The daily grind was driving me insane.
I knew “someday” that I wanted to own my own business, but I just wasn’t sure what that business would be.
I wanted Freedom–Freedom from the daily grind, from the monotony.
Begging for time off just wasn’t an enjoyable thing.
I worked for a big company and dreaded going to work every day.
Sometimes driving out to a client site, I’d think, “what if I just kept driving by and skipped work forever?”
I guess I didn’t have the nerve.
I kept showing up each day, in pain because I did not enjoy the work I was doing.
Before owning a business, I felt trapped. I didn’t want to wait a whole year for “raise season” for a raise. I wanted my income tied to my performance.
If I worked harder, I wanted it acknowledged in my pay check.
I got up the nerve and turned in my resignation and took a sales job hoping that it would help me build the skills to own a business someday.
“Someday” doesn’t have to be so far away.
The new sales job was really a struggle. I had some great weeks, but it became obvious that things weren’t going so well for the whole account, and people were jumping ship like crazy.
For some reason, I kept sticking it out, enduring the pain. This wasn’t like me. I know I can be successful. Why am I having such a hard time?
Worries of a family to provide for and a mortgage payment hovered over my head. How were we to make it?
I looked into so many opportunities. I searched how to make money online and as you can imagine, ran into a lot of junk. A lot of stuff that was either over my head, ethically challenged, or just plain outdated.
I didn’t need a quick fix; I needed something that could provide for my family year after year. Something that could be reliable, not just providing cash to pay the bills but money I could use to build a better life for me and my family.
To make a long story short (which is impossible at this point), I finally made my decision and started a business.
I like to pay attention to details, and I noticed that there were a lot, and I mean a lot of details that people were missing in a certain arena.
The business I eventually started was the business of selling real-world products on the Internet. Specifically, selling products on Amazon.com which is the major place to sell online.
So many Internet entrepreneurs were missing the boat.
Little details that made a huge difference in selling on Amazon were being missed by most of the sellers.
Details such as:
- What type of account to establish
- How to create a good listing
- What types of product variations to create
- How to run great promotions
- What type of fulfillment to use
- How to take great pictures
- How to follow Amazon’s guidelines
- How to create new items
- How to encourage reviews
- How to prepare for the Holiday Retail Rush
But why Amazon?
Other marketplaces such as eBay.com, Buy.com, Overstock.com, definitely provide opportunities, but there are certain benefits that Amazon.com offers to its sellers that put it heads and shoulders above the rest.
I wanted a business I could run from home without having to hire employees.
Amazon provided the means for that solution.
I wanted the freedom that having my own business could offer, but I also had a number of things that I did not want in a business.
I did not want a business that:
- Worked me to death
- Made it so I could never see my family or travel
- Would tie me up shipping onesie-twosie orders every day
- Made managing returns and refunds a pain
I didn’t want to become chained to my business.
I wanted a business that would let me:
- Take a dream vacation to Paris
- Have time to walk my kids to school while everyone else is heading off to their jobs
- Experience the freedom to “do my own thing”
- Establish a good “emergency fund” of savings (I didn’t like being at the end of my rope)
- Have time to work on my own interests outside of business
One of the Amazon services that few know about (in fact, it’s one of the best kept secrets) is a fulfillment service called FBA where Amazon will ship your products for you.
This is not drop-shipping; it’s way better, and provides a better value for you and for your customer.
You ship your product in bulk to Amazon, and when a customer orders, Amazon takes care of the rest: getting it there, customer support, and returns handling.
It’s awesome, enabling, and worth it.
But it’s not all easy-peasy because order fulfillment just one small part of being successful at Internet Business on Amazon.com.
I’ve seen people use the fulfillment service and lose money, not sell inventory, and go negative, because the other aspects of their Internet Business are all wrong.
So how do you sell on Amazon?
It depends on how big you want your business to be.
I wanted and needed an income replacement strategy. I needed it to be the major source of my income because my options were limited at the time.
Starting with the right vision, knowing that you want to do well, and provide a good income whether it replaces your old income or supplements your current income with some extra spending money, starting right is important.
I learned the hard way through hours and hours of research and the school of hard knocks. We had a lot of mistakes and setbacks along the way because we didn’t have good guidance of how to do it.
So what are some things to keep in mind when starting?
1. Follow Amazon’s Rules & Guidelines
Get to know Amazon’s rules in the Help section. Getting banned is a bad idea, so follow their rules.
You wouldn’t go through all the work to get products into Walmart and then decide you really don’t care to play by their rules would you? You’re in their store. Think of selling on Amazon, eBay, Buy, Sears, Overstock, and so on, as being in their store…having your products in their store.
Play by the rules and always work with professionalism when contacting them.
2. Discover what it Takes to Become an Amazon Featured Merchant
You need a real sellers account on Amazon to make it happen.
You need to get good feedback and have good sales, but once you make it to featured (which doesn’t have to take more than a few months), you’ll be rockin.
Amazon doesn’t give away the exact formula for becoming a featured merchant but the basics are just be a good seller (good feedback, the right type of seller account, and product sales). I’ve seen the status reached in a very short time, so it can be done when done right, and it makes all the difference in the world.
A featured merchant on Amazon has the chance at getting what’s called the “Buy Box” on Amazon. The Buy Box provides you with the default sales.
Meaning, when someone clicks the big “Add to Cart” button for the product, you get the sale. Depending on the demand for the product, winning the Buy Box can easily double your sales.
3. Use the Right Fulfillment Service
We’re not talking warm and fuzzy feelings here. Don’t fulfill product yourself. Let Amazon do it for you.
It’s one of the best kept secrets out there.
Imagine not having to ship each individual order! You can ship your products in bulk and the fulfillment service ships the individual orders for you.
This frees up your time so that you can spend it growing your business instead of trying to play catch-up to stay afloat.
4. Select Products Suited for Your Business Size and Available Space
If you’re going to be selling sofas and mattresses and still want to work out of your basement, you’d better have a big basement.
If you have a warehouse, no problem, but if you’re going to do this on your own, you’ll need products that you can easily manage.
Now there are some tricks and tips for getting the big stuff in, and you don’t have to touch it, but we’ll save that for later.
5. Be Flexible with your Pricing Strategy and Promotions
Find the sweet spot. One lesson I learned not too long ago was that most of us tend to under-price our products.
Sure you have to look at the competition, but I prefer to play where there is little competition.
If you need to put something on sale to get a little more sales rank, then go for it.
If you want to earn more profit, try raising your prices.
You don’t need to raise prices by much. If your volume is half-way decent, something as small as a 3% increase could mean a lot to your income.
6. Determine What Your Margins Are
This is absolutely critical. It can’t be over-emphasized.
Your margins are everything.
When you buy a product to sell, you have a product cost you need to cover. So many sellers simply want to make a few bucks and price low, but they don’t realize all the fees that need to be covered!
It’s sad to see so many businesses that don’t get it. They’re running themselves into the ground with work that is costing them money not earning them money!
Don’t let it be you. Get to know every fee involved, know the product costs of your products, the shipping costs involved, taxes, etc.
I keep it all in a spreadsheet that I show in the paid membership training so I can instantly see if a product is a good choice or not.
I also have the Amazon app on my phone so when I’m out and about looking at something thinking it might be a good idea, I can check to see if it or something similar is on Amazon already and determine if it’s a good idea or not to pursue.
I did some consulting with a company that supplies Walmart, Target, Staples (you name it), and their mantra is “No Margin, No Mission.”
Keep track of those margins.
7. Take Advantage of simple Marketing Opportunities within Amazon
Amazon makes it easy to get your products noticed. They’re always testing out new things like Amapedia (which is now gone), So You’d like to Guides, Listmania, Tags, Likes, and other tools.
Things will come and go as Amazon determines what works and what doesn’t.
Take advantage of them while they’re there.
8. Get ready for the Holidays
During the holidays, it’s possible to see 5 Times the normal sales. It can be one of the greatest times of year for your business unless…
…you run out of product.
You don’t want to buy so much product that you have too much after Christmas, so you need an easy way to forecast your demand during the holidays.
There are lots of crazy ways to forecast demand. But is forecasting important if it’s just you working from home? …yep.
Your products may be highly seasonal (slip-and-slides for example), weather related, holiday related, etc. But almost everything gets a big lift at Christmas (unless you’re selling those Valentine’s Bears that say “Will you be my Valentine?” …everything else gets a lift.
It will depend on your products. I’ve seen as much as 5 Times the normal sales volume during Christmas.
If you’re not prepared, you’ll sell out of all your inventory, and kick yourself because you can practically taste the sales that you’re missing while you try to get product back in stock.
I created a pretty simple seasonal profile forecast in a spreadsheet to manage forecasting. It’s not perfect, and I’ll still run out of items (which stinks), but I’m a lot better prepared week by week.
Perhaps someday I’ll look at Economic Order Quantity and all that jazz…okay, not really.
Keep it simple, and a seasonal profile works out just fine (when you learn what your peak seasons are that is). Walmart offers their suppliers seasonal profile information, and that’s good enough for me.
9. Package and Label with Care
It doesn’t do you much good to send something to Amazon only to have it damaged in the way.
Provide enough packing in your shipment so that if the box were dropped, your products would still be okay.
Use 1/2″ bubble wrap or Kraft Paper, and add extra packing if your items are heavy or fragile.
Kraft paper can sometimes scratch your product packaging if the paper is bunches up with lots of hard wrinkles, so keep that in mind when choosing what dunnage (or packing fill) to use.
Make sure to stay away from packing peanuts. Amazon doesn’t like them, and they create a huge mess.
10. Make use of Seller Central Reports
Amazon’s Seller Central (the place where you access your seller account) offers great tools and reports.
It’s important to use them to figure out how much your making, how low/high your inventory is,and if people are taking advantage of promotions you’ve created, reasons for refunds and returns, and so on.
Download the reports and use them in your forecasting. The last thing you want to do is run out of a hot item.
Freedom and Fulfillment with an Internet Business
Selling on Amazon provides entrepreneurs all of the world the chance to create successful businesses allowing for fun and important things like:
- Spending time with family
- Walking the kids to school
- Setting your own schedule
- Vacationing where and when you want to
- The ability to leave the daily grind