While there are many products and services available that claim to be necessities for starting a new business, it’s hard to know if you really need them, especially when you factor in the cost. After running a successful Amazon FBA business for over a decade, we have gained a lot of valuable knowledge and experience. We do, however, have some regrets.
In today’s episode, we give you a rundown of six things we wish we had done sooner to bypass unnecessary frustration and set up our business for success a lot faster. We also share two more tips on things that we are glad we did at the right time.
Find out what resources you should be investing in, what help you should be getting and when, and how to free up your mental and physical energy to streamline your FBA business. Most importantly, you’ll learn how you can avoid our mistakes and fast track your business for success, so make sure to tune in today!
Listen on the podcast player below.
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Key points from Episode 82:
- Why you might be slow to do things that will help your Amazon FBA businesses.
- The first thing the Smothermans wish they had done sooner: outsource.
- The importance of setting up an automatic repricer.
- Why you should outsource your backend account management from Amazon.
- Getting a bookkeeper or a CPA.
- How, when, and where to hire a Virtual Assistant.
- The life changing benefits of getting a second monitor for your computer.
- Other things you should do early on, like inventory management with InventoryLab and Keepa for sourcing.
- Why you should have a backup plan for your prep center.
- And so much more!
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
- Using a Prep Center for Your Amazon FBA Business
- How to Choose a Quality Prep Center For Your Amazon FBA Business
- BQool Automatic Repricer (2 week free trial)
- My Review of BQool (and how to get my personal repricing rules that doubled my sales immediately)
- Solutions 4 Ecommerce (our backend Amazon account manager – use the code FULLTIMEFBA for 15% off your monthly fee for life)
- Freeeup (find a VA already trained to help Amazon sellers)
- InventoryLab (30 day free trial)
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Imagine what it would feel like knowing you were not missing out on any of the opportunities that will come your way this year. Imagine working on your Amazon business knowing exactly what your priorities are, what you need to avoid, and what you need to accomplish during each month to make progress toward making this year your best sales year ever.
Now you can with the course The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA: A Month by Month Guide to a Profitable Amazon Business. The package includes a 220+ page ebook, live training videos throughout the year, a private Facebook group, and more!
Episode 82 Transcript:
[0:00:01.8] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Full-Time FBA Show. In each episode, it’s our goal to help you turn part time hours into a full-time income, selling almost anything on Amazon. Now, your hosts of the show, Stephen and Rebecca Smotherman.
[0:00:21.8] REBECCA: Hello there and welcome to today’s episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. We’re so glad you’re here with us. Today, we’re going to be talking about the six things we wish we had done earlier in our Amazon FBA business. I don’t know, do you think we can keep it to six, Stephen?
[0:00:37.0] STEPHEN: Probably not. There’s a lot of things we wish we would have, but we’ll try to keep it to six and we will definitely respect your time as always in this episode. So, let’s get right to it! The six things we wish we did earlier in our Amazon FBA business.
[0:00:53.6] REBECCA: Okay, today we’re talking about things that we wish we had done earlier in our Amazon FBA business. We all get started doing FBA and we’re slow sometimes to add in new things to our business because we’re either hesitant about trying something new, we’re concerned that it might be an expense we can’t really afford right now. There’s several different reasons why you might not just jump right into doing everything all at once in your FBA business but there are things that we, for sure, wish, looking back, that we had started doing earlier in our FBA business because we see now what a huge impact they’ve had on our business. Most of them I would say, we saw right away how big that impact was and just thought, “Oh my word, why did we wait so long to do this?”
[0:01:37.6] STEPHEN: Yeah, we can probably do a podcast episode on every single one of these things that we’re going to talk about and some of them we actually have in the past so we’ll put that in our show notes links.
[0:01:46.1] REBECCA: Okay, so Stephen, you’ve been selling on Amazon since 2011, that’s a decade now, that seems kind of crazy.
[0:01:52.5] STEPHEN: I know, it’s crazy.
[0:01:52.9] REBECCA: You’re kind of old aren’t you?
[0:01:54.7] STEPHEN: Kind of.
[0:01:55.9] REBECCA: I guess you could have started as a teenager or something?
[0:01:58.6] STEPHEN: Nope.
[0:01:59.7] REBECCA: You did not, okay. What would you say then, having sold on the Amazon now for over a decade, what would you say is the first thing you wish you had done sooner in your FBA business?
[0:02:13.4] STEPHEN: I think the first thing I wish I would have done sooner was hire help, whether it’s hiring help to help prep our inventory in our house or setting up a prep center. Just being able to outsource something, that was a huge game changer for us. You know, we first started off hiring help to having a friend of ours come in and take care of some prep situations for us, and then eventually, used a prep center where we either drop off our retail arbitrage stuff or have our online arbitrage or wholesale inventory mailed to a prep center that gets it ready to send to Amazon.
I totally wish we would have done that sooner, especially the prep center because I remember, we’ve been through multiple prep centers, the first prep center that we signed up for went out of business and, you know, they told us they’re going to go out of business and –
[0:02:58.0] REBECCA: It wasn’t our fault.
[0:02:58.5] STEPHEN: No, it was not our fault, absolutely not.
[0:02:59.8] REBECCA: I don’t think. No, it wasn’t our fault.
[0:03:02.1] STEPHEN: No, and so, for about a month or two, we were looking for a new prep center and for about a moth or two, we had to prep our own stuff and we were just thinking, “Oh my gosh, I despise this.” I can’t believe how much mental energy and how much time it took to put into prepping the inventory ourselves and how much outsourcing that freed up so much of our time and even like I said, mental energy to focus on other things on our business. I totally wish we would have done that sooner.
[0:03:31.7] REBECCA: Yeah, I remember that time and we still prep inventory in small batches here for various reasons, there’s stuff that we have that comes to our house that we have to ship out, but we don’t do the majority, the vast majority of our inventory at our house anymore. at that point in time, it was right in Q4 too.
[0:03:48.5] STEPHEN: Yes, that’s when we have our looking for our new place.
[0:03:52.6] REBECCA: Yeah, that was when we were, we realized, this is crazy to be back into doing our own inventory in the middle of Q4. It was wild and we realized, nope, not again!
[0:04:04.3] STEPHEN: Yeah, I even think, if you’re using a prep center right now, have a back-up plan just in case.
[0:04:08.2] REBECCA: Yes, have a back-up plan because you just don’t know. Yeah, people, businesses end up closing, people get sick, people have different unforeseen things come up that it’s good to have a backup plan.
[0:04:21.4] STEPHEN: Amen.
[0:04:22.6] REBECCA: Okay, so then, what would you say is the second one? I agree, that is like the number one thing that comes to mind as well, but what would you say is another big one?
[0:04:29.7] STEPHEN: I think this is the one I waited the longest to finally cave into and try. When I did, I saw the success that we were able to get with the strategy, I was like, “Oh my gosh, we should have done this years ago!” The second thing that I wish we would have done sooner was to set-up an automatic repricer. I was holding on way too long in my Amazon business, manually repricing my inventory. I was thinking, “I could just go in, maybe once a week, maybe do twice a month or whatever, get my inventory prices to be a little bit more competitive” and I just had no idea the power behind an automatic repricer.
I mean, I even took a screenshot of this, the very first month we used in automatic repricer, our sales literally doubled. I’ve got a screenshot of this where you see my sales and they’re really great and then all of a sudden, in the middle of the month, boom! The sales doubled on a consistent basis. It wasn’t just because the prices were all going down and I was getting all of the sales, a lot of the prices were going up.
Having an automatic repricer, making sure that your prices are always competitively priced was a game changer. It’s helped our sales go up, it helps us sell our inventory faster, we used the tool BQool that has helped us with our repricing and if you’re even interested in getting my repricing rules that helped double our inventory the first month we used it, then you can check that in our show notes page, fulltimefba.com/82 and I just wish we would have repriced much sooner.
[0:05:57.8] REBECCA: Yeah, I agree, that was a really big game changer, we missed out. I think back to the years before that, how much we missed out in profits and sales because of that. You do things when you do it, you can’t really go back and change the past so there’s really not any reason to regret it at this point, but man, we missed out on so much.
[0:06:17.2] STEPHEN: Yup. It’s always fun getting emails from listeners from The Full-Time FBA Show, people saying, “I used your repricing rules and, my gosh, my sales are going great! I thank you so much.” Just seeing it, the success other people have had with using automatic repricer as well, has been awesome.
[0:06:31.2] REBECCA: Yeah, it makes a big difference. What’s one last thing that you wish we’d started earlier in our FBA business?
[0:06:38.5] STEPHEN: This kind of goes along with outsourcing but it’s getting somebody and hiring someone to take care of our Amazon back-end activities, our account manager, being able to have someone who is opening up removal orders for us, creating listings for us, being able to fix stranded inventory. Maybe there’s a listing that has a problem that needs to be fixed and they’re taking care of that.
Taking care of feedback removal, opening up cases and actually getting things done. Rather than getting a copy-paste reply from Seller Central, the account manager takes care of that. We’ll put a link in that in the show notes as well – the account manager that we use and suggest, also coupon code – but just being able to outsource that. Because, guess what? That’s not the fun part of Amazon. The fun part’s going out and finding inventory and selling it.
[0:07:22.3] REBECCA: Right.
[0:07:23.7] STEPHEN: That back-end stuff, not only does it sometimes not be fun, you also sometimes forget about it and end up letting things go, and it just all goes down hill from there. Just the peace of mind of knowing somebody who knows what they’re doing, who has been trained to know exactly what to do, taking care of that for us, has been amazing and worth every penny.
[0:07:43.0] REBECCA: Yeah, the things what we would procrastinate in the past, because “That’s going to require me opening up a ticket with Seller Central,” I mean, that’s their job is to open up those tickets and so they don’t procrastinate. They get it done because that’s literally what we hire them to do and so things actually get taken care of that we would just not be doing because we were honestly just being lazy about it.
[0:08:04.1] STEPHEN: Yeah, absolutely.
[0:08:05.0] REBECCA: Yeah, that’s a good one too.
[0:08:07.1] STEPHEN: Yup, those are my three, hiring help or outsourcing with the prep center, using an automatic repricer, and outsourcing our back-end account management from Amazon. Rebecca, what about you? You’ve been selling on Amazon with me since 2012, what’s the first thing that you wish you had done sooner in our Amazon business?
[0:08:24.4] REBECCA: Yeah, that’s really interesting to think about. You started selling on Amazon in 2011 and then right before we got married, it was 2012 and I kind of joined the business then. Wow, I’ve got a 10-year anniversary coming up soon too. I hadn’t thought about that!
[0:08:38.9] STEPHEN: That’s right. We have an excuse for a party now.
[0:08:42.1] REBECCA: Yeah, still one more year until that, so no partying right now for that. I think about this a lot, that I am so thankful that we have somebody who does our monthly bookkeeping. When I got married to you, joined the business, you already had an accountant that you’d been using for years in the past for various business purposes who took care of taxes and stuff like that. That wasn’t, you know, that big of an issue that when tax time rolls around, we knew exactly where to go to get help with that.
[0:09:14.0] STEPHEN: Right.
[0:09:15.5] REBECCA: Come to find out, that same accountant has a bookkeeping service and also offers service, a service for incorporating businesses and helping you get your business established with the secretary of the state in Texas and whatnot. So, as we got married and we’re getting- the business was solidifying around the both of us and not just one of us, and we incorporated and we’re getting serious about the numbers that – I wouldn’t say you weren’t serious about it before, but it just became more and more as the business was growing – we took on that bookkeeping service on a monthly basis as well, and so now we have somebody who takes care of all of the expenses, expenditures, all of that that go.
The income that comes in, the expenses that go out, on a monthly basis, she’s on top of that with bookkeeping. She helps us with not just the income tax at the end of the year, but like payroll tax, and all of that on a monthly basis, I don’t even know what all she does.
[0:10:14.7] STEPHEN: Yeah, she does a ton.
[0:10:16.4] REBECCA: She helps us with anything that we need to do with the bank that requires paperwork, she gets it ready for us and anything with the government that requires paperwork, she gets it ready for us. It’s been amazing and so, looking back on that 2012, 2013 time period, I am so glad that we did that when we did, and I’m sure there were things that you know, we probably missed out on by not getting it done earlier, but anyway. That’s the one that is the biggest one to me that I’m glad that we got that taken care of when we did.
[0:10:51.4] STEPHEN: Yeah, me too and if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “How do I find a bookkeeper? How do I find a CPA?” you definitely want to find one in your state, in the place where you live, you know, preferably your city, that understands your specific tax laws, who understands online sales stuff. You can go to Google, type in your zip code, type in ‘CPA’ or ‘bookkeeper’, interview them, get to know them, and it might take a little bit of time right now to find a good one but it’s totally worth it.
It’s your best hire possible making sure that that’s being taken care of the right way that things should be taken care of, and it’s a huge peace of mind. Just go and Google, you can find some resources out there to help you.
What is the second thing that you wish you would have done earlier in our Amazon business?
[0:11:36.3] REBECCA: For me, I just keep thinking about hiring people to help. The second thing that I am glad that we did and wish we had done earlier, was to hire a virtual assistant and we have the same virtual assistant from the Philippines for years now. Like I said, I don’t even remember what year we hired her. We don’t have her hired on a full-time basis, she only works for us part-time but she’s amazing and we depend on her for a lot of things.
We have another virtual assistant here in the States who helps us and is amazing as well. I can’t remember what year we hired her either, but the one here in the States helps us with email. That may sound mundane but we have just- I mean surely, if you use email, you know how hard it is to stay on top of all of it, and so we have an assistant who helps us with email and keeping track of things that need to be taken care of in a more timely manner versus things that can wait a day.
Then our virtual assistant in the Philippines, she helps us with things related to sourcing. She helps us with a few things actually related to the Full-Time FBA as supposed to our actual FBA business, but she also helps us with our FBA business. She helps me creating spreadsheets for our wholesale sourcing, she’s helped me with online sourcing in the past. She is just really good about anytime you have like a big chunk of data or lists of things, she’s amazing at helping me to get them in a format that is useful and it’s not just like, “What am I supposed to do with this PDF?” you know, that kind of stuff.
I wish that I can think back to times when I spent a lot of time going through and doing mundane tasks that I could do perfectly fine but it took me a lot of clicking and a lot of copying and pasting and whatnot, that if we had hired virtual assistants earlier to do these kinds of things for us, it would have freed up our time to take care of things in a more timely manner because the thing is it’s not just like, “Oh that’s beneath me. I can’t do it.” I mean I can do it, but the thing is, they can do it better than I can.
[0:13:40.2] STEPHEN: Yes.
[0:13:40.9] REBECCA: The assistant that we have in the Philippines, she gets things done a lot faster than I do. If I were to do the same thing as her, it would take me a lot longer than it does for her and it wouldn’t be formatted as well as she does it. Any number of other things that she just does a better job than me and so it’s a better use of her time to do it I think.
[0:14:00.3] STEPHEN: Yeah, absolutely and if you’re like, “Ooh I want a VA” we found ours on upwork.com and you can just put together a little job description and you’ll get different VA’s coming your way, saying, “Hey, this is something I think I can do.” Well, a little tip to find a good VA is to say in your job description, please reply to me with this word in the subject line and come up with some weird word. That will weed out everyone who is just trying to open up a job for everyone, and will actually give you someone who is actually going to read the instructions and follow through with what you are requesting.
I have done that in the past and I have been able to weed out a lot of VA’s just with that little trick, so Upwork. There’s other places onlinejobs.ph and Free Up. Again, we’ll put those in our show notes at fulltimefba.com/82. What is the third thing that you wish you started doing earlier in our Amazon business?
[0:14:55.0] REBECCA: This third one is a little bit more trivial I think than the others.
[0:14:57.7] STEPHEN: That’s so fun.
[0:14:59.7] REBECCA: It is. It’s less on how to save time and how to outsource tasks and more focused on a purchase. I wish that I had years and years and years and years ago, got a second monitor for my desk and I’m kind of embarrassed to say that it was just this past year, towards the end of the year, that I think we got it on a Black Friday sale, if I remember correctly.
[0:15:25.3] STEPHEN: Something like that, yeah. It was like a Q4 bonus for us, “Hey, let’s get this second monitor for you.”
[0:15:30.1] REBECCA: Yeah and so I started doing research and found one that I wanted and got it and I am so embarrassed to say that I have been for years doing online arbitrage on my little MacBook. I don’t know how many inches it is, whatever it is a standard size MacBook.
[0:15:48.8] STEPHEN: I think 13 is how big.
[0:15:50.5] REBECCA: Yeah, it’s not big.
[0:15:52.0] STEPHEN: No.
[0:15:52.8] REBECCA: I mean it is standard for a laptop but it’s not a big screen. So yeah, there is a lot of scrolling side to side that I was doing that I just got used to, but now that I am using the second monitor for sourcing, whether it’s OA or wholesale, looking at line after line of results on tactical arbitrage in particular, that I wonder why on earth I waited this long to get a second monitor, and I know you’ve had a second monitor for years and years.
[0:16:19.9] STEPHEN: Yeah.
[0:16:20.2] REBECCA: Your purpose was more so that you could watch baseball in the background while you were working.
[0:16:25.6] STEPHEN: That was one of the perks of the second monitor, yes.
[0:16:28.6] REBECCA: Right, he does use it for other things too, particularly when we were doing webinars and whatnot, but it is super helpful for sourcing, I think in particular, to have a second monitor and to also have a bigger monitor.
[0:16:41.0] STEPHEN: Yeah and I know there are some people out there who are like, “Okay, now you got to try three monitors.” I’m not ready for that. I don’t know about you?
[0:16:47.0] REBECCA: I would need a bigger desk.
[0:16:47.9] STEPHEN: Yeah, that’s true. That is true.
[0:16:49.6] REBECCA: All right, so to close at this episode, that’s our six things but was there anything else that you don’t think we necessarily did too late that you might – it might kind of have come to mind that other sellers might be considering doing for their FBA business and they are dragging their feet on it that you would say, “Come on, do it now.”
[0:17:09.2] STEPHEN: Yeah, there is two things that when I talk to people and I hear they are not doing this yet, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is one of the first steps that you need to do!”
We’re not going to go to deep into this one on this episode, we’ve already kind of gone on long enough, but the two things I think people should do earlier, number one: inventory management.
Having something like InventoryLab to track all of your inventory, to crunch all your numbers, to have all of your numbers in one place. To be able to create those shipments in Amazon through InventoryLab – which is so much better than through Seller Central – and a lot of other tons of perks, InventoryLab and then, of course, the Scoutify sourcing app that comes along with InventorLab and using that. That’s one thing that I think people should do sooner.
Secondly, is using Keepa when it comes to sourcing. Keepa, this program that tracks the pricing history, sales rank history of almost every single item on Amazon is essential for every single purchasing decision I make. I want to look at a Keepa graph to make my decision. It helps me make better decisions. InventoryLab and Keepa, two things that I think others are just dragging their feet on, that they should do sooner.
[0:18:10.6] REBECCA: All right, well that wraps up this episode then. If you want to check out any of the links that might have been mentioned for the services that we’ve talked about or if you want to see the transcript for this episode, be sure to check out fulltimefba.com/82, the number 82 because this is episode 82.
[0:18:28.7] STEPHEN: I know we talked a lot about different things to add to your Amazon business. If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, just realize you don’t need to add them all at once. Just pick one, whichever one stands out to you, add that to your Amazon business and once you feel comfortable with that, then add another. You can come back to this episode to listen again for suggestions on things to add to your Amazon business to help take you to the next level.
That’s been our six things that we wish we would have done earlier and hopefully, you can learn from our lessons and do it earlier in your Amazon business as well.
[0:18:59.8] REBECCA: All right, before we leave you today, we wanted to share with you a listener review from Tony Barnes. Tony says, “The advice they give is spot on. All of their content is relevant and on point. They give good advice for the new seller and good reminders for the experienced seller. I am looking forward to all the future episodes.” Thank you for that five-star review, Tony.
If you would be interested in leaving us a review, we would love to have you do that at fulltimefba.com/leaveareview or you can go to whatever platform you listen to your podcast on and leave a review there. It is super helpful to do this for us so that other FBA sellers can find our podcast, and more people can get help making a full-time income using only part-time hours with Amazon FBA.
[0:19:41.2] STEPHEN: Next week on The Full-Time FBA Show, we’re going to do a little bit of intro to bundles. If you have heard of people talking about selling bundles on Amazon, we’re going to do a little intro podcast episode on that topic, so be sure you subscribe or follow The Full-Time FBA Show wherever you listen to it, so you don’t miss out on that episode and more coming weekly right from your podcast program.
Have a great day, everybody. I am so excited that you are here today. We’ll see you next week on The Full-Time FBA Show.
[0:20:10.3] ANNOUNCER: That is all for this episode of The Full-Time FBA Show. So head over to fulltimefba.com/podcast, where you will find the show notes and links from this episode. While you’re there, subscribe to our newsletter where you’ll get several free downloads of our popular and helpful Amazon FBA resources. Now, take action on what you have learned today so you can find success at turning part-time hours into a full-time income with Amazon FBA.