Tag Archives: Goals

Top 10 Tips For Finishing Strong in 2016

finishing-strong-2016First 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 t0 save time and increase your profits.

As we all know, the holiday selling season is in full bloom, and I hope you’ve been able to stock the Amazon warehouses with as much quality 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 2016:

christmas-lights1. 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 and Keepa to see what prices and sales 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 long term stores fees coming up in February.

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. On the other hand, if the competition for sales is fierce, you might want to lower your price just a little to sell out before the newbie Amazon sellers freak out and lower their prices too far.

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 FBA customer 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 and/or positive 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 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 25 times a week… while a toy with a rank of 10,000 in December might sell 50 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. Again, look at CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect in January.

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 moving 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 from other resellers sourcing at the same sales in their town. 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, are backordered, 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.

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. The week before, and right 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. Again (I might be sounding like a broken record by now), check CamelCamelCamel and Keepa to see what prices and sales velocity to expect throughout the year.

10. Look towards the new year. Why am I talking about the new year in December? I honestly believe that if you wait until the first of January 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 a 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 1 arrives, we all begin a 365 day marathon, and I want to be sure you are ready for the journey. One great way is to grab my book, The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business. This resource will help you know exactly what to do and what to avoid for each month of the year.

How about you? What strategies are you implementing to finish strong in 2016? I’d love to hear your ideas, so comment below.

 

5 Simple Strategies to Take the Next Step with Your 2016 Amazon FBA Goals

Are you like me when it comes to starting the new year off?

I love new beginnings, love fresh starts, love setting goals and starting over new. Every year we have the opportunity to make it our best year yet.

smart-person-2Hopefully by this time you’ve made some SMARTER goals for your business and for yourself personally. We hope you take this opportunity to dream big, have fun, and set some tremendous goals. If you haven’t seen our post about setting goals for the year, we encourage you to check it out and see how you can set SMARTER goals for yourself and your business in 2016:

  • S – Specific – The better you know your objective, the easier it will be to attain it.
  • M – Measurable – Can the results be measured and compared to the goal?
  • A – Actionable – Can you take action steps to meet this goal?
  • R – Realistic – Are you both willing AND able to meet your goal?
  • T – Time bound – When do you want to accomplish this goal?
  • E – Exciting – Do the goals get you excited about your future?
  • R – Relevant – Do these goals match up with the season of life you are in?

Now that you’ve set your 2016 goals (seriously, stop right now and set some goals if you haven’t already), we’re going to take those goals to the next level. Here are 5 simple strategies for taking your goals to the next level for your Amazon FBA business this year:

1. Write down your goals.

penpad2Often we find ourselves thinking about or talking to other people about our goals, without actually putting pen to paper and writing down a record of our goals. For some reason, however, the physical action of moving a goal from our brain and our mouth down to a piece of paper has an effect on whether we achieve the goal. There’s just something in the process of writing it down that causes people to achieve their goals more often.

2. Break down your goals into smaller goals.

kenya_2808How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Break down your huge goals into bite-sized pieces so you can keep your forward momentum.

For example, if your goal is to double your sales by the end of the year, then figure out the halfway point and make that a smaller goal for your business. If you made $50k in sales last year and want to double it this year to $100k, go into your account in Seller Central and figure out which day in the previous year you hit $25k in sales. Set a smaller goal for yourself to hit $50k by that date this year.

Another example: You can set smaller goals for your Amazon FBA education. If you set the goal to finish the Proven Wholesale Course by February, you could set smaller goals that will help you complete the course on time. Look at the modules, see how many there are, then figure out when you should finish each of the modules in order to reach your February goal.

3. Put your goals on your calendar.

If-it-doesn-t-get-scheduled-It-will-never-get-doneOnce you know what your bite-sized goals are, write your deadlines on your calendar or put them in your calendar app. Having the deadlines on your calendar means you will see them regularly and will keep your goals fresh in your mind.

Even more important than putting those deadlines on the calendar, though, is scheduling time to work on your goals. Make an appointment with yourself to work on achieving your goals. You make time for the things in life that are a priority. If your goals are a priority, you will set aside time where no one can interrupt you as you make progress on your goals. You’re much more likely to actually do something if it’s scheduled in your calendar.

4. Find accountability for working on your goals.

AccountabilityWe all need someone to walk with us in life as we make progress towards our goals. I’m not talking about just posting your goals on Facebook for all your “friends” to see. That’s not true accountability. No one is going to come back in a month and check on that post and see how you’re doing.

Find a specific person who has experience in the area of your goal who you can talk to regularly and who will call you out when needed — someone who will ask you honestly about your progress. You don’t have to tell one person all your goals — that could get overwhelming for your accountability partner. But maybe you could tell your spouse one goal, tell a friend in the Amazon business another one, tell your sister another one. And with all of these people, make sure you’re giving, not just taking in the relationship. Accountability works best when it’s mutual, not a one-way street.

5. Review your goals regularly.

shutterstock_117743374-review-600pxStephen and I set ten really big goals for 2016, three personal goals and seven business goals. We will review these goals throughout the year, the same way we did last year. Towards the end of each month we have a budget meeting to go over our family finances, and we also review our goals at the same time. We remind ourselves of our motivations for reaching those goals, look at our progress, decide if they’re still relevant (in 2015, we completely deleted one goal by August because it no longer applied to our life situation; for another 2015 goal, we reached it in July instead of December!), and figure out the next step to take to keep moving forward.

For some people, a weekly review is good, for others quarterly, but for us a monthly review works best. Again, it’s crucial to put this review time on the calendar, or it’s too easy to forget to do it. We challenge you today to put a reminder on your phone or in your calendar for a monthly review of your goals for the next 12 months.

403a88a5d63b40347827bce7e74afd12If you follow the steps above, you’re much more likely to accomplish your goals in the time you set for yourself than if you just hope and wish that you’ll achieve them. Dreams are good, but we don’t want you to just live your life on dreams. We want you to develop plans that will help your dreams become reality. Some of you have some amazing long-term goals for your FBA business (like paying off your mortgage or other debt, being able to stay home with your kids, finding freedom from your corporate job). Working towards your 2016 goals will also help you achieve your long-term goals and achieve them faster.

Please leave a comment below and let us know how you’ll use these 5 strategies for making progress on your 2016 goals. What is your next action step? Did you put a reminder on your phone for your regular goal review? Did you schedule a time to work on your goals this week? Let us know!

 

The #1 Way to Ruin Your Q4 Sales on Amazon

ruin-q4-salesWe see them during all the pivotal dates this time of year. We saw them on Black Friday, we saw them on Cyber Monday, and we’ll see them again over the next couple of weeks. Posts on Facebook groups that include screenshots of huge sales numbers or pictures of 10 shopping carts loaded with toys from a retail arbitrage haul.

We can be inspired by these posts and feel excited for what is to come in our businesses — or we can have another response and ruin our Q4 sales.

We can start comparing ourselves to other sellers.

IMG_1571Comparing yourself with other sellers can be the fastest way to ruin your Q4 sales. Falling victim to the comparison trap might not cause you to lose sales today or tomorrow, but it will definitely have an impact on your psyche and your business over the long run.

When we compare ourselves to other people and start feeling negative emotions, that negativity can snowball. Pretty soon we’ll find that our entire mindset has shifted. We could become so dejected over not feeling good enough as a seller that we are tempted to quit. Or even worse, we could start making bad buying decisions for our business.

It’s crucial throughout the year but especially in Q4 to keep in mind what you don’t know when you see posts on Facebook about amazing sales or massive RA hauls:

  • recruiting-software-comparisonWe don’t know how much profit other sellers are making. If someone says “I made 6 figures in sales!” we can’t assume anything from that number. After that seller takes out the cost of inventory, supplies, or other fees, they might only be taking home in their pocket $15,000 of that $100k. And we don’t know how much time they spent to buy and prep their inventory. For all we know they really are only making minimum wage for their time.
  • We don’t know how other sellers are paying for their inventory. We don’t know if they run a cash-only business or if they go into debt to make huge purchases.  We never know if someone is making horrible decisions, taking out ginormous loans, and maxing out multiple credit cards to finance their Q4 inventory. This kind of behavior is very dangerous. At any moment Amazon could shut someone’s account down for something they did or did not do, and that seller would be stuck with the debt without getting a disbursement from Amazon. They could be making bad buying decisions thinking they have to blow a ton of money on inventory before December 10 in order to maximize Q4 — but what if their inventory doesn’t sell as expected? Or maybe they pay for everything with cash, make a ton of sales, and buy a new car in January. It could be either scenario when you see those posts online. The point is we just don’t know.

I’m not trying to suggest that everyone who makes these types of posts on Facebook is giving an inaccurate portrayal. On the contrary, many sellers make these posts in order to inspire others or as a way of celebrating within a community, neither of which is a bad thing. What I want us all to think about is how am I personally receiving this post? If I’m receiving it in a negative manner and comparing myself to others, then I have a problem.

When we get caught up in comparing ourselves with other sellers, we can have two types of negative results:

  • comparison-is-the-thief-of-We can begin to feel discouraged. If I’m comparing my Chapter 2 to someone else’s Chapter 12, I fail to take into account all the years of experiences (some successful, some otherwise) the other seller has had. When we compare ourselves this way, we can completely lose the steam in our engines and lose the motivation to excel as a seller. Worst case scenario, we could decide to quit.
  • We could look at other people’s sales and start getting puffed up. If I’m comparing my Chapter 12 to someone else’s Chapter 2, I can get arrogant, be filled with pride, and make reckless decisions. “Pride comes before the fall,” says the wisdom of Proverbs. Again, the comparisons have the potential to lead to incorrect thinking.

So then, what should we be comparing?

We should be comparing our outcomes with our goals

Q4 is an excellent time for us to begin looking back to see if we met our goals — for Q4 and for the year. I really hope you’re setting goals every year, if not every quarter. Goal setting is the best way for me to challenge myself in my business. Rather than comparing my sales to someone else’s, I want to look at my own goals and see how I fared this year. Did I meet my goals? If not, what can I do to tweak those goals for next year? What am I planning to do to make next year’s sales even better?

Don’t get weighed down by looking at other people’s sales numbers. Don’t fall victim to the trap of comparison. Focus on where you are personally and how you can meet your own goals.

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How are your sales going this Q4? I don’t want to know specific numbers — remember, we don’t need to compare those to anyone else’s. But did you meet your goals? Did you exceed them? Do you see now that you need to tweak something for next year? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to know how your Q4 is going, in general terms rather than specific numbers.

The Full-Time FBA Quiz – Are You Ready?

keep-calm-and-be-your-own-boss-7Has it been your dream to work from home and be your own boss? In today’s world, being your own boss is becoming more and more realistic every day. But do you have the characteristics needed to become a successful work-at-home entrepreneur? I know that not everyone who reads this blog has the goal of making FBA their full-time job. Many of you subscribed to the blog to take advantage of all the free tips and how to articles that we post weekly. But if your goal is to make FBA your full-time job, then take this little quiz and see how you stack up. These questions will help you determine whether or not you are ready to take the plunge. Count each “yes” and then see how you stack up. Let’s get started.

1. Do you like work that offers challenge, change, variety, and even some elements of risk?
2. Are you willing to invest your own money in your Amazon business venture?
3. Are you comfortable with NOT receiving a predictable paycheck?
4. Are you willing to spend as much time and effort as it takes to make your business successful?
5. Do you actually enjoy the day-to-day details of running your Amazon business?
6. Are you flexible enough to deal with the ever changing market of supply and demand?
7. Do you enjoy learning more and more about being a successful Amazon seller?
8. Are you able to bounce back and learn from failures or temporary setbacks?
9. Are you optimistic, passionate, and persistent about your work?
10. Are you confident that you are capable of being a successful as an Amazon seller?

Count up the number of times you said Yes above and see how you stack up below:

boss-300x3008 to 10 – Full Steam Ahead – If you answered Yes to 8 to 10 of the above questions, then you most likely have what it takes to start moving towards making FBA your full-time job. You are someone willing and able to take calculated risks based on both your experience and solid information. You’re probably even energized by selling on Amazon because it offers you opportunities to master challenges and grow. You’re an independent thinker, but willing to listen to the wisdom and advice of others. I’m not telling you to quit your day job just yet, but you seem to have the main ingredients for a successful transition into full-time FBA.

5 to 7 – Move Forward Slowly – If you answered Yes to 5 to 7 of the above questions, then you have some of the key characteristics, but you need to move ahead slowly. Take a moment to write down your strengths and weaknesses (both personally and in business) and determine what you need to develop before you start making the transition towards selling on Amazon as your full-time job. Capitalize on your strengths, and seek to improve upon your weaknesses. Read as much as you can about selling on Amazon, working at home, and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. There are so many affordable ebooks you can find to help improve upon your weaknesses (some are even free!).

bigstock-obstacle-ahead-caution-for-dan-415158880 to 4 – Prepare For a Hard Journey – If you answered Yes to 4 or fewer of the above questions, then you have a hard road ahead of you. I’m not at all telling you to ditch the goal of working for yourself completely. If you still cringe at the idea of being an employee for someone else, do not fear, there is still hope. The road will be harder, but it’s still possible to overcome the obstacles ahead and become a successful work-at-home entrepreneur. If you are determined to make this work, then take that passion and move forward very, very slowly. Read as much as you can on all areas of your business. Take online courses like The Proven Amazon Course and Amazon Boot Camp. These courses help walk you through step by step what you need to do to succeed in selling on Amazon.

No matter how you scored on this quiz, I truly believe that you can be successful with selling on Amazon via FBA. Whether you end up working FBA as a full-time job or you use FBA as a side business or hobby, you can count on this blog to bring you informative and relevant articles that will help take your business to the next level.

For those of you who have set the goal of making FBA your full time job, here are a few final thoughts about starting the journey towards being your own boss and working from home via FBA:

businessplan1. You don’t have to start immediately. Please don’t quit your day job today and jump into Amazon. It takes time to plan, and once you start selling on Amazon, it takes time to build up your income so that you can support yourself and your family. Selling on Amazon FBA is still a relatively new thing, so there is still time to learn as much as you can about what it takes to build a solid, successful, and profitable business. Make a plan, set goals, and take things one step at a time.

2. Success with being a work-at-home entrepreneur is so much easier when you believe in yourself. Being surrounded by family and friends that believe in you is also very helpful. It’s so much easier to believe in yourself when you focus on your skills, interests, and expertise. If there are parts of this business model where you lack confidence, be a reader and learn all you can to boost your skills to the next level.

WV-District-Logo-w-Facebook-Twitter3. You don’t need to go at this alone. Joining FBA-related groups online will surround you with like-minded individuals who are willing to help you along the way. Some examples of quality FBA Facebook groups include ScanPower, Amazon FBA Newbies, Fast Turn Radio, and of course, the Full-Time FBA facebook group! If you prefer email focus groups, I highly recommend Bob Wiley’s FBA Forum.

So how did you score? If you’d like, comment below and share with us how you did. Number 3 (not receiving a regular paycheck) was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome, but over time, I was able to make it work for me. Do you have an obstacle you want to share? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

Setting the Goal of Full-Time FBA

What is your goal for selling through FBA? Is your goal to make FBA your full-time job? Some of you may already be there, and for that I commend you. For others, full-time FBA seems daunting. I want to encourage you that full-time FBA is completely attainable — I and many others are a testament to that. So let’s talk about the first steps towards making FBA your full-time job.

You might be thinking that the first steps are how to get the best and most affordable inventory. Or you might think that this post will be about all the tools, programs, or gadgets that help make an FBA business easier — but in fact, I’m going to start somewhere else entirely.

Full-TimeFBASign1

If the goal is to make FBA your full-time job, then you need to think about how you want to get there. As with most destinations on a roadmap, there are many ways to get to the same place. When taking a road trip, some people like to get there fast, with as few stops as possible. Others like to take the scenic route and make the journey just as much fun as the destination. Everyone’s path to meet their goals will be different, and that’s OK. Let’s look at how to get you on the best path towards full-time FBA.

1. Understand How to Make “SMARTER” Goals.

  • S – Specific – The better you know your objective, the easier it will be to attain it.
  • M – Measurable – Can the results be measured and compared to the goal?
  • A – Actionable – Can you take action steps to meet this goal?
  • R – Realistic – Are you both willing AND able to meet your goal?
  • T – Time bound – When do you want to accomplish this goal?
  • E – Exciting – Do the goals get you excited about your future?
  • R – Relevant – Do these goals match up with the season of life you are in?

2. Set Your Main Goal

What is the main thing you want to accomplish and when do you want to accomplish it?

Example: I want FBA to be my full-time income source within 18 months.

3. Set Mini-Goals

What are some mini-goals that help lead you closer and closer towards your main objective? Maybe your mini-goals are something new every month or every quarter.

Example: I want to send in 400 items for the first month, 800 items the second month, and 1200 items the third month, etc. Or you may want to have income based goals. Example: I want to make $500 the first month, $600 the second month, $700 the third month, etc.

4. Write Your Goals Down and Post Them

The research proves it:  if you write down your goals and post them where you can see them, then you are much more likely to achieve what you are setting out to do. Put your list over your desk, on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator door — wherever you’re most likely to notice it.

5. Adjust your goals as needed

Give yourself permission to update your goals as you move closer towards your main objective. If the first mini-goal was way too easy, then make sure your next mini-goal stretches you and is harder to reach. On the other hand, if you didn’t even get close to your first goal, then it’s OK to update your other goals with objectives a little easier to complete. The journey towards full-time FBA will be filled with both road-blocks and open highways. Adjust your course, if necessary.

Take a few minutes to brainstorm ideas for your main goal and mini-goals. No, really. Do it now. Don’t let goal-setting be something you read about and then never do. You will be amazed how much setting goals will help improve your productivity AND income! If you want to, feel free to share your goals in the comment section under this blog post.

I look forward to reading your comments.

Stephen