James: Thanks for having me, Jim. I appreciate the opportunity.
Jim: It’s truly a pleasure. I want to jump right into your story. Take the ball.
James: Sure, first and foremost, once again, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure. I’ve been listening to the podcast since January is when I started Amazon. I did a little bit prior to that, some clearance item type things, but got into the replens in January and really pushed forward with it.
Jim: About eight months ago, right?
James: Yeah, so it’s been good. It’s obviously been a challenge. I work full-time so that’s first and foremost. The Amazon business is nights, weekends, any other availability that I have. Also I’ve been married since May of 2017 so it’s been a few years of that and we actually have a young daughter who’s two and a half as well. I have quite a bit going on.
Jim: What do you do for a living, James? I didn’t catch.
James: I’m in the business finance industry. I basically lend money to businesses for equipment that they might need.
Jim: You’re a numbers guy.
James: I am.
Jim: You’re really tracking, I would imagine, you’re tracking the numbers on this business pretty good. That’s good to hear. I’m excited to dive in from a business finance guy’s vantage point. What do you think about all of this stuff. We’ll get to that, not to jump ahead.
James: Yeah, you’re fine. Back to how I got started and prior to this business and things like that. A few years ago, I actually opened a pizzeria franchise. It was based out of Michigan. I’m from Michigan. Opened it out of state, ran that for about ten years. Learned a lot about business, learned a lot about work ethics, things like that. In the beginning, put in about 100 hours a week for about three months, so not afraid to put in the time. Understand what it takes to run a business and be successful. With that being said, obviously, every day is a learning experience. This business is no different. Every single day, I’m learning good habits, bad habits. This is a good idea. This is a bad idea. Just trying to continue to grow. I want to let people know that they, too, can do this. It is a lot of work but with the work is the reward. If you put the time into it, you will get out of it whatever you want. If that’s, like you’ve said in the past, an extra $100 a week for a month, or if it’s an extra $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, whatever that number is a month that you’re looking for, you can do it. It’s attainable if you put in the time and effort. That being said, that’s how I prior to Amazon obviously working full-time. Now I do primarily nights and weekends on Amazon doing about 25 hours a week into it. Then I try to take Sunday off. It doesn’t always happen but I try to because I have to have a little –
Jim: You need rest.
James: Exactly, have to have a little bit of time to just decompress. I learned that in my prior businesses where I just pushed and pushed and pushed and then sooner or later you just exhaust yourself so try to take that time.
Jim: It’s not even so much – what I found James, see if you agree with this. The physical exhaustion is one piece, but as guys, we like to think we can power through that. I think what hits you before that is the emotional, like what am I doing this for, starting to question your own sanity, the spiritual aspect almost, for me, that’s what hits. When I’m burning myself out working through plowing through Sunday seven days a week, you do for a while, but there’s a reason that God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. That’s a pattern worth following. For me, at least, you understand the distinction there. It wasn’t so much physically. I can power through it, and dude, I can do this. The emotional, the spiritual, the relational, you start noticing, I don’t know these people under my roof.
James: You have to sacrifice something, right? If you’re putting that much time and effort in, you’re sacrificing somewhere else. That’s in your business or in your family or in your friendship relationships or there’s other factors in life as well based on situational whatever your particular situation is, it’s a give and take. You’re going to give up something to work that much.
Jim: It reminds me a lot of, let’s not jump on this topic too much, but someone needs to hear this. You’ll hear doctors often say, people who are in the health profession one way or another helping people stay healthy, they’ll say you’re going to pay for your health. You can either establish little daily habits. They’re inconvenient and you’ll pay for it that way or you wait to crash and burn and you pay for it that way. Either way, you’re going to pay for your health.
James: That’s a great way to put it, yeah. That’s absolutely true.
Jim: I’m curious, too. You said 100 hours a week for three months. There’s got to be a story in there about the pizza joint. What did you learn that’s carried over? Maybe some hard lessons, maybe some good lessons. It sounds like you’re not doing pizza anymore. What happened? I don’t want to leave that little carrot dangling out there. I’m very curious as an entrepreneur.
James: Yeah, you’re good. I was involved with the owner of the company. He was my partner. The long and the short of it is, unfortunately, he got very sick so he ended up passing away with cancer.
Jim: Oh, I’m so sorry.
James: Yeah, it was rough for a while. Once that had passed, my wife and I had a discussion, she was my girlfriend at the time, we had a discussion on our future, where did we want to be. I was in North Carolina so I was ten hours from Michigan where I’m from. We had a really deep conversation about what do we want in the future and where do we want to be. Both of our families are here. Family is very important to us. We made the decision to move back. My brother, younger brother, stayed down there. Over time we basically got out of the business is the way that it went. To answer your question, those long hours, you learn a lot. You learn about what am I doing this for. I’m putting in all this time. What is the end goal? The goal was to grow the brand and build it and have ten plus stores. It didn’t come to fruition, but it is what it is. I learned a lot of lessons about life and family and working hard and treating people right and growing teams. I had a lot of people that I could trust and lean on. That’s what I want to do with this. Just continue to grow a team and lean on people and give them more responsibility. I was at the conference and seeing the different stories and the different ways that you can run your own business is very inspiring. There’s so many different opportunities within this Amazon business, not even touching on anything else around it. It’s exciting to see where this will go in the next 12 months, 24 months, 36 months. I’m excited.
Jim: That’s beautiful. You’re excellent at doing interviews, by the way. Very articulate. It makes me wonder if you’ve read a lot of books or something maybe. You sound like…
James: I try to read. I wouldn’t say – I would love to do more reading than I do but just try to be aware of – in the business that I’m in, finance and being around business owners and things like that, you try to really answer the question. A lot of times people will deviate from what’s asked. Make sure that you do that first. Answer the question, and then however it goes from there, it goes.
Jim: For that reason, you and I would both make terrible politicians.
James: Absolutely I would and I’m okay with that.
Jim: Me too, brother. The world would have to change quite a bit before I’d ever get elected to anything. Maybe local dog catcher, I don’t know. I love the theme there, too, tucked away in what you just said. You guys made a move away from this three-month experiment, lost a good friend and business in that tragedy, but you moved back to where family was. I love the flexibility of this business model because it does make those kinds of things possible. That’s not what made you move back to family. I’m not saying that. Just that theme of this business is so flexible, I often hold up my cellphone when I’m presenting the concept and say, as long as I have this and an internet connection, I can go anywhere. Having those options, it’s priceless. I think you’ve caught a vision of that. I love that you gave a little shoutout to our community. Yeah, we just here a couple of months ago had our big annual event, theprovenconference.com has the videos or maybe by the time you’re listening to this some dates on the next event. The community that has blended together family and building a business so seamlessly and so beautifully and you got a taste of that. It sounds like that’s the plan for the future is what I’m hearing. Would you like for this to take off and replace your other business? Are you planning on keeping them both cohabitating for a while? What’s the long-term plan here?
James: Yeah, so the plan is just to continue to grow. I’m at the point now where I’ve actually brought on somebody to help source. That’s more recent and he’s a friend of my younger brother who lost his job with COVID and he’s in between jobs. He has an IT background so I basically spent some time on Keepa with him and maybe three to five hours and taught him the ins and outs of the product finder and reverse sourcing and things like that that I’ve actually learned from my coach. I’m a coaching student. Learned from Adam, who’s been incredible and we just really clicked on a lot of cylinders and talked through a lot of different opportunities and things like that so it’s been quite a journey with him. That started April 29th was our first call so we’re a few calls in.
Jim: You’re about four months into coaching.
James: Yeah, but I’ve learned a lot. With bringing the new addition on to the team, I’m able to help someone. To me, that means more than anything. I can help him, get him a little bit of income, and then in turn, he’s actually helping me grow my business as well. It’s a win-win situation. Then as he finds the replens through online sourcing, I’m going through them with him and saying here’s a winner, here’s a loser, certain things like meltables and things like that that I’m not selling now obviously because of the time we’re in. I do all FBA. I don’t do any Merchant Fulfill just because I don’t have the time. I know that eventually I’m going to have to – Adam’s been pushing me to do that more with Q4 coming up. I’m staying in my wheelhouse right now. These are the things that I know and it’s growing systematically and I’m just letting it grow how it should.
Jim: Very well done. This is a great story. There’s a lot of directions I could go in. I’m trying to say what’s going to be most interesting for the most people who are listening rather than most interesting for me. With that being said, let’s jump into your business just a little bit. You’ve given us a few clues. You’re working it part-time as you can, evenings, weekends. I was going to say who all is involved. It sounds like it’s just you and this guy you’ve hired. Just the two of you pretty much carry the bulk of the weight. Are you doing the prepping yourself then?
James: I am. I do most of it. My wife has helped out a little bit lately because work’s been crazy so she’s helped. She’s a teacher so she has the summers off. During nap time, we have that little break from our daughter. She sleeps 1 to 4 so that’s our time where my wife, if I lay it all out, she’ll bag it and sticker it and have it all ready so that when I come home, I can put it in the boxes and get it ready to be sent out. One little thing that I will tell people is, if you do your own packaging and boxing and all that kind of stuff, depending on what level you’re at, one thing that I learned very quickly is UPS will pick up from your house. I learned a valuable lesson with this. There’s multiple ways that they’ll pick up. Once you go into it and you create an account and everything like that, basically, the ballpark figure should be about $6 per pick-up. They’ll pick up anywhere from one box to I’ve had 25 boxes. Just a little piece for people that are growing that don’t have the time to run to UPS or maybe based on where you live it’s harder to get to. That’s something that I learned very quickly that if they’re going to come to my house, I can work and still do everything else, and when they get here, I help the guy load the truck. He’s in and out and he loves it. I always throw him a water or a Gatorade or whatever he wants and it’s been good. That’s helped me tremendously. An hour here, an hour there, it all adds up.
Jim: It really does. I don’t know why that triggers a thought in my head, but that’s one of the benefits and values of our larger Facebook group and community overall is there’s little basic tips that you learn along the way jumping in. You see them and you can teach them. The synergy effect of our community, just imagine 66,000 people who each have a little tip like what James just shared with us and it’s free so maybe that’s a little plug for our Facebook group. There’s a link at silentjim.com if you’re listening or watching, jump over there when the show is over and jump in our free Facebook group. You’ll see tips like that all day, every day, just people helping each other out. Ask questions, offer up your tips. That’s a good one, have UPS come to your house. If you’re doing it right, it should only cost you a few bucks. Definitely saves you a trip across town. You’re using Amazon shipping rates, too, which are great, typically around I think we figure around $0.30, $0.35 a pound or so typically is what we’re paying, I think, to ship, but I don’t pay attention to that part of our business quite as much as I used to. That’s all being run by other people right now. You can really move a lot of stuff pretty quickly and pretty inexpensively using those rates. It’s all FBA. I want to hang out with that just a little bit. How many items are you selling?
James: Right now, total items, I have about 250 to 260. In stock items, right around 200 at any given time. Obviously, that list is growing, weekly, monthly, it’s growing. I’ve had some – just to backtrack a little bit on that. When I first started with Amazon, I took – even I guess let’s take it even a step further. Prior to getting into this group, I was not a part of Facebook. I could care less about social media. I just thought it was a platform for people to brag about nonsense. I didn’t have time for all that.
Jim: It is for the most part.
James: Yeah, so I found, I did some research, and I found your group through Google and different factors. I did some research on that and said, okay, this looks like something that makes sense. Let me start a Facebook page or account or whatever it is and let me just start reading and listening to the podcast and all that. That’s where I started it. From there, I did a little bit of clearance items prior to January. An item here, an item there, to learn the system with Amazon. I didn’t have a seller account. I was just an individual. I didn’t pay the fees. I didn’t do any of that stuff just the $39.99.
Jim: Yeah, you didn’t have a pro account. You had the individual account, which you just charge a fee per item you sell that way you’re dipping your toe in the water version of selling.
James: Exactly, so I made a decision in January, actually my wife and I made a decision that we were going to go see what this was all about. Let’s not just dabble with it, let’s put some time into it and see if we can really grow this and see what happens. I’m a numbers guy. We talked about this. My goal was to sell at least 40 items a month. That way it pays for itself. It’s cheaper than paying per item. That’s where I started. I gave myself $500 to start. This business, people say they don’t have money. They can’t do it because of X, Y, and Z. My business that I’m over $100,000 this year started with $500. There’s no excuse. You can find $500 anywhere. If you’re serious, you can do it.
Jim: That’s a great point. I would even say, to pile on the point you’re making, if someone comes to me, which happens frequently, people will come to us and say, “Okay, I’ve only got $25,000 to start this business. Where should I put the money? What should I do?” I say you’re going to need about $500 of those dollars and you’re going to leave the rest of them in the bank because you’re going to start slow. You’re going to buy a few things. You may not even buy anything. You may just find some things laying around the house and you’re going to learn the process. Lose money, make money, I don’t care at this stage. Let’s get five or ten transactions through the system. You know how it works. That’s going from zero to one. Then the trip from 1 to 100 is infinitely easier after that, just what you’ve discovered. Just getting through those first initial stages of, okay, I’ve got to put tape on a box. I haven’t done that in a while. All those little steps that go into it, but then after that, this stuff is everywhere. You got up to 250 products that you’re selling using our Replens model. It sounds like you’ve ramped that up pretty quick. It sounds like you’ve found most of those products yourself, too. I wouldn’t mind spending some time on that. What process did you go through? You go into storage, you shopping online to look for them, taking pictures of shelves. What’s your process?
James: Initially, in January, what I did was, after listening to the podcast and reading through the Facebook posts and things like that, I said, you know what I’m going to do is I’m going to focus on one store. It’s a regional store. I’m not going to leave that store until I get to $10,000 a month in sales.
Jim: A goal guy, I like it. I don’t think I could do that.
James: That’s what I did. My business went, and I have the numbers here. January was just under $4,500. February was $7,100. March was $15,400. April was $17,500. In four months, I went from dabbling to $17,500.
Jim: What was your margin at that point? I’m sure you probably know that spot on.
James: Yeah, so I was, in those four months, I was doing what Jimmy mentioned in his Replens course of targeting 40% ROI or higher. Most of them are around that 40% to 60% range and my net net was 18.6%, after I paid for everything boxes, tape, anything, was just under 19% – so not on fire but it put money in the bank.
Jim: Absolutely, enough to where a numbers guy was convinced, hey, there’s something here. Never mind the fact that a lot of your calculations involved buying those one-time expenses. Had to buy a scale, you don’t have to do that every month. Had to buy a tape gun, don’t have to do that every month. A lot of those one-time purchases getting set up but only add up to maybe $1,000 or so tops, but still, that’s a chunk out of your profits, too. Those first few months coming in around 20%, not bad. That was enough to tell you, hey, I want to get a coach, right? Because you said you got one about April. What changed once you got a coach and how did your process change at that point?
James: Sure, so the coach, what Adam helped me understand was taking what I learned in those first four months and basically critiquing it. Instead of doing 40%, go for 60% or higher. Instead of jumping on a listing that might have 15 sellers, look for a listing that has three sellers. You’re going to sell more. There’s less competition. Because what I’m running into, why my margin dropped was because I’m on these listings that have 30 sellers and it’s the race to the bottom. It’s eventually going to go – it doesn’t go to zero but it goes to where – a lot of people, they don’t understand the numbers in their business and they’re basically selling it for cost. I know that there’s no additional coupons that they’re getting because this store doesn’t coupon anything so I know that. That’s what the price is. It’s interesting to see because there’s different business models. I am a numbers guy. The net is what matters to me. I could care less what my sales are.
Jim: Right, yeah, for sure. You know what? I’m going to keep us on that for just a second on what you just said on the many sellers’ race to the bottom. Now, I would give you the exact same advice but I do want to say just for listeners who are maybe newer to this or thinking, well, okay, he just said don’t sell if there’s more than three sellers. I’m on some listings where there’s a whole bunch more sellers than that and we’re doing great. Several of us are doing great. The thing you have to keep in mind, too, when you’re analyzing, okay, there’s a bunch of sellers is one of those sellers Amazon and they have thousands and there’s no way anyone is going to make any money on this? Yeah, you can walk away from that. If it’s other sellers who only have one or two or three and they’re kicking around small quantities or you see the buy box rotating around a lot, we show you how to do that in Keepa. You can look at the data and buy box statistics in Keepa and see, wow, that buy box is bouncing around a lot.
What we’ll do sometimes is we’ll stay right up there in the very high margin. There’d be maybe 12 sellers cheaper than us and we’re in the buy box consistently because we have enough inventory and our inventory is spread out across the country. Everybody sees a different buy box depending on where you live in the country in the United States. They’re all seeing a different buy box. We may have the only unit that’s close to where someone lives, that’s what that customer is going to see. Even though it’s priced way higher, it’s the one that Amazon can get on their porch tomorrow. They’re going to check that box. Just as a little tip for you, too, yeah, absolutely love the advice that you got and I know it improved your business. There’s never a cold hard line that says, well, you never want to do this. The only never I’ll give in regards to the FBA is avoid, if at all, possible being the lowest priced FBA seller on anything. You never want to be that guy that’s encouraging the race down. You want to at least match the guy above you or be slightly higher so that the buy box rotates to you. Great point.
Hey, business-building warrior. Sorry for the quick interruption. Just wanted to make sure and remind you about our tremendous sponsor payoneer.com. If you need funding, up to $750,000, flexible repayment terms, no credit check, they love Amazon and Walmart sellers. They want to help you grow. Payoneer.com/funding, for 10% off the fees, be sure to tell them we sent you. All right. Let’s get back to the show.
You never want to be that guy that’s encouraging the race down. You want to at least match the guy above you or be slightly higher so that the buy box rotates to you. Great point. How did that advice that Adam gave you start to change your business? What happened next?
James: To piggyback off of what you just said, too, I don’t want people to think, oh, I got rid of all my products that have 30 sellers. That’s not the case at all. I reached out to Adam and I did discuss it with him. He actually said the exact same thing that you said. You said if there’s enough sales, keep your price where it is and it’ll come back, which it does. To your point as well, if you have enough units and they’re spread out across the country, you’re going to get that buy box, even if you’re 3%, 4%, 5%, 10%, 15% higher, it’s eventually going to come back around.
Jim: In some cases, it’s significantly higher. We have ASINs where we are twice the price of the other FBA seller. They’re sitting at $12, $15, and we’re sitting at $25+ getting sales because, again, we have enough inventory in stock. It’s worth experimenting with. Don’t go buy 500 units. When you say have enough inventory, just curious when you and Adam talked about it, what does that mean? Does that mean five units? Does that mean ten?
James: No, so I’ve done five on a lot of stuff to test, but I actually reached out to Rich Potter as well about this. He had said, you know what? Send more. A couple of other people in the groups, some of the other groups that I’m a member of as well within Facebook, they said just send more. If you’re selling it, if it’s selling, send more and your sales will increase. They do. It’s crazy. When I first started, I was only sending in like two of an item, two of this, two of each, and then when I literally almost doubled month over month, then that’s when I said, instead of sending five, let’s send 15 and just let them ride. That’s helped, too. I mean, I’m still very new into this and there’s so much to learn and all that. By bringing the coach on and my business paid for the coach, which I didn’t take anything out of our pocket. It was all self-sustaining, which has been nice to know that the business is supplying itself financially. Q4 I might put some money into it to just have that extra money to buy, buy, buy and be ready for Q4. This is my first one so I’m excited, anxious, all of the above about it to see what happens.
Jim: You’re still rolling off that original $500. You haven’t put any other money in.
James: I haven’t put any other money in besides that.
Jim: Even paid for coaching with.
Jim: That’s tremendous. I’d love to see your books. I bet it’s a Picasso.
James: It could be better.
Jim: You could probably teach us all a few things. I love it. Along those lines, I’m curious, as a finance business thinking brain, put into perspective this business model. You’ve seen other businesses. You’ve run other businesses. You help other business owners run their businesses. Much like I would ask an accountant, I love asking anyone who’s done accounting for 30 or 40 years, what business models are really rocking right now? What are you seeing out there? Because they can tell you, that’s their client base. Industries rise and fall. Put this one in perspective for us, if you could, using your experience.
James: Yeah, I mean, just based on what I’ve seen in – what are we in? We’re in August right now, the end of August, so what I’ve seen just this year, it’s phenomenal. The opportunity is really whatever you want from it you’re going to get out of it, even from a number’s standpoint. Initially, I was looking for 40% or higher. Then I bumped up to 60%. With that, I don’t really do any – I mean, I do a little bit but most of my products are over 60% ROI so now my net is 24.5% or even higher based on the month, based on what’s selling, things like that. To have a business that, at this point, it’s small, it’s run out of my home, but to know that this business could go ten times what it is now, not out of my home because my wife would probably – we wouldn’t be married anymore because there’d be stuff everywhere but…
Jim: Sure, but you could afford out of the proceeds of the business to have a space, or what some people have done, like Josh Rojas in Florida, his whole team is neighbors. The inventory just goes to their garage.
James: Yeah, I love it. There’s so many different directions you can take. I love his philosophy. I started this business to stay home with my family. The last thing I want to do is take people from that. I think that’s a great philosophy. There’s other people doing it with a warehouse and things like that. Once you get into the community and you really start reaching out to people and learning and actually listening to what they say instead of just, oh, yeah, I know. I know how to do this. I’ve been doing this longer than you so you don’t know anything. Just keep an open mind. If you do, you can truly be successful with this. Whatever the dollar amount is, just stay focused and have the right mindset and get up every day and learn and push. The sky’s the limit with what you can do.
Jim: I completely agree. I see it all day, every day. That’s the beauty of this community. It encourages me every day. I learn new things. I love that I’m the one that gets to do these interviews because I get to hear these great little tidbits and strategies and get inspired, especially by new sellers. There’s just something about someone who says, hey, just a few months ago I had no idea what I was doing and now look what I’ve got and they’re off on this trajectory. If you play this trajectory forward, even conservatively. It’s not linear. There’s going to be a little bit of a curve there. Even assuming a little bit of a curve over time and some economies of scale to kick in where it starts to hurt a little bit in different places, this is still, two, three years from now, you’ve built an amazing business helping multiple families support themselves, earning way more money than you ever have. It’s a really cool thing and it opens up all kinds of other opportunities, too, which I’m not even tapping into that, but the opportunities to educate others and become a leader, maybe become a coach yourself, write a book about your experience. It’s such a blue ocean opportunity. It’s why I get so excited about it. I feel like people get tired of hearing me say it so I have guys on like you so I can have an excuse to talk about it more because it’s just so great.
James: It is. It’s very interesting. Everybody has their own story, right?
Jim: Oh, yeah. There’s always a unique twist. I literally can’t think of an episode ever of this podcast where I’ve talked to one of our students where I’ve gone, oh, I’ve kind of heard that story before. There’s always a new twist, a new angle. I’m curious here. Here we are coming in towards the end of August. You’ve been in coaching since April. You’ve hit $100,000 in total sales. You’re creeping up on 25% net net, which is beautiful. What’s the goal for this calendar year? You started at the beginning of the year. This 12-month period, what do you think? Are you hoping to double your $100,000 these last three, four months?
James: $250,000 is the number.
Jim: $250,000 is the goal. I knew you’d have a number. I was too conservative when I said double it. $250,000 and I think that’s very doable actually because we’ve got the fourth quarter coming up. That’s not too bullish of a goal. If you can keep the inventory in, I think what you’re going to see come about mid-November, early, mid-November is you’re going to be selling out of a lot of stuff scrambling to fill the shelves. This is why Adam probably talked you into FBM a little bit. I’m sure he’s probably said this to you, James, and I’ll echo it for all the other listeners so you’re hearing it twice is Amazon gets slow checking stuff in. Every year, it happens, especially with all the COVID stuff going on right now and companies are getting a little wacky again, which means the numbers are going to be even bigger, but stuff could get slow checking in. You can almost double whatever it is you’re used to. If they check it in a week, it’s going to take two or maybe even three weeks. The time to really decide how all in you’re going to go is coming at us, October.
James: Oh, yeah. It’s coming, which is fine. I’m almost looking at it as, and we had a discussion this weekend, Adam and I, about the multiples because I have about 50 items that I’m not selling right now that, as soon as that October date hits, they’re going to be on the shelves as fast as possible with Amazon. That’s my date where I’m going to really focus on getting this Q4 stuff needs to be out the door and in Amazon by that meltable date so let’s all compile together and then as it sells, I’ll replenish as fast as I can and keep my fingers crossed and just do what I can.
Jim: The other piece you mentioned earlier, be ready to do some FBM. If I were to stretch your planning, if I was your coach, I’m not taking away from anything Adam is saying, but this goes for all of us, now is the time to be thinking, do I want to get somebody else in place who could make a little extra money for Christmas by shipping some FBM product, doing my own Merchant Fulfill? If Amazon starts getting real slow on some of these hot items, hey, you can throw them up for sale and sell them two seconds later, a lot of this stuff, rather than waiting two, three weeks for Amazon to check it in. Your margins are actually better, too, Mr. numbers guy. FBM, you’re shipping it – you can charge more for shipping than you’re actually charging the customer. You can almost double dip on your margins there and do really well. Some people, if you’re going to do FBM, Q4 is the time to play around with it because there’s nothing more exciting than going into a store and throwing six things in your cart, listing them before you check out, and they’re sold before you get to your car so you go home and ship them. It’s like, if I was doing this FBA, that could have been a two- or three-week adventure waiting on those to get checked in. You’ve got both options. Now is the time to start thinking –
James: He’s been pushing and I push back. I’m like, no, no, I don’t want to. It’s more just listening to him, and 90% of the things I do listen to, but that’s one of the things that I push back on and have been pretty – he keeps, well, just try. Just try. You’re going to want to. You’re going to want to. Thanks for reiterating that.
Jim: I think for a guy like you, what I would probably advise, and this is for anybody, now you’ve had a little taste of what it feels like to bring somebody onboard and you’ve probably had that moment where you’re thinking, why didn’t I do this sooner? Although, you did it pretty fast, I have to say. You’re moving it right along because you’re a numbers guy. Again, you’re playing a lot of wisdom by knowing the numbers. It makes it easier to make some of these decisions. From a pure number’s perspective, if you just get that person across the street used to the idea of, hey, I’m going to have a few things for you to sell every now and then, you’ve got to get them out quick, within a day or two. How do you feel about that and I’ll pay you hourly? Get a couple of people lined up, it really does open up a whole new line of opportunity for you, especially in Q4.
You know what I like to do, James, is we’ve got our Q4 groups ramping up. These are the kind of topics we kick around, provenq4plan.com. I’ll stick it in the show notes for the listeners but I’m going to get you in there for free so you can kick it around with other people who are excited about – am I going to do some FBM this year? Where are those opportunities? What are the hot products? It’s like, hey, guys, buy as many of this as you can. Go to Walmart right now. Clear the shelves. There’s 60 sellers but they’re selling 400 units a day so go get them, that kind of stuff. They do that in there. I think you’ll really enjoy that. Not that you have a lot of spare time but at least –
James: I’m going to make some for this. For Q4, I’m going to make some extra time. I’ve got some vacation days I haven’t used and things like that.
Jim: You’re planning ahead. That’s beautiful.
James: I’ll be doing what I can, yeah, to maximize this. Everybody talks about this is – there’s some people in the community that I’ve heard this makes their whole year. If I can turn that around and put a bunch of money in the bank and be ready for next year, that’s what I would love to do. One other thing I would say is that this isn’t for everybody. One thing I did take advantage of with my background is obviously start up a business right away, the name of the business, establish it as a company as soon as you can. The other thing I did, and this is everyone is their own person and they know their own financial situation, but I did get a business credit card right away. The reason for that is to build business credit. Obviously, there’s 0% for 12 months, things like that out there for anybody. If you are comfortable with credit cards and you’re responsible and things like that, I definitely would advocate getting some of that free money, use it for your inventory. You’re going to get paid from Amazon faster than your bill is going to be due and just recycle that for those 12 months. I took advantage of that and still am. That’s one of the things that I use to build my business. That’s how I did do the $500 and just only the $500. Just something, it’s not for everybody. I don’t advocate – don’t go out and get a bunch of debt that you can’t be responsible about, but if you are responsible, it’s an opportunity for you to grow your business organically the way that Amazon lets you. As you get paid, be adamant about paying that off.
Jim: I’m fine playing in that gray area, too, of using capital, using loans, using a credit card to grow a process that you have proven with consistency works so you leverage that free money to help you scale faster. Some people need to have that hard fast Dave Ramsey rule of don’t ever touch a credit card, you idiot. What are you doing? A lot of people need that, but if you’ve got a system that ten times in a row has proven, hey, when I put $10 in, I get $20 back, and someone hands you some free money, go ahead and put some of that in. You don’t have to go all in but it can certainly help you scale faster and that’s helped you get to the level that you’re at more quickly. That’s good advice. Proceed with caution on credit, but there’s no better use. For the believers in our audience, oh, no, you can’t go into debt, no, actually the bible talks a lot about lending and borrowing and doing it with a good ethical moral, Judeo-Christian ethic standpoint. Not the topic to dive off into too far.
James: Yeah, I don’t want to get too into it, but yeah.
Jim: Yeah, there is room there. We see it happen all the time. I’ve leveraged it, responsibly for the most part, my entire business career. I’ll say this. I’ve never gone out and gotten a big loan to grow my business but I have leveraged credit cards. I love those points. No one gets wealthy off points but I don’t have to pay to fly anywhere. We put all of our inventory through a card and every time we go to fly it’s like, whoa, we have a lot of points. Let’s use those up. Let’s go somewhere fun.
James: Especially with you, such a large family, I’m sure you need all the points you can get for everybody.
Jim: I’ll need all of whatever you’ve got for sure. Although, they are growing up and starting to pay some of their own bills, which is fun.
James: That’s good, yeah.
Jim: You’ll be there before you know it. A two-and-a-half-year-old will be 18 and you’ll be saying, what happened? Where did the time go? Trust me. Everyone says it. It’s true. It’s crazy how fast they change and grow. I love that you’re able to spend some time and you’ve got that as a goal to spend more time at home. You’ve got a home-based thing that’s not pulling you away. I imagine the pizza gig was pulling you away from home a lot. You’re doing this from home. One thing I would encourage you as a young dad, not that you asked, but for all the other young parents, too, involve your young daughter as soon as you can in creative little ways. Just putting stickers on all the boxes or –
James: She does. She’s downstairs with us.
Jim: Those memories are burned in their brain and you’re creating a little entrepreneur there. We’re serving other people. We want to make them happy. We’re working for other families. These toys aren’t for you. It’s for other little girls all over the world that are buying our stuff. That delayed gratification lesson of, oh, that’s not for me. I’ve got to work and then I can earn one of these. So many good lessons.
James: I would agree 100%. She does the bundle so she counts one, two, three and puts them in a pile and then goes to the next one, at least that’s the thought process. It works sometimes. I wouldn’t say all the time. She’s two and a half.
Jim: She’s got an attention span of eight minutes, maybe 30 seconds sometimes, but still those little lessons and the time spent with mom and dad, that’s better than anything she could get in the most expensive, private education in the world, time spent doing that stuff with mom and dad.
James: I would agree.
Jim: What other tips or any other strategies? Did you make some notes? Anything else you want to share or we can start to wrap this one up. The ball is in your court on this one.
James: Yeah, I would just say the biggest thing is my dilemma, and I’m sure there’s thousands of people with the same dilemma, is just get started. If it’s not jumping into the pro account, if it’s just selling a couple of things, learning the process, just start. If this is something that you’re really interested in, start. If you don’t start, you never know where it’s going to go. If you do start, who knows how great this could be. This could change your life forever and all it takes is you taking the first step. That’s what I would say to everybody. Just be persistent and consistent. Be consistent with your efforts if it’s – Adam was very big on making a schedule. You only have so much time. What are you going to do Monday? What are you going to do Tuesday, etc., the rest of the week? Do that every single week whatever it is. Little things like that will just catapult your business to the next level.
Start; watch the Replens. You don’t need a lot of money. You can do really whatever. You can start with $100 if that’s all you have. Go find items, learn the process at Amazon, how do you send them in, how long does it take to get paid, etc., etc. Myself included, I have to learn the FBM. I’ve been reluctant to do it. That’s on me. That’s a goal that I have for myself to learn that now and really push that because it’s only going to help me and my business going forward. Those are just a couple things. Then once again, thanks for having me. It’s an honor. It was great going to the conference, meeting people face to face, really having some good conversations and focusing on some new things going from – I went from an average sale price of $15 to now an average sale price of about $27. I’m able to sell the same amount of items but almost double my total sales, which in turn is going to double my profit as well.
Jim: Yeah, so you were encouraged, and that’s actually a really good tip. Once you’re good at turning $5 bills into $10 bills, use those same skills to turn $20 into $40. It’s the same process. Some people swear by and I’ve had some recent conversations on this podcast with people who are out there spending average $50, $70 buy price and turning that into $120. Once you’re good at it and you recognize a good Keepa chart and you know how to test, why not get out there and test in those higher price ranges? You can make a lot more money handling a lot fewer products. There’s some real economies of scale will start to kick in there in a good way. There’s some good things happening there as you’re learning these little lessons and hang out in the community. I’m excited to see where you’ll be in this industry. You’re meticulous. You’re calculated. You’re following your numbers. You’re following good processes. If I were betting, if you continue on this same road of the same amount of effort and determination that I’m seeing now, there’s no reason you won’t have a multimillion-dollar business within a few years, two maybe, something like that. That’s the trajectory you’re on if you’re looking at the math. That could be even conservative if you’re willing to grow your team, bring on the right people. This is exciting. This is an exciting business you’re building.
James: Yeah, that’s the biggest thing is the team. That’s the key. I would say anybody who’s listening to this, if you have a question, reach out on Facebook. I’m not on there all the time because, like I said, I don’t really use it. I don’t have it readily available because most of the time I could care less, except when it comes to this group. If there’s anything that you need, I want to help people in any way that I can. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford a coach. Not everybody is able to do that. Whatever it is, you might think that it’s insignificant question but if it’s something that’s on your mind, reach out. Whatever I can do to help, this community has helped me tremendously and I just want to reciprocate that to everybody else. I appreciate everything.
Jim: That is a very kind offer but I will tell you this, James, having done this a while that an offer such as that just could slam your inbox. I will tell you that the best answer that is very acceptable and full of virtue is to say, hey, you know what? That would be a great question to post in the forum in front of 66,000 people because I don’t know if I have time for it. By the time this episode runs its course, it will be heard by thousands and thousands of listeners.
James: Maybe I shouldn’t say that then.
Jim: I love the heart behind it but I’m just telling you, if you don’t hear from James, that’s why because a lot of people listen to this show. Jump into the free Facebook group, guys. That’s a good place. Any question you’d send James, I’d love to hear his answer to a few other questions, too, I’m sure, but neither one of us are as smart as the 66,000 people who hang out from around the world doing this business in a big way for years and years. It’s a good place to post just about anything you run into.
James: Definitely use the community for everything. There’s so many good people in the community. I don’t know how you do it, how you keep all the majority of the riff raff out, but it’s pretty remarkable to see how everybody is within the group.
Jim: I appreciate the shoutout on that because it is a lot like herding cats at times, but I am working on a book that’s about how to lead in a virtual community because there’s a lot of lessons, there’s a lot of secret sauce in there that the world needs to know. One of them is you do have to be pretty bold about kicking out the clowns when they show their true colors. They’ll go off mad and say all kinds of angry nasty things and make stuff up but you’ve got to be willing to do it. You can’t please everybody. You have to learn who it is you can and can’t please and stick to the people who appreciate what it is you’re all about. Serve those who are there with excellence and those you can’t serve, send them on their way.
James: Smart, yeah. Cut your losses and move on, yeah.
Jim: Exactly, you have to be gentle on the exterior but have a firm spine. It’s an interesting combination that’s required. I appreciate you giving a shoutout to that because it’s not easy. I’d say for every 500 people that ask to come into our Facebook group, only maybe 200 of them are still there a couple months later. About half of them make it in, and of that half, about 50 of those 250 are going to be people who are trying to, with some kind of side agenda, free promotion or sell something or recruit to their big offer so they get weeded out. I do some work. I appreciate the shoutout on that. What we end up with, instead of a group of 500,000 people where it’s a free for all, it’s 66,000 people who really want to be there and they’re there for the right reasons or they’re staying very quiet if they’re not there for the right reasons.
James: Which is fine, too, as long as they’re quiet.
Jim: Perfectly fine, happy to educate them. Maybe they’ll come around to the light side of the force.
James: Yeah, I would agree.
Jim: It’s been great hanging out with you, James. I think I’ll address the listeners for just a minute as we wrap this one up. Thanks for hanging out with us. Again, like I like to say, I hope you enjoyed and benefited as much as I did today because I certainly did. I’m just so encouraged. If a new guy can come in with $500, a young daughter, a wife, a busy schedule, and build a $100,000 business in a few months with the goal of a quarter million for his first year at a really nice profit margin, why can’t you do that? There’s no reason you can’t. That’s what we teach. That’s why we share these stories. Very little money invested, put in the time and effort, this stuff works. We’re here to help you out if we possibly can.
Go to silentjim.com, jump into our free Facebook group, like we talked about. We’ll have a link to coaching, which James took advantage of, link to our Proven Amazon Course so you can jump in and start going through the steps there. If all you do is sit back and listen and enjoy this episode, hey, we love you there as well. Just take your time and take in the good facts and build something.
God bless all the business-building warriors who are out there. It’s been a pleasure hanging out with you today. Another shoutout to our guest, James, you did great. Thank you. Thanks, James.
James: Thank you. I appreciate it.