Starting an eBay Business

An Awesome Guide for Teenagers

If you're young starting an eBay business, you're in the running to make a short fortune on one of the web's largest marketplaces... if you get it right. In this guide, you'll find some ideas for sourcing products and making money from your eBay business.

Inside This Guide

  1. How to Start Your eBay Business
  2. Clearout Your House for Products
  3. Flip Products on eBay
  4. Partner with Market Stall Sellers
  5. Start a Dropshipping Business
  6. Two Great Product Sourcing Resources
  7. Getting Around the 18 Year Old Age Limit on eBay

How to Start Your eBay Business

messy bedroom

Maybe you’re in your bedroom right now… maybe if you’re like me your room is a complete mess… and the parents HATE it right? Maybe you’ve had one of those arguments about tidying your room - “I’ll do it this afternoon” - of course, you never really clear it all up. Moving junk is effort, you don’t know what to do with it yada-yada-yada…

Now – think for a moment about the value of all that unwanted junk. Maybe even some of those untouched books have a recommend price sticker on the back? Perhaps some of it is (except for some dust) still in mint condition – maybe even as good as it was off the shelf? Okay, so some of it might not all be in the best condition, but how much do you think someone might want to pay for it?

Before you think I’m suggesting a “yard sale” or something like that, I’m not. That’s too easy…

The problem with selling locally, is with such a diverse mix of goods, its probable that people aren’t going to be desperate to buy it. Even if you do find a buyer, the likelihood is that they won’t give you as much as someone else. You need to connect with people who are desperate for your junk - people who are willing to pay.

… and so it makes sense to make your junk as accessible as possible. The best way to do that is online. It’s far easier to sell goods online all over the world.

And the best way to sell your unwanted junk online is… eBay! Everyone wins:

  1. Ya’ll mumma and puppa will be delighted that you’re clearing out your room.
  2. You get to make a tidy profit (no pun intended.)
  3. Someone out there gets the very thing they’ve been lying awake for months dreaming for… (that might be a slight exaggeration)

Where else can your source products?

Clear Out Other Rooms

Having stripped your room bare, or at least cleared out the unwanted but valuable junk, you could then move on to other areas in your house. Of course, some of these items probably aren’t yours so its best to ask about them first.

“Mum, I’ve just sold the fridge”

Consider offering to sell junk on commission or buying the junk outright in order to sell it. Or if it really is hidden away and no one really worries about it a quick “hey, do we still need this?” “Not really.” “Do you mind if I sell it on eBay. I’ll learn business skills” will be really quite clever and painless.

Ask your neighbours

Whether you’re best friends or barely see each other, your neighbours probably have some unwanted junk they wouldn’t mind getting rid of for cash.

If you're selling on commission, you don’t have to spend money on stock. You're cash-flow positive, and if there's no sale, there's no cost to you. But you have to keep the owner happy. You may not make as much money…

If you're buying outright, you have far more control and potentially make more money. But if you risk holding a lot of worthless stock if you can't sell it.

PRO Tip: take a smartphone with internet with you when you're looking over potential stuff to buy. That way, you can check prices as you browse and work out what’s profitable for you.

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Flip Products on eBay for Profit

“Flipping” comes from the real estate industry where property investors will buy a house, do it up and sell it. Flipping can apply to more or less anything. If you’re smart you can buy goods for cheap on eBay and resell them for more. Start small until you get the hang of it (don’t buy 20 iPads, just yet!) then gradually invest more money in it.

Instead of using the search function, search by category and find mis-spelled items, items with poor listings or items which are ending in the wee hours of the morning in the middle of the week - times when there will be less competition for bids.

PRO Tip: Find goods bundled together. Often people will just bundle lots of unwanted goods together (like a games console and a dozen games) just to get rid of it. If you buy a bundle and resell each item individually you may find it more profitable.

Double check the quality of the goods - don’t be afraid to contact the seller and ask more questions. Then, check what prices you can resell them for on eBay, Amazon and other possible sales avenues. Make sure to account for around 10% costs for eBay and PayPal fees, as well as allowing some margin for shipping. If you think

For the listings ending at inhumane times, you can always setup software to bid on your behalf. “Sniping” is the practice of bidding at the very last moment just as the eBay auction is about to close - that way you can keep the price down by preventing people from bidding earlier.

Once you’ve paid and had the item delivered, assess it to see if it’s in the condition you expected it to be in. Unless you’re unhappy and want to take it up with the original seller, take some good quality pictures and write a detailed description of your product for the new listing, and aim to sell it at the weekend or wherever you think you can fetch the highest price for it.

Of course, you don’t just have to limit yourself to eBay. You can buy on eBay and sell on Amazon. Buy in a local market and sell on eBay. Buy on Amazon and sell to a friend. There’s all sorts of combination you should try out.

Always do your homework first. Have an idea what you might be able to sell it for, and always make sure you allow for plenty of margin for eBay and PayPal fees as well as shipping. Work out your costs exactly before you execute.

Remember to try to resell around peak times. Saturday evening at the local time of the eBay website you’re selling on - 7pm in London for eBay.co.uk is five hours ahead of 7pm in New York.

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Partner with Market Stall Sellers

If you have a local market where sellers are flogging clothes, jewelry or any other goods which could potentially be boxed up and sold online (although you can’t sell food or ‘perishables’ on eBay) then go and have a browse through eBay listings and work out how much you might be able to sell for.

Ask sellers if they do bulk or “trade” discounts. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Even better, if your feeling brave you could ask them if you could sell their stuff on commission and talk about how they’ll be able to sell more goods and possibly source stuff cheaper and make more money themselves.

Always talk about how it benefits them. They make more sales, more money and might be able to order goods cheaper themselves because they’re dealing with larger order quantities.

Start a Dropshipping Business

Dropshipping is where a retailer (you) sells to a consumer, but rather than holding the stock, the wholesaler ships directly to the consumer on the retailers behalf. This means the retailer (you) never touches the product being sold and doesn’t need to run a warehouse, incur extra shipping bills or more headaches that come from holding stock.

It’s brilliant for the small guy who wants to sell online, but there are a handful of things to watch out for to avoid getting really badly burnt.

1. Don’t Dropship Branded Consumer Electronics

Just don’t. You won't make any money.

I know its super-glitzy and cool and you want in to the iPhone, laptop, TV world – but so does everyone else. Statistically, it is the worst performing sector for converting visitors into buyers. It is one of the most competitive markets, and the big companies have already got it figured out - why would someone buy from you when they’ve got Amazon?

2. Always Have a Backup Supplier

Sometimes, dropshippers mess up. Items aren’t in stock or they’ve got delivery problems. The trouble is, as the retailer it’s YOU who is still responsible for fulfilling what a customer has ordered. “My supplier messed up” isn’t a valid excuse. You should be able to switch to an alternative supplier, or at least have a small supply of your own under your control that you can ship out at a moments notice.

Which leads to a second important factor to keep your dropshipping business alive...

3. Always Have Enough Cash To Order Backups Instantly

If you need to order backup goods suddenly, you need to have the cash to do that. Don’t overtrade beyond what you can manage.

Finally...

4. Don’t Dropship Branded Consumer Electronics!

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Dropshipping is competitive since each dropshipper has dozens of clients competiting with each other.

Also, beware of companies advertising themselves as dropshippers online. Often they’ll themselves be dropshipping goods from another supplier - they’ll be the middle man, driving up your costs.

Two Great Resources on Product Sourcing

Worldwide Brands aggregates and checks the backgrounds of wholesale and dropship suppliers to list it’s directory. Whilst access to their directory might not be of interest ($299 lifetime access), you should definitely take a look at their wholesale tips video series and their excellent PDF guide on product sourcing.

The Wholesale Forum is one of the largest communities for wholesalers, dropshippers and guys like you who are trying to sell online, on eBay or at local markets.

The Marketplace there is well worth a look. Members who sell on there have to pay monthly and submit their personal details like where they live, all their contact information and submit photographic ID. In short, the people selling there are both accessible and safe.

That’s different to being a guaranteed profit. Sure, there are some bargains there, but some really aren’t! Scout around and look how much people are paying for things as a consumer.

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Starting on eBay Under 18

Yes. Officially, eBay is only for people over 18 years of age. Although there is nothing stopping you from signing up, the system will catch you in the end. It’s better to be upfront now, rather than forfeiting any future sales and profits - that can really suck!

PayPal is especially tricky for under-18 eBayers. eBay owns PayPal, and the two companies work very closely on every eBay transaction. PayPal tries to find out all it can about you, or they freeze your money. When you start trading over a certain amount, this can trigger “freezing” your account where you have to submit more information to get access to your money (!!!), which can involve requesting photographic ID. If you’ve got a few thousand in your PayPal account, you’re pretty stuck then!

The best way to get around this is to trade under your parents, or another adult you know and trust, and so long as you’ve got their permission to do that, there shouldn’t be an issue. You use their name. Their ID. Their bank accounts,although it may help to setup a separate, or joint account to keep your accounting in order.

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