BUILDING A FOUNDATION...
As with any enterprise - business or otherwise - there are steps that have to be taken to get from nowhere to somewhere. You have to start from the beginning - and although it seems like a simple idea - this is where so many eBay entrepreneurs become unstuck!
You can't build a good house on a shoddy foundation.
Likewise you can't build a good small business on eBay unless you master the first steps.
I have been able to build a good small business on eBay that provides me with a regular part-time income from only a few hours work each week and I could keep it going indefinitely because I have a foundation that supports my business and I know that I can continue to enjoy the work and profit that I receive because the early steps that I took were done properly. Which is not to say that I really knew what I was doing all the time, nor that I didn't have to learn a LOT!
Step 1 - FAMILIARIZATION
You wouldn't go on a journey by car unless you had an idea of where you were going. Well you might, but in this instance we are hoping to get to a particular destination - your success - and so it is essential that before you take a step you learn how to drive and get about in the eBay world.
The genius of eBay is that it provides a place for millions of buyers and sellers to meet and interact SAFELY and CONFIDENTLY. This is not an easy feat online but through a combination of excellent editorial and security monitoring and strict guidelines as well as user connectivity and feedback, you can go on eBay and withing seconds establish whether you feel confident buying or selling with someone who you have never met, never will meet, and within minutes you could be sending them hundreds of your hard earned dollars without ever handling the goods that you are expecting to receive! Incredible!
Step 2 - CREDIBILITY
The foundation of eBay's phenomenal success is their user feedback system. It doesn't lie and without it you don't stand a chance of being able to convince many people of giving your the time of day, let alone buying from you on a regular basis.
You need to have a lot of positive feedback and no negative feedback to be able to be successful on eBay. GUARD YOUR REPUTATION ON EBAY LIKE YOU WOULD GUARD YOU LIFE. I can't stress that enough! It is your sole business possession as far as the online market is concerned and no matter what you are selling, how good your ads look or how good a deal you are offering, if people have complained about your service you will not be successful. From the very start seek to gain positive feedback from EVERY transaction and your success is almost guaranteed.
The best way to start getting positive feedback and to help you become more familiar with the day-to-day issues of eBay trading is to buy stuff.
eBay is a bargain shoppers paradise! Shop around. Buy that new iPod that you want or a new phone, clothes, music, dvds, antiques, ANYTHING. Buy at least 10 items before you even consider starting to sell. There are two reasons why I say this. First there are many privileges that eBay gives to it's successful sellers, but none are available to anyone with a feedback rating of less than 10. This should be the minimum amount of positive feedback that you should seek to obtain before you start selling anything. It indicates to eBay and to the community that you have at least know your way around well enough not to do anything really stupid. The other reason why I say this is because how are you going to convince anyone to send you their money when they have no basis to trust that you are going to send them anything in return? Get your self some good bargains - have a few thrills bidding up an auction war - earn some credibility and get some experience, then...
Step 3 - SELL YOUR OLD STUFF
There are two reasons for starting your eBay business with your own stuff: you have it already and people will trust you to deliver it. The first reason is pretty self explanatory and so I will just leave it at that. The second reason may require just a little more explanation, though it just flows on from the first two steps above. eBay is all about confidence and you need to have it if you want customers. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is thinking of buying from you. If you wanted to know if a seller was really on the level wouldn't it tell you a lot to know that they put their own stuff on the line to start with? It would for me. I know if I was looking to deal with a new seller and they had already auctioned half of their possessions then I would be pretty sure that they weren't just going to skip town when they get my money. Don't forget trust! It is the cement in your eBay business foundation building!
Step 4 & Beyond - BRICK BY BRICK
It's not within the scope of this article to go into the details of how to build your small business on eBay but there are heaps of excellent articles on Helium and on the web that will take you through the processes of getting a regular supply of stock, keeping good records, building long-term relationships with your customers and optimizing your marketing on the net. These are the bricks and mortar of your business and if you've got your foundation solid and level then there is nothing that you can't build! eBay has made millionaires of many and has helped to supplement and replace the incomes of many more!
What it could do for you is only limited by your imagination!