The Finer Points of Internet Auctions

WHAT IS A PENNY AUCTION?

Penny auctions have exploded in popularity with the massive growth of the internet. However, few people know the true origins of penny auctions.Beginnings actually stretch back to the Great Depression. Those were hard times for everyone, but even harder for farmers. Farmers struggled to bring in steady income because of droughts and crops not selling as well as they had previously. As a result, the banks would foreclose on the farmers who couldn’t keep up with their mortgage payments.

The banks weren’t satisfied with just repossessing the house, they wanted to raise as much capital as possible, so they resorted to selling off the possessions of the owners of the repossessed houses. There was not much the farmers could do about it so they began bidding ridiculously low prices, pennies, on the items while threatening others who dared to bid higher than a few pennies.

The auctions of today hardly resemble their tremulous beginnings. Being part of a penny auction today is exhilarating, fun, and addictive. It combines the selling format of auctioning with a little bit of chance factored in.Auctions are a game of strategy but also a game of luck.

The premise behind penny auctions is giving people the chance to win an item at a drastically reduced price.Auctions make that possible by spreading out the cost of the product among multiple bidders. In order for a person to take part in an auction, they must pay a set price for each bid. For example, if a person wanted to bid on a fifty dollar Amazon gift card then he would spend a dollar for each time a bid placed. If he ended up winning the gift card, then he would only have spent a few dollars for a fifty dollar gift card. Usually penny auctions sell bids in packages.

HOW PENNY AUCTIONS WORK!

The main foundation of penny auctions is the pay-per-bid format. It is the key that allows bidders to win items at the fraction of their retail value and allows the auction owners to keep their site profitable. Most y auction sites run on the same premise: people pay a set amount for each bid, whenever a person places a bid within the closing seconds of the auction time will be added, the last person left with a unique bid after the clocks runs out will win the item. There are a large variety of items that can be won, but they tend to be popular electronics or gift cards to popular stores.

There are two types of auctions: lowest unique bid auction and highest unique bid auction. Lowest unique auction sounds confusing but it is actually quite simple. A unique bid is when only one person has a bid at a certain price. Bids usually start at one penny, a bidder can then place a bid at two pennies. Until another bidder places a higher bid, the most recent bidder will be the lowest unique bid because that was the only bid at two cents and nobody bid higher. However, penny auctions generally don’t stop at one penny. It is not uncommon to find auctions that end up at a couple hundred dollars based on the popularity of the item being auctioned. However, the same principles apply for those auctions. Highest unique bid auctions follow the more traditional auction format such as eBay. The person with the highest bid at the end of the auction wins the item.

Auction site owners turn a profit by selling bids. Say twenty people are bidding on a ten dollar gift card at one dollar per bid, at the end of the auction if there were twenty bids placed in total then the site owner would have made twenty dollars with a ten dollar profit.Auctions do seem like a win-win situation:The site owner makes money while the bidder gets an item for dirt cheap. However, not everyone wins in penny auctions. The people who paid one dollar each bid but left with nothing to show for their investments will not be so happy.

HOW TO WIN!

Penny auction has a lot of chance mixed into it, but one can incorporate strategy that will help raise the chances of winning. Playing smart can make all the difference between gambling and auctioning.

The first crucial tip to winning penny auctions is to know how to manage your bids. Your goal should be to win as much as possible without spending a ton of money buying bids. Managing your bids means that you should already know how much you are willing to risk in order to win an item. The amount of capital you are willing to risk will determine how many bids you can use. Once you know how many bids you have to spend on an item, then you will be better able to manage how and when you place a bid. That will keep you from blowing away all of your bids in the first few seconds of the auction.

The next tip is to practice time management. When fighting in the trenches of penny auctions, you have two enemies: other bidders and time. Knowing when to bid is a must if you want to have success. Placing a bid when there is a lot of time left on the clock is never a good idea. You have to remember that the key to winning a penny auction is being the last one standing when the clock runs out and that each bid increases the amount of time left. It would be a good practice to wait until the last few minutes of the auction before you begin to bid.

The final tip for successful auctioning is to keep your emotions under control.Auctions have a lot of similarities to gambling, and just like gambling, your spending can get out of control. If you keep your emotions level, it will keep you from making rash decisions and blowing loads of cash. Keep your mind clear so that you can gage the behavior of the other bidders and outsmart them.

HOW TO AVOID SCAM SITES!

Penny auctions are a great addition to the web whether you want to win an item that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to afford or if you simply enjoy the thrill that comes with bidding in auctions. Unfortunately, scam sites have tarnished the reputation of the legitimate penny auction sites. However, there are ways that you can protect yourself from scamers and enjoy your auctioning without having to worry about losing your money due to dishonesty.

Checking the reputation of the auction site before you start spending your hard earned money is always a good idea. Chances are other people have tried the site before you and some of them have left reviews. The reviews are your way to gage whether a auction site is trustworthy or not. If a site is getting overwhelmingly negative reviews, then that is a clear indication that you should steer your business elsewhere.

Another tool you can use to protect yourself is checking the Alexia ranks of the auction sites. Alexia rank will give a solid view of how much traffic the auction is getting. If you see a huge difference in the amount of traffic Alexia is projecting and the amount of active bidders on the site, then warning signals should be ringing in your head. Some auction sites have been known to set up robots that automatically bid on projects in order to keep the auction going and inflate the price. That is known as shill bidding. You can sniff out those sites by comparing the traffic the site should be getting to the amount of users using this site.

CONCLUSION!

New legislation may come out later down the road that will officially make penny auctions gambling, but until then, it is a fun, exciting auction that allows one to win the item they’ve always wanted but couldn’t afford.Auctions are also quite lucrative for the site owners because of the pay-per-bid strategy they’ve incorporated. Penny auctions had humble beginnings with farmers who just wanted to get back at the banks who kicked them out of their house. More recently, auctions have enjoyed an explosion in popularity with the rise of the internet.

There are two main formats fora auctions, lowest and highest unique auction, however they both run on the same premise where the last unique bid wins the item. Winning a penny auction will require a certain amount of mental tactic and a bit of luck. However, you can increase your odds of winning by practicing certain techniques such as managing your bids wisely, learning how to work with the time, and keeping a level head and your emotions under control. When you combine those three strategies to your bidding plan, you will find that you win a lot more often.

It is important that you do your due diligence to protect yourself when participating in auctions. Not every auction is run by honest and trustworthy people. There are people out there who just want to take your money. You can protect yourself by ensuring that you only bid on sites that already have a very positive reputation from real users.

Business Ethics – Why Are They Important in Small Business?

Rarely is there the individual who does not encounter an ethical or moral dilemma at some point in his or her business life. Whether that individual is the owner of a multinational corporation, a small business entrepreneur, or a new or established employee, everyone is likely to have to face such an instance eventually. Much like a personal ethical dilemma, an individual is faced with making a decision based on how it will affect not only himself, but on how it will effect the organization as a whole. One of the major problems when dealing with an ethical dilemma in business is that individuals are often swayed by business profits and the legality of a decision.

The Institute of Business Ethics, whose slogan is “doing business ethically makes for better business”, describes the term business ethics as such.

Business ethics is the application of ethical values to business behaviour. It applies to any and all aspects of business conduct, from boardroom strategies and how companies treat their suppliers to sales techniques and accounting practices. Ethics goes beyond the legal requirements for a company and is, therefore, discretionary. Business ethics applies to the conduct of individuals and to the conduct of the organisation as a whole. It is about how a company does its business, how it behaves intrinsically.

As clear as this definition is, it is certainly open to interpretation. Therefore it must be understood that the application of business ethics to any situation is entirely subjective.

One can also understand business ethics, and ethics of any kind, as applying a sense of fairness to a situation. Even with a sense of clarity applied to the use of business ethics, reaching a just and moral decision can be a complex process for most individuals. The subject of business ethics has been a source of great debate in recent years as the heads of major (and minor) corporations are revealed as less than ethical characters both in the way they do business and in their personal conduct. However, it may be said that any individual who does not practice business ethics cannot be personally ethical even though the reverse may not also be true. Ethics in generally has a long history of applications. Centuries ago a man’s ethical practices defined who he was as an individual. However, as populations grew, the necessity for incorporating the best business practices into a company became somehow less important because there was always another customer around the corner and the owner of a business was rarely the focus of attention in a community the way he or she may have been in the past. A company’s administration took a seat in the background and hired representatives to deal with any fallout. Ethics rely on several factors, one of the most important of which is culture. Again, like the business person of the past, a culture’s ethics practices will largely depend upon the value that is placed on them. Business ethics have the unappealing conflict of often being contrary to what is legal. Often what is “right” is not necessarily what is legal, and a business must consider this conflict when making ethical judgments. Although there are many in the business world who believe that a business has no room for ethics if it is to function competitively, the numbers of corporate whistleblowers indicate that there is still room for ethics in business.

Western societies place a great deal of emphasis on success. However, in business, there are often conflicts between ethical behavior and business success. This disparity is often multiplied for the small business owner. To compete with larger businesses, it may be tempting to abandon ethics just to make an adequate profit. Additionally, the small business person is relatively autonomous in his or her decision making; he or she does not have to answer to a large employee base or a corporate governing board. It is also interesting to note that the small business leader often has his or her decisions impact a greater number of individuals than does the employee of the small business. For instance, a small business owner may have his or her decision affect his or her customer base as well as his or her employee base. The employee will likely find that his or her decision will only directly impact his or her immediate circle of coworkers. However, the pressure to succeed is both an internal and an external pressure and often leads individuals to make ethical decisions that are based more on those pressures than their own moral judgment. As consumers grow wary of those that they do business with, one must understand that there is just cause for such wariness. The cynical American consumer has learned, often the hard way, that there is little room in business for ethics. In a society where the customer used to be king, the consumer has more often than not experienced several distasteful experiences with business both large and small.

Some experts argue that any focus on profitability is bound to test the limits of ethical practices. They assert that to assume that the primary function of a business is to serve its client base in an ethical manner is idealistic and that the nature of a free economy dictates that ethics must take a back seat to increasing profits. Although it is rarely the conscious intent of a business to harm the public interest, reality dictates that the businesses ability to increase profits will determine its success. Publicly owned companies experience extra pressure in this arena. It is difficult to draw investors to a company based on its ethics. Investors are looking for a return on their investment and ethical performance does not equal dollars. There are economists that assert that, in any competitive economy, ethics are impossible to uphold; that a company can legitimately bypass ethics with the excuse that unethical practices are the only way to make a profit.

Unlike the larger corporations, the small business leader is in a unique position to shape the ethical practices of his or her business. Small businesses have a smaller employee base to police when applying ethical policies than do larger businesses. It is important to understand that, similar to the ethical dilemmas of the large corporations, although an individual surely knows the difference between the correct ethical decision and the wrong road, the choice to throw ethics to the wind is often made because the unethical choice is more profitable. This may, however, happen much less often in smaller organizations because the individual or individuals who are harmed by the unethical decision and someone is always harmed, is more visible to the small business. Major corporations and their decision making machines are often far removed from the individuals that their immoral and/or unethical decisions effect. This may make the wrong decision much easier to make.

The unique position that the small business owner is in regarding the formation of an ethics policy yields a great responsibility. A proactive business leader formulates a statement of organizational values that employees of the company are expected to embrace – at least while performing duties in the service of the company. An organizational ethics policy is an announcement to the employees, the customer base and the community as a whole that the business is prepared to conduct itself and its practices on an ethical level. Such statements invite the respect of all parties involved in doing business with such an entity. However, it is imperative that the small business owner not make the same mistake that larger organizations often do; the ethical policies that a business develops must not be in conflict with the organizational goals. It is unethical in itself to develop an ethical policy that an employee cannot possibly follow and maintain his or her employment. When faced with the decision between an ethical decision and his or her job, an employee will almost always choose the job.

Therefore the policy must be in reasonable alignment with the organizational goals of the business. It is equally important, and maybe more so, that the small business leader lead by example. Employees, especially in a smaller organization, are less likely to conduct themselves ethically if they receive implicit permission not to. The end result of such a practice is that the small business owner can be assured that he or she is conducting business in a manner that encourages the trust of his or her customers as well as his or her employees. And since consumers have become very wary of doing business with an entity they feel they cannot trust, the small business can enjoy the profits of a loyal customer base. The small business owner has an advantage over the larger corporations in that it can elicit the trust of the consumer by applying ethical business practices that give the customer the feel of an equal business relationship rather than one where the consumer buys based on need alone. There are many that believe that such practices are capable of drawing business away from the large corporate entities and back into a customer-focused business format.

How Important Is the Fundraising Auctioneer to the Success of Your Event?

I want you to think about the term “Fundraising Auction”.

A “Fundraising Auction” is an event where items of value are gathered, and then sold in a competitive bidding situation, either in a Silent Auction format, or in a Live Auction format by a Live Auctioneer. And since typically the best items are saved for the Live Auction, arguably it is the Live Auction that should generate a significant portion of the proceeds in any Fundraising Auction.

So why do so many non-profit groups consider the Fundraising Auctioneer to be the least valuable component in a Fundraising Auction?

The Hosting Facility gets paid.
The Printer gets paid.
The Caterer gets paid.
The Liquor Store gets paid.
The DJ gets paid.
The Florist gets paid.
But the Auctioneer … the individual who is expected to raise the lion’s share of the event’s proceeds… is expected to work for Free. And is usually under-appreciated for the professional services he/she provides.

I’m not trying to underscore the value of the invitations & programs, food, booze, music, and decorations. All are important in their own way. But each of these are “Expenses”. It is the Auctioneer who is going to bring “Revenue”… and thus, the “Profits”… into any event. Which is the ultimate objective of any Fundraising Auction.

Here is a real-life example of how under-appreciated the Auctioneer can be. In two comparable events we worked last year, during the dinner portion of the event one non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) at a table with the DJ, the Interns, the Volunteer Staff, and other event “Help”. The 2nd non-profit group sat the Auctioneer (me) directly next to the CEO of their organization, where we chatted about how important the pending revenue would be to their organization. Which group do you think valued the services of the Fundraising Auctioneer more?

Don’t ever under-estimate the value that a professional Fundraising Auctioneer can bring to your event. The Auctioneer adds value as a pre-event consultant. And the Auctioneer can change an event from a moderate to a huge success.

A Case Study Once I was scheduled to call an Auction for a major local non-profit group. They represented a very good cause and they had a strong and dedicated following. Their event was sold out, quality Live & Silent Auction items had been solicited, and the Special Pledge Appeal had been choreographed and was ready to go. The facility was first class, the appropriate caterer was booked, and the food was ready to cook.

But quite unexpectedly, some unseasonably inclement weather forced the event’s cancellation. Despite all of the committee’s hard work, cancelling the event was the proper decision considering the circumstances.

So the Event Committee scrambled to re-schedule the event for the following weekend.

They confirmed with the Hosting Facility.
They confirmed with the Caterer.
They confirmed with the Liquor Store.
They confirmed with the DJ.
They confirmed with the Florist.
Since they already had the Mailing List of those scheduled to attend, no new invitations had to be printed as all were contacted by email or telephone. So with everything in place, the group went ahead and re-scheduled the event for the following weekend.

But guess who they failed to confirm? You got it… the Professional Auctioneer. They thought so little of the Auctioneer’s contribution that they “assumed” that the Auctioneer would be available and at their beck and call.

But the Auctioneer already had another Fundraising Auction booked for that date with another non-profit group. It was only hour away from the re-scheduled event, and things could have been easily worked out. All Group #1 had to do was start their event one hour earlier, or one hour later, than the Group #2, and the Auctioneer could have helped both groups on the same day.

But because Group #1 failed to anticipate a possible Auctioneer conflict, because they failed to confirm with the Auctioneer before re-scheduling their event, their preferred Auctioneer had to bow out and they had to scramble to locate substitute “Volunteer” Auctioneer only days before their event.

And it cost them.

Learning Points

The Live Auction is usually where the profits are made at any Fundraising Auction.
A Professional Fundraising Auctioneer can be vital to the success of any Fundraising Auction.
The better Fundraising Auctioneers usually get booked quickly.
You need to recognize the important contributions that a good Auctioneer can make to your event.
Michael Ivankovich is a Bucks County Fundraising Auctioneer based in Doylestown PA, and serves the Great Philadelphia PA area. He has been a professionally licensed and bonded Auctioneer in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, has been named Pennsylvania’s Auctioneer of the Year, and has considerable experience in conducting Fundraising Auctions. Michael loves helping groups raise needed funds for good causes and one of his specialties is the “Special Pledge Appeal” or “Fund-A-Cause Appeal” which usually enables clients to double their revenue in a single evening.