I went legit in September and finally got myself an EIN number. The government website wasn’t the most user-friendly but once I got the lay of the land, it was pretty straight forward.
With my EIN in hand, I was literally in business.
The main reason why I wanted to go legit was so that I could start getting product at wholesale prices from various suppliers to then resell for a profit through my own website or on other sites such as eBay. It’s a pretty simple business model that has it’s upside and pitfalls just like anything else but it’s the one that I’m most familiar with.
The first business that I wanted to have a business relationship was one that I had a previous relationship with when my dad and I had our infamous eBay store.
We cater to the vintage motorcycle community which is something that I’ve been a part of for almost 10 years.
They offer really cool coffee mugs for sale and that’s where I decided to start. We also had some leftover gear from way back in the day when we had the old business that I’ve put on clearance to make some room and get some money coming in to buy more cool stuff.
The coffee mugs sold really well for the holidays. I initially ordered 20 to just see how those would sell and I sold through those really quickly. I placed a second order for 20 and those have sold about half way through. That’s probably because I got them towards the middle of December when the holiday shopping season was just about over.
I make about 30-35% profit margin on a coffee mug depending on where I sell them.
There’s currently 3 avenues where we offer the mugs for sale.
First, there’s Etsy. I really like Etsy because the selling fees don’t kill you. When all is said and done, they only take about 3% which is a bargain compared to eBay. A noticeable difference that I’ve seen between Etsy and other sites is that most of my customers are female. I don’t want to come off as sexist but the majority of people who are involved in the vintage motorcycle community are male. This was something that was new to me and I had to change my marketing a bit. It’s worked out well because most of the purchases were made as gifts for Christmas and birthdays.
eBay is the second selling avenue that we use. eBay takes about 10% of selling fees which isn’t so pleasant but it’s a price I’m willing to pay to be a part of an online marketplace of literally millions of people. Some people like to haggle on price which doesn’t always leave me wiggle room but it’s just a part of doing business on eBay.
The third avenue we use is through our own website, Habermann and Sons. We use Shopify* to host our e-commerce store. We’ve tried other e-commerce providers throughout the years but we’ve found Shopify to be the easiest one to use. I was able to set up the website all on my own which is huge to me. The selling fees are very reasonable but the biggest downside to me is that the cheapest plan costs a flat-rate of $30 a month no matter what; even if you don’t make any sales.
Because it turns out that selling coffee mugs is more of a seasonal business due to the holidays, I haven’t had a single sale on my website since December. Most of that is my fault though as I haven’t been advertising as much as I used to in the months leading up to Christmas.
If you put in the work, you’ll easily sell enough to cover the $30 monthly flat-fee and then some but if you become a little lax and don’t do anything it could become very annoying, very quickly.
Another sales avenue that I’ve thought of was Amazon but the selling fees are too crazy for me. I’ve seen a lot of chatter about FBA, or Fulfilled by Amazon, which peaked my interest. If you don’t know how it works, you basically send your product to Amazon’s warehouse and if you sell it, they’ll fulfill it and take care of most of the busy work. That sounds like a great idea until you realize they take a 15% cut for my selling category and they would have a large chunk of my inventory which means I’d have to have inventory set aside just to sell on Amazon and then other inventory to sell on Etsy, eBay, and my website. I’m just not willing to commit to that for such a low profit margin. The risk is far too high for the small reward.
I have plans to extend my product lines from just coffee mugs and left-over randomness. The next step is probably to add mechanic’s aprons and then we’ll go from there. I like mechanic’s aprons because they’re one-size-fits-all unlike shirts, sweat shirts, etc which means I won’t have to make such a large upfront investment. I also like mechanic’s aprons because I can try to sell these to existing customers and I have something else that others might want to purchase. Maybe not everyone drinks coffee in my customer demographic but mostly everyone will work on their motorcycles. A mechanic’s apron isn’t an absolute necessity but it would certainly be a nice thing to have.
If you’re curious how my sales have gone, this is the breakdown from September 2016-December 2016.
- Etsy: 10 sales
- eBay: 17 sales
- Website: 14 sales
Total revenue was $1734.43 and after shipping and some selling costs which totaled $560.46, net revenue was $1173.67.
Not too shabby for a part-time side hustle!
If you want to find out more about Habermann and Sons, here’s how you can:
- Website: www.habermannandsons.com
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tumblr: http://habermannandsons.tumblr.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HabermannAndSons/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/habermannandsons/
- Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/habermannands/
* This is an affiliate link for Shopify. I’ll earn commission if you set up your shop after trying out the free 14-day trial. Thanks for supporting the blog!