Today, we have another special guest, who in his twenties had already flipped over $50,000,000 in real estate.
He launched over twenty-three brands that were over seven figures. Nine of those, over eight figures.
He is also the Founder of one of the biggest men’s grooming beard brands and the Founder of the Online Sellers Summit. Nate Lind is here with us today.
How’s it going, Nate?
NATE: I’m good, Quin. Thanks for inviting me. I love to be a part of your show.
QUIN: It’s a
pleasure to have you here. I mean, I love everything that you do because it’s
so similar to what I do although maybe the numbers may be slightly different.
So in your twenties, were you flipping houses? Is that what you were doing?
NATE: Yeah, so
I got out of college and I was just working a 9 to 5 job.
I was gonna be driving down to the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington DC. I read this little book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and it totally changed my life.
As quickly as I could, try to get myself out of having a day job. And was interested in real estate.
I actually went to a CASHFLOW 101 game. The very first game I went to. And at that game, I ended up finding a mentor who then later became my partner. And we ended up selling a whole bunch of real estate together. So this was in 2002 through 2008. Had a really good run there.
I bought and resold 75 houses by myself, that time with the business partner who was a money partner. And I had 70 wins, 2 losses, and 3 draws.
So there’s 3 draws with lawsuits to so (laughs) we learned a little bit about litigation at a young age as well.
It’s unfortunate but America’s highly litigious.
QUIN: Yes, of course. That is pretty incredible. Seventy-five.
QUIN: So I
read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad of course but I was 40 when I read it. I
always knew about it. Took me until I was 40 to read it.
And it was actually the audio version. I had owned four homes at the same time, and I lived in 3 of them.
QUIN: So I was
not doing real estate investing, it was just kind of my own stuff. And then
since then, I got rid of 3 of those.
So I just have one and I don’t even live in it.
NATE: Yes, so it’s a rental and then you live in a place or rent in another place?
QUIN: That’s right, yeah.
NATE: I love
that model. I mean, I don’t own the house that I’m in right now either. You
know, this whole like misconception about your house is your biggest asset, I
like how Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you know, how Robert Kiyosaki kinda like puts a
spin on that.
Economically, if it is better for you to buy than rent, then buy. Then opposite, rent. So it just depends on your situation. Every situation is unique.
QUIN: Absolutely. And you said that you had a partner and that was the money partner. So you come up with… at the time, was there the 5% mandatory down payment or was it you can start with zero?
NATE: We were
doing what’s called subject to real estate purchasing. So we were buying the
property subject to the existing financing that was already in place. And so
typically, these are people that were in some kind of a distress situation. So
death, divorce, downsize, disease, disability, those are the things that were
causing some turmoil in their lives.
And they were up against some sort of a time crunch, you know, they were perhaps behind in the payments. Or there’s a significant amount of work that needed to be done to their house.
Or there was just a situation that, you know, that was coming up for them that they don’t really have a whole lot of time or money to put into the house to get it up to a sellable point that somebody else would acquire it and or buy it.
And that’s when I would contact them and just share a little bit about what I could do for them.
You’re always answering the number one question, “What’s in it for me?” Whoever it is you’re talking to.
So answer that
question. What’s in it for me?
And that happens online, it happens on real estate. It doesn’t matter where it is. So honestly, I was knocking on people’s doors and then immediately I would explain to them, “Hey, I’d heard about the house and I’ll look to see if I can help.” It’s really vague and it wasn’t a yes or no but it would pique their curiosity. And then that will start a conversation because I’m not telling them, “Hi, my name is Nate Lind.” And they don’t care about me.
They don’t care that my name is Nate Lind. So I had to immediately answer what’s in it for them.
QUIN: Yeah, so you actually physically go knock on their doors?
NATE: Yeah, I did that for years. I knocked on thousands of doors.
QUIN: Very good. And you said something there that is absolutely fantastic. And I knew it. I always knew it but I keep forgetting it.
And it’s the first thing that everybody, doesn’t matter who it is, that they think it’s, “What’s in it for me?” So yeah if you keep that in mind when you’re talking to any potential client, that’s going to change the way they see you. And that’s just incredible.
NATE: I see it
all the time now. Like I’ve gotten to be fairly public terms of my personal
brand of the last couple of years. And people will track me down and they’ll
send me a message and somebody will say, “Hi.” “Hi” what?
I’m getting hundreds of messages and you say “hi”? Nice.
QUIN: Yes. And even the good old “wave” thing on the Facebook messenger.
NATE: I almost
immediately go to block. It is such a waste of time. And this isn’t just for
me, it is for anybody.
Especially if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, if you’re in a situation where you’re aspiring to grow and you’re wanting to connect with those that are more successful than yourself, what’s in it for them?
Why would they take the time of the day to talk with you? Because they’ve got other stuff going on.
They’ve got other demands. They’ve got other pressures. They’ve got other things that they’re interested in. And you’re coming out of the blue, online, to send them a single message that says “hi” or the little handy shake.
You really need to think about it a little bit more before you go approaching people because most of them won’t even respond to you.
QUIN: Oh yeah,
absolutely. Most people do go to the immediate block. And I did that for the
longest time. And because you know how it works, soon as you are somewhat known
within our niche, you get added often on Facebook.
And I decided at one point maybe instead of blocking, I’m gonna try to help a couple of them. And I had a copy and paste answer, tell them “This is not how you approach somebody,” and I would paste it. “This is what you should do, try to build a relationship.
At least if you say hi, say, hi. I am this and this and maybe I can help you with something.” Try to offer something. And I had that copy and past it in and at this point, I just gave up.
NATE: (laughs) Quit doing it. Yeah, me too. There are just too many messages. It’s too easy for people to access directly. So I make it pretty clear what I’m up to what I’m working on. And people that are in alignment with that, they bubble up from it. I’m a bit of a magnet for things that I’m seeking. So I don’t really have to do a whole lot of outbound. I just make it known what I’m up to and then other people show up.
QUIN: Yeah and this was in your twenties, so since then you’ve launched over 23 brands that made over seven figures.
QUIN: Nine of those, eight.
NATE: That’s right.
QUIN: And then one of them was the world’s biggest men’s grooming beard brand. And for those that are listening to us and can’t see, Nate has this fantastic beard. It’s two-toned. It’s really nice. Were you the image of your company?
NATE: I’m not
the first one. It’s funny because people have a lot of myths about brands. And
the average brand nobody really even knows. It’s just a product. It’s just a
transactional-based product. And for the majority the products that I sold,
that’s what they were.
It was a tube of chapstick and sold to somebody or electronic gadget, something like that that goes to them. This one does have a brand name on it but many of them don’t.
They’re just white label products or that sort of thing.
And that’s primarily where I started from. I was selling mostly white label products in the beginning. And I didn’t start to get to custom products and formulating products. I’ve sold a lot of stuff in the health and beauty space. In the health and beauty space, the lowest barrier of entry for that is private labeling or white labeling. You don’t really dropship health and beauty products. That’s not really a thing. Drop shipping is kinda more for like gadgets and apparel and that kind of stuff.
So when I first got started, I got started in the lowest barrier of entry and that white labeling things. So these are products that already had… I mean they’re already created but they didn’t have any branding on them. They were like blank. So I would put on my branding and my labeling and that sort of stuff so that it reflected our brand. And by doing so, you’re still not really creating a brand like as people think about it. When people think “brands” they think like 100-year-old brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi. Automotive brands at Ford, GM like that sort of stuff. To build up those type of brands, well, number one, those types of brands are 100 years old or decades old. And they’ve also spent a tremendous amount of money building up the collateral of the brand.
E-commerce companies that are trying to get startup and trying to create brands, quite frankly, maybe one out of 1,000 or one out of 10,000 are actually going to build a brand. Most folks out there, especially what’s being taught is the lowest barrier of entry is just shipping products, billing customers and servicing customers, which isn’t building brands. And I would even be critical of my own brand building, so to speak, it’s a difficult task. You’re creating products that are not… it’s not like Teslas. You’re not selling them for thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of dollars. Your goal is to get as many of them out the door as much as you can. Especially if it’s a grooming product.
So for the
first couple of… well, I’d say like the majority of them, there’s probably
only like out of the 23, there’s only 2 or 3 that we started to do some
personal branding around. And so that’s been my experience. And I did do
somewhere we would have like a spokesperson or I would be the face of the
brand. One of the beard brands. It wasn’t the first one we did.
And Beard Czar was our first and it was the most successful but it wasn’t a brand where it was like a personality but person behind it, that came later. And actually without near as much success.
So it’s interesting that a lot of people, they have this focus on brands being successful or brands being worth a lot of money. Well, often times, to get a brand off the ground, it takes a whole lot more money. Takes a lot more resources. And those are resources that you’re diverting from the core of advertising and in services and in sales. So that’s kind of in the experience of it.
But through that, I got a number of different opportunities to do some really cool branding activities. We got our brands on TV. We did sponsorship. I was sponsored… one of the sponsors of the world beard and mustache competition in 2017 or 2018. Stage time and that sort of stuff. And there’s a lot of cool things we did between just Facebook communities, we’ve done some brand building on Facebook communities and that sort of stuff as well.
But it’s so it’s tremendously difficult. Even for someone that’s sold as much as I have, still daunting. So people that are just getting started selling e-commerce products and you want to build a brand, the first thing you need do is make money. Like, learn how to make money. Provide good value. And save the brand building for later. Just start to build a viable company and then you can start getting into building a brand.
going to like kick off a brand to begin with, it’s gonna be really difficult.
You need to have some sort of financing. Some venture capital or come from some
money because it costs money.
And if you want to get started just as a side hustle and make a little bit of money on the side by building brands, good luck. (laughs) I’ve run a number of online communities and I’ve yet to see somebody do that successfully.
man you said so many things that I really agree with them. And one of them is
the fact that a lot of people don’t really know the real meaning of the word
“brand.” I often see on those Facebook groups somebody say,
“Hey, do somebody that can design my brand?” And what they mean is a logo.
A logo is not a brand. A logo is just a logo.
And yeah, it doesn’t matter if you sell the 7-8 figures, more than likely you are an unknown brand.
Not too long
ago I interviewed the CFO of a 100-billion dollar company.
They make over 100 billion per year. And a lot of people, I’ve never heard of the Tata Group. That’s a 12-figure per year brand. So that talks about what you were saying that it’s not that easy. And you do need a lot of help and experience and probably funding.
people start in the wrong place too. Like they will start like with what you
just said, the visual assets of it. They’ll start with like the logo.
They’ll talk a little about that (laughs). And they’ll try to create what appeals to them, instead of actually working on understanding, like the persona or the avatar or the archetype, all three of those basically mean the same thing, but it’s a group of your customers, your most desired customers.
But in order to create that, you need to have customers. So most of the time you need to get started in selling. And then whatever that experience starts with, you can then do some more digging into your actual customers and segment them into the most desirable audience or avatar.
And I’ll give
you an example. So in the beard products, the men’s grooming beard products,
the very first brand that we built was Beard Czar. And we completely missed the
mark in terms of branding for it because we were selling it mostly to
blue-collar guys in Mississippi, Texas.
There were some kinda hipsters in California and Portland and Oregon and that sort of stuff. But for the most part, the meat and potatoes of who is buying our product was a blue-collar worker. You know, middle country America, that sort of stuff. And they couldn’t even pronounce “Czar”. (laughs)
They don’t even know what a Czar was. So they would call into customer service and they say, “Yeah, I want my… I’d like another order of beard Ceasar.”
NATE: And so
when we would we listen to our phone calls, like man, our customers don’t even
know what a czar is. We totally screwed that up. But it didn’t matter. I mean
the front end marking was strong enough, that we were still it getting out
there and people making up their own words for it.
When we turned back around to it later when we were looking, “Okay, what are some ways that we can increase the customer lifetime value of our product?” And that’s a big thing. It’s like, your average order value or customer lifetime value, how can you increase that? Because if you increase that, you make more profit. You can also spend more money on advertising.
It’s like the chicken and the egg: in order to get customers, you need to be able to spend money to acquire them. In order to have money to spend money to acquire them, you need to have customers. So it’s the chicken and egg scenario going on there.
But that’s when we learned that number one, our branding was a total miss because people didn’t know what it what a Russian Czar was. And then number two, our audience was not affluent whatsoever. In fact, many of them were living paycheck to paycheck. And for them to spend any money on themselves, it usually was utilitarian in nature. So like they need gas in their truck, they need wheels on their truck to get to their welding job, that sort of stuff.
So over time,
as we saw this phenomenon happening, we actually pivoted out of it. We saw
that, okay, well this is an interesting niche. This is an interesting product.
But we started in late 2015, 2016.
We were selling like gangbusters. And then mid-2017, when we started to see a decline in our customer lifetime value and the average order value of our customers we started to think, “Okay, we need to have a pivot plan here because this wave is coming crashing down.”
when we actually went back to what we’re selling before. We were selling
women’s hair products.
Because women, it’s more natural for them to spend things on health and beauty. Because there’s a variety of psychological things that are going on there about women and their decisions, subconsciously, consciously about their health and their beauty. But that makes them a more desirable audience.
So we ended up labeling the products that we were building but pivoting them to sell to women. Which is actually where we started from.
We were selling women’s hair products. And then we had this run on selling men’s hair products, specifically for beards. And then we reverted back to selling more women’s hair products. And that’s what we did for the length of that campaign, in that company.
QUIN: And you probably, even with beard brand, probably still had a high percentage of your customer being female, right? The women just buying it for their husband, boyfriend.
NATE: Exactly. You know, we didn’t focus on that as well as we should have. It’s a lesson learned. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would’ve focused more on the gifting nature of it. Because women don’t want to be around guys with like burly, nasty, stinky beards. Like, they want guys to take care of themselves.
And it’s funny because I saw this in an episode or actually someone told me about it but I haven’t seen it yet. But there’s this episode of Mad Men. They’re talking about this deodorant campaign from like back in the 40s or 50s. And I don’t know if this is true or not but it’s a great story anyways. Somebody in the marketing room was talking about, “Well, men don’t buy deodorant for themselves, women buy it for their boyfriends and husbands.”
And I was
thinking to myself, “Oh, Eureka!” That’s exactly what goes on for like the next
evolution of men’s grooming is because women buy it for their men and tell them
they need to use it. And eventually, enough men are like, “Okay, yeah Sally
bought me this beard oil and I’m wearing the beard oil.
And Joe is ribbing Jamie’s like, “Oh she’s buying you your finest oils.
It’s all glisteny and smells like cedar oak,” and that sort of stuff. And then eventually the guys are like, “Hey, this stuff is actually not bad. It actually feels good on my face and my skin and moisturizes my beard.” And that’s when things actually take off.
But yeah like for men’s grooming, if I were to go back and re-tackle that again, I would definitely focus on targeting women. And the messaging should be about how their boyfriend or husband, spouse, significant other or whatever would benefit from this. And then let them do the sales. Let them buy it. Let them club, you know the over the back of the head and make them start putting it on.
QUIN: And if it’s enough to last for 21 days, now the habit has been formed. And from now on, he will start buying it by himself as well.
QUIN: Subscription right there, right?
QUIN: So Nate, what kind of platforms do you use to sell? Are you on Amazon, Shopify? Just sales funnels? What do you do?
NATE: Yes, yes and yes. Also, a lot of people think that it’s one or the other. And I got my handy whiteboard here. Some of you folks aren’t going to see it. But do you folks produce, do you shoot this out on YouTube or anywhere else?
QUIN: Yes, I do. YouTube and iTunes videos as well.
NATE: Okay, so for anyone listening, if you’re not able to see this, you need to go watch Quin on YouTube and iTunes video because I’ve got an important graphic to show you.
If you’re just listening, envision of a triangle, for a second. At the base of the triangle, this is where most of the entries are in e-commerce. It’s Amazon and Shopify. These are the easiest platform to get started on. They’re the most widely accessible. And that’s just where people get started.
One notch up from it are enterprise level platforms. And one that I use for years it’s called Limelight CRM. And here you’ll see WooCommerce. There are some others in here too. Then at the very top, usually when someone has some significant online success, they will build their own custom system. And this has been what I see over and over and over again. Talking to people, I interview a lot of people. I’ve got a very high-level mastermind for people in their 7-figures and 8-figures, they’re selling e-commerce join me for events. And just seeing how the trend of that all works is… you know, Amazon and Shopify are kind of a starting point and then people start to elevate up more and more.
The reason being is because, on Shopify and Amazon, you have such a lack of control that if something happens, they will shut you down. If you’re running a product for just a little bit and the products are getting delayed, that really screws up your Amazon sales. That can shut down your Shopify payments and then things go crazy.
So when people are graduating through the school system of e-commerce, this is the typical flow of it. Starting with Amazon, Shopify and elevating to an enterprise level solution, WooCommerce, Limelight, something like that. And then eventually people build up their own systems because need more control even at that point.
So what I’ve done in the past is all except for the custom. I never got to the point where I built a custom myself. And usually to do that, you’re talking, I’d say somewhere between 20 to 20 million a year or more. That’s kind of like the price point. So we’ll put some dollars in this.
So a custom you’re gonna be selling somewhere between 20 mil or more a year before you get to that. And then with one of these enterprise-level systems, I start to see people switching over here somewhere between 1 million and 10 million a year. And then people who are starting on Amazon, Shopify, it’s up to somewhere between 1 and 10 Million a year.
And at the same time though, people who were selling on these custom platforms, it behooves them to keep selling on Amazon. Amazon is a little bit of the 800-pound gorilla because the key thing behind Amazon success is it’s creating so much traffic.
So think of Amazon for a second, like it’s like the sign spinners outside of a mall, a shopping mall. So Amazon has like all these people, spinning signs outside of the shopping mall, you know, “come into the shopping mall.” Amazon owns the shopping mall. Amazon owns all of the stores. And Amazon leases the store space to third-party resellers. And they’ve got their own department stores that are huge. And they’ve got their own people from department stores looking at all the third party sellers stores and saying, “Oh, that product is getting a lot of sales!” “Hey, Joe from department store Amazon, let’s add that to our stock!” And so they’ve got people walking around looking and seeing what’s selling really well and then they’re selling that themselves.
So Amazon owns all of that but they control the traffic. When they control the traffic, they control everything. So you can still get a lot of sales off of Amazon. And in fact, probably 90 to 95% of most of my online sales were not on Amazon. They were on my own platform, using my own website. And these are the platforms where you’re creating sales like linear sales funnels where it’s a single product.
Think of it like going into McDonald’s, you buy a big mac, then you get French fries and then you get a drink. You up-size the drink. But if they are giving you one decision at a time, you’re only making one decision at a time. And you can do massive, massive amounts of sales if you focus your e-commerce on that, as opposed to you know, people who get to a million or more a year in Shopify just using a store that has a whole bunch of different products, kudos to you my friend.
Because you’ve done all the hard work. Now, you get to really benefit from the explosiveness of your sales.
If you curate like the top 3 products on your store and create a story for why they relate so that every customer that comes to that funnel… you leave your Shopify store alone but you create a funnel too. And that that funnel takes the customer on this journey of big mac, french fries, drink. Over and over and over again. And then up-size it.
That’s the key piece. So there’s no right or wrong answer here, it just depends on where you’re at. Most people start with Amazon and Shopify. If you’re only selling on Amazon, you’re one Amazon decision away from you losing your entire business. Shopify, same thing. If Shopify shuts off an app that you’re using or shuts off a payment gateway that you’re using, boom you’re done. If PayPal or Stripe payments or Shopify payments, if they shut you down, you’re done.
And it happens all the time. I mean these groups from watching people, you’re just like screaming and crying and begging. And basically, they’re losing their businesses left and right because they get to a point of success where the risk associated to their lack of performance is greater than the reward for them to stay on the platform. So the people in risk at Amazon and at Shopify, they don’t care about the reward, they care about the risk.
And the risk officers and the people in risk departments of these platforms shut people down without remorse all the time. It’s critical that you have to have these other platforms as you grow your business. You don’t need to in the beginning. Just stay on Amazon or stay on Shopify until you get to $6,000 a year in sales or something like that. Then once you start to get over half a million in sales, you really need to be focused on having an alternative. And vice versa.
I’ve seen some examples of people who were selling a custom system like a million dollars a day, not doing any Amazon sales. And I was thinking to myself, “Holy cow, the first thing you need to, get yourself on Amazon because people are looking anyways. If you’re doing any kind of sales outside of Amazon, people are also looking to buy your competitors products on Amazon. The ones with good reviews. So it’s kinda like your dominant hand but you still need to have your other hand as well. You don’t want to show up to a boxing contest just one armed. (laughs) You’re not going to able to block some of those punches coming at you.
QUIN: Absolutely. And Amazon does offer certain benefits when it comes to traffic.
For example, I do have brands on Shopify and Amazon as well as WooCommerce.
I have a lot of WordPress sites and funnels of course with well-known software out there. The thing is, for example, outside of Amazon, I can get… let’s rout it up to a 2% conversion rate for example. While on Amazon, certain products I can get over 60%, which is for those of us that do outside of Amazon e-commerce, it’s completely insane. 60% conversion rate.
On Amazon, it’s so simple because you know that the person goes to Amazon and types in “Bluetooth speakers” they actually are looking to buy a Bluetooth speaker. That’s the reason why they’re there.
NATE: They have a buyer’s intent before even coming to you.
QUIN: Yeah, so yeah it does suck. We don’t get the customer’s email. And like you said, I have five brands on Amazon, I also represent some brands that are not mine on Amazon and often because of anything, really anything, even a false positive that the algorithm triggered, a brand can be turned off. They turn off your listing immediately and then after that you have to find the solution and the reason why that happened. And a lot of false positives happened to me.
For example, the trademark infringement with a brand that was my own brand. And they figured that there was something… that it was not even in the same category. And it was a brand new product that was created six months ago. And my 5-year old brand was infringing on them. We actually then found out that it wasn’t. There absolutely nothing wrong. And the only similarity was that both products were circular. (laughs) That’s it.
NATE: Oh god. Yeah, but in the meantime, the brand that was “infringing” was totally shut down, right?
QUIN: It was mine, yes. And it was shut down for I would say a good 3 weeks for that. And right we’re talking about close to five figures per day of those sales. And it’s not even a very, very profitable product but it still bothers me because…
NATE: Yeah, I mean even if it wasn’t a greatly profitable product, you still depend on the revenue to sell through the inventory, right? Otherwise, you’re stuck holding the inventory and then you’ve got inventory loss.
QUIN: Yeah, and still paying for storage fees for those products, exactly. So Nate, tell me something. You did them so many products and brands. And of course, everything went perfectly. You never had any issues. (laughs)
NATE: We had all sorts of challenges.
QUIN: Tell me, you had and fail partnership before. Which brand was this?
NATE: Yeah, so this was a company that had many brands associated with it. Probably the most painful business failure that I had was not understanding that when you go into a partnership, at some point in time, that partnership will end. Period. No if’s or but’s. It’s not “until death do we part”, it’s not “for richer or for poorer”, it’s not “in sickness and in health.” Business partnerships have a defined start and end.
And I didn’t understand that. I was young or younger. I don’t think I was necessarily that young. I’ve done this a couple of times and I’ve had business partnerships where the split was amicable. And it never had one where the split was not amicable but was also in a situation where this individual was doing things that were damaging reputationally, damaging litigiously, damaging monetarily. Like there were a number of activities that were going on that I wasn’t aware of. But because of my association to him, I’m also responsible for.
QUIN: Of course.
NATE: And so that’s really what caused the friction and then the breakup. And what I’ve learned since then, that it would be nice sometimes for this break up just happened like overnight. They’re done and over with. But when you’ve got joint assets, when you’ve got joint businesses, when there’s a lot of stuff there, it gets messy.
And in a specific instance, probably one of the biggest things that I learned is to spend a little bit time getting to know people before you form a partnership with them. Try doing some mini projects. Do something together and try to assist their character before you really step into a long term relationship. And regardless, have a defined exit plan. Like, know who’s walking away with what assets. Whoever puts money in, they’re first to get money back. If you’re in a partnership where no one’s putting money in, how do you divide all these responsibilities and the workload?
And there’s a book that was just recommended to me. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet but it’s Slicing the Pie. And it’s basically that this whole idea and it’s kind of like a book that leads to a workbook. And then like you can go on their website and spend a little bit of money and then you use their tool as well. But I think it would be worth doing because when you’re going into a partnership, there are so many different things you need to take in consideration. Who’s putting money in, what work effort is being done by all parties, what assets are being built and generated from within the company. Is there anything that’s a conflict of interest outside of the company? Is there anything that’s adjacent? Adjacent offer or other things that could be considered part of it? So there’s just a lot of nuances that go there.
And I’ve had
this conversation. And I’ve spoken pretty passionately about it because this
one screwed me big time. With people that I bump into that are partners or have
partnerships, they don’t even have an operating agreement. And if you have a
partnership, and you’re listening to this and you don’t have an operating
agreement with your partner, you need to run not walk to a good partnership
attorney. And put together a partnership agreement or an operating agreement. Shouldn’t
cost you much more than $1,500 bucks, maybe $2,000. If you’re doing any sales
over $100,000 a year, you should absolutely do this. If you’re doing less than,
I guess maybe you can try to like use some online tools yourself.
But I don’t really operate less than $100,000 a year. I’m in this to win it. I swing big and got some huge hits. I’ve struck out a whole bunch too. And that’s just the game.
There’s no harm, no foul in it. So yeah, that I would say is probably one of the biggest ones. It’s tough though when you’re in a situation where something happens that’s outside of your control and you’re stuck left holding the bag. That one is brutal.
QUIN: Absolutely. There was something you said, Nate previously and it was I believe the life of an entrepreneur can be incredibly lonely. And the more successful you become, the less people really connect with you.
QUIN: Can you explain that please.
NATE: Sure. So one of the things that you’ll find on your entrepreneurial journey is when you’re surrounding yourself with paid staff, VA’s, employees, contractors, whatever, the dynamic with them is never the same as it is with other entrepreneurs. There are certain conversations you can’t have with them. Like you can’t have an open conversation about like, “Oh man, Amazon shut our store down for five weeks and I’m having trouble making payroll,” with somebody on payroll. You can’t have that conversation with them. They’d freak out.
QUIN: And they would tell everybody else.
exactly! They’d go, “Nate can’t make payroll. We have to get out
here.” It’s like rats off of a sinking ship. You just can’t really have a
conversation with them. Also, like with your success, you can’t say, “We
made a million bucks in cash. This is awesome!” You can’t have that with
your employee because then the next thing they’re going to say is,
“Where’s mine? You didn’t do that! What about me? So it is very isolating
being an entrepreneur.
So in either case, like when you have great failures or great successes, you can’t share with your employees or staff or contractors or vendors. You can’t. The only people that you can really share that success with is in masterminds with other entrepreneurs.
understanding the dynamics of that, attending masterminds, I’m now creating
mastermind for my communities, that was a real huge turning point for me so
much that it changed my life. Because of the business of entrepreneurship is so
isolating, it is a tough row to hoe all on your own. So sometimes you can share
with a business partner and that’s often times when people will seek
camaraderie is in business partnerships. But now, like for me, I’ve got this
business partnership that’s going into shambles while we’ve got this highly
It’s basically in sabotage. It’s literally, I felt like I was in this naval warship and we’re like kicking ass and laying waste to everything around us. And then we got a partner in the engineering room, he’s throwing wrenches into the engines. Keep blowing stuff up and like oh, s***. “What the hell? What are you doing?”
And it’s a lot of people’s own internal limitations. Our own internal limiting beliefs and the lack of people’s own personal development. That’s probably one of the most frequent obstacles I see to entrepreneurial success that comes out of especially having these great years and then all of a sudden, boom you don’t. Personal development is something that should be high on everybody’s radar. And if you’re actively not reading to improve yourself or attending classes for personal development workshops, communication courses, leadership courses, that sort of stuff. And especially if you’re starting in a seven, eight, nine-figure range, that’s gonna limit your success.
QUIN: Yeah, it’s frustrating and scary at the same time when the business is doing so well and the partnership isn’t. It must be such a weird feeling because somewhat their success and failure mix together. Yeah super frustrating.
NATE: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I was watching something the other day and the thought came to me and it’s like, how can you have your biggest success and your biggest failure at the same time? Like how does that make you feel? What do you do about that? And I was just thinking about that and I was like, “Oh man what a mind trap. How do you express joy and fear or anger at the exact same time?”
QUIN: Yeah, I guess you just have to decide for one and maybe go for joy. (laughs)
NATE: Yeah, exactly. It’s a lot of perceptual awareness. You know, being aware of your own failings, of your own fears, your own limitations. And it’s a rare breed of entrepreneurs or anyone. It’s not just for entrepreneurs. It’s a rare breed for anyone to look at and to honestly ruminate and criticize their own actions and hold themselves accountable and responsible for why they got to where they got themselves. And like having that kind of a mindset is super rare. Probably one out of 100 people. Everybody else, they will shift blame to other people, finger point, they will deny responsibility. And that makes you powerless, quite frankly. Because you can’t change anybody else around you. The only person you can change is yourself. And if you don’t have a mindset and a heart that’s programmed to seek that, you’re going to live a pretty miserable life.
I’ve been on both sides of it. I also had the wrong mindset for the longest
I became grown up… the late thirties right towards the forties when you become a real grown up. And at one point, of course, I had the wrong mindset. And so yeah, a lot of stuff just like that happened to me as well.
Which reminds me for example, your definition of success, everybody has different ones, right?
And so right now, mine is my family life and being able to be with them every single day. And doing what I love because e-commerce is what I love.
I started mine in 1997. Back then, I was living in Europe and I was selling on eBay. eBay USA because there was no eBay in the country I was living in.
For the longest time, I continued my e-commerce journey because I was stubborn. I was not successful. I was stubborn. And thank goodness, that stubbornness was what kept me going. Because it doesn’t matter if I started twenty-two years ago doing e-commerce. There’s always one point and maybe you had the same thing are not, there’s always one point that and you think you’re super successful financially. And then the next day, you’re in a hole bigger than you think you can dig yourself out of. That happened to me. Did you ever see anything similar?
NATE: Absolutely. So in that same partnership that I was talking about, there was such a gross amount of debt that was incurred into a subsidiary. So it wasn’t something I was responsible for. I was just… it was a separate entity that kind of his hard-charging focus and his model to launch was raise a bunch of money and then go work on whatever it was. And for that, it actually happens to be back into real estate endeavor because we both come from a real estate background. And it was brought to my attention that that was his experience. His expertise.
So him going off and doing that, I was focusing on e-commerce business. And he raised a bunch of money. He overpaid for a bunch of properties. He couldn’t get them renovated, couldn’t get them rehabbed, couldn’t get them sold and lost them all. And in that instance, ended up taking the company into bankruptcy because it there was no climbing out of that hole. It was the only moral choice because the alternative was to go raise more money into something that had already demonstrated a track record of failure. And then try to bring together a team and build expertise in the midst of this crumbling business partnership and this antagonistic relationship. There are lawsuits back and forth, it’s just a nightmare. And I didn’t have the time or the expertise to devote into that. The company didn’t pay money for anybody to do that, so you’d find yourself in a situation where there are no good choices. The only good choice is a bad choice. So it’s which is the least bad choice?
QUIN: Yeah, I know exactly what it is. And you know what the good choice is but the company doesn’t have enough cash flow to do that good choice.
QUIN: So you have to go with the second best. The thing that is possible but you know is not going to give you any results. Is just gonna float you for a little bit longer.
NATE: Yeah and you’re going to start to ask yourself, “Okay will is floating this thing longer going to be better for everybody involved or is ripping the bandaid off the better thing to do?
I think entrepreneurs take very personally, failure and not wanting to admit failure. If there is a failure for a business unit or business product or an Amazon listing whatever it is that, “Oh man, I’m a failure too.” Well, you really have to pull your personal self out of it. It is good for us to be critical of ourselves and responsible for our own actions and that sort of stuff too. But also there are times in businesses when things that are just outside your control that have an impact and your business goes away.
And we’re seeing that now especially in e-commerce, we’re seeing it now. It’s gargantuan retail companies that are going away that have been around for 100 years. And we’re watching this evolution. The dying of these dinosaurs. And this evolution in the e-commerce And I mean yes, some these companies were around for a long time and they’re going out of business. They’re going bankrupt. And it’s not uncommon. In fact, I think it was Jeff Bezos who was quoted as saying it’s an eventuality that Amazon will fail.
NATE: So I mean even for him to say that, that there will come a point in time where Amazon will fail. Now it’s their job to extend that time frame as long as they possibly can. That’s what everybody in the company’s… like that’s their sole mission is to continue to grow the company and increase the value to counterparties and that sort of stuff so they have a viable business model.
But one day Amazon may be gone. One day Google could be gone. Facebook could be gone. These titans that we’re seeing now in this really interesting time where we’ve got these 5 major companies that are kind of controlling so much of the online space. Their Gross Domestic Product, their GDP is bigger than almost every country in the world except like China and the US.
So it’s interesting. I’ve struggled with that too because of the failure in that business unit, in that partnership. And then the collateral damage that one of the things I’m in hindsight, I’ve ruminated on to is I wish I had been able to more quickly cut that business unit because the amount of time and effort I spent trying to be like the good guy, trying to be the hero was spent in efforts that weren’t helpful for the other business units that had potential for them. So that distraction, that lack of focus had a ripple effect that went on for a while too. That was painful.
QUIN: And personal life ripple effect as well, did something like that happen to you?
NATE: You know, it’s interesting because, in my personal life, I think probably the most strain on my relationship came from the greatest success in the business. And there’s a phenomenon that happens and I wanna answer the question you had just a while ago too about like what’s the definition of success. Like I’ve seen it now in a couple of different layers for different people, in different times of their entrepreneurial career. So I think I can actually adjust it for different people at different times in their life.
But the biggest strain that I had in my relationship with my children and with my spouse was upon the eve of the most successful year that we had. In 2016, we had just a gargantuan year. This whole beard phenomenon was going crazy. We had eight-figure sales. And we had free cash flow and it was great. And we had a tumultuous start for an e-commerce career and this was kinda like our heyday, our pinnacle. And we’re able to sock some cash away. And then now you’re like, “Holy crap, I got this huge tax bill!” (laughs). And so you’re dealing with the problems that come from the opposite ends of the spectrum. You’re thinking about tax strategies and different ways to produce your income and that sort of stuff.
And that was where I think my relationships were having the biggest challenge because I was going through a personal transformation at the time. And we’re all our own hero’s journey. We start off as a young Luke Skywalker. In a sense, we’re still flying around in our star Landspeeders and that sort of stuff. And then all of a sudden, we got this conflict. The empire shows up at our doorstep. And some tragedy, something happens like or Uncle Ben or Aunt Beru got killed. And that sets us off into our journey. And each layer of this hero’s journey, and it is a life phenomenon it’s not just something we watch on TV or the movies. There’s a reason why we’re so drawn to Hollywood films and it’s because they have encapsulated the metaphor for life so perfectly, that we’re drawn to it in such a massive way.
And in this case, I’d had this great success. And it left this void in me as well that something, you know, I was seeking and it was this thirst to conquer something else. Like, “Okay, I conquered this. I want to conquer something else.” And so it was putting me in this position where I was just grueling, spending time doing more work, not spending time with my family, not spending time with my children, not spending time with my spouse. And at the end of 2016, my wife this made this post on Facebook and it said, “Great relationship advice for anybody: spend more time with your significant other than you do looking at your phone.”
I’ve commented on this a couple of times in presentations and it’s not necessarily great relationship advice for anyone. It’s really great relationship advice for Nate. And the lesson that I needed to take away from, and there are some big ones that I took away immediately is when I’m spending time with my partners, to put my phone away and just turn on vibrate or just leave in the car. If we go to dinner, just leave it in the car. Go have dinner and then afterward, when you get home you can check in on the stuff.
And it’s really tough for e-commerce entrepreneurs because we’re selling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So if something happens while you’re having dinner that costs you a couple of thousand dollars, like you rationalize to yourself like, “Well, sweetie I’m trying to stay checked in because I don’t want us to lose any money.” At some point in time, you just have to kind of draw that line and set yourself kind of a timer that you’re diligently spending time with your family and with friends and that social life too. Otherwise, you can be that stereotypical entrepreneur that’s been through multiple marriages and estranged from family and that sort of stuff.
And at the end of the day, I’ve read a number of reports about this and I have got a number of interviews and from I’ve seen for myself, when we’re on our deathbed, we’re not going to be regretting our businesses that succeeded or failed. What we’ll be regretting is the depth of our relationships with our friends and our family. And that was really poignant for me. There’s actually a Harvard study the talks about this. It’s like the study that’s going on for like eighty years. They’ve tracked these Harvard graduates from like 1930 and then their children over the years, and then their children over the years. And the whole idea behind it was what makes humans happy? Humans are happy because of the relationships not because of the amount of money that’s in their bank account or the amount of cars in their garage. But as entrepreneurs who seek financial freedom, financial safety through the everlasting goal of financial reward, which is very materialistic.
So from a success perspective like you, Quin, I see at this stage having gone through massive successes and massive failures. I’ve made and lost millions twice. And in those modes where I have been the happiest is when I’ve just consciously spent more time with the relationships that are meaningful for me.
And that’s what inspires me so much now to have built one of the most exclusive masterminds for e-commerce entrepreneurs. Because the relationships are formed in those are so valuable, so tight. People make life long friends from the events that I do.
And that to
me, is the ultimate pinnacle of what I can do to take all of my learning
lessons and all of my expertise. And it’s not the “Nate Guru Show”.
I’m not the guy that’s sharing just “Here’s this Facebook strategy. Here’s
this Amazon strategy.” I don’t do that. I’m just a catalyst and the magnet
to bring in other people that are highly successful. And then I create an
environment by which people feel comfortable letting their guard down and
sharing the good and the bad. Because it’s really by sharing some of the
challenges and our frustrations and vulnerability that you start to build deep
rapport with other people. When you’re constantly just thumping your chest
about all your success in that bragging manner, you do the opposite. You push
So sharing vulnerability is what draws people together.
So now I feel like this is the opportunity for the most happiness, the most the fulfillment in my own personal and business life because I’ve had this realization. I’ve come to understand this about me and myself and I can take everything that I’ve done in the past to proceed to build the most connecting, resourceful, camaraderie-based mastermind for e-commerce entrepreneurs in the world.
QUIN: Fantastic. You know, you were talking about how during dinner, we check our phones because we want to always keep refreshing to see, “Look, I made more sales,” or “What is going wrong?” And I did that for the longest time too, right?
And I would spend lots of family time but it was not pure family time. I was just physically there with them. I was thinking of other things. I was refreshing the Amazon app and going to Shopify and check to see what the sales were and what issues were coming up.
unfortunately, I was forced to be removed out of my business because of my
father’s death. During that time, I really had to go. My connection was
limited, the internet and all that stuff. I just had to actually go and be with
family in Europe.
And during that time, you know what happened wrong with my online businesses?
Nothing. Nothing wrong happened. The staff took care of it. And I only had two.
And anything that I could have done, they did and they took care of it. And when I was there, unfortunately thinking of who I lost, I was also thinking of all the time I was losing daily while being right next to my kids and actually being on the phone. So that ended. Now when I spend time with them, it’s just pure time with them and enjoying that.
It’s amazing how we go through these transformations. And I’ve had the chance
to meet with, hang around and be with millionaire entrepreneurs in their teens,
in their twenties, in their thirties, in their forties, in their fifties and
everyone has a different model for what’s successful for them.
Teenager and twenty-somethings that are millionaires or aspiring millionaires have complete disregard for relationships and for family. Because they don’t have any.
At this point, they’ve just gotten out from underneath the roof of their parents. They’ve got almost no awareness of anything other than themselves. And nothing right or wrong, it’s just that’s what we are as a human race in this day and age in our teens or twenties.
You don’t have any responsibilities. A lot of those guys are, they’re making that kind of money.
They’re traveling and maybe not using their money in the smartest pursuits and endeavors. And you know, they’re still immature.
something too about how society has changed so much in the last 200 years that
we grew up a lot faster than when we’re working on farms or working and
pastures or prairies, that kind of stuff was 200 years ago. And now we are so
insulated from catastrophe or just from raw, human life like what we experience
as hardship 200 years ago.
So you put in a combination of 20-something making millions of dollars from an e-commerce business, it’s actually quite difficult for them to relate and for them to build connections with one another because they haven’t really spent a whole lot of time learning what being a responsible human is and being a caring human is, and trying to form lasting relationships with others.
It’s very much a selfish time.
And then when
that same individual, and I’m speaking from experience because this was me, in
my twenties super selfish. I was making gobs of money selling real estate. I
had paid off $80,000 worth of student loans before the time I was 23. I had a
half a million dollar-house by the time I was 24.
I’ve always been somewhat modest when it comes to depreciating assets, so I don’t like spending money on expensive cars because it depreciates but I was well to do. I was very affluent as a 22, 23, 25-year old. And in some cases, when I look back at some of the other 20 somethings I know that have made tens of millions of dollars, I can’t even compare that.
But in both of those instances, I was super selfish. And I cared about me. I cared about what I wanted. And then when you add a relationship into the mix, then that’s one more person at the dinner table, so to speak. And you have to consider them or they will leave. That’s just what will happen. Or you will leave and you’ll make up some baloney reason about it like, “she snores” or “she didn’t immediately brush her teeth after a bunch” or something like that.
But then fast forward another 5 or 10 years and you add children to the mix. And children are completely dependent on you. They know nothing. They only know what you teach them or what the world teaches them in your absence. And that was something that was really profound to me.
And I had a terrible relationship with my children, especially my oldest son when he was first born. Because I felt like an immediate failure because I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to handle being a new father. And I don’t like surrounding myself with just like failure after failure after failure. Like especially when there’s something else that I’m really good at. So I would be drawn to things I’m good at and then I would tend to push myself away from things that I’m not good at.
And then fast forward 5 or 6 years and I’ve got a relationship with my oldest son who literally tells his mom, my wife, at this one point going “I don’t want to go see Daddy because he’s just gonna tell me to go to my room.” It was brutal. So after that, I intentionally took a self-development course, that I had to fly to a different state one weekend a month to just immerse myself in how to solve, resolve, positively impacts my relationship with my children and my family.
And it sounds silly because you’re like, “Nate, what are you doing? You’re leaving your family to go learn.” But just from a modality perspective, I’m very kinesthetic, very visual and then not as much auditory. So I knew I needed to get myself into a situation where it’s not just reading like a self-help book and then like trying to implement that. I think there’s a reason why academia is focused around classroom and class times because being physically somewhere, listening to instructors, listening to people and teachers and stuff. So you get everything, you can feel, hear and see. It’s all right there. I had to do that because I knew this was going to be such a profound impact on me. That that’s what it was going to take for me to really learn the material.
And I think
that applies for a lot of people that are building their businesses. Many
times, they’ll take a course or they’ll read a book or they’ll watch YouTube
videos, that sort of stuff.
Well, that’s good to start but you’re not going to get from that the same thing you would by going to a physical event. A conference, a mastermind, a class or a course or that sort of stuff. And you’re not gonna get the connections and the relationships with the other attendees, the speakers, the teachers et cetera if you’re just reading it online too or if you’re just reading a book.
So I’m a big
fan of physical events. Especially because there’s such a lack of good ones in
the e-commerce space.
I pride myself of having done some of the best ones. And I just have a passion for doing that. And I always get so much out of it, like there’s just so much good that comes from it in so many ways that I just can’t help but want to do it.
And so back to
me going through that course, it absolutely revolutionized and completely
changed how I would react to them. And being humble enough to recognize my
We’re not really failures, we’re just a lack of knowledge. And giving myself some tools and also giving myself some freedom to make mistakes. And to not so highly criticize myself to the point which I wanted to remove myself from the situation because I feel like I was going to keep making mistakes.
There was a point in time where I thought to myself like I’m doing more damage by being around them, by being with them.
QUIN: Oh man.
NATE: How bad is that?
QUIN: That must be just a terrible, terrible feeling.
NATE: And it’s not true. It wasn’t true. Like there wasn’t anything that I was doing that was bad for them other than not by being there. Other than by not being there.
QUIN: That’s almost like the impostor syndrome but at home.
QUIN: So is that why you started the ADSUM is that because an in-person event is the best thing where you can have not only the 5 senses but besides that, the six which is the connections.
NATE: Absolutely. It really is. I’ve found that for me, having live events, facilitating live events, I started with a small mastermind like 35 people flew out to my very first event from around the world. And that grew. It turned into a trade show called ADSUM. And then that’s kind of morphed a little bit. Our next event is a cruise. It’s very family friendly, very spouse friendly. Because all this has just been in parallel with my own transition as a human being and in my own transformation as an entrepreneur. And as I’ve grown, I’ve just been honest about the trajectory, like where I am and what my trajectory is. And then I’ve just kinda staged a rally call to people around me. So there’s other entrepreneurs that have relationships and have families and that sort of stuff, especially if they’re involved in e-commerce, particularly.
We’re doing this cruise May 4th through 11th out of Miami. And you know this is that next evolution. Mastermind on the cruise, so we got 2 days of masterminding, we’ve got 4 days of sun and fun. And it’s a 7-day cruise from Saturday to a Saturday. And people have the opportunity to hang out with their family, they have an opportunity to hang out with other e-commerce entrepreneurs.
And through that, they can connect with so many people in so many different ways. I know people gonna walk away with it with brand new friendships that will last forever. Because I just get those testimonials all the time. People tell me that “Nate, I met this person at your event and I go on vacations with them and we’re business partners together now” or “we’re doing these projects together,” and that sort of stuff.
It’s silly because you don’t really see that like on a sales page. It’s never really like, “you’ll get lifelong friends!’ That’s not really like something that people will immediately jump onto but it’s true. And actually it’s probably the most impactful thing that you can have from going to those type of events because those connections are worth so much more than just a book that you read that gives you 5 or 6 new ways of thinking or 2 or 3 new strategies for employing X, Y, Z product listing and that sort of stuff.
QUIN: Yeah, human connection is still number one. Go knock on their door “Hey, I want to buy your house.” Still number one yeah.
NATE: (laughs) Yeah.
QUIN: All right. Nate, we’re coming up on time here. I want to be respectful of your time. I know it’s very valuable to you. Let everybody know where we can find you, where we can know more about ADSUM and all that.
NATE: Yeah so
that ADSUM, it’s got a beautiful life and death. ADSUM is done. It was just
an event for 3 years that we did for e-commerce entrepreneurs. The next event
under the umbrella of Nate is the sellers cruise.
So you can go to the sellerscruise.com. It’s open to anybody. It’s for us expiring people to get to 7 figures, people who already are 7 figures. Either way, it’s the most affordable event I’ve ever done.
It’s only $1,100 per person for a cabin. There’s two occupancy needed.
Includes all your food, all your drinks. So you can you ham it up, bring your spouse. Show him/her you how much you love them by bringing them to an industry event and learn at the same time. Let them talk with other spouses, so they can kind of talk about, you know, “Well, Jason does this.” “George does that.” “Oh, it just must be normal. Okay, we’ll get over it.” That sort of stuff. (laughs)
So that’s what we’ve got going on. So again, it’s sellerscruise.com. Anyone that is selling physical products online is welcome. Two days of masterminding, which normally is like $5,000 I charge for. It’s all included. Again, this is just the most inclusive event I’ve ever made available to the public before. So that’s the best place you can find me because all I have a whole week basically to hang out with my inner circle. And we’ll have a couple of hundred people on it. It’s just gonna be a fun time. So it’s not gonna be huge and there will be lots of great connections being made there.
QUIN: And you said that’s only $1,100, everything included?
Everything included. So you need to have 2 people in a cabin so it would be
like $2,200 if you and a spouse came.
Your food is all included, so like every meal is included. All of the alcohol and drinks, that’s all included. So it’s all-inclusive on a boat. And it’s a 2-year old Italian cruise ship featured on many YouTube videos as being in the top 20 most insane cruise ships in the world. It’s called the MSC Seaside.
And it’s leaving out of Miami Florida Saturday morning on May 4th and then returning Saturday morning May 11th. And we’re going to stop in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and then Nassau. And we’ll have a couple of days we’re just on the boat. And in those days that we’re just on the boat, the boat is giving us access to some of the facilities that we can all group up and do a mastermind together. So that’s 2 days of mastermind, 4 days of sun and fun and then we get back to our daily grind.
QUIN: That is really, really incredible. Nate, thank you so much for being here. Love the golden gems you dropped here and I appreciate your time.
NATE: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
QUIN: No problem. Have a good one.Quin Amorim, Host of Amazon FBA Selling Online Podcast