It’s the perfect way to gain the knowledge to successfully launch a real business – without spending years failing first.
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4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s cool to be an entrepreneur.
I mean, think about it — you have the potential to earn much more than you would at most jobs and you get to be your own boss.
There is no one looking over your shoulder, underestimating or undervaluing you, and there is absolutely no one telling you what to do every moment of every day.
Entrepreneurship is on the rise. As of 2015 there were 27 million Americans starting or running new businesses and that number is continuing to grow.
The question is : How many of the 27 million Americans are actually turning a profit and how many are losing their life savings?
These stats worry me. I’ve been the guy losing everything because I was determined to make it but didn’t actually have the knowledge to do so.
Related: Your First Year in Business Is Mostly About Surviving
When I think back to my first business, the memory that comes to mind is me paying over $1,000 for a nice logo and WordPress website for my contract security company.
I distinctly remember going to that website every day and wondering —
- Are people visiting my site?
- Why am I not getting any emails or phone calls?
I was absolutely clueless. I knew nothing about Google Analytics, search engine optimization, target audiences, marketing and techniques to connect with the right people and drive them to my site.
Every single dollar I spent for the first couple of years was simply wasted, and I worry that there is a significant percentage of those 27 million people who are in the exact same position I was years ago.
Related: How To Start A Business With No Money
So, in hopes of saving other people a lot of money, I recommend that every new entrepreneur sell used books online as their first business. Here’s why :
- The barrier to entry is very low. Used books are cheap and the amount of money that you stand to lose is minimal.
- Using platforms like Amazon and eBay allows you to be introduced to ranking systems and algorithms similar to what you might experience on a search engine such as Google.
- You’ll get to learn and figure out strategies and methods for sourcing and selecting books with specific sales rankings and minimum profit margins.
- It’s a great introduction to business accounting. You will have the opportunity to learn about and keep track of profits, losses, inventory and expendable materials needed for shipping.
- The customer is always right, so you will get to monitor and learn about reviews and customer feedback and how it affects your overall performance on third-party platforms. In addition, you will learn how to deal with customer complaints and customer returns.
- You will get to experience how different types of books perform on different platforms and over time you’ll develop strategies and criteria that will determine which books will get listed on which platform and which books should be listed on more than one.
- The most important factor : It’s actually a very profitable and scalable business.
While this isn’t the most exciting business venture on the market today, it is something that you can easily start now. Over the next year you can learn about business, online marketplaces and start to gain the knowledge necessary for you to build something truly valuable.
Related: How Online Marketplaces Are Changing the Face of Entrepreneurship
This is experience and knowledge that I spent years and tens of thousands of dollars learning — you have the opportunity to gain some of that knowledge this year, while not losing a single dollar.