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.
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.
It’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.
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?