I don't know if you've ever noticed, but it seems like every week or two we read about another Powerseller going out of business.
If you want your auction business to be a long-term success, then it's important that you plan now for it's continued growth.
According to some people the world economy may be moving toward a 1930's like depression. Others say there is no chance of that happening.
Even without something as catastrophic as a world-wide depression, there are still plenty of little things that can put a damper on your success. But, whatever the situation, it's a good idea to hedge your bets.
Here's eight tips for preparing your eBay auction business for whatever the future may hold:
1. Keep your overhead low
One of the biggest advantages that you, as an independent businessperson, have in today's marketplace is that you can control your own overhead. You don't need big offices, lots of employees, and a lot of the expensive trappings of traditional businesses.
By always keeping a close eye on your overhead, you will be in position to weather the slow times on eBay and/or slow economic times.
In this business you can't always control how many sales you make, but you can control your overhead. Keep it low.
2. Invest in tools and training
Successful eBay sellers survive and prosper because they are willing to invest in new skills and tools; and to take the time to learn how to use them to make themselves more productive.
The key to long- term growth is to continually learn new skills and acquire new tools that will save you both time and money.
The more skills you develop, the more flexible you can be with the types of products you sell and how you sell them.
At the same time, it's important to invest your time and money wisely. Many people that want to build a full time eBay business willingly spend $200 - $300 over a period of time on several $20 - $30 products, but are reluctant to spend $100 or more on one product. While there are certainly some expensive products that are of little or no value, many times the best products are priced at an amount that belies their value.
3. Have multiple income streams
We've all heard the old saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Nowhere is it truer than on eBay.
Try to set up at least three or four different niches, each of which produces it's own stream of income. There are a couple of advantages to this.
First, while the income you make from each niche might not be enough to survive on, the combined income can provide a comfortable living.
Secondly, should one or more of the niches suddenly slow down, you will still have income from the others to tide you over until new income streams can be created.
4. Have a Plan B & Plan C in place
It's a fact of life that very few lucrative niches on eBay last forever. What will you do if you most productive niche suddenly takes a dive into the dumpster?
And, what if another of your niches takes a dive also?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help prevent you from having to make decisions out of desperation. You should always have a backup plan in place.
You should be continually looking for and developing new niches that you can move into if others become unproductive.
5. Be flexible and be ready to react quickly to changing conditions or developments
Always be on the lookout for the occasional, short term, hot item that pops up on eBay.
Within the last year it was Dragonball Z, Beyblades and Furreal Friends. Would you have seen them coming and been in a position to take advantage of the craze for one of more of them?
Many so called auction experts talk about utilities such as Hotbids.com or Andale's Research tool to help you determine what's hot. But the secret isn't to find out what is hot; it's determining what is going to be hot.
There are several web sites and tools you can use to do this. One of the best is Lycos 50, a daily report on Lycos.com by Chris Schatz. He talks about the top 50 keyword searches on Lycos and makes predictions.
If you had been a regular reader, you would have read his predictions for how hot each of these items would have been enough ahead of time to position yourself on eBay to take advantage of the craze when it really hit.
The point is that, many times, the real research tools you should be using aren't in any way connected with eBay. Neither are they being touted by the so called experts.
But they're there to be used by you if you are imaginative enough to see how what they offer can fit into your business.
Whenever there is change, there is always opportunity. But only if you can see the change coming and are flexible enough and have the skills and tools needed to take advantage of it.
6. Don't make decisions out of desperation
Never let any situation get so out of control that you have to make hasty decisions out of desperation. In nearly all cases, doing so will only cause more problems.
It is far better to take the long-term view - constantly monitor your business so that you can take any necessary steps and make any necessary changes before the problems become critical.
7. Always keep your priorities straight
Never let your business take over your life. Your priorities should be family, health, morality, and then business. It's never worth destroying your family, health, or reputation trying to build your business.
If your business gets in the way of family responsibilities, change your business. If your business is destroying your health, change your business. If your business is causing you to make decisions you know are immoral or illegal, change your business.
Always remember what your long-term goals are and don't sacrifice them for a quick, short surge in business.
8. Suck it up and hang in there
If you are in business for any length of time you are going to run into rough spots and tough times. Often with that happens you will see a lot of people bail out and quit.
In many cases, those few players that remain in the game are the ones who survive the tough times and go on to become extremely successful.
If you are selling good products, have low overhead, and multiple streams of income from several niches, you can afford to hang in there a lot longer than your competition. And sometimes, just by sucking it up and hanging in there, you become the winner of customers by default - because they have nowhere else to go.
Gary Hendrickson has been making his living selling on eBay for more than six years. He's the author of two eBay related ebooks, has a blog for eBay sellers, and is the owner of ColdItems.Com.