Jim: It’s great to have you here, buddy. I’m looking forward to getting into your story. I’ve read a little bit about you, but let’s dive in.
Cabel: What is there to know? Well, I guess for me, this whole products business and e-commerce thing still feels really brand new. It’s only been just a few years. I’ve been self-employed most of my life, but I was in the fitness industry with service-based businesses. We owned private fitness studios.
Well, our story goes like this. My wife and I weren’t supposed to be able to have kids. We were told it was physically impossible for 10 years. Being a health and fitness guy, that was strange to accept, but we had all but accepted that. My wife actually had a serious concussion. Into the process of trying to resolve the issues with her concussion, she ended up pregnant. Four years ago, we had our first son. Isaac was born, which was a miracle in and of itself.
Cabel: When Isaac was born, we were to the point where we’re thinking about selling our businesses anyway. When he was born, our fitness studios weren’t in the same city that we lived in and stuff anymore. The thought of being away from the home as much as I was and involved in those businesses as much as I was didn’t hold as much interest anymore. Serendipitous when we think now what’s happened in the last 18 months with the pandemic and stuff. We sold our fitness businesses prior to all of that.
Jim: Wow. Reminds me a lot of the Rich and Shelley Potter story. They sold their fitness studio right before COVID as well. How is Isaac now and mom?
Cabel: Great, actually. Mom still struggles with some of her concussion symptoms, but Isaac certainly has been a big push forward with that in terms of allowing her to accept some of those limitations that she had. They’ve become less apparent and less obvious. In many respects, he was one of the cures, I guess, that we were looking for.
Jim: That’s incredible. Sometimes I wish this show was like a how families plow through struggles show. It’s a business program, but everybody has these stories, and you know what, my family included of. Wow, thank God for the timing of this opportunity where I can be home, be flexible, be a parent when I need to be, be a spouse when I need to be, without having to answer to another authority that’s like, “Nope. Time to fly to here for four days,” or, “Hey, sorry, everyone is putting in 70 hours this week, buddy, at the office.” You don’t have to do that anymore and those stories are just fascinating.
Well, congratulations, man, on the successes and be keeping your wife in prayer as well. So many people have – they’re plowing through some chronic illness or struggle and this is the business that allows them to do life as normal as possible in spite of those struggles. It’s a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing that, transparently. I appreciate that, Cabel.
Cabel: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Actually, I’ll finish with this because I think the best detail is here. Ironically today, as we’re doing this interview, is my son’s orientation for kindergarten. This was his first almost official day in school. But as we speak, we’re two weeks away from the first birthday of my second son. Not only were we blessed with one miracle, but unexpectedly a second miracle.
Jim: That’s awesome.
Cabel: Yeah. This whole transition for us was amazing. It was largely why we started to develop the e-commerce business even because really our e-commerce business is now really focused around our beliefs and the use of products that actually allowed us to overcome this transition, which was eliminating household chemicals and toxins and stuff. All of it is tied together as part of our story, but that’s certainly not the culmination of my Amazon journey, which I’m sure we’ll get into here.
Jim: Well, it’s up to you entirely. There’s a tradeoff in telling the world, hey, this is what we sell. One is you’re getting a lot of attention, that’s good. The other is you’re getting a lot of attention that could be bad, but it’s up to you. If you want to share with the world, hey, what it is you sell, if it sounds like your own branded product, then.
Cabel: Yeah, because I know this is to benefit many people thinking about the e-commerce journey and specifically the Amazon platform. I was a health fitness guy, so we started our journey as a wholesale vendor on Amazon. One of the shortcomings I felt in our fitness studios was always the ability to distribute physical products. We didn’t have a big enough audience to manage inventory and accumulate inventory, and have enough buying power to make it worthwhile and stuff. I was always looking for strategies as to how we could diversify that.
My Amazon journey actually started as a wholesale seller. As I got into that, probably like many Amazon sellers, you start to face competition, and thinning margins, and supply issues. That did lead us to private labeling, which is actually where I got associated with your coaching programs and your products, Jim. It was some of the guys that helped us put together our initial branding and translate that story into a physical product vision.
Now, we have some proprietary stuff that we formulated and developed, and then some private white label stuff that we do with several manufacturers. I won’t talk too much about our products and our brand because I don’t know that I think that’s relevant or whatever as much, but I will talk about any element of that in terms of how it could apply to someone else as far as getting their own business going.
Jim: Sure. Awesome, Cabel. Did you work with our HumnBird team then?
Cabel: Yeah, absolutely, with Nathan and Michael and Abe, yeah.
Jim: Very good, okay. Just to fill the listeners in, if this is one of your first episodes, let me just do a little sidetrack for a minute, Cabel. We’ll get back into your story. If you jump on YouTube and say, hey, I want to learn how to sell on Amazon, you’re going to get inundated with people convincing you that private label is the place to start. We disagree with that. We say, hey, you got to cut your teeth. Dip your toe in the water with some of the low-hanging fruit easier models where you can put money in the bank quickly without making large risks and the long curve of getting your business up and rolling and everything associated with it.
Cabel just spelled out. He went through some of that. When you’re ready to jump in a little deeper, take some bigger risks, you know what you’re doing, we’ve got a tremendous team that can jump in and partner up with you. We mentioned HumnBird. I’ll stick a link in the shownotes. They can help you with branding and trademark, and get you some beautiful images, and help you make sure you’ve got a great looking listing, keyword optimization, all that stuff. We’re good at it. We just don’t charge $5,000 upfront and say, hey, anybody can do private label, because we don’t agree with that. We like to see our students mature into that and Cabel is one of the students. It sounds like you matured into that process because you had some experience.
Jim: Getting back into your story, fill in anything I left out or add to. Let’s keep it rolling.
Cabel: Actually, I think it’s good to accentuate that point. I still have a good friend at – we came from the fitness studio space. They still have one of their studios, I believe, but about the same time, we were both curious to try and establish ourselves in something new with this ecommerce journey. That, actually what you just mentioned really, was the difference. I was using my old contacts from the fitness space to generate some wholesale products. I think retail arbitrage and stuff is a really great place for people to get started because you typically have more time than you do resources.
For me, it was like that was just too frustrating. I couldn’t be bothered, but I think if you don’t have a viable contact base to pursue wholesale or something that nature like everybody should start with something like retail arbitrage. While I was doing that, my friend had another friend that was established on Amazon and was jumping right into that private label route.
I remember being almost a bit envious because of what he was going through with the product development. It sounded so cool and their packaging. Everything was really great. You could see the math. The math looks really appealing when you start to look at your first private label product, but you don’t yet realize all the hurdles and stuff that you’re going to face and how that plays out.
I remember fast forward six months, and it was completely, the story was flipped. He was envious of what I was doing because, yes, he was selling his units, but he was making no money. Meanwhile, I had this very sustainable low-risk opportunity that was not massively profitable, but I could count on it month over month after month. It gave us the platform to move to where we are now with trying to grow our brand as our primary function.
Jim: Does your friend still have more inventory that he knows what to do with by any chance?
Cabel: In fact, I think he still has a bunch of inventory sitting in a locker somewhere and has forgotten all about it and left e-commerce all together, so it was like, yes.
Jim: It’s so frustrating. I get bolder and bolder in my message if I had the opportunity to stand up in front of 10,000 people who are saying, “I want to start an Amazon business.” You’ve got 15 seconds to say something. Do not start with private label. Start with arbitrage strategies and grow into it. Time’s up. So many people are out there spending thousands or tens of thousands filling their garage, filling lockers with products that’s never going to sell, waiting six months for it to get here from China. When they finally do, they’re excited, but then it just doesn’t sell. They’re selling it for a loss. It’s just tragic.
The core sellers and the gurus keep pounding on that message because it’s an easier way to get a lot of money upfront from people starting the business. Thank you for being a little mini advertisement for the way we do things around here. You’ve grown into private label very organically. That’s the way it should be done and we’ll keep pounding on that message until more and more people are finally finding us. I’m going to get into specifics on your story.
Jim: Tell us as much as you can about the product to give us a little hint and we can decide later – maybe you and I can talk after we record. Do we want to put a link to this or not and give people more information? I’m fine doing it if you are, but we can make that decision later. If not, tell us as much as you can, what is it? How did you find it? How’d you get into it? Sounds like you used some of your connections.
Cabel: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll preface this by saying I’m in a niche that probably nobody should be in. I think this is part of the entrepreneurial journey is that you continue to make mistakes and as you evolve as an entrepreneur. I have done some business coaching back in the fitness realm. It’s like you try to impart that wisdom on your colleagues and students in a way that allows them to not make the same mistakes that you have.
My preface is that I’m in a niche that probably nobody should be in. We sell health and personal care products. As I alluded to with our brand, we create products that our family needed. Our brand comes from a place not of opportunity on the Amazon marketplace, but something that we’re actually passionate about, care about, and our family needed. That can be good or bad. I think it’s one thing that we’re very passionate about the jersey and the uniform that we wear and what we’re trying to promote in the message behind it.
Simon Sinek book comes to mind, Start With Why. It’s like if that’s your philosophy, then this makes sense. But if you’re looking at where can I grow a profitable business in the fastest profit center possible, I don’t think we did it right. With that being said, we sell organic and natural, chemical-free personal care and beauty products. We started with things that we formulated ourselves that we knew that we had a unique advantage on simply because the knowledge that we’ve gained and what we were looking for specifically for our family. We fulfilled that need and started to grow those listings organically knowing what our competitive message was going to be with that particular product and then trying to branch out from there.
Right or wrong, I don’t know if it’s a mistake or right or wrong. I think everybody has a different opinion. Do you go wide or do you go deep? My philosophy has been to try to go a bit wider from a SKU base, and then weed out the nonstarters and the failures quickly, and then focus on the ones that really work. Though that maybe sounds good as I say it, there’s certainly problems that arise with that in terms of this inventory base and stuff that we’re trying to support from a broader array of SKUs.
In a nutshell, I don’t know. Hopefully, that’s helpful. That feels like it’s a little bit all over the place, but that’s a bit of where our private label brand came from and what our core philosophy is and how we’re trying to grow that brand at a technical level, I guess.
Jim: Let me just make a couple observations because I’m putting myself in the shoes as someone who maybe this is one of the first few episodes and they’re thinking, I want to start an Amazon business, and I’m thinking, oh, that means private label. Initially, the big niche markets that a lot of people fall into are the supplements. I can get my own white label version of a vitamin, like, oh, how easy is that? or a coffee, or a consumable stuff people are going to use over and over again, a cosmetic.
What I’m hearing is, man, it’s not a low-hanging fruit opportunity. It’s not like you put some money in and off to the races you go. You’re talking about some of the day-to-day struggles that questions people don’t even know to ask if they’re getting into some of these arenas, which again is why we say start small, grow organically into these. Don’t take big risks. Should we have 50 products or should we really go deep on 1 or 2 or 3 products, those decisions. Those are a big deal because those other distracting products that go nowhere, you’ve put time, effort and energy packaging, and production, and orders. That sucks up a lot of your time.
Learning to be methodical in your decision making. Learning when it’s time to move on. I like you got into even a little bit of that internal debate. I love that internal debate that you run into. So many people are told, start with something you’re passionate about. Me personally, I think that’s some of the most horrible business advice you can ever give somebody. I think it’s tragic advice, actually. It sounds good on paper, but the reality of it is, if it’s something you’re passionate about, you better find a whole lot of people who are passionate about it very quickly. You’re not going anywhere. Why not start with finding something other people are wanting and passionate about and put your own passions aside until you need them to tackle serving others?
There’s a lot in there. Rewind it if you just heard me say that. There’s a lot of intentionality in the way I just said what I said. You’re feeling the weight of that like, hey, we needed this, so we got into it, but in retrospect, it might have been a little better have you said, “Okay, what’s the market want? Let’s focus on that.” Get what we need for our family of course is a separate project possibly. Talk us through that. What comes to mind as I say those things?
Cabel: Actually, to touch on a couple of things, number one, you mentioned the supplement industry, which is something I’m extremely educated in and experienced in through years and stuff in that industry. You’re right, that’s a natural thing that people gravitate to. I can say that where my wholesale business started there today where I used to represent 10 or 12 different brands and wholesale their products, I’m down to having relationships with two and only one of them would be sport supplement focused.
It’s only my relationship with them that even keeps that going at this point because it is so problematic from a regulatory standpoint and all of these things. Especially on a private label side, you’re right, you see the ads all the time. But if I could discourage anybody from one niche or one product line in particular, that’s it. Don’t get into sport supplements especially as your first product.
For us now moving forward, and I will say, too, actually I think that start with something you’re passionate about is a lot more relevant advice in the service arena because I agree with you on the product side of things here. Especially you go from a service business where your margins are high and your potential profit on a per sale basis is super high that you can afford high acquisition and you can afford to provide a level of service and impact and stuff.
On a products base business where we’re talking about pennies and dollars only on a per sale basis, you’re right, you’ve got to have the volume. Forget what it is that matters most to you and think about what matters most to them. What really is amazing when those two things happen to come together, that’s where true magic happens. I would say the wisdom of what’s been acquired so far with what we’ve done is I don’t have any fear or angst today about deciding tomorrow that, hey, this is where we started, but we’re going to shelf our brand or put it on autopilot because I now understand the real opportunity of not being so emotionally connected to this.
Just looking at the raw data and going, hey, you know what, this is something I’ve identified that could be an opportunity and competitive, and because of the relationships and connections from our brand experience, I know I can have that produced or manufactured. That would get all my attention tomorrow if that arises.
Jim: Passionately pursue the data. How about that?
Cabel: Yeah, absolutely. I agree.
Jim: I’ll pursue my passions all day if it’s data-driven decision-making that shows I can serve a niche. Thanks to the contacts, connections you’ve made. Again, this theme comes up so much. People think, oh, it’s an online business. Relationships don’t matter. No, nothing could be further from the truth. Relationships, I would say, are even more vital because you’re going to have to work harder to establish relationships with people over Zoom and who live on the other side of the world. It’s harder than establishing a relationship with your next door neighbor.
The old rules of business, you set up shop, open up a restaurant. You got to make friends and get people in the community into your store. Well, now, you’re talking about a global. It takes more work. You’re going to be on the phone more. You’re going to be traveling a little more possibly, if you’re really going to establish a brand that matters.
So many good lessons in here and I’m going to try my best not to go off on tangents because I got these little things bouncing in my head. I want to hear your story, not my thoughts on your story. If we can pull it off, let’s do it. Let’s talk about your numbers. How’s it going? How’s business? Could you talk us through some lessons?
Cabel: Decent so far, we average about $40,000 to $50,000 a month. That’s at the level we’re at now. I’m finding this to be a tough level to break. It’s been pretty good growth up into this point. Now, to maybe put that in perspective, what’s maybe different about me than many of your guests is at this point, I operate almost exclusively on dot ca as opposed to dot com. We’re a much smaller marketplace and certainly some different nuances than dot com.
I think if we were in the US and we were able to really establish on dot com, it would be much easier to scale from where we are now to much, much bigger numbers. We’re pretty happy with the result that we’ve had because as the brands, we’ve only been focused on our brand now for a little more than a year. To go from zero to there I think has been a pretty good first year. We have pretty big – we want to be over the seven-figure mark with just brand sales for 2022, which at this point, I think is realistic, but not going to be an easy goal, so that’s going well.
Probably like many, it’s just the constant struggle of balancing growths and profits, too. I think what I’m really learning with Amazon, and I’d love for you to tell me I’m wrong, and then maybe give me the answer to this, but I find that it’s much like anything in life. It’s a bit of a two steps forward, one step back. We go through quarters where we have to invest heavily in greater traffic and expanding our keyword, our organic rankings on different keywords, and it’s expensive to do that.
Your profits get pretty thin as you establish and try to achieve velocity. Then you try to cut back enough to maintain placement and maintain that velocity, and hopefully, squeeze out some extra margin. But it seems like this is just part of the cycle that we’re starting to go through now.
Jim: Well, since you’re throwing me a question here, which I love when our guests do that because then I actually feel like I should be talking and I’m not just interrupting a great story. No, but your question, let me rephrase to make sure I heard you correctly, but you’re at the $40,000, $50,000 a month, and that’s generating some decent income for you. You’re struggling like, do we pour that back in and try to get to the next level? How should we be spending that money?
It feels like we take a couple steps forward and one step back, you said, because we’re doing a lot of those types of things. Maybe the shortest version of what I just heard you say is, what would be the best bang for the buck on expanding this bigger if we’re going to put some money back into it? How did I do? Because I can tackle that question if you’d like with some brainstorming that may serve the audience well and you as well as from what I’ve heard and seen. Is that fair enough?
Cabel: Yeah, selfishly. I’d rather learn than talk about myself all day, so if we can – help me and help other people, man. That sounds like a really big win.
Jim: From what I’ve seen, and again, I’m going to have to set up a foundation before I build on it here because I want to bring along everyone for the ride and what we’re doing here. If it was just you and I on a coaching call, I wouldn’t do this, but there’s a lot of listeners who are going to hear this and be thinking, wow, this is over my head. Well, no, it’s not. Come along for the ride.
We start you off with very basic stuff. We teach you how to turn $5 bills into $20 bills at local store shelves, and online, and that sort of thing, and you graduate up into wholesale. We’ve got some great new wholesale training coming. It’s going to blow your minds, everyone. You get up and you’re to the point where you’re confident in the basics. You know how to find a winner from a loser. You’re capable, which is a very important step you take.
This is a big deal for some people. Some people, it happens naturally, but the step you take next is you become emotionally unattached to the products you’re selling. That’s huge because if you’re emotionally attached, you make bad decisions. It’s not your children. These are dollars floating in and out of your bank account. No emotional attachment whatsoever to your products.
Once you’re at that level where you can make data-driven decisions, you’re ready for this message where, what I’m about to say had we just been talking at coaching call, and the most valuable asset you will have, Cabel, in your business ever. Do you know what I’m about to say next, the most valuable asset you’ll ever have? Have you ever heard me talk about this before?
Jim: Do you want to take a shot at what it is? Maybe the listeners could pause, too, and see if they know what I’m about to say. What’s the most valuable asset you could have in e-commerce?
Cabel: It’s always going to be the data.
Jim: Data fuels your decision-making, but that’s not the asset.
Jim: The asset is an audience of people who can’t wait to hear from you.
Jim: That’s the most valuable asset you will ever have. It beats cash in the bank, I mean, almost to me. I’d rather have that. If you’ve got an audience of people who can’t wait to hear from you – which Amazon, by the way, does a decent job of preventing from happening, but they don’t kill it entirely because you can get away with building a relationship with those people, the registration card, those things, brand registry. It allows you to do some of that. I’m not going to dive into those weeds, but you can put your website on your product and Amazon is okay with that if it’s a registered product.
Over time, what you want to be doing is establishing a community of people who want to hear from you on the topics. Now, you’re a provider not just of great products, but of information and education content. That asset is invaluable. I’ll tell you a very specific story about this for those who are familiar with Mike Brown, Death Wish Coffee story. One of the biggest success stories to ever come from our community. At any given time, he’s one of the top 10 grocery items on Amazon, not top 10 coffees, top 10 grocery items on Amazon.
At the point where his business really took off, it’s a great story. You can go back in time and listen. He’s been on the show a few times. It’s pretty amazing. From his mom’s garage to tens of millions of dollars, it’s probably $100 million company at this point. I don’t know. I’m guessing totally. I’ve never heard the number.
One of the phone calls I got from him at one point after I encouraged him to send an email to his list, he sent an email for the first time. He started growing his list. He finally had an email list and sent an email blast out. He had a bigger week that week than he did when he was on the Super Bowl. Literally won a Super Bowl ad, huge exposure for his website. He had a Shopify site. It didn’t break. It stayed up and he did a huge week of business on the heels of the Super Bowl ad being played and replayed.
Jump three and four months later after the Super Bowl, he hit his email list and blew away the sales results of a Super Bowl ad, multi million dollar Super Bowl. He didn’t pay for it, by the way. We helped him win that in a social media contest. Our community got behind him. Great story. I think you can still go to pickmikebrown.com, P-I-C-K mike brown dot com, and see some of the story there if you’re interested.
The lesson for you, Cabel, is, man, you got to grow an audience. At some point, your products need to be on Shopify. They need to be on somewhere besides Amazon and you’ve got to start growing an audience. Even if it’s some organic, Facebook contests, Facebook group, that sort of thing, are you doing any social media efforts to grow your audience?
Hey, business building warriors, 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.
At some point, your products need to be on Shopify. They need to be on somewhere besides Amazon and you’ve got to start growing an audience. Even if it’s some organic, Facebook contests, Facebook group, that sort of thing, are you doing any social media efforts to grow your audience?
Cabel: It’s funny that we’re talking about this actually because this is exactly what we’re doing right now. We’re working with another group with us. When you’re at these transitional stages, you wear many hats when you’re at these transitional entrepreneurial stages. We’re actually working with some other people right now to develop this offline entity, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
This whole fall is a series of small product giveaways, anniversary giveaways, these types of things. That’s all it is. That’s all it is, is for us to build and establish our email list because it’s a bit too small, and then figuring out how we can utilize that better through Amazon Attribution and stuff.
What’s interesting that we are finding – because I’m completely new to e-commerce, so probably anybody that’s been in e-commerce is like, duh. For me, this is still new and fascinating is just how much more difficult it is to get somebody to purchase through our Shopify store than it is to get somebody to purchase off Amazon because of the trust authority and weight that Amazon carries when they bring people in and that intent that the buyer has when they’re surfing through the marketplace. It’s really fascinating stuff, I think.
Jim: Yeah, it’s hard to establish that trust.
Jim: One of the things you can do is you can have the best of both worlds is you’ll give up some of your margin doing this, but you can drive that email traffic to Amazon.
Jim: If you do it in a way that produces an organic result for Amazon, then suddenly, you find yourself getting boosted in the ranks as well. Rather than send them to a link straight to your product, say, hey, guys, go to Amazon and put in this search phrase. You may have to scroll. We’re somewhere between number 6 and number 14 on the page, but buy the product and let us know what you think.
That thing where you’re pushing people to organically discover your product, that will really boost the algorithm for the keywords that they used when they performed the search. That’s another one of those phrases where some people are going to go, “What did he just say that went over my head?” Rewind it. Listen to it three or four times. It makes sense if you hear it in the order that I said it. I can speak quickly sometimes. That’s a great way. Rather than sending a link straight to your product, Amazon doesn’t necessarily reward that with as much rank log as they would, if people organically discover using whatever hot keywords you tell them to use.
Cabel: You know what, while we’re talking about this, I think for people that are looking at an Amazon business or getting into the e-commerce space, when you do anything new, it’s intimidating. Just getting through the first 30, 90, 180 days, first year is really hard because you’re going to have all this self-doubt and fear and this intimidation that comes along with learning anything new.
What I think is so amazing about the platform and the opportunity that exists on Amazon is what we’re talking about now is absolutely key. This is the transition that we’re making because we’re at that stage now where we’ve reached a sales level that it’s getting quite expensive to keep driving that forward quickly with PPC and on Amazon tools. Now, we’re looking, okay, well, how do we just let that go and try to maintain our organic velocity so that we can invest fully in exactly what we’re talking about off Amazon traffic that doesn’t necessarily have a discernible ROI today, but for the purpose of acquiring that audience that once it’s within our control, it becomes the cheapest database ever? I understand and know that very well from my service businesses, but it’s been to relearn that lesson here.
I think what’s really cool for new sellers is if that does sound intimidating and scary and stuff, well, the reality is, is even for me, it still is even though I did that in my fitness businesses. But the cool thing is, is that we’ve been able to get this far almost exclusively with the tools that are presented right there for you on Amazon. Man, anybody can learn the basics of those tools in just a couple of hours, right?
Jim: That’s right, yeah. Our philosophy around here is let’s get you some early wins. Let’s get you putting money in the bank, convince this is legitimate, confidence rolling in the right direction, then you’ll hit those marks where you’re at. It’s like, I got to put in another $10,000 to make an extra two. Man, is there a better way? This is the better way. You come to that conclusion. I’m going to need an audience. Eventually, all roads lead to that shiny city on a hill called build your own audience or have control of an audience. Partner up with somebody who has an audience. That’s just as good.
Going back to the Mike Brown story, that’s exactly how he rocketed to success was he didn’t have a list of people who wanted to buy coffee from him when he started, but he knew who the coffee influencers were and he started working with them. He sent them these amazing gift baskets and said, “Hey, if you like it, let me know what you think. I’m not asking for anything in return.” They started telling their audiences about it because it was great stuff, made friends, built relationships. Pretty soon, those circles are overlapping and his audience is growing.
That’s the internet marketing game from my vantage point is, having a lot of people that know, like, and trust you and working with other people who have audiences that they know, like, and trust them, and finding ways to work together in mutually beneficial ways that synergy then the three-way win. I haven’t talked about it in quite some time, but that’s what I’ve done for 20 years is create three-way wins. That’s the magic, three-way wins over and over again. Find someone who has an audience. Work with them.
Now, the beauty of Amazon is you can cut your teeth and build. We’ve got people with $3 million, $5 million, $7 million businesses and they’re just selling products to strangers, and that’s great. At some point, the game involves having people who will listen when you speak either in your own audience or an audience that you’re a part of as a leader. That’s the next step for you.
If we were going to have four or five coaching sessions, we’d spend a lot of time on that topic. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and happy to help you out as well, Cabel, on that journey, part of your journey, so let me know how it goes as it’s going along.
Jim: I can point you in the right direction. I’ve been doing this a while, man.
Cabel: This, I know.
Jim: What else from your story? What else can we learn? I wouldn’t mind hearing some margin either. We’ve thrown the 40,000 and 50,000. What are the margins on a private label product these days in the health niche?
Cabel: For us, it really varies. Probably the same as everybody, but we average 20%. It’s where we end up after all being said and done. If we’re for much less than that, because like I said, my philosophy to this point was once I got through these things that I really knew well and that we could develop ourselves to be somewhat proprietary and fill a gap that was there, it was like, okay, well, how can we expand our offering quickly with some white label products from a few different manufacturers? Those ones are always a little bit trickier because when you’re dealing with the middleman that’s done the work to produce and then you’re telling into their production, of course they’ve got to make money and stuff, too, so the margins become a little bit trickier.
For us, that’s what we look for. We won’t support a product for very long if we can’t achieve that net 20%. Certainly, with some of our proprietary products like our first product that we launched, does much better than that. It’s our bread and butter. That’s what we’re looking for and see that as the scalable opportunity.
I always look at this in terms of this is supporting everything. Not only just producing the product and shipping it to Amazon, but anything that we do behind the scenes like advertising, marketing or warehousing costs, anybody that we work with and stuff. I just look at it from a holistic standpoint. I know some people can get pretty hung up on, well, if I put it on Amazon and list it for this and after their fees and stuff, I make this. We don’t operate that way. You got to consider the whole game, otherwise, it’s pretty hard to have any longevity, I think.
Jim: Knowing your numbers is vital. Are you doing any FBM, Merchant Fulfill yourself or you’re sending it all FBA?
Cabel: No, we don’t do any FBM primarily because Canada is much different than the US. Shipping is atrocious here. It’s atrocious everywhere, but Canada is a whole different animal from the US in that respect and that FBM is extremely difficult. To do on Amazon, FBM with their fees, I don’t know how anybody could do it and be profitable. I guess if you had something that was 15 or 20X like a physical product you were producing in China perhaps, but yeah, in our niche, I don’t see that’s possible. On top of that, our products are a bit heavier than some of the classic stuff that people would pursue. That’s another reason not to be in this niche because that also is challenging that way.
Jim: So it’s all FBA?
Jim: For the listener’s sake, you guys don’t have, sounds to me, you don’t have a big warehouse somewhere. Stuff moves through pretty quickly. You’re not storing yourself and waiting for it to sell. You’re using Amazon as your warehouse.
Cabel: Yeah, correct. We maintain a small warehousing space only mainly because of the impact of the pandemic. I don’t think the US was impacted the way here was either, but we went through a thing last year, which is also why we’re actually not further ahead, but Amazon here decided overnight to reduce inventory allotments by 60%.
Jim: That’s right, yeah.
Cabel: We found ourselves in a situation where, thankfully, we were stocked almost to max, but then it becomes a logistical management nightmare as your fast views begin to sell through and your slowest views are sitting there, especially when your philosophies go wide and not necessarily deep. It created some challenges for us that definitely set us back probably six months on our journey. We do have a small warehousing space as a means to adapt from that.
The other thing about being in this health space is everybody is starting to see now supply chain issues and ingredient costs and stuff are anybody’s guess from month to month right now. We took the stance of being very invested and knowing where our future is going. We’ve allocated and acquired a number of ingredients and packaging and things like that, so we can have some time to see how all of this plays out, which I think is going to be the next hurdle for a lot of sellers for sure.
Jim: This just occurs to me as I’m listening to you talk through all the different moving parts of this business you’ve built just business building entrepreneurs truly are the unsung heroes of modern culture. Just the stuff that all people see on the outside is like, you made how much money last year? Well, I only made this much working for a man. You do not understand the risks, the blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights. I just pulled the trigger and I don’t know if it’s going to make me $150,000 the next three months or if I just lost 30 grand. I have no idea and time will tell.
Creating jobs as we go, helping happy customers with our products, people just have no idea until you step into that world, which again was why it’s important to start small. Man, if there’s anything that I can do to help you on your journey, I’m talking privately after this is over, if you run into some decision points you want to balance it off as some other people get some ideas, that’s what this community is all about. Have you made some connections in the community outside of our coaching team, have you got anyone else that you bounce things off of, any mastermind or anything like that?
Cabel: Yeah, not so much on a regular basis, but periodically, when the need arises, yes. This is the shameless unsolicited plug really. Having been self-employed and been an entrepreneur most of my life, having done some entrepreneurial coaching in the fitness realm, it’s like I’ve always been somebody that understands and sees the value of coaching and being part of the coaching type communities. Your coaching program was not the first one I tried. I wasted a lot of money. I wasted a lot of money on a lot of other coaching programs.
I loved you guys and still love the community. This is why I do stay connected and why I do have those periodic engagements with a number of members from your community is it wasn’t the same. It just wasn’t the hard pressure pitch. It wasn’t the massive amounts of money upfront and it was that, hey, you know what, just start small and approach this in a way that’s comfortable for you to get your feet wet.
The underlying tone for me in that was just make sure you get through the intimidation and survive because if you do on the other side, it’s something great. That’s my shameless plug, Jim. I’m not as engaged as I should be, so it’s good that we can connect this way because it’s a reminder that I should be. Yeah, the community has been really wonderful and in many ways largely responsible why we are still in this business because it was a sincere and genuine community after previous experiences that were not so much.
Jim: Well, hey, I certainly appreciate that. For some perspective, yeah, we’ve been doing this about 17 years coaching e-commerce. I look around sometimes and just shake my head at some of the shiny object coaching programs that pop up, and I can tell you, I can almost circle the date on my calendar. They’ll be gone by this date. Here’s what’s going to take them out. It’s not that I’m all wise. I’ve just seen it 50 times in a row. If you flip a coin 50 times and it comes up heads every time, it’s a two-headed coin. That’s not prophesying. That’s just I’ve seen it before.
Those coaching programs that pop up that way charging way too much money, way over promising, and it’s all about one person in the middle, they crash and burn. What I love about our coaching program is I was the smartest guy on our coaching team for a total of about three months and when it was just me, and then that stopped being true. Now, it’s dozens and dozens of us. By far, I’m far from being the smartest guy on pretty much any topic. There’s a handful of them where I can hold my own, but this team is just incredible, and the businesses that have been built, and the teacher’s heart that comes through from all of our coaches, it’s just successful students. At some point, you may be one of our coaches, Cabel. Who knows?
Jim: All depends on how much you’re spending time with people, that’s it. Well, this is great, too. I love that. That was a great shameless plug. We’ll probably turn that into a little sound bite or something. We’re going to start doing more of that. What else do you want to share with the listeners today? Anything, just speak from the heart or maybe there’s a lesson, a hard lesson you learned along the way or just anything else. You’ve already provided some great valuable content. It probably just feels like, that’s just my story, but there’s some really, really great nuggets that we’ve already shared. I think it’s going to really help some folks. But anything else come to mind?
Cabel: Not totally. I guess if we were looking for a place to begin to wrap up and wind down, it’s like if I was speaking to myself four years ago, it would just be just try to set realistic goals and set an audacious goal, but look in the mirror and keep grounded in the why. Why is it important to you? Why is this important for you to succeed? Probably everybody comes from a different place, but I think for more people, especially in the world that we live in today, it’s really just about trying to have a means to support your family in a safe, sustainable way that gives you the control of your life.
I think the greatest thing about this business and just even really the world that we live in now is information is so accessible to us that if you’re willing to invest the time in yourself, truly, anybody can do this. We haven’t done anything that I think is really all that magical yet, but I know what we’re now capable of and it’s interesting. It’s interesting to look back, so I would just encourage people to try to keep self-doubt at bay and set some small goals. Just every 30 days, just try to take a small step forward. Be 1% better.
Jim: Oh, that’s good. Have you read the Compound Effect?
Jim: Good book.
Jim: Those tiny little incremental steps in the right direction can take you to some incredible places. That’s certainly a theme in our community. We encourage people that all the time. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to take any steps backwards. You got to look at it about a month at a time like you said and like, did I move the ball forward this month overall in general and in what ways do I need to try to move the ball forward next month? What little ways? You’re always going to be learning.
The world has passed by people who think, I’m done learning. I’m out of school. Nope. Actually, you’re going to be unlearning a whole lot of stuff about how the world actually works if you’re going to succeed if you went through most public school systems. I’m actually writing a book on that topic. I got to get to that. It’s going to be a fun – probably pretty controversial, but very fun book for me to put together, all the things I had to unlearn from my public education. Had some great teachers, but there were some very bad lessons drilled into my head through the experience and all of this, I think.
Cabel: Of course.
Jim: Well, Cabel, it’s been really cool hanging out with you, man. I have a feeling that the two of us could just sit and talk and create some interesting strategies. I think you’ve got some great coaches as well on the team that are pushing you forward as well, so it sounds like we’re going to be hearing from you some more. I’m excited to see where your story goes next and to where your Amazon sales right now are just a fraction of what you’ve built because it sounds like you’ve got some pretty passionate users.
Before we wrap it up, have you identified some of your most passionate users by any chance, like people who seem to order over and over? Do you know how some of those folks are? Do you have a handful of them?
Cabel: Yeah. I’m actually not so good at understanding that end of Amazon yet, but just the slow growth that we’re seeing off Amazon as we begin to develop our audience and work with those people, yes. Really, our big goal – maybe this is a good place for us and where are we going with our brand. The big goal for us is to be quite healthy off Amazon and really influencing people’s lifestyle in how they associate and think about their health wellness and the products they use. For us, it’s like the subscription box, which really requires that great relationship with the customer to identify and understand those things.
Actually, just in the last 90 days, we’ve been really setting up our subscribe and save and stuff on Amazon, and a bit shocked actually at how quick that adoption is coming because we weren’t necessarily certain that that was going to work great with our products. It’s been actually pretty mind blowing, so we’re really deep down that path right now of understanding better our customer because before, we were just focused. Like you said, we were just really focused on something to strangers and pretty content with that, but it’s really neat to see what’s happening right now.
Jim: Yeah, the lifetime value of an enthused user of your product is just incredible compared to what you guys are seeing now. You guys are actually a perfect case study. I know we’re trying to wrap this episode up, but it just popped into my head. You’re a perfect case study of – I was asked – I’ve mentioned this on a handful of episodes in the past, but I was once asked by a senior VP at Amazon.
He knows I represent a large community of people who sell on the platform and a large number of people listen to us and trust our messaging. His question to me was, “Hey, what would you change? Speaking as a third-party seller, someone who represents a lot of third-party sellers, what would you change at Amazon?”
The short version of what I shared with him was that he liked my answer. He said, “I’ve never heard that before.” I said, “You’ve got to allow relationships to be established between buyer and seller because there’s sellers out there who know so much more about the product they’re selling and they’ve got passionate customers buying the product, but they’re not allowed to connect. If you allow them to connect, more transactions will happen, more creative transactions will happen. You’ll make more money.” I even said, “You’ll probably kick Facebook’s butt because friendships and relationships that start with the initiation of a transaction are very powerful relationships.”
Example I always use is the model train geek selling model train parts to the model train geeks around the world like those people like hanging out together and you’re basically saying no. You guys are not allowed to ever meet or talk to each other. You’re just destroying relationships, therefore, destroying transactions that could be happening. I said guys like you, Cabel, would be willing to pay a few dollars to say, hey, you know what, let me interact with these guys. Let me build my mailing list. I’ll pay you for it, Amazon. I’ll put more money in the bank. We’ll drive the transactions to your platform if you’ll let us keep a reasonable fee in there. Hey, there’s more money for everybody.
You’re a perfect case study, but until Amazon wakes up and allows those kinds of things to happen, you got to do what you got to do, man, to get your audience rocking without violating their policies obviously. We can help you navigate that territory, different conversation for a different day.
Cabel: For sure.
Jim: Man, it’s been really good hanging out with you. What’s your wife’s name?
Jim: Wendy and Cabel. Yeah, God bless that beautiful family, man.
Cabel: Thank you.
Jim: It is awesome. I love it. Been great hanging out with you. Let me talk to the listeners for just a minute and start to wrap this one up. Thank you for sharing some of your most valuable asset with us today, your time. I know I appreciate it. Cabel is not in his head, too. If you’re listening, man, he appreciates it, too. This is a mini coaching session. A little off topic from what we normally do perhaps because it wasn’t so much for the new seller.
We talked a lot about private label, which is a more advanced topic in our community, but hopefully, it shows you what can lie ahead. It’s very intentional the way we do things around here if you start to sell some products, some random widgets to strangers. Pretty soon you get into wholesale. Pretty soon you can have your own private label product growing an audience around that product. There’s a nice path there for you and there’s a lot of people who are going well down that road with the stuff we teach around here.
We mentioned some of the services, our coaching team of course. We’re here to help. Call us. Text us anytime if you’d be more comfortable just sending us a text especially in North America, Canada, US. We’ll get back to you real quick via text or just jump over to jimcockrumcoaching.com. Talk to the team. We’re here business days. We’d love to chat with you.
Thanks for listening. Thanks for hanging out with us today. One last little favor, if you could send your friends to silentjim.com and tell them about this podcast, that is our marketing right there, that’s it. We don’t spend any money on it. We just ask you to spread the word and you guys are doing a phenomenal job. By the way, we keep showing up top 5, top 10, top 20 around the world. Showing up, I think, for the first time last. Was it Panama, I think, we’re in the top 10 for the first time ever, something like that. Just beautiful for entrepreneur business shows. We really appreciate that.
Cabel, hey, once again, buddy, thank you for your time. To the listeners, thank you for hanging out with us. We’ll have another episode like this one again for you guys real soon. Talk to you then.