Welcome to Full-Time FBA

arrow-blue-outline-rightWelcome! On this blog, we talk about our journey towards making FBA our full-time job. We give out free tips and tricks to help you make the most of your time, money, and resources. If you want to subscribe, just fill out the form over on the right side of the screen.

Seller Central Cover Mini x3To show you our appreciation, we’d like to give you a free download link to our newest book, Seller Central Tips: Reimbursements, Refunds, and How To Correct Other Possible Amazon Glitches. When you confirm your subscription, the download link will magically show up in your inbox.

By the way, we hate spam as much as you do, so we only send you stuff that will help you make FBA your full-time job! Let us know if you have any questions.

Stephen & Rebecca Smotherman

Summer is Coming – Is Your FBA Business Ready?

diary-entry-9-vacationWe’re all about being prepared here at Full-Time FBA, so we’re starting to look ahead to the month of June and a huge change that happens in our business every year: the end of the school year. 

The reason the end of school signals a huge change for our business is that it is a huge change for our household.  And as we all know, when you run a business out of your house, changes in the household can dramatically affect your business. With four boys ages 8 to 14 in our house, summertime is kids’ time — but it DOES NOT have to be crazy, chaotic, I-just-want-this-season-to-end time!

SCHOOLS OUT KIDSFor other parents of children who are on the traditional school schedule, you know exactly what we mean. The month of May is usually your last full month (for a while) to be able to work on your FBA business while your kids are off at school. Come June, you’ll need to find a new FBA work schedule that works best for you and your kids. Maybe you can hire a sitter to come play with them a few hours a day so you can get some work done, or maybe you can implement some of your older kids into some of your daily FBA tasks.

No matter what you decide to do, making sure you have a plan in place before school lets out will help set you up to succeed a lot more than just winging it on the first day of summer.

If you need ideas for how to involve your kids in your FBA business, here are just a few:

Younger Kids

Electronic-Toddler-Toys* Let them turn on electronic toys to make sure they still work, and when done, make sure they are turned off (so the toy doesn’t accidentally get activated during shipping).

* Have them hand you items on the bottom of a retail shelf (so you don’t have to bend down over and over again).

* Send them to a nearby price scanner to make sure something is ringing up right or to check a price when there isn’t one.

* Have them transfer items from the shopping cart to the cashier conveyor belt.

* Teach them to sort like items together before you list or inventory them.

Older Kids

* Have them put FBA stickers over UPC bar codes.

* Have them put suffocation-warning stickers on poly-bags.

DSC04621* Teach them to cut and organize coupons for your grocery, health, and beauty items.

* Send them to get shipping supplies (boxes, bubble envelopes, packing tape, etc) from the garage or closet when it’s time to pack and ship.

* If you find a great item in one store, have them be on the look out for the same item in the next store that you go to. It’s amazing what they’ll find from their shorter point of view!

* Send them to find a cashier if you need a price check.

* Let them test used video games to make sure disks or cartridges are working properly. This is the Smotherman kids’ favorite task!

Teenagers

By the time your kids get to be teenagers, you potentially have excellent employees living right under your roof. You could teach them to do any number of tasks, including the following:

* Removing price stickers.

teen box* Packing shipments.

* Taking product photos.

* Editing product photos.

* Researching products for item descriptions and key words.

* Shrink wrapping or poly-bagging.

* Unloading the car after a big haul.

* Counting to make sure collectible board games have all the pieces.

* Building a Lego set or putting together a puzzle to make sure all the pieces are present.

Teaching Kids About MoneyNot only does involving your kids in your FBA business keep them occupied and allow you time to work, it’s also an excellent opportunity for you to impart entrepreneurial vision to your children, show them a solid work ethic, and teach them how to manage the money they earn (you are paying your kids when they work for you, right?).

In our book, Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with Your Online Business, Stephen and I talk about the countless ways we include the kids in our FBA business. From the kids helping you here and there to you actually training and hiring them for certain activities, you don’t always have to be away from your kids while you are getting your FBA work completed.

Now it’s your turn to share a little. Do you have kids at home while you do your FBA business? Do you homeschool? Are you stressing over the end of the school year? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

The 3 Most Common (And Wasteful!) Mistakes Sellers Make With Their Amazon Listings

This blog article comes from my friend Karon Thackston. You might remember her from this popular guest blog post last year about keywords in listings. Karon is back again with even more helpful insights into creating quality Amazon listings that bring in more customers and more sales. 

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The 3 Most Common (And Wasteful!) Mistakes Sellers Make With Their Amazon Listings

You only have to write so many product listings before you start to see a pattern. That’s how it has been at Marketing Words over the last few years. I thought it would be helpful to outline some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen when it comes to writing your listing and using keywords.

Mistake #1: Not Using Keywords Correctly

Amazon isn’t like Google. With Google, there is a certain amount of repetition of keywords and phrases. On Amazon, however, you do not need to repeat keywords throughout your listing. Because they don’t understand this, many sellers are ruining the way their copy sounds as they try to rank higher on Amazon. Use the keyword once and Amazon’s got it.

That includes your Search Terms fields. If the keyword is in the title, brand, manufacturer and UPC, you do not need to include it in your search terms. It is a waste of space that could be used for additional, traffic-driving keywords.

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Last, we see countless folks inserting keyPHRASES into the search terms fields instead of keyWORDS. Amazon doesn’t work with phrases. They use literal keywords. Putting something like:

natural dog treats
100% wholesome dog treats
beef dog treats
dog treats made in the usa
nutritious dog treats

… leaves lots of wasted room that could accommodate other keywords. Because we don’t need to repeat keywords and we do need to use individual keywords (not whole phrases), this should be reworked to this:

natural dog treats 100% wholesome beef made in the usa nutritious

That’s 50 characters in the first field and 14 in the second. With five fields at 50 characters each (a total of 250 characters) that leaves you with 186 characters. If we remove any keywords that are included in our product name (aka, title) we’ll have even more room. Here comes more traffic!

Mistake #2: Not Differentiating Your Products From The Competition

Think about your own shopping experience on Amazon. You show up on the site to search for olive oil and vinegar sets. I just did a search for that term and here’s what came up…

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When I was scrolling down the page, it didn’t take me long to figure out that they all appear pretty much the same. What if they gave some additional information or used words that were more enticing?

Here are some examples of how just a minor tweak can make a big difference. As a shopper, I would be more likely to click these search results:

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The simple words “ribbed,” “Italian collection” and “lead free” made my eyes perk up. I wanted to know more.

Mistake #3: Not Answering The Question “So What?”

With so many duplicate products on Amazon (especially when dealing with private labeling), you simply must fall back on a long-standing rule of copywriting: Answer the question “So what?”

When customers scroll down a page of search results looking at your title, or they click to your product page to learn more, you have to set yourself apart from all the other options. Maybe this means having more positive reviews. Perhaps it is the lowest (or highest) price. But, more often than not, that task depends on the bullets and product description.

Here are 30 ways to differentiate your products from the pack so you stand out and get more sales.

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By correcting these 3 common mistakes, you eliminate the wasted space in your search term fields, bullets, and product description while setting yourself apart from the competition. And that always leads to more sales!

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116_1409831933Want more in-depth help with developing product listings that drive traffic and get more sales? Karon’s ebook Amazon Advantage: Product Listing Strategies to Boost Your Sales walks you through her best-kept secrets of creating product copy that earns you more money. Get your copy today and save 20% with coupon code FTFBA20 (expires 5/25/2015).

 

 

An Insider’s Look at the Full-Time FBA Processing Desk

Desk TitleIt’s critical, when working from home, to make sure your work environment is set up in such a way that you can best use your time and energy. In my last blog post, I showed you exactly how my shipping and work station was set up and all the tools that I use to process my inventory before I send it all off to Amazon. Today, I’m pulling back the curtain a little bit further as I let you take a peek into my Full-Time FBA desk.

Here is a diagram of my desk that I use almost daily. Below is a description of each and every item I use and why. 

Desk Diagram

If you’re interested in learning more or want to add any of these tools to your own FBA work station, click on the name or picture of the tool below. 


41MNr5dy0HLA. USB Barcode Scanner –  Who wants to enter every single UPC number each time you process inventory to Amazon? Not me, that’s for sure. This barcode scanner saves tons of time and frustration. Just point the scanner at the barcode, pull the trigger, and “BAM!” The barcode number is now magically entered in your computer. The adjustable hands-free stand is a really nice option too. 

91zhsBYJxGL._SL1500_B. MacBook Pro – I absolutely love my MacBook Pro. It’s the perfect computer for an optimized FBA work desk. I have owned this MacBook for almost 3 years and have only had to restart it about twice a year. It’s the most dependable laptop in existence, and I can’t imagine using anything else. 

PIXMA_MG3250_FRT_Default_tcm14-945029C. Canon Pixma InkJet Printer – This is the printer I use to print my shipping labels, and any other standard printing needs. This is not the printer I use to print my FBA labels. Amazon’s guidelines state that FBA labels must be printed by a thermal or laser printer only (see the Dymo LaberWriter 450 thermal printer below). 

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.20.05 AMD. Amazon Sales Rank % Chart – Throughout the year, I update this PDF document to show you the latest sales rank numbers for all of the major Amazon categories. The chart shows the top 1%, 5%, and 10% in almost 30 different categories. The PDF is FREE to all of my subscribers. To grab this PDF, simply click here and subscribe. 

41ooe8-PAJLE. Self Adhesive Shipping Labels – These are the labels I use when shipping boxes to FBA warehouses. They stick to the boxes well and are very dependable. You can also get free shipping labels directly from UPS by clicking here and signing up for a UPS account. 

81z-MzfxG-L._SL1500_F. Magic Eraser – I love my Magic Erasers. They help me clean up items I plan on selling on Amazon. I use them when I’m cleaning up a book cover or if there is any residue on the box of an item I want to sell. It helps get out most pen and marker stains. It’s abrasive enough to get the dirt or grime off of an item, but not so abrasive as to damage the item itself. 

mlb-tapered-metal-waste-basket-d-20130812161358607~7243521wG. Houston Astros Trash Can – Ok, so this isn’t vital to my FBA business, but I’m a big Astros fan and it adds some fun to my office space. Think of things that can add some fun to your office space. Don’t let work get too boring. 

business-textbooksH. Book, Books and Books – I love to read, and I keep some of my favorites right at my desk. I keep books close so I can take a break from working while continuing to improve myself and my business. To see the 14 books that most improved my Amazon FBA business, click here

738225_photoI. Scanner Monkey – This little guy is the mascot of the Scanner Monkey Facebook group. Scanner Monkey is a close knit community of online sellers who help each other each and every day. With a Scanner Monkey membership, you get access to tons of BOLOs, exclusive discounts, video teaching sessions, and tons of profit and strategy ideas. I’ve been a member since it started, and it’s easily one of my favorite Facebook groups. 

71Eh+14PBWL._SL1500_J. Dual Computer Monitors – I simply love having two computer monitors. I can’t ever imagine going back to using just one. I love being able to work on my FBA shipment on my laptop, while watching a training video on the other monitor. No longer do I need to switch back and forth between windows, when all I need to do is scroll over to the other monitor. It’s made life much simpler. And in case you’re curious, I use this to connect my dual monitor to my laptop.

7198lLjvmsL._SL1200_K. Awards & Accomplishments – It’s a good idea to post near your desk things that remind you of accomplishments and wins you have experienced. Hang your diplomas on the wall, frame the first dollar bill you made, or maybe display the Amazon order of the item you made the most ROI on. For me, I decided to frame the certificate Amazon awarded me for being a Top Holiday Seller (that means that my sales ranked in the top 25% of all Amazon sellers, while additionally keeping an A+ customer satisfaction rate). Find something that you are proud of and display it. When you’re feeling discouraged, seeing these reminders might help. 

66463_10201911046874888_1974517186_nL. Inspiration – Everybody needs some inspiration now and then, and some of the things that inspire me the most are my family and my faith. I love to display pictures of my family, as well as scripture verses on the wall in my office.  They help remind me that there is so much more to life than work. 

DoTerra BLiss and DiffuserM. Essential Oil Diffuser – One of the ways that I say focused while working is to diffuse doTERRA essential oils in my office. My favorite oils to diffuse are Citrus Bliss and InTune. If you’re interested in getting some essential oils for your home or office, check out my wife’s doTERRA page here

41IWrVLa8yLN. Dymo LaberWriter 450 Printer – This little printer is a huge time saver when it comes to processing my FBA inventory. I used to print 30 FBA labels on one sheet via my regular printer and then try to match up the right labels to the right items. Now, I can print the labels one at a time with my Dymo printer and place the label directly on the item as I’m listing it on Amazon at my computer. It’s a thermal printer, so there is never any need for ink. Just be sure you have the right labels to use for FBA. 

Scanner Pro AppO. Scanner Pro – Here is where I keep all of my retail arbitrage receipts. I use this scanning app to keep a digital version of my receipts on file. The NeatReceipts scanner is probably much better, but the Scanner Pro app is a more affordable way to scan your reciepts. This is especially helpful when I paid for items with cash, or when I pay using a different account other than my business card. 

31Pz8s6Fw3LP. Clear Round Stickers – I have these for a variety of uses. The number one reason is to replace older clear round stickers on new items. Many items that are still in brand new condition might have the original clear stickers coming off (or have come off completely). I use these stickers to replace the ones that are no longer working well. 

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81R8SLFKf1L._SL1500_Q. Dymo Labels – These are the perfect size to use for your FBA labels. They cover up the original barcode well and come off easily in case the customer wants to take off the label. Each box comes with 700 labels. I also use these labels to print out my own “This is a Set. Do Not Separate” and “Do Not Open. Ready To Ship” stickers. 

613uKT2qhvL._SL1000_R. Dymo Printer Cleaning Cards – These cards help you keep your Dymo printer in tip-top shape. These cards safely remove contamination from print heads and improve print quality. The best thing they do is extend the life of any Dymo LabelWriter printer. 

41K1Oo-hSNLS. “Thank You” Stickers – If you have an item that has a small tear, mark, or even residue that you just can’t get off, then placing one of these stickers over the blemish might just save the day. Plus, it’s a nice way to show your customer that you’re thankful for their purchase. I don’t recommend using these stickers on all items that have a blemish. Use your best judgement. 

91CdT0sRKwL._SL1500_T. Hologram Stickers – I use these stickers the same way I use the “Thank You” stickers, but for smaller blemishes. I also use them for items that a “Thank You” sticker would just not work for. 

51hEMvaoe7LU. Resealable DVD Bags – Whenever I sell a used DVD or video game, I always put it in one of these bags. The DVD or video game usually snap closed, but even the smallest bump can cause these cases to open and the disc to come out. You do not want someone to buy a used DVD or video game and only get an empty case. Not only do these bags keep the discs safely stored in the case, but they also keep the DVD case clean. 

81mkVS3VWGL._SL1500_V. Label Sheets – These are the labels I used before I got my Dymo LabelWriter 450 printer. I still use these labels in many different ways. I use them to cover up bar codes on items that I’ll be poly bagging, as well as for expiration date labels. I also have these on hand just in case the Dymo printer malfunctions and I still need to print labels that day. This “back-up” plan has only been implemented a few times since 2011, but has come in handy when needed.

I’m sure there are even more items that I use at my Full-Time FBA desk, but these are the main ones. Each of the above help me be more efficient and make better use of my time and money.

I’d love to hear from you. What tools listed are your favorites? What would you not do business without? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear what you use in your own processing desk. Comment below and let me know. 

The Optimized Full-Time FBA Work & Shipping Station

Work Station TitleDo you need a warehouse in order to do the kind of volume it takes to make a full-time income from FBA? I’ve seen a few threads on social media and have had a few people ask me that exact question… and my answer to all of them is this: No, you do not need to rent or buy warehouse space in order to do the kind of volume needed to make a full-time income selling via Amazon FBA. 

Today, I want to give you a peek inside my optimized full-time FBA work and shipping station. Is this work station in a warehouse? No, it’s in the corner of my office on an old dining room table. Here is a diagram of the work station we currently use. Below is a description of each and every item we use and why.

Shipping Station Diagram

If you’re interested in learning more or want to add any these tools to your own FBA work station, click on the name or picture of the tool below. 

31X1IJMOzsLA. Cardboard Box Sizer and Reducer –  This tool helps you reduce your shipping boxes to the exact size that you need. Cutting your boxes down to size helps save you money in multiple ways: 1) Smaller boxes mean less shipping costs; 2) Smaller boxes mean you need less dunnage to fill boxes; 3) Less dunnage means that the box will weigh less, which saves you money over time. The tool is easy to handle, and I use it almost daily. For a quick video of the box sizer tool in action, click here

81K1bfSxJ5L._SL1500_B. 3-Inch Tape Gun – This was seriously a game changer when it came to optimizing my packing and shipping experience. For years, I’d only used a 2-inch tape gun, but one day I realized I was using about three strips of tape when securing the bottom and top of the box. I was using too much tape and wasting time as well. Now, I just use one strip of 3-inch tape to secure the base of the box and one strip of 3-inch tape to close the top of the box. It saves me both time and money. Find some 3-inch tape here

81bRMAxBB0L._SL1500_C. 2-Inch Tape Gun – While the 3-inch tape gun is perfect for securing shipping boxes, the 2-inch gun is better suited for smaller taping jobs. I use my 2-inch tape gun in multiple ways: 1) Secure bubble wrap when protecting a breakable item; 2) Tape over FNSKU labels that I worry might fall off of an item I’ve bubble wrapped; 3) Close up small holes in poly bags; 4) Secure smaller cardboard boxes that I use for bundles, and so much more. You can find 2-inch tape here

61h-B0szXtL._SL1280_D. Goo Gone Spray Gel  – Don’t you hate it when there is a price sticker on an item that just won’t come off cleanly? Goo Gone is the perfect solution to help get the sticky “goo” off your item. Simply spray some Goo Gone onto the sticky residue, and it will wipe off fairly easily. For really stubborn “goo,” use the Scotty Peeler in combination with the Goo-Gone to scrape away the excess goo. Note: There are many different products that you can use to remove the sticky adhesive left behind from a sticker. Some other alternatives are Un-Du and even lighter fluid

61ZZnk9VoJL._SL1200_E. Scotty Peelers – One of the most annoying parts of retail arbitrage is taking off the price stickers of your latest inventory purchase. These tools are the perfect way to peel off the stickers from the item without damaging the original package. If any of the sticky residue remains on the item, simply use the Goo Gone and scrape off the goo with the Scotty Peeler. 

71AgdoNhdML._SL1500_F. Scissors and Paper Towels – When you are cleaning sticker residue off of your inventory, you’ll need to use paper towels to help wipe up the mess. The scissors are used for multiple purposes, such as cutting poly bags, opening up boxes, cutting labels, and more. 

91hEUJSiPzL._SL1500_G. Excess Poly Bag & Trash Receptical – Ok, so this isn’t some fancy trash can, but a re-purposed empty pretzel tub, but it really works well. Most normal trash cans are the same size from top to bottom, but this tub is more rounded at the top and bottom. This makes it much easier to put the excess poly bag waste and any other trash inside the tub without it expanding and coming out of the trash can. It might seem silly, but it really works out well for us (see the “after” picture at the bottom of the blog to see how well it works). Oh, and the pretzels are pretty darn good too. 

81y7wQ-S5pL._SL1500_H. Suffocation Warning Labels – Each and every poly bag that you use on a product needs to have a suffocation warning label. Some poly bags come with warnings printed on them, but for the ones that don’t, it’s a good idea to have these stickers handy. If you use a poly bag and do not make sure there is a suffocation warning on the bag, then you will be in violation of Amazon guidelines. These labels are easy to use and stay on well too. 

31yMUxZj7lLI. Stacking Letter Trays – These trays are where I store such supplies as my suffocation warning labels, expiration date labels, clear tape, pens, and more. 

J. Inspiration – Everybody needs some inspiration now and then, and one of the things that inspires me the most are my kids, nieces, and nephews. I love to hang their art up in my office to be reminded that there is so much more to life than work. It motivates me to use my work time more efficiently so that I can spend more time with them.  

71oPWM52EDL._SL1211_K. Poly Bags – According to Amazon guidelines, there are many items that need to be poly bagged if you plan on sending them to a FBA warehouse. These bags protect your inventory from the dirt and dust found in a FBA warehouse. Poly bags come in various sizes and thickness. Be sure you know what minimum requirements Amazon has for poly bags. The ones pictured are some of my favorite to order. 

41ot2QNlguL._SX425_L. 24-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film – This is the shrink wrap film that I use for shrink-wrapping larger items like long board games, longer toys, and anything else longer than 14 inches. 

M. 14-inch Centerfold Shrink Wrap Film – This is the shrink film that I use for almost all other items I need to shrink wrap. It pairs well with my 16-inch impulse sealer (see below). 

71-uX1kHXoL._SL1500_N. Bubble Wrap – If you are selling anything made of glass or any other fragile item, you’ll want to protect it with quality bubble wrap. This bubble wrap is perforated every 12 inches so you can easily tear off only the amount of bubble wrap you need. 

61Wzt26rXXL._SL1000_O. 16-inch Impulse Sealer – People always ask me what size impulse sealer  they should get. Without any hesitation I tell them the 16-inch model. The first impulse sealer I purchased was a 14-inch model, and there were so many times I wished I had a longer reach for sealing. You might think that the extra 2 inches isn’t that big of a deal, but it really is. 

31YliKNB3LLP. Black & Decker Power Scissors – Ok, so many of you would probably be happy with an average utility knife, but these scissors are simply amazing. They make sizing down a box or creating a custom-sized box very easy. I use these almost every day that I’m packing and shipping. It saves tons of time and energy, and I simply won’t do without it. If the cost of a new one scares you, get a used one. That’s what I did and it has worked great for me. 

Not Pictured: 

41sRYiyp1ILQ. 1500 Watt Heat Gun – I use this heat gun in two ways: 1) To heat up the shrink-wrap so that it properly seals around the item I’m wanting to wrap for a very professional sealed look; 2) To heat up price stickers so they can be removed easier. When you apply heat to a price sticker or label, and use a Scotty peeler, the label comes off very easily. 

61sL7QYmSwL._SL1500_R. Shipping Scale – This scale looks small (because it is – 8″ x 8″) but it will weigh boxes up to 100lbs with accuracy. The weight is shown on an LCD display that is connected to the scale with an extendable cord. This means you can put a big, heavy box on the scale, but still see how much it weighs on the separate display. When shipping your items, you want to be sure your scale is accurate. An inaccurate scale could 715XNDGKPVL._SL1500_cost you hundreds of dollars a year. 

S. Hand Truck (Dolly) – When it’s time to take all of the boxes to UPS, I load them all up on this very sturdy hand truck and roll them out the front door. I can easily get three 18x18x16 boxes stacked on this dolly for easy transport. 

61Fm47z2QuS._SL1000_U. Measuring Tape – When you create your own box sizes, you really need to know the exact dimensions to tell Amazon so you can be charged the right amount for shipping. There are many other ways to use this in your FBA business, like if you are creating a new product page and need the exact dimensions of the product. 

91KNJpBoehL._SL1500_V. Dunnage (Void Fill) – Not every box will be filled to the top with items, so you need to be sure that there are void fillers placed in the box. My favorite dunnage are air pillows. When Amazon sends me a large box and includes air pillows inside, I always save them to use in my own shipments to FBA. When I run out of air pillows, I usually use newspaper that is tied up in a plastic grocery bag. It is against Amazon guidelines to use newspaper as void fill because they don’t want the newsprint to get on the items, but it is ok if you bag the newspaper and use that instead. Of course, air is lighter than paper and is my preferred method. Maybe one day I’ll splurge for an air pillow machine

Other than shipping boxes, which I usually get at Lowes or Home Depot, that is everything I use when I’m prepping, packing, boxing, and shipping. These are the tools I use almost every day in order to run my full-time FBA business. 

This is what my work & shipping station looks like at the end of the day. Click on the image for a close up.

This is what my work & shipping station looks like at the end of the day. Click on the image for a close up.

TIP: Bookmark this page so when you are ready to add something new to your work station, you have a handy list of what you want to add.

Whenever my wife and I come in from a huge retail arbitrage haul (sometimes hundreds of items in one day) we bring the items into the house, remove the price stickers (usually in front of the TV or while listening to an audiobook), poly bag any item that needs it, and then place all the items on the floor near the desk to be inventoried and processed on the laptop. Once the items have been processed, we raise the drop leaf on the table so there’s space to box up everything. Add the shipping labels, and we’re ready to send our inventory off to Amazon. No warehouse required. 

Now I want to hear from you. What tools are your favorite? How do you make the most of the space at your house for doing your FBA business? I’d love to see what you use, so comment below!

The 14 Books That Improved My Amazon FBA Business The Most

Books shelfAs someone who runs an online business, it’s vital to keep yourself ahead of the game. When it comes to success, the right book at the right moment can be a game-changer and give you a crucial advantage over your competition.

I really enjoy reading. In fact, while I was in college and seminary, I worked part-time at a local bookstore. I think most of my pay check ended up going right back to the bookstore as I was buying books all the time. 

Today, I want to share with you the 14 books that have helped me build a full-time FBA business. The books are broken up into 5 categories. To make things easy, I’ve included a link to the Amazon product page so you can choose your favorite book format (Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, or Audiobook). Once you’re on Amazon, you can easily get the books or add them to your wish list. These 14 books have personally made a huge difference for me. In fact, they’re some of the best books I’ve ever read.

PRODUCTIVITY

10667053-largeThe Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
We all have both good and bad habits, but how did they get there? And are there ways to purposefully create good habits that will help us improve both our personal and business lives? The answer to the second question is a resounding, “YES!” The book outlines how we can equip ourselves to succeed by breaking down our bad habits and setting ourselves up with good habits. This book was an interesting and easy read. 

31suEkKx6uL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The One Thing by Gary Keller
If you chase two rabbits, you won’t catch either one of them. This book will help you cut through the clutter, achieve better results in less time, build momentum toward your goals, overcome that overwhelming feeling, dial down stress, revive your energy, stay on track, and master what matters most to you. This book will help you find your “one thing” that will take your Amazon FBA business to the next level. 

61uDqg7PdoLEat That Frog by Brian Tracy
This book outlines 21 ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” This book has helped me recognize what the “frogs” are in my Amazon FBA business and how to stop procrastinating and get the most important things done quickly and done well. 

TRANSITION FROM JOB TO WORKING AT HOME

Four-Hour-Work-Week-Expanded-and-Updated1The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
While you probably won’t be working only 4 hours a week after you finish this book, you will have your eyes opened to the possibilities of how you can escape your 9-5 job, work more from home, and free up a lot of your time to pursue things you are most passionate about. If you are serious about making the transition from a job to becoming your own boss, this book is the best place to start. 

48 Days T41NdaeDvA0L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_o The Work You Love by Dan Miller
I first read this book in 2011 when I was both broke and unemployed. I had been trying for over a year to get a job and was failing miserably. This book lead me in the direction of finding work that I truly loved. After reading this book, I turned my hobby of selling online (via eBay) into a full-time job selling online (via Amazon FBA). Just over 6 months after reading this book, I was selling on Amazon FBA and making a full-time income. 

41nu9G4BrXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Quitter by Jon Acuff
This book will help you close the gap between your day job and your dream job. Quitter is a very easy read and often hilarious. If you’ve ever sat in a cubicle and thought, “I don’t want to do this job for the rest of my life,” then this book is for you. Many people want to leave their 9-5 job and become their own boss, but it can be very, very risky. This book helps you minimize the risks involved and find success in transitioning from a job to working from home. 

 AMAZON FBA RELATED

Arbitrage_Cover_for_KindleArbitrage by Chris Green
If you are a beginner when it comes to selling on Amazon, then this is the absolute best book for you to form the right foundation to build a solid FBA business. When anyone asks me where they need to start when learning selling on Amazon, I recommend this book. Chris Green is an excellent communicator and teacher. If you are looking to succeed with FBA, you can’t go wrong starting with this book.

OAcover800

Online Arbitrage by Chris Green
This is more than just a book; it’s a complete course. I see this book more like a textbook filled with everything you need to know in order to find profitable inventory from the comfort of your home. This book is the only book in this list that I have not completed reading yet (it’s 480 pages), but even the parts that I have read have revolutionized my FBA business — not to mention, my wife Rebecca is constantly quoting ideas from this book to me as we discuss our business. The book is well worth the price tag attached to it. If price is an issue, there is a black & white edition that is less expensive.  

grocery-goldmine-284x300Grocery Goldmine by Jessica Larrew & Beth Maus
This book opened up my eyes to a whole new world of inventory possibilities. The book really answered every one of my questions and addressed all of my fears about selling groceries on Amazon. The book even comes with a 60-day risk free guarantee, so there is nothing to lose by getting this book. If you want to read more of my thoughts on this book, I did an entire blog post about adding grocery items to my Amazon business model. Read more here.

BBB-facebook1The Buy Box Bible by Feedvisor (FREE!)
Understanding how the buy box works is the key to selling successfully on Amazon. The Buy Box Bible is the most comprehensive guide to understanding exactly how the buy box works. You’ll learn all the variables that determine the buy box winner, how to work the buy box to maximize sales (and profits), and the differences between the regular buy box and the mobile buy box. The book is 100% free and easy to read. Reading this book was a game-changer for me. 

FINANCES

41R1wODM-RL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Introduction To Sales Tax for Amazon FBA Sellers by Kat Simpson & Michael Rice
The topic of sales tax on Amazon doesn’t have to be the most confusing part of selling online. With this book, you will gain a better understanding of today’s sales tax laws. Understanding how sales tax impacts you and your Amazon customers not only helps you stay out of trouble with the tax man, but it can also boost your bottom line. You don’t need to ignore tax issues just because they seem complicated. It’s in your best interest to read, understand, and follow all the sales tax rules. 

Total-MoneyThe Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Are you hoping your Amazon FBA business will help you get out of debt and build wealth? This is the proven step-by-step plan that my wife and I have been following for years. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Don’t manage your finances aimlessly. This book has helped give my wife and I the financial peace that we need for today and in the days ahead, and it can help you too. 

 INSPIRATION

51cEt5M95bL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Start With Why by Simon Sinek
If you are wanting to avoid burnout, or you sense burnout approaching your Amazon FBA business, then this is a great book to keep the fire burning strong. We often lose our passion when we lose our why. The why is what motivates us towards accomplishing big goals. What is your why? Family? Financial security? Meeting goals? Building a successful business from the ground up? Whatever you want to accomplish in life, finding your why is the best place to start. 

OB-XP895_davida_JV_20130527233557David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Do you ever feel like the underdog who is facing an impossible-to-beat giant? If you can relate, then this book is for you. David and Goliath will change how you think about your current obstacles and disadvantages in your life and in your business.  You’ll start to see things from a new perspective and learn how to find success despite enduring what most people see as setbacks. When you are tempted to give up, this book will inspire you to keep pressing on. (This book also gets Rebecca’s vote for one of her favorites.)

SQuotation-Brian-Tracy-success-inspirational-business-Meetville-Quotes-248218ome of the above books are like roadmaps, while others are like toolkits, but they are all books that have improved how I run my FBA business. They have all had a direct impact on the success I’ve experienced so far.   

Everyone knows that knowledge is power, and one of the best ways to gain more knowledge is to read books. Picture, for a moment, where you would like your Amazon FBA business to be in 5 years. What does it look like? Charlie Jones, author of Books Are Tremendous, says “Five years from now, you will be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” I could not agree more. 

What books have been an inspiration to you and your online business? Comment below and let me know what books have had the biggest impact for you. I’d love to add some more books to my Goodreads “to read” list.  Goodreads is a free website that connects people who enjoy books. Speaking of Goodreads, if you want to connect with me there, click here

The 4 Biggest Myths Stopping You From Growing Your FBA Business

self-employedOne of the best parts of running your own business is that you’re the boss. While it’s true that you are your company’s owner, president, CEO, and CFO… it’s also true that you’re the accountant, secretary, intern, and janitor.

Most of the time, when we start out working at home, we start out alone. Once the business begins to grow, it can become very overwhelming to try balance retail sourcing, online arbitrage, preparing, listing, packing, shipping, accounting, taxes, office supplies, returns, feedback scores, etc… You also need time to learn even more ways to improve your online selling skills by reading books, blogs, and FBA related Facebook posts. Oh, and you have a house to keep clean and possibly kids to feed and care for as well.

When we first start out in our businesses, we can be very motivated and energized to do everything ourselves during the limited number of hours per week we have available. But over time, everything we need to accomplish can become too much for one person to manage. Even if your spouse helps out from time to time, it might be a good idea to get some help. 

The 4 Biggest Myths Stopping You From Growing Your FBA Business 

Help Wanted1. I Don’t Need Help

The hardest thing for most small business owners to realize is that they need help. In the beginning, you are in charge of everything, and everything seems to be going just fine. But now, sales are picking up and there is just too much for one person to do. On the other hand, your sales might be stagnant because you are spending too much of your time doing the things that don’t bring you the most profit. All successful businesses have a core team that helps lead them to more and more success. 

2. Nobody Can Do It Better Than Me 

Amazon SuperheroTo many resellers, their online reselling business is their baby. They want to be sure they do everything in the business because they think that anyone else would just do it wrong, or not good enough. Chris Ducker of Virtual Staff Finder calls this line of thinking “Superhero Syndrome.” While it might be true (but not likely) that you could do everything in your business better than others, doing it all will hold you back from growing your business to where it can bring a full-time income. 

I never thought I would ever pay for someone to work for me, but I’ve realized now that it’s a natural part of business growth. Jim Cockrum of The Proven Amazon Course says, “Only do what only you can do.” When you focus on doing the things that only you can do, you begin to realize which aspects of your business you can outsource. 

3. I Can’t Afford to Hire Someone

dont-say-i-cant-afford-it-instead-ask-yourself-how-can-i-afford-it-145536If you don’t think you could afford to hire help, then think about this. How much do you think you currently earn per hour? $15? $20? $30? Take a week or two and log the time you spend on your reselling business. Compare the hours you work to the amount of money you make during that time period. Many resellers might come to find out that they make a lot less per hour than they think. 

Imagine if you could pay someone $10 an hour to do a job that will free you up to make $30 per hour. It’s a no brainer. It will take some time, but it’s important to find out how much you make per hour, and then consider hiring someone to do the jobs that are not absolutely necessary for you to do yourself. These tasks could be business-related (like handling accounting, sourcing for inventory, or packing boxes to ship) or personal (like mowing the lawn or doing the laundry). I wouldn’t mind paying someone $15 per hour to clean my house if I could use those same hours to make $50 per hour at my reselling business. 

4. I Don’t Know How To Find or Train Someone to Help

Yes, this will be a new skill that you will need to learn, but just like learning to sell online, you have the opportunity to learn how to find quality workers and train them to work hard in your FBA business. One way to learn this process is by trial and error. I do not suggest this method. No need to reinvent the wheel.

3d-cover1-738x1024A much easier way is by learning from someone who has found success in hiring and training quality workers for his FBA business. My friend Ryan Grant has released a book called, Outsourcing Sourcing: Create More Profits Selling on Amazon in Less Time By Having People you Trust Source & Ship Inventory For You. This book covers every aspect of finding help, proper training methods, the supplies they will need, how to keep track of the financial aspects, and much more. The book is heavy on actionable steps to help you create a complete system for finding, hiring, and keeping quality workers that will help you spend more of your time on more profitable activities. 

Right now, Outsourcing Sourcing is on sale for 20% off and comes with a 100% money back guarantee. If you are the only one working on your business right now, and you want to take your business to the next level, then it might be time to hire some quality help. Outsourcing Sourcing is a great place to start. In order to grow your business to where you can start bringing home a full-time income, chances are you need to hire some help. Anyone who is trying to do everything all by themselves is on the fast track to burnout. You do not want burnout to happen to you, especially when you find such an amazing job opportunity as being a work-at-home online reseller. If you find the help you need, you’ll soon discover that you’re able to accomplish even more and find a satisfaction in your business that will fuel you to keep on going. 

Which of these 4 myths do you currently struggle with the most? Are you still unsure if you need help? Are you unsure if someone else can provide the type of help you need? Are you unsure if it’s worth it financially to hire help? Or are you unsure how to proceed with finding and hiring help? Comment below to let us know where you stand.

Spring Cleaning for a Profitable FBA Business

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign and CloudsWelcome to Spring! This is the perfect time of year to do a little Spring cleaning of your inventory.

Let me ask you a question. How often do you look at your inventory  at Amazon? For most sellers, we don’t take a look all that often. Sure, we might look at our inventory levels, but how often do we really look at each item in our inventory? Here are a few “Spring Cleaning” ideas:

1. Reprice your really old items to sell as soon as possible. 
2. Remove or destroy older items that will never sell.
3. Remove or destroy older items that are no longer profitable. 
4. Delete your old inactive inventory items. 

Inventory Seller Central 1Before I break all these down and explain why I make these suggestions, let me tell you how I’m able to sort my inventory and see what items I’ve had at a FBA warehouse the longest. Log in to Seller Central and click on the Inventory tab. The default settings will show you the newest items that you’re selling via FBA. To sort from the oldest to newest, just click on the little triangle under the “Date Opened” text. This will show you the items you’ve been selling the longest. When you are making your “Spring Cleaning” decisions, be sure to ignore any items that you constantly replenish. 

Ok, now that you know how to sort your inventory to see what items you’ve been selling on Amazon the longest, let’s break down why you should clean up your inactive inventory. 

1. Reprice your really old items to sell as soon as possible. 

price-tag-267x300Many Amazon sellers look at the price of their items only one time: when they originally price it. As we all know, our items are never perfectly priced. Competition comes in from other sellers who seem to always lower the price. Not only that, but new products are added to the Amazon catalog every day, and so not only do you have competition with other sellers, but your inventory item has competition from other like items. 

It’s always a good idea to take a look at the items that have been in your inventory the longest, and then price these items to sell quickly. Maybe that Atkins cookbook might have been priced perfectly at $14.99 back in January of 2013, but today it looks like it’s selling for about $9.99. It looks like it’s time to reprice it at around $9.99. You’ve had that item in stock long enough, and it doesn’t look like you’ll get your $14.99 price again. Reprice that book, get some capital back, and reinvest it in items that will bring back a good ROI much faster.  

To read my easy instructions on how to reprice and my best repricing strategies, click here and here

2. Remove or destroy older items that will never sell.

Go back again and take a look at your oldest inventory items. Unfortunately, some of these items might never ever sell. I say “might” because you never know, but there are a few things you can look at to see that the probability of certain items selling again is less than .01%. Here are items to potentially remove from your inventory:

A. Items that no longer have a sales rank. 

That cassette tape of ZZTop’s Greatest Hits might have had a sales rank in 2013 when you first bought it, but now it no longer registers a rank. If Amazon doesn’t even give it a sales rank, then it has not sold in a long, long, LONG time*. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.22.55 AM copyB. Items that have a ridiculously high sales rank

There comes a point where it’s time to stop waiting for an item to sell. You’ve had the buy box for months and the item never sells. Maybe it’s an office product that was ranked 9,000 when you bought it at Goodwill, but now it’s ranked 1 million. Yes, there are over 5 million items in the whole Office Products category, but that’s still an incredibly high rank. Unless I’m the only seller for this item, and there are no other product pages for this item, then I’m going to have it removed. 

*A note about sales rank: Amazon does not assign a sales rank to some electronic items, even though they might be selling often. No one is really sure why this is, but it happens. The best way to see if an electronic item has sold lately is to check the product reviews. If it’s still getting recent reviews, then it’s probably still selling. To read more of my thoughts on sale ranks in the Electronic category, click here

3. Remove or destroy older items that are no longer profitable. 

Maybe when you purchased that hardback novel, it was selling for $11.99 on Amazon. But now the best prices from both FBA and MF (merchant fulfilled) are all at $3.99. Even if you sell the book at $3.99, you still won’t make a profit. You might even lose money if you sell it… so what do you do? Wait for the hundreds of other sellers to sell out at $3.99 and hope the price returns to $11.99? No. It’s time to let it go, create a removal order, and move on. 

4. Delete your old inactive inventory items. 

Go through your inactive inventory and delete anything that’s over a year or two old. These are items you once had in stock, but have not had in stock for a very, very long time. The only reason you would need to keep these items is if you plan on getting them back in stock. 

The best reason to delete old inactive inventory items is to protect yourself as a seller. At random times, Amazon will declare a particular item or brand as restricted. There are too many reasons to list why Amazon would suddenly restrict an item that it once sold hundreds of, but they do this often with specific items and brands. If Amazon sees too many of these listings in your active or even your inactive inventory, they could potentially shut down your Amazon seller account. I’ve heard on several occasions of Amazon sellers who had their account shut down because they had 4-5 items in their inactive inventory that were now restricted. It took the sellers months (not to mention a lot of pain and agony) to get their accounts reinstated. While this is an extreme situation that would only happen to a small amount of people, it’s still not worth risking your Amazon account. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 1.13.18 PMDeleting your inactive inventory also means you will get fewer “ASIN Change Notification” emails from Amazon. You might remember from this blog post that in order to protect your business, it’s very important to take the right actions each time you get an ASIN Change Notification email from Amazon. What you don’t want to do is waste time dealing with ASIN notifications about items you no longer have in stock and don’t plan on selling again. Even if your inventory item is listed as “inactive,” you will still get an ASIN Change Notification from Amazon. Deleting the old inventory items that have been inactive for quite some time will reduce the amount of ASIN Change Notifications and will free you up to spend your time in more profitable ways. 

I hope these Spring Cleaning ideas help you clean up your inventory so that you can spend more time and money on items that are profitable! Any other Spring Cleaning ideas? If so, feel free to share them in the comment section below. 

How To Budget for a Profitable FBA Business – Part 2 of 2

In our last blog post, I wrote about why budgets are so important to the success of both your business and personal finances. If you haven’t read that blog post yet, be sure you check it out here.

How-to-BudgetIn today’s blog post, I want to move from the “why” to the “how” and show you exactly how my wife and I handle both our personal and business finances. I hope this will give you an idea about how you (and potentially your spouse, if that applies to you) can come up with a budget that will help you eliminate wasteful spending and increase business profits and personal savings.

How My Wife And I Budget

I’d like to show you a glimpse of what our own budgeting looks like each month, just to give you an idea of how the process works for us. What works well for us might not be exactly what works for you, but seeing an example will at least give you a starting point and some ideas for what you can try in your own household or business if you need help developing a structure for monthly budgeting.

a70e4f68ec0ecaac7f8ad9bc1de82b32According to John C. Maxwell, a budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. If you spend all your money on paper first, you will be much more likely to make good choices throughout the month and not end up with a week left to go in April and no idea how to make it to May’s paycheck, not to mention you’ll be able to set and meet short-term and long-term goals with greater ease.

For us, spending our money on paper means both myself and Rebecca sitting down together towards the end of each month and having a business meeting. Don’t be alarmed by the title “business meeting.” We don’t follow Robert’s Rules of Order or anything like that. We just sit down with our account information, a few lists of numbers, a calculator, and a calendar, and we talk things through for the upcoming month. Simple as that.

budget1When we first started budgeting together, these meetings took longer than they do now. The first business meeting, in particular, lasted quite a bit longer as we were setting up the foundation for what our monthly and yearly expenses would look like. After a couple of years at this now, we are down to only a few minutes for the monthly meeting because we’ve both done the prep work ahead of time, and there’s just not as much to discuss as there once was.

So, what exactly do we include in our monthly budget? I’ll outline a few steps that we’ve taken in the initial phase of setting it up and in the ongoing process of budgeting each month. The example given below describes how we allocate money for both our personal and our business expenses, which we differentiate into two separate checking accounts. If you’re reselling as a hobby and don’t keep separate business and personal accounts, this plan still works – you just won’t need to do the division in step 8 below.

Picture3-300x2201. We list our regular monthly household expenses.

We wrote out on a notepad everything we spend on a monthly basis, including housing, utilities, phones, gas, groceries, insurance, restaurants, haircuts, and what not. Some of these may fluctuate throughout the year (e.g., electricity is higher during the very hot or very cold months, and we don’t always get hair cuts every single month), so we came up with an average or looked at how much we spent during particular months of the year based on previous years.

For some budget categories, like groceries or eating out, it was hard to know at first how much we spend on a monthly basis because we weren’t really tracking each individual household expense, so it took some educated guessing. It’s not imperative to come up with exact amounts on the first month of your budget, but at least get some ballpark-range numbers down on paper so you have a place to start. If you have credit card, loan, or car payments, you’ll also want to list these here, as well as any regular payments you make towards savings goals.

2. We listed our annual fees and the month they are due.

In this list we included annual insurance premiums, subscriptions (magazines, Amazon Prime, web hosting, etc), vehicle registrations and inspections, gym memberships, wholesale club fees, and things of this nature.

3. We listed all the occasions when we regularly give gifts throughout the year.

We included birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and any time when we know that we need extra money for gifts each year.

enhanced-buzz-19197-1386641047-24. We set up a binder so that we’ll have easy access to these lists and any printed out reports we need to save.

Can you tell we like to watch Parks and Recreation? We, like Leslie Knope, enjoy organizing info in binders. You don’t have to get a binder. You can also just keep all your papers in a desk drawer or on the floor in the corner of your office. It’s up to you.

5. After we knew our monthly and annual expenses, we wrote out a tentative budget.

We wrote up how much we planned to spend in a month on each of the categories we had listed in our expenses. Where possible, we wrote out the exact amount we knew would be on a bill. In other cases, we set an estimated number based on what we’d been spending in previous months. The key is to choose amounts that you’re comfortable with, but http://www.dreamstime.com/-image23222022give yourself flexibility in the first months of following the budget — we all tend to underestimate how much we spend on groceries, and you may find that you’ve set your amount too low. That’s perfectly fine — just adjust the amount each month until you find a number you’re comfortable with.

6. We add our regular expenses to our special expenses for the month to come up with our total projected monthly expenses.

At the monthly budget meeting, we look at our regular expenses for the month (both the monthly expenses and any annual expenses that are due), along with anything special going on that month that will require extra funds. Special expenses might include birthday parties, an oil change for the car, a new outfit for an upcoming event, a graduation gift, a donation for a special cause, savings for a trip a couple of months away, or Christmas savings. We take the dollar amount needed for regular expenses, add it to the dollar amount needed for special expenses, and get our total projected expenses. It’s as simple as that: now we have our budget for the month.

The next steps will allow us to figure up how much money we have to source with after we’ve paid our bills.

41-Budgetting-Irregular-Income7. We add up our projected income.

If you get regular paychecks, this is a pretty easy step. For Rebecca and I, the bulk of our income is determined by our sales every two weeks on Amazon, which we can’t know ahead of time, and we may or may not know in advance how much income we’ll be getting from freelance projects or royalties – but we try to make our best estimate. Whatever situation you may be in with regular or irregular income, do the best you can to get an estimate of your projected income.

8. We allocate our business and household expenses into our paychecks and disbursements as we receive them.

BudgetThis part will be different for everyone, depending on whether you have income that comes in once a month, bi-weekly, or at irregular times. In our case, we get two bi-weekly disbursements per month from Amazon for our FBA sales, and these amounts cover all of our regular household bills (we use our freelance income and other sales money for other purposes throughout each month, and we consider it separately when it comes to the household budget). So, we take the dollar amount of our expected expenses, and we divide it by two, for the two disbursements. Click on the image above to see an idea of how this works out.

Then, when I get the amount for the first bi-weekly disbursement for the month, I take that amount and subtract both the upcoming business expenses for the month and the upcoming household expenses for the month. The number I’m left with is how much money we have to source with for the next two weeks. When the second disbursement comes around, I subtract out the second half of our monthly expenses, and we’re left with what we can use for sourcing for the next two weeks.

Sometimes we’re flexible with the divisions, putting more or less towards personal or business during each two week period, depending on the circumstances that month. But we always make sure we cover family expenses out of our FBA disbursements and supplementary income first, and then we use the remaining money for sourcing. Our business has grown and grown over the past three years in such a way that this system works really well for us. If we didn’t have a family budget, though, it would be easy to fritter away the money from the business on calculator_budgetexpenses around the house that just aren’t necessary, and then we wouldn’t have the money for sourcing that we need to keep the business running.

When coming up with your business expenses, it’s important to follow the same steps as above. List your regular monthly business expenses (Amazon fees, listing subscription fees, shipping supplies, office supplies, etc). List your annual expenses (your yearly membership to a sourcing website, etc). Come up with a tentative budget and do your best to stick to it. Creating a business budget is not much different than creating a personal one. The key is just sticking to it.

I’m not saying you need to do everything exactly the way we’ve done it and outlined above. I’m just saying you should make a plan, talk with your spouse, follow through with it, and see where it takes your family and your business.

Do you have any budgeting tips to help minimize losses and maximize profits? Be sure to comment below.

How To Budget for a Profitable FBA Business – Part 1 of 2

208673_wheres_the_money_gone“Where, oh where, does all the money go?” It’s the song so many people sing at the end of the month, when the paycheck is running out. Or sometimes in the middle of the month, if things are particularly tight.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to wonder where the money has gone, or question how we always seem to spend it faster than we earn it.

In fact, we can know the future.

2777Yep. It’s true. When it comes to our money, we can know ahead of time where it’s going to go and how it’s going to cover everything it needs to. There is a simple way to know our money’s future. It’s called budgeting.

Basically, your budget is your plan for your money. It’s not any more complicated than that. I’m assuming that you’re reading this blog post because you enjoy your reselling business and you’re interested in learning how to improve it. Having a good budget is one of the best ways to improve your business. As the old saying goes: “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.” So once you understand your numbers, you can find the ways to make your profits larger.

And I’m not just talking about a business budget here — I’m also talking about a family budget. Now, today’s blog post will cover why budgeting is so important for both your business and your family, and in my next blog post, I’ll move into how you can set up both your personal and business budgets to make sure you maximize profits.

BudgetWhy Budget?

Whether you’re reselling full-time or part-time, you need to have a plan for how you’ll spend your reselling income, as well as a plan for how you’ll spend any other regular paychecks or income you’re getting from other jobs or business ventures. If you don’t have a plan, the money tends to just dwindle away throughout the month, going out into the wild blue yonder, off to who knows where (I’m not making this up — you’ve experienced this, right?).

In some cases, this leads to a shortage later in the month, to bills that can’t be paid with cash, and then to credit card debt, which basically means you end up paying more for your bills in the long run. In other cases, it means waste and inefficiency. You may think you’re not spending that much extra money throughout the month, and you may even be saving some here and there — but if you sat down and wrote it all out, you would find wasted cash that could otherwise go towards your next vacation, towards a savings goal, towards a charity you love…or towards sourcing. But you won’t know until you sit down and write up that budget to figure out where all your money goes.

Total-MoneyMuch of what we’ve come to love about budgeting we learned from Dave Ramsey. If you’re not familiar with his work and his methods, we highly recommend you read a couple of his books: Financial Peace Revisited for an overview of his philosophy and The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness for a more step-by-step guide to how to get out of debt, build up emergency savings, and control where you’re spending your money each month (i.e., budgeting).

Both my wife and I had read and started using Dave Ramsey’s methods before we even met, and we’ve continued to use them after we got married — so we can testify that they work for both singles and couples. Though we don’t legalistically follow every word he says in these books to a T, we do find that his philosophy is sound. We’ve seen again and again how having a plan for our money removes a great deal of stress from our lives. It doesn’t eliminate stress — there are still situations that come up where we have disagreements or where we’re surprised by an expense we weren’t planning for. But at least we’re in agreement on some basic principles at the start of those discussions, and we know we ultimately have the same goals in mind — because we set those goals together.

Importance of Budgeting for the Reseller

41-Budgetting-Irregular-IncomeFor those of you who are wondering if you could quit your day job and become a full-time reseller, perhaps the biggest hang-up keeping you from that transition is the thought of having irregular income. The absolute first step toward deciding if you can or should make that transition is to set a family budget. Part of setting a budget is knowing your regular expenses and getting a handle on your irregular (or seasonal) expenses. You have no way to know if your reselling income will be enough to cover those expenses if you don’t even know what those expenses are. Online banking makes keeping track of our expenses easier than ever, but you’d still be surprised how much money dwindles away in cash payments without our ever knowing where it went — doubly so, if you’re accustomed to swiping a credit card for most of your purchases.

Budget GrowthLikewise, if you don’t set up a business budget, you have no way to know if your business is being successful in the long run. You must keep track of income and expenses, not just for IRS purposes, but because you need this information to plan for future expenses and strategize how best to invest your capital as you’re sourcing. Simply put, knowing your budget helps you make a good decision when you’re standing on Aisle 3 in a store wondering if an item would be a good product to resell.

Dave Ramsey says, “Winning at money is 80 percent behavior and 20 percent head knowledge. What to do isn’t the problem; doing it is. Most of us know what to do, but we just don’t do it.” Budgeting doesn’t have to involve difficult concepts. It’s mostly just common sense. The biggest part of it is to 1) sit down and make a plan and 2) stick with your plan, making changes as needed. Don’t get sidetracked, be patient, delay gratification, work hard, and see how smart choices can pay off in the long run.

If your reselling business is more of a get-rich-quick set-up, we don’t have a lot of advice for you. But if you’re wanting to see steady growth and a healthier business, we highly recommend that you take the time to budget.

Married To Reselling Mini 2Bonus Perk of Budgeting: Did you know there’s one simple way you can reduce stress in your family life, eliminate arguing over finances, free up funds to do more of what your family finds important, and ultimately grow your business? Just set a budget and stick with it for a while, and you’re likely to see all of those things happen. In our book, Married To Reselling, we have a whole chapter dedicated to budgeting with your spouse. We break down all the steps to creating a budget with your spouse and how that leads to a better marriage between both you and your spouse.

So now you understand why a budget is important to maximizing profits — be on the lookout for our next blog post where I break down exactly how Rebecca and I budget both our personal and business numbers. To be sure you don’t miss the next blog post, scroll up and click on the subscribe button in the top right side of the screen.

Do you have any budgeting tips for other Full-Time FBA readers? I’d love to hear what tips work best for you and your business. Comment below!

How to Handle FBA Money Issues With Your Spouse

murphys-law1Taking financial risks is a defining element of being an entrepreneur. After all, becoming your own boss and living off of an irregular income can be a pretty risky adventure to undertake. 

One of the biggest risks that an entrepreneur faces relates to capital. Money is limited, so it’s crucial to use it correctly. While on the one hand it’s important to play it safe and not needlessly waste your money, you could argue that it’s equally important to take wise, calculated risks to better yourself and your bottom line. Taking risks is a necessity if you want to succeed. There would be no successful entrepreneurs if everyone always played it safe. However, at the same time you don’t want to sacrifice your marriage or family for the sake of your business by taking too many risks that are beyond what you and your family can handle. 

21When just starting out in the reselling world, it could look like every possible financial move is risky. Do I sign up for a selling program with a monthly fee? Do I need to buy a special printer or will my regular printer be just fine? Do I even need a scanner? Should I buy the ebook about reselling books or the ebook about grocery? The list of possibilities goes on, but one thing remains: Each step you take contains some level of financial risk. 

Risk tolerance (in the reselling world) is the amount of risk that you are comfortable taking with the possibility of losing time or money. For example, if you’re unwilling to take the chance that a potential inventory item might drop in price, then you have little or no risk tolerance. On the other hand, if you are willing to take some risks with inventory that could possibly go up or down in value, then you have a greater risk tolerance. 

MoneyHP_RiskSignRisk tolerance doesn’t just apply to sourcing inventory. A reseller may also invest time and money in an ebook that promises to help them get a return of better business practices and increased profits. Another reseller may invest in the latest gadget in hopes to help streamline the reselling process. All possible investments (time, money, energy, etc) are potential risks, and each of us has a different level of risk we are willing to endure in order to get the desired outcome of said risk. 

When taking risks, most individuals have a realistic understanding of their own ability and willingness to handle the possible outcomes of the risk being taken, but a difficulty comes into play in how your risk tolerance affects your spouse — and how their tolerance for risk affects you. As in so many other personal characteristics, just because you’re married to each other doesn’t mean your tolerance for risk will necessarily line up with each other’s. 

Handling Differences With a Non-reselling Spouse

For many of you, your spouse is not involved in the day-to-day aspects of your online business, but that doesn’t mean they are not impacted by how you handle risks, especially when it comes to money. 

140581416_moneyhunny2_1_xlargeIf you had a “normal” job where you were in charge of spending for your employer, then most likely your spouse wouldn’t worry about how much money you spent on office supplies, office space, or employees. When you work at home, though, the money you spend might not seem like “work money” to your spouse. They see this money as their money too, and they might disagree with how you handle business expenses. It can be risky to spend money on supplies, subscriptions, and inventory when you’re not guaranteed that it will all pay off in the end. Your risk tolerance can have an effect on your spouse, whether they tell you or not. 

If your spouse communicates a concern about your business, the worst thing to do is completely disregard their concern. You may think that they don’t know what they are talking about, and that might be true to an extent, but their concerns are real and must be dealt with if you want to have a balanced family and work life. 

ICalifornia_NewlywedsThe_Name_Equality_Actf they don’t communicate any concerns, it doesn’t mean that there are none. I suggest sitting down with your spouse to initiate a conversation about possible concerns with your business. Some of you may think I’m crazy to recommend this. You may think I’m just opening up the door for a huge disagreement and that we all should just “let sleeping dogs lie.” My argument here is that if there is an actual concern, then it will eventually come up. It is so much better to be the one who initiates this conversation up front before there is a big problem than to have to deal with all the repercussions on your spouse and your relationship coming from this concern over financial risk. If you wait until they bring it up, then the road to recovery will be so much harder and longer, and there could be damaging effects on your marriage for the long term.

Married To Reselling Mini 2

On Sale Today!

Overall, it helps to do your best to inform your spouse why you feel your business decisions are wise in the long run. Your spouse might not be able to (or want to) understand all aspects of the business, but you could probably come up with a way to explain it so they can understand the main points. During these types of conversations, don’t just spend the whole time explaining your point of view. Again, the key here is to listen to your spouse. Really listen to their concerns and see if there is a compromise you can come to. Maybe you want to buy an impulse sealer, a Scanfob, and that brand new ebook course that just came out. If the amount of money needed for all these items is a concern to your spouse, perhaps you could compromise and just choose one of those items to invest your money in for now. 

In the end, it all comes down to making sure that your spouse feels heard and understood. Your spouse and family should always be your priority. 

If you want to read more on the topic of balancing family life with your online business, check out our book, Married to Reselling.

So what about you? Do you have any advice to others about how to best handle FBA related differences with your spouse? Comment below and share with us.