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363 : EJ Kaga – Hire a project Manager first, then hire out a team

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Have you ever dreamed of leaving? Not just your office or warehouse. Have you dreamed of getting away? Really away? Well EJ and his wife have done just that. He has stepped away from the United States and is running his 7 figure Amazon business currently from Thailand. I think most people stop at the dreaming stage because it seems like an all or nothing when EJ will tell you its really not. See he works everyday, has a planning call everyday from another country. There are many lessons in this episode. Start dreaming…….

Mentioned:

EJ’s back story interview

EJ’s FB contact 

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Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)

EJ:                                           [00:00]                     I mean, it’s still a work in progress. I mean, we’re currently have a team of uh, asx. Um, so it’s just, you know, I think the hardest part is always just making sure everybody’s up to speed, you know, the amount of information or amount of knowledge that most Amazon sellers have or experienced sellers have is, is, you know, pretty extensive. So really allocating that time to train people properly and get them up to speed is, it takes a long time. I mean, it took us about a year to really get

Cool voice guy:                  [00:31]                     well, we focus on the people, the products and the process of ecommerce cylinder your host Steven leaders in.

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Stephen:                             [01:37]                     And it’s the tool we’re using right now. It is so current for us. And that’s why I had to pop them up first. The second sponsor I want to talk about is Gaye Lisby’s million dollar group. Um, it’s mind blowing now. It’s q four and it’s, you know, just came off of black Friday and all that jazz. Um, and I, I get excited, I see the posts in there, I’m in the group. And so if you join, you’re going to see me in there. But what’s so cool is I saw somebody, you know, hit their million dollar number and everybody was celebrating, but what’s even cooler for me, if somebody hit their $250,000 number, it’s not that long ago when we all hit that number and it starts to get to that place where you’re making, you know, 50, 60, $70,000, all of a sudden this starts to be real.

Stephen:                             [02:19]                     This starts to be a real business that looks like a can support your family and that UC opportunity, don’t forget those days. And so I get so excited when I saw that for that person. I’m like, yes, they’re going to get there. You know, they need to get over that $30,000 a month number. We always say is a big number. Be pleased to get to and they’re getting their engaged group. So you want to join, it’s free two weeks free. Okay? So if you go to amazing freedom.com, forward slash is tough. One momentum with a hyphen, arbitrage, momentum, hyphen arbitrage. You get two weeks free to join the group, join the group. You’re lucky luke. And start to change your and start to change your future. Um, great sellers get even better. It’s so cool to see likeminded people helping each other, even though they’re competitors now, they’re not price fixing or any of that nonsense, but what they’re doing is saying, hey, have you thought about this or have you adjusted for this?

Stephen:                             [03:16]                     Have you considered this? Or Hey, you know, steven has a problem and I got to bring it up to somebody while I want to talk to somebody who knows what I’m talking about, who’s not going to get me off the wall? Advice. Well, the business journals say, I don’t care about any of Chaz. I want somebody who has done it. And so that’s what’s so exciting about this group. So again, it is amazing. Freedom.com, forward slash momentum, hyphen arbitrage, and get two weeks free. Join, come and say hi. Send me a note. It’s getting into the podcast. Welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. This is episode 363 Ega Kaga. Now Ega was on before and you should go listen to a story because it’ll blow you away. And it’s 100 percent true and it’s so cool when you’re out with them and he gets recognized and blah, blah, blah.

Stephen:                             [04:01]                     However, he has not here ejs on Sabbatical. Ega is running his multiple seven figure business from another continent. Um, he’s definitely taking that step that a whole bunch of us would love to take to location independent step. Um, but the way he done it, he has done it. He walks through and you’re not pepper and a whole bunch of questions like, what did you do? Well, how to do this because I just think it’s so cool. Um, I think the takeaway has to be is that, you know, it’s, you got to build a roadmap, right? It kind of makes sense and you’ve got to start building that roadmap now. And guess what it means, getting some standard operating procedures, getting people trained, getting people you can trust and rely and all that kind of jazz stuff that we know, but he’s doing it. And so, um, I think it’s this great opportunity to learn. And Man, what a great guy who’s just stepped out and is doing it. So exciting to say, let’s get into a podcast. All right, welcome back to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. Very excited about today’s guest because it’s very late where I am and it’s very early where he is and I don’t think most people even have a clue that he has ditched us. He has gotten a better offer. He has figured out that it’s time for him to move on for now. Ega Cago. Welcome becky. J.

Stephen:                             [05:21]                     It’s killing well, not as well as you. Um, and, and it, there’s so many stories I want to talk about, but first I just want to say this, this has a episode one 85. Go back and listen to his story to blow you away. It’ll let you realize that you can hit the pinnacle of what you think is what you want to do and then you say, Eh, maybe not, and you can change if you have abilities. And, uh, I think everybody has abilities, is figuring out where your abilities are in this ecommerce world is the key. Um, you can start over and start over into incredible success and, uh, you’ve some incredible success. So I applaud you for that and when I went back and looked at our last episode, we talked about planning and it’s so funny because of this conversation we’re going to have you, we’re all about the plan. You were like, Hey, I’m going to plan this out because you’re methodical, you’re that way. Your whole life has been a plan, hasn’t it?

EJ:                                           [06:15]                     Um, I would say yes and no. It’s not maybe a perfect plan that’s drawn out to a t, but for some reason I always end up where I foresee, you know, six months down the road if things end up kind of working its way out. Um, you know, sometimes I wish I were more organized or more methodical like you said, but you know, at the end of the day, like all the things that we’ve always kind of planned for or wanted to do, they ended up kind of just falling into place. So, you know,

Stephen:                             [06:47]                     no, I don’t know, I’m an ss because do you do you say, okay, these five things have to happen for the plan to work. And while we both know that there’s 100 little mini things in there that are supposed to happen that you, as you say, you’re not necessarily planning for, but those five big things are the important things that you’re able to pull out and say, okay, these have to happen to rest, will happen in good times, bad times, whatever. Is that kind of the way it seems to work for you?

EJ:                                           [07:15]                     Um, maybe slightly, you know what I mean? You know, my personality is it,

Stephen:                             [07:19]                     you’re very laid back, very chill.

EJ:                                           [07:24]                     Um, but I kinda just, you know, things I don’t know, they just have a way of working themselves out. Um, maybe it’s a subconscious thing that, you know, okay, we want to do this and we kind of just put all the, you know, we kind of tackled one thing at a time. Obviously this, this, this trip that we, we may now obviously this has a little bit more planning and it probably took us, you know, two, three months to really solidify. But once we have a plan, like once we have a goal, it’s kind of just like, okay, like we need to do this, we need to do that. Um, I’ve kind of been always kind of take things at the edge of my seat so to speak. So when we want to do something, it’s like, okay, let’s just do it. I don’t know, I don’t like plan it like a year ahead and it’s just like, okay, now how do we do this right now because it’s a bit too far. But once we put our head down to, to, to get something done, you know, we kind of just execute and go from there.

Stephen:                             [08:15]                     Well, I guess we should tell people that Emj is no longer in the u. s he is now today. And Tyler, you just got back from Costa Rica for a couple of weeks or Dominican Republic? Dominican Republic, right. For a couple of weeks. And then, uh, you, you know, get your place ready, uh, to rent and then your head to Thailand. And how long are you going to be in Thailand?

EJ:                                           [08:44]                     Six months.

Stephen:                             [08:45]                     Six months. Oh, let me do now, wait a second, six months you’re gone. And I guess we should also say yes, you’re a large Amazon seller, a seller in 95 percent, a private label, five percent wholesale. I’m from Thailand now. You’re still packing boxes, putting labels on and sending them over. Yay. I think that’s the thing. I think people have to sit back and say, okay, now to be fair, you’re not going to be. Or at least, you know, without a lot of effort going to be the biggest seller on Amazon. Now, given that you’re taking six months in Thailand because that has to affect your business a little bit.

EJ:                                           [09:27]                     Um, yes and no. I mean what were the past year? I’ve really dedicated time to build a team. So that helps tremendously. So, you know, I, I’m trying to just focus on the bigger picture items and you know, just keeping things pushing along because I think that was part of it, the, I guess, plan, so to speak, to, to move out here, you know, I needed to make sure that the company was like a checklist place.

Stephen:                             [09:59]                     You’re giving up, you’re giving up that giant Amazon $100, million dollar business to spend six months in China. Uh, in a Thai, Thailand. You get what I’m saying is that basically there’s a, there’s always a cost to something. And so because of the way you’re designing your life today for these six months, at least you have to give up something. And for you it’s right. You think it think it’s still possible.

EJ:                                           [10:28]                     I mean like I don’t, I don’t think financially it’s not possible to reach that goal. But um, I think the goals that we have that we had when we were in the states are the same goals that we have here. No kidding. So, okay, so you don’t to see a trade off at all? No, I wouldn’t sacrifice the business to have, you know, I guess this opportunity, right, because like I’m putting in the same amount of hours, it’s just, you know, what, what’s the difference from me working at home in New Jersey than working in an apartment here in Thailand. Right. You know, I don’t see the difference or at least I haven’t seen it and actually kind of it puts me in a bitter. I’m less wasteful the time because there are things I want to do here, you know, when I’m back at home, it’s just like, oh I can, I can basically sit at the computer. But like, you know, there’s nothing really for me to do so to speak. Right. I don’t not like, oh, I’m not like gun in to go see something or try something new or eat something. So it’s like, you know, you’re kind of, I at least I was kind of wasteful of time. I’m a deficiency by moving them that I need to and it’s, it’s, it’s more focused work.

Stephen:                             [11:40]                     Okay. More focused. Oh Wow.

EJ:                                           [11:42]                     Yeah, I mean we’ll, we’ll see. We’ll see how it pans out. You know, we’ve only been here for a week, but that’s, that was the original plan or at least the, the mindset I had.

Stephen:                             [11:52]                     So for me, and

EJ:                                           [11:54]                     I would think that it would have been a trade off, I would think that you wouldn’t be as efficient. I would think that, you know, the, I guess maybe because I’m a minutia manager, right? Looking at all the little details you, uh, by working on the team. Well, let’s talk about the plan. So how did, I mean, whose idea was it to get out and to go away and what were you hoping to gain by by kind of stepping away for six months, you know, both my wife and I and it was like, why not? So we, we kind of like just, you know, I told my wife like, hey, let’s go. And then, you know, the first time she didn’t really say anything and the second time I told her, she’s like, all right, let’s go. That helps. And then yeah, we just, you know, we just went with, it will probably take us a few months to get everything settled. Um, you know, obviously a big thing was making sure our, our apartment, we get rented out, so just like it was basically like moving, which was like very terrible.

Stephen:                             [13:00]                     Just remember I went through this, I went, I moved to my house and my warehouse. So I’ve been through. It’s so worst experience in the world. But you also build your kitchen. I mean, you, you did it quite a bit of work.

EJ:                                           [13:10]                     Yeah, we did a couple, a little bit of remodeling. I’m just so it’s easy to rent out, but yeah, I mean it’s, there’s a lot of work but you know, it’s for a good, I don’t want to call it, but it was beneficial for me.

Stephen:                             [13:23]                     Yeah. You, uh, you’re in a great location to rent out, so it’s funny. You can make more money by moving out of your house. Cj, is that weird? It’s pretty weird, isn’t it?

EJ:                                           [13:34]                     Yeah. I mean that was one of the selling points too. It’s like, you know, the cost of living here is going to be so much cheaper than over there. Um, you know, just because of food costs are, you know, we sold that we don’t have a car anymore and just all these other like, you know, had to cost that over here, you know, we’d go out to lunch and it’s like five, $6 for the two of us. So, um, you know, I don’t think you can even buy groceries that cheap in the state. So it’s. Yeah, I mean, so far it’s been great, you know, it wasn’t like, oh, let’s, we’re gonna make money moving out here, but it would definitely, at least we’re not incurring more costs

Stephen:                             [14:12]                     did. I’m getting rid of all that stuff, like selling your car and getting rid of all your stuff. There’s much stuff as you could that you needed to. How freeing was that for you? I mean, is that like to take a lot of responsibility away from you?

EJ:                                           [14:26]                     Yeah, that’s great. I, I mean, I liked it. Um, and even, and even now it’s like we each just brought one big luggage, um, and we’re like, oh, we can probably even go with less. Um, and it’s great. I mean, I think, you know, I mean we live in like a consumer type, uh, environment and worlds and we want to call it, um, and having less sometimes is great, you know, there’s less to worry about, you know, you, you really need all these things are what really important. Um, and that’s something me and my wife are kind of like diving into. It’s just like, do we need everything or do we want everything? We want him, it’s fine, but you know, if we just find it frivolously, then what’s the point? Right.

Stephen:                             [15:05]                     I’m sitting here thinking about, as you said earlier, you have to put all these pieces of the puzzle together to make this trip work for you. Right. So you have to build out your team. Can you talk a little bit about how you approach that? I mean, you already had something so established you already had a warehouse that you were working with and you had some fulfillment companies, but, but what other things did you run into that you didn’t expect that you had to have a b plan or, or stuff that maybe you took for granted that you just did, you didn’t realize how much you did?

EJ:                                           [15:35]                     Um, and the Amazon business. Yeah. Um, yeah, I mean, it’s still a work in progress. I mean, we’re currently have a team of six. Um, so it’s just, you know, I think the hardest part is always just making sure everybody’s up to speed, you know, the amount of information or amount of knowledge that most Amazon sellers have or experienced. I always have is, you know, pretty extensive. So really allocating that time to train people properly and get them up to speed is, it takes a long time. I mean, it took us about a year to really get to a place that we’re like comfortably saying that, okay, we, we can kind of, um, leave those responsibilities to those people and feel comfortable about it.

Stephen:                             [16:20]                     Well, let’s walk the, pull that apart a second. So give me an example. So I’m looking at my glass of water, so let’s just say you’re selling glasses. Just make it, make it easy. So you’re, you’re, you’re sourcing person. You were, I mean, walk me through how do you, how do you prepare them to handle those products and then that way you can handle more products. You get what I’m saying?

EJ:                                           [16:42]                     Yeah, I mean basically, you know, we tried to create like a systemized conveyor belt, you know, so we put like, let’s say the glass bottle, um, you know, one person is in charge of the sourcing and logistics. Um, there’s another person that’s in charge for listing creation, data entry. I’m listing optimization. Um, we do have like a project manager, which that helps a lot because I didn’t want to give myself that responsibility of, you know, necessarily managing the day to day of every person. So I think that was pretty essential because of identity. If you have a team of five or six and you have to manage them day to day, you’re just a manager, right. So, um,

Stephen:                             [17:21]                     into, I think that’s, I think you’re right. I think that’s key because you were that person,

EJ:                                           [17:26]                     correct? I mean I still am obviously to certain green, but

Stephen:                             [17:30]                     they took some of that responsibility from you.

EJ:                                           [17:33]                     Correct. I mean it’s still a work in progress. So that’s a big deal. Correct.

Stephen:                             [17:41]                     Hmm. All right. Well walk me through that. So how do you find somebody like that? I mean, was there something you were looking for that they had a skill set maybe like yourself where they, are they similar to you in some weird ways?

EJ:                                           [17:53]                     No, I would say no. I would think that more organized a more business experience with business administration or business, just organizing a team, you know, not saying that I haven’t had the experience of, you know, managing a team, but my experience was in like restaurants and it just, it’s a different beast than having something that’s a bit more systematic, you know, restaurants are kind of, you know, on the go and you know, things change at a moment’s notice. I’m with Amazon business is a bit more methodical I would say. So having somebody that can keep everybody on track, even myself to a certain degree, um, helps out tremendously. So that’s what I was looking for. Somebody I would just organize. They have experience with project management and handling a team.

Stephen:                             [18:41]                     So this is not just an administrative assistant. I mean this is the true project manager, what you’re describing.

EJ:                                           [18:46]                     Correct.

Stephen:                             [18:47]                     Hmm. Um, are they a virtual assistant? I mean obviously from Thailand they are, or are they located in the US? Are they located in another country?

EJ:                                           [18:56]                     No, they’re in the Philippines.

Stephen:                             [18:57]                     Okay. So those skill sets you can still find, you can still hire Rao and they have the ability to manage your business. I mean, Geez, you’re, you’re close enough to them, right?

EJ:                                           [19:08]                     No, I might, I might, I may take a visit. Yeah, I’m a lot closer. We definitely changed our schedule because before we working a east coast morning times and now we’re working, uh, in China or whatever, a morning times. I’m at the set schedule that they are in the morning now. So it works out. Actually. Everybody’s pretty happy about that,

Stephen:                             [19:28]                     I’m sure. So I’m, I’m sitting here thinking about people that are saying, man, this is the life I want. I want to be able to do what he is doing, which is basically, you know, as you said though a, which was news to me, but it makes perfect sense what you’re saying. You weren’t going to sacrifice any of the business that wasn’t negotiable for you. You will sacrifice whatever it was for you. It sounds like, right. To make sure the business stays on track, um, to, to build that out. I think this is the best starting place that you can go and start with the project manager. Is that, is that, is that your advice to somebody is to find somebody who can really oversee the project because she could bring them in, right? They’re bought in.

EJ:                                           [20:09]                     Correct. I mean, that was, that was, uh, the advice I got from some people. Um, you know, you hire a manager level and then you hire down. I didn’t officially do that from the get go because I needed to see, you know, hiring a project manager if you don’t have, you know, we, we wanted to see some results in the beginning. So obviously somebody that handled like basic customer service and you know, easy tasks that it can be repeatable and you know, just some data entry stuff that was like our first hire after that, like maybe our third hire was a project manager, um, because if you hire a project manager but you know, they didn’t have much or they didn’t have really much experience for. I’m so obviously if we had to train them from the get go, then we had to find people. It’s a bit more difficult. So we kind of had to employees before that, just that like have some obese so to speak. Um, and then the project manager came in so she can kind of start seeing what, what, what needed to be done, how it needed to be done because like I don’t need her to like, exactly know how everything’s done, but I do need her to know like a macro level view of the business so to speak.

Stephen:                             [21:19]                     Hey Steve is supposed to have these done every Monday or whatever and these need to be, you know, so they’re checking off all those lists for you and then alerting to you if there’s a problem. Right? I mean that, that’s got to be a big deal. Are they now, and I know it’s new, relatively new, but are they starting to figure out how to solve problems? Is that one of the things that’s starting to happen?

EJ:                                           [21:43]                     We’re starting to implement that a bit more. So we have like a daily meeting, like quick one hour, one hour, maybe half hour meeting, just, you know, if anybody has issues what they’re working on every day and then every Monday through Friday. So it’s just a quick meeting that, you know, it just gets everybody on track and kind of on the same page because I felt a lot of times before this we had some disconnect between employees because there’s obviously there’s moving parts that, you know, employee, a, employee B or just goes in parallel to each other. So hadn’t had daily meeting, really helps out. It keeps everybody on track. So, you know, I think we’ll move away from the daily after a few weeks or months. But for now it’s kind of essential

Stephen:                             [22:30]                     and so then everybody knows what everybody else is doing and there’s no duplicative roles or stepping on each other or like you said, they’re relying on somebody else. They know, oh wait, I need to do this one, Steve does this piece and that communication happens. Interesting. Um, when you were okay.

EJ:                                           [22:52]                     Oh, and the problems, you know, like you said like, you know, I think most, I haven’t requested most of them to like, okay, if you have a problem coming back with a solution. So this is kind of just teaching them like, okay, if like something’s wrong with this, then you know, I can probably figure it out. Um, so it just empowers them a little bit to kind of make sure that they figure things out, but at least they have the response within the day and I’m like, okay, you know, you did this right or you didn’t do this right. So then, you know, hopefully in the long run the way they’re able to make these decisions on their own more proactively.

Stephen:                             [23:25]                     So, so you have somebody working in customer service, you have somebody working as a project manager, what are the roles were key for you or are key for you to be able to operate in another part of the world? From where?

EJ:                                           [23:39]                     Um, I would say the biggest one is logistics and inventory management. I’m so that person basically handles, you know, dealing with the supplier reorders and the logistics from China or wherever we’re sourcing from to the US. And even within the US way, we have like two suppliers that are inside the US. But just, I think that was the biggest issue because we’ve had a lot of problems with like stockouts and just proper inventory management. Um, so that was probably the most important role or second most important role I would say.

Stephen:                             [24:13]                     Even when you were running it, you had stock counts and inventory problems. Right? I mean that’s fair.

EJ:                                           [24:18]                     I mean we still have some. I mean we, we ran out of a product a little too soon, this q four. We have some more coming in, but we’re probably 15 days at a soccer already. Um, so, you know, it happens.

Stephen:                             [24:33]                     But hiring this person now it happens less I guess, especially as you get bigger. Right. I mean because the problem with getting bigger is the dose problems are exacerbated, right? You get to see them, they, they, they magnify when the larger you get.

EJ:                                           [24:48]                     Yeah. And especially like if it’s a good seller, like you know, you’re missing out on, it could be tens of thousands of dollars and you know, who knows how much profit. So yeah, everything gets amplified. But you know, it’s part of the learning curve I would say.

Stephen:                             [25:03]                     Does being over there, um, because I mean, what you described was you’re much more intense, intense, focused, working, right? So you, you know, because I got other stuff to do, so you’re getting your work done and you’re moving on, but does it also give you time to reflect and pontificate as I’m thinking about the things you must see that are new to you, right? That you’re like, oh, I mean, because you’re seeing a whole nother world. Are you seeing products everywhere you go? I mean, things that you’re like, wow, you know, or is that

EJ:                                           [25:33]                     not yet? We’re just taking it in for now. Um, obviously with, with, uh, you know, me and my wife, we love to eat. So, you know, I think there’s a tremendous amount of places to go eat around here. It’s pretty impressive. Or it’s just like there’s stalls and food courts and food places to eat everywhere. I mean, I don’t know if people cook here at their homes that often doesn’t sound like so it doesn’t. I mean like the apartment that we’re in is pretty nice apartment, but it only has like a two burner electric stove top

Stephen:                             [26:09]                     each is a chef. So we should qualify to say that isn’t cooking. That’s tough to go down.

EJ:                                           [26:15]                     Exactly. I mean like what are you going to la? You know, you only have two little two little burners, right? Like it’s pretty hard to like cook a meal and there’s no events. So like you know, you’re pretty limited. So I think just the culture itself here is, is more about eating out. So just amount of food, places that are choices you have is pretty crazy.

Stephen:                             [26:33]                     How about reflective time? Has it given you any time to, you know, I mean do you feel like you’re making, and I know it’s so new but you were just, you know, Dominican Republic for a couple of weeks too. So you did get away. So I mean are you able to tackle problems because you’re not so close to them to get what I mean?

EJ:                                           [26:53]                     No. What do you exactly mean?

Stephen:                             [26:54]                     Well, I mean I just think about like, well, because every day you were my bed, this is my prediction is that when you were. I mean I think back to when you were doing Ra is a better example. You know, you get net grind and you’re driving, you got to go by and you go into the next place and you’re doing that whole thing and that doesn’t allow you to work on your business, right? There’s no chance because right now all you’re doing is getting stopped getting stuck in time. Then you were prepping it or whatever, or your wife was but, but that routine, you were in that retune now you move into private label and you’re still in that mode now. You don’t have those same distractions, right? It’s just not the same. Maybe do you get the time to reflect more and tackle that decision instead of just jumping right on it, you’re like, ah, let me, let me think about a little bit more and then tackle it at a better way.

EJ:                                           [27:44]                     Yeah, I mean that’s something that, you know, I’m trying to do. Okay. It’s less, less reactive and more just like, you know, thoughtful like, okay, what’s, what’s really important for our business or what’s going to push our growth or how do we improve the business to be scalable and more scalable. Right. Um, so yeah, I mean it gives us a lot more time to really focus on these, I guess bigger picture things and then, you know, obviously like I said before, managing the time better, um, you know, before I could sit at the computer for 12, 13 hours and it’s like, you know, at the end of the day how much work did you get done? But now with a limited schedule it’s really like it’s more focused. Um, and if you know, the other times that I’m not working, I do reflect somewhat on the, on the business and kind of just go back, um, because it’s easy to just, I think be sucked into the Amazon business and just like always be focused on that.

Stephen:                             [28:38]                     How about the fact that you have all these other people working with you now? What perspective have they brought to your business, if any? Do they offer ideas? Do they offer suggestions or things? I mean, have they given you a Duh moment? Like why didn’t I think of that? And they tell you something so obvious in your Lego.

EJ:                                           [29:00]                     I wouldn’t say there’s a ton yet, but I’m pushing a bit and I’m pushing towards that a little bit more. Um, I do ask for, you know, what they think and what they know, what they, if they think this is a good idea or not a good idea, I’m wanting just incorporates them into the business more. Um, and then secondly, it’s, it’s six minds are always going to be better than one. Right? Um, so it’s, it’s something that it does help and you know, it always is good to like bounce ideas off with other people. I mean obviously it’s like it’s like networking, right? Or with Amazon sellers, you always pick up something from somebody else. Um, so having those employees, it’s always nice to like bounce ideas off of.

Stephen:                             [29:39]                     No. Or the employees full time for you.

EJ:                                           [29:42]                     Um, most of them, some of them are like, yeah, some of them are like on a part time schedule,

Stephen:                             [29:49]                     so it’s fine. How do you ensure that they’re only working for you, especially when it comes to sourcing and stuff like that because that’s just heard the story, you somebody full time and they’re doing some pretty big work and they were working full time for somebody else and basically the same job and maybe the same sharing some of the same information and that just that occurs. Right. And Nsn everyone. But I mean, how do you. What kind of safeguards do you have in place? Oh, I wouldn’t say I have any trust. Okay. Well, I mean if your gut would tell you if you’re getting an honest. I mean, you know, right. You especially working in a kitchen, you know? Yes and no.

EJ:                                           [30:28]                     They are, you know, I don’t know. Amazon is so big and there’s so much opportunities though. It’s like, you know, I could sell the same product as you. Doesn’t mean you’re going to sell as well as me if, if we just have different methods or you know, metric does what?

Stephen:                             [30:45]                     Right. Katie could make the difference. Man, it’s such a big. It’s so weird, but yet it’s so funny because I sell the same product. There’s a lot of different people and sometimes I get the buy box, sometimes they get the buy box. Why? A myriad of reasons. Um, okay. So I want to go back to the planning to get away because if I’m thinking about somebody who’s in this circumstance, there are younger, they don’t have kids or they’re older and the kids are gone and they’re like, Hey, I would love to do what you’re doing because I think the experience of life is, is the big. It’s the juice, right? It’s the thing that really, really makes a difference. What would you say, you know, knowing what you know now, somebody starting fresh, where should they start?

EJ:                                           [31:31]                     It depends. I mean, I guess everybody’s different,

Stephen:                             [31:34]                     you know, they say they want to get away, they want to be cation independent, right. And maybe not necessarily Thailand, although that sounds pretty awesome right now. Um, but you know what I mean, just to become location independent, what would, what would you say they should start?

EJ:                                           [31:50]                     Um, I guess making sure it makes financial sense, right? I mean, that’s the biggest, that’s the first step, right? Can you financially afford it? Um, that was, that was our biggest thing, right? Like we, we’ve had our so called salaries from our business and our business has been trending like this, you know, over the past 18 months. So it was predictable, you know, it’s like nothing’s changed over those 18 months. We’ve able to, we’ve been able to sustain our salaries. Growth has been good, you know, because we’re obviously, you know, dependent on this business, you know, I think that’s the first step. Are you, are you financially capable of doing it? I wouldn’t be like, oh, we’re barely making it and then, you know,

Stephen:                             [32:34]                     we’ll figure it out eventually right now. No, no, no chance. So this is back to that plan, right? This is part of the plan. So really you’d do a kind of a financial budget, is that what you started?

EJ:                                           [32:45]                     Yeah, we did a budget like basically, I mean I did a quick budget of our expenses, you know, what our expenses here would be like, um, I think this was after this was after obviously like, you know, we knew that that business was sound, um,

Stephen:                             [33:00]                     and how different are expensive, so it would be for it. I didn’t want to lose that one. How different are the expenses of what you’re experiencing, what you thought they would be

EJ:                                           [33:08]                     in Thailand? We still have, we still have to, to see. Um, I mean we budgeted the, I’m a pretty nice budget for ourselves here, but it’s still probably 40 percent cheaper than it was in the state. Yes.

Stephen:                             [33:21]                     Okay. All right. So at least it’s comparable to what you thought it would be at least. And you’re not seeing any giant surprises yet.

EJ:                                           [33:29]                     No, I mean, but like anything, I mean if you want to get a massage every day and you want to go eat at the nicest place and you want to take taxis everywhere. Yeah, your budget’s going to be pretty, pretty high, you know what I mean? Is it going to be as high in the states? Like, I doubt it, but it’s still like, you know what I mean? I think you’d add a food, store the street and be content, you know, if you’re not comfortable with that, then maybe you know, maybe you’ll have some difficulty, but like even at a so called restaurant here, you know, you’re still only spending a few bucks so it’s not that big of a cost.

Stephen:                             [34:03]                     Okay. So we’re going to start with a financial plan, right? We’re going to see if it financially make sense. You’re going to plan it out like you said. I think it was smart with what’s it going to cost they are versus what you’re spending here. How about um, what’s, where’s the next place you go? I mean, cause that that’s financially, that’s your personal stuff. Um, what about the business?

EJ:                                           [34:25]                     Um, so the business, the same thing. I mean we did a forecast on the business. I’m basically where we want it to be or where we’re at, how we’re trending. Um, I think too, if you have any large size Amazon business, you shouldn’t be doing this already. You know, if you’re not, then you know, well, I guess good for you because everything’s working well. Um, but you know, you kind of have to have an idea of how the business has been over the past year or past six months. Um, are you trending up or trending down? You know, what, you know, obviously with q four, it’s, it’s like a, the best time of the year. Um, but you know, are we just planned correctly? I guess, you know, it’s just making sure that, that things are moving in the right direction.

Stephen:                             [35:09]                     Fun together in some way for, for the business specifically.

EJ:                                           [35:15]                     Uh, yeah, both, I mean both personal and business

Stephen:                             [35:18]                     so you could ride over a problem and then come back and deal with it if you had to let me worst case.

EJ:                                           [35:24]                     Uh, yeah, I mean, I, I think the business probably has a little bit less of a safety net then then our personal. But it’s adequate. It’s not like we have huge costs and the business, um, you know, we, we do have a good amount of money set aside in case things happen.

Stephen:                             [35:41]                     You know, as I sit and think about this, one of the other cool things about the model that you’re using your costs are for the most part variable costs. Um, you know, as you say, you have some full time employees in that, but you’re not sitting with a big warehouse somewhere with a big warehouse staff running it. You have a fulfillment company doing your work. Correct. Right. And so they are, there’s no cost unless you give them work. Right. I mean, so it’s kind of all related, right? Correct. And, and uh, other than managing inventory and storage and stuff like that, which is real, but hence she, you hired somebody is your goal or have you experienced this? Maybe that’s a better way to ask it. Have you experienced enough savings and less stockouts with the inventory manager that you would say it was worth it?

Speaker 4:                           [36:28]                     Um,

EJ:                                           [36:29]                     to date? Yes. That’s all. See, you know, we’ll see the long run, but yeah, I mean like uptodate. Yes. Things have been working on, for the,

Stephen:                             [36:38]                     for the best. Well that means they’re paying for themselves because otherwise it would have been you doing that right? So that if, again, if you’re trying to be location independent, you have to give up something and that was something you were able to give up and it sounds like they’re doing enough of a job to cover themselves, therefore it’s profitable. That’s a win to me. That’s a win. That’s cool. Alright. So

EJ:                                           [37:00]                     the employees you can find, you can find them for six, five or even less. I mean our inventory manager, we pay six and it’s like, you know, even if it’s even if you go through two or three, you know, I think in the end if you find somebody that’s reliable and they’re good at their job, it’s, it’s um, it’s worthwhile

Stephen:                             [37:22]                     when you were looking for somebody to manage inventory to, were you looking for a specific set of skills to approach that? Because I would think, as you say, that’s a pretty important cog in the wheel. If you’re looking to get location independence, somebody’s got to manage. Somebody has to keep the machine moving.

EJ:                                           [37:39]                     Yeah, just previous inventory management and logistics.

Stephen:                             [37:43]                     Okay. You can get that specific and when you’re looking for a va and you can actually find those kinds of skillsets.

EJ:                                           [37:49]                     Yeah, I mean we found somebody that had experience doing that. They’re also in accounting, so they’re pretty good with numbers.

Stephen:                             [37:57]                     Did you use the service or did you just use a upwork or fiverr? I guess I’ve used upwork now or whatever.

EJ:                                           [38:05]                     No, we just did a online jobs I think.

Stephen:                             [38:09]                     Okay. Online jobs.ch. Okay, cool. Yeah. You know, as I sit and I think about this, it’s almost like you had to have a map of what the ideal business would look like and then you started filling in these key positions. Is it, is your map filled out? Like are you fully staffed or do you see capacity to add in other, uh, responsibilities to other people?

Speaker 4:                           [38:35]                     Um,

EJ:                                           [38:36]                     no, we still probably have a few positions that we need to fill out. Um, I mean we, we were actually just going through our project management timeline or task lists and there’s just like a couple of holes here and there that we need to fill out. So yeah, there’s probably two, maybe one or two more positions that we need.

Stephen:                             [38:54]                     You have a bunch of private label products, but you’re not done adding products, correct?

EJ:                                           [38:59]                     No, I mean I’m still young, you know, I can’t call it. Call it a day right now.

Stephen:                             [39:05]                     My point is this or this. Does this team also helped work on those projects? I mean, does that part of the system and. Yeah. That’s awesome dude. To me that’s, that’s. Yeah, that’s a big deal.

EJ:                                           [39:18]                     Yeah. I mean it’s like we just needed like a conveyor belt system, so it’s like obviously your new products is a big thing. I’m still kind of handling a big part of it, but I’m training somebody to kind of at least do the initial filtering of products so at least I just see, you know, at least a short list of products I don’t have to scour.

Stephen:                             [39:41]                     Yeah, here’s these 10 potential ones and then you could go through and say, Hey, here’s why this one’s not good. I have a friend who always like, Steve, always take what you bought for me, but I’m going to tell you why. I don’t want you to ever buy it again for me. Alright. And it was just like, when you do that 100 times, guess what, you now know 100 things not to. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of a weird education, but it’s true, right? So when that person brings you those 10 things and you say, no, Steve, I don’t want to sell glasses and here’s why. Okay, check. That’s the education. Right? And that just takes time and, and pretty quick when you see that there’ll be like, okay, no that, take that out, that meets, you know, that doesn’t meet that requirement. Um, one of the things that we were talking about is that now that you’re over in Thailand, do you have the opportunity to, to go to China and to go to canton and some other places, um, was that, did that enter your mind at all to think that being in that part of the world where most of the goods come from, um, is an opportunity that might mail, might be an opportunity while you’re there?

EJ:                                           [40:46]                     Uh, yeah, it definitely came to mind. Um, so we’re definitely thinking about in April, nothing’s solidified yet, but it’s definitely an opportunity, you know, obviously the Chinese or the suppliers that we work with over here and I forgot what it’s called in Chinese, but like, you know, it’s always good to meet face to face with your supplier, especially now that we’re, we have some suppliers that we’ve been working for awhile for awhile. Um, so obviously like, you know, trying to negotiate better terms or even getting terms with them. Obviously this will be a huge impact to our business cashflow wise. So, you know, seeing face to face and getting to know them better, I think there’s a huge upside to it.

Stephen:                             [41:27]                     Dude, I’m so pumped for you. I mean I sit back and I think about, you know, just I just, I guess I was telling my wife, I’m like, Yup, he has gone. He just picked up. She’s like, how long is he gone for? I said, I don’t know, that didn’t, I didn’t know six months specifically, but it’s just so cool to me that you could. How difficult has it been on your family? Um, I know you have a, you’re very close to your family here in the u, s uh, how, how have they adjusted to you?

EJ:                                           [41:57]                     You know, of course they’re, they’re a bit sad about it, but they’re happy at the same time. Like I don’t think this is a permanent move. Obviously it’s only for six months from now we’ll probably spend the summer up in Canada so it’s a bit closer. Um, but you know, it’s, we have the opportunity so, you know, they’re happy to see us go, so to speak. Um, because we have an opportunity to see the world.

Stephen:                             [42:22]                     Do you think it’s a generational thing, um, that you know, that you really don’t want to be tied down to one place because you’ve talked about your friends in Canada quite a bit. I mean, do you think it’s just a generational thing? I mean, is it,

EJ:                                           [42:38]                     it can be somewhat popular right now?

Stephen:                             [42:42]                     Well, but also because you run the digital world and know that also helps. I mean if you were a carpenter, that’d be tough.

EJ:                                           [42:50]                     I mean, yeah, exactly like the people that I know that do Amazon or digital products or something similar, um, obviously the percentage of people that are moving abroad or doing something similar is a lot higher. I would say all the other people that I know are nowhere. It doesn’t really cross their mind. I mean maybe they’re interested in doing it, but obviously it’s, it’s, you know, it’s not possible for them.

Stephen:                             [43:13]                     So if somebody was new to Amazon, is it possible to design their business to be able to do what you’re doing? And if the answer I would, I would assume would be yes, if they have that skillset, but how quickly because I’m always afraid of people saying, Oh, cell selling, you know, all that much money. I’m a failure because I didn’t do it within six months. Well it didn’t take you six months to get to that level. Right? So it also didn’t take you six months to get to this level to be able to move abroad and still run a, a large scale business. So I just want to make sure that we don’t, we keep a perspective for people.

EJ:                                           [43:53]                     I mean it’s definitely, it’s definitely possible. Um, I would say of course, yes. Second part of the same, like it took us, took me a year just to leave my previous job. So it depends on your situation, you know, if you have a family and kids, you know, it might take you longer if you, you’re an Amazon business isn’t growing at a certain rate, then it might take you longer. Right. So, you know, for us it took us about eight months to feel comfortable about the, about it, but probably closer to a year I would say

Stephen:                             [44:30]                     plus with not a mature business but a, as you said, a consistent business, right? Where you’re seeing that growth, you know. So I’m sitting here thinking about what I would, what my advice would be to somebody is, is that building that team is the key. And you said at the beginning, right, it’s finding the right people, putting them in the right and training. I’m training, I’m training them and so slowly you are able to let things go. I mean I, to me that’s the whole key to it, right. No matter what, you have to trust other people and you should be doing that now, right? If you want to grow your business, I mean, be honest. What of these five people done for your business that if you just kept by yourself, I mean, you know, would you even

EJ:                                           [45:08]                     be close to where you are? I’d be too worried. I mean, I could probably maybe move here just I’d be like stuck in the apartment all day. Right? You just wouldn’t have any time to do anything else. Um, but yeah, I mean there they’re essential and you know, I think it depends on what size of business you want to small business then, you know, maybe you don’t need that as long as their team, but if you want to have a larger business or keep growing, then obviously you need to put the systems in place and people in place to allow that for growth. Right.

Stephen:                             [45:40]                     Well Dude, I’m, I’m blown away. I’m very excited for you and you’re one of the first that I’ve seen that have been able to, you know, basically build out a strong enough team that they can not walk away. Like you said, you’re meeting every single day. So it, let’s put it in print, like me being retired. Somebody said that to me that it is Steve. He looked pretty busy for a retired guy. I’m like, well, yeah, but it’s different. I mean it’s just something different. Um, you’re living in Thailand but you’re still working every day today, correct? Yep. Correct. So prospective people. Yeah. People need to get perspective on that. Right. So it is glamorous and it’s cool, but it’s still work at this point and you hope to reduce it from there. And that’s what’s happened in my life where, you know, yeah, I, I put a million hours and now I’ve eased back as I can other than q four.

Stephen:                             [46:28]                     But generally, you know, because you get into the, you, you fill in those, uh, those, uh, the time that you want, um, the things that you value my granddaughters, that’s where I value. So for me, that’s like, you run enough to see, sights, me going to see my granddaughter. So I guess what I will, I am efficient when I need to pay. All right. So, so what’s next, uh, for your business, um, you, you plan on giving up a little more responsibility, you plan on as they get better, are you taking less of a role and then what will you fill that time with?

EJ:                                           [47:04]                     I don’t think I’ll ever take less of a role. I mean that’s like wishful thinking about like, oh, just work a few hours a day. The four hour workweek is unreal. I mean, it couldn’t be, it can be. I mean maybe, maybe, but um, no, I just, I liked the work. I like to go in and see something grow and it’s, it’s fun for me. So for me it’s just, you know, build out a stronger team and you know, see where we can do better and where can we, where can we grow? Um, but that’s the type of business I want a larger business. And I’m, like, I said, I’m still pretty young, so, you know, that’s, that’s my goal, right? So it’s not everybody’s goal, but you know, I’m, we’re working towards that goal. So how do you know a few more employees growing here in the states or whatever, our business in the states internationally, those are our current course,

Stephen:                             [47:56]                     you know, sitting there thinking about that too. Um, does this afford you the opportunity to expand into other countries, uh, with your Amazon business being that you’re over in, uh, in Asia right now, somebody was just mentioned in Japan and how strong, you know, depending on the category, but is that something that crosses your mind to or should that not even matter anymore? I guess what the, with the Internet, it really doesn’t necessarily matter.

EJ:                                           [48:23]                     I mean it’s, it matters in the sense that like, you know, do we have the people or process in place to support that, you know, that other place, um, you know, sending probably a few products or one or two products in shortly. So we’ll see how it turns out. But, you know, it’s probably just adding more, more problems. Right. Which is going to happen.

Stephen:                             [48:46]                     I was just thinking the same thing I’m thinking now, is that a distraction for such a little return? You know, I always think of a Brian Vino, a beaver saying about candidate. He’s like, yeah, it’s awesome. But I sold 92 percent of my stuff in us. I mean, the eight percent I sell in Canada is cool, but 92 in the US and I’m not even at my capacity yet. So it’s like, okay, yeah, dude, I’m very excited for you. Um, it is just so awesome to actually know somebody who’s done it. Everybody talks about doing it, you’ve actually done it. And uh, I admire you for it because it’s what you want it. And to me that’s just so cool to be able to step away, but yet not to step away, keep working, doing the things that you love yet step away and kind of recharge and refresh I think is very, very healthy.

Stephen:                             [49:32]                     Um, I hope more people consider doing it. Okay. So, uh, I’ll put your facebook contact in there if anybody has a followup question. Um, a goal of the podcast is to help people who get stuck and I’m thinking, you know, I don’t know that you’ll have, I don’t know. It’s the best thing for you to give that advice because I think right now the best advice you could do for somebody is, hey, if you’re thinking about becoming that digital nomad, kind of the person, here’s the thing that you’ve got to do. Could you drive one thing home that you say to somebody that’s what they need to do. I think you have a unique perspective. I guess that’s what I meant to. That was probably an offhanded compliment that I didn’t mean it that way. I meant that you have a unique perspective because you actually done it as opposed to just getting unstuck.

EJ:                                           [50:20]                     So I’ll say, I’ll say it’s probably like you said, I guess I don’t say I’m a good, but having that plan, you know, and does it make sense? That’s probably the key because if you just go without the planet and it’s just like know you’re going for the unexpected and you kind of need to have some things planned out to really make that leap.

Stephen:                             [50:42]                     Does it make sense? I think that that is a great way to make sure you’re planning just to have a plan. How I’m going to sell a zillion of these. Okay. Nobody else’s. So how are you? Right. That doesn’t make sense. So that’s perfect dude. I’m a, I’m a very excited for you. I can’t wait to hear what happens next. Thank you so much. Wish you nothing but success pal piece that what a great guy. He is such a great guy. Um, and it’s just so cool to see him taking care of himself, him and his wife and, and just having their time and going out and you know, seeing the world and seeing the sights. I’m such a dedicated a husband but such a dig at a dedicated worker. I’m just focused and so to be able to see him break free and go out and see other things, this is so cool. And I just can’t wait to follow his, um, his travels and his success. I’m imagine he’s having incredible success, um, from another part of the world you could to ecommerce momentum.com, ecommerce momentum duck.

Cool voice guy:                  [51:46]                     Thanks for listening to the ECOMMERCE momentum podcast. All the links mentioned today can be found at incomers momentum. Doug, come under this episode number. Please remember to subscribe and the lake us on itunes.

 

Stephen-Peterson

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