In response to Dnk's suggestion to read the article "Don't Get Suckered by eBay Scams" by Marsha Collier from Entrepreneur.com
I'd like to take a moment to point out a few truths about this article.
In the section Myth #1: “You’ll Make Big Bucks!”
Hidden in these promises for money is an important fact: There's a difference between gross and net sales--something, it seems, that many of the people making these claims can't distinguish between. Business 101 tells us that gross sales means the total amount of money we take in, and net sales equals the money we have left over after deducting our costs of doing business. Ah, there's the rub! An eBay seller can climb their way to $150,000 a month Titanium Power Seller status, but remember: that status is based on gross sales! After deducting all their costs, their actual net sales may be much less.
This is key, you must charge for your services which include all materials costs, labour costs, estimating, overhead, vehicle expenses, insurance, lighting in the office, telephone, and all that other good stuff and Don’t Forget Profit. Does it make sense to work your guts out, let your family life slide, max out your credit cards all in the name of customer service and then have your business fail because you didn’t charge enough to cover your overhead and make a profit to set aside for your retirement?
In addition to that, a Titanium Power Seller (or any eBay seller) could be losing money by the bucketful and not realize it. And often many are!
This is true for many electrical contractors as well. We all know that electricians work hard, but why should they earn less than plumbers, carpenters, oil change techs or government employees? If you are not charging enough to cover your costs and allowing for some profit, you are losing money!
The higher the number of listings and the more money comes in, the more of a chance there is of mistaking busy work for success. Many sellers follow the common theory that they'll grow their businesses by listing thousands of items on eBay and watch the money roll in.
A common joke bantered around is “I’m losing money on every job, but that’s ok, I’ll make it up in volume.” The truth is if you are losing money on every, or even most projects; it doesn’t matter how many projects you do, you’ll never get ahead!
Sellers who actually run businesses in this fashion end up spending money as it comes in, rather than deducting their expenses, paying their bills and seeing what's left. What counts on eBay is your sell-through rate, or how many of your listings actually sell.
You can take the time to learn through the school of hard knocks, finding at the end of the money you still have way too much month left. Or, you can learn from those who have taken the time to learn the skills you need to be successful. It doesn’t matter how many dollars worth of projects you sell, or even the number of projects you sell in a month. What does matter is how much money you make after all the bills are paid. Also, just as importantly, it matters how much free time you have to spend with your family and for yourself.
A tradesperson I know has jokingly developed working philosophy of his own. He says, “We work for free or not at all!” Does this sound like your business? It doesn’t have to be that way.
Myth #2: “I Did It, Now Let Me Teach You!”
Who is this person? Another thing that impresses me when reading these missives is that often the "instructor" is someone who has interviewed many successful eBay sellers but has only sold one type of item (and they've only been at it for a short period of time).
From what I have seen in this and several other forums, you have a strong representation of people you know and trust who are from the trade just like yourselves. I too am an electrician and have had several companies…. Most of which failed because I had not learned the means to quote projects profitably. It was only after I went to work for other contractors who were successful that I learned how to make a profit and then designed my systems to ensure that no matter who I worked for, I could ensure the profitability of my projects. It took me over 14 years to perfect my systems, how long do you want to take?
The companies that are promoting themselves to help your businesses, I believe are primarily focused on the objective of helping others in their industries develop the skills that are needed to be successful…. Skills that they themselves have had a difficult time learning, but once discovered changed their outlook on their industry and dramatically improved their success rate. Does this mean that all are this upstanding, No, but if you take the time to look at what they are offering, you should be able to make your own quality value judgement.
Some might not believe an accountants advice, as he is a “bean counter.” A numbers guy. All he or she cares about is making money and handling it, but doesn’t know anything about running a real business, like yours. Well, just because someone has chosen a different career, doesn’t mean that they don’t have useful knowledge to share …. It is up to the individual to relate the information shared into something constructive for his or her own business.
Are there scams out there? You Betcha!
Are there individuals and companies out there who are trying to improve your business? You Betcha!
I had the opportunity to speak to a successful contractor early on in my trades career and he explained learning in this way. He said, "Find those who are as successful as you want to be and learn from them and their success."
Don’t close your eyes to the possibility of improving yourself and your business. Keep an open mind and question those who offer to help. Why do they think they can help your business? Where does their knowledge come from? Why are they taking the time to share this information with others? Why don’t they keep this information all to themselves so that they are the only ones who have the benefit? Just maybe, you’ll discover that they are just like you…. They have been down the road that you are now treading and they want to help you succeed beyond their own success.
Look at Mahlere, Romex Racer, LK, and all the others who are always sharing advice and at the same time, they are always asking questions. They are looking for new ways to improve their businesses and at the same time checking out individuals who claim to be offering to improve your business. They understand what is needed, what needs to be done, and what scams are. Ask for advice and don’t be afraid to try that advice… some will work for you and some won’t, but you are the only one who can discover the truth of your own success.
Don’t be afraid to try something because there are a few very vocal sceptics. Take the time to ask questions, to learn and improve. And if it works out for you, try the people who offer to help. There is no harm in trying, but there can be considerable costs in not learning.
Wishing you all the best in your businesses!
And when your success comes, share it with others. Why, because it feels really good to know that you are helping others to improve and in so doing it improves the lively hoods of countless others in the form of better customer service, better employee relations and fellow tradespersons and business people who can better support their families and charities. I guess that is a little selfish… taking pride in helping others… hmmmm! Just some food for thought.
[This message has been edited by ExpressQuote (edited 08-20-2006).]