Ever in need of a dose of inspiration to fuel your entrepreneurial spirit? I know that’s something that I am constantly looking for. One area that I turn to on a regular basis is a handful of podcasts that are hosted by successful people and include the success stories of other entrepreneurs. One of my favourite podcasts is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and one of his recent episodes really got me thinking on a few items and also served as inspiration for this blog post.
In Episode 99 of his podcast Pat interview Jessica and Cliff Larrew, two entrepreneurs who have started a successful business using Amazon’s “Fulfilled By Amazon” (FBA) program to earn an income. This isn’t just pocket change either as their annual profit is in the area of $100k.
What is Amazon’s FBA program?
For those of you not familiar with Amazon’s FBA program, its a service where individuals and businesses can list their items on Amazon, send them to various fulfilment centres and have Amazon deal with all of the payment processing and shipping. You simply enter the products into their system, set pricing and Amazon will tell you where to ship your various products. Once they’re sold, Amazon handles the shipping for you, takes their fees and sends you the remainder.
Jessica and Cliff figured out that there were certain products they could purchase locally and profit from using the difference they pay and the eventual selling price of the product at Amazon. They hit local stores like Walgreen’s and Target, find discounted and/or clearance items and investigate profit potential using an app. If they find products with their desired profit margins, not only would they buy all they could at the store they were in, they’d also travel to all the other area stores and purchase their inventory as well.
Jessica started out with a few items as a way to earn extra cash, making mistakes and learning the business along the way before the couple went at it full-time. They also have brought others into the business, teaching them their methodology and even offer advice to others exploring this business through their website. I haven’t had a chance to read their “10 Quick-Start Tips For Amazon FBA” but I definitely intend to check it out.
This is a classic example of finding opportunities to profit from the “money in the middle”, a concept I’ve been discussing with a few people looking at trying their hand at an online business. Sure, this is a classic profit margin type of business but there’s other areas where this concept can be applied to help add income to your business or create a new spin-off entirely.
Here’s an example from my own experience…
I hired a virtual assistant a few years ago to do some content creation and link building for my affiliate sites. This was during the time period before Google clamped down on then-generally accepted SEO practices such as article directories, etc. I had a plan for what I wanted completed and provided him with detailed instructions. I also used Google Analytics and other SEO tracking software to recognize improvements in my SERP results.
My team member did such an outstanding job for me that I ended up giving him a bonus, sent him additional work and actually created new sites based on his areas of expertise just so I could keep him happy and working for me.
During a discussion with a fellow affiliate marketer, the topic of my recent projects came up. Instead of giving a referral directly to my VA, I recognized a business opportunity and told my friend that I could handle it for him. I took a few hours to come up with a price list of products and services in addition to delivery times and sent it over. Of course, there was a profit margin included in the price list (the money in the middle) and I was pleasantly surprised when I received my first order. So was my team member.
I planned on turning this into a full-fledged business when Google Panda (or whatever project name it was at the time) was introduced and the benefits of this type of marketing diminished considerably. Still, this is a great example of searching and developing “money in the middle” type scenarios.
Do you have a business idea that has “money in the middle” potential?
If so, there’s a few things that you can take from my example and those that Jessica and Cliff shared during Pat’s interview.
Find out if there any tools available for your business idea to allow you to investigate and track results. Jessica and Cliff use an app called Profit Bandit to identify profitable products. I used Google Analytics and other SEO software to track results from my projects.
Start with a small test job before expanding on your business idea. Jessica was buying what was within her budget to start and I decided to offer the services to a single client before jumping in with both feet.
Recognize winning and losing products. Don’t be afraid to adjust. Jessica was asked what they did with products that didn’t sell and she mentioned that they deeply discount items that aren’t moving just to get rid of them and use the proceeds on their next round of purchases. I decided not to pursue the business when I saw considerable changes in Google’s algorithm that essentially negated any gains that the service would provide.
Make sure you listen to Pat’s podcast interview with Jessica and Cliff. Even if Amazon’s FBA program is not up your ally, perhaps listening to the podcast will inspire your own “money in the middle” idea.