One of the tough realizations you'll face as your eBay business grows is that if you're lucky, it's going to grow way past your ability to "do it all" yourself and there's going to come a time when you need some help.
Taking on employees is a big responsibility. Once you hire someone, they count on you for the income you provide. Also, you'll have to withhold taxes and make the requisite deposits to the government at pre-prescribed times. And remember that salary is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to employing help. The true cost of an employee can run double their salary amount if you factor in other payroll costs, such as employee-related taxes and worker's compensation insurance. There's also the potential for company-paid benefits: health insurance, paid sick days, holidays, vacation days, 401ks and so on. Yikes! Having an employee on board takes quite a bit of time--but there are shortcuts that you can take.
My personal favorite shortcut is hiring an intern. Yes, remember back to the days of college when you could get credits for interning at a business? Many college students still do that in order to get some amazing experience in varied fields. Being an intern often leads to a career, and the knowledge they'll gain from working with you will serve them for years to come. Be aware, however, that if the intern doesn't receive class credit for the work they do for you, you may have to pay them minimum wage. And once you do that, they're classified as an employee. (On the plus side, they're a very low-paid employee.)
Another option you have if you've reached a point where you need help listing your eBay items is to try to find some help in the eBay Trading Assistant area. To find trading assistants in your area, click on the "Find a Trading Assistant" link on the left side of the page. Once you're on the locator page, type in your city and state, and/or your ZIP code, and you'll be presented with a list of eBay sellers who are willing to sell items for other people. You can even narrow your search to a category so that you can find someone who's a specialist in a particular type of item. I suggest you look for the smaller sellers on the list--someone with good feedback--who might be willing to work with you for a negotiated flat rate for listing your items. All trading assistants list their contact information, so you can easily talk to them over the phone and discuss how much they'll charge you, usually based on the number of items you want them to list for you.
Another solution may be to hire the services of an outside company or independent contractor. An independent contractor takes care of their own taxes and insurance, thereby freeing you of that responsibility. I've used this solution many times in the following areas:
- Bookkeeping. You can always find a contract bookkeeper to take care of tracking your income, expenses and sales taxes (if that's applicable in your state). They can post your books on their computer and fax--or e-mail--the required reports back to you. A good virtual-bookkeeper can pretty much take charge of all your financial dealings on their own schedule--while still meeting the state and federal deadlines.
- Design services for your store banner, website or eBay store. There are companies who'll contract with you for this type of creative work--and will do a bang-up job for a reasonable price.
You can find these types of contractors in your own community, but if you're like me and want to find someone who's used to the unique type of online work we do, here are a few ways to track these people down:
- In the case of graphics work, search eBay for the item you need. For example, "animated banner" (for your eBay keywords campaign) or store banner (for your eBay store). You'll get a list of people who show their talent online, and when you find someone who suits your needs, just use "Buy It Now" and get some fast service!
- You can also browse the new eBay category "Specialty Services." There's an amazing group of energetic people offering their time and talents in that category.
- Also, visit the website www.elance.com. They're loaded with virtual assistants and bookkeeping services who are bidding for your jobs online!
An important point must be made here regarding independent contractors. The IRS is gung-ho about auditing businesses that are hiring independent contractors instead of employees so as not to have top deal with withholding taxes! Here are a few rules you should keep in mind if you're thinking about hiring contractors:
- A contractor works away from your place of business.
- A contractor can make their own work hours.
- A contractor purchases their own equipment for use in a job.
- A contractor has the ability to have profit or loss from a job.
- A contractor and employer have a contract for services.
- A contractor can hire others to help them with your work.
- A contractor performs similar work for other businesses.
There are many more rules, even a checklist from the IRS.
In a small- to midsized business, there are many places to turn for help. Don't forget to call on relative. Immediate family members, retirees--anyone--can use some extra cash! My daughter has worked in my office as an employee over the years and has managed to earn some spending money by helping me with my eBay business.