Ben Leonard is a successful ecommerce entrepreneur who built and sold a brand within three years for seven figures. He is still building brands and is one of the go-to people in the Amazon space.
In this episode, Ben talks about the challenges of building an online business, specifically on Amazon. He emphasizes that getting started is difficult, and many people fear failure and judgment. He shares his personal experience of how he overcame his fear and started his first brand. Ben also talks about the challenges of running an ecommerce business day to day and the importance of picking a lane and building a brand around something you’re passionate about. In addition, Ben and the host discuss the importance of forming connections and building a community of like-minded individuals to overcome common challenges and experience good stress.
0:00:00 | Introduction to the podcast episode and the importance of picking a lane and sticking to it.
0:00:56 | Introduction to the Amazon Profit Quiz, which helps identify the biggest Amazon profit killer.
0:02:31 | Challenges of building an online business, including fear of failure and judgment.
0:03:33 | Society’s influence on individuals not pursuing entrepreneurship and the importance of giving oneself permission to take action.
0:04:39 | Introduction to the hero’s journey and how it relates to taking action.
0:04:47 | The hero’s journey and how external events can lead to taking action.
0:05:22 | Whether the hero’s journey can be engineered or is a matter of fate.
0:05:30 | Giving oneself permission to take action and write one’s own story.
0:06:03 | Taking control of one’s destiny and giving full commitment to ecommerce entrepreneurship.
0:07:12 | The challenges of running an ecommerce business, including overwhelming information and decision fatigue.
0:09:14 | Overcoming the challenges of being an entrepreneur by seeking out other people, building relationships, attending events, and forming a community.
0:11:56 | The benefits of being part of a community and how it can lead to confidence, productivity, and good stress.
0:13:48 | Channeling pressure into production and the magic that happens when you have a supportive network.
0:13:51 | The importance of connections in overcoming imposter syndrome and the value of being part of a community.
0:15:04 | The Goethe quote on commitment and the power of giving oneself permission to take action.
0:16:24 | The importance of being aligned with what you’re trying to build and building something you’re passionate about.
0:17:44 | Building a brand that aligns with your interests and strengths, and finding ways to make it work.
0:20:19 | Advice on not shutting down a profitable business that you’re not passionate about, but finding ways to make it work by partnering with someone who is passionate or hiring someone to handle aspects you’re not good at.
0:21:23 | People who start a business half-heartedly and end up regretting it and losing money.
0:21:42 | The importance of growing profits and cutting waste in order to build a sellable business.
0:22:10 | Introduction to the Amazon Profit Quiz website.
0:22:51 | Ben’s consulting services for ecommerce business owners and private equity backed portfolios of brands.
0:23:22 | How to find Ben’s consulting services online.
0:24:06 | Information on Ben’s upcoming book and where to find it.
0:25:12 | Conclusion and call to action.
Overcoming Fear and Taking Action
According to Ben, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is actually getting started. Many people have an idea for a brand or recognize the potential of ecommerce, but fear failure or judgment from others. Society has conditioned us to follow a certain path, and the idea of deviating from that path can be daunting. As Ben notes, “these people are the kind of people who sort of need to give themselves permission to take action.”
To overcome this fear, it’s important to recognize that external events often play a role in pushing us towards entrepreneurship. For Ben, it was a health scare that forced him to reflect on his life and take action. While it’s not always possible to engineer these events, it’s important to be aware of them and to give yourself permission to take action.
The Challenges of Starting an Ecommerce Business
Fear of failure is a common obstacle for entrepreneurs, but it’s not the only one. Starting an ecommerce business requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn. One of the biggest challenges is finding a niche or product that resonates with customers. This requires research, testing, and a willingness to pivot if necessary. As Ben notes, “you have to be willing to try different things, and you have to be willing to fail and learn from your failures.”
Another challenge is dealing with information overload. There is a wealth of information available on how to start and run an ecommerce business, but not all of it is helpful or relevant. It’s important to pick a lane and stick with it, rather than getting bogged down in analysis paralysis.
According to Ben, the playing field is level for anyone to become an ecommerce entrepreneur. He emphasizes this in his new book, stating that “you don’t need an MBA to crush it in commerce.” He believes that there are many tools and educational resources available now to support entrepreneurs.
The Challenges of Running an Amazon Business
Once you’ve established your business, the challenges don’t end there. Running an Amazon business can be unpredictable and frustrating. One of the biggest challenges is dealing with Amazon’s constantly changing rules and policies. As Ben notes, “Amazon can be a bucking bronco. Getting your entire business suspended on the whims of a robot is not something that most people experience.”
Another challenge is dealing with competition. As more and more sellers enter the Amazon marketplace, it can be difficult to stand out and differentiate your brand. This requires a strong marketing strategy and a willingness to adapt to changing market conditions. As Ben notes, “you have to be willing to be creative and think outside the box to differentiate yourself from the competition.”
To overcome these challenges, Ben recommends seeking out other people and building relationships with them. Joining Facebook groups, attending events, and forming little groups to exchange ideas can help entrepreneurs feel less lonely and more confident. Having a network of people who can support you and access to resources can help channel the pressure of running a business into production.
The Importance of Connection and Support
In a recent podcast with Chris Shipferling, Ben emphasized the importance of connection and support in the ecommerce industry. He noted that many entrepreneurs struggle with impostor syndrome and fear of failure, and that connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can be incredibly helpful.
As Ben notes, “the impostor syndrome probably comes from some imagined thing you’re comparing yourself to when you meet other people and they’re just scrubbling around, same as you going, what the hell is going on with Amazon terms of Service change? How do we handle this? Or how on earth you get Amazon to reinstate a listing when they’ve suspended it for X reason, you realize that everyone else is experiencing very similar stuff to you.”
Ben recommends joining mastermind groups, attending conferences, and forming connections with other entrepreneurs. He believes that these connections are critical for overcoming the challenges of building an ecommerce business and for staying motivated and inspired.
Mindset and Alignment
In addition to connection and support, Ben emphasizes the importance of mindset and alignment when building an ecommerce business. He notes that many entrepreneurs make the mistake of building a business for a quick buck, rather than building something that they are truly passionate about.
According to Ben, “sometimes I find when I speak with clients, the stumbling block they’re having in their business comes down to the fact that they’re not aligned with what they’re trying to build. So they have no real interest in the brand. They’ve made what I think is a mistake of trying to build something for a quick buck, rather than building something about which they’re passionate.”
To overcome this challenge, Ben recommends giving yourself permission to pursue your passions and to build a business that you truly care about. He notes that this requires a mindset shift and a willingness to take risks and learn from failure.
The Importance of Knowing Your Business
Ben also emphasizes the importance of knowing your business inside and out. This includes understanding your financials, your marketing strategy, and your customer base. As Ben notes, “you need to know your numbers. You need to know how your business is performing, and you need to be able to make data-driven decisions.”
One tool that Ben recommends for understanding your business is the Quick Assessment, which helps identify your biggest profit killer on Amazon and provides actionable steps to improve your profitability. By understanding your business and taking action to improve it, you can build a stronger, more sustainable ecommerce business.
How Ben Helps Ecommerce Business Owners
Ben offers consulting services to ecommerce business owners who may be struggling with various aspects of their business. He consults with private equity-backed portfolios of brands who want to learn how to compete with smaller ecommerce businesses. He also works with ecommerce business owners who may be doing six or eight figures and helps them with areas they need help with. He works on a whole variety of basis and you can book time with him on his website, Ben Leonard Pro, where you can click on “Pick My Brain” to book time or consult with him for equity.
Conclusion and Future Outlook
Building an ecommerce business, especially on Amazon, is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn from failure. However, with the right mindset, support, and knowledge, anyone can succeed. The challenges of building an Amazon business have implications not only for entrepreneurs, but for the broader economy as well. As more and more people turn to ecommerce as a way to make a living, it’s important to recognize the challenges and support those who are taking the leap. At the same time.