Over the years, on and off, I have been selling items on eBay (and occasionally buying too). Recently, I started selling a few items again and have been having a blast. If you’re a digital marketer and/or entrepreneur, I want to encourage you to start selling on eBay. It’s not about the profits you will earn, it’s about the education you will receive in what I like to call, “The school of eBay.” eBay is a microcosm of the entrepreneur’s journey. Let’s explore some of my personal eBay insights…
Entrepreneurial Insight 1: You are a salesperson and marketer
I’m a big fan of digital marketing as a career path because the best digital marketers are set up to do anything, including staring their own business or even running a huge business. Why? Sales and marketing skills are absolutely foundational. If you do not know how to sell/market, how are you going to convince people to buy your product, get investors to invest in your company, and influence employees to join your team?
Want to test a new sales strategy? Want to test new marketing ad copy? eBay provides the most amazing platform to test anything. I have experienced first hand that great sales and marketing drives more bids and a higher sales price on eBay. While I want to stay humble and keep challenging myself, I feel like I’m an eBay copy master. These same transferrable skills impact everything you do as an entrepreneur. Never stop selling!
Entrepreneurial Insight 2: You better understand your market
Certain categories on eBay are hot and others are not. You can’t sell just anything. You need to enter the right market with the right strategy. The same goes for starting a company. You can have an amazing idea, but it’s not going to thrive if the market is just not there. Let eBay teach you market research skills. Research all kinds of crazy markets that you never knew existed. Maybe it will come full circle and eBay will inspire you to start a business in a category you have never knew existed.
Entrepreneurial Insight 3: Higher risk often equals higher reward
Are you a risk taker? Do you like to start your eBay auctions at $1 with no reserve, auctioning off items of high value? Or, do you prefer high opening bids with reserves and high buy it now prices? Different strategies work for different situations. Try them all!
In my experience, especially if you researched your market well and developed an incredible sales strategy, it’s best to just start with a very low opening bid and no reserve. By taking on risk as a seller you create a ton of bidding and interest in your auction. You likely achieve a higher selling price as bidders fight to win. The same is true for great entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs need to be comfortable with risk and know when a calculated risk is warranted.
Entrepreneurial Insight 4: Patience is everything
When you’ve been selling on eBay for a while, you will have some buyers fall through. You will have an incredible auction that received tons of bids. You will be so happy with your sold price, and ready for your top bidder to pay. Then, the top bidder will go silent and refuse to pay. You may even need to open a "resolution" request with eBay to get things cleared up. That payment may never come through and you may need to run another auction for the same product or offer the product to your next highest bidder via a second chance offer.
Selling on eBay is not easy work. You need to be patient. You can never count your money until it’s in your PayPal account. The same is true of any entrepreneur. Start a company today and your payoff may be in ten years. And, while you’re waiting for your payoff, you may face a ton of challenges. Be ready and embrace the challenges!
Entrepreneurial Insight 5: Be comfortable wearing all hats
If you’re a one person operation like me you’ll be researching markets, finding the right products to sell, writing ad copy, building your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy seller, creating auctions, communicating with buyers, packing and shipping items, managing your ratings and reviews, and so much more. Entrepreneurs wear so many hats, many more than the eBay seller. However, eBay certainly gives a flavor of what it’s like to wear a ton of hats. Be comfortable wearing lots of hats, this skill will take you far in life and business.
Entrepreneurial Insight 6: The customer journey is never over
You sell your product, receive payment, and ship it to the customer. You’re done, right? No way! It’s all about customer service. In fact, Your Customer Care Is Your Brand, in my opinion. Don’t just ship your item, go above and beyond. Did the buyer pay only for regular mail? Happy with your sales price? Why not invest a few extra dollars (out of your margin) and ship via Priority Mail? Will that impact the buyer? Absolutely! I’m sure they’ll write a glowing review and visit your store often. It’s all about the details and delighting your customer.
Entrepreneurial Insight 7: Do you have "street smarts"?
I went to Stanford. I know a lot of people that have amazing book smarts. However, do they have street smarts? And, what does this really mean?
I think of street smarts as intuition and judgment. When you deal with customers in business, you will hear the most wild stories. Which stories do you trust, and how do you react in the moment?
An example: While eBay policy is to pay within 48 hours of an auction closing, buyers will come up with stories on why they can’t pay until later. Do you trust them or not? If you have good street smarts, you’ll know when to trust them. Entrepreneurs need to have book smarts and street smarts.
As someone who’s always looking to sharpen my skills, I truly value the testing and innovation done on nights and weekends, after work. If you’re looking to raise your game in business, consider selling on eBay. The insights you learn will make you a better entrepreneur!
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