One platform you can use to create an online business is eBay. You can open an eBay small business and take advantage of the traffic that flocks to the online marketplace. While some believe opening an eBay small business is simple, in order for it to be successful, some up-front effort on your part is required. First, you must have products to sell that customers are interested in buying. Second, you need to learn how to maneuver the online marketplace as a seller, so you can get customers to buy from your eBay business and you can make money.
Determine the products you intend to sell. You may have your own products that you make and sell (i.e., diaper cakes or handmade greeting cards) or you may choose to sell products that you obtain at wholesale pricing from the product manufacturer or wholesale distributors. For example, if you decide to sell cell phones and cell phone accessories, you can become an authorized dealer for cell phone companies, such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon products.
Register your business with the state. You can register your business name with the secretary of state in the state where your business operates. For example, if your home office is in Texas, then you would register the name of your business with the Texas Secretary of the State. The secretary of state can provide you with the forms you need to complete for the registration, depending on the business structure you choose (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company).
Establish an eBay seller account. eBay has two sides—the buying side and the selling side. In order to open a small business on eBay, you need to sign up for a seller account by choosing the “Sell” Tab on the eBay Home Page. Complete the registration form and process to establish your seller account.
Register your business with eBay. Opening an eBay store or listing products for sale on eBay does not automatically register you as a business with eBay. Complete and submit the online eBay form (see resources) to register your business with eBay.
Apply for a sales tax use permit. Most states, including Texas, require businesses that sell products in the state to collect sales tax. You only have to charge residents of the state where you are shipping the products you are selling to when they reside in your state. Contact your state department of revenue to apply for a sales tax permit and instructions for paying the state the taxes you collect from product sales.
Decide which payment methods you intend to accept. When establishing your seller account, you can also choose your payment methods and payment process. You can opt to use PayPal--an affiliate of eBay-- as your payment processor.
Choose the category that defines your product; eBay is separated into product categories and sub-categories, so when you list each product for sale, choose the most appropriate category and sub-category for each product.
Choose the selling option; eBay allows you to list products for sale as an auction or at a fixed price (the "Buy Now" option). Decide which option you want to use for your business and set the starting, or fixed, price. As of August 2010, eBay small business owners can choose from one of three eBay store packages; eBay store fees range from three cents to 20 cents per product listing, depending on the store package your choose. Monthly fees for the eBay store packages range from $15.95 per month to $299.95 depending on the store features you choose.
Upload the picture of the product. Add one or more photos of the product you are listing for sale.
Write your product description. Write the details of the products you are selling, including shape, size, measurements, color, etc. Be as detailed as possible in your description so that shoppers can have all of their questions answered simply by reading the product description.
Set a shipping price for the product. Add the shipping price and shipping details to the listing. You may also want to describe how you ship products in the product description, such as USPS, FedEx, UPS or local pick-up options.
Conduct a final review of the listing. Read through the product listing for a final review and make any final edits or adjustments. Check for spelling errors or missing pieces of information that you would want to know if you were interested in buying the product. When ready, submit your product for listing.
Repeat Steps 4 through 9 for each product you want to list.
Track eBay business sales. You can use a free eBay feature, "Selling Manager," to keep track of the products you have for sale; to create email marketing templates; provide feedback on your customers; print order invoices and shipping labels; and to automatically relist products for sale. You can also buy Selling Manager Pro for $15.95 per month (as of August 2010) for additional features, such as sales reports and product inventory tracking.