We all love having a clear direction. Exercise programs like P90X are difficult sure, but the clarity of the process (nearly guaranteed body transformation if the process is followed) makes the grueling work much easier.
Malcom Gladwell catered to this human desire for clarity of purpose when he constructed his 10,000 Hours to Mastery theory. In internet business, you don't have that type of time! While the 10,000 hour theory was pretty much debunked in 2014, it is clear that success in business doesn't require “mastery,” but rather rapid adaptation and skill development.
Gladwell first wrote about the 10,000 hour theory in his book “Outliers” which I still highly recommend (Gladwell is still a genius). Take it with a grain of salt. There is certainly nothing WRONG with working on something for 10,000 hours, but don't think it is a necessity for success.
For a stark (and much more realistic contrast), I highly recommend another book: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast! By Josh Kaufman. The book explains how we can learn enough to be competent in most skills in just 20 hours. This means we can start finding success and feeling comfortable with our craft (the first step towards mastery). It argues that mastery is not necessary and due to the confines of space and time, chasing it is extremely difficult.
I could write all day about general skill development and hacking the learning process (one of my favorite topics), but today I want to touch on how you can learn something very specific: How to sell on Amazon (particularly, with their FBA program).
Oh, and it won't take you 10,000 hours.
This is not a post with tons of external links and resources for getting started selling on Amazon, but rather how to go about the learning process in general. I want everyone to share their favorite training resources in the comments! I repeat: SHARE YOUR FAVORITE LEARNING RESOURCES FOR AMAZON FBA IN THE COMMENTS.
How to Learn to Sell on Amazon
At its core, the process is painfully simple (but many struggle with it).
There are plenty of books, courses, mentorships, tools and services (and I do recommend plenty of them down the road), but forget those for a minute please.
I want to give you the quick and dirty process that is at the core of all Amazon success stories.
This is not a sexy lesson. I have no serious “hacks” or “shortcuts” but understanding that YOU are the X factor in the learning process will accelerate your growth far more than anything else. The rest will come later. I do recommend other tools and advanced trainings to help you scale faster, but lets touch on the bare essentials first.
The Fundamental Process of Learning to Sell Anything
Here is the fundamental key to learning on your own:
Spend your money on inventory –> Earn money –> Identify what happened –> Learn
Spend your money on inventory –> Lose money –> Identify what happened –>Learn
As a new seller, you really don't yet understand how products sell on Amazon.
The price stability, competition, and turnover are things that even the more seasoned sellers still only make best assumptions, as no one can predict perfectly how the market will play out for products we sell.
We just get so good at it that more often than not, we do make the right call. If you can make smart buys over 90% of the time, you are doing well. Tanked products are an inevitability. Accept this from day #1.
We can't prevent them entirely, we can just limit them.
Stop Asking for Hand Holding on a “Per Product” Basis
I love helping people, but the #1 question I seem to get is one that I feel is like catching a fish for someone instead of teaching them to fish…
It goes something like this:
“Hey Nate! I found (insert really inexpensive product) at (insert any store) for (insert low price. Do you think I should buy it? How many should I buy?”
Then, repeat at least a dozen times (unless you're related to me, I will tell you to stop asking after 2 queries).
Now, I can help you here in the moment, sure, but there are so many different factors at play that the only way to truly learn is to start buying on your own and losing or earning money.
Understand That Losing Money Isn't “Losing”
Our fear of losing something (loss aversion) typically trumps our desire to gain something. Studies suggest that our desire to avoid losing $5 outweighs our desire to gain $5 by at least 2x. So, when you lose money on a product, you're going to freaking remember it!
Talk about a great learning experience!
There are countless reasons why you may lose money on a product when selling on Amazon. This is just the nature of the business and is something we have to put up with. Trust me, it is all worth it.
The more you know about how price and demand adjust given all relevant factors, the better.
So the one habit revolves around understanding how your purchases actually sell. It comes down to mindfulness (a common theme for this blog).
Why Gross Sales Are Not A Good Measure of Success
Many sellers have no clue how much money they are actually making (or losing)! They don't know their numbers and base their effectiveness on things like gross sales.
What is your house worth (or car or whatever you have of value)?
Ok, now imagine you sold that at 50% off. You would have “grossed” a lot of money (relatively speaking).
If I sold my house for $100,000, I lost a lot of money on it, but can say, “Yeah I grossed 100k.”
That is the opposite of why we are in business.
Simple enough right?
When you make a purchase, note the following:
- Your Buy Price
- Sales Rank at Time of Purchase
- Estimated Sales Price
- Number of Sellers at Time of Purchase
Then, every week check:
- The actual selling price.
- The sales rank immediately before the sale.
- Actual profit.
Now, it isn't efficient for you to do this for each item you purchase. Once you get the hang of the process, you will not need to do this as often.
Too many sellers buy products, ship them and never look back.
Then, when their sales aren't where they expected, they start dropping prices. They end up sucking the profit out of their inventory without even knowing it.
Starting out free has many perks.
#1 You can truly understand what you don't know.
This self-awareness will help you identify what type of course or program will help you fill the learning gaps you are struggling with on your own.
#2 You can decide if you actually have what it takes to succeed.
In regards to Amazon, I am not talking about your learning capabilities, I am referring to your desire to continue and do the work it takes to grow exponentially. Selling on Amazon isn't easy, but I know some big dummies (sorry everyone) who make dumb amounts of money selling on Amazon because they have stupid hustle, patience, and love of the game. There is no course that can teach those.
#3 You can swim against the stream and possibly find uncharted grounds (and untapped profits).
Most courses have a regimented process that has been proven to work. That is great, but it can be limiting at times.
By teaching yourself, you have “virgin eyes” and may stumble upon methods that others simply overlooked.
How I Look at Paid Programs
I am touching on this because as a new and excited seller, you are going to be very tempted to spend money on courses. When you are actually ready to spend on these sorts of things (and you don't ever “have” to) here are some tips.
The more I learn about a topic, the more “overlap” I begin to see in any courses I take. This is an inevitability.
If I take a course that I found to be 95% remedial but 5% new and business changing, that is a 100% success.
So, stop looking at a program's originality as a sign of its value.
The value of a course is in its overall impact on your bottom line. Yes, that means sitting through some remedial work (and maybe getting nothing new at all from time to time) but training should be viewed as a whole.
Just like originality, the length of a course should mean little to you as well.
I admit, I like to see a program containing hours and hours of content, downloads, office hours, etc. but again, we need to be measuring the value added NOT the length.[highlight color=”yellow”]The length of a course is not what matters. The only measure is its impact on your bottom line. [/highlight]
When to Start Paying for Programs
Let me wrap this up by sharing when you should start paying for programs.
#1 Buy books from day #1.
If you can't afford a book, you aren't ready for this business. I have several recommendations I want you to start with here.
I don't want you to waste a bunch of time with your nose in a book.
Spend 95% of your time DOING and then 5% book learn'n.
#2 Watch YouTube videos from day #1.
YouTube tutorials are a fantastic starting place for learning how to sell on Amazon. Basic things like creating shipments, packaging your orders, etc. are taught for free on YouTube.
#3 Join free communities.
I am certainly biased and recommend you join my Facebook Group FBA Today, but there are tons of great, free communities to help you get started. Likeminded sellers will help you get a “pulse” on the state of the marketplace.
#4 Google Is Your Friend
The Amazon forums aren't terrible, but I always recommend starting with Google for answers to your Amazon questions. Often, they will link to the Amazon seller area anyway.
For now, go take action and learn from your results.
That is the heart of learning how to sell on Amazon.
I want you to leave your favorite learning resources for selling on Amazon in the comments!