I know what you’re probably thinking: “What the heck is bootstrapping?” I asked that exact same question the first time I heard the term too.
Well, bootstrapping is your new best friend. It’s how you are going to start your business without spending a penny more than you have to and grow it into a self-sustaining, money-making machine.
The technical meaning of the term is the process of utilizing resources that already exist to get into or out of something. My preferred definition, however, is this: refusing to spend money until you make money.
I bootstrapped my very profitable eBay and Amazon business into existence by selling items I already had around the house, such as used clothing and unwanted Christmas gifts, while making do with the various tools I already had available, like my old laptop and printer.
You may be wondering how I turned used clothing into a profitable business venture and, to be honest, I didn’t – although, interestingly enough, there are several very successful eBay entrepreneurs that focus solely on selling used clothing. What I did do is a perfect example of the two phases of bootstrapping. Following these simple steps will help you get your eBay business up and running with absolutely no monetary investment!
eBay Bootstrapping Phase 1 – Utilize Tools and Resources Already Available
Step 1: Find Things You Already Own to Sell
I listed a number of dresses, shirts, and pants I hadn’t worn in a while on eBay, as well as a few random household items and unwatched DVDs.
Step 2: Sign Up for an eBay Seller Account
This is super easy and quick to do, especially if you already buy stuff on eBay. It’s free to get a basic seller account, so no investment needed here!
Step 3: Sign Up for a PayPal Business Account
It’s likely you already have a PayPal account, but you should get one if you don’t. It’s also worth upgrading (also free!) to the PayPal business account because it provides better financial reports for accounting purposes.
Step 4: Price Your Items Appropriately
eBay and PayPal are free to use, but do charge once your items start selling. To ensure you make at least a little profit on each item, choose a price that will cover the fees for eBay, PayPal, and shipping. Remember, even if you only make a couple dollars on your first items, it’s totally worth it!
Step 5: Utilize Free Shipping Tools
Neat fact about USPS – they provide free boxes to customers! You can order them online and USPS will even ship them directly to you for free!
Bootstrapping Phase 2 – Strategically and Organically Reinvest Profits
Step 6: Start Reinvesting Your Profits
After I sold a few items on eBay, all of which provided me with at least a little cash flow, I started reinvesting in both new product and tools. Only use money from your business to improve your business.
Step 7: Utilize “Retail Arbitrage”
Begin looking for and buying things you know will sell, like Banana Republic clothing and other name brand items that you can find steeply discounted. We eBay pros call this particular tactic “retail arbitrage.”
Step 8: Target Bigger Profit Margins
It’s okay to start with small items that provide small profits, but as you grow and start earning more revenue, you will want to begin selecting more expensive products with larger profit margins. Doing this will provide the money you need to fund things like a new computer and printer.
Step 9: Don’t Rush to Pay Yourself
It’s important not to rush into putting funds from your business into your pocket. When you’re just starting, you need to focus on reinvesting as much of your revenue into your business as possible. I only paid myself $50 my first month selling on eBay because I knew it was more important to buy more inventory so I could make more sales.
Step 10: Keep a Steady Pace of Growth
Don’t let yourself be tempted to rush things. Slow and steady progress is fine. Even if you only make $100 in sales your first month, that’s $100 you can easily turn into $200+ the next month. This process can take time – but remember, you’re literally starting a business for free, and that’s totally worth a little extra time.
And there you go! Bootstrapping an eBay business really doesn’t take much work at all. Pretty rad, right?
Bootstrapping is extremely effective and unbelievably easy. You can literally start your business with $0 investment down and build it into something that completely replaces your current income. It almost seems too good to be true, but I’m living proof that it works and works well. You can learn more about bootstrapping in my free, 7-day reader bonus course, Starting a Business for Beginners!
You might also want to check out my other course, Your First Sale Plus eBay Seller Success in 14 Days or Less. It’s still in production, but you can pre-order access now at a significant discount today!