AS 46: 1 Year of Selling Private Label on Amazon, Check. And it’s just the beginning.
19 Aug 2016
Its’ been about 1 year of full onslaught selling. A lot has happened. If you’ve followed the journey, you’ll understand that it’s been easily 16-18 hour days. There is no such thing as the 4 hour work week. I loved the book, but its not the reality of the true lean startup. This is a long grind. It’s a 16-18 hour day is awesome. I don’t see this as work. I find building businesses fun, equivalent to playing competitive soccer. Some days you lose soccer games. But the victories are awesome. If you’ve ever scored a soccer goal, you know the adrenaline rush that comes with it. A fast, riveting increase burst of energy, warm pricks of sunshine on your face, and a release of dopamine in the brain.
Entrepreneurship is just the same. I find that it’s not the amount of money that your pulling in per day, or per month, but actually the decisions you make in your business, is what creates that same adrenaline rush that you get in soccer. It’s when, after months of hard work, the decision to launch a certain product, or execute a strategy in the way, goes very well. The result is yes, money. But the result of money, is actually not the adrenaline rush. I also find that creating sequential ideas, strategies, that line up and are successful, create a promise of this is how the future could look like, and how life could be different. That too produces an adrenaline rush.
Now I say this because, I find it critical that we all get adrenaline rushes in our businesses. It’s what creates the passion and fuel for us to continue to do what we do every single day.
I recently heard that being an entrepreneur isn’t the fast way to get rich. The entrepreneur said if you wanted to get rich, you chose a very specific job such as a lawyer, or a doctor and it was a guaranteed way to get rich. He was right. The key difference I see is, if you use the right strategies and techniques, with the addition of beliefs and execution, you can be wealthy.
This leads to the second pointer. With increased wealth, the decisions that we make become way different, more clearer, and better. I say this because 5 years ago, I had at most $1000-2000 to my name any given month. I was a struggling entrepreneur. I had a small software business that yes paid the bills, but no wasn’t a winner. Because I had only $1000-2000 to my name, my decisions were all different. I was doing all the tasks to the business. From coding, to designing, to deployment, marketing, content creation, SEO, the list goes on.
More importantly, I noticed my actions were different. I knew I needed more cash flow, and I was desperate. I literally played scratch offs, in order to hopefully win a mini jackpot. On a side-note, the odds are more in your favor when you choose a higher dollar scratch off, like a $20 scratch off versus a $1 scratch off. Your odds favor 1:3 chance of winning versus 1:5. I obviously went the $20 route. But you see, the lesson here is, I know that the odds are still against me in a scratch off. If I had $10,000 to my name, I wouldn’t do a scratch off, EVER. I statistically know, I will lose more money in the long run.
As my software business slowly grew, I noticed I had no interest in scratch offs. I had more money to spend on them, but I was no longer desperate. This major difference, caused different views on how cash flow and wealth, affect my financial decisions, and I bet it affects yours as well.
Now, in respect to Private Label, Amazon and business building I see the same thing playing out. My cash flow fluctuates greatly. But no longer am I desperate. With better times, becomes better ideas, executions, the freedom to launch and take risk.
Last year I begun the journey with 1 SKU going into fourth quarter. This year I’ve expanded the arsenal to 17 SKU’s including variations.
Initially, it took me 6 months to get a product to launch. It was no easy task. As you gain more experience, time to product launch decreases significantly.
I no longer just search for products on sourcing sites like Alibaba etc. I build for my brand, rather than for whatever product is selling good. By keeping this extreme focus on brand rather than money first, it allows me to create better synergies between products, which creates happiness among my customers, as well as multiple product purchases per customer among the product line.
I get my samples rather quickly, and send money over to China via bank deposits. Usually this was a frightening experience. When I first started, cash flow was low. Sending over money in the thousands was extremely scary.
A year ago, I remember I had first sent a wire transfer over to my manufacturer. And then 5 minutes later, I told them I change my mind, lets not do it, send money back. It was literally out of pure panic. Obviously they didn’t send it back. The manufacturer had said the units were on the assembly line already, and couldn’t be refunded. It was probably a lie.
The photo shoot:
I try to optimize my time here. I don’t outsource my product photos, because I think I still know what’s best, and the angle necessary in order to sell more. Also, I find it very quick to snap photos the way I want, and it’s just too important to oursource my marketing strategy, at least at the moment in terms of the photos that go on Amazon, my sites, and across the web.
During the photo shoot, now a days, I will have multiple products ready to go, rather than doing 1 photo shoot at a time. Just assembling the products takes a lot of time energy and focus, so you might as well get multiple product launches ready at the same time.
Launching a product has become easier. I’ve been multiple traffic based websites out. The network increases. But most importantly, if you focused on brand first, you’ll notice you’ll have customers that will come back to buy more. Building a loyal customer base is what has been working for me. They spread word by mouth for me, and they just hands down want a brand experience, over a generic product.
Teams of specialized warriors. Now I love talking about this, as I find it critical to my growth. As the business has been growing, I’ve found specialized contractors in each area of the business. I don’t have one Virtual assistant working on everything. Or 5 virtual assistants working on what comes next.
I specialize each area of the business. For example, Someone who is great at cutting videos, is not necessarily great at creating articles. The two are just completely different tasks and one costs more than the other.
I’ve mostly done the Photoshop work myself, but recently I’ve got a designer on the team, testing to see what he can do. Turns out he’s way better than me, and spends more time on the task, making it absolutely perfect. At that point, I take his .PSD’s and do my tweaks in respect to my marketing position and such.
Changes like this, allowing someone to take a task that I already knew how to do, such as Photo Shop, has freed up my time. I honestly don’t like taking out the semi white background of a product photo, and making it absolutely white.
The costs of outsourcing: Outsourcing is not a perfect thing. I believe you truly need to know how to do what you just outsourced, as there is usually tweaks and improvement in respect to your brand and vision here to do. However, as I outsource more tasks, my team is essentially growing bigger, and they are becoming family. To add to that, it’s not cheap to outsource. In fact, if your not driving profit, outsourcing is quite costly. My advice here is to slowly outsource, get a feel for the costs, and increase your team, as profits grow.
In a reverent note: It is important to take care of the team, and that is a critical part of your business. If you get them to believe in your brand, as I think I’ve gotten my team to, I find much better output, and mutual respect amongst the team.
Now to jump back to the intro, where I said the 4 hour work week does not exist. It really doesn’t. Yes I’ve tasked some parts of my business, and could probably do more. But I like being engaged in pinpoints of the business. I think its’ critical to know the customer feedback that is coming in to reiterate on products, product packaging and such. So I wouldn’t in foreseeable future outsource that. For now I’m sticking to the 14-18 hour days. I’ve fully immersed myself in my businesses, and I commit 100%. To me, its’ not work. It’s like playing soccer, except the soccer game never ends. I once read a quote that said
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
Till next time guys,
David Aladdin Out.
So what’s this all mean David?
It’s crazy what the Amazon Echo can do. I don’t see Amazon Echo as a short term game plan for Amazon. It reminds me of when Apple first launched the iPhone and attached it to iTunes. Jeff Bezos see’s it as the same. An entire eco-system of apps, hardware, software all connected into the Echo Eco-System. Most people don’t recognize the game play here. It’s huge, equally if not bigger than the smart phone industry in my opinion, except it reaches a bit further into connectivity. Yes you can connect music, ask questions to Alexa, dim lights, and unlock doors to cars. It’s just the beginning. Amazon has partnered with Hyundai to give other car makers the “WTF- we gotta do this too” approach or else we’ll fall behind. Smart homes race has been a long race indeed, but Amazon Echo, has quickly taken the lead, and pioneering what is possible, while making it as easy as possible to integrate literally everything to Echo. Sound familiar?
Selling your Amazon Business doesn’t need to be scary. In fact, I believe it should be exciting. The risks on Amazon are great – no doubt, and the journey has been long, from competitors jumping into our space, to highjackers, to amazon suspensions, and endless seller fees.
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