Ben Leonard talks to Kris Gramlich and Dustin Kane about amazon e-commerce and smashing your e-commerce goals. Ben helps eCommerce businesses smash their goals, get a clear and confident path, and scale their business to the next level!
Learn more about Ben: https://www.benleonard.pro
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Smash Your Amazon E-commerce Goals
– Hello everyone and welcome to episode 74 of Two Amazon Sellers and a Microphone brought to you by Sellozo. Today Chris and I are excited to be joined with a great guest Ben Leonard. How are you doing Ben?
– I’m good, thanks. Thanks for having me on guys.
– Absolutely. Thanks for staying on, being on late over there. You’re in Scotland, it’s eight o’clock, working late, man. I love it.
– Yeah, no, this is just the way it is, right? Because so many people in this space are in the States or Canada. So yeah, just used to talking late in the evening.
– Yeah. It’s the e-commerce, it’s the entrepreneurial world, there is no stopping. you work whenever you can.
– Pretty much, yeah, burning the candle at both ends.
– Oh man. Well what Chris and I are excited to have you on and just talk a little about your story. You have a really cool story, you know, it’s a lot, well, a lot of Amazon sellers out there, their goal is to sell at some point, you’ve exited your business. You’re on to new things and launching new businesses. So we’re just excited to go through all of it because it’s a great story, it’s inspiring and we want to learn just sort of a little bit about your journey and what you’ve done. So we’re glad, yeah.
– Happy to share the story and happy to talk about anything in this space really, because you know, I nerd out on it on a daily basis, so yeah. You want me to just kind of start at the beginning?
– Yeah. Well just give us a little background, yeah. How did it all start? I Yeah, absolutely. So prior to founding my first business I had absolutely zero experience or background in business. I didn’t get started until I was 27, my background is actually ecology and environmental sustainability. So when I started my business I was working as a professional whale and dolphin nerd. And now I’m just an amateur whale and dolphin nerd. So my job, I was working in the oil and gas industry telling engineers they’re not allowed to throw chemicals in the ocean and I enjoyed that job but I got super ill at the end of 2015, started 2016 with a heart condition. It was the third time that I got it, and I had to take a break for about nine months from all of my sort of fitness hobbies. I did a lot of CrossFit boxing, weightlifting, running, I was also into scuba diving. Now the doctors basically said, you can’t do any of that and you need to take all of the drugs. So I needed something to keep me in touch with those hobbies without actually doing them and a few years previously, I’d had this idea just kind of in the back of my head. I’d been at a CrossFit session at the end of the session. Somebody said, Oh, we beasted it today. And I remember thinking we beasted it. We beasted it, beast, beast, beast gear, beast gear would be a cool name for a fitness brand, and I just left it there and forgot all about it. Fast forward another couple of years, I get really ill, I’m sadly tidying out my gym bag and looking all the equipment that I’m not using, I’m thinking I could do a better job than that. So I founded this brand of fitness equipment called Beast Gear. And so began the experience of learning by doing trial and error and getting thrown in the deep end of e-commerce something I had no experience of, that was at the start of 2016. It turned out I was actually pretty good at it and I scaled it up to mid seven figures and the business was selling across the UK, Europe, Middle East, Australia and the end of 2019 or late 2019, I sold, and I’m allowed to tell you about this because it’s public domain. I was Thrasio’s, I think second European acquisition, and they used me in tons of their PR. So it’s not like I’m breaking any non-disclosures or whatever by mentioning them. So yeah I sold to Thrasio late 2019, which was crazy. Right? Because they only formed, I think Thrasio formed, what? September, 2018. So I was like, you know, a year into them existing but this was before the whole aggregator thing really kicked off and now I’m still building brands, partly because I love it, you know? And I’ve learnt so much from selling the first one that I’m now building brands with a view to sell, right? When I started the first one I started it as a hobby to maybe earn some pocket money, give me something to do. I didn’t think about selling it until I was welling to doing it. Now I’m building brands with a vision to sell. And the other reason I’m still building brands is because as you guys know, this is such a fast moving industry and things change all the time. If I’m going to advise my clients in my consulting, or those who I’m trying to get an exit for in my brokerage I need to have skin in the game and I need to have an understanding of what this is like, from the point of view of an e-commerce merchant. So in a nutshell, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing for the last several years. And you know, I love this space, I love talking about it. I feel like I’ve benefited quite a lot from the experience and that’s why I’m teaching consulting, right? Trying to kind of give back in a way, and I’m a people person, I like teaching, I guess I like to think that I’m a bit of an antidote to those gurus out there who have never really actually done a real thing but they have shady Facebook ads of themselves standing in front of Lamborghinis.
– So, you know, I’m here to kind of help people with the benefit of having actually been there and done it.
– Yeah, anytime I see a Lamborghini or a nice car in an ad, I’m immediately going the other direction. So, it’s not like, I’m like, “okay, I’m out of this.” They rented it out for a few hours, and they made a video for it. So just a tale caution out there but I wanna kind of go back to your story a little bit. So you started the business off and then Thrasio obviously they’re like the biggest person or biggest company in the space right now, like there are buying all kinds of stuff, but you did catch them. They caught you early, like 2019, they were just kinda coming around. What was that like? Like did you go find them or was that like a reach out thing from them, well how’d that look at?
– Well, I made the decision to sell in early 2019. I think I made the decision in February.
– Real quick, what was that all about? Just try to get out of it because just because? Or just move on?
– Well it wasn’t about like, you know some people decide to sell cause they’re kind of fed up. I wasn’t fed up, I loved my brand, I still do love my brand. It was about the fact that I knew that there was money to be taken off the table that the business was reaching a stage where I was running around like a headless chicken, putting out fires and yes, I had hired a team and I was outsourcing and I was automating and all that good stuff that you need to do, but the scale and the growth was so rapid that we were reaching a point where I was going to need to potentially either open an office say in the Philippines or locally and I didn’t have the resources or the capacity to do it nor did I really want to, my wife was pregnant, we wanted to move house. It was the right time for me and my family to sell. I think maybe if that brand wasn’t my first business I had already had an exit a few years before and I had that safety net. Then I might have kept it on but a piece of advice I received actually from my dad and he didn’t make this up, right? He got this somewhere else himself but the idea is to sell your business at the point of peak romance, which basically means that you’re at the point where the graph is either going to go really high up, right? This is going to explode. You’re onto something here or it’s just not right. It’s either going to plateau or go down the way and if you sell and then it does continue to grow wonderfully. You’re probably not going to regret, you’re not going to say, well I got out too early because a significant part of your earn-out it’s going to be based on the performance after you sell anyway. And if you get out and then it doesn’t go quite so well, you know, you got out of the right time. So anyway, it was the right thing for me and my family. So yeah, I made the decision to sell early 2019, February, and then in the March, I contacted a broker. You got to remember that only this is not a long time ago. It’s only two years ago, but nobody, you know we know that e-commerce is legitimate, we know that e-commerce businesses are real grownup businesses. but buying businesses still, despite the fact that the internet has existed for decades still until very recently believed that if it didn’t have a roof and a door it wasn’t a real business and it wasn’t worth anything. So the idea of buying and selling e-commerce business was still pretty new, and I had no idea who would buy it. So I approached a broker and the broker took quite a long time to get the business ready, and during that time made a few mistakes but to their credit, they did introduce me to a buyer who bought my business so fair enough. And that buyer was Thrasio. And, they made me an offer, which was fair, It’s also fair to say that now that the landscape has changed I would have got a lot more money for my business if I was selling it now, because the multiples are higher, but that’s just that’s life. And so, yeah, I got out end of 2019 and you know, I didn’t want to pack up and leave e-commerce altogether because I love it now, right? So my former career is well behind me still interested in that type of stuff just from like a personal interest perspective but no longer as a professional. And from that experience, my accountant and I, so my accountant, who looked after the accounts for Beast Gear, she’s got like 20 plus years experience in mergers and acquisitions and she’s an e-commerce specialist accountant, and we basically put our heads together and said, “you know what?” “We could do a better job of the brokering part” “and there’s no one in the UK, in Europe doing this.” And so we set up a brokerage called EcomBrokers. And what we think is special about that is that most of the other brokers are basically just middlemen who and there are some good brokers out there I’m not dissing them, but what I’m saying is that many of them lack the lived experience of the blood, sweat and tears in your e-commerce business, crying down the phone to seller support at 3:00 AM. And they also lack the experience on the account side. They’re not accountants, they’re pulling out reports from seller central and Shopify and whatever, but they’re not accountants. And because of that, there’s quite a bit of weakness in the financial side, the tricks of the trade that my accountant can do to A, get your business really properly neat and tidy, set up to sell, but B, maximize your profits or rather maximize like your seller’s discretionary earnings. And so we started this brokerage which I like to think that it’s kind of like a brokerage because many of the brokers, you know, you’ll go to them and you’ll say, “Hey, I want to sell my business.” And they’ll say, “Okay, fine.” And they’ll pull the records. They’ll give you a valuation and they’ll slap it on their website, like the eBay of businesses, and then off you go. That’s absolutely fine if that’s what you want. But what we’ll do is people will come to us and they’ll say, “I want to sell my business now,” and we’ll say, “Fine.” We’ll say, “We’re not going to start right now” “because we’re going to take a little bit of extra time” “to get this really neat and tidy,” “and built to sell from both e-com operations side” “and the financial side, to maximize the valuation.” And then we’ll get other people come to us and say, “well I want to sell, but I’ve got a number in mind” “or I want to sell in six months or a year or whatever.” And we’ll work with them, me on the e-commerce operations and with the whole e-commerce piece, right? Right from working with your manufacturers and suppliers to, you know, marketing your business to the customers and potential customers. And then Alison on the numbers and the accounts. So that’s why I kind of think we’re a little bit different. So, you know, I’m kind of rambling, but the, yeah, the lived experience of selling the business, led to what I’m doing now.
– Well, the, I liked the brokerage part. I mean, it’s almost like you’re a broker plus like you have your advising as well, as opposed to just brokering the deal and helping them position themselves to sell, you’re helping them maybe even improve their business while they’re trying to sell so they can get higher multiples, et cetera. I’m sure that coincides really well with your consulting business that you run as well.
– Yeah, well, yeah, it does, so just to go back to your point about the brokerage plus thing, we’re actually, we’re just about, we haven’t kind of officially launched it yet but basically, the advice we’ve been giving to clients has almost turned into like an accelerator, and so we’re almost about to officially launch our accelerator which is where businesses where perhaps the owner no longer wants to be involved or quite so hands-on can come to us and we will take them on and effectively run the business and accelerate in a managed plan towards an exit that’s almost ready to go officially. But yes, you’re right, it does feed into the consulting, so like, I guess there’s two main ways that we tend to bring people through the brokerage. That is my clients and the consulting. So I mentioned before that, you know I kind of teach people based on, you know the benefit of what I’ve experienced over the last kind of several, you know, five years. And then Alison has the accounting firm, Mint Accounting, and they look after multiple e-commerce clients selling on Amazon and off Amazon on the wrong websites, and eventually they’re, you know, they’re ready to sell because if there’s one thing we’ve all learned in the last several years, it’s that, you know you don’t really make real money until you exit. I mean, you remember back in 2014, 15, 16 and earlier people were getting into this because they thought that they could make, you know have a side hustle, make some extra income. And some people were saying selling it as passive income which of course is nonsense because it’s bloody hard work. But now people are getting into this with an exit in mind, straight off the bat. And that’s exciting for everyone I think because it changes lives and it teaches people to build a big boy grown-up business now. I think, you know, gone are the days of sourcing a product, right? It’s not about sourcing a product. I need to find something to sell on Amazon. It’s about building a brand, building a suite of products to solve related problems for a particular group of people, whether that’s people who like to knit or people who ride motorcycles, right? I remember, you guys all know Scott Voelker.
– Oh yeah.
– That’s how I got into this thing.
– Right, exactly right, the guy’s a legend. Some people diss him right? And there are completely wrong, the guy’s an absolute hero. I used to listen to his original podcast. The Amazing Seller back in the day. And I remember he used to say, the riches are in the niches. And my initial reaction to that was to scream at my podcast player and say, “No, the word is niche,” But actually he’s right, the riches are in the niches right? I remember he used to give this example of producing products for people who go bass fishing off of a kayak, right? It’s so niche, but the people that do go bass fishing off of a kayak, I bet they absolutely love it, and they get really jazzed up. And if you created a brand to solve related problems for that particular group of people, you could absolutely smash it out of the park. And that’s what it’s about, right? It’s no longer about just making a quick buck by selling stuff, it’s about building a brand with an exit in mind.
– It’s you’re so right. and it you’re a funny you brought up Scott Voelker. I mean, I remember just, everything I did, I had that podcast on, if I was doing the dishes I was listening to that podcast driving in my car, listening to it. And you know he always kept saying, “Take action, take action.” And you know, that’s true. You just find something and do it, but I want to go to, because you’re interesting. Well, you mentioned this before, when you started, this all started because you thought of a cool brand name. So it wasn’t, like you had brand name then product and found products that fit what your target was which is, that’s not super common, I would say most people are looking for a product that is a niche product, and then they’re trying to figure out a brand name afterwards. So let’s go back to the beginning, You found this brand name and then you just started sourcing products that fit into that niche, right?
– Yeah, so I don’t teach people to do it how I did it, because when I did it, I didn’t know I had this entrepreneurial spark in me and I didn’t know, diddly squat about e-commerce, right? Or branding or marketing, right? And I make no, I don’t lie about that, that’s the truth, and that’s how I got into this. Yeah, well what happened was, I had one day after a training session, a CrossFit thought, you know Beast Gear would be a cool name for a brand of fitness kit. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I got really ill and had to take time out of fitness but wanting to kind of stay connected to that side of my life. And then I was looking at my gym kit and thought I could make a better, some better products. I was looking at my speed rope and it wasn’t very good, and I thought I could make a better speed rope. And then I thought, Oh yeah, I had that idea for Beast Gear. So then I created the first product which was called the Beast rope. And basically, I found some manufacturers on Alibaba, you know, as you do, and I went through the reiterate process of going back and forth on samples, “I like this bit, I don’t like that bit,” “can we make this bit better?” “You know, oh that bit’s not quite so good.” And that type of thing until we settled on something I liked I placed an order for 500 units, and the last order I placed before I sold the business was for just over a quarter of a million units of that product.
– Oh my god.
– And that was a pretty insane.
– And I think that’s a good story just in terms of to tell people what can happen, I mean, how far things can scale quickly and that’s great but there’s also a lot of challenges.
– Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
– I mean like, there were a lot of challenges along the way and it was a process of learning by doing, right? I know that that makes it sound stupidly easy, and of course it’s not, but when you break it down that’s pretty much what it is, right? .It’s try something because I have a scientific background, right? And so I liked the scientific approach of this. You try something, you observe it just like a scientific experiment. You look at the results, you analyze the results you tweak what you’ve done to hopefully get a different result or improve on your result, and you go again, and that’s what I did. And as I went along, I learned more and more and more and I became more and more proficient until we got to a point where, you know, this is going well and I know what I’m doing, I’m competent, I’m going to quit my job. And I continued to scale, and I actually had plans to put the business into both the U.S and China before I sold, but, you know, circumstances changed. I realized that I could get a decent amount of money for it. You know, what the funny thing is right? is even, you know traditionally, a traditional business sale you’re looking at a multiple of more like six, seven, eight. When I sold, you know, a three X multiple was really pretty good for e-commerce. Now that’s probably on the lower side, you know lower to standard, I would say. So I sometimes have to say to myself imagine if the business wasn’t an e-commerce business and it was like a, you know, a normal business, so to speak. I would have sold it for a crazy number and the way that this is going is multiples are catching up really fast with, you know, normal multiples if you like. It’s a fascinating industry to be in, and I think we’re all grateful to be in it at the moment considering what’s been going on in the world for the last year.
– No doubt. I’ve got a question about this because this is another thing that is strikes me as interesting about your story is you didn’t sell in the U.S market and touching on that, you know, you launched, you scaled and sounds like you’re up in UK mostly, and then you expanded to other marketplaces but I talked to a ton of sellers that are European or whatever that are launching their product their first product in the U.S thinking that they can do better. I mean, what are your thoughts on that? I mean, it sounds like you had a ton of success launching it, and do you think you would have had a successful launch for you to start in the U.S with the same products as the UK and Europe?
– Good question. So to come back, jump to the first bit I think you can launch in the U.S from the UK or Europe and have a success and you can even do it straight off the bat, like you don’t have to launch here first. The reason I launched here first was, as I said I wasn’t an e-commerce or a business expert and that it just seemed more natural to me. I was more comfortable and made more sense to me, was like I’m in the UK, I was not selling in the UK. To be honest the idea of selling in the U.S to begin with didn’t really occur to me. With hindsight, well, maybe I should have done as It is a bigger market, but on the other hand with the UK being a younger and less mature platform perhaps because of kind of my scientific approach that kind of helped me to, you know I developed a whole bunch of strategies which were kind of not the standard things being taught in all the courses, which allowed me to kind of get ahead of the competition, who’d been selling for several years longer than me. Perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to do that in the U.S on a more mature marketplace. And then what happened was I was able to start selling across Europe and I enrolled for something called pan-EU which you guys are probably familiar with. Some of us might not be if they’re not, if they’re in the U.S but that’s where Amazon will actually, I was able to send my inventory into the UK Fulfillment Center. Then Amazon would distribute it right across Europe for me, that’s changed slightly now because of Brexit but that’s another story. But anyway, the moment I did that my sales almost doubled overnight.
– But what was phenomenal about that is, it’s not actually easy to register for pan-EU because you have to register for VAT in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic the Netherlands and Sweden now as well. And when I did it, I think I just had to register in seven countries, but, anyways, it was a total pain in the ass. Registering for VAT in some of these countries is not straightforward, it’s just filling a form. There’s all sorts of stuff you have to do, which is really actually fantastic because the higher, the barrier to entry, the more hoops you have to jump through, the more your competitors say, “I can’t be bothered.” “It’s not worth it.” but actually it is worth it. And when I jumped through all those hoops, I cleaned up because my competition didn’t bother to do it
– And think of, like an easy victory it is for a company like Thrasio, just to go to the U.S marketplace and they can just make their money back pretty quickly like that, you weren’t even in the U.S yet.
– That’s one of the attractions of the business, right? To the buyer, to Thrasio, was that the business was doing really well in an English speaking market, the UK and actually in Australia. Well, we only had a few skews in Australia and we were smashing it across Europe as well. All we had to do was rinse and repeat in the U.S as it turns out, the brand is only just about to launch now in the U.S in 2021 because of an IP dispute, but that’s been resolved. So but, you know, they saw the attraction, right? They saw that potential upside of not just growing the brand in the existing markets, but taking it to the U.S, and then Canada and Mexico, et cetera.
– Easy, easy. I mean, that’s just, that’s a good easy win for them to do.
– There’s a lesson there as well, right? It’s tempting to try to do everything to make your business as wonderful and all singing, and all dancing, its possible to make it attractive to a buyer but you’ve got to leave something on the table for them. Like, I know a guy who sold his business and I know the buyer he sold it to as well, and it’s funny because I’ve had the conversation with both the buyer and the guy who sold the business. And this guy is an absolute, brainbox like he’s a data nerd, and he optimize his business to the nth degree, and on paper it looked absolutely amazing, but unfortunately, after the buyer bought it there was nowhere for them to go. It was like nothing additional they could do. And if anything, they kind of like made it worse because they no longer have this guy. So, you know, there’s a lesson in there somewhere make your business wonderful, but, you know, leave something on the table to make it attractive for a buyer.
– Yeah, leave a little meat out there, give it a little meat on the bone.
– Leave a little meat on the bone.
– And we hear that a lot, you know, the best time to sell is when there’s, your way on that up-slope.
– Yup, point of peak romance.
– That yours is, exactly the point of peak romance. That’s a good way of putting it. once you sold, and now, I mean, now you’ve, this baby that you built and nurtured for, and you sold, what did that feel like?
– It was crazy because, so I did the deal on Halloween 2019 and I was quite, I hadn’t sold a business before this. I was quite naive and on a few aspects of the process purely just through having not done it before. And it wasn’t until actually a few weeks before the deal was done, that I realized or discovered that the date that the deal needed to be done by which was Halloween was actually critical because the buyers model everything and they have to report to their shareholders. If they don’t hit the deadline, then technically their model no longer applies, right? Their financial modeling is no longer correct because the dates are wrong. And for some of these buyers, well, you’re just another business. So if the deal hadn’t gone through it may never have happened. I mean, I’m sure I would have sold it eventually somebody, but so that was kind of scary, because the deal didn’t go through until four minutes to midnight.
– Yeah, so I was kind of cramping my pants and after it was done, yeah, it felt kind of surreal. And then the first chunk of money hit my bank account and that felt really weird, also really good, then I bought a Tesla, which is nice, but you know the thing is that neither me nor my wife, were not really very materialistic people, we don’t really buy stuff and our life hasn’t particularly changed other than we’re now, we have that safety net, right? And actually I think people operate at their best when they’re relaxed. It’s like a sports person or a top athlete. Take a soccer player who is scoring a lot of goals, the more he scores or she scores, the more relaxed they are, the more confident they are, it’s a positive feedback loop, they’re just going to score more goals. So if you’re a business person and you’re relaxed you’ve got no financial worries. You’re just going to keep operating at your best. On the other hand if you’re a soccer player and you’re not scoring, the more stressed you are, the worse it gets. If you’re an entrepreneur or a business person and you’ve got financial worries, cashflow is a problem, you can’t pay your employees, you’ve got issues with your personal finance, you’re not operating at your best, you make poor decisions, you know, it all goes to hell. So having that safety net now allows me to operate at my best. And also we spoke before about barrier to entry. Some of the brands that I’m developing or have kind of ideas for, have a higher barrier to entry in terms of the financial, you know, in terms of the capital required to start, which is fantastic because it’s not saturated because you know when I started Beast Gear I was able to order some jump ropes for a few dollars. And I was working on a laptop and a cupboard in my apartment. Now I can potentially start brands for products which cost, you know, many, many times more than that.
– And it’s interesting because that’s the other benefit of selling is when you exit, I mean, okay, yeah, now you can, you have this chunk of cash, that’s your, can be your nest egg, it can be your, but it’s also allows you to launch your new business with a lot more resources upfront. And so you can, like you said, enter new markets enter things that were, would have been cost prohibitive. You would not have been able to order 500 units of something that costs a hundred dollars a piece when you first started.
– It’s you know there are so many people out there that say, “Me I’m not sure if I want to sell, you know,” “I’m not sure if I want to sell and I just kinda think,” you know, “have you got other business ideas?” “Oh yeah, I do, but I can’t start them yet” “because you know money.” It’s like, well, sell then, you know, take some money off the table, pay off your mortgage, settle your debts, stick a big chunk of it in some, you know go see a financial advisor and decide what to do with it but put a big chunk of it in something safe that’s going to grow at a decent, steady rate, you know read the Tony Robbins book, what’s it called, Unshakeable, he’s got another one, Money Master the Game, read that, do what he says, look after yourself and then take a big whole chunk of it as well, and start another business.
– You forgot buy a Tesla also.
– Also buy a Tesla.
– That’s awesome.
– So now you’re, I’m assuming you’re in the midst of launching this second business and you’re consulting, and you’re doing your brokerage. I mean, that’s gotta be a lot of fun. Now you’re not just talking about your business, you’re digging into other, you know, helping others succeed.
– I love that.
– Isn’t it a lot of fun?
– It’s great fun because I’m a people person, I like talking to people, I like helping people. I love seeing other people succeed, and sharing in that. I kind of almost living vicariously through them. There’s nothing cooler than when a client says, “Hey I did the thing you said to do.” “And now, you know, here’s the result” or whatever Or, when somebody sold their business and they take a screenshot of their bank account and they’re just like mind blown, you know. It’s a wonderful feeling for them obviously, but and for me, and I like to feel like, okay, you know I’m not doing this for free, but yeah, I like to feel like I’m giving back to the community in a sense it’s given me so much. Particularly because e-commerce, it’s so overwhelming. It’s so difficult to know who to listen to. And I’m not so arrogant as to say well, everyone should just listen to me but at least listen to someone like me who’s been there and done it right? Is what I’m saying. And so, you know, yeah, so it’s exciting. And I like doing it, and it might sound like I’m doing tons of stuff? Like how do you have time to do your own brand? Do the brokerage and do your consulting? Well, the answer is, of course, you know, when you start off your first brand, you’re doing absolutely everything. Of course, one of the main things that you learn along the way is that you can’t do absolutely everything because you’ll never get anywhere. You have to work on your business not in your business, and so I have teams, you know, I have the vision and they implement.
– What’s, and this is framed, what does a coaching call look like with you? Because I can tell you just from right now like you command a virtual room really well like I’m really dialed into your story. Like, I really want to like what’s a call with you look like, like and that’s in our sellers, I come to you and say, “Hey Ben, here’s my account.” “I want to sell in like 18 months, 24 months.” “Here’s where I’m at, here’s my projection,” “like, what’s all that look like.”
– Well, when we talk about where you are now, where you want to be, what are your biggest obstacles as you see them, and we kind of just riff from there, if I’m being perfectly honest, right? There’s not a formula because everyone is different in terms of how they work and how they communicate and how they learn. And everyone’s business is different. And I think that was one of the big problems with this industry, is that some people have tried to plug everyone’s business through some sort of magical machine or magical course. It doesn’t quite work like that. The requirements for business selling premium products which cost a lot versus somebody selling little widgets, with very different margins, very different customers, maybe you’ve got hundreds of skews, maybe you’ve got four skews, right? It’s all very different. So a coaching call is really just about understanding each other, where you are, where you want to be getting clear on what what matters to you and what doesn’t. And then we go from there and then, you know it may be very strategic and high-level or we might be getting quite into the nitty-gritty of a particular topic, like, you know, optimizing, you know so my problem is that sales have dropped for this particular listing. Well, you know, let’s dig into that or it could be more strategic and high level like what do I need to do to achieve the valuation that I want in the next six months or whatever it might be.
– Yeah, I think that’s super important, and Dustin and I, we’ve mentioned this before and you’ve probably talked about it too. This whole Amazon e-commerce sell products and you know, start a business. It can get a little lonely sometimes, right? Like you’re not really having anybody to talk to, you’re kind of just doing it on the fly, you’re watching YouTube videos, podcasts. So I think that’s important sometimes where we just get out and talk to other people who’ve been there like yourself, get a focus, get a path and just stay on that path and stay totally narrowed in and that’s where, like, I wish I would have done something like that when we first started out with Dustin, like we didn’t have anywhere to go with that, we just kind of throw stuff on the wall and stuck to see where it goes.
– You know what, give yourself a break for that because it’s fairly natural to do that, right? I mean, I did that with the first brand. I didn’t build it to sell it initially. It wasn’t until I was like a good year and a half, almost two years in really where I was like, right? I could sell this, and I started to really prepare with that in mind, and with the benefit of hindsight, I would’ve, you know prepared straight off the bat. I was about, I was halfway through that business before I read a book called two books, one called the E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber which is like the Bible in e-commerce
– Great book
– or business. And in any way, yeah, it’s a great book. And the next one was a book called Built to Sell by a guy called John Warrillow. So you know how in the E-Myth Michael Gerber works through this case study of the the pie shop while in which is great. Well, in Built to Sell, John Warrillow works through this case study, there’s this guy who’s got this like marketing agency. And I think the whole case study example is really good, because you can relate to the characters and you can think about how you might apply it to your business, but it wasn’t until I was like halfway through that business, before I read those books and started to tweak how I was doing things and get a bit more organized about it, you know a bit more grown up if you like big boy business. And now of course everything I learned from those books, from selling, from going through the due diligence process, now feeds into how I build businesses from the ground up with an exit in mind. But having said that right there is an important thing I want to drop in here because, we were talking before about building a brand and the mistakes so many people made initially in their business, right? Was they just want to just sell a thing or stuff. And it was not something that they were passionate about, right? It wasn’t bass fishing from a kayak, you know, even if you’re selling with a, selling with an exit in mind is not permission to go find some products that you think you can build something to exit, right? You still need to build a business around a niche around a particular group of people and preferably that’s the group of people that you relate to that, you know, a whole ton about, probably because you are one of them, right? If you’re not interested in knitting don’t start a knitting brand. Definitely start a brand with an exit in mind but think about stuff that you get out of bed for. And if that’s, I don’t know kite surfing, start a kite surfing brand but don’t start a knitting brand.
– That’s good advice. And we talk about that a lot is it’s sometimes it’s hard to sell if you don’t know your audience very well. And if you can, if you’re your own audience, it’s really easy to–
– Yeah, interact with your own niche.
– Yeah exactly.
– Yeah, it’s vital.
– Yeah, well, okay. So somebody who’s listening to this right now and there’s like, I’ve got to talk to Ben more. I need consulting with him. How do they contact you? How do they reach out to you and get started with this?
– Yeah, sure. If you want me personally it’s, my website is BenLeonard.pro I’m on LinkedIn, just search for Ben Leonard, you’ll find me and I’m on like all the social media channels. I’m not on Tik Tok, but I’m on like Instagram, Twitter Facebook @BenLeonard pro. So URLs BenLeonard.pro. My handles are BenLeonard pro. If you want to sell your business like now or in the future, go to ecombrokers.co.uk. If you go there, there’s an ebook you can download for free which will help you start thinking about how to get your business ready to sell. There’s a whole ton of free articles on there. So whether you want to work with us or not, go there and you know, benefit from that information
– That’s great stuff. And I encourage everyone to reach out to you. I mean, this is a great conversation and we need to get you back on in the future as well, because we could dive into a million topics. There’s so many–
– For sure, I’d love to talk
– And it was just, it’s fun to hear a story from someone who did it, succeeded, came out on the other end, is doing it again, because that should be really motivating to others out there of what’s possible. So, it’s great to get your story and just learn what you’ve done and where you are, but we’d love to get you back on and just dive into just the nitty gritty, there’s so much that we could talk about. So we’ll definitely plan to do that.
– I love talking to you guys and you know, you’re right, anyone can do it and that sounds really cheesy, right? It’s a really cheesy cliched phrase but it basically, it’s true. You just got to, you know do the work and you know, do it right. And don’t sell widget spinners.
– The three of us,
– Dustin could talk about that one.
– Oh yeah. I’ve got a good horror story about don’t ever jump on a trend.
– Yeah, that’s right, don’t jump on a trend. I got a story about those suckers right there. I got caught up in those and lost some money but it’s a good story.
– I guess I’ll have to do an episode on that.
– It’s a really good story too, because actually that had a positive to it. I ended up being able to create a brand out of that. It’s not with those.
– Every failure, provides, you know, positives, right? I think Michael Jordan said something along the lines of the reason I’m so successful is because I fail like all the time.
– That’s right, he took all the shots. Yeah, If you take every last second shot you’re going to make some of them.
– Man wow, did you have something you want to add there, Chris?
– Yeah, I was just going to say, just to sellers out there like it’ll be worth your time to take a call with Ben because it’ll pass you up, you’ll pass people up in the knowledge you’re going to get from him. So I just, I get a harp on that a lot because we’ve been through this, I’ve done it, we didn’t get out, we had to reach out for people to help us so if you’re a seller out there and you’re kind of spinning your wheels you don’t know where to go and you know, you need to focus. Ben’s going to be a good guy to talk to because he’s been down this road.
– Thanks, that’s very kind of you. Well, thanks for having me on the show guys, I’ve absolutely loved talking to you and yeah let’s do it again sometime.
– Let’s do it.
– Absolutely, so, thanks for coming on Ben. Everyone, who’s listening go to BenLeonard.pro, book a consulting call with him. If you like what you’re listening to right now or watching, if you’re watching us on or YouTube make sure you subscribe to our page, like the Facebook page, subscribe to our YouTube channel, turn on notifications so you’re notified when we go live, also please subscribe to our podcast on whatever podcast channel you’re listening to us on, we’re on all of them. So hopefully you’re on one now and you make sure you leave a review if you can, and subscribe to the podcast so that you get all this content every time we go live, Ben, thanks so much for coming, we’ll do it again, everyone we’ll be at this again tomorrow. Have a great day.