From the February 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

A recent study found that 724,000 people make a full-time or part-time living selling on eBay. As more people turn to eBay to generate income from online sales, the number of buyers flocking to the site has also increased. Today, merchandise on eBay is selling at a rate of nearly $85,000 every minute. In addition to individual entrepreneurs who dedicate themselves to building successful eBay businesses, companies have turned to the site with plans of their own. Smart business owners have come to realize that creating a sales channel on eBay can dramatically increase their revenues and their customer base. eBay is driving this success by bringing powerful online tools to the marketplace, including Craigslist, PayPal, ProStores, Shopping.com, Skype and VeriSign.

Starting a business on eBay is a natural progression for most people who come to the site. They tend to start as buyers, get hooked, learn to sell and then find out that, by fulfilling their goal of clearing out their house and selling their belongings on eBay, they are suddenly making money as well. eBay PowerSellers Ty and Richelle Tribble (eBay User ID: freebubba) are full-time eBay entrepreneurs from Federal Way, Washington. What began as a part-time homebased business has turned into a thriving company with several employees.

"In 2002, my wife began selling stuff from around our house on eBay," says Ty. "One night, I was looking over her shoulder and said, 'You sold that item for that much money?'" Later that month, the couple put together a business plan with eBay at the center of their business model.

Here are some success tips for starting a business on eBay:

  • Set up your business legally. eBay businesses can become successful so quickly that many entrepreneurs procrastinate on this step. A great resource to legally set up and handle taxes for your online business is the Small Business Survival Guide by Cliff Ennico.
  • Find sourcing options. Successful sellers know that you make your money when you buy, not when you sell. Locating the perfect suppliers for your valuable inventory is critical to your business' success. To find legitimate sourcing assistance, go to eBay's Solutions Directory at www.solutions.ebay.com.
  • Educate yourself. Even Power-Sellers-eBay top sellers who sustain consistently high volumes of monthly sales and positive feedback--have seen an increase in their sales by incorporating the best eBay practices. Visit www.ebay.com/university.
  • Open and optimize an eBay Store. Where else can you have an online storefront for less than $16 a month that assists you in search engine optimization on major search engines? Check out www.stores.ebay.com.
  • Develop your online "triangle of success." Incorporate eBay auctions, an eBay Store and a website in your online business model--this allows necessary cross-marketing between all three channels. Your first stop for helpful information on easily setting up your personal website: www.prostores.com.
  • Set gold-star customer service policies. Your customers have the option to buy from a wide variety of sellers. Providing top-notch customer service gives them a reason to buy from you.

By using these success tips, which we will discuss in-depth in the coming months, you will be able to take advantage of all the opportunities eBay provides for new entrepreneurs. "eBay set us up for success," says Ty. "[It's given] us a great lifestyle--[we have] sales [of] close to $40,000 a month, and it just keeps escalating."

Janelle Elms, eBay University instructor and online business consultant, specializes in coaching individuals and companies to build successful eBay businesses. She is the bestselling author of eBay Your Business.