Practical Ecommerce

Four Things You Should Know Before Starting an eBiz

Renowned ebiz author Sydney Johnson created the now-famous Auction Genius courses to aid people wanting to create their own ebusinesses. She shares some important tips for anyone looking to learn the online retail industry:

Tip 1—Start Small

Many of Johnson’s students are eager to dive in head first, ready to invest all their savings into overseas imports or shopping network returns. But Johnson discourages such risky moves for two reasons:

  1. They haven’t considered all the costs—the enormous minimum quantities they’ll have to buy to get the discounted prices or the tremendous costs of shipping imports.
  2. They have little experience and, therefore, no way of knowing all that these transactions entail.

Says Johnson, “You’re going to make mistakes…The way to minimize any kind of horrible error is to go very small.” Don’t invest a lot to start with—learn with inexpensive items. Start with a minimum investment; and as you begin to make a profit, put that money back into your business rather than buying new golf clubs or tennis shoes.

Tip 2—Research the Market and Test your Results

As you go, you’ll learn which products sell well and where you’re actually making a profit. Johnson has a “funnel theory” on finding your product niche: “You start really broad…you have huge categories. And then you learn how to do your market research and you funnel down and…get smaller and smaller until out the other end of the funnel comes a handful of products that you can really do well with.”

Tip 3—Start on eBay

EBay is a great tool for beginners just learning about online retail. There are several reasons why it’s a smart place to start:

  • It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive.
  • The traffic is built in, and the people that are seeing your listings are seeing them because they’re searching for your type of product.
  • It’s a good way to get exposed to the ins and outs of the business.

Tip 4—There’s No Such Thing as “Get Rich Quick!”

Starting an ebusiness is just like starting any other business—it takes patience and persistence. Don’t expect to be magically rolling in money overnight. And don’t just jump at every “opportunity” that comes along for fear of missing out. Research it first—if it sounds too good to be true…well, you know… If you take the time to understand what you’re doing, there’s plenty of room in the e-commerce industry for you to make money.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User January 8, 2007 Reply

    I am currently starting an eBiz. What are some good products to sell on the internet right now?

    — *Stephen*

  2. Legacy User January 11, 2007 Reply

    Greetings Stephen:

    This is a very difficult question to answer. However, one source you might could use is Its a "hot items" list from eBay. Every month, eBay puts out a new list based on its own data research. So essentially, they’re doing a large part of your market research for you, at no cost. This is information specific to sales at eBay. However, lets face it, its a huge marketplace, and it can give you some possible insight into various trends.

    — *Mitch Bettis*

  3. Legacy User February 21, 2007 Reply

    I'm starting an ebiz with a friend. I have an idea that hasn't been implimented yet in the market. Would it still be smart to start on eBay, or shall I go ahead with careful planning and continue my own venture?

    — *Travis*

  4. Legacy User June 14, 2007 Reply

    Great comments! Check out an inspirational series by Donny Deutsch of Big Idea on MSNBC. This is a great article: about Failing Enough to Succeed. Quote below:

    "Have you failed enough to really succeed? Go back and re-read that question… Have you failed enough to really succeed? Of course, you always hear about the success stories, but what you don't always hear about are the stumbles that an entrepreneur, or artist — or anyone — makes before they finally make it big. I write in my book, you cannot be afraid to fail, else you have already failed."

    Check out the the Big Idea Slideshows on the lower right of this site. You'll be inspired.

    I recently decided to partner with a client to take her business to the next level. It's a risk, but finding the right team is crucial. Good product, good service, common values and goals…niche market. After having a partner try to "check out" of this life resulting in lots of debt and loss of a medium-sized Web development agency 4 years ago, I said I'd never partner again. Never say "never!" Just make sure you do your research and due diligence.

    With Social Media and consumer-driven marketing, it's an exciting time to be in the market.

    Products? You might also want to consider drop shipping. There are services to help you research products. Look at:
    Do a search for "drop ship directory" to find many resources. RESEARCH!

    — *Dana Lookadoo*

  5. Legacy User June 14, 2007 Reply

    The tip about starting small and taking your time is very important. Regardless of how great the product is it will take at least 2 to 3 years before it catches on (if ever). This is a certainty even if you have millions to put into marketing. You shouldn't expect a ROI for 3 to 5 years. Sounds harsh but ask anyone who's done it and they will confirm.

    One point the author missed was about competing on price. Trying to compete on price is nearly impossible. There's always someone willing to sell it cheaper. You're better off competing with service, quality, …

    — *Andrew*

  6. Legacy User June 16, 2007 Reply

    As a 10-year eBay seller my best advice no matter what kind of product you are going to market online, is to sell anything on eBay first. eBay is cheap to sell ten items on, easy set-up, easy payement processing etc…Pick 10 things out of your house and go through the process of selling them online. Why? It is a very developed sales channel to sell items on and will take you through all the paces that you may have put on a back burner like, customer complaints, photo quality, negative feedback, credit card fraud, shipping configs, packaging, staffing, software integration issues, staffing, accounting…etc. You can then envision what it might be like to sell 100 times 10 items a day. Even the best laid plans have an occaional item that doens't seem like a huge problem until you implement your sales process. eBay seller ID moodswingsonthenet

    — *Elizabeth Bighorse*

  7. Legacy User June 16, 2007 Reply

    I couldn't agree more! RESEARCH is the best advice of all!

    As an eBay Power Seller at, I advise people who want to begin selling on eBay to take the FREE eBay tutorial. Start small and grow as you learn. See what others are doing, and please don't copy someone else's descriptions and photos. Write your own or get them from your manufacturer if you're reselling a new product. You can begin by cleaning out your garage or attic and sell a few items you already have. Your trash may be someone else's treasure. It's so exciting when you make that first sale!

    Subscribe to valuable newsletters, join forums, and learn about your chosen field. If you're still trying to decide which direction to go – think about what really interests you. Then go for it!

    It's never too late to begin something new. I'm no spring chicken, and I run two other on-line businesses besides my eBay store: Dakota Lady, and Avante Hands Free. I never knew anything about selling before, but I try to learn something new every day. RESEARCH!

    — *Bonnie Coke*

  8. Legacy User April 1, 2008 Reply

    In my view it is better for everyone to start an ebay online business where one can earn lots of money on online selling. One has to be perfect and have good command over the language and he must have good marketing skills to sell the product in the market. Learn How to Sell on Ebay is the best ebay online business where one can make lots of money.

    — *Learn How to Sell on Ebay*

  9. Atul Jain July 10, 2013 Reply

    Well, in my opinion there are other very important factors that one should know before starting an e-commerce business.

    The first and foremost thing is to understand your own product and analyze whether this can be sold online profitably or not. There are various ways of analyzing the same.

    I have written details about the same in my eBook "Things to Know Before Starting an e-Commerce Business". Feel free to request a free preview of the same at

    Atul Jain