Changing The Rules

From childhood we are all prescribed with rules to live by, be they verbal or non verbal and unless we question those rules we can live out our lives following someone else’s conclusions for what is a good life.

Sometimes those rules make sense, like be kind to others and they will be kind to you. And sometimes the rules don’t make sense at all like, this is the way our family thinks about X, it’s the way we have always thought about X and it’s the way you should think about X.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3256330">Gerd Altmann</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3256330">Pixabay</a>

When it comes to owning a business the rules of the game usually state that for the first 3 years, if you make it that far, you will not make any money. What kind of rule is that? And yet people just seem to accept that as fact because someone told someone who told someone until it became accepted “wisdom.”

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
~ The Dalai Lama

Well first of all Book Arbitrage in the way we have been taught to do it blows that out of the water. From month one, if you follow the guidelines, you can expect to turn a profit. Well now that’s a little bit different from 3 years of stress and struggle isn’t it?

But these are not the rules I am talking about changing today. I am speaking about creating the landscape we wish to create in order to make our success even more automatic and momentous. Why not, we get to approach this anyway we choose.

In changing rules I often remember the lessons I learned when we were travelling around the world a few years ago. When we were in Cape Town, South Africa, we desired to visit Robben Island where Nelson Mandela had been in prison for many years.

When we tried to make the arrangements to go we were told that there was no availability and that there was no way we could visit this tourist attraction in the next week.

Because I had been in South Africa previously working as part of the Peace & Reconciliation effort I knew how important visiting this site was to understanding the history and spiritual heart of their story and I really desired to share this with Tom.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/geralt-9301/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2275729">Gerd Altmann</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2275729">Pixabay</a>

Anyway, instead of accepting the story, the rules, that it was impossible to go to the site we decided to change our approach and thereby our experience. We were staying in budget accommodation but decided to ring a a local upmarket hotel and asked to speak to their concierge.

We asked him if he had tickets to Robben Island and naturally enough he did. The hotel kindly came and picked us up at our hostel, we didn’t even have to make our way to them and we visited Robben Island the next day. Robben Island was a powerful experience as expected.

We repeat this experience over and over in our lives by not accepting what we are told as the way it is and instead creating what we desire. We can all do this anytime we choose.

“You can create whatever you want. You just have to know what you want and take the opportunities as they come you way. We are who we choose to be.” ~ Will Smith

Getting back to how we are changing the rules of the game to improve our success we decided to go right to the source and ask for what we desired.

To date, Amazon have had a 5% Cashback card on all purchases for it’s US customers (including sellers) only. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra funds for our US counterparts.

Not accepting that it had to be this way, we wrote and asked Amazon to consider changing this rule. To others it may have seemed like the David and Goliath story with us a small bookstore asking this multi-billion dollar machine to change their rules for us.

It was one simple polite email and now Amazon have agreed to change their policy for all internationals. Soweet!! Others had told us that Amazon would never agree to any change but we just asked and got a good result.

It’s still in process but this should make a big difference to the bottom line of international sellers.

Just because something is the way it is, does not mean it has to continue to be the way it is.

We are also working on eliminating barriers to local sourcing which is not currently available to us or particularly profitable but it does have a huge advantage for volume of book sales, access to cheaper books and brings an abundance of feedback which is so important to a healthy book store score, especially on Amazon.

Remember Amazon rates your store by activity, sales and feedback and being able to switch this on, very inexpensively through local sourcing, is a huge advantage.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/icondigital-1559658/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2714998">icondigital</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2714998">Pixabay</a>

So, we are currently sourcing book preparation centres that in addition to working with FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) the core of our business will also work with FBM (Fulfilled by Merchant).

Having access to this could bring us a step closer to local sourcing. Having an affordable FBM service also helps if international sellers become gated (blocked) by Amazon for selling some books even after successfully listing them on Amazon. To date we have had no way of storing our gated books until they become ungated. Our US friends however are able to remove them from Amazon to their own home and fulfill them themselves.

Or, if sales diminish on a certain title of a book we would then be able to change the status of the book from FBA to FBM thereby making at least some of our investment money back on that book.

Currently, as international sellers if we can no longer sell this book FBA, it means a loss of that capital. These small differences can accumulate to make a significant difference in our business over time.

There are other things in the works too. My point however is this. We can either complain about things as they are or change the rules of the game and thereby eliminate the barriers and play our own game. That is our choice and decision as individuals.

Next, I would like to share how one simple mind shift that is transforming the way we are approaching this business model and how it is leading to more rapid success. Now, we all love that!

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