8 Lessons Every Amazon Seller Needs To Learn

5 min read | Posted On 8 July 2020 | Posted By Paul Harvey


  • We are all going through the same obstacles
  • Why a 'win' in this business is sweeter than anything else

I get it, we are always hit the crazy amounts of information, new strategies, changing platforms and a whole bunch of other stuff we should be paying attention to..... so why spend your time reading this blog post?


Because I am you 👊. I really mean that.... there is nothing super or extraordinary about me..... in fact, I am willing to bet that you are in a better position than me (more on that later).


And I have had an interesting journey.... long time Amazon seller, co-founder of Seller Chatbot, speaker, ClickUp certified expert and I started this journey around the same time that I started a family.... great idea right?


To make things easier, for those that don't want to spend all day reading a long drawn-out origins story (you mean you don't want to hear about how a kid knocked me out?). I created a quick checklist to sum it up.

8 Lessons Every Amazon Seller Needs To Learn

1. Fail..... a LOT!

The fastest method to success is to learn from other's mistakes, and I have enough failures to save you a fortune. I have made pretty much every mistake possible.....

  • Shipping a container from China to the wrong continent
  • Amazon coupon code gone viral.... most expensive 30minutes of my life
  • making former business partners millions only to be left with nothing
  • restarting my Amazon business 4 times over the past 7 years
  • even eaten from a spittoon on a China trip (that's right, those awesome bowls that people spit into... I ate from that bowl for a week before I found out).
  • And a ton more that are too embarrassing to mention

If you want to know how experienced an Amazon seller is, ask them about their failures, not their wins. The more failures they have and the more epic the fails are the more successful they tend to become.... if they don't give up.

If you want to know how experienced an Amazon seller is.... ask them about their failures, not their wins.


In my previous job kids would assault me, swear at me and tell me how they impregnated my wife the night before (although he never put it so eloquently).


But that was nothing compared to the stresses of an Amazon business. Before starting my Amazon journey, I had hair (I miss those days...) and it didn't matter if I was great at my job or horrendous, I still got paid the same... that feels so foreign to me now.


And yeah, I know everyone says "their job is the most stressful job in the world".... but take a look around, how many people are still around? I started 7 years ago selling on Amazon and I only know of 2-3 people that started with me that are still around.


Don't fool yourself, the failure rate is incredibly high..... only makes success that more rewarding 🤑

3. You don't have to be unique or extraordinary to succeed

I am not particularly bright and I don't have a six-pack (hoping to get one for Christmas though).


I have had more fails than wins, lost more money than I would have dreamed of, a list of failed businesses and a family who honestly have no idea what I do.


But guess what.... that's the norm! I have yet to meet a successful eCommerce seller that almost lost it all or did lose it all but built it up again. They were scared to take risks but never did anything half-hearted.


So if you have failed and felt like you were not going to make it, then guess what.... that's the first sign that you can become a successful eCommerce seller.


The next step is the hardest.... getting back up after you fall.


And get used to it, it will happen again and again and again.

4. I quit my job to pursue the laptop lifestyle of an Amazon seller

Laptop lifestyle? Yeah, right... that was a lie 🤬


But I did quit my job to pursue my Amazon business. I used to be a teacher and vice-principal for a high school for youth offenders.


Yeah, I taught everyone's favorite subject "Maths" to kids that were in gang fights and spent more time in juvenile prison than most kids do at the arcade.


The fact that I was a mathematics teacher meant my 'street cred' would be at an all-time low and the kids had even less respect for me.


But I did learn some valuable lessons in that school:

  • Like how to catch a chair with one hand (because you are holding another kid back with your other hand)
  • Pool tables should not be in school and pool balls hurt when they are thrown at you (if the kid can aim straight... which was rare, big thanks to an underperforming PE teacher)
  • In the UK the word 'bottle' can be used as a verb
  • My personal favorite, avoid the kid that spits....especially when he has oral herpes (I wish I was kidding)

"Avoid the kid that spits....especially when he has oral herpes"

5. Running a business was not taught in Teacher Training

Think about it....wouldn't it be great if stuff like when to restock, how to hire effective staff, how to avoid swearing at Amazon Seller Support, how to spot shady suppliers and a bunch of other skills were taught in university or even school? Or some real entrepreneurial skills?


As a former teacher, I cannot stress how a curriculum like this needed not only by us but most importantly, needed by the kids.


I was undertaking a business without even closely understanding the differences between profit and loss (Steve Simonson reminds me about this on a weekly basis and I still get it wrong 😞). 


Face it, unless you have a close friend or mentor that is a successful seller you were bound to learn the hard way....which is often the most expensive way.

"Unless you have a close friend or mentor that is a successful seller you were bound to learn the hard way....which is often the most expensive way."

6. A successful Amazon business can make you impulsive and reckless

So even though I had a well-paying job I decided to quit on the day my daughter was born and use my Amazon business to support us (sounds like a movie right? Such a bad move....) 


To put it into context, my daughter was born in the morning and within a few hours, I was back in my classroom finishing up the day.


And I was in a great mood and one of the kids in my class was annoyed by this and promptly asked me if he could "Light up a cigarette". I thanked him for asking me but politely said no and reminded him that he is not allowed to smoke at school.


He did not take that very well and within 30 seconds he trashed my classroom and tried to hit me with a chair. I restrained him and took him out of the class.


But in that instant, I realized that I needed to release him immediately even if it meant I would get hit because.....

  • This boy head-butted his mother over the weekend and has a history of aggression
  • He was two weeks away from finishing school and one more strike and he is out
  • This boy was smart and could easily pin this on me and ruin my reputation and career

I released him.... he then punched me and split my eyebrow.


Now bear in mind, prior to being a teacher I was pursuing my biggest passion; training to be an MMA fighter. I trained for years but gave it up due to medical issues.


So I have taken thousands of punches and been knocked out dozens of times. But this was the most difficult punch I ever had to take....


I mean think about it, would you let a 16-year-old punk punch you?

Here are some shots from the class camera

30 seconds later.....

10 seconds later he struck me.....

I quit a few hours later!


That's right, I was the only one earning in my family and so, on the day when my daughter was born, I quit and planned to use my Amazon business to support us.


Unknown to me, that month was the highest my Amazon earnings would be and it would be years before I could reach that level again (I faced an avalanche of competitors that undercut me overnight). Cue two years of stress....


The stress that I went through and put my family was unfair..... Had I been smart I would have stayed in the job for at least another year and then rely on Amazon.....because you should never pay your rent with your Amazon business.

7. Crazy long work hours.... and then some more......

No one ever told me that the true test is balancing an eCommerce business with family life.


After I quit my job I thought that would mean more time with my family, and I was right, but was it 'quality' time?


Because either I felt guilty when I worked too much or resented my family by not spending enough time on the business......I couldn't win either way.


It took years to find a balance and even right now as I type this, it's 1:00 am and my youngest finally went to sleep. That's as good a balance as I can get and I am happy with that

8. I fell for the hype, signed up for every Amazon course and even partnered up with some of the Amazon guru's

It didn't work out well for me and all those partnerships disintegrated, each one stripping me of my time and finances.


Simply put.... don't trust anyone unless you have a solid relationship.


I know that's pretty obvious but you would be surprised how many people (myself included) forget this fundamental rule.



Yeah, just one....


Why didn't I fail more?


Every single on of my wins in my Amazon business, Consultancy, speaking gigs, even the creation of Seller Chatbot was a result of multiple failures that led me to those wins.


It's not been easy and won't get any easier......


Based on that belief, if I had failed more... I would be far more successful.


That's a really weird mindset.... but it's true.


Ideally, if you can fail without it affecting your family and income then you are in an extraordinary position... use it!


So does success look like for you?


In my case, success is...

  • the ability to drop everything and spend quality time with my wife and kids
  • travelling around the world and networking with the tons of amazing people

That's it.... that's how I gauge my success. Too many 7 and 8 figure sellers I know are a total reck and one bad month away from going under....but they have the screenshots to prove their success and brag on Facebook.


So if you are willing to put in the hard work and constant ups and downs.... I can't think of a better business to be in 😉

Paul Harvey

Long time Amazon seller, speaker, consultant and co-owner of Seller Chatbot. 

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