Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Everything I Know About Online Selling I Learned From Star Trek

My apologies to all you Trek purists out there who think The Original Series (TOS) is the greatest thing since sliced bread, I actually prefer The Next Generation (TNG).  Not only were the shows, in general, better in every conceivable way, it (along with Deep Space Nine) introduced the known galaxy to the Ferengi, a big-eared, troll-looking race whose entire society was based on the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, a set of business principles that even human eBay sellers can learn from.

Here are a couple of the rules, in no particular order, and how they can apply to our craft:

Never pay more for an acquisition than you have to. 

This is self explanatory. Buy stuff for a quarter, sell for lots more.

A wise man can hear profit in the wind.

Keep your ears open for new inventory sources.  New inventory means more profit for you.

Never confuse wisdom with luck.

There’s no substitute for experience.  While even a blind rat can find the cheese every once in a while, a truly wise seller knows his inventory, his customers, and his sources.

Good customers are as rare as latinum -- treasure them.

Latinum is the Star Trek equivalent of gold.  Always provide the best customer service that you can.

Beware of the Vulcan greed for knowledge.

You should be careful about disclosing anything about your business.  Too much information can lead to increased competition.

Enough ... is never enough.

Can we ever have enough inventory? Enough profit?

Always know what you're buying.

After two years, I’m still a novice at selling books. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pick up a book, and judge whether it will sell or not without the aid of scouting tools.  Having said that, I’ve picked up the occasional “old” book in hopes that it might be rare, only to find, usually, that I just have a worthless old book on my hands. Therefore, I stick to what I know, or what I can find out with my scouting tools. Have I passed over rare or expensive titles? Probably. But, on the other hand, I haven’t been stuck with worthless inventory. I’m learning, but for now, I’m sticking with what I know best.

Faith moves mountains ... of inventory.

It’s a cliche, but to be successful at anything, you have to have faith in yourself.  The more faith you have in yourself, the more you will be rewarded, both spiritually, and literally.

Deep down everyone's a Ferengi.

You figure it out.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Scott,
    I love this post! I too am an online seller of books and co-incidentally my kids bought me the entire set of Star Trek - The Next Generation for Xmas this year! Even though I don't look like one...I am a Ferengi!