Imagine working less but making more money. Spoiler alert: it’s not too good to be true! In today’s episode you’ll learn exactly what you can outsource in your Amazon FBA business, who you can outsource those tasks to, and how to best use your brand new free time.
Here’s the honest truth: if you are doing most everything yourself, you’ll only be able to grow your Amazon FBA business to a certain point. On the other hand, if you want to make more money while spending less time working, then you need to learn how to let go and find other people to do parts of your business. After this episode, you’ll know how to stop being a one-person business and how to get the help you need to grow your profits exponentially.
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Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Outsourcing Sourcing
- Overcoming Your Fear of Training Your Competition via Outsourcing
- Outsourcing Sourcing course
- Tactical Arbitrage Sourcing Tool (use code FULLTIME10 for an extended 10-day trial)”
- Outsourcing Inventory Processing
- Outsourcing Your Prep/Pack/Ship
- Outsourcing Pricing and Repricing
- Outsourcing Your Amazon Backend Activities
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If you’re looking for a step-by-step process on how to finally turn part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon, then check out our course, Next Level Amazon: Make a Full-Time Income With Only Part-Time Hours via Amazon FBA.
You see, successfully running an Amazon FBA business doesn’t just happen on accident. In fact, there are six proven steps to finally making a full-time income with only part-time hours via Amazon FBA. If you’re tired of not seeing the growth you expect in your Amazon business, then I highly recommend our book/video course, Next Level Amazon.
In Next Level Amazon, I outline everything you need to know in order to work less, but make more take-home pay. It’s a strategy that has helped so many people go from working 60-hour weeks just to make ends meet… to truly only working 20 or so hours each week, while still bringing home a full-time paycheck. Find out more here.
Announcer: Welcome to the Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode it’s our goal to help you turn part-time hours into the full-time income selling almost anything on Amazon. Now, your hosts of the show Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
Stephen: Welcome to episode 10 of the Full-Time FBA … FB what?
Stephen: The Full-Time FBA Show podcast and …
Rebecca: You really need to leave it in. That needs to stay in.
Stephen: I shouldn’t edit that out.
Rebecca: No, do not edit it out.
Stephen: Okay. I’ll leave that in. Anyway, hey, if you’ve enjoyed our podcast despite some of the flubs and flubbers that we have had … Is that a thing?
Rebecca: I don’t know.
Stephen: We would love for you to go leave a review. So-
Rebecca: Is this really how we’re going to start?
Stephen: Yeah. Let’s do that. FulltimeFBA.com/leaveareview and you can say, “Hey, even though they flub and flubber, their stuff’s still pretty good.” So anyway, thanks for still listening and not turning us off yet, because today we’re talking about outsourcing.
Rebecca: I love to outsource. That’s one of my favorite parts of doing our business now. The point we’re at is a lot … I would say the majority of our business is outsourced and it’s so much fun to talk about how we got here.
Stephen: Yeah and even try to strategize, okay, what else could we have someone else do for us?
Rebecca: Right. We’re constantly doing that. Constantly saying, “Okay, what else can we take off of our plates so that we can do other things? What else can we outsource?”
Stephen: Yeah. Because when you want to add something to your life, you can’t just keep adding stuff over and over and over again because you’re going to run out of time and energy. So you have to make sure that what you’re adding to your life is worth what you’re taking away. So we love just taking stuff off of our list that we don’t have to do that someone else can do. If you haven’t figured it out, that’s what outsourcing is. When you have someone else or maybe a tool that saves you a lot of time, that tool or that person is doing so much for you, so that frees you up to do other more important things.
Rebecca: That’s a really great intro into what outsourcing is, so from that let’s get into the meat of this episode.
Rebecca: Okay, so Stephen, now that we know the basics of what outsourcing is, what we’re talking about when we say outsourcing, can you talk to us a little bit about why outsourcing is so important, especially when it comes to running an Amazon FBA business?
Stephen: Absolutely. You have to think to yourself what is important to you? Is making more money important? Is growing your Amazon business important? I mean is this just a hobby for you and you just enjoy doing everything? If that’s the case, maybe you don’t need to outsource. But if you’re wanting to grow, to make more money, to free up your time to do other things then outsourcing is very important, because we can only grow to a certain point when we are a one person show. So when we’re trying to do everything ourselves, that just makes it impossible for us to be able to find growth. If you want to see that sales growth, if you want to see those profits grow, you need to let go. Another important thing about outsourcing is that it really helps you avoid burn out, because if you’re just hustling all the time and you are just going 24/7 and work, work, work, you’re going to burn out. You’re going to just fizzle out and that’s going to happen to your profits too. It’s going to fizzle out.
Rebecca: I think that’s really good to talk about what are your goals as far as how much do you want to grow because that was something that we had to ask ourselves. If you’ve listened to previous podcast episodes, you know our story that Stephen started the business before we were married, so it was a one man show for him. He really didn’t have anything outsourced other than the FBA aspects of it. Then I joined the business, so we were able to grow a bit more after I joined and we were a two person show. But then after a certain period of time, it was … our business was not going to grow anymore until we started taking some of those tasks that we were both spending so much time on and delegate that to others, find other people that we could pay to do those tasks to free us up to find more inventory and do more profitable tasks within our business. So I think that’s where you need to look at it.
Rebecca: Some people are perfectly happy having a one man show. They don’t really … they’re not really interested in growing to be a multimillion dollar business. I know even for us, we’re not interested in being a multimillion dollar business. We’re not wanting to hire tens of warehouse workers and have a big production here locally. But we are interested in being able to have a full-time income by working part-time hours out of our home and outsourcing certain tasks is the only way we’re able to do that. So we’ve been able to look at … Okay, if we want to accomplish this goal, how do we … which tasks do we need to outsource, which do we hold onto, and go from there.
Rebecca: So I think that’s also of why it’s so important to think about outsourcing and how does it fit with your own personal goals and your own business goals. It’s different for everybody. Outsourcing is not one size fits all. We know people that have businesses that have warehouses and lots of local employees or even one or two local employees and we don’t have that. We’ve had different contractors at different times, but our goal isn’t to build a big business with … a big operation. Our goal is to make a full-time income. So each of you has your own goal that’s listening to this and finding that is, I think, a key to this conversation as well.
Stephen: Yeah. We’re wanting to, like you said, make a full-time income only working part-time hours, but we don’t want to grow to the point where things are so complicated that it just eats up the rest of your life. We want to keep those part-time hours and that freedom. I mean one of the things that we do with our part-time hours is the blog, fulltimeFBA.com and putting these podcasts together. If we were doing everything in our business, we would have no time for this blog, no time for videos, no time for podcasting and no time for some of the trips that we take and the things that we like to do in our leisure time and going to the different ball games and fun stuff like that.
Rebecca: And being able to spend time with the kids-
Rebecca: … and have some margin just around what we are able to do around the home that we’re not both so worn out at the end of the day that our home isn’t taken care of and our family life on a day to day basis. It’s not just going on vacation, but on an every day basis that we’re able to hang out together in the evenings. We’re able to have time on the weekends to spend with each other because we have outsourced these different aspects and we’re not having to run ourselves into the ground and work 70 hours a week in order to keep our business going.
Rebecca: So why would you say … if outsourcing is so important and I think that we can make the case that it is important. If you have the goal of making a full-time income by spending only part-time hours, you’re going to need to outsource. That’s one huge component of achieving that goal. If it’s so important to outsource, why is it that so many people find it so hard? I say that because for us it was really hard to get outsourcing going in different areas of our business. Some areas it’s easier than others, but there are some things and it’s just really hard to outsource those parts of your business. Why would you say that’s so hard if it’s so important?
Stephen: Well, I would say that if you just look at the process alone, most outsourcing is not hard. It’s mostly the mental aspect of outsourcing that’s really difficult to do. When it comes to hiring somebody to come source inventory for you … So there’s the process of teaching them how to do that and that’s … might be difficult at first but it’s something that you know how to do and you can train somebody to do it. So if you just look at the simplicity of that, the actual teaching them what you know how to do, it isn’t too hard but the hard part is letting go of your business. Letting go and putting the control into someone else’s hands. It’s mentally hard to think, well, what if they mess up, well, what if make a bad decision, what if they buy something that’s not profitable or what if I hire a prep center and they mess up my inventory? It’s just really hard to let go.
Stephen: So when you think about outsourcing it’s more mental than the actual process of doing it. A lot of people have fears. They have fears that if they train someone to source, they’re going to become their competition. They fear a lot of different things. Those fears are what the main thing people are having to overcome when it comes to outsourcing.
Rebecca: Yeah, I think that fear is a huge a part of it. Just the unknown of … to this point even if … I know this is almost exactly what I have personally dealt with and we’ve talked through this. To this point, I have done this myself and I know how to do it. Even though, I logically can understand that outsourcing this will make my life easier and make our business run more smoothly, I mentally cannot let go of it to the point where I give it to somebody else because there’s this unknown of how is it going to work, how’s it going to happen the right way, what if this happens, what if that happens.
Rebecca: To the point where, even though, I logically know this would be a good thing if you would you do it, it’s just a step that I really can’t take without really talking myself into it, without really talking it up to myself and saying, “Just try it and see how it goes.” I know that’s been the case for me in certain tasks that I’ve had to let go of. Then for us together in our business, it’s been the case as well.
Rebecca: I would say 95%, if not 100%, of the time, when we finally do take that step and say, “Okay, we’re going to do it. It’s going to be hard. There’s going to be some growing pains. There’s some unknowns here. I know it’s going to be good in the long run.” There’s just something about it that makes me hesitant. We finally have to just take that step and say, “Okay, we’re going to do it and see what happens.” There could be things that go wrong with it. But I would say that 95%, if not 100%, of the time, once we finally take that step, wouldn’t you say that we’ve been able to look back and say, “Man, I wish we’d done that six months ago or a year ago?”
Stephen: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So if you’re listening to this and you’re considering outsourcing, I want to tell you this. I don’t think anyone has ever said, “I wished I outsourced later.”
Stephen: Everyone says, “I wish I would have done this sooner. This is so much more freedom and this is so much more better. I’m seeing more growth in my profits and in my life.” So yeah. People who are wondering about outsourcing, if you’re just thinking about it, you’re already there. You need to outsource.
Rebecca: Right. I think back to when we hired an account manager to deal with unfulfillable inventory and handling reimbursements and opening tickets for us on stranded inventory and different things like that, that was a huge one. But I thought, oh, that’s not taking up that much of my time. That’s not requiring that much of my mental energy. But it was requiring some. Then we hired an account manager and I just can’t even believe that I thought that it was worth it for me to continue doing that because just taking those … It’s seemingly small tasks.
Rebecca: Just taking that off my plate freed me up mentally to be able to do other things that required more mental energy. It’s a huge step to be able to find somebody to do that for you, even if it’s something that you’re good at. Because I feel like I was doing pretty well at it. I had it under control. It wasn’t even something that … There’s certain tasks that you’re like, “I need to hire somebody to do this because I’m not keeping up with it.” I was keeping up with it just fine. But I’m not necessarily the one that needs to be doing that on a daily basis as the business owner.
Stephen: Right. Right. We’ll talk about this later in a little more depth. But just because you can do certain things, doesn’t mean you should be.
Rebecca: Right. Okay, so on that note, let’s talk about what are the things in an Amazon business that can be outsourced. Because there’s a lot of different areas and some people prefer certain aspects over others. But talk about for a minute, just what are some of those areas that can be outsourced?
Stephen: Honestly, almost every single thing in an Amazon FBA business can be outsourced. Now, obviously, you don’t want to do it all at once. But if you look at five different areas of your Amazon business, the sourcing area … You can outsource your sourcing. You can hire someone to source inventory for you. You can hire somebody to go from store to store and pick up a list of items that you have them looking for. You can use online arbitrage tools to help save you hours of sourcing for inventory using the Scoutify app to make better sourcing decisions. Is outsourcing part of your sourcing? So just with sourcing, there’s so many different ways that you can outsource.
Stephen: If you’re processing your inventory, again, you can hire somebody to come to your house to package up your shipments, to take the stickers off, to poly bag. Or if you have enough, you can hire a prep center and you have your online arbitrage or wholesale stuff or drop your retail arbitrage stuff off at a prep center near you and they take care of all that. Once your stuff’s at Amazon, you can outsource your pricing, so you can use your automatic repricer to have your items repriced. I think, for way to long, we manually repriced all of our inventory.
Rebecca: Yeah. I would agree with that.
Rebecca: Now, that we have a repricer … Again, it’s like, why didn’t we do this a year ago?
Stephen: Exactly. Exactly. So that whole manual repricing we do that for a few of our items, but for 99% of our items, we have an automatic repricer that takes care of it for us and it literally saves us hours a week. Then what Rebecca was talking about earlier, hiring an account manager, an online VA to take care of all of our Amazon backend stuff. So it’s like requesting reimbursements and creating removal orders for things that were customer damaged or defective and taking care of feedback scores. So many different other Amazon backend stuff that someone who is trained to do can do it, but I shouldn’t be spending all my time within Seller Central opening cases and trying to fix problems. We can outsource that. So there’s so many different things with your Amazon business that you can outsource. So it’s just up to you to decide what you want to do.
Rebecca: So if just about any aspect of your Amazon business can be outsourced, that’s pretty broad. How do you make the choice where to start? How do you make the choice I need to start with sourcing or I need to start with Seller Central tasks? What did you do or what did we do to make those decisions?
Stephen: Well, this is a little bit about what you talked about. Earlier you mentioned this. If you’re wondering about outsourcing … If you’re an Amazon FBA seller, you’ve already started the outsourcing. You’ve outsourced your FBA storage, you’ve outsourced your customer shipments, you’ve outsourced part of your customer service to Amazon. You’ve outsourced some of your marketing to Amazon where they’re driving traffic to your sales pages and your product pages. So you’ve already started outsourcing but for … when it comes to decide what to do first, there’s a couple different ways to do that. You can ask yourself a few questions. You can ask yourself, okay, what is it that you just hate doing? What, in your Amazon business, do you just not like doing? And the top answer for that might be where you want to start outsourcing. Maybe there’s something you just need help you. You’re like, “I know a little bit about this but I need some help.” Figure out what that is and that might be where you decide to go.
Stephen: Then the last question to ask yourself after what do I not like doing, what do I need help doing, is what is it in my Amazon business that anybody can do? A minimum wage paying job person can do. That might be something that you want to start with outsourcing. For us, we first decided to hire someone to come into our house to take off the labels, to poly bag items, to get the shipments ready to send to Amazon. Because you know what? After a couple years of taking stickers off … especially the Tuesday Morning stickers, those were the worst. There would be times when Rebecca and I would just get it out and watch a movie and we’re just peeling these stickers off. We’re watching the baseball game and we’re peeling all these price stickers off. It was just eating into our time and eating into our quality time. I didn’t want to do that anymore.
Stephen: So hiring someone to come in and do that just totally opened up our life a lot more and freed us up. We started to get the outsourcing bug and decided to see, okay, what else can we outsource so that someone else can do it? So whether that’s you and you need to hire someone to come into your home and take care of your preppership or if you want to hire a prep center to take care of that or if … Just whatever it is with your Amazon business that just drives you nuts or you need help with or anyone can do, that can be what helps you to decide what to outsource first.
Rebecca: So that’s a good summary. Your three questions were … to ask yourself were, number one, what do I hate doing? Number two, what do I need help with? And number three, what am I doing that anybody could be doing? I’m the business owner. What are the tasks I’m doing that a business owner should not be doing?
Stephen: Right. You should think of yourself as the CEO of your business because if you’re running an Amazon business you are. Should the CEO be boxing up shipments? No, that don’t. They’re not doing that. They should be focused on finding more inventory to sell or other important tasks.
Rebecca: Okay. So next let’s talk for a little bit about when you do start outsourcing, how do you find ways to outsource these tasks? You mentioned that we started off with having somebody coming into our home to remove stickers and help us prep inventory and whatnot. So there’s different ways you can outsource. Talk to us about, I guess, the different levels or different methods of outsourcing because there’s different variations of who can do these tasks for you. Do know what I’m talking about?
Stephen: Absolutely. Actually as your repeating what I just said, I thought to myself, wow, we were actually outsourcing before then because before we hired someone to come into our house to take care of that, we actually had our kids taking care of that. So a few of my boys were taking stickers off and poly bagging stuff and getting stuff ready for shipments.
Rebecca: We still have one kid that absolutely loves to poly bag and whatnot. So anytime there’s poly bagging to be done that … random things around the house that we haven’t sent to a prep center, we always call him in. Kids are great at doing that kind of thing.
Stephen: Yeah. And it also gives you free training on how you’re able to train someone to do something. Because if you’re just training someone for the first time, it might be kind of nervous for you. Am I going to teach him right? Well, if you got kids who are willing and who are money hungry and want to save up for some new game or device or toy or whatever, give them that opportunity and train them. You can see how well you’ve been able to train them and how well they’ve been able to execute what you’ve taught them how to do.
Rebecca: Yeah. And when we say kids, we mean teenagers. They’re not five year olds that we have with the Impulse Sealer or anything.
Stephen: Yes. Be careful with that heat gun.
Rebecca: Right. Exactly. No. Our teenage boys like to remove stickers and poly bag and things like that for us.
Stephen: Yeah. I mean you could get a little bit of help from younger kids if you want help but … Here put this suffocation warning label sticker on this bag. Things that-
Rebecca: Don’t suffocate yourself while you’re doing it.
Stephen: Right. But that’s more having them just be involved with what you’re doing. But if you’re actually wanting someone that you can trust to learn how to do this, yeah, teenage kids are a great opportunity for you to take advantage of.
Rebecca: Not take advantage of.
Stephen: I’m sorry.
Rebecca: We pay them a minimum wage. We pay them the going rate.
Rebecca: They’re not free labor or anything like that.
Stephen: Right. I meant that was an opportunity to take advantage of.
Stephen: Not the kids themselves.
Rebecca: Just wanted to clarify.
Stephen: Yes. They enjoy making that little extra money and going and buying something fun. But you know what, when you are ready to hire someone in person to come to your house and take care of that stuff or you can hire someone to go outsourcing inventory for you or go pick up leads on certain retail arbitrage items that you know are just sitting at a Walmart shelf and they just go pick those things up, that’s one step. So hiring someone in person is one step.
Stephen: Another step is to take advantage of people who are already trained who are … There are dedicated services that are out there that have people who are already trained to do a multitude of different types of tasks. There are VAs, there’s international VAs, there’s state side VAs that you can hire to take care of different aspects of your Amazon FBA business who are already trained and you don’t have to worry about training them how to do those things. They’re already set up for you.
Rebecca: Right. There’s full service companies that have a whole list of services that you can do a la carte or you can get to an entire account management service. You could hire a VA do to your sourcing for you and you could train them to do your specific type of online sourcing. There’s so many different levels. It just requires a little bit of creative thinking on your part to think, okay, what’s going to work best? Am I good at training people? Do I want to have somebody that I train to do this the exact way I do it? Or am I okay with hiring somebody who someone else has trained and I just want to tweak what they already know how to do?
Stephen: Right. I know that some people purchase training courses that are out there and just give them to their VA and let their VA going through the training course so that they know how to learn [inaudible 00:21:58]. Since they don’t feel comfortable training a VA, they’re going to let this course take care of it and they’ve been able to find success with that. If you’re listening to this and you’re thinking, oh my gosh, this is getting so complicated. Throughout this podcast episode, we’ve started small and we’ve just grown and grown. Don’t think that you need to do all of this at once because that could be totally overwhelming. Just think about what you think is the next best step for you when it comes to outsourcing and take it one little step at a time.
Rebecca: Right. That’s how we did it and that’s how we recommend. I mean sure there’s some people who probably come in and from the very first month have everything completely outsourced and they never touch anything inventory-wise or seller central-wise. But that’s not how we did it. We’re proof that you can do it one step at a time, one baby step at a time. We just, this past year, less than a year ago or about a year ago maybe, stopped manually repricing. So we’re proof that you can do it one step at a time. You can add one service at a time. You can add one task at a time to the list of things that you’re outsourcing. Each step of the way, you’ll see improvement in your sales, improvement in the amount of time you have available. That’s all you got to do, one step at a time.
Stephen: Again, each time you’re going to be like, “I should have done this sooner. Why did I not do this sooner?”
Rebecca: But I feel like we’re coming at it from two different angles here. Yes, why didn’t I do it sooner? But don’t rush yourself. At the same time, take it one step at a time. You don’t have to do everything all at once but do take that first step.
Rebecca: Well, on that note, I think we’re at a good spot to wrap things up for this week. We really appreciate you listening to this episode of the Full-Time FBA Show. We really hope that you’ve been able to take away some important actions, steps and some ideas from this episode that will really help you with your business and how to get some of your tasks outsourced.
Stephen: Yeah and if you are curious about any of the things that we’ve talked about or looking for links for things that we’ve talked about, if you go the fulltimeFBA.com/10… That’s the number 10 because this is episode 10. We can put a top 10 episode list together now.
Rebecca: No. Yeah, we could. We could. The top 10 are the top 10. The only 10.
Stephen: That’s right.
Rebecca: I’m sorry. I said, “No,” really quickly because you really like top 10 lists. I’m like, “No. Just stop.”
Stephen: I was like, “Oh. Okay.” But, hey, fulltimeFBA.com/10 is our show notes page for this episode. You can go there for more information about what we’ve been talking about. If you’re ready to take the next step with outsourcing, I have a really nice treat for you. In our next episode, I will be interviewing Amanda Sheppard who runs an Amazon prep, pack and ship service. We’re going to be talking to her about what … how she got into that business and what you need to know as an Amazon seller if you are wanting to outsource to a prep, pack and ship warehouse. It’s something that we’ve done and, man, it’s been an amazing experience. I can’t imagine going back and prepping my own inventory anymore. I look forward to talking with her and sharing that interview with you.
Rebecca: Yep. It’ll be a good one, so be sure and tune in for the next podcast when it drops next week.
Stephen: Yeah. Absolutely. Again fulltimeFBA.com/leaveareview. We’d love to hear from you, what you think about the podcast, what you think. We would love a review. So if you’re enjoying this podcast, leave us a review. That would mean the world to us.
Rebecca: That helps other people to be able to find the podcast because the more reviews we have, the better, the higher we land in the search results and things of that nature.
Stephen: Absolutely. Well, that’s it for today. Thanks again for hanging out with us. We look forward to talking to you again on the next episode of the Full-Time FBA Show.
Rebecca: Thanks, we’ll see you then.
Announcer: That’s all for this episode of the Full-Time FBA Show. So head over to fulltimeFBA.com/podcast where you’ll find the show notes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll several free downloads of our popular and helpful Amazon FBA resources including a free ebook. Now take action on what you’ve learned today, so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.