Wildcard: Mind Your Money or Someone Else Will

wildcardFriday’s blog, that is to say, my blog, is always a bit of a wild card!  You never really know what you’re going to get with me.  One week we’ll look at charts and I’ll attempt to chronicle how I think through a purchasing decision.  Another week I’ll implore you to think seriously about developing a repertoire of replenishable products and create a systematic approach for finding them.  In still another week, I’ll tell you about an FBAMaster policy change.

In that vein, today’s post is going to be a collection of thoughts, a bit of history, and hopefully a point that you can take away from it all.

 

Some of you know, I didn’t start off with FBAMasters.  I wasn’t part of the original group of guys, and even if I would have been, there was no master plan.  It’s not like Chris and John and Jason and any of the other guys got together over a year ago and said to themselves, “hey, you know what would be a great idea, let’s create a facebook group of 10,000 people!”  If anything, that was actually the opposite of the intention.  Originally there were just 5 or so guys who wanted to serve as an encouragement and a resource for each other, and so they exchanged information and insight with each other.

 

But, a lot of factors conspired together to change that.  For one, the Amazon Seller Forums used to be horribly toxic.  New sellers would try to get answers to their questions and would just get berated and mocked.  This created some pent up demand for a place where people could get answers to their questions without being treated like they were a moron.  Around the same time, some experienced sellers who were incredibly patient and gracious found the group and provided a lot of great responses.  You’ll often hear Chris/John/Myself credit the success of FBAM to the members.  A lot of what we mean by that is that if we didn’t have people like this, the group wouldn’t have provided nearly the value that it does.  I also think that at the time there were only two real options: a lot of information systematically organized with a hefty price tag OR information scattered haphazardly all across the internet.  As we started making the site and it became a place where people could come and find a lot of helpful information for free, it grew rapidly.

All of that to say, I had no idea what I was signing up for when I became an admin for FBAMasters.  I didn’t know that it would grow to be this big.  I didn’t know that every week I’d end up writing something that hundreds or even thousands of readers would look at.  I didn’t know that I’d start getting a dozen or more PMs a day and that I’d never log into facebook and see less than 50 notifications ever again.

 

Another thing that I didn’t know is that if I messed up, it could end up hurting hundreds of people.  If I referred a product that was terrible, there might literally be 200 people who traded their hard-earned money for a product that was garbage.  Monday that could have been spent feeding their children or paying their mortgage would be wasted on a crappy product, just because I mentioned it.  I was never one to just carelessly say things, but I began to realize that if people were going to care what I had to say, I better make damn well sure that I wasn’t saying something that was going to hurt them.

 

trustmeFlash forward to today.  Something that you probably all know but don’t see much of is how much of a target there is when there are 10,000 people in a facebook group.  It’s a huge sign that says *Look Here, Look Here*.  This is both good and bad:  On the good side it means that we often find out about some of the best books and products very early on and can share those with you.  The bad is that every scammer, spammer, and opportunist wants a crack at it also.  It’s not always easy to distinguish the two, which is one of the reasons that if I’m going to actually endorse a book or recommend a product, I want it to be a book that I’ve read or a product that I’ve used.

 

That said, every single day, spam gets deleted from the page.  Every single day I get PMs and Emails that ask me if a person can post something in the FB group.  There’s less of a burden when I’m not actually recommending it, but there’s still some responsibility to make sure that are group isn’t used to sell junk.

 

The last month has been an example of that.  There’s a product out on the market that purports to be like a paid version of Ebates with much higher rebates on your purchases.  I’ve had multiple people contact me about this.  Before we recommend a site like ebates, we want to see that it actually pays out (which it does), but there’s a much higher burden if they want you to actually *pay* to save money. One thing I’ve gotten used to is looking for red flags, and paying money to save money is definitely a red flag.  Nevertheless, I also don’t tend to just write things off, especially if it has potential to save everyone money.  So, I’ve spent the last month (yes, literally a month), investigating this particular company.  I’ve read dozens of internet comments, scam websites, and talked to a dozen people who claim to use it, asked to to document their results, etc.  By the time I concluded, I think I can say that there is an extremely high risk that this is just a dressed up version of a pyramid scheme.  As a result, I’ve told several people that they cannot post about it, and I certainly would not endorse it, even though I’m assured literally thousands of dollars a month if I just refer people from FBAMaster.

 

Why do I tell you this story?

  1.  I want people to have an understanding of how serious we take things here.  We like to joke around, have group hangouts, talk about getting together to drink a beer, etc. but when it comes to your money, we know that it matters deeply to you and we don’t want to be responsible for separating you from it unless it’s going to directly benefit you.
  2. When we do recommend certain books or products, we want you to know that we’ve tried to do our due diligence.  If I hadn’t used OAX, or Inventory Lab or Bqool, then I wouldn’t recommend a single one of them, but I’ve used all three and have found them to be indispensable.
  3. This is the most important one: If I’m going to spend hours and hours over the course of a month researching something to try to save you money, please care about your own money at least as much as I do.  You would not believe how often I have the misfortune of hearing about how someone bought something from a supplier who turned out to be a scammer and I find out they didn’t do even 5 minutes of research before getting scammed.  Whether you’re buying from Wholesalers or you’re looking at PL products, please please do your due diligence.  My buddy Andy Slamans talks about this in the PL world often.  People get ahead of themselves, see dollar signs and skip very important steps that end up costing them money.  Ask the questions BEFORE your money is in someone else’s hands.  Are you buying from a liquidator?  Figure out if they have a reputation for selling junk BEFORE you purchase a pallet from them.  Signing up for a service?  Figure out their refund policy BEFORE you buy.
  4. A slightly more meta version of the same point: nobody will ever care about your money as much as you.  Do you have employees?  What checks do you have in place to make sure that there isn’t theft.  Do you use Amazon?  What system do you have in place to make sure that they aren’t ripping you off?  Some people are more ‘trusting’ than I am.  That’s fine, but trust AND verify.  If you aren’t demonstrating that you care about your money, I can almost guarantee you that a time will come where you’re being needlessly separated from it.

 

As Always, Best Wishes

Mike

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