To continue with our story telling series comes a third installment of the online booksellers’ stories! This time, we have Mike and Mary Lou that just started their online book selling business. Mary Lou decided to quit her job and start an online book selling business on her own. With the help of her husband, they were able to make ends meet while she pursues her entrepreneurial spirit of starting a business!
I can’t explain how much I love getting these emails from book sellers. I love hearing everyone’s stories on how they started, how much more happy they are selling books vs. going to a full time and just hearing others’ experiences as I’m sure we can all relate to them in one way or another. Please keep sending me in your best stories. I’d love to share them with everyone as a post now and then.
I’ll shut up now and let you get to the story!
We’re newbies – we just went live on July 9th, so have been up for less than 1 month. My wife had been considering this for months; she was in a job she hated, and working for a manager she detested. She would come home at the end of the day utterly drained and listless, because she knew she had to go back the next day. We had been looking everywhere for something else for her, but in the current job market, it just wasn’t there. We finally made the decision that enough was enough; with some budgeting here and there, we could get by on my salary, and let her start her own home-based business.
She had been acquiring the “how to” books for almost a year, and following several blogs and websites for advice (she LOVES yours, by the way!). So, on her birthday at the beginning of June, she gave notice, and I pulled some money from savings to let her get started. She spent about a month acquiring her starting inventory (a mix of stuff we wanted to get rid of that was low end, and stuff she “found” that was worth so much more), getting set up with the various services and systems needed to support it,
and finding sources for shipping supplies. It was eye-opening to us how much actually needed to be done to get set up. But, we finally got there, and went live!
Our first two orders came in almost immediately: “Firefly, the complete series (DVD)” and “Hollywood 101″. We were estatic! I think we spent 3 hours on the phone, calling everyone in our immediate families. She had felt confident all along that it would work; I had much more trepidation about the whole thing. Thus, I also got a lot of “I told you so” the next morning.
Not sure we’ve had any really crazy experiences yet, but have learned how to deal with returns. Apparently, a console game we shipped was damaged enroute, so we worked immediately with the customer to get it returned and processed a refund, including the money to ship it back. He seemed satisfied, and gave us a 5 star feedback.
We’re still going for our first month. Thus far, we’re at about $2,800 gross (before subtracting out the start-up expenses), so it appears she will break even in her first month. (Yes – more “I told you so!” over morning coffee.) We’ve had several “Uh oh!” moments; such as our first weekend with almost 30 orders, and realizing we hadn’t planned correctly for shipping supplies because of the volume we were experiencing, or that we needed a faster way to print out mailing labels, because our shipping was taking to long.
All in all, it’s been quite an interesting journey over the past month and a half, and we truly couldn’t have made it this far without the expert advice that you (and others) have provided. We also agree that the toughest part is sourcing new inventory. We just went to our first FOL sale; we were amazed to see how many other resellers there were, but gained a lot of good information by selective eaves-dropping (learned about new sources to find books that we hadn’t considered, and that many in the business consider sub-par customer service acceptable). We’re pumped about where this can go, and my wife looks (and acts) like a completely different person now. She is excited and energetic, and almost pushes me out the door in the morning, so she can get started on her “new” job.