Isaac Smith | The Architect who became a Successful eCommerce Entrepreneur
In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Isaac Smith shares how he became a Successful eCommerce Entrepreneur. Isaac is the founder of Summit E-Commerce, a bookkeeping office for eCommerce sellers, shares his life story and path into e-commerce.
As an e-commerce business owner, it can often be challenging to understand the accounting side of your enterprise. Are you actually successful or is that gut feeling of failure real? You might also be in a situation where you’re paying a lot of your hard-earned income over to accountants but you still feel like you have very little understanding of what’s happening in the back end of your business. Yoni Mazor of Prime Talk discusses another option for e-commerce sellers who need help with their numbers game.
In today’s episode, Prime Talk has teamed up with Isaac Smith, the founder of Summit E-Commerce, which offers bookkeeping and financial services as well as team-building services to e-commerce sellers. Summit E-Commerce helps business owners understand their bottom lines, and then set realistic goals using that data so that they can double their amount of revenue. Everything Summit E-Commerce does is designed to benefit the business owners first and foremost.
Isaac Smith takes us on his journey from an English teacher in Korea to an architect to an e-commerce seller to finally starting up Summit E-Commerce. So if you’re in the Amazon world and you need help understanding your numbers and your bottom line, then this episode is for you!
Learn more about Summit E-Commerce!
Learn about GETIDA's Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:05
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I'm really excited to have Isaac Smith. He's our special guest for today. He's the co-founder of Summit E-commerce, which is a booking office for e-commerce sellers. He's gonna talk more about it later on throughout the episode. So, Isaac, welcome to the show.
Isaac Smith 0:25
Hey, Yoni. Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:28
Our pleasure. Our pleasure. So where are you at right now? You're in the northwest, right?
Isaac Smith 0:33
That's right. I'm in Portland, Oregon. It's raining outside at the moment, which is very typical.
Yoni Mazor 0:40
Got it. Um, yeah, I heard you guys get a lot of rain. I'm in New Jersey, actually, I have a sunny day. So I'm feeling lucky. Okay, so today, this episode is going to be basically on you. You know what’s your story? Who are you? What's your background? Where'd you grow up? How'd you get into the business? So I guess without further ado, let's dive right into it. Right?
Isaac Smith 1:00
Absolutely, man. Well, yeah, again, thanks for being here. It's great to join you and the audience. And hopefully, people can get some value out of hearing someone else's story. And maybe they'll recognize some of themselves in it. That's what I always love.
Yoni Mazor 1:14
For sure. There's always a connection point.
Isaac Smith 1:17
Yeah. So yeah, like it was mentioned, I'm here in Portland, Oregon. I grew up here. And then I left for a lot of years. And now I'm back. And so yeah, I went to college to study architecture. And that was really a passion of mine early on, and I did that and I excelled. I worked in that field for eight years. And then I think like a lot of us, there's a point where something starts to feel like it's just not right. And I couldn't put a pinpoint on that. But it was just, generally, it just wasn't what I thought it was going to be.
Yoni Mazor 2:03
Hold on, hold on, let's stop for a second. You kind of went fast for me. You went to school to become an architect, right? And how many years did you spend your education to become an architect? Just to give some perspective of…
Isaac Smith 2:15
Oh, yeah, I was in school for six years before I graduated. And then I went to Korea for a year to teach English as kind of like a fun thing to do before life starts, you know?
Yoni Mazor 2:27
Oh that’s kind of a plot twist, a serious plot twist. I want to touch that in a moment, actually, it's good for me, it's an interesting thread to pull on. But um, I, you started school, six years, you spend your time becoming, training for being an architect. And then I guess two points, I want to touch: the dive into Korea, and then how you started, you know, being in that profession and how long in that process before you started feeling that something is up and I guess some bug went into, I call it the entrepreneur bug, that, I guess pushed you to your next station. So let's dive into the Korea moment. What led you to after six years of, you know, finally gonna be an architect you can release your, uh, your potential, and then you just, let's go to Korea?
Isaac Smith 3:12
Yeah. There were a couple of things. When I was growing up, I had family members and friends and just people who I knew who went abroad, and like my mom went, she was a student missionary in Indonesia for a year when she was in college, and like my aunts went to Spain for a year. So it's like, this always seemed exciting. And something that I wanted to do.
Yoni Mazor 3:39
So you saw it happening around you, right? With your immediate family, I guess. But you were how old? 24-25?
Isaac Smith 3:47
When I graduated? Yeah, I think I was 24, yeah, when I graduated.
Yoni Mazor 3:51
24 and you just said, you know, I'll just do this doesn't matter what it is. I'm just out for a year?
Isaac Smith 3:56
Well, yeah, there's a little more behind that. Actually. We had...I actually have a Korean brother, believe it or not. He’s not a biological brother. What people often talk about exchange students, he was a little more than an exchange student. But he lived with my family for eight years while I was in high school and through college. And so I really do consider him a brother. Yeah. And I always wanted to go see his country.
Yoni Mazor 4:29
And what was his ages when he lived eight years, how old was he when he came and what was the age cycle?
Isaac Smith 4:34
We were both about 14 or 15, freshmen in high school. And this kid just showed up at high school one day and couldn't speak any English. And it wasn't the beginning of the school year. It was kind of like a few months in and we all kind of wondered like, what's with this kid? So, I was curious, and I made friends with him and...
Yoni Mazor 5:00
It's great to make that connection such an early age 14 years old. And today you know, he's a state that is your brother, that shows a great indicator of your ability to connect on a human level to things that are foreign to you. And things that are foreign to you I would assume he also considers you as a brother. So it's a nice touch.
Isaac Smith 5:18
Yeah, yeah. It was exciting. So going to see his country it was like, yeah, of course, I want to do this.
Yoni Mazor 5:24
Did he host you there when you were there? Or it was just...was he like your center of like your headquarters there? Or did you have a whole different angle there?
Isaac Smith 5:32
Well, the funny thing is he went, we graduated, like a year, a year or so apart. And he, I was hoping he would just stay in the US forever. But life happens, you go back to your home. And in Korea, how they do it is all men have to be...have to join the army for two years. And so yeah, we knew that was going to happen. But anyway, when I went there that happened to be during that time. So I actually only got to see him twice, for like a day each. For the whole year I was there. But his family, so we knew his family, because they had come, his sisters came to live with us for a shorter period of time each. We got to know his parents. And so they….while they didn't, we didn't stay with them. They took really good care of us. It was really, really great.
Yoni Mazor 6:29
Amazing. What was the initial point of connection between both families, I guess, their church? Or what was the trigger to even bring them all the way to the states and make that initial connection?
Isaac Smith 6:38
You know, that's something that I still to this day don't quite understand. Although now that I have a much deeper connection to sort of Korean culture, that's just what they do. Families who have money, they, they want their kids...well, all families want their kids to learn English and be connected with Western culture because economically, it's really important. And so those who can afford it, they just send their families over here. They send like, like, if it's a usually the man will, the father will stay home and make the money and send the wife and kids to the US. Sometimes they send them alone, just the kids. And some immigration or some, some organization usually pairs the kids up with a local couple that is from that country. And so he was staying with the Korean family, but I got to know him and they weren't treating him very well. And when his mom found out, she wasn't happy about it. And so that was the connection was like, hey, well, you can come stay in my bedroom. Basically come live with my family. That's what happened.
Yoni Mazor 7:56
Wow. It's so very nice of you guys. Okay, so let's jump back into age 24-25. You were jumping into a career for a year. You were teaching English you said?
Isaac Smith 8:05
Yoni Mazor 8:06
Yeah. Okay. And that was what kind of experience was that for you? It was your first time teaching?
Isaac Smith 8:11
It was so great. Yeah. First time teaching. That's the thing, by the way...so a lot of Asian countries, they're eager to learn English. And so I know Thailand is the same, Japan, China, they want. They want people to come over there and teach English so it's not hard. And you just connect, get connected with a school and they'll set you up. They'll help you find an apartment and all this stuff. And you teach classes there and it's...for me, it was just such a great experience.
Yoni Mazor 8:42
And which part of Korea?
Isaac Smith 8:45
I was in Seoul, which is the capital and biggest city, and it had a...
Yoni Mazor 8:50
It’s the big gun. The big one of Korea. Alright, cool. Thank you for that. Alright, so let's see, what was the next station after Korea? You started your professional career as you know, being an architect and take us there?
Isaac Smith 9:01
Yeah, I couldn't wait to dive back in to do what I've been trained to do and to do what I felt like I was really passionate about, I was good at it. And so, it was 2006 I think, and the economy was booming at the time and so I had a couple of job offers in the DC area, and so I took one of them and moved out there as kind of a new adventure, new part of the country...
Yoni Mazor 9:31
So from the northwest to the, you know, the Capitol, I guess the East Coast.
Isaac Smith 9:34
Yeah. Yeah. And by...and I went to college in Michigan, so I like...
Yoni Mazor 9:40
Isaac Smith 9:42
I like to travel. It's a school that nobody's ever heard of. It's called Andrews University. It’s in the southwest corner. It's in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which is like, if you're at all familiar with Michigan, it’s...
Yoni Mazor 9:55
I used to live in Detroit. So just a little bit. I have a little bit of a connection there. My mother's...
Isaac Smith 10:00
You know, the Lake Michigan St. Joe area?
Yoni Mazor 10:03
I'll be honest, I do not.
Isaac Smith 10:04
It was a small touristy town.
Yoni Mazor 10:06
I know it's like a glove. So Detroit is this area, you know, on the south of the glove, so I guess you're west or east?
Isaac Smith 10:13
West. So a couple of hours from Chicago.
Yoni Mazor 10:17
Got it. Alright, so you're in DC and what happened next?
Isaac Smith 10:21
Well, yeah, I had a great job that was with, you know...I had this job with someone who I really admired. It was a small firm, and we were doing great work. It was really a lot of town planning, and urban design, which is what I was most interested in. And we did a lot of work all around the US. We went to Australia, did some work there and did some work in Guatemala. Really exciting stuff. But after a couple of years, it was...we're now approaching 2008, and I was getting a little tired of...it was a small...it was this guy who was a well known guy, and he ran his office out of his house, which was cool, but not so cool to actually be in his house.
Yoni Mazor 11:10
You guys were actually...Oh, you're in his house as an employee in his house.
Isaac Smith 11:17
Yeah in his house. Yeah, this is like one of these, you know, you want to be mentored by this guy who you've seen his drawings, you know, that sort of a thing. That's what it was. And, he ran his thing out of his house intentionally. And that, you know, there's some things that you eventually start to feel like...
Yoni Mazor 11:36
Isaac Smith 11:37
Yeah, I'm not so comfortable here after a couple of years. And then he started saying, you know, the financial crisis hit and, if you remember, it hit the construction industry first, because it was a housing issue.
Yoni Mazor 11:51
Yeah. bubble up, you know, burst on the new houses, basically, you know, there was no new construction. And anything that was on the market was pretty much being offered on sale, because it was a whole crunch. Yeah, so it was a big bust for real estate overall. 2008. 7-8. Right? That's when it started?
Isaac Smith 12:11
Yeah, somewhere around there, he started to tell me, you know, I'm not sure how much longer I can keep you on. And so you might want to start looking around. And so, yeah, at that point, I did. And I went back to the other firm that had offered me the job before and they said, Yeah, we're hiring. Come on. Which at that point was unusual to hear because most people were not hiring.
Yoni Mazor 12:39
It’s a lucky strike.
Isaac Smith 12:40
Yeah. And so and it was also an exciting place but then that was a very...
Yoni Mazor 12:50
Was it also in the DC area or you had to relocate?
Isaac Smith 12:52
Yeah, it was in DC. Yeah. But it was very...it was...the environment was toxic. That was my...
Yoni Mazor 13:02
In what way? Was it competitive? Is it just skill, volume, deadlines?
Isaac Smith 13:07
Oh, my gosh, yeah. Deadlines. You said deadlines like you know what...
Yoni Mazor 13:12
Just a lucky strike for me.
Isaac Smith 13:14
Yeah, deadline...architecture is an industry based on deadlines. And they make very unreasonable deadlines. And then they change the scope of it like a week before or so that it's like it's really impossible without really burning yourself out, like 90 hour weeks.
Yoni Mazor 13:35
Wow. No idea it was so intense, of the intensity of this industry. I guess we take it for granted. But I appreciate the behind the scenes a little bit.
Isaac Smith 13:44
I once spent 36 hours in the office without going outside, without a thank you. I’m not kidding. Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 13:55
Wow. And I thought e-commerce was rough. Ok.
Isaac Smith 13:58
So I mean, yeah, eventually I realized this isn't just the...you think the first time you have a job that you kind of don't like, you think another job will be the answer. And so I did that twice. I did actually go out and get another job, which was better. It was amazing. The best possible architecture job you could imagine, but eventually i had...
Yoni Mazor 14:21
This was what? 2008, 9 or 10?
Isaac Smith 14:24
Now we're like 2010, 2011. Yeah, and still these feelings after a while they subside because it wasn't toxic. It was wonderful people doing great work and not stressful, but still there's something wrong you know? And eventually that will...
Yoni Mazor 14:46
So you calibrated the environment. It took a few tries, you calibrated the environment. So on the surface you’re fine. But then after, post that moment, you realize this is still discord that's so you go even deeper into yourself to realize something's up.
Isaac Smith 15:00
Yeah, and I would walk home, I would take the metro and then walk home from the station. And I would just feel like, you know, this is the perfect job. But still like this, I felt like I was, it was almost as if I was in a burning building. And I'm just outside walking home and I have this feeling and I feel like, why isn't anybody pulling the alarm? Like this is just, that's just how it felt to me, like, I have to pull this alarm, we have to do something.
Yoni Mazor 15:34
So what happened? Now I'm curious, I really am, yeah...
Isaac Smith 15:37
Well, I knew that something was up for a few years. And I started listening to podcasts and just intriguing ideas about business. And I ended up stumbling on...one thing led to another and there's, of course, Pat Flynn played a role in there, which most people know him and his podcast and, and then eventually I heard about e-commerce. And like, okay, well now this actually makes sense. Because you're sending an actual thing to somebody they can touch. So if I sell something, that makes sense. So that was sort of the aha, like, okay, this is for me, and now it's actually just like, how do I do this? So I did that
Yoni Mazor 16:25
So your aha moment was what 2011-2012? After diving into yourself and you know, podcasts and exploring the things that are available out there?
Isaac Smith 16:35
I would love to say that when I started feeling that terrible feeling inside that I took action immediately, but it took quite a while.
Yoni Mazor 16:46
Right. That's all I'm trying to calibrate on like I was assuming wasn't a next thing, a next day thing. It was a process that you put yourself into. Looking back you realized, you know?
Isaac Smith 16:56
Yeah I think it was a couple of years of listening to these podcasts and thinking like, what should I do? But on...it was New Year's Day of 2014, I decided this is what I'm going to do. I bought a course it was called Dropship Lifestyle that teaches how to do drop shipping, high ticket drop shipping, which is different from what a lot of people think of when they hear drop shipping.
Yoni Mazor 17:21
High ticket is what? $100 or more? What do you consider high ticket?
Isaac Smith 17:25
2 to 300 plus, so like the business that I ended up selling last year we sold salon furniture. So most orders would be over 1000, 2000, up to 10, 20 30,000.
Yoni Mazor 17:37
And this is B2B? B2C?
Isaac Smith 17:41
B2B, so selling salon furniture to locals, you know, you go get your haircut, you need to sit in a chair, that sort of stuff.
Yoni Mazor 17:48
Oh you kind of spilled the beans, but we'll get there soon. So 2014 you take action. So it was end of 2014 or beginning?
Isaac Smith 17:55
New Year's Day. 2014. I was like alright I’m jumping in. So yeah, I mean, I worked, worked, worked. Of course, when you start you’ve got a lot of energy and...
Yoni Mazor 18:09
But you quit your job or? What was the strategy there? You keep your job on the side?
Isaac Smith 18:11
I was hustling man. Hustle, hustle. I was still working. You know, it was a good 40 hour a week job. That job was not the crazy 90 hour thing. It was really wonderful in that respect.
Yoni Mazor 18:25
So you had that good, healthy core to build on with time.
Isaac Smith 18:29
Yeah, so I would go home, spend some….by that time, I had a daughter who was two years old at that point, wife and daughter, and spend some time with the family, put the kid to bed and then go into hustle mode until like one or 2am every night for six or eight months.
Yoni Mazor 18:52
Way to go. I feel..it's in my bones what you’re describing. I feel like you're almost talking about myself. But yeah. I have a daughter also.
Isaac Smith 19:00
Oh, nice. Nice. How old is she?
Yoni Mazor 19:03
I got two now. So I got a seven, seven and a four year old. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 19:07
Nice. Yeah, mine is 10 now.
Yoni Mazor 19:10
Isaac Smith 19:11
Thanks. So yeah, you know, and the sad thing is like I hustled that hard and that business eventually failed. After a year plus.
Yoni Mazor 19:23
And this was drop shipping? Hardcore drop shipping? 300 plus items?
Isaac Smith 19:27
Yeah, right. Yeah, selling RC cars, remote control cars, trucks, planes, drones, that sort of thing.
Yoni Mazor 19:36
And the art of this is pretty much connecting the dots, you create some sort of you plug yourself into a platform where you can sell it on, it can be other big commerce or Shopify or Magento, whatever dot com website you create, you find a network of suppliers and you present it out there and you feed traffic into the website. That was pretty much the model?
Isaac Smith 19:55
Exactly. That's it.
Yoni Mazor 19:57
Yeah, right. After a year it busted. And what did you do after?
Isaac Smith 20:01
Yeah, I mean, it sucks. It's a painful feeling to realize all this work for nothing, but it's not really nothing. You learn a lot.
Yoni Mazor 20:09
This is part of the process. This is vital. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 20:11
Yeah. So. So actually, before I decided to shut that down, I had convinced now finally to take action, I, all of this hustle wasn't getting me very far. In terms of real money coming in, into my pocket, into my family bank account, and I thought I could do this forever. And it would, it might take me four years, or maybe I could just quit everything, and hustle hard, and maybe it'll only take one year or something.
Yoni Mazor 20:45
When you say quit everything, you mean, detach from the core. From your daily job. And give it your all. Yeah? That's what you mean? You escalate, you double down on the bet. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 20:55
Somehow I convinced my wife to do this. We both quit our jobs. She was...Yeah, they were both, you know, good paying jobs. We were living in the DC area where we had no family. So we sold our condo, sold everything we owned, almost, and drove across the country and moved in with my parents back in the northwest.
Yoni Mazor 21:19
Yeah, unbelievable. Yeah. Okay, that's Wow, that was so wild. So hold on, what was the mindset there? Not only you're gonna detach from your core, she's gonna detach from her core. Also, when I mean core, you know, core income. a steady job. Wow, what was that? What was the double down? What did she also...So the plan was to connect together and do this together as a couple?
Isaac Smith 21:42
Well, not really, it was...the plan was, I'm not gonna make it, what we have now. This isn't going to work even though it's, it's maintaining us. It's not getting us where we want to go. So how are we going to get there? The only way that I can see is detach, like you say from the core. And it would have been great if we had family in that area. We could just move in with that family, reduce expenses, maybe me just quit my job and let her continue there. But we didn't have that. And the only way that I could see was, well we got to move in with some family to be able to...
Yoni Mazor 22:21
Where's your family from? What was her…?
Isaac Smith 22:22
Her family's from Chicago, Michigan area. So parents are in Michigan...Anyway, they’re kind of spread out there.
Yoni Mazor 22:31
So Northwest was the landing pad for you guys at that point?
Isaac Smith 22:35
Yeah, it was one or the other. We chose the Northwest cuz Michigan is cold.
Yoni Mazor 22:42
Not too far from Seattle. From Amazon, it's a whole scene over there now. So yeah, not a bad place to be.
Isaac Smith 22:48
Yeah, and we both like it here. So that's what we chose.
Yoni Mazor 22:54
So you pack up your bags, you’re in the northwest. Wow, what's your next move? What happened there?
Isaac Smith 22:59
Well, let's double down. Let's spend more time...so...but also I'm going to be a part-time caregiver, you know, I'm going to be a stay at home dad part time and work part time. So it wasn't like a full all in. Although it sort of was your kid takes up a lot of time. And it should, she should.
Yoni Mazor 23:21
Did your wife get a job at that point over there?
Isaac Smith 23:25
So it took her a few months to find a job but she did find a good job. And so from then on, she was you know, supporting us financially while I was trying to make this work.
Yoni Mazor 23:37
Alright, so the balance was she, you know, things were clicking, she was able to find out, you know, a job, you're basically able to balance between the needs of the domestic needs of the household. Right? And then raising and raising the children and doing the hustle. Wow, that's an interesting combination. You guys are very open minded and flexible. It's good, it's a good team.
Isaac Smith 24:01
Yeah, it was not easy. It's still not easy. But um, you know, this is...we decided this is what's important to us. So from there like I said, I still had yet to fail that business. I was still working on that one that would eventually fail. And, and that was tough. But you know, you keep going.
Yoni Mazor 24:23
So this was I guess what, 2015 when you moved to the northeast? You said 2014, you started, about a year later, you transitioned to the northeast, it busted, I guess. Now take me from 2015. What happened there?
Isaac Smith 24:35
Well, yeah, I mentioned another business that I started, the other dropshipping store, the salon furniture. I started….I said well what am I going to do? Okay, let's try something else. And I tried something that actually...it didn't start out as salon furniture. It started out as these home massage chairs. You know, like you sit in and they might...they'll massage up and down your back.
Yoni Mazor 25:00
Like the big ones from Brookstone, those types?
Isaac Smith 25:02
Yeah, exactly. I tried selling those but it didn't work. So crap, what am I gonna do? I have this store that's called Aria Chairs, it has chairs, what other kind of chairs can I sell? So like, Okay, how about home, like living room furniture chairs? I tried that, didn't work, tried a few other things, didn't work. And the last thing with the...my mastermind guys who convinced me to shut the last one down against my will almost but convinced me. They're saying man, you're taking too long on this one too. All right, one more try. And then I saw these things, weird things called pedicure chairs. I've never seen one in real life. I didn't know they existed.
Yoni Mazor 25:45
You’re not the typical consumer using these types of chairs, got it.
Isaac Smith 25:50
Yeah. But I saw like, oh, they are massage chairs, too. So let me try selling that. So contact a supplier, list the product, boom, sale. Whoa, you know, that was like, holy, wow. And these are, you know, $2-3,000 items, and healthy profit margin. I'm thinking Holy cow, could I do this again? And sure enough, it just sort of grew. And I spent four years growing that business and...
Yoni Mazor 26:20
Hold on, let me talk about the cycle. So until you were able to finally hit the right product offering you know, this is b2b once again, it's your own dot com website. This was what? The second round? The fourth, the fifth, the eighth, you know, with you trying to, you know, with your product, or you know, cycles where you finally found that...I just want to, I guess, try to understand how relentless were you until you found the right product? The right product line?
Isaac Smith 26:47
Yeah, man, it was...I think, so. I did. Yeah, the massage chairs, the living room furniture. Oh, I left out home theater furniture.
Yoni Mazor 26:58
I knew there's some furniture. I already counted three. Yeah, good. What else?
Isaac Smith 27:05
It might have been three, might be one more in there.
Yoni Mazor 27:09
So let's be conservative three, and then a fourth round. You finally got it. Correct? That's great and relentless. You guys, anybody listening to this? First try, second try, you know, the baseball says three strikes you're out. Right? Yeah, you went for the fourth. And you finally nailed it, finally got it. And the moment he saw traction, you know, sky was the limit. He kept them. I guess you were energized to the brim. And you had a four year and then go on, share what happened.
Isaac Smith 27:35
Yeah, I mean, and it's not like a Happy Ending Story. There’s lots of ups and downs in between and times when I thought I was just going to lose it all.
Yoni Mazor 27:48
What were your challenges? Why would you lose it all? Let's say you build traction, there's clientele already, maybe even some repeat business or some sort of reputation. Also another question for you would be, you know, did you create a trade name or trademark or brand name? What was the model? What was your position?
Isaac Smith 28:05
Yeah, so I was a retailer as a drop shipper. So it's not my brand. But I did have a brand. It's like people have affinity for certain retail stores like Target. Obviously, I'm not nearly as big as Target. But in a space. Yeah, there is certain branding, and people start to get to know you. But I think everybody no matter if you're in dropshipping, or you're selling your own items, wherever it may be, you may be selling, there's always that feeling of great, I got a sale. Now, when's the next one coming? Is it going to come? You know?
Yoni Mazor 28:39
Yeah there’s a hunger that never leaves, you know, an online retailer, or any retailer, probably for that matter. But online? You know, we're in the middle of the wave, you know, the revolution? And yeah, you just want to keep drinking and eating the sales. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 28:51
Yeah. And especially with high ticket, so you have, each sale is a higher revenue than let's say, you're selling a $30 item or something. I'm selling a $3,000 item. And so I have more revenue per my average order volume value is high. But they're spaced out more than maybe selling an item on Amazon or something.
Yoni Mazor 29:16
So one a day or one a week or something like that. Right?
Isaac Smith 29:19
Yeah. So you would go...Yeah, exactly. So if I went like a week, no sales. Oh, holy crap, what's going on here? And two weeks? No sales? Like you start to panic.
Yoni Mazor 29:29
I got it now I understand what you're saying the cycle is. Yeah. You know, they're cyclical. You cannot, I guess, forecast the demand so easily. At that stage and level, so I got it. So if there’s a week or two with no traction, yeah. That's an interesting dynamic, I guess. So that was a four year run. Yeah, you had those dynamics in a four year run. And I guess on a b2b level, you made yourself a reputation as a retailer, right? For having but did you also see any value I guess you were selling us with authority from the brands? Did you see any value in those authorities? And there were those I guess, contracts or whatever agreements you have with them? Was that part of your understanding?
Isaac Smith 30:07
Yeah, absolutely. So, drop shipping is a great business model, because it's really easy to get started. But also, that can be a negative, because competition can come in quickly and easily as well. I happen to be in a pretty unique sort of niche, you know, salon furniture is usually done by people who have long experience in that industry, and not people like me. So I felt like I had an online advantage from the get go, which is where I got that spark, I think. Because my website just worked better than everyone else who was like this old industry kind of way. And so yeah, there was competition, but not a whole lot. I'm sorry, actually, I lost track of the question. What was the question?
Yoni Mazor 31:00
So I'm saying the value, what was, you know, the value? In other words, how did you differentiate yourself? And you kind of answered that, unless you want to add another angle.
Isaac Smith 31:11
Right, I remember what I was going to say which was, but if you can find suppliers who are not very, they're reluctant to bring on new vendors, new retailers like me, then you can be somewhat exclusive. And I managed to get several suppliers that you couldn't, that if you wanted that brand, there were only a few places online you could go to get that and some of them seemed kind of suspect, at least to me. So that was, I felt like that was a pretty good competitive advantage. And then just, I was online, and I knew how to work that game, like the Google Shopping ads, like, I've been building those skills for some time, you know? None of these other guys have those skills.
Yoni Mazor 32:02
So the failures, I call it the part of the failure that you got from those experiences of failure, lose those capacities and abilities, that once you really found the product, the right product, you had a moat, you had a business moat and an ability to perform better than the competition. And that is the value of experiencing these failures, you probably could have done it without it, right?
Isaac Smith 32:22
No, I mean, that's what taught me how to do that.
Yoni Mazor 32:27
And the reason is, because you feel you're trying to refine it and refine it and refine it. So you are really going deep into really good resolutions of doing things but the moment you plug it to the right product, where you get the right track, and boom, it goes ballistic, and you have a real clear advantage. And that's something that's invisible almost during the times of failure, you can't even understand the value that you're getting in those moments. But the process, that refinery process of during the failure that you don't understand it's not working, it's not clicking, why let me try harder and harder and harder to build your abilities and capacity and level of expertise. And but the moment it's connected to the right thing, it resonates pretty quickly. And it's the gift that the failure gives us I would say, looking back at least at least to your story. Okay, so you had a good run for a few good years. And what's the next station? What did you sell? What was the trigger for that?
Isaac Smith 33:21
Well, it came out of some more what I perceived as failure. So I had, like you said, there was a good run, and I now know what caused this sort of downturn, but I didn't at the time. 2018 started and my business was declining. And I didn't know why the revenue was dropping, dropping, dropping, it freaked me out. Like, here, you know, I've moved my family across, you know, my wife has put all this trust in me and you know, here we're not living with my parents anymore. But I have this business that is...I don't know what's going to happen. Is it going to totally go to zero? It freaked me out and there's all kinds of narratives going around in your head. Like you're you're not going to make it you know, all this stuff. And so I didn't know what to do. I reached out to everybody I can think of and one guy who was a coach who I had a call with, he said “Mate, why don't you just sell this thing?” He’s Australian so of course that
Yoni Mazor 34:27
He sounds like...Yeah, yeah. All right.
Isaac Smith 34:30
John Warren, shout out to that guy. He's an awesome dude.
Yoni Mazor 34:33
Isaac Smith 34:35
And it was like I'm not ready for that like but he said if it if you think it's gonna go to zero why not get some value? Ah..All right.
Yoni Mazor 34:48
How do you find the buyers for such a super high niche? That's interesting. How’d you play this out?
Isaac Smith 34:52
Well I sold it on Empire Flippers. So jumping ahead, Empire Flippers if you are familiar with
Yoni Mazor 34:57
I am. I heard. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 34:58
Yeah. Business Brokers for online companies. And actually, I didn't know it at the time. But when I was talking to John, the coach, I had set some wheels in motion that hadn't paid out yet, which was focusing back on the fundamentals. So what...now I know, looking back, what caused that decline was because I spent, I looked through my journal, and I can see like what I was doing these months, and it was all these things that sounded great at the time, like, Hey, I'm going to do this content marketing thing, build a team to do content, or I'm going to do this other crazy thing like, like this awesome idea. But they didn't work out. And what happened was I shifted my focus away from the core. And like you were, you're talking before about your core, I neglected the core, which in an e-commerce business, any kind of e-commerce business is products, having the right product that people want to buy, getting that product in front of people who want to buy, and presenting it in a way that compels them to buy. That's really the core. And I completely neglected that. And the business was in decline because of it. So when I put the focus back on that, it was almost like a skyrocket. But I didn't know that was coming at the time.
Yoni Mazor 36:27
I guess it did that. First of all, it's a great thing that you're able to discover that and understand that. That's not to be taken lightly. But I guess you did that as a part of preparation for a sale?
Isaac Smith 36:38
Well, what happened was, I was scrambling. When I panic, like, let me just do what I can do. And I was doing everything. And I thought, well, let me just see if I can optimize some of these listings. And, and then also, John, the coach said, well, all these things aren't working for you. What is working? I said, Google Shopping ads. Well just do some more of that. I expected him to tell me these other wild ideas.
Yoni Mazor 37:06
No, turn up the volume on whatever works, turn the music on.
Isaac Smith 37:10
And yeah, so those two things combined. Still, I thought, Well, okay, I agree. Let me just sell this thing. And so when Empire Flippers wants to sell, they wanted all the entire history of my finances. And I guess here's where it sort of starts to make that left turn into what I'm doing now. Which is, they...yeah, I had been paying accountants, but I never understood what they gave me. And I honestly felt like it was wrong. But I could never figure out why. And they could never explain to me anything that made sense. And so when we're talking about the sale of my business, I spent all my life...four years of my life into this thing. I want to make sure this is right. And I didn't feel comfortable giving them that information. So I went back in and I did a super deep dive on my own books. And what I discovered completely changed...
Yoni Mazor 38:15
Your trajectory. And life.
Isaac Smith 38:17
Yeah, it changed my life. Like, I learned. I was actually not doing so bad. All of this time, my...Yeah, my revenue was declining. And there's some nuance to the story, but I'll sort of skip that. Revenue was declining, but I was becoming more profitable on that revenue. So my profit was... it wasn't...it was declining slightly, but not like what I thought by just looking at that top line. What I really...
Yoni Mazor 38:48
And like if I can ask, what's the net margin for these types of price points? 10% 30%?
Isaac Smith 38:54
Yeah, so I mean, people who do drop shipping courses...there are some great courses out there, there’s some not great ones. I'll just shout out Dropship Lifestyle, that's the one I took. I can say that's legit. I don't have any affiliation with them. It's just that they're awesome. Most people will tell you you want to look for 30 to 50% gross margin on a product. In my experience it's almost...you can almost never get that sometimes you can but the gross margin on the product I would usually find around 25%, sometimes a little less. But then after all your costs, your ad spend, everything. I found my net profit around 18% all said and done. Some people can get higher. Oh, that always seemed low to me.
Yoni Mazor 39:53
If you come from the Amazon world and...not from the private label, but also took part in... private label depends on the price point, and, you know, cost of goods, but reselling, I know that reselling, you know, if you make three to three, four or 5%, net net, you're you're in a good spot for reselling, you know, reselling brands, Nike, Adidas, whatever comes around. That's kind of the mindset on those platforms. But once again, it's heavy with fees, with Amazon fees, FBA fees, stuff like that. Well, yeah, 18%, like you said, you discover that you're not doing so bad, right? Around 18% 20%. And you're profitable, when you dive into your numbers?
Isaac Smith 40:33
So...What that told me was, I just, it was like a lightbulb moment, it was not a light, it was like a shock of lightning, like, I've spent six months telling myself how awful I am. And it was all a lie, total lie that my brain made up because it didn't have anything to tell it. It was just going on feelings, and feelings were wrong. And so when I saw that, I just, I couldn't believe it, like it was that was like...My life changed in that moment. And so then I went to list on Empire Flippers, and it was a strong, strong valuation. And by that point, I had improved sales. It had rebounded in a very strong way, because of the actions that I took in my sort of desperation. And, yeah, I mean, from there until I sold, I really like that business grew, I think, like maybe 1.5x. In just that few months. Yeah, I mean, it was...I couldn't believe it. Like, what a difference the end of that year was and the beginning of 2019, than the first half of 2018.
Yoni Mazor 41:56
I think again that mindset that you have a failure again, gave you a gift, you know? You're able to once again, look inside, see what's happening, do a cleanup, increase the performance, and the standard of performance wasn't as bad anyways. And I guess it led you to the current position of, you know, Summit Ecommerce. And let's talk about that. I guess that's the connection moment.
Isaac Smith 42:13
Yeah. So when I, when I sold that, it was like, that was amazing. And I'm sitting here, I've got nothing to do. I really don't have anything to do. And my plan was to sit on the couch for a while. And just, man, I just...
Yoni Mazor 42:29
Just binge, Netflix, you know?
Isaac Smith 42:31
I used to be able to, yeah, when I was younger, I could do that. But I don't know what happened to me. But that just got so boring. So fast.
Yoni Mazor 42:41
The bug, the entrepreneur bug. I'm telling you, it's hard to get rid of it. It's, you know, we thought Corona is contagious. And talk to an entrepreneur, you know, you can never get rid of it. And so I guess that put the drive into your veins. One more time for another round, but this time, with a different angle where I guess you guys are all but the numbers now.
Isaac Smith 43:01
Yeah. And I even went out and got some new video games. And I'm like, this isn't fun. Why would I? Why did I used to do this?
Yoni Mazor 43:09
I think also mathematically, mathematically, you grew up a little, you know, it might be also that but I let's try to keep it on the business side. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 43:19
Yeah. And so. So then after that I was sitting there with like, what am I going to do? And I thought I might as well just give back to the community. The community helped me so much along the way. Here's something important that I learned. And I thought maybe it was just me, because I don't know, I thought I had a problem. But so I reached out to people, I said, Hey, can you use help with bookkeeping? I learned this, it made a difference in my life. And they said, Yeah, man, I've been struggling with that. And so I just help people for free. I didn't ask for anything in return. And
Yoni Mazor 43:55
But how did you find those people in the community? And when you say community, you mean the e-commerce or seller's community? And if so, where? Where are they located? As far as you are aware?
Isaac Smith 44:04
Yeah, I'm in, I think, like a lot of listeners probably are in a lot of Facebook groups and around e-commerce, and specifically drop shipping and Dropship Lifestyle I mentioned they have a pretty big Facebook group. And there's always a lot of discussion in there. And so I just posted “Hey, I've figured this bookkeeping thing out. If any of you need help with this, let me know. I'm happy to jump on a call and see if I can help you out.”
Yoni Mazor 44:34
Wow. Simple as that.
Isaac Smith 44:37
Yeah, I mean, why not? Like, I'm not doing anything.
Yoni Mazor 44:40
Either this or video gaming.
Isaac Smith 44:43
Yeah. And, you know, and I could see when I did that, like this, I was actually making a difference for them. And, and so that was a moment where it's like, Okay, this needs to be something real and they were telling me, Isaac, you really need to help people out with this, because this is something that's needed, and I could, I could see that. So that's where Summit Ecommerce was born. So yeah, we do bookkeeping now, I started a business that does this for e-commerce people only, because that was a big thing. When I was, you know, like I said, going back to the accountants, you know, I went one after another that didn't quite work out. And, you know, they were working with all kinds of, you know, plumbers and software companies and dentists. And like, they didn't, they didn't know how my business worked at all.
Yoni Mazor 45:36
It's almost like a different universe that they come from. Just there's a distance between old traditional industries like that, and e-commerce, which is unchartered territory, just so new, so different has its own angle. So it's the nuance that is important.
Isaac Smith 45:52
Yeah. And so I felt like I couldn't relate to them, they couldn't relate to me, I was getting no value, I was paying them. And I ended up redoing all of their work for like, four years. So I thought like, well, I couldn't find anybody who could work with me as an e-commerce business owner. So that's what this became is like, we're, we're gonna do bookkeeping in a way that makes sense. And, and when we give you these reports, we're going to take the time to explain this to you. So that this and this makes sense. And you understand what this is, and that you can use that to make decisions to grow your business. And so that's, I mean, that's what it became.
Yoni Mazor 46:40
So now you're on a mission, you're raising the banner saying, you know, visibility, understanding that the numbers game behind this industry, is my mission. And the more I do it to help the community out there, the sales community, that's more points that I score within my mission. But that being said, I mean, how big do you guys want to get? Is this something that you're...the mission is to hit globally? You got to have each one each seller or, you know, there's a number in your head? How far you want to take this now, you know, you're still young you, to me look like you, you know, in your 20s looking fresh? All the Oregon rain, you know?
Isaac Smith 47:17
No way, man. I'm 39. But thank you for that.
Yoni Mazor 47:24
So you got time ahead of you. So how far do you want to take this? Like, what do you feel your inner drive right now?
Isaac Smith 47:30
Well, I'll give you the total honest answer, which is I have no idea. But I'm in this for, I mean, I have an idea. I'll get to that in a second. But like, I've written numbers on my, I have a whiteboard right next to me. I've used to write numbers, like a million dollars or something. But I would find like, I'd never hit that. And it doesn't actually motivate me to work any harder. So what is that there for? And so when I started this new company with my partner, who has...he's got...he brings the true accounting knowledge to the company. I'm just the guy who can really understand e-commerce people.
Yoni Mazor 48:11
Yeah. The entrepreneur. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 48:14
Yeah. So when we were brainstorming like, Well, where do we want to take this with? I was just thinking, like, those numbers don't motivate me. Is there something else that we could give ourselves as a goal? Like, what if we could do like number of people's lives that we impact or something like that?
Yoni Mazor 48:31
That's a good point.
Isaac Smith 48:33
Yeah. And immediately saying that I felt a surge of energy. So I thought, oh, okay, we're on the right track here. And so we went home, and we thought about it and came back. And, I don't remember who brought it up. I think it was my partner. He said, Well, what if we double the profits of 1000 e-commerce companies? And like, that hit me so hard, like, holy crap, could we do that? I don't know. I don't know if we can do that. How hard would that be? Like, and how do we do that? But like, yes, yes, let's do it.
Yoni Mazor 49:09
It’s a clear objective, there’s soul into it. And the moment you said it, it gives you that, you know, that drive, so I think it hit the spot.
Isaac Smith 49:21
Yeah. So that's our goal, we set a 10 year goal. This is the beginning of 2020 when we set this, and so it's a decade long goal. I mean, I don't know maybe we'll hit that early. Maybe it won't hit it until year 12. Or who knows. But like, that's the goal. And we said profit because that's what we actually feel in our lives. There's a lot of people who get excited about revenue. And in the end, they're working so hard stressing themselves out of their minds, and they take home a meager pay. That's not….for one, it's not sustainable.
Yoni Mazor 50:01
Got it. Yeah.
Isaac Smith 50:02
I don't think that's….the people I work with, I want to help to make them more profitable. So..
Yoni Mazor 50:08
I like that. Yeah. Wow. Okay, so, you know, time is actually running out. This was great. This is...I actually have I know, usually I let the guests put the message of resilience. But I already spotted out what I like with your message of resilience. And that should be is try to find out how many people you can help or how many businesses, whatever you are, you know, if you are an Amazon seller or e-commerce seller, whatever you're trying to work on, try to connect it to a point where how many people will positively be effected for what I'm trying to do. And by trying to connect to that point will probably give you a good idea of, you know, what you need to do to accomplish that. So as you know, it comes from a good source of good intention, it's probably going to make you understand how to get there in such a good, in a good way. And once you do and you achieve it, it just gonna fulfill you on many levels, and hopefully pass these challenging times. If you're facing challenges right now, you know, because of a COVID-19 we're still trying to, you know, get our way out of it as a nation, as a global society. So, Isaac, I really want to thank you for your time, your story, I did not expect it. I was pleasantly surprised from the turn of events. And I salute you for the hustle, for the grind, and ability to face your challenges and do it successfully and now have a, you know, even more noble mission to help other people out there. So, thank you so much. Thank everybody for participating. Stay safe and healthy, you know until we meet again.
Isaac Smith 51:41
Well, thank you, man. It's been a pleasure.