Description: The holiday selling rush is over and the new selling season has just begun. It is a great time to look at your 2009 selling and plan for your 2010 selling strategy. NOW is the time to review, plan and refresh your eBay business for a successful new year.
Please join Lisa Suttora, ecommerce strategist and Founder/CEO of WhatDoISell.com, as she shares her advice and insight on what you can do to prepare for a successful year selling on eBay.
After the material is presented we'll open the board for discussion and questions.
Hello, my name is Lisa Suttora and I am the Founder and CEO of WhatDoISell.com™. We are an eBay Certified Service Provider that specializes in teaching eBay sellers how to find the products buyers want, locate legitimate suppliers, and sell successfully in the eBay Marketplace.
The holiday selling rush is over and the new selling season has just begun. Now is the time to review your results for 2009 and plan your 2010 selling strategy. And to refresh your eBay business for a successful new year!
In order to know where you’re going, you have to take stock of where your business is today. Yet it’s often all too easy to skip this important step when you’re busy dealing with day-to-day operations or thinking about the future.
However knowing what works in your business and what doesn’t is KEY to planning your next steps to success.
Here are some of the areas you’ll want to look at:
Products: What products are working well in your business and which are not?
Skills: What skills do you need to learn to move your business forward in 2010?
Financials: Where is your business financially?
Marketing: Which marketing strategies are producing new customers and sales and which are not giving you a return on your investment?
Tools: Do you have the tools in place to run a profitable business?
These are just some of the areas you want to look at. And they play a huge factor in planning for a profitable 2010.
In order to plan successfully for your business, you have to know you numbers. What are your profit margins, your expenses, what products are profitable and which are not?
Yet the vast majority of small business owners do not keep their books up to date.
There are many reasons for this – overwhelm, trying to do it yourself, or not having a good system to track sales and expenses.
Aim to have your P&L (profit and loss) sheet ready by the 10th of the month. This means that by February 10th, you should have numbers in hand for January.
You need to get your numbers early in the month in case you have to make adjustments on spending, beef up your sales or course correct in any other way.
Without these numbers, you’re running your business in the dark.
One of the first tasks to outsource in your online business is bookkeeping. As an eBay seller, your time should be dedicated to product sourcing & marketing. A good bookkeeper is one of the best assets your business can have.
When looking for a qualified bookkeeper, make sure they have experience in working with online businesses using PayPal.
Interview your potential bookkeeper and ask for references.
You also want to make sure that you can access a copy of your books online. To run a business successfully you need to be able to look at your numbers whenever you need them.
Another option is to use Keepmore.net. Keepmore is an eBay compatible application that automatically imports all of your eBay transactions every hour and allocates them as income or expense for you.
Whatever system you use, make keeping your books up to date a #1 priority in 2010.
Tip #4: Take a Tough Love Stance on Your Product Line
The first step in profitable product sourcing is to take a hard look at what products you’re NOT going to carry in 2010. One of the most common things I see in working with clients is that they hang on to inventory that is long past its shelf life.
Doing this will tie up your inventory capital and drag down the freshness of your product line.
However, sometimes this can be difficult to do.
When you source your own products, it’s very easy to get personally attached to them.
When you’ve invested time, money and emotion into deciding on a particular product or product line, it’s easy to want to “give it a little more time”.
But by extending the shelf life of a product that clearly is not selling, you’re hurting the rest of your business. Think of it as weeds in a garden. You have to keep that garden weeded in order for the flowers to grow.
A tough love stance is even more critical now as we move from SIF listings to FP listings.
This is going to be a core time of assessment especially for collectibles sellers who keep things in their stores for a much longer period of time waiting for the perfect buyer to come along.
Even if you sell one-of-a-kind items, you must review your products with a critical eye.
Tip #5: Create Customized Offerings and eBay Exclusives
The biggest key to success for eBay sellers in 2010 is to play to your strengths. One of the cards you have in your back pocket that the “big guys” don’t is the ability to take standard product configurations and create customized offerings and eBay exclusives
Creating “eBay Exclusives” is a great way to offer your customers something they can’t anywhere else but eBay.
For example – Fiesta ware is normally sold in sets of 4 plates that are all the same color.
Well one of the things that customers like is to mix & match the sets.
The "big guys" won’t take the time do that. They’re not set up to offer customized product combinations. But an independent online seller can!
Another thing you can do is create a product offering that is a complete solution.
So think about this –what are your customer’s problems?
Maybe you sell bedding, furniture and accessories for baby’s bedrooms. How can you put together complete solution for the new parent?
You do the pre-work of hand selecting a set, putting together your own special configuration of a “standard product” and all of a sudden you have an eBay Exclusive for your business!
Quick. Right now, list the 5 places you go to on a regular basis to keep up on the trends in your industry.
To be a top seller in your category, you need to stay on top of the trends happening in that category.
You need to know more about that industry and your customers than any of your competitors. It’s in this manner that you’ll know what products to source and where to source them.
If you’re only slightly knowledgeable about your category, your sales will suffer for it.
Fortunately, tracking trends is simply a matter of wanting to do it, and then turning into a detective to ferret out what people are buying, what new products are coming into the marketplace and what new suppliers are on the horizon.
I'll be sharing many more tips throughout this workshop!
Most importantly, I'm here to answer your specific questions about your business on eBay.
- Take a look at your store, or listings - whatever YOU need to help move your business forward this year.
But I want to take a moment and share with you a very important rule to live by when running a business...
It's something I realized very early on, when I came online from the corporate world back in 2002...
And that is:
“Treat Your Business Like a Business and It Will Pay You Like a Business. Treat Your Business Like a Hobby and It Will Cost You Like a Hobby™” -Lisa Suttora
In January, I launched my 2010 Business Growth Group. The purpose of this group is to show you how to take an existing business and make it more profitable, or turn your hobby into a profitable business.
If you need help in learning to treat your business like a business, come check us out at http://2010bgg.com
In order to be profitable online this year, you have to treat your business like a business. EVEN if it’s only a part-time venture!
A note from our Legal Department: The statements and opinions made in this discussion board are those of the workshop host only and do not reflect eBay policy or eBay's opinion with respect to such statements.
Thank you so much for doing this. I am changing the products I sell from clothing to collectables and replacement dinnerware. I have no idea of how to stay on top of the trends for these items. Any suggestions?
Hi, I have been looking for some VERY simple bookkeeping software for my antiques/collectibles business. This has been a hobby-business for many years so I never did proper tracking of, especially, expenses. I also never know what to do about pieces I take out of my personal collection - how do I log cost? To be honest, I have many items that I no longer have records of how much I paid. I've procrastinated on this for years! It seems like an overwhelming task. But at this time, I don't have the money to pay someone to inventory/do books.
There are many formulas online for determining your cost of making something. It usually is cost of materials + an hourly 'salary'. You can try Googleing something like "determining cost or selling price of crafts" (not necessarily in quotes).
I have some high end items (gently used) Ungaro heels, original design evening skirt, signed Charles M shultz book & ornament, antique barber chair. I'm starting with stuff around the house as suggested. I would like to work it into full time. I'm self-employed so I do have discipline. thanks for your input
My background is marketing and retail management, and my personal niche is marketing research - I consider myself good at THAT, but lousy at record keeping! - so that is what I need help with. After several years of not spending much time on my antiques business, especially with online sales, I really want to get back into it.
Thank you terezi... I will try that. I tried selling some items starting in November and I didn't even get a LOOK at any of them... I didn't know exactly which category to place them in either, but I did a search for similar items and placed them there, but no sales resulted.
Marsha - discipline is what I LACK! LOL! That's another area I could really use help with. I have some chronic illnesses, and I have ongoing stamina issues, so I have trouble with sustained efforts; I need to work in small bursts as I have energy, both mental and physical. I'm great at STARTING projects, but terrible at working at them ongoing, and especially COMPLETING anything. I have significant ADD, so I jump around from project to project, and then I beat myself up about it.
Hi Lisa-thank you for having this workshop. I have a few questions; 1. What is a reasonable time to keep a product listed in my store? Then how do you get rid of the poor sellers without losing money? 2.I cannot afford a bookkeeper at this time and I did not do well with Keepmore. So I am considering Quickbooks. What version would be the best and simplest? 3. Also my computer has Windows 98 so I am unable to listen to the recordings you have done. Is this what you mean by tools-to have updated ones? Thank you, Ann
I have been trying for several months to expand my Gifts, Collectibles and Miniatures business by listing some items from a drop ship company, but everytime I try to find a niche' or list any items, I find there are already other sellers listing the items below what I can afford to list them at. Any suggestions? Thanks
Hi, I haven't started selling yet, just buying. I wish to sell one-of-a-kind items, like small antiques and fabrics (scarves, pashminas, etc.) I am also interested in re-sale. Items such as brassware and silver from the Middle East & Far East without becoming a company rep. Do I need a re-sale license in the state where I am operating, or a sales tax license? Thanks
Hi terezi, The first thing we need to do is separate your business from your personal inventory.
If you are currently running your business with a business license, your company should be buying inventory from your personal collection.
I know it sounds like splitting hairs - but the problem is - you're selling inventory and paying business taxes on that inventory that you bought with personal funds.
So in essence, you're paying taxes twice. Once when you buy items for your personal colletions and once when you sell the item and pay tax on that income.
So we want to stop that double taxation!
I'm not legally authorized to give tax advice, but I would at the very least - meet with a CPA (accountant) for an hour to get that part of situation straightened out. Because you always want to keep your business dealings and your personal dealings separate.
As far as the books go - Keepmore.net is super easy and very reasonably priced.
It does most of the work for you. It will do exactly what you need.
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