Since 2015, I’ve been running an e-commerce business selling a suite of products on Amazon. The past six years have been a series of ups and downs but I’m on a new track now. So over the next little while I want to share where I’ve come from and what my current mindset and work process is, so you can see how things change (or don’t) throughout this new process I’m following.
…in 2015 I was looking for a small business and found an Amazon business for sale on Gumtree Australia. It had been set up by a guy who’d followed some you-beaut training and started a single product business selling on Amazon USA, but he’d grown bored and wanted to move it on. I bought the business, partly because about 2/3 of the price of the business was the expensive training course which would teach me to do the same thing. When I looked into the course, it was very exclusive as to when you could join (they only opened once or twice per year) and it came with a whole suite of tools and membership benefits. However while he confirmed this all came with it, once I bought the business I found this wasn’t the case, and in fact he’d just found some pirated versions of the training videos and was ‘selling’ those to me as part of my purchase! Needless to say I was pretty disappointed. However I followed through these as best I could and learnt some interesting points. I reordered the product (which he’d let go out of stock), dealt with all the poor reviews (as he dropped the customer service ball as soon as he decided to sell) and restarted the business while dealing with the fall-out of his poor decisions.
Nonetheless the business grew well, and when I got back in stock things moved quickly. In 2016 I sold about 4,500 products which generated just over $100,000 in revenue. Let me say at this point: that is REVENUE, i.e. it’s just the value of the sales. It is NOT PROFIT. But it’s a useful comparison point over time.
I’d also added Canada and UK marketplaces which had contributed to the bottom line.
After about 12 months of trading, the training material had proven itself as credible to me, so I decided to purchase the official version of the exclusive training myself (which SHOULD have come with the course), in order to access current material and get access to all the tools I would need.
That training was Amazing Selling Machine.
The training was extremely helpful in helping me grow further and get up to date strategies for finding profitable products.
However I still had my day job the whole time, and I always felt there simply was not enough time or headspace to focus properly on either job. This was exacerbated when I moved into a more demanding position in my day job at the end of 2016.
Over the next 2.5 years (2017-2018) my business really just drifted along. I did things to help the business grow, but at the same time I had no particular PLAN for its growth – I was just doing things which I thought would help, without really knowing how much they would help and how far along the road (which I hadn’t even defined) they would get me. 2017 saw about $130k of revenue from about 5000 sales, and 2018 saw about $180k of revenue from about 6500 sales.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t useless in this time:
- Launched our brand in Europe and Australia
- Launched four new products in 2017-2018 along with a product sourcing trip to China
- Engaged a few virtual assistants to handle some of the day-to-day operations of the business
- Did a lot of work improving product packaging
- Took new photos, optimised the product listing
- Set up advertising campaigns
A lot of this was guided by the Amazing Selling Machine Training which I highly recommend if you’re just starting out on Amazon. But there was no structure to what I was doing. Each time I sat down to work I really didn’t know what to do. I would just open my emails, Amazon Seller Central and look at sales, perhaps check out Advertising campaigns, maybe try to set up Google ads. Things were scattergun and random. And this isn’t the training’s fault – it did explain what to do, but I guess the training was more how to get started, rather than how to grow.
But the main issue was that I had no plan, no goal, no vision, and no structure to my work. So unsurprisingly, I was inefficient with my work and really had no idea where I was going.
In the next post I’ll be looking at the start of the changes, in late 2019.