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Start selling on amazon? – why NOT to start with private label! (Episode #206)

How to start selling on amazon?

Want to start selling on Amazon?  Where to start?

The standard answer for a few years has been – by plunging straight into private label.

As that’s how I started myself – and eventually succeeded, until recently I taught that myself.

I’m no longer convinced

But after 18 months of mentoring people trying to start selling on amazon, and a year of masterminds mostly focussed on those, I’ve seen the struggles up close. I’ve seen inside too many businesses and too many minds. It’s a hard way to start.

All business has challenges starting. That’s a given. You need a tough mindset. I just happen to think that in late 2017, the old model just isn’t cutting for those who are trying to start selling on Amazon now.

Are you still focussed on Private Label?

Yes I am. I believe private label on Amazon is still a big opportunity.  I have many friends making loads more money than me to back that up. It’s not theory.

So I believe that Private label – and even better, developing unique products -works on Amazon.

However, when it comes to how to start selling on Amazon, that’s a different kettle of fish.

I think the irony is that by prematurely plunging into private label, many sellers actually miss out on properly executed private label. How can that be true?

It’s simple really. They  blow their budget on the first budget. They  bust their confidence in the business model, and indeed in themselves. And then they quit too early – and miss out on $10s or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue per month

I’m not talking about what the overall goal is – rather,  it’s about how we GET there!

Start selling on amazon upwards graph on 3 gold bars

Whatever Works is good

Also I’m increasingly happy with whatever WORKS rather than being puritanical about business models.

As I’ve talked over the past two years to many Amazon experts, it’s clear from the sharper people (especially the master himself, Will Tjernlund )  that there are several models that can work. And you don’t have to start with private label.

Focus is good and learning a particular set of skills-  but so is PROGRESSION:

from simple to advanced; from low-risk to higher risk; from quick wins to projects that take months to come to fruition.

There is  a natural progression in terms of risk in the various business models available to ecommerce sellers in general, and ways to start selling on Amazon in particular.

chimp scratching head- Start selling on amazon

Real learning versus the the Art of Aping…

It’s like my old job of piano teaching.

Sure, I can teach little Johnny to seem like an accomplished pianist by teaching him or her three specific pieces and about 10 scales. You get a certificate, you look good, the parents are happy. 


Trouble is, he doesn’t know his way round a piano, he can’t read the music, he can’t play by ear, he doesn’t understand what he’s playing or why…in short, he’s not becoming any kind of real musician. Or any kind of real pianist. 

He’s aping the real thing. But he’s basically little more than a trained monkey.
Put him in any situation that demands real understanding of music, or real control of a piano, and he is finished.

My experience with Amazon sellers who try to learn  how to start selling on Amazon with Private label is remarkably similar.

Indeed, it mirrors my own journey as an Amazon seller myself. And it also mirrors my journey as a piano student/musician to a frighteningly similar degree too.

Vested interests trump real learning

That’s not surprising. There are a lot of vested interests in trying to “pre-package” business building skills and mindset. Same as there were in pretending you can become a pianist, with 20 minutes’ practice a day and three pieces at a time, with some bullshit “grades” scale.

(By the way, I have 7 years’ higher education in classical music, I’m engaged to a pianist – so this is not the ranting of an amateur. On the contrary. It’s the ranting of an ex-professional).

Both things, I’m afraid, while much better than doing nothing in terms of progressing, are basically based on a totally false premise. The false premise being that you can learn the piano by aping much better pianists’ external results – or by aping the actions of advanced Amazon sellers.

Instead, what I’ve seen overwhelmingly is that all of us entrepreneurs need to develop the right mindset and skills. And those come from experience.

Start selling on amazon

Experience is the best teacher (no surprise there)

The truth is that there is no substitute for learning overall business strategies and tactics. Nor is a substitute for learning by experience.

You need to learn to understand what you see in the data; to READ the data. You need to learn the landscape of a marketplace. Everyone has to learn how the mechanics of production, freight and amazon work. You need to get familiar with Amazon’s internal processes.

All this takes time and practice. It doesn’t need however to be a painful, high-risk, uncertain gain experience, like that of the big private label approach.

Practice makes you better. Planning for months, selling nothing, then sending half your life savings across the world suddenly…well, that is NOT such a great way to practise becoming a better online seller. Nor to start selling on Amazon specifically.

15 reasons  to start selling on amazon with something other than private label

BIG RISKS -AT THE TIME OF LOWEST COMPETENCE! 

  1. when you start out, you know little and have little experience. That’s fine. That’s also not the time to take big risks!

    MOQs and freight costs from China –

  2. these nearly always make for a rather unpalatable large upfront order. It’s all relative of course. If you have £10-20K to invest, you might get away with a budget of £2-3K per order plus some giveaway money. Not for any serious product in the USA, though. And for most people, that’s about half their money for Amazon, in my experience.

    Cashflow

  3. It usually takes months to get a decent private label product off the ground. The fastest I’ve personally done it was four months, with a business partner – so we had a combined 4 years of Amazon experience at the time and access to some very experienced people. It’s still challenging enough.
  4. That means no money coming in at all for months.
  5. AND a large lump sum out a few months in.

    TIME TILL YOU START SELLING

  6. It takes months to get a PL product off the ground.
  7. Meanwhile you’re not learning from the marketplace directly – you’re an outsider attempting to learn from the rather minimal data Amazon releases. Data which the rest of the planet is also trying to learn from. This is a huge downside.
  8. You’re not learning to ship in products or deal with Amazon systems. That’s a large learning curve. The sooner you can start the better
  9. You’re not getting access to Amazon business reports with more insider information like conversion percentages
  10. You’re not getting access to the Search Term Reports which I believe are the real value you’ll get from Amazon ads. That’s where you find out keyword-level conversion percentages which is VERY powerful info.
  11. you’re also not earning! See the cashflow issue above.

    The percentage of successes is so low!

  12. This is the real kicker, I’m afraid. I do know several people who started with private labelling and are still at it today and making great money. Maybe 10-15 people. Maybe 20 max.
  13. However, I must have known hundreds people (vaguely known of at any rate) who started around the same time as me, or have drifted into (and out of) the Amazing FBA Facebook group . Most have apparently drifted away without achieving anything. Or worse, they are fantasising about making money for 2 or 3 years – and wasting those years (that was me for years, by the way – which is why I try my best to stop anybody else wasting their life in the same way)
  14. True, most people who start anything don’t follow through. And that is perhaps even more true for online businesses.
  15. Still, it would be nice to see a little more consistency if it really  is going to be advertised as a potential replacement for the day job (by the way, I’m super cautious about what I say to any potential mentoring client or member of a my London masterminds about replacing day jobs. In most cases, I say give it a minimum of a year – and that’s short)

 

Start selling on amazon

Conclusions on Private label as a way to start selling on Amazon

Am I saying private label is dead then? Is it true that nobody should start a private label business on Amazon? Is private label only for the rich or the super-experienced online maverick?

No, no and no.

That is NOT what I’m saying. I want to be super clear. I think the opportunities to make a ton of cash and have the satisfaction of becoming a real entrepreneur (and mastering a tricky but addictive craft) are very real with private label. And even better with original tweaks to a product.

But both models take serious investment of money, time and energy into each product line. 

That is fine, even very important at the right point in your development as an Amazon seller, or as an entrepreneur.

Start selling on amazon - the himalayas

Don’t start with Mount Everest

But you don’t have to START learning to mountain climb by training in a gym for 3 months, studying maps and theory incredibly hard, then attempting the Himalayas as your first set of mountains.

Sure it’s been done – I read about exactly that in the news a while ago.

There’s a clue here. It’s news – because it’s the exception to the rule!

You don’t have to START selling on Amazon by scaling a private label mountain either.

Again, yes there are exceptions. Again, we read about them and the buzz goes around. Because it is NEWS. Because -I’m sad to say, after trying this way for so long with newcomers –  it’s unusual to succeed that way.

There are alternatives

So is this a reason to be depressed and quit?

Maybe – if you are the sort of person who quits easily. In which case, please don’t attempt to become an entrepreneur.

Most people shouldn’t scale the Himalayas and most people probably shouldn’t be entrepreneurs either. And that is absolutely fine. 

Most people don’t have the mindset, stamina or sheer hunger of an entrepreneur, and there is nothing wrong with that. I’m not a rugby player – despite being forced to play it (very badly) at school. Yes, I admire good players – but I don’t feel a failure because it doesn’t suit me (my sports teachers at school had a go of course…)

Most people who are a right for a profession build skill, fitness and experience one hill, one mountain at a time. If they get on well,  they move to the next natural level.

start selling on Amazon - business post-its

Amazon is still business as usual

Business is no different – and Amazon is no different to business. Just because Amazon has built the world’s most amazing traffic and conversion machine shouldn’t blind us to the fact that normal business rules still apply.

The economics and business principles are the usual:

Supply and demand. Risk-reward ratios. Opportunity cost.

The mindset and skills needed are the usual ones too:
The skills of assessing the supply and demand balance in a market; assessing risk vs reward; weighing up opportunity cost (if you go for one opportunity, you tie up the money and time that could go into another);

The mindset of a blend of vision and opportunism; pragmatism with some theory and imagination; discipline with flair and improvisation……and so on…

Go for it – but lower risk and increase learning!

I personally think anyone wants to have a serious crack at building a business and becoming an entrepreneur has never had such opportunity at their feet. And if you want to go for it, I think you should go for it.

There is no reason for anyone to exclude themselves from becoming an entrepreneur.

But wait – isn’t that against everything I’ve been saying in this post?

No again.

I want you to have the maximum chance of success, not to exclude you from the club.

What I am saying is that starting an Amazon business with private label does not maximise your chances of succeeding.

Instead, what you should do is read my next post and consider a much lower-risk way to learn your craft as an Amazon seller!

(Now there’s a cliff-hanger…!)

Thanks for reading.

(By the way – well done for reading to the end. Now there’s a hint that you have some stamina. You’ve passed the first test, oh Jedi. If you’re British, Click here – I think you may have what it takes to join the real business builders.)

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist putting a little teaser at the end too! I’ve got to have fun too, you know…)

Happy hunting.

 

An Amazon mastermind: Why You need one- part 2 (episode 205)

“So are you suggesting I just set my own Amazon mastermind group up?”

Absolutely, you can. I’ve set up my own Amazon mastermind myself, as I mentioned earlier.
Here’s the thing – it’s really hard work. If I were just selling on Amazon, rather than also running a podcast and coaching, I simply wouldn’t do it all again. I’d just plug into an existing group.

But, if you want to create something from scratch, I can give you a ton of reality checks form from personal experience:

Finding new Amazon seller peers for your Amazon mastermind

Firstly, and most importantly, you’ve got to gather together a set of people who are worth being peers with in an Amazon group in the first place.

When I first started out on Amazon, and formed my own peer group of Amazon sellers, I looked through the Facebook group of a course that I was in, and searched for people who lived in or near me (in London). I then tried to check out what they had been posting, to see how active they were, whether they were moving forward with the process, etc.

That took a lot of time and effort. Trouble is, that was just a beginning!

Think about it.

Amazon mastermind hurdle 1- Facebook Monkeys

Facebook Groups aka “The tyre kickers’ Club”

There are a lot of people out on the Facebook groups, even within paid courses, who don’t have enough money, don’t have enough time, and don’t have the right attitude.

They hope they can make some money on Amazon. They’ve often been pitched into the idea that they can easily replace the day job within 3 months (if that’s you.

Sure, it happens- but it’s pretty rare. Sorry to burst your balloon. It’s not a business-like attitude. It’s based on hope. Which, as we all know, is not a strategy…).

What I’ve just described sounds, in fact, like a typical Facebook group of Amazon wannapreneurs.

Which is why my first effort to create a little Amazon mastermind faltered. I had found a bunch of would-be Amazon sellers who lived in London and posted a bit online. Not surprisingly, most of them proved to be very much non-action-takers, and the meetings ended up being people fantasising about starting a business, instead of doing it!

Filtering out the tyre-kickers

What you need is a filtering system. And, guess what, that takes time and effort to build. What I do these days for the masterminds for Amazon sellers that I run (through Amazing FBA) is have an application process for each Amazon mastermind.

I ask every single applicant to fill in a form with questions that I’ve honed over a year of working this process. Then in some cases (all cases, for applicants to my $10K Collective Amazon mastermind ), I have a 20-30 minute interview in which I ask detailed questions.

Why bother? Well, see above. What happens to you if you create (with some effort) a peer group of  under-capitalized, time-poor un-focussed people? Oh yeah…

Finding people to put through your filter

Of course, if you are going to filter people out, you need a way of finding possible people in the first place. If you’re going to manually do that, you need to be going to a lot of physical meet ups and other big groups.

That’s great, but there aren’t a whole lot of good ones in the UK. There’s a fantastic Amazon meetup in London once a month, run by the excellent Andy Geldman of Webretailer. Then there are various other meet up groups, some of which might be good, but many of which, I suspect, are run by wannabes not business owners.

Amazon mastermind meeting venue

Finding an Amazon mastermind meeting venue

Once you’ve gathered your troops, you’ve got to find a suitable venue for your Amazon meet up.

Firstly, it needs to be reasonably accessible for your members. So the geography and transport links matter. Then it needs to be affordable (money is whole other issue we’ll discuss). This all takes quite a bit of time and effort. Even in London, I found it took hours, and we have a ton of business meeting venues in this place.

You need a space that enables you all to think clearly. You could use your own house, of course, if you have the space- and the headspace. But do you really want  the kids -or your husband/wife-interrupting a crucial business point? How conducive to clear thinking is that? It’s cheap but brings its own issues.

You could use a local pub but I’ve found (having been in an Amazon mastermind in the past who met in one) that the noise seriously disrupts your ability to hear crucial bits of information. So I can’t recommend that.

A quiet cafe is better – but although I find that works great for one-to-one meetings, it’s not really the right way for a group of people to work, as they have to basically take over the room to do it. And there’s always a screaming infant somewhere (and why should there not be? it’s a cafe!)

 Venue resources

You need decent wifi of course (although I think it’s less important than most people make it. But you shouldn’t spend your whole time online. You need to think clearly. Online is not the place for that).

I think a whiteboard or an easel with a flipchart is very, very helpful for brainstorming strategies, or capturing key resources (eg websites or online tools) for the group.

Coffee on tap is great -free, good coffee even better! Easily available toilets are a mundane but crucial part of a good venue. And finally, you ideally want somewhere easy for new members to find, not a cramped room hidden upstairs behind a noisy pub!

Why choose an existing Amazon mastermind

Conclusions – a reality-check on creating your own Amazon mastermind

I hope that the above experiences save you wasting months of hard work. Frankly, now I know from experience what I know, if I were just selling on Amazon, rather than also running a podcast and coaching, I simply wouldn’t do it all again. I’d just plug into an existing group. As indeed I did myself about 18 months ago!

The only reason I go to all the trouble it takes to create and run a Amazon mastermind (which I detailed just some of above), is that it’s part of my mission at Amazing FBA.

That mission is to help Amazon sellers and those in the process of establishing their own Amazon businesses to achieve REAL goals. Not just fantasies. And not to take 12 months on something that you could achieve in 3 months (or even 2) with some guidance from experience.

Even then, I couldn’t justify the time it takes away from my Amazon business if I didn’t charge a certain amount for all the efforts. The cost is pretty modest, by the way, if you compare it to the literally £thousands I’ve seen some Amazon trainers charge.

Often they turn out to be not true small group masterminds, but actually groups of 30-60 people. There’s nothing wrong with paying £10s of thousands if you get value in the £100s of thousands, but I’m pretty suspicious of the value most of those so-called “Amazon masterminds” can really deliver.

The “Amazing FBA” Amazon Mastermind

So, I guess that brings me fairly unavoidably to mention the Amazon masterminds that I run for Amazing FBA. Again, I don’t want to be self-serving, but it would be a bit strange for me not to mention them in the context of Amazon masterminds and  masterminds as a whole.

I try to practise what I preach, basically. I said at the start of this article that I believe that a mastermind needs to be interactive; needs to be focussed; and needs to lead its members to action, which leads to their progress.

The secret sauce to a successful Amazon mastermind

From the (sometimes painful) experience of trying many approaches in Amazon masterminds (both as a member and group leader), I’ve found the formula to combine all those good things. Like a lot of good formulas, it’s pretty simple. In fact, that’s partly why it’s so effective.

The secret sauce that I’ve found to combine all those outcomes, is the “Hot Seat”.

I’ve found that to be so effective that we’ve made it the overwhelming focus of each Amazon mastermind meeting.

Amazon mastermind hot seat

The Hot Seat Secret

Here’s how it works:

Each participant gets minimum 30 minutes to focus on their own business. Specifically, to focus on ONE thing. Even more exactly, the ONE roadblock that when they break through it, it will really move the needle. Will really move their business on -substantially. 

So it’s very focussed. That’s one secret. It’s also interactive. Because once the member in the hot seat has outlined their issue, all other members are there to bring their experience and thoughts to the issue.

Of course, it’s very helpful if the other members who don’t have anything valuable to bring can keep schtum. That way,  others who do bring value can help.

But it is excellent business training to encounter business problems and brainstorm solutions. That is the real training we all need as business builders. Not an obsession with the latest trick or grey hat technique (useful as they are, of course). But business thinking and mindset.

There is a huge bonus of having a genuine peer group in an Amazon mastermind. A lot of the people in the group share the same set of problems. So by listening to solutions to another person’s problem, you’re hearing the solutions to many problems of your own.

Win-win. 

Implementation is the ultimate test of any Amazon mastermind

SO, the group members can almost not fail to move their business forward. Provided the participants go away and implement this stuff (another crucial word), they Job done! Isn’t it?

Well, almost. The implementation piece has proved to be a real challenge for many Amazon mastermind members. Which is why I’ve recently added in a simple extra process to make sure people are held to account. In other words, to use peer pressure in a very positive way. To get you to do what you said you were going to do!

KLT

Ensuring members do what they say they will!

We’ve simply added in a quick video call check in once a month. The aim? Simple. To make sure people are implementing what they’ve said they would.

It’s early days, but the results already look promising.

It’s fairly obvious where I’m going with this, so I’ll just come out and say it:

-if you’re convinced of the value of being in an Amazon mastermind

-if you’re not wanting to go through the pain, time & effort of creating your own Amazon mastermind,

-AND if you live near London (or can get there)

then obviously I think you should consider the Amazing FBA masterminds!

I’m not going to make a huge pitch for them here; if you want to check them out, there are now two levels:

The Zero to Hero Mastermind, which is geared to those who have not yet launched, and to those doing just a few thousand $ a month (or equivalent) on Amazon (we may form a separate mastermind for the latter as it grows)

The $10K Collective, which is for those doing at least $10K a month on Amazon.

Conclusions about any Amazon mastermind – done properly

The thing is this. Now, you have a process that means you focus on the biggest win in your business right now. You can get the collective mind to break through blocks and find the actions to get that win. You  have a means to hold you to do that action. 

Now you have a really powerful driver to move you forward.

Like I said,  that may be why nearly all the successful Amazon entrepreneurs I know are part of one.

Wherever you live in the world, I’d encourage you to look for a face-to-face mastermind you can regularly commit to.

The word commit is a key one here too. If you put little in, you get little out.Your peer group will massively impact your wealth and well-being. So Choose wisely who you associate with.  

But once you’ve chosen well, commit to your Amazon mastermind. The more you sweat to rearrange your schedule to get to meetings; spend money on trains or planes to get there; in short, the more you put in- the more you get out.


I can give you a promise from my experiences as an Amazon seller and from running groups. The rewards of a really quality Amazon mastermind are truly many times greater than the effort. And the ROI (for the right group) many times greater than the cost. 

To find out more about the regular monthly masterminds for Amazon sellers led by Michael, click here

Amazon masterminds: Why You need one (episode 204)

Amazon masterminds

Why Amazon Masterminds?

Want to double your revenue? Find the latest tactics and stay ahead of the curve?

These sound like a pitch for the latest high-tech software, right?

Well you’d be wrong. I’m talking about good old-fashioned face-to-face, interactive Amazon masterminds here.

Through Amazon masterminds, I’ve personally found an amazing Amazon business partner, learnt many tactics that have made me $1000s extra, and been offered deals worth $100K+ a month of revenue.

But let me you how I got here…

My background with Amazon masterminds

First, I should give some background and confess. I’ve been a member of a private Amazon mastermind of my peers (Amazon sellers) for about 18 months now.

I also set up and ran (free) peer-group Amazon mastermind meetings myself about 2 ½  years ago, which ran for a while. That sputtered out because the people weren’t really committed. And I was wanting to focus on selling on Amazon, not running a mastermind for uncommitted people.

I took the learnings from both Amazon masterminds and created something better.

 So I’ve been running a successful (modestly) paid Amazon mastermind meetings for about a year via Amazing FBA (I recently set up a new  Amazon mastermind for new sellers, i.e., those who haven’t launched yet)

The reality of Amazon masterminds

First thing: yes, of course I’m going to mention my own masterminds, at least in passing . I run two Amazon masterminds each month. I’m writing an article about how important masterminds/masterminds are. It’s bound to come up! But I’m here to share my experiences of masterminds, not to pitch my own (if you do want to read the pitch for my masterminds/masterminds, of course, click here!)

Second thing: there’s a reason why I run an Amazon  mastermind each month. Because I believe it’s one of the most powerful ways I can truly help Amazon entrepreneurs.

Third thing: from everything I can observe of truly successful Amazon entrepreneurs – it’s (still) true that every one of them is a member of some kind of Amazon mastermind or mastermind!

I guess as a person who needs interaction and inspiration, I’m biased. But…

Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

My own wins from Amazon masterminds

I personally have got so many results directly from being in masterminds. I’ve found an amazing Amazon  business partner; sold thousands from secret techniques shared within the closed walls of a mastermind; and been invited into strategic partnerships to do deals involving $100s of thousands in revenue.

These results are not chance. But they equally would never have come about simply from networking on the superficial level(valuable as that is) at Amazon conferences.

Amazon Masterminds meeting

“What do you mean by ‘Amazon masterminds’?”

First, let’s start of by defining our terms.

‘Amazon’ as a business opportunity can be exploited by a huge variety of business models.  There could be around 14 business models, according to some authorities. That sounds about right. Certainly common ones include Retail Arbitrage; Online Arbitrage; Drop-Shipping; Wholesaling.

When I say “Amazon”, my particular focus here (and that of the podcast/blog and coaching programmes) is selling Private Label products via Amazon FBA.

Secondly, what are we talking about with a ‘mastermind’?

When so-called “Amazon masterminds” are not really a masterminds

I think it’s almost easier to say what masterminds are not. They are NOT, as far as I’m concerned, a mass meeting of 100 people where someone from the front discusses or teaches a lesson.

Don’t get me wrong. Big meetings can be very valuable -and by the way, Andy Geldman of Webretailer runs an excellent London Amazon meet up most months, where they have really helpful speakers. I’ve spoken there recently and was very impressed with the setup. It’s a great place to learn new strategies and tactics, and to network. But to my mind, it’s not a mastermind (and nor does Andy claim it is, just to be clear!)

Andy charges about a fiver to enter his meetings and, while I think that is super-cheap (and he could arguably charge up to £50 or so), he’s not charging hundreds, which I think is appropriate.

I think there are various aspects of Amazon masterminds that make them unique.

Firstly, to be really powerful, they need to be very interactive. So all participants have to think hard and engage their brains in a very active way. It develops their business thinking on a deeper level.

Secondly, they need to be focussed. Generalised excitement has its place, but I would argue that place is at a larger conference-type meeting.

Thirdly, they need to move the participants on in their business. How many times have you been to a large group meeting which inspired you to feel excited about business… and when you got home you did…er…absolutely nothing except talk about how exciting it was (it’s embarrassing but we may as well  be honest with each other – I did that for decades).

I don’t believe that really serves anyone long-term. I think the success of a Amazon masterminds is measured in how much action their participants produce and therefore how much progress they make towards their goals.

Which brings me to another question I’ve been asked a few times recently:

“What extra value does this offer compared to online research? Why bother being in Amazon masterminds?”

I love this question because it so clearly illustrates a number of things. This is a really important question.   

My simple answers: Time; Certainty; Motivation; Action; Progress

Amazon masterminds save time

Amazon masterminds value your TIME

Of course, since the invention of Google (and in more recent years, Facebook groups), in theory you can piece together all the knowledge you need to do anything.
The problem is- reinventing the wheel takes a lot of time.


Let’s say you are researching Product Research methods. Let’s say you manage to gather all the information you would get in a 30-minute hot seat at one Amazon  mastermind meeting by taking a week of Google research.

Great. So you saved yourself £49 (or £97 or whatever the mastermind costs). Let’s say you multiply that over 4 different areas of business.
You just spent 4 weeks doing something that could have taken you 4 days (in fact, more like 20 hours – including travel time!).


If your future Amazon business is going to generate say $10,000 a month in profit in a few months, you’ve just incurred an opportunity cost of $10,000.
For the sake of saving £49 (or £97 etc.) 

“Penny wise, pound foolish” is I believe what they used to call that!

If you don’t value your time, you won’t make serious money. Period. 

Amazon masterminds give you certainty

Amazon masterminds give CERTAINTY

Here’s a simple one: how do you know, out of thousands of Facebook posts, which ones are from a solid source, and which aren’t? The answer is that it’s hard to know! And doing much research on that would take even more hours. 


In an Amazon mastermind, you know who you are dealing with; because of non-disclosure and non-compete clauses, you can find out super quickly who to really follow. 

Assuming you’re smart enough to make sure there are NDAs and NCA’s of course (I really, really  would check this. There’s obviously a lot to be gained for an unscrupulous member to exploit others’ product ideas. Make sure there’s quality control about who the members are, and make sure that someone is responsible for policing this stuff).

More importantly, you can judge over time who is being successful and actually implementing stuff, and who is just spouting theory they “read somewhere” or from some guru. There is some value in the latter; but the former is WAY more valuable. The ability to really be able to differentiate between the two is really one of the high values you get from small groups where you can really get to know each other properly.

Amazon group

Masterminds give MOTIVATION

Be honest – how long have you been  “researching” the Amazon private label opportunity? After a couple of months without even buying a small amount of inventory, I’m afraid that “research” is cover for “fear/being lost”. That’s okay, honesty is useful – but why stay lost?

If you’ve been selling but way below what you know you’ve targetted, again, that’s just called being human. But if you do nothing new about it, nothing changes.

Being with human beings is hardwired into us. We’re group animals.  It should therefore be no surprise that your peer group (who you hang out with most of the time and compare yourself to) has a massive impact on everything about you. Your attitude. Your health. And, of course, your wealth.

Getting yourself a peer group and stay actually excited instead of being isolated behind your laptop is simply following fundamental principles of human (indeed, primate) social psychology. We violate those principles at our risk. Why fight nature? It’s so much more powerful to go with our instincts than to delude ourselves that we can ignore them…and frankly, to stagnate.

Build Amazon businessBuild Amazon business

Amazon masterminds promote action

Masterminds create ACTION

This is the kicker. If you’ve been “researching” for over 3 months without buying something, that isn’t going to change unless you change something.

I’ve lost count of the conversations I’ve had with people who are painfully obviously using the word “research” as a fig-leaf for “Fear”. There. I’ve said the four-letter word.

Fear is FINE. It’s nature’s way of flagging up risk. Awareness of risk –  contrary to the happy-clappy, “everything is gold” school of Amazon thinking (which is just BS, apologies for being blunt) is actually GOOD for business. What’s not good is going in circles, or not assessing the risk objectively.

If you don’t have proven strategies (and the latest Amazon hack is NOT a strategy, it’s a tactic. And that’s fine. But knowing the difference is everything).

You need people to inspire you by showing you what’s possible, and hold you accountable. If you’ve not done it till now, why will that change?

Some people seem able to work in isolation and still succeed with Amazon. I can think of about two people who were really doing that on a big scale. Guess what? They are now collaborating with other Amazon sellers to get to the next level.

Amazing FBA Amazon Masterminds

The “Amazing FBA” Amazon Masterminds

So, I guess that brings me fairly unavoidably to mention the Amazon masterminds that I run for Amazing FBA. Again, I don’t want to be self-serving, but it would be a bit strange for me not to mention them in the context of Amazon masterminds and  masterminds as a whole.

I try to practise what I preach, basically. I said at the start of this article that I believe that a mastermind needs to be interactive; needs to focus members; and needs to lead its members to action, which leads to their progress.

It’s fairly obvious where I’m going with this, so I’ll just come out and say it:

-if you know the value of being in one of the Amazon masterminds

-if you’re not wanting to go through the pain, time & effort of creating your own Amazon mastermind,

-AND if you live near London (or can get there)

then obviously I think you should consider the Amazing FBA Amazon masterminds!

I’m not going to make a huge pitch for them here; if you want to check them out, there are now two levels:

The Zero to Hero Mastermind, which is geared to those who have not yet launched, and to those doing just a few thousand $ a month (or equivalent) on Amazon (we may form a separate mastermind for the latter as it grows)

The $10K Collective, which is for those doing at least $10K a month on Amazon.

To find out more about the regular monthly masterminds for Amazon sellers led by Michael, click here

200 How to Grow Your Business on Amazon with Aaron O’ Sullivan of Systems Culture Impact

This is Part 2 of the interview with Aaron O’Sullivan from SystemsCultureImpact.com. In part one Aaron covered the ways you can build out the systems in your life and business that will allow you to grow your business on Amazon. In this episode, we’re focusing on someone who’s already live and has at least 20 products.

Read More

164 Amazon Sales with Shane Stinemetz Part 1 of 3

It is important for any business to measure its profit and loss as this helps in determining the direction of the business. It helps in understanding if the business is headed in the right direction or if there are changes that need to be implemented. Read More
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145 Amazon Inventory Management with Jeremy Biron of Forecastly Part 2 of 3

How to Deal With Excess Amazon Inventory

This is one of the biggest issues with Amazon inventory management. It’s something everyone deals with. Sometimes a product doesn’t as well as you expected. Once again, there is no crystal ball solution.

Improve Marketing

It might seem obvious, but one thing you can do is to look at it from a marketing perspective. Take a look at what you can do to improve the conversion rate. Can you improve your images or other aspects of your listing? Pay-per-click ads. It’s an investment. It will take time to perfect it. Is there anything else you can do as a last ditch effort to recoup your investment in the stock?

Pull the Inventory

If you have already considered the marketing aspect, you could try a completely different route. You can wholesale it or sell it on a different channel. You’d be surprised how many people will buy lots of inventory on eBay other sites that will help you with that. There are sites that help you with bulk sales. You can work with a service that does flash sales, like touchofmodern.com. They will flash sales household products that are high-quality. If you want to leave it on Amazon, you could lower your price. Even if you take a loss on the sales, at least you’re putting money back into your pocket.

Avoiding Excess Inventory

Proper Amazon inventory management is very difficult. You have to think long and hard and it really comes down to a plan. In the case of excess inventory, many sellers just go on a whim. One seller is dealing with excess inventory because they bought 3000 units of a product they’ve never sold before. Their main reason was that they got a good cost on them at 300 units.

The cost isn’t as important on that first order. You’re really trying to prove the product is viable. Then on your second order, you can get the cost right once you know the product will sell. It might be difficult for a first-time seller since your money is tied up but you’re not making much profit. However, you are lowering the risk if the product doesn’t take off.

Casting a Large Net to Find the Right Product

One tactic that you might consider is ordering small amounts of several different products knowing you are likely to run out. Then you can see which one takes off. This isn’t a great strategy. If you find a good product that takes off, you will jump in the sales rank. Now you have a high ranking product with no inventory. Let’s say it sells out in a week but you have a 45 day lead time. Now you’re going to be out of stock for 45 days unless you can negotiate with your supplier and spend more money to have it expedited.

Minimum Order Quantity

One issue you might run into is a minimum order quantity (MOQ), where suppliers will require a large order otherwise they won’t accept it. You can try to negotiate with them saying that you will be ordering from them for awhile, but it’s company policy that the initial is smaller.

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#77 Selling an Amazon Business with Coran Woodmass of The FBA Broker – Part 1

How did you get started with this?

Just over 3 years ago, Coran and his wife left Australia and their corporate jobs and began traveling. They had online businesses at the time and soon began buying and selling websites to fund their traveling. He liked the process of building a company to sell it rather than building to for the income. He struggled to keep his attention on one thing.

For this interview Coran create a package of tools for Amazing FBA listeners at http://thefbabroker.com/amazing. So do check that out.

How did you get involved with sales of Amazon companies?

About a year ago he got into the brokerage side of things after people began asking him to review and vet websites that were for sale and help negotiate the sales. As of about a month ago he has been dealing exclusively with FBA businesses.

Should I sell my FBA business now or hold it?

Most people do this backwards. They build up a business and it’s making money and then they decide they want to sell it. Maybe they want to focus on something else, maybe they want to cash out and pay off the investment. That’s a terrible time to sell. Odds are, you won’t be structured in a way that is attractive to sellers. The first thing you need to think about is who you are going to sell to and what they are looking for.

Let’s say you have a private label business that’s been operation for an year and half to two years. So you have a bit of history and you beginning to think about exiting. Reasons that Coran decided to sell his companies were that he might need the cash flow for something else or he was getting bored with the business.

How do I know if Can I sell my Amazon Business?

Coran breaks Amazon businesses down into three types, retail arbitrage/wholesaling, private label, and unique or proprietary.

For retail arbitrage/wholesaling, unless you have exclusive rights to selling on Amazon, the chances of your income being taken away is very high. What an investor is looking for is a return on investment. They will pay a certain multiple for a business with the intention of getting that money back first. So with wholesaling, for almost all cases, your only asset is your inventory, so if you lose your means of selling it, you’re just stuck with a load of stock.

Private label is the most popular way to sell on Amazon. There is a barrier of entry so your products have a shelf life of 6-12 months. That means that if you have one product that you haven’t differentiated, you just stuck your label on a product and built the brand, it’s not super defensible. So it will sell at a lower multiple. You can definitely sell these companies, you just have to put a little work into it.

Unique or proprietary products are much more defensible. You may have taken negative comments on your products and tweaked them. So you might have a unique mold or something that makes your product unique, that will sell at a higher multiple. The more you can make a private label product better or unique, the better it will be when it comes time to sell.

For example, Greg Mercer at Jungle Scout ran a case study where he made his chop sticks a little longer. While not super defensible, it is unique, and if you build your brand around that it sets you up in a better position.

How long do you need to be in business before selling?

There is a debate among brokers as to what the minimum amount of time is. For Coran, a year is still young. You certainly want 12 months of history. There are a few reasons for this. One, you want to see if there is any seasonality involved. An investor wants to work out their return on the longest history possible. There is also something to be said for a product that takes time to gain traction. Seems a bit counter-intuitive but an investor will look at a product and think, “What’s to stop me from doing this myself?”, so a product that takes time to get established show the investor that this company is worth buying because it will take that much more time to get it going if he/she wanted to start from scratch.

Most importantly, when it come to age of a company, you want the company to be established. For online companies, that typically means 3 years. Compared to offline, like brick and mortar businesses, 10 years is a long time.

Even if you’re not thinking of selling your company soon, now is the time to start preparing for it. A year, year and a half out, you want to make sure your products are defensible and that you have products that will add value to your company when it comes time to sell.

Is there a minimum number of products you should have?

Coran is working on two businesses, trying to get them ready to be listed. One business is completely private labeled, very little in the way of differentiation. It’s just brand. He has 20 products. That business is attractive because of the wide range of products. Out of the 20 products, most of the income comes from three products. It is all on Amazon and bringing in a million in sales a year.

The other company has only one product that is unique. It’s is their own formulation and their own brand. 70% of their income is coming from Amazon. They also sell on Amazon US and Amazon UK. 30% of their income is coming from their Shopify store. So they have several layers of defensibility.

The gold standard, according to Coran, is a third company he is working with. They have 10+ uniquely formulated products. Multiple sales channel. 70% through their e-commerce channel, 30% on Amazon.

The less reliant you are on one thing, the better. Multiple products, multiple sales channels, multiple traffic sources. So if you have a private label and don’t want to focus on unique products, focus on finding sales channels outside Amazon. That way, if one thing takes a hit you have hedged your bets.

How is it valued?

You need to look at it from an investors perspective, they are looking for a return on investment (ROI). Their in for $1,000,000 and their making $200,000 a year on it, that’s the ROI. They way we value Amazon businesses is net profit. The best way to look at this is: what is your annual net profit. If your business has been around a year and making decent profit, that’s not as attractive to these kinds of buyers. The important thing to consider I: what is your profit right now? When working with clients, Coran finds that most people over-estimate their profits. Oftentimes it’s as much as half of what they thought it was once they put in their numbers. If you want to find out what your business is worth, use Coran’s tool for that.

What can make my business worth more?

Type of businesses

Reseller

Private label

Proprietary

Age

The longer your business has been around, the better

EBITDA

The more profit you’re bringing in, the more attractive your business will be

Defensibility

Diversification

Diversified products

Diversified traffic sources

Different niches

Seasonal Items

Competition

The strong the competition, the more wary investors will be

Do you have any tips for determining profit and loss?

Profit and Loss Template – Use this spreadsheet to help determine how much money your are actually making.

It starts with your total sales and revenue. From there it takes out the cost of sales. This is your Amazon fees, packaging, shipping, etc. All the costs associated with selling that item. Then it takes your operational costs out. The is refunds, ads, web hosting, salaries and other drawings, etc. All the costs that are associated with running your business. In the end you’re left with your net revenue.

In regards to salaries and other drawing from your business, when it comes to selling the business you can add that back into your profits. The reason is that your investor might not want to draw anything from the business. So you want to present them with the profits including what you are drawing from it. Then they can decide what they want from it. If they are looking for an income, they can look at the net revenue and determine how much they can draw. If they are looking for growth, they might want to leave everything in and use that to grow the company.

If you don’t add back your salary, it makes it much more difficult for them to find it. You want to make it as easy as possible for your buyer.

#102 Finding a Killer Amazon Product Part 2 – Set your Budget & Aim for the Most Expensive Products you can!

Setting your Budget

Setting your Budget

After gathering ideas, the big Second Phase is: FILTERING.

The first thing to say is: there is no single perfect formula. If you use the same formula as everyone else, you’ll end up with the same products, you’ll compete on price and you’ll make no profit (if you manage to make sales).

So DON’T choose “$20-40 sales price, 3000 units a month, lighter than 1 lb weight”!

The first thing to do in this Phase is: set a budget.

The main thing that makes a difference is how much budget you have to spend. If you haven’t got £3-4,000 or $5,000 USD, you don’t really have enough to do private label anyway, in which case I recommend Online Arbitrage, Retail Arbitrage or Wholesale.

Broadly, I would choose a product that you can sell for as high a price per unit as you can afford. If you have for example $5000 to spend on inventory for your first order, get 200 of something fantastic you can land for $25 and sell for say $75.

Don’t get obsessed with units sold per month. Traditionally you look for 3000 units/month sold on page 1 – which means per product, about 300 units a month or 10 a day.
I no longer care about that. I just want $10,000 – even $5000 a month of revenue per product. It’s in fact much better to have the same turnover from fewer, higher priced products because a lot of the costs per unit are similar  – so in other words, you make more profit if those units are higher priced.

#85 What the sea can teach Amazon entrepreneurs about time management

#85 The sea…and Natural Rhythms

It’s funny how interacting personally with basic natural forces reminds you of some Business basics for Amazon. Here are a couple of thoughts that have struck me while swimming in the sea off the South-East coast of England:

There is a natural rhythm to everything in business. Just like the ebb and flow of the tide, it’s almost like a force of nature. If we learn to recognise hear or see those rhythms, we can work with them not against them.

Examples of natural rhythms include:

  • The economy of a country which has an Amazon marketplace: consumer spending ebbs and flows with the economy, which tends to follow the Business Cycle of around 11 years.
  • The seasonal ebb and flow of product demand in retail – especially on Amazon! Late November and December are normally epic demand for most products; January is often quite dead. BBQs sell better in the summer, and so on. Plan accordingly
  • So you need a marketing calendar: Feb: Valentine’s Day; Mother’s Day; Independence Day (USA) or Bastille Day (France)
  • You need to reverse engineer from this to your procurement (buying/sourcing) calendar: when do you need to place an order for products in order to get a product launched and ranked for Christmas sales?
  • Your own business will have natural rhythms to growth process – at what point do you need to outsource prep? (so you don’t have a living room or garage full of boxes!) When do you take on a VA?
  • Your own personal rhythms are also important: when are you at your most productive? When do you need to build exercise into your day and/or your week?

If you can schedule things in these various levels of business in a way that works with the natural rhythms rather than against them, you’ll find you are riding the waves rather than fighting against the tide!

This episode is one of the **Summer Series** of bite-sized chunks of Amazon Strategic Goodness!

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