Amazon Startup Success Story - Teddy Smith - Amazing FBA - How to sell on Amazon UK
Amazon Startup Success Story – Teddy Smith

Teddy Smith is an Amazon Seller, eCommerce Consultant, and Digital Nomad currently based in London.

History of Teddy’s Amazon business

Started June 2019 – did a couple before that but not “real business”

Decided didn’t have a product idea in mind.

But kept seeing same products on Jungle Scout

Looked at other ways to source products.

Decided wanted to do handmade and interiors

Through listening to podcasts, decided not to source from China.

So doing what others don’t!

Teddy’s Background

Since learning University in  2011, Teddy was a Management consultant working for big company

Did the functional design for ecommerce

  • Going to stakeholders
  • Building requirements

Eg product like introducing a new payment provider to a big retailer online

Setting up Business systems

And project managing development work.

Developers who would build things.

Didn’t really enjoy the day job anymore

First Business

Previously had another business – photo booths for weddings and corporate events.

Started that because could do on side because evenings and weekends and could do that

Income of that built up income.

Wasn’t sure wanted to be tied to London. And no longer enjoying the events

Sold that business.

What made you decide to go into selling on Amazon?

Didn’t enjoy job that much! Was tied to one place.

Googled “How to make money online”

Things like crypto-currency and drop shipping sounded spammy.

Then came across Amazon. It sounded like you could build a proper online retail business.

Current results

Selling around 12-13K  in Feb 2020 (from first selling this product line in June 2018)

This is in the USA but Teddy is set to expand into the UK in 2020.

Testing the water

Set aside £1000 to test.

Teddy used Jungle Scout million dollar case study blog.

Showed all the steps needed to create the product.

Classic pattern:

  • Find a product on Alibaba
  • Redesign it in some way,
  • Put your own branding on it.
  • Sell on Amazon

Found an air freshener made of bamboo and charcoal.

Not much profit and competitive.

Didn’t cost too much and got money back.

But didn’t really want to get into an area of such high competition.

It also didn’t excite Teddy

What insights did you get from that test?

  • Quite a big supplier, he organised our shipping for-  for someone just starting, very helpful.
  • But also taught about how to do shipping codes
  • How to create photos, inc infographics.
  • Shipped products to Serbia and got them photographed
  • But could do own photography and a good photo shopper

How did you decide what products to sell?

  • While initial product was being made in China, realised things were made elsewhere.
  • Thought it might be competitive advantage to source elsewhere.
  • Considered a whole load of places – Looked at India and Vietnam were  – but these were where

Retail without Borders podcast

Looked into sourcing websites for handicrafts etc.

Ended up finding a few suppliers that did high-quality stuff

Teddy’s first product handmade in Vietnam – didn’t visit Vietnam.

Wished had done as did visit India – found it a great way to do it – found

Finding the kind of product to sell

Websites and profiles showed the kind of products they made.

That showed what was out there.

They knew they wanted to be in homeware space and design.

Used what found THEN did research.

Researching OFF Amazon

Eg Teddy sees what is selling well on John Lewis – a lot of them have reviews on them.

Then looks on Amazon and see if something similar was on there.

Another benefit is that big companies spend a lot of money on design so you’re getting a lot of design.  If something was on John Lewis but not on Amazon, that could be a great product.

Originally used the JS chrome extension -which still uses

Also used the web app but thought lots of people are seeing it too.

Partnership – with fiancée

Don’t talk about Amazon in bed but do talk about it in the evenings!

So they do have to work in the evenings but it’s not that difficult.

Splitting up tasks

Michael Gerber: The e-Myth is a big favourite of Teddy’s

  • Fiancée doing operations side
  • Teddy doing marketing

So the aim is to run things like a “proper business” – and to create a “brand” ie a name  that consumers recognise.

Starting budget

Started with around £7000 (plus £1000 for the test product), which  included first and second order.

They have added in a bit of capital – but most of the investment has come from the profits.

If they want to grow a bit faster, they’d need to invest more or borrow more.

Might borrow money from parents.

Off Amazon marketing or selling?

Started Shopify website but no sales yet.

Amazon seller support may be bad but Shopify is bad too!

Going to start pushing some traffic.

Are you working this alongside the day job?

Quit job last Jan 2019.

Had Photo Booth business –  Sold business as was no longer enjoying it.

Consultant for an e-commerce consultancy

Doesn’t have a day job at the moment but works for another company that has a few project managers and is an accountant manager.

Most of the clients have no Amazon presence at all – building it up from scratch.
A lot are big brands off Amazon doing a few million a year.

That includes PPC, copy. Like being an Amazon business owner

Teddy is a digital nomad although lives in London.

So a remote job was really helpful.

Boss is English but lives in Vietnam!

Plans and the future

Where are you wanting to go in a few years’ time?

It would be great to get the business to a point where it COULD be sold.

Even if chooses not to. Not sure what the numbers look like.

Meanwhile in 2020

Immediate Aim: Teddy and fiancée working on the business together and not having jobs. Her job is based in London so they want to become location independent.

Trying to professionalise it at the moment.

Introducing Virtual assistants.

But Teddy happy doing work as a consultant so not rushing to leave.

Virtual assistants

The bottom level of structure has very specific roles

  • Reporting eg monthly report
  • Running PPC

Teddy is trying to get VAs into those roles so they can take a strategic look at PPC.

Teddy is not very good at the detail of that. Having someone more specialist run it for them is working well.

An Agency was a consideration but they get expensive.

How did you find your VAs?

Upwork.

Got one VA from the Philippines who does emails and day to day operations.

Chose one from the previous (photobooth) business.

Another interviewed and had a few people put together proposals.

Did it for one month and check results.

Eastern Europeans Teddy has used:

  • Photographer
  • Graphic designer  (Ukraine)

What they have given Teddy:

  • Great English
  • Great work ethic
  • Quality work
  • Time difference is small (in UK)
 

Parting advice for starting on Amazon?

Go to trade shows

  • You find products you wouldn’t otherwise find
  • You get better prices
  • You can get a holiday out of it too

At Delhi show in October – Teddy wanted to buy everything! There is so much great stuff to discover.

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Michael Veazey 0:02

I hereby introduce to you, Mr. Michael Veazey. Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome to amazing FBA the place to be for UK based Amazon entrepreneurs. I'm your host Michael Veazey. Welcome to the show.

Michael Veazey 0:21

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to amazing FBA the place to be for British based Amazon sellers, although actually lots of America is listening as well. This is your host, Michael Veazey. I'm delighted today to welcome new friend Teddy Smith, who is an Amazon seller, the consultant and digital nomads but currently based in London, so he's nomadic near me. So we met up at a an Amazon event that we recently and was fascinated to hear his story and I said, Please come on the podcast. I'm delighted that he's agreed to come on and share his story. So Teddy, welcome to the show. Thank you. And so tell me a little bit about your, your Amazon business because I know you started really recently and things are taken off in a fairly rocket like way. So when when did you get started with your Amazon business?

Teddy Smith 1:05

So we got started probably in June to last year 2019. And we had sold a few products before that, but not in a very serious way. It was really just testing the water. And then so we started our current brands in June last year.And it's been going pretty well ever since then. There's been a few hiccups, but overall, it's been pretty good experience.

Michael Veazey 1:29

Excellent. So what brought you to go into Amazon? Well, before we get into that, we should probably just talk a little bit about your background. So what did you do as a day job or do you indeed do the day job?

Teddy Smith 1:41

Sure. So I mean, since leaving University in 2011, I was a man as a management consultant, and I started at Accenture. So I was working for like big retail brands mostly. Mostly, mostly as an expert in e commerce. So helping big brands do things like add a new payment gateway to their website. So I would be talking to the client, getting the requirements, then making sure the development team would build the requirements that we've discussed.

Teddy Smith 2:13

And basically, I just I got to the point where I just didn't really like my job that much anymore. And I was I wasn't really enjoying it. So I was looking at businesses I could do. And then I started my first business, which was a photobooth business, which has, which was the photo booths for, like, events corporate. And the reason I started that I think was, I think, was quite a while ago, but I think it was, mostly the events were at the weekend, so I thought I could do it without quitting my job and it was, um, you know, I could do it on the side without it being risking my entire career. And then and then I quit my job, my full time job in January last year, and carried on doing that full time. We've sold that business.

Teddy Smith 2:58

And then I then I think I think I was explaining earlier I had I did something like search how to make money online, because I got a bit fed up with doing events like in the, in the city and being tied to one place. So I think I looked at something like how to make money online in the UK the options I didn't really like the things like cryptocurrency and some other dropshipping. I just didn't like the sound of any of them. They sounded quite spammy. And then I came across Amazon and I thought it was great. I did because the comment, I can't remember which article it was I read, but the way that I was described it was you can start your own brands, you can, you know, build a proper online retail business that isn't just as a business that is going to be there for the future, essentially, and I just really liked the sound of it. And just probably as a lot of the listeners have done just like cat looking into it and just really like the idea of it.

Michael Veazey 3:56

Yeah, although unlike a lot of my listeners, and I have to say some of my clients You know who you are. If you're listening that you actually took action, which is great. I mean that so I know you've got some good results, just give us a bit of a headline result then. So we were talking in March 2020. You started? When did you actually get started with your business then did you say?

Teddy Smith 4:15

So June our first product went live. It was the middle of June. So we've got to 2019 then 2019 Yeah, so we so I mean, I guess we started in about a month before that. Probably. We did the research. I mean, it probably we probably did a few months of research. And then finally we just decided what we want success on. So last month, we did around 12,000 pounds turnover extra and that was in February, then that was in February.

Michael Veazey 4:43

All right, great. So it's not even got the Christmas boost. Depending on your products. Obviously, there may not be Christmasy products, but so that's obviously quite a serious result. So let's talk a bit about a couple of things. I want to dig into that. I mean, first of all, congratulations. That's really swift start that you got off to there. And that that's just a reminder of how quickly you can start on that. And I mean to try and get to those sales numbers with your own website, off the get off the bat after a few months would be really crazily difficult. So I want to just come back to something you said you sneaked in there. You said we did a couple of products first just to test the water. But I mean, obviously, that sounds like an important step. So tell me a bit about how how you went about that?

Teddy Smith 5:18

Sure. So we had a, we had a small amount of money that we set aside, which I think it was about 1000 pounds or something like that, which and we read the the Jungle Scout have a blog called the million dollar case study, which basically follows Greg Mercer who's the guy who runs the company, it follows him, basically showing someone who's never done Amazon before how to set up a business. And it's very high level, but it's made in a really engaging way. So it makes you think I can do this. But it followed the quite classic pattern of find a product in Alibaba, put orange sticker on it and then get it on made in China and then over to Amazon. And so we did that and our first product was was these air fresheners which were cool. We were made of bamboo charcoal, and they basically take impurities out there. I didn't even know if they weren't to be on this site. It was a bit of a punt, and I just put, I sold them and then we didn't make any money, but we got our money back. So we are quite happy with how that went. But we realized we didn't really want to get into an area that had such high competition, and was also not really a it just wasn't the sole product I liked. So I just didn't really, I didn't really want to do that anymore.

Michael Veazey 6:31

That makes a lot of sense. And by the way, I guess a lot of us have started with sort of plastic widgets from China that weren't that great but I really I just want to say how smart that is to start with say 1000 bucks or 1000 pounds depending which side of the pond right and and test because I think a lot of people go by the set, terrified at the edge of the pool and do nothing forever and research, research research and after three months of research with no action, I call that just fear masquerading as intelligence. But the other one is that You, you don't want to go straight into a 5000 quit order either than the classic way. So I think that that was a super smart thing to do. So what would you say you? What did you gain from doing things in that way? Then obviously, you got some insights like, this could work, and we don't want to sell rubbish. But what else do you say you would get from that?

Teddy Smith 7:18

So the first thing was, I think, I found my first part, especially, he was quite a big supplier. So he was able to do things like he did our he organize our shipping for us, which I know is not what he necessarily wants to go forward. But as a, as somebody who's just starting, it was actually a is actually very helpful. But it also tells us things like how you need to do your shipping codes, your tax codes, for example, when you're importing. It helps us to design photos. So when we're looking at what photos we needed, how we create infographics that we shipped off, we actually shipped our products over to Serbia to get them photographed because they were cheaper than getting the photographs over here. But now I realized I can probably do it.

Teddy Smith 8:00

If I get a good Photoshopper, which we have now, then you can it for the most part, you can do it like that. So that was something I learned, I guess it'd be quite difficult if you're doing clothes or something like that. But with a product that was static, it didn't really need to be photographed there. And then I don't think

Michael Veazey 8:16

Yeah, so there's always different ways of splitting up different processes aren't there and as you say that the post production as I recall it in photography can be something you'd outsource whereas the actual photography itself, depending on your setup, and you know, lighting you might be able to do yourself. And I would say, it really does come down to how competitive the area is, because some areas you just need to have really, really top quality photography. And but, you know, if you're just doing a test product, as you say, it makes sense to not overpay or the service and then Sue I'm certainly somewhere I've got several very intelligent people to do mostly web design or web, from my point of view developer and photographers as well. I've had a Polish photographer, Eastern Europe is full of some smart people, right? It's underused if you're based in the UK. All right, but sorry, I'm interrupting. You so there's quite a lot of insights there.

Teddy Smith 9:02

All the freelancers we use are actually from Eastern Europe. Yeah. Because I'm timezones good and their English is good, and I just find them very reliable.

Michael Veazey 9:10

Yeah, absolutely. Id' say the same thing. Quite a few American development companies as in software companies use developers in places like Ukraine, Moldova, whatever is that Eastern Europe Serbia as well. So they, they're just, yeah. Good, good quality workers, I would say Yeah. When to anyone who lives in London. That's no surprise because London's been run by you know, friendly poles and Serbians and Romanians and what have you for the last 20 years? Right, but we won't even get into that one.

Michael Veazey 9:34

So, okay, so you got started with your, your test order, obviously, sounds like you learnt loads from that, including what you weren't interested in. So obviously, one of the insights you got from your test launch is that you realize you didn't want to sell any old widgets that you didn't care about. So how did you come to decide on the actual product range that you now sell?

Teddy Smith 9:53

When we were initially looking for products? We realized that a lot of people were sourcing products from China and i went to India quite a lot when I was working at Accenture. So I knew I knew that they had a lot of manufacturing there as well. And so I thought I would look at other countries to source from. And so we kind of went down this country route first and try to find websites that's source products from other from other areas. There's by listening to podcasts, like retail without borders, and the sorts of people that were exhibiting that those soul shows and then so basically just looking deep into the internet from different sourcing websites, and just trying to find different suppliers of the of all sorts of handicrafts and things like that. And so we've ended up finding a few suppliers who did really good, high quality stuff.

Teddy Smith 10:44

Our first products we actually got made in Vietnam, and that one was all it's all made of like natural materials and was handmade and we didn't actually visit Vietnam at that point, which in hindsight, I would kind of wish we had because when we when we did visit India, we found so many Many suppliers there that it was such a good way to find suppliers and products that you can. So we could we found our suppliers first and then found the products afterwards, almost. And so that was the way we were thinking about it.

Michael Veazey 11:15

So that's really quite interesting. It sort of reminds me it feels like you come full circle. And most because one of the things that I've, I know in the earlier days of this game of private labeling and selling on Amazon when it was getting popular, and I did trading back in early 2014, and I met quite a few people who went to the Canton Fair, and kind of found stuff that caught their eye, and then kind of went and did the numbers afterwards. By the way, sometimes that can be a real disaster. I would urge anyone not to ever just buy a container load of stuff without doing any research. It sounds insane. But I actually did have a member of a sort of early burst of a mastermind that I did once who did that. I mean, fair play for taking action, but that's probably not the way forwardto too much action. So I would say in that case, yeah. But what you're saying is, it sounds like you didn't start with The usual while you did the Jungle Scout lead thing, and then you thought, well hang on everyone else is doing that, which is completely correct, by the way, including 60 or 70 of the Big East Coast factories in China as well, they will use Jungle Scout, but you decided to start with sourcing and then you went macro to micro other side of it, you know, where in the world is good? What's a good country? What good suppliers in that? And did you have any kind of idea of the sorts of product you were sourcing at all? Or was it purely supply led?

Teddy Smith 12:26

So it was pilot, but so we did. I mean, we did a lot of research. So we looked at lots of suppliers and we what I mean that their websites and their profiles on on different websites will show you the kind of products they would make. So that would give you an idea of what sort of stuff was out there. And then we looked we knew we wanted to be in like the homeless space because we liked it. We liked decorative stuff we like to design and we want to design stuff ourselves. So when we were looking at these products, we're thinking oh, that's quite interesting that's got this aspects to it. And then we're using what we've found then doing the product research

Teddy Smith 13:00

So we'd go to other websites like john lewis, for example in the UK and see what was selling well there and and see if you could kind of a lot of a lot of websites like that have reviews on them. So you can see all this, this product called reviews. So that means that a lot of people are buying it. And then if you look on Amazon, you can see there wasn't necessarily something very similar to that. So we kind of go and also another benefit of that is you're getting these big companies obviously spend a lot of money on design. And so you're getting a design inspiration the whole time you're doing that sort of product research. So we would go Yeah, as we said, Go to the countries first. Then we'd find some suppliers.

Teddy Smith 13:42

We'd like to look up and see what they were selling there, see what they manufacturing and then then do the product research by validating on Amazon and validating it with other websites. If something was on john lewis, for example, but then also Amazon, I was thinking that could be a very good product. Because john lewis and obviously thought this is a good idea, and people more and more people are starting to buy home was on Amazon. So it was just that sort of thing. So we weren't going, we weren't buying the whole shipping container. And shipping over, we weren't really careful. It's just we didn't we didn't go down the product search. We weren't looking for products necessarily. First, it was kind of a mixture of looking for products and then finding suppliers first.

Michael Veazey 14:25

And then what strikes me is overwhelmingly is that the way you've approached this is, is how can I put this as synthesis between what's out there, aka reality and what was in your head as a possibility, and in a very organic way. So you started off with the idea of a homeless business and you went to see what was out there with a Google search and and some things you thought just sounded a bit spammy and and obvious and not very sustainable. And you pumped to the Amazon private label thing. And then you you went through what was out there in terms of, you know, products on Alibaba, and then you realize that was also not very sustainable, and you've then gone from the idea of sort of home decoration and design to who's out there, what stuff are they selling?

Michael Veazey 15:06

So it's, it sounds like is a textbook organic kind of process really. And it's it's fantastic to hear because it's refreshingly different from there, do these 10 steps to heaven and the magically got a business, which so many people have traditionally put out there. And I try and defend people against doing that, because think is normally a disaster, because they're going to end up selling some organic, you know, generic widget, which was what you got out of the way with your first thousand pounds, right?

Teddy Smith 15:31

When we're looking at these products if we were when I was using the Jungle Scout tool originally. And so I used to, I used to I used to them, one of them, I still use the Chrome extension, which I think is really good. And there's the other tool, which I did use at first, a congress called things called the web app. But I kept seeing the same products come up over and over again, and I thought if I'm seeing that then that means everyone else is seeing it too. So if I kind of wanted to find I didn't want to find products of loads and loads of competition, because I think It just sounded like quite an expensive way to start a business by competing with those other people already.

Michael Veazey 16:06

Yeah, well, I think what you did, in terms of economics is very simple. Like you're adding value. If you bring something to a platform that wasn't previously on it in the exact same form, then you brought value to the platform. And obviously, Amazon and the customer is going to reward you. I think it's kind of pretty simple, really what you've done, except that most people don't do it. So congratulations, you go ahead of what most people are doing. So just a couple of things to dig into them. First of all, you're saying we quite a lot. So presuming you have a business partner hidden away in the background there? Tell me a bit more about that.

Teddy Smith 16:35

So I run the business with my fiance, Claire. So we're getting married in August this year. And so with that, is we run business together.

Michael Veazey 16:44

And does she have a home decor sort of background or anything like that,

Teddy Smith 16:48

no, not really, I think we just we just both quite like design and we just, we do it. It's hard to just, it's hard to say exactly why we went into that. It's just we liked those sort of products.

Michael Veazey 17:00

Yeah, but It makes sense. But again, I think it's great that you've chosen something you actually care about and have a feel for I mean, whether it's been your data or not, I just wondered. But, again, I think that's another major hint to anyone listening. No, it's just something that we found enjoy when we enjoyed the design aspects. And yeah, we thought thought would be more interesting to do something that you kind of had an interest in rather than just something else. Yeah, I think that totally makes sense. And part of the thing I see I hear it takes a long time to become a millionaire or billionaire. So you might as well enjoy what you're doing on the way right. I could speak from experience not being a billionaire. So how how does that work in terms of do you sort of end up talking about Amazon sort of in the middle of the night while you're resting heads on the pillow or do how do you sort of how do you deal with that situation because there are quite a few husband and wife business teams out there and I haven't done that myself. So I'm always intrigued on how that works.

Teddy Smith 17:51

So we don't we don't talk about it in bed, but we do talk about it in the evenings because she has a she has a part time job. So Tuesday to Thursday, cheese out of the office. So we often have working evenings. But it's not usually that difficult work. And one thing that we did found quite difficult at first was splitting out the tasks between all of us. And we there's a book called a myth, which I recommend everybody reading, and it's by Robert Gerber. I think his name is Michael Gerber. So it is really, it's really famous. And there's one there's a part of it basically where he sets out the business structure of a normal business, and gives everyone roles and he says, even if you're just a one person business, you should do this because you kind of get in separate apps.

Teddy Smith 18:36

So our aim for this year is to truck we've got that that structure set in and I entered this year is to basically split us ourselves out of the business more so that we have more defined roles, and she's more organized than I am so she does more of the operational side of it. And I look at more of the marketing aspects and we're just basically trying to split that up

Michael Veazey 18:55

Very sensible. I'm and I do have experience of working in a partnership in a business. I'm actually one To the massive dangers is that you end up moving around like a sort of pod and you sort of both do move to this place and do marketing. And then you both go here and do product design, you both go here and do marketing again. And, and it drives you a bit crazy. So yeah, you're very, very wise. And yes, I can't recommend the E myth enough. I mean, it's just brilliant book. I mean, there's so much to talk about with that.

Michael Veazey 19:18

But yes, it's absolutely a great idea. I don't think I mean, we're no longer really doing that business together, because we just didn't really have enough capital to to really make a dent, I think between us, which is one of the things I want to talk about Tommy, if you would reveal it, you know, a bit about some numbers. Tell me what sort of starting budget you started with, because obviously, you're getting to 12,000 13,000 pounds a month in revenue. Within a few months of starting. That sounds very impressive. Did you start with a huge budget?

Teddy Smith 19:45

So we started with around 7000 pounds, but that's not including the thousands that I spent on the previous products that we just set amd fiddled around with but so and that included our first order and then our second order As well, and most of the rest of the money since then has come from the profit and the money we get back from Amazon. So we have put a bit of money in.

Teddy Smith 20:10

And I think we'd have got the point now when we probably do need to get a bit, if we wanted to grow a bit faster than we are, I think we would have to either borrow a bit or put some more in ourselves. So that's what we look, that's what we're considering moment. But we're not I mean, I'm not going to borrow money from a bank. Not at this stage, but it might be if I can borrow some money from my parents or something like that. I don't know. But we're just considering it.

Michael Veazey 20:33

So that's an interesting question when you have a bank, Bank of mom or dad can be can be a start or generally, relatives are going to be so softer loans, there's pros and cons for all that stuff, I guess as well. Not just leaping in.

Teddy Smith 20:45

Yeah, that's why we're considering it.

Michael Veazey 20:46

Alright, so that sort of brings us to the 2020 point really, and where you're at now. And as I say since early March, as we're recording this. Are you still working in the day job? hasn't Tell me a little bit more about the data behind the photo booth. So you left your day job day job in January 2019. Tell me a bit more about how that works alongside Amazon. If it does

Teddy Smith 21:06

I never actually had a full time corporate job alongside my Amazon business. But I know a lot of people that have. So what I did what I did have the Amazon business alongside my photobooth business, which was more than a full time job, so that I was much longer as doing that than I did in my old job, actually. So it was it was possible to do that. But now I've also I'm now I'm a consultant for a, an e commerce consulting company who focuses on getting bigger brands on so on and so on Thomson, and we set up their account and then we run their account on a month by month basis for them. And that includes everything from that PPC, to creating images infographics, writing copy for their sites. And so really basically just being an Amazon business owner, but it's not your business.

Teddy Smith 21:53

And so that's that's been great because it's like a it was a remote job. So I don't need to be in London. I just still here. And my boss is an English guy, but he lives in Vietnam. And he Yeah, so we basically just from the big counselors, it's really it's been really good experience of, I've learned a lot and it's been, I'd recommend everyone's looking to getting a remote job as a first step for if you're thinking about like, thinking about leaving your full time job to go remote or to start a business. Doing a remote job is a really good way to learn. learn the ropes a bit and see if you can work remotely or find them and be just to have some money whilst you're running that business at the same time.

Michael Veazey 22:37

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. But actually, you're you're kind of practicing being a digital nomad, I suppose you're separating productivity, I suppose. It's like the four hour workweek thing back in 2007. I suppose that was largely the equivalent of a lot of the Amazon sort of business pitch now, which is that sort of location independence. But of course, that means you have to have a certain degree of discipline because you have to be in a job at 9am in order to be productive.

Michael Veazey 23:00

You're going to be a bit screwed if you're trying to build a business from home say, Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. You said to me you were a digital nomad or bought by nature that you're wanting to be. So do you have plans to travel with your fiance soon to be wife? Congratulations, by the way.

Teddy Smith 23:13

Oh, thank you. We definitely have plans but nothing like on nothing written down yet. But that is kind of an aspiration of ours. And I think before I was talking about when we went to India and Vietnam, to source products, we actually went out there as well. It was such a good experience to go out there and source products. So we might maybe do some kind of traveling that kind of fits around our sourcing kind of schedule. That was one thing we thought about.

Teddy Smith 23:41

At the moment, I probably don't have, I'm working with my job. I'm probably working a bit too much to be like doing lots of traveling all the time. That's I would certainly consider living somewhere else.

Michael Veazey 23:52

I think you raised an important point that people when people have a full time job and that's very location dependent. Then they think in terms of holidays, which you was traveling a lot and being in airports all the time versus being static in one place. But actually, it's quite possible, as you say, to work remotely from somewhere else, but in a in a stable configuration. Because I think it is helpful to have stability if you're going to get any serious work done, right. It just doesn't have to be stable in a particular place. Right. Yeah. So I think the thing you've differentiated a very important point there. So where is all this going? Do you have a sort of master plan? It sounds like you sort of thought about it and got moving very quickly and have had some great success early on. So do you have a sort of master plan now? Or if not, do you have a sort of vague vision of where you're going with this stuff?

Teddy Smith 24:34

Sure. Yeah. So we'd really like to get the business to a point where it is could be sold. And if we don't have a figure in mind yet, but I guess, getting the business to the point where it can be sold. Well, that's our aim. We were trying to make it really professional moments. And as I said, with introducing the structures like in the business, separating our two responsibilities out them and introducing like virtual systems where we can enter that structure.

Teddy Smith 24:57

So basically, there's some parts where where my name is under reporting. For example, it'd be great if I could remove my name from there in the organization chart and add a VA in there. So we're starting to do it this year. And we've already got one who helps us on quite basic stuff, and also other freelancers who aren't like VAs.

Teddy Smith 25:16

So the plan is to make it more professional, and hopefully gets to the point at the end of this year where both of us can work in the business without having to have part time jobs. And especially for my fiance, who's part time jobs based in London, it'd be great if she could get out of that to be into more like working more full time in the business.

Michael Veazey 25:37

So Then at that point that frees you up to go and live in India for a few months if you fancy doing SEO or Vietnam or something?

Teddy Smith 25:43

Yeah,

Michael Veazey 25:43

and is that very much what you're aiming to do sounds like you're a little bit hungry to be able to live somewhere else just for at least it

Teddy Smith 25:50

sounds quite fun, doesn't it? Say? It's definitely something that we are considering, yeah.

Michael Veazey 25:55

I have to say somebody that not through Amazon or as a digital nomad, but as a student, I lived abroad via an Erasmus year an exchange year in Germany, I have to say that it is a different experience live in a foreign culture. Obviously Germany is nothing like is different from Britain as India would be. But the interesting thing also about where you're sourcing is that they're very desirable travel destinations. Whereas, you know, China has the Great Wall and I guess, Beijing and that the hidden city and stuff, but most To be frank, most of the mastermind members that I talked to about sourcing in China, they go out there, they go to the factory, they get the job done, they come back home then really wanted to be tourists out there, whereas India is a classic tourist destination if you like that kind of place, right?

Teddy Smith 26:31

Yeah. Vietnam is amazing as well.

Michael Veazey 26:34

Yes, I've heard that. I mean, I've spoken to a couple of guys that I remember interviewing one of our our guests whose name escapes me now but he's in Ho Ji Minh city, which seemed pretty cool place to be I have to say, although, right now everywhere has its challenges with travel, but that's another story. So tell me a bit about your VAs. So you It sounds like you're you're trying to structure things between yourself and your fiance at the moment, but how did the VA is fit into picture how are you Using those people

Teddy Smith 27:00

the bottom level of the structure has sort of quite specific roles. So one could be, for example, and reporting, which would be things like the monthly report, which we gather. Another one could be like running the PPC, for example. So we're trying to get the A's into those goals so that we can take a more strategic look at things like PPC, I'm not naturally very good at the PPC. So I quite like just setting the direction of where I want to where I want it to go. Like what our spend is why causes and things like that. And having someone who's a bit more specialist run that for us, we did consider using an agency but quite It was quite expensive. So we've got we were working with someone who actually works in who's from Romania. So again, another person from Eastern Europe, who we found who's really good, and they can do much better than we can and the amount they cost they actually still save us money,

Michael Veazey 27:46

we were both saying before on air that we both found some really great people in Eastern Europe. I mean, unsurprisingly, this is why London has been run by Western Europeans but someone How did you find these guys and was it the classic like up work or something like that, or is there some more mysterious way of finding them.

Teddy Smith 28:00

Yeah, it was on Upwork. But we had we interviewed as well. So we didn't just go. We, with one VA from the Philippines, who helps us with more of the emails and the day to day operation side of it. And we interviewed a few people. And then we, there's one we chose, we actually carried her over from our previous photobooth business. So she's been really good. And then the other one, again, we interviewed and they had a few people put some proposals together for us.

Teddy Smith 28:29

And just yeah, it was just really incredible what she did. And what was good about it was we could let them do it for one month, see what happens and check the results yourself. And so it didn't feel like getting stuck into long term contract, they can get stuck into agencies

Michael Veazey 28:45

Absolutely Yeah, you got more control. I guess that that when particularly when it's small, you want to make sure you're keeping a really close eye on your costs, but not then saying, oh, but I could do that. That's always the cheapest option and then getting trapped in the job right. So I guess that you find a nice middle ground Through those two extremes. And I guess as you say you're hiring somebody for a trial period and then reviewing is really excellent. I really, really can't recommend that enough. It's like, as you say, as Tim Ferriss again mentions in the four hour workweek and like the E myth, I think it's a useful grab bag of some very good concepts. It's very, very useful to audition rather than interview because anyone could talk a good game, but in the end, you've got to see what the quality of their work is. So if somebody comes into me in the music, business, my own profession, then if suddenly someone starts talking about how good they are at the piano, it's a great sit down and play them in there, and then you'll know, so I think that's really, really great that the trial thing, it sounds like you've had some great successes very interesting that someone in the Philippines and some in Eastern Europe, um, and I think those are the two places for people that I've worked with as well. And they can bring different things from that, as you say, if you based in the UK, I mean, one of the issues I've got an amazingly good VA in the Philippines, who, funnily enough is also just got engaged in his office to be married soon. So she's having a bit of a break, and somebody else stepping in but the time difference is pretty crippling. So Eastern Europe is pretty useful, right? I do Like the fact that you can jump on a phone call or a zoom call if you need to.

Teddy Smith 30:03

Yeah, exactly.

Michael Veazey 30:04

And so where are you planning to you plan to expand the team in a particular geographical area? Are you just going to grab people as they seem good? Are you going to focus on Eastern Europe?

Teddy Smith 30:12

I think it depends on what the role is. Which which which way you decide. Let's get the toles out. So it I think it depends. Luckily, I can say that. Yeah. I've just been really impressed with all the people we've had from Eastern Europe. We've had a photographer from there that had a PVC person, we our graphic designer who just fit shots on our photos is from Ukraine, as well. So I've just had I just found it really good. their interest has been great. Their work ethic has been really good. The quality has been fantastic. And the time difference has helped. So you can have quick calls if you need to. Whereas with Philippines, it's like eight hours or something.

Michael Veazey 30:50

It does get tricky, isn't it?

Teddy Smith 30:52

Yeah. You have your calls about 9am. Yes, absolutely.

Michael Veazey 30:54

Yeah, it gets a bit brutal, isn't it? Well, look, this is quite the success. Have you got anySort of parting wisdom for anybody who would be thinking of getting started from where you were a mere few months ago? I mean, it sounds like you about 12 months ago that you started this process off, more or less, right? And so what what would your advice be to get started with this stuff?

Teddy Smith 31:15

The main thing I think, is if you get an opportunity, really, you should definitely try and go to trade shows and meet the suppliers. Because a, you will find some products that you might not have seen before. And B if you speak to the sudden you're going to your I found I've got better prices by seeing them face to face. And see, usually they're in quite nice countries somewhere to visit and you can kind of get a holiday out of it at the same time.

Teddy Smith 31:41

A two week holiday to India doesn't sound too bad. And if you can get a trade show in at the same time, you'll will feel like you've had like a quote, cool experience that none of your friends would have had.

Michael Veazey 31:50

I like that. I like your criteria. Like the main thing is I've stuff that other people haven't got!

Teddy Smith 31:54

Exactly. Yeah, we were out there in October at The Daily Show. And that was really, really good. We found that I wanted to buy everything But I didn't need 100 of everything, so they wouldn't let me buy just one. But it was really amazing. So then visit

Michael Veazey 32:09

very inspiring. And I think that's a lovely note in which to end it because I think in the end, a lot of us do stuff and you've done it yourself. It sounds like you set up a small business in order to have an alternative to the data on the side. And then in the end, it just didn't float your boat and you didn't enjoy it. So I think in the end, enjoying the process rather than waiting till the end of the rainbow where the pot of gold comes to enjoy. It is such a great idea. You might as well set up a life that whilst you're working on it is really enjoyable. And it sounds like you've nice to do that as well. So you're a bit of a walking embodiment of the sort of Amazon slash online marketing digital nomad dream right now. So thank you very much for coming on to share this be fascinating to get you back on in six to 12 months and see where you're at if you're up for that.

Teddy Smith 32:52

Great. That sounds amazing. Yeah, I'd love to come back in and yeah, update you about how it's all going because we've got we've got big plans snips of six to 10 months. So I'll come back let you know how it went

Michael Veazey 33:01

Yeah great. Well, in that case it's a date and let's hope we can get you sort of from life from the Delhi fair or something that would be very cool or maybe another yoga retreat in the high end. But anyway for the meanwhile I'm Teddy's been a real real pleasure. And thank you so much for sharing some, you know, some actual real grassroots choose of how it is setting up plumbers in business and Congratulations.

Teddy Smith 33:23

Thanks. So it's been a pleasure. Look forward to speaking to you then.

Michael Veazey 33:28

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Michael Veazey 33:55

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