How to Buy and Sell Products for a Living
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
Editor's note: This article is excerpted from 202 Things You Can Buy and Sell for Big Profits from Entrepreneur Press.
A buy-and-sell enterprise is nothing more than purchasing cheaply new or previously owned products that we all need, use or want, and reselling these same items for more than cost. The difference between what you paid and what you sold it for, of course, is your profit. The mantra of every buy-and-sell enterprise is simple, and easily memorized: Buy low, sell high. That is precisely the purpose of this book-to show you how you can start and operate your own independent buy-and-sell enterprise so you can buy low and sell high, and make a bundle of profit in the process.
Buying and selling for profit is nothing new. It has been around for thousands of years; the only difference is that the currency has switched from goats and bread to paper and plastic. With that said, however, there are two primary reasons why buying and selling has recently exploded from being the closely guarded secret of a few, to the popular occupation of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, who are now buying and selling as their sole source of income. The first reason is the advent, wide acceptance and use of the internet, and the second reason is what I refer to as the new economy.
The Internet Makes It Easy to Buy and Sell
The proliferation of the internet gives entrepreneurs from every walk of life and from every geographic location access to a global audience of buying consumers, eager sellers, information, and resources as in no other time in history. The internet has not only made it easier to sell products into the global marketplace utilizing online sales venues such as eBay, e-commerce websites, e-classifieds, and e-storefronts, but to also source a nearly limitless number of in-demand products, which can be bought cheaply from domestic and overseas suppliers and resold for a handsome profit. Once this task was out of the reach of most small businesspeople because of the amount of time and money required to research and often travel to foreign and domestic product suppliers to inspect, negotiate, and ink an agreement. Much of that has changed. Now with the simple click of a mouse you can buy products cheaply from thousands of suppliers spanning the globe, and resell these same products worldwide through numerous online marketplaces, or locally through community retailing opportunities like your weekend flea market-all for incredible profits.
The New Economy Is Buying and Selling
The new global marketplace has also created a second reason why buying and selling is not only the wave of the future, but also likely to become a large part of what makes up the new economy in industrialized nations such as the United States and Canada. It is no secret that manufacturing, technology and middle-management jobs continue to disappear daily, swallowed up by overseas economies with cheaper labor, raw product, and production costs. In fact, some studies suggest the job drain in these areas is occurring at an alarming rate, faster than most people, including politicians and policy makers, are aware of or care to admit. Call centers in India, furniture manufacturing in Indonesia and chemical processing in China. The resulting fallout in North America is a dramatic increase in the numbers of new small-business start-ups. Many people who have been or who will soon be affected by the new global economy have chosen self-employment as a way to keep in tune with changing times, make money, and secure their long-term future. History has taught us evolve or end up like the dinosaurs-extinct!
The Advantages of a Buy-and-Sell Enterprise
When you consider the advantages of a buy-and-sell enterprise over traditional retail or service-provider businesses, it quickly becomes apparent why many people have wisely elected to buy and sell, and why buying and selling will make up a large percentage of new business startups and the new economy. Consider some of these reasons.
- Low investment. The vast majority of buy-and-sell enterprises require only a minimal investment to start. Most require under $2,000, including inventory.
- Minimal financial risk. Because almost all the money you spend to get started goes into buying inventory, there is limited financial risk involved. If you decide to quit, you can simply sell off stock, recoup all or most of your investment, and live to fight another day.
- Incredible profit potential. As mentioned in the introduction, a 15-year-old high school student is earning $5,000 a month part-time selling vintage T-shirts! Needless to say, the profit potential is excellent.
- Work from home. For people wanting to work from home, a buy-and-sell venture is a great choice, because most can largely be operated and managed from home.
- Flexibility. No other business opportunity or career choice offers as much flexibility as buying and selling, especially if you concentrate on online sales. Part-time, full-time, seasonally or occasionally, you set your own schedule and level of commitment as determined by your goals and objectives, not your boss's.
- Minimal skill requirements. With the exception of a few specialized products such as real estate and antiques, there are few skill requirements needed to start, operate, and prosper in a buy-and-sell enterprise, and those skills that are needed can be mastered by novice entrepreneurs over time. This is a rare opportunity where ambition and motivation are more important than special skills.
- Tax advantages. Operating a legal buy-and-sell business has numerous tax advantages and business write-offs, which will leave more money in your pocket and less in Uncle Sam's.
Who Can Buy and Sell?
The answer is simple-anyone. One of the best aspects about starting and operating a buy-and-sell venture is that everyone is qualified. Buying and selling knows no boundaries-anyone with a need or desire to earn extra money, work from home or to start and own a business can buy and sell, regardless of age, experience, education and financial resources. This is perhaps what makes buying and selling the ultimate self-employment option for the vast majority of people; it's cheap, easy, quick and proven to work and generate huge profits. Imagine the flexibility that buying and selling offers. You can buy and sell part time to pay off debts. You can buy and sell full time to replace your current income and in all likelihood earn more. You can buy and sell seasonally, enabling you to pursue other interests like travel. Or you can buy and sell to help supplement your retirement income and stay active in your golden years.
Need a few ideas about just which products have buy/sell potential? Here are five products that work well in this arena:
The potential to profit from buying and selling antiques is as great as the potential to lose money. Replicas, paying too much and purchasing items in poor condition are just three of the hazards you need to hone your knowledge and skills to guard against if you choose to buy and sell antiques. However, those who do take the time required to become antique experts are usually rewarded with big profits and gratifying work.
Antiques is a broad subject, so pick an area in which to specialize-furniture, art, farm implements or architectural antiques. The best places to dig up antique treasures include garage sales, auctions, estate sales and advertising placed by private sellers in the classifieds. Secondary buying sources will include flea markets, secondhand shops and online marketplaces. Always take along your antiques-hunter toolbox, which should include antique value guides, camera, flashlight, magnifying glass, angled mirror and measuring tape. The best way to sell for top dollar is directly to collectors via clubs, associations and shows. Next to selling to collectors, list on eBay and online antique buy-and-sell marketplaces, sell at flea markets, and sell directly from a home showroom supported by local advertising.
Buy: Auctions, Flea Markets, Garage Sales, Estate Sales, Classified Ads
Sell: Collectors, B2B, Auctions, Homebased Sales, eBay, Flea Markets
- Antique and Collectibles Dealers Association
- Antiques Roadshow , advice and industry information
- Go Antiques , buy-and-sell marketplace
- Kovels Online , antique and collectibles information and resources
- The National Association of Antique Malls
- Kovels' Antique & Collectible Price List , 37th Edition, Ralph Kovel and Terry Kovel (Random House, 2004)
Used and Rare Books
You have the potential to hit the jackpot if you specialize in rare books such as first editions, antique and author-autographed copies. There are an infinite number of used books available at rock-bottom prices. You can buy them at garage sales, flea markets, online marketplaces, auctions, estate sales, library sales and secondhand shops.
Even better, few people take the time to find out the true value of the books they are selling, and because of this, many rare and valuable books can be purchased in the process. For instance, you might stumble upon a first-edition copy of The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway and purchase it for far less than the $600 to $1,000 it is currently worth to a collector. You will want to invest in rare-book pricing guides so you are armed with the resources needed to make wise purchasing decisions. Whether or not the books you sell are run-of-the mill used books for $10 or rare ones worth hundreds, the internet is your best marketing tool. List books for sale on Amazon, eBay and any number of the used and collector book marketplaces on the net. Also, if you plan on volume selling, be sure to invest in barcode scanning software such as Scanner Pal , which automatically scans all book information retrieved from the barcode for simple listing.
Buy: Garage Sales, Online Marketplaces, Flea Markets, Secondhand Shops
Sell: eBay, Collectors, Flea Markets, Online Marketplaces, Amazon
- Abe Books , a buy-and-sell marketplace
- International Rare Book Collectors Association
- Swapbooks , a textbook and used book buy-and-sell marketplace
- Used Book Central , a buy-and-sell marketplace
- Bookman's Price Index: A Guide to the Values of Rare and Other Out of Print Books , Anne F. McGrath (Gale Group, 2004)
Golf ranks as one of the most popular sports and recreational pastimes in North America, and you can make a bundle by selling new and used golf clubs and equipment. If you have some mechanical aptitude, you can dramatically increase profits by purchasing golf club components (heads, shafts and grips) wholesale, and assembling the clubs at home to meet your clients' individual needs. That is, you build custom clubs.
Or if you're not the handy type, then you can purchase preassembled new clubs from wholesalers and manufacturers. Used golf clubs and accessories such as bags, electric carts and pull-carts can be bought at flea markets, garage sales, online golf portals, auction sales and estate sales. New and used clubs and accessories can be sold through eBay, via a homebased showroom supported by local and online advertising, and by exhibiting at golf shows.
Buy: Wholesalers, Manufacturers, Classified Ads, Auctions
Sell: Homebased Sales, Online Marketplaces, eBay, Golf and Recreation Shows
- Golf Equipment Shopping Guide , new and used equipment wholesalers and manufacturers links
- Kings Sports Wholesale
- Wholesale Golf Equipment
- Antique Golf Collectibles: A Price and Reference Guide , Chuck Furjanic (Krause Publications, 2000)
For the innovative entrepreneur, there are numerous ways to sell cosmetics and make a bundle. You can enlist contract salespeople to organize and host home cosmetics sales parties. You can sell cosmetics in any number of online marketplaces, including eBay. You can establish a customer base via community advertising and direct contact methods like telemarketing and mail, and offer home delivery and consultations much like Mary Kay and Avon. You can rent kiosk space in malls and sell cosmetics on weekends. You can rent vendor space at fashion, health, and beauty shows and sell cosmetics. Or you can combine any or all of these selling methods to maximize sales and profits.
The first step to getting started in cosmetics sales is to source a reliable supply of decent-quality cosmetics. You can create your own cosmetics brand and have it manufactured under a private labeling agreement. Or you can strike a deal with an existing cosmetics manufacturer or distributor and market that line on an exclusive or nonexclusive basis. You may also want to specialize in organic cosmetics products and market to people with skin sensitivity or allergies.
Buy: Wholesalers, Manufacturers
Sell: Home Parties, Direct Delivery, eBay, Kiosks
A great full-time or part-time income can be earned buying and selling new computer parts such as CDRW and DVD drives, hard drives, memory, audio and video cards, processing chips and motherboards. Buy from wholesalers and sell directly to businesses for upgrade purposes, from a homebased showroom/repair shop, and through various online marketplaces.
Buy: Manufacturers, Wholesalers
Sell: B2B, Homebased Sales, Online Marketplaces
Editor's note: This article is excerpted from 202 Things You Can Buy and Sell for Big Profits from Entrepreneur Press.