Ebay Selling Secrets

If you’re going to sell products on eBay, the first rule is to make sure that you’re selling the right thing. And what’s the right thing? Well that’s a complex issue, but the starting point should be…something that people actually want. That sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many people get excited about an idea or product and don’t stop to think about the market. But how do you know for sure?

Well here’s a list of the Top 10 items searched for on eBay…

1.    Big Brand Consumer Technology (Apple, Sony etc)
2.    On Trend Fashion Items
3.    Watches
4.    Vintage
5.    Lego
6.    Chest Of Drawers
7.    Garden Furniture
8.    Bikes
9.    Shoes
10.  Curtains

Painting The Grass Green

While watching the recent World Cup in Brazil,  it was evident that grass on some of the pitches, which was in poor condition a few days before the tournament, was miraculously transformed come kick off. The media were quick to expose the secret – the grass had been painted!

I did a little research into this and found that it’s pretty big business in North and South America, where long dry spells can leave grass looking brown. There are franchise opportunities in the United States which help people get started in the grass painting business, but how hard can it be?

I know we don’t have the same climatic conditions here in the UK, but there are plenty of situations where greener grass would be desirable, and where weather, animal urine or footfall has rendered the surface less than perfect. I’m thinking about sports stadiums, golf courses, public parks and gardens, and even private gardens where there is a party, wedding or other event. I wonder whether there’s a market for an ‘Emergency Grass Repair’ Service?

If you want to look into this, the following company seem to offer the paint products you need.

http://www.naturalgreengrasspatch.co.uk/

The In-Flight Kitchen

I hate both flying and aeroplane food, so I’m probably not a good person to judge the potential of A380 In-Flight Kitchen, a restaurant based on the layout and cuisine of the A380 Airbus – the largest airliner in the world.  The waitresses are dressed as stewardesses and the interior looks just like the inside of a plane.

It’s not somewhere I would frequent, even if they gave me a free sick bag, but it’s an interesting concept which might appeal to a lot of people. Perhaps something to investigate further with a view to either copying the idea in your location, or using it as a mental springboard for discovering other viable restaurant concepts.

Customised Social Media

Companies of all types and sizes are under pressure to create social media content, but many have neither the time nor inclination to do it themselves. That’s where Emphatic (www.emphatic.co) come in. It’s a new service that  creates custom social media content for small businesses. They write Twitter tweets and Facebook updates for companies without requiring much in the way of time and energy from the companies themselves. Emphatic is a U.S based service and prices start at starts at $99 per month for 50 tweets or Facebook updates and goes up from there.

The potential market for this is obviously way beyond what any one company can hope to cater for. Might there be an opportunity here in the UK? I see no reason why not.

Modern Day Billy Casper

One of my favourite films ever is Kes, the story of a working class boy , Billy Casper, who adopts and trains a Kestrel. I was therefore interested to hear about Peter Wright from Denbighshire who has become the youngest professional falconer in the UK after receiving  government  grant to start his business. Peter was just 15 when he received the grant.

Falconry isn’t something to be taken lightly, but there are a surprising number of opportunities. Birds of prey are used in pest control, in falconry displays and have even been trained to deliver wedding rings to the best man at outdoor ceremonies. If you like animals and would like a business with a difference, this could warrant further investigation.

Hoodwinked By Hindsight

I don’t have a specific opportunity today, but it’s probably more important. As you stand here today, it’s easy to look back into the not too distant past and see how ‘easy’ it was to make money – when the internet was in its infancy or the smartphone revolution was just getting under way for example. It’s much harder to succeed now isn’t it, than it was in the good old days?

Well guess what? In the not too distant future, these will be the good old days when making money was as easy as falling off a log. The path to doing it will be plain to see with the benefit of hindsight, just as the path to doing it 10 years ago, or so, is plain to see today through the same hindsight.

The opportunities are every bit as plentiful today as they’ve ever been – maybe more so. Don’t allow hindsight to fool you into thinking anything else.

More Taxi Tactics

You might remember that a few weeks ago  we brought you the story of Baltic Taxi’s who had created a USP for themselves by kitting some of their cars out with bike racks to either pick up cyclists who had a ‘breakdown’ or transport bikes to service and repair facilities. Well the same company aren’t resting on their laurels, and have a new idea. They’ve now started adding child safety seats to some of their cars as standard.

Anyone with young children will be very aware of the need for safety seats which allow the child to be strapped into a car securely. It’s relatively simple when it’s your own car, but if you’re getting a taxi, not quite so straightforward. You either have to transport your own seat, or bolster the child up with cushions, coats or anything else available, which is hardly satisfactory.  If you have children and need to take a taxi, then Baltic Taxis is going to be first on your list.

The company are likely to get a lot of new business by taking account of the needs of parents, and that isn’t just of interest to people who have taxi companies. You see,  considerations relating to children play a huge part in many purchase decisions. Many a car salesman has cursed a child whose boredom has caused him to lose a sale. Many other product and service sales are lost because the product isn’t ‘child friendly’ or the service can’t be carried out in a way that fits in with child commitments.

Is this something that affects your business?  What are you going to do about it? How can you ‘child proof’ your business?

Portable Golf Clubs

If  you’ve ever seen someone lugging a set of golf clubs through an airport or watched as they try to manoeuvre them into a small car, you’ll know that they’re not the most portable of things. A typical set contains 14 clubs which all look pretty similar to the untrained eye. When I used to play, I often wondered why nobody had developed a set of clubs with inter-changeable heads, thereby reducing the load. Well a company in the USA has just done something very similar.

The company, DV8,  have created a set of clubs comprising two multi-purpose shafts with interchangeable heads. Apparently the heads take just a couple of seconds to change over. A set of 14 club heads and two shafts fit into the custom-built DV8 kit bag, which is worn as a backpack. As well as fitting easily in any car, the clubs can be carried on a bike, motor bike or as cabin luggage on an aircraft

There are two things to take from this I think:

1. Might the company be interested in UK distribution or representation?

2.  Thinking more widely, are there other types of sports equipment that could be redesigned to improve portability?

Pain Free Puncture

One of the worst things about cycling is punctures. If you’re going on a ride of any distance you need to take spare inner tubes, tyre levers, a pump and a spanner. To change the tube, you have to remove the wheel from the bike and then the Tyre from the rim to get to the tube. The best case scenario is that you get delayed and covered in oil. The worst is that you botch up the whole thing and have to walk home. I was therefore interested to hear about an alternative solution that is about to be launched in the USA.

Patchnride is a tool with a nib at one end and a cartridge containing patching material. To mend a flat, you simply pump the patching material  into the hole via the nib,  and then inflate the tyre. The method is said to take about 60 seconds and doesn’t require removal of the wheel from the bike.

I have no idea how effective this is, but there’s a video here. If it works as well as described, demand could be huge. Cycling is undergoing a boom at the moment, and the new ‘converts’ in particular, don’t like getting their hands dirty. Perhaps the company are looking for UK or European distribution. Something to investigate?

Tattoo Removal Update

We’ve been banging the drum for the future potential of tattoo removal as a business opportunity for some time now, and there’s no let up. According to Market Watch the tattoo removal industry is still growing and expected to hit $83.2 million over the next four years.

The fact that tattoos are a fashion item in themselves, and different styles and designs of tattoo go in and out of fashion, guarantees an ongoing market. In  addition, relationship break-ups and job-hunting has led to an additional  surge in tattoo removals. Heightened unemployment in the recession has led to increased demand from job seekers who need to cover up tattoos in order to obtain employment.

There are currently a number of tattoo removal franchises around at the moment, as well as training courses for people who want to buy their own equipment and start on their own. Needless to say, this is hardly a ‘start tomorrow’ business, but the long term ongoing potential seems to make it very worthy of investigation.