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#96 Amazon Mindset Learnings from Musicians

Having just played piano for music auditions in London recently, it struck me that the Main mistakes made in auditions are the same as those made by many beginning Amazon entrepreneurs. mindset strengths or  mistakes and doing it well – needed for auditions for peak performers  are the same as those needed for Amazon

Mistake #1 Failure to prepare

Solution: Prepare!  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Xmas sales are big in retail. Plan your inventory accordingly. Plan your cash accordingly. If you’re just launching a Private label business, plan your capital needs upfront (hint: £1000 isn’t enough for private label! Don’t believe the hype – it’s designed to sell courses, not make you money!)

Mistake #2 Getting put off by mistakes

Solution: When you have a basically sound plan  – keep going! Mistakes are not reasons to lose focus or momentum. Or rather, they can be  – but don’t let them! Stay focussed and learn fast!

Mistake #3 Expecting to be great first time out

Solution: Practise! The best way to do a great audition is to do several – some good, some bad, some mediocre – and to learn from the experiences. The best way to do pick an Amazon product or do an Amazon launch is the same. Plan accordingly (don’t put all your money into one product, for example), start manageably and scale up with experience.

A great bit of advice is to start with Retail Arbitrage (retail arb or RA) or Online Arbitrage (OA). I haven’t done it this way so I can’t guide you properly, but if you are US based, Jim Cockrum is your man. Check out his site My Silent Team.

Mistake #4 Not getting training (or just learning from Podcasts and Facebook group aka “Drinking from a firehose!”)

Solution: Get the best training you can afford. Yes, podcasts and Facebook groups are free and an excellent place to gather info. But it’s too much to absorb and nobody can really structure it to be step by step in those formats.

I would get training from someone who knows what they are doing, preferably geared to your particular finances, circumstances and experience.

Above all, I would get myself a group of peers who you can grow with (find out more about the Amazing FBA London mastermind- on waiting list only at the moment). For me personally, this has been the single biggest success factor so far, hands down.

#94 The Seven Steps of an Amazing Amazon Business Launch

  • Amazon Overall Startup Process – 2.5- 6 months
    • 1. Product selection – 4-12 Weeks / Many Hours a week!
    • 2. Business setup – 2-4 weeks/ A few hours only
    • 3. Sourcing – 3-12 Weeks or More! / Many Hours a week!
    • 4. From Port to Live – 1-3 weeks/ A few hours
    • 5. Product Listing – 1-2 days/ A few hours
    • 6. Product launch – 1-2 weeks/ A few -many hours
    • 7. Stabilise – Ongoing/ 2-3 hours a week, then say a day a week

Which of these areas is your biggest block to progress? Let me know at http://amazingfba.com/fb !

#93 How the two As changed my life

A decade ago, I was a humble, indeed, humiliated double glazing salesman. I learnt a lot from it but I hated it. I had no life, little money and hung out with boring or outright unpleasant people.

A decade on, I’m earning a living online, I can work from wherever I want and I get to hang out with successful entrepreneurs, including legitimate millionaires.

So what changed? Two As – Action and Amazon!

Amazon is an amazing opportunity. It’s tough, it takes time, effort and real money. But it’s an amazing business model nonetheless. But you have to take action to get results.

Often the issue is – what action? If you’re drowning in knowledge from Podcasts and Facebook groups, the first thing is – connect with other entrepreneurs! A small facebook group is a good start. But sooner or later, you probably need a face to face mastermind of your peers (like the one I run ). Don’t suffer alone and don’t stay online 24/7 – connect to others in the same situation and get into action!

#92 What are your Amazon Business Daily Rituals?

When you work on your own, it can be easy to fall into bad habits and drift or even go backwards.

Ideally, one key thing is to be sure you aren’t on your own too much – you need to connect to fellow entrepreneurs. Join a Facebook Group, get a mentor and or join a Mastermind group.

But there are inevitably weeks and days at a time when you’ll need to get and keep yourself going.

For me, that is simply taking a walk first thing in the morning and making phone calls to fellow entrepreneurs (nowadays I also often make a call to my business partner).

What are your rituals? Let me know in the comments below.

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

#89 Why Amazon Got Me Up Early This Morning

Part of the “Summer Episodes”

This quick episode tells you why Amazon got me up early this morning. I’m not going to tell you why here – you’ll have to listen!

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

#87 The Amazon Reviewer’s Perspective with Augustas Kligys – Part 2

Can you tell us about any products that you get asked to review that are over-saturated and there are too many of them out there?

It can depend on the season. For example, during the summer he was getting a lot of review requests for money pouches and passport holders that you would use when you travel. As we get closer to Christmas he will likely start getting a lot of requests for lights and other holiday items. Keep this in mind if you have seasonal items.

For instance, let’s say you are going to sell neck pouches for traveling. You know the summer is going to be the busy time for travel so you want to plan ahead and start getting reviews in spring or even winter. You want to get ahead of the competition.

If you wait until June, the reviews will have received several requests for similar items and may not want any more. Also, reviews may take a couple weeks for the reviewer to get around to it. If you wait until June, it might be in July when the review comes in. At that point, you have already missed a good portion of the traveling season. As a bonus, if you get your reviews early, you are prepared for customers to start looking to buy these items. Click here for more information on the European summit if you are looking for tips on breaking into the European market.

Other items he gets requested a lot include flashlights, bike lights, headphones (bluetooth and wired), LED lamps, garden lamps, solar/ battery powered lamps.

Amazon has banned the use of super URLs, have you had any issue with this?

(A super URL is the address Amazon uses when you search for items and listings get ranked higher based on the keywords people search for. There are tools that will mimic this super URL and makes Amazon think people are finding your product based on keywords that they didn’t search for and thus these products get listed higher.)

Augustas hasn’t seen much of this lately. It used to be that the requests would give instructions directing you to go to amazon.de/keyword and it will be the third item down. This would build your ranking for that keyword but it was very inconvenient for the reviewer and often Augustas would ignore the instructions and simply locate it by the ASIN. He doesn’t get these much anymore and there is even a service that will mimic that URL so you don’t need to go through all that. However, be warned that Amazon is cracking down on the tactic and has even started removing listings.

A tip from Augustas for sellers that do fulfilled by merchant rather than FBA. If you have a good relationship with a reviewer, you can use them to make sure your staff or external warehouse is doing a good job. Augustas had a seller that had his own shop and staff that packaged everything. Augustas would give him feedback on the packaging and ways to improve it or if something was missing. It’s a good way to test for quality assurance. It’s better to get private feedback from a reviewer rather than a very public negative comment from a customer.

How important do you think reviews are in general for listing conversion?

Some people may not believe a review is genuine. As a reviewer, it might be difficult to leave a bad review if you have a good relationship with the seller. So rather than giving a 4-star review, you may give 5 because of the customer service.

As a customer, Augustas will always compare reviews especially if one doesn’t seem genuine. And if he sees a short review from a customer that hasn’t left many other reviews, it will hold more weight because it’s a casual shopper that wanted to leave their experience rather than a top reviewer. He noticed on one particular item that he was giving 2 or three stars and the reason why, and he saw the rest of the reviews were all 5-star reviews from top reviewers because they were getting free stuff.

Do you think, as a shopper, that the quantity of reviews is important for conversion? Or is quality more important?

Augustas will look for 2 or 3 quality reviews. If it’s just 2 or 3 lines he will often skip it and look for someone that wrote a couple paragraphs. If he sees that the person got the product for free in exchange for a review then he will look for another one and compare. But definitely, he wants to see a few quality reviews.

Augustas was looking at another product some time back and noticed they were getting close to 50 reviews a day. However, they are said they got the product for free. This went on for a while, around 50 reviews a day and they had around 1000. About 6 months later he went back looked and found that they almost completely stopped getting reviews. They might have gotten another 50 organic reviews which showed that they might not be getting many sales. They invested a lot to get all those reviews but that didn’t translate into actual sales because they weren’t quality reviews.

As a buyer, how important is the quantity? Are you looking for 100 reviews or are you happy with 5 as long as they are long quality reviews?

A few good reviews are great. If he can get a good idea about the product from a few well-written reviews then it doesn’t matter if there are 50 more reviews.

For more info on the European Private Label Summit, click here where you can learn other tips for succeeding in the European Amazon marketplaces.

What about photos and videos? Do you think they make a big difference to the impact of a review?

Oh yes. Since sellers cannot upload their own videos they really like it when the reviewer does one. Some sellers have approached Augustas about reviewing their products because they saw the videos he did.

Now Augustas will upload about 10 photos and a video for each review he does, and as a buyer, it holds more weight than what the seller uploads because it is an actual customer’s unboxing rather that the photoshopped images the seller is putting out. Depending on the product, in his video, he will show how the product is used. This could be particularly beneficial if it can be complicated. This way buyers can watch how it’s done rather than be dissatisfied with your product.

Does it make a difference to Amazon if you have a lot of top-reviewer reviews?

Probably not. It’s unlikely that Amazon would weigh top reviews more than regular reviewers. In fact, Amazon doesn’t really like these free reviews. He did an interview with a private seller that used to work in Amazon and according to him Amazon is all about the customers, and when reviews are getting free products then they are losing the true connection between the product and the customer. It may be, that in the future, it will be more difficult for this type of reviewer to exist.

Even as sellers, we know that these reviews aren’t completely genuine. It’s different than when as a customer, you buy a product, you really like it, and decide to go and leave a review. It’s likely that Amazon will make it more difficult and in fact, in the US, they are starting to require that sellers can only give a 50% discount for reviews.

Tell us about the private label online summit

Augustas wanted to start his own private label business but it ended up not working out and he got into reviews. He noticed that people often had a lot of questions about Europe and there wasn’t one place you could go for consolidated information about getting reviews in Europe, different languages, taxes, and many other topics. Augustas decided to help out by gathering experts about all these different topics. He has about 20 speakers that will be sharing their knowledge. He has some sellers from the US so you can hear their stories and follow their paths. There is a lawyer from Germany that will discuss some of the laws and regulations you have to follow, especially in Germany where they are a bit stricter.

He decided to go with a virtual format because it’s easier to set it up, it easier for the speakers to be there, and it’s easier for the audience to be able to get all the information.

If you have had any desire to sell in Germany, this is a great resource to learn what you need to know. If you’re a UK based seller, you can still be based out of the UK and sell in Germany. Your orders will be fulfilled by the UK warehouse. If you are in the US, don’t let the language barrier stop you, it’s not that difficult to work around.

Click here for more information on the European Summit

Do you have any websites/events/places that people can learn more from you or contact you?

agustaskligys.com

European Private Label Summit

Any parting words of wisdom?

Treat you reviewers like your customers. Forget you are giving them something for free and treat them with respect. You will get more and better feedback from them.

#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!

#81 Richard Branson’s Top Productivity Tip

Richard Branson is famous as a serial entrepreneur. And a very rich and consistently successful one at that.

So when someone asked him for his best way to be productive, what do you think he said? Listen to the podcast to find out!

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

#75 Prioritising Tasks – Overcoming Amazon Overwhelm Part 3

  1. WHAT TO WORK ON
    1. What you work on (effectiveness) is way more important than how well you do it (efficiency).
      1. Prioritising is absolutely critical. It is probably the single biggest factor after. This takes discipline, courage and energy. If you lack those, work on your mental and physical state. Go for a run. Phone a friend (Briefly!). Have a quick coffee. Whatever works for you. Then crack straight into it.
    2. How to identify what to work on:
      1. What worries you most?
        1. What are you avoiding that you know you need to do?
        2. Which area of the business feels most neglected? If you’re just starting out, it’s going to be product selection. If you’re next down the line, it will be finding suppliers etc.
        3. What keeps you awake at night?
      2. What great opportunity are you neglecting?
        1. e.g. a new product line;
        2. a new sales channel (eg eBay);
        3. building an email list;
        4. new marketing channels (eg Facebook)
  2. WHAT TO WORK ON FIRST
    1. COVEY GRID: Urgent vs. Important projects and tasks
      1. Urgent things are driven from outside you. I use an exclamation mark! to mark these
        1. external to your business e.g. HMRC (tax man in UK!); suppliers; Amazon
        2. internal to your business e.g. a VA or business partner
        3. They can fill your days but it’s reactive not proactive so it’s not a way to grow a business well. If you’re short of energy and time you may have to just deal with these however for now.
      2. Important tasks – are driven by long term impact. I use an asterisk * to mark.
        1. it can be avoiding large negative impact e.g. getting corporate tax return in on time to avoid fines and legal issues
        2. it can also be gaining long term opportunities e.g. more revenue from another sales channel (eg Shopify site or eBay)
      3. Tasks can be both urgent and important.
      4. Work on Cat. I tasks as a top priority
    2. The Covey 2X2 grid: classify your thoughts/projects/ worries:
      1. Cat. I urgent and important matters- things that have big impact and have to be done, e.g. getting corporate tax return in on time to avoid fine and legal issues.
      2. Cat II: Important but not urgent. Things that have a big impact but not driven from outside. Eg. for me, creating and gearing up email marketing, setting up a Shopify website; Exploring Vietnam as a place to source from
      3. Cat III – urgent but not so important, e.g., responding to an email from a potential supplier who needs to know from you before Chinese New Year closes factory for the month.
    3. The Covey Grid: prioritise
      1. Do Cat. I urgent and important first. Once done, try to avoid this being a crisis next time.
        1. example:tax return: put the date for annual corporate tax return in your iPhone calendar with a date 4 weeks before to get in touch with your accountant.
      2. Make time each day to deal with III urgent crises. Again, try to find a way to make this systematic so it doesn’t end up driven by urgency so much.
      3. CRUCIAL: Carve out a sacred time to work on Important but not urgent tasks.
        1. 3 hours a day is ideal if full time; 1 hour is good if part time; even 20 minutes is effective if you’re cramming it in very part-time.
        2. After you have dispatched the most urgent tasks or projects, go straight to your most effective ones.
    4. The Lee/Schwabb nuclear method:
      1. If you’re really overwhelmed, this is the most effective single method I’ve ever met:
      2. list your biggest worries/urgencies etc.
      3. [star the important and add ! exclamation marks to urgent] [my addition]
      4. prioritise ruthlessly from most important on
      5. limit strictly to 7 tasks. 5 is better. 3 is more realistic.
      6. Work on the most important/urgent task until it is done or pushed as far on as you can
        1. example: getting Freight Quotes.
          1. Email 3 potential Freight Forwarders to check what info they need
          2. Gather obvious info like weight, dimensions, supplier address from supplier. Check the product value frm supplier emails. That’s one email but a crucial one.
          3. Check receiving address in USA e.g. EZPrep. One email.
          4. Check which duty category your products are in. One quick look up
          5. That may be all you can do in one day. But you’ve moved the task on as far as you can.
          6. When you check email in the afternoon/evening, if you have all that info, collate it then send it the FF.
  3. TIME USAGE
    1. Lack of time is lack of priorities. Worth reiterating. Always aim for an outcome/goal!
      1. if you can’t plan for a year, try a quarter
      2. If you can’t think that far ahead, try the next two weeks
      3. If your energy is low and your brain is mush, plan the next hour at least! What do you want done when you stand up in an hour from your Mac?
      4. One hour of great work is probably worth more than a day of nonsense activity. I’m ashamed to say I still end up doing the latter too much. Forgive yourself and move on.
    2. Multi-tasking is BS for any important activities. Turn off all distractions when working.
      1. Don’t read business emails in bed. I’m bad at this but have learned it doesn’t help your relationship and also you worry about things you can’t change at midnight.
      2. If you need to talk to your supplier at 1 am, do it. But don’t kid yourself you’ve turned in for the night. You’re working. You’ll need to get up a bit later, next day, probably, at least after a day or two of this. That’s okay. Plan accordingly. Just don’t do it in bed or you’ll end up not sleeping because you’re thinking about business. Time to sleep is time to sleep, even if it’s just 4-6 hours a night for a bit.
      3. DO NOT check social media while you need to compose key emails etc etc
      4. DO NOT get seduced into checking email inbox when you just need to send an email out. If needed, compose your email on Word/Notes/ etc etc and then get in and out as fast as possible in the actual email programme. (I’m bad at this but I’m learning…gradually)
      5. It sounds obvious but don’t do a Pokemon Go and walk into the path of traffic while Skyping your chinese supplier. Confession. I’ve come close.
        1. Don’t even think of texting while driving. So tempting. So illegal and so dangerous. Listen to a podcast and accept you’re driving. Or, pull over and take care of it there and then.
    3. However, certain tasks can be LAYERED.  Examples:
      1. Listening to this podcast while running for example.
      2. Taking care of phone calls while walking to the PO to collect a parcel from Amazon with a supplier sample which you weren’t in to collect (guess what I’ve just been doing!)
      3. Reading and replying to emails while on a train. (Don’t do it walking down the platform in London. It’s full of fast moving people. Don’t embarrass me by asking how I know not to do this)
  4. STAYING POSITIVE
    1. Do a gratitude list every evening before going to bed. It’s amazing how effective this is. I’ve been doing it for several months now and it really does help you stay positive.
    2. Remember to build in exercise, at least some sleep and at least some decent nutrition. If you’re overwhelmed, remember to take care of your body! Nothing beats physical energy. 
    3. Only Connect – isolation is a dream killer! Get yourself into some kind of mastermind if you’re not already and find out how others cope with real life as an entrepreneur.

#74 Overcoming Amazon Overwhelm Part 2 – Energy

  1. EPISODE #74 : Your personal “state” – assess your personal energy/focus?
    1. how is your health/physical energy?
      1. If you’re exhausted, you may simply have to rest for a day, a week etc to recharge.
      2. If you’ve been living on takeaway food for 6 months (guilty), how about a week of decent eating?
      3. If you gave up on your exercise regime for lack of time, consider working out at least 3 X a week. Someone once asked Richard Branson what to do to get more done. His answer? “Work out”
    2. how is your mental focus?
      1. Lack of priorities means you haven’t really genuinely made big picture decisions (see part 1 episode). Make some. They will mutate, which is fine, but get a clear direction. Then work on the priorities as below.
    3. Be realistic
      1. You’ve just started another business, quit your day job, had a new baby on top of your existing young child? (you know who you are…!) Of course you’re exhausted. You’re going to have to outsource heavily and/or accept that progress will be slower. Doesn’t mean you won’t get there. Just don’t kid yourself you can work 20 hour days for months at a time. Won’t happen.
    4. Get help.
      1. If you have a mentor, reach out.
      2. If you are in a mastermind, reach out.
      3. If you have an accountability partner, reach out.
      4. Don’t isolate. Equally, don’t connect to lots of randoms on Facebook. Connect to chosen people who are focussed and helpful people. Ignore moaners and bullshit artists. HOWEVER…
    5. Cut out information overload. “Increased output necessitates decreased input”  (Tim Ferriss again).
      1. If you’re on Facebook groups about Amazon every ten minutes, cut that out!
      2. Stop reading the news. Especially if you live in the UK. Brexit and other nonsense will carry on whether or not you read news/listen to Radio/use Youtube. 
        1. NOTE: I’m not doing as well at this as I should. I used to think it was “irresponsible”. I no longer do. If you can’t use the information, it has no practical value. When you had to vote, there was practical value in politics. But the referendum is over. You have little control over politics. Ignore it – OR join a party and demonstrate! Choose. Just don’t passively fill your mind. If you are not overwhelmed, by all means follow events. We live in interesting times. If you’re overwhelmed, it’s a toxic luxury.
      3. Cut out social media. Totally.
        1. Facebook is like Crack for addicts. Youtube is even worse for me personally. Twitter not. etc.
        2. Note: These things are designed to be addictive. They are monster business successes because of this. Learn from their example but stop being a victim. Be the creator of addictive products, not the consumer of them.
      4. Replace online crap with exercise for 20 minutes a day
        1. Run, yoga, whatever it is. Exercise is way way more powerful than yet another bit of info. Get into your trainers and listen to this podcast while you run!
    6. Minimize email time.
      1. Tame your email checking times
        1. NEVER start your business day with email. Start with urgent matters followed by business growth tasks.
        2. Limit email to twice a day max. If you’re really busy – once a day max.
        3. Try to take care of it while commuting on a train etc. Or in spare moments. I find I get emails done 3X quicker on my iPhone on a train than sitting at a desk. It’s harder to type for starters! That’s a  GOOD thing. Limit the undesirable!
      2. Put the timer on!
        1. When you check emails, put a time limit on. I generally find in a full 8 hour+ day, I can check emails for 30 mins in am and 10 mins pm and I’m done.
        2. When composing an important email, put a time limit on. I find 3-5 minutes enough for most.
        3. If you spend 10 minutes plus,  because it’s crucial and the info needs to be accurate, make it a template you can re-use. e.g for getting supplier quotes etc.
      3. Be ruthless and systematic when you do touch email
        1. Delete things from your inbox first. Most things simply need deleting. Don’t read obvious nonsense
        2. DO NOT read interesting but irrelevant emails. Archive them and look at them in your mythical “spare time” later
        3. Respond to crucial emails first. If you don’t get to others for a few days, tough. They’ll live.
        4. develop the art of polite concision. Ie without being rude, be simple and very direct
        5. Give clear fundamentals e.g. what, when, how, why etc. – e.g. “I need X,Y,Z pieces of info by A deadline for B reason”
        6. especially, use numbered lists. e.g.
        7. “ Dear Supplier, I need info for my freight forwarder.  Please tell me the following info about product X: 1 weight of each carton in kg 2. Dimension in cms; 3. total value of the consignment; 4. Your address. Please let me know by Friday 22 July latest. The quicker I get this, the quicker I will place an order with you.
          Thank you very much in advance! I appreciate your work. Best wishes, Joe Bloggs”