How To Build a Profitable Business with Amazon FBA with Sumner Hobart

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Sumner Hobart is an Amazon, Etsy and Walmart seller who has generated over $1m in sales of his own private label products. His mission is to discover the most efficient ways to generate substantial personal profit online. With his wife, Ali, Sumner helps other sellers build more profitable businesses through online courses and their YouTube channel.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Sumner Hobart’s sales background
  • How a toxic work environment drove Sumner to start a marketing firm
  • Sumner’s journey to becoming an Amazon FBA seller and the lessons learned
  • Tips for building a successful business
  • Sumner’s future business and investment plans
  • The challenges of investing in cryptocurrencies
  • How Sumner supports Amazon sellers through his YouTube channel

In this episode…

Building a successful business on Amazon has become more difficult over the years. With more sellers joining the platform, competition is at an all-time high and advertising costs have been on an upward spiral. Businesses have to be smart to stand out and outperform other sellers. 

Having spent many years selling on Amazon, Sumner Hobart realized that the secret to growing a successful business is building a product that will stick with customers for years. Instead of purely focusing on profit, try to meet your customers’ needs. Sumner also advises sellers to leverage other platforms to grow their business, since older strategies may not create the results you want today.

In this episode of the Innovations and Breakthroughs Podcast, Rich Goldstein interviews Sumner Hobart about strategies for building a profitable Amazon FBA business. Sumner also shares his experience working in a toxic work environment, the lessons learned from investing in non-regulated assets, and how he supports Amazon sellers.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Goldstein Patent Law, a firm that helps protect inventors’ ideas and products. They have advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 25 years. So if you’re a company that has a software, product, or design you want protected, you can go to https://goldsteinpatentlaw.com/. They have amazing free resources for learning more about the patent process. 

You can email their team at welcome@goldsteinpc.com to explore if it’s a match to work together. Rich Goldstein has also written a book for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work, which is called ‘The ABA Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent.’

Intro (00:09):
Welcome to Innovations and Breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein, talking about the evolutionary, the revolutionary, the inspiration and the perspiration, and those aha moments that change everything. And now here’s your host, Rich Goldstein.

Rich (00:34):
Rich Goldstein here, host of the Innovations and Breakthroughs podcast, where I feature top leaders on the path they took to create change. Past guests include Joe Polish, Ryan Dice, and Rick Saari. This episode is brought to you by my company, Goldstein Patent Law, but we help you to protect your ideas and products. We’ve advised and obtained patents for thousands of companies over the past 29 years. So if you’re a company that has software, a product, or design you want protected, go to goldstein patent law.com where there are amazing free resources for learning about the patent process. You could email my team welcome goldstein pc.com to explore if it’s a match to work together. You could also check out the book I wrote for the American Bar Association that explains in plain English how patents work. It’s called the a b A Consumer Guide to Obtaining a Patent. I have it to me here today. My friend Sumner Hobart. Sumner has been an Amazon seller since 2017. His mission is to discover the most efficient ways to generate substantial personal profit online in order to live life to his fullest potential. And on his well-known YouTube channel, Sumner and Ali, Hobart Sumner and his wife Ali, help others along a similar path toward their own fullest potential. And Adam, happy to welcome my friend Sumner Hobart to the podcast. Welcome Sumner.

Sumner (01:48):
Great. Thank you Rich for having me. I’m super excited for this.

Rich (01:51):
Absolutely. My pleasure. So, give me a little bit, bit about your history and, as an entrepreneur. How did you get in, involved in selling? How did you start out?

Sumner (02:01):
Yeah, absolutely. It’s, it’s funny, that’s a question I ask all the time to fellow sellers. And it is interesting cause there’s always that first entrepreneurial spark, Alex, that I’ve seen in a lot of entrepreneurs. And I can kind of say what that was for me. So for me, uh, it kind of started, you know, I was in college, broke student, uh, at the University of Cincinnati. And basically I was trying to find ways to make more money. So at the time, I was actually working for the school newspaper, the news record, and I was on the sales side. So literally on one side of the hallway in Swift Hall, there was, uh, the editorial side. On the other side, there’s the sales side. So basically I got this job as my first sales job. And <laugh>, I will say at the top, we didn’t have the best management at all.

Sumner (02:41):
So I came in, this is like my fir and also this is my first like, real job. Like, you know, in college, I’m like, oh my gosh. Before that I was working for a moving company, like through high school and then into college. My first build job sounded great. So I go in, I’m given no training, just kinda like, Hey, here’s, here’s an old list of leads of local businesses. Go sell them on, uh, Adspace, you know, sell Adspace in the newspaper. So that was my job. And I figured out a lot of things. And one thing I learned really quickly is that n none of the students who were reading our school newspaper, and I didn’t feel right trying to sell ad space when I knew, you know, local restaurants or businesses, you know, uh, apartment complexes, they’re not gonna get results if they, I, I know they’re not gonna get a return on ad spend because they’re, we, our newspaper gets no visibility.

Sumner (03:25):
So I was kind of in this predict, like, my, my role requires me to make sales, but I ethically can’t sell ad space as it is. So I had this kind of dilemma and then this entrepreneurial kind of thing kicked in. And this is a, and this is, looking back, I didn’t realize it at the time. I was just like, I, I need to solve a problem. And what I did is I went around campus and I started noticing that there is these, uh, bulletin boards all over campus. And actually went through every single, every single, uh, hallway and every single building on campus, and counted about 260 boards that students are allowed to post on. And I looked up the rules of like, what are we allowed to post on these or not? And it’s actually pretty free. We could, we could post basically advertisements on these bulletin boards.

Sumner (04:09):
And I did a lot of research. I, I, I went to the, uh, the school, uh, printing, co printing, I guess, yeah, company where I got a student discount. So I was like, okay, you know, I can print, you know, this many flyers for this cost. Here’s what I could realistically charge. Like, just first time doing everything, like the pricing strategy, uh, where it’d be posted, how to market it to businesses and pitch it. But basically it was over Christmas break, the whole Christmas, I was like hustling and working on building this project out. When I came back from Christmas break, I presented this to, to my boss, and he is like, yeah, let’s do it. Let’s roll with it. So it was basically one, one product or one service that we sold alongside all of the others. But that’s all I sold. And, and I sold a decent amount.

Sumner (04:48):
So then I went to all the local businesses, literally like door to door, uh, going through, introducing myself, cold emails, cold calling. And, and it was very, very successful. We, I then had the idea of adding perforated tabs. Um, at the bottom we’re literally, like, it was my wife and I, well my girlfriend at the time, not my wife, went to each other’s apartments and we’re like, literally like taking stacks. We figure out how many stacks of paper we could put on top of each other and cut without getting too, like, out of alignment. It was like 50, like that’s the max that we could do with this like card stock. And we started cutting. So anyway, long story, that was kind of the first is creating this flyer posting service for local businesses. That was like my first unknowingly kind of entrepreneurial endeavor. And that’s what really got me into kind of like more the marketing and advertising side. And you created new,

Rich (05:35):
New channel. You created a new advertising channel on campus.

Sumner (05:38):
I did. And I bel to, and the last time I checked last year, uh, the news record was still using that, that service that I kind of created, which is really cool to see. And that’s kinda the entrepreneurial building, something that lasts. It’s a really, again, at the time I had no thought of it, but it’s a really beautiful thing. And that’s something I’m actually really obsessed with now. I love seeing of building something that not just, obviously that generates income, which is amazing, um, but has a positive impact, um, for years or decades to come. So that was like, that was kinda the beginning. So it’s like, how does that tie with Amazon? Like how does that have anything to do with selling?

Rich (06:10):
That’s amazing. I just wanna interject with my own story here too. It’s kind of funny. Um, you know, like I, when I was on campus, I, I saw a similar opportunity. They were, um, um, you know, at my college we were, um, out on Long Island, which is, it was about 75 miles from New York City. And, um, so, um, the TV stations really originated from New York City. And like, but the, the reception was terrible. And in the dorm you couldn’t really get TV reception. And they had, um, you know, like people would, would try to put like a TV outs, uh, an antenna outside their window. And this is really dating myself cause like a TV antenna, like what are you even talking about Rich? You know? But, uh, so, but it was, it was, it was bad. Like there was hardly anyone get TV service.

Rich (06:58):
So they installed a cable TV system throughout the campus where suddenly, um, you know, in everyone’s room would be, um, you know, all of, all of the channels, like the local channels, not like cable today. Um, but the point is, so like now all of a sudden everybody has a cable television service, um, but they don’t know what’s on tv. And you know, this is pre-internet, right? And, and back in the day, the way that most people would get to see what’s on TV is you look in, you either get TV guide, it was a subscription service, right? There’s a little book that, you know, probably before you were born, right? But like little, um, book where they had interesting articles in all the TV listings or, um, in the newspaper they published the TV listing. So if you’re on campus and you don’t get TV guide and you don’t have, uh, um, the TV list, you don’t get the newspaper, then how are you gonna know what’s on at 8:00 PM on channel, on channel four and N B C?

Rich (07:56):
So, um, I had the idea to publish a TV guide and, um, and, uh, have advertising in it. So I made a, a, a magazine that was essentially, um, a, a way for students to, um, get their listing information. And also, um, you know, it was an opportunity for advertisers. And so I went around and I sold ads and, uh, and you know, got, um, wrote articles and, uh, made some relationships with some of the, the, uh, the tv, um, uh, networks to kind of get the press photos and, and things like that for the new shows. And, um, and it was actually even a challenge to get like the, the, the listing information, because remember, this is pre-internet, you couldn’t Google things. Like, and, and, um, so I found that there was a company that actually syndicates all that information for newspapers around the country.

Rich (08:51):
And I signed up and with them and they would send me the TV listings on, on film. Like, basically it’s like a, um, well it’s, it’s basically printed on shiny paper that you could then paste up. Um, and you know, when you do the paste up to make the, uh, the magazine, which again, to you probably sounds foreign cause I’m sure everything was desktop publishing when you were at the newspaper. But, but when I did it, we literally put together a page where you would, with a glue stick paste in the headline and all of that and bring that to the printer. But, yep.

Sumner (09:24):
So

Rich (09:25):
Similar. Yeah. You know, my very cool, one of my early entrepreneurial experiences was, was a, an on-campus, um, advertising, um, medium where, um, I went around and sold ads and kind of created value that way. So I just wanted to throw that in there. I don’t think I’ve ever told that story here before. So, oh,

Sumner (09:44):
That’s, that is very, very cool. That is very cool. No, it’s, uh, yeah, no, I could definitely, I, I totally see the value of that. I, it’s funny cuz the fir my first step was trying to find ways to make our newspaper more valuable. Mm-hmm. Whether the, the physical or digital kind of edition. And that was just cut down immediately. Cuz all the editors, they’re journalists, students who just write what they wanna write, not write what’s valuable. So, you know, obviously you clearly, you, you base of course it’s just, just kind of Entrepreneur 101, right? Like solving a pain point, then monetize again, <laugh>, you know, here’s something that all students need or at least whatever right. Percentage of students need and then monetize. So yeah, that’s kinda very, very, that’s, I love that story. Yeah. Yeah. I’ll have to share that with my old, uh, with my old boss.

Sumner (10:26):
But yeah, that was, that was kinda like my first start. Then after college, kind of never thought about entrepreneurship, never even considered that entrepreneurship. So I applied to like 50 companies, you know, got interviewed by like three, uh, ended up getting accepted at the one company, which is also the one company that I was really excited for at the time called Crush Republic, which was a qualitative research company that mainly worked like 80% or 70 80% of their, of their work was from Adidas or Adidas for the European audience. So it was really cool work. So basically it was, um, it was basically like, like many focus groups, but on phones. So like, if Adidas was trying to, to collect data from a certain segment of, you know, high school athletes, we would actually, wait, actually, it’s funny, we utilized the company, which I could have easily brought in-house and saved a ton as our biggest cost was, was, was, um, recruitment of these different participants.

Sumner (11:23):
I was actually, before I, anyway, that’s later in the story. I was, before I quit, I was actually planning to bring that in, fully build it out for them, this whole system. But it didn’t happen out that way. So, uh, we find recruits kind of pair them and they would go through this kind of gamified, uh, like focus group or survey where they would like, you know, they would film their kind of like their, their game day outfit. Like, do you dress, you know, top, you know, you put on a top and then dress down, or you start with the, you know, the sneakers and then move your way up or whatever it might be. There’s all kinds of interesting kind of questions that Adidas was trying to uncover. And then we also had a certain budget to just go and like find new inching insights that they would never have thought of on their own.

Sumner (12:02):
So it was really cool work. I flew, you know, the company flew me out to Portland, to their office. Um, it was really, really cool. But I quickly noticed being my first kind of official job that I didn’t fit in. First of all, the company culture was toxic. It was a lot of drinking, you know, talking about hookups. I pack my lunch every day, <laugh>, I, I was very much and still am, um, a loser. Like I’m not, I’m not a cool, I was never a cool kid. I’m not a cool, it was, uh, so there’s that cultural difference, but then also I’m like, man, I, I have all these things

Rich (12:31):
Were, you weren’t, you weren’t a so-called cool kid, but you were, I’m sure you were cool in your way, right? You know, <laugh>,

Sumner (12:38):
I think by way, yes. Let’s be

Rich (12:39):
Clear about that. My

Sumner (12:39):
Mom and my wife thought, I think I’m cool. So that’s, that’s, that’s all that mattered to me, right?

Rich (12:43):
So like, I don’t know if those guys are so cool either, you know, like, so, and

Sumner (12:47):
I love ’em by the way, if they happen to listen to this. I love you guys, but you know, they knew like, we know, and it was just kind of this, this realizing within the culture. But more than that was, and I realized really quick, I’m like, oh man, I’m not, I’m not built for this, whatever you wanna call it, like nine to five or maybe more traditional corporate life, right? Right, right. And there’s this, I actually, and also the work, it was just really like I, I, I graduated summa come law from university. I was very, very dedicated student. And here at the job I was having all of this trouble. Like, it was like, there wasn’t clear direction. So I was, anything I was getting, I was, you know, doing my best, giving it back and it was like never good enough or it wasn’t really what was expected.

Sumner (13:23):
Yeah, I was kinda getting thrown around to a lot of people I didn’t know exactly who to report to. So there’s a lot of cool work that I got to touch on. But overall, it was very unfulfilling, it was very stressful. I’m like, I’m like, how can I not figure this out? And I’m just like, you know what? I bet if I took the same energy and skills outside of this company, I can make more money and be more fulfilled. So it’s like, so I I, within six months of starting, I’m like, I quit. Um, and everything

Rich (13:46):
It, it wasn’t a fit. You know, and it’s really interesting cuz you talk, um, the intro I gave of you is that you, you looking to reach your fullest potential and you, you help people to reach their fullest potential. But it seems like, um, you’ve kind of come up, uh, like working within the system, you’ve come up against limits in, in that where like you’ve had a, a like a, a real great way to optimize something and to add efficiency to it. And it’s just like, you couldn’t do it within the existing framework, right? You couldn’t do things to their fullest. Right? And you, you know, you graduated summa com cloud, which means that you really excelled at, um, uh, you know, at doing the work, uh, following the, the, the pathway, um, that set in front of you. But yet, like now when you’re out producing in the world, like you can’t produce your false potential because there are all these other rules that are being put on you. There’s this culture around you that doesn’t really fit. And, um, so it’s like, it’s, it almost seems like something had to break, you know, to say like, Hey, like I can continue, um, um, I can’t continue on on my mission. Like while being within the framework where I’m being told like, Hey, this thing that might actually be more efficient, we’re not doing that. Um, so yeah,

Sumner (15:07):
Ab no, a hundred percent I, I got you the point. I was, um, and I’m not really afraid to say it, but, you know, I was like crying in my car, like at work, just from the, it was frustration, it was stress. And I’m like, I can’t, like, I, and it’s funny cuz uh, my dad, I

Rich (15:19):
Think you’re being held back. You’re being held back.

Sumner (15:21):
Yeah. And it was tough too because I think a lot of entrepreneurs, you know, I, I talked to obviously, and, and you have especially talked to many entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial minded people and there is this kind of similar thread between everyone. And it is difficult when you’re not with other entrepreneurs. It’s a, it’s totally different. You know, how we, how we look at time, you know, and how we, how we view how we can accumulate wealth and grow wealth and things like that. All different, all different things. Innovating. It’s kind of tough. So like, my parents are a bit more traditional. My dad worked for Proctor and Gamble for like 35 years. So I talked to him, he’s like, no, no, you just gotta stick with it. This is what you do. And I’m like, I know. And like, maybe I’m just being a, being like, you know, a typical millennial, like, you know, I’m better than this or whatever.

Sumner (15:59):
And I’m like, I don’t know, but I felt something else. I’m like, no, this is, I I’m not supposed to be here. Like, this isn’t right. So I ended up quitting. I didn’t really, and I had no idea what I was gonna do. So what I ended up doing is I actually went back and during this time too, I was learning Facebook ads, Google ads, and I was running a little bit of that. I went back to my past clients in college, cuz it’s what I knew. And it was like, hey, um, I know we posted, you know, we’re doing this flyer posting service on campus went really well. Um, I actually run a lot of Facebook ads and Google ads and I can do LeadGen for you guys. Um, so that’s a little bit, bit about LeadGen, but right for you. And, uh, basically use it as an experiment and run it at cost in the beginning.

Sumner (16:35):
Get some customer testimonials. So I created this company called Unmasked Marketing cause I want it to be results-based. Um, completely transparent marketing for small businesses. And started doing that. Uh, and it was going well. Uh, you know, I had more free time. I was making more than I was at my previous job, but it was basically like I chained myself in because now I had to report to these clients who, for example, I was sending leads to this one apartment complex and I was sending leads. They’re like, oh, we’re not really, really seeing results. So I decided like, I’m gonna submit. So I submitted my own email and call on my own and had my friends do it, like five other friends, just to see what was going on. And their, um, front desk wasn’t following up at all the leads that I was sending them.

Sumner (17:14):
So again, it went, kinda went back to those, it’s, it’s like I started this v kind of this, this, this, I dunno what to call it, like a almost like this, this rock. And then I got into this other situ and then kinda hit another rock. So then I realized I’m like, instead of servicing these other clients, like, and basically sending them traffic to their own products or services, what if I created my own fully so I do the marketing and build it out, whatever that is. So that was kind of the next step of like, okay, like how can I, you know, improve this more. At the same time this was happening, this was all happening like together. Like, I believe this was ordained, like how this all happened. It was really interesting. At the same time this happened, I was able to maintain a really good relationship with the ceo e o of my former company who left a little bit after I did, uh, a couple months, I think after I left.

Sumner (17:58):
We had a really good relationship. Uh, anyway, there’s some, I’m trying to think of the unnecessary stuff to leave out. So like there’s, you know, so many details, but former good relationship, he’s very well networked within Cincinnati business culture, and he is a great guy. Um, we talked it through and like, you know, uh, and, and, and came on really good terms. He’s a really good friend of mine and he connected me with two people. One was an angel investor, uh, and we met up for lunch. And I was talking about my situation about with, you know, hey, I’m, you know, working with these clients and I’m having this frustration. And she said, you know, Sumner, if you look at the biggest companies in the world, what do they sell? And I’m like, oh, I had never thought about that before. Actually, I, I literally don’t know.

Sumner (18:40):
I don’t even know what the, at the time, I don’t even know what the biggest companies are. I know something companies, but the list of by market cap, what are they like the largest companies? I don’t know. It’s like the vast majority, they sell products Sumner, like, if you wanna make money, sell products. And I’m like, oh, okay. So that was thought number one. The number two instance that I had, this is again from Neil Erek, my, my former boss connected me with a, with a guy named Neil Hoffman. Neil is known, he was on Shark Tank. He created a product called Mench on a bench. In his words, it’s like elephant, a shelf, but for the Jewish community, there’s this kind of lack. So he created, um, you know, mench on a bench, and it kind of tells the story of Hanukah and it’s this little kind of stuff, toy, you know, mench, uh, very highly successful multimillionaire, of course.

Sumner (19:23):
And I spoke with him and he was telling me like, like Sumner at this point, I, and he didn’t talk, get into specifics about his finances, of course, but he is like, yeah, I mean, he’s making millions. And he’s like, and I’m working like 10 hours a week and, and it’s, and I’m bored. I’m so bored. And I’m like, oh my gosh. So it’s kind of like, this happened relatively quickly with each other. And I’m like, okay, this solidifies to me that I need to start selling products. That was like my fire. Like I need to get outta service to get into products. It was from then that I’m like, okay. Literally, I remember this was in our apartment, like my wife and I, and then now, at the time, my wife and I newlywed, it was crazy. It was like graduation, got married, got a job, quit that job.

Sumner (20:03):
It was crazy, man. My health was horrible. Like, I was like, just trying to figure something out. And we literally were looking, you know, reading blog articles, how to make money online, you know, how to get rich quick, not really, but how to make money online. And we came across this thing called Amazon, F b A, uh, and this was again, like 2017. So we’re like, okay. And for whatever reason, it really, it made a lot of sense to me. I’m like, okay, like I can find products that people are searching for or look at existing options and create a better option of something similar. I could do that. Like I’ll, I’ll figure out a way to make it work. So we, yeah, launched our, we actually, we launched our first product in, was it June of 2018 is actually when we officially started selling, uh, like launch day.

Sumner (20:44):
And it went really well. Our first product, really successful at the time, looking at our images, looking at our PVC strategy, like, oh my gosh, we could did so much better. But it went well. But this was a very seasonal product and we didn’t take into account seasonality. And, uh, we, so I already quit my job. I’m doing this, this was, this single product was generating more than both of our incomes combined. So Ally quit her job, <laugh>, and then the product sale started going down. And we’re like, and we still, like, we have a safety net. Like we’re, we’re very financially responsive. We don’t go in like we, but it was still like a bit of a stress. We’re like, okay, I had to pull out of like my, my, um, what did I have? It was a 401k. I, I pull like $6,000 out to like, help support.

Sumner (21:26):
I’m like, okay, like, this wasn’t the best idea, but let’s hustle in. And then we got a couple other products out. One of them wasn’t successful and it kind of went from there. It was a lot of, a lot of hard learning in the beginning. Uh, but we caught on pretty quick. And I, I mean, of course, I, I do my best to learn as quickly from mistakes as possible to not make them again. And after like our fifth, I don’t know how many products it was, but we kind of got way back kind of on track again, generating more income than both of our, our jobs combined. And once I started rolling and we’re like, okay, we’re having success with this now, we figured it out. Then I, I started realizing like, okay, like this Amazon thing really scared me if I have all of my eggs in the Amazon basket and nothing else.

Sumner (22:05):
Like that’s a really, and that doesn’t seem wise. So it was at that time that we started thinking, you know, at the time we were thinking, how do we make money, period. So we thought, oh, YouTube, people make a lot of money on YouTube. Let’s start a YouTube channel. <laugh>. So what we did is, you know, what are like, what are pain points that we basically figured out, like, you know, at the time when, when giveaways were a big deal with Amazon, like you basically give a bunch of products away for free or super, super cheap to like drive up rank, which obviously we don’t do now at all. Um, at the time of this third, second or third product that we launched, we did set a limit. So like all of our inventory vanished overnight, and we’re like, oh crap. And there wasn’t a content about this on YouTube.

Sumner (22:46):
So all the mistakes that we made, we learned it and then made a video about it, learned and made a video about it, or like, how to create a shipping plan. We had to figure out on our own, create a video about it. So we had the products business that was growing. Then we started this YouTube, I guess, business or this YouTube channel and started growing that, uh, I think starting 2019, like our first video ever. Such a crappy video, but our first video ever and started growing then. And we just remained consistent in both of them. Gosh. I mean, even from that point, from 2019 to now, it’s been crazy journey. I mean, we’re in such a better place than we were before next year. We hope to be and plan to be in an even better place in year after year. We’re just constantly, like relentlessly trying to improve every aspect, get really, really clear on our, on our life goals, and then make sure that the businesses that we have are vehicles that are really well suited to kind of meet those, those life goals. So that’s kind of like, yeah, that’s kind of how we got into Amazon. And a little bit about the Amazon journey, although as with any Amazon seller, there’s a lot, there’s a lot more, there’s, there’s a lot of ups and downs. <laugh>.

Rich (23:46):
Yeah. Right. Absolutely. And it, it sounds like the, um, you know, the, the, the lesson with both the, um, uh, the Amazon product sales and also with, um, the YouTube channel is to just get started, right? Just do one, you know, whether it’s an initial product and like, maybe that’s not going to be the end all, but it gets you started, or, or one crappy video, but it gets you started, right? Yeah,

Sumner (24:14):
Absolutely. There’s a, there’s someone I was listening to. There’s a really great, uh, now I, I don’t do heavy workout, obviously. I’m not, you know, super in great shape, but I, I try to exercise and sweat a little bit every day. And at the time, like years ago, of course we got all our business things going on. There’s this really great piece of advice that I’ll never forget, and it’s like, do one pushup, one pushup a day, just one. I’m like, that’s not gonna do anything for your health. That’s mathematically incorrect. That’s not gonna do anything. Or, or much. But the point is to do one pushup. Cuz then you’re like, okay, I, I already, you know, got, let’s say in my, in my shorts, in my, my my tank and I’m doing this. I can do more than that. So it’s like, it’s exactly getting started Will Propel.

Sumner (24:51):
And then also, uh, this was in, um, Jim Edwards book called Copywriting Secrets. I’m not affiliated, I’m just, it’s a great book that I read. Amazing, amazing. I love copywriting. I wanna continue to improve my skillset with that. And this is an amazing book that kind of helped me with that. And in the book, he mentions this concept. It’s in other parts of entrepreneurship as well. It’s like, before you’re great, you have to be good. And before you’re good, you have to be bad. And before you’re bad you have to be like terrible. Like, just absolutely horrendous. So he is like, most people don’t want, they want, especially with YouTube, right? Like, we wanna start, or on Instagram, we wanna look really pretty and have beautiful thumbnails and, you know, clean audio and all this kind of thing. But the key is, yeah, getting started, like, like you have to accept that you’ll be horrible in anything starting, or at least to have that mindset.

Sumner (25:36):
Maybe you’ll, because then it’s better to be pleasantly surprised and, and be decent when you get started, but have the mindset, for me at least, this is very helpful of being, I’m going to be horrible. It’s going to be awful, and I’m gonna learn from that, and then I’m gonna get better and just, I’m gonna be consistent. Like, I’m gonna, like my mindset always. And it’s always, it’s might been how I was raised, I’m not really sure, but for me, I’ve always been like, like it was, it was never if like, oh, at the be very beginning it was is Amazon f b scam? Is this gonna work? You know, is can I, can I make it on YouTube very quickly change to like if or could to, it will. It’s just a matter of time. And it’s not just like, it’ll just happen. Like, I’m gonna, like, it’s going to, because I’m going to force it to, to the best of my, you know, God willing to the best of my ability whenever I make a mistake, what happened?

Sumner (26:21):
Why did the mistake get made? How can we prove upon that and then kind of keep moving forward and keep improving, keep learning from others that are way ahead of me. What are they doing? How are they thinking that I’m not thinking like this? And how can I implement that and just be consistent and keep improving? And, um, sorry, I know I kind of, this is the last thing. It, it just, anything I find valuable, I like, I have to share it with everybody. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I’ve been like this since I was a kid. I was like, like I love sharing <laugh>.

Rich (26:44):
That’s a good way to read it. And

Sumner (26:45):
Yeah. And Rich, do you, do you follow at all a guy named Alex Gomos?

Rich (26:51):
Um, I know who he is. I can’t say I’ve watched any of his content. I, I know who he is. I know a lot of people that know him and like work with him, follow him. But yeah, he’s, he’s one of the big guys. Yeah,

Sumner (27:01):
He’s like a big guy and a big, you know, kind of young guy. And if you’ve cons consum, I, he’s someone I, I follow, I respect him a lot. I may not agree with him on life things a hundred percent like anybody, but I agree with a lot of what he says and a lot of, a lot of great content he puts out what was, oh man, now I’m thinking about a bunch of things <laugh> that he said that was really stuck with me, and it totally made me lose the one that I was going to say. I know there’s a whole, you have to be bad before you get good. Oh yeah, that’s what he said more recently. It was one of the, uh, videos he posted. I totally see this. He’s like, it is so easy to make money. It’s so easy. It’s not hard.

Sumner (27:34):
He’s like, and I realize this by traveling the world, you know, to, we’ve been to 25 countries now. We’ve been to all different kinds of restaurants and Airbnbs, and I can tell you just from a restaurant perspective, it is not hard to have a solid restaurant. I could, I could create a killer restaurant. Um, but it’s, it’s crazy the number of businesses, including Amazon, any business that don’t, they, they, they treat, they treat the, they, they don’t care about the customer, they don’t treat them well, they don’t pick up the phone when someone calls them. They could care less about their goo their Google business profile, have no social following, um, just kind of hire any, any employee don’t have systems in place. Like this is like the majority of businesses. And he was describing this, I’m like, that’s totally true because all these business I’ve gone to, the majority, they suck.

Sumner (28:17):
Most businesses are terrible. And, and it’s like, it’s very, very, especially now with my generation and the next generation, in my opinion, there’s a lot of great people, but there’s a lot of people who are lazy, who are self-centered. And when you’re, when you’re constantly focused on the customer, whoever your customer is, and focus on them, like, how can I deliver more value to you than anybody else? And keep doing that every year, keep increasing the amount of value that I’m giving you. If that’s your mindset, it’s like 0.1% of the world has that mindset, let alone 1%. So it’s like if you do that, like you’ll quite easily outperform. And simply if you know, you go to apply for a job that you really want, um, it goes into every area. And I’m like, it’s so true that very few people are willing to, to, to, to put in the, the care and the work. Um, and, and yeah, it’s a, it’s, it’s, I don’t know. In some ways it’s harder to make, you know, especially as an entrepreneur, it’s harder in some ways. But over time in the long run, I found that it’s, it’s actually easier than I expected when I have a very long-term view about it and I keep this incremental improvement, just keep improving.

Rich (29:20):
Yeah, absolutely. And, and, and it sounds like, well also, um, just being focused on the customer, um, and it’s like if you do that, then business is not difficult. It’s not difficult to make money if you focus on, um, kinda, um, you know, creating a lot of value overdelivering and, um, um, and, and, and so like, um, so, so you’ve been selling a a lot of products, now you’ve been selling products and you’ve been adding products. Like what do you think is next for you in your journey as an Amazon seller? Yeah,

Sumner (29:57):
It’s a great question. It’s a great question because Allie and I have been talking about this. So a a couple things kind of looking at ahead with Amazon and then also with other kind of asset classes or other investments, other businesses. So first things first, Amazon is getting more and more difficult and expensive. It’s still a great opportunity, an amazing opportunity, and one of the best of my opinion, but I, we have, I mean, Amazon advertising, cost per clicks have increased. Um, well, I should say this, a lot of the strategies that we used in the past are quickly, quickly becoming outdated. I think there’s always room for new and innovative products anywhere, you know, Kickstarter type products, shark tank type products, um, always gonna be need for that. This sort of like these me too products already, you know, where you basically create the exact same product from Alibaba, slap your logo, that’s already dead.

Sumner (30:43):
But I find in terms of with logistics, with kind of managing cash flow, uh, it’s going well, but I found it’s kind of increasing difficulty. So at the same time this is happening, we’re, we’re looking at kind of the Amazon ecosystem and seeing this increase in kind of capital that’s needed. Also the increase in skillset that is needed for new sellers. A lot of people don’t talk about that. And I’ve noticed, I’ve, I’ve looked at mul multiple success, you know, eight figure sellers. And something I noticed that they all have in common is, I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but they’re smart. Like they have a certain level, a certain type of intelligence. A lot of times they’re not academically intelligent. It’s kind of, I don’t know, not worthless, but it’s a different types of intelligence. But they kind of naturally have this ability to see certain products like, oh yeah, that’s gonna, that not just, you know, they have the data, they see the product, they’re like, yes, this can be successful, here’s how we can make it successful. Right.

Rich (31:29):
Product

Sumner (31:29):
Images, like,

Rich (31:30):
Yeah,

Sumner (31:31):
Yeah, no, that’s true. So anyway, I see it increasing in the necessary amount of capital needed in kind of, um, uh, complexity and kind of less and less passive as time has gone on since we started in, in 2018. So with that, our thought is we’re gonna, we actually have five new big, these are, these are be our biggest products that we launch. Like we’re doing heavy, like we’ve taken out tens of thousands of dollars that we’ve kind of allocated for these new product launches that are happening within the next 45 days. Um, so we’re gonna kind of, we’re pushing these new products, uh, getting up, getting in them ranked, um, and then focusing heavily on profitability over the next like several months and year to kind of increase our profitability. And then at that time, either kind of continue with our kind of delegation, our systems and kind of let it run and just kind of milk it out as far as time can go.

Sumner (32:19):
You know, until that d you know, diffusion of innovation curve kind of like goes down or sell the business. But either way, whether we keep it running or sell in the next couple of years, we’re really looking to get into international real estate. My wife actually is an architect, or she studied architecture. And, um, we’ve been in a bunch of Airbnbs. I have a friend who has four Airbnb properties. He does, what does he do per, it’s about, is it 5K per property that he has? Very, very passive. I’ve, I’ve been, again, talking to a lot of people in the real estate space, and I’m like, for our personal goals, which we’re always kind of reassessing every year, and it’s different for everybody, for somebody else’s to be horrible, this is like the, the worst thing to do. But for us, we’re kind of analyzing, we’re like, okay, basically let’s take out this capital. Um, maybe we keep the Amazon thing, you know, the Amazon thing going or we sell it. But either way, we take some of that capital, we start allocating toward real estate, cryptocurrency, and then a percentage will put into, you know, index funds in emerging in emerging markets. But we’re very interested in owning properties internationally. That’s kind of something we’re, for a few reasons. I’m also like, I don’t know, I’m also a bit, like I told you before, I’m a bit paranoid. I’m looking at the next like, decades, like, and with BlackRock, with Vanguard,

Rich (33:31):
I’d say paranoid. I’d say skeptical.

Sumner (33:33):
I’m skeptical. Yes. I am skeptical. I’m skeptic and

Rich (33:36):
Paranoid, like everyone’s out to get me. Um, skeptical is like, well, this may or may not work. Like, you know, prove that it’s gonna work. Right, <laugh>? Yeah.

Sumner (33:44):
And, and would that be, I I’m interested in long-term, uh, physical assets. So I’m more interested in, in, in storing value in gold in real estate. Um, also crypto, which I know is digital is not physical. Um, more so than, uh, than fidelity, which I’ve been doing. I, we always allocate a percentage toward crypto toward, we have a, um, uh, step IRA that we, we allocate a percentage of our profits to just kind of diversify a little bit off Amazon. The majority goes back into the business and keep growing it. But a little bit to kind of diversify. So like e everything’s at Amazon, we keep reinvesting and then let’s say the account gets shut down or, you know, something happens have to reran. That’s just our personal thought. And definitely not financial advice. Of course, Beth,

Rich (34:24):
Don’t, don’t, don’t listen to me about it. It makes a lot of sense, is to not put all your eggs in one basket. I don’t think you need to be a certified financial planner to <laugh>, you know, to, to give that advice is like, do, do a bunch of different things. So if one of them, uh, if one of them goes south and you’re not completely, um, you know, out of the game.

Sumner (34:43):
Yeah, and I’ll say this, this might be the, but big, big learning for me, I might make, actually make a full YouTube video about this, cuz it was a big thing for me. And I’m not, again, I’m not, I I wanna be to what extent as open as possible. Certain things, I’ll always keep private, but I wanna be as transparent. There was, so I invested pretty heavily in, in different cryptocurrencies and there was a time that we began investing in crypto. So we bought Bitcoin, Ethereum cards and different kind of cryptocurrencies through Celsius network. If you’re not familiar with Cel Celsius, you’re probably hearing it like, oh no, so Celsius network.

Rich (35:14):
Yeah, yeah, no, I’m, I’m familiar. Yes. Yeah.

Sumner (35:17):
Basically this, this, this whole scheme where it’s um, hey, banks are not your friend, which I overall agree with, but whatever. But anyway, banks are not your friend. Invest with us, whatever. Uh, I didn’t fully understand how it worked. I bought crypto with Celsius and you earn a p y so you earn interest on your crypto. Now my wife asked, Allie asked me like, oh, so how do you, where’s that interest come from? How are you getting interest on this? Like, you buy, you know, let’s say $10,000 worth of U S D C, you know, a stablecoin, basically it’s, it’s $10,000, it’ll always be worth $10,000 and I can earn 8% interest. So I’m like, I can earn 8% on, you know, on this, on, on this cash. So instead of keeping that cash in a bank, I could keep it in Celsius, earn way more interest than I would’ve, I dunno what a bank is, 0.03%, like compared to eight.

Sumner (36:02):
So it sounded very attractive. But then my wife asked, how are we getting the, where’s the interest coming from that, that they’re paying you? And I’m like, I don’t really know. And that was a big mistake. I invested in something I didn’t understand. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I suffered because of it. So we had about $11,000. Actually, I’m glad it wasn’t more, we, we’ve again, diversified even within that. Cause we weren’t gonna put everything there. 11 K was in there, um, Celsius basically declared bankruptcy. And then I was like, oh, that’s fine. They’re bankrupt. Doesn’t matter. I’ll go pull my crypto out. So I go to, you know, pull my crypto out. It’s like, no, you can’t. I’m like, I thought there’s, I wait a second. I thought I owned, like, I bought the Bitcoin through you. You know what I mean? Like, it’s not yours.

Sumner (36:39):
I bought it through you. I was getting interest from you, but like, it’s not yours. It’s like, it was mine on paper, not in reality. And that was, that sunk in for me. Cuz then I started thinking about the stock market. So I invest a lot with fidelity, and I’m not calling out any companies, I don’t know, but it, this is what got me a little bit skeptical to where I’m like, is there any point in the future where I’m investing through Vanguard, you know, through Fidelity or something like that, traditionally into index funds. And then at later I’m like, yeah, let me pull out my money or, or gimme my dividend payments or whatever. And then Fidelity’s like, uh, yeah, no, that’s ours. And I’ll be like, no, it’s not like, give it to me. Um, so it got me a bit. It, it basically this experience that I had with Celsius, um, reshaped my view on investments.

Sumner (37:21):
It’s a little bit different than traditional. And, um, and that’s why I’m, I’m more focused. It’s kind of a mix between crypto and real estate. I love physical products. I think it’s a great, um, I think it’s a great way to invest if it’s done correctly. You know, there’s so many ways you could do it, but I think it’s great. I mean, what’s a great thing about, uh, physical products I love is let’s say you invest 10 K into a new product. So you invest it, it doesn’t sell as well as you wanted it to. You could liquidate that like on Etsy or in bulk or just run, you know, ads pretty high and, and drop your price and you can still recoup all or a big majority of that amount, your principle that you invested. It’s a, a lot of stress and, and a lot of time, which is, is valuable.

Sumner (37:59):
That’s a really great kind of of advantage versus if you invest a 10 K in Tesla, Tesla goes bankrupt. Oh, there it goes. You invest 10 K in a new product that you, you know, there’s a lot of data behind. It’s just the design, the, the, the, the market didn’t accept as well, and you have to kind of liquidate. Um, but for me, I’m viewing products more short-term and then real estate and crypto more as long-term. And I’m getting more and more kind of long-term focused. And like I said, with some of the skill sets that, that my wife and I have, man, we’re like, we have some, we have some interesting ideas for, for real estate. Like, we’re gonna treat Airbnb like Amazon and do some, anyway, that’s a whole other, but super excited

Rich (38:34):
About it. <laugh>. Yeah, no, that, that makes a lot of sense. And um, and I think basically the question that anyone investing in something should ask is where is the risk? There’s always a risk somewhere, right? And so, like with Amazon, the risk is, well, like you don’t own the platform. So technically it’s all up to them. Although, uh, you know, over the past, um, more than half a decade, there’ve been a lot of sellers that have, um, done very well. Um, you know, and you can say sim similarly about crypto was like, they’re like, the risk is that it’s d doesn’t actually, uh, it’s not grounded in anything. It could go to zero, right? But there are people that have done well with it by riding it along the right pathway. Um, but you also point to another thing as far as like, um, like more traditional investments like you, like through an, um, um, through someone like Fidelity.

Rich (39:27):
And like, um, I, I think that’s, that’s the big, that’s to me the most interesting thing about, um, about, um, crypto and, um, well, let’s say just crypto, right? So first of all, you’ve got, um, you know, a lot of people saying like, this is great. We’re not beholden to any government. Like our, you know, we have, we have money that doesn’t like it. It’s not regulated by anyone. And like, um, we’re, we’re not keeping our money in a traditional bank and blah, blah, blah. And then like, you know, things happen. Like, um, a few years ago, um, someone, um, died with, uh, um, was running a, a, a, um, I’m gonna get it wrong, but it’s basically a, a, a crypto holding company, right? That like, he died with the passwords and a a billion dollars worth of people’s, um, cryptos just evaporated. Like there’s, they didn’t own it anymore.

Rich (40:26):
And, and then you say, well, how could this happen? Well, that’s one of the reasons why banks are so regulated. Like they’re regulated, um, to prevent things like that ha from happening. Like it can’t happen, um, in, um, you know, in a, with a traditional bank and similarly with securities, right? And people say, this is a wild west. We could, we could trade it and it’s off the books and nobody knows. And, but securities and like actual, like financial firms like Fidelity, Berrill, Lynch, et cetera of brokers, they’re so heavily regulated and it’s, it’s, and that exact reason is like, they have to make sure that, um, um, that, that, uh, a person investing can be confident that that certain things can’t just disappear and that they even understand what the risks are. And like, so they’re buying Tesla stock and it could go out of business and they understand that.

Rich (41:21):
Or if they’re buying a bond through, um, through a brokerage, what the, um, kind of like what, um, that’s based on even bonds like say that are, um, from, um, you know, say like us bonds, it’s, it’s, it’s, if the US went bankrupt, you would lose that money, for example. Or you might, and like, to some extent, I don’t know what I’m talking about exactly, except I I do in the sense that everything has its own risk and everything is backed on by a certain assumption that if that assumption goes away, then you might lose your money. And, uh, and you absolutely. So like it’s, it’s, it seems like real estate is something which, um, you are comfortable with the risk tolerance and, um, and, and so you, you want to branch out into, I think that’s

Sumner (42:08):
Yeah, absolutely. No, and you brought up a great point, especially about regulation, which gets a lot of heat. I’ve, I’ve realized in the short time, you know, I, I have way more to learn and way more to be to, and I, I’m willing to, uh, how everything is, uh, this is one of the biggest, this is the probably biggest thing I’ve learned in my life to this point so far, is everything is more complex and nuanced than people make it out to be. So for example, it’s like, oh, banks are evil, crypto good, eh, no. Like, it’s more than that. Uh, and exactly like regulation. Oh, like pointing out all the flaws that have happened or, you know, rating agencies that got paid off to whatever. Yeah, that happens. But there’s a reason, like, like, just because bad things happened doesn’t mean it’s all evil.

Sumner (42:48):
It’s all bad. There are reasons don’t, like, don’t be so quick to destroy the base on which your country or this financial system was built. Like, be very careful with that. And that’s something that I’ve learned. Um, so yeah, exactly. The regulation was created for good. And that’s, and I’ve seen, I can name so many, but we’ve seen so many in this unregulated market, uh, with crypto, all these kind of crazy things that have happened, uh, negative people getting their money taken, people getting killed, uh, people losing, you know, it’s Yeah. There’s a reason for that regulation. Yep. Even if it has flaws,

Rich (43:20):
Right? Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, um, cool. This is very interesting and, uh, um, and I know on your, um, your YouTube channel, you, you talk about a lot of different issues that face sellers and also provide a lot of really, um, practical, tactical, um, tech, you know, techniques for, um, for optimizing their selling experience and even for just getting started. So just talk a little bit about the YouTube channel.

Sumner (43:48):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, so we just kind of like, you got a little snippet of it here, uh, of the energy and the type of concept we kind of talk about. But basically we try to find topics that are very, very important to sellers that not a lot of other people are talking about. And create basically tutorial based videos. We bring on experts like, uh, rich here is actually recently on our channel, and that video is actually going live here in the next two days. So whenever this kind of goes live, I’m sure that’ll be up on our channel. And it was amazing, by the way. Rich went in a ton of detail. Do you wanna become, uh, yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, I went, I went through like the whole video cause we had to edited and going back through the notes, I’m like taking notes.

Sumner (44:23):
But, um, so we bring on experts like, like Rich for example, and others in the space, um, create very step-by-step tutorial-based videos, um, in order to help sellers, like right there, like for free, you go watch it. You now know how to sell a Google search ad that can increase organic rank. Here’s how to track your results. Here’s how to create, you know, Amazon attribution. Everything’s laid out there, no upsell if you want. We do have, you know, courses on you to mean Skillshare that are very, very affordable in case you want to. But there’s a lot of really, uh, we we’re trying to again, follow that kind of Alex Hormoze framework, just over-deliver in value first and keep providing value until someone asks us, Hey, uh, how can you help us, you know, for and, and paid. And that’s kind of, that’s how I try to, especially as a young guy like me, I need to prove myself. So I figure as of now, overall, it’s a, it’s my strategy for trying to prove myself out there. And, um, and yeah, I guess 20,000, about 20,000 people now found it valuable. So hopefully you do as well <laugh>,

Rich (45:15):
You know, and, and, and how to contribute the most that you can to others to share them, share with them, uh, how you’ve, uh, like the problems you’ve encountered and how you solved them by making a video each time you encountered a problem and, and showed, uh, and shared with others, um, so that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel. So that’s

Sumner (45:34):
All I wish. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s, yeah. Any, any way that I can help reduce pain for people, any pain that I’ve got through, like I’m, I’m all for it. Like, it, it gives me a ton of satisfaction and joy. Then it like, then I look back at the pain of whatever I went through. I’m like, it made it, now I know why I went through that. Like, now that I can help someone else. Like that’s, it’s very, very fulfilling for me. And, and I I love it. I love it.

Rich (45:57):
Yes. Um, and, uh, to quote an old song, we haven’t got time for the pain, but there may be a few people in the audience that’ll know what I’m talking about. Um, but, uh, uh, Sumner, if people want to, um, learn more about you or get in touch with you, how do they go about doing so?

Sumner (46:13):
Yeah, absolutely. Of course, we have the YouTube channel. It’s kind of our biggest, uh, biggest platform. And also aside from that, follow me, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. I have a presence on pretty much every social platform. Uh, so yeah, connect with me there. If you have questions, you know, let me know. Uh, I’m happy to, anything that I can share to help, like that’s, that’s what I’m here for. And connect with you fellow sellers. I would love to connect and, and network with fellow sellers as well.

Rich (46:35):
Awesome. And, uh, so sum, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this podcast. Thanks so much for being here.

Sumner (46:41):
Oh, thanks for having me. It’s been fantastic.

Outro (46:48):
Thanks for listening to Innovations and Breakthroughs with your host Rich Goldstein. Be sure to click subscribe. Check us out on the web at innovationsandbreakthroughs.com and we’ll see you next time.

 

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