How to start an ebay business with no money

If you’re looking for a good way to make money from home then I recommend starting a resale business. When I started it was on Ebay, but I quickly moved to multiple platforms to sell my items to a wider audience and gain more sales.

What exactly is reselling?

Reselling is when you buy items with the intention of reselling them. Some resellers sell items on online platforms like Ebay, Poshmark, Mercari, etc. Some resellers sell their items at swap meets or flea markets or even out of their own storefronts. 

Today I’m going to go over how to start a resale business with $0 which is exactly how I started back in 2016.

How did I start my reselling business for no money out of my own pocket?

Decluttering. I’ve been decluttering constantly since probably 2011. Previously we would sell larger items on craigslist and the smaller items we’d throw in a box for a yard sale or donate to the thrift store.

But as a stay at home mom to my son back in 2016 I really wanted to start a business that I could do easily while staying home with him. I’ve been an entrepreneur for most of my life, but I wanted something that I knew would be flexible, no deadlines with clients waiting on me (like with my previous web design business) and something that would make a pretty consistent income.

So I did what I do best. I decluttered my house, threw a pile of clothes on my desk and looked them up one by one on Ebay. Anything that would sell for $10 or more I listed, anything else went into a donate pile.

Reading this now it’s going to see easy and quick, but those first few weeks the sales were so slow. It takes time to build sales up, but they were definitely coming in.

And every cent I made I reinvested into the business for the first few months until I was bringing in enough monthly that I had enough money to buy more items to sell and still have a little left over that I could throw into our savings account.

My first year reselling I was able to put over $10,000 into an emergency savings account for my family. This came in handy when we had some major home repairs come up. Instead of having to rely on credit and scrape by for the next year while we tried to pay it off, we were able to pay in cash for major expenses.

Now that you know the back story, I’m going to give you some tips for starting your own Ebay business with no money.

Tips for starting your resale business for $0

Go through your own stuff. Just like I just talked about, go through your own items, look them up and see if they’re selling. Even check your pantry and your bathroom for items that are sealed and you’re not using. Many times discontinued items will go for good money!

Ask around. Ask friends or family that you know are cleaning out their closets or garages. Post on Facebook or Instagram that you’re willing to pick up stuff people are getting rid of and you’ll donate what you don’t keep.

Check classifieds. There is a free section on craigslist and people often post things for free on Facebook Marketplace or the NextDoor app. 

There are so many opportunities to get stuff to sell without spending any of your money.

Keep reinvesting. Don’t take any of that money for at least the first month or two. After that maybe start paying yourself a little bit. I now pay myself about 30%, but in the beginning I would take very little because it was important for me to just continue to grow my inventory.

Start with what you know. All of us have knowledge of different items. I know nothing about antiques. But I have a pretty good idea of what women’s clothing brands are popular. Use your knowledge and start there. Don’t try to tackle too many new categories at once. 

Spend wisely. When you first start going out to find stuff to sell it can be overwhelming. A lot of us are drawn to certain items we think should sell well, but always make your decision based on research. Look the items up on Ebay. See how many are listed. See how many sold. How much did it sell for? In the beginning I had very little money to work with so I wanted to make 5x my investment. So if I bought something for $5 I wanted to be able to sell it for $25 or more.

Use your phone. Most of us have smartphones with cameras. You don’t need to go out and buy a camera or lights. Use what you have.

Recycle. There is nothing wrong with reusing clean packaging. We ship about 200 items a month and still occasionally do this. You can reuse boxes and packing material from packages you’ve received and not only save money (it’s free!) but also contribute less waste to the environment.

Don’t be desperate for inventory. This is important no matter what stage you are in your business, but especially at the beginning when you might only have $15 or $20 to spend on inventory. Take your time to look for good inventory. If you don’t find anything, don’t buy something just to buy something.

Cross post items. If you have a limited amount of money to work with and a limited amount of inventory, consider posting those items to several platforms. I regularly list on Ebay, Poshmark and Mercari. Just make sure that once an item sells you take it down from the other places it’s posted so you don’t accidentally sell something you don’t have.

I hope this helps you start your own resale business! It’s such a fun business to start and one of the easiest businesses to start and almost instantly start earning money.

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