If you had said to me three years ago that I would have started and scaled a 7-figure online business, sold one piece of my business for over 7-figures USD, moved my family to an idyllic town in New Zealand, stopped my day job and be working less hours and spending more time with my family
I’d have laughed out loud.
But as it turns out e-commerce is not too hard after all!
When I started my business, I had no experience selling products and I certainly had no experience selling online.
My goal was to get a viable business set up and scale fast to avoid going back to work at the end of my maternity leave.
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Selling private labelled products on Amazon
A friend was selling on Amazon and doing well, so I learned how to private label (also known as white labelling) my own product and sell it online, using Amazon’s warehousing and fulfilment services (Amazon Fulfilled by Amazon or FBA).
I live in New Zealand and have young children so started by looking for products where I could relate to my target customers; eco-conscious and willing to pay a premium for a high-quality product.
I wasn’t interested in importing low grade, cheap plastic products from China like all the popular Amazon training courses were (and still are) advising. In fact, I took the opposite approach, choosing to sell quality, ethical products because it was important that my business reflected my personal beliefs and outlook on life.
My first product was hand made using New Zealand merino wool. I can’t divulge exact details as I actually sold that business when it was 18 months old (for seven figures USD) and have a confidentiality agreement.
I am convinced that if you use the correct product screening criteria, when choosing your product, that there are many opportunities for selling quality products, to make enormous profits using private labelled products on Amazon.
This approach has served me very well and I’ve launched over 400 products, all bootstrapped using profits from existing sales rather than taking on loans or investors.
I’ve been deliberate in building strong brands that can be an umbrella to multiple unique products and I have a great time sourcing products. I currently buy my products from countries like Indonesia, Tibet, India and many more. I sell in the USA, UK, Europe and soon will be selling in India, all through Amazon’s automated warehousing and fulfilment. All I need to do is keep choosing profitable products, stay in stock and manage my virtual team.
How to scale without working more
Initially, when I started my business I had a baby on one hip, a tornado of a two year old, and used my phone for almost everything; messaging suppliers, checking sales, answering customer queries…
However, as the business grew too big for one person, I had to find a way to scale, otherwise I was going to end up working more hours and getting less family time than I did when I had my day job!
The mainstream Amazon courses all recommended getting the cheapest help, but I found a fantastic lady in Canada (through a website called Fiver.com). Jazmine is detail oriented, reliable and can finish all the things I started! She still works for me full time today and has proven to be a real asset that has helped me expand the business to what it has become today.
As I’ve added more products the size of the team has settled at two permanent staff (one New Zealander travelling the world and Jazmine in Canada) plus a couple of floating design contractors and outsourced bookkeeping. My business is lean and I can work from anywhere in the world.
Right now, I work from home in a converted part of the garage!
Reaping the rewards
I now have a solid foundation in place and can spend my time choosing more products to launch. Amazon pays me every two weeks, and they take around 30% of the sale price in their fees. My products cost another third of the sale price leaving a nice 30% margin and very low overheads.
The biggest and most rewarding change, once we realized this business was going to fly, was being able to give up my day job, which involved a lot of long hours and travel, to spend quality time with my family.
We were able to take a family three-month sabbatical to Bali from July-October 2016, and have since then moved from the capital city Wellington leaving our two nice city jobs to a small resort town, of just 7,850 people, called Wanaka in the Southern Alps.
Wanaka is the dream place we’ve always wanted to live. It was our summer holiday destination every year (along with the rest of New Zealand who want to live here too!) and now we call it… Home.
There are world class ski fields, it’s a National Park conservation area and staggeringly beautiful. Our five-year-old son goes skiing with his school on Thursdays. I have a horse again and am preparing for the first season of competing in several years. My husband is running a related Amazon consulting business helping exporters sell their products on Amazon and we are both part time.
Life is pretty good and if I can do it with no tech background, no time and no spare funds then you can too!
So how can you do this too?
You may be wondering whether it is still possible to do well selling on Amazon, or what you’d need to do to get started?
Here’s my advice on what works well when it comes to selling products online:
- Enjoy the process and look for products you like and appreciate.
- Commit to learning and developing your critical thinking skills. There are so many shiny new objects in the form of courses, tools, events but there’s nothing like knuckling down and testing it yourself.
- Choose products with enough margin. I see too many people working hard with great products but no money left over and can’t even afford to pay themselves.
- Consumable products that need to be replaced are great and suit the subscription box model. This is a personal favorite of mine!
- Move really fast. You’ll never have perfect information or find the perfect product (trust me, I’ve looked!). Success loves speed. I see lots of people grind to a halt, but people who set a cracking pace seem to do the best.
Keep an eye on your emails later this week as I’ve got a special offer if you’d like to learn more about starting an online products business.
Guest Author: Sophie Howard