Are you a teen with dreams of entrepreneurship? Maybe you have a friend or classmate who’s making bank on eBay, and you're wondering if you can do the same thing? Good news — you totally can! Stay with us as we explain.
With over 1.5 billion daily listings and 187 million global users, eBay is a bona fide ecommerce empire and the second most visited marketplace in the world. It’s also one of the prime ways teens can start a business or side hustle.
So, if you’re a budding teenpreneur or are looking to make some extra cash, we’re here to tell you that launching a profitable business on eBay is a possibility. We'll cover some key market trends and outline how you can get started.
Ready? Let’s go!
What’s Trending on eBay
We know eBay is big, but how big? Let's talk numbers.
The ecommerce platform’s annual active buyers grew by 7 percent in the first quarter of 2021. The online marketplace continues to be the top destination for today’s digital buyers. The total value of successful transactions closed on the platform during 2020 was $25 billion. These numbers indicate that the opportunity to set up a successful business is real.
The top-selling products on eBay fall under the electronic and accessories category. In the U.S., sports cards, sneakers over $100, and video games are the most purchased items, making them lucrative products to start with.
Gen Z entrepreneurs are earning over $100 a month reselling clothes, shoes and household items.
Excited about your prospects of becoming a teen seller? We hear you. Let’s just address a legal concern first.
Can You Sell on eBay as a Teenager?
Can 16-year-olds sell on eBay? What about 14-year-olds? Although eBay’s user policy strictly states that you need to be 18 or above, it is possible to start even younger if you follow these steps.
First, you'd need the permission of an adult (or someone above 18) to use their account for your business. Just remember that the person who holds the account will be legally responsible for everything that happens within the account. If you don't follow through on your promises to buyers, they'll be the ones in hot water.
There are two ways to get an account.
Try speaking to your parents or another trusted family member/guardian to see if they would be willing to open a new account under their name that you can use.
If your parent or relative has an active seller’s account, then you could consider splitting the free listings between the two of you. This will only work if the person has the same IP address as you, so it would need to be someone in your household.
How to Sell on eBay as a Teen
Setting up an eBay shop is just the same as starting a business. It takes time and effort, and there are several considerations you need to make as you start your ecommerce store.
Identify Your Niche
People are selling anything (almost) on eBay, so how do you stand out amongst the competition? Find out what’s hot in the marketplace via this analytics tool from eBay.
Google Trends is another resource for discovering seasonal trends, gauging consumer demand and identifying the best times to list and sell products.
List Your Items
eBay has helpful guides on how to start selling. Once you've created your account with the help of someone 18+, the general steps will be:
Create your listings: This will involve writing a detailed description and title, taking high-quality photos and setting your price. Be aware of the selling fees.
Choose your selling format: An Auction-style listing is the most-known eBay selling format, but But It Now may be ideal too. See what other sellers who are selling similar items are doing.
Ship your items: You can purchase your shipping and print your label directly from your eBay dashboard. eBay has discounted shipping, so it will likely be the best choice. Be sure you have proper shipping items on hand: boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap.
Get paid: Payments will go directly to your bank account (see more below about what type of account to get) within a few days.
Pick the Right Business Structure
The moment you start listing items on eBay, you're automatically considered a sole proprietorship. This structure is suitable if you're just making a few bucks on the side. A word of caution, though: a sole proprietorship isn't a legal business entity and therefore leaves your account holder vulnerable to any liabilities.
The most common and popular type of legal entity is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), as it protects your account holder's personal assets and finances from any business-related debts or liabilities. There are a few nuances to forming an LLC as a teen, and if you're under 18, you'll need support from family members or of-age partners.
If you're setting up a store under a creative business name that's different from your account holder’s legal name, then you should file for a DBA. A DBA gives you permission to operate under your chosen name and will help in getting a business banking account.
Set Up a Business Account
Once you’ve decided on a legal structure, set up a separate business banking account. A separate business account protects personal assets from any business liabilities and makes it easier for you to file for taxes, which is necessary if you earn over $400 annually ($8 a week) on eBay.
Whether you can open a business account depends on your state's laws and each bank’s policies. Most banks will allow you to open a joint account with a parent/guardian if you aren't allowed to open an account as a minor.
You might think because you’re running a teen business, you're excluded from taxes. Wrong — taxes are a fact of life for any kind of business. Depending on your location and business structure, you might be subjected to self-employment, sales, state and federal taxes. Familiarize yourself with eBay’s Internet Sales Tax Guide and speak to an accountant to get a hold of what taxes and deductions could apply to your teen business.
Seeing the Possibilities — Become a Teenpreneur
Easy to start? Check. Proven revenue stream? Check. Able to manage alongside school? Check.
The probability of starting a thriving teen business on eBay is high! However, remember that running a successful business as a teen requires planning and thorough execution and likely some help from the trusted adults in your circle.
Incfile would love to help you start and grow your teen business. Our How to Start a Teen Business Guide can help you identify the right niche and get all the required paperwork and processes in place.
Swara Ahluwalia is a freelance content writer with experience in the technical, B2B and SaaS domain. She also has curated content for various lifestyle brands. In her downtime, you will most likely find Swara training for her next marathon or spending time with her two daughters.