1. Treat your ebay business like a "real business". I am registered with the state of Indiana so I can purchase items tax free to sell, and also have an EIN number from the IRS. I have heard horror stories of people who did not keep track of their "side business" earnings and ended up being charged thousands in fees when the IRS decided they had more money than their taxes said. There are so many home office deductions you seldom owe a lot at tax time. Last year I had a good year and I paid estimated quarterly taxes so I didn't end up with a large tax bill this year. I use Quicken for Business but many I know are very happy with MINT for small businesses. If you are a larger business, you will have to get more comprehensive software.
2. Find a quiet spot in your house to do much of your work. I have worked at home for most of my life (I'm 49 as of this writing). I have been in the basement corner, various bedrooms, in the middle of the kitchen (yes, when my house was full of kids that was the only space and I'd pull my bins of plush items for sale to the middle of the kitchen floor.) I think my grown daughter holds the record as her business for MindiZone was operated out of the corner of her BATHROOM - the only room she could be alone and close the door in her upstairs attic apartment for a while. I've been doing home business so long my kids are all grown and now I have all 3 of their empty bedrooms as my office and storage, inventory, packing area! (also a 35% home office deduction on my taxes - they have strict requirements so check with your tax consultant before claiming.)
3. Set regular hours to work. Let people know this is your "work time" and ignore personal phone calls, emails, facebook, twitter during that time.
4. Set days to purchase your inventory if you shop for it, etc. (and keep records - more business mileage tax deductions!)
5. Set up file cabinets - don't just stuff your receipts in an overflowing box as it will be a nightmare at tax time. For example, I have one for "Indiana sales tax due" (I have to collect and mail in taxes on items sold in my home state), Cost of goods to sell, business utilities, office supplies, etc. If you are very technical you can scan everything in so you don't have boxes of receipts like I do. But you need something in case you are ever audited -- even if you don't claim it on your taxes, you may have to as now paypal and amazon are sending 1099's to many, and I'm sure more companies will be following suit. And if the IRS notices money in your bank account and compares with your taxes, I've had friends audited and nearly gone bankrupt in fees for their "side business" that didn't make "enough money to worry about." You might not worry, but the IRS might think differently!
6. Get dressed, in something acceptable. I'd like to say I dress in business casual, but that's not practical to haul and clean stuff. I try to dress in attractive activewear or jeans and a cute top - but everyone has a different situation so dress in a way that makes you feel good! I used to dress like a bum since I only worked at home and lived on a hobby farm. I went to the doctor dressed like that feeling sick and my doctor had the audacity to tell me I'd feel better if I dressed better! She told me that when you get up and get dressed in decent clothing, you feel like a professional, your mental attitude translates into a professional voice on the phone, in your typing to customers, etc. So I'm working on that .... haven't arrived there yet as I'm typing this line in my pajamas!
7. Think, "I am a real company" and act like one! Always include packing slips and pack professionally. I usually use tissue paper and order from U-line professional shirt bags (a few pennies apiece) which work for many items. Don't reuse beat up boxes but only re-use clean boxes. Don't waste those boxes - put them in recycling. What would you think if you received a shipment from Macy's and it was in a beat up box with various addresses crossed out in marker or pen? You opened it and the item was sitting inside, not wrapped in tissue or plastic to protect it from moisture or the weather, and NO PACKING SLIP. You would think they were a junky company. I ordered business cards from vista print to include and try to act like a professional business, even if I operate it from my organic hobby farm and am just regular everyday "chaplainbecky" of Fashion Frenzie.
8. Oh, be sure that your name reflects how you want to be treated. I started on selling on ebay as "Beckys Barnyard" (I thought that was cute since I live on a farm, but I didn't make any money as people want to buy from a STORE not a barn sale!) Then I changed the name to "Becky's Bit of Everything" as I sold a little bit of everything, like a garage sale. So people treated me like a garage sale and forever seemed to try to get me to lower my prices. When I changed to "Fashion Frenzie" I finally did $40,000 in gross ebay sales in one year and people treated me like a real store. What does your store name say about you? Don't be afraid to change your store name or user name as your store evolves. I think most of us on ebay have changed the types of things we sell as the economy and fads change, so don't let your name limit you.
These are just a few tips I've learned - they aren't for everyone and I'm sure a lot of you reading this are a lot more successful than I am. I am constantly trying to learn from other sellers as well. Thanks for reading this, and if it was helpful, take a moment to rate it below. Happy Successful Selling!
Tips for Success Making Money Working At Home Computer
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October 4, 2012
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