Start a Business Selling on eBay

by SMD 

Q. How do I start an eBay business (from the Rich Dad forums)?
A. … 2 years ago, I was between jobs for 4 months and so I decided to start
an eBay business. (My feedback).
- I went to bankruptcy auctions and purchased lots of computer parts and then repaired them and resold them on eBay. It was a very easy business to get running and I was making a profit the first week. I loved the freedom and being my own boss, but if you’re into the Rich Dad way, it’s definitely an “S” quadrant business. It is more work than most people realize.
- I have an idea for you from my personal experience to help with finding stuff to sell. My wife is a Home Organizer (, which means it’s her job to help people organize and de-clutter their homes (like the TV show Clean Sweep). One the biggest excuses she runs up against for people holding on to stuff that they don’t want or need is that it has value. It is worth too much to donate it to Goodwill or Salvation Army but it isn’t really an antique or something with easily converted value. These are perfect items for eBay. If I was doing this business now I would contact Home Organizers (they have an association in the U.S. and Canada which you can find on Google) and offer to give them 10% (out of the client’s cut) and, if they are anything like my wife, they will find you an endless supply of merchandise. Included in this stuff will be some real gems that can make you some good money.
- The only real equipment you need is a digital camera and computer. Take some time to take good images.
- Try to anticipate everything that a seller would want to know about your item and do the research in advance. Don’t try to hide imperfections, this will only backfire.
- Do everything, including refunds to dissatisfied customers, to avoid negative feedback. The cost of taking back an item is nothing compared to the cost of lower bids if you don’t have a high feedback rating (especially until you have greater than 100 feedbacks). Another trick for people who win your auction and then don’t pay is, if you think they are hostile, don’t leave them negative feedback (because you know they are going to turn around and leave negative for you, even if you were completely honest) but rather file a “non-paying bidder” report with eBay. This enables you to get you listing fees returned and the person gets a non-paying strike against their account. If they receive three of these they will be banned, so you have accomplished the same as negative feedback without the possibility of backlash.
- Just like an offline business, going the extra mile is rewarded. Answer emails promptly and politely. Package items well to eliminate possibility of damage.
- Add shipping insurance cost into the cost of shipping. Don’t give the buyer the option of not purchasing it. It is very cheap and the headache for you of a lost item is not worth the risk (even if technically the responsibility is the buyer’s!).
- eBay has some great community forums where the pros will answer questions for you.
- Educate yourself on eBay scams. Since eBay is so popular of course it has it’s fair share of con artists.
Here’s one I heard recently:

“The scammer has a broken or damaged item that is essentially useless to him. The scammer searches ebay and finds the same item (undamaged) on ebay, places bids on the item, wins it, and pays the seller for the undamaged item. The seller ships the undamaged item to the scammer, and when the scammer receives the undamaged item, he switches it with the broken one. The scammer then tells the seller that the item must have been broken in shipping, or the scammer falsely accuses the seller of sending damaged goods. The scammer continues by threatening that he will leave negative feedback if the seller doesn’t replace the goods or refund the money.”
from here

- The way that sellers are combating this one it to say on their listings that their items have been uniquely marked and returns will not be accepted if the unique marking is not there or altered.
- Don’t have hidden fees or shipping charges. Clearly post all costs on your listing. Don’t inflate shipping fees, try and be as accurate as possible. Offer discounts in shipping if a buyer buys more than one item.
- Sell items that are similar at the same time. Buyers use the “See Seller’s other items” link to try and group items. I had a buyer purchase 5 items of mine at one time.
- If you live in a larger city and you are comfortable with it, offer free local pickup. Local buying is big now and many of the so-called professional eBay outfits won’t allow local pickup or they charge for it. A local buyer will bid more if they know there are no shipping fees and this can create higher final prices.

Overall eBay is a great home-based business. You can do it with varying levels of time commitments and the start up costs are very low. It is good to start as a buyer to build up some feedback and experience. Have fun, there’s nothing like the rush of waking up and seeing the bid has gone from $30 (when you went to bed) to $400 the next morning.

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