A lot of people start selling on Amazon.com to generate part-time income in the pockets of time they have after work, kids, etc. Once they are making money it is inevitable to wonder, “Can I actually make enough to leave my day job behind me forever?” According to Frank Florence, the answer is a resounding YES! He is currently accepting new clients for one-on-one coaching that is designed to do exactly that – in only six months.
As a customer of Frank’s BookSalesFinder program and someone who has read his books, I was very interested to learn more about his program. I’ve built and sold several small businesses. Ideally, this will be the last one I ever have to build. I’d like to retire young and walk the Great Wall of China one day. Frank is currently living his dream in Europe where he answered my questions in a series of email conversations.
Q. What Does Your One-On-One Business Consulting Include?
A. Basically, I teach my clients how to find and sell any item online for profit. I make sure they are successful in setting up their online business and I teach them how to put their businesses on “autopilot” so they will not only quit their day jobs in six months but it will continue to generate income with zero work. The pieces of my six-month plan include:
• 1 year of BookSalesFound.com to help you build your online store fast
• 1 Year of ScoutBotPro.com (Music Feed) to make online sourcing a breeze
• 50% off SitesForSellers.com to automate your local sourcing
• Learn how to sell any item online for profit
• 4 of my online business books
• Individualized action plan based on your city, time, resources and goals
• Access to my private Facebook group for students of the program
• One-on-one email support for life
• 30-day refund policy
Q. You Talk About Autopilot – What Does That Mean To You?
A. Autopilot is simply outsourcing every link in the chain so that you become the business owner and not an employee. I’ll give you an example. I do a lot of online sourcing. One of my favorite methods is buying under-priced items on eBay and selling them via FBA. For this I have a full-time buyer located in the Philippines. I give her rules to purchase by and when she finds a good item she buys it and has it sent to my Lister (my sister). My Lister then lists the items on amazon via FBA and sends them in. Amazon takes care of all the pick, pack and shipping tasks and I have a fully automated autopilot stream of revenue. This is just one example. There are many ways to set up an autopilot business using Amazon and eBay.
Q. You Have Your Clients Set Up Their Autopilot Businesses In Six Months Which Sounds Like A Lot Of Work. Do They Need To Quit Their Jobs Right Away?
A. No. In fact, I don’t recommend it until month five at the earliest. During those early months my clients work really hard during the evenings, weekends, etc. to get their autopilot systems running. It is a huge commitment to their future but it is do-able, particularly when you know that you’ll be able to quit your day job for good in month six.
Q. When You Talk About “Hard Work,” How Many Hours A Week Are You Talking About For The Guy/Gal With A Day Job?
A. If automation and an autopilot business is the goal, you need to be able to get your business to the point where you can start hiring people. The more hours you can put in per week the faster you will get there. I always recommend people put in as many hours as they can. My job is to get you to make the most of those hours from day 1 so you can avoid a lot of the mistakes I made and cut your learning curve.
Q. After It Is Set Up You Claim They Can Keep It Running With Zero Work? That Seems Too Good To Be True.
A. I know it does, but I’ve done it for years. After working my butt off to get my business up and running, I was able to spend a whole year traveling across Southeast Asia – totally paid by my Amazon business. Since 2009, I’ve lived in 25 countries and have no plans to return to a typical work-lifestyle. I’m currently living in Budapest.
Q. But You Have To Do Some Stuff, Right? Like Paying Taxes And Other Admin Things? Or Do You Outsource Everything?
A. I outsource everything! Even taxes. I have a bookkeeper and a CPA who files my taxes electronically for me. Don’t get me wrong – I still work – but I am always working on new businesses instead of maintaining the old ones. Going back to my source-on-eBay-sell-on-Amazon business example, the only time I would need to spend time on that is if I lost one of the links in the autopilot chain and had to hire someone new.
Q. How Many Hours A Day Or Week Do You Spend On Your Amazon Business Now?
A. I spend a few hours per month on my Amazon business. Most of this time goes to expanding the business.
Q. Do You Need A Certain Amount Of Cash On Hand To Buy Inventory?
A. No. Of course it helps to have a stack of cash, but it’s not a requirement. This is 1-on-1 so we can make it work on any budget. I started with 50k in student loans and a few hundred dollars. Anyone can do the same!
Q. Is Your One-On-One Consulting For New Sellers, Established Sellers Or Both?
A. It’s for both. I’ve been able to help both new and experienced sellers.
Q. What Does Your Coaching Have To Offer The FBA Seller Who Has Been Selling For A While Like Me?
A. If you’ve been selling for a while and you’re still listing and buying your own items I can help get you automated. If you’re still part time and you want to go full-time I can help. If you just want to make more money I can help.
Q. How Is This Different From Courses On Online Arbitrage Or Amazon Autopilot That My Readers May Have Seen Out There?
A. I don’t know anything about these courses, but what I am offering is not a course. This is one-on-one coaching based on the individual’s specific needs and goals. I don’t think anyone else is offering coaching at this price with these bonuses.
I’m living what I coach. This program is not a theoretical experiment. I’m living in a posh apartment in Budapest as I run my business. I tell my clients the exact type of business to start and how to start it. I share the tricks I’ve used in order to travel all over the globe for years. Even if you don’t plan to ever leave your city, my coaching will help you achieve the time and resources to pursue the things and experiences that excite you the most.
Q. Is This For Books Only? I Know You Say “Any Item” But Your BookSalesFound Service And Books That You Offer As Part Of The Package Are Book-Focused.
A. This is for any item on Amazon or eBay. I started with books and I think they are still a great place to start, but I now sell items in most categories and the principles for most categories are the same. It really comes down to what you’re interested in selling and what kind of inventory you can source with the least amount of cost and time given your location and knowledge. Creative Sourcing For Booksellers is the only book-focused book of mine and most of the principles could easily be applied to other types of inventory.
Q. When You Help Them Set Up Their Business Does That Also Mean Tech Support To Help Them Understand The Technology, Listing Programs, SellerCentral, Etc.?
A. No, I am not tech support. I can help with recommendations of technology. I can also redirect tech questions to the best way to get them answered from Amazon or the technology supplier.
Q. When You Talk About “Retiring” How Much Money A Month Is That On Average? $4K A Month? $10K A Month?
A. That all depends on the retiree’s goals. I lived in Chang Mai Thailand for three months and never spent more than $600 per month. In Central and Eastern Europe I rarely spend more than $1500 per month. If you’re living in New York you are going to need a lot more than if you’re living in Buenos Aires.
Q. Can You Tell Me More About ScoutBotPro? Is It Only For Books? The Sales Video Is Book Focused.
A. ScoutBotPro.com is not just for books. We currently have six “feeds” which include the following categories on Amazon: books, electronics, music, movies, video games, kitchen, beauty and toys. These bots find opportunities in these categories and make them available to subscribers every day.
Q. If Every Subscriber Is Getting The Same Information I Am From ScoutBotPro, Doesn’t That Make It The Same Competitive Market That A Book Sale Is Or A Deal-Sharing Group?
A. Yes and no. Everyone is getting the same information, but everyone has different buying strategies. If you want to get alerts before the competition you can bid on the “first alerts.” The first alerts give the winning bidder access to the alerts 30 seconds before anyone else.
Q. Quite A Few Of My Readers Have Expressed Disillusionment With Toys After This Past Xmas And Frustration With Crazy Low-Ballers That Cut Into Margins Or Slow Down Sales (If You Wait For Them To Sell Out). What Would You Say To These Sellers? Do You Teach Them How To Find Inventory That Has Little Or No Competition?
A. The inventory that is easy to get i.e. retail arbitrage toys is going to be competitive, that’s just the way it is. I’m not going to say don’t do retail arbitrage, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If one method of sourcing or one kind of inventory is too competitive, move on. Nothing lasts forever and the sellers who are willing to adapt are the ones that survive.
Q. What Is Sites For Sellers?
A. This is a new service where we set up a buying website for you to buy inventory locally from the public. Imagine a brick-and-mortar store that buys used books. You would advertise to the public that you bought these items and people would come to you and sell them. Half-Priced Books is a good example. With SitesForSellers.com instead of a brick-and-mortar store we set you up with the website to buy inventory from the public. Again books are the example, but this would work for any type of inventory you could buy locally.
Q. You Live Overseas. Do You Also Sell On Other Amazon Platforms? Which Ones?
A. I am currently only using Amazon.com. I have used Amazon Canada in the past.
Q. What Types Of Products Do You Sell?
A. Electronics, CDs, collectible video games, collectible records, collectible books, Collectible VHS, toys, kitchen items. Some of this I sell on Amazon and some are best on eBay.
Q. How Long Have You Been Selling On Amazon? For How Much Of That Time Have You Been Full-Time?
A. I started around 2006 and was full time within a few months. I was right out of college so I had a lot of time to put into the business and my costs were low. I was able to build quickly.
Q. What Drives You To Write About Your Experience And To Coach Others?
A. I’ve always been a teacher at heart. I studied elementary education in college, but never really got a chance to teach because my Amazon business took off. Now I’m combining the two. Coaching others has been extremely gratifying and something I look forward to each day.
Many people who start working for themselves trade in one job for another – and in the beginning you often do have to do everything yourself – but the goal of working for yourself is NOT to have to work so hard. You want to build something for the future that can be sold and enjoy your life as you go. You don’t want to be too old or too bitter to try adventurous, vigorous activities.
Years ago I read The E-Myth by Michael Gerber and it changed my life. I went from being a freelancer with helpers (basically) to building a business I could sell – where everything was delegated and managed by someone else. It changed how I viewed my purpose as a business owner. I realized that I needed to build something that could survive outside of me and that would have value. I needed duplicate-able processes. I needed to separate myself from my baby and be an owner, not the business. I made the business about something else besides me. I sold that first business and my second business. I will one day sell this Amazon business.
Frank Florence realized this early in his life. His business is an interesting combination of the E-Myth which teaches you to build a business that can be duplicated and be taken over by someone else, and Timothy Ferriss’ Four-Hour Work Week which reminds us to actually DO something meaningful and exciting with the rest of those 36 hours per week.
I recently read Ferriss’ updated version of his book and it was transformative.When I had first read it years ago it was “cool idea! smart guy!” and I took some of the ideas like hiring a virtual assistant but I never really could imagine having a business that I only worked for a few hours a week. Now that I’ve been selling on Amazon for a while (and given that I started with only 10 hours a week), I see the possibilities for myself.
In Frank’s life, travel and living overseas is important. In my case, I want to travel to visit family for longer visits, take nice vacations every year, pay off my mortgage and build a nest egg for the time in my life where I may not be able to work at all. Most importantly to me, I want the freedom to be creative, to think and to write all kinds of books, not just Amazon-related. I want flexibility and control of my time and to make money even if I’m not working. Talking with him made me think about my Amazon business differently.
I started my business in desperation as a part-time solution to a $1,500 a month problem. Now I’m looking at my business as an engine that will drive an entirely different kind of life for me. I want it to be the vehicle for doing things I really enjoy. I want my husband to be able to retire. I want to not worry about how I’m going to pay for the experience.
I want to squeeze my business around my life instead of the other way around. As my husband’s coworkers called him at 2:00 a.m. to deal with yet another crisis last night (funny how they all happen on evenings and weekends) I thought, “we have to get the hell out of this situation!” We rely on his income and benefits. I want us to be able to rely on my Amazon business completely. He needs freedom, too.
What about you? Are you ready to retire by the end of 2015 and live off your Amazon sales? Frank Florence did it and he knows you can, too. Check out his one-on-one coaching here*. It is currently a $197 one-time fee.
For me, it was a no-brainer to sign up even though my personal timeline is longer than six months, because I wanted to have lifetime email access to ask my questions and get pointers. In my opinion, he is not charging enough for his time. As a consultant for more than 25 years, I know at some point he’s going to stop doing this, or charge a lot more for it because the demands on his personal time will be too much…and he already doesn’t need the money.
Last Chance For Florida Classes!
Speaking of living the dream, I’m going to Florida this week for my grandfather’s 95th birthday (yay!) and to spend a week in the sun with my family. While I’m there, I’m leading two classes at a Pompano Beach Wal-mart and offering in-person, private one-on-one consultations. There are only two slots left for the in-person consultations.
Big Blog Changes
Just a quick note for those of you who don’t get my newsletters/blog notifications. I’m reducing the frequency of my blog to 1-2 times a month rather than 3-4 times a month. I’m not going anywhere and I’m not going to stop writing – it is one of the things I love to do – but I’m reclaiming some of my time to pursue my dream.
I thought about writing shorter, less in-depth blogs and then realized I’m incapable of doing that. I’m a magazine writer in a twitter world….