Josh Hadley grew the passion to be an entrepreneur at a very young age – in middle school when Josh sold candy in his own candy stand. Every path he took growing up was always connected with the entrepreneurial life – including his first desk job at American Airlines whilst he took an MBA and also partnered with his wife for a graphic design side business. Josh took the slow and steady pace – he juggled both income streams, worked the 9-5, then used part of his salary to fund their business. Slowly but surely, Josh managed to let go of his desk job to become a full-time entrepreneur. From his and wife’s graphic design venture, they gained the experience in being business owners and was able to explore other business opportunities – the most successful of which is in eCommerce.
Today, Josh is an Amazon seller with an 8-figure revolving income with consistent growth and a podcaster with his own network of influencers at Ecomm Breakthrough. Over the years, his Amazon business has steadily grown from zero to 1300 SKUs. How did he do it? That’s the journey that Josh will take us through in this week’s featured Seller Roundtable episode.
Watch Josh with our host, Amy Wees, as they discuss the value of smart decision-making plus other sensible tips for those dreaming of the kind of growth that Josh achieved:
Business Advice from an 8-Figure Seller
Building a business from the ground up to an 8-figure income stream is nothing short of remarkable. Josh Hadley’s journey is driven with part passion, part practical thinking, and a whole lot of patience and faith in things to come. Here are more valuable takeaways we gathered from Josh’s interview:
- Don’t be afraid to start. No experience? Not enough funds? That’s okay. Start anyway. Without any professional background in graphic design, Josh and his wife started their graphic design/custom wedding invitation business. They pulled through with determination and grit – and in large part because they enjoyed what they were doing.
- Learn to find the balance between doing something you love and making smart decisions. Not all passion projects are profitable – and that’s okay. Your hobby doesn’t have to be your source of income.
- Learn to use tools that help you identify opportunities that are worth pursuing. Josh uses Helium and/or Junglescout to look at highly-searched keywords that are not commonly used by competing products – then he finds a way to insert those keywords in his listings (where they’re relevant).
- Avoid selling a “me too” product. Just choosing a product category and joining the bandwagon will not ensure your longevity in the business. Keep digging and soon you’ll come up with a unique product idea that solves a need in a specific niche.
Slow & Steady Wins The Race
Josh Hadley is very zen. He speaks with calm confidence as he narrates how he started in corporate and then ended up as a business owner, podcaster, and coach to other eCommerce sellers. It seems Josh has unlocked the secret to success in business – the perfect balance of all the character traits that a successful entrepreneur must possess. Josh is passionate whilst also being shrewd. He is patient but also spontaneous. He knows the right time to act and the right time to wait.
There is value in always being passionate about what we do – but sometimes passion can lead to impatience, especially when things don’t go our way. Josh is a natural-born entrepreneur – he enjoyed selling candy to his friends in middle school. His father supported him by building a candy store. When Josh was in college, he joined and ended up being co-chairman of an organization at the University of Utah that runs a series of state competitions called the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. The natural progression of Josh’s life after college was to become an entrepreneur. Right?
That would have been the story if things played out simply all the time. But they don’t. So fresh out of college, Josh took a job as a corporate employee at American Airlines. Not that it wasn’t a good job. It was great. And Josh took home a million learnings from his day-to-day grind in corporate America. But we all know that Josh was destined for something else. And he knew that himself, too.
What did Josh do? He bided his time. He showed up at his day job every single day whilst using his free time to devise an exit plan once he is ready to finally run his own business. Without experience or any professional know-how, he and his wife put up a graphic design business that he funded with his employee salary. That was the plan until they reached a dead end in that venture – they realized that banking on his wife’s talent to sustain the business wasn’t scalable. And so they had to come up with another plan.
Enter eCommerce. And they have been here ever since. Josh was finally able to pursue his passion – entrepreneurship – but it took some time and a great deal of patience. He knew what it would take to scale his business, and he shares bits of them in his interview. Things like:
- Conduct a 2-week time study. Jot down all of your activities every hour for two weeks. After two weeks, look at your list of activities and tally which ones take the most of your time. You know those tasks that you don’t enjoy doing, you’re not good at, and take a lot of time? Delegate those if you can.
- Learn the basics of all aspects of your business – even those you dislike doing. Don’t like accounting? You don’t have to be an expert in finance. But it helps to learn basic principles so you can fully communicate your needs to an accountant or bookkeeper, i.e. an expert in the field.
- Never put all your eggs in one basket. New to Amazon? Don’t spend all your life savings on one product and pray that it sells. Invest in minimum startup capital, then test the market. Always test the market before you commit.
Moral of the story – find balance in everything you do. If you have a dream, go for it – but don’t starve. Find a way to pursue your dreams whilst surviving the realities of life. Stay grounded. Trust the process.
And if you get stuck – ask yourself, what would Josh Hadley do? Through the years, he’s got a lot figured out. Perhaps he can help you figure out your career, too.
Amy Wees: And then I’ll come back over here and hit the recording button. So what have you been up to? How’s your q4 going so far?
Josh Hadley: Well, our business is actually q4 is actually what would I say, one of our lower quarters of the year? I think it’s actually our third, like in terms of, like quarters, like q3 is like our q4, really, because we have a lot of products for like back to school and stuff like that. And then q1 is like our second billing busiest selling season of the year as well. So q4, I think comes up in third place, I think in last place is q2 for us.
Amy: lacks a little bit during we do the rest of us. Okay. All right. Do you can share that secret on the podcast today, too. Because I’m sure all of us would like to relax a little bit more during q4. Hey, everybody on the Livestream, what’s going on, we’re about to hit the recording button on this episode of The Cellar Roundtable. I’m here with my friend, Josh Hadley. And we’re going to talk all about how Josh was able to start his business from really, you know, the same way the rest of us started from like nothing and not only scale it to six figures, but then seven figures, and now eight figures. And we’re going to talk about how he did that, because that’s not an easy feat. All of us know how hard it is just even to get off the ground and running and then minimal as to scale all that way. So be here with us today. Join us you can join us in the zoom at solar roundtable.com forward slash live labs here and hanging out as usual. Great to see you glad, and we’re gonna hit the record button. Get started. You ready, Josh? Let’s do it. Yes. Okay. Hey, everybody, what’s up? Welcome to the cellar Roundtable. I’m Amy wese, and my co host, Andy are not is out today. And that’s all right, we got him covered. I’m here with my friend, Josh Hadley. Josh has been an incredible seller for many years now. And he has successfully scaled his business, from the ground all the way to eight figures. And we’re gonna talk with Josh today about his story and about how he was able to accomplish such an incredible feat as a seller, and he’s gonna give us some great tips on how you can do that, too. I’ve had Josh previously in my mastermind group talking to our folks about how to hire and he honestly, he his hiring system is one of the best that I’ve ever come across, like, of any course I’ve ever taken or anything, and it has really enabled me to scale my team. So I’m pretty sure I owe this guy some money or something. But what he’s gonna have to settle for just a podcast appearance today. Josh, how are you doing? Welcome to the cellar Roundtable.
Josh: I’m doing awesome. Amy, thanks for having me on. I’m excited to be here today.
Amy: Yay. So why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about you your background, how you got into this e commerce game?
Josh: Yeah, so I’m the I’m the guy that’s been an entrepreneur at heart, from a very young age, I was the kid with the candy stand on on the corner of the street at a young age, my dad helped kind of build an actual, like candy stand for me, I think his only regret to this day is that he used extremely like heavy, thick wood. And so every time I wanted to go sell and put up the candy stand, I would have to get him to go set it up. And, you know, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it myself. And so anyways, but from a young age, I was always, you know, selling stuff on the corner of the street thinking of ways to, you know, just generate money, like business has just been something that I’ve loved and have had a lot of fun with from a young age. And so I went through high school and all of that ended up serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Korea for two years. And then when I got home from my mission, that’s when you know, I was going into college. I attended college at the University of Utah. And I was trying to figure out, hey, what, what should my major be? I know it’s going to be in business. But should it be, you know, just general business management? Should it be finance, accounting, you know, the list goes on and on. So as I was kind of like experimenting with different ideas, I ended up deciding like finance was going to be my major and I think it’s good to have that that background for sure. Not to say that I love finance in and of itself, but I understand it well, which I think helps, especially in running a business, projecting cash flow and all of that good stuff. But while I was In my first year there at the University of Utah, I stumbled into a friend who encouraged me to join what was called the Utah entrepreneur series or Utah Entrepreneur Challenge. And this was a series of competitions, that was run for all collegiate students throughout the state of Utah. And what and what he was inviting me to do was actually to apply to be part of the student team that actually runs those series of competitions. So, you know, through a series of events, I ended up becoming the CO chairman of that entire organization. And that’s what ends up paying for, you know, the majority of my schooling at the University of Utah, it came with a scholarship. And so that’s why I was like, so interested in getting into it. Plus, I’ve always loved entrepreneurship and wanted to kind of rub shoulders with those guys. So that’s kind of where I kind of got that taste of like, oh, wow, look at all the cool things other students were doing at very young ages. And, you know, I had a lot of mentors that like venture capitalists, that I was able to meet throughout the state of Utah, through participating and running that organization. So we’ll fast forward, I spent four years there at the University of Utah, and ended up getting my MBA. At the same time, I finished that right after I did my undergrad in finance. And then I got set up with a job with American Airlines in their MBA Leadership Development Program. So that’s what brought my family and I from Utah to the Dallas area. And we’re still here in DFW right now. And we’re loving it. But I started there at American Airlines, and I was there for five years. So I started in 2014, and then ended up staying there for five years. Well, as soon as we got, as soon as I started there at American Airlines, my wife who was a graphic designer, she was kind of like self teaching herself graphic design, and started doing like custom wedding invitations for some of her friends and, and she just kept getting referral after referral because she was doing such a good job. And so all of a sudden, we were like, Hey, let’s let’s start a custom wedding invitation business. So that’s really where it all kind of like started. And then we like actually put together like the LLC, in the beginning of 2015. But we did that for two years. And it was just me, like I would come home from work at American Airlines. And then it was immediately like, working with my wife trying to build up this custom wedding invitation business. And we grew it to a point where we literally could no longer scale the business in less. We I could, you know, duplicate, clone my wife, or go and hire other graphic designers. Much easier said than done finding somebody that has my wife’s level of talent. And that’s kind of our secret sauce to our business even to this day. So anyways, we we were very successful, it was like a six month waiting list just to work with my wife to have her design custom wedding invitations for clients. But again, we knew we were like, alright, this is not scalable. Like you’re already working sunup to sundown, where we had our first son at the time. And you know, that brought its own, you know, level of busyness to our lives. And so that’s when we kind of like said, Hey, we’ve got to look at other opportunities. So we stumbled upon Amazon, that was like the fall of 2016. And, you know, everybody’s like, hey, making millions on Amazon, like, so we jumped into one of the courses, I for the life of me have no idea whose course it was that I went through. It wasn’t ASM, but went through somebody’s course. And it got me enough knowledge to where we tested out. Recipe Cards was our first product that we launched. And we tested it out and they sold out really quick. And now they look back like that was actually a very saturated and competitive market. So we didn’t really go into that further. But it got our feet wet. And I was like, wow, if if recipe cards can do well, like there’s endless possibilities for us. So fast forward from, you know, fall of 2016. Wheat to today. We now have over 1300 skews live on Amazon. We just crossed that eight figure mark for the brand. And it’s been a lot more scalable compared to the wedding invitation business, but there is our kind of journey in a nutshell. And I’m sure there’s lots to unpack with inside of that.
Amy: Wow, you know, I’ve heard your journey before but every time I hear it, I pick out different pieces that I think are really important for people to pay attention to. First of all, something that you talked about is How your wife, you know, she was designing these wedding invitations. And she was kind of dabbling in graphic design. And clearly she liked it. And she had a talent for it. But she just started. And you know, so many people, they’re interested in something like graphic design or some kind of service, and they don’t, they’re so afraid to start, because they don’t feel like oh, I don’t have it perfected yet. And you know, progress over perfection every time. And you guys are a perfect example of that. Here’s she started dabbling. And before she knew it, she had a waiting list of people, you know, and then, you know, that’s, that’s huge. So, I mean, the fact that she was willing to just try and put herself out there, even though she wasn’t a professional graphic designer yet, you know, like, it doesn’t matter. Like what is a professional? What makes a professional graphic designer, obviously, having demand for these wedding invitations? That’s something right. Yeah. I love that you guys just started and then you talked about on Amazon, you apply that principle, again, you just started, you did these recipe cards. Now looking back with all the knowledge you have right now, you were like, exposing our best opportunity. Like now we know how to even better look at an opportunity. But you created some recipe cards, and you saw that. Yep. Yeah, bottom line, you started, you weren’t afraid to just start just try and figure it out later. Right. And so how much would you say, of you know, your success is the ability to just start?
Josh: Yeah, I mean, I think I would attribute all of it to just starting right. I think going back to, even when I was in college, right. And I was looking for this scholarship, right? Like, the only reason I got that scholarship ended up becoming co chair, which ended up being like one of the most pivotal, you know, kind of tipping points in my life where it’s like, wow, I got this scholarship. Now I’m rubbing shoulders with very successful entrepreneurs throughout the state of Utah, like, that wouldn’t have happened had I not just put myself out there. What’s the famous quote, you miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take? Right. And so my wife and her background, she graduated from the University of Utah as well. But in early childhood education, she was not taught graphic design. Now, she’s been very good at art from a very young age, she won multiple contests when she was young, like, just a fantastic illustrator don’t, you don’t want to play like Pictionary with her? Let’s the other. There’s a game where you play where it’s like the sketch game and you like pass it to the next guy, and you’re playing like telephone, basically. And you’re doodling. Anyway, she’s she’s amazing at that. And my stick figures just like pitiful, but she had a natural talent for it, right? Just like myself, like, I had a natural talent for business. And so when it came time for her to just, you know, experiment, and we honestly had that conversation when we graduated, and we moved here to Dallas, my wife was like, Hey, should I go get a job? Or, you know, I’m, I’m interested in this graphic design stuff, like, do you mind if I just kind of experiment with it for a little while? And I was like, yeah, like, I’ve got a good job, we have no kids very few responsibilities right now. Like, it’s not gonna hurt anything, right? So go, and let’s play around with some different ideas. And that’s when she again, reached out to some friends, Hey, can I design this for you for free, or whatever. And then it just kind of snowballed from there. But again, it’s you gotta step up to the plate, and you’ve got to take some swings, and we have plenty of other, you know, mistakes that we’ve made in our own business where I have stepped up to the plate, and I’ve struck out a few times. But at the end of the day, like, you know, it’s like a fisherman too. I mean, so many analogies, we can come into baseball, sports, and fishing, but you’ve got to put your pole in the water, right? And you’ve got to just cast out multiple lines, and see which bait is going to work, right and just test test, test, test test. And then when you find something that’s working, then you double down on it, you’re like, Alright, I’m getting some traction here. Let’s, let’s keep going in this area. So 100%, like, goes down to like, just putting yourself out there.
Amy: Yeah and the other thing about your story that was really I that I’ve seen, in parallel to the most successful entrepreneurs, is doing what you love. So you mentioned that your wife, she didn’t even have a degree in this graphic design. Like she didn’t even go to school for that. She just liked it and she had kind of a natural talent. natural talent is huge, right? So, you know, following that passion and all of that and what I’ve seen, especially in E commerce, when people start brands, around things that they’re good at around things They understand, it gives them this uncanny ability to connect with the customer. And to just do better go faster. And it’s like it creates this, like, electric connection that is, is almost seamless. And so you know, what, what about that, as far as you know, some different gurus are different about this, right? They’re like, I don’t care just gotta make money, right? Some people are of that opinion of, you know, money first, just pick something that makes money and other people are of the opinion of, if you don’t like it, and you’re know nothing about it, you’re not going to be good at selling it. So where do you lay? Where do you lie on that spectrum of, you know, should you do something that you’re more familiar with, that you love? Or should you just let the data and the money lead the way?
Josh: Yeah, I think that that’s a great question. I think I sit kind of right in the middle of all of that, to be honest with you. You know, for myself, would I have ever envisioned, you know, starting a wedding invitation business? Am I passionate about weddings? No, like, I’m not. And I would argue my wife is not overly like, vested in other people’s weddings, right, either. And so but it just kind of like stumbled into like, Hey, here’s an opportunity. And there’s room, there’s, there’s a large market for it, right? I think, like, finding a market is extremely, extremely important. So I liken this to you know, I love hockey, I’m a big hockey fan, I play hockey, but and I’ve looked at like, hey, what’s the hockey opportunity, like different hockey products and stuff on Amazon. And it’s like, and the sales really aren’t there. Like, there’s just not a lot of demand. And so although I’m very passionate about hockey, I love it, I could talk about it all day. But if I were just like, hey, I’m, I’m gonna go all in on creating this hockey brand. And it’s like, well, the market isn’t actually there for it. So, like, you’re gonna be fighting an uphill battle. Passion can take you so far, I do believe that it is important. But for me, I would, I would argue that I’m kind of like an opportunist, like a businessman at the same time, that like, even when I was younger, you know, I was selling, what’s funny is I sold multiple things. When I was little, I would hand make like little ornaments, like out of like clay and stuff that I would sell on the corner of the street, then I would sell like hot chocolate. Then during the summer, sometimes it was snow cones. Other times, it was just like a bunch of cat, pop, and soda and candy, and all of that stuff. And at the end of the day, I just, like kept doing what was making me money, right? Like, I wasn’t overly passionate about making Christmas ornaments. But hey, if they’re gonna make me money, maybe that’s a good opportunity. And so that’s the way I kind of like, see businesses like, yes, find something that you’re at least semi interested in. But most importantly, like, you’ve got to vet like the market and the potential, and what unique flavor can you bring to a market right? Or an opportunity, because if you’re just gonna bring me two products, to an opportunity, like let’s say, I do want to go into the hockey niche, and the hockey niche is a great opportunity. Well, if I’m not going to differentiate myself, and I don’t have a unique twist, or flavor that I’m adding into that market, then then you’re not going to succeed that way, either. So that’s kind of my thoughts. You know, where I come from on that question.
Amy: I love the way that you, you talked about that, because you’re so right, there has to be opportunity, you know, it can’t just be like I came up with this great idea. And all of us left handed. You know, tweezer users are you know, I came up with a left handed tweezer accessory well
how big is the market,
I’m left handed, you know, I get it, but it’s not a lot of the opportunity there. So it’s like, you know, you take your passion, what you’re good at in terms of, you know, maybe you you liked you like sales, maybe you are good at graphic design, so that can apply to any opportunity. And then you know, you choose your way to differentiate and make your mark in that field in that market. Right. And that’s when you’re able to that’s when all of the the stars align and we have great sales as a result. So let’s talk about that because that is one of the you know, I definitely want to talk about your your hiring process in your cloning process next. But before we get into that, let’s talk about what is your product research process like and how do you find opportunities because this is one of them. most critical things that will shut down a business fast. And I’ve seen so many people fail like this is I would say, in my opinion, it’s the number one reason that sellers when they get started fail is because they aren’t they don’t understand how to find an opportunity, they’ll just find an opportunity on research software. Nothing wrong with that. Yeah. But then how are you different? What are you doing? And most of them, they’ll differentiate, but because there’s so many sellers finding the same exact thing, they’re all differentiating the same way. And then they’re just competing with each other for the same market. So talk about your process and how you recommend that people change it up and master product research.
Yeah, so I think what’s interesting, I’ve learned a lot about this, when I first stepped into the Amazon space, right, and we launched recipe cards, for example, I went into that, because, you know, I put in all of the information there on Helium 10, or Jungle Scout can’t remember which one I was using at the time. And then it was like, hey, it’s making this revenue. There’s this many competitors. And there’s this number of reviews, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? And it just spit out this opportunity. And I was like, Oh, all right, great, this must be a good opportunity. Here’s what I failed to do, though. And fortunately, we did have some success. But I understand why people don’t have success. Because the way we approach it was we just kind of created like a me too product in a way. Now our designs were different. But we were just like, we just need recipe cards. That’s that’s what the market wants. What we failed to do was actually digging in to the keyword level data. Now, Amazon’s come a long way from 2016 with the amount of like, keyword data that they are sharing. And that’s one of the most important things. And we have just recently, within the last year and a half, have revamped the way that we do our own kind of detailed product research and keyword, you know, placement in terms of like, how do we understand which keywords we’re going to focus on? Where are we going to put them into our product listings, whether it goes title, bullets, description, back end search terms, right? We’ve gone through a complete overhaul on that, a lot of it comes down to going into the data on Amazon using the brand Analytics report. And they’re now coming out with like search query performance, like I mean, the tools are coming out. And I probably haven’t even scratched the surface of some of the other new tools that they’ve released recently. But I’m most familiar with, you know, going into brand analytics, and I love just going into brand analytics and downloading, like, let’s say it is recipe cards, right? I can just type in recipe, right? And see what comes up anything related to recipe, right? And then recipe card recipe cards, right? And just see, what are the an Amazon will show you based on you know, search volume, I don’t tell you the actual search volume, but in terms of search ranking, which ones are being more searched for than other keywords. And then what our team does is I have a team that’s dedicated to this now, rather than just you know, we use helium 10, as well to like, download all the keyword data from like our competitors as well. So we’ll get all of this keyword data, right? And I would say like, the secret thing that we do is like, then we go augment what is what we got from the competitors from Helium 10. So that’s step one, right? Grab your top 10 competitors, plug it into helium 10, run cerebro. And you get the keywords out of that, right. That I think everybody knows, that’s like everybody’s been talking about that. One thing that we do that I don’t think many people do is take the extra step to then go and take some of those keywords or those phrases, plug him into brand analytics and see what keywords are actually being searched for. But none of the competitors are actually being ranked for it. Right. That’s kind of like our secret that we’ve been able to find like, just go straight to Amazon say, hey, what other keywords are people searching for? Helium 10 is not finding them, which means people aren’t indexed or being ranked for these particular keywords. If we can find those, then that’s going to be easy for us to go in and launch that product. So we use brand analytics. And then one thing that we layer onto this that kind of coincides with our PPC launch strategy. And I think this kind of like formulates the basis. And the great foundation that we have when we launch a product now is that we don’t just look at the keywords and say, Hey, this keyword related, this keyword is not related, right? I think that’s typically what most people do. It’s like yep, these are the keywords that are related to my product. These ones are not. What we do is we actually have four different buckets of keywords that we categorize things. We Have shop keywords, okay, these are going to be like your hyper relevant keywords that you want to be ranking on on Amazon, right. So typically your longer tail keywords, but there can be some, you know, shorter tail keywords that are hyper hyper relevant basically. And recipe cards is a good example where it’s like, alright, just search for recipe cards. Yeah, that’s, that’s hyper relevant. People are looking for recipe cards, right? Our criteria for like a shop keyword is like, you search it. And definitely like 75%, or more of the listings on page one, are your competitors, right? So that that to me, tells me okay, this is a shop keyword hyper relevant is the type of product people are looking for. Then you go into semi shop, where you might it’s the results or maybe 5050, right, it’s like, I do see a lot of my competitors see a lot of other random stuff on here as well. That could be like, for the recipe cards example, that could be like a recipe book, let’s say, right? somebody searches for recipe book, you find a lot of recipe books on there, but then you find out 50% of those listings are also just recipe cards, right? So now I bucket that into like, alright, to semi shop keyword, like there’s a lot of search volume there. Then you go into, like, browse specific is the next kind of keyword attribute or bucket that we have. And then this would be something like, I don’t know, like housewarming gifts, or, you know, cheap housewarming gifts or something like that. If we see at least about 25% of the listings on page one being our competitors. But we also know like, Yeah, this isn’t like super relevant, like housewarming gifts, you know, then that’s where we would say, Okay, this is browse specific, it is specific people are searching for, you know, these gifts, and many of our competitors, or some of them are showing up, it is relevant. And then you’ve got browse, where browse is like, Hey, I would love to get ranked for let’s just say Christmas Gift Ideas, right? And Christmas Gift Ideas. I doubt any recipe cards are are ranking for Christmas Gift Ideas. But if there were one or two, maybe three competitors that are, then I’m like, Okay, there’s a chance, right? So you’re saying there’s a chance, there’s a chance, but don’t bank on it, right? Like, this is great. And typically, those are high volume keywords. But now we’ve got four different categories of keywords. So when I make a decision about the product that I’m going to go into, I’m primarily looking at how many shop keywords do I have? And what’s the average brand analytics ranking for those shop keywords, and then semi shop, because if we’re if there’s very few keywords there in the shop and semi shop categories, and I’m banking on trying to get this product ranked to the moon by getting on Christmas Gift Ideas, you know, then that’s gonna fall flat. And we’ve had multiple experiences when we were first launching products this like this one’s doing $2,000 or 2000 units a month, come to find out the reason why they’re doing 2000 units a month and everybody else is doing 10 sales a month. It’s because they just randomly got ranked really well for super broad keyword. But yet, you know, people just look at the opportunity and say like, well, they’re getting 2000 sales. So surely I can steal some of that it’s like, well, they’re either paying a lot for PPC to get ranked, or they’re sending external traffic or they use Blackhat tactic. So like, you don’t you can’t bank on that stuff. So that’s how our kind of launch strategy product research has evolved over the years.
I love it. That’s thank you for sharing that with us, I gleaned a lot of great information from that. And we’ll definitely try some of those cool techniques. So something you mentioned is early on in your business, you realize like I can’t do all of this anymore, I have to clone my wife, or somebody or somebody you know, whatever. And I think all of us business owners figure that out at some point. And either we fall flat on our faces because we don’t know how to even trust someone else to do something for us. Or we are an disorganized mess. And we don’t know how to organize processes and procedures in a way that we can even outsource them to someone. And this is what prevents people from scaling. And so early on, you had to figure out how do I clone the most important aspect of the business which is my wife is working 24/7 Doing all these designs and everything. How do I do this? And I think you know, there’s there’s a I’m sure there was a process first where you had define your own process and make sure that you could then call loan it. But can you talk to us a little bit about how you decided you would hire your first employee? Yep. How you came up? Like, did you already have processes in place that you were following that you were able to then write those job descriptions? Talk to us about that? How should people go about cloning themselves or an aspect of their business when they’re first getting started?
Yeah, it’s funny you say that, because I actually just recorded a separate podcast episode for my own podcast, econ breakthrough that was just about that subject of how do you know when is the right time to hire? And then what are the steps to take. And I have a seven step process that goes through that like how to hire a level talent, and spot it and all of that stuff. So there’s, I could dive in, that was an hour episode in and of itself. And so I’ll give you kind of the, the gist of it there. But to begin with, you know, if we rewind the tapes, like, so, we launched our first product on Amazon, like we’re talking November, December of 2016. Again, I’m working full time at American Airlines. And so at that time, it was my wife, and myself. And then we had my sister, it was kind of like, our virtual assistant just kind of helping a lot of different aspects of at the time was primarily the wedding invitation business, right? So that was the same team that we had, up until, really like 2018 2019. Okay, so we sat there for a good two to three years. And I call this you know, as I talked with, you know, one of my mentors at the University of Utah, he’s like, your job at American Airlines was your venture capital for you to be starting your business? And once he said that, I was like, that’s exactly what it was. Because I would go to work. And then I would come home, and then I would be immediately get back online. That’d be Wait, work until like, 2am. Right? Just grinding out doing things myself. And I think everybody can, you know, when they initially start to see some success, they’re like, Oh, I get bored with this. So I need to hire it out. Like, that’s not what we did, actually it. Now, could we have gone a little bit faster? In hindsight? Yes. And no. You know, we, I use this Oh, we’ll call it venture capital from American Airlines, my salary to be able to afford all these new inventory purchases, right. As we would launch new products, we generate income from that, we wouldn’t go out and spend it or anything like that, we would go reinvest it in new product ideas, right. So we kept recycling this for two to three years, at which point we had built up a decent war chest where we could say, Okay, now I could let go of my salary at American Airlines, and take a salary from the business. And hey, while I’m at it, you know, I think it would be challenging, like, I can’t imagine trying to do, you know, do American Airlines, and then come home and manage a team of people. And so that’s when, you know, I left American Airlines, that’s when it was like, Alright, now now, let’s start building out our team. So a couple things to unpack there. You know, number one, is a product based business like physical products, it requires capital and a decent amount of you know, cash flow, like you’ve, it’s really hard to not go cashflow negative, really quickly, you can overexert yourself with the number of new product ideas you want to get into. And so that slow growth for us was extremely, extremely important. And now it’s one of our best barriers to entry. Right? Like, we can go and compete in some very difficult niches where people who have got to bring you know, we just placed a $250,000 Pio for one of our new products. And it’s like, yeah, not many. There’s no startups are going to be doing that anytime soon. Right. But that has come, we’re 100% bootstrapped. Because, like, we kind of bided our time, so to speak, and we weren’t over anxious to just take this thing to the moon. Again, could I have gone faster? Yes. But for me, I’m more conservative than not. So I was like, you know, let’s just, let’s keep doing this can I do another year at American Airlines and continue to live off of that salary? And just keep reinvesting profits from the business into new inventory? So that’s what we did there. But in 2019, that’s where, you know, we were like, Hey, we’re leaving American Airlines. Alright, we do want to scale up this business even further. So where do we go from here and where do we start? So my advice to anybody that is kind of figuring out like, what should that first hire be? One of the most important things I think any business owner can do is conduct a time study, I learned about this from Alex scharffen. And you do a two week time study. And you’re literally like you have a notepad pen and a paper for two weeks, you are jotting down what you do on a day to day basis every 15 minutes of the day. Now, that’s tedious, yes. But if you can do that, you’ll be able to look back at those two weeks, and then you’ll be able to dissect and be like, holy smokes, like, the majority of my time is being spent on these type of tasks for the business, or, you know, hey, I’m spending way too much time on social media. Or maybe I could be a little bit more efficient with my morning or whatever it is, right? Like, you’re gonna learn a lot from that two week time study. But that if you’re trying to make the call for like, who you should hire Next, you should first identify what’s one of the biggest thing, one of the biggest tasks on my plate that soaks up most of my time on a weekly basis, then you start creating SOPs, right and processes around those tasks, that you were doing a lot of infamy, that was a lot of like, project management related tasks, where it’s like, alright, we have a new project, let’s start coordinating this and that and creating SOPs earlier on, then allows you to go hire somebody to do that. Because I’m, this was one of the mistakes I shared on my own podcast, one of the mistakes I made early on is that we hired like a marketing manager because I was like, we just want to, we just want to make more revenue. So I just needed a marketing manager that can just push things and just generate, like, create some viral social media stuff for us, right, like, but I didn’t have experience doing that I had no clear vision to articulate other than we just need to drive traffic and increase our sales, right. It’s such a poor way to approach it. And so it ended up not working out very well, not to the fact that she wasn’t a capable team member. But like, I didn’t set her up for success. Like, I tried to hire out a problem without myself trying to like identify the solution. First and foremost,
you know, that’s one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is they hire up PPC,
without, without understanding it.
Yeah, without learning it without understanding it, they just hire it out. And then when you don’t know how to audit, or communicate your requirements, as a business owner to somebody doing your PPC, you are bound for disappointment. And so are they like you were saying, it’s not that this marketing person was incapable? It’s not that the person that you hired to do your PPC is incapable, it’s that you have no idea what to expect, you have no idea how to audit them, and you’re not communicating your needs, because you have no idea what they are.
But 100% 100%
Agree, essentially, you’re just wasting your money. And I love I love what you do. And it’s not bad to outsource your PPC. But do you actually understand? Have you taken some cmo time? Do you know what your marketing goals are? Have you planned for that big sale that you’re about to launch with your inventory management, right? Like all of these things that need to be processes for your business that you talked about? Like you’re not thinking through any of that. So start with your processes, learn the basics, learn what your expectations and your metrics are, then you can hold somebody else to that same standard. But when you don’t have standards in the beginning, you you don’t really know. And it doesn’t mean you have to become a PPC expert, but you should at least know the basics. And then the second thing you said about time study that has essentially, for me, the most powerful thing that I can do. And I do time studies now on a regular basis. So first, I started out doing a time study and how I do mine is on a Google sheet. So I put a Google sheet out there and for and I just do a week at a time because I do more than most people do in a week, I’m a little crazy, I’m very organized, which means that I can get a lot of work done. So that’s fine. So I do it for a week. Two weeks is good, too. But I just put my Google sheet out there. And what I do is I have the day of the week, and then the dates. And then I’ve got like the time that I started that task, the name for the task. So checking email. Yeah, a little bit of a description of you know, I’m just going through my normal email flow, or maybe I’m responding to an important email that I have, you know, whatever, but I’ll put like a little description next to the tasks so I have some context. And then this is what’s most important about my time tracking thing and why I would have a hard time with the notebook. I then put a column in there and I say who is the prime Airi who for this task? So am I doing something that my business partner is supposed to be doing right now? Or is this normally my job? Like, is this normally that I’m something I’m supposed to be doing? So that’s important to note. And then the next thing that I put down is, is this task, out sourced double? So can I outsource this task? Like checking my email and responding to a supplier? Whatever, right? Can I outsource that? Yes, I can, you know, I’ll either put yes, no, or maybe. And then my last column is to who? Who is it outsourcing to? Is this an administrative assistant? Is it you know, just is it a marketing person? Is it a PPC person? Is it whoever and you don’t have to know the exact title of the job, but just giving yourself an idea. And so now I have a list of tasks and their description. And my average time spent doing it, whether or not it was my job, whether it’s outsourced will end to who and if I sort by the average time spent in that spreadsheet at the end of the week and doing something, and then I sort again, by to who I now see, oh, my gosh, I need a social media manager.
Yeah, I like oh, my gosh,
I need an administrative assistant like this is, you know, clear to me that most of and then the other key thing that I have in that document is their job description. Yeah, because I now have all the tasks that I’ve just written down for them to be able to do. And so it very easily allows me to take that and go, Okay, I’ve got it. And the other thing that a lot of different hiring experts teach is to look at those tasks, there might be stuff that’s outsourced, but you really liked doing it, and it brings you joy. So don’t you don’t necessarily even if you do spend a lot of time on it. If it brings you joy and you really enjoy it, well then don’t outsource it yet. Go to those things that you like least so if you’ve got top three position that you could hire right now, based on your time analysis, pick the one that basically you’re like, Yes, I need this off my plate, and I am so motivated to get the SOPs done and the trial tasks and all of that, like, you know, for me, like that’ll make me stop everything. Like I’m just like, Yep, I’m good. I’m gonna make this job description. today. I’m gonna make sure I got SOPs tomorrow, I got interview questions lined up, I got the trial task lined up and ready to go.
Oh, 100% No, I love that. I love that. I love your approach to that. I think that’s so important, like, wicked smart hacks there. I’m gonna implement some of those things myself.
Yeah, for sure. So. So yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think that that’s so important. The other thing that you said that I think people should really pay attention to is that you didn’t just start outsourcing. The minute you were still working for American Airlines, because you coming home from work and then trying to manage a team or like trying to even be at work and having like the VA messaging you or something like that would be hard. And I love how you really focused on you know, reinvesting into the business and growing this little egg that you had, like a savings nest egg, right? You’re growing this little thing, you’re making mistakes, will you still have a job to back you up? Right? Yep, you’re getting those processes down. So I thought that that was very powerful. And definitely folks need to visit your podcast econ breakthrough, we’re going to talk about that in a sec here, how they can get in touch with you. They need to visit that so they can get all of your hiring tips, because they’re so good. So just a couple more questions for you. Yeah. What would you say? What would be your piece of advice to someone getting started thinking about starting an E commerce slash Amazon? I hate calling it Amazon business. You know, what, what is your? What’s your advice to someone today? Thinking about getting started just getting started selling online?
Yeah, I think one of the most important things that you have to do is approach it from the mindset of that you are creating a brand, right? I think Long gone are the days of just like, hey, I needed to go find a product that I’m going to bring to market. I think today, and even if you want to remain relevant and successful on Amazon, or any other e commerce channel for that aspect, moving forward into the future, it’s all about brand. And we talked a little bit about that when it came to, you know, product ideas. And you go back and you watch some of those old how to sell on Amazon courses, and it’s like, all you need to do is go find, hey, wooden spatulas are selling like crazy. Then go to Alibaba and look for a similar wooden spatula and then tell them to print your logo on it and ship it to Amazon like that is so bad. Like that. It’s like in Nursing like think about now, right? But that is like what I think so many people think about Amazon right now is still this, like, I just need to go find a product to slap a brand on No, what I mean by like coming up with a brand is like what’s going to be your unique approach, I think Amazon’s a fantastic channel to start out in. Because you know, number one, they have a massive audience of customers ready to buy the purchase intent is super high. Compared to like getting into retail stores and all that stuff. You don’t have to pay slotting fees, you don’t have to upfront all of this inventory. And like all of that garbage and spend years just negotiating and trying to sell your way into retail, like Amazon’s like broken down, like so many barriers into retail, I love it. But what you can do is like, you could just order 20 units of a product and test it out. Right? And if it sells out in day one, you’re like, Alright, I’m onto something. What, let’s continue down this pipeline. So what what would be my advice, like, look at, you know, some different opportunities on Amazon, not just a single product, right? So you need to start thinking about, like, what is the brand that I want to build? And for us, our brand has evolved drastically over the last, you know, seven years that we’ve been in business? And that’s totally fine. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? And start with, you know, what’s going to be our unique selling proposition? How are we going to differentiate ourselves from all of those other overseas competitors, that the only way they know how to compete is just by lowering the price, right? What is it that you can bring to the table and say, hey, you know what, I actually have a good Instagram presence. And people love to follow me for my baking stuff, or the way I decorate my house, right? So maybe from there, you’re like, Hey, what are some good home decor type of products, right, that I could get into. And that’s going to be the way I established my brand is like, I’m going to be the expert in sourcing beautiful uniquely designed or, you know, curated collection of products to decorate a home. And maybe it’s seasonal products or, or not, right. But that’s the way I would approach it, like, look into yourself, right? Identify what is it that you’re maybe interested in, but then make sure there’s a product opportunity, right, there’s a market for that product, and then bring, you know, your unique twist to it. And then test like, the most important thing that I would tell people to do is to start with really low, you know, Mo Q’s, even if that means sourcing a product domestically, like, even if you are breaking even on those first sales on Amazon. And that’s the way it works for the first three to six months. Like that will be valuable for you. Rather than saying, I’m putting all my life savings, I just purchased 1000 or 10,000 units from China for this widget. And I’m all in on this, like, oh, that that would make me feel very uncomfortable, like Amazon so unique in the aspect of like, you can test things so quick. You can go by UPC codes and launch a new product real real quick, like, that’s so unique. So go test stuff out, see what gets traction, then start doubling down on what is getting you traction. So it was like a shotgun approach of ideas. But hopefully something sticks for some listeners there.
Yeah, I love that. You know, we started just trying things in retail, arbitrage and wholesale. And I’m so glad that we did that. Because we made a bunch of mistakes. Oh, well, good thing, I can return this product to the store. Because turns out I can’t actually sell it to things like wholesale, I started buying from wholesale and like I white labeled some stuff like I would just make my own packaging, and put like a two pack in there and send those in. And sometimes it would sell really well. And I’m like, Oh, I’m onto something here. And then sometimes it was like a disaster or the product was really bad quality or whatever my listing got shut down. But either way, I was always glad that I had invested like $100 into it instead of like 10,000 So yeah, yeah, I did all of that before I started private label and even private label, I’ve made mistakes so many times I’ve you know, put an order in for 2000 units that hasn’t worked out or there was a quality control issue, but I knew by then you know, okay, this is how I deal with something you know, I knew other techniques to use. So never put all your eggs in the one the one product basket because there’s just no guarantee even if you if you sold 20 units and it went really well. There’s no guarantee that that that that thing is going to take off. So just just like you said, just keep testing keep growing, keep innovating, keep you know expanding in different ways. I love that advice. Okay, next question. What about out motivation for you. So you’re obviously a very busy business owner today. I see you at a lot of events, which I love. And what what is it that keeps you motivated? Are you listening to podcasts? And are you do your own podcast too? But did you read a certain book that really had an impact on you? What is your motivational stay motivated structure?
Yeah, that is a good question. Now I’m doing some deep introspection real quick to see what that is. But yeah, one of the books that I’ve loved is thinking Grow Rich, right? by Napoleon Hill, timeless, classic, right? But the mindset is everything, right? And for myself, you know, my wife and I, we’ve been able to, you know, create this business, ourselves. And, you know, coming from a background where things weren’t just given to us, right? Like, we worked hard to get to where we are today. And I think a lot of that is because of the mindset, right? Meditation, and prayer for me is so important to, like, project this, you know, successful future or like, what does success look like, in my future? Right? What does that mean to me? So for me, when I look into the future, what my the best version of myself is, I have a portfolio of companies that I’m managing, I don’t have to run them day to day, but I’m bringing strategic insights into a portfolio of businesses. And at the same time, I’m close with my family, right. And I have the ability to work from home, and to be able to be around my family. And so I’m already seeing, you know, this has been something that I’ve been envisioning for, you know, five plus years already. And I’m starting to see that like, happen in my life, right? We do work from home right now. I coach, my son’s hockey team, his baseball team and his basketball team, right? Like, what I’m, I’m always surrounded by my kids and what they’re doing, because at the end of the day, like, life’s so short, they’re like, I could have $100 million business, I would trade that in for relationships with with my family and children and watching them grow, and creating experiences with them. So to me, that’s my motivation. I see in the in the future, like, Alright, I’m this business guy that has a holding company have a portfolio of businesses, what do I need to do to get to that point, but let’s not forget that at the end of the day, I want to be able to look back and have tight knit relationships with each of my kids, we have this family where we can look back and be like, Wow, we’ve done some amazing things. Together, we’ve created a lot of fun, and most importantly, that my kids can look back and say like, I am who I am today, because of my mom and dad’s influence in my life. We didn’t go to daycare after school, we didn’t like my parents shaped who I am not society. And so for me, that’s that’s the way I approach life.
I love that staying grounded is so important. And coming from a place of gratitude and focusing on what is really important, and not just the daily mundane, that tend to get us down. So I love that I’m right there with you. They’re trying to stay grounded every day. And remember what’s really important that seems to just success to somehow follows that I don’t I don’t know how it works. But I’m happy it does.
There’s other one little hack that I’ve loved. And it’s like kind of sounds a little morbid, in a way. But like, start writing your own eulogy for yourself, right? Like, think about your funeral. People are gathered, what do you want people to be saying about you? Right? What do you want your wife or your spouse? What do you want your children to be saying about you friends? And then start back like backtracking right, just as you would plan out a business like start backtracking and planning out your life and be like, what does that mean I need to be doing in my life today. If that’s the reality that I want to experience down the road and like too big mindset shift. And if people can get into that habit of like, future pacing and projecting like, oh, maybe I don’t need to spend as much time on XYZ because this is actually what what matters most.
All right. Last thing is we have to tell people how they can learn more from you connect with you. What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
Yeah, so I just started a new podcast. This came out earlier in October of 2022. And it’s called econ breakthrough. So it’s E COMM With two M’s and it’s available on all the, you know, normal podcast channels, but also have a website econ breakthrough.com that people can visit. And you can also email me at Josh at econ breakthrough dot com. And then each month what I do is I give away. One, it’s a strategic audit session where I do like a comprehensive, like business audit with your strategy and like where you’re going, what your plans are, it’s worth $10,000. And I give away one every single month, complimentary at no cost. And all people need to do is just reach out to me at Josh at econ breakthrough.com. And then they just need to in the subject line, say, you know, strategy audit, and tell me why I should pick them to be entered to win that. And so that’s just my way of like, I want to give back to the E commerce world because I feel like I am who I am today because of the other great people that I’ve been able to learn from other mentors in my life. And it would love to, you know, kind of repay that to other people than would love to see them succeed as well.
Amazing. So we’ll have all those links to everything for econ breakthrough and Josh’s email on everything, for that strategy audit in the show notes. And thank you guys so much for being here and listening. Please rate review, subscribe. We appreciate all of you. And thank you so much, Josh, for being here with us today and just sharing your story and you know so much about your processes and and everything we will have to have you on again just to talk about hiring
would have be happy to do so. But it’s been fun having this conversation with you, Amy. All right.
Thanks, everybody. We’ll see you next time.
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