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?
I 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:
Risk 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.
Personal 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.
Communication. 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!