fbpx
Financial Tips for E-Commerce Sellers

For the past few weeks, I have been doing a Financial Tip series. This week, we will be focusing on Financial Tips for E-Commerce Sellers. In this blog, we will tackle 4 topics that would allow E-Commerce sellers to take their businesses to the next level. 

 

 

 

FINANCIAL TIPS FOR E-COMMERCE SELLERS

 

 

Know what you are REALLY being charged to use the platform

 

If you are using a shopping platform such as Etsy, Poshmark, Shopify, or E-Bay, know that there are considerable fees that can be a part of each transaction. If there is an embedded payment service, there are transaction and interchange fees for taking payment. Then there are fees for listings, advertising, and renewing items on the platforms. These are common, and the cost of doing business with these services. Just know what they are. I had a client one time on Etsy who ended up paying almost 40% of an item with advertising (someone bought through the Etsy ad link), listing, shipping, and payment. When we looked at the numbers she didn’t realize it was so high.

 

 

 

Get your shipping down with pre-paid services

 

I got this tip from a friend of mine who mails out about 100 packages a week! There are places to buy pre-paid labels for the postal service here in the US to get shipping costs down. My husband has used Pirateship (Free USPS shipping software | Pirate Ship) to ship some packages from his coffee business, and it saved his customers anywhere from $1.50-$4.00 per package. That’s significant!

 

A few others to check out are:

 

If you are reading me in the US, another thing to do is to contact your local business development specialist at the United States Postal Service. They can give you referral codes for vendor partners to create your shipping labels at no cost! My husband had a short conversation with our local post office and had promo codes for five vendors the same day!

 

 

Maximize profits with good pricing and good transaction records

 

I frequently see pricing mistakes in this industry, and often it is because entrepreneurs just double or triple their wholesale costs. It would be better, and more accurate to do a breakdown of operating costs and labor that should be included above the wholesale price of an item. Finally, I like to see an added profit margin.  If you need a good pricing formula for any product or service grab my free resource.

 

Often times I see labor as a sticking point in pricing goods.  If you are a reseller, don’t forget to include the time it takes you to shop, take photos, upload and list items, and pack them, when you calculate pricing.  If you are selling items that you make, know how long it takes you to create the item you sell, and make sure that is considered above your operating costs and the actual wholesale cost to make, photo, list, advertise, and sell the item.

 

Once you figure out your operating costs, please include the costs of using the platform that we talked about above, consider adding a flat labor cost to every item, and then a flat profit amount. For example, you can add $10.00 to an item to cover labor and profit above what you need to recover to make the sale. If that isn’t enough, you can go up, if it’s too much, you can go down.

 

 

Another key to ensuring you are maximizing profit is to keep meticulous transaction records. If you need to pay to relist the item, that additional fee is coming out of your profit margin. Know exactly what to pay for everything you make and everything you sell. If you paid $23.00 for a designer item to resell on Poshmark, you need to record that amount.

 

Estimating what you paid or what it costs to make something is an easy way to lose money in your business. What you paid is the starting place of your pricing structure to make money in this business. You can use a spreadsheet, just a notebook, or some software, whatever feels good for you, but don’t skip this step.

 

 

Check your expenses and margins quarterly

 

A lot of things can change in 90 days in ecommerce. Set aside time to review the expenses in your business. Look at the time you are taking to create and list your items. See if your shipping rates are still working. Look at your platform expenses and make sure that you adjust prices as necessary to cover any new increases.

 

Take the time to check your profit margins as well. Is one platform outperforming another in sales? Are your margins staying relatively consistent or are you going wildly up and down on certain items? You can take an average sale at your average price in a few categories and look for trends. If you typically sell items at $35.00, $60.00, and $85.00, look at a few sales in each of those price ranges. That’ll keep you from feeling overwhelmed at the idea of reviewing 1200 transactions! Make sure everything you sell makes a profit. Likewise, limit your losses. Because I know that sometimes lose a little bit to move something stored in inventory for a while.  

 

There are million-dollar eCommerce businesses built every year around the world. People love point-and-click convenience. The ability to get items that aren’t readily available where they live and unique online finds.

 

calculating profit margin

Marcus Lemonis loves to remind business owners that “If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business.” And those numbers he refers to include “margin” as in the profit margin, expressed as a percentage, on every product and service you sell. To make things a little more fun, for our conversation “margin” can be expressed after production costs (gross margin) and after operating costs (net margin). It’s important to recognize the difference to ensure we are looking at the right numbers to make decisions.

 

 

 

Profit Margin: Gross Margin

 

Gross Profit Margin is calculated by subtracting what it costs to produce something from how much it is sold for. For example, it costs you $5.00 to produce a widget (labor and all materials) and you sell it for $10.00. You have a 50% gross profit margin.  This is only half the story though because you have other business costs (operating costs) that also have to be paid from the gross profit.

 

To figure out our net profit we need to further subtract the operating costs from the item. If each $10.00 item actually incurs $1.00 of operating costs, the net profit isn’t $5.00, it’s $4.00.  That’s the number we want to work with for managing pricing and expenses. In our example, this $10.00 item has a 40% net profit margin.

 

Anything that affects that $4.00 net dollar amount affects the margin of the item. If costs go up or down, that $4.00 can get bigger or smaller. Let’s say that materials go up in cost $.50, so that costs are now, $5.50 to produce, the net margin goes down from $4.00 to $3.50. From 40% to 35%. Make sense?

 

 

 

 

If you don’t know your margins, you need to take a little time to figure them out. The amount of margin that’s considered “good” or “healthy” varies by industry. Restaurants typically have lower margins than retail and retail is typically lower than many service provider businesses. Online businesses have lower operating expenses and often higher margins than businesses with physical locations.

 

 

 

 

PROFIT MARGIN: WHAT AFFECTS IT?

 

This article is about the things that affect your margins, and margins can be the difference between struggling and thriving. And those things are many. Changes in any costs can affect your margins and require you to address your pricing to maintain your profits. Any cost. Utilities, service providers, suppliers, and other expenses can go up in cost at any time unless you are under a contract.

 

As margins go down, there is less and less money left over, and it can affect your growth and your ability to weather any unexpected events. This is why I encourage entrepreneurs to check their expenses through the Breakthrough Number process once a quarter. You can use these resources to figure yours.  Keeping your eyes on the margin can help you head off issues that can affect the health of your business. Set aside the time to learn your numbers.

 

 

 

AUTHOR’S NOTES:

If you want to walk through a step-by-step method to manage your margins, your income, and profitability, join me for the next Quarterly Intensive. Visit https://entremoneycoach.kartra.com/page/quarterlyintensive to learn more.

Recurring revenue creates business stability through renewable products and services.

 

Do you know why memberships, subscription boxes, and automatic renewals are so popular? Because people love to be a part of something and to receive new things regularly.

 

And where there is predictable RR the business owner can relax a little bit because a certain amount of money will be flowing in each month without their having to make any more sales.  This is also the reason payment plans are so popular for entrepreneurs as well. Yes, there is a risk someone won’t meet their obligation, but most of the time people do. As a result, recurring revenue streams can be a great way to grow your business and have “guaranteed” income each month and I recommend having at least one offer to many of my clients.  

 

 

How to Set Up Your Recurring Revenue:

 

1. Create an offer that people want every month.

Many people join memberships and subscriptions because the offer has something new each cycle. I belong to a few memberships where each month has new trainings that I love.  There may be a members-only masterclass, new members-only bonus, some accountability, or other “new” perk that keeps the subscription fresh.

If you don’t already have something that would support a regular renewal, create one. Start with the outcome. What is the client going to receive with this offer? Sales support? A Product box? A new course or masterclass? Why would they choose to work with you each month, what are you giving them?

 

2. For subscriptions, use membership software to minimize your tasks.

 

There are a lot of different kinds of membership software available that will automatically “renew” your members each month and keep your client’s payment information secure.  I don’t recommend manually invoicing or running cards for small payments in a membership. It is labor-intensive and there is a risk of making a mistake, double charging, invoices not being sent, etc.

Invest in a membership portal or software to automate the billing tasks.  I have personally used a single purchase of Memberpress for my WordPress website linked to PayPal for my monthly recurring membership for non-traditional law students. I know that there are other platforms and software products available for you to explore.

 

 

 

A note on payment plans.

You can still have recurring revenue with payment plans for your products and services.  You can decide how many payments you want to receive for each offer. I don’t recommend stretching the payments too far out past the end of your program or service. And I always recommend adding to the monthly payment enough to cover your additional fees and to reduce the risk of someone not paying.

For example, I have an offer that is $697.00. I have a plan for two payments at $365, or $730, and three payments at $250.00, or $750.  The little bit extra in each payment offsets both the increased interchange fees and the risks that someone won’t make all of the payments. Payment plans can be a great way to have a regular income for a few months on a single sale.

 

One of my favorite programs is called, “The Profit” which airs on CNBC. In this show the CEO and multimillionaire Marcus Lemonis helps struggling entrepreneurs by injecting his expertise and own money to invest in these businesses and make them profitable.

One thing I hear in the show over and over is, “this business generated $4.2 Million last year but had a loss of $30,000”.

And that tells me that many, many entrepreneurs do not know the difference between generating revenue and cash and making a real profit in their business.

 

It isn’t the money you make, it’s the money you keep

 

How can a multi-million-dollar business post losses? Because having sales doesn’t mean you will have anything left after all of your liabilities.  Just because they sold millions doesn’t mean there will be anything left over after they pay salaries and expenses and service any debt the business may hold.  This is why I am so passionate about making sure your pricing, expenses, and offers are right to make and keep money. More profit means more growth, more impact, and more service.

 

Business revenue and cash

 

Sales generated for your products and services are revenue and the money you collect is business cash. If you receive ongoing payments for services or reorders, those are revenue that we can project for the month they are due.  Basically, every dollar that comes into the business is business cash. The more you bring in every month, the more sales you are making. That is the first half of the equation.

The key is to have profit, that amount of money left over every month.

 

“Gross Profit” and “Net Profit”

 

Gross profit is the difference between your cost to create your offer, product or service and your retail price you sold it for. For example, your widget costs $7.00 to make for materials and labor, and you sell it for $15.00. Your gross profit is $8.00 per widget. This is the number many entrepreneurs rely on for pricing and for expenses. But it’s the wrong one.

What’s missing in this number is the amount of the “hidden” expenses, such as all of your operating expenses of rent and utilities, plus taxes. 

Let’s say your operating expenses add an additional $2.00 to the cost of each widget, your net profit is really $6.00 each. That $6.00 is the one we want to know, and it is the one to work with when we look at growing the business.

 

Start by ensuring every product or service is profitable

 

Do the quick math and make sure that everything you sell is generating a profit, an amount left over after everything. Remember that your profits don’t have to be equal, one offer can be 10% profitable and another offer $25%, but each one must be profitable on their own.

You will be well on your way to a profitable and thriving business!

We hear the word, “scale” thrown around a lot in business, particularly online when they say you need to scale your business.

According to The Startup Finance it means: “Make more revenue faster than it takes on costs.”

Using that definition, you want to start scaling as soon as possible. That is how you can become more profitable because you will have more income at a ratio to lower costs.

That is actually always a good place to be in business. Here are a few tips you can start using now if you want to start scaling your business.

1. You can create very low overhead products these days.

One way to add revenue with minimal costs is to create a digital course or product that can be sold online.

Another popular low overhead service is online memberships. By adding revenue, and not adding costs to produce each item, this can help to scale your business quickly. You are serving more people without taking on more costs.

2. You can create multiple reasons to buy from you with multiple offers.

Again, without increasing costs you can create a new offer that can be resold to your existing audience. Or perhaps an existing offer can be repackaged for gifts. Or maybe you can add a fun bonus to an offer and give your audience a new chance to buy from you. You are serving your same people again without taking on more costs. 

3. You can keep the costs low by minimizing debt.

Small businesses and start-ups can begin to scale more quickly if they keep business debt very low, or if possible, non-existent.

Using my Breakthrough number approach, everything above the business four walls is profit, and from that amount we must pay debt. Without debt you have more revenue and more money going into those profit parking lots.

4. Scaling can cause short term bottlenecks to push through.

This is one side effect we don’t talk about but, as you are generating more and more revenue, if your systems aren’t in place, it may cause a bottleneck where you can’t generate more or serve more without more money for systems.

It happens and a way to minimize this risk is to have some support in place as a temporary or project-based cost until you get to the next income level. You cannot scale all by yourself. You need support.

5. Always watch your pricing.

Increasing revenue without being aware of any potential profit leaks can defeat some of your scaling efforts.

Generating income at a faster rate than you take on expenses is a beautiful thing! Keep your eyes on the profit margins as your business expands.

Remember that every line of business should be profitable, but they don’t all have to be equally profitable.

Need to get your Breakthrough number? Join us inside First Steps to Profit to get your finances organized, learn your numbers, protect your business and scale your business. Visit this link for more information:

https://entremoneycoach.kartra.com/page/firststeps

Business money management doesn’t have to be intimidating or complicated. I’m going to give you a four-step foundational framework for your business that covers the four key areas that I believe are the most important to help your business thrive financially. This framework can easily be remembered using the mnemonic “DECK.” Discover your Breakthrough Number, Establish your financial protection, Create your money management system, and Keep more profit. 

 

Discover Your Breakthrough Number

 

This first step is critical to knowing your numbers. You cannot begin to plan or to project anything without knowing your minimum number that you need to bring into your business. This number consists of your four walls of business; access to buyers, critical operating expenses, inventory and product spend, and payroll and payroll expenses. This is the first number that tells you how to be self-sustaining and includes your own paycheck and taxes.

 

Establish Your Financial Protection

 

Now that you know how much it really costs to stay in business every month (at the bare minimum), how do we protect it? Creating a cyclical fund for annual expenses and an emergency fund are two ways to protect your operating account and monthly cash flow. The Cyclical fund is created by making twelve small monthly payments to cover the amount you need for those larger annual expenses. Just add up the license renewals, memberships, and other fees you pay annually or semi-annually, divide by 12, and deposit that littler amount into a fund every month to cover expenses without a huge hit to the budget.

 

For the emergency fund, your first goal should be about three times your breakthrough number. This will ensure that you will cover all expenses including your paycheck. That number may look at little big at first, but adding a little to the fund each month, or committing to a percentage of profits until it is full will get it filled quickly. Once it is full, it just sits there! You don’t have to do anything with it, unless there is an emergency.

 

Create your Money Management System

 

This is the step that many people overlook or ignore because it may seem intimidating. You don’t need fancy software or complicated spreadsheets with calculations to manage your money. You must have a system to track what comes in and goes out (every dime) and a system to plan for future expenses and projects. Because you have your breakthrough number already, you know what your minimum expenses are. We add in any debt payments or project costs here, and make sure that we have a written spending plan.

 

How you write it is up to you! Do you like using an app on your phone? A spreadsheet? A notebook? A template you created?  The beauty of this step is that you decide which tracking and planning system works best for you!  The key is to find the system you will love and use again and again.

 

Keep More Profit

 

My first rule of business is, “don’t lose money.”  My second rule is, “keep your profit.” The first one everybody gets. It’s the second one that I find people tend to overlook. Once we start making money in our business, we seem to find a place to spend it! It seems that there is this point, a bottleneck if you will, where everything coming in is going out. Knowing your profit on everything you offer is critical to avoiding this issue. You must make profit on everything, but the profit doesn’t have to be equal across things. For example, you can have a 10% profit margin on one thing and a 25% margin on another. It depends on what you offer and what it costs you to provide it.

 

My challenge to you is to have a profit figure in mind that you want to keep every single month.  Next step is to create a plan to get there. For example, if you want to make $1,000.00 in PROFIT (not income) what do you have to sell, and how many, to see that figure? Having profit in mind and not just income will give you the money you need to expand and grow and turn your business into your vision.

 

You can find information on each of these steps inside the Facebook group: Stacking the Financial Deck and in the First Steps to Profit Course which is available for a limited time for $27.00.

Talking to my third creative this week about profit. And again, it’s someone who is netting under $7.00 an hour. Not because they aren’t talented. Not because they aren’t absolutely excelling in their zone of genius, but because they don’t know their numbers, they don’t know where the profit is all leaking out, or they feel too guilty to charge more.

 

The truth is, we wouldn’t work for someone else for the rates that we pay ourselves. The days of “breaking even” need to be behind us, because you are worthy of earning an amazing paycheck and keeping profit in the business AFTER you get paid. Here’s a little primer on profit.

 

There are several ways to figure your profit margin, but without getting too “mathy” I want you to do two things really. Make sure you are not losing money. Add a little profit margin to your products and services if you don’t already.

 

Rule #1: Don’t Lose Money

 

The first rule of business. But it is easy to do. You can forget to figure in all of your costs. Perhaps we don’t account for all of our hours. Or, we offer “add ons” without considering what those bonuses cost our business. And we all do it. If you want to offer something for free and not recoup the cost, that’s fine. Or, if you want to offer something at less than cost, that’s fine. But, if you do it for everything in your business, it’s not a business. It’s an expensive hobby. And you will only get more and more frustrated as time goes on. Because you work so hard and make no money.

 

Here’s a simple way to figure your base costs. You can figure them by day, or by week, or by hour. To figure by week, take your total and divide by 4. To figure per day, divide by the number of days you are open (M-F is an average of 20 days/mo.) and by hour, first divide by day, then by the number of hours you are open.

 

  1. Add up all of your costs. Start with your Breakthrough Number, all four walls of your business (if you need to calculate your number, visit here). Don’t forget to add your other costs, such as, your marketing, debt payments, everything.

 

  1. Take that number and choose your frequency (week, day, hour) and divide. This is the base cost you have to stay open for the period of time you chose. For example:

 

My true costs are $3500.00/ month.

For weekly costs: Divide by 4- $875/ week

Daily costs to stay in business, divide by 20 (I am open 5 days a week): $175/day

Divide the daily number by the hours I am open (8): $22.00/ hour.

 

So, for this example, I need to make $22.00/ hour or $175/day or $875 week to not lose any money in my business.

 

Rule #2: You Are in the Business to Make Profit.

 

You need to make more than the hypothetical $22.00/ hour example above to have any profit left over after all of your costs. How do we do this? First off, it is an average. You may have a day that makes more, and a day that makes less. You know your Breakthrough number (that’s the start) and all of your costs (that’s how we figured the base) now we look at your products and offers and add profit.

 

  1. If you are a service provider: add a profit line. You can add whatever feels right for you. Add 20%, 50%, 100%.

– Start from your offer. How many do you need to sell a day, week, month, at the current price point to get to profit?

– mix up your offers, how many of each do you need to sell?

– you can decide what offers get which profit margins, because they don’t all have to be equal. There’s no issue if you charge a 30% profit on one thing, and 10% on another. As long as you have a net profit margin when you look at them all together.

 

  1. If you have a product: add a profit line. You can add to every product evenly, or add to them individually, do what feels right.

– I see products from creatives often lose money, because you don’t charge to recoup the time it takes to manufacture things, like shirts, prints, jewelry, etc.

– Add a small percentage to your true wholesale costs, like 2-3% if you are worried about charging more.

– Add a flat fee for your time if you don’t already. $8.00/ item to manufacture or perhaps $100/ hour (divided by the number of things you make an hour.) to recoup the cost of your time.

– If you are a wholesaler or reseller, use a flat percentage if you want- and siphon it off as pure profit, not to be co-mingles with the other income for expenses.

– Again, your profit margins do not have to be equal across products, line of business, or offers. You can have a smaller number on bulk sales, higher on individual for example. As long as at the end of the day you have a positive profit margin.

 

You Don’t Have to Do the Math Alone. Grab a spot on my calendar for a free 30-minute support call, and let’s take a look at your numbers, and where your profit leaks are. Just visit https://dawnkennedy.as.me/support  to grab a spot on my calendar. I am passionate about seeing small businesses succeed and maintain profitability for the long term.

Many entrepreneurs low ball their prices for products and services in the beginning. I did.  For my own story, I had a coach that told me what I already knew, I was undercharging. Imposter syndrome is a real thing, and many of us tend to undervalue ourselves and the impact we make in the beginning of our entrepreneurial journey. This seems to be very common with service providers. Coaches, consultants, and freelancers typically start lower than they should, and are sometimes very slow to raise prices. Margins in service businesses are typically higher than many product-based businesses. Because there isn’t a “wholesale” cost, so to speak, many of us struggle to price our services. And if we don’t have a responding increase to the cost of doing business, we tend to struggle to “justify” a price increase to ourselves.

 

There are a lot of articles and methods for pricing yourself in the marketplace, and also ways to raise your prices.  What I want to offer is a way to raise your prices when you are resisting the increase by identifying the increase with a name. We’ll simply call it the “profit line.” This can help with some of the hesitancy to increase prices, your “base price” remains the same but you add on an increase which you categorize and have a real purpose for the money.

 

This system works because many of us struggle with money mindset, and the thought that raising our prices might mean we are greedy. “I don’t need that much” is the cry of the resistance. But you aren’t in business only to solve your needs. You are also in business to create profit and to reach your financial goals. If you don’t have yours defined yet, let’s get some profit goals and the why behind them written.  

 

You can decide what you want to add as a percentage or a number. For example, you charge $200.00 for a service. You add $20.00 as a 10% pure profit line, and the new price is $220.00 for your service. Your prices are raised, a bit, and moving forward every time you sell that service, you siphon off $20.00 to put into an account for profit. Give that account a name, a purpose. You don’t have to stop at 10%. You can add 50% profit and make your service $300.00. Your decision.

 

If you are resisting raising your service prices, give this method a try. Go ahead and figure out how much profit you will have in an account in a month if you add this line. Plan your next business move. What is this specific profit amount going to be for? Remember that any money without a name will run off and spend itself. Go ahead and raise your process. Just do it. Add a profit line this week. Happy Entrepreneuring!