SCOE Seattle Conference Discount

One of the eCommerce events I’ll be attending this year is the SCOE conference. I’ve wanted to go for the past two years but never made it and this year I was determined to make it.

In past years SCOE has benefited by their proximity to Amazon headquarters and the fact that Amazon sent over many employees to give workshops and talk with attendees. This year Amazon has decided not to attend due to the time of year.

I was disappointed to hear that but as the agenda has begun to show on the site, I am encouraged at the diversity of topics and excited again about attending.

Of course part of my excitement is that I’ll get to present one of my favorite topics, “Starting Your Business on a Budget.” I’ve always been passionate to help others take control of their own financial destiny by starting their own business and I can’t wait to share with a new audience.

I’m writing this today because SCOE sent out an email offering a great discount for the Fourth of July holiday.

If you are considering attending – this is a great deal.  I’m posting the sessions below but I encourage you to keep checking the official website SCOE.biz as additions keep being posted!

Current List of Sessions

Can You Build a Long Term Business on Amazon?

amazon logo

As folks sign up to sell on Amazon and learn the rules there, they begin to realize that Amazon is very serious about the customer experience. Everything in the rules for sellers is based in some way on ensuring the Amazon customer is treated right. And therein lies the point. Amazon is very clear that when a person buys something on their website, that person is an AMAZON customer. They are not YOUR customer.

Sellers who come to Amazon from eBay are sometimes a bit surprised and confused about this. EBay, as a general rule, is more open to sellers creating their own ‘following’ with encouraging newsletters and store and listing customization and branding.

Amazon, on the other hand, leaves no doubts – you are NOT on their platform to build your customer base, but to build theirs. There is a lot of money to be made selling on Amazon and every day I encourage folks to make some money with this amazing opportunity. However, I also teach that you should not look on Amazon as a customer acquisition channel.

My belief is that selling on Amazon can be an extremely lucrative income stream for you. Like most retail, you will spend the most time sourcing, constantly looking for the next thing as the competition heats up. However, there is a lot of money to be made and if you are willing to do the work, you can totally share in the profit.

To the point of, “Can You Build a Long Term Business on Amazon?” my comments are these. You will not be building your customer list for repeat sales and you will not be building a brand or a niche. If those are your long term goals, you’ll need to pursue those somewhere else. You will, however be able to turn a few hours a week into a significant income stream and that can help you build a long term business in other ways. Also, I believe the potential of selling on Amazon and particularly using their Fulfillment service (FBA) is in its infancy. So I do think this income stream will be around for a long while.

Eager to hear what YOU think? Leave a comment, please.

 

Reflections on an End and a Beginning

eCom Connections

Eighteen months ago, on January 10, 2011, Karen Locker Karen Locker and I began broadcasting the eCom Connections podcast. We had been brainstorming, planning episodes and laying out the script of how we wanted the show to go for awhile before. We knew that we wanted to bring interesting guests, authors, and experts to the listening audience. I have always been a ‘connector’ type personality. Nothing makes me happier than helping two people connect; like pieces of a puzzle that need each other to make a more complete picture. So we decided to focus on the connections that we knew small Solo-preneurs like us needed in order to grow our businesses and move them to the next level.

Karen and I worked very well together and worked hard each week to bring solid content. We were always very aware that our listeners were giving us their greatest gift, their time, and we were determined not to waste it.

Over the 18 months we interviewed some of the most amazing people, learned about a lot of new products and options for eCommerce sellers and ended up expanding our own connections within the eCommerce world greatly. In fact, many of the jobs I am working on right now came directly from connections made through the ECC podcast.

Doing the show was never hard. Being on air and talking with wonderful people was a blast. The hours spent off air, however, began to take a toll. As Karen and I both had our financial situations change and became more responsible for supporting our families, we found our schedules bursting. Trying to cram 18 hours of work each day into 12 so that we could also spend some time with our families got harder and harder. Together, in April of this year, we decided that the time had come to move more fully into our new positions and shut down the ECC Radio show.

Since our last show on Monday I’ve been reflecting and thinking. I do not regret one minute spent on the show and am forever blessed by the listeners, sponsors and guests I connected with. But I am also excited about the new possibilities. I have more time for writing, which has become a passion, working on some training materials to pass along some of the things I’ve learned, and actually doing some face-to-face classes for both eBay and Amazon.

Thank you to every listener who made it worthwhile to do the show, thank you to the sponsors who believed in us and supported us along the way and thank you to my co-host Karen, for lasting 18 months on air!

Onward and upward!

Preparing For Your Own Old Age – by Cliff Ennico

Ciff Ennico HeadshotIt’s no secret that the elder support system in the United States leaves a lot to be desired. But it really hits home when you and/or someone you love has to deal with it.

 

My 83-year-old Mom suffered a massive stroke in March of this year, and after extensive consultation with her doctors and other experts we decided that it was time for her to go to a skilled nursing facility (formerly known as a “nursing home”).

 

You would think this would be an awful experience. It really wasn’t. After visiting several facilities we decided on one that was owned by a “friend of a friend of a friend” of ours. We later learned that the facility was one of the highest ranked in the entire state.

 

I have to say that the care my Mom is being given is nothing short of fabulous. Even she doesn’t talk as much about wanting to “go home” and live an independent life – we all suspect she’s having too much fun. The people at this facility are extremely helpful and responsive, and are completely “on top” of their game. When Mom developed a minor eye infection, the facility’s staff called in a local eye doctor and had the matter taken care of before I even knew about it. Now that’s service.

 

We have been lucky so far, but it hasn’t all been beer and skittles. Shortly after Mom was admitted, we learned that the Power of Attorney we were relying on to handle her financial affairs wasn’t properly prepared. That required a new Power of Attorney, which had to be paid for out of our own funds as Mom’s accounts had already been pledged to Medicaid under Title XIX of the federal Social Security Act.

 

We also discovered that Mom had made no plans for her funeral. For the same reason, that will have to come out of our pockets as well.

 

The whole experience with Mom has been an eye-opener. With people in America living longer and healthier (“age 90 and over” is the fastest growing segment of the American population right now), there’s a good chance most of us Baby Boomers will run out of money before we die. Forget about leaving a legacy to our children and grandchildren – we’ll be lucky if we have anything to pay for nursing home care before we “spend down” and Medicaid kicks in. In Mom’s case, it took only three months to wipe out her life’s savings.

 

Most of us are woefully unprepared for the business and financial challenges of an extended old age. Based on my experience with Mom, here are six things I plan to do differently before it’s my turn – things that all of us need to do NOW to make things as easy as possible for the next generation.

 

Keep Updating Your Will. An out-of-date will is as good as no will at all. When cleaning out Mom’s apartment we found an old (but still current) will from 1997, one we knew did not reflect how Mom would want to dispose of her assets today. You should update your will at least every five years, and more often if you have “life changes” (such as divorce, a new marriage, new job, new kids or grandkids).

Get a PERFECT Power of Attorney. Do NOT use online forms. Get an attorney to prepare this for you, and pay the going rate to make sure this document is “letter perfect”. Know exactly where the original Power of Attorney can be found, as many banks and other financial institutions will want to review the original (not a copy) before they will let you close out bank or brokerage accounts.

Pick Your Nursing Home Now. Visit several local facilities, and give your kids a document letting them know your preferences, as well as any facilities you want them NOT to consider.

Buy Long-Term Care Insurance. Many nursing facilities will not take patients who have no funds to spend down before Medicaid kicks in. Having long-term care insurance (sometimes called Medigap coverage) helps you hold onto more of your assets longer, and slows down the “spending down” process, so that you have a better chance to pick the facility you want.

Prepay Your Funeral Expenses. You can’t pay for these once you apply for Medicaid. Most funeral homes will allow you to prepay your burial or cremation expenses. Do it now. You are not only making things easier for your kids: you may be “locking in” funeral costs at today’s rates.

Consolidate Your Bank Accounts. Medicaid requires copies of all bank account statements going back five years, and it takes bloody forever to pull all of that paperwork together. Keep the number of accounts to an absolute minimum. Consider closing down traditional IRAs and other retirement accounts if the remaining balances are small. Make sure your kids know exactly where your accounts are, and the names of bank managers you know personally.

 

Cliff Ennico (www.succeedinginyourbusiness.com), a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.

 

THE GRADUATION SPEECH YOUR KID NEEDS TO HEAR, BUT PROBABLY WON’T By Cliff Ennico

Lately there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth about this year’s crop of college graduates and the tough time they will have finding decent jobs. Yet the commencement speeches today’s graduates hear at their ceremonies don’t talk about any of that. Instead they are being told to “follow their stars,” “make the world a better place,” and so forth.

Which, of course, is totally safe, I get it. Nobody wants a commencement speech that’s a total downer.

But I do wish today’s graduates were getting a dose of reality and solid advice along with the platitudes. Here’s the speech I would love to give if given the opportunity:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted at the opportunity to address the graduating class of [name of college], though I am sorry the reality TV star who was supposed to be here canceled at the last minute for a better opportunity.

It is customary for commencement speakers to inspire you, make you laugh, reminisce about the great times you had here, and challenge you to follow your dreams and make the world a better place.

But here’s an inconvenient truth: before you can realize your dreams, you are all going to have to figure out a way to make a living and support yourself, maybe a spouse and children, and maybe your aging Baby Boomer parents who never saved anything for retirement or nursing home bills. I don’t have to tell you that it has never been harder in America to do that.

It gets worse. Many of you here are woefully unprepared for the real world of work. You have crammed your heads full of information, among other controlled substances, and the best among you have learned some important lessons about meeting deadlines, thinking critically, performing research, and arguing positions. Those are all very important skills.

But they won’t get you a job, much less launch you on a career.

What you need in today’s world of work are marketable skills. Sadly, your academic program didn’t help you develop those – you are educated, but you are unskilled labor. And hardly anybody will pay you for the stuff you did learn here.

So here is some practical advice on surviving in the real world. Ignore it if you wish as the ranting of an out-of-touch Baby Boomer, but those of you who listen will profit from it.

First, if you don’t already have a job, get out there and get working. Take whatever is available, whether it makes use of your degree or not. Get a job that pays as much as possible, then get another one to fill your time on evenings and weekends. Unpaid internships are for losers (and rich kids). If an internship won’t lead to a paying job in six to 12 months, you’re better off waiting tables.

Work as hard as you can, and save as much money as you can. That’s what new immigrants to the United States have always done. They work a gazillion hours a year at jobs nobody else wants, they spend as little as possible, save every penny they make, and eventually they have enough to start their own business, buy a business, or make highly profitable investments.

While you are doing this, look for opportunities. What emerging new industries and technologies will dominate the American economy, what services will be in demand, in the next five, 10, 15, and 20 years? Position yourself for the future, not the past. Forget about traditional jobs, even lucrative ones, that will eventually be eclipsed by technology and an evolving digital world. And forget about law school – we have far too many lawyers, and not enough good clients.

If there truly are no jobs to be found, consider joining the U.S. armed forces. Too many young people have been taught to be cynical about America and its institutions. A couple of years spent serving your country is the best cure for that. Also, you will get some discipline, you will learn some marketable skills, and you may get the chance to pursue further education, all at the taxpayer’s expense. Not a bad deal.

Be very careful about relationships and commitments. Don’t take them on until you are emotionally and financially ready for them. Much of the happiness and misery you will have in your life comes from the person you choose as a life partner. Choose wisely. Love your family, but don’t let them hold you back.

America is, and always has been, a land of opportunity, not a land of guaranteed success. If you want something badly enough, you’ll get it badly enough. Find out what you want to get out of life, figure out what it takes to get it, and then pursue it ruthlessly, with everything you’ve got, and without distraction. Follow that plan (not the stars), and you will succeed, no matter what the economy does or what life throws at you.”

Cliff Ennico (www.succeedinginyourbusiness.com), a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.

Selling on Amazon? There is a Better Way

Benefits of FBA

If you are a seller on Amazon and not using their Fulfillment Service (FBA) this article is for you. I sold on Amazon from 2004 and made some decent money. I mostly sold books and other media items. When FBA first started being discussed, I didn’t see the point. I was listing and selling and making money, why did I want to add another layer of what I saw as complexity at the time.

What I didn’t understand at the time was the exponentially larger customer base I would be exposing my items to by participating. Neither did I understand how much time I would be saving myself. Signing up for FBA was one of the best things I’ve done to move my business forward. My sales have quadrupled; I am selling in many more categories, for higher prices, than before. In fact, there are so many benefits I am having trouble deciding how to present them to you. Let’s focus on the top two.

HIGHER SALES – Why do FBA sellers, in general, have higher sales numbers than other Amazon sellers? There are many reasons but the main one, in my opinion, is the trust factor. The vast majority of Amazon buyers, especially their PRIME registered buyers (Amazon’s Free Shipping Program) believe anything shipped by Amazon is sold by Amazon. While they may notice your merchant name on the listing or the packing slips, chances are they won’t. They bought on Amazon, Amazon shipped their item, so as far as they are concerned, they purchased FROM Amazon. Now, these buyers are extremely loyal buyers and they trust Amazon implicitly. Therefore they expect and are willing to pay a higher price for the privilege of buying from Amazon. There is even a search option so they will only SEE items shipped by Amazon. It is called ‘Prime only’ and here is a screenshot.

A Day in the Life!

Ready for Bed tonight after a very eventful Tuesday.

What a day in the life of ThatKat!

From saying goodbye to my Soldier Son, Thomas Simpson, as he prepares to deploy to Afghanistan on July 3rd (what an appropriate day, right?) and finding my emotions as a mother so very different from facing deployments as a military wife!

 

 

 

Next was the 2 week checkup for husband Jeff from his most recent (6 so far) back surgery and finding out

that healing is ahead of schedule and all is well! Yeah! Great news.

 

 

 

 

And finally around 5 PM came the news that our family had grown, grandbaby number three has arrived, all 9 pounds 14.5 ounces of him. Welcome Bennett Jones Simpson, Nonna can’t wait to hold you!