Monthly Archives: July 2004

Ordinary product + Added value = Increased Profits!

Ok, here’s the thing…

Everyone that wants to get started buying and selling (either online or offline) is trying to find that ‘bargain buy’ – something whose wholesale price is 50% less than the standard retail price.  It is possible to find such products but they are rare and as soon as one person starts selling the item, others will jump on the bandwagon and force the price down.

The fact is that there are few items nowadays with a huge retail markup and worldwide markets such as eBay do nothing to help this situation as there are so many sellers that there is only one way for prices to go and that is down.

So instead of taking the easy option and trying to simply purchase an item at one price and sell it on to someone else for double (which involves little skill, thus anyone can do it meaning the end result is that after a very short time you won’t be able to double your money because of competition), you need to try and find a way to ADD VALUE.  In other words, buy a standard product and then modify/change it in some way to make it more attractive to buyers.  This will enable you to make a larger profit margin and depending upon what you are doing to the product, may help reduce the level of competition you have to face.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

How about buying an ordinary, plain t-shirt (wholesale cost for t-shirts is as little as $1.80/£1.00 each) and then print something on it.  If you are imaginative with what you print, you may well be able to sell the ‘new improved’ t-shirt for $25/£15.  In fact, I have a friend that is doing this exact thing!  He came up with a unique and original idea to print on t-shirts and now prints his own t-shirts using a home-made screen printing press (seriously, he got the instructions off the Internet and actually built a cheap press himself!)  All of the t-shirts he sells are either black or blue and he only prints in white – a surprisingly simple idea but one that is proving to be fairly lucrative. Of course, it would be unfair to divulge exactly what he is printing on the t-shirts but there must be thousands of possibilities that haven’t yet been thought of.

There are many other ‘arty’ type things that you may be able to do if you have the necessary ability but even if you are not artistic, you shouldn’t let that hold you back…

I often get emails from people asking where they can buy blank CD-Rs to resell.  Fact is that the profit margin on blank CD-Rs is tiny (in fact, unless you can sell thousands and thousands every week, I wouldn’t waste your time even looking at this market) HOWEVER, take a blank CD-R and put something of value on it and suddenly that disc is worth a whole lot more than it was blank.  Of course, I am not talking about putting pirated material on the discs but how about digital products that you have either produced yourself or that you have purchased resale rights to?  To give you some idea of how far you can go with this idea, I recently purchased a training course that was supplied on five CDs.  The value of the CDs and cases was less than $2.00 but I paid over $800 for the course!

Why?  Because I wanted the content. I knew that the content was far more valuable than the CDs themselves and I knew that they were going to help me increase my own businesses profits (which they did and I recouped my investment within a week of studying and acting on the course material).

Once you have identified an opportunity such as those outlined above (and there must be thousands and thousands of them), start thinking about how you can get someone else to do the work for you.  The goal of a true entrepreneur should be to free up his/her time and use it to come up with new ideas or to promote existing ones – he/she shouldn’t be sitting in the garage printing t-shirts!

Fifteen minutes of fame and why you shouldn’t trust the media

I had my fifteen minutes of fame this week as promised by Andy Warhol (actually it was closer to ten minutes so I am still owed five!).  Yup, I reached the dizzy heights of participating in a live radio interview for the BBC on the subject of selling on eBay.

To be honest, if it hadn’t of been the BBC, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to partake in the interview since the travel to the studio/preparation etc took up half a day and as I say, I was only on air for ten minutes.  However, the fact was that it was the BBC and the producer agreed that I could get a mention in for one of my websites and of course, this would have meant some superb exposure at no cost.

Unfortunately, the whole experience turned out to be a lesson in dealing with the media as although I kept my half of the deal, the BBC didn’t and they made no mention of my website and prevented me from doing so also.

But am I bitter?  Nah, course not, as I mentioned above, I am still owed another five minutes of fame and I won’t make the same mistake again.

The PC versus the Apple Mac

I moved a step closer to purchasing a Mac computer this week.  Why?  Because my PC fell over in a rather dramatic manner YET AGAIN!  I am told by my Mac-owning colleagues that they don’t have this problem.  Apparently, Macintosh computers don’t crash – they are reliable and they work – wow, what a novelty!  Macs are also unaffected by the vast majority of virus threats that PC users defend themselves from on a daily basis.

So why the heck are we all using PCs and Windows (which seem to crash far more regularly than is healthy for any business)?  I can only put it down to superb marketing by Microsoft – I mean, how many other products are there that can achieve almost global domination when they only work properly 80% of the time?!  Please note, I have no figures to back up this statistic and it is based purely on my own experience.

Anyway, I went to look at some Macs and I have to say, regardless of how reliable they are, they do look cool and the operating system just ‘feels’ smoother.  The reviews that my colleagues had given me made me feel confident that the Mac wouldn’t let me down and I could rely on it to start up every morning and work effortlessly throughout the day…

But here I am, still writing this newsletter on a PC.  Why?  Because the vast majority of my software will only work on a PC and if I make the move to a Mac, it will cost me several hundred (if not thousand) dollars to buy the Mac versions of the software (and that assumes it is even available – many software programs do not have Mac versions).  I know that it is possible to run Windows-based software on a Mac using a program such as Virtual PC (which makes the Mac work like a PC) but I am informed that this makes the Mac unreliable and prone to crashing (which of course, does not surprise me one little bit!)

For the time being then, it would seem that if you are running an Internet business, there is no getting away from the fact that you must use a PC and Windows.  However, I have a feeling that over the next few years this may well change.  More and more people will get fed up with the unreliability of Windows and will look for an alternative.  At the moment, the most likely alternative is the Mac.

I can only think that if more people start heading down the Mac route, then there will be a number of potential business opportunities for anyone that knows anything about Macs and how they work.  This in itself may be reason enough to invest in a Mac, even if it is an older, used model.  As the old saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King…

I for one am strongly considering buying a Mac, if only because it would be nice to go to bed at night with the confidence that my computer will still be working when I turn it back on in the morning.