App Review: FBAscan by Asellertool

If you’re like me, and sell primarily on Amazon, then you know the importance of scanning an item before you make your final decision about purchasing it. And if you primarily sell books, like I, you know how utterly important scanning a book before purchasing it can be. While 9 times out of 10, a book will be worthless, or have an extremely high rank. But its that 1 time that makes it fun. It’s that rush afterwards, that makes this sort of thing just so addicting.

But it is critical to have an important app that will quickly show you what is and isn’t profitable. Just recently, I subscribed to FBAscan, because I was getting sick of the Amazon seller app taking so long to load a product. I love it. Although I don’t want to call it the best app for scanning items, as I have not tried other popular ones like Scanpower, and others. But the nice thing about FBAscan is that you can download the database right to your phone so you don’t have to be online to look at all the info. This would be great if you have really poor connection in some stores.

You have to pay $10 a month for the most basic membership for FBAscan. Which is actually relatively inexpensive when you think how many items you scan in that time period. They also offer a free trial of it, you get up to 100 free scans. And you adjust the price of the item, and how much you pay for inbound shipping, which is about .30 cents a pound (at least for me.) Then it will tell you if you’ll make money, and if so how much, and if you would lose money. Then the current sales rank, and the average sales rank. And this app is compatible with multiple Bluetooth scanners for extremely fast scanning at stores. I’ve yet to buy a Bluetooth scanner!

I’d like to mention that I do not and will not get anything if you decide to subscribe to FBAscan. This is from my experience using it.

Scanning those items in at home

I also recently bought a USB scanner to scan my items in at home instead of typing in the UPC code. This also saved me so much time. All’s I do is open a new Google Sheets (excel) document and start scanning away. I then just copy and paste and list. It sounds like it wouldnt really save you time, but trust me, It will. You don’t have to buy some fancy 100 dollar one. I simply bought one for $20 and it is working just great.

How 4 Handmade Goods Store Owners Turned Their Passions Into Profit

Ecommerce has revolutionized how artisans and makers sell their handmade items. It has become increasingly easier for creative DIY entrepreneurs to build and grow a handmade goods business, from scratch, online.

Still, as creatives and makers, it’s easy to forget about the business-side of, well, your business! Merchants that create their own products by hand are much more invested in their product. They pour their heart, soul and energy into each and every item they produce.

Some artisans might not see the business opportunity or the opportunity to make a living or side-income from their passion. While others, see the opportunity to build a real brand from their creations, not just selling one-off products.

I recently had the chance to talk with four handmade goods merchants: Coralie, who sells handmade jewelry at Coralie Reiter Jewelry, Robin, who sells modern leather goods at Fitzy, Sahnda, who sells soft sole baby shoes at Sahnda Marie Kids, and Valerie, who sells leather goods with her husband Geoffrey atWalnut Studiolo. I asked them about their passion, how they turned their passion into an online store, and how they managed the marketing and business side of their company, all while creating their products by hand.

They provided tremendous insight into their businesses so I decided to highlight my favorite answers to my questions and the responses I thought you will get the most value from. You’ll learn what it takes to turn your passion and hobby into a real business, how easy it is to get setup online even if you lack technical experience, and the tools and marketing strategies that worked for these merchants.

1. Tell me about your business and product and how you came up with the idea for it.

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Coralie Reiter Jewelry: I make textile jewelry using cotton thread, cord, rhinestones, natural stones, pearls and beads. It all started when I used a bunch of different colored thread and started wrapping it by hand. From that, I started making necklaces and bracelets. The result was jewelry that’s super colorful and unique. My style is a little bit tribal, and also very modern. I make each piece meticulously by hand.

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Fitzy: Fitzy is a line of modern handmade leather goods, with a focus on accessories. I use high quality materials and clean minimal designs so that my products stands the test of time. Some of my products include cord organizers, wallets, keychains, bow ties, and fanny packs. Fitzy is all about less but better.

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Sahnda Marie Kids: I began making vegan friendly soft sole baby shoes in late 2013 shortly after the birth of my youngest daughter. I decided to start making baby shoes after I had searched the internet, and couldn’t find anything I really liked. I couldn’t find anything that was both comfortable, and stylish. After researching the internet for different materials I found the perfect organic fabrics for lining the shoes. I loved the idea of my baby’s feet being nestled in soft organic fabrics.

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Walnut Studiolo: Walnut Studiolo is a designer and maker of unique leather goods for bicycles, beer, and more. My husband, Geoff, has always been artistic, but he learned his design skills (and value engineering skills!) at the University of Oregon Architecture School, where he went to college. Leather came naturally to him as a material for its unique combination of flexibility and strength, and from summers spent riding horses on his family’s ranch in Eastern Oregon.

2. How did you get started selling your handmade items online?

Coralie Reiter Jewelry: Years ago I worked at a fine jewelry store in my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. I used to sell watches and engagement rings and I never enjoyed it because my dream was always to make my own jewelry one day. I finally do make my own jewelry, but for now I use much more simplified materials then gold and diamonds.

I now live in Los Angeles and I started making my handmade jewelry by chance by wrapping thread and a lot of experimenting. I wore my necklace out and women were complimenting my jewelry and asking where I got it, so I knew I had something.

I first started selling online when I opened up an Etsy shop almost three years ago and posted three different styles of necklaces. I remember it being one of the most nerve racking experiences because I had never sold anything I made online, and it felt very personal and scary. Once I started getting orders from all over the US and abroad, I started to gain confidence that I had a product that was unique and customers were responding to it.

I moved onto Shopify because I wanted a site that was both flexible and stylish. I didn’t want to have to deal with learning too much code, but I also wanted customize my site freely. I really love how Shopify has apps that you can download into your template so that you can really get what you want out of your site. It makes it so easy, which I love. With my online shop I can now capture emails (so important), find out where my customers are coming from, have a stronger SEO presence, reach customers through new channels, host contests…etc.

Pay attention to detail and be as organized as possible. If you have an idea for something but can’t afford to do it, figure out a way to do it yourself!

Fitzy: I’m a bit of an accidental business owner. Fitzy started in January 2013 as the result of a 365 project I was doing. After graduating from OCAD University in Toronto with a BFA in Sculpture/Installation, I was looking for ways to keep my practice fresh and stop myself from overthinking. So I decided to make something every single day for a year, and blog about it. After much prompting from friends and family, I decided to start selling some of the things that I was making, and Fitzy was born. You can view the archive of my 365 project at http://robinfitzsimons365.tumblr.com/

Sahnda Marie Kids: I had already been selling handmade handbags before the birth of my daughter. I was selling online, and at craft shows. I had a craft show coming up, and decided to bring my baby shoes instead of my usual handbags. The shoes were a hit so I added them to my Etsy shop after I got home. I already had an Instagram account for my personal photos with about 20 followers. After the craft show people started finding me on Instagram including bloggers. My Instagram following has grown to over 27K since then.

Sahnda shoes

I wanted a professional looking store that I could customize myself. With Shopify the options are endless with the variety of themes and apps. What has impressed me the most has been the amazing customer service. Anytime I email questions to Shopify I get prompt responses with great information.

Walnut Studiolo: It all started in 2009 when trained architect and draftsman Geoffrey Franklin was looking for a way to carry his u-lock on his bicycle. More than once, he had forgotten his lock during his morning bike commute, and grumpily had to skip lunch because he couldn’t take his bike out for lunch without a lock. Uninspired by what he saw in the market, he created a leather u­-lock holster so that his u­lock would always have a place on his bike and he wouldn’t forget it again. His wife Valerie thought the u­lock holster was a great idea and asked if she could put it up on Etsy. Inspired by the classic leather bar wraps seen in old sepia-­toned photos of historic Italian racing bikes, Geoff also designed a series of leather bar wraps, and tested them out on his daily commute. As the Etsy listing started to accumulate sales, we grew from a side gig to a full-­time family business by 2011.

In 2012, when we were both working on the business full-­time, it became clear to us that we needed to “graduate” from Etsy and create a site that allowed us to create our own content and present it the way we wanted to, create a direct connection with our customers, and further our brand. We compared Shopify with other major ecommerce platforms at the time, and Shopify presented the most compelling combination of cost, features, and benefits, with the additional assurance that it was a flexible platform that would allow us to grow with it, and add functionality easily through a large library of apps. For a small business like us, Shopify is perfect for being able to create a professional website at a low cost using commercially available solutions, and yet unlike Etsy, it allows for a wide range of flexibility in branding our site as our own webstore.

3. What do you love about running a handmade business?

Fitzy: The thing that I love the most about running my own handmade business is the amazing community of makers that I’ve met along the way. No one better understands what it’s like to run a handmade business than other people who are doing it too. They’re not only an amazing wealth of information and support, but they’re great to have a beer with too!

I started Fitzy thinking all about the product side of things, and not the business side of things, but now I know that they’re two halves of one whole.

4. How did you source the materials for your products?

Fitzy: I try to source the highest quality materials possible for my products, as locally as possible. I found my suppliers through some trial and error and a lot of Googling.

Walnut Studiolo: We are lucky to live in Portland, Oregon, a city of crafters and makers, and the site of one of a very few independent leather supply stores, Oregon Leather. Oregon Leather is one of only a handful of locations in the country that carries the particular brand of US-­raised, US-­tanned leather that we use.

Leather working

5. How did you promote your business initially and where did your first sales come from?

Coralie Reiter Jewelry: Two months prior to launching my business on Shopify I started a newsletter page announcing my shop launch and sale. I posted about it regularly on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and on postcards to include in any orders that went out prior. Anyone that signed up would get a coupon code emailed to them on launch day. By the time the day came to launch my Shopify site, I had a decent list of emails and the sales came in rather quickly after my email went out.

My first sales on Shopify came from those emails and social media posts. I still have a newsletter signup bar on my Shopify site that links with Mailchimp so that my newsletter list can continue to grow. Periodically I send out shop announcements, sales, coupon codes and any cool event that is going on with my brand. When you have an online business, you really have to get attention from potential customers through as many avenues as possible.

Walnut Studiolo: We initially tested the market with our Etsy store and had our first sales on there. We still do have an Etsy store, but the percentage of Etsy vs Shopify has shifted every year in favor of our Shopify site as our brand gets established. After the launch on Etsy, we got our first big break when we decided to put up a card table at BikePortland.org’s BikeCraft Fair, a local bicycle-­themed craft fair that happens every Christmas season in Portland. That year, 2009, saw a couple great bicycle accessories businesses get their start at BikeCraft.

BikePortland.org, Portland’s major bicycle blog, wrote up a review of the fair and called attention to us as a new business making functional leather bicycle accessories. Because Portland is the country’s most active bicycling city, bike blogs around the world read BikePortland, and the blog posts just continued to stack up, calling attention to us in greater circles, with full credit to BikePortland.org

6. Any major media mentions or PR wins since then? What specifics steps did you take to get them?

Coralie jewelry

Coralie Reiter Jewelry: I researched PR agencies in the beginning and quickly realized how expensive it was. So, I took matters into my own hands. I opened up an Instagram account and I post my products regularly and linked it to my website, and that has been a huge boost. Not only can it generate sales but I was able to reach out to bloggers and gain attention.

I caught a break last year and got featured on a very influential blog, the Oh Joy blog. It was a high point for me because it really started to put my shop on the map. I am so grateful for that opportunity.

Fitzy: I started my business by attending craft shows all over the city, and promoting my online shop through those shows. Currently I use social media, and word of mouth as my primary means of promotion. My first online sales came from customers I met in person at craft shows.

7. How did your sales pickup?

Sahnda Marie Kids: My sales have been steadily increasing mainly by social media exposure, blog reviews, and participating in giveaways.

Walnut Studiolo: Our sales picked up thanks to all these blog posts, friend-­to-­friend referrals, social media, and media mentions. Each successive post introduced more people to us, and we pride ourselves on having great customer service, so we can keep our customers happy. Word of mouth and person-­to-­person referrals are the main reason for our success.

8. What channels are currently generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Coralie Reiter Jewelry: Social media has been a huge help for me. Instagram in particular has been wonderful. Being someone that used to really shy away from it, I now fully embrace it. I think customers like seeing my journey, glimpses of day to day life, or just pretty pictures! A lot are taken with my iPhone but I highly recommend using a DSLR camera and taking professional pictures or learn how to. You can check out my posts @coraliereiter.

Coralie Instagram

Sahnda Marie Kids: I get the most traffic to my site from Instagram, Pinterest and Google. An amazing feature with Shopify is the ability to edit your product titles and descriptions specifically for SEO. If you don’t know about SEO you should definitely research it to help get more exposure from search engines.

9. What are your top recommendations for new store owners? What would you tell other people/artisans looking to start a business selling their handmade goods?

Coralie Reiter Jewelry: As much as it helps to have funding, you can do a lot with very little. Pay attention to detail and be as organized as possible. If you have an idea for something but can’t afford to do it, figure out a way to do it yourself! It will probably take way more time, but the rewards are immeasurable.

Also it’s very important to have a carefully executed website. This is essentially your portfolio to really show off who you are as a brand and all your products in a professional way.

I highly recommend to other artisans out there to open up an Instagram account and be consistent with it. This is your chance to be seen, drive traffic to your website, and market yourself to people around the world. And sure, a lot of it might seem pointless, but its worth it if you catch the eye of potential customers or retailers. Also, a good amount of peers in your industry will be your audience and this is a great way to inspire and support each other.

Fitzy: My number one tip for all new store owners would be to build a great networks of biz buddies, like minded individuals who you can bounce ideas off of, answer questions, share resources, and vice versa.

Braided leather

Sahnda Marie Kids: As for people looking to start a handmade business I’d tell them to make sure that you really, really want this. Running a successful handmade business is not a quick easy way to make money. It’s really hard, it takes a long time, a lot of work, and it will not make you rich, but it’s also amazing. I love what I do, even when I don’t.

When starting a new business I would recommend creating a product and business model that hasn’t been done yet. Nobody is reinventing the wheel at this point, but it’s a matter of using your creativity to create something that is truly different, and unique. Basically don’t try to base your business off something that is already in existence. Next, have a professional looking website, be very active on social media, and plan ahead for the possibility of your product gaining quick popularity. If this should happen you’ll want to be able to accommodate the demand. Just because you start off small doesn’t mean you should think small. Think big, and others will think the same of your business.

Your creativity is was what drove you to sell handmade products in the first place, and when you use that creativity your audience will be excited about what you’ve created.

Walnut Studiolo: Invest in great photography. Use a talented photographer who can tell the story of a product being used, not just a documentation of it.

Leather bag

Learn as much as you can about SEO, even if it’s not interesting, because there are a lot of untrustworthy companies hawking SEO services these days. You need to know enough to be able to articulate what you need. Google is way smarter than you about this, so you will not be able to “trick” your way up the list. The best way to improve your SEO without investing in special consultants is to just keep your head to the ground and do what you do best by creating genuine and useful content. Google is always rewriting the rules to reward people making genuine content, and to weed out people making SEO fake­ content. Build it well, ­write blog posts that your customers will be interested in, create product descriptions that will sell your products well, and work with relevant blogs and media to promote your product ­and the SEO will come.

10. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Fitzy: Not learning about the business side of things right away. As a maker who never took a business class in her life, I started Fitzy thinking all about the product side of things, and not the business side of things, but now I know that they’re two halves of one whole.

Workshop

I totally underestimated just how much work the business side of things would be. I thought that if I made beautiful products they’d practically sell themselves. Boy was I wrong. I know now that it takes a lot of work to drive qualified traffic to your site, it’s not something that happens overnight.

Sahnda Marie Kids: My biggest mistake was not being prepared for the demand of my product. I looked at my business as something small, but when popularity hit I wasn’t able to keep up, and people actually got upset when they couldn’t order. Anytime you have to pause your business you lose crucial momentum. So plan ahead for this possibility.

11. What are some of the challenges of a handmade good business that you’ve had to overcome?

Coralie Reiter Jewelry: I believe I have two challenges with a handmade good business. One, is competing with bigger brands and two, is being viewed as a respected designer good and not just a crafted good. Competing with larger, mass produced brands making similar products in my category will always be a challenge to overcome. They have the ability to distribute so vastly and discount their products so much that it sets a huge amount of pressure to do the same. For now, I am a one woman operation, so I have learned to really focus on my brand and educate my demographic on the specialness of buying handmade. I hope that more consumers will choose to shop at small handmade goods businesses more often in the near future.

Walnut Studiolo: The only thing really different about a handmade business and another business is that we have a whole other universe to worry about: production. The bad thing about that is, we have so much more work to do, so many more man­-hours to put in. If we get a big order, we have some limitations to our ability to scale, and if we need to scale up, we have to hire and train somebody. The good thing about that is, we are able to keep our business simple and in­control, and keep a lean inventory. We don’t accidentally over­invest in products and then have big sales to get rid of them. We can make what’s needed, when it’s needed. And this small batch, lean system, means that we’ve been able to work out of our house for the past 5 1/2 years. We have a very small footprint, both physically and environmentally, and a short supply chain.

12. What are some tools/resources you recommend to other handmade good merchants looking to sell online?

Fitzy: My go to online business resources are blogs. My favourite handmade business blogs includeDream Job Shop, Hands and Hustle, While She Naps, and Design Sponge’s: Life and Business Series. While not about handmade business specifically, the Shopify blog is also a must read.

As a handmade business owner it’s especially important to be active on social media. It allows customers to see the maker, the story, and the process behind the product, which is a big part of what they’re paying for when they shop handmade. My social media channel of choice is Instagram, and I like to use two other apps with it, to make my life easier. The first one is Latergramme, which allows you to schedule your Instagram posts in advance from either your desktop or phone. The second is IFTTT. I use it to automatically post my Instagrams as native Twitter pictures. IFTTT runs tiny little programs on your phone, like the one I just mentioned, that help make your life more efficient.

Sahnda Marie Kids: Some of the most useful information I found when I started was through different handmade community message boards as well as researching the internet. One of the biggest hang ups I hear so much about is the fear of shipping. I would recommend getting your own scale and printing your postage from home.

Tools of the trade

I personally love Shipstation and highly recommend it. You can even print international shipping. Another possible source of useful information can sometimes come by way of simply asking another shop owner. Although some may be reluctant, others may give information freely. It’s worth asking though.

My best advice to anyone looking to create and sell handmade goods is to find your own voice. If you’re going to create a similar product to what’s already out there, make it your own. Be a first class you rather than a second class of somebody else. Your creativity is was what drove you to sell handmade products in the first place, and when you use that creativity your audience will be excited about what you’ve created.

Conclusion

Now it’s your chance to turn your passion into profit. The one thing I noticed from these handmade goods merchants is that they all encountered challenges in their businesses, and they all made mistakes. They weren’t business experts or extremely technically savvy people at the outset. Yet, they persevered and succeeded to create a business around their ability to create something amazing with their hands.

If you’re a maker that wants to start a business or you just want to start a business, let me know in the comments below. Tell me all the things, fears and barriers that are holding you back from that next step. If you know someone talented that needs to be monetizing their passion, share this blog post with them.

How to Craft a Morning Ritual to Supercharge Productivity and Your Online Business

Morning rituals. To the untrained ear, it sounds like some new-age fluff concept. It’s not. To put it simply, a morning ritual is a set of actions you do immediately upon waking up to prepare and optimize yourself for a more productive and laser-focused day. As an entrepreneur, this is important, so listen up.

Most people get into the habit of waking up late, rushing to get out door and grabbing a coffee for breakfast while on the go. A poor routine that sets a bad tone for the whole day.

The good news is that every morning you have a choice to craft a better day. So get up and get ready, because today you’re going to switch things up and build a morning ritual to supercharge your day.

It’s Common Sense

It’s not rocket science. Lots of articles try to prove their weight and worth by referencing scientific studies and psychology. But studies shouldn’t be necessary nor should that be your motivating factor. So we’re not going to talk about human psychology and studies, we’re going to talk common sense.

Let’s look at two options for waking up and starting your day:

Scenario #1

You wake up and immediately grab your smart phone, slightly blinded by the bright screen on your still sleepy eyes. 12 notifications between various apps, social networks, emails and text messages (likely some urgent and some not so urgent things to deal with). You turn on the TV while you’re getting ready and watch the morning news (crime, heavy traffic, maybe some rain). You’re running late for a meeting so you head out the door without breakfast and rush to your meeting to start your day.

Scenario #2

You wake up 30 minutes earlier than normal and immediately spend several minutes in silence, appreciating the stillness before you start your day. You sit up in bed, close your eyes again and spend the next few minutes meditating, just focusing on your breathing and practicing controlling your thoughts. At your own time, you go an fix yourself a fresh fruit smoothy. While you’re taking the time to enjoy your breakfast, you write down your goals for the day. The most important one first, followed by the rest, less important goals. Finally you pick up your smartphone to check notifications from the night and adjust your goals and priorities accordingly. With some time to spare before your first meeting, you take the walk that crosses through the park.

Which scenario do you wholeheartedly believe will lead to a better day? Which scenario is closer to your current situation?

These might sound like two extremes, however, the difference between these two mornings is really a few small and very simple choices. Even if you’re currently closer to scenario #2, there’s still likely lots of room for improvement.

Why is Starting Your Day Right so Important?

Baring extraordinary circumstances, you’re going to wake up tomorrow morning, the morning after that, the one after that, and likely, the next 10,000-20,000 mornings after that. Why would you not spend some time to figure out what will create better, more productive days since you have a whole lot of them ahead of you?

Ask yourself, is it possible that you can feel better each day? Is it possible you can work harder? Is it possible you can be more alert, focused and relaxed if you changed a few fundamental things on starting your day? Is it possible?

A logical person would likely say yes.

What Does a Morning Ritual Look Like?

A morning ritual and it’s complexity will depend on the person implementing it. It can be just one or two things, or it can be a half dozen. There’s really no definition of what a morning ritual looks like or has to look like. In the end, it’s really whatever makes you feel better, more productive and alert for the day ahead.

Here’s some examples just to give you an idea:

  • Wake up 10 minutes early to meditate

Here’s another example:

  • Wake up 30 minutes early
  • Stretch for 10 minutes
  • Write down goals for the day in order of importance

Here’s another example:

  • Wake up 1 hour early
  • Read for 20 minutes
  • Write down some ideas for your business
  • Drink a fresh fruit smoothie
  • Work on the most important task of the day

Finally, here’s one last example:

  • Wake up at 6 a.m.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes
  • Exercise for 5-7 minutes (pushups, jogging etc.)
  • Drink a tall glass of water
  • Define your tasks and goals for the day
  • Begin your day

Again, crafting a morning ritual can be as simple as you want, but you should test and focus on the things that give you the greatest benefit for the day. This will only come from you testing different elements over time.

What Are Typical Elements of a Great Morning Ritual?

There’s a lot of options when it comes to building a morning ritual, in fact, your options are endless. You may find that 15 minutes of drawing helps you with your creativity for the day or you may learn that playing with your dog puts you in a good state of mind for the rest of the day. There’s really no limit.

With that said, there are some common elements of great morning rituals that are worth noting that can serve as a great start point. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular:

Water – It’s said that if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Additionally, we all know that our bodies and especially our brains absolutely need water and hydration so it makes sense to start your day with a glass. Consider that you rarely go a few hours while you’re awake without drinking, yet when you wake up in the morning, you’ve likely been without water for 6-8 hours. Try drinking water first thing when you wake up.

Breakfast – Most people eat some type of breakfast in the morning, be it a full, heavy breakfast, yogurt, a granola bar, or maybe just a coffee on the go. How often have you truly experimented to figure out which type of food gives you the most energy and clarity?

Everyone’s bodies are different, however, try to avoid sugary foods, and experiment with high-energy foods like fruits and vegetables and nutrient rich smoothies. Keep in mind the food intake in the morning can be one of the biggest factors that will set the tone for the day so pay extra close attention to what really works for you.

Exercise – Exercising is a great tool to add to your morning ritual arsenal. Exercising, especially in small amounts actually gives you more energy. It doesn’t have to be a full workout at your local gym, just a few minutes of pushups, jogging around the block or yoga can have a massive impact on your day ahead.

Family – If you’re an entrepreneur, you’re busy all the time. A business isn’t built from 9-5, it’s built from 7am-11pm. There’s always more to do and there’s never enough time. Adding some dedicated family time to your morning routine can be important not just for starting your day right but also the rest of your family members.

Reading – Very few people would argue with the benefits of reading. It stimulates the mind, expands your thoughts and challenges your opinions. If most of your current daily reading is done online, try changing it up and actually grab a book you never finished, or choose a new one. Maybe even try a book completely different from what you’ve read before. Remember, the goal is to set the tone for the day so you should stick to positive books.

Writing – Writing has a lot of benefits. It helps you better form thoughts and flush out ideas that are stuck in your head. This doesn’t mean you need to write a book, a blog post or even a journal. Just a few ideas, be it product ideas, business ideas or marketing ideas can be extremely beneficial and help spark your day.

Silence – There’s something to be said for silence and in a world where we are constantly bumbarded with the sounds of the city, advertising, dings and rings from your smartphone. A few moments of pure, uninterrupted silence can be a golden way to get your thoughts straight and in-line for the day.

Meditation – Many people are initially adverse to meditation. Maybe it’s a branding problem, however meditation definitely has its benefits and many successful people swear by it. In fact, at a recent conference, Tim Ferriss said that if there’s one thing he’d change about his past, it would have been to start meditating earlier.

Meditation, can be really as simple silence+focus. Do you think that some silence and focus can help you? It’s pretty hard to argue against a bit of silence and focus in your life.

Set Your Goals For The Day – As an entrepreneur, and maybe an entrepreneur that still has a day job, you likely have hundreds of tasks on your to-do list. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed and lose focus of your goals for the day. Try writing down your three most important goals and objectives first thing in the morning, beginning with the one that you absolutely must finish.

These are just a list of several, more common and traditional elements to add to your morning routine. Like mentioned previously, your recipe of morning rituals will vary based on what works for you.

How to Create Your Own Morning Ritual

Your ritual is just that, your ritual. It doesn’t need to be complicated and you’ll need to experiment to see what works best for you.

1. Begin with your anchor – Start by choosing one ritual you think will have the most impact and make this your anchor by practicing it and making it a part of your morning. Speaking with UJ, founder of The 5 Minute Journal and behavioural change specialists, UJ said:

Stick with your first task for at least a month before adding anything else onto your morning ritual. It should become so much part of your morning that your day feels strange if you don’t do it. Just like brushing your teeth.

For many people, this anchor ends up being waking up a certain period of time earlier. This is a big one because it allows you the time to implement other rituals.

2. Add elements as desired – Once your anchor ritual has become part of your routine, begin adding others in the order you feel most comfortable, and again, slowly implement each one so that you don’t overwhelm yourself or overcommit. Overcommitting is the biggest reason people give up on building an optimized morning ritual and go back to old habits.

3. Switch things up and always be testing – If a particular ritual isn’t working for you and you’re not seeing or feeling the benefits after giving it a fair chance, don’t be afraid to toss it out. Not every ritual is for everyone. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you. You keep the best, discard the rest and soon you’ll have a morning ritual that truly prepares you for an optimized day of productivity and hard work.

4. Stick with it – Most importantly, once you’ve discovered what works for you, stick with it. Make it an unwavering part of your morning like brushing your teeth. In time, it will become second nature and you won’t even think about it anymore.

Tools to Help Built & Optimize Your Morning Ritual

For the most part you really don’t need anything to create a morning ritual. However, there are some great resources out there should to want to take things a step further that have helped many people create better morning and days for themselves.

Some of the most popular tools and resources are:

5 Minute Journal and 5 Minute Journal App

The 5 Minute Journal and App was created by Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas as a very simple framework for getting your day started, and it only takes a few minutes each morning.

The Five Minute Journal is one of the simplest ways that I have found to consistently ensure improving my well being and happiness. Both in terms of achievement and actual measurable, quantifiable results.

Tim Ferriss, NY Times Best Selling Author

Headspace Meditation (App)

Headspace describes itself as a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation, delivered via an app or online. The perfect app and intro to meditation for beginners and intermediate meditators alike.

Coach.Me (App)

Coach.me employs coaching, community, and data to help you be your best and achieve your goals. A great app to help you stick to the goals you implement in your morning ritual.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (Book) – 4 1/2 Stars from 918 Reviews

The Miracle Morning is regarded by many as “one of the most life changing books ever written”. This book is can help you transform each day by showing you how to wake up each day with more energy, motivation and focus to take your life and business to the next level.

Conclusion

Your morning unequivocally sets the tone for the entire day. It will take time to develop a optimized morning routine that works well for you, but what’s important is that every morning you’re in charge of the decisions that start your day.

With so many days ahead of you, there’s no reason not to spend some time optimizing your routine and building a morning ritual that will take you and your business to the next level.

What’s Your Morning Ritual?

In the name of helping other entrepreneurs, what morning rituals have you developed? What have you found, that above all else, supercharges your day and helps you take your focus, clarity and productivity to the next level? Let us know in the comments.

My Venture Into Retail Arbitrage

About a week and a half ago I decided to give retail arbitrage a shot at my local Wal-Mart. The clearance section is decently sized, as I would imagine it is at any other Wal-Mart. Just like selling books on Amazon – which I primarily sell – you should scan every single item that you think would sell for a profit. My little trick is comparing the clearance price and the original. I saw this one product that was marked down to a dollar and was originally $14.97. Of course, I scanned it. The sales rank was at 70,000 and a lot of people on some Facebook groups that do Retail Arbitrage on a much larger scale then me right now try to keep sales rank under 50,000 for a relatively “fast” sale. But these items sold within a day of hitting the warehouse. I only bought 2 of them to test them out, and since they did so good, I went back to Wal-Mart and cleared the items off the shelf. The net profit was 3.66 an item, 3 times my money.

But I also picked up a few other new items that should do good. I’ve been seeing a lot of people post crazy high sales for the month of May, and I’ve decided I want to get my fair share as well!

What I’ve Been Up To

There’s this one big book sale that is going on (at the time of writing this post,) that I’ve been going to with a lot of luck today and yesterday. It will continue for the next 2 days. And since it is on my way to work, I plan on going both days! The last day is $3/bag sale. I work 6:30am to 2:30 pm and there only open 8am-12pm. But I get to go on my lunch break at 10:30am, and I will most likely spend it there filling up a lot of bags! But so far, I have gotten about 40-50 books from thus sale alone. With profits ranging from $1.50-$20. I’m paying no more than $1 a book. The first day of the sale there were a lot of people. And saw another reseller scanning away. While I was using my iPhone 4, he had a scanner which seemed to do the job 3 times as fast my phone, so I might have to invest in one.

Every year St.Andrews and St.Matthews church in the UK hold a huge booksale with over 100,000 books that benefits the Christian Aid.

Every year St.Andrews and St.Matthews church in the UK hold a huge booksale with over 100,000 books that benefits the Christian Aid.

But when I went today after work, there were a few other people. No where near as many people as the first day.

But after spending over 12 hours sourcing, labeling, driving, weighing the items, and shipping. But in all reality, that was probably the funnest, and fasted 13 hours I’ve spent “working” in my life. It felt great being able to be the one to really call the shots on buying inventory, etc. Personally, I’d love to be able to work for myself doing this. I know some people do on some of the Facebook group that actually do it Full-time. Some of them actually have some employees and their own warehouses. It is crazy what Amazon FBA can do for you if you are willing to put in the time, sweat and effort.

But I highly suggest joining some of these groups on Facebook if you already haven’t.

Here are a few that I am a part of:

  • Amazon FBA Newbies
    • This group is GREAT if you’re a complete Newbie at Amazon FBA. It was created by Bob Willey, and moderated by a group of Admins.
  • BooksellersFBA
    • This group is for those of you wanting to get into books. This group is good if you have any questions down the road or right away.
  • Scanpower
    • This is a group made by Chris Green, the creator of the ever-so popular app, ScanPower. If you’re unsure who Chris Green is, I’ll fill you in. He’s been selling on Amazon since 1999, so he’s kind of a pioneer. Over that course of time, he has sold over $2.5 million of items both on eBay and Amazon (source: http://www.scanpower.com/ourstory/)
    • But ScanPower is an app that you have to pay for. I’ve heard great reviews about it, and people use it all the time. It shows you the Net profit of an amount, and more.
  • Thrifting Lounge
    • The Thrifting Lounge is another great community. This is where you could possibly brag about finds, ask for opinions, rant and rave about something, and anything other re-seller related thing.

Those are really the main groups I’d suggest for a newbie. But I recommend asking newbie questions to the Amazon FBA Newbies group because that group is meant for newbies, Whereas ScanPower is more for the people that do it full-time.

There’s also a list of people you should check out on Youtube, but I’ll save that for a later blog post!

Until then!