Lots of people decide to start their own online selling businesses, but many fail to consider the risks that can come with success. Chief amongst these is having your business affected by an emergency, business disaster, or failure of some kind once you're already completely dependent on the income.
To prepare for this kind of risk, savvy sellers begin to think in terms of redundancy and preparedness or, to use an alternate phrase, creating an eBay selling "emergency kit."
If you haven't ever thought along these lines, here is a list of items to consider acquiring or preparations to consider making once your eBay business is successful enough that you've begun to rely on the revenue that it generates for some or all of your income.
- A second or extra computer. These days, computers go down all too easily due to hardware failures, malware, or other problems. Having a backup to continue to operate and provide customer service without interruption is a no-brainer, since this is one of the failures or issues an eBay seller is most likely to encounter.
- A fallback internet connection. This can seem like a more difficult and costly preparation to make to many sellers, but if you're relying on a typical broadband connection, a cable or DSL line or piece of infrastructure that goes dark and leaves you without connectivity for a week while the utility company repairs it can be a serious hardship. The easiest option here is to rely on mobile phone data and tethering on an emergency basis if your main connection goes downbut for this to help you in an emergency, you'll need to know how to quickly use and activate this feature, so do your research beforehand.
- A spare or backup printer and printer supplies. For printing packing slips and shipping labels, a spare or backup printer and maintaining a good-sized cache of related printing supplies (toner or ink, paper or labels) will keep you humming along if your main printer goes down or a supplies company or manufacturer runs out of stock.
- A backup camera and needed accessories. Cameras can and do "go offline," so operating without one can put you at risk for losing a day or more of listing as you work to replace a bad one so that you can continue to take product photos. Keep a spare on hand along with anything that you need to operate it.
- An uninterruptable or alternate power supply and spare AC adapters. Power outages are more common than most sellers care to remember when things are going well. Having a UPS, solar power adequate to operate your laptop computer and mobile tethering device, and/or spare AC adapters for all of your devices can keep you operating in case of power grid or charging device failures that would otherwise take you offline.
- Reserve packaging materials. Keep a reserve of extra packing materials on hand and you'll never find yourself a day or more behind on shipping for lack or unavailability of supplies, even when unexpected surges in business happen.
- Good (preferably offsite) daily backups. If you can afford a monthly cloud-based backup service, perfect. If not, at least maintain a backup or two using external storage. Extra copies of your business operations data and files are critical, but so are things like your contacts and suppliers lists. Don't just decide what to back up on an ad-hoc basis; watch yourself operate and make a list over several days of every kind of data that you have that is critical to the operation of your business and back all of it up so that your run isn't ended by a simple hard drive failure.
- Alternate service providers. Even if you don't maintain accounts or ongoing relationships with them, it's a good idea to have a backup researched and ready-to-go for every service provider that is critical to your business, from suppliers and fulfillment partners to shippers and utility companies, just in case you lose one to circumstance, business failure, or some other issue.
- Stored and protected passwords and legal documents. It's never pleasant to think about, but if you should become incapacitated in some way, it's important that someone elsesomeone that you trusthave access to your account passwords and important documents so that your business can continue until you return or so that loose ends can be clealy resolved if, for any reason, you can't or don't.
Most of these measures will probably never be needed, but even so, don't let yourself be tempted to go without them on those grounds. If you're a seller that relies on your eBay income for a living and you are affected by a need for any of these measures, not having them in place will only magnify the emergencyand could mark an unexpected, unintended end to your business once all of the consequences and details of the event play out.