Learn how to build an Amazon business the same way Paul Miller did. Just 2.5 years ago, after taking the Amazing Selling Machine training course, Paul started selling on Amazon and has now hit $4.5 million in annual sales. He is now projected to make up to $8 million this year. Watch as Paul shares insight on the benefits of starting an Amazon business, picking the first product to sell on Amazon, customizing a product, and landing licensing agreements.
Matt Clark interviews Paul Miller, a three-store restaurant franchise owner who was in the process of downsizing his operations. In hopes of the of saving his last restaurant, he had to move two hours away from his home and put all of his time and energy into the store. One evening Paul received an email about the Amazing Selling Machine (ASM) training course and after reading seller testimonies he signed up that night. He started selling on Amazon with no prior experience and just last year he made $4.5 million. Paul used the skills he learned from ASM and now has worked to license deals with big name brands, increase the value of his own brand, and start selling in physical retail stores. He is projected to make up to $8 million this year.
Amazing Selling Machine (ASM) has released the first two videos of their new four-part training series. Paul shared these videos are similar to the video series he watched that helped his business to take off when he joined ASM. The training series provides information for how to start an Amazon business, supplier contact templates, marketing strategies and a bonus software tool – Profit Spotlight. Profit Spotlight is a database of Amazon products that can help sellers find product opportunities to get them started. The free training series is available for a limited time at asmnow.com/free.
Paul relays he loves the freedom and ability he has to work from anywhere to run his Amazon business. When he was operating his restaurant, he had to live away from home and work two hours away. Now he can manage his business remotely. He reveals the scalability of an Amazon business is unlike anything else. A restaurant is limited to the number of seats, but Amazon businesses are not limited at all.
When picking his first products Paul made sure to follow the Amazon Selling Machine (ASM) principles for product selection. He found a few items that did not meet the product criteria and the ASM community and mentors helped him to see those products were not worth the risk. His first product that met ASM criteria was sleep headphones, which required a low initial investment. Paul used the ASM techniques he learned to create attractive images and copy, complete keyword research, and gain great reviews. From there his product took off.
When Paul first began he used the manufacturer’s branding on the product because he wanted to get started as quickly as possible. His product took off and he made sure to include his branding on the second generation. Within his first product line he was constantly looking for ways to improve his product through different designs and styles. This eventually led him to create a kid’s version.
Paul went from taking a product off the shelf of a manufacturer and selling it to creating a completely customized designed. With a slightly different shape, fabric color and some embroidery, his customization began. He worked through various samples with the manufacturer until he found the perfect product. In just four months he started to sell his first completely customized product. After his first customized product, he hired designers who had more experience working with manufacturers and giving instruction, allowing for more complex designs.
Aware of his unique product idea, Paul grew concerned someone might steal his idea. He wanted to continue to protect and grow his brand without any major threats. One of his ASM mentors recommended he consider licensing agreements to expand his brand. Paul attended a licensing expo in Las Vegas and made his first licensing deal at the show with Nickelodeon. Licensing allowed Paul to rent someone else’s property and put it on his product. He could rent the Nickelodeon character designs and put them onto his sleep headphones, so long as he provided royalties to Nickelodeon for the life of his contract. Every quarter he reported sales to Nickelodeon and wrote them a check.
Paul felt to remain competitive he should begin selling in physical stores. For a while Paul had a large team that consisted of consultants and more to help get him into physical locations. Now that those deals have been made, Paul keeps a small team of four. He has a head of customer service and social media manager stateside and two virtual assistants to handle customer service overseas.
Matt: Hey there, Matt Clark here, and I have a special guest with me today, and so this is gonna be a really cool session. Some of you may have already seen this special guest. We put out a video not that long ago, and that video is getting close to about 200,000 views over on Facebook and some on YouTube, and so it’s done pretty well, and he’s got a pretty cool story because he started this business, the business we talk about a lot, selling physical products, leveraging Amazon. He started this not that long ago, only a few years ago, and last year, he did about 4 and a half million dollars in sales, and this year, he expects to do about six to eight million dollars in sales, and he’s also got kind of a cool twist on this story.
Matt: The model that we teach most of the times, as you’re going out there, you’re building your own brand, and you’re selling it on Amazon, and doing all that kind of stuff which is great, but our guest, he actually ended up getting a licensing deal with a very big name brand, and we’ll talk about that, and so that’s dramatically increased the value of his business, it’s given him additional ways to sell his products, and I believe he’s getting into physical retail and that kind of thing too, and so in a pretty short order, he’s basically built this business from scratch to being very, very successful, and this business basically never existed before. He didn’t have background in selling physical products or any of that kind of thing, so it’s gonna be a really cool deal. If you can hear me loud and clear, go ahead and give us video.
Matt: So like, I can see people are watching over here, and so give the video a like, and that’ll let us know you can hear me loud and clear, and then we’re gonna start our special guest pretty soon here. I see Ihan saying “Hi.” Welcome to this video, and so in case you need to catch the replay, this’ll be available immediately after, and you’ll be able to catch a replay. If you have any questions, go ahead and ask questions. If I see some questions over here, I will ask our guest live, and for everyone else, if you haven’t checked out the videos we’ve been releasing over at AmazingSellingMachine.com, you actually wanna do that. So we released the first two videos so far, and the third one’s going live on Monday, and these videos are very much like what our special guest started with. We could talk about that in a little bit, but he started with a video series, a free video series just like this one, and that allowed him to learn the first steps of the business.
Matt: Then he went further, he got our full program, and then kinda went and ran with it, and basically built his own business. So we have a URL that’s kind of easier to access, and we’ll post it in the chat here. If you go to ASMNow.com/free, you can get access to all four videos for free, as the URL says, and you’ll also get access to some special bonuses. So we’ve got supplier contact templates, we’ve got a whole bunch of other stuff. PDFs on how to do the whole marketing strategy, which is in the third video, which goes live on Monday, and we also created a software tool that we’re giving you for free. And so this software tool’s called Profit Spotlight, and basically, it’s got a database of Amazon products in there, and allows you to sort through them real quickly, so you can find your product opportunity that you can get started with very, very quickly.
Matt: So all that’s available over at ASMNow.com/free. Check it out after this, and basically, go over there, and you can get all four videos as they’re released, and we absolutely wanna hear what you think. Last thing I’ll mention before we get started is we have a contest going on as well, and so we’re giving away $500 Amazon gift cards every single day, basically for the next two weeks. And so to one randomly chosen person, we’ve already given away two. Gave the second one away last night, and so these are available if you go to AmazingSellingMachine.com/contest, and we can post that URL in the chat as well, AmazingSellingMachine.com/contest. Super easy to enter, and you can basically have multiple chances to win, and we’re giving away a $500 Amazon gift card every single day to one lucky person per day that enters. So go ahead and do that, and then we’ll keep engaging you over the next few weeks. We’ve got a lot of stuff coming, including things like this. So with that said, I’d like to go ahead and bring on our special guest.
Matt: And so in case you’ve just joined, he, met him actually at the live event that we’ve just recently put on with about 14, 1500 of our members that have bought tickets, and that was in Orlando, Florida. All the people that sell on Amazon, and I met him because we interviewed him on stage. He’s got an amazing story, he’s been super successful, and I wanted to make sure that you see this. Hopefully, it serves as an inspiration for you, and you hopefully learn something from it to kind of expand your thinking about building a physical product’s business. So without further ado, Paul, welcome to the video.
Paul: Thank you, Matt. It’s a pleasure to be here, I really appreciate the opportunity.
Matt: Yeah, awesome, yeah. I appreciate you coming here. So just so everyone knows, we’ll talk about this in a second, but I’ve actually got a couple of Paul’s products here. A lot of times, people are, don’t wanna share their products. They feel like people are gonna steal them and that kind of thing. Paul’s very open about this, he’s got a licensing deal, he’s got a lot of brand protection, and so it’s kind of cool that we get to show his products, and we’ll talk about that in just a second. But yeah, we’ll talk about that in just a second, but first off, Paul, if you don’t mind, let’s just kind of talk about how’s your business doing today. What’s on the radar, what did you do last year in terms of revenue, what do you think you’ll do this year, what’s going on with your business now?
Paul: Okay, great. Love to talk about it, happy to share a little bit about my business. As you know, it’s been amazing. I’m happy to go back in my background, but this year, we’re probably on track to do six million, six to eight million depending on how things work out. I just had one of the best moments of my year in March. Of course, it’s been a pretty short year so far, but March was an amazing month for us. We had a global retail distribution deal going, so we’re really looking forward to seeing our products in brick-and-mortar stores at the end of Q4, or during Q4, and it’s just an exciting time. We’re pursuing new licenses, building new products, but all within our category.
Matt: Cool, awesome. So that’s awesome. The cooler part is that you haven’t had this business very long. When did you start this business?
Paul: I started in 2015, beginning of 2015 [inaudible 00:06:10].
Matt: Okay, cool. So yeah, we’re at about beginning of 2018, so right about three years now, and why did you start this business to begin with?
Paul: It’s like we talked about on stage. I was actually a free store restaurant franchisee, and I was on the last of three stores, having gone through some really difficult times and having to basically downsize my operation. I had one store up in Cumberland, Maryland, about two and a half hours from my house. I live in Virginia outside of D.C., and basically, I had to go back and take over that store from the general manager, let him go and try to focus all my time and attention on this one last remaining store with about maybe a 10-month window to make it work. Because if I didn’t make my money during the summer and the fall, basically, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the winter. So I was just chugging along there, and one day after an open-and-close-shift, which for us is about 14 hours, I came home, had a email in my email box from one of their affiliates.
Paul: Basically, Ryan Daniel Moran, and I clicked through, I looked at the testimonials, and I’m thinking, “If these guys can do this, all these guys can do what they’re saying, I can do it too.” So I signed up that night, initially as a plan B, but it quickly turned into a plan A, thankfully.
Matt: Yeah, it’s awesome. So what do you think attracted you to this specific business model?
Paul: Well, I loved the idea that the freedom that you can have, being able to work from basically anywhere. I was tied down to having to live away from home in a little garage apartment, physically going in and out of that store for 12-14 hours a day. I just loved the idea that you could manage it, basically remotely.
Matt: Okay. Okay. Cool. And I guess because your previous business, running restaurants, you’ve very much tied down to a specific location.
Paul: Exactly, yeah. [inaudible 00:08:19] managing remotely, the scalability is crazy. You can’t, you’re really limited to, in a restaurant, you’re limited to the number of seats you have. You are not limited to the number of seats, that’s for sure.
Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Cool. So then, you basically get inside of Amazing Selling Machine, you start building your business, then what happens next? How did you go about picking your first product, how did that work out, and how did you get into what you’re selling now?
Paul: Well, I basically follow the principles of product selection. I went through a couple of products that didn’t exactly meat the criteria, and through the community, community of sellers and bouncing off my products between some mentors, I really got shot down on a couple of products, which is good because I don’t think they would’ve been successful. But eventually, I came across a product that I had used in the past, something that I had, I actually still have the old broken one up in my drawer upstairs. And they were sleep headphones, and it kind of met the criteria, and I could get in for a pretty low MLQ, a low amount of investment. So I ordered my first batch, and I tried it out, made it a new listing. It did a better job, got great reviews, good images, good copy, q-word research, everything that you teach, and that product took off.
Matt: Cool. And so I have one of them here. You said this is kind of the adult version, and would this be similar to the first one that you sold?
Paul: Very similar, but I actually wanted to get started so bad, I started out with the manufacturer’s branding on it. I didn’t even rebrand it to my brand in the beginning. That quickly took off, so I quickly private-labeled it and did it, but that would be one of the, that was probably the second generation, what you’re holding there.
Matt: Okay, cool. And how did things go from there? How did you scale your business up?
Paul: So I really, again, looking to improve the product, I made different designs, different styles, and expanded all within that product line. That was an adult product, but as I was working on the adult products, trying to get images, I hired a photographer to do a photo shoot, and that photographer put one of those sleep headphones on her 10-year-old girl holding an iPad, and a light went off for me. I’m like, “Wow, that’s a great idea.” Maybe this would be a great product for kids. So I had my daughter, who was 16 at the time, drawed a couple of sketches of animal characters. I think it was like a cat, dog, frog, and I sent a frog into my manufacturer, had her make a small quantity run, and we sold them, and think it was fourth quarter of 2015, and we just went right away.
Paul: So, and the feedback that we got from customers was amazing. So we knew we had something good on our hands.
Matt: Yeah, it’s awesome. So you start with basically zero experience, and you start off by saying, “I’m gonna sell this product,” but you start with the manufacturer’s brand because you just wanna get it up and live quick, and then you go and your kind of next iteration is like, “I’m gonna put my own brand on this thing,” which you’re still taking a product that basically, the manufacturer is producing for everyone, and you’re putting your logo here and on the packaging and all that good stuff, and then kind of the next step is you kind of get this idea, this light bulb goes off, and then this is a newer one, I think, but you had one that’s similar with some sort of animal on there, and I guess a frog, and how did you go about it? How big of a hassle was it going from “This is off the shelf with the manufacturer” to “I want a custom frog on this thing.” How did that process go with the manufacturer?
Paul: It was really amazing, amazingly simple with the frog, for example. Because that, the product that you have there is Lycra. The other one is fleece, and it was really nothing more than a slightly different shape, a slightly different fabric color, and some embroidery. And that’s why I chose the frog, because it was simplest to do, and you always had your communications difficulties, maybe when you’re dealing with a foreign supplier, but we worked out through a couple of samples until we found something that we liked, and we took that same process and made several other CozyPhones originals. I have a panda, a fox, a unicorn, and it was basically the same process. Draw a set of specs. Now I ended up hiring a designer who could do, was more experienced with working with manufacturing and giving specifications, but it was basically the same process. A little bit more advanced.
Matt: Okay, and then how long did it take from the first one, your daughter draws it on a sheet of paper, to actually having it available on Amazon?
Paul: That is probably four months.
Matt: Okay, that’s not too bad.
Paul: That was a pretty tight timeline, actually.
Matt: Okay, and then you basically have this unique design. Those keep doing very well, and then you said you created some similar ones, and where did it go from there? How did this licensing thing come about?
Paul: I was seeing a lot of success. We had been putting it out in the Facebook groups, getting great feedback, and I knew as we were adding different variations, they were taking off, and I was getting very concerned about somebody just knocking us off. “How am I gonna protect and grow my brand” was my big question. How am I gonna protect and grow this? I’ve got something great on my hands, and I called around to different friends and mentors of mine, and one of my friends, Mark Hirsch, just recommended looking into licensing. He’s got a brother that’s in the toy business, and they do a lot of licensing there. I knew nothing about it, he recommended that I attend the Licensing Expo in Vegas. So I signed up, registered online, and just kind of went out to the Licensing show, knowing nothing, but made my first licensing deal from that show.
Matt: Okay, and then along this way, how did your revenue kinda grow from last year, 2017, you did four and a half million. Do you remember how it ended up in 2015, which was like your first partial year, 2016, which was your first full year?
Paul: It’s been about double-double. First year was a little over a million, second year was a little over two, and then last year 4.5. So I’d love to say it’s gonna be nine this year, but I’m being conservative on saying that.
Matt: So then the one I have here, I guess you ended up with a licensing deal with Nickelodeon, and this is Paw Patrol, and it’s got a cool little dog on here. No kids, so I’m not super familiar with this, but it sounded like, when we did the live event, everyone was familiar with this. So yeah, this is one of the ones with the Nickelodeon, and Nickelodeon, is that the only licensing deal you have, or are you pursuing other ones, or is it kind of exclusive or what?
Paul: The very first one, which was kind of my beginner deal, and it worked out really nice, was with a children’s book author, and the book is called The What-If Monster, it’s kind of like a book that helps kids to get confidence, and that was very easy to do because it’s kind of like one entrepreneur to another. And so we did that, she had a nice audience of 40,000 people or so promoted it, and that was successful in its own, and we, as that one as a case study, when we connect to Nickelodeon, said, “Look, we’ve done well with this, we’d really like to look at Nickelodeon.” I was going after characters that I knew from my kids growing up like SpongeBob and other characters like that, but they know what’s hot, and they said, “You have to do Paw Patrol.”
Paul: So we ended up having Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a couple of others.
Matt: Okay. And then, I don’t know if you’re, I’m sure you’ve got some sort of agreement, you can’t give all the details or whatever, but in general, how does this licensing deal work for you? How does the money flow work, what can you do, what can’t you do, what are they doing, what are you doing, that kind of thing.
Paul: Great question, and there’s a lot of mystery to that process. Took me a long time to learn licensing. A lot of expense and lawyers and licensing consultants, but basically, in this case, for us as Amazon sellers, we are renting somebody else’s property, intellectual property like a character, a name, or something. We’re just renting that from them, and putting it on our product. Like one of my favorite examples is George Foreman Grill. Everybody’s fluent in George Foreman. Well, George doesn’t really make grills, right. There’s an appliance company that makes grills, and they rent the name of George Foreman to put on there, and of course, he endorses them. Now so, we rent it in the form of paying royalties. So I sign a contract with Nickelodeon and says that “I’m gonna give you x percentage of my sales as a royalty,” and then I have to guarantee that royalty. So you’re guaranteed a certain amount for the life of the contract. You usually have to pay a small advance up front to sign the contract, and then you have to report your sales every quarter and write them a check.
Paul: You know, if you’re like me, Nickelodeon for me was a no-brainer. Now I’m out there aligned with this amazing global brand, and that has allowed us then to have credibility when we go talk to distributors.
Matt: Awesome. So yeah, you’ve had a lot of quick success with this business, relatively quick. But yeah, you’ve done very, very well. You know, what does your kind of team look like? How do you manage this business Amazon-side and everything else today? Well, last year, my team was actually bigger than it is today because I was trying to figure out the whole distribution piece. Thinking if we really wanna be competitive and be, go after the biggest licenses, then you have to be brick-and-mortar. So I try to bring on consultants and other people that could help me in that way, but after the distribution agreement, where a distributor’s taking that off my plate, now I only have a team of about four people. So it’s me, a couple of B.A.s in the Philippines who help me with customer service. I have a head of customer service here stateside, and I have a social media person that helps me out, and then I actually have another ASMer who helps me out with some of my keywords and pay-per-click advertising.
Paul: Okay. And then you know, along this way of building your business, what do you think, in this specific business, has been your biggest challenge?
Matt: Biggest challenge. Well, keeping up with inventory, which is a good problem to have, has been huge, because I only started out with about $5,000. So taking those sales, and then rolling them back into inventory, rolling back inventories. Cash management has been a huge problem for me.
Paul: So what do you think is like, what have you learned along the way that’s kind of helped you in that area, or is it still kind of, you’re still having, haven’t got a great solution yet?
Matt: It’s still, thankfully, it’s still a problem. I say thankfully because when you’re growing that fast, cash is always gonna be a problem. But I have, along the way, identified certain resources. There’s Amazon Lending. Now there’s a bunch of other third-party lenders out there that’ll help you fund your inventory. It’s actually a lot easier today than it has been. Of course, you have to have a sales history and be able to show that you can repay those inventory loans if you need to. But it’s definitely gotten a lot better.
Paul: Cool. And so now that you’ve built this business, the sky’s kind of the limit at this point, you’re expecting, you’ve doubled your business in the past or hoping to do it again this year, how is your life different now than before you started this business?
Matt: Well, you know, we talked about this on stage. Part of my transition was having an accident that forced me into focusing on Amazon, not being able to work in the restaurant anymore. That time, which was about three years ago today, was a low point in my life. I didn’t know how I was gonna pay for college for my daughter, I didn’t know if I’d even be able to keep my house after that last restaurant went down, and so outlook on life has really changed. The ability to just run this business from home and create something that’s gonna be hopefully, hugely valuable, and now that after starting over, age 53, is absolutely incredible.
Paul: Awesome, yeah, that’s really cool. So you know, we’ve got a lot of people that are sitting here watching, we’ll have even more to watch. The replay of this, we’ve had, like I’ve said, almost 100,000 people, 200,000 people that have seen the other video that we recorded from the live event. But there’s people that are sitting out there and they’re like, “I don’t know if this is for me, I don’t know if I should start this, I’ve got who knows what going on in my life, I’ve got kids I gotta take care of, I got a husband and wife, they may or may not believe in the business,” everyone’s got their own kind of story behind this. Like what is your advice to those people checking this out? We’ve got our free video series and all that, but at some point, they have to kind of jump in.
Matt: First of all, look at the free videos. I mean, and understand that those are real life stories. This is a real life story. I actually, people wonder why I’d come on live with you, and that is I wanna inspire people that are in my same situation. It is a amazing turnaround. I hope nobody’s ever in that situation that I was in. It was a terrible time, but you really have to jump out of your comfort zone and put yourself in, sometimes, uncomfortable situations. I have a friend of mine who I coached a little bit because was in the restaurant business in a similar situation to mine. Really technophobic, had no idea, and didn’t think he could do it, and today, he’s making a great side income on Amazon, even though, and that’s because he jumped into something he was unfamiliar with, and every success that I’ve had in my business so far came from jumping into something that I really knew nothing about, but just absorbing it from the experts as much as I could.
Paul: Great, cool. Yeah, I really appreciate it. Yeah, and I appreciate you taking the time to share this, and wish you the best of luck with your business ball.
Matt: Thank you very much.
Paul: Yeah, so thanks for joining. So everyone, that was Paul Miller. Got an amazing story. His business is going like this, and he’s gonna be super successful. He already is very successful, and you can get started, basically, just like him. Like he said, we’ve got a free video series. So if you go to ASMNow.com/free, you basically get four free videos. The first two are live, the next two are coming very soon. Lots of free bonuses, we’ve got a software tool, all that stuff just to show you the fundamentals of building this business. Taking whatever experience you have, which most people that start this have no prior experience selling physical products, selling on Amazon. No problem, we’ve been there before, and we’ve helped tens of thousands of people at this point get started just like you, and so start with the first video.
Paul: It talks about the opportunity, and it talks about the model, because you’re not going out there and selling other people’s products, you’re selling your own brand of products, exactly like Paul’s talking about, and you’re going through iterations, just like Paul has done. You know you don’t start with, “I’m not getting started until I get a licensing deal,” you start with just selling something basic and then going from there, learning along the way, and you learn all about product selection and everything like that in video one. Video number two, you’ll learn about suppliers, how to source any kind of product you want from China, or from the US, or really from anywhere. You’ll learn how to use Amazon’s fulfillment centers to basically, in fulfillment service so that you can let them take care of all the shipping and most of the customer service for your products, so you can run this business from anywhere.
Paul: And in the third video, we talk a lot about marketing, how to launch products, how to beat big brands, and in the fourth video, we kind of help you put it all together, and you see the path that everyone took to kind of achieve a lot of success. So check out all four of those videos, ASMNow.com/free. Subscribe to our channel, like our Facebook, and we hope to see you soon on another live session and in one of our future videos. Thanks for watching.
Matt Clark is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Amazing.com, a serial entrepreneur, and investor. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNBC, and Entrepreneur.com.