There are new exciting ways to leverage the power of Amazon for your benefit. Today, a story of someone who has turned knowledge and resources into a powerful profit
Some of this weeks episode highlights are:
14:30 if you're not involved in the third party selling program, you have decided not to partner with one of the largest companies in the world.
28:52 I literally cannot go out in the public and not see opportunity. And when I see the opportunity, I like playing the game. I like solving the puzzle.
49:47 Nobody out there has enough capital to buy all of the inventory necessary to corner this market. It's not possible. Jeff Bezos couldn't even do it. This is why we could bring on hundreds of thousands of new Amazon sellers, show them how to do it the right way. And they're all going to make money because the pie is that big! it's all systems, procedures, and doing what's proven - not trying to reinvent the wheel.
--- Full Raw Transcription of Podcast Below ---
Todd Snively (00:00):
As you work through that, and if you're truly resilient, and you have the right mindset, eventually you look back at that horrific event and say, you know, I'm kind of glad I went through that now!
Welcome to the SideHustle Lounge. If you're looking for flexible ways to earn income, grow your mindset, and live the lifestyle you've always dreamed of, you are in the right place. So lower the lights. Grab your favorite beverage and join your host. Founder of NotaryCoach.com and Amazon bestselling author of Sign and Thrive: How To Make Six Figures As A Mobile Notary And Loan Signing Agent, Bill Soroka.
Bill Soroka (00:50):
Cheers. Welcome to my guest today, Todd Snively, a $100 million entrepreneur and CEO of Expert University, plus author of the The Amazon Code: How to Sell on Amazon and Make Millions Selling Name Brand Products Amazon Already Loves. Todd, thank you so much for being here. How's it going today?
Todd Snively (01:08):
Well, it couldn't be going any better and thanks for having me. It's always my privilege.
Bill Soroka (01:14):
Well, it seriously is mine as well. I just finished reading your book, the Amazon code, how to make millions selling products. Amazon already loves. And I just wanted to say thank you for writing it because that was so refreshing to get a book that delivers the goods and cuts through some of the out there, because I had kind of written off selling on Amazon because it seemed like there were so many gimmicky and slimy businesses and courses out there and your book kind of a, it definitely got my wheels turning and it got me more excited about jumping into that Amazon game.
Todd Snively (01:50):
I love hearing you say that it's because you're right. There's, there's so many true con men out there right now and they, you know, I, I blame a lot of those gurus that are out there, pitching the programs on how to sell ice cubes to Eskimos, kind of a thing. You know, that it's all about selling. It's all sizzle and no steak. And you know, the biggest criticism I get is what I do is pretty boring. You know, there's not a lot of sizzle to it, you know, it's, it's all steak, it's all, you know, people don't like hearing that there's hard work involved in making consistent long-term legitimate income. And I don't know. I don't know if when this happened, you know, I'm, I'm a little long in the tooth, but I woke up one day and everybody just wanted an easy button to push and have money fall out of the sky and then wonder why they get bent over by these con men out there. You know? And so, yeah, I'm an anti guru person. If anything.
Bill Soroka (02:47):
That's interesting that you bring that up. Cause I know the the guru and the the expert industry has exponentially grown lately. And I know one of the things you're passionate about is like defining the difference between just getting up and selling courses and actually helping people. You want to talk about that a little bit?
Todd Snively (03:07):
You know, somebody told me a long time ago, I've had some amazing mentors by the way, Les brown. I don't know if you've ever heard of Les.
Bill Soroka (03:13):
Yes, of course. Love Les brown.
Todd Snively (03:16):
And matter of fact, my, my homage to Les was opening each chapter of my book with one of his quotes. I was lucky enough to get mentored by Les back in the day when I was trying to, I was actually on a speaking circuit with him back in the eighties. And one thing he said to me is if you really want to help people, help people. And he was, he had a way of just like drilling right down to it. Yeah, what's interesting is I probably could have sold a thousand times more courses if I was a true internet marketer, but it's like, it's the last thing that I am.
Todd Snively (03:57):
I'm more about delivering on the big promise and people out there right now are making big promises. They just either can't deliver on. And what's funny is sometimes it's not even their fault because like I said, someone else is out there, you know, trying to guide them saying it doesn't matter what you say to get somebody in your program, just get them into your program. Right. And if they fail, it's all on them. So don't, you know, you can sleep good at night. Don't worry. Yeah. I know you're missing step four, five and seven of your 10 step program, but that's okay. You know, they have to figure stuff out too. It's crazy, absolutely insane. So that's the last thing, you know, I wanted to be a part of, cause I, I mean, I've been up, I've been down and I know what it's like. And the last thing people need is a program that can't deliver on the big promise.
Bill Soroka (04:46):
That's so true. There's so many other programs out there that just seem to tease, tease, tease, and fluff, fluff, fluff without delivering the good,
Todd Snively (04:54):
You were you know, just talking about Amazon specifically, there's this huge scam out there right now. It was actually started by a guy named Steven Mayer. His company was Valiant Consulting. And I say ""was"" because he basically, now that this number's in dispute, but it's anywhere from, I'd say $30 to $50 million that this man basically stole from people through this model that he called Amazon Automation. Right. And the pitch was, Hey, we'll do it all for you. You don't have to do anything, but pay us $35,000 up front, a monthly fee, a percentage of your sales and give us your credit card so that we could buy all the products that we think you should sell. Oh my God. You know, and, and what's so funny is the math didn't even work out with that. Right. And people would call me and they would say, Hey Todd, have you heard about this Steven Mayer and Amazon Automation? And it'd be like, yeah, it's a scam. Don't fall for it because the math doesn't work out. And even after I would have these conversations with people, they would still say to me, yeah, but it still sounds really good. I said, have you not been listening?
Bill Soroka (06:10):
Sounds too good.
Todd Snively (06:12):
Yeah. So he ran away with this 30 to $50 million and hopefully the law will catch up with him, but his ad agency, this is the weirdest thing I just happened to be talking to that the ad agency, this guy was running his ads through and they said, yeah, Steven's kind of gone underground, but that's okay. He's now partnered up with this other well-known internet marketer. And next thing I know all of the ads are out there again with a different guy. Now, I don't want to say this guy's name because he's really litigious. And even if it's my opinion, that he's a douche bag piece of shit, you know, I don't want to waste a lot of time and money in court proving it.
Bill Soroka (06:55):
Ya me neither Todd, I understand,
Bill Soroka (06:58):
Well, I love that you bring this up and it's so specifically to it because I think this you know, when people hear making money on Amazon, they may be turned off. Do you think this type of program that you're talking about or describing is why some people might be turned off or hesitant to jump in the Amazon selling game?
Todd Snively (07:17):
It's not only the Amazon Automations scam. It's the fact of the matter that there's a lot of different models. There's arbitrage, retail, and online arbitrage. There's drop shipping. There's Amazon agency, you know, there's some other things out there that are really not great business models. It all, it, all of it sounds just so good. But when you actually try to implement these things, you find out it's either real faddish and it died real quick. It's too difficult to implement. So there's no longevity to it. You can't scale it. Or it's just not a legitimate business opportunity. And the reason I think you know, my, my model, my vertical, it's not drop shipping. It's not arbitrage. It's the wholesale distribution model. And the reason I think people don't get really excited about it is because as we've said, it's, it's really a boring model. It's it's been around forever. It's it's. I like to call it the second to oldest profession in the world. We all know what the first is, I mean, it's simply buying low and selling high and people are like, no, wait, you, you can't make money at that because it's not sexy enough. It's just not sexy enough. I need sizzle. Where's the sizzle. Well, I don't have any sizzle for you. I only have, you know, 20 years of results to show you.
Bill Soroka (08:48):
That was one of the big takeaways. When I read your book, I was like, you know, cause I don't want to jump into a fat or, but it's literally, you know, buying toothpaste at one price, selling it at a competitive price with Amazon. So we're talking about third-party selling. So why do you think this is such a great, like low-risk option for people who want to start an income?
Todd Snively (09:12):
You know, Amazon really evolved what they were doing in 2014 and just like an Amazon never really makes big announcements when they make huge changes, that affect things like third-party sellers. They just make these changes behind the scenes and the people that see what's going on, take advantage of it and make a lot of money. Well, they made this change back in 2014 and what they did is they modified what they call their featured merchant program. You used to have to be like the best Amazon seller to be awarded the buy box, right? And the buy box is what you need to be in as a seller to get the sales because people usually just click on, add the card or buy now. And they don't even notice that it's a third party seller, much less a specific one. So you had to be awarded that buy box.
Todd Snively (10:06):
As that featured merchant program, you had to have a lot of feedback, a lot of good metrics be a large seller. So people tended to hold onto those buy boxes for, for a long time. Well, in 2014, Amazon made this change to what they call buy box rotation. So, by the way, just a quick rabbit hole here. I love going down the rabbit holes. I've been consulting with Amazon for a long time. They actually have a headquarters in Detroit for their for their programming branch their Amazon Web Services, AWS. And I just, it was just right place, right time. I got to meet some people. And so I used to get called in to sit down and talk with the programmers, make help them make programming changes, do hackathons and things like that. Anyway, I'm the one, the very first one to use the term buy box.
Todd Snively (10:56):
And I should have put a patent on that because now everybody uses it and I don't get a single penny in royalty. Talk about the ball on that. So on Amazon, it's the only marketplace that rotates this buy box amongst what they call the competitive sellers. So when people ask me what I do, if I want to get really specific, it's I look for products that are already selling profitably on Amazon that need additional competitive sellers. The only way to do that is with software, by the way. So in any event, that's the model. And this is how, because people ask me all the time, well, how do I take pictures? And you know, how do I write? Just, no, you don't have to do any of that stuff is already selling on Amazon. Well, what, why does Amazon even need more competitive sellers?
Todd Snively (11:49):
And here's why, here's why, you know, first started, they just did shipping, right? I mean, it took as long as it took, they shipped it. This was a long time ago. And then they initiated the second tier of their three legged stool if you will, of their business model. And that is the Amazon prime program, which is the two day free delivery. Now a lot of people that have been following this know that they also offer one day free delivery in a lot of areas and in even a smaller number of areas, they have one hour delivery. Amazon's goal is to have one hour delivery. For most everything they sell everywhere in the United States. And the only way they can do that is by having proper inventory allocation amongst all of their distribution centers. When I started selling on Amazon, there were six FBA warehouses in United States, and I forget the number now, but I think it's, it's gotta be near 200 at this point, crazy number.
Todd Snively (12:53):
So their goal is to get that cost, that delivery cost down by having the inventory as close as possible to the people that are buying that. So what they do is they get as many sellers as possible so that they don't run out of stock and they have that stock spread around the country and eventually there'll be lowering their delivery times. They made the other thing. This is really cool. A lot of people don't know this. They think Amazon sells all these products right. Now, Amazon does sell approximately 12,000 products on the Amazon marketplace. But guess how many total products are available for sale? The last time I checked, it was over 500 million products and only 12,000 are sold by Amazon. And that number is actually dropping because Amazon did a study a couple of years ago and Jeff Bezos even talked about this in his annual letter to his shareholders back then that us third party sellers were kicking their first party butt In inventory management picking good products to sell that customers wanted and and restocking, you know, just keeping everything in stock and, and whatnot.
Todd Snively (14:01):
Third party sellers did a better job than Amazon. It used to be, I'd be at a trade show, love trade shows. There's another rabbit hole we can go down. But I was literally either talking to talking to a brand or distributor where an Amazon rep had just left or was standing behind me, just, they were trying to get all of these deals with all of these brands. And it was something that they literally failed miserably at it. They just pissed brands off brands didn't want to deal with them anymore because they were so hard to deal with. They give them a big PO one month, and then nothing for five months, despite saying, you know, we're going to buy a lot from you all the time. So Amazon, Jeff Bezos finally figured out, we suck at this inventory game. So let's just stick with the logistics, build the warehouses, build up the third party selling platform. And third party sellers is their third lake. They got AWS, they've got the prime program and third party selling that's Amazon in a nutshell. So if you're not involved in the third party selling program, you have decided not to partner with one of the largest companies in the world to work with a program that exists nowhere else.
Bill Soroka (15:28):
That's pretty incredible. What, so how does it work?
Todd Snively (15:33):
All right. So the way we do it, and this has evolved over time, but it's basically the exact same thing we've been doing since 2009, right? Is we'll go out and we'll find suppliers, wholesale distributors. There's about 265,000 of them in the United States. And you want to find the the ones that are willing to work with online sellers, specifically Amazon sellers, and will sell sell to you at a price that you can make a profit at. So let's say I want to I find a pet supplies seller I'll use Bradley Caldwell as an example, they're a large pet supply wholesaler. So you contact Bradley Caldwell and you open an account with them, a wholesale distribution account. They're going to sell to you at wholesale. They're going to give you a list of everything they have for sale. You know, they're basically going to say, here, you can buy anything we have on this list.
Todd Snively (16:28):
This is what we sell currently, and it'll have your price. So what we do is we take that file and we run it through software and the software we call it Wholesale Inspector the software, and it analyzes every single one of those products in real time against the Amazon marketplace and brings back 40 different data points that are then all, all crunched and put through one of our proprietary algorithms that tell you what you should buy the most profitable stuff that's going to turn the fastest. And, and this is, this is why when people actually see this in action, they don't believe it because that part looks too easy, you know, but the thing is, is I didn't always have this software. All right. I can picture me sitting in a freezing warehouse, going one by one, analyzing a product, you know, trying to find out of a list of 18,000, what I should buy.
Todd Snively (17:28):
I mean, I'd go, you'd have to go through hundreds of products that just weren't profitable to find one.
Bill Soroka (17:32):
Trial and error.
Todd Snively (17:34):
Yeah. So that was a pain in the. And I'm basically, I'm basically a lazy guy, which just means I find the easiest way to do, to do stuff. And so I said, I gotta, I gotta get some software so way back in the day and this, even before Amazon, I just needed to do this product research. I think I hired a programmer out of Serbia. I paid him maybe $800 and he gave me a program that would go out and do this market research. But if I loaded up 500 products to research, I'd have to come back the next day for the results. So it was a slow program, Now our program Wholesale Inspector, it'll do 50, 60,000 products a minute analyze it, just literally boom, which is another reason why we made it look way too easy because we, now we have what almost $300,000 in development on that program. So it better look, I guess, figure out what you should buy. All right. You then actually buy it. And we train to use three PL's. If you're going to buy from like Bradley Caldwell. And let's say, they're shipping out of Ohio, go find a a logistics company in Ohio to accept that load, inspect it, prep it for Amazon and then ship it down to your FBA account. This way you don't have to touch or see a product if you don't want to. Which means literally you could do it anywhere in the world.
Bill Soroka (19:01):
And what was fascinating to me too? And you called it this as far as those products go, I think people well at least I did. I kept thinking what's the new and greatest product. What's the new and greatest product. What's the one that's going to be expensive or at this price point, but your software, when it spits out those those 40 pieces of data on what are the most profitable products, what are those products look like? It's the unsexy stuff. What's, what's that mean?
Todd Snively (19:29):
Yeah. Unsexy products, unsexy products. Well, all right, let me put it to you this way. Any, any, any Momo can go in the Amazon and pull up their 100 best seller list, right? And this is how people generally do it. And this is why selling on Amazon gets a bad name, right? So Joe doesn't know what he's doing goes on to Amazon pulls down the hundred best sellers and says, oh, these are the products I need to be selling. He then spends all his time trying to find distribution for those products. And when he does kind of trip across it, it's at a price you can't make a product that, and therefore he gets on Facebook and says, yeah, you can't make any money selling on Amazon. I just proved it. **** You! People that ... I don't know. It's, it's crazy.
Todd Snively (20:20):
Someone will see that on a Facebook feed and go, oh yeah Okay. You can't make money selling on Amazon. And it just grinds me because it, it causes somebody who would have been really good at this to get knocked off a center. And that pisses me off more than anything. This is why in my members only Facebook group, we don't have many rules and I hate censorship overall. But the one rule I have is no negativity, no negativity, because you never know what what's coming out of your mouth, how it's going to affect somebody else. And I don't think you would want to be responsible for knocking somebody else off center with a remark that's toxic and not even true. And then all of a sudden you've planted a seed of doubt in their head. We like to keep things positive. We want to make sure we're hanging out with people that are like-minded that are trying to do the same thing you're trying to do.
Todd Snively (21:11):
And no negativity. Cuz negativity... There's no place for negativity in an entrepreneurial journey. People. Yeah, you're going to have failures. You're going to make mistakes, but you have to keep going. And people ask me all the time. You know, why do they think I have been as successful as I have? And by the way, the financial side of it is just part of it. I think real true success is is this time freedom being able to control your schedule being able to do what you want when you want. Right? Not because it happened or a boss is telling you. So anyway, the biggest thing I think that people need to keep in mind is their attitude. People, you know, when we talk to people about mindset and they don't want to hear about it are the ones that need to hear about it the most.
Bill Soroka (22:03):
Todd Snively (22:05):
And they don't get that. They're like, put that mind, set behind you and just tell me how to make money. So it wasn't no, I'm trying to, I'm trying to tell you right now with the line mindset first. Right. But if I have any gifts at all, just in reflection, I think it's the gift of resiliency, you know, because there's been a few times where, or I've just been flat on my back and, and didn't want to get up and you just have to make yourself get up sometimes because the good thing about bottoming out is there's really nowhere else to go. You're down. You're in a pit.
Bill Soroka (22:44):
There is some freedom in that.
Todd Snively (22:47):
I would have avoided a lot of, a lot of headaches in my life. If I had had the courage to hit the reset button myself, but sometimes life comes around and it hits that reset button for you.
Todd Snively (23:04):
Right? So it's, you can be all as upset about it as you want at the time. But as you work through that, and if you're truly resilient, and you have the right mindset, eventually you look back on that horrific event and say, you know, I'm kind of glad I went through that now. You never, you never, you never feel that way when you're going through it. And it takes, you know, the last time I was really down, I came out with some anger issues that once, once I really understood why I was mad, I was kinda mad because the line is I put myself in a position that allowed other people to really F me up, you know? And so once I realized it was completely my fault and I lost the irrational thinking and the justification's, then it became clear to me that I'm, I'm free now to rebuild the right way, you know, and mindset. It was Les brown that helped me with that. A lot of, a lot of other people and a lot of books before I was able to realize, gosh, this is up to me and nobody else and anybody else that was toxic in my life, I didn't care who they were, cut them out, just cut them out.
Bill Soroka (24:31):
That takes a lot of strength and courage. And I love, you know, as I was reading your book, there was a lot of that that came through and the relate-ability because I've had my own fair share of 26 failed businesses and then having to get back up and down, but like you, if I would have, if I, in retrospect, when I look back at it, if I would've had the courage to make the decision to, to leave a partnership or relationship or a business or not get into one in the first place, if I would've had that courage life would've worked out differently, but I, I truly believe that the universe, however, we define that. If we don't make the decisions that serve us at some point, it's going to make it for us and that free there's freedom. Once we look back on that and realize that and accept the 100% responsibility. And to me, that's the most lacking thing in personal development or in business, in life in general, as people not taking the responsibility and being stuck in the blame game, but there's so much power and freedom. When you just accept responsibility, you're the common denominator you're responsible for this. And then you get up and go,
Bill Soroka (25:44):
(Silence)Todd, are you there?
Todd Snively (25:45):
I am so sorry, Bill. I, the Puerto Rico, I love living in Puerto Rico. I absolutely love it down here. But if there's one thing that everybody, every entrepreneur down here can say about Puerto Rico is the internet sucks is just, you try everything you can do. And I'm, unfortunately, I'm running on my secondary system right now and I don't know what's going on. So I do apologize.
Bill Soroka (26:14):
No worries at all. It's my small price to pay to live in paradise, right?
Todd Snively (26:17):
It's one of the small prices. There's a couple.
Bill Soroka (26:24):
Well, we'll save that for another conversation. Cause I've noticed there's quite a few people and influencers and online marketers, that are moving to Puerto Rico.
Todd Snively (26:33):
I'll tell you, I didn't know what to expect, but when I moved down here and got invited to my first poker game, I mean, you're literally playing with billionaires. Multi-Millionaires, I'm not going to name drop too much, but the people that live down here blow me away and they're from all over the world, they just don't come here to escape United States taxes. I mean the rich people all over the world see the benefit of having a residence here in Puerto Rico. So I mean, some crypto people, huge financial guys in the financial industry and Puerto Rico. It's kind of funny because Puerto Rico is basically a poor country. You have 3 million people, 2 million live below the poverty line, but the other million they're doing pretty good. You know, you can walk into the Lamborghini dealership or Tiffany's in the mall. I mean, it's, it's like that, the dichotomy and then three blocks, three blocks later, you've got a house that still has a blue tarp from hurricane Maria.
Todd Snively (27:31):
It's really surreal in a lot of ways. So there but, but I do, I think Puerto Rico has got the right idea. They wanted to do something to attract the people with money here so that they could spend their money here. Right? It's not necessarily about taxes. It's about buying cars and keeping the car guy employed, eating in restaurants and keeping all the wait staff employed and providing jobs for whatever local businesses people might start down here. Cause that's the one thing about entrepreneurs they'll come here and they'll have their own export type business. Right. But they, they see what's going on. They're like, Ooh, I could put a gelato store right there. Right. Employ people!
Bill Soroka (28:13):
Yeah. I love that. So entrepreneurs are going to see the opportunity there. And I, so, I mean, do you consider yourself a retired Todd?
Todd Snively (28:23):
Well, to a certain extent, I say I retired about four years ago because my, my core business of selling on Amazon is a hundred percent outsourced. So along those lines, I'm a, I'm a figurehead CEO. I look at my financials every now and then to just make sure the numbers are telling me the story that I want to read. And if not, I know who to ask the right questions to. But the thing is, is it's I literally cannot go out in the public and not see opportunity. And when I see the opportunity, I like playing the game. I like solving the puzzle. And I don't know when I'm going to stop doing that. I don't even know if I want to stop doing that. Right. But as long as I'm doing what I want to do when when I want to do it, I'm okay. I'm all right. I know I'm not looking to what am I going to do? Lay on the beach more than I already lay on the beach, i'd really not know what to do with myself! I can still relate to these things because I love doing these things. People are like, you can make so much money selling on Amazon. Why do you sell training programs? Cause I love it. Okay. Because I love helping others and nobody else is doing it better. That's why I do it that.
Bill Soroka (29:42):
Was going to be my exact next question is what's the passion behind the teaching? Why teach?
Todd Snively (29:47):
Because when people come to you, a lot of people come in crisis, right? Either just lost their job or they are told they're going to be downsized or they're just not making ends meet or retirement's around the corner. There's always something, all right. And they're looking for a way to make more money to solve this problem. And so those kinds of people, I really enjoy helping, right? The ones that already have a ton of money and just want to make more. I don't get so excited about helping them, but those are those people generally don't need a lot of help. You know, they've like I said, they've been successful. They know what it takes. It's the guy that's worked at general motors or Fords for 15 or 20 years as an engineer. Right. Who's been told he's got to take a 20% pay cut. Cause a COVID he's the one going, okay, I've never done this online income stuff. And you know, educate me. Those are the guys that I like helping.
Bill Soroka (30:40):
And that brings me to my next question too. Is, does a business like you're talking about, Mastering Amazon For Profits. Does that require a full-time commitment? Can people do this? Part-Time what's it look like?
Todd Snively (30:56):
Amazon's one of those cool opportunities where they'll meet you where you're at now, the person that can only put in a certain amount of time, you know, maybe an hour or two a day, obviously they're not going to make the kind of progress like somebody that's like, you know an entrepreneur on, on speed working 70 hours a week, right. That guy's going to kill it and kill it quick. The the other guy that's kind of dabbling and just working his way, as long as his expectations are properly set. I actually have this tool you can access it at Calculator.ExpertUniversity.com and it allows you to do enter like a profit goal, a monthly profit goal, and then play with some of the some of the variables to find out how many profitable products you would need to be selling using the wholesale model.
Todd Snively (31:49):
And then you work backwards and say, oh, well, based on my income goal and these parameters, I'm going to need to get 36 products. And then we can tell you, well, if you can only work an hour a day, you know, it might take a month or whatever to get these products and you need X amount of capital. So those are the things, you know that's the only other thing too is I tell people, you know, I personally can't work with broke people because you need money for inventory. Now I don't care if that money comes from the First National Bank of Mom and Dad, a business partner, cash back reward, credit card, as long as you're paying it off every month. But when people say, yeah, you know, I don't know how I'm going to make my mortgage next month. So I'm going to take my mortgage money and invest in a training program. I'm like, whoa, whoa, slow down there buckaroo. That's some, I really do. I mean, people do it, but I don't, I don't suggest... I mean, you're putting so much more stress on yourself than I think people should handle. And you know, it's much better if you have some resources and are not under an immediate time crunch. That's how you build a long-term consistent, legitimate business.
Bill Soroka (33:05):
Totally agree because if you, if you come from too deep into desperation, it can kind of, it can backfire on you a little bit. Do you have just ballpark, like what would be a good startup capital for a business like this?
Todd Snively (33:20):
Well, the margins, let me say the margins average, let's say 28%. Okay. So if and again, it's, it's down to everybody's goal. I mean, you can buy five. All right, let's put it this way. You could buy $500 worth of products and send it in at a 28% margin. I mean, how much are you making 150 bucks a little less, you know? So if that's not exciting to you, you're going to need more, oh no, you know, an extra 150 bucks a month, you know, that would, that'd be okay. I mean, that's kinda what I'm looking to do as a side hustle, but I mean, we have, I had this lady she's in her seventies, she started with us about six months ago and she's doing $800 grand already revenue. Yeah. So it's every, it's everybody. It meets everybody where they're at, but the expectations need to be properly set. You can't come in with 500 bucks and make a million bucks not going to happen. It's all math.
Bill Soroka (34:20):
I love that. And there is there's as I was reading your book, it was very clear that this is not get rich quick, quick, but it is a systematic approach. It is just all math which really appealed to that logical side of my brain. Now, for those that are listening and wondering if this is for me, let's talk about who is most likely to succeed in a business like this,
Todd Snively (34:46):
You know, we've, we deal with all kinds of people. And to be honest with you I used to judge people. I used to say, boy, that guy can't tie his shoes in the morning. How's he ever going to learn how to sell on Amazon? And he proved me wrong. So I don't I really hate to pigeon hole people. I will tell you this, for some reason, the people that come into our program that were like in something like IT, something really analytical, excel way faster than somebody who's had very little life experience, right, or jobs like that. Accountants do really well do people that don't mind working with the numbers right now. The great thing though is, cause I I've had a lot of people that come to me and say, you know, I want to do this, but to be honest with you, numbers bore, and I can tell I'm going to get bored fast. What's really great is we also teach people how to, like I said earlier, I'm a hundred percent outsourced. We show you how to do that. We have the standard operating procedures. We have software to execute workflows to virtual assistants. So if your goal is to work less than an, you know, an hour a day on your business, this is the kind of business you can do that with. So people that enjoy figuring that puzzle out, they do real well.
Bill Soroka (36:05):
Yeah. It was really intriguing to me because what that suggests is that there's enough profit margin in a business like this. If you do it right, to set it up, pay everybody that you need to pay and still make a decent amount of revenue for yourself. You'd probably have to scale it up a little faster, but it's there. Is that fair?
Todd Snively (36:21):
Oh, absolutely. I mean, there is a percentage of my top end revenue that for the last five years, I know those two, my overhead, it is, it pays for everybody to do everything. Now, if I wanted to put more money in my pocket, then of course I would take on some of those tasks and eliminate a little of that overhead. But I made the decision that I want the quality of life. I want the lifestyle, freedom, not the time, freedom to do things like write the books and do the training programs and be on podcasts and, you know, go to events, talk at events and things like that. That's fun. Right. so people make those decisions back when I first started, I mean, I was the one sitting on the forklift in an empty warehouse, waiting for the first truck of stuff to show up and I did everything and there were certain parts of that I hated. And as soon as I made enough profit to where I could afford like a shipping clerk, boom, I got me a shipping clerk and I didn't stop doing that until I looked around and said, huh, okay. I guess I'm done. There's nothing for me to do. It's all outsourced finally. And that was my goal from the day I started on that forklift.
Bill Soroka (37:40):
I'm sure there's some people listening and they're, they're saying, yeah, Todd, you've made the a hundred million dollars. Sure. This is easy to say, but they automatically put you on this pedestal of, of success. Can we share a little bit more about your story and about where you came from to make this business thrive?
Todd Snively (38:02):
Well, this particular business was I kind of backed into it. So for those who haven't read the book or have no idea, you know, kind of what I went through, I had a very large commodity brokerage company back in the nineties - nineties and into 2002. And I, as an entrepreneur, I had this bright idea one day that I could make a lot of money by operating my business a certain way. Unfortunately, the idea that I had was gray area right now, this is a highly licensed, highly regulated industry, commodity trading. I had every kind of license you could imagine. Went through all the scrutiny built up my business was doing really, really well. And then I had this bright idea. Real quick. I don't want to go down too far down this rabbit hole, but this is, I think this is kind of interesting.
Todd Snively (38:57):
I still find it interesting. The thing about, especially for these people that are out there, trading crypto or Forex, especially the Forex markets, or even futures traders at the time, there's this number that every expert was throwing around that 85% of the traders in, in futures and commodities and Forex lost money would lose all their money actually. And that trading is a zero sum game. Everybody that loses the dollar, loses it to someone else. There's no money created. It's just changing hands. Right? So I had this idea, well, gosh, if 85% of all of the self-directed traders lose money, why don't I just try to figure out how to take every one of those trades myself and I had a lot of money back then. So I figured I'll put up a, you know, enough of my own money into our client trust account.
Todd Snively (39:53):
And we'll just figure out how to take the other side of every trade. And I went to the lawyers and everybody was just kind of scratching their head over it because anybody who had tried to do something like that before wasn't licensed, you know, and that was definitely illegal. You needed to be licensed to do anything in this business. Why they, you know, I had all these licenses, I was a futures commission, merchant, introducing broker, everything like that. And so, but they were scratching their head and they wanted to research it more. And I was kind of like, Nope, I don't need to wait on you. I'm just going to do it. And I spent a lot of money developing a an online trading platform that was integrated with all of the exchanges to get the real-time quotes and allowed people to enter trades.
Todd Snively (40:37):
Now this, this was back in 1990 I'm sorry. Yeah. 1999, 2000 2001. When trading online commodities and being able to enter orders online, wasn't really a thing. Most people called the brokers, right? It's not like it was, there was an E trade back then for commodity. Right? So being that we were taking the other side of every trade. I bypassed a lot of the costs involved with trading through the exchanges and whatnot. And I pass that on to our customers. Another broker might charge $50 a trade. We were only going to charge five. And so we attracted a lot of customers. Well, because we grew so fast. You know, we, we really drew the attention of the regulators and they came in and they sat down and they looked at everything we were doing and they still scratched their head. And they said, you know what?
Todd Snively (41:31):
We're not sure this is the right way to do this. We think maybe you need a bigger deposit. They were talking like a $2 million bond to put up and all that. And it's, to be honest with you, it scared me a little bit. So I went ahead and I just shut down and I was sending everybody their money back. And then the government came back in and said, why'd you shut down? I said, well, I got the impression you didn't like how I was doing business. And it just freak them out. So long story short, that was February, 2002. And when the government got involved, after I had already closed down, you know, they froze all my assets. They, they basically, at that point decided I didn't have the right licensure. Maybe the contract was too complicated for people to understand. And they came, they came after me like an 800 pound gorilla.
Todd Snively (42:24):
And this was the time of Martha Stewart and Madden, and just, they were looking for high profile, very expensive, lot of money involved, white collar type of crimes to prosecute. And I just, I really feel, well, my lawyers told me I kinda got caught up in that. Right. Which typically might've been a small fine and I could have even continued in the business, turned into no, we're going to prosecute you. And I didn't get prosecuted until 2005. So anyway, February, 2002, I am just literally shut down. They're saying they gonna take my house. I had to basically roll back the clock and anybody who had lost the money, I had to pay them back. So all of a sudden, I'm, I'm $2.2 million in debt about to become homeless. Don't have my licenses anymore. And I didn't have a clue what I was going to do. So one of my friends took me out to lunch and he's like he was trying to be helpful.
Todd Snively (43:23):
He says, well, why don't you try I don't know, selling on eBay now I'm in like, post-traumatic shock. And here's this off-handed comment. He's literally chewing on his sandwich and in-between by bites 'try selling on eBay. I heard that's a good thing.' And I'm driving home thinking, nah, no, I'm never going to do that. But then I get to the house and we were like packing up and getting ready to, to move out. And I was walking around, looking at all the stuff that we had accumulated. And I'm like, okay, maybe I should try this. So I listed a bunch of things for sale on eBay. And they all sold for more than I thought they would sell for. And I said, huh, maybe there is something here. Because at that time I was looking for easy. I was looking profitable and something that wasn't federally regulated because at that time I just needed, I needed to simplify my life.
Todd Snively (44:24):
So that was the turning point. I mean, we did one, one point, $1 million in top end revenue that first year. And because everything was customer returned goods that I was buying the margins were like 60%. So I'm now I'm able to pay my lawyer. I'm able to pay my restitution, but I'm still, this is going to sound funny. I'm still literally scrambling for money. I mean, when you owe 2.2 million, you owe your lawyers $650,000. And I still, I still laugh about that one because I had about I had about the worst outcome one could have expected, no kidding. Oh yeah, no kidding. It was just like, he's he kept saying, yeah, it was just bad timing, Todd. Like nothing I can do about that.
Todd Snively (45:13):
So anyway, it just, as the whole, the story goes, you know, it just grew from there. And one thing I don't really go into the, into the book too much, but I'll tell you, because I think this is important for your listeners is around 2004, just a couple of years later I had an offer to buy that business. Somebody wanted to buy that distribution business from me, all the infrastructure I'd set up all the systems I had in place and they wanted to buy it. And it was getting to the point where I was pretty sure I was going to go to prison. And I knew I didn't want to saddle my wife with like running this business. So I went ahead and I sold. And the other reason I sold is because at that time I had gotten involved with another profit center called AdSense, Google AdSense.
Todd Snively (46:02):
Are you familiar with AdSense?
Bill Soroka (46:04):
Yeah, a little bit.
Todd Snively (46:05):
Well, back in the day you know, back when I was doing it, it was the wild west. You could create, you could create a web property about horses. Google would put the advertising on there. And when people came to your website and click on the ad, they shared the, the the income with you. That was Google AdSense. So I developed a piece of software. I ended up arrogantly calling it the Magic Money Machine that would take a list of keywords, like 500 keywords and create a 500 page website optimized for each of those keywords back then you would just send a ping to the Google spider. And because you are optimized, you are on page one. And at one point I had 2.4 million index pages in the Google search engine, and a ton of them were page one keywords.
Todd Snively (46:56):
So all of a sudden now we're, we're getting like $115, $135,000 a month from Google AdSense.
Bill Soroka (47:03):
Todd Snively (47:04):
So then I got sentenced. I got sentenced in January, 2005 to five years in federal penitentiary. And I knew because while we got the AdSense business where I'm still paying a ton of debts off are still the lawyers. There's still some restitution, but I'm starting to see, you know, I'm getting out of this, I'm getting out of this huge hole. I got I'm sorry. I pled guilty in January of 2005. I didn't get sentenced until August, 2005. And they allowed me to self-report to prison in October, October 15th, 2005. And talk about a surreal experience. They're driving, driving your dumbass to prison. But anyway, what I imagined when I was inside the Google basically did what is now known as a ""Google Slap"" and that AdSense income evaporated practically overnight.
Todd Snively (48:00):
Well, we still had debts to pay and everything like that. By the time I got out, which was December, 2008, I ended up serving actually serving three years and three days in prison. There was a little halfway house time and home confinement, but I was able to work. But at that time we were down to, I think we had $6,000 in the bank at that time when I was finally out and able to, you know, pick a direction to go in. And, and as you read in the book, I ended up getting right back into the eBay business because I didn't know what to do. Right. And so I took the exact same business that I'd started in March of 2002, sold it in 2004, restarted it in 2008 and ended up doing 3 million in the first 12 months after that. So it just, that's what I've been doing since then selling these products online.
Todd Snively (48:58):
But I switched in 2009 to brand new products. We do some used stuff now, but that's when I decided the way to really scale is to eliminate this inspection element of the used products and just deal with brand new products. You don't really need to inspect a brand new product. It's a new, you know, so in 2009, we started doing that, got on the Amazon. And we're fighting our way on to Amazon with you know, that feature merchant program I talked about. And then in 2000, I believe it was 2014 when they switched to the buy box rotation. Oh wow. The world just, just opened.
Bill Soroka (49:40):
Todd Snively (49:41):
Yeah. The expansion was incredible. And the thing is, is nobody out there has enough capital to buy all of the inventory necessary to, to corner this market. It's not possible. Jeff Bezos couldn't even do it. He gave up on it. Right? So this is why we could bring on hundreds of thousands of new Amazon sellers, show them how to do it the right way. And they're all going to make money because the pie is that big, it's all systems, procedures and doing, what's proven not trying to reinvent the wheel.
Bill Soroka (50:19):
Well, that's the part that was so exciting for me. And I got to tell you, I've been thinking about it ever since I read this book. And that's what you teach people at expert, right? Is basically how the system works and then all the resources and tools that you use to succeed.
Todd Snively (50:33):
We actually have several online profit centers, but Amazon far and beyond anything, is growing. And I don't know how, you know, you hate to say that COVID brought anything good into your life, but for online sellers, especially Amazon sellers. I mean, it took seven years of sales and condensed it into about six months in 2020, 2020 last year e-commerce sellers that were properly positioned, just made millions in 2020. And now what's happened is with the seven years of growth happening in e-commerce in basically one year, you have all of these people that have discovered how great it is to buy online and especially on Amazon. And they're not going to stop even when they're allowed to go out and be real human beings again, in the, in the world. They're still going to remember that they can just simply get on their computer and have something at their house in one or two days, rather than getting in their car, going and looking and paying sales tax.
Todd Snively (51:40):
Well, sales tax is pretty much across the board now, but you know what I mean? So, yeah. So now what we're having is all kinds of new products that are coming into distribution that, that are, they get a little bit attraction. We call it being early in their life cycle. And it's our software that allows us to find these unsexy products early in their life cycle that nobody else can see because these things are buried. I mean, literally buried in 500 million products on Amazon. So that's not going to stop. That's always going to be happening. And it is so much better than, than the private label model. I like the private label model only if you're capital intensive and have a lot of risk tolerance and time.
Bill Soroka (52:31):
Yeah. I love that. You touch on that a little bit in the book and the, I think part of the value of the, the strategy that you talk about, and you, you touched on this in the beginning, but one of the big challenges that Amazon has is, you know, now a consumer could just get in their car and drive to a store and get what they need right now. So Amazon, by having all these distribution centers and having so many sellers across the country can help eliminate that and get those one hour deliveries or same day delivery, or even next day delivery to compete with that.
Todd Snively (53:07):
Yeah. It's, it's really, it's changing your, your habits, your buying habits, you know, I mean, back in the day, you would never think you could, you know, get online and it was okay to give your credit card out. Right. And now people do it without thinking. But whereas right now I rarely think about getting in my car and going to a store to buy toothpaste. Why would I do that?
Bill Soroka (53:32):
Right there with ya.
Todd Snively (53:33):
You know what I mean? And now Amazon just expanded their their grocery program. So, and there you have it now where they're gonna actually leave these boxes inside people's garages, you know, you're, they have this way where you can open your garage door, give them access to your garage. And they, and the packages become a lot more secure that way, but what's going to happen. And I can't wait for this. You know, Amazon has been talking about drone delivery for a long time and they, they actually have the FAA approval to put these unmanned drones into the airspace. Once they actually start offering that type of delivery to consumers, you're going to see people doing it just because of the novelty of watching the drone, bring you your toothpaste.
Bill Soroka (54:19):
What did you think that's going to happen?
Todd Snively (54:21):
I think they're still a few years away. And I like that they're taking their time with this because look at what happened with Tesla and the self-driving car, you know, every time there's a crash and somebody dies, they, everybody assumes they had that Auto-Drive engaged and somebody fell asleep at the wheel, the thing flipped off and boom, you hit a tree, right? So they don't want to have that kind of publicity with a drone. You're hitting a kid in the head right on landing. So they're not going to put a drone out there until they have that thing 110% figured out. There's no going to, there's not going to be any beta. It's going to be, you know, way figured out before they send a drone to somebody into a populated area. So they're taking their time on that. Yeah,
Bill Soroka (55:08):
I think I am too. That's a good point. Now, Todd, one of the questions I like to ask when it comes to opportunities like this, we talked about who's most likely to succeed. We talked about how you can help people succeed in this business, but in your experience who fails at this business?
Todd Snively (55:29):
Well, people for sure, people that are under capitalized and we kind of mentioned that a little bit before, but in my situation, you know, I didn't have a plan B and the bridge behind me was on fire. So I had no choice. I had to make this work. Right. And sometimes when you're in that situation, that can be the best thing for you. However, we tell people, don't pour the gasoline on the bridge behind you and set it on fire. We don't suggest that, right? Because we found that the people that are really under these pressures and are under-capitalized, they're going to have a higher chance of failing. Now, somebody that's, you know, got some money and and they, they still have the ability to learn. The reason they fail nine times out of 10 is because of shiny object syndrome. And, you know they think that when they sign up for our training program, that they actually accomplished something.
Todd Snively (56:32):
You know, they feel that they've checked this box and that they're successful just for signing up. And that couldn't be the farthest thing from the truth. Okay. You haven't done Jack S*** yet. All right. You started a journey getting started, right. Okay. To feel good about it, but don't think you've done anything. Right. So then what happens is they start going through the training and they're, well, wait a minute wait a minute, wait a minute. This is starting to feel a little bit like work, you know, and that feeling of accomplishment is just start chipping away at it because they're asking me to learn something. And then the next thing he knows is he hears a ding telling him he's got a new email. And then there's Joe Conman saying, Hey, by my, by my easy push button, you know, it's only $10,000 and, but money will fall from the sky and that's what they do. And that's why they fail. And that's why they will never be successful because they have to break that behavior.
Bill Soroka (57:29):
What a great way to end. It does! They have to break that bad habit before they move into this. Todd, this has been an amazing conversation. Your book was enlightening. Like I said, it got my wheels turning. I love a good idea. In fact, I rarely meet an idea I don't like, but this one really has me wound up and I'm sure I'm going to be ending end up in your course here. Pretty quick. Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us from beautiful Puerto Rico!
Todd Snively (57:57):
Bill. It was an absolute pleasure. You were one of the best hosts that I've had the privilege of, of being online with. And I wish you nothing but the best of luck with your program.
Bill Soroka (58:07):
Thank you so much, Todd. And for all of you listening, if you're interested in learning more about Todd and expert university in his book, the "Amazon Code" visit https://www.sidehustlelounge.com/vip - It's totally free to join the VIP room and we'll have all of those resources in there for you guys have fun. See you next time.
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