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…I’ve said this time and time again, I love doing them. I’m sitting here with a fresh cup of coffee, a little bottle of water too and I’m ready to jump into this week’s questions.
Now, I have to be honest, a little personal story here. This week’s a little sad for me. I was a little sad but I’m also happy and the reason is nothing related to Amazon or ecommerce or online business, anything. My son, my 18 year old son, one of my babies just went off to college. Now he started second semester, things happened in the beginning again, how we always say things happen for a reason.
He was scheduled to do a prep school this year. We got all fired up about it in the summer and then he did a summer league with that outfit, it didn’t work out. He didn’t really care for their program so we had to then say, what do we do now? Well we started looking at colleges around this area so now he is going to college, officially he is going. Some of you may be saying, “Scott you didn’t go to college, are you pushing your kids into going to college?” The answer is, “No I’m not pushing anything.”
Actually my daughter who’s 21 chose not to go to college. She’s actually done very well and she’s still doing very well as a hair stylist, makeup artist. She went to Paul Mitchell business school and we spent a little bit of money on her education there and helped her out. She’s got a nice little thriving business right now. She really specializes in weddings and really bigger events like that which is kind of a little bit of coaching from her dad.
No, I’m not pushing my kids into college but my son now who… I think he might have some entrepreneurial blood in him but right now I think he wants to do what he really loves doing and that is playing basketball.
[00:02:02] Scott: Is he going to be in the NBA? Probably not, you never know. He wants to coach, he wants to get into that field. We said, what’s the best path for him? Probably going to be a P.E. teacher of some kind or physical education, whatever you want to call it.
Years ago for me it was a gym teacher. Now if you call someone a gym teacher it’s kind of looked at, “Wait a minute. I’m way more than that I’m a physical education teacher,” and I get it. That’s kind of his path right now, so we’ve set him up to go down that path. It’s a four year program. He’s going to be playing D2 basketball there which is one of his dreams to do and now he’s finally there. I have got to be honest, it was a tough week for us because we just let our baby off. Now he’s only about an hour and 15 minutes away.
He is living on campus but he can come on the weekends if he wants, we can go there and watch some games, which was kind of by design. Don’t let him know I said that but that was kind of by design. We tried to find areas where we could keep him close. I know it’s selfish but my wife and I are diehard sports people and we just love watching our kids in whatever their activities are.
A little bit of a sad week but actually it’s a happy week. He’s doing really well, he’s adapting well. A little bit of a rocky road in the beginning, to be honest with you. He’s a little homesick. Now he’s starting to really feel as though… He’s meeting some people, the team really welcomed him. It’s going to be a great part of his life. I think part of that journey and I think that we all kind of know that as you do things and you guys heard my episode 300 probably that’s exactly what I talk about through my journey.
I had no idea I would end up here and I have no idea where I’ll be 10 years now. I kind of have an idea where I want to go but it doesn’t mean that’s where I’m going to end up. Little bit of a bittersweet week but I’m excited. I’m excited that you’re here. I’m excited that we’re going to chat again here and listen to some of your questions.
[00:03:57] Scott: Now, I did want to give my word of the week or my saying of the week, whatever you want to call it, just my message and really it’s about finishing. Finishing is something that a lot of us don’t really think about because we just think we’re going to start this, we’re going to start that and it feels good because a lot of things are going but we don’t ever finish anything.
I kind of realize this because my wife and I and my daughter, which we’re kind of home by ourselves now which is kind of odd but we started a puzzle together and we started this thing and when I got going on it and stuff I started thinking to myself, “Man, where did I get myself into? I started this thing on our table, I got to finish this thing. I can’t take three months to finish this thing, I got to get this thing done.” I gave myself a deadline and said, “We got to have this thing done in no longer than three to five days.
Let’s just kind of bang it out, let’s work on it in the evenings,” and that’s what we’ve done. There’s another thing that I’ve kind of started that I feel as though I have to finish is a program T25. You guys probably heard my story. I’ve done Insanity in the past, I’ve done P90X and really recent I felt like I needed that structure again. I needed something to start and finish. I started T25, I think I’m about six days in now. My diets right on, I’m dialed in and I’ve done it in the past so I know what I’ve got to do.
Some people would say, why do you even need a program? You know what you got to do and you’re right, I do know what I have to do every day but I need that structure and I need to start and finish. I think we all have to think about finishing what we start and by you starting something and committing to something you’ll finish that thing and it could be just product selection. I’m going to be spend only an hour a day but every single day on product selection or product discovery and just go out there and find a bunch of products or markets that I want to go into or that I’m possibly thinking about going into.
Maybe that’s you thing or maybe it’s sourcing, I’m only going to work on sourcing and I’m going to start it and I’m going to finish it until I get done with that one thing. A lot of times we start things that we don’t finish.
[00:05:58] Scott: I had a lot of friend back in New York, great friends of mine but they would start a project and they would never finish it. It would be like, “When are you going to finish that thing in the backyard?”
Maybe they starting to put together a rock wall around their pool or something and then half of it would be done and the weeds are starting to grow out in different areas that shouldn’t be growing because it’s been left so long. That’s never been me. I’ve always wanted to start something and finish something. I like the feeling of completion.
Again, the word right now is finish or finishing what you start. You have to plan for this. You have to say to yourself, I’m going to start this. I’m going to give myself seven days or 14 days or 30 days or 90, whatever it is and then commit to it and just commit to that thing and finish it. It feels so good when you do finish something. Give yourself something to start and something to finish and do it.
That’s enough rambling here in the beginning. I got a little bit off track there, hopefully I’m back now. I think I’m back, I’m ready to go. Let’s do, let’s go ahead and listen to this week’s first question and I’ll give you my answer. Let’s go, let’s do this.
[00:07:08] Giovanni: Hey Scott, this Giovanni from Pasadena in Southern California. I want to tell you that I love your podcast. I started listening to you the week after I found out about FBA. You are one of the inspirations and resources that pushed me to start selling online. Last year I bought a few products and it’s three weeks now that I started selling. That annoying noise you might hear in the background is my 3D printer printing new concepts. Thank you so much for being part of this.
My question is about online sales in general not related to Amazon. I said my wife and I currently live in California but we’re planning to move to a more business friendly state always near a port. We’re looking at Texas or the Carolinas. I love it here, Los Angeles is a massive city with endless networking opportunities, multi-cultural as it gets and California itself has a reputation for innovation. It is my impression that the staggering cost of living might slow down our growth and investments.
Everything from rent to gas, supermarket bags and of course taxes, it’s more expensive here. When it comes to developing an online business, do you think it makes a difference where you live in the U.S.? Not to put you on the spot but would you name your top five picks for the best cities to live and run an online business? Thank you so much Scott, cheers.
[00:08:32] Scott: Hey Giovanni, thank you so much for the question and I love it. I was going to ask if I could what was that noise and then you said what that noise was. I think that it’s funny that you’re sitting here recording your question and in the background is a 3D printer creating a concept. I love that. I wish that I had the skillset to be able to do exactly that. There’s a guy that we had at our TAS breakthrough live, Ivan.
If you’re listening Ivan, you’re a smart guy. He’s got the capability, the same thing of getting these new concepts, kind of done in his own place with 3D printers or people that know how to use those things. I really think that’s awesome if you have concepts of ideas and you’re able to do that that is just brilliant, I love that. I just think it’s so meta that you’re doing it right there as we’re talking about this business, so it’s pretty cool.
This is like a random question, I like it. I do like it but I’m going to probably not give you that sexy of an answer because me personally I don’t care about being surrounded every single day with that environment. I think sometimes I need that space. I like living in just a regular area of people that are just hard workers but yet it’s not really known as an entrepreneurial state or town or area but I get what you’re saying.
From what I’ve heard, San Diego, San Francisco, those are some pretty good areas. I would also say Texas has been another name that has come up a lot for people especially going to these events. I’ve been going through some events. I’m actually going to one here in February and that one is hosted in Texas. I’ve been to another podcast movement almost two years ago and that one was in Texas as well.
[00:10:33] Scott: It seems like that’s a common area for entrepreneurs to live and meet up. Again, for me personally I don’t desire that so I’m not really sure I can give you that answer. Maybe what we can do here is, maybe we can do something in the comments or maybe even in Facebook. Maybe if someone starts a thread and then we can say, “Hey, what’s the best area to move to if you want to be surrounded with other entrepreneurs?”
Maybe that’s something we should start in the Facebook group. If you’re listening right now and you’re one of those people that wants to get something started maybe you want to do that. Start that in our TAS Facebook group and I’m sure that people are going to start responding. Maybe you can come back and put it in the comments and maybe we can include it in the show notes if you do that.
Whoever is listening, if you want to go ahead and start that go ahead. That would be cool and let me know that you did and we can include that in the show notes. I think rather than just asking me, because again I’m not really probably your best person to ask that too. Like I said, I’m very happy where I am. I moved to an area I just wanted to be able to relax and have a little bit more of a slower lifestyle every single day.
Then if I want to jump to those one areas I can just do travel but I get what you’re saying. I think there’s other ways that we can do that whether it’s having a mastermind, whether that’s having a meetup, even a local meet up. Go to Meetup.com and look for a group in your area that might be already formed or maybe you form it yourself and then people will start to come. Every week it’ll maybe attract a few more people and you just never know who you’re going to meet.
If you’re just looking for that vibe feel the ones like I said that I’ve heard of is San Diego, San Francisco and Texas; mainly like Dallas, Texas. I’m sure there’re some other surrounding areas there.
[00:12:29] Scott: Hopefully that helped you and again maybe we can get something started here and include in the show notes. If you’re listening to this after it airs, go to the show notes, theamazingseller.com/310. Maybe there’ll be a link there that you can click on and see where these areas are and maybe even just visit there and see for yourself.
Again, not my cup of tea, I don’t necessarily need that but for the people that do, I know there’s a lot of people that do, definitely help each other and do that. Let’s go ahead and let’s listen to another question and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:13:04] Mike: Hi Scott, this is Mike from San Diego. Got a question about the invoices you were talking in the last session. What kind of invoices should I ask my supplier, from Alibaba to have ready for me so I prevent problems in the future. Thank you Scott.
[00:13:26] Scott: Hey Mike, thank you so much for the question and I just said San Diego and there you are. You just appeared. That’s pretty cool. To answer your question, I think what you’re talking about is something that I talked about in the last Ask Scott session. It’s really about how to get an invoice or even just what you’re going to be receiving like some type of contract. This way here everything is put down on that sheet.
If you ever have a claim come through whether it’s Alibaba or whether it’s your own agent whatever it is, you can then have it in writing rather than just saying like, “I need a thousand a garlic presses.” If you have a thousand garlic presses and they’re made with certain steel then they’re going to have certain springs and there are certain technology that it’s made with or certain testing.
If there’s those things that you need to make sure that are there you want them on there because if you don’t do that and then you come back with a claim they’re like, “Oh, we never put that on there. We thought you just wanted this type of steel.” It’s very important that you have that stuff there. One thing just recently happened, you guys have probably heard me talk a little bit about a neighbor of mine now but actually I found her or my wife found her online when we were moving here. She actually helped us find out our house. It’s a really crazy story how things happen.
She has launched some products. I’ve kind of talked to her a little bit about this opportunity. She’s already been a blogger, so she’s already had somewhat of an audience. She was getting ready to launch a new product and we’re looking at her invoice. She called me over, we had coffee. We were looking at her invoice and I said to her, I go, “This all looks good and everything. It’s like $7 a unit but I don’t see anything here about shipping.”
She’s like, “But they said that’s delivered,” and I’m like, “Let’s confirm that because nothing here is on paper and we want to make sure that that is everything.” We went ahead did that or she did that and then she contacted me back and she goes, “Yeah, you’re right, that’s not shipped.
[00:15:29] Scott: That’s just them saying it’s ready to be picked up not even them bringing it to the port.” This is like them saying we’re going to make it, we’re going to send it there which again is another dangerous thing.
If you don’t do FOB, if you don’t do where you’re going to pick up the… They’re going to have the inventory shipped to your port and then your freight forwarder will pick it up from that port. If that’s not there you’re basically responsible to get it out of the country. The other way is they’re saying it’s going to clear, on their side the customs things and all of these certificates and all of that so this way here you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t want to get caught there in an issue.
Having things written and especially because it’s not… English isn’t their first language so things are left unsaid, maybe not even on purpose they’re just not put there, you need to really make sure that everything is there. Whether you send them something to say, “Hey listen, I need you to include this, this and this and make sure that it’s on the invoice and that we both agree to it, we both sign it, I need to make sure that that is there.”
Now again, if you are totally nervous about this and you’re like, “You know what, I don’t want to take any chances,” because even though they sign it that doesn’t mean that that’s exactly what they’re going to do. Who knows? You just contact an attorney. Contact an attorney and say I want something written up. I personally don’t use one for this I just make sure that what we have down on paper is really itemized and really kind of black and white.
We want to make sure that we have everything there that we know that we’re going to be getting, so this way here… And I’ve done it. I’ve went back and forth. I’m like, wait a minute here, it says only four units. “Oh no. We just put that on there because it was the last on that we had used before, it’s really five.” I’m like, “We got to make that five because I’m not going to sign off on this and say that I’m okay with four when really we agreed to five.”
[00:17:31] Scott: Or maybe there’s a little thing that’s going to be included with it, maybe there’s a little synch bag or a little pouch for something and the thing isn’t in there. It doesn’t say pouch but they say, “Oh no, we’re going to include that.” There’s no guarantee that’s going to be included. If it’s not included and you don’t have it on the paper they’ll be like, “No we didn’t say that that’s an extra ten cents and we never said that.” Now, you got to figure out how you’re going to get them made. Definitely make sure every single thing is on that invoice or that agreement and make sure that you both sign it and you have a copy. Let’s go ahead and listen to another question and I’ll give you my answer.
[00:18:09] Gerald: Hey Scott, how are you doing? My name is Jerred calling from Kansas City in actually the Missouri side, the Kansas City metro area, but I’m new to this product, FBA deal. I’ve done a lot of online affiliate sales, adsense. I’ve written an actual printed book in the self help category but then I’ve also done outsourcing. I’ve other books in small niches and ebooks and all that kind of stuff and did quite well on that.
I actually did SEO for a while for a living but then Panda came along and wiped all that out, a Google update years ago. I was kind of jaded from that point, to put all your business all in the hands of something like that. Then I kind of geared more towards my own personal brand but I have an executive technology company. I really love my job but this product idea and this FBA thing has really got me intrigued. I have a question. There’s not a lot that I’ve heard yet on any of your podcast, I’ve just made my way through probably a third of them.
Private label, the way I understand it is you’re not just taking a… I can source the product from China and put it out. I can source it right from China, put it out on Amazon and see the sales. It’s not my brand. I can do that to test and see if it even sells correct but it’s not actually a private label until I just what, I haven’t put my logo on it? Is that what makes it a private label and then maybe call it something that, what my logo is? I’m a little confused on actually that part of it.
When I first order my first… Because I’m going to start off with probably just 100. When I first order that 100, does that 100 need to be private label or can I just say, “Hey, give me 100 of those? I like that, I think it’ll sell. Give me 100 of those,” and boom, try that. If that works then I can put my own logo on it, then is it considered private label?
[00:20:04] Gerald: That’s one of my questions. Another question is, out of these… Do you sell samples? Would you take a sample and put it online? What I’m doing is, I’m actually getting two samples for different that I like from this company.
Two samples of each of these products and then if I like them I’m probably going to order 100 products; 25 of each of these different products. I have 100 total products, 25 of each of these different products. Then I’m just going to throw all those out on Amazon, see which ones sell out of those, do well and then margins and all that stuff and consideration. Then whichever one of those sells, I have 25 stock of each then I’m going to probably order 1,000 of that one and then move from there.
Then that’s probably at that point, I’ll with the 1,000 I’ll probably want to go ahead and say, “I want to put my logo name on it, I’ve got a brand name I want to call it.” Anyway, I don’t know if you’re even going to listen to this message or hear all the way through or even respond before I need to make the decision but I thought what the hell, maybe someone else has had this question too. Appreciate everything you do and bless you and your family and I hope you continue to be successful. Thanks.
[00:21:15] Scott: Hey Jerred, thank you so much for the question. I love how you shared your story as far as where you’ve been and how you got a little jaded. You got a little upset with the whole online selling. I get it. It’s those changes. I wanted people to hear this because I try to keep bringing it back to reality; things are going to change. You’ve had success as an affiliate. You’ve had a success doing kindle books and printing books. You’ve had some success but then things changed and then you felt like, “Oh my God there’s these changes, I built this whole thing and now all of a sudden it cut my income in half,” or my traffic.
You got frustrated and you said, “I’m just going to walk away from this type of business, I don’t want to deal with it.” You took a deep breath, you regrouped and again being an entrepreneur it’s hard to turn that off. It’s hard when you see especially an opportunity that… You already a skillset. You already have a huge skillset that a lot of people don’t have because you’ve done the building of websites. You’ve done affiliate marketing. You know how that works. You know how finding traffic and converting.
You know how adsense and Google works. You know all of that stuff. That doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t change but you understand it. I wanted people to hear that really out of your question. I’m going to answer your question but I just wanted to people to hear because things are going to change. Whether it’s Amazon, eBay or whatever platform we’re using or just online in general thing are going to change and it’s okay.
You’ve take a deep breath. You’ve said to yourself, “I like this, this is a cool idea. I think it could work for me because I get the whole model.” Then with your expertise you really can build it out even bigger with capturing emails and getting your traffic from different sources, you’ve got a pretty good advantage there.
[00:23:18] Scott: I would encourage someone like you definitely to look at this at this business model. Now, with that all being said let me address your questions. You’re kind of right in a sense that what makes a private label product. What makes a private label product really is you being able to put your brand on there. That doesn’t even mean that that product has to have your brand name on the product, it just needs to be sold by you and it needs to have some type of marking. It could be on your packaging, it could be on your box. It could be anywhere that establishes that that is the brand.
You could take the exact same item as someone else and just put your logo on it and all of a sudden you’re the manufacturer of that product because you’re that brand. Now, that’s not the best way to do it. The other thing is talking about your slow start way. I like that. It’s a slow start in a sense. It’s more of a safe way of starting and that’s something that I talked about on episode 296 about the new open brand concept that I’m working with with a partner.
It’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s where you’re testing a lower number of units and then once you start to see them selling then you can start to increase the amount that you’re ordering. You can improve either the product or the packaging. When you put all of it in, and I’ve done it, where you put all of that energy in and then you get a slow mover and then you feel as though you have to keep pushing that it makes it harder to go over here when you see something else that might make sense that you have to hold off on because you’ve got all of this tied to this one product that you’re doing. It’s very similar to what you’re talking about as far as the open brand concept which is really, yours may just be like one brand or even one market but you’re going to just launch 10 or 20 different types of products to that market and see what sticks.
[00:25:16] Scott: Now, this comes down to product research again as well because if you’re going to do a low number like that you’re not going to really have any inventory to do any type of giveaway to your audience or to a deal group or club or whatever you want to do. Me personally now what we’re doing is we’re, number one we’re finding products that have very low number of reviews, usually a 100 or less and then that way there you don’t have to do a ton of promotion to get it up and running. Just do some pay-per-click and you’re kind of off to the races on that.
That takes the product research into account. But in your case you’re saying, I might start with 25 or 50 units, that’s fine as long as you’ve done your product research good. If you’re trying to go after a product that has 500 plus reviews or may there’s five or six of those listings and you’re going to come in with just 25 units and expect to come in there and take some of those sales, probably not going to happen without doing some type of promotion or some outreach to get some products into people’s hands to start the sales process to get that in the algorithm of Amazon.
If you can’t do that it’s going to be harder to get going. Then even if you do pay-per-click you’re going to sell out 25 units maybe and you might say they sold out but you had to pay for every single sale through pay-per-click. Again, not a terrible thing if you think that you can move them and then start to rank organically. That’s really what it comes down to. I think that that’s a great model especially for people starting to say I’m going to just maybe launch four or five or six different products.
I’m talking a little bit differently than I did when I first started because now I see that things have changed. The review game has changed and the giveaways have changed and the coupon codes. All of that has changed I think for the better, I don’t think it’s a bad thing but now I’ve kind of changed.
[00:27:14] Scott: Now what I would like to do is say I can take five or ten different products and launch them with a low amount of inventory, do it very little on the front end as far as what do I have to do for graphics and logos and packaging and all that stuff. Still make it good, maybe make some improvements to the product even still if I want to, if I can do that with a low number of units but sometimes you can’t.
That to me is an easier way to test products and low risk because again if you have 30 units and you can’t sell 30 units just by reducing the price of what you paid for, you didn’t do a good product research. You should be at least able to get out of it by just lowering your price. This also allows you to see what your conversions are going to be before you actually invest a ton of money in that. Even from there I’m not sure I would go from 25 units to 1,000 units, might go from 25 to 500 and then 1,000.
Yes, at that point that’s when you would say now I’m going to start to build this out a little bit. Now I’m going to start to create a nice packaging. Now I’m going to start to give this a little bit more love, a little bit more attention. Maybe make the product a little bit more unique, maybe add an accessory to it, depending on the price, the value of the product and all that stuff. You’re on the right track for sure and I’m not sure if you’re going to listen to this before you’ve actually done something.
It sounds like that’s already the path you were going to go down. Hopefully it is. You guys know these Ask Scott sessions I record them but these questions could have been submitted six, eight weeks ago. It’s just hard for me to keep up with them on a weekly basis. I’m trying to do at least four questions a week but again if I receive more than four a week which I usually do it starts to get behind. Anyway, to answer your question yes you are on the right track as far as low risk way and a way to test more than just one product to see which one could possibly stick and then from there start focusing on that.
[00:29:17] Scott: Then what we’re doing is we’re building out email lists around that. We’ve done this contest strategy where we’ll find something in that market that might be the main thing. Maybe it’s a fishing pole that is the main thing that our product is going to help with maybe we’ve got a fishing pole stand that goes on a boat or something like that. We give away this really cool fishing pole, it’s a name brand and then we do that contest around that, we build up that email list.
Then on the back end we can sell them our fishing pole stand or our tackle box or accessories type stuff. That’s kind of what we’re doing, we’re playing around with that right now. Definitely I think you’re on the right track. I think you have a lot of skills that you might not even know that you have. You know that you can do these things but to be able to take those two and bring them together that’s what I found. I add more value to someone that might just know the Amazon side because I’ve done both sides and I think you have too. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
I’ve rambled on long enough here. I’m excited for you, I think you have a great opportunity here so definitely take advantage of it and thank you so much for being a listener.
Guys that is pretty much going to wrap up this session of Ask Scott, keep the questions coming. Head over to theamazingseller.com/ask and you can do that. You can ask a question there. Leave your first name, where you’re tuning in from and then ask the question. Try to keep it under three minutes if you can. I would just appreciate that. Sometimes they go on a little bit long, you guys tell me a little bit about your story, which I love hearing those by the way. Definitely tell me a little bit but just try to keep the questions to under three minutes and that would be awesome.
If it goes over it’s okay, no big deal and just remember what I said in the beginning; finish. If you start something, which you should plan to start something, have a finish line for that project or that task.
[00:31:14] Scott: Again, going back to what I talked about in the beginning, my T25 thing that I’m doing or the puzzle that we’ve started or just product selection or sourcing. Whatever it is you’re working on create the start and the finish like a deadline and then finish it. Allot yourself that time to be able to go after that and finish it.
Show notes can be found at theamazingseller.com/310. All the transcripts, show notes can be found there. I did want to remind you, if you wanted to head over to the Facebook group, the TAS Facebook group, we’ve been doing some Facebook lives there. We just played around with it, actually I just got off with Chris Shaffer. We recorded episode 315 live which isn’t aired right now, depending on when you’re listening to this episode.
315 was recorded live on Facebook kind of like behind the scenes of me recording the episode 315 which we talked all about the news about this inventory charge that we’ve been seeing with fourth quarter and then what’s it going to be moving forward and how to manage your inventory. We really dug into that, so that would be a really great episode. We’re doing those episodes live on Facebook like that. I’m playing around with that so I’m just trying to see how that’s going to work out. Head over to theamazingseller.com/fb and you can join our awesome TAS community over there and I’m not afraid to say that. It’s an awesome community. You guys have made it awesome. Definitely go check that out.
Guys that is going to wrap up this episode. Remember, I’m here for you, I believe in you and I am rooting for but you have to you have to… Come on, say it with me, say it loud, say it proud say it with energy, “Take action.” Have an awesome, amazing day and I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
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