How To Start A Business With No Money: eBay Trader

08 June 2010 Interviews

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Here’s yet another option for you if you want to start a business but have little or no money.  For this post, I went straight to a member of the TBF communityRyanhami has been buying items and then selling them on eBay since last year.  He is currently building a website, to grow his business.  I asked questions most beginners would want to know- including myself.  Read on to see what it takes to build an EBay empire.

How did you decide what to sell?

When I first started I did not know what I wanted to sell. I knew that I wanted to start small with a product that did not have a big initial investment cost. I had an iPhone and was thinking that iPhone cases would be cheap to buy from china or somewhere abroad. I liked my gadgets and this helped me choose what I wanted to sell.  Ff you have a hobby or something you like it may be worth looking into that thing. When I was looking for the product I would start looking on a wholesale website in china and find products that were cheap but seemed decent. I would then look on eBay and see if there were any similar products.  This then gave me an idea of the competition and I could also see how well their products were selling.

How much did you originally needed to invest?

When I first started the initial investment was just under the £50 mark which got me my first 120 cases. I probably would have sent more but because I did not know how well they were going to sell I did not want to risk it. You may be more of a risk taker or you may have a product that is more likely to sell better.

How did you decide what to price it at?

Well to start with I would look at competitors prices.  This gave me a clear idea of the sort of price I would be able to sell them. When I had an idea in mind of how much I wanted to sell them for, I would then go to Excel and work out all the costs that I need to take into account- the wholesale price of each product, eBay selling fees, PayPal fees and the shipping fees. When I figured out what profit I would make if I priced the same as my competitors, I would undercut them by 10-20 percent.   This gave me an advantage and would help me to sell more as I had hardly any feedback.

What are some hints or suggestions for someone who’s new at eBay that you wish you knew when you started?

I am not really sure what hints I could give to somebody as I think I was quite lucky when I first started selling on eBay. I don’t think many people start selling on eBay with no feedback and then within the first week sell out of all the cases.  It was a great feeling.  One hint would be to find out if the market is saturated.  If there are other people/companies selling the product that you are looking it and they have thousands of feedback, then it may not be the best idea to sell that product unless you can price it for much less.  Otherwise, you won’t be able to sell the product.  So make sure you check the products that are already selling on eBay as you could lose your investment if you don’t do the research.

How many hours a week do you spend on your eBay business?

I would say I spend most time researching products that I can sell. I could have spent a couple of hours a day looking for products when I first started.  But because I wanted to sell just the one product it only took a few hours to find it.  When I was selling 10-20 cases per day, I would only spend 30 minutes packaging the cases and sending them off. I got sticky labels which I printed off on the computer with all the different addresses I needed to send to which saved me a lot of time. I also printed off PayPal packing slips which I would put in each package that I sent.

Do you have a website at all?

I did not have a website when I first started; all my sales and communications went through eBay. I have just purchase a domain for my eBay business now as I am hoping to expand and I think this will be one way of doing so. But at the time when I first started selling I thought the cost of hosting would be too high and I would not sell many products from the website.

What were some things that helped you grow your eBay business?

Well I have explained what I am going to say already but if I did not use sticky postage labels, I would not be able to sell as many each day.  I would not have had enough time to package and send them off.  Hand writing the addresses on an envelope would have taken too long.  It may be simple but you want to be sending your orders as fast as possible and the way of doing this is not hand writing. The good thing about them is that you can get hundreds off eBay for a great price.

How did you know where to call to get the items you wanted to sell?

To order the products that I wanted to buy, I would use the website that they had setup and then pay for them via PayPal.  It’s no different than buying from a big retail chain that has a website except you are buying in bulk. I then contacted them to see if I could negotiate down a better price. A good way of getting them to go lower on their price is saying that you will be looking to build a good relationship with them and you will be ordering more in a few weeks time.  That usually gives you a slight discount.

Where did you find the vendors/manufacturers?

I first started looking at Alibaba which is a website where companies can list wholesale products. There are many companies from China on this website but there are quite a few that are scammers. So watch out. I am also a member on a forum called The Wholesale Forums.  This website had reviews of the manufacturers that I found.  They seemed good so I decided to go ahead and purchase from them. I have been using them since.  I did find a new supplier which I am now using.  I also found them through Alibaba.

For motivation, tell us how much have you made.

When I started last June, I sold around 550 cases in around three months.  This brought in around £1100,  £500 of it was profit.  But from the initial investment of £50, I made about £100 profit.

[image credit: liewcf]

Read Futher:

  • eBay Quick Start Guide
  • Alibaba
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Chief Community Officer at TeenBusinessForum. I believe that successful and ethical entrepreneurs make the world a better place. To make that a reality, I help empower teen entrepreneurs that will be the next generation of business leaders.


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