My Remarkable Journey From Vision Board To Visionary Business
dIt was early 2014, and I was sitting in my office at work (I was a construction manager at the time), wondering if there was more I could achieve in life. It wasn’t a sense of discontentment but a feeling of needing something of my own. Something with my name on it.
Before this, I had dabbled in various businesses, but I had dreams of starting something and making it big someday! As I sat there, I realized that the very best outcome for me was yearly 5% raises. I also realized that I would be working for “the man” for the rest of my life.
I had a deep desire to be my own boss and create a business that I could be proud of. Then the dreaming started.
This article is sponsored by Black Label Advisor.
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I began to research business ideas like a madman, spending hour after hour looking into various opportunities, ranging from franchises to selling a product at farmer’s markets. Then it hit me. Amazon is the future!
But weren’t most products on Amazon sold by Amazon? WRONG!
Most products, I soon found out, were sold by independent third-party sellers! This was truly my light bulb moment.
I asked myself, “why not me?” and began a six-month journey of research into the Amazon ecosystem and to see if this was feasible for me to launch into. As the days and weeks went by, my confidence grew, and I became more sure that this was the business for me.
The big wall that I just couldn’t get over was the fact that as an Amazon seller, you never see your products. I just couldn’t believe this as I had this idea in my head at the time that a product-based business would require multiple visits to a factory overseas. Everything I read from other sellers said otherwise, and as I continued my research, I got past this and began to understand the logistics of the business a bit more.
Once my research was complete, and I was ready to start looking for my product, I still had immense hesitation as I was about to spend real money. This was real money that I earned from hard work during my career in the commercial construction industry! So, I made it my goal to find a product that was low cost, had a low barrier to entry, and something I was passionate about.
As I perused Amazon, I somehow ended up looking at golf brushes. I would never consider myself an avid golfer, but I did have a long history of golfing with my friends in high school and college. I drilled down into this product category a bit more and had another light bulb moment! There were only a handful of sellers, and the listings have terrible pictures and copywriting! Could this be my opportunity?
What Made Me Different?
The answer was a resounding YES! Next up was my deep dive into innovation. I didn’t want to sell just another average golf brush. I wanted to be the top seller in this category, so I got right to work on how I could improve the product. I ended up choosing higher grade materials, stronger bristles, and adding my custom logo and including beautiful packaging. I would just ask myself the question: “Would this brush enhance my golfing experience?”
Once I finalized the changes I wanted to make to the brush, I got right to work on sourcing. I quickly found a factory that just so happened to be the same factory supplying the PGA tour with various golfing products and accessories!
Before I knew it, my first shipment of golf brushes was on the way to Amazon’s Los Angeles warehouse location. Once each of the units was checked into Amazon, I waited 24 hours and wham! My first sale!
I remember it like it was yesterday, seeing $19.99 in my Amazon selling account. I called my wife right away and shared the exciting news. Then another $19.99. And another $19.99. I know it wasn’t much at the time, but it felt like I hit a goldmine!
This happened about the same time that I developed a vision board with one thing on it: Seven Figure Exit.
I knew that selling at some point would be a slam dunk as it would allow me to enjoy a mental break and enjoy a life of financial freedom. Going forward, each task I completed for my business had this ultimate goal in mind. For example, running only one Amazon account and keeping my books clean month by month was critically important because I knew a potential buyer would care a lot about this.
Within my first year of selling mostly golf brushes and outdoor toys, I made just under $150,000. I knew that I was growing something with great promise as revenues continued to grow. Each month, I thought about various new products I could launch with my business profits and kept my eye on the prize of selling my business for multiple seven figures someday.
Everything I did in my business was laser-focused on my ultimate goal.
I soon found myself running established brands in various markets: golfing, outdoor toys, office supplies, and men’s leather goods. Customers on Amazon soon associated my brands with high quality and incredible customer service.
Day Dreaming of the Exit
I continued my expansion into various products and continued to reinvest my profits. It hit me that I was close to an exit when I hit $5 million in sales in 2018 alone. I ended up reaching out to a broker to get this process started.
After submitting some paperwork and having the analysis done on my business, the broker informed me that a high seven-figure exit is not out of the norm for my business. I was shell shocked. I knew this was the moment.
My business was growing like never before, and I knew this would be attractive to a potential buyer. No one wants a business that’s stagnating, and that definitely wasn’t me!
From Dream to Reality
Once I was under contract with the business broker, they began to pitch to various contacts of theirs and soon found me a serious private buyer out of the East Coast. The initial interview with the buyer went great, and a week later, I received an incredible offer! I had to pinch myself; I was so excited.
We negotiated a bit on the terms of the sale, and soon I was in what is called “due diligence,” a period of document review to make sure the buyer was not getting scammed. Once everything was approved, and the buyer was ready to move forward, he got lending on his side ready to go, and soon we were deep into contracts and final negotiations. From start to end, it took over eight months to secure the sale of my business.
The last 24 hours were the worst. The bank’s lawyers had to review paperwork over a weekend, and there was nothing for me to do but wait and pray. I finally got the good news on Monday morning and saw the massive $ wire come through to my checking account.
I couldn’t believe my eyes!
It really happened. Outside of marriage, I can safely say that selling my business was the most stressful time of my life. It’s not for the faint of heart but was worth every drop of sweat along the way.
After the sale went through, I ended up enjoying some much-needed time off from work and did a bit of traveling with my amazing wife and 5-year-old son. It was such a blessing to have this time off and never check my phone for updates from Amazon or worry about someone trying to steal my product ideas. We visited some family, going to the beautiful beaches along 30A in Florida, and exploring Alexandria, Virginia.
More recently, I realized I had an incredibly unique store and one that I wanted to share. This led to another light bulb moment. Why not start a small, boutique consulting firm focused ONLY on Amazon FBA sellers. I did just that and now help sellers at all levels of their business excel at Black Label Advisor.
Some have asked me what makes me different from other larger, established consulting firms. Most of the companies out there are huge, and often a client is being advised by someone who has never earned a single dollar on Amazon. They end up sinking and wondering why this happened to them!
I only take on a few clients a month, so I can dedicate my time and energy to their businesses. I also refuse to lock people into long term contracts, which is quite common in this industry. My passion now is derived from seeing others repeat the success I had and help them avoid pitfalls that I had to go through.
You can contact Jon with inquiries at [email protected].
This article is sponsored by Black Label Advisor.
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