This post was written by Christine Olson – Founder of Soconik Books
How many hours a week does it take for me to produce over $120K in sales running a retail internet business from home? In a minute, I’ll let you know.
I run a retail internet book business from home. I have a two and a five year old. When people hear what I do they say “Aw, that’s great you can work from home and be there for your kids.” Sometimes I smile and sheepishly say “Yeah”, other times I feel the need to set them straight by screaming “YOU THINK I CAN GET ANY WORK DONE WITH A TWO YEAR OLD AROUND??”
My book business will do over $120,000 this year and I was interested to know how much time I spent working on it. I found my time extremely difficult to track. I put notepads by my computers and tried to write down every block of work time over 15 minutes. The first thing I found out is that I have many blocks of time that I work for less than 15 minutes. Like sorting e-mail while I’m waiting for Eggos to pop-up. I kept track for 2 weeks. My first week was 21 hours. I was amazed. The next week came to 28 hours. Not bad! Both these weeks were mid-summer and like I said, I didn’t keep track of anything less than 15 minutes. The retail Christmas season starts in August for me so the work hours are getting longer. But, with Kindergarten starting for the older one I am hoping to up my work load and push my sales even higher.
I get most of my work done during my youngest son’s 2-hour nap time. Stay at Home Moms usually use that time for cleaning, relaxing, or planning dinner. I don’t do those things. I hired a maid. Everyone told me how much time this would save me. It didn’t save me any time because I didn’t mop, vacuum or dust before, now I just have a clean house. The rest of my work day is between 9:00 – 11:00 pm after the kiddies are in bed. This is difficult because the mere task of putting small children to bed is exhausting.
Some things are essential for running a successful internet retail business in a few hours a day:
Sell Repeatables – these are items you have multiple quantities of. Although I only have 1200 book titles, I have several copies of each. The time it takes to list 1 product is time consuming. When you sell repeatables you cut down your listing time immensely.
Sell high margin items for $10.00 or more each – I’m working on raising my margins and average sales price. My average sale price is exactly $10.00. If it were less, the time it takes to package a product is not worth it. Selling items bundled together is a great way to move the price up. Not only is it worth more, chances are your competitor isn’t doing the same type of bundling.
Boxes & Shipping Area – If you are going to sell a lot of stuff, you need a lot of boxes. I have over 15 different sizes along with Bubble Mailers, Packing Peanuts, Boxing Tape and a multitude of other items in my shipping space. Everything for shipping except bubblewrap comes from http://www.uline.com Anybody can buy from them but most boxes come in a minimum of 25 per bundle. They are in a nearby suburb so I can drive there to pick up my orders rather than pay for delivery. My bubblewrap comes from www.esupplystore.com
Storage Space – This is one of the most difficult parts. Fortunately Steve and I live in a good-sized house in the Midwest which means we have a basement. I have over 400 square feet dedicated to our business. But… sometimes there’s just not enough room. The area in the picture below is a large portion of our newly finished playroom for the kids. Well, as soon as I sell all this stuff maybe they’ll get the playroom back.
If you are serious about starting an internet retail business I would suggest the following books and websites:
Tax Loopholes for eBay Sellers
Not just for eBay sellers but for anyone starting a home based business. All the “loopholes” are legal and do not skirt the tax laws. They are encouraged by the IRS for small businesses. It talks about the pluses of setting up a corporation, what you can and cannot write off and many other excellent pointers. The tax tips in this book led to this post on making your children tax free millionaires.
This is an excellent resource for anyone wanted to sell big time on eBay. Although I find Skip McGrath on the “spammy” side he is considered the King of eBay Selling Information. I read this 560 page book cover to cover. One thing I would not follow is his advice to join World Wide Brands. He must get a pretty good kick-back for pushing that one.
I check this every few days to see if it has anything that pertains to me.
I subscribe to Ina’s E-mail News Letter and Updates. It has tons of great info for online sellers.
If you want to see more blog posts about my business leave your ideas in the comments. 🙂
Coming Next – “Where do I find stuff to sell?”
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