$4.3 Million Dollar Seller Craig Soderdahl
Today Craig shares with us his amazing journey, how he’s been selling on Amazon since 2015. And how he’s going to sell over $4.3 million this year of his own brand of products. All coming up in the episode of the Amazon Seller Podcast.
——–FULL SHOW TRANSCRIPT——-
So if you’ve been watching and following, the interview series we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks and I hope you have, we’ve had some phenomenal interviews with Steve Simonson, Dr. Wesley pack. Uwe did Shannon Schewe on Tuesday. Today we are doing Craig and the whole reason for these interviews is I want to bring you 100 real sellers over the next 50 weeks. And so one of the things that’s kind of irritated me over the last couple of years, there’s a lot of noise in the Amazon space and a lot of folks are kind of coming in and making this seem a lot easier than it actually is.
And running the Amazon business is the same as any business. You have to have a sound fundamental business principles that will make your Amazon business grow. And today Craig is going to share with us his amazing journey, how he’s been selling on Amazon since 2015 and he’s going to sell over $4.3 million this year of his own brand of products. So, Craig, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us and I’m excited to add you to the list of 100 real sellers and I know you’re going to bring us some great information and a wealth of knowledge and experience today.
Hey, thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here. It’s been a fun time just being part of your community getting to know so many sellers out there and connecting live with them or just over the internet. But it’s been awesome to be here today, but part of your group over the last few years has been really helpful in my journey to grow and to learn and get answers. And you know, that to me is, is valuable, hugely valuable.
Awesome. So folks, if you’re listening to this on the podcast or if you’re watching it live or recording, this is what I want you to do. Put your cell phone away if you can. Put all the distractions away, get a notepad out because you’re about to go to school. And Craig’s going to share with you how he’s been able to build his business to 4.3 million and then his goals that to build it beyond that. And you’re going to get a lot of great information here. Craig, share with us a little bit how you got started on Amazon and how you heard it. I heard About it.
Sure. So I worked at a Christian camp since 2000 and had done that for almost 18 years. And prior to Amazon I sold on eBay. I sold a lot of men’s used clothing, shirts and pants and shoes. But that was a grind. It took a lot of work to create individual listings to take pictures of everything, to write it up and to ship it. And if it didn’t sell. And so I just had mountains of men’s clothing prep, gathering space. And you know, my wife,
I think I still have some like in my garage and warehouse…
Throw it away, get rid of it. It’s just, it takes a lot of work. And you know, I was, I was happy that I did it. It definitely helped pay some bills, but it wasn’t scalable. It was really hard to continue to grow that. And so I just kind of got to a point where it’s almost overwhelming. There were so many things that I had to list and I just didn’t have time. So I sold all my inventory, which was a great decision that kind of took a break that summer cause summer for me had really crazy and thought of, you know, I still love kind of the selling part of eBay but needed something a lot simpler and so kind of discovered Amazon through watching some videos on YouTube back in the day and just said, why do I need to test this out and just see how it works. And I remember the first product that I’ve found. Indiana schools or Indianapolis schools start earlier than the most, most of the country. We start sometimes August 1st or you know, kind of late July.
So all these school supplies went on sale really early in Indiana and everybody else was going back to school after labor day. So I bought book covers, those stretchable book covers for your textbooks for like 10 to 15 cents. And now it’s like hundreds a day for like 12 or 13 bucks. And it was just like, Holy cow, like this is super easy and super fun. I had probably like $300 worth of inventory and it sold out super quickly. While the bad side of that was like, Oh crap, you know, like I got this good income for this really short period of time. Now I have to figure out what the next thing is. And so,
So now were you just like scanning in the store or did like a light bulb go off? Like look, they’re going to discount these before the rest of the country even start school?
I was scared. I just started scanning in the store and I was kind of like looking at the clearance items and just like all these book covers, you know, we’re on sale super cheap, basically almost giving them away. And so I was like, man, I need to start selling these. I mean, at the end of the day, I could buy, I don’t know how many you get for $20, but at one store you buy $20 at 15 cents or 10 cent book covers and you got hundreds of them really quickly. And I hit all the, you know, the Walgreens and CVS’s enlisted on Amazon. And so that was just a great start to my Amazon journey. And you know, I don’t do that anymore. It’s, it takes a lot of work to do RA and OA and people that know how to do it well are killing it and that’s fun to watch. But for me, I knew it was, it was somewhat short-lived. I didn’t have the attention span nor the organization to be able to do that really well
Awesome. So you hit it and you’re like, wow, this sales channel is real. Now, what am I going to sell?
Yup. So I kinda got into private label. I, I got into some coaching fairly early on and I think that really helped me. So I’m invested. I just want to get my money back. So I paid the fee to get some coaching and actually Gaye Lisby was part of that group back in the day. She was one of my early coaches and she is a rockstar. She, she got to be so encouraged and fired up to sell on Amazon. And Gary Ray was one of the students with me in that group, that original group and he was killing it. He was way ahead of everybody, but he was laughing at us. But it was so much fun just to be a part of the community that helped you learn and grow and get confidence. And one of my coaches back in the day he was a private label seller and just talk to me about private label and what it looked like. And I said, man, that’s what I really want to do. That’s really where I need to focus my time and energy. Cause I still had my job full time, but I needed something that I could check out, so to speak, in the summertime and really focused during my busy season. And then when it wasn’t as busy, I could jump back into it and really private labels seemed like that opportunity.
I found a product going into Christmas 2015 that I was like, man, cause you can look at all the numbers, that was a beautiful thing. You could do all the research. I was like, man, this guy is selling so many of these at Christmas time and I could do something, just similar to this, I didn’t want to copy them but very similar. And so I ended up launching products on Amazon private label almost like April, May of 2016 a similar to that person that I found. And you know, that was the journey that got me started. It was just kind of an accident. I found this product and I still sell that same product today and it’s actually one of my better sellers that kind of ebbs and flows and seasonality. It doesn’t happen very often that you still have one of the products that you started with your bestseller or be one of your top five. But that’s been, you know, that’s been exciting to see that. And that’s just kind of like a replenish at that, at the end of the day. It’s like when you got a winning product people will try to compete obviously, and they do. There are lots of competitors out there, but you know, you get enough reviews out there, you’re gonna establish on rank and you can really do well.
That’s awesome. So since we’re talking about products and you know, you find in your first product, this is a question that a lot of folks that are listening or watching, you know, that is always asked you know, what, what are, what are your methods for finding potential products? And I know they’ve probably evolved since then. You know, I think most sellers I talked to who have been in the game for three or four years, they, they, you know, from when they first started looking for products. Now a lot of times they’re just kinda building out products right around their niche. But what are some of your preferred way for sourcing potential products?
Yeah, good question. I definitely look at Amazon. So I, I would agree that you know, when you have a brand or brand you kind of stay in your niche. And that’s really where I look. It’s been most of my time but really on Amazon is probably the main area that I look. But I also look for complimentary products to my brand. And so that’s where I kind of go off. Now I know it because I’m a little bit further into it. But viral launch, you know, in terms of their tools that they have, that’s another thing cause they pull up a lot of things that you would never consider now maybe in the same categories space. And I think that’s helpful if you have a specific candidate that you’re trying to go after. I also look at, you know, Pinterest or Etsy. You know, you can type in a lot of different search terms and see what comes up. And there’s just, they, I think especially Pinterest, you just see a lot of really cool ways to market or display products that catch your eye. And I think that’s really what I do is I just look and say, boy, this, this is really presented well. And I don’t know if it’s being sold on Amazon and I can go back and check that. And in some respects, I actually like that because there’s just less competition and I, I tend to go after products where there’s just really not a lot of competition. Now there might be one or two but I know, Hey, how can I improve on it? It’s not going to be a $1 million selling product. It’s not a supplement, you know, but, but I have less competition in the beginning and then over time it will grow. You know, like you’re going to get, you know, some of my best sellers have, you know, 50 to a hundred competitors. But when I started there was only one, you know, and I was number two and I could beat the number two guy. So I tend to go with that strategy is really find a low hanging fruit with low competition at the end of the day.
That’s awesome. So again, if you’re listening on the podcast or if you’re watching this live, you need to write down what he just said. That is a very good way to find potential products and defined products that you can differentiate. When you look at Pinterest, when you look at Etsy, you’re going to see things that you’re not going to see on Amazon that could potentially give you really good ideas. So Craig, I forgot to ask you pre-interview without giving the product away, I remember when you were at the retreat, you, you show me a potential product that met that criteria that you just talked about. There was only like one seller on Amazon and it looked like, you know, as long as there wasn’t a patent on it, that it was a go. Did you, did you move forward at all with that one?
I did. I have. I haven’t launched it. I’ll say that I, cause I, I feel like I have enough products in my brand right now to keep me plenty busy. So I actually met, and you do this as well. You meet with a lot of potential sellers looking for ideas. So I actually ran into a couple of local ladies here where I live and they were looking for, and very driven people never had sold on Amazon. And I gave them that idea and said, Hey, I’ll partner with you, but you guys need to do the heavy lifting of sourcing it, putting it together. Cause it does. There was a lot of design work to get ready to go and so they’re still moving forward a lot slower than I had anticipated, which is fine.
Let’s talk about that Craig because again, that’s an unrealistic expectation that a lot of people have when you have potential products in the pipeline, you know, ones that are unique ones that maybe there are only one or two sellers on Amazon yet there’s high sales velocity, look, sometimes those products in that pipeline can, it can be long, like we’re talking 18 months to 24 months, maybe even the 30 months long before you even get to the point where you can produce it. Right?
Correct. Yeah. And then that’s kind of where it kind of fell to the wayside a little bit. You know, I really haven’t managed kind of the creating of specs for it, you know, they, they’ve kinda been testing it a little bit in terms of just putting the design together and it just takes a long time to produce it, you know, and to get it right and we get it. So we’ve had actually had two different samples but still needed to be tweaked. It is somewhat of a seasonal product, so you know, it will sell right. Probably four to five months of the year, which is really still a solid. But it’s just taking longer. And part of it is, I’m very hands-off with it. So if they come back to me and they say, Hey, it’s ready to go, you know, probably launch it going into next season. And that’s fine, but you know, it’s still in the pipeline. It’s still rocking and rolling, but it’s just, it’s slow. And some things you take a lot of time, just like you said, it’s, this is not going to be a, it’s not an off the shelf product for sure.
Well, I, I love your strategy there and I’ve done that as well with other sellers. You know, when you partner up because you know, we all have only certain amount of bandwidth, but when you have a product that has potential, if you’re able to find someone who is passionate about it or was willing to take that project on, I’m willing to be patient as long as you know, they’re the ones kind of driving the process and I just have to check in every now and then, you know, I can be patient and cause a lot of times folks will come to me too and they have good product ideas, but they don’t either have the capital or they don’t have you know, whatever wherewithal to be able to kind of execute it. And so being able to partner like that I think is a great move.
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, I really have done very little work other than evaluating some of the samples. I’m really an expert. Once they get the product ready for how to do Amazon, that’s really where they need the help. But in terms of, you know, they have, they have a better eye for this product than I do, which is, which is fine with me. It’s just, you know, once it’s ready to go, I’ll know how to market it, how to build listings, do all being images and that’s really where they need help as well.
Awesome. So you, you have now, you, you, you know, your, your business has been scaling up. You have how many full-time employees now?
The two full-time employees? In addition to myself, we all live in Indiana. We, we have a warehouse here in Indiana. The two guys that work with me, we actually work together at the Christian camp that I was a part of. A SpringHill camp was the name of the camp that I worked at. And we just knew each other really well and we worked well together before. And so it’s guys that I trust deeply and we have a, we have time together. We work hard, we play hard. But it’s been a lot of fun just working with people that they also just complimented me super well. You know, I’m, I’m gifted in some areas and I am really terrible at other areas. And so I knew that you know, being a one-man show this thing was not going to grow. To a certain point I was going to tap out because my skillset, you know, it was a certain level. And so they’ve really come alongside, complimented me in so many good ways. And that’s allowed us to scale probably faster is hiring people who are different and better than you are in many different areas.
Awesome. So just talk about that thought process a little bit. A lot of Amazon sellers, folks that are listening to this on the podcast or maybe watching LIVE, they’re kind of one-man shows. What, what level, you know, as your revenue was growing, as their profit was growing you know, did you finally hit and were you like, Oh man, like I like I’m at a level now I need to hire someone.
Yeah. So in 2017, we ended the year, or I ended the year at around 600,000 in sales, but I had found a product kind of into Q4 that was, have one guy doing it and doing it very poorly. And I was like, man, if he’s doing this well, I’m going to be on it and it’s going to scale. And so we scaled from 600,000 in 2017 to 2.4 million in 2018.
Man, that’s great growth.
That was really along that one product line and that’s when I went full time because I knew that something was going to turn. Another competitor saw that same product so they launch, there’s three of us basically competing in that space for most of that year. And so I hired my first guy in my operations manager mid-summer I think in June of 2018 and then our production guy hired him at the end of 2018 and that’s been huge. I mean, we all have kind of our own lane in some respects, but we work together, we shoot a lot of my ideas at each other and it’s been super helpful just having guys that you know and trust to talk through and we still have our expertise as well.
Oh, that’s awesome. So yeah, you hire those guys and you have a, also talk to us a little bit about your warehouse, kind of the operations there. You know, some sellers that I talked to, actually, I interviewed Dr. Wesley Pak. Like he doesn’t want a warehouse, he just uses third party warehouses. You know, he basically wants to outsource everything. You know, you and I both have warehouses and so what was your thought process behind that?
You know, a warehouse is a blessing and a curse. I’ll say that because it forces you to use it in some respects. But there are some advantages to having a warehouse in terms of just inventory management. We actually do a lot of production in the house as well. So I think that helps us be able to kind of be, be flexible so we don’t have to, pre-ordered everything from China and ship it in, you know, we have to really then sell that product and we have to order larger quantities. So keeping the production in house, we can kind of replenish what’s selling faster and then we also can stop production on items that are not selling. So that’s been a competitive advantage for us. But the disadvantage is yes then you have to touch products and I think there’s a, I think there’s an advantage to not having to do that either. So I’m not necessary for us it really works, but I can see why, you know, being very hands-off is gonna allow you to grow quickly as well.
Awesome. Share with, share with us. How many units did you say you sold a product on Cyber Monday?
Well, all our units combined, we sold about 2200 units on Cyber Monday, which is crazy. So yeah, it was, it was much better than we had anticipated. Didn’t run any special deals, you know, didn’t drop pricing radically. We didn’t change our advertising, so that was just an amazing day. And, and we’ve still been pretty consistently selling about 1400 units since cyber Monday the last couple of days. So that’s been really good.
Awesome. So you’re, you’re at 4 million in sales. What are the, what are some of the things that you need to do, and I know you share with me before, you know, you have goals, growth goals, what are some of the things that you’re doing to, to even grow beyond that?
Yeah, so we put together a kind of, just as a beginning, five-year plan, and really the five-year plan, we don’t hold it too, you know, it’s not set in stone. It’s just really to exert our, our, our brains thinking and processing. Actually it wasn’t five years, a three-year plan. Just kind of like thinking beyond today because you really do need to have a plan that’s beyond today or within the next six months and we want to grow by 50% a year. We feel like that’s pretty realistic for our size. Now we could potentially go beyond that, but we could actually figure out the methods to do that. And so some of the strategies to do that is obviously we’re going to launch more products, which we’re already doing.
That’s probably the easiest thing for us to do is, you know, launch within our brand and really scale our brand is first. And then we’re going to go to more platforms. We only sell on amazon.com today. We just sent in our first inventory to Canada this Christmas season. We’re still waiting for final approval even though they have our inventory. So we’re hoping that it goes live today or tomorrow. Selling an Amazon UK and then looking at other platforms. Walmart we do have a Shopify store that sells next to nothing. So we are talking about before this of just really like that’s a great opportunity for us to really grow and create our own brand, have our own email list of customers. But it takes a lot of work. So you know that definitely the focus today is growing Amazon and, and filling that out. But in the future we want to grow, you know, off of Amazon. I think that’s a solid strategy as well.
Awesome. So yeah, we were talking pre-show, those of you again that are listening on the podcast or if you’re watching this live or at the recording, this is Craig Soderdahl is going to do $4 million in sales this year. And what we’re just sharing is that Amazon’s a great way to launch your product, right? But as you mature, I believe as a seller you, you do realize like you want to be able to capture the customer information and the way Amazon is going, they’re going the exact opposite direction where they used to give us a lot more customer information. Now they are like trying to shield that basically as much as possible. And so you, you want to be able to have an email list, right, of your potential customers, you want to build, you know, that base that, that brand loyalty and it’s just a lot harder to do on Amazon. And so it sounds like what you’re sharing, it’s similar to what I’m facing right now with a brand I’m building with, with my partner Nathan. We want to continue to get those sales on Amazon, but you want to, you want to get as many styles as you possibly can off Amazon and it’s, and it’s not easy. There are some people that have cracked the code though, right? Like you were just sharing with me a, what was the story you’re sharing with me about the friend that you have?
Yeah. As a friend that I had with the other events and she sells everything. She doesn’t sell anything on Amazon but she does everything through Shopify and she is projected to do $10 million next year. And you know, she’s been doing it I think for five or six years and really has expanded growing. But she has a customer email list of 100,000 names and so she actually spends zero dollars in advertising now. And think about that, I mean that’s a huge part of our budgets every single month. It was really that put our products in front of the customer’s eyes. She has that customer base that now she’s basically profiting off of and she can test sales so much better. She can actually test sales before she produces in a lot of aspects just to see if there’s customer demand there. So that’s a huge different change from the model that we all know of. Amazon. Amazon’s great. It’s fast. There’s a lot of simplicity to the model of Amazon, so I’m not discounting and I know neither are you, but I think as you grow and mature, it just has to be on your radar that you really do want to own the customer information, have brand loyalty. And I think at the end of the day, if you’re trying to sell your business, you know, however many years from now, I think they’re going to value having a customer list as well. That’s actually going to add value to your business.
Yeah, I agree with that 100%. And you know, at the end of the day, like we love Amazon, but Amazon doesn’t love you, you know? And so you always kind of have to, you know you gotta play the game, right? It’s like playing chess. You use Amazon. But if you’re building a brand and you’re trying to build brand loyalty, right? You have to figure out just like your friend is doing, how to capture that customer information. So share with us a little bit about where you spend most of your time now. You know, you started in 2015, you know, now you’re, we’re coming into 2020 your growth has been phenomenal. 4 million in sales. You want to, you know, double that. You got great growth goals. Where are you spending your time?
Two main areas mainly, which is I want to offload one pretty quickly and we’re, we’re trying to get there, but probably the majority of my time today is still with PPC and advertising. So I spend a lot of time there. I would say I’m not still very good at it. I’m okay at it. It, the game changes with PPC all the time. So I think that’s, that’s the complexity of it as well. I mean, there are definitely some things that are constant and then they keep adding more and more things to advertise to and from. So that’s where I spend the majority of my time the area that I really should be spending my time, which is really kind of where my strength is, is really launching new products, finding new products, creating new products. So I feel like that’s my strength, my gift, my opportunity that will really grow this business the most versus managing PPC. So I’d probably say, I’d say I say 60 to 70% is PPC, and then about 30 to 40% is new product development. But if I can be 75% of product development I think we can grow a lot faster.
Yeah. It’s, it’s interesting as I’ve talked to a number of people that are, you know, at similar levels to what you’re at similar levels to what I’m at. That seems to be the theme of, you know, the folks kind of the top is like product development. You know, they want to kind of offload as many administrative tasks as possible and really focus on developing those new products, which kind of makes sense. Right. Again, going back to at the very beginning of our interview, that’s the first question that new sellers always asked me is what product can I sell? You know, cause at the end of the day it takes you gotta have kind of a, a good understanding of picking right, a potential product.
Yeah, it’s interesting. Like in 20, I think it was 2018 may have been 2017. It was Christmas time and we were on a family vacation and it was like that Christmas break. And I had time to think and for me as like I had this aha moment. I was like, you know, if I have more products I’m going to sell more. You know, it was like, it was like duh. So I was like, if I double my number of products, I will sell twice as much. I mean it truly comes down to the math of it. Like if you have more product opportunities now, you don’t want to have a bad product, you obviously have to pick good products.
But it wasn’t like I was tapped out in terms of the number of products that we can launch. So the army was like, let’s be aggressive on launching more products because the sales are there, the sales are justified. The amazon.com and other platform community are growing every year. They’re spending more dollars per family and the number of people using it is growing. So it’s becoming larger and larger. Yes, there’s more competition, which means you have to have a superior product or a better or different product, which is going to make a huge dent in getting sales. But at the end of the day, the total pool of people is growing. You know, they’re spending a lot more online and so you want to get your share of that. So kind of taking a wedge out of more pieces of the pie, having a bigger slice by having more products is a way to do that.
Awesome. So if you’re just joining us, if you’re listening on the podcast, if you’re watching us live or the recording, this is Craig Soderdahl. He is going to do 4.3 million in sales this year and he is part of the 100 real sellers that we’re interviewing over the next 50 weeks. And so let’s talk a little bit about the realness of being an Amazon seller because unfortunately, I see too many video clips and too many screenshots of revenue that make it seem way oo is easy, but you and I know that there are like any business, there are potholes and there are pitfalls, right, that we all fall into a times. So share with us one of the real challenges that you experienced over the last four years as you’re growing your business.
So I was mentioning, you know, before our interview, but just, you know, kind of my philosophy is I will make at least one noticeable, I don’t, I hate to say big, but sometimes they are a big mistake every year. I just don’t know what the heck it’s going to be. And so pretty much every year. True to form. I have, you know, failed in some large way. Last year was a pretty big doozy for us. We had a product that we were fairly new supplier for us that was going into Q4 and we had our products inspected, kind of more of a visual inspection and not a performance inspection or a testing inspection. And that product came in the US and we were selling a ton of units. And also we started getting negative feedback real quick. He goes like, Oh crap, what’s going on? But it was just basically like it wasn’t performing like it was breaking in a lot of aspects. And so customers were a tick and it was like, it was a product that we wanted to continue selling.
So it was like, Oh, we don’t want to. So we basically had to, at the end of the day, we had to throw away over a hundred thousand dollars worth of inventory just because we really haven’t tested it the right way. And so that’s a huge mistake. I mean that truly is $100,000 in cash. It was like “See Yah!”. So you know, like those are painful and that’s not that long ago. So, you know, the thing that I, I mentioned to you is that mistakes happen and even if you’re farther in the game, mistakes happen and it can paralyze you and get you out of the game. For me it’s like, okay, I know, I expect it’s going to happen. I don’t like when it happens, I learned from it and it’s not going to happen again. But that, that’s like, it’s part of doing business and everybody messes up from sometimes big companies mess up.
I think of Peloton and their commercial with the girl again, like they’re a massive brand and you know, like they’re getting hammered right now and they didn’t predict that. And they have thousands of employees, you know, and they’re cutting edge brand, you know, so like, have a little bit of grace and forgiveness on yourself when you make a mistake and just know to expect mistakes in some are going to cost you a lot of times. Something that’s going to cost you money. But it’s a learning opportunity and it should, you know, make you stronger at the end of the day.
Awesome. So you just heard it right here folks. That’s $100,000 of realness when it comes to selling on Amazon. So imagine going into your bank account, taking out 100,000 and flushing it down the toilet. And we’ve all been there when you are working with manufacturers, really anywhere, but especially in China, there are going to be mistakes like that that happened as you grow. And that’s just part of doing business. I compare it to, you know, if you’re a football player, right? And you’re on the field, you know, you’re gonna make some great tackles, you’re going to score some, you know, potentially score some really good touchdowns. But there also may be times where you hit somebody, right?
And you might get injured, you know, and you pray that it’s not like a life-threatening injury. But you know that what’s one that’s going to heal. And when you’re playing the game of growing an Amazon business, there are going to be times, right, where you’re going for a product, you think it’s going to be, you know, a slam dunk and it ends up, you know, you’re gonna, you’re gonna end up losing money on it. So I think that’s great advice and that’s the kind of advice that I want to really get out there with people. Not only that year is going to happen, but then that you can recover. Right. So that had to be a hard hit. But I love your philosophy.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that was my Lamborghini opportunity. I would never buy a Lamborghini, but that was basically the equivalent of throwing that kind of money away. Yeah. I know. I’m not a guru at all. You know, like those things suck. But at the end of the day, you know, it’s like, it’s, you know, get back on the horse and keep riding it and you know, keep staying in the game at the end of the day and don’t make it happen and get down. Don’t make that mistake again.
Awesome. So I just want to finish up the interview here again. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule. Well, what are some words of advice or words of wisdom that you would offer to, to sellers maybe who are just starting out? You know, what a great store you have of, you know, within five years, you know, your scale and your business in a tremendous way.
Yeah. So I got four quick, just, they’re kind of similar, but get started. I think I see too many sellers. I work with too many sellers. You worked with too many sellers who are just starting out, who kind of get that deer in the headlights. I’m going to make a mistake. Yes, you will. You know, but you have to take action. At the end of the day. I think people overthink things or they get paralyzed by all the things that they have to do. Just get started. You’re going to suck it at them in the beginning. You’re going to get better. You know, it’s kind of like working out in the beginning when you’re out of shape, everything’s terrible, but build those muscles get fit and it becomes a lot easier. So getting started is probably the biggest thing is don’t wait just because you don’t have all the information. Number two is to get connected. So be part of communities, just like the one that we’re talking in today is a huge value to have people who are similar to you that you can share ideas with, get feedback and advice. It’s kind of a loner game in some respects. So a lot of us work alone. So having a sense of community, of people that are going through what you’re going through is a huge valuable part of this. Don’t do this alone. You have people that are willing to help you. Like Andy, myself, and many, many others. So get connected. Be part of groups, be, you know, add value to those groups. Ask questions in those groups, but, but don’t do this by yourself. Don’t get alone. Get with people.
The third one is to get educated. So keep learning. Keep constantly learning. That’s something that I love to do is listening to audiobooks, reading books, reading articles, watching the profit on TV. Just cause I can pick up more ideas of how to help my business and it keeps me sharp. So don’t stop learning. This is not a one and done. It’s not easy, just like Andy talked about. So you constantly have to keep learning. Don’t go to information overload, which is like, I get so much information, I don’t know where to begin, but you have to constantly keep learning as well. And the last one is getting help. So get started, get connected, get educated, get help, get help is really kind of offloading things that you’re not good at or asking others for help in areas. So that could be a VA, that could be someone of the service company, like an accounting firm that helps you with your books. It can be, you know, the image service that you guys do, Andy, or getting refunds, like don’t do that stuff yourself if you’re not good at it, outsource it. You’re going to save so much time and headache. And someone’s going to do it way better than you did anyway. So get help to go faster is probably the fourth thing that I would say. So get started, get connected, get educated and get help are the main things I would give advice to new sellers.
Wow, that’s awesome. Those four points would preach. All right, Craig, we might have to have you on just to do an interview just on those four points right there. I would put, I’m a for fo, I hope that you guys that are watching or if you’re listening on a podcast, get, get your pen and paper out. So here’s the last question for you Craig. Cause I know you’ve shared a number of great titles with me that I’ve read in a personally helped me. What are some books that you recommend to folks that are listening or watching too, for them to, you know, look, look at and read?
Yeah. So my former boss at the Christian camp, he always said, pick an author that you really like and don’t go from author hopping, so to speak, but really stick. If they have a bunch of books that you respect one of their books, you really go deeper with some of their material. And I like that because they kind of have the same voice and you’re aligning with kind of their philosophy.
So I have two, two authors that I really like and have enjoyed lately. One is Eliyahu Goldratt and he’s has a bunch of books. He’s passed away I think in 2011 but one of his books is, he wrote a lot of books a while ago. One is called “The Goal” and it’s about manufacturing. It’s about process improvement and bottlenecks. The theory of constraints, it sounds really complicated, but it’s actually a fictional book. It’s really fun to listen to. It’s a story. But you’re going to learn a ton. The other one is by the same author is called “Isn’t it obvious?”. And it’s about retail. So it’s about retail, inventory management. And guess what? Hey, that’s what we do for a living.
So really figuring out how that would help your business in terms of getting the right inventory at the right time and inventory turns and return on investment. Those are the things I was like, Oh man, I just listened this look like in the last month. And I’m learning things through that. So I highly recommend, “isn’t it obvious?” If you’re getting started on audible or you can get the book. The other will author is Mike Michalowicz. I’m probably mispronouncing it, but he is the profit first author which our business runs profit first systems. Now it’s kinda like the envelope system for businesses like the Dave Ramsey system, but it’s really for businesses or really knowing where your cash goes and keeping kind of tight reigns on spending in certain buckets.
And I think that’s helped our business tremendously to be profitable and to really see where the cash goes. And the other book by him is called “Clockwork”. And it’s really about building processes and systems that help your business grow faster so that you don’t have to be in every single decision day today. So those are the two authors, four books that I recommend. The other one is if you have access to Hulu, I watch the show, “The Profit Marcus Lemonis”, he is a smart guy, he knows how to simplify things.
I love Andy, how you gave the intro to this video. You know, like you have average intelligence like those authors really make it sound simple in some respects. And that’s what you need in your business is not super complex, complicated theories but business advice that you can follow. And Marcus Lemonis and the Prophet, I learned so much and I kind of with so many different ideas when I watch these shows and it’s easy to watch TV. So I’m learning and being entertained at the same time.
Oh, that’s phenomenal. So again, those of you that, listen, I hope you wrote the titles of those books down. If you didn’t rewind, check those out. I have heard those recommended by a number of folks. I love the fact Craig and I know we’re like in a private chat and you’re always bringing up ideas of new things that you’re reading, new things that you’re learning, interviewed that I did with Dr. Wesley Pak a few weeks ago. One of the things he does every single day he goes to the library and he reads, you know because he says it stimulates his mind. It helps him with creativity and you know, for him it’s like learning and educating. He’s at the top of his business is going to help his business grow. And I know what you’ve shared with me and then those titles that you just shared, I imagine that you’re reading every single day too.
Yeah. You, you, you need to give your brain a chance to reflect. And I, my warehouse is an hour’s drive away from me. So there’s a lot of times where I need, they’re listening to audiobooks or I just have no sound just to get my brain going. And there are so many things you can think of. So think about, you know, rather than listen to FM radio or a sports channel, like turn it off or, or listen to something that’s going to really stimulate your brain and get you thinking about how to improve your business. And I think that quietness or that direction of education, I think will help your business grow just by having that time to where you can process something.
Awesome. Well, thank you again so much. I hope those of you that are listening have enjoyed this interview. If you’re watching, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. This is Craig Soderdahll. He will do $4 million in sales this year and I have no doubt that he is going to crush the goals that he has over the next three years. So Craig, thanks for coming on and I would love to have you back and maybe a year from now to see how much your business has grown. Thanks for being one of our 100 real sellers that we’re interviewing here.
Yeah, my pleasure. It’s been a lot of fun. And I appreciate all you do in the community that you’re a part of. It’s a huge asset for sellers like me, so take advantage of it and learn in this community. And I just appreciate what you’re doing with these videos. I’m looking forward to listening to many more interviews that you have.