We all need help.
Especially when it comes to running an Amazon FBA business, we need help in order for our business to grow. Sure, there are days when I feel like no one can Tetris the contents of an FBA box quite as well as I can, but in reality my business has more potential to grow if I put down the tape gun and let someone help me.
Many aspects of an FBA business can be outsourced or automated in order to free up my time or expand my capabilities. Tasks such as removing price stickers, poly bagging and shrink wrapping, prepping shoe boxes, listing the inventory, and packing shipping boxes can all be outsourced to someone else. Virtual tasks such as removing unfair negative feedback, requesting reimbursements, fixing stranded inventory, or searching for online arbitrage leads can be outsourced as well.
There’s one task, however, that many Amazon sellers fear outsourcing more than all other tasks. Sourcing. The actual task of going out and scanning the retail aisles or the garage sales for inventory to resell.
Over and over we get this question when we tell people we’ve outsourced some aspects of our sourcing:
“Aren’t you afraid of training your competition?”
I can tell you emphatically that the answer is always NO. I don’t at all fear training a competitor. I’ll get into the reasons why I don’t have this fear in moment.
After your business reaches a certain level of inventory and sales, it becomes harder and harder for one person to go out and buy enough inventory to maintain business at that level, much less grow beyond that level. It can become tiresome or even impossible to maintain that level of sourcing without becoming more than a one-man-show.
Sourcing is a more specialized skill than removing stickers or packing shipping boxes. Sourcing requires analyzing information and making decisions, and those decisions carry with them a certain amount of risk. Part of what makes each Amazon FBA seller able to excel in their business is their ability to make smart sourcing decisions.
Many sellers fear that if they teach this specialized skill to someone else in order to get help with their sourcing, they risk having that person take their newly acquired skills to go out and start their own competing Amazon business. Here are a few more questions we often get about training other people to source for us:
- What if they see how much money you’re making at FBA and decide to quit working for you in order to start their own business?
- What if they go to the stores in your area and buy all the good inventory for Amazon FBA before you can?
- What if they get to all the good garage sales in your town before you do?
- What if they keep working for you, but they keep all the good inventory for themselves and only give you sub-par inventory for your business?
We get it. Those are legitimate questions to ask and legitimate risks you are taking when you train someone else to do your sourcing for you. But we feel that the benefits far outweigh the minimal risks. We would rather have the help we need sourcing today than fear something that might or might not (and honestly, likely will not) happen tomorrow.
Here are the reasons we do not fear training our competition to source for us:
1. Not everyone wants to run their own business.
If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any amount of time, you know the time, effort, and money required to invest in running an Amazon business. The return on that investment can be great, but it still takes an upfront investment and ongoing effort to actually do the work of running the business. Not everyone wants to go through that effort of setting up an account, setting up an LLC, setting up programs like InventoryLab, getting ungated in certain categories etc. Not everyone has the money to invest in a few tools and some inventory (we think it can be done for about $500 to get started) – or wants to spend their money that way. Some people really only want to work for someone else and not have to deal with the responsibilities and headache of being the one in charge. They just want to earn some extra money and be done with work for the day. Just because you train someone to source doesn’t mean that person automatically will want to become the boss.
2. We have an abundance mindset when it comes to finding Amazon FBA inventory.
This reason is even bigger for us than the first one is. We truly believe there is more inventory to be found than there are sellers on Amazon. We know for a fact that there is more inventory to be found in our geographic area than our own small business can handle purchasing. If we train someone to source for us and they decide to leave and start their own FBA business, we do not at all worry that we will run out of inventory in our area.
We live in the Fort Worth-Dallas area and belong to a Facebook group of local FBAers. That group has over 250 members. Think about that for a moment. That’s almost 250 people doing FBA in this metropolitan area. Our business has grown year over year since I began selling through FBA in 2011, so I know for a fact that the increasing number of sellers in Fort Worth or Dallas is not affecting my business. Each seller has their own business model, their own strengths at sourcing, their own personal preferences for categories on Amazon. If you send 5 resellers into the same store, it’s likely that all 5 of them would come out of the store with a different set of inventory.
I’m truly not worried about my business if I train someone to help me source and they decide to strike out on their own. There is an abundant amount of inventory in this geographic area, not to mention from online stores and from wholesale sources. Whether you live in a large city or a small town, there are abundant sources for Amazon FBA inventory available today.
If you decide to train someone else to source for you, you only stand to gain from the help. Your business only stands to grow from the increase in inventory. But that other sourcer cannot replace you. No one can source like you. No one has your unique gifts and abilities at making decisions for your business. No one knows your own business like you do and your categories like you do.
If you train someone and they leave to become one more seller on Amazon, bless them in their endeavor and get back to your own business. You have just proven that you can train someone well enough to give them confidence to be independent. Get out there and train another person now.
(If you’re ready to take the leap to train someone to source for you, we highly recommend Ryan Grant’s book Outsourcing Sourcing. We used this guide when we hired our first sourcing help and found it tremendously useful.)
Have you tried enlisting help in sourcing for Amazon FBA? Are you afraid of training your competition or do you have an abundance mindset? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
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I have seen ideas of how to pay those sourcing books for you. But what is fair pay (and still profitable for my business) to pay for RA and OA? What is a good pay for those just listing items for you?
When it comes to RA and OA, I’ll pay $5-$8 over minimum wage for training, and then 30% of the profits for the items sold that they find. As for prep and listing, again, I’ll pay $5-$8 over minimum wage. The book Outsourcing Sourcing gives many different ideas on how to pay your worker. If you want to get that book, use the coupon code FBA30 and you can save 30% off today. Basically, different situations call for different pay structures.
Jim Cooncat says
Loving your articles, Stephen! I’m a part-timer, in need of help from time to time. I stopped by my local temp agency, who said I could hire someone for a 5 hour shift (about the max time of high motivation I can do at a stint) to help me process. The worker gets $10 an hour, while I’d only have to pay $16.40. With buying lunch for us as well and slipping them an extra $10 in cash to cover their gas home, a good morning’s help will come in at $100.
The beauty in this is that everything is legit (except for the $10 I suppose) and the helper is covered with unemployment and workers’ comp. I’m covered from having to deal with payroll tax and except for a last minute bailout the temp agency will find me a replacement worker if the first one can’t make it.
I intend to make some training videos to show them, probably starting with product photography and clearance item prep. I’m sure my efforts in this will be lame, I’m not good yet at presentations. Does anyone have more polished short videos for training helpers?
Some of the links at the beginning of this blog post link to videos I have made on training people to remove stickers and poly bag… but no training videos yet on sourcing training.