How to Launch a Subscription Box: Lessons from a Successful Korean Beauty Business

How to Launch a Subscription Box: Lessons from a Successful Korean Beauty Business

I forgot to buy toothpaste again. While I’m using baking soda in an all-too-frequent pinch, essentials like razors and protein powder and, yes, toothpaste appear as if by magic, on other people’s doorsteps everywhere.

They’re not running out—these savvy consumers are shelling out their yearly budget in one transaction, paying for the convenience of an uninterrupted supply of commodities. Welcome to the $5 billion dollar subscription box industry.

Leading the pack of consumables delivered by mail is, unsurprisingly, beauty. I spend no less than $30 every time I so much as walk by a cosmetics counter. I bleed money in the presence of new mascaras that claim to give my straight lashes rollercoaster curves, or creams promising fountain of youth results. I know it’s all marketing, but there is joy in the discovery, in the pursuit of making my morning routine more effective. Or at least more fun.

In 2010, arguably the birth year of subscription boxes, the founders of Birchbox cashed in on this affliction (I was apparently not alone in my weakness) and hit the market with a simple idea: makeup and skincare sample boxes at $10 a pop, delivered monthly to beauty junkies across America.

In 2012, Birchbox went global, acquiring French company JolieBox and in 2014, the brand reported $125 million in annual sales.

Naturally, copycats and derivatives followed closely—the beauty industry becoming saturated—and it seemed that almost everything from socks to build-your-own electronics kits could be ordered by subscription. Subscription directory Hello Subscription currently lists over 4000 boxes, though the total number is much larger—there were an estimated 10,000 on the market as of mid-2015.

https://www.google.ca/trends/embed/explore/TIMESERIES?req=%7B%22comparisonItem%22%3A%5B%7B%22keyword%22%3A%22subscription%20boxes%22%2C%22geo%22%3A%22%22%2C%22time%22%3A%22all%22%7D%5D%2C%22category%22%3A0%2C%22property%22%3A%22%22%7D&tz=300&eq=date%3Dall%26q%3Dsubscription%2520boxesSylvia Song, co-founder of MISHIBOX, imports and curates Korean beauty favorites, delivering them globally from her home in Virginia. She didn’t set out to run a subscription business, nor to become an entrepreneur. She was a science major, an accountant, a stay at home mom. Like Birchbox’s founders, she saw a gap and she filled it.

Korean Beauty

Last year, Korea exported $2.64 billion dollars in cosmetics and beauty products. K-beauty, as it’s nicknamed, has been steadily growing in popularity in North America since BB Cream—an all in one face moisturizer and makeup—hit the market here in 2011. American brands began selling their versions of the product, popularized in Korea, inspiring a devout following of K-beauty believers.

MISHIBOX Korean Beauty Subscription Box

The appeal of Korean beauty extends beyond the unusual ingredients like snail slime and bee venom and artichoke extract, and even beyond the innovative packaging and product design. K-beauty is an experience, says Sylvia:

“With Korean beauty, they push this multi-step routine. There are so many different types of products and you start thinking ‘I need all of them’. I don’t think it’s necessary to have all the different steps all the time, but it is fun.”

Ten-step skincare regimes, hydrating animal-print masks, and peel-off lip tints are selling the ritual as much as the results. A Korean beauty box will run you about $20 USD—a fraction of the cost of a day at the spa. The lower price points are also attractive to buyers, considering the average American woman spends $15000 on cosmetics in her lifetime.

“They’re effective, but also very affordable. There are a lot of dupes out there of popular American products—really good dupes and half the price of what you’d pay at Sephora.”

Korean beauty didn’t really hit Sylvia’s radar until 2014, but serendipitously, it happened around the same time that she discovered subscription beauty boxes.

“My friend gave me a bunch of Korean beauty products for my birthday. She knew I didn’t like my skin and I always commented on how perfect hers looked. I started using them and really got into it. Then, coincidentally, my husband gave me a beauty box subscription. I started thinking ‘I don’t really want all these beauty products. I just want Korean beauty products delivered to me every month.’ I looked for one that I could buy, but at that time, in early 2015, there were none. My husband said, ‘Why don’t you just make one?’”

Meet MISHIBOX

Sylvia never imagined she’d follow in her father’s footsteps. “I didn’t really want to be an entrepreneur,” she tells me.

“My dad always told me, ‘You need to start your own business. That’s the best thing to do.’ I was always telling him, ‘No, no. That’s not for me.’ I didn’t want to prove him right so I resisted and I resisted. I talked to my sister-in-law who’s one of the co-founders now, and she was really excited about it. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll give it a try.’ Before we launched, we sold hundreds of pre-orders right from the start. At that point I realized, I really couldn’t not do this.”

Before we launched, we sold hundreds of pre-orders right from the start. At that point I realized, I really couldn’t not do this.

Sylvia started her education in biology but eventually switched to biomedical engineering—a compromise that satisfied her parents as well as her own interest in tech. After graduation, she planned to move to New York to pursue nutrition, until her husband’s change of med school plans took them to Virginia.

Once planted, she discovered that there were no jobs in her field. She returned to school to study accounting, eventually working as an auditor for a CPA firm. “I decided to just look for a career that was practical,” she said.

Still, it seemed, she hadn’t found her calling. Her new career was causing her stress, too, impacting the couple’s plans to grow their family.

“I couldn’t get pregnant while I was working and I think it’s because I traveled so much and I was always stressed out. I’m a really bad driver and as an auditor, I had to drive to different states and I basically lived in hotels and I’d only come home on the weekends. That was really stressful.”

When her husband uprooted them again for his residency, Sylvia quit her job, and finally became pregnant. The birth of her daughter in late 2013—two months early—prompted a life decision: she would leave the workforce for good and be a stay at home mom. The gig was rewarding, but something was still missing.

“Being a stay at home mom, I love it, but I get antsy—I wanted to do something. I started blogging and then, when I discovered Korean beauty products, I blogged about it and saw a huge spike in my traffic. That’s when I realized that Korean beauty was starting to become a trend. At the time you still weren’t seeing the products in Sephora. Six months later, we launched the box. We got really lucky with our timing because we launched ours when there were no others.”

When I discovered Korean beauty products, I blogged about it and saw a huge spike in my traffic.

Korean Beauty

Along with her sister-in-law Juju, her husband Kyle, and their friend Andrew, MISHIBOX (named for the company’s bunny mascot) soft launched to pre-orders in early 2015. The response was overwhelming. Sylvia’s analytic nature meant that the launch was preceded by months of research to validate her idea, but in an instant, the pre-orders negated all of the up-front planning.

The team launched MISHIBOX on CrateJoy, but eventually moved to Shopify for ease of set-up.

“CrateJoy was really difficult. I don’t know what it’s like now, but their website builder was really hard to use and we even hired developers to help us. We could just never get it exactly how we wanted. I just got fed up and decided I needed something else. We were still on CrateJoy, but I opened a Shopify account—they overlapped. When I started making the website, it took me just a few hours to set it up. It was so easy. I decided ‘I’m going to switch right now.’”

The business launched from the townhouse where Sylvia lived with her husband and daughter. As it grew, so did the need for space. Boxes and inventory overflowed from one dedicated room to the entire first floor of the house. Recently, the couple moved to a larger house, and the business has its own dedicated space in the ample basement.

Everyone involved in the business is doing it as a side-hustle, even Sylvia who still lists “Mom” as her full-time job. As MISHIBOX grows, though, she realizes that something will have to give, and one of the founders will need to take the plunge.

MISHIBOX Korean Beauty Subscription Box

Sylvia admits that the business grew despite the lack of attention to marketing. The team decided to spend their freshman year working to “get it right”. Though they have competition now, they were the first to market with the idea, and tapped into a trend that’s affording them steady organic growth.

“Marketing is probably one of our weakest areas. We didn’t really prioritize it, especially since it seemed to just be growing on its own. We’ve just been focusing on execution because when we started, none of us had any experience or connections in cosmetics or ecommerce. We wanted to figure out the important stuff before we got too big. Also, we were limited by our previous location at the townhouse. If we grew any faster, we would have had to move earlier.”

We’ve just been focusing on execution because when we started, none of us had any experience or connections in cosmetics or ecommerce.

Now, Sylvia says, they’re getting serious about growth. MISHIBOX recently expanded to one-off products, accounting for 15% of the business’ sales. It’s a win-win: customers can buy more of the products they love or try out MISHIBOX’s offerings before committing, and the business can offload leftover product (ordered as buffer for defects or lost packages).

They plan to expand into other areas of Asian beauty this year, and have sights set on graduating from the basement to a dedicated warehouse space with full-time staff. [UPDATE: MISHIBOX has just confirmed plans to move to a commercial space in NYC next Spring, with Juju taking over operations.]

Well, I’m inspired.

Let’s take a look at the ups and downs of selling subscription boxes and the mechanics of running a subscription business on Shopify.

Subscription Box Businesses: The Pros

  • Predict revenue: a contract model allows you to see the future, and therefore plan/predict other aspects of the business (hiring, shipping costs, etc.) with more confidence
  • Easy math: calculating customer lifetime value is a snap with a recurring billing model, a fixed product cost, and a defined contract length
  • Shipping is streamlined: timed monthly boxes mean that all orders ship on the same date, in the same box, keeping shipping costs and logistics simple and consistent
  • It’s great for cash flow: some subscription businesses offer customers the option to pay for the full term up front (usually with a discount)
  • Low cost to retain customers: subscription customers are inherently “retained” for a fixed period
  • Reduce waste: you’ll buy only as much product as you need to fill boxes, eliminating the need to clear out inventory at low margins. MISHIBOX even added one-off products to the site to take care of the surplus:

“We started by just offering subscriptions but, we had a lot of inventory left over. Let’s say if we have 100 subscribers, then we’ll buy quantities of 120. The extra is for defective products or lost packages. The defect rate is lower than we thought it would be, and boxes don’t really go missing that often, so we ended up having a lot of stock. We thought we should just sell it instead of just holding onto it.”

MISHIBOX Subscription Boxes

And, the Cons

Beware that subscription businesses can also have their drawbacks:

  • Factor in churn: forecasting revenue can be misleading, especially if your policies allow customers to cancel subscriptions at any time.
  • Retention: onus is on the business to continuously keep the offerings fresh and the customer interested. Ask yourself: Can you source hot/new/exciting/unique products each month? What are the limitations of the industry? Do you have exclusivity with any brands?
  • While the cost to retain customers is much lower, the cost to acquire can be higher—consumer commitment-phobia is high with new brands that have yet to establish trust or social proof.
  • Merchants selling individual products can experiment with upselling and cross-selling to increase order value. It’s more difficult to increase a customer’s value in a fixed-price subscription model. You may need to get creative, says Sylvia:

“Recently, we started a new thing called add-ons, like the Amazon add-ons where you can pick something and it ships for free with your order. We allow our subscribers to pick what they want and then, it’ll ship free with their box. That’s been taking off pretty well, especially with our international customers because they save a lot on shipping.”

What’s Inside the Box?

Due to the recurring nature of subscription boxes, the best products for this model generally fall into one of two categories: consumables or collectibles.

Consumables:

Collectibles:

Clothing, jewellery, and adult toys are other categories with significant potential for subscriptions. Remember: when choosing a product to sell in any business, subscription or otherwise, it’s important to evaluate its viability.

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Getting Started

MISHIBOX uses Recurring Billing by ReCharge, one of several Shopify compatible apps to help manage subscription box businesses. The app integrates with fulfillment apps, and others like Google Analytics and Referral Candy. The newly updated reports feature, ReCharge’s Director of Product Marketing, Chathri Ali explains, helps merchants track customer trends and revenue growth.

Founder, Mike Flynn offers some great tips for setting up a subscription on your Shopify store, including establishing shipping frequency by offering and testing multiple intervals when you first launch your business.

via: ReCharge Subscription Academy

As we’ve previously mentioned, customers can get cold feet in the face of a commitment. There is considerably more risk in signing up for a year versus buying a product once. When building your subscription business from scratch, ease customers’ decision making and grow trust for your brand:

  • Earn trust: rack up some social proof by building a community around your brand: incentivize social sharing, loyalty, and reviews by rewarding your earliest customers.
  • Work with influencers: you can’t afford Beyoncé, but new emerging YouTubers, Instagrammers, and bloggers will sometimes be willing to review your box for product alone, or a lower rate. Build relationships with influencers early on—as their audiences grow, yours could too.
  • Reduce risk: offer a substantial discount to customers who pay upfront for a subscriptions, or offer the first month free.
  • Partner with other subscription businesses: the customer who opts to have cosmetics delivered monthly may be the same profile of a potential customer for your wellness box—customers already comfortable with the subscription model are low-hanging fruit. Team up with complementary businesses by trading postcard inserts in boxes or mentions in email newsletters.
  • Provide options: like MISHIBOX, offer one-off products or single-month boxes as a preview for customers. Upsell them on the box or the subscription.
  • Offer gift subscriptions: expand your audience to the friends and family of your ideal customer. Allow customers to purchase gifts with shorter commitments and personalized messaging.

MISHIBOX Korean Beauty Subscription Box

Accidental entrepreneur Sylvia Song, finally found her calling in subscription box beauty. The business has been thriving under the direction of a team with no experience in ecommerce or beauty. The secret of their success is good timing—recognizing a trend early on—and a healthy balance of gut instinct and careful planning.

“Don’t quit your day job,” says Sylvia when I ask her advice for other budding entrepreneurs. While she’s conservative, she can see the other perspective.

“My sister-in-law’s different. Her advice would probably be not to overanalyze it. You’re never going to know if your business is going to be good or not until you actually launch it. We wasted all that time and money trying to hire developers and build that first website. I spent probably two months just analyzing whether this business would work when we could’ve just launched pre-orders. The orders would’ve flooded in that would’ve validated my idea right away.”

You’re never going to know if your business is going to be good or not until you actually launch it

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34 Time Management Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs (by Experts)

Effective time management is important for anyone but it’s absolutely crucial for entrepreneurs.

Because entrepreneurs are ultimately responsible for every aspect of their business, allocating the right amount of time to the right tasks is critical to keeping your business running smoothly.


Better time management isn’t just about working harder, it’s about working smarter. We asked 34 productivity experts to share their best time management tip. Use this list to experiment and find the tips that make the most sense for you.

shopify-author Pat Flynn

 

Pat Flynn

www.smartpassiveincome.com

 

“Just-in-time-learning” changed everything for me.

“Just-in-time-learning” changed everything for me. That is, I only consume content related directly to the next task I have in the current project I’m working on. Blog posts, podcast episodes, videos—they must help me with completing that next task on my priority list, or else it doesn’t deserve my attention…at this moment.

FOMO (fear of missing out) does make this hard though, because there’s so much great stuff out there we don’t want to miss, however if you’re smart about it and as you come across interesting and potentially helpful content you put it aside into a tool such as Evernote for easy access later, it can truly change how much you get done versus how much you learn.

Just think of all the content you’re consuming—are you actually putting 100% of that into action, or are you wasting time learning things you don’t need to know right now?


shopify-author Elizabeth Grace

 

Elizabeth Grace

www.reallifee.com

 

Know your personal and professional priorities and plan your priorities in your calendar. Everything else needs to fit around them or be dropped.

Get a great assistant you can delegate scheduling and other routine activities to. This person can be one of your biggest productivity boosters and stress reducers.


shopify-author Craig Jarrow

 

Craig Jarrow

www.timemanagementninja.com

 

Just Start

Most entrepreneurs never really start.
And most business ideas end before they ever truly begin.

Stop waiting for the perfect time…. there isn’t one.
Stop waiting for the perfect product… launch with a minimal one.
Stop waiting for someday… it will never come.

You can’t finish… if you never start.

Craig Jarrow quote graphic


shopify-author Maura Thomas

 

Maura Thomas

www.regainyourtime.com

 

Reframe your thinking. Time management is an outdated idea, and attention management is the new path to productivity. How you manage your time is only relevant to the extent that you also control your attention on the task at hand. This is because if you allocate time to a task, but spend that time switching among several different tasks, the end result will likely be different than what you intended. Controlling your attention means effectively managing internal and external distractions, and single-tasking for higher quality work done faster.


shopify-author Gregory Ciotti

 

Gregory Ciotti

www.sparringmind.com

 

To better spend your time, start by understanding where your time is spent. There are great tools out there to track time, but in all honesty, I prefer to keep it lightweight—Marc Andreessen’s notecard system has always worked for me.

If you haven’t come across it before, it involves a simple 3×5 notecard, which you use to keep track of your main to-do’s from the day. On the back of the card, you’re supposed to write things you got done that you didn’t initially plan to get done the night before—the workday always likes to sneak in plenty of extras.

By looking at your 3×5 card at the end of the day, you’ll see what you prioritized (and if you got it done) and what work was added to your plate. Extra work is fine, but if you’re not clearing off your main tasks day-after-day, something is wrong. That’s my simple litmus test.


shopify-author Ann Gomez

 

Ann Gomez

www.clearconceptinc.ca

 

Focus.

Focus. Far too many people are tying to tackle too many things at once and as a result, they make very little progress (and end up burning themselves out in the process). Consider what your top impact activities are and build your day around them. Don’t let other distractions and enticing opportunities dictate your day.

You also likely need a solid priority management system to help manage your priorities. We like to call this your “Master Plan”. This is where you list your immediate priorities and all the associated tasks. You can also list your “someday, maybe” goals on your Master Plan, but you should be clear that you do not have time to focus on these until your current priorities are achieved.


shopify-author Ari Meisel

 

Ari Meisel

www.lessdoing.com

 

Hire a virtual assistant and outsource everything you shouldn’t be doing yourself.

Ari Meisel quote graphic


shopify-author Carson Tate

 

Carson Tate

www.carsontate.com

 

As an entrepreneur, you’re in over-performance mode a lot of time because you’re all in. Pace yourself. There will be time. You’ll need the time, energy, and attention though; and when you go full throttle right out of the gate, you’ll exhaust yourself. Do you know what good enough is for each of the projects on your list? This is good enough for the organization and good enough for you. Overthinking, over editing and over tweaking wastes valuable time and is not necessary. Do good work, and then stop.


shopify-author Rodolphe Dutel

 

Rodolphe Dutel

www.remotive.io

 

Manage your cognitive load.

Manage your cognitive load so that you don’t have to “keep remembering things”. To do that, I use SaneBox to reduce my email load, then I document everything I sense is important in Evernote. I run 35 separate Evernote Docs with notes on chats with people I regularly work with on anything important (questions, results and action items). All tasks then feeds in a centralized To Do list I can prioritize and assign to my calendar (currently Sunrise).


shopify-author Peter Bregman

 

Peter Bregman

www.peterbregman.com

 

The most important thing a busy entrepreneur can do is to stop everything and think. As a busy entrepreneur myself, I know how easy it is to move rapidly from one thing to the next, without even a pause for breath. But that’s a mistake.

Take at least 5 minutes in the morning to think about your day.

  • What’s most important for you to accomplish today?
  • Does your calendar reflect that priority?

Set your phone to beep every hour and, when it does, ask yourself:

  • Am I doing what I most need to be doing?
  • Am I being who I most want to be?

And at the end of the day, Pause for 5 minutes and ask yourself:

  • What did I learn? Anyone I need to thank or acknowledge?
  • Anything I want to do differently tomorrow?

So often, we think of time management as increasing our efficiency. But some of the most efficient people I know are ineffective. The key is to be effective – to work on what’s most important and to leave everything else out. That takes forethought, planning, and hour-by-hour execution.


shopify-author Jocelyn K. Glei

 

Jocelyn K. Glei

www.jkglei.com

 

My advice is to build 2-4 hours of unstructured time into your weekly schedule. This is time set aside with no agenda beyond learning, exploring, and thinking. For many busy entrepreneurs this might seem counter-intuitive or just plain unrealistic. However, research backs up the importance of having “slack” time in your schedule on two fronts:

1. When you’re constantly busy and have no free time—as in every minute of every day is scheduled back to back—you max out your brain’s bandwidth: your cognitive abilities decline, you become more prone to making errors, and you’re less insightful.

2. Early on at Amazon, Jeff Bezos left his Mondays and Thursdays completely unstructured so that he always had time to devote to thinking deeply about the vision of the company. Making some “unstructured time” sacred is a hallmark of successful CEOs because without it they will always be reacting to the problems others are putting in front of them, and never proactively thinking about the future of the company.


shopify-author Stever Robbins

 

Stever Robbins

www.steverrobbins.com

 

Divorce your computer!

Divorce your computer! Seriously. If you’re the driving force behind a business, there’s very little you do on computer that’s the best use of your time. Twenty years ago, computers were productivity tools. Now, they’re distraction tools that kill focus, kill creativity, and kill our ability to do good conceptual thinking by providing a never-ending stream of irrelevant interruptions.

  • Physically arrange your workspace around a blank desk, not around your screen. When a computer task crosses your mind, add it to a paper “computer to do” list that you keep handy. At defined, scheduled times of day, walk over to your computer and go through your computer to-do list. Treat the computer as a tool that you use consciously, take out, and put back. Don’t use it as a default location to distract your mind and attention.
  • Put your laptop away during meetings. Take notes by hand. You’ll connect better with people at the meeting, and you’ll have far better recall for what happened.
  • Use a paper to-do list for each day’s top 3 priorities. Keep it in front of you at all times. Endless electronic to-do lists allow items to get trapped “below the fold” and fall off your radar screen. Reviewing your endless to-do and writing down today’s top priorities forces you to think strategically about which things you choose to do.
  • Don’t triage your own email. Have your assistant do that, and bring only the most important items to your attention.
  • Respond to email with a single sentence. If more is required, dictate the bullet points to your assistant and have them compose reply emails on your behalf. You just review and send.

shopify-author Kamil Rudnicki

 

Kamil Rudnicki

www.timecamp.com

 

Take your time to do right things.

Take your time to do right things. Everybody wastes time, so focus on being effective – doing right things, instead of being efficient—doing things well. Working in constant pressure is not ok. Feeling anxious and overwhelmed is not ok. Do you regret making decision? Stop.

You shouldn’t judge your success based on outcomes by themselves. The most positive results can be from things that you don’t have to do. Make the most important things in the morning—studies shown that after using your willpower later in a day people starting to make bad decisions.


shopify-author Katy Whitton

 

Katy Whitton

www.flippingheck.com

 

Having worked with a few start-ups in my time, as well as running my own business, I think that finding a stable time management technique that works for you is key to being able to get things done.

There are so many new tools that come out each month (week even!) that promise to be the ultimate organisational product but the problem is that the time and energy we invest in setting up and getting to grips with these new systems are actually taking us away from being productive.

Our tendency to latch on to the next new “shiny” thing that comes along because we think it will solve everything can upset a pre-existing and well thought-out workflow and actually harm productivity in the long run.

I’ve gone from paper to PDA to paper to Phone and back to paper again because some new app or system caught my eye rather than sticking with what was working for me. When I think of the lost hours moving my lists from paper to app to paper to app it makes me shudder!

TLDR: If you’re happy with your existing system remember the addage “If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it” and if a new technique comes along that really excites you, figure out what has peaked your interest and try and incorporate that element into your existing system before scrapping everything and starting over.


shopify-author Tor Refsland

 

Tor Refsland

www.timemanagementchef.com

 

I prioritize my tasks using the ABCDE method:

A: Tasks you must do – serious consequences if they don´t get done

B: Tasks you should do – mild consequences if they don´t get done

C: Tasks you could do – no consequences if they don´t get done

D: Tasks you delegate

E: Tasks you never do

Here´s the trick: you never do a B task before you have done all the A tasks, and you never do a C task before you have done all the B tasks. Then apply the 80/20 rule to identify each day; which 20% of the tasks on your to do list will give you 80 % of the results.

You might be thinking, “Tor that sounds cool and all that. But does that really help you become more productive?” Good question! Judge for yourself… I applied this when I spent 20 hours creating the roundup post 80 Productivity Tips From Incredibly Busy Experts that generated 20,231 page views in 6 days. The post has now 1700+ shares and 98 comments. If I hadn´t been very productive, I would have at least spent 40-50 hours to put together such a post.


shopify-author Tim Bourquin

 

Tim Bourquin

www.afteroffers.com

 

If it doesn’t get scheduled it doesn’t get done!

For me, if it doesn’t get scheduled it doesn’t get done! So scheduling every hour of my work day is critical to staying focused and productive. Even “free time” to pursue side interests is put on the calendar.

Time management is all about accomplishing specific tasks each day, and the only way I know how to accomplish goals is to break them down into very small projects that I can achieve on a daily basis. Every day on my calendar gets one small piece of the larger goal and when I accomplish that I’m done for the day.

I also schedule a specific time of the day to work on things. If I don’t schedule that time and block it out on my calendar, it doesn’t happen. Each step should take no longer than one hour per day to accomplish. If I find it’s going to take longer than an hour to do that step, I haven’t broken it down enough.

Even if I finish that’s days steps early, I keep myself from doing the next step. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but doing so keeps me from getting burned out and I’m more motivated for the next day’s hour of work. This strategy also keeps me from getting a step “half done” which doesn’t feel as good as getting everything done that was planned for that day.

Managing my time means planning it in advance. The last 30 minutes of my day is always set aside to schedule the following work day.

It takes discipline, but it’s the only way I know to be productive.


shopify-author Monica Ricci

 

Monica Ricci

www.monicaricci.net

 

Always wait at least an hour before checking email in the morning. When you begin your day in “response mode” it’s too easy to go down a rabbit hole of answering email and before you know it, you’ve lost half the day and you haven’t addressed anything PROactively because you’ve spent your morning REacting.

Use your calendar religiously. Never rely on your memory for your appointments with others or with yourself. Relieving your brain of having to remember your schedule leaves it free to be creative, solve problems and be present in the moment with others.

Always build buffer time around appointments in your calendar, to account for travel time, preparation time, and follow-up time.


shopify-author Mike Vardy

 

Mike Vardy

www.productivityist.com

 

Don’t hyperschedule yourself. Use your calendar for big blocks of time chunks – such as daily themes or weekly project sprints during a consistent time period (i.e. writing your book from 5 am – 8 am every weekday) instead of allocating every minute of the day with something specific.

Your to-do list can offer up the details because that is what is designed to do. Let your calendar act as a broader trigger that leads you to look at the details on your to do list. Then you can decide what you need and want to do on any given day with intention and attention in mind.

Mike Vardy quote graphic


shopify-author Mark Manson

 

Mark Manson

www.markmanson.net

 

My high school math teacher once told me that if you’re stuck on a problem, start writing down numbers and you’ll be amazed how often you figure out the solution as you write. I’ve found this true in all of life, not just math.

Whenever I get stuck on something, don’t know how to start a project, get anxious or start procrastinating, I force myself to do the simplest and smallest part of the task. I lower my expectations from completing the whole project to doing the simplest, most achievable component—I’ll write the first sentence, put in the first line of code, create the first line in the spreadsheet. It sounds so simple, but when you do this, you discover that action is not only the result of motivation, but rather the cause.

And what invariably happens is that you finish that first thing and it spills into the next, and then the next, and like a snowball, hours later you’re charging miles downhill and you don’t even remember why it was hard to start out in the first place.


shopify-author Peggy Duncan

 

Peggy Duncan

www.personalproductivityexpert.com

 

People often choose working harder over taking the time to figure out how to work smarter. Entrepreneurs can actually create more free time by examining their processes more closely.

First decide if the work is necessary. If it is and you have to do it more than three times, you’ll need to develop a process that is well-thought-out, includes everyone who touches it, and is documented so anyone can follow it. Once you figure out the best way to proceed, choose the right technology to get it done.


shopify-author Donald Latumahina

 

Donald Latumahina

www.lifeoptimizer.org

 

Apply the 80/20 rule.

Apply the 80/20 rule and eliminate your least productive activities. Doing this allows you to be productive without being busy. But first you need to have clarity regarding your priorities and the willingness to let go of some opportunities.


shopify-author Brian Tracy

 

Brian Tracy

www.briantracy.com

 

Start your day earlier than everyone else. If you read the biographies and autobiographies of successful men and women, almost all of them have one thing in common and that is the habit of going to bed at a reasonable hour and rising early. By waking before the rest of the world, you have time to plan your day in advance and get a head start on some tasks that may be looming over your head before others are awake to interrupt you.


shopify-author Rosemary Rice

 

Rosemary Rice

www.dailyplanit.com

 

Be aware of how your time is really being used, and to choose tasks that provide the highest value with the lowest use of resources as high priority once urgent matters have been dealt with. It may sound boring and tedious, but a time audit can reveal surprising information about time use and lead to positive change. There are some easy ways to accomplish a time audit, like using color codes for different activities to color in a chronodex.


shopify-author Michael Sliwinski

 

Michael Sliwinski

www.sliwinski.com

 

My top management tip for busy entrepreneurs is the “Pomodoro Technique” and “Unschedule Calendar“. This basically means I just put a timer for 25 minutes and start doing only one task. This time pressure and single focus helps me get back on track and get into my productivity rhythm. On bad days I spend most of my days like this.


shopify-author Chris Bailey

 

Chris Bailey

www.alifeofproductivity.com

 

At the start of the day, ask yourself: by the time the day is done, what three things will you want to have accomplished? It’s a simple tactic—almost stupidly so—but hardly anything else will help you work more intentionally.

Chris Bailey quote graphic

The tactic does a few things at once: it helps you filter out what you shouldn’t be spending time on every day from what’s actually important; it gives you a guiding light for what’s important for when shit inevitably hits the fan; and it helps you consider your limits every day—if you have a lot of meetings on a given day, as an example, you’ll have less freedom to define what you need to get done. Plus, it only takes a minute!


shopify-author Helen Segura

 

Helene Segura

www.helenesegura.com

 

At the end of each day, map out which tasks need to get done the next day and how long each one will take. Then schedule those tasks onto your calendar in between the appointments that are already on there. Time management is all about mind management. Once you realize that you’re in control of your clock and can tell your time what to do, your work life and personal life will become less stressed.


shopify-author Dave Seah

 

Dave Seah

www.davidseah.com

 

My personal time management tip is to freely allocate the time you need to realistically do a piece of work to the minimum next stage of completion.

By “realistic”, I mean the actual amount of time it would take, not the amount of time you WISH it would take. Once you have made that decision, then don’t think about time at all and do the work. Thinking about time management is the biggest waste of time I indulge in, ironically! While I am worrying about how long something takes, I am not using 100% of my attention on doing useful work or solving problems. As a solo entrepreneur, I have to be careful about avoiding unproductive management mindsets that focus on time efficiency. Many problems do not have ready answers, requiring research or trial-and-error with time requirements that can not be predicted. The best you can do in those cases is allocate blocks of time in chunks to work on the problem without worrying about it, trusting that a solution is on the way. I think that entrepreneurs who are used to working with computers are often frustrated by the realities of dealing with markets and suppliers with all the vagaries they have, so it’s really important for me to accept the reality of the uncertainty of time, and not fret about it.

By “minimum next stage of completion”, I mean a “useful element” that contributes to your working goals in some salient way. I tend to fixate on the “end result” instead of the next stage because I am impatient, but this just creates frustration that again burns up energy that might otherwise be used to make something.

Giving myself enough time to get something done, and also giving myself the permission to not feel rushed or guilty about the time it takes is what works for me. That said, I am not a competitive market-driven entrepreneur that is trying to beat everyone else to market; the goal of my entrepreneurial activities is to support my creative life, not consume it with worry.


shopify-author Josh Coffy

 

Josh Coffy

www.flightmedia.co

 

Have a productivity routine that you religiously follow daily. For example:

1. Workout – 4:30am

2. Create list of top 5 to-dos for the day – 7:00am

3. Work uninterrupted for 50 minutes, then break for 10 minutes – several times per day

4. Don’t leave the email tab open

Just like you build a strategy for everything else in your business, you absolutely must have a strategy for productivity. I workout because it makes me feel good, wakes me up and energizes me for the rest of the day.

I create a list of my top 5 to-dos for the day because if it’s a never-ending list, then it often leaves me unfulfilled and like I accomplished nothing. (Even when I do.)

I make time for several hours of 50-minute working sessions with a 10-minute break because it’s the only way I can accomplish those five to-dos.

I don’t leave the email tab open because my day goes down the drain in zero seconds flat. Make a routine, stick to it, and you’ll find time you didn’t know you had.


shopify-author Liz Summer

 

Liz Summer

www.lizsumner.com

 

When you find yourself avoiding a task it’s usually because you’re unclear about what needs to happen next. It’s usually one of 3 things—find out, decide, or do. Do you need more information, make a choice, or take an action. Look at your resistance through the find out, decide, or do lens and it’ll move you forward.


shopify-author Annie Sisk

 

Annie Sisk

www.pajamaproductivity.com

 

The biggest and best time-management tip I can offer for busy freelancers and entrepreneurs—really, for anyone—is this: Stop thinking about it as “time management.”

When we say “time management,” we’re really saying it’s the time that needs to be managed. But in 99% of the cases (a totally unscientific percentage but it’s relatively accurate in my experience), it’s not time that needs better managing—it’s us.

So instead, try thinking about it in terms of choices. An example: Imagine your absolute favorite band comes to town. Or Hamilton. Whatever. Something you really want to go to, but impossible to get into. But lo and behold, two tickets fall into your lap. No matter how busy you are, or think you are, if you’re like me and most people, you’re gonna find a way to go, right?

In other words, you’ll make a choice. Note I’m not saying going to a concert (or Hamilton, or anything generally fun) is a bad thing. I’m saying that when you really want to do something, you make that choice and you make it work. The same is true of things that aren’t so much fun but are critical – say, a sick kid that needs to get to the doctor’s office. You find a way. You choose.

So start looking at everything on your task list as a series of choices. You can choose to do them, or you can choose not to do them – to defer, delegate, or delete them. A weird thing starts happening when you look at it as a choice: you wind up making better choices, simply by realizing the power was in you all along.


shopify-author Thanh Pham

 

Thanh Pham

www.asianefficiency.com

 

Do the hardest thing first, every single morning. When you start your workday, tackle the task you find the most difficult to do or are most likely to procrastinate on. When we postpone those kind of tasks till later in the day, we often get stressed about them and keep postponing them.

Thanh Pham quote graphic

By flipping it, you can go on with the rest of the day knowing you were productive. Even if you did nothing else, you still had a productive day. I’ve done this for the last 5 years of running my business and it helped us tremendously. Everyone in our company does it too and it’s part of our onboarding training to teach people this concept.


shopify-author Christiaan Riemens

 

Christiaan Riemens

www.improve-hq.com

 

Prioritize!

Prioritize! Emails keep piling up, phone calls keep coming in, there are tons of to-do’s: an entrepreneur’s workload is enormous. Prioritizing that work is key to staying focused. The more you’re able to prioritize, the more efficient you’ll be. This is where Eisenhower’s urgency-importance matrix comes in, forcing you to think twice before adding a task to your to-do list.

Here’s the how. Select those tasks that are most urgent. Ask yourself: are these equally as important? Postpone what is less urgent, delegate what is less important. And if it’s none of the above: get rid of that to-do.


shopify-author Allyson Lewis

 

Allyson Lewis

www.the7minutelife.com

 

I have seven tips.

1. De-clutter your brain. You feel stressed because you have too many unfinished tasks. On a plain piece of paper, write them ALL down. Then cross out any that are not absolutely essential. Be brutal. You don’t have to do everything, you only think you do.

2. Conquer the unfinished task. Looking at your list, commit to completing one task a day until the list is complete. Revisit this list often! Things that seem essential today may not look that way next week.

3. De-clutter your world. A desk or kitchen counter covered with papers and other clutter also makes you feel more stressed than you need to be. Stop, take a deep breath, and take a few hours to either toss it, file it, or take care of it. Start with your top priority work or home space and go down the list, doing a little every day, one day a week, or whatever set schedule works for you.

4. Limit or block distractions. Shut off any email, Facebook, or Twitter alerts each morning until your most important tasks are complete. Research has shown that it can take as much as 25 minutes for you to mentally reenter a task after an interruption. Instead of jumping to respond to these interruptions, process all of those communications in scheduled blocks.

5. Act with purpose. When was the last time you actually wrote down your purpose in life, or your top priorities? What is the one thing most important to you in life? What are the priorities that further that purpose? Write them down. You will be amazed how this helps clarify what you need to do each day (and what you don’t).

6. Set goals. Yeah yeah, you say you know what your goals are. But have you written them down? Neuroscience has proven that the simple act of writing actually tricks your brain into achieving more. What do you want to achieve this week? Month? Next 90 days?

7. Make your “5 Before 11”. Make a list of five things you can commit to doing before 11am tomorrow morning. Does each task move the needle forward on your purpose, priorities, and goals? It should. When you do your 5 Before 11 tomorrow, you will have a blissfully peaceful sense of accomplishment, knowing you have done what is meaningful to you. After 11am, you can add whatever you want – knocking out an unfinished task that does not relate to your priorities, taking an unexpected meeting, doing something spontaneous with your kids or husband. You actually have some freedom and flexibility now.


shopify-author Shane Parrish

 

Shane Parrish

www.farnamstreetblog.com

 

This is somewhat counter-intuitive … the best way to gain time is to make better initial decisions. We spend so much of our time and energy correcting mistakes and scrambling out of bad situations. If you can reduce folly on your initial decisions, you’d have a lot more free time. One way to improve the quality of your decisions is to clear your mornings and think for 30 minutes alone about the problem before making a decision. Try not to make big decisions in the afternoon or later in the day.


Have a great time management tip of your own? Share it comments!

Using Amazon FBA? Here’s What You Need to Know About Sales Tax

Using Amazon FBA? Here’s What You Need to Know About Sales Tax

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

– Benjamin Franklin

As an online store owner, tax laws can be messy, complicated, and impact your business operations unexpectedly.

Case in point: If you’re using Amazon’s Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) service for your online store, without realizing it you might be required to collect and remit sales tax in a state where your inventory is located, but your business physically isn’t.

Amazon FBA was established in 2012 to facilitate the fulfillment component for businesses of all sizes. Sourcing warehouse space, receiving orders, packing product and shipping to consumers can be very time-consuming for companies looking to expand their business and establish their brand.

With Amazon FBA, they take care of these tasks by leveraging their established network of warehouses around North America. By shipping your inventory to one of the FBA warehouses, Amazon will store, pick, package, and ship every order you receive to consumers, whether it be through Amazon or another sales channel

But as with most things, for every benefit there tends to be a drawback that needs to be considered.

In Amazon FBA’s case, for all the pros it provides to merchants, using the service may cause you to trigger sales tax nexus in more than one state, which creates potential tax collection and remittance headaches for your business.

Download our FBA Sales Tax Cheat Sheet

Save this sales tax cheat sheet for quick and easy reference to see how you should treat sales tax in every state with an FBA fulfillment center.

What is “Nexus” And How Is It Triggered?

With more states having difficulty balancing their budgets, state governments are increasingly taxing out-of-state sellers by updating their existing sales and use tax legislation to expand the concept of “nexus”.

The nexus concept has always been around, but it wasn’t until recently that the definitions have been expanded to capture out-of-state sellers.

Nexus is the minimum connection between your business and a state that is required before a state can force your business to collect and remit their sales and use tax. A state can’t tax you without some kind of link to your business. Traditionally, this connection is established when your business has a physical presence in a state.

For example, if you buy, store and sell all your products in California, the only state that can tax you is California.

However, what is considered a “physical presence” varies from state to state.

Depending on the state, nexus definitions may include:

  • Registration: Registered to do business in a state.
  • Solicitation: Meeting customers in a state.
  • Incorporation: Having an entity incorporated or organized in a state.
  • Location: Living in a state.
  • Inventory: Having your merchandise/stock in a state.
  • Warehouse Use: Maintaining, occupying, using warehouse space.
  • Fulfillment services: Storage and warehousing, order processing, picking and packing inventory, shipping, customer service and returns management.

The result is that if your inventory is being held outside your home state in an FBA warehouse located in a state that includes one of the above terms in their definition of nexus, you may have to collect and remit sales tax in more than just the state where your business is headquartered.

I’ve Triggered Nexus. Now What?

Once you’ve determined that you’ve triggered nexus in a state, the next step is to determine if the product you’re selling is considered taxable in that state, which if you’re using Amazon’s FBA service is likely a ‘Yes’.

States consider tangible personal property (TPP) to be taxable items. The definition of TPP varies by state, but is usually very general so that almost all physical products that you can see, touch, and smell fall into the definition.

Destination vs. Origin Based States

So you’ve figured out that you should be collecting and remitting sales tax in more than your home state, but how much tax should you be charging your customers in this new state(s)?

Depending on the state, sales tax may be charged on an origin basis or destination basis.

Origin basis requires that you charge your customer sales tax based on your business location’s combined state/county/city sales tax rate. Very few states use origin basis for taxing out-of-state sellers. It’s typically only used when both the merchant and customer are located in the same state.

Destination basis requires you to charge sales tax at the rate in the state where your product is being delivered. This is the most commonly used method, and is the main reason merchants are required to register and begin collecting out-of-state sales tax.

If That Sounds Confusing, Here’s an Example

Let’s say that you’re the owner of Colouring Comics Inc. (“CCI”) and you sell adult colouring books through your brick and mortar store located in Phoenix, Arizona.

All your inventory is located at this store. In fact, this is your only physical location in the United States. You charge sales tax on all sales from your brick and mortar store based on the rates for Phoenix, Arizona.

Looking to grow your business after a successful holiday season when adult colouring books were flying off the shelves, you opened an online store to expand your sales outside the Phoenix area.

In order to fulfill orders faster on the east coast, you enrolled CCI in the FBA service and sent a portion of your inventory to Amazon’s FBA warehouse in Ohio.

Over the year, sales increased substantially across the northeastern US corridor, with Ohio representing the state with the largest growth.

Since you’ve sent inventory to Amazon’s FBA warehouse in Ohio, from a technical position CCI has triggered sales tax nexus in that state. Given CCI’s success in growing sales in Ohio, your tax liability may be significant if CCI is audited by tax authorities and you don’t register to collect sales tax from customers.

In this case, you should register for sales tax in Ohio. And, as a destination-based seller (selling from Arizona to Ohio), when a sale is made to an Ohio customer, you should charge sales tax based on the customer’s shipping address in Ohio. You will continue to charge sales tax to Arizona customers based on the sales tax rate that applies to their Phoenix location.

Since CCI has no connection with any other state (besides selling their product to customers there), you are not responsible for collecting sales tax from any other state.

If you continued to expand your operations with CCI, and began using additional FBA warehouses, there may be further sales tax implications to consider.

Below is a list of all states where an Amazon FBA warehouse is currently located and how they deal with sales tax.

FBA Sales Tax (By State) 

Click here to get these Amazon FBA sales tax guidelines as a downloadable PDF. 

Note: Whether origin or destination based, county/city taxes are applicable on all sales. The State’s Sales Tax Rate does not reflect the county/city rates, given the number of counties/cities in each state.

Arizona

  • Basis for Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis for Sales Tax (remote sales): Origin Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 5.6%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Fulfillment

California

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based*
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.5%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

*Modified Origin state – State/County/City taxes are based on origin, District taxes are based on destination. If you sell to a customer in the same district as the FBA warehouse, you’ll charge the district rate to buyers located in that district. If you sell to a customer outside the district, you will charge the California state rate, no district rate is applicable.

Connecticut

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.35%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

Delaware

No sales tax, no issues!

Florida

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Georgia

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Illinois

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based (out of state buyers don’t pay)
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Origin Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.25%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Indiana

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 7.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Kansas

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.5%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Kentucky

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Maryland

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

Massachusetts

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.25%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse

Minnesota

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.875%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, Fulfillment

Michigan

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, Fulfillment

Nevada

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.6%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

New Hampshire

No sales tax, no issues!

New Jersey

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 7.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

New York

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

North Carolina

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.75%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Ohio

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 5.75%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

Oregon

No sales tax, no issues!

Pennsylvania

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

South Carolina

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Tennessee

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 7.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Fulfillment

Texas

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.25%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Virginia

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Origin Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 4.3%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse

Washington

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 6.5%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory, Warehouse, and Fulfillment

Wisconsin

  • Basis of Sales Tax (in-state sales): Destination Based
  • Basis of Sales Tax (remote sales): Destination Based
  • State Sales Tax Rate (excludes County/City): 5.0%
  • Nexus Trigger: Inventory

How to Manage State Taxes Within Shopify

As intimidating as this all seems, your business’s exposure to additional sales tax may be limited!

From a non-technical standpoint, it is likely not worthwhile to register in a state where you have only made a handful of sales. From a state’s perspective, this is unlikely to trigger an audit given the low dollar amounts being considered.

Disclaimer: This is not formal tax advice. It is best to speak with your business tax advisor.

One approach would be to set a state-by-state threshold based on your total sales for your fiscal year, and if you cross that threshold for a given state, only at that time would you register for sales tax and begin collecting and remitting to the state tax authorities.

If you do find yourself exposed to several states and don’t have a great understanding of sales tax, don’t have the time to crunch the numbers and file the returns, or simply don’t care about taxes (who can blame you?), there are Tax Apps that integrate with Shopify, such as:

Keep in mind, the Tax Function within the Shopify dashboard will need to be set up properly in order to trigger tax to be charged on all sales made in states where you’re deemed to have nexus (check it out on your Dashboard, under Settings → Taxes → Tax Rates or learn how to change your tax settingshere).

 

Next Steps

If you’re looking to use or expand your use of Amazon’s FBA program, remember to ask these questions:

  1. If I send inventory to an FBA warehouse outside my principal state, have I triggered nexus in this state?
  2. Am I selling a taxable product?
  3. Does this state tax on a destination basis or origin basis?
  4. How much in sales am I making from this state, specifically over a 12 month period (or quarterly in some cases)?
  5. Can I track and remit sales tax on my own, or should I use an App?

Okay. Deep breath. There’s lots of information in this article, which can be intimidating.

Fear not, consider this a resource that you can bookmark and come back to from time to time to refresh your knowledge!

5 Easy to Use Online Logo Makers to Design Your Brand

You have a product that will fly off the shelves, but are struggling with your branding.

You need a logo but don’t have any idea about how to design a great one.  You could hire a designer, but you don’t want to spend all of your startup costs on your logo.

This is a side project for you after all.  What do you do?

We’ve got you covered.  In this post, we’ve compiled a list of high quality logo generators to help you create your brand.

You’ll be up and running with a beautiful logo in no time.

Why A Logo is Important For Your Brand

Logos act as the “face” of your business.  They’re a graphical display of what your company stands for, and can be used as a way to promote your brand both online and offline.

While Shopify does automatically generate text based logos for you, it’s still important to have a custom logo to define your brand and make your store stand out from the competition.

Logo Design 101

DesignBuddy recently did a fantastic data analysis on the world’s top brands, and what their logos have in common.  Here are some key highlights from the article that you might want to consider when designing your logo using one of these generators:

  • 95% of the world’s top brand’s logos use one or two colors
  • 41% of the brands use stylized type as their logo
  • 93% are simple enough to be recognized at smaller sizes

Take a look at this article from Buffer written by Leo Widrich – “Why Facebook is Blue: The Science of Colors in Marketing” to get a good idea of what colors to use for your logo.

Here are a few important design rules to remember before diving in to these logo makers.  These tips are taken from Creativebloq’s Logo design: 60 pro tips:

  • A logo must be simple: A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile and memorable. Effective logos feature something unexpected or unique without being overdrawn.
  • A logo must be memorable: Following closely behind the principle of simplicity is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple yet appropriate logo.
  • A logo must be enduring: An effective logo should endure the test of time. The logo should be ‘future proof’, meaning that it should still be effective in 10, 20, 50+ years time.
  • A logo must be versatile: An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications.
  • A logo must be appropriate: How you position the logo should be appropriate for its intended purpose. For a more detailed explanation see: What makes a good logo?

Bonus: want to see the exact color codes for some of the world’s top brands?  Take a look atBrandColors.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Logo

Here are some common mistakes that we’ve come across when digging through thousands of ecommerce stores.  Avoid these design mistakes when using one of the online logo makers below.

Note:  The generators that we’ll go over in this post are fantastic for new stores who are looking to get their feet wet.  These tools are great if you’re just starting out on a bootstrapped budget, but if you can afford it, we highly recommend investing in a professional logo by some Shopify Experts who can really help you establish your brand.

With no prior design knowledge necessary, you’ll be up and running with a custom logo in no time at all.

Logo Generator by Spaces 

Logo Generator by Spaces 

Spaces is a fantastic service that is extremely simple to use and creates stunning, trendy logos.

Simply enter your ecommerce store name and describe it with a few keywords, and Spaces will automatically generate hundreds of logos that relate to your business.

One of the great things about Spaces is that they let you tweak little things like the typography and more to make a design that reflects your brand.   

Best of all, it’s free!

Logo Maker by Ucraft

The logo maker is a free app provided by ucraft for those who don’t have a logo yet! You create a logo with the help of texts and an icon and are free to export it as a transparent .png file for future use.

You get a transparent .png high resolution file, so you can reuse it everywhere.

Best of all, it’s totally free.

GraphicSprings Logo Creator

GraphicSprings Logo Creator

GraphicSprings is perhaps the most powerful of the list. The amount of customizations you can make in their online logo creator is outstanding. It’s almost as robust as having an image editor tool on your computer. 

One of the great features they have is the ability to break down logo types depending on your business.  Here are some examples: 

  • Food and drink
  • Abstract
  • Letter based
  • Many, many more.

You can also hire someone from their team to create a totally custom logo for you if you aren’t satisfied with their logo creator.

Get started with GraphicSprings for free now.

Logoshi

Logoshi

The most creative of the list, Logoshi’s Sketch a Logo service is fantastic for creating a custom logo.

All you have to do is sketch or draw what you’d like your logo to look like, enter your ecommerce store name and it will automatically create a stunning logo for you in seconds.

It’s a really great service if you’re  looking for something very custom, while maintaining a professional look.   

Logaster

Logaster

Although Logaster may not be as up to date as the previous tools we mentioned, it still has an enormous amount of logos available through their generator.

You’ll be able to browse through hundreds of logos, all of which are extremely customizable in terms of name, slogan, business type, and color.

You can get started with Logaster now.

Tip: Logo Inspiration Sources

Now that we’ve taken a look at some fantastic logo generators, it’s time to get inspired.  We’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to go online to get your creative juices flowing.

Bonus Guide: “How to Choose the Perfect Domain Name” – a free, comprehensive guide that shows you how to find and choose the right domain to build you brand on. Get the Guide.

Conclusion

Hopefully now you have a great idea of where to get started with your brand’s logo.  If you have any tools or resources that we may have missed, let us know in the comments below

10 Free Google Chrome Extensions Every Entrepreneur Should Install

As the app where you probably spend most of your time on your computer, your browser is useful for much more than just “browsing” the internet.

There’s a lot of features you can unlock by customizing your browser with extensions to better suit your needs—especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

And since Google Chrome has around a 71% share of browser usage, it’s no surprise that many of the most useful browser extensions out there have been built with Google Chrome in mind.

The following are the best Chrome extensions I’d recommend to scrappy entrepreneurs, letting you access more features directly in Chrome and customize your browsing experience to improve your workday in a big way.

A word of warning, though, installing too many Google Chrome extensions can slow down your browser. It’s best to only install and keep the ones that you would actually use on a daily basis.

With that out of the way, here are 10 of the best free Chrome extensions you should definitely check out.

Assistant.to: Schedule Meetings Faster

assistant.to chrome extension

Anyone whose days consist of jumping from meeting to meeting is all too familiar with the back-and-forth dance of finding a time that works for both you and the person you’re connecting with.

You can remove that struggle from the equation by using Assistant.to, a scheduling plugin that lets you check your Google Calendar directly in your inbox and select the times that work best for you.

Your contact can then click the option that works best for them in the email and that’s it—the meeting is booked.

Why You Should Use It:

  • You only have to ask once what time works for your contact.
  • Rescheduling is also supported.
  • Will impress your contacts with how efficient you are and how nicely the options are presented.

Save to Pocket: Collect Content to Read Offline Later

pocket chrome extension

“Looks like an interesting article. I’ll read it later.”

How many times has that been said and never done? A busy schedule shouldn’t keep you from reading and learning on an ongoing basis. That’s why Pocket is so great.

Pocket lets you collect articles—from links, tweets, even your favorite blog’s RSS feed—to read later at your leisure. And the Pocket Chrome extension makes it as easy as one click.

If you’ve got a long commute during your day or have specific hours when you like to consume content, Pocket is a better way to build your daily reading list.

Why You Should Use It:

  • Pocket is easy to combine with other apps via IFTTT and integrated into many blogs and social networks.
  • Choose between “web view” or a distraction-free “article view”.
  • Option to read offline or even “listen” to articles you save.

Clearbit Connect: Find Emails and Get Contact Info

clearbit connect chrome extension

I’ve gone through several “email finder” solutions, but Clearbit Connect has proven to be one of the best.

Clearbit Connect won’t just help you find the email for a specific person or role at an organization, but also see background info about a contact directly in Gmail.

It’s this combination of features that make it more useful than other tools like it.

However, like most free email finders, there’s a limit to how many emails you can find each month, which should be fine for most people. If you need more, however, try Anymail Finder as a backup.

Why You Should Use It:

  • You can search by company, by role at a company and by the name of the person you’re looking for.
  • View detailed contact information in the right sidebar of every email.
  • More accurate and up-to-date than many alternatives.

Streak CRM: Streamline Your Outreach Inside Gmail

streak crm chrome extension

There are a lot of Gmail plugins out there, but none are quite as powerful as Streak. In my opinion, it’s easily one of the best Chrome extensions on this list.

Streak essentially gives your inbox the best features of a CRM software for free. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll never approach your outreach strategy the same again.

With Streak, you can build “pipelines” from a list of contacts and customize each email with info like your contact’s first name or company name. All you need to do is insert {{field_Name}}and {{field_Company}} into your email to make your outreach appear one-to-one even though you’re emailing many contacts at once.

From there you can track whether your emails get opened, make notes about specific contacts and move them through your pipeline based on their responses.

As an entrepreneur, email is your #1 business development tool. Make it more powerful with Streak.

Why You Should Use It:

  • Knowing when your emails get opened means you know when your leads are “warm”.
  • Create pipelines for all your outreach efforts, whether you’re looking for a supplier or an influencer to feature your product.
  • Create and store email templates or “snippets” that you can call upon with a click when the occasion arises.

OneTab: Keep Your Browser Tabs in Check

https://giphy.com/embed/l0MYxARGBUgvTNPhe?hideSocial=trueAs I write this, I’ve got about 10 tabs open. That doesn’t just make it harder to find specific tabs—it actually slows down my computer.

If you’re a serial tab-opener like me, OneTab is one of the best Chrome extensions you can install.

Instead of closing all your tabs and dealing with the risk of losing a page you actually needed, OneTab lets you collapse all your tabs into “one tab” that speeds up your computer and lets you start again with a clean slate.

Why You Should Use It:

  • If you feel like you always have a hundred tabs open at any given moment, this is for you.
  • One click to hide all your tabs. One click to bring them back.
  • Reduce memory usage by up to 95%!

Block Site: Because Self-Control Is Hard

block site chrome extension

We don’t always choose to procrastinate—it kind of just happens.

Sometimes you end up on Reddit or Facebook without a clue as to how you got there.

That’s where Block Site comes to the rescue and helps you stay focused.

It’s simple. You add all the sites that distract you to Block Site’s list, and then enable it whenever you need to focus.

Any time you’re tempted to check what’s happening on Facebook or what’s new on Buzzfeed, you’re met with a page reminding you that you shouldn’t be there.

Why You Should Use It:

  • It tracks how many attempts you make to visit a blocked site (and with a sense of humor too).
  • It takes enough effort to disable Block Site that it’s much easier just to get back to work instead.
  • You can set a schedule for blocking all distracting sites during your working hours.

Buffer: Schedule Social Media Posts On the Fly

buffer chrome extension

You probably know Buffer as a tool for auto-scheduling posts on multiple social media accounts for the optimal publishing times and frequency.

But the Buffer Chrome extension helps you save even more time by adding the page you’re on right now to your Buffer queue. And with the ability to easily cater the accompanying message and image to suit each social channel you choose, it’s one of the best ways to use Buffer to share the same content across different accounts.

Why You Should Use It:

  • One-click access to Buffer’s post editor.
  • Customize your message for each channel (e.g. 140 characters for Twitter and longer posts for Facebook/LinkedIn).
  • Right-click on images to “Buffer” them directly to your queue or add text over them via Pablo by Buffer.

Effin Amazing UTM Builder: Track Your Links the Easy Way

effin amazing chrome extension

When it comes to online marketing, it’s important to track your every effort otherwise you’ll lose out on the insight that helps you better understand your traffic.

Proactively tracking your links might be an online marketing best practice, but it can also be a time-consuming one that’s hard to commit to.

Effin Amazing UTM Builder lets you add UTM parameters to any link in just a few clicks. If data drives your marketing decisions, as it should, then this is a must.

Why You Should Use It:

  • Presets let you automatically fill out the parameters for each field.
  • Integrates with bit.ly to shorten your links and hide the UTM parameters.
  • Great for identifying traffic that comes from guest blogging, social profile bios, etc.

Momentum: The Best “New Tab” You’ll Ever Open

What’s the first thing you do when you get the urge to put off a task?

You open a new tab.

Instead of succumbing to the slippery slope of procrastination that follows, you can make use of that “new tab” by reminding yourself that you’ve still got things to do.

Momentum is all about that. With a more minimalist approach than other new tab chrome extensions like it, Momentum only shows you things that help you stay productive: the current time, your to-do list, an inspirational quote and image, and the goal you set for the day.

Why You Should Use It:

  • It’s beautifully designed and stays fresh with new images and quotes.
  • Forces you to confront the current time and your to-do list whenever you open a new tab.
  • Unlike most new tab options, it doesn’t prominently show your favorite links so you won’t get distracted by them.

Grammarly: A Spellchecker That Works Everywhere

grammarly chrome extension

Whether you’re sending an email or a tweet, spelling and grammar mistakes can harm your credibility.

You could hire a professional proofreader to check your words wherever you end up writing online. Or you can install the Grammarly Chrome extension.

With it, you’ll be able to easily spot misspelled words, grammar mistakes, and other issues in your writing at a glance.

Why You Should Use It:

  • It claims to be better than the traditional Microsoft Word spell checker many are familiar with.
  • Works through your browser so it checks your tweets, emails, comments, and wherever you write online to preserve your credibility.
  • It doesn’t just correct grammar, it teaches you about it too.

What Chrome Extensions Do You Recommend?

Whether you’re emailing a long list of contacts or trying to stay focused on the task at hand, these are some of the best Chrome extensions you can install to get more value out of your browser.

But this list only represents a tiny fraction of the useful Chrome extensions out there.

So let’s hear some of your favorite productivity-boosting Chrome extensions in the comments below.

How to Outsource Effectively and Earn Back Your Time

As an entrepreneur, you wear several hats. Some of them might even look good on you.

But there will inevitably be some parts of starting and running a business that fall outside your expertise.

On top of that, you’re one person: You’ve only got 2 hands and 24 hours in a day.

Just because you carry the weight of your business on your shoulders, doesn’t mean you need to shoulder all the responsibility alone.

Delegating responsibilities to other capable hands frees you up to focus on your vision and the things only you can do, whether it’s growing your business or even spending more time with your family.

When it comes to creating time and finding talent, ‘outsourcing’ is an essential practice for efficient entrepreneurs.

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Contrary to some definitions, outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean contracting work out to someone in another country. Instead, look at it as handing off or “farming out” work to a third party that specializes in its execution.

It’s easy to become a  control freak (in a good way) when you care deeply about your business, but that can make it hard to let go of aspects of your business in fear that someone else won’t do as good a job as you or won’t execute your vision exactly as you see it.

On the flip side, delegating too much or for the wrong price can increase your operating costs unnecessarily.

Effective outsourcing gives you back the time and energy you need to focus on higher impact things and maintain a good balance between life and work.

When contracting out a role or task you’ll need to consider:

  • Essential vs. nonessential tasks: Perhaps the most important thing to consider is whether what you’re outsourcing demands your attention and if that attention could be better spent on more essential tasks elsewhere (e.g. business development activities like creating strategic partnerships)
  • Long-term relationships vs. one-time needs: Outsourcing a process in the long-term requires that you build a good relationship with the contractor or agency you’re working with, so that they know your business enough to work better with you over time.
  • Your personal expertise and workflow: Look at outsourcing essential tasks where you don’t have the expertise to ensure quality work and find ways to offload nonessential tasks that consume a big chunk of your workday.
  • Look at automation and “botsourcing” first: Some things are far cheaper and more efficient to automate than to outsource (more on that later).
  • Costs: In many cases, you’ll choose outsourcing because it’s a cheaper alternative to hiring an employee full or part time. But consider whether you have the cash flow to support outsourcing costs and the potential return on investment (more revenue or time to focus on other things) that justifies it.

When in doubt, ask yourself how much your time is really worth. The simplest way to calculate the value of your time is based on the total number of hours you dedicate to work divided by the income you generate per hour you work. Then ask yourself if it’s worth paying someone to have that time back and what you would invest it on instead.


 

 


Delegating: An Essential Skill for Every Endeavour

“As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritize. You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.”

— Jessica Jackley, Co-founder of Kiva

The first time I farmed something out—a logo—I didn’t get what I wanted at all at first. It wasn’t the freelancer’s fault (they had a history of 5 star ratings). It was because I made the mistake of not communicating what I had in mind.

It’s easy to blame hired help for delivering poor work, but you should be mindful that the person you’re dealing with doesn’t necessarily understand your business, your processes or your vision.

Always appreciate the “curse of knowledge”— you know exactly what you want, but the people you’re working with don’t. Communication is key.

Here are some tips for effective delegation:

  • Define a clear outcome: Describe the result you want (and don’t want). If it’s a measurable result, then agree upon a way to quantify it. Make sure your requirements are clear and, if relevant, that your instructions account for obstacles (“If this happens, then do this instead…”).
  • Over-communicate: Explain why you want it done and what your venture is about. There’s no such thing as too much context or information around a task, so make sure you’re both on the same page.
  • Set deadlines: If there’s a clear deliverable at the end (e.g. a logo design) make sure both you and the contractor are clear about when it’s expected. If you specify a date but no time, the assumption is that it’s due at the end of that day (midnight). For creative tasks, be sure you leave enough time to account for revisions.
  • Be wary of time zone differences: When you’re working with remote help, it’s important to be aware of differences in working hours when establishing deadlines or meetings.
  • Establish a line of communication: Make it easy for both you and the contractor to get in touch with one another if the need arises. Email is usually fine for communicating, but consider using Skype or Google Hangouts since they let you send instant messages, make calls and share what’s on your screen. For more complex, long-term remote teams, employ a tool like Trello or Slack to better facilitate the flow of necessary information.

Help Isn’t Hard to Find: How and Where to Look For Talent Online

Today’s gig economy—for better or for worse—has made it easier to source talent online.

But that doesn’t mean all the challenges are gone.

There’s a lot of debate (among both contractors and business owners) when it comes to pricing. Should you pay per hour or per word (for writers), pay a fixed rate per project, a fixed rate paid out partially as certain milestones are met, or a combination?

It really depends on the contractor, complexity of your project and the nature of the work you need done.

Regardless, scope out complex projects or roles fully before you agree upon a price.

One of the worst things that can happen when outsourcing a complex project is “scope creep”—having the needs of the project change as it develops, usually due to unforeseen circumstances or some misunderstanding with the initial agreement. Make sure there’s a clear record of the requirements of the role or project and establish a price according to that agreement.

With that out of the way, here are some ways you can find talent and places you can look.

Finding and vetting talent through your personal network

For many people, their first instinct when they need talent is to tap into their personal networks to find it based on the recommendation of a friend.

A mutual friend or connection could make it easier to establish a long-term relationship with a contractor. You can post your requirements on LinkedIn or search through your network for a mutual connection with the skills you need.

For creative roles like writing, video creation, and design, you can also reach out to people whose work you like to see if they’re willing to offer their services on a freelance basis.

However, this takes longer and could consume a lot of time, so it might be best to use a marketplace if you want to move faster.

Finding and vetting talent through a marketplace

99designs

Marketplaces have streamlined the way we objectively consider aspects like price, quality of work, customer reviews, turnaround time, and trustworthiness when evaluating talent.

While the inherent competition in a marketplace drives costs down across the board, you might not get to establish the same kind of relationship you would when hiring a solo contractor through their own platform.

However this is offset by the quick access you get to a diverse pool of talent with a fast turnaround that fits your specific needs.

Most marketplaces also handle payments via “escrow”—your payment is held by a third party account until both you and the contractor agree that the work was done. This gives both you and the contractor peace of mind throughout your relationship.

With a general marketplace like Fiverr, you get a really fast turnaround and a wide range of gigs on offer for almost anything you can imagine (get someone to make you a song or share your product in a list of forums). The gigs also offer more flexible pricing delivered in tiers, so can start for as low as $5 (hence the name, Fiverr) with the ability to upgrade your gig to get more as you see fit.

Upwork is a bit more expensive than Fiverr and offers less variety, but the talent is higher quality and more relevant to the needs of starting or running a business.

Some niche marketplaces take a crowdsourcing approach like 99designs (for infographics, logos, etc.), and Wooshii (for product videos and engaging short films) to harness competition, so you get more choices as to the creative direction of a logo or video. You’ll get higher quality results but for a higher price.

Shopify store owners can also check out Shopify Experts for developers, designers and store setup experts .

Finding content writers and copywriters

crowd content

I often hear that writers are hard to hire. Mostly because you need to account for not just whether you want a copywriter or a content writer, but also whether they’ve got the expertise and experience to work within your niche and brand’s voice.

If you want a writer you can work with long-term as the need arises, you can start by looking for existing content you would want on your own blog or website, and then reach out to those writers directly (find them on Twitter, LinkedIn or their Facebook page).

When you’re evaluating a content writer, especially how much you want to pay them, it’s worth looking at not just how engaging their work is but whether they have their own audience.

A writer with an audience might also promote the content they create for you within their own networks, expanding the reach of your blog. Or you can ask for ghostwriting services to publish under your own name, to build your own personal brand, instead.

If you need to produce a larger quantity of written content or copy that’s optimized for SEO, consider a marketplace like Crowd Content as it can integrate with and publish content directly to popular platforms like Shopify, Twitter, WordPress, and Facebook.

Setting up third party warehousing and fulfillment

Third party warehousing and fulfillment probably won’t be a good option for younger ecommerce businesses.

Even with the cash flow to justify it, there are logistics that must be considered when outsourcing an offline process that is core to your business’ operation.

If this topic interests you, I recommend you read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Third Party Warehousing and Fulfillment to explore it in greater depth or read our Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping.

 

Hiring a virtual assistant for administrative tasks

Virtual assistants are a varied bunch. Some of them are great for handling administrative tasks, research, cold calling, and data entry. The best ones might even provide skills like writing, proofreading or design.

It depends on what sort of day-to-day tasks you want to take off your hands.

Zirtual is a popular solution for dedicated, highly useful VAs that are perfect for startups.

Fancy Hands, alternatively, is a much lighter subscription-based VA service that’s great for time-consuming research, finding quotes, posting to forums and directories, and even staying on the phone to negotiate your phone bill on your behalf.

Employing a virtual assistant isn’t just useful for an extra pair of hands—it’s also a great way to practice the art of delegating as you learn how to let go of tasks and clearly communicate your wants on an ongoing basis.

Automating and “botsourcing” to support or replace outsourcing

Automation is a cost-effective way to supplement or even replace outsourcing. I mention automation here, because outsourcing isn’t just about finding talent—it’s about having more time on your hands to re-invest elsewhere.

With If This Then That (IFTTT) and Zapier you can created automated processes to streamline parts of your business, so you can either make your internal processes more efficient or streamline the workflow between you and a regular freelancer.

For example, if you regularly order social media images off of Fiver, you can have them automatically sent to a Dropbox folder.

IFTTT Recipe: Upload my Fiverr ordered videos to a Dropbox folder connects fiverr to dropbox

Here are some recommended readings if you’re looking to learn more about automation:

  • 7+ Ways to Streamline Your Ecommerce Business With Zapier
  • 9 Clever Ways to Automate Your Small Business with IFTTT

Also, if you’re a Shopify store owner, be sure to check out the App Store—there are a ton of apps to build more integrated processes across your business.

“Botsourcing” lets you offload the execution of daily tasks to a virtual employee.

Hire Kit—your own virtual Shopify employee bot starting at $10/month!!

Chat with Kit via SMS, Facebook Messenger or Telegram to send personalized “Thank You” emails to customers or even run Facebook ads.

 

And Now, Over to You

Many entrepreneurs fled the 40-hour work week to pursue the freedom to live the life they want. So they started businesses of their own. However, running a business is no small feat and it’s not uncommon for many to end up investing a lot more hours in its day-to-day operation.

There’s always something to do, some way you can grow your business, and when your attention is always on the details of execution that keep your business going, you might lose focus on the things that will help you take it to the next level.

If you haven’t thought about letting go of tasks and making more time for yourself, then hopefully this has got you thinking what you can get off your plate.

If you’re already outsourcing tasks and roles, what are they? What sites do you frequent when you’re in need of talented hands? What are some clever ways you’ve automated your business?

Share your experiences in the comments below!

Happy Amazon Prime Day! Heres What Other Articles Will Not Tell You About Today

So last year Amazon decided to celebrate its 20th birthday by having what is known as Primer Day. Amazon reported selling 398 items per second then.  So its no wonder why theyd want to have it again this year.

Prime-Day-July-12-768x308

So here are some things to look out for and to think of when you are digging for these deals on Amazon:

  1. Do Not Buy Items on Amazon Using Prime Benefits to Resell on Amazon

    • This is against Amazon policy. And a lot of beginners don’t know that and might be tempted to buy something using their prime benefits to flip for nice profit right back on Amazon. (source)
  2. Use eBay, or craigslist

    • Use today to buy inventory for eBay, Craigslist, or maybe a local rummage facebook site.
  3. Search the Prime deals for items you can use in your business, like shipping supplies, office supplies, a new processing laptop, or anything else you can deduct as a business expense.
  4. In preparation, right now is a good time to reprice some of your inventory. With more people shopping on Amazon on Prime Day (as well as the days leading up to it), there is a greater chance for you to get increased sales. Be sure you competitively reprice your items to maximize your profits.
  5. Set a reminder on your calendar for July of 2017 and be sure you are ready for Prime Day next year. Even though this is the second consecutive year Amazon has planned a Prime Day, it’s still not for sure if this will become an annual event — but if it does, you want to be sure and be prepared.
  6. Have realistic expectations for Prime Day sales. An increase of sales is expected, but overall it will most likely be a nice bump in sales. While some people might have a day filled with tons of amazing sales, that probably won’t be the norm. Don’t get caught up with checking your sales every 10 minutes to see if you have any new sales. And don’t fall into the trap of comparing your sales with others who are posting online. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Just enjoy the nice bump in sales and then get back on track with your overall goals for your Amazon business.

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.

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!

How To Fit Sourcing Into Your Busy Day to Day Schedule

It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to make a blog post. A lot has changed for me too!

I currently have two jobs now. One, is full-time at a rehab center. I’m in Dietary, making all the old people food. And the second is at my dads shop, but I haven’t showed up for a while because of my other job. The hours are nuts, one shift will be 3-8 and the next day they want me at 6 in the morning, and it’s a half hour drive. But regardless, I met a lot of new people. And one lady is moving and she knows I sell on Amazon and eBay on the side. She offered me a lot of coffee mugs today, and I asked if she had any books, and offered to pay for them. She said if she has any she’d be willing to give them to me! I offered a lot of newspaper I usually use for packing paper for eBay sales, but those have been slow.

There is a really nice Goodwill right down the road from there. Which is nice because before or after a shift, I’ll stop and source. Every time. I’m still sourcing for books and mugs. When I get some good paychecks rolling in from my new job, I plan on doing retail arbitrage. And just the other day I sent in an FBA shipment of about 50 items, mainly books. It felt SO good because I haven’t sent a shipment in for a long time.

But regardless if I’m dragging my butt after a long shift, I still get my self out there to source. It is vital if you want to make anything on FBA. Source daily. If you find your self without any time to travel 20 minutes one way to a Goodwill, then start by scanning items in your clearance section when you go grocery shopping. The other day, I had to run up to Home Depot for my mom, (were redoing our bathroom,) and noticed that there was a clearance section. At first thought, I didn’t want to go over there. But I made myself and started scanning. I ended up buying 4 bottles of bedbug remover (ew,) for $1.93 and its going for about $8. Of course I bought them up and sent them in!

It’s simple things like that often get overlooked. And I know I didn’t buy much, I bought something. And somethings better than nothing.  But other wise, I’ll be keeping this post short and sweet! And I’m going to get more into a schedule of posting! Promise!