Time Management for e-commerce is an absolutely critical skill area. Time management can be the single biggest block to even starting an e-commerce business. And for an established, busy e-commerce business owner, managing time is just as critical.
In this episode, we focus on the learnings from the wonderful book (and also audio book) –
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey
The topic in this episode was inspired by a conversation I had with a mentoring client who reached out to me for help with motivation. Mindset is one of those areas that is a key part of success. So today I’m going to talk about five mindset blocks for those who are just starting out with a private label business, and their solutions.
I often find that irony in that a lot of time management systems and advice is that they take a lot of time. So I’m going to keep it brief. The tips in this episode are from Tim Ferris’ The Four Hour Work Week.
I want to talk about something that could really change the way you do business and that is the first step of time management, eliminating tasks.
It’s January which means that it’s time for New Year Resolutions. Today we’ll be talking about how New Year Resolutions are a bad idea and how you should instead do a New Year review. Continue reading
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:
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.
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!
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…
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.
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!)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The great thing about running an Amazon business is the freedom it allows in your personal life. You can go on holiday as you want and you can take a day off as needed. You set your own schedule and make your own deadlines. That also creates one of the more difficult aspects of your job as an Amazon seller, time management. Today on the show we have David Aggiss and we’ll be discussing time management techniques when you’re running an online business.
If you are first starting out, the challenge is finding enough time to work on your business. You have your full-time job, maybe a spouse and children, then your Amazon business on top of that. It’s going to lead to some late nights and long days. That’s the struggle of it. It’s important to set aside time-blocks for specific tasks. If you start working without this, you’ll end up working on a number of things and accomplishing nothing.
Customer service is a daily task. You’re probably going to be in Seller Central a lot anyway, which is a good thing so you can respond to customer questions and other issues as they arise. Once a week, you want to look at your listings. See if there is any way to improve them. You should take a look at your PPC and keywords to make sure they are performing how you want.
Expanding your business is an evening job. If you are looking to research new product lines or find new suppliers, make sure you have a few weeks available where you can put in some serious evening hours. You’re going to have to work everyday with emails back and forth with your suppliers, especially if they’re in China. Unless you can get on a Skype call, this process could take a week or more because of the time difference.
Skype is recommended to help speed up this exchange. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking into several suppliers, that Skype could get overwhelming. It is easier to maintain all the information if you limit it to email since that has understood, built-in limitations. Also, you will have a record of everything discussed.
If you find that you don’t have the time to handle everything that you need, consider outsourcing. Be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Focus on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses.
If you are making enough money from your Amazon business that you can afford to outsource, then you are probably pretty proficient at the day-to-day Amazon tasks. Then you’ll want to continue to handle those. If your background is in web design, then build your website yourself.
If, however, you don’t know the first thing about building a website and you have no idea how to work on social media, outsource those. Chances are you can find someone that will do it better and faster. If a task is going to take you a week, but someone who is an expert can do it in a day, pay them to do it. The task will get done several days soon and you now have that week to work on something you’re an expert in.
While time management is important, focus management is as well. Like I said before, you have the freedom to make your own schedule, but you don’t have a boss to keep you on track. It’s easy to lose focus and let your business suffer because of it. You have to keep in mind why you want to run your own business. Whether it’s to have a luxury house, nice cars, or to simply spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, whether it changes over time, always remember that and let it be your motivation to stay focused.
Newsflash: stressing about Trump is FOOLISH!
If you’re an Entrepreneur, you have 3 main resources.
In reverse order of importance:
3rd most important.
Obviously, Money is crucial for any product based business, especially if you’re going to do Private Labelling. That said, it’s possible to start Retail Arbitrage or Online Arb with a tiny budget and wholesale with a few hundred pounds.
Having a budget of several 1000 can still easily lead to business failure without the most important resource.
Sadly, I’ve been there.
2nd most important
It is so important to spend enough time working in the right direction. Not working for money hour by hour; learning your craft, staying up to date, connecting with the right people; working to find the right niches, the right markets, the right products; making informed decisions.
Investing time can make up for lack of capital if you invest it wisely.
But it’s still possible to spend hours, days, months and years (even decades) with a lack of the last element and get nowhere.
I was there too – for way way longer than I want to admit.
Most important resource
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were once asked at an interview which quality they most admired in a person. Their answers were unanimous: focus.
Not coincidentally, these were at one point the richest two people in the world.
If you have focus and put in even a small amount of time each day, week, month and year, over time, you can build some real momentum. If you add serious time, you can build serious momentum. Add some real money, and you that’s when massive growth can happen.
The thing is, one reason why focus is the most precious resource is because it is in the smallest supply. It’s a biological fact that decisions and self control both diminish blood sugar and there is a limit to how many decisions you can make a day and how much focus you have to spend.
If you allow your precious focus to be dissipated and taken over by events out of your control, you won’t have enough left to drive forward actions that are in your control.
If you have to follow politics, only follow that which is directly going to affect your business. In my case, that includes:
HOWEVER – Bitching, anger, resentment, trying to convince others of your politics – that’s all an indulgence and a waste of precious mental focus. Just leave that to other people. Be the focussed person and win out over the people who are wasting their energy.
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!