Renowned eBiz author Sydney Johnston created the now-famous Auction Genius courses ( to aid people wanting to create their own e-businesses. She shares some important tips for anyone looking to learn the online retail industry: Tip 1—Start Small. Many of Johnston’s students are eager to dive in head first, ready to invest all their savings into overseas imports or shopping network returns. But Johnston discourages such risky moves for two reasons. • They haven’t considered all the costs—the enormous minimum quantities they’ll have to buy to get the discounted prices or the tremendous costs of shipping imports. • They have little experience and, therefore, no way of knowing all that these transactions entail. Says Johnston, “You’re going to make mistakes…The way to minimize any kind of horrible error is to go very small.” Don’t invest a lot to start with—learn with inexpensive items. Start with a minimum investment; and as you begin to make a profit, put that money back into your business rather buying new golf clubs or tennis shoes. Tip 2—Research the Market and Test your Results. As you go, you’ll learn which products sell well and where you’re actually making a profit. Johnston subscribes to the “funnel theory” on finding your product niche: “You start really broad—you have huge categories. As you learn how to do your market research, you funnel down and…get smaller and smaller until out the other end of the funnel come a handful of products that you can really do well with.” Tip 3—Start on eBay EBay is a great tool for beginners just learning about online retail. There are several reasons why it’s a smart place to start: • It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive. • The traffic is built in, and the people that are seeing your listings are seeing them because they’re searching for what you’re selling. • It’s a good way to get exposed to the ins and outs of the business. If you do decide to open your own website later, you can use your eBay store to direct people to it. Tip 4—There’s No Such Thing as “Get Rich Quick!” Starting an e-business is just like starting any other business—it takes patience and persistence. Don’t expect to be magically rolling in money overnight. And don’t just jump at every “opportunity” that comes along for fear of missing out. Research it first—if it sounds too good to be true…well, you know. If you take the time to understand what you’re doing, there’s plenty of room in the e-commerce industry for you to make money.

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