In today's economy, being thrifty is not just a virtue, it's also a necessity. Seeking out ways to cut corners and save money makes good sense for all businesses, including eBay sellers. No matter what you are purchasing for your business, it helps your bottom line to take a step back, now and then, and tune into your spending habits as well as your inventory needs.
One way to step toward thrifty habits is to evaluate last year's profit-and-loss statement and any recent receipts, and review the costs associated with the practical, everyday items purchased for your business. By really looking at how much you've spent over the last month, year or quarter, you can identify ways to lower your bottom line.
The main goal here is to cut costs, of course! I'm sure you understand the need for cuts, but it can be challenging to figure out where to make them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to make a list of the items you purchase to run your business. Once that's done, review the list and challenge yourself to find the same items at a lower price.
Here are some simple ways you can start to cut costs:
I'm amazed how many eBay sellers overlook shopping on eBay for basic business and home necessities
Shop on eBay
The No. 1 cost-cutting idea I can give you is to always search for items for your business on eBay. I regularly cut costs by shopping on eBay for many of my work and home items, including chlorine tablets for our swimming pool. I'm amazed how many eBay sellers overlook shopping on eBay for basic business and home necessities. I guess we all get so busy selling on eBay we forget about shopping on the site!
Start with your list of business needs and search eBay for the lowest-priced items. Many people don't realize that when you're using the eBay search bar, you can actually adjust the search style by using the drop-down box on the lower right side of the page and change it to show you the lowest-priced items at the top of the list. This will make it easier to sort through the listings. I frequently use the tab to show only Buy It Now items, sorted by the lowest-priced items first.
Buy in bulk
Often, you can save money on the items you use for your business by purchasing larger quantities of these items, for example, shipping tape. I typically lower the cost of my shipping tape by purchasing it in bulk. I suggest visiting the eBay search bar and typing in "wholesale shipping tape" or "box lot shipping tape."
If you prefer not to buy shipping tape in bulk, local dollar stores tend sell it at a cheaper price. Depending on where you live, there are many discount stores to choose from. Here in Florida, we have a great discount store called Harbor Freight.
Before purchasing software for your business, I recommend doing a Google search with the words "free" or "open source," along with the name of the software you're seeking. I have found many sites that offer promotions for free software.
For example, there are lots of free photo-editing tools to choose from. The one I recommend most is called Photo Escape. Just make sure when you download software from the Internet that it comes from a trusted source, such as SourceForge.net, to avoid downloading software that may have unwanted spyware code attached.
Store your photos for free. Many free photo sharing sites such as Photobucket will help you cut costs for image hosting.
If you use a third-party listing service to list on eBay, make sure it includes a reasonable amount of image hosting in the cost of your listing plan. You shouldn't have to pay extra to store your photos.
Retail stores are often glad to let you have their empty boxes because it saves them the time and cost of recycling
If you ship by Priority Mail, you can order free boxes from the United States Postal Service by visiting usps.com. If you want, you can even order free boxes from USPS that are co-branded with the eBay logo.
Other sources of boxes include local retail stores, which are often glad to let you have their empty inventory boxes because it saves them the time and cost of recycling the boxes. I know a woman who goes to a local box factory and picks up their seconds to use for shipping boxes.
The key here is to get creative. You can also find local resources for bubble wrap, peanuts and other kinds of shipping supplies. This is the ultimate in recycling. It is great for the environment—and for your pocketbook!
Barter rather than hire
Another great way to save money is to find someone who is willing to trade services. You work out a deal or arrangement with a person to perform tasks you need performed, in exchange for something that you can do for them in return. This is a very popular way of getting things done in a down economy.
Free auction advertising
Many Web sites offer free auction advertising. My site, PowerSellingMom, offers free advertising and several Auction Bump sites that can be found on my "Mom Approved" page.
Before joining membership sites, always review your budget to make sure you don't cut yourself short. Do good research before joining a site and make sure you can get your money's worth. Auctiva provides a reasonably priced eBay listing service that gives you more benefits than most. My membership site, VirtualOnlineLearning, has a one-time, lifetime membership, and includes 24/7 learning on demand. As in all things, look for a deal that will give you value.
Cutting costs for your business only makes good sense. No matter what the economic situation, your bottom line will increase when you cut operating costs. Thrifty ways turn into smart habits, and these result in higher profit margins.
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Danna Crawford, CEO of PowerSellingMom, Inc.
, has been a successful eBay seller
since 1997. In 2008, she received eBay's Community Hall of Fame award, as well as the Golden Ribbon Community Seller Award from eBay Giving Works. As an eBay Certified Education Specialist, she teaches at the community college and university levels, and frequently speaks on topics such as how to make money blogging, writing eBooks and more. Crawford can be heard every Friday night on her Internet radio show, PowerSellingMomRadio
, and in weekly webinars at VirtualOnlineLearning.com
Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.