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

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. Re-price 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 re-price 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. Re-price 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 are 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 less “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 you 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

Click on the book above to save 20% 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.

More Ways to Get “Free” Money to Use For FBA Sourcing

happy-woman-with-raining-moneyIf you resell products online, then you always want to buy your inventory at the lowest price possible. Not only that, but you also want to be able to buy as much inventory as you can at the lowest price possible. During my many years as a reseller, I’ve come up with many ways to buy inventory at significant discounts, and sometimes, even for free.

I’ve blogged about the topic of free money before, and today I’m ready to share with you even more ways to get free money that you can use to source for more inventory at the best prices possible.

1. Chameleon

06_chameleon-100531545-gallery.idgeThe Chameleon app is similar to Shopkick in that it gives you points for each time you “walk in” to a local retail store. Once you get 20 points, you can then turn that in for a $5 Target gift card. You can use the gift card in a retail store or online. The app also includes special coupons to select retail stores, real time product availability, as well as store maps to find certain products you are looking for. You can get points for walking in to stores like Target, Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Toys R Us, Office Depot, Petco, Staples, Walgreens, and so many more. It seems like there are new stores added to the list every week. If you download the app through the link in this blog post, you’ll get 5 free points! Click here to download the Chameleon app.

2. RecycleBank

recyclebankWhen you sign up with RecycleBank, you’ll start to accumulate points for recycling in your neighborhood. You can also earn points by going through short little lessons on recycling. When you earn RecycleBank points, you can redeem them for up to $165 per year in special gift cards & coupons for retail stores. Not only do you get the sense of helping out the environment, but you get “free money” to source with as well. To turn your recycling into free money, just click here.

3. RetailMeNot

retailmenot_logo_lgIf you don’t have the RetailMeNot website bookmarked or the RetailMeNot app downloaded to your smartphone, you are missing a huge opportunity to save big on both online and in-store purchases. I’ve saved hundreds using RetailMeNot, and you can too. On RetailMeNot, users post the newest coupon codes, and other users vote on if the codes worked for them or not. This way, you can find the most reliable coupon codes for the stores you’re shopping at.

4. Swagbucks

Swagbucks-LogoOne of the easiest ways to earn free gift cards is to sign up for Swagbucks. You can get a few points here and there by clicking on ads, but the real money is found in shopping through the Swagbucks site. You can sometimes earn up to eight Swagbucks per dollar spent while you are sourcing at select online retail stores. Once you have enough Swagbucks, you can then redeem them for gift cards for dozens of retail stores. I usually earn at least $20 in gift cards each month. That’s up to $240 in gift cards every year to use for sourcing. I use both the website and mobile app to earn all my Swagbucks.

5. FreeCycle

freecycle_logoOk, so this is not free money, but free inventory is just as good, right? On FreeCycle, you join a group based on the area in which you live. Once you’re in the group, you’ll have people posting things they want to give away for free. If you are the first to respond, you’ll get free items that might end up being profitable inventory! You can also post “want” ads on FreeCycle for items you are looking for. I’ve had some success with this site in finding both new and collectible board games to sell online.

6. Store Debit Cards

target-red-cardI’m not a fan of credit cards, so I usually don’t advise people to “earn points” by using credit, but when a store offers up a debit card to save money, then I’m good with that. Stores like Target and Nordstrom offers up debit cards that help you save 5% off, as well as free shipping. When you use these cards online, and combine that with using eBates, then your savings can really add up.

When you take the time to combine all of the methods above, you will start to see a substantial difference in your business finances. Over time, the “free” money adds up and gives you more funds to help grow your business.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share with everyone your favorite way to get “free” money!

One last tip: Bookmark this page so that you can have a handy reference of all of the websites that will help you get more “free” money.

How to Run “End of the Year” Inventory & Sales Reports for Tax Purposes

it_photo_107887Today’s blog post is part of our ongoing FBA Q&A series. I admit that this topic is not all that exciting, but it’s very necessary… in fact, if you don’t do this right it could have some negative impacts on your business.

Today’s FBA Q&A Question comes from Trina. She writes:

Hi Stephen. 
I was wondering the best way to get a “end of year snapshot of inventory” report from Amazon? I am kind of new to this and not sure the best way to do this and what program to put it in for best viewing or printing. Thanks for your help!   Trina
 

Thanks for your question. Yes, there are several reports you should be sure to print off for your CPA (or whoever is doing your taxes).

Before we go any further I want you to know that I am not a tax specialist or giving you any tax advice. I highly recommend hiring a CPA who is knowledgable of online sales and all the tax implications. Today, I’m only showing you how to get the reports that you need to add to all of your other 2014 tax documents. Oh, and if you keep reading to the bottom, I have a super cool freebie for you!

dec-31-calendarOk, there is one report that you MUST run on December 31st (or at the very latest, early in the morning on January 1st). This report will let you know how much inventory you have still stored at Amazon at the end of the year. The reason you need to run this report on December 31st is because Amazon does not currently have a report that tells you what inventory you had in their FBA warehouses on specific dates in the past. The only way to get an accurate printout of the inventory you are rolling over into 2015 is to run this report on December 31st or early on January 1st.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.09.38 PMTo pull this report, follow these simple steps:

  1. Log in to Seller Central.
  2. Hover your pointer over “Reports,” and then select “Fulfillment.”
  3. Click on “Amazon Fulfilled Inventory” on the left side of your screen.
  4. Click on the “Request Download” button.
  5. The report status column will state that this report is “In Progress” until it’s completed.
  6. Once the report is completed (usually a minute later), a “Download” button will appear. Press it.
  7. Your report is now downloaded to your computer as a .txt file. Open up the file.
  8. Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.11.07 AMThe text is hard to read, so select all the text (Control A for PC users or Command A for Mac users).
  9. Open up an Excel type spreadsheet and paste the text you just copied. The data will now be more organized.
  10. Save the file with a name like “2014 Year End Inventory.”

Note: Do not print this document out. If I would have printed my document out, it would have used 784 pages. That’s because the document also contains all of the items in your inventory that are sold out and are at zero quantity. If you rarely (or never) delete any of your MSKUs that you no longer use (because you’re sold out and don’t plan on selling again), then you may have a file even longer than mine. So, don’t print the file, but do save it and email it to your CPA (or whoever is doing your taxes).

Other reports on the same Reports/Fulfillment page that your CPA would probably like to see are the following:

 – Monthly Inventory History – Found under “Reports,” then “Fulfillment.” Run this report for the full year (choose “last 12 months” for the report time period) and it will show you a monthly breakdown of what you sold each month.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 12.08.03 PM– Received Inventory – Found under Reports, then Fulfillment. This shows what inventory items Amazon received from you this year.

Note: On the above two reports, be sure you click on the Download tab so you can easily download these reports. As with the “Year End Inventory” report, be sure to move the report over to Excel so that it’s easier for your CPA to read.

When you run these reports, don’t forget to choose “last 365 days” or “last 12 months”  for your report dates. You want the reports for the whole year, not just the current month.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.04.28 AMYour CPA would also like to see a report of your sales, fees, and income from Amazon. The way to find and run this report is a little different, so here is how you do it:

  1. Log in to Seller Central.
  2. Hover your mouse over “Reports,” and then select “Payment.”
  3. Click on the “Date Range Reports” tab.
  4. Click on the “Generate Report” button.
  5. Select Report Type: Summary
  6. Select Date Range: Custom
  7. Enter in the date range you want. For tax purposes enter “01/01/2014 – 12/31/2014”
  8. Click “Generate” to get the report started.
  9. Once the report is ready, it will be available to download.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.06.03 AMNote: If you are running this report before December 31st, then the report will not be ready to download until January 1st. Set a reminder somewhere to come back and download the report on January 1st. If you are running this report after January 1st, then it should be ready to download in a few minutes.

Get all of these reports to your CPA ASAP. You really don’t want to be late on getting the tax process started. Again, if you don’t have a CPA, I highly recommend getting one as soon as possible. It’s costly, but you want to be sure your numbers are right, and you want a professional to do the work that would eat up way too much of your time if you did it yourself.

Of course, these aren’t the only numbers you’ll need to give to your CPA. They will also need to know your cost of goods (you logged your receipts, right?) and any other business related expenses that will deduct from your sales numbers.

ISTFrontCoverGREAT BOOK ON SALES TAX

With tax season upon us, I wanted to let you know that you can download a copy of Introduction to Sales Tax for FBA Sellers by Kat Simpson and Michael Rice. This book is usually $16.99 but you can get it today for only $9.99. Click here or on the cover image to the right to get your copy. Remember, you don’t need a Kindle device to read Kindle books. There are many free Kindle reading apps for your PC, Mac, Smartphone, and Tablet.

Have a question? Every week, I get a handful of emails from readers like you asking some pretty good questions. Instead of only replying to the reader who asked the question, I thought I’d post some of these Q&As here on the blog, so that you can benefit from it as well. Today’s blog post was inspired from a question from one our readers. If you’d like to ask a question to be featured in an upcoming FBA Q&A, please email me (stephen@fulltimefba.com) today.

If you liked this post and found it helpful, scroll back up to the top and subscribe to the blog. I’ll update you about once a week with helpful tips on how you can make a full-time income with FBA.

Ok, the 2014 year is almost over. What other things are you doing during the last week of the year in order to prepare for 2015? I’d love to hear what you’re up to this week!

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2014

First off, if you can see this… thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read today’s blog post. I know Q4 is crazy busy and I hope my blog posts can help you take action that helps save time and increase your profits.

Q4 GrowthAs we all know, Christmas is a week away and I hope you’ve been able to stock the Amazon warehouses with as much inventory as you possibly can. It seems pretty obvious to say, but you can’t sell a lot of items if you don’t have a lot of items in stock. To help you continue to make this month your best selling month ever, here are my top ten tips for finishing strong in 2014:

1. Reprice holiday related items. It’s crunch time. Log into Seller Central and check all of your holiday related items in your inventory. Do a keyword search for words like “holiday” and “christmas” and make sure that all of your holiday items are competitively priced. While some of these seasonal items actually sell throughout the year, there might still be some in stock that you need to reprice. As always, double check with CamelCamelCamel to see what you could possibly expect. If you have multiples of higher ranked holiday items, it’s probably a good time to lower your prices to get the sale. You don’t want to hold on to these items another full year… especially with possible long term stores fees coming up in February for items we have multiples of.

2. The week before Christmas is a Prime spending frenzy! For items sold through FBA, hold on to your prices that you think will sell for Christmas. It’s not rare to see an item going for $15 on December 14th to be selling for $25 on December 19th. This is especially true for items where you’re the only FBA seller or one of a few FBA sellers.

returns.jpg3. Be prepared for an increase in returns. Naturally, with an increase in sales, there is also an increase in returns. Don’t let this make you anxious or worried. It’s a natural part of selling. As you might already know, Amazon automatically refunds the buyer the full purchase price when the buyer requests to return an item. If the buyer fails to return the item to Amazon, then Amazon is supposed to automatically reimburse you for the item after 45 days have passed, but many times Amazon “forgets” and needs to be reminded. For more about how to make sure returned items are actually returned to Amazon, check out this popular blog post.

feedback4. Be prepared for an increase in negative feedback. If you’re keeping to best business practices, then you’ll most likely get lots of new positive (4 or 5) feedback, but you’ll also get the occasional negative (1 or 2) or neutral (3) feedback score. If the feedback is actually about the FBA process (“my item came 2 days late”) or a product review (“this coffee maker is hard to use”), then it’s up to you to do whatever you can to get the feedback removed. Your feedback score is a huge aspect of your seller metrics. The better seller metrics you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn the buy box for your products. To read more about how I handle feedback issues (and how I currently keep a 100% feedback score), then check out this blog post.

5. Look at sales ranks differently. As you already know, the sales velocity in December shoots through the roof! This should make you look at sales rank differently than during the rest of the year. Here is an example: A toy with a sales rank of 10,000 in July might sell 15 times a week… while a toy with a rank of 10,000 in December might sell 15 times a day. This is important to know when you are out sourcing for inventory. Know that after Christmas and into January, many of these sales ranks will start to return to their normal patterns (slower sales), and it’s up to you to recalibrate your mind to what you need to expect when you’re out sourcing.

targetstore6. Be careful with sale prices at retail chain stores. Retail stores are realizing that they need to do whatever it takes to sell their stuff as soon as possible. Often, this means some outrageous clearance sales. But be careful, the items you’re finding clearanced at large national chains might be the same items hundreds of other resellers are finding. You don’t want to be slow on these sales. If you decide to buy, you need to get those items to Amazon as fast as possible… and I wouldn’t recommend going too deep. It’s possible that Amazon is about to be flooded with these items. Buy fast, prep fast, and ship fast so it can sell fast.

7. Profit from selling items Merchant Fulfilled. We all love selling via FBA, but this week still provides a nice money making opportunity if you are willing to do a little more work. Selling via Merchant Fulfilled can still bring about some nice profits this week for items that buyers need to buy today. The best items to sell MF are those that both Amazon and FBA sellers have sold out of, ones that are “Currently Unavailable” on their Amazon product page, and ones with a low rank that you don’t want to risk the extra time it takes to travel to a fulfillment center. If you’re not well versed in selling via MF, and you would like a very affordable and helpful training, then I suggest you click here.

amazon_gift_card8. Keep sourcing for post-Christmas buyers. On the days after Christmas and well into January, many people have brand new Amazon gift cards burning a hole in their pockets. They head on over to Amazon and look for items to spend these gift cards on, and you want to be sure you have what they want waiting for them. Not only do gift card buyers show up, but so do the people who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas. They know what they want, and since they didn’t get it, they decide to give themselves the gift they really want. Again, you want to be sure you have what they want when they go shopping for themselves.

list-of-updated-after-christmas-sales-20099. Buy Christmas themed items at huge discounts. After Christmas, all of the Christmas related items go on sale at drastically reduced prices. This is a great time for you to stock up for your Amazon inventory. Like I’ve said before, seasonal items sell both in and out of season. I’ve seen Christmas ornaments sell in May, candy canes sell in March, and holiday DVDs sell in August. The stuff sells year round, but especially in July as people have “Christmas in July” parties. So, now might be a good time to buy holiday decor at 75% – 90% off.

201510. Look towards the new year. Why am I talking about the new year in December? I honestly believe that if you wait until January 1st to start thinking about the new year, then you’re already behind in the game and are at a disadvantage. Imagine someone showing up for marathon without doing any training beforehand. The runner would most likely quit before they even pass the 5 mile marker. Don’t be that guy. When January 1st arrives, we all begin a 365 day marathon, and I want to be sure you are ready for the journey. To read my thoughts about committing to the goal of a full-time income with FBA, click here. You can also get a free video training on how to create your best year ever right here, and a free ebook on goal setting here.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to finish strong in 2014? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

How to Find the Number of Items in Each Amazon Category (plus a freebie!)

it_photo_107887Today I’m starting a new series called FBA Q&A. Every week, I get a handful of questions from readers like you asking me some pretty good questions. Instead of only replying to the reader who asked the question, I thought I’d post some of these Q&As here on the blog, so that you can benefit from it as well. I’ll do my best to answer each question, and you can add your own thoughts and opinions to the conversation with your comments. If you happen to have a specific question for me, feel free to email me at stephen@fulltimefba.com. Who knows? Maybe one of your questions will be featured in an upcoming blog post.

Ok, on to the first Q. René writes:

“Hi Stephen, 
I follow your blog and learn a lot every day. I have a question: How to find out how many items are in an Amazon category? Thanks for all the guidance. 
René”
 

Before I show you my quick and easy process that I use to find out how many items are in a particular Amazon category, I want to talk about why it’s important to know this information.

IMG_2322When you’re out sourcing for profitable products to sell on Amazon, you’re probably looking at two main pieces of information: the item’s ROI and its sales rank. Sure, there are other factors that go into whether or not you decide to buy something to sell on Amazon, but those are usually the main two numbers you consider.

The first number we usually look at is the potential ROI of the product. We want to make sure we are going to make money selling this item on Amazon. Not only do we want to make a profit, but we also want to make sure we have some wiggle room in case the price of the item goes down.

The second number we usually look at is the sales rank. This is the number that gives us a glimpse into the potential speed of the item selling. The lower the sales rank number is, the faster it should sell. There are so many different things to think about when looking at sales rank, but most people agree that an item with a sales rank consistently in the top 5% of its category is a potential fast flip. This is not always the case, but for most items and categories, it is.

So, one really smart sourcing tip is to learn the sales ranks of each category and what sales rank numbers are in the top 5% of said category. How do we do this? With simple math.

Number of items in category x .05 = Top 5% of that category.

Ok, here is the simple way I find out how many products Amazon has in their individual categories:

1. Go to Amazon.com and choose the category you want to know about. 
2. Type the minus or dash symbol immediately followed by a few random letters (yes, really). 
3. Click on “Go” or just do a hard return on your keyboard. 
4. The results will show you how many items are in that category currently. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 10.09.37 AM

Using this method, I’ll show you how I found out how many items are in the Toys and Games category.

1. I went to Amazon and chose the Toys and Games category
2. I typed in “-flksjhdflkjsh” (without quotes) in the search bar.  
3. I clicked on “Go.”
4. The results showed me that there are currently 2,609,918 items in the Toys and Games category. 
 

Keep reading, because I have a free download that will save you tons of time… But first, a few more thoughts about Amazon product pages and sales rank.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.20.56 AM The little trick above will only show you the number of items in a particular category that Amazon currently has in stock. If you wanted to include the out of stock items in this equation, you would simply need to scroll down and check “Include Out of Stock” and you will then get the numbers of every item in the Amazon catalog for that category. I don’t suggest this because some of the items that are “out of stock” have been out of stock for years and don’t need to be included in your overall search. In fact, if you include the out of stock items when looking at the Toys & Games category, the number of items in the catalog jumps from 2.6 million to over 5.1 million.

Amazon both adds and subtracts items to their catalog daily, so it’s probably a good idea to check back from time to time to make sure your numbers are up to date. You don’t need to check back daily, but I would suggest looking at the numbers about once a quarter.

The trick above also works with some of the sub categories. Say you want to find out how many games there are in the toy category. All you’d need to do is the “-jgojfojf” search for Toys, and then click on the sub category of Games on the left side column. By searching today, you would find that there are currently 329,630 games. This might be some good information to know, but if you’re using a scouting app like Profit Bandit, the app usually only returns the sale rank for the main categories.

Different categories have their own personalities. From my experience, in some categories, the top 5% is a good number to aim for, while in other categories, an item near the 5% mark might still take a long time to sell. Other categories I think it’s ok to expand to the top 10%… but you only begin to know this over time as you see what sells quickly and what takes a longer time than expected. And don’t be afraid of long tail items (items that take a long time to sell, but bring back a return well worth the wait).

salesrank-camelchart-locale-usasin-b0011457neforce-1zero-0w-725h-440legend-1ilt-1tp-allfo-0lang-en2014-12-0903_37_29Sales ranks are fluid… they change many times a day. When you see a sales rank, you’re seeing a snapshot of the popularity at that moment. A book might have a sales rank of 4 million one day, and then the day after it sells, the rank could jump all the way to 600,000. That’s a huge leap, but one that happens daily. For more of my tips on sales ranks, be sure to check out these blog posts.

FREEBIE!!

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.20.05 AMOk, so now that you know how to find out how many items are in each of Amazon’s product categories, and you know the formula for finding which items are in the top 5%, what if I just gave you a free download that gives you all this info for free? Sound good? I’ll go a step even further… if you click the image to the right, you can have a FREE PDF emailed to you that contains every main Amazon category broken up into the top 10%, 5%, and top 1%. The data on the PDF is updated to today’s numbers, so it’s the most accurate data around. All you need to do is click the button below and in a few minutes, you’ll get your PDF download for free.

Click To Get Your FREE Amazon Sales Rank PDF

After you grab your free PDF, then it’s your turn… Go to Amazon, pick a random category, and use my little trick above.  I’d love if you’d comment below how many products are currently in that category. Ready? Set… Go!