The first step to starting your eBay home business is to educate yourself.
I'm an advocate of education. Reading a few books and taking a home study course is an excellent way to get your business off to a great start.
Sure you could do the old trial and error method, but why? I would recommend reading Three Weeks to eBay Profits, Revised Edition: by Skip McGraph
Skip is a gold level PowerSeller. He has written seven books on eBay selling including "The eBay PowerSeller's Manual" and "The Complete eBay Marketing System".
Step 2 - Setup Up Your Business Entity (optional)
The second step to starting your eBay home business is to setup your business entity.
If you are serious about running a business, I would recommend that you create a business entity. It is easy to create a LLC (Limited Liability Company). It will help protect your personal assets from business liabilities.
I have created several LLCs. In Wisconsin, you can create and register your LLC or corporation online. Their website is www.wdfi.org. Other states may offer a similar service.
You could also use www.legalzoom.com to create your business entity. They will file your registration papers with the proper authorities in your state.
You will need a business entity if you register as a business on eBay.
Step 3 - Setup Up Your eBay Accounts
The third step to starting your eBay home business is to setup your eBay accounts.
The first thing you need to do is to register as a buyer on eBay. Goto eBay's home page. (new window)
On eBay's home page, click the button labeled "Register". You will be prompted for your contact information, username and password. Fill out this form and then click the "Register" button at the bottom of the page.
eBay will send you an email that requires your response in order to complete your registration.
Next you need to register as a seller. You can register as an individual or as a business. If you don't have a business entity setup yet, you can register as an individual. You can change this later.
If you make your own products to sell, you will need to register as a business.
To register as a seller, click the "Sell" tab at the top of any page and follow their prompts. You will need to verify your identity and select the way you will pay your seller fees.
Step 4 - Get an Employer ID (optional)
The fourth step to starting your eBay home business is to get an employer ID from the IRS. Use this number in place of your social security number.
While you can use your social security number if you created an LLC, I personally prefer to use my company's Employer ID for privacy reasons.
If you later have employees, you will need to have this number anyway.
Step 5 - Open a PayPal Account
The fifth step to starting your eBay home business is to open a PayPal account.
Most buyers use PayPal to pay for their purchases. PayPal is owned by eBay. PayPal is the only payment service that is integrated with eBay's checkout system.
You can setup an account with PayPal here. I use them every month to get paid. You can transfer all the payments you receive directly to your bank account if you wish. You will need your bank name, routing number, and account number. These are printed on your bank checks.
Step 6 - Gain Experience On eBay And Develop Your Feedback
The sixth step to starting your eBay home business is to gain experience buying at eBay auctions and develop your feedback.
Yes, that's right! You need experience buying a few cheap items on eBay.
This experience is valuable. You need to know how sellers ask you for payment and communicate with you after you win the bid. Take notice of how they shipped your purchases to you.
Did they attempt to upsell you? That is, did they offer you a discount if you purchased a second item? These are valuable "tricks of the trade" that you as a PowerSeller will want to learn and emulate.
Check to see if the seller posted feedback for you. How quickly did they do it? You want to build a positive feedback from both buyers and sellers. This is your online reputation. You need a 98% positive feedback if you want to be successful as a PowerSeller.
Bid on several items from different sellers. Learn what they do, and emulate the best.
Be sure to ask for feedback. You are building your reputation which will help you as a seller. You need a feedback rating of at least ten to fifteen according to PowerSeller Skip McGrath.
Some buyers will not buy from a seller unless they have a feedback ranking of 50 and 99% positive.
Step 7 - Setup Your eBay About Me Page
The seventh step to starting your eBay home business is to setup your "About Me" page.
This is a page where you can explain to your buyers about your eBay home based business and yourself. You can mention your policies, your products, and why they should buy from you.
Do you have a return policy? Mention it here. It is better to return the buyer's money, than to get negative feedback from your buyer. Don't be penny wise and dollar foolish.
Remember Sears Roebucks Co.'s guarantee. "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back." It is a good policy to have.
Step 8 - Get Your Sales Tax Number
The eighth step to starting your eBay home business is to get your sales tax number.
If your state has a sales tax, you will need to collect sales tax on goods that are purchased and shipped to an address in your state. This requires getting a sales tax number from your state government.
Keep record of all sales tax collected. You will need to file a report and remit taxes collected to your state's tax department either monthly or quarterly depending upon the state in which you live.
You will need a Sales Tax Number when you buy from wholesalers. This number will allow you to avoid sales tax on merchandise you intend to re-sell.
Step 9 - Open Up A Business Checking Account
The ninth step to starting your eBay home business is to open up your business checking account in your business name. You are a business, act like a business.
Wholesalers prefer to work with businesses rather than individuals. They will require a sales tax number and a business checking account.
If you deal one on one with vendors in person, it is wise to also have a business card and stationery.
Step 10 - Find Merchandise To Sell
Assuming you want to become a PowerSeller, you will need to have large quantities of merchandise to sell that you enjoy representing.
Where are you going to get them? Unless you are selling antiques or collectibles you will need to find wholesalers who are willing to sell in small quantities to your eBay home based business.
Well there you have the basic steps you need to follow in order to get started on your new enterprise. Selling on eBay is a legitimate home business you can be proud of. Ka-Ching!