99. How to Become a Traveling Shopify eCommerce Entrepreneur with Ronnie Teja of Branzio

 
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What’s it like running successful businesses as an entrepreneurial nomad?

In this episode of the Bean Ninjas Podcast, Ronnie Teja, the Founder and CEO of Branzio Watches, joins us to talk about how he built his business from the ground up.

He generously talks about building his team, expanding his portfolio and some tools he uses for the business. There is so much goodness in this episode you really wouldn’t miss it for the world.

In this episode, we discuss:

[03:36] Ronnie’s story as an entrepreneurial nomad.
[06:54] Starting the Branzio Genesis Story
[10:29] He explains how the saying “your success in your career will be defined by the people you meet and the books you read” is true for him and his business.
[11:52] Ronnie talks about Chris Bailey’s Book: The Productivity Project
[15:30] Getting the first 100 orders in his business.
[19:33] His current team.
[22:00] Growing from one brand to expanding his current portfolio.
[25:00] Top strategies and tools he uses for his team.
[27:50] His accounting team and top tip for store owners.
[31:57] The importance of marketing strategies and campaigns.
[34:04] Words from Ronnie.

Transcription

How to Become a Traveling Shopify eCommerce Entrepreneur with Ronnie Teja of Branzio

Announcer Welcome to the Bean Ninjas Podcast, where you get an all-access pass to see what happens behind the closed doors of a fast-growing global bookkeeping and financial reporting business.

Wayne:

Hey Ronnie. How are you doing today and where are you calling in from?

Ronnie:

Oh, man. I’m having an amazing time here in Bangkok. It’s a great time to be alive. And like we were discussing earlier, Bangkok is on a shutdown for about a couple of weeks. So there’s a lot of people in the DC who come around Bangkok and it’s kick in everything else. So it’s kind of funny that you can’t actually go to new bars; my favourite dance clubs at Nana Plaza are closed; all that kind of stuff.

Wayne:

Yeah. I guess we all have to make sacrifices during this difficult time.

Ronnie:

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And my heart really goes to everybody who’s suffering during this time, too. I mean, we were talking about, some of us have been based in the Philippines, and Philippines, especially, is hit very hard.

Wayne:

Absolutely.

Ronnie:

And we were talking about what you guys had actually done to help your employees out, and I’m sure that’s something that would not be forgotten by anyone of your employees. And I’m sure some other people are thinking similar measures as well.

Wayne:

Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of this comes down to really effective conversations. It’s not something you can ignore. So the more you can own the information that you have a good understanding around; communicate that to your teams so that they’re clear around where things are, but also feel open to share with you what they’re having concerns or where they’re starting to get a bit frightened about things. Honestly, lockdowns or something is kind of new to everybody.

Ronnie:

Yeah.

Wayne:

I know it’s not something I’ve experienced. So just trying to figure out how we live through this has been kind of unique. I know we’re kind of built for this in the sense that we have remote teams. We’ve worked in this fashion since we were founded five years ago.

But I’m seeing in social just a lot of chatter about people trying to figure out how do you move to remote, how do you maintain effectiveness in what is a new style of work for them. And it’s going to be an amazing test like test kicks, right? Like a case study on like working from home.

Ronnie:

Yeah.

Wayne:

We’re all now forced to; people need to adapt.

Ronnie:

Well, yeah. I mean, I’m not going to disagree with you and I think I definitely agree with you. Like we were founded five years ago like yourself. And just having the opportunity to actually work in a distributed team or a remote team, whichever way term you like using. It’s kind of like a boom.

I mean, there’s other companies that have done that. Basecamp; Basecamp has been doing it for 10 years; they’re pretty well known. Then Wrike is another one that’s been doing this for 7 years. So there are certain teams out there and some companies out there. I mean, of course, ECM, even bigger than any company out of the DC as well, which actually have an approach.

So I have a friend who works for Asian Development Bank, which is part of the World Bank, and they were actually talking about the whole process of actually working remotely. And especially for banking where everything is so secured, and you know how exactly the whole process goes.

And he was like, “Look, man. It’s a nightmare to keep our processes together; to keep the left hand over the right hand. How does that happen?” And he said, “So far the processes aren’t broken,” but he says, “You can see cracks in the process,” which is quite [Inaudible 00:03:35] right?

Wayne:

Absolutely. So it’s kind of fitty because today, we really had set this up a few weeks back, and we’re really here to share with our audience a bit just about your backstory, your experience as a digital nomad and an eCommerce entrepreneur.

Ronnie:

Yeah.

Wayne:

So I know we’ve connected through the Dynamite Circle; you mentioned the DC. It’s really; it’s a community of digital nomads. Tell me about your introduction to the scene and your experience as a travelling eCommerce entrepreneur. Why and how did you get started?

Ronnie:

Yeah. Well, I started about like five years ago because I was doing; I worked for like various companies in Canada. So just a background with myself, I immigrated to Canada as an adult, so I’m an adult who went to Canada. So we moved to Canada when I was 22. We got the golden ticket; my mom had applied for our visas, so we all came together to Canada.

First, I think I landed on the 14th of May, and on the 15th of May, I got a job working on an Indian radio station. So it’s not just any Indian station, so it’s door-to-door media sales. So like, literally like going door-to-door, and not just at like any; like going to like strip malls full of like Indian stores and say, “Hey, would you like to buy something from the Indian radio?”

And after the fact that I did that across, so basically I had to take public transit like buses and trains so that I could go and do that. So I did that for a couple of years, which is kind of like a heartbreaking experience, but it was nice.

Wayne:

The true hustle.

Ronnie:

Yeah. It is, man. It’s door-to-door sales. Like, you better learn how to do door-to-door sales if you really want to do; you know what like sales is; like you should know how to do door-to-door sales.

But, yeah. I mean, I was lucky after that. I got an opportunity to work at HSBC; big bank, definitely a world bank, man. And I recommend it for anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur. You know, lots of processes, it takes about six months to get a marketing approved, so, of course, I wasn’t a big fan of that. So I was thinking if I’m going to leave this.

But then, I had an opportunity to go work at BestBuy. And BestBuy, I learned a lot about how retail cycles worked; how does retail work. And BestBuy, it was quite a good fit for a personality like mine because everything was just go, go, go, go, go, go, go. So nothing ever stops.

So from 8:00 a.m. to like 10:00 p.m. at night, everything was always on the go. So that was kind of like an interesting experience for me. So I did that for a couple of years. Got an opportunity to move to Australia; worked in Australia for a couple of years working for the Wesfarmers Group. So I worked on Target Australia and then Bunnings, which was coming from a background in retail. So I worked with those guys.

‘Till I had an opportunity to actually like, ‘till I said, “Look. Hey, wait a second. I’ve been doing this for so long. Is there a chance that I can actually run an eCommerce business?” So I had an opportunity to do some freelance marketing like for a watch brand back in the day.

And I said, “Look, I’ve been working on this for so long, making other people money.” I said, “Why can’t I ever?” You know? The one thing I wanted myself is the opportunity to take a chance for myself.” And I said, “Look, whatever happens, happens. Like, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But I need to take a chance for myself.”

So I had like $10,000 in hand. And I said, “Look, let’s just try it out.” And so, here we are, you know. Five or six years later, we’re selling to over 55 different countries. And yeah, got lucky along the way, to be honest with you.

Wayne:

That’s amazing. I know I’m a big fan of the podcast, How I Built This by Guy Raz.

Ronnie:

Yeah.

Wayne:

So share with me a little bit about the Branzio genesis story. So let me know, like did you have any doubts before you started the brand?

Ronnie:

Yeah. For sure. I definitely had a lot of doubt. So when I started, the first three months, I basically wasted, and I would say learn, but you know, wasted, was basically like looking back at it, I hired somebody in Vancouver, and basically, I hired a factory in China. And I didn’t know anything; I didn’t know how this process works, I didn’t know how outsourcing works. I had zero; don’t know how to do it.

And about three months in, I was basically left with about $2,000 in the banking card. And I was like, “Shit. I don’t know if I’m going to succeed with this. Like, what’s going to happen?” And the watches weren’t that standard. And somehow, somewhere, I read that there was a watch fair in Hong Kong. And the ticket from Vancouver to Hong Kong was about, I think about like $1,000.

So I said, “Look. If I can do it, I have to go there in person. I have to meet everybody who I need to meet in person.” I have to meet the shippers, the box case, the watch case. If I needed to negotiate a credit term, all of it has to be done in person because that’s how Asians operate; that’s how Asian business works, right? Everything is done in person. And most likely, Asians won’t give you credit until unless you’ve met them, met their families, [Inaudible 00:08:14] with them.

Yeah. So I literally was on the next plane to Hong Kong. And then, two weeks; I met all the suppliers, I got all my negotiated deals, they were kind enough to give me a 25% credit upfront for all my inventories. I said, “Look. Just give me whatever you have. I’ll take it. I’ll just privately label it and we’ll actually sell it online.

So what I could do in like two to six months was done in two weeks. And with some fast thinking and some quick hustling, and talking to all the factory suppliers, talking to all the box makers, talking to indirect licensing deals in place, getting the right movements in place. So, yeah. So it all came together at the right place.

So I was kind of lucky with that factor in the sense that people took a chance with me as much as I took a chance with them. But I think it was more of them taking a chance with me.

Wayne:

Yeah. I see a lot of it though being strategic. And I think you probably had a number of; you had the dots into where you needed to connect, right? So it’s just about how do I then get boots on the ground and start drawing the lines between these dots.

Ronnie:

Yeah, for sure. Look, it’s one of those things where it’s like, okay, so there’s about 500 watchmakers in one place, right? So you need to start looking at; you need to spend like; so it’s probably a week. So every day, I would get up at 8:00 a.m. and I’d be busy ‘till 8:00 p.m. and I’d go meet each and every guy.

And on the 6th day, when I’ve just almost given up, I met a guy and I told him my situation. He said, “Look. Why don’t you come see me in Shenzhen and we will figure something out.” So he actually took me to Shenzhen, gave me a tour of his factory, we drank for like two hours. I don’t know, I’ve never drunk so much gin in my life.

And basically, I met his family, his grandparents, his kids. And he says, “Look. You’re a young guy,” he says, “We’ll take a chance.” And that was one of the most phenomenal things anybody has ever done for me. So that turned out to be like one of the biggest things. Yeah, it was basically the break I was looking for.

And then basically, like through him; the supply, the boxes, the packaging, the shipping; he did everything for me. I didn’t need to do anything. And plus, I got a $25,000 line of credit straight off the bat, which is unheard of. Like, I didn’t pay him anything upfront. I paid him after I started making some money.

Wayne:

That’s amazing. I can relate to that. I think very early in my career, my father-in-law had told me, “Your success in your career will be defined by the people you meet and the books you read.” And I think that’s played such a huge part.

I’m a very social person. So for me, I’ve been more on the people I’ve met side of that equation, and I’ve just recently started to invest in personal development, really start – trying to pick up my reading game. But you’ve kind of shared an example, except, true in your career.

Ronnie:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, the idea, hopefully, the goal is to read about 52 books in the next six months. Try and at least do it, like try and do 2 books a week. But so far, I’m a little behind on that goal. But, yeah.

So right now, I usually talk with people about EOF, which is the Entrepreneurial Operating System. That’s a good one for people who are trying to run their business and they’re trying to run remote distributed teams; how to get everybody in their one umbrella.

So there’s a couple of books out there, which is, Gino Wickman is the guy who wrote it. So you have Get a Grip, which is kind of like a good, less tribe book by him. I love recommending anything other than Bill Gates notes. So right now, I’m reading this book called Educated by Tara Westover, which actually is kind of like; it’s a true story of what it’s like to grow up in a Mormon background, but it’s still kind of interesting.

So you kind of got all these like read business books, man. And I read one recently, which is about productivity, which is written by a Canadian author, Chris Bailey, which actually talks about what can you do to be more creative, like stuff at journaling, grab your journal, like why you should write everything on a paper, why you need a VA, how to get all those kind of stuff.

Wayne:

That’s super practical.

Ronnie:

Yeah, super practical stuff. If you just follow to the T, I’m going to have the book lying around, but it’s like, if you just follow everything to the T, you can be a lot more, you don’t need to work for 20 hours. Like, if you’re actually given like examples; I work 60 hours, I work 80 hours and I work 20 hours. The 20-hour workweeks were probably the most productive in his whole life.

And he says, “The reason was I sat down and I just quite strapped on, I didn’t open my Facebook, I didn’t open my Messenger, I didn’t open my WhatsApp, I didn’t get distracted by people like distracting me from what I wanted to do.”

Wayne:

Right. A two-hour lunch. Yeah.

Ronnie:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And especially like, he talks about stuff like meditation, right? It’s like, I haven’t tried it as much. I should be. But the thing is like even I was having the water from some other person, and he said like, there’s a girl out there, she went and interviewed 30 CEOs during the Covid crisis. So people who own companies between $2M to $500M.

And what she found out was the people who; the most unfazed by it were only three people; three CEOs, right? And what they had in common was a couple of facts. One of them was they were actually looking at the Covid crisis as an opportunity. They use the word ‘buy’ a lot in their sentences. And the third thing was actually all three of them meditated in the morning for at least like five to ten minutes. So they were calm over the whole situation because of this; you know.

Wayne:

Right. They’ve worked the brain space. Yeah.

Ronnie:

Exactly. [Crosstalk 00:13:36] Yeah, it’s like a focus thing. It’s like, how much can you focus? Can you remain calm? Like usually, our brains tend to be like choppy seas, right? How can you have doldrums in your brain, which is basically like everything is calm, nothing is emotional, your decisions are not as driven by the emotions that you have. And most of them are really most for guys. So I think for people like me, I need to try it as often as possible.

Wayne:

I can empathize. And then you also hear the tales, the stories of the dying, and they reflect back on how they reacted to situations; not exactly what their response was or their immediate reaction was at the time. So it’s often that hindsight that allows for us to see how well we really positioned ourselves as individuals or how strong we were in these moments.

So I’m hoping to look at this also as, hey, you mentioned some areas like how people approach working remote. And we also talked about Basecamp guys. They have some awesome resources on remote work in building up remote teams as well establishing six-weeks brains and designing ways in which you can craft work to be more of that like mental effort that; what do they call it? Not management task, but more like the big deep thought work.

Ronnie:

Yeah, yeah. For sure. I just disagree with the Basecamp guys, just with one of their blog posts, which is they are being employed like they live in San Francisco. Like that one, definitely, I don’t agree with. Like, you don’t know when you’re in San Francisco, a $115,000 salary a year is considered to be poor. So, I’m sorry. I’ll disagree with them with that.

Wayne:

I’ll jump on that with you as well. Absolutely. So curious now, let’s get back to Branzio. So you were able to source manufacturing, you were able to establish quality, you were able to gain a line of credit to help with packaging. What did it look like trying to build the brand and establish the storefront? And was it like an instant hit? Like, talk me through like maybe like your first 100 orders.

Ronnie:

Well, yeah. For sure. I mean, it wasn’t easy. I think the first order was, basically, like it was me. I was the ad guy, I was the manufacturing guy, I was customer service; I was the guy basically running everything. It was like running as a one-man team. Luckily, I had some experience in trying to set up Shopify. So I set up a shop. I said, “Okay. Let’s go with it.  Let’s see how it goes.”

The shipping was all set up in China so it was going to be dropshipped. It was supposed to be a dropship is done easily, but, no, we evolved from there. But it was, I mean, I started dropship, it was like private label, and basically, we would just ship from China. And people will get it globally within seven days. That was the idea behind it.

And I remember the first person coming on, and I had this chat system, live chat, I think, back in the day. And basically, what you could do is you could follow people to their customer journeys and you could see different pages that they would follow. So I would literally ping them and chat them up and be like, “Yo! Hey! How can I help you? Is there something I can do for you?” And on the side, I’m managing ads.

I remember the first one came from Australia, and it was special because this person will left the room, and they came back, and they said, “Yo! Can you call me on this? I’m looking for a watch and I need it pretty quick.” And I said, “Yeah, sure. No problem.” And I told them what it was. He thought I was some guy sitting in India. Of course, I still have an accent. It was funny, man.

And it was like, “Okay.” He says, “Look, I’m going to toss you with this. Let’s do it.” So anyway, we got his order. He got it within ten days, not seven days. But anyway, that was the first order; deal closed. And I said, “Hey can you give me a review and see how this goes?” That was the first order.

The 100th order; it was also very special because the 100th order was a Canadian guy. And he basically was getting married, so he ordered a watch for him and his groomsmen.

Wayne:

Awesome.

Ronnie:

Yeah. That was great. That was like a bull’s eye customer. So it was like ten for one deal. So I remember trying to give him a discount. I was like, “Look, it’s 20% off.”  And he bought the watches and paid. And basically, I remembered his wedding; he sent us his wedding pictures.

And I know one of the best things that came out with that was one of his groomsmen; when he got married, he came back to us. And that was in a couple of years, and he actually ordered like ten more watches.

Wayne:

That’s great. Yeah, absolutely.

Ronnie:

Yeah. So I would never forget that. But it was almost three months and I got burnt out, man. Like, you get burnt out because I think there was no exercise, I was waking up at 8:00 a.m. and I was going to bed at 4:00 a.m. And you know, it catches up, man. But these are things you look back to and you’re like, “Oh, man.” These are the sacrifices you’ve made, these are the sacrifices you’ve done to get to where you are. And I’m sure every entrepreneur out there has made sacrifices.

But having said that, it’s kind of interesting that we have been through this process; we have been through a system. And today, after five years, I’m sure like even with Bean Ninjas, a company like yourself would understand. Like, hey, we have made all these sacrifices to be where we are so we can actually like get our 8 hours, 9 hours and spend time with our families and cancel everything else.

Wayne:

Yeah. And focus on those other things like the morning meditations, like the fitness; trying to…

Ronnie:

Yeah. Reading a book, something else; like, whatever it is, right? It’s like, I find that reading a book for me within 15 minutes a day or before I even go to sleep, it’s a very productive thing, so it actually helps me sleep a lot better than anything else.

Wayne:

And then also, just interacting within a community. I know that eCommerce community is extremely transparent in certain circles. And I think when you find that right community, you are able to really connect and knowledge-share and learn from others.

Help me understand, Ronnie, who’s on your team now and when did you make your first hire?

Ronnie:

Yeah. So I have about 23-25 employees. So right now, I actually don’t manage anything on a day-to-day basis. But four months ago, we hired a consultant to come in and actually take over the whole organization, and to have a region; find a region. I mean, implement an entrepreneurial operating system, auto voice and offer, right?

And this guy, he’s with DULO, a guy called Julian. And of course, I’m very grateful to him because what happened was, after that was, I basically started getting 8 to 9 hours sleep every day, which was exciting because, before that, I was lucky if I had 5 to 6-hours sleep.

And what we did was we implemented a system where, I, today, just directly deal with my agents, right? So I have one person who’s an operations manager, one person [Inaudible 00:20:27], and one person who’s in marketing, right? And every week, we have a call, we have scorecards for everything so we know how much traffic we are driving, what does the conversion rate look like, what does it look like in terms of our future growth potential, what is our gross profit, what is our net profit?

So we all have this like 7 to 8 scorecards that we go through on the meeting at the same time. And It’s important that everybody in the whole organization is driven by that, right? Of course, that’s the hard stuff.

The soft stuff would be like what the organizational values are, right? So, for example, our organizational values would be 24/7/365 service, being resourceful, customer is always first. So customer is quite that; whichever way you want to look at it. So these things are pretty important for us, right? So those are the pillars of the organization.

And what we felt; what I mostly felt, and what I saw was when we started instilling these values, and I’m sure Bean Ninjas went through the same process at some point of time in the organization was – who do you want in the organization when you have these core values, right? And you can actually call people in person and say, “Hey, look. I know you. You’re not actually living up the core values of the organization.” Right?

So we’re primarily a customer service-driven organization. Out of the 22-23 employees, I would say, at least, 15 employees are customer service, and we have a couple of guys who are in content, a couple of guys who are influencer marketers, a couple of guys who are just in operations, and a couple of guys whose job is just managing the sites.

Wayne:

Awesome. And how has it grown from one brand to now portfolio? So how did you decide to grow and make that decision, “Do I just continue to invest my time, my energy in this brand?” as opposed to the decision to, “Hey. Maybe it’s time for me to take this system and try to apply it across other brands?”

Ronnie:

Well, thank you for asking that. Like, it’s risky. What we wanted was we wanted to have a portfolio; so really a portfolio of 50 different websites. I mean, some of them are eCommerce driven, but some of them also, we actually looked at affiliate sites and we said, “Hey, look. Is there a way that we can actually go and acquire affiliate sites?” Which is risky.

So you have affiliates, you’re actually doing pretty well, and you’re like, “Wait a second.” It’s just better at some point of time to sort of bring them that much money, you might as well just acquire them and see if you can actually like; so you wonder if that could be a website, which will give you a better SEO gain. Or do you say that, “Hey. If you have these other affiliate websites, can we actually redirect you to some of our affiliate websites, not to our competitors like they’re doing today.” And actually like, redirect all the traffic to us.

And actually, that gives us a lot more cross signals and credibility. And what we said was, “Look, there’s different markets out there.” Right? Like I said, the first thing that I said was, “We ship to 55 different countries.”

And all these markets that are there, they’re growing markets. Then we use this growing market strategy to ship, and each one of these markets, in some cases, like I’ve given examples of that before; is there a way that we can acquire a website, which is a very trusted publication in that market for, let’s say, $50,000 – $60,000, which actually gives us instant credibility. So that was the top process behind it.

The other top process is we can take the same brand with what we had with watches. Can we apply it to like other portfolio of companies? Can we have it with home market? Can we use it with furniture? Can we use it with couches? Whatever it is, right? And so, we follow that strategy tactically.

So the idea is like when something like this Covid stuff hits, we’re in a pretty strong position that we have a very valuable; like the watches stuff is definitely going to be hit hard because it’s a luxury item and people aren’t going to buy luxuries. People are going to be focused more on things that you’ll need on an everyday basis.

So people are going to focus, I mean, toilet paper seems like a bad idea, and masks, so they show those on the internet. Yeah, toilet paper just seems like a bad idea. I mean, there’s things like bidets that people could be using. So I kind of feel like I don’t need to teach people about that.

But you have these other options of, “Do you need like linens? Do you need like basic clothing? Do you need like that kind of stuff?” “Yeah, sure.” And usually, in times of, I’ve been very careful to say recession, but Tyvek times would be like a better term. Maybe people would be more focused and actually focused on being entertainment values, on-demand services; those things go pretty high.

So focus on things that are actually; will balance this out. So home hardware might have gone down, but people trying to improve the house, people using like detergents and cleaners in the house, actually, they’ll demand for those kinds of products. So we have a pretty well-balanced portfolio sites for that reason.

Wayne:

That’s awesome. So let’s get practical. So let’s share some of the secret sauce. So you’ve shared a bit about EOS and traction. Are there like maybe three other top strategies or tools that you use to run your distributed team?

Ronnie:

Yeah, for sure. Slack. It’s a great, good creating company from Vancouver, in fact. So you know, I’d always recommend those guys. Another tool that I use is Hubstaff. So before, I don’t know if you guys use something similar to Hubstaff, but basically, it monitors your remote teams.

I don’t mean to say you need to spy on your team, but I think it’s important to have a system like Hubstaff on this. So what time do people check-in, what time do people check out? Are people actually subbed because we have a lot of employees on shift work? So are they actually spending time on Facebook?

I made the mistake a long time ago; I’ve got some of my employees in ancient’s parts of the world. And what I found out was they’re spending an exceedingly long amount of time on Facebook or watching movies on Netflix, and they call it multitasking, which didn’t really fly well with me. So we had to let them go.

Another thing that we actually found, which I think why you want to use Hubstaff, is you want to see how effective they are, right? We found a person who actually had hired a VA to do her job. So if they were getting paid $800, they were paying this person $400 from their own pocket so they don’t need to work for the whole month. So they’re making another $400 for doing nothing for the whole month and they had a second job elsewhere.

So these are the things you need to, I would say, to look out for. I’m not saying you need to have this in place, I would say, just be careful in how you deal with that. Hire a good ads expert. You know, eCommerce, it’s pretty important for us to have the right ad expert in everything else. And are they intelligent, are they proactive, are they looking; how does their reporting structure work with you? Are you goals aligned and under together in that sense?

Yeah. I think these two/three things are definitely; they’re very soft things, they’re very organizational things. But the tools that I’m talking about there, they are things that you need to get set up with, right? I think one of the things that I personally found, which is very, very effective was actually talking to other entrepreneurs.

Like talking to folks at Bean Ninjas, talking to folks like Kean who started MonetizeMore, talking to people like Daryl from Big Fly. Like all these people like who basically are; they are seasoned entrepreneurs who’ve had this journey a long time before that I have who actually would be open and willing people to actually share those experiences with me.

And I think having that organizational support and having that sort of, “Hey, look. Don’t worry. We’re entrepreneurs, too. We understand what we can do for you,” helped me out a lot. And I think that I’m very grateful for them, and you guys for that.

Wayne:

That’s awesome. So really, I’m interested a little bit, too, like we’re always interested in how businesses stay on top of their finances. So who do you have on your accounting team and any top tip that you would give store owners?

Ronnie:

Yeah. So basically, the way our finances work is I have somebody in Canada, who also actually does; because a lot of our business comes with the US, who’s a CP in the US as well. So actually; so this person is quite well-versed for taxes in Canada and the US, so they do all our bookkeeping. And basically, I see my finances every month and at the end of the year.

But right now, I mean, I don’t know how it’s been in the US given what’s happening with the Covid crisis. I think all the tax filings are late. Everything is delayed for the next three months if I’m not mistaken. So it’s kind of interesting. Luckily, I have thoughts about that.

Wayne:

Yeah. I mean, here, really, the tax filing date remains the same. But the payment dates; if your someone that typically owes has been pushed back a little bit. And a lot of us that do structural businesses utilizing like the S Corp election, our due date was still three days ago as we’re recording. But if we’re identified as someone requiring to pay, we get a little bit of grace on those payments.

So again, it’s changing daily. There’s more and more opportunities for small businesses, so I’m interested in seeing what type of programs become available.

Ronnie:

Yeah. And especially about cash flow, right? I mean, for small businesses, I think, one of the biggest things for eCommerce and everything else is like cash flow. Like, how much cash flow do we have in the bank? And especially like, for us, what’s happened if you worked in eCommerce was the last two months are pretty much estimated as in terms of the production lines in China going down and everything else.

So like, for us, the cash flow is extremely crucial. And we don’t have in that situation where, or we have, we actually have in place at a certain point in time, but the thing is, the question is how soon or how late.

Wayne:

Yeah.

Ronnie:

Yeah. I’ve made a mistake before once, right? It’s basically like in such times, do you start leaning yourself out so you can actually like cut down and look in the long-term and say, “Look. I am going to be stronger in the long-term so I can keep like five or six employees?” Or you just say, “Look. I’m going to be the leader. I’m going to go down with the ship.” And you have like 15 employees that you just spend this, and at the same time, within six months, you don’t have anything left at the bank.

Wayne:

Right.

Ronnie:

So you need to like make those decisions and we need to have people like Bean Ninjas or whoever it is, giving us that sort of data to make that decision work, which I think would be the ideal way before about it.

Wayne:

Yeah. And I think that’s what’s so powerful to us is seeing now the interest. You know, the best time to have understood your numbers was really like 12 months ago. The second best time is right now. So it’s not too late.

So I think, most importantly, people really need to know their numbers. And the important number is how much cash do you have on hand and what does your cash flow cycle look like? You have a burn rate, against that burn rate, you have incoming cash that, in some cases, you really can rely upon and count on with the high degree of accuracy.

For others, it’s volatile. So you also need to start making that list. What are those mandatory expenses, those fixed costs that I have to take on each and every month? But beyond that, what do I have to pay in hard currency cash and what can I pay otherwise? Maybe on a credit card, on some other method of payment to help you delay that cash expenditure.

Ronnie:

Yeah, especially on eCommerce, right? Where people always go by revenue methods, which I think is like quite sad because revenue is a fool’s method. So of course, at the end of the day, if you don’t know how much money and profit you have in your bank account, then you shouldn’t be in business.

So I’m glad you brought that up, actually. So you have to know your fixed costs, you know how much money you’re spending on ads and all that kind of stuff. I mean, I know people who have, talking about like, “Hey, man. This guy has a $25M Amazon business.” I said, “How much is he actually taking home?” He said, “$100,000,” I said, “What the hell?”

Wayne:

He’s probably working really hard for that same amount you can make on a much lower, yeah. It’s interesting, and I think there’s a misconception, too, that profit is cash. And it’s not. Like, you may have terms that you had taken earlier that there’s debt payments that are coming across your balance sheet. And there’s other areas of commitments that you made that reduced that profit number to where your cash number might be something entirely different.

And I’m glad you mentioned marketing campaigns. A lot of people are saying, “Wow. I’m going to cut marketing.” Well, that’s like killing the nutritions that are then feeding the body. So to us, it’s like, “Yeah. Absolutely. Review your marketing strategy and ensure; take this time to really understand; are you getting return on that ad spend that allows for you to continue to make that investment?

And in some cases, it may make sense for you while everyone else is coming short of spend in that area to try to gain market share and put out a little more so you can get some brand awareness.

Ronnie:

Exactly. And that’s what it is, right? It’s like, you can’t cut the hand that actually feeds you in that sense. It’s like, people are like, “Oh, wait a second.” It’s like, people aren’t interested in all these things, and people just go like, “Wait a second.”

Well, okay. So let me try and challenge your sense here a little bit. Most people go and a recession happens, the first thing that people kill is advertising and they kill the market. Okay, fair enough. They kill the advertising, they kill the market. But then, how are people going to hear about their business?

Wayne:

Right, absolutely.

Ronnie:

So it’s exactly the same thing. It’s like the first thing that always, like anybody, any organization that I’ve ever worked at; if any of them fear how time to go, marketing needs to go. It’s like, “Well, man. Come on. We can’t really have that happen unless maybe we can lean it down.”

So right now, for example, Amazon and Best Brand; all these guys, they’re cutting their ad spends on by 10-15%, which is an opportunity for smaller businesses like us. It’s like, “Holy shit, man. That’s great. Like, we’ll have 10-15% more market share that we can actually get out of Amazon not actually being on the market.” It’s like, “Oh, that’s perfect.” Like, “Why not?”

Wayne:

Yeah, absolutely. So thanks for taking the time today, Ronnie.

Ronnie:

Yeah.

Wayne:

We’re coming up to our close. I just want to give an opportunity to you, too. Is there anything you’d like some support with or you want to share with the Bean Ninjas Community?

Ronnie:

No, no, nothing. I just want to say I’m really thankful and I really am very grateful for the whole team. I get to meet you guys at different conferences and I get to actually spend time with you guys. And you guys are nothing but like an amazing bunch of people. And the services that you guys have definitely helped a lot of entrepreneurs that I know of. So I really, really appreciate it.

Wayne:

Awesome. Thanks so much for saying that. I appreciate your time today. Take care, man.

Ronnie:

My pleasure. Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it.

Meryl:

You know, recent industry survey was found that 41% of eCommerce businesses have done nothing to compare for an economic crisis. But what are the top sellers doing and how has the recession impacted these eCommerce sellers?

Well, to find out, Bean Ninjas have created a survey to gauge the impact of the economic recession on 7-figure eCommerce sellers and we’d love for you to take part. The more data we can gather from different eCommerce sellers, the better analysis that we can put together.

And we’ll be sharing the results and expect that it will be helpful for all eCommerce store owners to benchmark themselves again to what’s happening in the industry, and also, how they’re tracking compared to some of the top eCommerce sellers out there.

You can take the survey at BeanNinjas.com/recessionsurvey.

That’s BeanNinjas.com/recessionsurvey. All one word. And the survey closes on the 5th of June.

Thanks so much for your participation. And if you know of any other eCommerce merchants who might be willing to complete the survey or who might benefit from the results, then please share it with them, too. Thanks.

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