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Business Resources for Online Sellers

Where to find information, tools and advice for e-commerce success

Whether you’re new to e-commerce, or looking to take your online selling to the next level, you’ll likely have a lot of questions about a lot of different things.

Here, we’ve put together a list of business resources to help you find information, tools and people to get you the answers you need, and help you steer your online venture in the right direction.

Business networking

If you’ve spent any time at all online lately, you know—either through news headlines or personal experience—how much businesses of all sizes have come to rely on social networking for marketing. What you may not hear as much about is how important professional networking is to business owners—for learning and exchanging ideas, for support and guidance, for building relationships that could lead to all sorts of opportunities down the road, etc.

Social sites for professional networking are plentiful, but LinkedIn has become the go-to site for expert advice, referrals and business contacts. There are a number of LinkedIn groups for eBay sellers and for merchants who list on Amazon, Yahoo and other e-commerce platforms.

Seller groups offer interactive forums, marketing opportunities, educational Webinars, access to tradeshows and more

For face-to-face networking opportunities, try Meetup.com. You can search out online seller groups in your local area by entering your ZIP code or city. We found several around the world that focus on eBay selling.

Trade groups such as the Internet Commerce Entrepreneurs can also be worthwhile for rubbing elbows (both virtually and in person) with other merchants and staying current on business issues and trends in e-commerce.

Business guidance and education

When venturing into unfamiliar territory, a compass can help keep you headed in the right direction. But it’s also nice to have a guide who’s been there before and knows what to expect. In the U.S., the Small Business Administration provides access to both the compass and the guide.

Part lobbyist, part government watchdog and part support network, the SBA’s aim is helping small business owners get the guidance and tools they need to find their way. In addition to counseling, training and information, SBA provides access to financial assistance, government contracting and growth opportunities through initiatives like Startup America and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.

You can find a list of tutorials and articles specifically for e-commerce business owners on the SBA’s e-commerce resources page.

Supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE is a volunteer-based nonprofit that provides education, mentorship and tools to help small businesses succeed, from getting started through planning an exit strategy.

You can find local assistance or use the organization’s online resources, at SCORE.org, which include business plan templates, how-to articles covering a wide range of business topics, even live online workshops. Recent workshops explored the steps to incorporate a business, and how to develop a successful advertising campaign.

Working capital

A growing number of companies are emerging to help small e-merchants obtain financing, using some unconventional methods to assess an applicant’s business health.

Kabbage departs from the traditional loan process to enable e-commerce merchants selling on eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Shopify and Etsy to get quick access to working capital. Currently available only to sellers in the U.S., Kabbage bases its lending on a merchant’s selling history, feedback and shipping volume.

U.K. startup iwoca uses a model similar to Kabbage to provide U.K.-based eBay merchants a way to get short-term capital to expand their businesses. Its initial focus is on commercial eBay sellers with at least 500 feedbacks.

It’s important for online sellers to stay informed on news and trends affecting e-commerce. The more you know, the more you make

There are too many small business lenders to mention here, but one worth noting is On Deck Capital. This company has taken the typically slow and arduous process of obtaining a short-term business loan and simplified it. Sellers can apply online for loans between $5,000 and $150,000 and get a decision within a day, and receive funds within two. On Deck bases its loan decisions on business performance as well as credit history.

To learn about more funding alternatives for your online business, read “10 Ways to Fund Your E-Commerce Business.”

Industry insights

It’s important for online sellers to stay informed on news and trends affecting e-commerce. says eBay seller and The Online Seller contributor Miriam Otto. In her article, “Information is King,” she offers several information resources for online sellers, including podcasts, blogs, online classes and seller networking groups. You’ll also find the latest news and e-commerce trends as well as helpful advice right here on The Online Seller.

If you specialize in a niche or product category, it can benefit you to join a trade group specific to that industry, and/or subscribe to trade magazines. These can be great tools to help you stay ahead of the curve on regulatory issues, manufacturing and market trends, and supply and demand changes. They can also provide opportunities to connect with potential sources or business partners.

To find publications related to your niche, check out Free Trade Magazines, TradePub.com and Yahoo’s directory of trade magazines.

About the author

Crista Souza
Crista Souza is founding editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. A journalism graduate of San Jose State University, she spent 13 years as a business and technology reporter in Silicon Valley. Crista has been writing about B2C and C2C ecommerce since 2008. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Who would have the traffic that ebay has, that is why I don’t venture beyond ebay ~



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