eBay supports small business owners: Time to start your own on-line business?

eBay supports small business owners: Time to start your own on-line business?

eBay likes and supports small business owners.  Are you exhausted by your job search in this relentless economy?  As a weary job hunter is it time to look for a new career?  Take a close look at eBay, which has an impressive business model for entrepreneurs.


Established in 1995, eBay is celebrating its 15-year anniversary. Originally an auction website, it has evolved into an international on-line commerce business site, offering both auction and fixed price items for sale.


No longer just a website for unloading unused items and collectibles, eBay has mastered the art of on-line selling.  With 25 million active sellers globally and 90 million active users, eBay is doing BIG business by offering start-up businesses an opportunity to set up shop for a minimal cost.


Anyone with a credit card and a legitimate product can set up a seller account. eBay does the rest by listing the product, offering the use of Paypal for transactions and a pre-arranged fee with Fed-Ex and UPS with a shipping label.  The cost barrier is so low and no store on the site is needed, but can be established for a monthly fee.


An account can be set up in as little as eight minutes by creating a user ID, password and placing a credit card on file.  The seller creates an item description and can add photos of the product.  eBay determines what category the item will be listed.  The seller can list the item for auction or a fixed price.


This past weekend eBay executives were in Chicago for a seller conference at the Chicago Hilton that drew over 600 sellers for this 2-day event. I spoke with Dinesh Lathi, Vice President-North America Buyer & Seller Experience, whose job is to guide customers through the process to become successful sellers and satisfied buyers.  With an engineering degree, a MBA from Harvard and over 10- years experience in investment banking, he is well-equipped for this position.


I asked Dinesh what his advice was for a new seller on eBay and he said, "Have a unique product, price it attractively, and deliver great service to the customer." He further explained, "A potential seller needs to ask himself what he wants to get out of his business." 


The current popular trends for sellers now are refurbished electronics like I-Phones and I-Pads (eBay loves Apple).  Also fashion sites are HUGE, offering discounted designer merchandise from around the world. (fashion.ebay.com)


I compare eBay with the Avon cosmetics company during the 60's when they had rep's selling their product through a catalog, door-to-door.  They signed up for very little investment and built a business out of their home to supplement income.  Some made it into a thriving business.  eBay is doing the same thing on the internet, but instead of door-to-door it's site to site, tapping into people that want to make money by selling products with minimal start-up costs.


Like any successful website, it's a crowed "highway" with much of the same product being sold from multiple sellers on the same site.  I asked Dinesh what they do to help businesses deal with the crowded space.  He said that each of their sellers is evaluated by the customer ratings and the higher the customer rating the better the placement they will have on the site.  So instead of being on page 40 in a product search, they'd be on page 1.


eBay is a great model for an entrepreneur that has a unique product and not a lot of money to promote it.  But, Dinesh maintains that new sellers need to make sure they can fill the orders efficiently or they may do more harm than good in their business.  Reputation and good customer approval ratings are the key to success on eBay.


Even though eBay knows that have a winning business model they still have concerns about what the federal government is going to do with the mandate for internet commerce taxes that they contend could put small on-line firms out of business.  They also worry about net neutrality which allows phone carriers to charge customers higher rates for increased business traffic; they want in on the money.


A big fan of eBay as a buyer and a fan of start-up businesses, I was all set to sign up as a seller on eBay by the time I was finished with my interview with Dinesh.  Unfortunately, I don't have a unique or compelling product that I can sell in mass, but I am thinking about it.  It appears to be a great way to make money with minimum risk, something that is virtually impossible these days.


Check out my blog for interviews with some of the sellers who have been successful in creating a business on eBay.  They did exactly what I tell my clients, they found something they could to use their skills to make money and still have fun along the way! eBay, I'm sold!












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  • Bologna.
    If you are a small eBay seller needing support you had better buy a jock strap as eBay & customer service is a contradiction in terms.

  • In reply to RupertPupkin:

    Hey, Rupert, did you have a business with eBay? Interested in your experience. I am sure Dinesh at eBay is too.

  • In reply to TerriLeeRyan:

    Dinesh is only interested in keeping his own benighted job and getting his lunch curry delivered while it's still hot.

  • In reply to RupertPupkin:

    It would appear that the eBay whale has now well and truly beached itself, has died, and is now stinking. Unless you are somewhat mentally disturbed, you can only stand and watch and smell the horrible aftermath of this sad, self-inflicted event for so long.

    Even I have gotten tired of watching this idiot Donahoe as he has most stupidly, cruelly and inhumanely, slowly slaughtered this, probably the most successful commercial golden-egg laying goose of modern times.

    Apparently, headless turkeys harbor great resentment towards such gifted geese

  • In reply to PhilipCohen:

    Wow, interesting information, Phil. Sounds as if you were a big fan of eBay in the past. Are they really hurting themselves with the current executive team? Looking for other comments. Thanks, Phil for your input.

  • In reply to PhilipCohen:

    Has anyone ever come across this useful resource? I think you will find it helpful for business start ups.


    Its a free interactive online business course which covers entrepreneurship. Taking as its inspiration the book: "Stone Soup - The Secret Recipe for Making Something from Nothing"

    I found it so helpful for my own enterprise and would like to share it you.

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