FBA EXIT SECRETS: How to add 6-7 figures to the value of your Amazon FBA Business
Kris and Dustin are joined with Dave Storey, founder of AFBTS where he helps Amazon sellers add 6-7 figures to the value of their Amazon FBA business before they sell it!
Contact Dave: https://afbts.com
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FBA EXIT SECRETS: How to add 6-7 figures to the value of your Amazon FBA Business
Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 54 of Two Amazon Sellers and a Microphone. Today, Kris and I have a guest with us, Dave Storey from Amazon FBA Build to Sell. Dave, glad to have you on the show. How are you?
– Hi, Dustin, glad to be here. Hi, Kris.
– Dave hi, nice to see you, thanks for coming on. I’m really curious to learn some stuff about you. I’ve watched some of your videos, so that’ll be good. This will be good. Dustin and I are both sellers and I’m curious to see some of the little tricks and secrets you have. So yeah, this will be good.
– Yeah, I mean and Dave, your company is all about helping people exit the Amazon space. So this is something that’s super fascinating to me and Kris. I mean, when we started our businesses ’cause I believe you started around the same time which we’ll talk about, around 2014, it’s about the same time Kris and I started our businesses and exiting was not even in my mind like just a plan to build something and exit. We didn’t even think about it. It was only maybe a year ago that I started to see the value in what people were selling their businesses for. So I’m really excited to talk to you about what you’re doing and how you’re helping people really exit at a high value. So, but before we get into all that, Dave, why don’t you just give us a little background, how you got involved in the Amazon space, how you ended up doing what you’re doing now with AFBTS, just a little background would be great.
– Yeah, yeah. So this all started, I’ve been in UK manufacturing companies, some world-class companies for 20 years and I always had a dream to start my own business. I ended up as an operations director in a big company and I thought, there’s my opportunity. I saw a way to get out and went for voluntary redundancy and thought, right, I’m gonna go and start my own business. I just happened to bump into one of my ex-bosses from another company and he invited me down to his office one day for a chat, so I shut the door. And he says, “I’m really, really busy,” He says “But, here” He handed me a bit of paper, he says, “here’s a password and login for an amazing selling machine,” I said, amazing selling machine? He says, yeah, he says, “log on when you get back.” So I went back home, I was a bit confused, I logged in and I started watching Matt Clark and I was addicted. Like I couldn’t stop watching it, I watched it all night. And this was a ASM two. I think it was, and I rang him up the next day and he says, “do you wanna go into business?” I say, yeah, I do. I just thought this is crazy. I’ve never even heard of like money on Amazon before. This was just absolutely crazy. One day didn’t know what I was doing, the next day I’m to start an Amazon business. So that’s what we did. So I have set a certain way and, you know days was very different and had fantastic success selling in the automotive niche bay, a really strong automotive brand. Ambassadors in USA, UK, branched out in Canada, into Europe, you know, so we’re doing really, really well. And when they go and get the business valued, I think it was early 2017. It’s worth about $3 million at that time. And we thought, right, well, let’s just keep going. We’re doing well. Let’s just do more of the same. But that turned out to be a big, big mistake. You know, things had got a little bit out of control and lots of competition start coming in and the business wasn’t on the sound foundations that are really should have been. And a long story short, things went badly wrong in 2017 had stripped out products and it wasn’t a good, happy place to be. And so thought, right, let’s get the business valued again. Went back to the broker and he said, it’s pretty much unsalable unless you want to have this much which is a very tiny amount and I say no way I say. So that was a real devastating blow for me and spent the next six months learning from brokers, business buyers, business sellers. What it takes to really make an Amazon FBA business highly saleable and increase its value. And the things that I learned in that time, and it took me another year to implement those things by the way. Were things that I’d never really thought about before and not in any of the training out there. So I put all this in play and fantastic. Got business back on its feet and have a seven-figure exit in 2019. Great. And after the accident, I thought myself, do you know what? There’s gonna be so many Amazon sellers out there that are in my position, that doesn’t know all this stuff because it’s not being taught out there. And you can only learn the stuff as you go through the process yourself. So I decided to put this training program together to help Amazon sellers. So my mission now really is to focus knowledge back into where I was, you know, where lots of sellers will be and provide them with the tools, the process, the knowledge, so they can build better and more valuable Amazon businesses and have bigger exits. So that’s what I did. So the training programs called the AFBTS, Amazon FBA, build to sell.
– Very good, very good.
– There are some things I want to unplug right there. So, real quick, you started the automotive niche, that kind of blew my mind ’cause a lot of people would go to the more popular niches like the babies and the home and garden. So automotive was that just because you’re familiar with automotive products in the automotive niche or do some product research and find something?
– Just did product research and found something. We’ve had some fantastic products, it was doing tremendous numbers. So the bestseller, so it didn’t matter they were in automotive.
– And this is 2014, is that right? 14, 15?
– It started with one product in 2014 growing to, you know, two, three, four, 2015, by the time 2016 came, that was it, the flood gates opened, you know, I’d love to cash in, to spend it all on product launches and yeah.
– And let’s, how many skews did you have? How many total products, you know, you launch a product, launch another product how many total products did you have when it was at its best when you were doing, you know, 3 million valuations? How many skews was that?
– About 15.
– 15, and then what happened between?
– places as well.
– Okay, and what happened between that 3 million valuations and when it was basically unsellable, give us that like, you know, highest high, you were doing really well, things were going awesome. What happened there that made that business go down? I’m sure competition came in, but elaborate that on a little bit. What happened there?
– Yeah, it was a mix of things. There’s the competition driving down the prices, making PPC more expensive. There were some quality problems that we had with some of the new product launches. Didn’t go as well as we thought. And they coincided with all this competition increase. Probably spending too much on launching, you know, giving giveaways, you know, its good going crazy, though we could get the number one spot with these other products, just went over ambitious I suppose, yeah, the success and input they got, got to our heads a bit and went, just went a little bit overboard on that. So I would say more than a little bit, quite a lot overboard. They were the main things. So, you know, I spent quite a lot of time working out which are the products we’re gonna keep, which are the ones that were gone. So if the cash we generated from the ones who were kicked out, so launched some new products and we’re much more careful this time with the launching and that’s how it grew it back up with back products.
– I think that happens, like that whole story, I think that happens with a lot of sellers, right. Dustin, would you agree? Like we all launch a lot of products. And then we find like, okay, let’s reel it back in a little bit and focus on like these core products and scale it back up. I mean, I can speak for myself, that happens to me. I feel like that’s a problem a lot of sellers have, are they keep launching, keep launching. And I forget they got these other skews that they need to continue to grow as well.
– That exact, I mean, Dave Storey exactly happened to me. I mean, it was almost a bad thing that my first product was my home run. Like the first product that I launched in 2014 was my best seller. And you think you can replicate that. And at the same time, you’re trying to pump all this money into these launches of new products, your main product is getting squeezed. Like my profit margin kept dropping, dropping on my main product. It sounds like a really similar story to what Dave’s talking about. And then you’re stretched way too thin and that’s your right, that is such a common story. I wanna unpack, because I think it’s fascinating before we start talking about just getting into the exciting part, you rebounded from that.
– And, so, you know, Kris and I, we’ve had similar stories also and we’ve rebounded somewhat. And I just love to hear what you did to help rebound from that low, to get to where you could sell?
– Yeah, so you have to shrink back down and go back up steadily, that’s the basis of it, but the little bit of detail behind that, I developed a financial forecasting tool to help me, which had a view of 24 months out and was able to put all my, all the ASINs I had into the tool and forecast all at the demand out. And I worked out which ones were gonna be the most profitable, which ones to drop, which ones to keep. And I used this tool going forward to work out, evidently do with the new product launches. So it really kept really tight control of the cash and tight control of it to utilize it best to optimize the growth. So I used that tool, which is part of the program now, which I’m offering to sellers as well, just a fantastic tool. That’s one of the things, other things were just sort of consolidation of the business,. The European markets weren’t doing that well for us. So we pull out of those. So yeah, and for really focused on the UK, USA and Canada were doing okay, so that was it really.
– So you were like those 15, excuse me, 15 skews or so, a number of skews, you brought it back down and just focused on a core, core number of skews and then just scale those backup and just kept rolling in the funds and keep.
– Brought it down about six or seven and then built it back up to 10.
– Got it.
– But the three new ones were, and really careful with the choices and everything to do with quality. You know, everything was like never before, where there was a real focus on making sure those products were successful, whereas before it was just throwing them up, throw them up, throw them up.
– I am guilty, I am guilty of that. Dustin and I, like we’ve launched product and we just keep launching and keep launching. And I had like 30 skews at one point. And what we found is you didn’t have enough cash to reorder like the other skews, like you couldn’t keep going, so you just have to liquidate everything. So I am now in that same boat that you were in, where we’re kind of consolidating down, we’re gonna focus on like 10 to 12 skews. And we’re just gonna continue like to milk those as much as they’re worth, to try to keep the business moving and try to be very cautious of what we launched because now we understand there’s capital that you need to launch products, right? Like you can’t just throw it up there and get sales. You’re gonna have to put some money behind, a couple of thousand dollars at least just to get these skews moving.
– Yeah, it’s amazing how much the cash the draw up.
– Yeah, there’s no doubt. Well, let’s talk now more about preparing to exit because this is where I get excited and this is also where I feel like this is a weakness of mine. That’s why something like, a service like what you’re doing can be very helpful because just what you laid out, like a 24-month forecast. I would like to think that way, but I’m much more like I get excited about a new product and I wanna go for it and I don’t forecast it out. So let’s talk about number one, just sort of what you’re doing right now with your clients in your course and walk us through what it would look like to help prepare us to exit our businesses.
– Yeah, well, one of the key things I say starts with the end in mind, okay, which I didn’t at first, I admit, I didn’t, you know, and I don’t think that many people do because, you know, I’ve taught a lot of sellers, I have helped over 40 sellers now increase their business value and prepare for their exits and some have a bit. And there’s very few of them, one or two maybe, I’ve spoken to actually have the end in mind, the end game, you know, they’re the one to sell a business. So if you have the end in mind, that means that you have a value that you wanna sell the business for. And you have a proximate timescale, and you can overlay this into this financial forecasting tool that I have. And you can work out essentially, a rough idea, which is far better than having no idea, by the way, to get there. So how many products are you gonna need, then this, you work on it every week. So every week you’d go in and you’ll pay the debt and you see where you are, or you didn’t, you revise the forecast, you know how much cash you’ve got, and work on it, work on it work and it gets more and more and more accurate. And you’ve got a far, far greater chance of hitting the goal than not having it, or even of course having no goal at all. So that’s one of the keys, is just to have the finances forecast it out and working your plan in terms of financial plan using that tool. But there are so many other things that can be done in it, or need to be done in an FBA business to make sure that you have a successful exit and make sure that you maximize the value of your business and make it more saleable. So buyers will love to have any business, you know, so one of the other key things I say is walk in the shoes of a buyer. Yeah, so focus on your business, looking as if they were thinking about what would I wanna see in that business, not what you would want to see in that business because normally these are completely different things. In order to do that, you have to learn what a buyer actually wants to see in the business. So that’s part of the training program. There is a big module on that, learning all the stuff, the things which make your business more saleable, the pitfalls that you don’t go into, it shouldn’t go into, which is a lot of them. And that really sets you up for, the way you think about your business and it’ll change the strategy in your business, change how you think about growing it. You know, if you think about it in terms of the
– So start with the end in mind. Let’s, go on, Let’s focus here on that, a little quick. So I wanna sell a hundred thousand dollars a month, right. That would be my, that’s my end, that’s my goal, a hundred thousand dollars a month. From what I’m understanding is, how do I get to the hundred thousand dollars a month in revenue? You know, I need to focus on the products that are gonna generate enough revenue to get to that a hundred thousand dollars a month in revenue. Not so much focusing on, like smaller wins or like in individual products. But I wanna focus on products that are gonna continue to get sales daily to get to that a hundred thousand dollars a month in revenue, which is kind of what you’re kind of saying here. It’s like start with that into mind. So instead of working as sellers do, or like product research, they’ll find a product and they’ll start from the beginning and like, hey here’s what I’m gonna do next, here’s what I’m gonna do next. If I’m gonna try to get to a hundred thousand I need to get, you know, a certain amount of revenue for a certain amount of a number of products and work down, work backward. So I think that’s where people are kind of, they don’t teach that really.
– It’s more about starting out at the beginning, finding the product, and working your way towards the end rather than start at the end and work your way down.
– Yeah, I wouldn’t advise going for a revenue target. I would advise going for a SDE, which is the seller’s discretionary earnings, which is essentially a net profit plus add bucks. And add bucks are things that you may spend in your business that a buyer wouldn’t necessarily, or probably won’t spend in the business and you get those added back on your net profit and it becomes SDE. And you’ve got to work that out with the businesses valued on the trailing 12 months of that SDE. And so the point of your sale, whenever that is, it stops. And it’s the 12 months. That’s what my tool does, it allows you to focus on that value. So we focused on that value and that means all the decisions you make, all the products that you choose are all optimized to make sure you get the best SDE, which means you get the best value of your business. Not necessarily the best turnover. It’s more conversely about profit as well.
– That’s an interesting point, to talk about profit essentially, versus revenue. You could, I guess have a hundred thousand dollars a month coming in with no profit. And so that would, that would lessen the valuation. What is the typical multiplier on an Amazon business right now? What are they, what’s the market look like? What are investors willing to buy businesses for right now?
– Typical multipliers, so the multipliers then multiply by the SDE to get the value. Yeah, so if you had an SDE of a hundred thousand, would apply to three businesses worth 300,000. So it’s typical ones that are going at the moment up 2.5 to 4.5. And the difference between those depends on many, many factors, which you will learn through my training program. Once you know these, you’re able to then drive these factors into your business. So for example, one could be, probably the most major one is selling in a period of optimum growth. So what the tool allows you to do is sees your growth curve. And if you sell on this period where your growth is high, and you’re still going up, never ever sell when you’re just about it plateau off because you’ll go into due diligence and your buyer will see the business plattering off and your drops through the. That’d be terrible, so yourself when you’ve got, I recommended there’s six months growth left so you could go into long due diligence. You don’t want to be dropping off. So that’s the most major thing, to get the best multiplier. Other things that are real. Are good at getting the high multiplier on unique products obviously, not just me to products, and the other one will be having different sales channels. So if you do have Shopify, if you do have so many base sales of other, of maybe channels, anything really, what they will apply is essentially a measurement of risk for the buyer. If there’s very little risk, then they’re gonna give you a getting their return investment back then they’re gonna give you a high multiplier, but if it’s not this, it will give you a normal supply. So, if that’s one of the most major things, you think about risk, when you’re thinking about what when you’re in the shoes of a buyer.
– What value do products that have to subscribe and save add to a business? So if I would do subscribe and save orders and I always get repeat purchases, I got people, you know multiple subscribers, 100 subscribers a month. What’s that look like?
– This is kind of another area but you can break past the 4.5 multiplier with those of products, even break sevens, eights, even possibly higher because that’s essentially you’re guaranteeing the future sales in your business, it’s low risk. You can get really high. Your business model is subscribing to save. That’s another ball game. That’s something you can get a really high multiplier on.
– That’s interesting. That is fascinating. There’s so much in this. I liked the idea of looking at it from an investor’s perspective as well. And I thought it was fascinating. It’s almost counterintuitive to exit while you’re still ramping up, you know, for a lot of people, but I mean, if you’re putting all of your money back into your business, I mean, you’re not really making a whole lot of money during the time you’re building this and your exit is gonna be where you make all of your money and if that’s the best point to do it, that’s interesting. ‘Cause it would be, I think it would be tough to convince people to sell when things are getting better and better and better, but that’s why
– It’s one of the classic pitfalls, is to sell too late, when things have begun to platter off because most products in most Amazon businesses have a life cycle. You know, the product life cycle it will go up when any of the competition comes in and your profits drop, you know, unless you are really really aggressive at introducing new products, then that will happen to most Amazon businesses. So if you do it too late, well then, you know that that’s one of the common pitfalls, but also on the other side, the common pitfall is selling too early. So when I work with sellers, there are normally three major things that they can do to really drive and increase the value of that business. And what’s happening at the moment, this new marketplace that’s solving up with these business buyers, so the aggregators that buying portfolios of businesses is that acting really aggressive. And that getting, I would say very good deals for them, low multipliers, sellers haven’t really maximized the business out. And they think they’re getting a good deal and the not really if they’ve done these three things, would have really improved the value of the business. So that’s selling too early.
– Interesting, yeah, there’s been huge groups now that are buying businesses Amazon, like crazy. Let’s talk one thing about just your, the structure, like how your business is organized. How you’re incorporated, what’s the importance of all of that early on so that you’re preparing for an exit?
– Yeah, it’s less important if you sell to one of these new aggregators because they have a very defined process. They know what they’re doing exactly. And they know how to distribute the assets, buy the assets and may do asset purchases. But if your model’s going, you’re selling to a, someone that is buying your actual shares of your company. Then that can be more important, that your company is structured in the right way. Complex structure. Let’s say you were, don’t know, maybe you went from the UK and your cooperate and you had a brunch in the USA, you had some in Europe, you know, that’s just gonna, it just gonna cause problems and take more time in the due diligence phase so.
– How much does a brand make a difference in those? Like, do sellers need to start focusing on creating a brand or is it more just like create some products and flip it and go on to the next one?
– That’s an interesting one because the assets that they, these new aggregators of bio essentially your ASINs, and then just one of the ASINs, but I think a brand is always something that you should focus on, Personally I think a strong brand, a strong message is only gonna get you to repeat customers. And if these, you know, in the future of another business wants to do something with your products and they’re under the umbrella of a brand, let’s say sell them outside Amazon, of course, it’s far more powerful to do that. I don’t advise any strategy other than focusing on a strong brand and image, Amazon business.
– So I just had a quick question, you’re talking, about these new aggregates that are buying up. They’re just buying, not, your account but just your ASIN, and is that?
– They’re buying your account, the ASINs, and any of their assets associated. So your, let’s say trademarks, contracts with any supplies and things you’ve got, so the buying all those assets if you like but they’re not necessarily buying the actual company that you’re currently running those assets in.
– And I suppose just.
– Gotcha, that makes sense. So it’s fascinating,
– Buying all these seller central accounts and just kind of keep them all.
– And they can do it, they’re closing these deals in 30 to 45 days, you know.
– And do you think sellers that are going that route are losing out on potentially selling for more because they’ve got.
– Especially if they haven’t done the key things to maximize the business before they go to sell. That’s another pitfall, you know, you just rock up at a broker or a business buyer and think you getting a good deal for your business. The true value is added to your business in the sort of 12 months. You know, if you’ve got a real plan a 12-month exit plan or even longer, you know you can really push and make sure these things are.
– I think we’ve cut out a little Dave.
– If I really wanted to The aggregate is really that also sort of leveraging on the fact that they can do a really quick deal. And they also have got no risk on earn-outs because they’ve got a big team behind them. And if you do a proportion of the deal as an earn-out then they’re far more likely to succeed and you get a good value back on the earn-out in the future because they know what they’re doing. They’ve got terrific teams behind them running Amazon businesses and they’re successful.
– I wanna get you.
– With the cash on the sale.
– I want to get your opinion on, how to add more to my multiplier. Like I wanna, if I’m currently at a two and a half multiplier and I do five figures a month in revenue, how do I increase my multiplier to a four? Or what do I need to do to increase my multiplier to a four for the next time I wanna sell it?
– Yeah there’s lots of things that you shouldn’t do and lots of things that you can do, I don’t know, I’ll go, I’ve already mentioned some of the top ones. The top one was the selling of the period of growth, I think your new products. But also for example, what you shouldn’t do is have, which I did at one point, I think you did by the sounds of things, have a hero product, and you’ve got a hero, let’s say you’ve got seven products, and one of them is driving 70% of the sales. Then that’s just a risk. You know, if that target gets taken down or something, that lowering will apply, and if you distribute your sales across those seven products so evenly that you’re gonna get a better multiplier, there’s less risk of things going wrong.
– I get it.
– That’s, interesting actually.
– That’s a good point.
– That’s another one, another common pitfall. And I’ve just spoken to someone the other day that had done this and they’ve had to back out the sale of the business because they’ve realized they’ve made a mistake. It’s quite common, I’ve seen a few times for sellers to think that releasing lots of products, yes, sit in the buyer just before you got some of the business and they buying seeing you’ve got all these products, about to release. That’s not good because as you know on Amazon, there’s no product guaranteed to succeed. go through a trial phase. And then you eventually see where the sales are going to lie so, that’s gonna lower the multiplier. Plus those, the products are gonna have a sales history. And you’ve also eaten into your SDE because you’ve launched the products and then went and put cash into them. And it hasn’t yet returned any investment. So that’s a pitfall. Then you can lower your multiplier.
– Something I’m seeing here is, you know, less risk, high multiplier, low risk, low multiplier.
– That’s the name of the game. Yeah, there are so many things that you can do to manage this risk, you know, to make it less than the pitfalls, make it more.
– Well, let’s talk about now, if someone wants to work with you, what does it look like to get in with your training? How do they sign up to be able to work with you? And then what does that process look like?
– Yeah, so I think you’ve got the website open there. There’s a webinar, a master class webinar. I think that there’s a link at the top there.
– You can watch the webinar and yeah, and see if you’re interested in talking to me further from that.
– And his website is afbts.com. You go there and check it out, at the top right corner, there’s a section that says free training. You can click on that. And there’s a little webinar he’s got for ya. Dave’s got for ya, talking about your strategic exit, your blueprints, and how to add some figures to your business before you sell it. You also got this, what I noticed is a pre-exit checklist. Talk a little bit about what that is.
– Yeah, the checklist is just, I think it’s a 55 point checklist. Just to say, if you do all the things on this checklist, then you’ve really really got a business that is optimized for saleability and invaluable. That’s really just to open the eyes of the Amazon sellers out there to see how much there actually is, you know, that you can do in Amazon business. It’s not something that you can do at the last minute, of course, it takes time. And this is why I say, start with the end in mind. Now I build businesses now, my newer businesses are built to sell from the upset. I’m thinking down these terms,
– This is great, I’m gonna be downloading this as soon they get out.
– I know.
– And hopefully, I have some of the boxes checked. That’s my goal. I hope that I have some of them checked, but it’s fascinating. I love just the whole approach that you talk about, which is to start with the end in mind. That’s gonna have, I’m gonna sort of shift my mindset to that for sure.
– Start it in your mind and then make plans. And a plan that I’m from a background of planning, so the trap that people fall into with plans is that plans change, and so they think, sort of a show, call me back with the plan, but that’s the whole essence of planning, okay. You’re constantly every week, checking the plan, adjusting it with new data and new information and you don’t change the goal of course, you change the way that you got that strategy. So that’s fine. And that’s what people fail to do from my experience.
– For sure, yeah. I’m more impulsive, that’s just.
– I think a lot of us are like the same, we just keep going and finding new things and we don’t even think about selling at the end. Like if we worked our way backward we could probably be a little bit better off.
– Well, this has been great. We appreciate just all the insight and just open it. Hopefully, this is gonna help sellers that are listening open their eyes to what’s possible. I think it’s shocking sometimes to see what, these accounts sell for. I mean, it’s amazing when you talk about multipliers like that, what you can do and how exiting might be very smart. So again, if they want to get your masterclass or get in contact with you, it’s afbts.com. Are there any other ways that they can find the content of yours or hook up with you on social media or any of that?
– Yeah, I’ve got a Facebook group it’s called FBA Exit Plan.
– Okay, all right, well.
– I’ve got a YouTube channel, Dave Storey. Find me on there, you’ll find lots of interesting videos on there, information.
– Well, we will certainly be checking all of that out. All right, well, well, I know we’ve taken up a lot of your time today. We appreciate everything, so fun to have you on the show. We’ll have to have you back on again. We’ll go, we’ll do a deeper dive into some.
– There’s lots of info, lots of stuff we could deep dive into. I just wanted to leave you just one more, one more thing. The greatest thing that Amazon FBA business will ever do for you is sell.
– That’s interesting, I like it, my job.
– Awesome Dave, well, thanks for coming on man. We appreciate it. We’ll definitely be in touch. Check him out on LinkedIn as well. And we’ll have to have you back on ’cause you know, you got some value here and I think some sellers could definitely use it. Thanks again.
– Great to have me on, thanks a lot.