March 16, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 15 Comments

My New Die Cutting Press is AWESOME!

tippmann-clicker-1500This is a sort of sequel to the compressor post I did a few weeks back. Only this time there’s one big difference – this post is all positive as my new Tippmann Clicker 1500 Die Cutting Press arrived last week and it’s nothing but awesome! 🙂

I’ll talk more about what this machine is and what it can do a bit later on, but for now I want to share some valuable tips on shipping & transporting such heavy machines from the US.

Shipping Heavy Machinery

First off, this machine was manufactured and shipped from the US. As it’s a heavy piece of equipment (the total shipment weight was 340 kg), I was considering using sea freight to get it delivered BUT as I needed it quite urgently, I decided to go with air freight in the end, and it only took seven days to arrive.

Now, here’s a hot tip – if you need to import anything like this from the USA, shop around for prices!!! And don’t only compare quotes you get online/over the phone but bargain as well – and I mean bargain HARD!

In the end, it was a fight between TNT and DHL to deliver this to me and they basically placed counter offers to each other. DHL won (by some £30 or so) and the final price was almost 45% less than my initial quote. So with such large/expensive air freight shipments, it’s always worth it to negotiate the best possible rate DIRECTLY with the manager.

machineAs this machine is so heavy, I knew that I’d need at least 4 men to move it around and place it on the special desk it came with. In such situations, you should always make sure you have arranged people to help you beforehand as courier company drivers are usually not very willing to help with any moving (they’re not really supposed to) plus in this case it wouldn’t have been enough anyway due to the extreme weight. (more…)

December 2, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 21 Comments

How to Become Your Own Manufacturer!

manufacturerI talk about sourcing products from China very often on this blog, and for a good reason – it’s what I consider to be the best method for people who want to create a successful business selling online (be that on eBay, Amazon, or your own online store).

But sourcing the right product at the right pricing is only step 1! Nowadays there is so much competition on eBay, which is only growing even further due to the influx of Chinese sellers listing directly on (Royal Mail’s recent agreement with Alibaba to provide cheap, tracked delivery options for shipments from AliExpress to the UK is just a sign of things to come).

What this means is that now, more than ever, you really need to think outside of the box a little bit and make your business stand out from the crowd if you want to be truly successful.

And that’s why I have started introducing another business model to some of my 60 Day Blueprint customers – where you sell products that you yourself manufacture in-house. So instead of buying and reselling a finished product from someone else, you are instead purchasing materials and creating the product yourself (using equipment of course).

Now before you think I’ve gone mad, I’m not talking about setting up million dollar factories or production plants here… for that you’d probably want to go to China anyway, in order to keep your costs down and ensure that you’re competitive, price-wise.

What I am talking about is small scale manufacturing, where you create products yourself or, better yet, customise existing products using simple and fairly cheap equipment. This is something you can do from a small rented office space, or even your own home!

Any you create several important advantages by becoming your own manufacturer, such as:

  • Lower costs – it’s usually cheaper to run this in-house, rather than pay another company to do it for you.
  • Original products – by creating your own products, you can offer something truly unique to the marketplace, instead of competing with 50 other sellers with the exact same item on offer.
  • Quicker turnaround time – no more long shipping times waiting for new stock to arrive from China.
  • Full control – when you manufacture your own items, then you are in complete control of your business. No more relying on another company to produce the quality of product that you want and need.
  • The ability to create new products and enter untapped markets – when you are the one creating the products you sell, you can make changes as and when needed and can even create completely new products if you think that’s what your customers demand. This gives you the opportunity to really create value for your customers, which means much bigger potential for your business than when simply reselling someone else’s products.

I hope you are starting to understand all the benefits and are getting excited at the idea of becoming a manufacturer! The opportunities really are endless here but as always I want to help you a little more with the creative side of things, so let’s now go through some of the most common types of products you could create and sell for a profit on eBay and other online marketplaces. (more…)

August 13, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 37 Comments

VAT Registration – THE END of Your Business?

vat-registrationThere’s really no two ways about it – registering for VAT almost always means less profit for you at the end of the day.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in various Q&A posts and even wrote a guide on how registering for VAT when you don’t need to is the biggest tax mistake an eBay seller can make!

As covered in that guide, there is really one main exception to this rule, and that’s if you sell zero rated goods. Zero rated goods have a VAT rate of 0% so in this case you’d actually be better off registering for VAT from day one as it wouldn’t affect your sale price but you would still be able to reclaim VAT on all business expenses (more on that later).

The products that qualify for 0% VAT or the reduced rate (usually 5%) are very rare, so it’s highly unlikely that this will apply to you.

You can take a look at this page for a full list of reduced or zero rated goods and services:

Some of the more common products that qualify for 0% VAT include:

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Leaflets / Flyers
  • Children’s Clothing
  • Children’s Shoes
  • Motorcycle Helmets

So if you happen to sell one the above products, then you should definitely look in to registering for VAT, if not – then hold off for as long as you can!

Let me say this again, so that it’s 100% clear:

You will (almost always) be worse off if registered for VAT!!!

Strangely there is actually a lot of confusion about this point, especially online, and I think this stems mainly from a misunderstanding of the figures and in particular – reclaiming VAT on business expenses. I don’t want to spend too long on this aspect of VAT registration, as I have covered it previously, but let’s do a very quick example calculation:

Minalto’s Muscle Machines

Let’s say I have a business selling workout equipment and gym gear.

Turnover is £75,000 a year and gross margins are 60%, which means a mark-up of 150% (100-200%+ is what I aim for when importing from China).

So if I’m NOT VAT registered, the calculations are simple – I pay 20% VAT on the total value of the goods I import, which is £25,000 a year.

20% of £25,000 = £5,000 VAT paid per year.

Now let’s see how it works out if I am registered for VAT:

So the first difference is that the VAT I pay on the import value of my goods is reclaimable, so I’ve saved £5,000 already!

Plus I can also reclaim VAT on all of my business expenses, and this includes:

  • eBay Fees
  • Postage (some postage is VAT exempt though, such as 1st and 2nd class stamps)
  • Packaging
  • Etc.

Using our £75,000 annual turnover, let’s be generous and assume £15,000 in VAT reclaimable business expenses. (more…)