How to start a small motorcycle business with little experience

At some point in time, almost everyone has an idea or a dream of a business ¬†opportunity they would like to pursue. There is always one dream job everyone longs for, but only a lucky few get it. Nobody wants to end up doing something they don’t enjoy too much for the rest of their lives just to pay the bills. For me, my dream job would be building customized motorcycles for people, or even being able to design and build my own brand. However, thats a really long shot for anyone, especially someone who isn’t even out of high school yet. I figure if I am going to set my sights on building motorcycles, I need to start somewhere, and without the right tools or knowledge to consistently build bikes, I seem to be at a dead end. So, I decided to parallel my dream job with a similar one that may eventually lead into it, like a new sailor learning to aspire to be a captain.

After lots of thought, I figure the best thing for me to do is go ahead and get myself into the business. My thoughts are to start small and sell cheap bikes. Basically, I would be flipping bikes as a business. I talked to a friend, and have a partner to venture into this with. That way, we can split the costs of everything and hopefully get a head start above those wishing to do the same just with less money. To start off, we figured we could both put in a couple thousand dollars into the pot and use it to purchase several small dirt bikes or motorcycles. Our goal would be to find bikes in good condition that don’t need much, and talk the seller down to a point where we can mark the bike up enough again to make a substantial profit when we sell it. I have purchased many bikes over the years from private sellers, and I have two rules that have always worked for me: Don’t buy the bike if you have doubts about selling it again in its condition or if it will cost an arm and a leg to fix, and never give the seller their asking price. It is a tried and true method and I think it would be wise to stick with it throughout this trial period.

Once we have acquired several motorbikes, the next step would be to clean them up. This is a very essential part in order to sell them again. Not many people will buy bikes that look old and ragged or beat up, so it is necessary to polish them up in whatever way we can. This means plastic polish, new plastics if need be, power wash everything, and make sure the tires are in good shape. That last part is key. The tires on a bike can show how that bike was treated and maintained, so if the tires are in good condition the buyer will usually feel more relaxed when considering a purchase. In some cases, I have just flipped the tire around on dirt bikes so that the knobbies on the tires have sharp edges that can dig into the dirt, while the older worn side of the knobbies is no longer being used. When cleaning these bikes up, things that are broken need to be fixed or replaced before selling them. The most common parts that need replacing on dirt bikes from my experience are the handlebar levers and the grips. Replacing these parts on any bike will go a long way when trying to sell them again, because a rider puts his hands directly on those parts when he or she rides. If these parts are new or aftermarket and sleek, it makes the overall feel of the bike become new and more solid than it would if these parts were broken or worn down. When taking care of the plastics, plastic polish works like a dream and makes the bike look like it just came off the floor. A good substitute for polish is Simple Green, which is another cleaner. Simply dilute the simple green with water to the consistency and strength you need to take care of your bike, and spray it on with a spray bottle after wetting the plastic. Let it sit for a minute, and then wipe it down with a rag before rinsing off with water. It works like a charm for me. Getting rid of all dirt, everywhere, even in the hard to reach places, is very important. Just take the extra 10 minutes to clean it and you could make the sale a lot easier. This is why investing in a power washer is a good idea, it makes the job go a lot faster.

Once I get the bikes cleaned up, the next step is to take pictures and post them on sites used to sell them where they will be seen. I always use as many details about the bike as possible when talking about them, as it means less questions from the buyer, which means less trouble and less time for you. This is the part where the price of the bike is raised to give you a substantial profit. However, you have to be very careful with this. Placing the price too high will divert attention from your item, and people who see that you are selling items for higher prices than anywhere else won’t start to look at the items you post for sale anymore. I would suggest you to consider how much you paid for the bike, how much work went into it an the price of the parts, and how much profit you would like to make. Got it? Good, now add about $200-$500, using your common sense to determine if anyone would purchase a bike for this much, or if they would consider it for a hundred less than what you’re asking. By doing this, you give yourself a safety buffer. I say this because most buyers hate paying the listed price, so they will lowball you to a point where you cringe. Ive had people offer me $1,500 below my asking price. If they lowball you and give an offer that is say a few hundred below what you were originally looking for, haggle and find the middle value. Haggling is a big part of this business, and over time with practice a person can become very good at it. So to sum it all up, lets say you buy a bike for $1,500 and put $300 of parts and work into it. You want to sell it for $2,000 and make a $200 profit on it. So then you mark it up to $2,300 or so. You post it, and someone sees it and they like it, but its just out of their price range. Then you wait three days or so, and lower the price to $2,200. The person who was interested before will look at it again and see the price is coming down. They would think they are getting it for a deal, while you’re really getting double the profit you wanted. If they try and haggle, 90% of the time you will end up with at least the original profit margin you decided on. It just takes time and practice to get good at haggling, but when you do get good at it, the deals are pretty satisfying.

After selling several bikes, the profits could have increased to the point where my partner and I have made enough money to buy another motorcycle with the profits we have made on top of the several bikes we could purchase with the money we get back from the sales. So, now instead of having three bikes at a time, we could use the profits we made from those three to buy a fourth. With this extra bike to sell, the profits would only increase if everything was done right. After repeating this process another time, another bike could be bought, increasing the number of bikes being sold to five. over time, the pool of money of all the money we get back from a sale plus the profits could be  two or three times what we started with. At this point, new problems may spring up. These range from transportation, extra and unexpected costs, and storage, just to name a few. All of these problems may not cost a lot of money, they may just take a lot of time and thought, or vice versa, so my partner and I would need to be ready for anything.

With a lot of hard work and extreme patience, combined with extensive planning, I think this idea could pan out. I certainly hope it does! If anyone has any advice or constructive criticism please comment or email me!

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