Interesting thread! I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to read it completely (boy you can waffle, Marc!), but here are some notes from me:
I would also love to see more of our 'senior' members on here posting regularly. I have the lucky position of being in regular contact with 'SaleHoo Success Stories' and keeping up with how their businesses are going.
It's a part of my job that I really love and it always makes my day when I get to hear from a member who is doing well and enjoying the fruits of their business.
Many of them are at a level now where there is little that I can offer them in terms of advice, but it's nice to stay in touch.
Just the other day, I got in touch with Amelia who owns Link hidden: Login to view and I gave her some advice on her search engine optimization. She's paying an agency to do the work for her, but I noticed that a few things could improve, so I flicked her an email and told her to speak with her agency. It looks like the necessary changes have been made now, so I'm glad I could help her out.
I've also got a handful of SaleHoo members on my personal LinkedIn account who I like to stay connected with.
I do sometimes ask these members to be more active on SaleHoo and contribute to the forum, but unfortunately, many of them are just super busy running their businesses.
Anyway, as I touched on, though, for many of successful sellers who you could potentially learn from, SaleHoo has gone from a pot of gold of knowledge, to being a service that isn't as useful for them now: They know all the tricks of the trade for selling on eBay/other online markets, they have relationships with suppliers and they now have the experience behind them to make decisions themselves when they are faced with a dilemma.
So, there just isn't as much need for them to come here to the forum (other than to help out other sellers who are starting out, but it's not easy to find the time to do that).
Many of them renew their SaleHoo membership each year just to stay in touch with us which is nice :)
As Marc mentioned, many successful sellers don't dish the details of how their business operates. They worry that others will enter into the same market as them and compete with them.
I completely understand their position on this. I myself, don't let fear of people entering my market worry me.
I sell baby and infant clothing and I often tell newcomers that it's a great market and I suggest that they get into it!
As for your comments about a survey, I have to agree with comments made by Marc: I don't see how a few statistics would help you.
A couple of years ago, I implemented the SaleHoo Seller Spotlight where each month (or at least most months since we started it) we interview a seller - whether they are old, new, successful, not - and shared their answers via the blog.
Have you seen these posts? They are different from our success stories you mentioned.
If you like, just Google "SaleHoo Seller Spotlight" and the posts will come up.
I like some of the questions you proposed and I might start using them in future posts.
How would you like to feature as a seller on our Spotlight post? Email me at email@example.com for some details.
These profiles don't go into the level of detail that you are asking for, but we have done many surveys in the past and find that response rates are low, especially if you ask too many complicated questions.
Anyway, I'm happy to answer the questions you outlined above:
**When did you first seriously start working online?
2006/2007 while in college. I started drop shipping high ticket items from a US supplier to my buyers here in NZ.
**Do you do offline marketing?
Yes, but not for my online retail stuff, for another web-based company I own. I am a member of a business networking group here in Christchurch, NZ. The group is called BNI or Business Networking International. They operate all over the world. I recommend checking them out. It wouldn't be *super* helpful for an online retailer but there are a lot of fringe benefits of being a member.
**Do you do offline sales?
**Do you still work a day job (Marc, do you have a regular 9 to 5?)
If not, how long before you quit your day job?
Yes I do, though I do find it difficult to juggle all the projects I am involved with (online selling/web-based companies) but I like working here too much to change anything at the moment.
Sometimes I take a day off from my slightly crazy life on the weekends by just doing nothing, but then I just get bored.
**Is it just yourself or like Marc, have you partnered up with someone else?
Have tried this, it didn't work out.
**Do you offer services or sell products or both?
Both. I sell baby and infant items mostly but also own 50% of a services based company that has local and international clients.
**If products, how do you source them?
**Do you make more than $500 USD (318 GBP, 474 AUD) a month in profit?
**Do you make more than $1000 USD (637 GBP, 948 AUD) a month in profit?
**What are 3 things that you wish you had known about starting a business?
1. Everything takes twice as much time and twice as much money than you think it will
2. Business and friendships don't mix. I personally would not recommend going into a business with a friend and wish I had have known this around 18 months as a failed partnership cost me around $12k - but that's a whole other thread!
I'm sure they work for plenty of people out there, but if you are looking at getting into this, I suggest you set expectations in stone before you get started. Also list who is responsible for making what decisions - someone needs to be able to make a call - otherwise nothing will get done.
3. It's very difficult - but not impossible - to make a lot of money.
My best advice to anyone who wants to start up any business, regardless of whether it's an eBay business, a law firm or a mechanical work shop would be to work your ass off.
That's all you need to do :)