When I first got a job working for a company that sold light bulbs, I had actually given up on trying to start my own business. I had taken a position in customer service. I was done. Ironically enough, it was at this job that I stumbled into my million-dollar idea. My job was pretty menial, so it all started when my boss came to me and asked if I could help him in some other way. He showed me the back end of Amazon listings and asked me to research how he could grow his business quickly.
That night, I went home and started watching some tutorials on YouTube. A suggested video from Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout came up. I clicked on it, and that one click changed everything. It was then that I realized anyone could be successful selling products on Amazon, and I was so excited I stayed up all night watching videos. At that point, I was already a fan of Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and his advice on valuing experience over a paycheck was priceless. I got to work.
I Knew I Had To Be a Problem Solver
Early on, I realized being an entrepreneur is being a problem solver. The more problems you solve, the easier they get to solve. And the only difference is as you go on, there are more and more zeros tied to the problems. So, I shifted my frame of mind from being in a job I didn’t care about to realizing I could learn everything I needed to know to launch my own business and get paid for it at the same time!
I started asking my boss if I could help in other areas, and he gave me more and more to help with. I was able to apply what I was learning from all the videos and podcasts I had been listening to in my spare time. It was great because not only did I get to figure out what worked, with no risk to myself or my own company, but my boss thought I was really creative and was excited about the ideas I came up with.
I Tested My Knowledge by Launching New Products
When my boss came to me with the challenge of launching 1,200 new products, I was still working on customer service. I had to figure out how to create a system and a process for how customers could order new products coming down the pipeline. Some people may have viewed it as more work and responsibility for nothing in return. But I knew the value of the experience I was getting was much more important than the amount of money I pulled in from my paycheck. So I created a matrix of the different types of photos and the benefits each product had. I even hired a designer and copywriter.
Once everything was in place, I created a timeline and said, “Okay, we’re gonna do these ten products. Then, once those are launched, we’ll do the next ten.” After that, everything was operating like a machine. As we introduced new products, I was able to test out everything I was learning to launch them. Then, through trial and error, I figured out the best way to run ads to get the products ranked correctly.
Once I was launching new products, it was easy to see that customers clearly want the best deal when it comes to Amazon. So, my boss started adding benefits to the product to make them even more appealing. If you bought the product, you’d get something free. Other people weren’t doing it, and it was a huge success. People were buying ours. We offered a lower price and an insane deal. It all started to click and make sense to me.
Enhancing the Customer Experience Was My Next Lesson
Once we’d figured out how to sell more products, customer service started taking off. With our increased sales on Amazon, we started getting 700-800 tickets a day. It was more than we could do in the office while also working on marketing, so I hired a call center in Tijuana to handle our customers. I drove to Tijuana daily for about two weeks to train the team. I modeled our customer service after what I had learned working at Apple. It was less about the product and more about the customer.
When I first met the team, they asked me for a script. I told them there wasn’t one. Instead, they should just have a conversation. Ask the customer how they are and what their problem is. I told them, “If you don’t know the answer to their problem, that’s okay. Just say, you know what, I’m not sure how to solve your problem, but let’s figure it out together.” People really love respect, honesty, and authenticity.
I built that team from five to thirty customer service reps, and they handled all of our tickets. Later I also turned ten of them into a sales team that made B2B sales. I’d successfully moved the entire customer service operation single-handedly out of the company office and onto a new team. And they operated flawlessly. We hired two people to manage that team, and everyone in the office switched to marketing. It was an exciting time. We were scaling, growing, and reaching new international marketplaces. I stayed at the head of it the whole time. I was always leading because I was learning.
Experience Is Worth More Than Formal Education
My work was a win for my boss too. He felt like he had someone who actually cared about his business and success, and you know what? I actually did care. Because their success was my success. I ended up hiring someone with an MBA who worked beneath me, which was mind-blowing. And the crazy thing is that I was actually able to teach this person about selling and marketing on Amazon. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what type of degree you have. The experience of doing it is so much more valuable than formal education.
I started my own business while I was there. First, I started looking for products I could sell. I would work all day selling light bulbs, then go home and work on my stuff. At some point, I felt that I had figured out what to do to sell on Amazon, so I just followed the same steps I had implemented at work. I officially filled out the paperwork and launched my company in 2016. That first year, I sold $30k. The next year? $300K. Then the third year, when I finally left my job, I sold a $1m.
The experience I gained by running and scaling someone else’s business was priceless. I sold lightbulbs and, in doing so, became a millionaire after three years of running my own business. The only reason I left that job was that I finally reached a point where it was costing me more to be at work versus staying home and working on my own company.