunt Agatha's attic rapidly empties out. So what's needed for success?

Simple. Not easy, but simple. Any product-based business, wherever it is run, whatever its trading arena, relies on the flow of goods and cash through it to survive. If you cannot source goods to sell, the business fails. If you cannot get paid for your goods, the business fails. If you cannot sell your goods - the business fails. So how do you ensure the ongoing success of your eBay business?

Firstly, you run it like - a business. How do you do this? Look at these points:

Identify your chosen market. This can be done by searching eBay. What do you want to sell? To whom? Why? Obtain goods to supply your market. eBay or Google can be used as powerful tools for identifying possible suppliers. The internet has literally thousands of suppliers bursting to sell their goods to you.

Supply your customers. Use eBay's auction, best-
offer or buy-it-now tools to market your product. If you have done your homework correctly, you are off and running!

It's all going so well, isn't it? Well, maybe. Do not forget some of the other aspects of running a real business. And these are?

Let's start with customer service. To many people, this means 'complaints'. Rubbish. Customer service starts with the sale listing and means exactly what it says: giving your customer - the one who chooses to buy from your auction or eBay shop - the best service you can. Period.

The Bottom Line: what's that? Simply put, that's the money left when you've paid everyone. Don't fool yourself by thinking you have only yourself to pay. These are some others you have to pay:

eBay - listing fees and final value fees. These can be significant, particularly if you use some of eBay's selling tools, especially their image listing options. It depends on the per capita value of the item you're selling.

PayPal - don't forget it costs you to receive money. About 5%, in fact. In context, an online trading account from a bank might set you back 2.5% to 3.5%. The difference is that with Paypal there are no setup costs. Again, this has to be balanced against your business turnover volume - there will be a point where PayPal is no longer cost-effective.

Carriage: an often-forgotten cost. This must be factored in to ensure profit. Don't forget that carriage doesn't just cost the price of a stamp!

Webhosts - do you have your own website? Are you getting the best deal?

To conclude this (far from comprehensive) article, I would summarise an eBay business as being a great opportunity for those who have limited funds. The entry-level cost is so low that almost anyone can build a business. Maybe you will have to start small - a lot of businesses do - but with perseverance and a real will to succeed you can definitely have your own viable eBay business - and the sky's the limit!
About the Author
Steve Dempster has been an internet junkie for more years than he cares to remember. His eBay shop can be seen at his site The Invisible Edge
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