Paul is going to introduce you to the fast expanding world of licensing and what it can do for your private label product(s). Imagine taking your products to a much bigger market, riding the coat tails of some of the largest companies out there. It allows you to expand onto other channels, and let’s larger brands help protect your brand. Paul share generously with you (and me) his secrets to growing beyond Amazon.
Transcript: (note- this is a new tool I am trying out so it is not perfect- it does seem to be getting better)
Stephen: [00:00:00] Wanted to take a second and recognize my sponsors this week. You know Gaye Lisbey million dollar arbitrage as Edge and list. That’s a mouthful. It is. But guess what. It’s a great opportunity. You know you can build a big Amazon business. You don’t need a lot of capital when you start. I mean we all started you know most of us started selling books and then move into retail arbitrage. That is the place that you can turn your money. The vastness and online arbitrage. And so by having that skill set by learning those skill sets you can get the best bang for your buck. And so Gase group will help you learn online arbitrage. It’s more than just a list service they’re going to give you a whole bunch of actionable inventory every single day. Right. Monday through Friday. However there’s also a mentor ship that goes on and that mentor ship is so important because sometimes it’s great to know what to buy but it’s more important to understand why to buy it. And it’s that you know learning to fish or just getting fed. You know you really want to learn because ultimately you want to strike it on your own. And this is a great way to do it. So how about seven days free trial how about a free trial. Right. Very very cool. So it’s amazing freedom to come forward slashes a mouthful the word momentum carries a hyphen. And you put in the word arbitrage. So it’s amazing freedom does come forward slash momentum dash arbitrage and you’re going to get a free trial in Gase group. You got to tell her I sent you right. I also have the link in the episode.
Stephen: [00:01:38] But it’s such a great opportunity. She is amazing amazing I’m in that group. So you’ll see me there an amazing amazing person who’s there to answer your questions who’s there to help lead you and help guide you and that’s what Kay does. She does it every single day. The testimonials are real. Go take a look. You will be blown away.
Stephen: [00:01:56] And again it’s a free trial. I have the link on this episode. Reachin you know Sellar labs Jeff Cohen and the team they have blown me away with this scope project. We use this all the time for our business. We do a lot of private label we also do a lot of wholesale and wholesale bundles you know or multi packs that kind of thing which a lot of people do but we use scope to help us figure out what are the key words. And so it’s really simple. You basically figure out where you’re going to sell what you’re going to sell what category find that like product. Find the top couple sellers and find their keywords. Boom magic. There you go. You copy the best because it’s working. And guess what. That’s a proof of concept and scope allows you to do that. So it’s Sellar Lapps dotcom forward slash scope Sellar labs dotcom buzzword slash scope use the code word momentum and you’re going to get a couple days free trial and you’re going to save a little bit of money and you get to get some free keywords. It’s worth every penny. I’m in that group. Come and check me out. Celebes dotcom forward slash scope again use the word momentum.
Stephen: [00:03:06] Solutions for e-commerce. Karen Locher great great great group. I’ve been using them for a long time now I guess over two years and I’m in there and pages like everybody else.
Stephen: [00:03:17] Yes she’s a sponsor my show but she makes me pay. And I get the same 50 dollar discount that you can get. Oh by the way you’re going to get that through my link and my link only. Oh and you’re also going to get the free inventory health analysis. Great way to start 2018 get your inventory in line. And Karen will help you do that. We use it for everything. I mean basically you know long term storage fees coming up. Guess what she will evaluate. She’ll make some recommendations. And also check check check take these out this return blah blah blah blah blah. And magically it’s done.
Stephen: [00:03:49] I love it. Love it. Love it.
Stephen: [00:03:51] I love the fact that they take and get rid of stranded inventory for me. I see it in there and then next time I go in and it’s gone. Love it love it love it. Got an IP infringement. She’s going to help you work your way through that. This is the kind of service that you get from Karen Locher that solutions for the number 4 e-commerce solutions for e-commerce dot com forward slash momentum. Right. So you got it forward slash momentum and you’re going to save 50 dollars a month six bucks a year by just clicking that link. She pays me. I want to hide that I never do. I’m always upfront about that but it doesn’t cost you anything additional. And you’re going to get that have been Torri Health Report the only way you get that is through mine link solutions. The number for e-commerce dotcom forward slash momentum.
Cool voice guy: [00:04:39] Welcome to the e-commerce momentum board guys where we focus on the people the products and the process of commerce selling your host Stephen Peters in Gala’s B would call it Next Level licensing dotcom forward slash momentum join it you know.
Stephen: [00:05:01] Will he market to you someday. Probably. But you know what then by then you’ll know this is for me or it’s not for me. In the meantime it’s free information he’s willing to share and I watched him share when we were at the show last year and I saw somebody take advantage of that sharing and build something bigger and is really blown up their business too because of what Paul was willing to help them with. And so you know take advantage of if this is something that you think will connect with you great guy reach out to them. Just a terrific e-commerce momentum dot com e-commerce momentum Takan ticker.
Stephen: [00:05:36] Thanks for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast all the links mentioned today commu found that e-commerce momentum dotcom under this episode number please remember to subscribe and like us on iTunes.
Stephen: [00:06:06] That’s a mouthful. It is. But guess what. It’s a great opportunity. You know you can build a big Amazon business you don’t need a lot of capital. When you start. I mean we all started you know most of us started selling books and then move into retail arbitrage. That is the place that you can turn your money the fastest and online arbitrage. And so by having that skill set by learning those skill sets you can get the best bang for your buck. And so Gase group will help you learn online arbitrage. It’s more than just a list service they’re going to give you a whole bunch of actionable inventory every single day. Right. Monday through Friday. However there’s also a mentor ship that goes on and that mentor ship is so important because sometimes it’s great to know what to buy. But it’s more important to understand why to buy it. And it’s that you know learning to fish or just getting fed. You know you really want to learn because ultimately you want to strike out on your own. And this is a great way to do it. So how about seven days free trial a free trial. Right. Very very cool. So it’s amazing freedom come forward slashes the mouthful the word momentum. You got to use a hyphen and you put in the word arbitrage. So it’s amazing freedom dotcom forward slash momentum dash arbitrage and you’re going to get a free trial in game group. You got to tell her I sent you. Right. I also have the link in the episode.
Stephen: [00:07:36] But it’s such a great opportunity. She is amazing amazing I’m in that group. So you’ll see me there an amazing amazing person who’s there to answer your questions who was there to help lead you and help guide you and that’s what gay does. She does it every single day. The testimonials are real. Go take a look. You will be blown away.
Stephen: [00:07:54] And again it’s a free trial. I have the link on this episode. Reachin you know Sellar labs Jeff Cohen and the team they have blown me away with this scope project. We use this all the time for our business. We do a lot of private label we also do a lot of wholesale and wholesale bundles you know or multipack that kind of thing which a lot of people do but we use scope to help us figure out what are the key words. And so it’s really simple. You basically figure out where you’re going to sell what you’re going to sell what category find that like product. Find the top couple sellers and find their keywords. Boom magic. There you go. You copy the best because it’s working. And guess what that’s a proof of concept and scope allows you to do that. So it’s Sellar labs dotcom forward slash scope Celera labs dot com poleward slash scope use the code word momentum and you’re going to get a couple days free trial and you’re going to save a little bit of money and you got to get some free keywords. It’s worth every penny. I’m in that group come in check me out.
Stephen: [00:08:59] Sellar labs dot com forward slash scope again use the word momentum solutions for e-commerce. Karen Locher great great great group. I’ve been using them for a long time.
Stephen: [00:09:11] I guess over two years and I’m in there and I paid just like everybody else. Yes she’s a sponsor my show. But she makes me pay and I got the same 50 dollar discount that you can get. Oh by the way you’re going to get that through my link and my link only. Oh and you’re also going to get the free inventory health analysis. Great way to start 2018 get your inventory in line and Karen will help you do that. We use them for everything. I mean basically you know long term storage fees coming up. Guess what she will evaluate. She’ll make some recommendations and I’ll say yep check check check take these out. This return. Blah blah blah blah blah and magically it’s done.
Stephen: [00:09:47] I love it. Love it. Love it.
Stephen: [00:09:49] I love the fact that they take and get rid of stranded inventory for me. I see it in there and then next time I go in and it’s gone. Love it. Love it. Love it. Got an IP infringement. She’s going to help you work your way through that. This is the kind of service that you get from Karen Locher that solutions for the number 4 e-commerce solutions for e-commerce dot com forward slash momentum. Right. So you got it. Forward slash momentum and you’re going to save 50 dollars a month six hundred bucks a year by just clicking that link. She pays me. I want to hide that I never do. I’m always upfront about that. But it doesn’t cost you anything additional. And you’re going to get that inventory Health Report the only way you get that is through mine link. The solutions the number for e-commerce dotcom forward slash momentum.
Cool voice guy: [00:10:37] Welcome to the e-commerce momentum podcast where we focus on the people the products and the process of commerce selling today. Here’s your host Stephen Peterson.
Stephen: [00:10:50] Man oh man. Get ready for a good episode. Welcome back to e-commerce momentum podcast. This is episode 275. PAUL MILLER I’m JAST because I. I tend to record these intros right after I do the interview and I had to redo this interview a couple of times because our connection was so poor and both of us are thankful we did it because we got to places faster because sometimes I tend to draw it out. But we got there faster and this is a one of those action type of interviews where you can take action because you’re going to hear this story of a guy who comes from relatively humble beginnings didn’t go to the right schools didn’t do this and that yet has had incredible success. Why him. He’s going explain why. But that discipline that persist in step pushing through all those things that you have in you. You can see in Paul so I hope you really connect with Paul the way I do because I just see so much of who I want to be. And Paul and Mattie see a great dad son followed him into the military. How cool is that. Let’s get into the podcast.
Stephen: [00:12:03] All right welcome back to the e-commerce momentum podcast very very very excited about my guest today.
Stephen: [00:12:10] And this is a kind of a real interview because we had some audio problems but because he is so disciplined he demanded I read to eat into me and anything. Paul Miller Welcome Paul.
Paul: [00:12:22] Thank you Steve it’s honored to be here. Thanks for the invite.
Stephen: [00:12:25] You were you disciplined military guy. Rigid No. You know that’s one of the things I think about you know first off thank you for your service.
Stephen: [00:12:35] You did a long time in the service and we’re going to get into that. But you’re really laid back. You’re not what I would have expected to be. You know somebody who especially in the type of role you had your laid back.
Paul: [00:12:52] I’m sure that’s not the first time you’ve heard that no it’s not Steve. Thank you. I consider that a compliment. You know who was to be hanging around with somebody who’s a stick in the mud and Alridge it all the time. But it’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard that.
Stephen: [00:13:09] Well I think it’s a very good character trait. You know again and I said this in the first version of this interview you know I sit there and I watch people and I watch them for a distance and I and I look at them over time I look for consistency because everybody can be you know it’s like that job interview. Your best you’re polished and you and I get to hang out together. And then you watch for time and you see wow. Then the evil side of them comes out. There hasn’t been that. You’ve been very consistent. You’ve been very generous in helping other people quietly though you’re very reserved. You kind of keep to yourself but yet you’re very helpful in a kind way. That’s a good trait.
Paul: [00:13:53] Well thanks Steve I really do appreciate that.
Stephen: [00:13:56] I mean it so. OK so let’s get to your story. So Paul is a mega seller. I’m going to use that term. And he has had some really incredible success and dare I say it happened overnight. Are you an overnight success. Are you the typical overnight success.
Paul: [00:14:13] Well you know I’ve been in e-commerce for about two and a half years now.
Stephen: [00:14:18] Oh no. Come now you have to be depressed because I thought you were in it for 40.
Paul: [00:14:24] But. Yeah. The 30 years prior to that which I’ve been in business most of that for myself. After the Marine Corps or I should say that’s including the Marine Corps so about the last 20 years have been in various different businesses. So those I consider a training ground for this overnight success.
Stephen: [00:14:48] You know I think that the way you just said it though is a great example of what when you have perspective. We talked a lot about perspective prior. Let’s talk about it now. I think recognizing the events in your life the things that have happened good and bad because everything’s not rosy as training ground for this nest next adventure because if you had success in anything that means you can replicate it right if it’s happened once it can happen again. And so that training ground attitude that perspective of training ground really can take you very far in this business don’t you think.
Paul: [00:15:24] I completely agree. As you mention it kind of comes back to perspective and looking back on your past life experiences learning from them whether they were successes or failures and kind of adjusting and moving forward adjusting that’s a good word.
Stephen: [00:15:44] It’s like somebody described this to change direction of a big cruise ship it takes you know very small little adjustments and then it’s a wide swath and eventually it turns right and you make those little calculated adjustments. So let’s let’s talk about the Marine Corps how does a high school kid from Washington state end up in the Marine Corps.
Paul: [00:16:07] Well honestly it was my desire to kind of leave my little hometown small town Washington state and see the world basically. I knew that I wasn’t ready for college. I wasn’t exactly a stellar student in high school.
Paul: [00:16:27] In fact the only thing that kept me in high school was the requirement of the Marine Corps that I had to enter with a high school degree otherwise I was kind of ready to quit and get on with my life.
Stephen: [00:16:40] What does that mean. Sleep it way up there. What does that mean. Get on with your life. What would that have meant for you. What were you thinking back.
Paul: [00:16:47] I think it was just independence you know and you know looking back at it now with perspective I didn’t know how great I had it. And you know kind of grew up with great parents. Middle class lifestyle wonderful small town. You know there was nothing I had nothing to complain about. But you know at that time in life all I want to do was get out of there and see the world.
Stephen: [00:17:19] Well I think it sounds like it served you very well in a you weren’t in for four years and done. You did. You did some time there didn’t you.
Paul: [00:17:27] Yeah I did 11 years active duty.
Stephen: [00:17:30] That’s amazing. I mean it’s a long long when you think about pieces or segments of your life. You know that’s that’s you know pretty up there 20 percent. I mean that’s a pretty big piece of your life that segment when you think about the experiences that you draw from that are in that segment. What would you say are two or three of those things that you take forward no matter what.
Paul: [00:17:53] From there on so let me just add something to the 11 years I was basically a career Marine. So you know a career Marine use means 20. So I was on my way to 20 when during a military drawdown they offered certain incentives to certain fields occupational fields to get out. So I kind of saw an opportunity to get out and do something different and take the incentive which was basically an annuity overtime. And I took advantage of that had had it not been for that extra incentive. I definitely would have done the 20 years. But I think what I take away from the Marine Corps that applies to my business life. Obviously there’s there’s discipline and discipline to do things that you may not really want to do but need to be done. And you know I still struggle with that today but I have the perspective of having gone through some pretty arduous times in the Marine Corps and saying wow you know so I don’t want to sit down today and rewrite the copy on my listing. But I need to get it. And this is a heck of a lot easier than you know sitting in a fighting the whole freezing temperatures. Yeah it again is prospective take perspective of my situation and say Hey I just need to get this done.
Stephen: [00:19:41] It could be a lot worse. No matter what.
Paul: [00:19:45] Exactly. That’s basically what it is it could it could be a lot worse. It’s taken almost all the time. It can be a lot worse.
Stephen: [00:19:54] Yeah. And it’s fair if you look at the other side. Right. I mean when you think about things right when you know there are some things that just stink. Nobody wants to do it but it’s like I just had a discussion with somebody when they were like Steve. Are you working on your business or in your business. That’s what their comment was. Because I’m working in our warehouse. You and I know that Andy and I have a warehouse right. And they’re like well are you working on your business or in your business. I sat behind a desk for almost 30 years. And I sat in meetings and board meetings board B already and forever. And so I’m now doing a little bit of physical work and I must admit I’m kind of enjoying it. I’m sure it’ll get old you know and I’m sure you know I shouldn’t be doing something things and I could pay somebody 12 dollars or fifteen dollars an hour my community to do it right. Absolutely. But I want to enjoy a little bit of it for because I haven’t done it. And so my how I get through it as I sit back and say Man I could be sitting behind a desk. And it’s beautiful outside and I’m going to be you know cutting her grass or doing something silly like that. It’s perspective again right.
Stephen: [00:20:57] It’s it’s bad to some people because they have to do it. But if you take the other observation that you could be standing at attention I think your example the other the other interview was standing at attention for an hour with sand fleas biting you and you can’t swat them away. Right. That’s right. That’s a perspective and not so bad.
Paul: [00:21:16] You know I’ll. Yeah. Perspective is everything. I’m just going to expand upon that for just a minute because you and I talked about it earlier and we talked about kind of life putting life experiences into perspective and looking at the opportunity we have ahead of us here which is just amazing for old timers now right. You know I was very fortunate to be able to travel all around the world and you know meet a lot of people in different cultures for a portion of my time in the Marine Corps I was an embassy security guard. Wow. So you know even though the you know the active standing posts for eight hours or 10 hours a day is pretty boring. The rest of the time you get to meet a lot of really interesting people and live in the culture which is really a unique opportunity for embassy guards because normally you’re living on a base somewhere if you’re in the military or the Marine security guards. You’re live in a house within the community just all kind of living in a house together. So you really get a chance to you know taste the flavor of the of the culture and the community and get to know people.
Stephen: [00:22:38] When you do that when you think about that does it when things get tough. Let me say it that way when things get tough because they get tougher Paul just like to get tougher Steve right when they get tough. Are you able to draw back at that and sit back and say you know I still have it better. You know I guess I don’t I don’t want to get ahead at their expense. I don’t mean it that way it’s just it’s it’s I guess we’re back to that perspective is you I mean does it give you the ability to sit back and say it’s a much bigger world. This is but a moment in time get past it. Now move on.
Paul: [00:23:08] Let’s get to the next yeah.
Paul: [00:23:12] Gives me great perspective. You know I can still recall living in Turkey and being invited you know over to the local guard’s home for you know a particular celebration of a birthday party or whatever you know. And you get to really see how they live. Entrepreneurial thing putting you know everything on credit cards getting a loan you know and I had all this very expensive equipment and I had a ton of great clients would come for us for editing and post-production. But there was also the time when video editing and post-production were coming into the PC. So that was all dedicated hardware that time but the writing was on the wall that this stuff was coming to the laptop into the desktop. And I was going to be out of business in a couple of years if I didn’t shift.
Stephen: [00:24:10] So watching the tea leaves and because how many guys did you see that didn’t shift and held on and I mean you could buy that stuff for a dime a dozen. Right. Now not even now but even not that long after when it did make that shift. How many guys tried to hold on and didn’t transition. What was it they gave you. I mean I would be fearful. I mean is that another military you know thing that you that you learn is that you know they’ve pushed aside the fear just get through it.
Paul: [00:24:43] Well being fearless it can be you know a great attribute.
Stephen: [00:24:53] They were saying run up the hill and take that hill. Right.
Paul: [00:24:57] But it’s also can be pretty risky business too. And I definitely learned my lessons about kind of that never say die attitude. Later on in another business. I’m sure we’ll talk about. So fearlessness can be good but you definitely have to you know keep reality in mind.
Stephen: [00:25:23] There is a there is a line right there is a you know I always say you can’t rule it all on seven. You know you can’t bet everything. You and I know people who do and they just keep winning. They just have it. Now my opinion they’re outliers. I’m not an outlier Steve knows he’s not an outlier and I’m okay with that. But man I see him and I start thinking about it and then I’m like nope that’s not me. Pull back. So thinking about the failures. You had a pretty significant part of your life that you would consider not successful said. Is that a fair statement.
Stephen: [00:26:00] That’s probably an understatement an understatement. Now it’s not all unsuccessful because you start to have some level of success like most. And then all of a sudden you’re like I can do no wrong. Right. You get a little bit of Teflon or dare I say ego comes in. Is that all those all fair.
Paul: [00:26:19] I say so. Definitely a dose of reality. So I transitioned out of the multimedia business and had a little bit of time on my hands to figure out what to do next and definitely want to do my own business again. But I didn’t want to have to figure it out on my own. So I was really spent about six months looking at different franchises and different franchise opportunities in the service sector products sector and settled on the restaurant business because that’s a nice easy business there always. I had some very misplaced ideas about them. You know everyone has great ideas about how fun it would be to own their own restaurant or a bar or whatever so but you know I did my research I talked to lots of owners in a matter of fact when I settled on the particular franchise I went out this happened to be headquartered in Dallas. And they said look we don’t we don’t just accept anybody. You don’t have a restaurant. History. So you know what we want to do is put you in the store for a couple of days serving customers. See how you do. And so I did that they called it a work experience over time you basically worked two 12 hour days in a row on your feet greeting customers serving them in any way you can finish that up and they said think she did a great job. But you still don’t have any restaurant experience so we’re going to pass. Wow. So it actually had a little bit of time left on my hands. They said if you want to be in the business go out and get some restaurant experience and come back. So happened to be a guy not too far from my home who is opening up one of those franchises. And that called him up and said Hey can I help you open up your store and I need to get some experience. He said Well I’ve already got my managers I can’t pay you. I said that’s OK. You know I’m taken care of for now I just want to get the experience so I helped him for about three months. We had a fabulous opening all the corporate crew was there and finally got approved.
Stephen: [00:28:43] Well that’s a lesson right there. So don’t give up. Push through it. Be willing to eat some eat some hard work for a while right. So
Stephen: [00:28:53] three months that’s a pretty big commitment. Yeah that’s some humble pie.
Stephen: [00:28:55] But I mean three months is a big it’s a big commitment that you’ve put in your dues. I mean I would applaud you for that especially not getting paid. And so they had some success. Did you learn anything in that period of time thinking about now. You know obviously the business has failed at this point. Fast forward thinking about that 3 month experience. Is there something that you could have done differently he would have done different now knowing what you know.
Paul: [00:29:24] So I want to clarify about the business failing. That’s OK. So you know let’s see two of the three stores that I ended up with are still operating today. But I had to transition out of them. And for me it was I would consider a personal failure. I was very successful in the first year. We had a great store as kind of the new golden boy of the system for you know two or three years. By Year 5 which was in 2008 we opened up two more stores and those stores you know are highly leveraged against their original store. They both came out of the gate actually very successful. I built two stores within nine months of each other so it was quite a feat to get that done. But you know who knew we were there at 2008 on the precipice of the recession and our concept was very susceptible I would say to the recession and I tried very very hard to hang on for the next five years five or six years and basically rode those three stores all the way down and should have made adjustments much earlier but I was just refusing to fail. You know that that never say die attitude. I was not going to let it happen to the point that you know I really didn’t have very many general managers anymore. I was driving between store to store and working 12 hour shifts just trying to do whatever I could to keep the doors open and all three stores.
Stephen: [00:31:14] You said that one of your biggest weaknesses is not knowing when to quit. I mean is that did that really show itself in this in this world.
Paul: [00:31:24] Absolutely.
Paul: [00:31:26] I you know you you just have to know when to quit sometimes doesn’t seem like there are any options either. You know I knew that if I failed on one store it was probably going to take all three stores down. Right. In the end I did end up getting out of that business all the way. But if I had made that decision earlier in the process it would have been much less painful.
Stephen: [00:31:55] Now that pain that you describe how does it manifest now in your current business. I mean does it temper your your risk meter. Does it you know especially does it affect your family. I mean is your wife more guarded.
Paul: [00:32:18] Oh yes absolutely. You know when you I’m kind of a dreamer as you might be able to tell. And you know I had big dreams for that business that was going to be our retirement. You know I laid it all out to my wife here’s what we’re going to do. And so when all that comes crashing down you can’t help but do you know do a double take on new plans. Right. So along with that comes definitely a new healthy respect for you know the investments that you have to make in any business especially when it comes to being leveraged or taking loans. And so I’d say that’s like my one of my biggest takeaways is leverage you know and this business requires leverage if you’re going to finance inventory you need to get through a Christmas. You need to take the money for inventory sometimes and that’s something I’ve had to struggle with.
Stephen: [00:33:29] How do you get the confidence style because how do you get your confidence back of or was yours not shaken.
Paul: [00:33:35] I mean I would assume that was shaken my confidence was shaken for sure.
Stephen: [00:33:40] So how do you get it back. How do you rise above that. I mean where is that back to that military training. You know adapt and overcome.
Paul: [00:33:46] What is it. Well you know I wish I could pinpoint it for you exactly.
Paul: [00:33:54] But I’m going to say you kind of get it out of necessity. So as I saw the restaurant business declining and I had arranged to have a couple of franchisees take over my stores were really struggling. I went back to the the original store the kind of the golden goose of them and back up to work in that store and turn it back around again. I knew it was going to be a long haul probably three or four years for we. Turn it around and then you know pay off the liabilities of the other stores. But during that time in this store had to be two hours away from my home so I was living away from home came back. My daughter’s birthday one day 16th birthday and had a nice birthday dinner at her favorite sushi place then took my son to cub scouts and during the Cub Scouts I was asked to be the pitcher for a kick kickball game. And third maybe third player up I did a pitch and the scout kick the ball about 10 feet to my right. And I kind of took a diving catch hit the ground on my shoulder and kind of rolled over on one knee and I knew something was really bad and I had just crushed my collarbone. And this is at the moment when I was just making some progress on bringing that story around and I sat there on one knee or knelt on one knee wondering what the heck I was going to do because this is May timeframe only had a couple of months of good revenue before we hit winter for that store. And the point of all this is sometimes you can’t just muster the confidence. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.
Stephen: [00:35:57] Does that mean I don’t know if you’re a spiritual person in any way do you think that that was a moment the moment that things turned for you. You know I’ve heard that before you got to pay attention. You know if you pay attention to what’s happening around you sometimes there are signs are things that are leading there. Do you think that was one of them.
Paul: [00:36:19] It was the moment that I knew I was done. I was forced out of the restaurant business because I didn’t. It evolved over the next couple of days. You know the den leader’s wife took me to the emergency room where she probably thought I was the biggest baby in the world. They started crying. And she had no idea why. Right. But I knew I was done. I’m like I can’t work is my right arm. I’m not going to be able to do any of the things that I do at the restaurant. I had fired my general manager so now I was the general manager and I’m just not going to be out. I’m going to rehire this guy back again. There’s no way I’m going to turn the store around before the winter time. So it was definitely a defining moment. But here’s the silver lining in that moment is that I had looked at selling on Amazon probably a couple of months prior to that and was just dabbling thinking well if this doesn’t work out the restaurant business doesn’t work out. Maybe I can you know make a living in Amazon or use it as a plan B and what occurred while I was recovering basically had made a agreement with the franchise or to take over my store I said Look I’m not going to make it you guys I’ll run the store until August transferred over to you. And in the meantime that was May I said I’ve got to make it I’ve got to make it go by August I’ve got to figure out how to make a living. And I did nothing but dive in to Amazon during my recovery. And that actually is about the time that I met one of your former guests Kelly filio. I was using some of my video experience to do video reviews. Openbox you know Openbox reviews on Amazon. I was just doing those kind of in a group trying to be service of other sellers and I did one for Kellyann and we struck up a friendship and she became my main mentor after that. And long story short from May to August of that year I replaced my income.
Stephen: [00:38:47] Now you know I’m looking at your products. I know what they are where they your first products because you’ve had incredible success. Or did you stumble like most other people.
Paul: [00:39:01] I didn’t have any failures on Amazon. Really product failures but it wasn’t my first product. My very first product was a food service product. They tell me silicone spatulas barbequed deluxe it’s really by anyone and Kelly would tell you the same story. Paper popcorn bags little party bags old time popcorn bags. You know I was asking my wife one time as I started this hey can you think of any products that you use you know in the schools because she was volunteering at the school at you know might be good. And she says you know I have to buy these popcorn bags a thousand per case and we don’t need a thousand. We need like a hundred at a time. So of course I have a lot of food service contacts. I bought a case of a thousand popcorn bags for 12 dollars. I packed them into 10 packs of 100 and we sold them for 99. And they were at this and that I followed all the principles of make a good good listing you know popped some fresh popcorn showed how yummy it looked. And the images made a good listing and really caught the fever with that product.
Stephen: [00:40:20] So that is a simple little example of solving a problem right.
Stephen: [00:40:27] And taking your past. And like you said you already had the contacts you were familiar with the restaurant business you know all that stuff and putting the two together. I think that’s a great example because I always tell people what do you do in your previous life you know what were the problems you ran into were what are your friends that are still in that world running into if you could solve their problems. Especially because you have inside knowledge like in restaurant world you knew what that means. Right. To how to get that stuff. Most people don’t. I think that’s pretty cool. So the popcorn business was going to be it.
Paul: [00:40:58] I mean this is going to be the big business. There was a there was a side product project really and I knew that wasn’t going to be my main project. I was a dreamer. You said you’re a dreamer. I didn’t know if you like that was something to test out the system and you know make a few bucks I think we were probably making three dollars a unit and selling you know 20 a day so you know that was a sneeze that meant when when when did your big product come to you.
Paul: [00:41:33] So as we were doing the popcorn bags I was doing product research and actually while doing product research I came across a similar product that I had used myself and I said wow I really need one of these and mine is broken.
Paul: [00:41:56] So let me let me try this. And by the way all the other ones are very expensive on Amazon I bet I can do it cheaper.
Paul: [00:42:03] So I ordered about 100 units. Actually Skype directly with the factory owner order 100 units had some initial success with that. Then I went to work on kind of modifying different styles different colors. And you know again continue to have success going forward now.
Stephen: [00:42:31] Now it’s the hockey stick that I talked about and now we’re at the hockey stick. But when you think about what to do. Right. I mean you know because you see people struggling. I mean you know you’re getting ready to help some people at a private label conference who are struggling. What did you do right when you think back that you think that others can replicate.
Paul: [00:42:56] Well I think just thinking out of the box a little bit was very helpful to me.
Paul: [00:43:06] So I saw a product that was you know basic black generic and you know a lot of the principles were taught and different you know private label courses make something unique. So you know instead of making simple black and white with different Pather different colors. So you know being creative and I think innovation and not you know don’t discount your innovative ideas. One of the beauties of Amazon as a platform it’s like the best products incubator out there. You can you know put out an idea sometimes without a huge investment and you can see if they the market likes it. The real turning point for us was when we took our product which is normally for adults and modified it for kids. And it just came to me as an idea hey maybe this is something that would work for kids. And you know we created our first kids version I think it was fall of 2016 and it basically took off like a rocket when I remember you and I met at the licensing show in Vegas.
Stephen: [00:44:24] That was last year I think and I remember listening because I was sitting there taking it all in and I’m like wow. Because that’s another world. I mean it is absolutely another world. And I remember listening to you talk about how being prepared and being professional because the year before you were at that same event and you weren’t. Is that fair. You weren’t as prepared you weren’t as organized. You invested afterwards.
Paul: [00:44:53] I think so the first year was just like trying to get a lay of the land and understanding things.
Stephen: [00:44:59] Did anybody take you there. Did you have the like. We were fortunate because we had a Paul Miller walking us through and breaking us into how it works. Did you have anybody guiding you through it.
Stephen: [00:45:09] Absolutely not metal. You had to in that operation. Oh it’s intimidating.
Paul: [00:45:16] Now I was earning very cold and you know I’m going to bring me to one of points I want to share with you. And sometimes you just have to put yourself out there in a really unfamiliar circumstance and see what comes of it. And the reason I got to that show was once I found that we had some initial success with our kids product. I said Wow. You know I’ve got a tiger by the tail here. How am I going to maximize this this this product. And I was you know calling everybody I knew probing them asking him what would you do if you were me. And one of the people that I talked to suggested that I look into licensing. He said you know that licensing Expo is coming up in Vegas you should sign up for that. So I signed up for it and I got. And as part of the you know registration process I put myself on the matchmaker service for the licensing Expo and got contacted by someone who ended up being you know my first license or you met her at the show.
Stephen: [00:46:27] I did. She is one of your biggest fans.
Stephen: [00:46:30] And what’s interesting to me is she was relatively new in the world too. Right. And so both of you were kind of stumbling along finding your way. Is that reasonable.
Paul: [00:46:43] Yes absolutely. So I think that that’s what small entrepreneurs. So we actually got together on the phone and through Skype and everything before the show and we had a deal done and product made before we both arrived at the show. No kidding. And you can do that when you’re small and nimble right. Right. She was a children’s book author. You know and I could get stuff done fast so we had a design done. We had a character done boom and we had a deal done which was helpful because then we use that as a case study.
Stephen: [00:47:23] When we were pitching bigger deals well that confidence to right is that that’s how you get that little bit of a swagger. And I want to call it that because you got to watch that ego thing. But a little bit more like hey I’ve done this. I can replicate this. One of the most impressive things I remember seeing was your I’ll call it for a portfolio. I don’t know what else what other term that you use for the presentation that you bring to these potential license Awards. What’s that. What’s that called.
Paul: [00:47:54] I would just it was just a presentation presentation that was printed. Basically it was a PowerPoint deck printed and bound nicely professionally done. So yeah. So you know yeah I did have somebody I hired somebody who had actually been in the licensing business and she was a designer found her on. I think I found her on oDesk at the time and had her helped me with the PowerPoint deck using her knowledge of what licensors were looking for. She’s also a graphic artist so she did a bang up job.
Stephen: [00:48:33] Yeah it was unbelievable. And you know I didn’t have any frame of reference for what you had before but you said it was pretty much nothing. And to get to the next level and so you go along in this and you don’t just get small appointments you get big appointments. We’re talking a big deal. And you know it’s cool because we got to witness oh I’ve got to go guys. We’re going to meet with one of these mega companies and you close the deal.
Paul: [00:49:01] Yeah. So the mega company was Nickelodeon and I give them a tremendous amount of credit for having vision and you know understanding you know what our product could be. And you know we ended up signing that deal for for Nickelodeon properties. That’s what they’re called to license our product with so you know now we have just this last Q4 launched our first Nickelodeon products on Amazon is pretty amazing.
Stephen: [00:49:42] Did they have the vision or did you have to help them see the vision.
Stephen: [00:49:50] Of our numbers.
Paul: [00:49:52] Okay. They loved the vision. So yeah you do have to help them see.
Paul: [00:49:58] But you know really again I want to go back to that. I don’t think I made the statement before about putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. I call it put yourself in the path of opportunity. So I was really didn’t know what to expect at the licensing show. At the same time you know when I was invited for my first meeting up on Nickelodeon on Times Square I didn’t know what to expect there either. And it was you know felt completely unprepared.
Paul: [00:50:38] But I went up there with samples had hired you know and met with along with my designer. And you know we pitched the product to them and you know they accepted.
Stephen: [00:50:51] OK. When you think about licensing so you know when do you think about where your business where you could you could rest on our laurels you’ve had a lot of success. Right. But to get to the next level right if there if that’s the way you think of it in segments and levels and stuff like that is there really any other way that you see without adding a whole bunch of other products for a way to level up a brand.
Paul: [00:51:18] So that was my big question before I went into licensing is I’m asking myself how can I scale up big and how can I protect my brand right. Because let’s face it there are many many sellers that were just making variations of other products. Now or just private labeling something. Yes we have IP we have trademark we have international patent registration or applications. But still if we were to get a big player in against us they could make it difficult for us. When you have a license for a product let’s say I’m holding a water bottle here the water bottle is made by Camelback but there is a USMC logo on the front. Perfect example of licensing USMC does not make water bottles. So Camelback license the logo from USMC and now guess what. They can appeal to all Marines and former Marines because they have a problem says USMC and mostly for the most part USMC is not going to you know give that license to another water bottle manufacturer. You can get an exclusive. It’s kind of rare but it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to give you know multiple licenses. So my point is if you’ve got a great product that fits well with called the property that you’re targeting for example the property in this case B.N. would this would have been us. MC And then the water bottle is the product but you know let’s take you know George Foreman grill for example. What if you have a chef’s knife set. Who’s to say that you can’t go out and get the license to make that George Foreman knifes said. It’s a great way to differentiate your product in the market and give instant validation.
Stephen: [00:53:39] Does it also give you protection. Because that’s why I thought you were going to go with it. Does it seem to give you protection knowing that Nickelodeon now has that product does that scare away a lot of people I go. They get a lot of lawyers up deep pockets.
Paul: [00:53:51] I absolutely think so. So it still depends on the particular contract who’s responsible. Whose responsibility is to protect that IP as a seller of the product. You have to do everything you can to protect it. But I’m very happy to know that if somebody is really trying to knock off my Nickelodeon product you know I can get Nickelodeon involved. They’re going to be on that interest less likely to do it. I mean we all know. You hear all the courses say don’t go after a big brand name product. Don’t copy a big branded product because you’re going to get in trouble. They’re going to protect their IP.
Stephen: [00:54:31] My God sitting there watching. I mean so you know I probably said at the beginning I don’t know will be done two or three of these without the right sound and we got it right. I call you make a seller. No I don’t think that’s an understatement. But you’re really and that hockey stick mode and you are going straight through the roof and you absolutely believe licensing was the thing that took you how many schools do you have.
Paul: [00:54:53] Now Paul you know we got about 25 Skewes. You know when it comes to styles and colors.
Stephen: [00:55:00] OK. Yeah. Able to focus on that business.
Stephen: [00:55:04] I mean you’re not you’re not out adding hundreds of other private label I’m not saying you’re not blind to look at other products I don’t mean to say that way because you have to be smart but you’re now completely working on developing this brand out there.
Paul: [00:55:18] Yeah. You know I just like anybody else you know I get distracted and I see come across ideas for products all the time and have to you know pull myself back and say no I need a focus you know focus on our our product our brand.
Paul: [00:55:36] But so I am you know for the most part very focused on that I help some other sellers from time to time as I mentioned earlier my son is an active duty Marine now. He just launched his first product in Q4 of last year. He’s got about a year and a half left to go on his first hitch. So you know hopefully going to get him into a position that he can become a full time seller as well.
Stephen: [00:56:03] It’s got to be pretty cool to see some small town Marine have take on the CEO role. I mean because let’s face it you’re really a CEO now. You’re running a multimillion dollar business. You got some people working for you. You’ve got you’re dealing with big companies right. You’re not just you know scanning and caps a target. I’m not downplaying that. I mean there are people that are very successful at it you’re running this company now. What. What do you think. I mean looking back is there a way you could have seen yourself being here anyway. I’m would ask you this here’s why because I want to say this is if the answer’s no does that mean you know are you an outlier or is it hard work and the dedication and the wins and losses of your life that have got you here meaning that others can replicate it.
Stephen: [00:57:06] That’s where I was going to go.
Paul: [00:57:07] So the answer has never been No. I am the eternal optimist and dreamer so am I surprised I’m here. Yes. But the answer is never been no. I’m kind of surprised at the pace. It took us to get here. And you know the amazing opportunity for us and e-commerce that we have to do this and go from zero to multimillion dollar business in two and a half years and do it from my home with a handful of employees that’s just crazy. Even as an old dude. Right. And starting over. Starting over from scratch at age 53 and attaining this success at age 55 you know I’m very very grateful for it’s been an amazing opportunity. I want to jump back if you don’t mind. And one more point to the licensing deal because you know I have had so much feedback from other sellers and questions about the opportunity. Well Nickelodeon is not going to endorse a shabby product right. You know you know you get the credibility from that you’re going to get acceptance in the marketplace. I mean by you know third party channels or whatever you’re selling in an potential market huge marketing opportunities if you work the contract the right way. Imagine having no easy access to the Nickelodeon audience for example or you know anybody who has ever bought a George Foreman grill. Those types of opportunities are available in licensing depending on how you negotiate your contract. But one of the biggest thing for me which is absolutely going to change skyrocket our business from where it is right now. And you and I haven’t even talked about this yet. Is that it can give you inroads to other sales channels. Never even thought possible for example. I’m on the edge of my seat. I must give you an idea going back this idea of putting yourself in the path of opportunity. Shortly after we did our licensing agreement I was invited to go out to Bentonville Arkansas for a Wal-Mart summit. And of course you know my jaw dropped. So yeah I’m all over it. I didn’t know the agenda. I didn’t know anything about it. I’m just booking my flight so I booked my flight out there. Have a great meeting. Learn a little bit more about you know doing business with Wal-Mart. Didn’t get to meet any buyers or anything. But I did meet another guy his another fellow Marine and he’s been in the toy and licensing business for the last 15 years. And so we had lunch the next day you know traded war stories and such and kept in contact with each other a couple of months down the road. I was asked to go to the Dallas Toy Fair so I went to the Dallas Toy Fair. I get out there not knowing what to expect and find out that it’s what they call a closed show. There’s a whole bunch of booths you know on five different levels of this exhibit center but every booth is guarded by gatekeeper and if you don’t have an appointment you’re not getting it. So like what am I to do here. I have no appointments. It doesn’t make any sense so I call my buddy that I met in Bentonville and said hey you know you get a you know anybody here that I can meet with because they don’t have any appointments. And he directed me to a couple of guys on a very fast growing toy distribution company. So I met with them had a great response my product. And by the time I got home the next 24 hours I had a proposal for a global distribution deal.
Stephen: [01:01:29] SMOs The Hockey Stick grows.
Paul: [01:01:33] And so they specialize in retail you know placing. They’ve already got products in Wal-Mart Target and Walgreens and all of these other you said global global global. So yeah. So you know besides you know the domestic retail can be global. So now I’m in the position of being a license store and they are the licensing Difford is it.
Stephen: [01:02:02] You know you’re listening to this. How different is it sitting on the other side now.
Stephen: [01:02:07] I love it. Are you able to fix the things you didn’t like in your other position. Right because you now you’re on the other side right.
Paul: [01:02:15] So this is the is a very interesting situation and some another aspect of licensing that people should consider in e-commerce. A lot of people you and me and others you know have the idea of being really successful as being out there in brick and mortar right. Being a Wal-Mart or whatever or something like it people say that but what’s the downside of that. You could ruin your business is the downside. I mean if you’re going to build an organization that has distributors and you know supply chains and the fugitive huge amounts of inventory that you have to purchase to meet the purchase orders requirements of these organizations you’ve got to invest in warehousing EEI and a whole bunch of other stuff. And prior to meeting my distribution partner that’s what I was thinking I was going to have to do to scale my company. And the biggest problem in that is that first of all I didn’t have any expertise and it took a lot more money than I had. So you know what my distributor proposed is look we’ll treat this like a licensing deal where we license the ability to produce and distribute your product to you know whatever the sales channels are and so they have taken off that burden of investing in the sales reps and that the inventory and the manufacturing to be able to just kind of plug our product into their existing you know retail ecosystem. Those are the kind of opportunities you get. If I had gone to them with just you know a generic product and didn’t show them that I already had a Nickelodeon license they probably would said See you later.
Stephen: [01:04:09] So when you think about I mean what it would take to run that other type of organization the one you described. That’s a completely different world right. I mean that is all this new stuff you have to learn and then that takes your eye off of what you’re currently doing. And so therefore that could end up going awry. I mean to me knowing your lane and staying in it is a very powerful thing. But again it’s partnering with the right people and you wouldn’t have gotten this had you not done all these other things that have led you to this place. Stepping out as you said right.
Paul: [01:04:40] Yeah. It’s it’s it’s definitely the next level and I can tell you that I’m so much more relaxed and relieved this year posts that deal because every single day I was trying to figure out how am I going to get into retail how am I going to grow this company. Where am I getting the money. Do I need to bring on investors. Well all of that is not necessary now and it’s a tradeoff you know because you know you’re going to get a fraction of the revenue or sorry of the profit that you would have got if you’re going to distribute it yourself.
Stephen: [01:05:17] But I get peace of mind and the ability to grow fast and you get to keep your eye on your existing business because again that’s one of those things you can’t do everything right I mean back to the restaurant world you know running three restaurants is a different takes different focus than running one fare. So running these multiple businesses really gets complex and therefore something has to give. So it could have been your others. I think it’s very smart very mature of a two year old company to be at this level. That’s real hockey stick to it.
Paul: [01:05:55] Well exciting you know. Well the proof is in the pudding. So we’ll see how how we look at the end of the year.
Stephen: [01:06:04] Yeah. You know your perspective again I think it’s great. So are you selling on Amazon you’re selling and Shopify you’re selling on all these other channels and now you’re expanding out but you’re again you’re partnering with the right people it sounds like it’s very exciting. So when you think about you know I want to close out soon and I want to close out with licensing because you know in our PRI in our pre conversations one of the things we talked about is if somebody has a great product and a great brand or a brand that they think can be a brand they really ought to consider licensing. It’s very intimidating having gone to a licensing show a you know it’s cool to see. But if you don’t have an in like we had an end. So we were very fortunate because Paul let us into his circle and it was Andy Lee run and I and we were able to get in and see how it worked behind the scenes are very very fortunate we didn’t have that running around like you did that first time. It’s very intimidating and it’s not easy and there are a lot of stumbling blocks. How willing are you to help people. I mean is that something you’ve thought about in the future about helping people understand licensing because nobody’s talking about it. Paul I mean nobody is because it really is that next level.
Paul: [01:07:21] Yeah well first of all let me say I had a great time hanging out with you guys the licensing show last week left for a show. Oh we had such a blast. And just hanging out with the sellers where we can find them. But it was giving up to that point you know it’s a completely different world. It’s things that you have to learn about the language. The language. You can walk into a booth and talk to somebody if you don’t understand the language of licensing they’re going to know you know a rookie and oh boy you know I don’t know if I want to spend the time and energy to get this guy up to speed. If you have you know say a mediocre product but you know I think the end of that show. You know Leon and Andy both said you know and you got to do a course on this. The people don’t know about this opportunity. And I said to them at that time yeah I need to focus on my business. Keep in mind and after meeting with you know after another year basically doing this and kind of solidifying things and you know are kind of a new arrangement with the distributor I’ve given it some thought and my goal is to develop a course. But I’m happy to help folks out in the meantime. So I think the best way to achieve that is basically create a small introductory set of videos and a little cheat sheet licensing and just kind of make that available to folks for free for me that is something that you would do.
Stephen: [01:09:11] Yeah. And I think that’s very fair because it’s very intimidating people are going to be like wait what does this mean. So again if you have a product or you’re developing a product and you can see you know for example like you said you have a children’s product and you want to get it to Nickelodeon. Well good luck trying to get an appointment with Nickelodeon and they’re not going to see you. You can walk up or you want to. They’re not going to see it take steps it takes processes. And again just that that intro packet that you had that professional packet was something that you know it’s kind of an absolute. I mean that had to be a big deal going into that place but that just happened that took you know you learning what to do. And those are things that you can help somebody start to figure out. So how did they get to this information if they’re interested in finding and again it’s free. Steve doesn’t benefit in any way. This is free information that Paul’s willing to share.
Paul: [01:10:04] Right. So I mentioned to you before you know that I’ve worked with several licensing consultants in the past I’ve teamed up with one of them to help on kind of some of the more technical aspects of licensing. I can certainly share my story and my experiences but you know having 10 or 15 years professional experience on hand between ham and you know attorneys and designers and stuff like that has made a huge difference. So kind of pulling together a team and we got a well its next level licensing dotcom and you put a slash on that and the word momentum. You’ll get an opportunity to go out there and sign up for our free 3 video series. We’re going to do three short videos about 10 minutes each. Just kind of going through overall theme and some of the requirements and kind of an overview of what you have to do.
Stephen: [01:11:12] Okay then this is a high level and if you want more details then that might be something you might choose to charge for and that’s very fair. Again I would say if you got a buy time from somewhere you want to buy time from somebody who’s done it. And so if that’s something. But this is no cost no obligation. There’s no nothing credible amount of success. Paul the overnight success 30 plus years in the making right. There are still people that are sitting there saying this is where I want to be. This is what I can see. You have done what I want to do but I’m stuck I can’t get past where I’m at. Give us something a tip a trick or something you think and others can put into their business to help them get past that point and move towards that place where you are.
Paul: [01:11:57] Well I’m going to risk repeating myself again put yourself in the path of opportunity. Put yourself out there whether it’s in a lot of time that means networking whether it’s Facebook or going to a conference I can trace back almost every success to something that was you know some kind of unexpected outcome where I put myself in a in a situation that I was not familiar with or I met somebody new. And it just you know creates ideas. So reach out to folks you know you also know this offer your services as somebody heard you said the other day and it’s amazing what can happen. What can come from that you may end up you know offering. You may have done a product be successful at it but you’re stuck on that product you offer to help somebody else. And all of sudden you have a new product idea or you become a consultant just like it’s you back to your three months working in that restaurant for free. Put yourself out there place yourself in the path of opportunity and be open to whatever comes at you love it.
Stephen: [01:13:17] Oh man I’m excited. I’m so excited. Can’t wait to see you in the next couple of months. Very excited for what you’re doing. I love watching from afar. And again I’d look for consistency and Paul is Mr. consistent. Thank you so much. I wish you nothing but success. Are you Steve.
Stephen: [01:13:32] Take care again. Very.
Stephen: [01:14:34] Thanks for listening to the e-commerce momentum podcast all the links mentioned today can be found at e-commerce momentum dotcom under days episode number. Please remember to subscribe and like us on iTunes.