The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast

Sam Priestley dives into modern day lifestyle entrepreneurship. What is working, what isn’t, and how exactly do you build a business that funds the life you want to live?

Listen and subscribe to the Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast on any of your favourite channels:

“Whenever there is a hard job to be done I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.” – Walter Chrysler

Most Recent Podcast Episodes

All of the following episodes can be listened to in any order. So find a subject you’re interested in and start there!

#27: Business Opportunities For 2019

My favourite ideas for new businesses I am thinking about starting in 2019.  

One of Sam’s 2019 resolutions was to start a new business. So in this episode, Sam & Emma Priestley discuss seven areas where he thinks there are currently big opportunities and his ideas for businesses he is thinking of starting.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:

Download Episode

#24: How To Do Accounting For Your Amazon FBA Business

Easy and straightforward bookkeeping for your Amazon FBA business.

A very important topic and something that is simpler than you might think. In this episode, Sam explains how you can leverage software and an affordable local accountant to run your Amazon FBA business.

Listen to this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast on:

iTunes | Spotify | YouTube | Stitcher

Resources:

Transcript - Click to expand


Sam:

Hello and welcome back to another episode at the lazy entrepreneur. I’m your host Sam and we’re joined by Emma as always. Emma, as you can tell I’m very excited for today’s topic. This must mean it’s something really dry……

It’s your favorite topic! It is accounting! And more specifically, accounting for Amazon FBA.

Emma:

Oh wow.

Sam:

It’s something which yeah it sounds dry but it is really important. It’s really difficult to find a good accountant to
do your Amazon business and that is because Amazon FBA businesses are very simple in one respect but they’re also very complicated.

One-man bands where pretty much all transactions happen on Amazon. There’s not much else going on really. There’s not huge payroll difficulties or that kind of stuff. But also really complicated because they’re gonna be multi country and quite large profit. if you’re an America you talk about the different states all with slightly different rules. You have to deal with all different accounting requirements. And that means if you go to your local accountant and you explain what your business is to them they’ll probably price you up as if you’re one of these huge businesses that covers multiple countries and charge you accordingly.

On the other hand if they think of you as a really small business they won’t have any idea how to deal with all these different places and all the different kind of requirements. And that’s why we’re doing this podcast. I get asked quite a lot: “can you recommend a good accountant for Amazon FBA”. The answer is I can’t really.

You have a few options. You can either do it all yourself which is what we do with Pipehouse Gin. Which what I do with another business that’s also on Amazon.

You can hire a big firm and pay a lot of money which is something I don’t do but I do have friends who are kind of that level above who do. They’re doing kind of eight figures profit and they’re spending 200,000 pounds a
year on accountancy. Yeah and it’s worth it to them.

It’s worth having an accountant who knows exactly what’s going on in Germany and has a team out there if you’re doing the kind of turnover in Germany. But I’m doing just a little bit. Germany is kind of like a little side thing that I’m only really selling at now because it’s easy to do. It doesn’t make sense for me to have a have a whole team there and to pay this the same again in every country every region.

The final option is to kind of translate your Amazon business bookkeeping into something that a normal
local accountant will understand and then get them to do the accounting.

Emma:
That sounds quite good.

Sam:

That is the middle ground and that’s I think what is is the best option for most people and that’s what I do in my my biggest business. I think it’s like 1,200 pounds a year on accounting.

That’s the middle ground because there’s a lot of problems that can come if you do your own accounting. I do have guides on the blog for doing your own accounting which I will link to. But once you get a little bit bigger there are more problems and you want to make the most of all the tax allowances that there are and a local account will be able to tell exactly how much you can get away with.

So that’s what I’m gonna be talking about. How you translate your Amazon business into something a typical accountant can take and then generate your profit and loss sheets your balance sheets. All that kind of stuff yeah.

That’s one thing I was gonna say because with Amazon. Everything’s recorded it’s so easy to download a report and know exactly how many sales you’re having and how much each element of your supply chain costs and it’s all recorded. Unlike a more traditional retail store. That’s what I mean, it’s a simpler business because
these accountants are used to receiving like a shoebox full of receipts. And then having to enter it all in
manually.

We don’t have any that nonsense with an Amazon FBA business.

All right, so let’s talk about what exactly is accounting what is the aim what we’re trying to do. It’s simply to reconcile all the money that’s coming in and out of the business. We basically want to record every transaction that takes place.

So for an Amazon business that really only happens in two places. One of them is on Amazon itself. So on Amazon they will take their monthly fee out of your your balance that’s on there. When there’s a customer
return they’ll deduct that from the balance. All the FBA fees all the closing fees come out of that balance. To add to the balance goes in all your sales. Every two weeks they’ll reconcile it out and come up with a number which they’ll send to your bank account.

That happens separately for every country you sell in with Amazon. So every two weeks in my bank account
I will receive a transaction from Amazon UK, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, America, etc.

Then you have to work out all the transactions that happen at your bank account or on your PayPal or whatever other kind of financial instruments you’re using. So those will be the transactions you’re getting from Amazon but
they could also be other expenses such as paying a supplier or paying your freight forwarder. Paying your car fee or whatever else you can get away with.

Once that is all reconciled on your bookkeeping software we’ll know exactly what every transaction is that’s happened on your bank account. So is you can just give that information to a normal accountant and he’ll produce all the stuff needed for government submissions or for your VAT return.

It’s quite straightforward. Most accountants will recommend you have a bookkeeping software anyway regardless of what your business is. Whether it’s a coffee shop or an Amazon business. Or you’re a plumber or whatever. They recommend using something like zero or QuickBooks. So I’m not going to talk too much about them in too much detail because they’re quite general and
they’re not particularly Amazon focused.

They’re very simply a case of having all the information coming in which will be feed from your bank it will be feed from Amazon and then reconciling each one off yeah.

The other thing you do need though is some way to get the information from Amazon into that software. Currently, Amazon doesn’t just plugin. Amazon does have all the transactions, all the statements you need but they don’t do it in the format that we want which is really annoying.

What we want is for each of those payments that gets made from Amazon to your bank account and those ones that happen every two week. We want to know the exact breakdown of what goes into that. Amazon doesn’t provide that. You have to use a third party software which will plug into Amazon and translate all those records and then import them into Xero yeah.

The software that does that is called A2X. I think stands for Amazon to Xero. But it works with any kind of software. I’ll put a link to them in in the show notes. Along with Xero there is also Quickbooks.

A2X kind of plugs in and so when it comes to doing your reconciling you will simply go on to A2X. It’ll have a list of all the bank transfers that have happened from your Amazon accounts into your into your bank account. You’ll go through each one and then basically label what each transaction is.

It will give you a breakdown of what’s going on. So, for instance, it will have your advertising spend. These bookkeeping software a very versatile so for instance the way I do it is I have it broken down by each country and so I’ll go onto A2X and I’ll select which country it is due for. But you don’t need to do that at all. You can just have this is an income this is an expense.

For instance we are VAT registered which means that every three months I need to produce a report that says how much of VAT we owe. So every three months my process is: I go to A2X, I check each transaction, each statement has come across correct. I press yes yes yes yes. They then appear in Xero where I match them up to the bank transfers that come in from my Santander account. Then I’ll click file VAT and It’ll produce a VAT report and it will say I owe this amount. It takes about maybe an hour an hour every three months.

It’s quite simple. Then at the end of the year my accountant will log on he’ll probably have a few questions for me. He will ask me how much stock we have left and how much that stock is worth. And then he’ll file all the
reports. That normally takes a few emails and it’s quite straight forward job.

Emma:

What happens if you forget to do your three months VOT?

Sam:

You get fined. The first time you miss it you are allowed to get away with it. I don’t really want to labour the VAT
point because most UK businesses won’t need to be VAT registered. My general habit with this kind of stuff is
you can do it backwards. Don’t let this put you off starting your Amazon business.

Yeah because you don’t need to think about accounting until you’ve got something to account for. Yes so
these are headaches but they’re only headaches if you’re doing well. You can look back if you’ve done a year and you’ve only made like a thousand pounds you probably need to do anything because it will be below threshold of what you need to report to the government.

It’s good to look at those thresholds. On the other hand you do really well and in your first month you turn over fifty thousand pounds it’s time if you start thinking about accounting. Yes so currently in the UK threshold for VAT is about £80,000. Which means if you turn over less than £80,000 in a 12 month period you don’t need to bother.

There are consequences for messing up. But also HMRC are very understanding. I remember with my coffee shop we shot past the VAT threshold by about double before we realized we had to register.

I was bricking it because what if we received a huge back-dated bill. They said no it’s okay, we’ll just start
taking VAT from now.

HMRC are small business friendly and they want you to succeed. When I’ve spoken to HMRC and all these
people  they’re quite friendly they’re not as scary as they make out.

If you do do your own accounting you can do it all online. It’s quite easy where you can just look at your Xero
reports and then go on and just input the numbers. You can do it and that’s why we do it for our smaller businesses where it’s not worth paying an accountant.

That’s kind of one of the advantages of using something like A2X. Because they will have all the guides on their website. They’re a company whose sole purpose is to make your accounting for Amazon businesses easier.

I was on A2X today just doing a bit of research for this episode and they’ve got a page of a full of partners they
recommend. Accounting companies who focus on Amazon FBA businesses. The problem is most are American focused and generally I think they’ll probably be a little bit expensive. I think they’re probably worthwhile especially if you’re expanding to the US and you’ve got to deal with sales tax and a lot of other nightmare stuff there.

While the UK is very friendly for new businesses the US is a bit more complicated because every state has a slightly different rule set and there’s a lot of like grey

But don’t let it hold you back because I do know a lot of people get so intimidated by this side of it. The bookkeeping, the accounting, the legal side. So intimidated that they just won’t ever start.

The software is easy enough to use that anyone can work it out. I don’t have an accounting background and I do some of my accounts completely myself but a lot of people the best is that it’s better to pay someone. But it’s better to find someone affordable who can advise you and then leverage software to the max to do most of the hard work for you.

That’s another thing. You could employ an expensive accountant and then they actually have no idea anything to do with Amazon. They’ll charge you £200 pounds an hour to sit their looking through their reports, copy and pasting things. Filling out their spreadsheet.

Or you can pay $50 a month for a software.

Another option people do is they’ll hire a virtual assistant and find someone in somewhere like the Philippines. They’ll pay them 250 pounds a month to work kind of halftime doing all their accounts. There’s probably a level where having someone in-house to do your bookkeeping is worthwhile. But definitely for me the hassle of training up someone with no skills from the Philippines to e good enough to do all this accounting is a waste of time. Plus there’s also going to be lots of human error,

We’re doing this for the lifestyle behind it not for the hassle not for the hassle. And you could easily run as a
six-figure profit business this way.

It’s only once you hit seven or eight figures profit where you’re doing large amounts in in certain countries that have a lot of legislation.

You could be VAT registered in every country in Europe but pretty much all of them have a distance selling threshold. We’re business here in the UK we’re selling in Germany. When someone buys something from us here it will get shipped from an Amazon warehouse in the UK and they’ll still get next day delivery because we’re not that far away.

From the German government’s point of view the sale is coming from the UK. They say that you don’t need to be VAT registered unless you hit that Distance Selling threshold.

I think for it’s about a hundred thousand euros. So yeah that’s quite a lot of money.

Now I am VAT registered in Germany and again this is all very simple to do because Amazon has some VAT services themselves. And A2X will still do all the transactions over and Xero will still do all my bookkeeping.

Alright we’ve gone around in a few circles here so let me bring it back just talk about what is accounting
how we do Amazon FBA accounting.

Accounting is simply reconciling all the money that comes in and out of your business. Every expense that happens and every sale that happens. It is then tying them up so on all your accounts that have balances such as Amazon or your bank account, all get balanced.

Xero or Quickbooks generate all the information we need profit and loss or balance sheets. That type of stuff.

So how does that relate to Amazon FBA bookkeeping? It means we need to link up our Amazon accounts to our bookkeeping software. Using something like A2X.

My advice is for most people you is to hire an accountant. Just as a local one who knows how to use
Xero or QuickBooks. They can tell you when you’ll need to register for VAT or when Distance
Selling becomes an issue. Because that stuff they will know.

Can you believe it, we’ve spoken for 25 minutes on accounting? Thanks for listening and I’m sorry it’s a bit more of a dry topic today but hopefully you found it useful. And if you do have an Amazon business or you’re thinking about doing it then don’t be too intimidated. In the show notes I’m going to put links to all the stuff I’ve talked about. A2X, QuickBooks and also some more in-depth articles I’ve written on these subjects. Both on how to do accounting yourself regardless of the type of businesses and how to do accounting for your Amazon FBA
business.

Thank you very much.

More Episodes Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast

Bonus: An Interview With Luke Pearce, Co-Founder Of The Radical Tea Towel Company

Luke goes into depth on how he built a £500k turnover company selling tea towels.

I found talking to Luke very interesting as his business is very different to any of mine. He had to build the demand for his product and find creative ways to get it in front of his audience. Well worth a listen.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:

Download Episode

Q&A Session: Job Offers, Mistakes, Brexit & Home Ownership

Sam gets asked questions by his readers about his views on Brexit, homeownership, job offers and mistakes.

A new format. To ask a question on the Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast simply email it to hello@sampriestley.com

Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:

 

Download Episode

#20: What Does It Mean To Be Successful?

I believe that what society thinks of as success, or who they label as a successful person, is just plain wrong. In this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast, Sam & Emma Priestley discuss a new definition of success and how they look to achieve it.

Download Episode