Mar
04

Start Up Funding for New eBay Businesses!

ebay-loansThis is a topic that I’ve shied away from writing about a little bit, mainly because I don’t want to give general financial advice to people without fully knowing their circumstances, finances and plans.

However, I think this is a very important topic and something I need to cover as it really pains me to get emails from people struggling and in debt, all because they financed their online business dream in the wrong way!

So today, I’m going to be going over some of the options for financing a new online business. Let’s get to it!

Firstly, I want to clarify a common misconception about starting an online business which I hear all the time and just don’t agree with and that is “that you don’t really need a start up budget and can create a successful business with practically nothing”.

Unfortunately this is just false!

Of course there are some strategies and business models you can use to get started with a very limited budget BUT these aren’t ideal and you’re very limited in what you can do.

In fact, the main purpose of these low-budget strategies is to build up a proper bank so that you can really launch your business.

So many people think that though you need tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds to start an offline business, you can start an online business on a shoestring budget.

And while of course online businesses are much cheaper to launch than an offline one (that’s one of the great things about the internet – it opens up a lot of opportunities for people) that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still costs involved when you launch a proper online business. Things like:

  • Website Design
  • eBay Store and Template Design
  • Stationery Design
  • Samples
  • First Orders
  • Import Tax & VAT
  • Initial Supplies and Equipment

It all adds up!

Please don’t take this the wrong way and think that I’m saying it’s impossible to start an online business unless you have a big starting budget as that’s obviously not the case. There are many viable methods for starting out without much money (a few of which I’ve covered on this very blog that have been incredibly popular, links at the end of the article if you’d like to check those out) but just understand that these are limited and will mean more time and work from you before you can build them up into a big business. [Read more…]

Mar
02

Do You need an eBay Shop when Starting Out?

ebay-shopIf you have an established eBay business you’ll most likely already have an eBay shop subscription too, due to the various advantages it presents. But what to do if you’re just starting out on eBay and have sourced only a few products to sell? Do you need to sign-up for an eBay shop or can you do just fine without it? I’ll try to answer this question in detail in today’s blog post.

First of all – what are the advantages of having an eBay shop subscription?

A few of the most important ones are:

  • Ability to use the Good ‘Til Cancelled (GTC) listing format.

In my opinion this is the most important advantage of an eBay shop! If you want to rank your listings high in eBay’s search results in competitive niches, you simply MUST use the GTC listing format and follow my guide on how to get your eBay listings ranked in the top search positions. Without GTC listings you simply won’t be able to compete with sellers who use them and build huge sales history over several months and even years.

  • Savings in listing insertion fees.

I already covered fees in my recent eBay fees blog post so I won’t go into too much detail about it again now, but just so you know – with a shop subscription you get a certain number of free listings each month. Exactly how many depends on which subscription you choose but at a certain level in your business, this can provide a decent amount of savings in the amount of fees you pay.

There’s a very handy fees calculator on eBay which you can use to see exactly when it makes sense for you to move over to a shop subscription and which one is best for your business. [Read more…]

Feb
27

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #20

questions-answers-20Yes, we have reached another important milestone in our Questions and Answers blog post series – the 20th post! So if you have a question you want me to answer, simply get in touch via my support desk here. And remember, even if your question isn’t featured on the blog, you’ll still receive my personal reply via email.

Today we’ll be covering the following questions:

  • Do I need a registered company to have a business account on eBay UK?
  • How do I get my money back from a scammer in China?
  • How to verify my PayPal account after change of name?
  • Do legit Chinese suppliers accept Western Union payments?
  • How to re-sell eBay products in Africa?
  • Can you get genuine refurbished mobile phones from China?

Let’s get started!

Hi Andrew,

I have read all your posts regarding selling on eBay these last few days to learn how to be successful using this platform and make my project profitable. You are a huge help as I was totally clueless only a week ago.

I was wondering if what I am proposing below is allowed within eBay’s policies.

Basically I started my little project on eBay about 2 months ago and I am unsure whether I can now upgrade my account to a business one as I don’t actually have a registered business? When I changed the account from personal to business, eBay didn’t ask for any additional information (to what I gave when initially creating the account) and I haven’t received any emails requesting any extra info or encountered any problems…

In terms of declaring my earnings, I am planning to do a year end self-assessment but I am just unsure how all of this sits with eBay and what their policies are?

Do I need to be registered as a business in the UK and open up a company or become a sole trader to do this or am I ok to just go ahead without registering as a business and simple declaring my earnings at the end of the year?

Thanks in advance,
Silvia

Hi Silvia,

Yes, on eBay you can have a Business account without actually registering a company or even becoming a sole trader. They do not verify any business details when you upgrade your personal account to business account. So it’s fine by eBay’s rules.

The only thing you want to look into is whether it would be more efficient, tax wise, for you to register as a sole trader? Check out my eBay Business & Tax registration guide here to help you understand the differences. [Read more…]

Feb
25

How to LEGALLY Spy on your eBay Competition!

spy-on-ebayWouldn’t it be nice to see exactly how well your competition is doing on eBay? To see how much money they make in sales each month? To see their best selling items, to see what listing formats they use? What listings titles and upgrades? Even the exact sales they get from each individual listing?

Well, it may surprise you to hear this but you can already do all of that, and more, using nothing other than Terapeak!

If you’re not familiar with Terapeak, to put it simply, it’s the world’s best and most popular eBay research tool. It’s cloud based software that gathers data from millions of eBay sellers and billions of listings in total to show you the specific data you need.

This all happens online, so you don’t have to install anything on your computer. All you have to do is sign-up for a Terapeak account and you can start doing research straight away. To learn more about how Terapeak works, check out my previous guides here:

IMPORTANT!!! When you sign up for a Terapeak account, make sure to select the Professional Plan as only that provides you with competitor research tools. And no, it doesn’t matter where you live – UK, USA, Canada, Germany, Australia, France or Italy – you can do research on all these regional eBay sites from your main Terapeak account.

So once you have an account sorted and have learnt the basics behind Terapeak, you can move on to the next level by learning how spying on your competitors can help you with both the product research phase as well as when you’re already running a successful eBay business.

Let’s cover these two scenarios separately.

How to use Competitor Research to find new products to sell on eBay!

If you’re new to selling on eBay, your biggest hurdle will be finding good, profitable products to start with. And the same applies to existing eBay businesses too as you should always be looking for new items to add to your product range. And I believe this is the biggest advantage of Terapeak’s competitor research function as it essentially allows you to BORROW other seller’s research work and simply copy it in the blink of an eye! [Read more…]

Feb
23

How to Import & Sell BATTERIES on eBay!

batteries-on-ebayAs many of you will already know, in 2013 new regulations were introduced to control international air shipments of batteries and as of January 2015, these regulations were tightened by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and some further rules were brought into place under the Dangerous Goods Regulations.

And these rules aren’t just applicable to stand-alone batteries, but also to the lithium ion batteries commonly used in mobile phones, cameras, computers and other such electronics.

So if you deal with these products or have any plans to deal with these products, you need to be aware of all the rules and regulations in regards to shipping these batteries, both internationally and domestically.

Why Are These Regulations Even Being Introduced?

Firstly I want to very quickly go over why these rules are being brought into place at all and the reason for it is actually very simple – though most people are unaware of the fact, lithium ion batteries are actually very dangerous and are prone to shorting, overheating and catching fire.

Therefore, it is incredibly important that they are sealed and transported in the correct way.

I won’t go into all the explanations and reasoning behind this, as it’s not really necessary for us to understand/know about that, but of course if you are interested in reading more about this, there are countless news stories that you can find online that delve into it further.

But for our purposes, let’s see how these rules and regulations affect the import of batteries.

Importing Batteries Into the UK

Importing batteries from China to the UK is very difficult (and expensive) with all the new regulations in place. Depending on who you’re using for the shipment (courier vs air freight vs sea freight) and the specifics of what you’re importing, you may even have to agree a specific contract if your shipment is classified as containing “dangerous goods”.

As I said, this depends a lot on the specifics of exactly what you’re importing and if the batteries are already contained in equipment (this is considered safer and the rules are slightly more lenient). [Read more…]

Feb
19

My 2015 eToro Investment Update!

etoroIt’s finally here – the long awaited eToro trading update for 2015! I know that many of you have been waiting for an update from me on eToro since last year and I’m very sorry that it took so long for me to get this done. You know how it goes – there are always too many tasks on your plate and there have always been other topics of higher priority that I needed to cover on my blog.

But as it turns out, I’m actually very glad that I didn’t write this update earlier as just last week, eToro launched a brand new, totally revamped stats page, which we’ll cover later on in this post. So this will be the latest, most up to date material you could wish for.

For those people who are totally new to eToro and don’t know what this is all about, I recommend you check out these two posts first:

The first post describes what eToro trading is all about and will give you a basic understanding of how this works and the principles behind my investment plan, which utilises the Copy Trader function on eToro.

The second article is an update I did in 2013 in which I go over all my discoveries, tips and tricks (as well as mistakes!) – everything that I learned during the early days of my investing career.

Both of those posts are very valuable and still valid in 2015. There are some technical changes that I will cover in this blog post but the overall strategy of copying low risk traders remains the same, as I’m simply looking for a relatively safe investment form with higher gains than bank deposits or property rental.

Ok, so let’s cover the latest news on eToro and take a look at how my investment is getting on in 2015!

Deposits/Withdrawals

etoro-depositsI really wanted to start my update on this topic as there seems to be a lot of misconceptions and false information floating around the net; people saying that eToro didn’t let them withdraw money from their account and other such nonsense. First of all, let’s cover the basics of uploading money to your eToro account.

Once you have registered for your free account, you can go to the Cashier section and upload funds in various ways:

  • Credit card
  • PayPal
  • Skrill
  • Neteller
  • Webmoney
  • Wire transfer (bank transfer)

The minimum deposit amount is $50, apart from wire transfer, where the minimum is $500. [Read more…]

Feb
16

Accounting for eBay sellers SIMPLIFIED!

accounting-for-ebayToday’s topic, accounting software for eBay/eCommerce sellers, is something that I’ve put off writing about for a while.

Why? Well the main reason is that I personally outsource ALL of my accounting to a professional accounting company.

After all, I always preach about outsourcing and hiring a professional who will do the job better than you, and this couldn’t be more true than with accounting, especially when you consider the number of different businesses that I own and operate.

But for small business owners and sole traders, who simply need to keep track of everything for their own sake and to help with filling in your basic end of year self assessment, this is not 100% necessary and you can definitely get by using some of the great online tools that are now available.

So I’ve finally decided to tackle this subject, as I get an insane amount of questions about it, and even if you just use this as a starting point in your own research, that’s still good enough.

What Are The Options?

To put it simply, your first real choice is whether you want to go down the manual route and record everything yourself (using Excel or simply good old pen and paper!) OR if you want to invest in accounting software, which will help you record and monitor your business’ cash flow, profit and loss, invoices, tax liability and even VAT (with some of the more advanced options).

With very simple eBay businesses (where all your sales come from eBay/PayPal and your expenses are limited to eBay fees, PayPal fees, postage and of course buying stock) then the manual method is perfectly viable.

There are a lot of Excel spreadsheets that you can find online for this or to keep things really easy – you can simply download transactions from PayPal and just manually add expenses.

The benefit to doing it like this is of course the little to no cost and overall simplicity of the whole process, after all, the last thing you want is to have to learn how to use complicated software when it isn’t at all needed for your business and circumstances. [Read more…]

Feb
13

Your eBay & eCommerce Questions Answered #19

questions-answers-19Hello & Welcome to yet another weekly Questions & Answers session!

If this is the first Q&A post you’re reading, this is how it works – you (my blog readers) can send in questions related to eBay, importing, or any other general online selling topic using this contact form and each week I pick the best questions and answer them publicly on this post. Rest assured, even if I don’t publish it here, I do personally answer every question via email.

So if you have a question or two you want me to answer for you, click here to submit a support ticket and I’ll do my best to get back to you within 24 hours, Mon-Fri.

Today’s questions are:

  • What happens when a Chinese supplier under-declares the value of goods?
  • How to re-brand products to increase their value?
  • Can I sell copies of “patent pending” products?
  • Best way to sell mobile phone cases on eBay?
  • Where to host your website for maximum speed and reliability?
  • Why are shipping costs from China that high?
  • Are import duty and declaration fee two separate fees?
  • Can I use Western Union to pay a 9 year Gold Supplier on Alibaba?

Let’s get started!

Hey Andrew,

I read your blog post on importing from China and was wondering if I could ask a couple of questions?

I recently made a couple of orders from china after having a successful run with products, totalling £750.

I have been shipping with EMS even though there is a 2-4 week delivery time as it’s cheapest by far and via courier the profit margins are nowhere near as good.

One thing I came across is that though the supplier asked me for the value to declare and I said just put the total of all items, once in my trial run it was put as much lower.

Do you know what happens if your Chinese supplier under-declares the value of the goods being sent? And also I was wondering if it would actually be cheaper for my supplier to send 12 units individually rather than as a lot? As each one is under $20 they do not receive import VAT. I’m guessing import VAT is payable on the whole package rather than each unit inside?

Is this illegal, importing separate packages?

I’m in a learning process at the moment and want to ensure I do it correctly and your blog was very helpful.

Thanks,
Matt

Hi Matt,

Yes, absolutely – import duty and VAT are payable on the total order/shipment value; it really doesn’t matter how many boxes are used or how many items are in each box. If it comes in one shipment, value is calculated on the whole order.

If your supplier undervalues goods, there are two scenarios that can happen:

1) Customs stop the shipment because they think the declared value is too low. Then they contact you and ask for proof, such as invoice and payment receipt, to verify the actual order value. This is a very common procedure and doesn’t involve any fines against you. [Read more…]

Feb
11

Buy It Now VS Auction VS Good ‘Til Cancelled!

 best-ebay-listing-formatI received an email last week from one of my Easy Auction Business customers, asking me about which listing type they should use for their products… and it got me thinking – why not go through all the listings formats available on eBay and compare them for my blog readers.

And that’s what today’s blog post is all about – a quick guide on all the different options for listing on eBay, the different fees, and which you should use in different situations.

By the end of this, you should never have to wonder which option is best, Buy It Now or Auction, 3-Day or 5-Day etc.

So let’s get to it!

Fees for Private Sellers

First things first, let me quickly go over how this works if you’re a Private Seller, in terms of the fees.

Basically, for private sellers, eBay have created a very simple system: you get 20 listings each month with NO insertion fee, after which it’s £0.35 per listing (regardless of whether it’s an auction or buy it now).

And you also pay 10% of the final value fee for all listings as well (plus of course the PayPal fee, which is 20P + 3.4%).

So for private sellers, there is no difference in fees between an auction and a fixed price listing.

As a private seller, you can also opt for a Basic Shop subscription (no, you do NOT have to be a business seller for this, as many people erroneously believe) which means a monthly subscription but more free listings and a slightly less final value fee.

At the moment, a basic shop subscription costs £19.99 per month and for that you get 100 free listings (vs. 20 without) and 8% final value fees (vs. 10% normally).

It’s very easy to decide whether it’s worth going for the shop subscription, as you just have to look at your number of monthly listings and see if it makes sense financially.

So for example, if you sell 35 items per month, at an average of £10 per item, that would mean you pay the following eBay fees:

15 x £0.35 = £5.25 in Insertion Fees
35 x £10 x 10% = £35 in Final Value Fees

Total Fees per Month = £40.25

Now let’s do a quick comparison to the fees you’d pay with a shop subscription:

£0 in Insertion Fees
35 x £10 x 8% = £28 in Final Value Fees
£19.99 for the Basic Shop Subscription

This gives a total of £48.00, meaning in this case it wouldn’t be worth going for a shop subscription.

For another quick example, let’s say you buy and sell used Blu-rays and each month you sell around 150 of them, at an average price of £4: [Read more…]

Feb
09

How to Add YouTube Videos to Your eBay Listings!

embed-youtube-on-ebayOne of the easiest ways to bring online selling closer to the real life experience is by using video. Product pictures, if done properly, also are very important of course but with some products, video is just so much more effective, especially if you can demonstrate how it works and give a brief review of the product’s features and benefits.

It’s actually surprising to see how few eBay listings have videos in them. All the major online shops, including Amazon, have been using product videos for quite some time now. eBay, as always, is a few years behind everyone else and does not provide a simple way for people to upload videos to listings.

It’s not prohibited though – eBay does allow videos to be embedded inside listing descriptions but you have to figure out how to do it on your own.

If you don’t want to learn special video hosting programs or pay for them, the easiest way to do this is simply by using good-old YouTube for this purpose. It takes just a few steps to add a YouTube video to your listing and best of all – it’s 100% free!

There are a few downsides though:

  • YouTube videos may show ads when played in your listing, potentially turning some customers away.(if you OWN the video, you can disable ads in your account settings).
  • YouTube videos will show related videos at the end of yours which can again potentially take customers away from your listing.
  • YouTube videos on eBay will play in Flash, which means that they won’t be shown to people using mobile devices that don’t support Flash.

So it’s certainly not a perfect set-up, BUT, if you need something that’s FREE and easy to use, it’s still your best option.

I will also try to cover professional video hosting/embedding systems in the up-coming months – as though there is a cost attached, they do eliminate all 3 of the problems described above.

Ok, without further ado, let’s get started!

How to Embed a YouTube Video In Your eBay Listing!

Up until recently, this process was very easy – you just had to go to the YouTube video you want to use, click on the Embed button, choose “use old embed code”, set the size and simply COPY & PASTE that code inside your listing description. Easy!

Unfortunately YouTube doesn’t give the “use old embed code” option anymore which leaves only their default embedding code active. The problem is that it is an iFrame code – something that eBay does not support. So you can’t simply copy & paste this iFrame embed code into your listings… as nothing will show up!

Luckily there’s a pretty quick and easy workaround – you have to manually edit the old embed code with the video you want to play. This will require some HTML editing skills BUT please don’t be put off by this – it’s actually a very easy task and I’ll show you exactly, step by step, what you need to do to get this done. If necessary, please go over this guide as many times as needed and just practice until you get the hang of it. [Read more…]

Who Wants a £100k a Year eBay Business?Show Me How!