Mike Corbishley Talks Leaving Corporate Job to Sell on Amazon Full-Time

Mike Corbishley met Andy in 2014 through a shared mentor, Chris Green, author of Retail Arbitrage.  He started selling on Amazon through retail and online arbitrage, and eventually learned the art of Private Label.  Mike was able to leave his corporate job in 2017, AND  his wife was able to quit her job, too! In 2019 they reached the 7-figure seller status selling $1.3 million in private label products.  Find out more about his business model in this episode of the Amazon Seller Podcast!
Mike Corbishley

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Andy: (00:06) This is Andy Slamans from Amazing Freedom. We have Mike Corbishley with us today. We are doing another interview in the 100 real seller interview series that we started putting out in December. I hope you are enjoying these interviews. I know I am. One of the ways that I learned Amazon early on when I first got started is actually interviewing other veteran sellers who had kind of paved the way from me. And so for me, this is like going back to when I first started every single interview that I have, I learned something and I go back and I implemented in my business.
I think this interview is going to be no different just from the small talk that Mike and I have been having prior to the interview starting. I think you’re gonna really enjoy this. So let me tell you a little bit about Mike. He’s been selling on Amazon since 2014 he left his corporate job to pursue being a full-time seller in 2017 like many sellers, myself included, Mike began his Amazon FBA journey learning the marketplace through retail and online arbitrage and a little known fact might get into this interview. He actually lives in the same town of one of my huge mentors, so we’ll probably talk about that a little later. So he started doing retail online arbitrage before going all in and private labeling. Mike’s wife joined them to work full time on their Amazon business in 2017 and today they’re passionate about growing their brand, which is in a very popular category on Amazon. In 2019 their brand produced one point $3 million in sales on Amazon. Mike, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m really looking forward to talking with you over the next half hour. Mike: (02:10) At first I want to tell you, this is like a thrill for me to be on here and now with you, what’s so interesting is I think you and I have probably talked, you could count on one hand the amount of times you know in person and just in general but I’ve been following you for so long and you know we met at that first conference in Rhode Island. I think that was probably what, 2014 maybe and so like just kind of been in this journey with you even if you haven’t been connected with me every step of the way. I’ve been like really following you know your progress and learning a lot from you and the people that you bring into the community and sell like this is, this is awesome for me to be here. I’ve been telling everybody about, I told my wife, I was like, you are not going to believe what I am doing today. Get to hang out with Andy and talk about Amazon. So this is cool for me to be here. Thanks for having me. Andy: (02:52) Awesome. So, Mike, let’s just go a little bit into your history. Like how did you first start selling on Amazon? Where’d you hear about us from? Mike: (02:58) So, you know, so it’s so funny and It’s, I think when you take a step back and you just start to look at, you know, the way things fall into place, particularly when you put in the work and you’re just like open to receiving it, you know, whether you talk about the grace of God or whatever, I know you’re very rooted in religion. But you know, for me it’s like when you’re open to just sort of the opportunity that’s out there, it’s amazing what shows up. And so for me, I’ve always been kind of into personal development and I was following this guy by the name of Bob Proctor. He was sort of a student of Earl Nightingale. So Earl Nightingale worked very closely with Napoleon Hill thinking grow rich, if you, you know, if you’re familiar with that. And so I just, you know, I was on his email list and I get this email from him and he’s like, you know, if you want to learn how to earn extra money, like come check out this talk, I’m like, yeah, sure, why not? So I log into no idea what it was about. Just really it was following, it was really into him at the time and just following what he said and you know, sure enough, he’s on a webinar with (Inaudible), right. The internet marketer and they are promoting this Amazon course. And I’m sitting there and I’m like, wow, this is so, so interesting. I don’t know anything about it. And I stayed on for the whole time and the course was like $5,000. And I was like, you know, I’m not ready to like take that leap because you know, kind of going from zero to 60 just didn’t feel quite right, but my interest would definitely peaked. And so that’s sort of when I started the process of learning. Like, okay, so hearing all these success, success stories about people that are selling on Amazon, let me like look into it a little bit. And that’s when I found Chris Green’s arbitrage book. And it’s, you know, again, it’s so funny because I found it and I was kinda like, I’m always on the fence like before a very indecisive person. Right. And you know, my wife, we’re supposed to go out with some friends and for some reason like I just felt this calling. It was like, why don’t you just like stay back, do some research, read the book. So it was a Friday night and I was like, you know what, I’m just going to stay home. I was like, I just feel like I just want to look into this. Something about it was really exciting me and like I just started reading it and like that was it. Like I couldn’t put it down. It just totally resonated with me. And I kind of saw that there was a way for me to test it out without spending $5,000 right out of the gate on a course. And so just kind of started reading everything that Chris was doing and some other experts in the space. And that just sort of really kind of launched me into, into the journey. Andy: (05:18) Wow. So that was, you know, very similar. I had a friend that was selling, she kept talking to me. She finally gave me his book. I went to a on vacation with my wife to Venice beach. It was just me and her and that whole vacation, I read the entire book and I was the same way. I had known about it for about 16 months and just a little research here and there. But then after I got that book, I was hooked. So you read Chris’s book. Now what’s interesting, and I alluded this earlier in the interview now Mike actually lives in the same town as Chris Green. Chris Green was a huge influence on my life. And so, you know, talk about that a little bit. How did that happen? Mike: (05:56) Yeah. You know, again, it’s just like so Funny because it’s, it’s the things that have shown up in this journey for me are impossible to describe as coincidence. Maybe they are. But I just feel like so blessed that the sequence of events have showed up with the way that they have. And so I found Chris’s book and didn’t know anything about him, didn’t know that he lived in Massachusetts or anything like that. And all of a sudden like I get this email from like a meetup and it was like Chris green coming to speak about Amazon FBA. And I’m like, what? Like how is this possible? Right. And so it was in New Hampshire. I was like, absolutely. Like I have to go. And at the time, you know, part of the reason I had gotten into Amazon is my wife and I were looking to buy a house and we’re kind of doing little side hustle to try to earn some money to do that. And so, you know, I drive up to New Hampshire and you know, at this time we were like, we found the house, we put an offer in and we’re going to be moving in. And so Chris starts talking and he’s like, yeah, I live in Rehobeth. And I’m like, Oh my God. Like, you know, we’re moving to Attleboro, which the line goes through. So he’s less than a mile from me. So I go up to him after and I kinda tell him, you know that I’m going to be moving into his neighborhood. And I said, I promise you, like, I’m not stalking you. Cause at the time, like, you know, you know, Chris was just such an icon in this industry. He still is. And so you know, just, it was just so, it was just such a crazy coincidence that here I am learning from this guy, totally randomly found him and now he’s going to be moving in and living like a mile down the road from him. And you know, Chris, like he’s just so gracious and open with his time and expertise. But even more like, he was so excited to like have somebody close to him because his community is so digital and people are so spread out. He was really excited to kind of have somebody literally in his backyard who we could kinda talk, talk, shop with. Andy: (07:38) That’s awesome. So you’ve probably heard my story. I messaged him about 30 times, tried to get him, invite him to our home and Hershey and he finally like responded like on 29. So this was in 2014, 2015 where he was literally probably getting hundreds of messages a day from different people. His book was that popular. So he finally came and and man, we just had a great time his whole family, two or three days that he’s there. So you live a mile down from Chris is a, a wonderful family and they’re, they’re awesome llamas. Mike: (08:11) Yeah. Yeah. We know, we know the llamas. My wife like when she drives to her gym, she drives by them every day. So there’s junior and skater boy. And she’ll always send me a text message like, yeah, you know, junior skater boy, you’re out doing their thing this morning. So yeah, which is also funny because she, my wife loves the llamas. And so before I didn’t even know Chris had llamas. And so again, she would like text me and be like, Oh, I drove by the Lamas today. And then I started talking to Chris and Chris was like, yeah, we have a couple of llamas. And I’m thinking to myself, what are the chances that there’s more than one set of llamas like Don Rowe hope it’s pretty small, turned out to be there long. And so, yeah, we’ve gone, we’ve met them. And just again, another funny coincidence. Andy: (08:51) That’s funny. All right. So, Hey, let’s dig right into the nuts and bolts of Amazon business. So the reason why we started this interview series is we really want to get the truth out there that Amazon’s an amazing opportunity. Mike and I were just talking before the interview that literally in the history of mankind, there’s not been a transfer of wealth that has happened like it has from the retail industry to online buying that we’ve seen over the last 15 or 20 years, it’s literally been trillions of dollars that consumers used to walk into stores and make their purchases. Well, those trillions of dollars over the last 15 to 20 years have now come to online sells. So we’re super excited. We think Amazon is a great opportunity. But with that said, there are definitely challenges and there’s definitely potholes that you and I both know is we run physical product businesses all along the way. And so what I would love to do is to kind of get into those challenges. Obviously you and I, this is how we make our income. We love the business, but there are things that I think a lot of people miss along the way, or they don’t calculate necessarily when they’re building their business or when they’re beginning their business. So let’s talk about some of those things, Mike. So tell us a little bit about your journey from retail online arbitrage and then how you segwayed into private label and building your brand now. Mike: (10:23) Yeah, absolutely. So the first thing is it’s like my wife actually gets all the credit for this business, believe it or not, because I’m a typical guy, like super impatient. And so I started reading, you know, Christmas books and I’m like, all right, I’m going to go, I’m going to start scanning. Right. So I remember I went to big lots. I was there for like three hours scanned and did not find a single thing. So kind of came back a little discouraged, was talking to my wife about it. She was trying to be supportive yet she didn’t know anything about it. And then like, she randomly got this flyer from, we have these local places called Christmas tree shop. It’s kind of just like a bargain store. And she was like, she they don’t even put like the brand names on some of their stuff, but it was like famous maker. So she’s like, Oh, she loves Christmas tree shop. She’s like, why don’t we go and check it out? So she goes in there and she scanned something and it was like, I don’t know, it was probably a 65K rank in home and kitchen and like, you know, buy it for 20, sell it for 70. And I was like, Oh my God. Like you found it. Like it’s real, like it actually, it does exist. But you know, she had she her patience and like grace and just like, you know, I’m just so like I want it to happen. I want it to happen, which is definitely something we’ll talk about. She just was able to kind of go in there and just like very calmly and coolly be like, Oh yeah, like this, this looks like it might be good. And you know, then the, I remember the first thing we sold was a two pack of pumpkin jello that we bought from Walmart. I thought we bought it for two and sold it for 12. And so I’m like, I’ll never forget, like that’s the first thing that we sold. And I’m just thinking to myself, like that was sort of the first evidence that there was really something to this for me because I think when you first kinda hear the idea, particularly like online and retail arbitrage where you’re thinking, you know, how is it possible I could go to a store, buy something retail, and then sell it and make money if the common sense tells you that that should be very difficult to do. And while it is true that I would say obviously the vast majority of products that isn’t that isn’t the case because there’s so much out there you don’t need, you just need a very small percentage of have to hit, you know, hit on those. And so that kind of really got us started, right? So we, we just started doing the scanning and OA. And that is why we’ve been successful, right? Like this is my journey. I’m not trying to lay a blueprint for everybody, but what I went arbitrage and retail arbitrage really allowed me to do was understand the marketplace, understand sales rank, understand the velocity, understand what people were looking for. And the other great thing about it was there really isn’t a ton of risk per se, because you know, you could buy five items and usually the worst thing that would happen is, you know, might fall a break even. Right? So at the time, like I remember, you know, I’d go into a store, I’d spend a few hundred bucks and like my heart was just like, you know, pounding, cause I’m like, what if this doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t sell? And then eventually everything sold, no matter what, even if there are think rank was 500,000, like eventually it would, it would sell. And so I really just started to learn, you know, the sales velocity, sales rank, price history, and it just gave me such a great foundation for understanding the marketplace. And so then I kinda took a step back. And at the time I had a very demanding full time corporate job. I was a director of business development for a healthcare consulting company. I was traveling all over the world six figure job. And I was just kinda like, I can’t scale this. Like realistically, you know, I can’t go to stores and be scanning. And so that’s what I started to kind of put my toe in the water with wholesale and private label. And there was this course you might’ve heard of Asian to Amazon that was sort of launching and that was it. So I want, I tried that out. And so that was sort of my, you know, my, my entree into private label. And you know, again, like I was always somebody who tried to mitigate risks even on private label. So you know, it was just like, I would try to find the perfect product. I would just spend so much time, like agonizing, like, and I had all of these data points that like, it had to check and my criteria was so rigid that realistically, like I was never going to find anything right, because I’m sure it existed, but the amount of time it would take me to comb Amazon and like find those products just wasn’t gonna happen. And so really what I did was I placed an order, it was like a stainless steel tumbler. I don’t know if you remember this, but you supported me. You actually bought one of those things from me. Yeah. And and you know, it didn’t work out great, but they all sold, you know, I probably, I probably lost money at the end of the day, but the experience was just so, so valuable. And once I, once I understood though it was technically like a loss I thought to myself, okay, I got it. I kind of see how this works, I see the opportunity. And at that point like I was really sold on private label. You know, during the fourth quarter we might do a little RA and OA to kind of boost things up because it’s just such a huge opportunity. But in general like I just love the private label model because, you know, I, I would, I remember just like pushing those carts through the stores and I would just feel so self conscious about like having, you know, we had like 20 of those star Wars figures. I don’t know if you remember those things, right. And people would be looking at you and, and even like even putting that aside, like I just from my business sense also told me, it’s like if you really want to like grow this into a sustainable business, you kind of have to have access to inventory that you can depend on. And while there’s always stuff to find doing RA and OA, I just kind of felt like you know, finding something that I could just constantly reorder. W w was really going to be the key to growing this to the level that I want to grow it to. Andy: (15:50) Awesome. So if you’re just joining us, I see some folks just hopping on right now, this is Mike Corbishley, he is a million dollar Amazon seller, just shared, started out selling on Amazon with retail online arbitrage, exact same way I did and many sellers on Amazon and you just shared something I think is super relevant and I want to talk about that for a second. And that is that when you private label and when you begin to build your brand you will have products that you think are going to hit and they just don’t. And so one of my favorite couples, they had a brands called Willow and Everett. They, they have now since sold that brand. Phenomenal sellers, very smart. And, and even after selling for three or four years and having a very successful multimillion dollar brand, you know, they shared with me that out of every five products they launched, they usually only reordered two out of those five. And so, you know, we have a lot of data points. We have a lot of software and, and at the end of the day, you have to take swings. But like you just said, Mike, I think what’s great is for the most part if you, if your margins are right, you can usually drop your price and either break even or maybe lose a couple of dollars on those products. And every single product, every single production run is a learning experience that’s gonna build your foundation for growing forward. Would you, would you agree with that? Mike: (17:20) 100%, like a hundred, a hundred percent. You know, I think depending on, I think everybody has different goals when they step into this business. For some people it’s a side hustle. For some people it’s a side hustle with a dream of like building into, into, into something more. And I just think in general, what are the things that you have to get comfortable with is taking those swings. And if it doesn’t go right, not beating yourself up, not, you know, not saying this doesn’t work, but really taking a step back and looking at and understanding what there is to learn from that scenario. Because if you’ve done your homework and you’ve, I believe that if you’ve really put in the time and you’ve selected that product you probably weren’t too far off. There may be a couple of things that either shifted in the market that were outside of your control or maybe you just missed about the market in general. But I think if you, if you can choose to say, okay, I’m going to learn from this that, that kinda gets you, get you on the path. I was somebody who, I tried to be a perfectionist. My thought was, you know, I just, I wanna I want to pick it, I want it to be right. It has to be right. And so I kind of just fell into that, you know, analysis paralysis kind of thing. And so you know, with those, even with those tumblers, like for sure they didn’t work out the way maybe I envisioned, I only ordered them one time, but like that started the whole journey because I just saw how the whole thing worked and I just kinda had to go through it. And it was well worth the investment in the stress because it put me on the journey to where I’m at now. Andy: (18:46) That’s awesome. So, so now you’re at the point where you have a brand and, and, and you, you’re doing over a million dollars a year on the brand. And, and this is where I see a lot of people struggle, myself included, and and we’re actually trying to create systems now to be able to scale beyond that. And so we’re having some real challenges with capital allocation, with inventory management, projecting inventory, timing, you know, those shipments. Well, you know, how are those areas in the business going for you? What are you learning? Kind of a in that part? Mike: (19:18) Yeah. I mean, cashflow is King. Like it just, it’s just so, so important. And you know, one of the things that I did, which one of the best investments I’ve made for my business is we hired a CPA slash CFO who kind of, you know, really looks at every dollar that goes in and out of the business. And it wasn’t over overly expensive for the services he provides. But it really gives me visibility because, you know, before it was just kind of, I’d be like, Oh, I’d use inventory lab, which has great, great data, don’t get me wrong. But there were so many other polls on my business that I didn’t realize the inventory lab may not have caught or I probably didn’t input to be totally candid with you. And so just to kind of have like a professional, just really looking at, you know, how much money are you spending on inventory? What are your sales? You know, because I would, I would look in like one month we’d be spending, you know, $40,000 on inventory and then 15,000. So it was just like these crazy ebbs and flows. And so he was kinda like, dude, like, and we were, you know, we were feeling a little bit of a cashflow crunch and you just pointed those things and he’s like, you got to find a little bit more balanced. Like there’s gotta be rhyme or reason. And as you were saying, when you’re trying to time the logistics of it you know, I would always be like, I don’t want to run out. Like I don’t want to run out of stock. And so I would overbuy and so then all of a sudden, yes there’s these products would eventually sell, but I outlaid so many months forward of cashflow that I, that I needed in reserve that, you know, then things started to get tight and I kind of had to like peel things back. And so it just was not, I didn’t, there wasn’t any rhyme or reason, reason there wasn’t a strategy or a method behind it. And so what I’ve really worked with him on is just sort of really understanding like how many units are going to sell. Like so really having a dedicated forecast understand on a monthly basis how much or how much is going to sell. And then you know, you do the best that you can in terms of trying to figure out the timing of when things are going to come in and when they’re not. But one of the big lessons I’ve learned is it’s like, look, if you’re going to be out of stock for a week or two, yes, it’s not ideal but it’s not the end of the world and it’s bad. I would rather be out of stock for a week or two then have, you know, eight months of inventory sitting in my garage cause that money is just tied up and it can’t be doing other things. So that’s been a really, really challenging process for us. You know, especially when I had my full time job and I had six figure paycheck, we just had, you know, we had that cushion, right? So we were using that to pay the bills. It was a lot easier. And so then when Amazon became sort of our main source of income, that kind of changed things a little bit and we had to really look at it from a different perspective. And so we’ve learned a lot of lessons when I’ve heard this so many times, like knowing your numbers is just so, so important. Whether it’s the money you’re spending on inventory. Cause I think there’s a tendency to focus on sales and yes, sales and top line, super, super important. But w you know, how much you spending on advertising, you know, how much you spending on inventory, software, all that stuff is, for me, just getting visibility into that has been a really, really powerful step forward for us as business owners. Andy: (22:18) Yeah, I mean I would say like as soon as a seller hits probably 300,000 they need to look at getting a professional that can help. Definitely at the $500,000 level you can still kind of do it by yourself. But really what you just said is I think the biggest challenge and that’s understanding, you know, the, the cashflow management part of the business and obviously knowing, you know, are you losing money on this product that you make them money on this product. I think a big challenge I know that we face in our business is the supply chain and how long it takes. And so, you know, for our products from, you know, the, the moment that we placed the order and this is a product that we’re already ordering, it usually takes about three months, you know, cause it takes 30 to 40 days for production and then another 45 days then to ship to our warehouse. And so what are you coming up with any strategy? I know you shared a little bit pre-interview. Mike has a product under a thousand rank and one of the largest categories on Amazon. And so when you have a product under a thousand rank, almost in any category, like you’re moving massive amounts, right? A product a day. And so, you know, I can imagine trying to time those orders can be challenging. You know, what are you doing or what are you working on, on on how to try to understand, you know, those inventory projections and to manage that cashflow. Mike: (23:47) Yeah, I think the biggest thing is really just paying close attention to 30, 60, 90 day sales trends. So we really look in and understand how many units of that product are selling. And so kind of what I’ve shifted to, just to give us a little bit of a buffer is, you know, we try to order four to five months in advance cause our general lead time to get our products is 90 to 120 days similar to you. And so doing that has, has, has helped to but yeah, look, it’s not a perfect science for me yet either. Like we still have overbought on some things because the market shifts, other people come in and, and, and sell as much or sometimes while it’s a good problem to have, it sells more than you expected. And so, you know, kind of previously I would just try to combat all of those, those variables. And now I think I’m a little bit more fluid and understanding, kind of just have to go with the flow a little bit. You know, we’re a two man shop. It’s my, my wife and myself. And so, you know, we don’t have like a huge logistics inventory system built out. And so it’s really just, you know, particularly we’re no different than I think a lot of businesses where it’s the 80, 20, right. So 20% of our products are giving us the 80% of our results. And so like those are the ones that we’re, we’re focused on. Just before we logged in here, I was just looking at some of the numbers. So we have 15 products that are ranked 20 K or lower of that 15, eight are in the top 10 K for our top 5K and then we have the one that’s top, 1K, which is amazing, huge velocity times of…. Andy: (25:19) How many units did you sell? How many units did you sell? 2019, do you remember? Mike: (25:27) 120,000. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, so I mean, it, it, I think that’s the other part of it because we’re such a volume play because we’re selling such high turnover. You know, that it just makes it that much more complicated to to manage. And we’re still learning it. Like, I’m, I’m, you know, I’m here to be real and tell you guys like, that’s just where I’m at. Like, it’s a very successful business. I know there are people who are like, wow, that’s amazing. And it comes with challenges and I think this is where you start to morph into understanding the business side of things. And so there’s no better education than sort of this real life experience and yet we’re living every single day for sure. Andy: (26:04) Awesome. So you mentioned a little earlier in the interview when you first started doing retail arbitrage, you know, you went and you scan for three hours, you’re like, man, what product am I going to sell? Well, that’s probably the number one product that I get from newer sellers almost on a daily basis in my messenger inbox. In fact, I was just talking to my partner here who works with me and somebody was just pounding him as a relative with messages. Like, what can I sell? What can I sell? Right? That’s always the biggest question. And so, you know, as, as you’ve worked along in this journey and when it comes to private label, where are you at now? You are sourcing your products. And I’ll just, I’ll tell you a little bit kind of where I’m, where I’m at now that I found my niche. I’m basically kind of building that niche out so I don’t necessarily go outside of different categories. What are some of your favorite methods, or what are you working on? How do you bring new products to market now? Mike: (27:04) Yeah. well, and I don’t want to cop out because I it because with my answer, because I do think there’s, it’s art and science in my opinion, right? So there is, there’s definitely some data that you can follow. And then I think it’s just as you get more experienced in the niche, you just start to kind of have that, that sense of what is gonna kind of, what’s going to pop in and what’s not because you have the experience, you’re in it, you’re seeing what’s selling, what’s not selling. And so kind of relying on that experience has been really, really important. You know, I used to kind of put my own blinders and my own glasses and be like, Oh, I love this product. Like this is definitely gonna do well. Yeah. So I’ve learned that I don’t represent, you know, every, everybody’s everybody’s interested in, in America at least people like things different than me, different colors, different sides as you name it. And so, so yeah, I think first the data is like super, super important, which is where I always kind of fall back to my experience with RA and OA because that’s where I kind of learned it. Like the sales rank, understanding those trends. You know, if you could you starting to see how popular certain things are. I kind of always start there and then, yeah, I look at the market and I kind of understand how saturated it is. And one of the things I try to do is kind of take a step back and say, okay, instead of like copying this exact product. Like, is there something related to it? Is there, you know, if it’s a, I know you talk a lot about like accessories, but I do try to think outside the box a little bit and not just sort of copycat and replicate exactly what’s out there. But if I see a certain line that’s doing well, that means people are interested in that line obviously. And so it’s like what else is like associated with that that I could bring to the market? And so that’s where it’s like I depend on the data that Amazon provides in order to kind of find that. And then I just take that step back and say, okay, so like what’s not on there that absolutely kind of fits hand in glove with this. And what could we potentially try to, to test and bring to market all of the products that we like. The product that is a top 1K and it’s been top 1K for 14 months now. So it’s got some real staying power. Uis, it was exactly that. It was, it was not on Amazon at all, but there were products that were very similar. And so I just kind of figured, you know what, like let’s just put a little spin on it. It’s different. It’s technically totally different, but it’s similar enough where people are looking for this product, they’re going to be interested in the product that we’re bringing to market. And so that’s sort of where we’ve been at in our sourcing methods at this point. Andy: (29:23) Awesome. And when you source your products, are you, are you sourcing from Asia, from other countries? Are you having your products made here in the US? Mike: (29:33) So we,, They come from China is the short is the short answer. I’m lucky that I have somebody who has connections to China so he handles a lot of the logistics for me, which is like super, super important. I kinda just like show them what I’m interested in and they kind of handle all the importing. So I’m like super lucky in that sense. I don’t have to worry about those logistics. Andy: (29:54) We’ll talk about that a little bit because that’s a huge piece to this puzzle. Product development for us is the most time consuming part of our business now the product development and then the communicate the supplier communication and really getting to that point to start production. So how, how have you been able to, you know, what’s, what’s what’s working for you with that? Mike: (30:19) Yeah, I mean I think it’s, you know, it’s all relationships as we, we talk a lot about, and again, just, I’ve talked a little bit about like the crazy synchronicities that have shown up in my life that have gotten me to this point. So a guy that I used to be like best friends with, like we were inseparable, played little league together and we kind of went our separate ways as people normally do. Well, the best man at my wedding runs into this guy at the liquor store. He’s like, Oh, how are you doing? And the guy says, well you don’t do it a little bit on Amazon. I’m trying to figure it out. He’s like, Oh, you’ve got to talk to Mike. Like Mike’s Mike sell on Amazon. So he connected us. And so now this childhood friend of mine is just like, he’s totally tied in with the sourcing agent and they just couldn’t figure out like how to do this Amazon thing. And so I’m kind of in exchange for me giving some consulting and some guidance. He’s like, yeah, like we’ll, we’ll give, we’ll kind of plug you into our logistics. We just don’t understand the marketplace. And so that’s sort of kind of how, you know, how I arrived at that point. But yeah, I mean I agree. It’s just for me, it, we, we try to spend our time on the product development, but we wouldn’t be able to do that as much if we didn’t have somebody that we could rely on to help us on the importing side. And I remember when I first got started, like the thought of like importing from China terrified me. It just seemed like it was so, so overwhelming. And it wasn’t, by the way, like when I, when I imported those steel tumblers, it was not a big deal. However, as I was scaling and adding all of these products, I think it would have been a lot harder for me to do so. So having that relationship with somebody who tied in directly with the sourcing agent help us with all the imports, the container loads, the timing, all of that has really given us a huge advantage. For sure. Andy: (31:54) Yeah. I highly recommend if you’re listening to this and you’ve hit that like $500,000, 750, or if you’re at that million dollar level and you’re doing a lot of that yourself. I know for us it’s been well worth it. We have a a, I call her my trusted sourcing agent. I’ve actually worked with her for six years now and she handles all the communication with the factory. So I kind of spec out the product with her and then she’ll do a lot of the back and forth and it just saves so much painful communication that can happen. You know, when you’re, when you’re working with a Chinese manufacturer, the back and forth misinterpretation and just the different cultural things. So that, wow, that really impressive that you’ve been able to build that type of relationship. Mike: (32:43) Yeah, they’re just, you know, they’re so tied in exactly what you were just talking about. The communication barriers, the time barriers, you know, I’d be up there on Skype, you know, and, and, and we chat you know, super late into the night. Now I don’t have to worry about that as much. And so it’s just been a huge, huge game changer for us for sure. Andy: (33:02) Awesome. So let’s talk about like some of the challenges, you know, some of the mistakes maybe that you’ve made along the way. Like I share often. You know, I have a funny story. I ordered, I was selling reusable bamboo nursing pads. I gave the wrong measurements. Like I sent him an inches. It was supposed to be centimeter. So they made these huge ones and I just told them to ship ’em right. And then they showed up and they’re like the size of a basketball, you know, have you encountered any pitfalls or mistakes, you know, similar to that or what are some of your biggest challenges that you’ve gone through in your business? Mike: (33:35) Yeah, I was going to say today or do you mean [inaudible]? Yeah, I mean after, after my, my partial success with my tumblers, I remembered even though you told me don’t do glass, I saw these like glass tumblers and I was like, I gotta do it. Like double wall tea, you know, for tea. And they were, it was a nice product but it was glass and they were just breaking and we were getting so many customer complaints. And so again, I mean it’s just an experience where you kind of chalk it up to okay. Like clearly glass may not be, you know, the, the best thing to do. I mean, look, I think I’m laughing because there are so many, I don’t want to even call them mistakes. I mean they really are learning, learning experiences that you kind of go through along the way and we can laugh about them. And I also recognize are probably people watching this who are really stressed about making those mistakes. And I know that cause I was one of them, I just, I was terrified to kind of go out there and make mistakes. But, you know, I just think you have to kind of keep swinging. I mean I think one of the things was I was kinda before I went all in on private label, I was doing OA RA trying to find wholesalers, researching private label products. Like I was so spread out in every single direction and kind of what I had to do is just go ahead and take a step back and just say, okay, like what do you want to focus on? Like what do you really, what resonates with you? Because I saw, you know, Dan Wentworth was in here. He, he’s built a huge RA business. So it’s not that you can’t build a business doing RA ROA or private label or wholesale. But for me it was like really trying to figure out which lane I wanted to go into and, you know and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without making those mistakes. Right. And so in that way, they, they, they were super valuable. But yeah, I mean, I think, you know, the pad private label products that we launched and did not necessarily do well and were out a few thousand bucks, which, you know, if you had told me that when I first started, I, you know, I would’ve been like, this is not the business for me. But as I’ve got into it, I just sort of understand that is the, you know, sometimes that is the cost of doing business, especially when you, you know, when you’re scaling and you’re trying to add a lot of products, I don’t want to discourage anybody by saying, you know, you know, people are probably on the verge of launching their first product and they’re afraid they’re going to lose money. I don’t think that that’s necessarily the case. But, you know, we lost money on some products and it just kind of helped up funnel us into the path that, that we’re in now. I mean, I remember RA and OA like we were, you know, we get the IP complaints like, you know, and kind of what I got the sense of, it’s like if it’s too good to be true, like it probably was like, that’s one lesson that I learned. Like you scan something and there was like no other FBA sellers on it and it was like ranked 1000, like easily available, you know, it was like, okay, like I learned my lesson the hard way that there’s a reason that there’s nobody else you know, on there instead of, you know, so it’s just like I made all these mistakes all at different areas, but we’re better for it for sure. And so now I think recently, you know, some of the things that we’ve run into is overbuying, right? Like overbuying and trying to compensate for, you know, I’m not running on a stock, that product that is ranked top 1K like we were out for three weeks. And like every day I woke up, I was so grumpy about it. Like, cause I was, I was just like calculating the money I was losing every single day. And so then, you know, thinking I’m being smart, I’m like, I’m just going to buy as much as I possibly can. And so now like my, yeah, I have more than more than I can, that I can use at the moment and so again, all good but that really kind of opened my eyes to saying, okay, you really need to really understand your numbers and you know, understand forecasting so you can order correctly. Andy: (36:59) Yeah. So it’s funny. You know, there’s always risk, you know, involved in any business, right, that you do. I actually had a container show up. I’ve been selling this product for a year. It’s ranked usually between two and 3000 over that past year. You can look at the Kiba I bought six months worth. Well, so you know, again, like learning this cashflow thing, you know, I thought, man, I don’t want to be sitting on six months of inventory like that. There’s risk in that. So I reached out to another seller and I asked her if she would want to purchase half of it. You know, I charged her more per piece. So I made some money right away. It’s basically like I’m wholesaling my product and I’m sharing the buy box with her. But you know, in that letter, like I put over and over again, like just understand, you know, like this has been a great product. I have had no issues. You can look at the Keepa chart, you can see the rank, you know, you’re buying it at this price. You’re, you should in six months that it should all sell through and you should be able to make this amount of money. The price has been set, you know, we’re not changing the price. And and so, you know, she thought about was a large investment she had to make on her part. And she says, okay, I’m in, you know, so she writes me the checks on now, half of the inventory’s hers, half of its mind. We share the buy box 50% of the time I’ve made a little bit of money, I have half of my cost of goods back, you know, so now I can reinvest that and wouldn’t, you know, like three weeks into this, you know, relationship. And thankfully I’ve had a relationship with this seller for four or five years. All of a sudden I get a safety complaint and I have had no issue aon this product. Safety complaint and boom, it’s suppressed, you know? And so I’m immediately feeling guilty. So you know, I call her up. I’m so sorry. And but there, those are the type of things that you just can’t plan and now, thankfully we had the product tested already, so I had the certificate, so we were able to get it back up. It still took about three to four days and that was literally $1,500 a day that we were losing on that product and sales. And so, you know, those are the type of things, again, in business, you just kind of expect, you know, that you, you may encounter those type of problems or type of issues. So you need to plan appropriately. Right. And always, I guess have a cushion in case of those scenarios or situations. Mike: (39:26) Yeah, I mean, I, I couldn’t agree more. I think you have to, you have to be like water. Like you gotta be able to just kind of go around and go through things and understand that those things are, are going to come up. Just don’t let them stop you. Right. And it doesn’t, you don’t take uncalculated risks, like understand what you’re doing. But you have to be afraid to, you can’t be afraid to put yourself out there. And you know, I’m sure you learn from it. And we had something similar where, you know, one of our products, we use the word Velcro in the title, like thinking Velcro is just like generic, like Kleenex or you know, and sure enough like we get a, we get an IP complaint shut the whole listing down and it’s like, you know, I just met, it was like the sticky bar. Like I ain’t not Velcro but you know, the bike caught it, it got it shut down. And so it was like, now I know like when I’m making my product listings, like be careful. Like even if the term is generic, like don’t put it in there because it could get flagged and get a shut down. So again, you know, a little bit of a pricey lesson to learn, but once you learn it once, just don’t repeat it and you know, it’s all good. Andy: (40:27) Awesome. Yeah, while we’re on that topic and I, I’ve done a few videos in the Facebook group, you know, just make sure when you’re getting your products, those of you that are listening or watching this manufactured in China, you want to get those products tested. It really is inexpensive. You know, so for the product I was just talking about, it costs $40 and the factories that you’re working with, they know certified labs that will do these reports and it’s 30 to $40, and it’s worth your time to have that factory shipped, the product to them and get it tested at these certified labs. And I really think this moving forward more and more Amazon is going to require you to have these certificates that are approved labs from the consumer safety organization. So, you know, if you’re not doing that now, I would honestly, I would on WeChat send a message to your factory, to your rep and say, Hey, look, I need you to send my product to a lab. If you don’t know those labs, you know, ask a question here on this and I’ll reply to your question with those labs that you can send your products to. But it’ll save you a lot of time, lot of heartache. And I really think as Amazon continues to grow, and there’s already been a lot in the news lately of just, you know, Amazon selling unsafe products, you need to have those testings and those certificates from those certified labs ready to go when Amazon asks them. And honestly, I think eventually before when you upload a product and create a listing, Amazon is probably going to require you to upload their certificate. You know, that they have the AI that is able to read it. So do the work on that and make sure you have those tests and certifies. Sorry, that was a little rabbit trail. So as we in in the interview here, Mike, I just want to know if you can share some words of wisdom and I know we’ve done it really kind of the whole way. Like what would you tell a, a new seller who’s starting out, you know, just getting into the business what are some encouraged things you would give to them? Mike: (42:31) Yeah, I mean, I hope you don’t mind if I like delve into the mindset part of it a little bit because it’s so important. The biggest thing for me was learning to trust myself from leaving my corporate job to, you know, buying your course, whatever it may be. Kind of like the person that I was before going full time and really becoming an entrepreneur was somebody who was practical and tried to play it safe and it was coming from the right place. Cause I didn’t want to get hurt, I didn’t want to get burned. But one of my mentors really kind of taught me that it was really that I didn’t trust myself because I would find something that I really believed in, but I wouldn’t take action because it was the safe thing to do. It’s very, it’s very safe to say it’s very safe to say no. And so when I started to trust myself, you know, leaving, leaving the corporate job the way that I did, I reported right to the CEO. And I remember he, you know, I walked into his office, I was so nervous, my hands were shaking and I sat down and I, and I said to him, you know, I gave him the news and he looks at me and he’s like, you know, Mike, I appreciate your male fortitude. He use a different word. He said, yeah, I think so. I think you’re crazy. He’s about, you know, he said, I, I he said, I give you, I have a lot of respect for you. Right? And so it was really that, it was like I had to trust myself. And so I don’t think it matters whether you’re, you know, you’re jumping into the Amazon business, you know, you’re looking to invest in a course. I think what always stopped me was I didn’t trust myself. Right. You see these and they’re, you know, there are bad courses out there, and I bought some of them, by the way. But I trust myself enough that I learned from it. And so I don’t make myself wrong or beat myself up or think that I’m not good at this just because it doesn’t go the wrong way because I’ve really learned to trust myself. And once I like trusted myself for that first time by just taking some risks and again, we’re not talking uncalculated you know, really risky, risky stuff. But I’m saying putting yourself out there a little bit has changed my life across the board. And it really started with becoming a, an Amazon entrepreneur. And I think that’s why so many entrepreneurs getting to the mindset and the development stuff because it really makes you face some of the things that are holding you back. And it’s so easy for us to point to the market or point to the external circumstances and use that as the reason why things aren’t happening. And that to a certain extent, there could be some truth in that, but a lot of times it comes down to, you know, do you believe in yourself to kind of come in and execute. I remember when I bought your course, Andy, like I was nervous, like you know the first time your first course, I was nervous to buy that. And it wasn’t because the course wasn’t good because you had people getting results. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to get results and it wasn’t because of the course it was because I didn’t know if I could execute. And so when I taught, you know, you tell people about this and you know the peaks their interest and like, Oh you left your job, you’re selling on Amazon. Like that’s amazing. How did you do it? I kind of always start there. I was like, look, look, you have to really trust yourself. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. You’re going to be willing to take a few on the chin and you’re, and the thing is you’ll be okay like that. And that has been like one of the most rewarding parts of this journey for me is that I can kind of go through things now and whether it’s in business or quite honestly, even if it’s in life, like I can take one on the chin now and kind of really recognize that it’s going to be okay cause I then I trust myself. So like that’s like, I know it’s a little blue and this a little mindset, but it’s so, so important. And I, you know, I always kind of start there because I think if you don’t have the trust in yourself, you could buy a $25,000 course. You could come live with me in my house to do it. You watch what I do every single day or even Andy. But if you don’t trust yourself, you’re probably not going to get the results. That’s been my experience. Is that fair? You’re good with that? No. Andy: (46:01) Yeah. That’s awesome. I mean, very similar. Like I was scared to death when I left my full time job, you know? Yeah. And I mean, I imagine a lot of entrepreneurs who have worked, you know, for other people their whole life probably experienced with similar thing. Mike: (46:20) So that just sort of like, and so that’s sort of the, the foundational level. And then for me, just, if I was going to give some practical advice, it’s like really two things, things that have the, and this is where, for me, so I’m just telling you guys what’s worked for me. One is investing in mentors, right? I’ve been following Andy since he started this, right? And we’ve talked, you can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve talked, but he’s my mentor, right? Like even if we don’t have that like direct interpersonal connection, I’m able to follow him. And again, because I have the trust in myself. When you, when you find somebody who’s doing what you want to do and you can model that and when you have that belief in yourself, it just kinda helps really speed up the process. Not to say you can’t learn it on your own, but I’m very impatient person and I’m kind of like, okay, let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. And so, you know, really finding mentors to kind of help you along the way. Super, super valuable. And along those lines, again, it’s just like, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Like I remember, you know, those first orders, whether it was RA, OA wholesale or private label, I was nervous about every single one. And quite honestly, I don’t know if any of the first ones went particularly well, but you know, as I was just saying, you take it on the chin, you kind of learn from it and it just kind of puts you on the journey forward. So it’s like, yeah, trusting yourself, find mentors to follow that will, you know, give you the inspiration and the tactical stuff. And then, yeah, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make mistakes. Andy: (47:41) That’s awesome. So again, this is Mike Corbishly. I hope those of you that are just jumping on and I encourage you, go back and watch this interview. Just phenomenal information. We talked a little bit about Chris Green a little earlier. I want to end with him because it really relevant to what you just said. So one of the things that really propelled me to leave my full time job as a career I’ve been at for 15 years, I thought I was going to retire there. Chris came out, stayed with my family and, and we were sitting on a picnic tables late at night talking and I signed a lot of fears about going full time and he just looked at me, he’s like, Andy, so what? Like, so you fail you, he just said any he probably said this three or four times. So what, you know, so you don’t hit success. So what? you know, and you know, that’s probably, it’s not like super insightful, but it was super impactful for me. I had to come to terms with, you know what, I’m going to do this, I’m going to go all in. And you know, if I don’t hit success, so what? Then I’m going to pivot and I’m going to figure out something else to do. So what a great way to end the interview. I hope you all are enjoying these interviews. This is the amazing freedom 100 real seller interview series. Thank you so much for hanging out with us and watching this. Mike, I wish you continued success. I need to make it up there sometime to visit you and your wife and to visit Chris and his awesome family and his, his crazy llamas. Mike: (49:12) Yeah, no, for sure. And again, thanks for having me, Andy. This was a lot of fun for me. Don’t forget to check out our services to help you dominate on Amazon: —> The Magic Image & Listing Service: https://www.amazingfreedom.com/magic —> Amazon Reimbursement Service: https://www.amzprofessional.com —> Amazon Sponsored Ads Management: https://www.amazingfreedom.com/ppc —> Amazon Arbitrage Selling Group: https://www.amazingfreedom.com/arbitrage

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2 Comments

  • kevin

    • Posted January 28, 2020

    Andy thanks, great episode!. You mention certified labs that you can get your product tested for 30-40 dollars approx. How do you find them? Many thanks

    Kevin

    • admin

      • Posted April 19, 2020

      Check with your manufacturer. Your manufacturer will have one.

Comments are closed.