/Insights from Atomic Habits for Amazon sellers

Insights from Atomic Habits for Amazon sellers
Dec 18, 2023 8 min read

Insights from Atomic Habits for Amazon sellers

Dillon Carter
Dillon Carter
Co-Founder, COO at Aura

James Clear’s Atomic Habits took the world by storm when it hit shelves in 2018 — 10 million copies have been sold since its publication. As the book unfolds, it reveals scientifically-backed statistics, practical advice, and impactful stories about simple yet powerful systems.

What are the implications of Clear’s book on productivity for founders in the Amazon space?

🌰 In a nutshell

Making progress towards a major goal takes time; early efforts may not be apparent. One percent improvement compounds when systems enable us to maintain consistently. Embracing an identity that aligns with our end-goal is a powerful lever to sustain habits.

The winner and the loser have the same goal — it’s their behind-the-scenes habits that set them apart.

“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits

🔍 Insights

You won’t see the effects of your work right away

James Clear presents the early work towards a goal as the “plateau of latent potential” — work that we forget is necessary and important. Imagine an ice cube at 28℉. To melt it, you’d need to warm the environment to 30° and eventually to 32°, where you might see it begin to melt. The progress you make up until that point is invisible.

It’s in this phase that we easily become discouraged. A couple of weeks at the gym with no noticeable gains in strength, a handful of days eating at a caloric deficit without weight loss, a few hours learning a new coding language without a functional script — the effort can seem worthless.

The same goes for building a selling business on Amazon. You may spend hours sourcing, setting up your selling account, learning new software to give you insights into products…the list goes on.

In a community focused on work that “moves the needle” it may feel like you’re simply not trying hard enough. It’s harder to lean into the work when it feels like none of it is bringing you closer to sales.

Clear urges us on with the reminder that these uncomfortable periods are essential for breakthroughs. While we could use pure willpower to power through what he calls “The valley of disappointment,” Clear has a better idea.

Get 1% better every day

“An atomic habit refers to a tiny change, a marginal gain, a 1 percent improvement.”

Many small actions build up over time to create progress. While it’s important to have a vision and goals to point you in the right direction, it’s the system of habits that support those goals that make the difference. (After all, “winners and losers have the same goals.”)

Habits for every seller will differ, but the key is to make these habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying (Clear’s Four Laws of Behavior Change).

Let’s break these laws down with one powerful action in selling: sourcing.

4 Laws of Behavior Change applied to sourcing

Make it obvious

Use cues in your existing day to signal that it’s time to source. Clear recommends habit stacking, implementation intentions, and designing your environment to make new habits obvious.

For sourcing, this could look like setting the intention: “I will source on weekdays at 6pm at my home office desk,” and using your arrival home to transition: “After I take off my shoes and greet my partner after work, I will source one product.” Take it one step further, designing your home office in a way that limits distractions.

Make it attractive

You need to source to grow. On the other hand, you may want to compulsively check your Seller Central account for sales. Why not try pairing an existing habit you like with one that’s more difficult?

Another way Clear suggests making habits attractive is to join a social group where those habits are the norm. If you haven’t already, join a Facebook or Discord group where you’ll be interacting with successful founders and sellers.

Make it easy

When you reduce the friction to begin a new habit, you’re much more likely to get started (which is usually the hard part). To make a habit easy, focus on reducing friction, priming your environment, and using the two-minute rule.

For sourcing, that might mean having a contact template for suppliers ready to go or bookmarking your leads software for quick access. When you get started, place emphasis on the first two minutes of the habit. Tell yourself: “I’ll source for two minutes before I get on to other essential tasks. If I want to stop, I will.” Once those two minutes are over, you may find you’ve gotten in a groove or that the task wasn’t that daunting after all.

Make it satisfying

We live in a “delayed-return environment,” which means we can work for years before our actions deliver the intended payoff, but the last step to closing the habit loop (which leads us to repeat habits) is immediate satisfaction — exactly the opposite of what our environment provides.

How do we remedy those facts? Two ways Clear suggests making good habits immediately satisfying are habit tracking and reinforcement.

For sourcing, that may mean you mark off a day in your calendar each time you source at least one item. It could also take the form of transferring a paper clip from one jar to the other each time you contact a supplier — when the jar is full, you’ve earned a nice dinner out.

To scale your business, you need to build a system of good habits which are obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying.

This is especially true with sourcing — a perfect example of an action where Clear would stress quantity over quality. While you might expect every new SKU to bring you closer to your goals, it’s more likely that just a few out of every batch will become winners.

With that in mind, optimize for volume. Every SKU you source is a vote for who you are: a successful founder of an Amazon business.

🪪 Embrace your identity as a business founder

While creating satisfying habits helps you repeat new habits, a shift in your identity can sustain those habits for the long-haul.

When you began selling on Amazon, perhaps you didn’t think “I want to become an Amazon Seller.” It’s more likely Amazon was a means to take control of your work and income.

However, the moment you started researching, sourcing, and selling, you entered into the realm of entrepreneurship. If you see yourself as a founder of an e-commerce business — a successful founder, who can tackle selling on Amazon and more, that is a powerful motivator.

On this, James Clear says:

“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this. The more pride you have in a particular aspect of your identity, the more motivated you will be to maintain habits associated with it.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits

Did we pique your curiosity? We’d highly recommend picking up James Clear’s full book — Atomic Habits is a favorite of the Aura team. 🙌

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