Tim Jordan

Tim Jordan

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Is Selling on Amazon Still Worth It? Lesson Learned from Tim Jordan

Right now, it’s popular to be an entrepreneur. With the rise of social media celebrities launching enterprises, the trend of having a “flexible” lifestyle, and the abundance of opportunities to start businesses out there, it should be no shock to anyone that entrepreneurship is a popular life choice. 

Thanks to guys like Gary Vaynerchuk and shows like Shark Tank blowing up, we also see a plethora of entrepreneurial options, but how do we start seizing them? Where do we start? How do we pick one and stick with it? 

I remember leaving business school and assuming that “business” meant sitting in a cubicle. And I did not want to do that. I started a short career as a professional firefighter and rescue specialist and assumed my “business” life was not to be. I loved the job, but my internal compass kept pointing me towards entrepreneurship. I got sucked into a few different part-time business ventures (e.g., an ill-fated construction company and a venture selling bulldozers in Kenya), but I never would’ve guessed that the side gig that would change my life was an accidental introduction to Amazon FBA.

Now, around 5 years later, I have built multiple online brands and left my firefighting days behind me (it was a good 10 years for sure!) and my work now revolves around e-commerce. I will also admit that I am a bit of a pessimist on a few fronts. I wonder if things are really the best they can be or if there is a better way. I especially consider this in regards to selling on Amazon. Sure, I had some success, but would I have had more success if I went a different route in e-com? Did I just get lucky? Is Amazon FBA the path I would choose if I could go back in time and restart my e-com journey? 

As I contemplate this, I also contemplate it on behalf of the other Amazon sellers I know. Are they barking up the wrong tree or had the ship sailed already? 

I want to address a few points before I give my answer.

1 – Nothing in business is easy. Selling on Amazon is not a “get rich quick” scheme. It requires work and investment, and there’s always risk. Not everyone succeeds, but the numbers are huge for the few that.

2- There is a lot of misinformation out there. Be careful about the advice given in paid and free form. I know countless courses, masterminds, and even free YouTube contents that often portray this game as easy.

3- Things change. While what I write to you now is true in my eyes, the ever evolving landscape may make some of my points more or less valid as time goes on. This is also a reason that I am not being too specific in my answer.

Ok, so now: is selling on Amazon worth it? Absolutely yes!  And I have a pretty good justification for my argument as well. There are lots of different opinions from many people on why it is worth pursuing, but below are the main points that come to my mind.

Lots of opportunity still left out there

I travel in a lot of “Amazon” circles. The folks around me are heavily involved in e-commerce , so it begins to sometimes feel like the whole world is selling! But when I am walking around a grocery store or hanging out with other friends, I realize that most people around me have no clue that you can sell on Amazon! In fact, the many who buy from Amazon have no idea that more than 50% of the products listed are by third-party sellers like me!

In addition, it’s estimated that only 5% of the world’s products being produced are offered online—again, that’s not just on Amazon, but ONLINE! That means  there is TREMENDOUS opportunity to find goods that are not even on Amazon yet. 

If our competition is not selling online and there are unique product opportunities still available, then it stands to reason that there are still a lot of opportunities left out there—a lot of low-hanging fruit, so to speak

The world is moving online. We are nimble and we can get ahead NOW

I remember once sitting at a lunch table at a large e-com conference with a bunch of strangers. This conference was focused on e-com in general. I was talking to a professional looking guy and he was raining questions on me about how I sell on Amazon, how I develop product ideas, etc etc. After a while, he tells me that he is a vice president of a huge global brand, and is in charge of their pet food line.  The brand was the largest line of pet food sold in the USA—we’re talking about a billion dollar brand—and this guy had no clue about what is going on in the world of e-commerce. 

What does this mean?  A couple of decades ago, trying to launch a business was much tougher. We would’ve had to fight these brand titans for space on shelves, catalogs, etc. Today, with the ease of e-com and its widespread adoption, we can pivot and launch products right under the nose of these giants, and they’d have no clue! We, as entrepreneurs, in this world are not held down by corporate structure, old habits, or stuffy mentalities. We can pivot, move, and evolve quickly  

The kinks have been worked out

When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he was shipping books out of an old storeroom. His computer sat on a desk made of a door and sawhorses. Everything was a bit of a gamble. When third-party sellers were first allowed onto the platform, nobody knew how to make that business model work yet. Buyers on Amazon were perplexed at the catalog, and sellers didn’t know how to take advantage of the platform and grow their businesses. 

Today, things are a bit different. While the idea of selling on Amazon is still fairly new to the world in general, early adopters have been doing it long enough that we have the majority of the “kinks” worked out! You can now jump into this business model with a relative degree of certainty that you can follow a roadmap and use the path already created to build your own online empire. This business model is changing constantly, but it is certainly not in beta anymore!

There are tools that make things easier

Just like the above section, the road to getting started was not easy. There was a lot of stumbling around in the dark when sellers began showing up on Amazon. We didn’t have the information, resources, or community that we do now. However, help didn’t just pop up overnight either! It took a long time to develop these helpful tools and opportunities! 

A few years ago, there was no such thing as Amazon search software to us what people were searching for. We didn’t have accessible small-quantity shipping options for DDP transfers. We didn’t have well-trained virtual assistants to help us manage our stores. We didn’t have great online communities and Facebook groups filled with helpful entrepreneurs who provided great information! We didn’t have financial services built specifically for marketplace sellers like PingPong that make global money movement easy as signing up for a simple online account!   Building any business takes work, risk, and a lot of gumption. It’s never automatic success, and it can be frustrating at times to say the least. However, with the abundance of tools, resources, and communities out there, I would say that there has never been a better time to launch a business. And with the ease of starting up on Amazon, it is safe for me to say that selling on Amazon is still worth it! 

There are still barriers to entry (good thing)

So up until this point, I have painted a pretty rosy picture of this whole idea. There are lots of reasons to start an online business (especially on Amazon). But, as with any business venture, we have to ask: will this opportunity last? Will everyone else be doing it in a year?  Those are great questions! One of the first principles of any business venture is that we need to build a system that can’t be easily replicated. Thankfully for us, I think that there are still some barriers to entry that will keep a lot of people away from eventually becoming our competition.  For one thing, this business model takes a lot of work. You have to learn a ton. You have to research products, have trials and errors, and find suppliers and service providers It is certainly not automatic or super easy. It is not a “get rich quick” scheme. There have been a lot of people with good intentions who acted on their aspirations to build an Amazon business, but got overwhelmed and gave up.

I like to say that selling on Amazon is complex, but not complicated. This means that there are a lot of moving pieces, and orchestrating them all together can be tough. But those individual pieces are not complicated in and of themselves. As long as we put our heads down, get to work, use a little humility, and learn from others, we can certainly build a successful Amazon business. And thankfully, because it isn’t automatic or super easy, most of the world won’t take the time to learn and become our competition. 

In summary, let me say this: There has NEVER been a better time to be an entrepreneur than now. For centuries, humans have been subject to the same type of businesses, relegated to generally small geographical areas where they could grow their small shops or services. In the last couple of decades, it has become possible to sell anything to anyone from anywhere in the world! Along with platforms like Amazon and services like PingPong, the dream of building your own business has never been easier!

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