Category Archives: Family Involvement

FBA Sourcing + Road Trip = Free Vacation!

It’s summer, and the perfect time to plan a sourcing road trip! Combining a road trip with FBA sourcing is a great idea that combines the fun of a vacation with sourcing in new and exciting places. Imagine driving to a location far from home and stopping at rural Walmarts along the way to find clearance items you can’t find anywhere else. Imagine the possibility of finding new “honey holes” for FBA inventory. Think about how much fun it could be to source at your favorite stores in a new town and find even more of the items you’ve already sourced in your own hometown. The possibilities are endless.

In 2014, Rebecca and I planned a three-day sourcing road trip to Kansas City, Missouri. We live in Fort Worth, Texas, and both thought it’d be fun to take our sourcing on the road. We booked two nights at a hotel in Kansas City and left Fort Worth on a Friday morning.

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I’m not saying we’re a good luck charm, but the Royals did go to the World Series the year we went to see them play.

When we got to Kansas City, we checked into our hotel and headed for Kauffman Stadium to see the Royals in action, just a few months before they made it to the World Series. Rebecca and I are both fans of baseball, and it’s been my dream to visit every Major League Baseball ballpark. What better way to liven up our sourcing trip than to work in two baseball games on the road?

Friday night we watched the Royals beat the Angels thanks to an Omar Infante grand slam.

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It’s so much fun filling up multiple carts!

On Saturday morning, we got up early and began to source. Before our trip, I made a map that included many of our favorite sourcing stores. We sourced all morning and found some really great inventory items. Come lunchtime, we headed back to Kauffman Stadium for another baseball game. This time, Rebecca and I went to the stadium early and toured the Royals Hall of Fame and walked all the way around the stadium. It was a lot of fun for both of us. The game began, but the clouds started rolling in. Before the sky fell, Rebecca and I decided it was time to go. Sure enough, the rain came hard, and the game was delayed.

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Rebecca asked, “Are we going to have enough room in the back for our luggage?” Maybe next time we’ll rent a trailer.

While the game was under a rain delay, there was no time to waste for Rebecca and me. We went back to sourcing and continued to find some amazing deals at stores all over Kansas City. We filled up our van and headed back to the hotel for the night. Bright and early Sunday morning, we packed up all of our things and made the drive back home to Texas.

That road trip to Kansas City was awesome. It was a lot of fun sourcing in a new city and watching the Royals play at Kauffman Stadium. It didn’t hurt that the Royals were also giving away free hats at one game and free bobbleheads at the second game. I sold those freebies on eBay and it helped pay for the game tickets and stadium parking. Not a bad deal.

If you’re looking for a fun way to get some vacation time in while still working some on your FBA business, a sourcing road trip might just work out for you. As long as sourcing (or other work-related activities) are your primary objective, then you would be able to write off the mileage and expenses. I know from experience that it is possible to make a trip like this profitable, even after all of the travel expenses.

Yes, we actually peeled stickers in the hotel room!

Yes, we actually peeled stickers in the hotel room! Click on the image above to get your own Scotty Peelers. They’re awesome!

Rebecca and I have gone on many sourcing road trips and have really found it to be both refreshing and a fun challenge for our business. One night, after coming back to the hotel room after a huge rural Walmart haul, we were so excited about all the inventory items we found that we actually took off all of the price stickers in the comfort of our hotel room. That’s right. We actually brought all of the items into our hotel room. You should have seen the faces of other guests as we loaded up the bellhop luggage cart with bags and bags of Walmart items.

Maybe a sourcing road trip is just the thing to help give you and your FBA business the kick it needs to get out of your comfort zone and source new places – or your normal places in new cities. Take a look at a map and see what surrounds you. See if there are any non-work-related activities you can combine with your sourcing trip. Maybe combine a sourcing trip with white water rafting… or a sourcing trip with camping at a beautiful state park. Maybe you could source on your way to and from a national landmark you want to visit…or to and from a city or state on your bucket list. The possibilities are endless.

ontheroadThere are a few really great resources that can help you make even more out of your sourcing trips. The books Amazon Autopilot: On the Road and Traveltage: Use Your Smartphone & FBA to Make Money, Travel, & Create The Life You Want are both good resources that walk you through everything you need to know (and more) about combining travel with working a successful 81+-bbgb+VLFBA business. When you go on a sourcing road trip, you really need to know all the ins and outs on how to make the most of your time, energy, money, and resources. Both Amazon Autopilot: On the Road and Traveltage help you gain the knowledge you need to make each and every one of your sourcing road trips a big success.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Have you been on a sourcing road trip? Where did you go and what did you do? Have any tips to add for a successful sourcing road trip? Comment below and share your story.

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.

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.

Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with your Online Business

Married To Reselling 3D 2 clearToday, I’m excited to tell you that our new book, Married To Reselling: Balancing Family Life With Your Online Business, is now available! Ever since I joined online reselling groups on Facebook, I kept seeing the same questions pop up: 
  • How can I work at home and still keep family time a priority?
  • How can I convince my spouse that I’m not wasting my time or our money with reselling?
  • My family doesn’t get that selling online is a real job.
  • How can I get my spouse on board with reselling?
  • I’m single and run my online business by myself. How can I find a support system? (Yes, this book is for singles too)
  • My spouse thinks my online business is “nice,” but won’t lend an ounce of help. 
  • How can I balance my business budget with my personal budget
  • How can I get work done with my kids always wanting my attention
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Rebecca & Stephen Smotherman

For those who have a “normal” 9-5 job, the moment we get home in the evening, we can usually disconnect from thinking about work and just enjoy time with our family and friends. But for many resellers, the whole concept of working at home is a new frontier filled with complicated issues. 

To help address these issues, my wife and I set out to write up an article to help resellers and their families find true balance. What started out as a blog post evolved into a book that addresses all these issues. 

Married To Reselling 3D clearWhile most reselling ebooks focus on helping you make more profits, the focus of this book is to prioritize your family. You might become very successful selling online, but you don’t want to neglect your family. We believe you can succeed in relationships and business at the same timeTo read more about Married to Resellingclick here.

BONUS: If you act now, you’ll get a special introductory deal of 33% off regular price!

How to be Married to FBA

A couple of weeks ago, Stephen posted a quiz to test if you’re ready to make the transition to selling via FBA as a full-time job. His questions got me (Rebecca) to thinking about the flip side of the FBA coin — the spouse’s side. It’s one thing if you decide you’re ready to get further into selling on Amazon, but how does your spouse feel about this scenario?

garage-sale-sign-with-shoppersI will never forget the first time I went with Stephen on his Friday morning garage sale route. Mostly I won’t forget it because Stephen likes to remind me of my reaction that day. After a few hours of riding with him around town, getting in and out of the car, not finding a whole lot at each place (but walking away with a few great deals), I told him, “It’s great you enjoy doing that, dear, but I don’t care to ever try that again.” Something about the methodical process of going from house to house on his list just ruined garage sales for me. Stephen felt like he was on an adventure to find hidden treasure. I felt like we were skipping over all the cool stuff (old mason jars! an antique sewing machine!) to look for brand new toys and games. Boring.

Thankfully, he convinced me to stick with the idea of helping him source for FBA, and he gladly did the bulk of our garage saling while I focused more on thrift stores, used books, and retail. Since that time, we’ve had many conversations about the dynamics of working together on FBA while maintaining a healthy marriage. Not everybody who reads this blog is married, and not everybody who reads the blog wants to sell on FBA full-time. Still, there are factors involved in selling on FBA that affect our relationships, regardless of which season of life we’re in, and hopefully we can all benefit from thinking through these factors.

On that note, here are a few things to consider about FBA and marriage, whether you’re working together with your spouse at FBA or your spouse does a different line of work:

Managing-RiskRisk tolerance. Many entrepreneurs, not just FBA sellers, experience conflict with their spouse over different levels of risk tolerance when investing money is concerned. For some, the amount of money involved is a hot spot. For others, it’s the waiting period and uncertainty of when you’ll see a return on your investment. Lots of open communication and patience with one another are necessary to come to agreements and make decisions. Bottom line, your marriage should come before your business, so there may be times when you have to forego your own wants and desires in the business for the sake of your spouse’s comfort level.

Personality differences. I am an introvert, and Stephen is an extrovert. Whether he’s at a garage sale or a liquidation store, he loves chatting with folks, negotiating, working out deals. I prefer to go in, get things done, and go home. At times we’ve had to plan out our daily tasks according to these differences. In some instances one or both of us might end up having to do tasks outside our area of strength, but as a general rule we keep an open line of communication going so that we’re both predominantly working in areas best suited for our personalities.

DSC03996Personal interests. It’s very obvious when Stephen and I are sourcing together where each of our personal interests lie. Whether we’re at a retail store, thrift store, or garage sale, he heads for the toys and games, and I head for the books or kitchen items. We never really discussed this as a strategy — it just happened naturally. If you’re working at FBA and see that your spouse isn’t all that interested in getting involved, perhaps all you need is a change of category. Maybe you’ve always found media to be profitable, but your spouse might enjoy sourcing for health and beauty items instead. Explore the options of different Amazon categories as a way to pique your spouse’s interest.

Agreement on business model. If you’re both working together at your FBA business, it’s important that you agree on the type of business model you set up. Are you looking mostly for fast turns? Are you comfortable waiting out the profits of long-tail items? Ask yourselves these types of questions and discuss your answers ahead of time, before actual money is involved so you can avoid conflict in the heat of the moment. For those who are working at FBA while your spouse does something else, discuss with your spouse your level of commitment to your business. Talk with one another about whether you’re actively trying to grow the business or whether you’re pursuing it as a hobby. Your involvement in FBA brings an opportunity cost of time and money that aren’t being spent on your marriage, family, or other relationships — always, always come to an agreement with your spouse on the level of involvement you’re both comfortable with.

Amount of time spent together. If you and your spouse are considering working at FBA together, one important factor to remember is the amount of time you’ll be working together, whether at your home office, in your storage space, or out sourcing. Many people, Stephen and I included, choose to do FBA for that exact reason — we enjoy spending time together and would prefer to have flexibility of schedule rather than be tied to separate jobs in separate offices. Working together does create the potential for more conflict, so it’s important to be gracious to one another and communicate and listen well. We’ve also found that it’s good to plan separate activities at times throughout the week, just so we’re not becoming too inwardly focused in our marriage and still have healthy outside relationships.

communicateCommunication. I’ve already mentioned it a few times above, but good communication is key if you’re going to work together with your spouse at FBA or maintain a healthy marriage while you work at FBA with your spouse’s support. I can’t stress this enough. You’re going to need to communicate well with each other about expectations for schedules, about buying decisions, about how the space in your house is being used. I don’t come from a business background, and I’ve struggled at times to understand everything that’s involved in running a successful FBA business. If I couldn’t openly express my concerns to Stephen and he couldn’t patiently explain to me (for the fiftieth time) what’s going on in certain situations, we wouldn’t make it as a couple or in this business. My biggest advice to all couples involved in FBA in any fashion: talk to each other. A lot. Kindly and honestly.

I’m sure there are other factors that come to mind when you think of selling through FBA and relating to a spouse or other family. We would love to hear your thoughts — please leave a comment and help us further the conversation!

Finding Joy in FBA

This post is from Rebecca, Stephen’s wife and business partner.

Everybody is born with gifts, talents, preferences, and passions. Sometimes these talents and passions are obvious from childhood. Other talents become clear later in life. Stephen and I truly believe that utilizing those gifts and passions on a regular basis is key to a successful business, including a successful FBA business. If you’re working every day at something you love, you are more motivated to work hard and you’re in a better position to excel at that work.

I’m saying all this about “do what you love and love what you do” as an English major and professional writer. I have ZERO business background or experience prior to working with Stephen on FBA. And yet, I can truly say that I love my part of doing FBA as a couple. If I only thought of it as a way to pay our bills, not as an enjoyable and meaningful job as well, I wouldn’t be doing it. But we’ve found a way to use my unique non-business-background gifts to help our business grow — and we think you can do the same thing.

Here are a few ways to make your talents, your strengths, and your passions prosper your business:

1. Shop where it most suits you.

I love thrift stores. Always have. I’m drawn to the quirkiness of so many thrift store owners, and I love that each thrift store encounter feels like a treasure hunt. I don’t always enjoy garage sales. I give up too easily when there’s a list of 20 sales to cover, and the first 7 or 8 are duds — or closed. So, I have a regular thrift store route that I cover each week, and Stephen (who loves driving around town and talking to all the strangers he meets along the way) does the bulk of our garage saling. This system works for us, so we stick with it for the most part.

DSC039962. Shop for what most suits you.

If Stephen and I go to a thrift store together, we can walk in the door and without a word know what the other one wants to do first: I make a beeline for the books, and he heads to the toys and games. It truly is a delight to me to stand for an hour or more scanning books — seriously, it’s a dream come true that I get to buy and sell books for a living! In the same way that I sometimes give up on a long list of garage sales, Stephen becomes weary of shelf after shelf of books needing to be scanned. He, on the other hand, never complains about digging through bins of toys or shelves of video games. It makes sense that we each focus on the area we’re drawn to — we each do a better job that way.

3. Be willing to try new things and new places.

Sometimes we don’t know what we enjoy until we try it. In the past, I thought the idea of scanning shelves of clearance items at a retail store sounded like an awful way to spend an afternoon — tedious and dusty. But after a couple of times of going out to stores with Stephen and seeing what it’s like (and learning that there’s more thought process involved than just blindly picking up each and every item to scan it), I started to get into it. Again, it’s like a treasure hunt. Now I have a couple of stores where I regularly scan clearance items — and I enjoy it! This willingness is especially important if you’re doing FBA on your own. You can’t always rely on someone else to do the jobs you don’t like.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others — even your partner. 

183983_488455967854185_352660876_nIt’s easy to get caught up in reading forums, blogs, and e-books and start to think, “I’m just not good at [fill in the blank] like other people are. I can’t seem to find [insert product name here] or have any luck at [name of store here].” One thought can lead to another, and soon you’re in a downward spiral of negativity. But you have to remember, the great thing about FBA is there’s room for all kinds of products, all kinds of categories, and all levels of sellers. If someone else’s niche doesn’t work for you, keep looking — your own niche is out there. I have to tell myself this every time Stephen finds a great video game deal — I’m not a loser because I never seem to find video games that are worth anything. Video games are an area of expertise for him, not me, and I can celebrate his victories without feeling defeated myself.

5. Don’t give up working on your weaknesses or the areas you don’t enjoy.

Now, while it’s true that you should try to focus overall on doing work that you enjoy, it’s also true that there are always aspects to any job that are genuinely work (who really enjoys and is “gifted” at sticker removal?). These mundane tasks must be done, and we can’t just slough them off for the sake of only doing tasks we find pleasant. If you need to, hire an assistant (or your teenage kid) to help you with these areas that are less enjoyable to you — or find ways to make them more appealing. For example, sticker removal days are also movie days at our house. And there are days when it works better for me to do the garage saling and Stephen to be busy at something else (see #1 above) — garage sales aren’t my favorite, but if needed, I get out there and do it.

If you want to read more about how Stephen and I make our Amazon FBA business work as a married couple, check out our book, Married to Reselling: Balancing Family Life with Your Online Business.

Please let us hear from you now. Have you found what makes you joyful in FBA? How did you find it? If not, what are you doing to actively seek the areas of FBA that you enjoy and excel at?

How to Fit FBA Sourcing into Your Busy Schedule

Today’s post comes from my wife, Rebecca, who will write on this blog from time to time. Her post is full of great tips for all of us busy entrepreneurs.

Photo by user CELALTEBER from sxc.hu

Sourcing while busy? It’s possible! Photo by CELALTEBER from sxc.hu

Part of the way we’re able to make full-time FBA a possibility for our family is by strategically planning our time each week. One way I contribute to our FBA business is by sourcing once every few days. With four boys in our family, I have to a lot to keep up with around the house — and as a freelance writer, I have writing projects that require my attention also. But Stephen and I have figured out some ways to get me out of the house and sourcing on a regular basis by combining my business shopping with other errands or social activities.

I’ll share with you a few ways I work sourcing into my schedule, and then I’d like to challenge you to come up with one new way you can source this week. Try the new addition to your schedule for a month or two and see if it adds new products to your inventory on a regular basis.

1. I combine sourcing with my regular household shopping.

Across the street from the grocery store where I shop for our family is a Target. When I do my weekly grocery shopping, I try to give myself an extra half hour or so in my schedule to run into Target and scan their clearance shelves. Sometimes I find stuff to buy for FBA, sometimes I don’t — but the Target is right on my regular route anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to stop and look. A couple of weeks ago, I took about 30 minutes to scan clearance items, filled half a cart, and spent $50 on items that will sell for $150 on FBA, for a profit of $100. Not bad for a half hour of work on my way to buy our groceries!

2. I combine sourcing with my regular social outings.

Every Thursday I meet a friend to discuss books over a cup of coffee. Her house is in a different part of town from where I live, so it gives me the opportunity to visit thrift stores I don’t always pass on a daily basis. Depending on how much time I have, I plan to visit 1 – 3 thrift shops in that part of town after our coffee date. Again, I just make it a point to work that extra sourcing time into my schedule that day.

3. I combine sourcing with fun activities with my husband.

Stephen and I like to go out for different types of international cuisine, but there aren’t a lot of options close to where we live. Every 4 – 6 weeks, we schedule a day to drive to a nearby town, eat a new type of cuisine for lunch, and visit thrift shops near the restaurant. We plan our route ahead of time so that we can make the most of the day — usually we’re able to source at 5 – 8 thrift shops before or after our lunch date.

At other times we’ve sourced on the way to visit out-of-town relatives or while driving an hour away to pick up someone at the airport. Take a look at your regular activities and do a search for thrift shops or retail stores with clearance sections in the nearby area. Then take a look at the irregular activities that pop up on your calendar but take you to a different part of town or even the state — do searches for thrift shops in those areas to maximize the benefit of the time you’re spending on the road. If you’re already having to make a two hour round trip, why not leave a couple of hours early to get some sourcing done in a fresh area while you’re at it? You’re likely to find items that will at least pay for the gas for your trip, or even a great deal higher profit.

Today's blog is written by my wife, Rebecca.

Today’s blog was written by my wife, Rebecca. www.rebeccadiann.com

We’d love for you to leave us a comment. Are there ways you work sourcing into your non-business-related activities each week or month? What new ways are you planning to add sourcing to your schedule in the coming weeks?

Introducing my Business Partner

The old saying is true. “Behind every good man is a great woman.” My wife, Rebecca, is a tremendous help in making FBA our full-time job. She’s a part-time writer and a full-time homemaker, but she still finds time to help the family business.  She’ll join us along the way and give us valuable and unique insights. I’m looking forward to seeing what blog posts she’ll bring to our community here at Full-Time FBA. But enough from me…

IMG_7782bGreetings, everyone! Until recently, my experience with Amazon was mostly related to purchasing books, one of my favorite things to do as an English major and freelance writer. But a few months ago Stephen and I began exploring the idea of my joining him in his FBA business, and I started to see Amazon in a whole new light. As I understood more about how Fulfillment By Amazon works (how it frees up the seller to do more sourcing, the part of online selling that I’m most intrigued by) I was willing to give it a try.

Before we joined forces in the business, Stephen was limited in the amount of inventory he could send in — limited by the time he could spend driving to retail stores, thrift stores, and garage sales, as well as the time he could spend preparing the inventory to be sent in to Amazon. Stephen has a sharply focused mind for business and is always coming up with creative ideas for how to increase the profit margin or find new inventory, but he needed help carrying out tasks that require a few hours of time in a chunk.

That’s where I could help. He handles the financial side of things and developing the direction of our business. I help him strategize how to prioritize our time to accomplish those goals, and I help to carry out the more mundane aspects of the business, like removing stickers, scouting local thrift stores and garage sales, etc. The flexibility of the schedule means I’m able to work part-time helping him with the FBA business and continue writing part-time to pursue my personal publishing goals, as well as keeping the household running smoothly (we have lots of laundry with four boys!).

Married To Reselling Mini 2

Click on the book above to find out how we successfully balance family life with our online business.

We’ve found that FBA works well for us as a family and allows us to have the kind of schedule we prefer, as well as allows us to pour as little or as much of ourselves and our time into the business on any given day. We work extra hours some days to make lighter days for family outings at other times. Stephen spends more time with the boys than the average dad who works outside the home at an 8-to-5 job, and we wouldn’t trade that for the world.

My contribution to the blog will be occasional posts about the support aspect of the business. Also, I’ll sometimes add a few lines of my own perspective within Stephen’s posts. I’m looking forward to getting to know the FBA community through this blog and to hearing the experiences of others who are in this business.