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bootstrapper thread

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So I had a lot of PMs in response to my story about the family member that we helped get back on his feet. Rather than respond individually to you all, much as I’d love to, I just don’t have the time. So, I’m starting this thread to be a catch-all and be a community event.

 

I’ve got nothing to gain here, there is so much opportunity out there to do this type of stuff in a variety of geographic and demographic. You can do it with $500 or $500,000.

 

So don’t worry about crossing swords.

 

A few of the questions:

 

Q: In your post you indicated that you wrote $500 on each day of the calendar...was that the profit goal for each day?

A: The goal was to essentially buy product that would yield $500 in profit each day, not necessarily buy a certain value amount. For example, you could buy 5 iPad for $100 profit a piece or buy one jet ski that had $500 profit in it. Not so much about volume of transaction, about margin.

 

Q: you also said that each day you bankrolled him $5000...was his goal to buy $5000 worth of "product" every day? or simply the cash made available to him?

A: No. Not necessarily, but sometimes on big ticket items he needed $5K to jump start the day or a transaction. Only rarely did we consume all $5K, I think maybe once or twice to buy a car.

 

Q: what was the daily purchasing goal?

A: None.

 

Q: what was spent gross earning the $17k?

A: $42,000 was the total spend

 

Q: Is the bread and butter in smaller things like cell phones and computers?

or larger things like used cars?

A: Bread and butter are the following, with stars on the heavy volume items

 

* $5000 and under passenger cars

* Motorcycles of every price

Recreation vehicles (Jet skiis, boats, RVs, travel trailers)

Bicycles of every type, especially high-end offroad and onroad cycles

Oakley and other brand high-end sunglasses

Women's purses (ultra-highend only)

Time Shares, low-end only

Land (acreage only, no houses)

Rims and Tires

Laptops (current models only)

* iPhones, iPads, and all other Apple branded products

Flat televisions

Guns

Safes

Broken Gold

Consoles (Xbox, Playstations, etc) and video games

High-end furniture in excellent condition

Trailer, car haulers

* Car accessories, model specific (Think :BMW 328 hard top, or Lamborghini Glass bonnet, but not "wheels that fit any year Ford"

Bose sound equipment (any year, this stuff is hot)

* Rolex and lambda lambda lambda and the omega mu watches 

Legos 

Products that are industrial or highly technical in nature, with limited scope of users. 

Generators, gas and LP powered

Businesses that are going out of business

Diamonds *careful*

* Ultra-high end appliances (new price of $2000+)

Forklifts

* Collectibles (the weirder, the better)

Dirt-dirt-dirt cheap event tickets or gift cards (10% or less of the face value)

 

Q: What kind of mark up are you shooting to attain? 25%? 50%? 100%+?

A:Not necessarily a percentage, just as much as possible. I used this as a guide: $100 or less: double the money. $500 or more, 50% on a 7-day turn rate.

 

Q: Same city CL relist or nearby city?

A: Same city, unless it was an eBay sale or unless it was much more appropriate out of town (buy a snow blower in Houston, sell it in Minneapolis for example)

 

Q: Wait a period of time before relisting?

A: Immediately relist it.

 

Q: What are the best most readily available and easy to sell items?

A: Apple Products, cheap cars and motorcycles

 

Q: DO you ever get stuck with merchandise that you cant move?

A: Haven’t yet. Sure I will

 

Q:How can you decide what to pay for items?

A: This is the tough part. Use your mojo, or if you don’t have any mojo then use eBay, it’ generally a good starting point. Don’t buy anything you don’t know what to pay for. :D

 

Are you looking to pay half of the going retail or some fixed number?

A: You have to find the right mix for your area. Don’t spend a ton of time trying to figure it out. Just go buy a bunch of stuff and try it out. If you are uncomfortable with that, stick to Apple products only - as they are extremely easy to sell and even easier easy to buy.

 

Q: Do you test purchases on the premises?

A: Yes

 

Q:All offers are face to face?

A: This is sort of the magic beans. You don’t want to waste your time running all around town, but at the same time you need to set the expectations for the seller. I don’t have the answer for this, but I will tell you that when I offer $500 for an item worth $1000 over the phone, I almost always get the item for $300 when I show up with cash. Make sense?

 

Q: $5k total for a month or daily?

A: Again, it’s a function of cash. The more you have, the more you can buy.

 

Q: Do you lowball people?

A: That's the whole point. 85% of the people will hang up on you. 15% will sell you something. You do the math. If you don't like rejection you'll fail, because it's 85% "go screw yourself" responses.

 

Next, I'll post up some thoughts on theory and what works well, if there's adequate interest.

 

 

 

 

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Are you doing the footwork driving around town?

 

Do you try to line up deals and make a reasonably logical path to go to each deal (assuming multiple purchases in a day)? Or do you get there asap to scoop up the deal before someone else does?

 

Do you gradually lower price if something doesn't move or try to set a price point to get it out the door quickly?

 

Cheers.

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Are you doing the footwork driving around town?

 

Do you try to line up deals and make a reasonably logical path to go to each deal (assuming multiple purchases in a day)? Or do you get there asap to scoop up the deal before someone else does?

 

Do you gradually lower price if something doesn't move or try to set a price point to get it out the door quickly?

 

Do you place WTB ads? Or just search the FS listings?

Cheers.

 

No I'm not doing the footwork on mundane items. I line them up and send a driver. I have an iPhone application where I can just upload address, price and item description- and automatically re-routes if a new item pops up more logically.. It works pretty well on easy things. On big ticket items I'll go and vet the product and seller.

 

Sure, it's all about the haggle, I'll lower the price if it's getting dusty- but again it's not about the product so much as it is the seller. Finding desperate sellers is the key to the kingdom.

 

No WTB ads at all. I just have written a script that finds all of the keywords that I'm looking for, and spits out the content into a spreadsheet. Keywords are stuff like "mortgage, divorce, rent, desperate, must+sell, need+to+sell, late on rent, OBO, pregnant girlfriend, fire sale... then by category, I can pick out pretty quickly. Out of 100 listings, you can normally steal 20% of them.

 

I think a programmer could write a very slick tool that would isolate all of my though patterns and my Buy-dar. I find, after a while of doing it, that I can sense the urgency in their typing; which is very helpful. Instead of long, flowing articulate paragraphs and description- the people that MUST sell are using short, choppy sentences, if they use gramatical structure at all. Usually, if it's written in TXT format or whatever they hell they call it- that's a for-sure buy.

 

Today we bought an SLK230 for $3000, a $5000 Bose system for $1800 and six iPhones for $600. Was a good day. But it always seems to get good around the middle of the month.

 

--joe

 

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What are your keywords for cars?

 

Must+Sell, payoff, mortgage, divorce, pay+off, bank loan, hurry, pregnant, daughter, college, son, rent, leather, needs+tires, extended+warranty, moving, need+to+sell, needing to sell, needs to sell, don't+want+to+sell, selling+friend and all of the variations thereof.

 

Mortgage and Must+Sell account for 75% or better of all of the car leads. Under: Craigslist>ForSale>Cars&Trucks>By Owner

 

 

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http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/2592508638.html

 

This ad has all your calling cards. Go see it and offer him $4500 cash in hand?

 

*BINGO* look at the construction worker helmet, listed in Inland Empire/Corona. 951 area code. HE bought it new in 2003. That work truck hasn't seen mileage in 2 years. He's living in a $450K house so his mortgage is $4000 a month. That truck can be purchased for $4000 to $4500. GET THE TITLE before you leave!

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Would you spill some magic beans on what you use to lower the price. I have a friend who deals cars and he would always point out everything that was wrong, from the tiniest things... worked out for him quite well in the end.

 

 

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Would you spill some magic beans on what you use to lower the price. I have a friend who deals cars and he would always point out everything that was wrong, from the tiniest things... worked out for him quite well in the end.

 

I don't have a secret passcode to get them to drop the price. All I know is that if they're talking about having to pay a mortgage, keep mentioning it. If they're talking about paying tuition, keep mentioning it. Bring it up, over and over. Get close to, but not over, the line of being obnoxious. With cars, you have to be very careful. It's easy to hide a lot of problems even from pros. I'd stay away from cars, unless you know precisely how to manage the sale end of it. Stick with $500-1000 items that you can make $100-200 a day on.

 

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Dang Joe! Not my line of work, but this is very awesome of you to help so many people!

I know what Im going to do if I ever need a new profession!

 

 

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When you sell items like laptops, iPhones, etc. do you have a standard meeting area (e.g. a Walgreens around the corner) or do you just have them come to your house?

 

I don't do heavy selling on Craigslist, but I always meet somewhere public with security cameras ... maybe I am just paranoid. Selling lots of stuff like this would get old having to drive somewhere all the time.

 

 

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When you sell items like laptops, iPhones, etc. do you have a standard meeting area (e.g. a Walgreens around the corner) or do you just have them come to your house?

 

I don't do heavy selling on Craigslist, but I always meet somewhere public with security cameras ... maybe I am just paranoid. Selling lots of stuff like this would get old having to drive somewhere all the time.

 

Generally speaking, if it's during the day we'll offer to come pick it up. If it's evening or night, yeah just meet at Walgreens or something.

 

Sure, it gets old. But it's $15K a month if you hustle. I don't see it as something you can get rich doing- I'm not getting at that, at all. I'm trying to help people who are down on their luck and need some cash flow. There's a natural bottleneck that exists around $60K a month in sales. If you are doing $2,000 a day in sales that means you have to buy ten $200 items and that's tough to do IMHO. Like I said, you're not gonna get rich making $20K a month but it beats hustling drugs or doing something stupid.

 

What I've noticed is that $200 in profit in a day is easy, you can do that with your eyes closed, 3 or 4 hours a day. $1,000 a day is a good day's work. $2,000 in profit is very, very hard to do for one guy.

 

TC- It's a lot like a pawn shop, but instead of people walking into the pawn shop with their tail between their legs, they get to maintain a little bit of pride.

 

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http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/2592508638.html

 

This ad has all your calling cards. Go see it and offer him $4500 cash in hand?

 

Doesn't say, but likely 2wd, and doesn't mention mileage. I personally own a higher end variation of that truck (couple years newer, diesel/auto, 4x4 crew cab)

 

If you decide to go see it this weekend let me know, i'm around corona quite a bit and know a lot of the tell tale issues with them.

 

You're a good guy for posting all this Joe! :icon_pray:

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If anybody wants to give it a try, I will run the script and spend a few minutes pointing you at some gems. Just indicate how much $ you want to spend, city and state and I'll reply on the thread with a few winners. No scooping up other people's leads. :-)

 

--joe

 

 

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So I picked up this little gem this morning. Paid $3500 for it. Worth $7000 in a pinch. Guy was just sick to sell it for that. Tough.

 

Could probably sell it today for $5K.

 

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Great post Joe, very interesting.

 

 

Just wondering, how does this affect you as a person, is it tiresome/stressful/... or anything like that (having to search for products, right price, inspect the product, pick it up, don't get screwed over yourself,...) . I'm sure you got a perfect eye after all these years so maybe you can tell how does it affect the friend you helped out?

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Doesn't say, but likely 2wd, and doesn't mention mileage. I personally own a higher end variation of that truck (couple years newer, diesel/auto, 4x4 crew cab)

 

If you decide to go see it this weekend let me know, i'm around corona quite a bit and know a lot of the tell tale issues with them.

 

You're a good guy for posting all this Joe! :icon_pray:

Your a true gentleman, I left several messages but he never call back.

 

 

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