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GOLD! The Chronicles Of DDall - A Progress/Execution Thread (Damn $3Mg/$700Knet!)

JasonR

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Good point. If you're constantly leveraging to put up with demand, how do you know if you're overextending? It seems like at those numbers the risks are so huge.
This is actually a great question. Here is a lengthy article explaining what @biophase is talking about in detail.

How Fast Can Your Company Afford to Grow?

You can absolutely grow too fast and back yourself into a hole with no cash. People who know the ecommerce game know this well. It's very important to manage your growth and cash.

I'm also a very FIRM believer in taking cash off the table as soon as is realistically possible, particularly if you don't have much personal savings. At some point, your business NEEDs to be profitable to be worth anything, and you SHOULD be taking profits off the table in MOST cases.

I'm very fortunate that I only deal with US Suppliers in my current business, and my lead times are very short. My cash churn is very low compared to the volume we do. This has allowed for quick growth and for being highly profitable at the same time.

I've invested in another business importing from China, and while it has gone well, getting things from overseas eats cash. Be prepared for it!

Great insight @biophase
 

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Denim Chicken

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This is actually a great question. Here is a lengthy article explaining what @biophase is talking about in detail.

How Fast Can Your Company Afford to Grow?

You can absolutely grow too fast and back yourself into a hole with no cash. People who know the ecommerce game know this well. It's very important to manage your growth and cash.

I'm also a very FIRM believer in taking cash off the table as soon as is realistically possible, particularly if you don't have much personal savings. At some point, your business NEEDs to be profitable to be worth anything, and you SHOULD be taking profits off the table in MOST cases.

I'm very fortunate that I only deal with US Suppliers in my current business, and my lead times are very short. My cash churn is very low compared to the volume we do. This has allowed for quick growth and for being highly profitable at the same time.

I've invested in another business importing from China, and while it has gone well, getting things from overseas eats cash. Be prepared for it!

Great insight @biophase
Great answer, thanks. I also figure with chinese importing, sending via wire exposes more risk versus an established US manufacturer.
 

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Hi ddall, congratulations on your success.

Early on you said that you wanted to ship directly from china to an fba prep company- I assume you have done this already. Do you have one to recommend? And do you make use their inspection service?

Thanks
 

KSR

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Came here to say awesome thread and awesome job.

You're probably not thinking about exiting, but remember that's always on the table as an OPTION for you. I'm in the middle of exiting my 7 figure ecom business...if you need any help PM me.

Also, start thinking about off Amazon sales asap. That will increase your valuation by at least 2x. There are plenty of strategies that work for taking Amazon customers to your own website/funnel without pissing Amazon off.

Gold thread for sure and rep transferred.
Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "exiting"? My first thought was to stop doing it, but that would be silly considering it's earning crazy amounts.
 

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Scot

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Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "exiting"? My first thought was to stop doing it, but that would be silly considering it's earning crazy amounts.
Selling the business.
 

KSR

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Selling the business.
If he's pulling in $3M sales at 35% profit (probably an outdated source), but I'm curious - if he decided to sell, what could @ddall get for it; roughly of course?
 

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If he's pulling in $3M sales at 35% profit (probably an outdated source), but I'm curious - if he decided to sell, what could @ddall get for it; roughly of course?
Multiples to businesses that primarily sell on Amazon go for somewhere between 2x and 2.5x annual net profit. A lot of factors go into it, but as @JasonR said, having income through other channels as well will help boost this multiple up towards the top of this range. For a straight Amazon business, you're probably looking at closer to 2x.

You can expect to pay between 10-15% of the sale price in broker fees as well.
 

KSR

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Multiples to businesses that primarily sell on Amazon go for somewhere between 2x and 2.5x annual net profit. A lot of factors go into it, but as @JasonR said, having income through other channels as well will help boost this multiple up towards the top of this range. For a straight Amazon business, you're probably looking at closer to 2x.

You can expect to pay between 10-15% of the sale price in broker fees as well.
He said his profit was something like 700K (unless i'm going blind?), so we're looking at roughly $1.4M? What if his product is his own design and stuff - which I think it is - wouldn't his inventory + IP worth be added on top?
 

amp0193

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He said his profit was something like 700K (unless i'm going blind?), so we're looking at roughly $1.4M? What if his product is his own design and stuff - which I think it is - wouldn't his inventory + IP worth be added on top?
There's different ways to do it, but generally a buyer would pay for Inventory on top of the asset valuation. I can't speak from experience for IP, but I would guess that this would just be included with the sale of the business at no additional expense.

Sale of the business assets are taxed as long-term capital gains (if you've had the asset for more than 12 months).

Sale of the inventory is taxed as income.
 

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MidwestLandlord

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For people not in ecommerce and reading this thinking that he's out buying a lambo, going from $0 to $3m in sales in 2 years and $700k in profit pretty much means that you are break even, and will be in the hole another few years.

If you assume a 30% COGs, that means that he sold $900,000 worth of inventory in 2016, so where do you get the $900,000 to buy inventory at the beginning of 2016? You borrow it. So as he mentioned, he did have to pay back borrowed funds. I never borrowed money so my business grew slower as I had to pick and choose which inventory to buy more of.

We also know that Ddall is not doing $3M in sales again, he's probably going to do $5M. So he needs $1.5M in inventory. Guess where that is coming from? Yes, the original $900,000 and $600,000 of his $700,000 profit (which was probably $500,000 after taxes).

Just wanted to point this out. Ecommerce is very cash intensive once you get going. It took me years to actually get cash out of the business. If you are growing, even with healthy margins you are always catching up to your inventory.
In my experience with employing various business managers, some with fancy degrees even, most people have a very hard time mentally separating "cash flow" and "profit"

If you have profit you must have cash, right? If you have cash you must have profit, right?

Uh...no.

Companies don't go bankrupt because they are unprofitable, they go bankrupt because they don't have the cash to pay their liabilities.

@ddall ...very inspiring thread!
 
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ddall

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Hey man, great thread; I am probably where you were a few years ago, right at the start... I was wondering when you say you've expanded to co.uk and .ca. Do you have to send your products to the UK fulfillment or do they have an international warehouse?

Also, my instinct was that I would not be in a position to expand to different Amazons for a while, however wondered if I was missing a trick with that mentality?
Thank you for the kind words. Yes indeed you are required to send to a UK fulfilment centre if you wish to be Prime (although they now have seller fulfilled prime in the U.S, I'm unsure if this is available in the other marketplaces as well). Depending on your product (some cannot be shipped out of the U.K due to laws and restrictions), you may also export and list products on the other European Amazon sites and have them shipped from the U.K.

Man...

I was just thinking about how it must have felt to be deep in the hole while the business was running.

Could you describe a little bit about what that was like?

It surely worked out for you. $3m/yr in sales ain't no joke.

More rep+ for you. You're killing it. Hope to see you at a meetup sometime, but... you must be busy as hell lmao
Thanks @The-J Honestly it was quite difficult at times. You have to have confidence in your vision and realistically assess yourself, the direction you are going and your weaknesses. Risk mitigation was and always is a major priority, which is why I worked like an animal in my day job and kept working it for so long. I would also calculate risks on new products and carefully consider the downside. For example, 'will this product fail. If it does, will I be able to liquidate the items? Will I be able to sell them at breakeven?' I would (and still do) consider the upside. Usually, I found the downside minimal relative to the upside potential which typically has been far greater. What has always been key is that somewhere along the value chain I am adding enough value that there is significant enough margin to absorb errors. Ordering a widget and selling it as is risky...But modifying/redesigning and greatly improving a widget and packaging, having a built-in audience for that widget and your brand, selling the experience of that widget better than anyone, providing exceptional care and follow up for that widget, etc., ultimately minimizes the risk. So I could stomach and sleep at night. My wife didnt understand but trusted me. I was (and still am) obsessed with growing, learning, improving, not just myself but the business.

This is not to say there were not times I would wake up and wonder WTF am I doing. I would surround myself with podcasts, forums/groups, books success-oriented people, no time for downers. This also helped I think is not getting lost in the debt.


Very inspirational, great thread.

What is your take on Amazon's reviews in order to rank higher? I know in the past there have been use of review groups and essentially buying reviews with free units so essentially you need to also take free giveaways and allocation of those items into the equation along with the overall inventory management. From what I see, amazons fake reviews are all but dead now.

Out of curiosity how many products did you have a go at before you found one with that's a hit?
Reviews as far as I've determined do not DIRECTLY affect ranking, although previously Amazon's A9 may have taken them into account. Reviews however greatly assist with conversion rates (via social proof, additional imagery and hopefully convincing descriptions in use) which DOES affect ranking. They may also indirectly help with Google's keyword ranking of the listing page.

Persoanlly I'm overjoyed Amazon has advanced their position on 'honest reviews in exchange for test product' to one of non-compliance. It was undermining the entire trust of the system to consumers. Reviews are essential in the overall scheme of growth, but more important than anything is the value proposition and your competitive differentiator. Reviews can still be easily garnered by utilizing your own email list on launch products, using Facebook funnels, doing contests, family friends etc., and email follow up (word of note, as of this writing word is Amazon is testing the elimination of any follow up emails which mention reviews. I've personally changed my follow up sequence and will not be surprised if this becomes a TOS violation. Amazon customers are inundated with email spam and the customer experience is degraded as a result).

My very first product was a success, but it was validated more or less on eBay before I brought it over to Amazon. There were many other products I passed on after sampling.
 

tristano

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How was your experiences on redesigning and improving the items you sell and transfer your innovations to the factories in China? In your experience did you find difficult and expensive asking to change productive systems for your items?
Thanks! and really educating thread!
 

amp0193

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I've personally changed my follow up sequence and will not be surprised if this becomes a TOS violation.
I'm curious to hear what your follow-up now includes.

I've decided to shut mine off in the completely, but I have friends taking different courses of action, and I'd like to hear what you feel is "safe" to include, and what is now risky.
 

Denim Chicken

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Reviews as far as I've determined do not DIRECTLY affect ranking, although previously Amazon's A9 may have taken them into account. Reviews however greatly assist with conversion rates (via social proof, additional imagery and hopefully convincing descriptions in use) which DOES affect ranking. They may also indirectly help with Google's keyword ranking of the listing page.

Persoanlly I'm overjoyed Amazon has advanced their position on 'honest reviews in exchange for test product' to one of non-compliance. It was undermining the entire trust of the system to consumers. Reviews are essential in the overall scheme of growth, but more important than anything is the value proposition and your competitive differentiator. Reviews can still be easily garnered by utilizing your own email list on launch products, using Facebook funnels, doing contests, family friends etc., and email follow up (word of note, as of this writing word is Amazon is testing the elimination of any follow up emails which mention reviews. I've personally changed my follow up sequence and will not be surprised if this becomes a TOS violation. Amazon customers are inundated with email spam and the customer experience is degraded as a result).

My very first product was a success, but it was validated more or less on eBay before I brought it over to Amazon. There were many other products I passed on after sampling.
I changed my username, this was a reply to my post. Thanks for that, I'm also glad they cracked down on the reviews especially as a consumer.
 

Action Mike

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This is a excellent read. Thanks for following up and posting updates over the last few years. It is inspiring to read.

I didn't realize you could do that kind of sales using FBA. Its great to see the possibilities. How would you say the sales break down for each site? Like what % Amazon.com, .CA, CO.UK, for your personal site?

Is the only way to get sales numbers like you are to branch out to the different Amazon entities or from your personal site?

Do you have any experience dealing with Amazon.jp? I have a side business that sells in Japan with a site that specializes in womens clothing and accessories but has a similar fulfillment service like Amazon so they deal with all of the shipping, returns, customer support etc. and I have thought about selling on the Japanese Amazon site also.
 

quanttastic

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This is actually a great question. Here is a lengthy article explaining what @biophase is talking about in detail.

I'm very fortunate that I only deal with US Suppliers in my current business, and my lead times are very short. My cash churn is very low compared to the volume we do. This has allowed for quick growth and for being highly profitable at the same time.

I've invested in another business importing from China, and while it has gone well, getting things from overseas eats cash. Be prepared for it!

Great insight @biophase
Any general advice on finding manufacturers in the US?

I've tried Thomas.net but without much luck. Makers Row seems good for fashion, but not much else. It has been so much easier for me to find manufacturers in China and India than stateside. I wish there was an Alibaba for US firms!
 

TrueCreator97

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Any general advice on finding manufacturers in the US?

I've tried Thomas.net but without much luck. Makers Row seems good for fashion, but not much else. It has been so much easier for me to find manufacturers in China and India than stateside. I wish there was an Alibaba for US firms!
Have you tried contacting distributors of the products you want to source and asking them what/if any companies they distribute for manufacture in the USA?

Depending on your product/industry, you may also find this directory to be of help - Manufacturing Quotes | Contract Manufacturers | MFG.com
 

amp0193

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Do you have any experience dealing with Amazon.jp? I have a side business that sells in Japan with a site that specializes in womens clothing and accessories but has a similar fulfillment service like Amazon so they deal with all of the shipping, returns, customer support etc. and I have thought about selling on the Japanese Amazon site also.

Last I read, Amazon Japan was the 2nd biggest Amazon channel, after .com.

I've also read that it's 4th largest behind UK and Germany.

I can't find or remember what my sources were for either of those statements.


Either way, If you know what the Japanese want to buy, you need to get on Amazon.jp.
 

MidwestLandlord

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Last I read, Amazon Japan was the 2nd biggest Amazon channel, after .com.

I've also read that it's 4th largest behind UK and Germany.

I can't find or remember what my sources were for either of those statements.


Either way, If you know what the Japanese want to buy, you need to get on Amazon.jp.
I wonder if there's opportunity there for all y'all ecom guys. It seems like the other amazon sites are not nearly as saturated.

Just a quick glance showed several items I've bought off amazon lately not available on the Canada or German sites.

Heck, the Brazil site still only sells books.

Be the first to sell products on these other sites?
 

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amp0193

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Be the first to sell products on these other sites?

There is just as much opportunity for selling on those sites, as there was for selling on .com 7-8 years ago.

Those marketplaces are only getting larger.

It should be a part of everyone's selling strategy.
 

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There is just as much opportunity for selling on those sites, as there was for selling on .com 7-8 years ago.

Those marketplaces are only getting larger.

It should be a part of everyone's selling strategy.
In this case... opportunity would be huuuuuuuuuuuuge in stated countries.

Could you please explain your impression, if you're able to ... ? :smile2:
 

amp0193

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In this case... opportunity would be huuuuuuuuuuuuge in stated countries.

Could you please explain your impression, if you're able to ... ? :smile2:

What if you knew a market was going to be hot in 5 years? 10 years?

Would you wait until 5 to 10 years from now to start selling?

Or would you establish yourself now, while the competition is sparse, and potential for upside is huge?


And don't get me wrong, opportunity is still huge on Amazon.com. You're just going to have to get scrappy with some competitors if you want to move high volume stuff.
 

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What if you knew a market was going to be hot in 5 years? 10 years?

Would you wait until 5 to 10 years from now to start selling?

Or would you establish yourself now, while the competition is sparse, and potential for upside is huge?

Oh sorry, maybe you got me wrong because my english is too bad.....

What I meant to say: How do you get the impression that the market is 7-8 years behind to .com ? Maybe you have some real examples. I would not have known that this lag is there.
 

amp0193

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Oh sorry, maybe you got me wrong because my english is too bad.....

What I meant to say: How do you get the impression that the market is 7-8 years behind to .com ? Maybe you have some real examples. I would not have known that this lag is there.
Because there's less products for sale. And less revenue being generated. And they are growing.

7-8 years was a number I pulled out of my a$$, based on my gut.
 

MidwestLandlord

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Because there's less products for sale. And less revenue being generated. And they are growing.

7-8 years was a number I pulled out of my a$$, based on my gut.
Population of Brazil: 200.4 million
Population of the USA: 318.9 million

And Amazon.com.br only sells books...

That's opportunity. (After amazon expands their infrastructure in brazil)
 

Insaint

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Population of Brazil: 200.4 million
Population of the USA: 318.9 million

And Amazon.com.br only sells books...

That's opportunity. (After amazon expands their infrastructure in brazil)
Brazil is a huge market, but they'd need to make some serious changes before I'd consider selling on Amazon when it opens up. The main problem is their ridiculous customs clearance times and import duties. Waiting a month on clearance is no exception and don't be surprised if you get hit with 30-100% duties/taxes. But that's a barrier to entry I suppose.
 

Walter Hay

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Have you tried contacting distributors of the products you want to source and asking them what/if any companies they distribute for manufacture in the USA?

Depending on your product/industry, you may also find this directory to be of help - Manufacturing Quotes | Contract Manufacturers | MFG.com
Unfortunately, just like Thomasnet, MFG.com is not only listing US manufacturers. You'll find companies there from all over the world. China, Japan, Malaysia, France etc., Oh. also many in the USA.

It's not an easy site to use if searching for someone to manufacture a particular product. A keyword search can bring up a lot of results irrelevant to your particular need. At least with Thomasnet you can filter for US manufacturers.

Walter
 

Walter Hay

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Brazil is a huge market, but they'd need to make some serious changes before I'd consider selling on Amazon when it opens up. The main problem is their ridiculous customs clearance times and import duties. Waiting a month on clearance is no exception and don't be surprised if you get hit with 30-100% duties/taxes. But that's a barrier to entry I suppose.
It's a huge barrier to entry. The Brazilian Customs system is archaic. Even locals find importing difficult.

Don't even contemplate shipping to individual customers from outside Brazil. If you want to sell on Amazon.br you'll need to find a fulfillment service that is willing to handle your shipments. DIY importing into Brazil would be a nightmare even for locals. I have advised some there that they shouldn't attempt to import without using a local customs broker.

Sorry to seem so negative.

Walter
 

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Ok, learning. Here are a few sources I found useful thus far. Note there are so many others I simply did not write down or cannot remember...Most of these I recalled or had bookmarked. Also, if you aren't an insider, you are not serious about your success. Read every Gold thread.

Books: I primarily use Audible when driving:
Books:

The Millionaire Fastlane

The Personal MBA

Street Smarts

Psycho Cybernetics

The Dip

How to Get Rich - Felix Dennis

Ready, Fire, Aim

Think and Grow Rich

How to Win Friends and Influence People

The E-Myth Revisited

The Lean Start Up

4-Hour Work Week

Gary Halbert – Boron Letters

Ca$hvertising

Also, I posted this in Insiders before. It is taken from another author who has summarized some of the best books out their on business. It is filled with gold:
https://www.thefastlaneforum.com/community/threads/key-points-relating-to-top-business-investing-marketing-motivation-and-technology.49485/

Intro's to Ecomm/Importing:
Start up Bros:

http://www.startupbros.com/how-you-can-make-big-money-importing-from-china-the-rise-and-fall-of-my-empire/ This gentle man has also posted on the forum.

Addicted to Passive Income thread. Legendary: https://www.thefastlaneforum.com/community/threads/insiders-addicted-to-passive-income-deposits.35694/

Dipping my toes into importing:

https://www.thefastlaneforum.com/community/threads/insiders-dipping-my-toes-into-importing.44787/

How to create SOMETHING... from NOTHING. https://www.thefastlaneforum.com/community/threads/insiders-how-to-create-something-from-nothing.47966/

Ask me about Ecommerce: Fantastic thread, unfortunately it is gone. I do have a PDF of it summarized if anyone wants it.

AM/MEDIA BUYING

Course:
AFF Beast CPA Marketing Courses. Good intro:

affbeast.com -&nbspaffbeast Resources and Information.

Traffic Blackbook 2.0 $97 Good course, somewhat advanced.

Threads:

AMA - Affiliate Marketing + Guide "How I Made $5K w/ 1 Campaign

Ask Me Anything - AMA - Affiliate Marketing + Guide "How I Made $5K w/ 1 Campaign"

Online Media Buying Resource Thread

Online Media Buying Resource Thread

I've read dozens more, use the search function. Some very interesting AMA's as well.

Copywriting

Gary Halbert 30 day challenge Copywriting Group

How to Write Landing Page Bullets that Sell

http://s3.amazonaws.com/localbiz/Ultimate Headline Swipe File.pdf

Again, these are but a smidgin of what is out there, and a rather random few links. I just had these bookmarked.

Random
Funnels:
Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business
Shipping:
https://shipgooder.com
Facebook: See JasonR's call and thread. Also this is a good free video :
Internet Marketing With Gauher Chaudhry – Facebook Marketing For More Traffic, Leads & Sales

Blogs:
foreverjobless
tropicalMBA
DigitalMarketer
Imscalable

I will add more as I recall or come across.

just to let you know..
i write all the names of books that you had read
i already read 3 books from the list this month
THIS POST IS REALLY GOLD!!!
I wish some of the links were working
 
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