By Gary Huang
Recently one of my students asked an interesting question:
“I was curious to know about how many hours do full time amazon sellers really work with or without virtual assistance. I know it will be different for everyone but just curious if there is an average.”
This is a million dollar question.
After all, most Amazon sellers got into this business so they can gain financial independence from having to work a 9 to 5 job.
Or to build a passive income so they can travel and pursue passion projects.
Tim Ferriss’ “4 Hour Workweek” is the Holy Grail for many of these new entrepreneurs enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle and working from laptops while sitting on a beach in Bali.
However in reality it may not be as “sweet” as the dreams people are trying to sell you.
In terms of the number of hours an Amazon seller works, in my opinion this depends on how aggressive (or passive) you are with your business.
I interviewed 20+ 7 Figure Sellers learn how they build their businesses and found out the amount of work they put in varies by the individual. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend you checkout the 7 Figure Seller Summit to watch the interviews – huge value there.
If one were to generalize and group them into 3 buckets it would probably look like this:
Type 1 – Aggressive Seller
They are constantly working to scale their business by optimizing listings, optimizing PPC and ad campaigns, driving external traffic to listings, improving their product through modifications, researching new products to source and add, expanding internationally, offline, etc, and looking for new opportunities. In this case the amount of work could add up to MORE than 40 hours a week.
Among most of the successful Ecommerce Sellers I’ve spoken with, most fall into this category.
You need to put the hard work in first to build up the foundation and the systems so your business can then flourish.
As a result many entrepreneurs discover that they work even more on their own business than if they worked for someone else!
Working 80 hours a week on your own business is not uncommon among hard driving entrepreneurs!
Work-life balance is an ongoing challenge.
Type 2 – Balanced Seller
First off there is really is no perfect work-life balance in my view.
But many balanced sellers may be working a full-time job or be a stay at home mom/dad and run their Amazon business in their free time after work, after they put the kids to bed, or early in the morning before work and their family gets up.
They typically work at least 20 hours a week on top of their job to source products, check for customer questions, monitor your listings, manage PPC campaigns, check inventory levels, etc.
And usually they are putting in extra time on the weekends to work on their business.
For instance I interviewed Kelly Fedio in the 7FSS and she told me that as a mother of three daughters, she runs a million dollar ecommerce business while taking care of her kids. She operates her business around the hours the kids go to school, soccer practice, etc.
Greg Mercer, founder of Jungle Scout, also did this when he first started selling in the Amazon FBA space. After work he would have dinner with his wife and then head to Starbucks to work on his Amazon business until the wee hours of the night. Rinse and repeat.
Putting in the extra effort like this is key to success.
Type 3 – Passive Seller
Ahh the “4 Hour Workweek” acolytes!
The goal of many passive sellers is to spend the minimum amount of time working in their business by automating and delegating as much as possible.
This can work for some but it can be misguided for others who don’t build the correct systems and put them in place.
Some of the tools and systems I have in place to save me time include:
- Daily email sales summary (Fetcher, Sellerboard)
- Tools to automate PPC campaign bidding (Sellics or Zon Tools),
- Optimize listings using price testing and split testing (Splitly).
- Auto notifications once a negative feedback review is left (Efficient Era)
- Building Standard Operating Procedures outlining Amazon daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance
- Virtual Assistants to work on routine tasks by following SOPs, administrative tasks, research, etc.
After building these systems and putting them in place I would say it could work like the 4-hour workweek. More on this later.
But I don’t recommend this for everybody especially when starting out. It could lead to a spectacular business failure if not planned properly.
Because putting your business on cruise control without putting proper systems in place will potentially stagnate and slow down your sales as the competition gets tougher and tougher.
So you’re probably wondering – Which type of seller am I?
At one time or another I have been all of the above.
When first starting out I was working a full time job and building my Amazon business after work and on the weekends.
After gaining some success, I went ALL IN and quit my job and worked on my Amazon business and ecommerce businesses full time. I put in at least 40 hrs/week and usually more.
I built systems, created Standard Operating Procedures, and hired a small team of VAs and contractors to support me so I can work ON my business and not in my business.
There are times however when I decide to scale back. For instance when I travel I transition into the Passive Seller mode to put my business on maintenance mode while my wife and I explore new places.
And finally after becoming a new dad several months ago, I’m a moderate seller now since I’m helping my wife take care of our son – I really admire you stay at home mom and dads by the way!
Which reminds me that I gotta run – diaper duty.
So… Your turn!
I’m doing some research on Amazon sellers’ work schedules and hiring VAs.
I’d love if you could fill out this short 5 min survey so I can learn more about your work hours and whether you have a VA or contractors to help. Thanks!
The views, opinions and images in this article are purely the author’s own. Global Sources does not own responsibility for what is presented in the article.
Gary Huang is an American based in Shanghai, China, and working in sourcing since 2008. He is the creator of 80/20 Sourcing, which helps small business importers quickly and efficiently source from China. Gary also serves as the Co-Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai’s Supply Chain Committee. You may contact him at www.8020sourcing.com/contact.