I have made a decision. I’m going to cut my losses and close down the US expansion for my Amazon business. After careful analysis of January’s results, it’s obvious that there’s no point in continuing. I will go into more details and explain the reasoning behind this decision in my January income update post next week.
A sad day? Not at all! Actually, I’m very relieved that it has ended. I’m not happy about the fact, BUT my excitement for the future is much greater than my disappointment in the failure of this US expansion experiment.
Today, I want to talk about “letting go” and how I believe it has helped me tremendously over the years to grow as a person and business owner. Here’s why.
I have always been full of ideas, especially business ideas. Since a very early age, I was thinking of ways to make money—don’t ask me why, I don’t know! It’s just how I’m wired. You know, the typical “born an entrepreneur” type of person. That’s me.
The first business I can remember starting was at around the age of 6 or 7, where I was simply baking chips and selling them to family members (mostly mom and dad as they had the money). Those sales were probably “forced” on them but, hey, whatever works, right?
At that age, I actually dreamed about owning my own restaurants or pizzerias. I was very much food-business-orientated then. In fact, I recently found some floor plans that I drew when I was a kid for a two-storey pizzeria! It was very detailed and had with equipment, tables in place, etc.
I have always liked food (as you can tell, lol). I was even making pancakes on my own from the same age of 6 or 7. To this day, I still think that if my life hadn’t taken me into eCommerce/digital marketing, I would own a restaurant or pizzeria or something similar. Maybe that’s still to come…
It’s also interesting that from the very beginning, I always managed to get my brother and sister working for me, usually doing part of the job/task in return for some benefits (could be candy or even money).
When I think about it now, those were my first hiring experiences and even at that young age, I understood that OUTSOURCING is the KEY to success. This is especially true for me as I was—and I still consider myself to be—a very lazy person. I will always try to find ways to let other people handle the tasks I don’t like doing.
Later on, in school, I took on the challenge of publishing and selling a bi-weekly newsletter. In the beginning, I was manually typewriting each and every copy and only later started using copier machines for duplication.
I also started the school’s radio from scratch, going on to take the role of DJ and even selling copies of records. Back then it wasn’t really a big deal to record songs from the radio onto cassettes (and later CDs) and “distribute” them to my classmates for some extra cash.
I had a lot of smaller gigs here and there, but DJing brought in the most money during my high school years. As soon as I got my driver’s licence, my dad allowed me to use his old car—and I put it to very good use, of course! If there was a festival or something my friends and I wanted to go to, I would charge “fuel money” to those who wanted to get to the same place, which essentially meant a NET profit for me as Dad always had the tank full anyways!
As soon as I got into internet marketing and eCommerce (at around the age of 18) things got worse. Well, worse in the sense that with access to the internet, the opportunities were ENDLESS. For a young kid like me who had attention deficit, that was actually a HUGE problem. I just didn’t know what to do, where to start or which opportunity to get into.
Mind you, this was way before Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. I’m talking about 2002, when “Internet” simply meant websites to read and forums to hang out on. Even blogs were not popular back then. It was all about one-way communication, but I still LOVED it!
A few years into the game—after getting through HYIPs (huge back then!), Paid to Read, Paid to Click and other nonsense programs—I was slowly getting on the right path to selling physical and digital products.
This is the time when I started working in Primark’s warehouse. I finally started to make some real money compared to what I was making as a DJ. With a full-time job, salary and very little overhead, I had LOTS of money to play with on a regular basis.
And I did spend it. But I spent it on courses.
Courses were HUGE back then! And I mean physically huge! Remember, this was before fast internet connections, video streaming, etc. Courses were actually printed in physical form and came in huge binders with lots of CDs, printouts and what not! Boy, I liked that model a lot.
It was such a great feeling to receive a new course and go through it, read the physical materials, make notes and listen to the audio CDs (anyone remember those?).
I bought lots and lots of courses about selling on eBay, internet marketing, investing, Betfair trading (which I became very good at, by the way, and it was my first side business that actually worked very well), multi-level marketing and other topics. I didn’t learn much about eCommerce though as it wasn’t even a thing yet—apart from eBay and the early signs of Amazon changing the world. One step at a time.
I spent THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of pounds on those courses! A typical course would cost anywhere from £500 to £2k so it wasn’t that difficult to burn through a lot of money. Burn, lose, spend, whatever term you want to use. The people around me didn’t actually know what I was doing at the time, but if they did, they would have thought I was totally crazy. Stupid. To spend all that money on what exactly??? Information? C’mon!!!
I didn’t care. Looking back, I remember very clearly that I simply DID NOT CARE! I didn’t see it as a loss or failure or mistake, even with the bad courses I bought. I learned something from each and every one of them. Even if it was a bad course, I learned the types of courses I shouldn’t buy or to avoid specific types of marketing or business models altogether.
I wasn’t just consuming courses, though. At the same time, I started doing various side businesses. The first was a local advertising agency that ended up joining the UK’s biggest-ever lottery syndicate business (remember that one? Luckily, I didn’t get too involved as it did go bust a few years later). Yes, I even did Kleeneze and other schemes—I tried them all!
At one stage, I even thought, “What the heck! I know DJing so let’s go with that as a business!” I purchased the latest and greatest Pioneer set I could get my hands on. It was around £7000 altogether for the players, mixer, case, CDs, etc. I did go into debt for that one.
Just a few weeks later, I realised that I wasn’t really into that stuff anymore and sold the equipment—at a loss, of course.
There were a few other similar ideas and business plans along the way that I can’t even recall right now.
Lots of money lost along the way?
I didn’t care. Seriously. I simply DID NOT CARE!
Once I finished with one thing, I moved right onto the next one. And I tackled every new challenge with the same or greater enthusiasm! I didn’t care about the money I invested in those business ideas or courses. I looked at it as an investment in my education, experience and LIFE!
Also, my philosophy is that you can’t know for sure WITHOUT trying first, right? I could not know that DJing was not for me anymore UNTIL I tried it, right? Could I have done that with a £1k kit? Yes, I could. But that was a lesson well learned.
Even when I started selling physical products, each and every direction/business I tried was a GREAT lesson for me!
For example, in my very early days, I started importing Baby Einstein DVD sets and other TV series DVD box sets from China. This was WAY before everyone knew that DVDs from China were fakes! It was not a problem to buy DVDs from the Far East and even Customs didn’t look at them suspiciously.
But by doing it, I quickly learned that these were fake DVDs and that you couldn’t do this. It led to me spending years explaining to other people on TWF how this works and how to spot fake DVDs and real ones. Again, a great lesson learned and something that helped me with future business ideas.
Another example: At one stage I started selling Sony Mini DV tapes for camcorders on eBay. It was such a simple business model. I’d buy the 50-packs off Amazon and re-sell each item individually on eBay. It worked perfectly well until more and more people started doing the same. The prices dropped drastically and the whole operation collapsed as it wasn’t profitable anymore. Even more so when FAKE tapes started to hit the market.
But I was not let down by this experience—not at all! First, I made some good profits along the way. Secondly, I learned very early in my career that re-selling branded goods DOES NOT give you an advantage over other sellers so, at its core, it’s a very bad business model in the long term.
Experience after experience, course by course, business idea after business idea, I lost a lot of money—BUT what I learned along the way has been invaluable! How could I possibly call it a loss? I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for all those mistakes and trying out all these different things.
I have felt that way all the time, even today. I don’t care about losses, I just don’t. I move onto the next thing and the excitement of what’s coming up is always bigger than the disappointment of what has happened. That’s how I roll!
Obviously, a large part of it is based on my individual personality and the type of person I am. I know that some people can’t stand any such losses. They actively work to avoid them and refuse to invest in themselves to the level they should. But to be honest, if you’re that type of person, maybe you shouldn’t be in business in the first place?
More and more, I hear about this from the books I read and the videos I watch. My favourite motivational speaker, Gary Vee, is wired in the exact same way! He always says that he doesn’t give a sh*t about losses! He just doesn’t care, just like I don’t care.
Same goes for my favourite TV show, Shark Tank. You often hear the sharks say that they LIKE hearing about the mistakes or failures that entrepreneurs have experienced. It means they have learned, adapted and found a way to continue. They are often reluctant to invest in people who look “too perfect” as the ability to persevere despite failures, mistakes and setbacks is what makes a great entrepreneur! You try all those things, fail at 90% and make the most out of the other 10%.
Anyways, that’s where I am at with it. I lost thousands of pounds trying to sell my product on the Amazon US marketplace. It didn’t work out and that’s fine. I learned A LOT along the way, and many of these things I will be able to incorporate into my UK business and EU expansion, which I’m very excited about.
And this whole thing is not just about sales and money. I could make money on Amazon US with that product, but it’s about the time, energy, focus and effort that it takes.
Why spend your most valuable resources on something that provides only a very small return when you can invest your energy into other directions and get ten times that return? Exactly!
And this is where my story ends—at least, for now. I’m sure there will be tons of other costly mistakes in my future career and just like I have said for the last 15 years, I’m 100% sure I will say the same thing:
I don’t care about losses. I just don’t.
Have an amazing week everyone. I would LOVE to hear from you! If you have a story to share or question to ask, leave it below in the comments box!
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I admire your authenticity Andrew. It’s very rare in this space to share such detailed information on “failure”. Having sold on US and UK I respect you all the more because of it. Amazon US is extremely competitive as you have discovered. Despite being from the UK I started on US first then expanded to UK. It is a different ballgame and different approaches are required. If you would like to connect further please reach out to me. I am sure we could help each other. Ed.
Thanks Ed! 🙂
Hi Andrew, a great article. The internet is full of success stories, but the most successful people in life endure way more failures than the “normal” person. It’s the innate ability to get up after the failures, learn, and adapt is what gets the job done.
I too am going through a first setback, after starting on Amazon just a few months ago, and your article is very helpful.
Thanks for your comment Muhammad!
I totally agree – I AM the result of all the failures and successes of the past. I would not change ANYTHING about it.
Great post and I agree with everything in 100%. Im also a big fun of Gary and I listen him everyday, TONS of value like from your posts.
Honestly, Im waiting for your posts with the same excitement like a every podcast from Gary.
I reminded myself a book that might fit this post: “Hustle” Neil Patel, Patrick Vlaskovits, Jonas Koffler.
By the way:
If you know any great books about e-commerce or busisnes that help you I will be greatful for sharing the tittles.
Hard to pick out any books particularly BUT if I look back, in history, two books that made the biggest impact on my thinking/business mindset were “The 4 Hour Work Week” and “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. Then, the “Millionaire Fastlane” was an excellent read too.
I like to read a lot of biographies lately, they may not contain that much step by step business tips but I do like to learn from other people’s stories. These are not all business biographies, by the way, last week I finished the book by Gary Barlow for example and I liked it a lot.
I heard that the “Millionaire Fastlane” is amazing but honestly I did not touch it yet but probably I will do it soon.
About biographies, I do the same. One person gave me a cool advice, “…dont learn from your mistakes, learn from other people mistakes and start reading biographies”. Its sound a bit rude but this is the fact about biographies. You see what mistakes people did, what hard work put into business, etc.
My last biographie is about Nike, I recommend
Nike one is on my list too (actually already bought it last week) 🙂
Great post Andrew, really resonated with me as I too have been doing several things, with and without the success one would hope. Letting go and learning along the way is the bet way to grow and actually be successful when you do find the market you belong to.
Thanks for the support Nuno! 🙂