March 16, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 19 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…)

August 13, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 39 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:

https://www.gov.uk/rates-of-vat-on-different-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…)

August 10, 2015 by Andrew Minalto - 1 Comments

What eBay Sellers can LEARN from Kia Motors?

kia-motorsAs an entrepreneur, I always try to keep up to date with general business happenings, even of companies and industries nothing to do with me.

One thing in particular that I enjoy is following successful companies in order to see what I can learn from them, be it their general business practices, a terrific marketing campaign, great product design etc.!

There are so many innovative companies out there, that if I can learn just one or two things to use for my own business, then it’s worth my time.

And today I want to talk about one company in particular – Kia Motors.

Twenty years ago Kia was considered nothing more than a below average South Korean car manufacturer with just a few, fairly mediocre models available.

But fast forward to 2015 and KIA has achieved phenomenal success in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

So how did they achieve this?

After all we need to analyse the how and why to be able to learn anything that we can use ourselves.

Well, Kia’s success has undoubtedly been a combination of a number of factors – after all you can’t build a company worth over £9 billion with sales of over £28 billion with a few good ideas – but purely from a customer’s perspective, these are the main factors which I believe has made Kia into the company it is today:

1. Peace of Mind – 7 Year Warranty.

This for me is the no.1 selling point for Kia!

Everybody loves a long warranty and when you can offer 7 years rather than the norm of 2-3 that your competitors offer, then you really differentiate yourself and it’s a huge selling point.

The takeaway here for eBay sellers is obvious – emphasise the reliability and quality of your products.

Not a single day passes without me receiving at least one email from someone who says they can’t compete with the lowest priced sellers on eBay and my answer is always the same – “you don’t have to!!”

Nobody wants to buy cheap if the item isn’t going to work so rather than compete on price alone and cut corners to bring your costs down, instead concentrate on providing a reliable and quality product that you can stand behind proudly. (more…)