Written by: Patrick Maioho
Introduction by: Shannon Gonzenbach
One of the most rewarding parts of what we do, is actually seeing the success entrepreneurs, such as yourself, are having in this business! Last month we received a letter from ASM member, Patrick Maioho, which told the amazing story of how he got started!
Hearing Patrick?s story brought up so many great points about what it means to be an entrepreneur and reminded us of what it takes to get where we are right now. His story was so moving that we wanted to share it with all of you, as well as catch up with him to see how his business is going right now.
Matt and Jason,
Over the past few days I have been contemplating the last year or so and the turbulent ride I experienced in my personal life, as well as my new business and the gratitude I have for where I am now. This is my ASM story. I want it to be a vehicle to provide encouragement as well as an expression of appreciation and gratitude.
In August of 2013 I was on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco (on my way home from Vietnam) and I was sharing a row with a gentleman (although there was a seat between us) that was traveling with a group of people from a program called the Amazing Money Machine (I believe that?s what it was called at the time). I had not heard of this program at all, and as my new acquaintance began explaining the concept of the program, I became very interested. He was very enthusiastic about his new business as well as traveling with this small mastermind group that took a trip to China in order to learn more about, and to meet potential suppliers, as well as sourcing overseas in general.
At this point in my career I was a successful business and project development director for a company that manufactured and sourced automotive product overseas, namely China and Vietnam. This AMM member and I spoke at length about our experiences, backgrounds and our overseas adventures; well, mostly my overseas adventures, as his was very little and mine more rich. At the same time though, I was very interested in this AMM concept, as I found it fascinating that one person could have a successful business on Amazon. While I am not tech or internet-illiterate, I suddenly felt business internet-ignorant, especially after meeting a couple of the more successful members on the same trip (members that I would recognize later on). It is probably for the best that I had no idea who these guys were at the time.
At the end of our flight, my row mate and I exchanged contact information. He told me that the program was going to open up again pretty soon and that he would email me a link. A few weeks later I did hear from him, and he sent the link to what would be the ASM2 program. I sat and watched the video, but in the end I did not join?
In the summer of 2012 my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer that had metastasized throughout her body. For over a year, she lived a healthy and active life, as the treatments she was undergoing were effective without being too aggressive to impede her day-to-day routine; however, by September of 2013, that had changed. She began chemo treatments, which, after two rounds, put her in intensive care for over a week. At this point, she had made the decision to forgo chemo and live with whatever time she had left. The oncologist had given her approximately 5 – 6 months.
That fall, we, as a family, spent as much time as we could with my mom. ASM was not a priority for me obviously, but the decision not to join did weigh on me. I was pretty conflicted about it since I am pretty skeptical of these internet opportunities (we all know the ones), but I had a good feeling that this one was different. I think having met people in person that were on a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco provided some validation. I remember telling my wife after the doors closed that I think I missed a really good opportunity. In that same breath I said that, if it ever opened up again, I would join.
Things were up and down with my Mom?s health over the course of the fall and early winter. We celebrated Christmas as a family, and it appeared she was making a small, but noticeable, comeback. By December 28th, she declined rapidly and the oncologist recommended that she not travel to her winter getaway because of her health. A few days after New Years, we had 24/hr care for her and hospice. Over the next 9 weeks we took care of our Mom. It was a bittersweet period; one of the greatest gifts that my Mom gave to us was letting us take care of her. When she passed away, I was in China on a business trip that I had been putting off for several weeks. She had insisted I go, but it still haunts me to this day.
At the beginning of April, I was listening to a podcast. The guest on the podcast was someone that was selling very successfully on Amazon and building a real business. Of course I knew what it was right away – when I got home, I excitedly told my wife about ASM being open again! I was so excited! Her? Not so much. Even as a loving and supportive wife, I know at the time she thought I was just grasping at straws and trying to find something to fill the void. She may have been somewhat right, but I reminded her of my statement from the previous fall. She agreed to at least listen to the podcast with an open mind, and when we finished she said, ?Let?s watch the videos together, and then decide.? After watching all of the videos together, we decided to join ASM.
On the first day that ASM3 opened, I think I must have been one of the first ones in! I joined without doubt or fear! The only drawback was that I had to wait almost two weeks to get started on the modules, and as I excitedly waited for the modules to start, I got kick in the pants number two: the owner of our company, where I was currently employed, had somewhat of a mid-life crisis. He wanted to shut down his company. At the time, a colleague of mine and I were working toward buying the company over a five year period. The owner though, was adamant about getting out immediately. Deals were struck with our customers and our suppliers, and our inventory was committed for purchase. My colleague, who was living in Vietnam with his family, was back in the states within a few weeks. We finished out our time, and before summer, I was unemployed.
Being unemployed gave me the advantage of working through the modules. Everything was going along great until we had to choose our product and find a supplier! Wow. I am sure many a member had product anxiety right out of the gate. Even with all of my experience and confidence, I was still a mess! We went through four or five ideas until we found the one we liked (even with the great method provided by ASM). Of course, the product we want isn?t manufactured in the USA. So we went overseas. No problem, I have experience overseas to help me. But no past experience could prepare me for this. In my previous job, I was able to leverage suppliers and make new contacts because I had the springboard of my company and counterparts in China and Vietnam that worked for us. This was totally new. But we made it work and, after screening SEVERAL suppliers for our product, we found one.
I won?t bore you with the details of branding, design, marketing and all of that.
In late July, we launched our product. Friends and family made purchases and left reviews. It was a tremendous showing of support, but after that initial burst in purchases, everything went dry. Days would go by without a sale. Nerves were starting to twitch! I?m sure many can relate. As days turned into weeks, we had only seen a few sales. Reviews were coming in, and phone calls were made to follow-up every purchase.
Modules were being rerun and reviewed in our house. Was I missing something? Where were the sales? It?s not like I have a seasonal product. Frustration was setting in. I began reaching out to members of the Facebook community and engaging in the ASM Membership Forum (and let me tell you as a side note, it is a wealth of information. It may take time to digest it all, but I found it very difficult to find someone that had not already asked the same questions I had. And the few new questions I did have, were answered promptly and respectfully). Some members returned messages and gave me a few moments of their time (and I am so VERY grateful for that) and some members did not (and I do not take any of that personally as I know we all have busy lives and they cannot answer everyone?s private message).
The one recurring theme I came away with was this: you need to DO SOMETHING everyday. You may not see the results instantly, but like a snowball, it will build little by little. And it did. Even though it was difficult to see at the time, it WAS building.
As you can imagine, things were a little stressful at home. I was working in my home office with two young kids that love to interrupt their Dad! My wife was a stay-at home-mom who was adjusting to her husband now staying at home as well. Additionally, we were watching our savings go out with little to no income returning. At one point my wife asked me if I had been looking for a new job – she wasn?t happy with my answer. Even though we were in this together, the fact that I was putting in all this work, that we were putting in all this work, without the results we were looking for, was starting to wear her down. I don?t blame her one bit, but I knew then, just as I know now, that if I DID SOMETHING everyday for my business, good things would happen. I think the worst part was when my wife?s parents asked if we needed any money. Don?t get me wrong, I love my in-laws and am so blessed that they would offer part of their hard earned retirement to support our family. For a week I conceded and looked for a job, but as you may have guessed, it wasn?t a priority! My heart just wasn?t in it!
By this time, 2 or 3 competitors had become 3 – 4 dozen competitors! We had done everything we could to set ourselves apart, but we felt we were stuck in a rut. As sales were slowly coming in, we decided we needed a surge, something a little extra?the same type of surge that could be made through Facebook advertising. Ezra Firestone and Justin Aquila run a program through Amazing Academy called Social Secrets. This program teaches you to leverage the power of Facebook advertising to get, not only quick discounted sales to spike the algorithm, but to also build a customer email list and sustainable full price sales! This part of the program definitely provided a much-needed injection for us. While I believe ASM provides ALL the tools necessary to be successful at building an online business with the Amazon platform, the Social Secrets program is more of an accelerant. Frankly speaking, my wife was not too happy about me putting even MORE money into this business, and I was hesitant as well, but I was confident this would provide us the jump-start we were looking for.
By the fall, with the methods provided by ASM with and utilizing the lessons learned in the Social Secrets program, we were making headway. We had gotten a Best Seller badge for our sub-category. By the end of the Social Secrets program we were making our first restocking order! By the time our inventory was shipping from overseas, we were running out of inventory! We were making sales! By the time our inventory arrived at Amazon, we were Fulfilling by Merchant through FBA! (see the pre-order dance for reference). At this point, I had to shut our Amazon PPC off as we were trying to slow down sales.
As we began to get more sales, we were getting more reviews and seller ratings. Once both our Product Reviews and our Seller Ratings hit 20 or 30, we were off to the races! We finally hit our 1k badge, then our 5k badge. This was unbelievable?many ASM members know that feeling, and those that don?t, believe me, WILL! I hadn?t even turned our Amazon PPC ads back on at this point because the bidding was becoming OUTRAGEOUS. Needless to say, our sales were again picking up, and reviews were coming in, as well as more seller ratings?
And then, we hit 50 Product Reviews and 50 Seller Ratings. All but a few product reviews were 5 Star, and the ones that were not 5 Star Reviews were 4 Star! I was starting to notice our product was being promoted on Amazon – for FREE! You know that little side bar that pops up sometimes that says ?Top Rated, Most Wished For, Most Popular?? We started appearing on those randomly. Then we started appearing on all of them! We were #1 and #2 on two different sub-categories/search nodes! We kept making phone calls and responding to every single thing we could from customers and Amazon. It didn?t matter how trivial the matter, we responded. We engaged. Customers were writing GREAT reviews and really complimenting our customer service. And when got our first negative Seller Rating from a customer that did not appreciate being contacted on their cellphone to (in their words) solicit a review (to which we responded to right away) we had 3 customers in a row (responding to her) leave feedback in the Seller Rating applauding our Customer Service!
Success for me when I first started was making money on Amazon. Having a lifestyle. And while those things are still goals of mine, I found out what REAL success is for me. The accolades of our customers, knowing that we did it right! that we delivered and we made each one of them feel like the most important customer in the world! Success is hearing the excitement in my wife?s voice when she has a great conversation with a customer and gets an awesome review from the call. We were building a fan base?and it felt (and still feels) AWESOME!
We made another inventory order in anticipation of the holiday shopping season with a little hesitancy and with caution toward not putting too much capital out there?
And then, the Monday before Thanksgiving, my wife?s car died. Internal leak in the radiator. Head gasket blown. For those that wrench, they understand all that far better than me; however, when I hear ?blown head gasket? that means the vehicle is done. No time to buy a replacement. We can get by. Is it inconvenient? yes; but easier than it would have been if I was employed for someone other than myself. Besides, having two cars is overrated?that?s what I tell myself because I would rather invest that money into the business instead of another car. That can wait until later.
Black Friday. What can I say? the snowball was building. I knew the holiday season would pick-up, but I had NO IDEA how much and I was totally unprepared! We sold a lot of units on Black Friday through CyberMonday. I had raised my price in order to slow down sales. I raised it quite a bit and yet, my product was flying. It was flying at a price 40 – 100% higher than my competitors! Yes, I mean that against a few of my competitors I was selling my brand, my product for more than DOUBLE of what they had theirs listed.
Whenever I would read about someone raising their price to slow down sales and it actually increased sales I would think to myself that it was BS or a good problem to have. Anyone else think both of these things at the same time? In my mind, having no inventory was better than not being able to move inventory. I realize now that I was looking at that scenario the wrong way. Having inventory to sell is better than having NO inventory to sell. I remember waking up at one point in the night and looking at my Seller Central App (ok – who DOESN?T DO THIS?!?!?) and being floored at the amount of units that sold and kicking myself again knowing that I would run out of stock by morning. I am also an Amazing Profit Monthly member and I remember reading in the September issue (I believe) about preparing for the holidays. Believe me, at the time, it seemed like a pipe dream. A pipe dream that blew up in my face! But I had a shiny new 10k badge to show for it!
Before I get into what happened next, I want to make a disclaimer: what I did over the following days was a gamble, and it was a business decision my wife and I made.
My supplier told me I was 2 weeks out before my product would arrive. This is the Tuesday after the Black Friday and CyberMonday event. In doing some math, I took a big pair of dice and rolled them. I set a restocking date and opened up my FBM listing. Everyday we were getting orders. A lot of orders. I decided I better place another order. Now, the supply I had coming in was twice my previous orders, so I thought I was pretty well set. And as my product got delayed, I was starting to sweat. A lot. But, with 6 days to spare, my product arrived at Amazon and my FBA listing was reactivated. I immediately turned off the FBM listing and noticed that all the unshipped orders amounted to HALF my inventory order that arrived at FBA. Oh boy. I got to work uploading the FBM orders to the Fulfill by Merchant (flat file upload) and while this is a relatively easy process, the downside is that you have to manually enter in each tracking number. Yeah. It was a pain. But I got it done and all of the product shipped out 5 days before my restock date. I had gone to the edge as far as I could and made it work.
My inventory showed up on a Wednesday. It?s the middle of the holiday shopping season. Amazon loves me. My product is selling. Amazon is pushing my brand! By Friday I sold out. By FRIDAY I sold out. 2 days. I sold what was my entire first inventory order in two days. I am out of inventory, I have no sales and my inventory order will not be in before Christmas.
So, as I sit here writing all this down, I am staring at a couple of badges I earned with pride (25k, #1 Seller) and doing the math – as I know I have missed enough sales to get me to 50k; however, because I know I cannot change the past, I chalk it up as another lesson learned. Our hard work, persistence and faith in the program and in ourselves has paid off; we have recouped our entire investment and have turned a profit and we are dedicating our profits into growing our business,
Even now, without inventory, I DO SOMETHING everyday. I check for reviews and respond to everyone (yes, I am one of those people that believe in responding to every review). I convert Seller Ratings to Product Reviews. We make phone calls (as there are a lot of them – and we have the time!) to all of our customers (I?m going to have to review a couple of modules now – outsourcing with VA?s and scaling!). We are in the middle of negotiating our next product and going through the checklists and reviewing modules again. We are doing something. Everyday. We are blessed to be in a position of transition of working ON our business and not IN our business in 2015. It may be a struggle to overcome the lack of inventory and missed sales, but I know that there is a system in place to get back at it! The ASM program and in turn, our business, is the absolute best investment financially we have made. No matter what ~ we are excited about the future of our business!
2014 has been a year of ups and downs for me personally, carrier-wise and business/ASM-wise. Many in ASM have had tremendous success right off the bat. That is truly fantastic! I applaud them (and I really want to meet with them at the live event:) !) Many in ASM are where I am at – and it?s nice to be here. There are some ASM Members that are struggling right now. I understand where they are at. I?ve been there; however, if I could talk to each one of them, I would say this: ?I am here to tell you, that if you have a vision, a goal, a belief, whatever you want to call it, for your future, you can obtain it. Don?t not compare where you are at with someone else?s success. Compare where you are at with where you were and where you want to be. That?s the true measurable. Celebrate EVERY win. And no matter what the circumstances are, DO SOMETHING right now. I sound like a broken record, I know. But DO SOMETHING. Every little action has an effect. It may not be the effect you want or desire, but it will give you the information needed to take the next action.?
There are a few people that I need express my gratitude and appreciation to in this letter?
To my wonderful wife, thank you for supporting me, even in the tough times as things looked bleak. We could not have done this without each other. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
To Matt Clark and Jason Katzenback, I am truly and forever grateful to you both for putting together this program, for providing a system for people to seize and opportunity and build a business. Thank you for the community that you have put together; it is as valuable as the program itself.
To the gentlemen I met on the United Airlines flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. You may not remember me, and I have left you nameless on purpose, but I remember you. All of you played a part in me becoming a member of the ASM Family.
And finally, to everyone in the ASM Community, especially those that have taken time to provide insight to me personally or posted a valuable comment on the Facebook page or took a moment out of your day to answer my or someone else?s question on the member board or Facebook page, thank you. Your willingness to share in your success has made a difference in my business. I have tried to emulate that and I am committed to doing the same.
With sincere appreciation and gratitude,
When speaking with Patrick in person I couldn?t believe what a positive and motivating person he is! Patrick launched his first product in July of 2014 and is at his $25K badge currently. He adjusted his busy employee life to a life of working from home and running his own business from top to bottom.
When he met the ASM/AMM members on the plane, he had already heard of the program; however, he didn?t know enough about it to be persuaded to research or join it. For Patrick, meeting members in person, who were successful, was the game-changer.
?This whole concept to me, it really piqued my interest, that whole wanting to be an entrepreneur, wanting to have my own business even at that time and listening to him talking. He was so enthusiastic about it. I think most ASM people, no matter what their success level, when they?re into it and they buy in, they are very enthusiastic. I?m very enthusiastic, whenever I tell anybody about my business…How it became interesting was, ere was one person, one person just like me. He wasn?t a high-powered executive, he was just a normal guy like me, and he was building a legitimate business on Amazon.?
Patrick?s story can relate to so many who have changed their everyday to pursue this business. He has overcome loss, the business of everyday life and roadblocks when starting. He reminds me that we constantly have to be DOING something. Everyday there is something you can be doing to grow or better your business and you can?t either give in when starting slow, or just assume you are doing everything right so it should work. You have to take the tools and apply them to your business and then work daily to figure out HOW they work for your business. For Patrick he just needed an accelerant for sales. He had the foundation, but needed to bring in the traffic and Social Secrets gave him that push.
Thank you Patrick for sharing your story and for working daily for your goals! All of us can learn from you and learn to be proactive in our business constantly. If nothing else, I hope readers walk away from reading this with the motivation to DO SOMETHING!
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.