The Ultimate Playbook for Making an Amazon Exit | Joe Valley
In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – Joe Valley - Partner of Quiet Light- talks about the ultimate playbook for making an Amazon exit, and also more information about his life's journey. #JoeValley#ecombroker
About Joe Valley of Quiet Light-
Over the last nine years, Joe has mentored thousands of entrepreneurs whose goal is to achieve their own eventual exit. He is a Certified Mergers & Acquisitions Professional, and a frequent guest expert in mastermind groups, on podcasts, and at events for entrepreneurs worldwide.
Find the Full Episode Below
Yoni Mazor 0:05
Everybody, welcome to another episode of prime talk today, I'm really excited to have a special guest that I'm having Joe Valley.
Yoni Mazor 0:11
Joe is a partner of Quiet Light. He has another partner he can talk more about him later on. But the pilot is a leading investment banking firm that helps Amazon sellers exit. So Joe, welcome to the show.
Joe Valley 0:23
Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Yoni Mazor 0:25
My pleasure. I also forgot to mention that Joe is an accomplished writer and he has an amazing book that he wrote regarding exciting. I think it's called the exit for normal
Joe Valley 0:36
Clothes. You know, the fact that it's funny because I don't look at myself as a writer, but I wrote a book right and it's a bestselling book hit the bestseller in seven categories on Amazon. It's called the exit printers playbook, which is helpful right?
Joe Valley 0:52
You know, when I was writing the book Yoni I reached out to 10 people that I trusted and they were influencers in the space. And they said, look, I've got two titles, two working titles one is exit printer and the other is incredible exits. Which one do you like? Nine out of 10 liked incredible exits. So like a fool I went with the exit printer but made it the xx printer’s playbook. I know
Yoni Mazor 1:16
It’s iconic the printer, it's hard for me to say because I always want another country. But it sticks its thick that it's remarkable just to say an image and exit I think it was not going to be as iconic as just focusing on that extra printer because unique nobody used that kind of framework.
Joe Valley 1:32
Yeah, incredible exit slows off the mouth very well the tongue. But even you know, I'm currently recording the audible version of the book. I had it done already. But the person that did it sounds a little robotic. So I'm in the process of recording the book now, and I'll admit that a few times when I say exit printer, it is still a mouthful.
Yoni Mazor 1:53
But it's anyways, it looks good on the day when you look at it, but Okay, so today's episode we got to head over stuff a little bit of It's okay. It's going to be the story of you the story of Joe valleys, you're going to share with us everything and share with us, you know, who are you? Where were you born? Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school as you begin your professional career, station to station until you get to where you are today, especially with the world of E-commerce? So without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Joe Valley 2:18
Yeah, it's funny, you know, I've got kids that are now once a sophomore in college and one is going off to college, and some of their friends are struggling with acceptance into college and figuring out the path that they want to have in their lives. And their parents are stressed about it to Yoni and all I do is tell them my path, which, you know, I don't think I had my first job for more than maybe four or five months until I was 29 years old. I'm originally from Maine, backing it up.
Joe Valley 2:51
But originally grew up in Maine, both my parents were state of Maine employees, you know, middle-class family. I'm the youngest of four, and always sort of broke the mild a little bit. I never thought I'd have a real job. I was an entrepreneur as a kid with a newspaper route. And I used to have a worm farm. You know, in Maine, people go fishing all the time.
Yoni Mazor 3:13
So I was the name of the town. And man, if I may, a little town
Joe Valley 3:17
Called Gardiner, Maine, just south of the capital, which is Augusta. And I lived on a central street in Gardner and my dad was kind enough to let me put a big old sign out front that said, night crawlers for sale. We're surrounded by water in Maine and gardening in particular, and people would come fishermen come knocking on the door, looking for night crawlers and go down to the basement and would get the fresh night crawlers out of the big box with dirt down there. They sailed. And then where did you source that?
Joe Valley 3:46
In my front yard. That's the beautiful thing about it my muddy supply on a grasp on supply and demand was right out in the front yard, which is great. I live in the south now I live in North Carolina because it's warmer men just to call. But you go outside with a flashlight at night in the summertime in Maine.
Joe Valley 4:03
And the night crawlers are there. And if you're you know not stomping on the ground and not moving too quickly, get your fingers on them and then pull them out slowly. Real Technique to it. I don't need to go too much into it. But it was my first experience with real entrepreneurship a paper route. You know, whatever you deliver a paper you get paid by the newspaper every month now they do it differently, of course, but the worm farm was my first entrepreneurial adventure.
Yoni Mazor 4:28
Got it? Okay, so parents are set, employees. Besides, you know, being set employees, they ever do anything on the side, anything that was entrepreneurial spirit or nature, or they look at a classic mild, mild. You know, you get a job somewhere you get a job, get some education, and yeah, the melds
Joe Valley 4:46
100% corporate life now, my grandfather, on the other hand, and my father's dad was an entrepreneur. He came over to this country when he was 17 years old from Greece didn't speak any English and ended up Starting with a fruit stand outside of a hospital and then making it a bigger stand and eventually winding up with a small restaurant. So
Yoni Mazor 5:08
Aside from your father's side, he was always so the original Greek name because Valley is not so Riki
Joe Valley 5:13
And it's not Greek. Yeah, it's Bootsy values. So it was shortened. You know, he came across and they said, that’s too long. Give us something that just change it to Valley. So boots of Atlas. Yeah. Which, you know, it we had to figure out later on down the road. You know, when he came over from Greece, he left everything behind and came after the war. The big war came during the war.
Joe Valley 5:34
Okay. Yeah, that's why he fled. And, and, you know, lost siblings and family members and, and left everything behind in the sense that he didn't talk about his childhood, his history, to his son or his grandchildren at all. We had to discover most of it through genealogy and one of our family members doing most of the research and now we're connected with a few family members over there.
Yoni Mazor 6:00
Wow. Okay. Fascinating. Okay, so you're growing up. And then I guess you finished high school in Maine, right, and went off
Joe Valley 6:06
To Northeastern University. And Northeastern is in Boston, there's a Co-Op program there. And I thought, like most kids going into college, they're undecided on what they want to do. I chose business. And then I had a friend that was a year older than me, and he was investing in penny stocks. And I thought that's cool. How do you do that? He's got a degree focusing a degree in finance. And so I did the same thing. And I went to work through the Co-Op program where you go to school for six months and work for six months, it's a five-year program. And I'm going to
Yoni Mazor 6:41
Work doesn't involve those six months, it could be all
Joe Valley 6:45
Different types of work. It's not an internship, it's paid work. And my first venture in that area was to go to work for a mutual fund company called scatter funds because I wanted to be a stockbroker. And I did it, I was there for a total of nine months, first went for three on a Co-Op program, went back to school, then went back for six months and got my series six and 63, which is licensing in the state of Massachusetts, to advise in terms of mutual funds. I wasn't a stockbroker, that's a series seven, but I got that in college.
Joe Valley 7:18
But I also quickly realized that I didn't enjoy that corporate life. I had a briefcase, but it was empty to have my lunch in it. I did wear a suit every day, but I bought it at a second-hand store. And I just didn't fit in. So my next job though, really made me excited about the entrepreneurial life and small businesses, in particular, there was a co-op opportunity. This sounds like an awful job for somebody in college.
Joe Valley 7:45
But there was a co-op opportunity to go in as an assistant manager at a small fried chicken franchise called Cajun Joe's fried chicken and biscuits, the strangest thing, but during the interview, the guy that interviewed me was maybe 2324 years old. And he said do you like beer? And I said, yeah, of course, I do. And he's like, well, we get free beer from the bar next door. And we usually celebrate afterward. I'm like, this is a job I want. And so I took that job. And it was all entrepreneurship learning business from the bottom up.
Joe Valley 8:18
And while I was there, this guy walked in, and he had jeans ready, a briefcase, a leather jacket, and a polo shirt. And he starts pitching me on having his business deliver food for our restaurant. And the company was called dining in and the guy's name was Michael hackle. Well, Michael left. And as soon as he was gone, I went out back and talked to Joe, he happened to be there, one of the owners of the business. And I said, John, listen, this is this. It was there was a dick and Joe was talking to him like, look, this is what this guy just pitched. I liked the idea, but I want to do it myself. And he said, Cool. I'm in let's do a 5050. I'll fund it. You can use our offices. And let's go. And so
Yoni Mazor 9:06
I want to remind everybody this is while you're still in school, yeah. vacation and you're in the club.
Joe Valley 9:11
Yes. So as soon as that part of my I was maybe three weeks left before I had to go back to school full time. And it didn't matter. This was something I could do at night while remaining in school full time, which I did. So I launched the company, it was called the wrong number. My pocket was different than dining ends dining in they were tuxedos. They went to high-end restaurants.
Joe Valley 9:35
Mine was geared towards college students. And I did create the name while drinking and getting high. And of course, I was in college and this is what we came up with a number, the name, but it worked. I had five restaurants signed up within the first few days. And I handed out you know, menus to the college students all around Northeastern US. versity where I lived, and we ended up delivering all over Boston, I think I got up to seven different restaurants. And this is when people would call in, I take the order, and would fax the order to the restaurant, and then my driver would go out and deliver it.
Joe Valley 10:13
And we had walkie-talkies for the drivers. And I did it for about six months, working, you know, from four to midnight, seven nights a week while in school full time. And then when Christmas time came around that year, I just took a break and then didn't reopen it because it was just too much. I wasn't making a ton of money. But I learned an awful lot and ended up going to work for Michael Hackl at dining in as a driver and I made a lot more money and have more freedom and flexibility. But I always knew that entrepreneurship was for me. Funny story with Michael. He grew that business beyond Boston to other major cities, and eventually got bought by GrubHub. And so part of his business became part of Grub Hub.
Yoni Mazor 10:52
Oh, yeah. Sounds like the early seeds of what we know today as a robot. Yeah,
Joe Valley 10:55
Exactly, exactly. He out. He offered me a job after college and whatnot. But it just, it was me working for somebody else. And it just wasn't going to work out in the long run. But we had a good relationship. But you know, that was, you know, a long time ago, I'm 56 years old. Now, when I left college, I kicked around for some years back and forth to a whole lot of, you know, short-term jobs, temporary jobs, things of that nature, because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. And I didn't settle on my first full-time long-term job until I was almost 29 years old.
Yoni Mazor 11:33
Right. So I want to touch that. So you graduated. You know, those five years? Well, you know what you was that when you graduated, though, after those five years? Have? No, no, what was the year? So I want to start stamping the year so
Yoni Mazor 11:44
1819 9019 90? Sharp?
Joe Valley 11:49
1990. It was? Yeah, it was the summer of 1990. And, no, I must not have been 29 years old because that would have made me 25. That's not right. Dude, I'm old. I can't remember all these know,
Yoni Mazor 12:03
This is the year he graduated from Northeastern, it's
Joe Valley 12:05
1990. And I took a job at a company called Talk America in 1994. Right. So
Yoni Mazor 12:14
Right after college in 1994. You say 1994. So what are you doing between 1990 to 1994? Those four years are whatever I
Joe Valley 12:21
Could figure out to make a buck here and there. I didn't have a full-time job for more than I think probably six months. I know for part of that time, I lived in California and I got a full-time job at Nestle through a temp agency. But it was a full-time job. And I was there for six months. And I hated it. Right.
Yoni Mazor 12:42
So after college for five years, it kind of Scanlon together, looking for yourself also made a pitch into California. But when you're 29, which is already 1994. Do you say?
Joe Valley 12:50
No, yeah, it wasn't 29. I was not I was 29. Because I was born in 65. So yes, the math makes sense. But during those three years, three and a half year period, I didn't have a full-time job. But I tried launching small businesses here and there, you know, whether I was a salesperson, knocking on business's doors saying, hey, look, I can save you money on your utility bills, let me review them and we get to keep 25% of what we save that kind of stuff. But nothing ever really panned out, actually took a job as a business broker for a brick-and-mortar business broker company and went through all of their training.
Joe Valley 13:28
And then what you have to do in that situation is then you have to go out and drum up business, you go out, you start and you just start knocking on doors and saying, Hey, if you ever think about selling your business, I'm here let's talk. And I didn't feel comfortable walking up to businesses and handing out business cards. I probably lasted three weeks before I said, hey, this isn't for me.
Joe Valley 13:48
Strangely enough, one of the businesses that I handed out a car to ended up selling through one of the brokers that worked with the firm I was at. But my real job you know, didn't career didn't start until talk America and I was employee number 34 at talk America and just like my interview at Cajun Joe's fried chicken and biscuits, where I was asked about beer. This interview was on a Saturday morning, and the person interviewing me was my age. She wore sweatpants, it was moving down. It was very casual.
Yoni Mazor 14:16
And it was living at the time. Where were you in California or
Joe Valley 14:20
I was living in Southern Maine in Portland, Maine at the time, and I was employee number 34. And we did 17 million in revenue in 1994. And by the time I left in the summer of 1997. Well in 1997 I know the company did 105 million in revenue. So over.
Yoni Mazor 14:44
But yeah, what is this business all about? What was the model thesis?
Joe Valley 14:47
It was kind of a new version of what we know today. It was a direct response marketing company. Initially, they were a call center that took calls for radio spot ads and infomercials. So anything with an 800 number attached to it, the calls would go into this call center.
Joe Valley 15:07
And after a time, they would also produce radio spot ads and infomercials and control the marketing of the products, vertical 100%. And then in time, they added their fulfillment center, about the time I left, the fulfillment center was there and then they were developing their products, as well. But that kind of growth in that kind of integration and trying to be everything to everyone was not a success.
Joe Valley 15:36
Because again, when they did 17 million in revenue in Tucson in 1994, Rob, the owner of the business supposedly made about $4 million. By the time he did 105 million in 1997, he lost $2 million because they grew so fast, so rapidly blew up the overhead, and didn't pay attention to the numbers. And we're at a loss for the year. Fascinating, great lessons along the way. And I was a salesperson, I ended up being a media buyer started helping launch the media buying department in product development as well as negotiating with product owners to cut the deal and let us market their products and product development.
Joe Valley 16:20
And I left before I got fired, technically I left but I was not happy with the growth of the company because it was I was becoming more of a worker bee than anything else. There was a time when I'd be the first one in and the last one to leave. And then by the end, there were just 1000s of people, or 1000 people marching into the business every day, I was just a cog in the wheel, and I wasn't happy with it. And when a business grows that rapidly, people that are in political favor grow to their level of incompetence.
Joe Valley 16:55
And that what was happening is those were people that were good at playing the political games inside the business were promoted, because they were likable, not because they were good at what they were doing. And people I think were being promoted to their level of incompetence. And then sometimes I was a little too vocal about it and I had a vacation coming up.
Joe Valley 17:24
So I took my vacation, but at the same time gave my notice and said look, I'm leaving the media department, I would like to resign from that and just become a salesperson on the sales floor. And while I was away on vacation, they asked me to come in and I said no, I'm on vacation. I'll see you when I get back. And they let me know that that's not going to happen because you've been vocal about thinking the director of sales is not qualified in their position. So let me walk you to the door. So they helped me pack up and walk me to the door. It was amicable,
Yoni Mazor 17:52
But yeah, no, no. So 1997 what was the next station,
Joe Valley 17:56
I launched my own media company, media buying agency jVi media launched in September of 1997. So I was you know, a media buyer at one point and talking talk America, I left I launched my own company. And my goal unit was to make $50,000 because that was my last full-time salary at talk America. So my goal is to make 50,000 in 1998. I made 10 times that.
Joe Valley 18:22
So going out into the entrepreneurial world was very good for me. But I can tell you that between September and December, just like in college, I worked full-time nights and weekends at another call center taking calls while running my media buying business during the day. And I had a client that signed on board initially when I launched the company, but about three weeks in I got a call from someone that was also a former employee at Tuck America. His name was Dan he and this guy named Mark, we're launching their call center and had a client that they wanted me to buy the media for.
Joe Valley 19:00
And this goes to burning bridges. Because Dan was one of the people that was head of sales on the sales floor, talking America. And when I left I was I was leaving on good terms. Dan wasn't the person I was vocal about. And I didn't think that their product or their model was going to work. But I had good counsel in my wife who made sure that I did the best I could not burn bridges. I burned a few but I didn't like them all on fire. And I took that call from Dan and I went into the studio with Dan while he produced the spot ads that I was to buy media time for and I was pretty certain it was not going to work because Dan weighed about 300 pounds. And it wasn't muscle and the product was called fat assassin.
Joe Valley 19:53
And Dan's in the booth reading an ad that goes something like how do you like to look better naked now you can win Fat assassin, and then it goes on for another 40 seconds. And so I've got that visual in my head driving home listening to the two ads going, Yeah, this isn't going
Yoni Mazor 20:07
To work. But this is the vocal ad. This is just the voice of it's just a voice.
Joe Valley 20:11
Radio spider. Yeah. But I had the visual because I was in the studio with him at the time. Well, one of the ads didn't work. I was right about that. But the other one was a Grand Slam. And within, I want to say two months, three months, I was spending $100,000 a week on advertising for that campaign. So the growth was crazy insane. And it was, you know, as I look back today at what my primary role was, wasn't, my primary role wasn't just to buy great media, but to be a middleman between Dan and mark, and their client, Ted, I think that's what his name was. But they were always fighting.
Joe Valley 20:52
So the client would, you know, send the money to me to buy the media. And the calls would go to Dan, Dan's call center, but they would often fight during the week. And my job was always to get them back on the same page so that I could spend their money wisely and make a profit off of it as well.
Joe Valley 21:11
And it's a funny thing, I was listening to a podcast a couple of weeks ago, and the gentleman was talking about analyzing what you do today and what you've done in your past, and what things have you been good at what you enjoy, and that's what you should focus on. And lo and behold, it's exactly what I do today, as a partner quite light as the person that's in between transactions between buyers and sellers. My job is not necessarily to broker or not necessarily to buy media, but to manage people's expectations and emotions more than anything else. So I had time between
Yoni Mazor 21:45
Early seeds of I would say, the balancing act of creating disharmony between organizations, people their needs. So he did that, you know, with the media buying, but you know, fast forward 20 plus years later, now with these, you know, these organizations where people created these organizations, they want to exit, it's emotional, and also the buyers there, they actually can be a bit colder. It's more transactional. How do you create a balancing act where ever there's a kind of peace or harmony? And it all turns out? Well, so
Joe Valley 22:13
Yes, I'm doing the same thing. Same, same thing. It's fascinating, enlightening, really, after that podcast and started thinking about what I'm good at today, what I was good at years ago, and what I enjoyed, because I had a period in between, right, so I ran JVM media from 1997. Technically, I still own the jVi media through 2005. I still actually own it today, it was just an empty shell. But in 1990, year,
Yoni Mazor 22:42
You’re for eight years, we're about it. You know, you're involved with this realm, or you're doing other things, but we'll get there. Yeah, you're
Joe Valley 22:47
Right. So I write I always own jVi media where I bought time for other clients. But I also launched a company called Abbott industries, where I launched my products as well. So remember, I launched JVM media in 1997? Well, in January 1998, I launched my product. In addition,
Yoni Mazor 23:07
Your retailer, yeah, you're your brand or product, I
Joe Valley 23:11
Created my brand. I had a manufacturer in New Jersey that did nutritional supplements, and I launched my brand, as well in 1998. And I did that all along. And I took my last. For my last radio direct response product, I did radio and television, I had two primary products that I did radio and television and commercials for the last one, I took 100% online in 2005. Now, on radio, and television, it was a colon cleansing product, right?
Joe Valley 23:45
So, on the jVi side, my biggest client was me, my product on added edit industries. But it was primarily a colon cleansing product. And I'm like, How can I take this 100% online? It's one thing and my website developers like, look, Joe, you just write good quality content every month, and Google will reward you. I'm like, David, how the hell am I going to get good quality content about colon cleansing? Well, it turns out, he was right. And we morphed that single product into a product line on digestive wellness, it was a colon cleansing product, probiotic digestive enzymes, and then a full-on digestive wellness vitamin line.
Joe Valley 24:27
And I built that up from 2005 Two 2010 When I ultimately sold it in late 2010 through the firm that I'm now a partner at quite light, but I took that business to the best of the economy from Oh 5207 through the worst of the economy in oh eight and oh nine and then came out the other side in 2010. Just tired worn out. I didn't enjoy it anymore. Because it was I had no interaction with other humans. For the most part. It was me And Dreamweaver, I did the Pay per Click advertising, I wrote copy
Yoni Mazor 25:06
Sounds a bit too technical, too repetitive in a way. So there's no magic with actually working with others or developing. But let me ask you this because I find this a little fascinating. So the Jovi, right? Media buying gave you the ability to see the consumers right in front of you. And because of that, that gives you the confidence to hey, I plug in is, you know, I help all these brands and products that to sell, because I see the target, target audience, right run in front of me, might as well just have my product. Without that the thesis is there.
Joe Valley 25:38
Yes, I was open to it. And what happened was another colleague from the previous company, talking America, started an agency ad copy agency, where they did creative for these types of brands. And another person started a separate call center. And they walked into my office and said, Look, starting to call center, I need some clients. And John and Robert both came and robbed the call center.
Joe Valley 26:08
John. Oh, the agency on the agency says why don't we start? Why don't you start your own brand Joe and send them you can do the buying of the media, you've got the connections, and I said, alright, we'll try it. I just had to make sure that it wasn't competing with any of my JV or media clients.
Yoni Mazor 26:21
Yeah, no conflict of interest. Yeah. It's amazing. Because you have just the whole assembly line on news kind of the last thing that's called a product that you got to sell because everything was lubricated, machine all around the calling center, and the media buying and just the direct access. It's a little fascinating to me because the internet kind of changed out in the 90s or late 90s. That was big, right?
Yoni Mazor 26:40
You know, having radio power and, you know, relying on radio to target audience popular still, today it's effective. But back then it was probably maybe its glorious days. But the internet changed the paradigm of retail. You know, people on the phone, stuff like that it was just more accessible than people listening to radio, TV, and radio, because of internet streaming and all that stuff. Spotify, Apple Music,
Yoni Mazor 27:02
it's not the same as used to be even though it says it's a place of honor with retail, I would say, and advertising and media buying. But yeah, you're just you were involved in that evolution from video into its online retail and you mentioned in the next 2010, which is pretty early days. So it's pretty good.
Joe Valley 27:19
Yeah, it's early days. I woke up one day, and you know, I lived on a lake here in North Carolina, my kids were young, and my wife was a stay-at-home mom. And I remember seeing, you know, a few other moms with their kids, you know, walked by my office window down to the pool.
Joe Valley 27:38
And I'm just, I'm miserable. I'm working from home and live on a lake, we have a beach and a pool. I'm working 20 hours a week making great money. And I'm unhappy with the work that I'm doing, which is kind of ridiculous. But it's this entrepreneur affliction where you can only do something for so long before you need to move on. And in my case, what I did was I moved into a position where I was not engaging with others. I was just working in Dreamweaver and working with my website developer.
Joe Valley 28:08
And most days, we didn't get along because he wanted me to spend a whole bunch of money on development with big ideas. And I didn't want to do that it was too complicated for me. He was right, simple, and safe. Yeah, I think honestly, he was right if I had that long-term approach, but I never really did in those days. And so I woke up and decided to sell my business as I say more than anything else.
Joe Valley 28:34
But fortunately, one of the three brokerage firms that I spoke to at the time, told me that I should wait and that was quite like the other two brokers were just trying to get their hooks into me for a commission. Whereas quite light marked out now my business partner said, look, man, you got some good numbers here. The numbers are coming back in 2010 Stronger than 808 and oh nine I think if you wait another six months, you can make another $100,000 You tell me to go away because well, it's in your best interest.
Joe Valley 29:03
I'm here for you now if you want, but if you wait six months, you're going to make a lot more and you can prepare the business for sale. And he had me hook line and sinker then so I did what he talked about. I prepared the business I got my SOPs in place I get everything in order. We launched the business for sale in late October and sold it in November. It didn't take long Jason yellow wits was the advisor at that time there was only one he was he was the entrepreneur turned advisor at quiet like those days. I took 2011 off and joined the company in early 2012 as the second advisor to join the team
Yoni Mazor 29:38
to talk to me about that spark that evolution what pushed you I mean because your background is you know it's pretty unique was probably say the least you've been around but what a magnet. You know, what was the magnet that pull you into to you know, Join kwila What was the value or the excitement because you said you were maybe even burned out? What were you doing before I guess it was the passion that took you to that place for somebody so if you could talk about that a little bit,
Joe Valley 30:02
I just enjoyed the process with Jason. He was engaging Mark was engaging, they were trying to understand my business, and I was learning a ton. And at the end of the day, it's an exit that I wanted and needed. And they were really helpful in the process. And something about that process just made me want to get involved. I had, I had bought another business before joining them, I bought an online content site. But it was the same miserable experience, and it got hit by the Penguin update.
Joe Valley 30:34
So it was kind of a disaster, I lost a quarter of a million bucks in about seven months. But I loved engaging with buyers and sellers and helping sellers understand the value of what they had and when they should wait and when they should sell, helping those set goals and reverse engineer paths for them. It was all still kind of the wild West in 2012 and 13. We've come a long way since then, you know, in 2013, I closed a total of 23 transactions Yoni, which is just nuts. But they were small, right? I think the average transaction size might have been $125,000, with some being as low as $5,000 content sites, which didn't take much to sell today at quite the average transaction size, like 1.8 million. If anybody does 10 deals, they're doing plenty. There's a lot more involved to it today than there was a decade ago.
Yoni Mazor 31:24
Sounds much more robust. This is more potential flooding complex, but okay, so 2012 You know, the landscape is humble, right? Oh, it's still active, but humble. Some just can be $5,000 worth. So take it to the next, I guess milestone, or what the evolution because it's been 10 years, right?
Joe Valley 31:44
Yeah. So early on in 2012. I remember it was either 2012 or early 2013. When I went to my first event, a conference being held, I can't remember if it was traffic, it wasn't trafficking diversion, or something else. And I remember sitting at a dinner table, and someone asked me how I was enjoying the brokering process. And I said you know what, I'm loving it.
Joe Valley 32:07
I'm loving, engaging with entrepreneurs and helping them sell their businesses. And somebody sitting next to me said, oh, you're full of that you just like the commission, and I. And I pause them like, it's weird. But that's the secondary effect. I'm really, truly enjoying helping people. And earning a living through it is the secondary effect. Which stuck with me. And I know who told me, I know who was sitting beside me that day.
Joe Valley 32:33
And who said that, and I still know that person today. But it's the path I took, even though some of my closest friends and advisers thought I was kind of nuts to do it. But there was something in me that wanted to be in the middle and help these people on both sides of the table. And that's the process that we've done since then. So in 2013 1415, I generated upwards of 70% of all GUI lights transactions, Jason yellow, which was my advisor in 2010. And still there, he's still here today.
Joe Valley 33:12
Jason was the first of the brokers that were an entrepreneur first, and then became an advisor. And so that's the model everybody on the team has to have built, bought or sold their own online business, most have done all three. So up until probably 2015. I was without a doubt the majority of the closed transactions, which became a problem because if I got hit by a bus quietly, it was going to be trouble.
Joe Valley 33:39
And so Mark and I kind of became unofficial partners in 2015, where my job was to bring on and train new advisors talented and bring talent, bring talent on earn a little piece of their first five deals. And we officially became partners in 2018. And since 2018, we've grown an average of 55% year over year. Last year we grew 85% and this is in terms of Total Transactions closed. We have a total of 15 entrepreneurs turned advisors now we only represent the sell side everybody has built bought sold their own business, or online business. And honestly, Yoni I feel in many ways, like the least successful online entrepreneur on the team. Even though I'm an online entrepreneur. Now quiet light is an online business we close to 10 million transactions in 2021. And we would have hit 250 million but we had 40 million in transactions, three transactions with one adviser equalling that amount that got bumped to q1. Otherwise, we would hit a quarter billion in transactions. But we've got people that have been on the cover of Time Magazine for their importing business, a pearl importing business, Amanda Rob she joined just shortly after I did Jason yellow, which was in Super Affiliate Brad Whelan rolled up 30 content sites sold to a private label prefer, we've got an advisor that's got to deal with Robert on Shark Tank. Really smart, talented people involved in content, SaaS, e-commerce, and FBA businesses all across the board. And now, the big goal and challenge are maintaining the culture. Because we are a culture of entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs, we are not managers of people, right? So, I have always been a small business-oriented person, Mark is a little bit better marks than the CEO, I'm, I often call myself a man without a title. But I recently put a title of president on there for an outside company that needed me to have a title, whatever it is, I'm the man without a title, and I kind of like it. Because I don't I don't broker any deals anymore. My last transaction closed in January of 2021. And I've completely removed myself from brokering deals. So doing 210 million in transactions with me closing maybe 5% of them is a huge win for quite like, because I'm no longer 70%.
Yoni Mazor 36:07
It was the five and its robustness, right, that's an amazing pivot that you guys were able to do because you bring the talent, and you may even maintain the culture. But that being said, what’s your main focus these days,
Joe Valley 36:18
My main focus is just building relationships, making connections, and promoting quiet light through the quiet life podcast. And as a guest on other podcasts like this one, where I talked about my journey, and I talked about the exit printers playbook. I look at quiet light, as an education company that happens to do m&a deals in the online space. Right? When I was meeting with my mentor, a guy named Walter my wife's uncle, Uncle Walton was meeting with Walter trying to determine whether I should buy into quiet light and become an official partner, and owner of quiet light. And I explained the business model.
Joe Valley 36:59
And he said to me, he said, Joe, it sounds like you just give everything away for free in the hopes that they'll do business with you. And I said, well, so that's exactly it. We're just helping as much as we can through good quality content online, through a podcast through any articles and materials and events, and just conversations that we have, if they choose, and now the book, and if they choose to work with white light, then it's a win. And it is a win all around. Because the more people that we help, the more learn about our brand and reputation, and only a fraction of them have to choose to work with us.
Joe Valley 37:33
And we can end up doing what we do in terms of total close transactions and helping you know, 1000s of people, over the years understand the value of what they haven't made sure that they get maximum value for it, whether they're selling through quiet light as their advisor, and we're a white glove service, again, with the average transaction size in 2021, of 1.8 million median transaction size of 1.8. The highest we've had in the last couple of years is 25 million. And I think the smallest is probably $60,000. That was a pocket transaction for somebody
Yoni Mazor 38:02
to steal from the 5000 needs to be a decade ago. But I connect to what you're saying when you're in the business of helping other people. Yeah, and the business takes care of itself, the financials and the income and all that stuff take care of itself because the focus is on the people and how to solve their problems and their challenges and be useful to them through content through the podcast with the book. And that is so Uncle Walter, he agreed. He said, that’s cool, or what was the end of that? Yes.
Joe Valley 38:27
He said I agree. That's cool. It sounds good. Sounds like you got a plan Joe and I had mentally prepared and financially prepared to stroke a check, and Mark, my business partner saw the value in me joining the team and getting equity for what I'd already done.
Yoni Mazor 38:45
And so transaction took place in 2010
Joe Valley 38:48
Took place in January of 2018. And there was only a very small amount of money that was put into a new account. I initially owned 20% and I've earned my way I now own 40% More Marco and 60%. But they didn't have to stroke much of a check at all. It was just funding for expenses. It wasn't that I was buying a portion of Twilight, we just created a new entity in North Carolina and have grown substantially since
Yoni Mazor 39:19
We got to God. Okay, I want to take maybe a moment to discuss the book so you can share with us, you know, the highlights of the book and what people are going to expect, and maybe how can they get access to the book. Sure. And I want you to say with from that where what's the kind of the landscape of at least on the E-commerce Amazon world, I read a world, you know, your 10 cents on what's going on? What's the temperature like? So go ahead.
Joe Valley 39:38
Why don't we start with that? So in 2016, I wrote a booklet let's call called 10 steps to sell your Amazon business, and it kind of fell flat. I remember I was at an E-commerce fuel event in South Carolina and I had my little booklet and we put it on know table for everybody to take.
Joe Valley 39:57
And Andrew you Darian gets up and He does his State of the Union at the beginning of the event like it always does. And up on the screen was the fact that only 25% of the people in attendance, sold products on Amazon. And I thought, damn, my 10 Steps to Sell me an Amazon business is not going to hit home here. And then two years later, when he did the State of the Union, 75% of them sold on Amazon. So I was a little ahead of my time, at that time.
Joe Valley 40:32
And even then, you know, I knew that we could sell an Amazon-based business even though the Terms of Services said you could not transfer a seller account because I had done it and had done it was written permission from Amazon. And I shared that written permission in the 10 steps book.
Joe Valley 40:48
And the challenge back then was having buyers believe that there was value in buying an Amazon business. And so the multiples were depressed and low. I remember never listing a business higher than 2.74. Because it would round down to 2.7. Online, if I went 2.75, it would round up to 2.8. And buyers would push back on that. Well, with the aggregators, the rise of the aggregators, if you will, that's changed, right? A Shopify business used to be worth a lot more than an Amazon business of equal size. Now they're pushing up to being
Yoni Mazor 41:25
Nyquil. EBITDA. People leave it Yeah.
Joe Valley 41:27
So if they're the same in terms of EBITA, if you will, they have the same amount of skews and balance and risk and transferability associated with the account age, things of that nature. The Shopify store historically would be worth 20% more, well, that's changing.
Joe Valley 41:44
Now, the Amazon business is often worth almost as much as that store naturally with the store, you own the customer. Over on the Amazon side, it's just easier picking and that's where customers are going to buy more people that are launching Amazon businesses today because there's a built-in customer base versus their own Shopify store where I have to develop the customer.
Joe Valley 42:03
It's a little short-sighted, but it's probably what I would do if I was in the same situation. But the aggregators, the first one being one on one commerce who's now defunct, decided I remember when Richard called me RJ, it Richard, Jolly Chandra, he called me said, Listen, I have this idea, I'm going to go ahead and buy 101 Amazon businesses in the next 24 months. And I said, you’re crazy, that's not going to happen, you're not going to succeed it as he goes, and I’m going to do it. And you know what, I'm not going to log into a single one of them. And I'm like, you are nuts. Not going to work.
Joe Valley 42:34
You won't find them first of all, but you're not going to log into anybody crazy. They didn't succeed, they bought 13 and ended up selling to go jackpot. They created a model a concept, an idea that was then picked up by others like radio, elevate boosted perch, and so forth. And now we all know the story, they've raised billions of dollars, they're going out direct to Amazon FBA business owners and selling, saying, look, work with us directly, there's a benefit to selling directly to us avoid the broker fear, yadda, yadda, yadda. I equate this to the charming guy in high school, who was the jock, the good student, and all these other things. But he was a bit of a jerk when it came to women, right?
Joe Valley 43:19
So if you have daughters, you really would need to watch out for that good-looking, charming, well-rounded individual from a good family. I look at the aggregators the same way. They are likable people. I've had dinner with a lot of them, and conversations with most of them. They're very likable individuals. They're very well educated. They come from good backgrounds. They're charming, and they speak well. And they're convincing that what they know is everything about the FBA space.
Joe Valley 43:51
And when I tell you what the value of your business is, it's true. It's what the real value of your businesses and like that girl in high school that likes that charming guy. It's a falsehood, it's not real. The aggregator's job is to buy the FBA business for as little as possible so that they get as much margin on the upside, so they get as much instant equity as possible. But their sales pitch is so likable. And the idea of just avoiding the broker fee is so incorrect and appealing. It's appealing, but it's incorrect. We just had somebody on the client, the seller,
Yoni Mazor 44:27
Yeah, to the sellers. You mentioned feeling great for the sellers for the bestseller that's trying to exit.
Joe Valley 44:32
Right, what and that's part of the reason why I wrote the book, the exit printers playbook to share everything that we know here quietly with that entrepreneur that does want to sell directly to the aggregator. Please buy the book, and digest different chapters so that you can at least defend against the different types of transactions. They're going to put it in front of you, after due diligence because they're probably not going to pay you all cash. They're going to look for a holdback. They're going to look first at Nobody payment, they're going to do seller notes, they're going to call them burnouts.
Joe Valley 45:03
It's, it's there are all sorts of things that they'll do, including we pay all cash, avoid the broker fee. But then what they look for is two to three months' worth of inventory as a capital working Peg, Right? That never happens when we sell a business. There's no working capital peg of that nature. Unless it's a 25 or $ 30-million business. We had an example of someone that's a first-time immigrant first generation immigrant into the United States. She lives not too far from me, her name is Sumana. And she bought an FBA business.
Joe Valley 45:34
She was a branch manager at a bank and she bought an FBA business with an SBA loan, just before the pandemic, the pandemic, along with a lot of different things that she did, had the business take off. 13 months later, she starts getting calls from aggregators, and one of them offered her 2.2 million dollars for a business and was very trimmable. Charming, likable, convincing, and said a lot of accurate things like, look, you've got a COVID Bump. Look, you've got a Hero Skill. Look, there's a lot of things that bring the value down of this business, the best you're going to get. And this is what we do know we know who we are.
Joe Valley 46:11
We know this space inside and out best you're going to get his 2.2 million, we pay more than anyone else. She paused, she hesitated and she ended up doing some research and she ended up connecting with us a quiet light work specifically with Chuck. And this isn't about working with quiet like this is about making sure you get the right value for your business. We ended up selling that same business that they said was worth 2.2 maximum, we sold it for 5.5 million plus $400,000 in inventory. So she more than doubled what the aggregator said just to avoid the broker fee. So she earned
Yoni Mazor 46:49
It or to move to something more strategic. What was the best?
Joe Valley 46:51
Fun end of the story isn't it even though in 2021, only 30% of all of our transactions were sold to the aggregators, this one was sold to an aggregator she got seven offers. Six of them were from aggregators. And the top one that she ended up working with ended up paying 5.5 million, so much more than that other aggregator who is one of the top 10 in this space.
Yoni Mazor 47:14
Got it? Wow. Fascinating. Okay, so just the final touches on the book. So the book, as you said, it's a playbook. So if you have it in mind to sell, just use it as a playbook. So even if you go directly with them, you know, the ins and outs and all the technicalities.
Yoni Mazor 47:27
So you know, the target language dancer dance, and optimize your business to maximum exit degree. But of course, too much of a headache, too much of spinning your head reaches out to solutions out there are the ones that can help you, of course, correlate is one of the leading ones. So do your favorites. First off, because that impact between 2.2 million to over 5 million is super dramatic. So it's life-changing. And it's, you know, it can last a few more generations, that extra 3 million that, you know, somebody took on the way out?
Joe Valley 47:56
Yeah, it's a dramatic example. But even you know, there's one particular chapter that's all about add-backs, right? And the proper calculation of sellers' discretionary earnings, which businesses are sold as a multiple of most people that are selling on their own, don't understand add-backs, I've got 18 Different add-backs, three different levels of add-backs in the book so that you can go through a checklist when you're selling your business.
Joe Valley 48:20
That's huge. Yeah. And actually, it is, you know, it's funny I was, I was on a LinkedIn live event with one of the aggregators who was the host of it. And it was tough, it was tough to do it because I had to thread the needle, be very careful. But at one point, it occurred to me through the conversation that we're having, and there's a 92 add back that I didn't put in the book because I hadn't thought of it at the time. But it's for all FBA business owners, those that have FBA businesses, are probably subscribed to both Helium 10 and Jungle Scout. And let's just say combined, they spend a couple of 100 bucks a month, right?
Joe Valley 48:55
Well, that is an add back, because it is an expense that doesn't carry forward if you're selling to an aggregator. So you've got $2,400 a year there and expenses that don't carry forward because guess what they already subscribed. So it's an add-back. And if you're selling your business for a three-time multiple, that's, you know, almost $7,500 there that is back in your bank account instead of intersecting again, it's amazing. And it's only one example. Right? There are 18 others, but that's just part of it.
Joe Valley 49:24
That's just the math and the logic part of it. Then there's what I call what buyers want and fear the four pillars, risk, growth, transferability, and documentation, it's what buyers always look at. Those are the four pillars and what holds those pillars together is the mortar right? That's the person behind the business. Yeah. And, and so another example, I was on a, I was a guest on a podcast, where the host of the podcast had a politically oriented hat on both a hat and a shirt.
Joe Valley 49:58
And to me, that is a foolish thing to do first as a host unless that's the audience you're going for. But as a business owner, if you do that on social media, and you take a hard stance, when it comes to politics or vaccines, you're immediately eliminating certain buyers, because trust is the most important thing when you're selling your business, if you want to get a higher value for your business, and a better deal structure, you have to be somebody that the buyer likes and trusts, when you do things that are foolish on mine and take harsh political stances, or stances with for or against the vaccines, you are eliminating a certain percentage of buyers and the smaller the buyer pool, you know, potentially the lower value of your business.
Joe Valley 50:43
So there's risk growth transferability documentation, and then you the owner of the business, these aren't, it's not math, but you ignore them at your peril. Because if a business that let's say it's an FBA business doing $300,000 in discretionary earnings, if the typical multiple is somewhere between three and five of that business, the risk growth, transferability, and documentation and who you are, as an owner, is going to sway that multiple down to the bottom, which is three or the five.
Joe Valley 51:12
So you have to pay a great deal of attention to those things. If you're going to prepare your business in advance of a sale, if you want to wake up and sell, you can't do anything about those things, they are what they are. But if you want to, you know, plan to sell your business or train yourself to sell your business that I as I talked about in the book, get some training, this is something 612 months in advance that you can do to sway that business to the higher end of the multiple ranges.
Yoni Mazor 51:36
You got to go, okay, fascinating stuff. All right, I want to start packaging the episode and see if we got the story correctly. So far. So born raised and man graduated 9090. And then 9090, to 9094, kind of, you know, you know, did all these adventures, some of them were in California as well, they're 1994, he started to work for, you know, talk America, that was a, you know, interesting experience that you had experiencing hyper-growth and within an organization also being very successful and packed with stuff for the organization.
Yoni Mazor 52:06
And then 1997, you know, you move to the next station, where you create your own media buying company. And then 99 did very, very soon after, you already started selling on products, and the combination of both was very impactful for you to have a successful, I guess, service business and also a retail business. And then in 2005, I believe you expanded the product line, because you opt into selling online, right?
Yoni Mazor 52:30
So instead of having one product, we had a variety of products and you know, increase your portfolio, you add more value, and there are 2010 you cashed out. And that's where you're you first had the experience with quite light. Because that point you were kind of siloed, you were you know, you were I guess in terms of business success, but you're not happy, right?
Yoni Mazor 52:49
Your salary was a, you know, it felt it was time to move on. So you tried to correlate your cash and make an exit. And then for a year or two, you kind of take it easy around 2012, you start gravitating again, towards helping people and organizations through quite late, then 2018, you make it official, you come in as a partner after discussion with Uncle Walter, which when they ended up well for you, and for quite light, you come in as a partner. Also, in 2015, you mentioned that you were kind of very impactful on the deal.
Yoni Mazor 53:17
Sorry, we're doing about 70% plus, but then already, you know, fast forward a few years later able to bring more talent in and structure in a way where it's a real identity and culture for the organization. So now, you know, you're doing less than 5% a deal as of last year. And you focus on the content side, you know, we got the podcasts, you got the book, you got the educational events. And that helps you use these mediums to help 1000s and 1000s of sellers and organizations that's impacted many lives. And that alone takes care of the reputation and the opportunity to do business as well for quiet light, so that we get everything correctly. So far,
Joe Valley 53:49
I've been so impressed, I hope you've got somebody taking notes, or you're just brilliant. I don't know how you pulled that out of your memory.
Yoni Mazor 53:54
Now my job is to listen and to be the surrogate for the listener. But so yeah, thank you so much for sharing that. That was fascinating. I learned a lot. So now I want to finish up the episode with two points. The first one is somebody who wants to reach out and connect or maybe find more, find out more about the book, where can they find it, or find out and find you. And the last thing would be is what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there.
Joe Valley 54:16
First, for the book for your audience, you only we're going to give a free digital version of the book, if they want the paperback, they can still get it through this location. But they'll be able to get a free pre-digital book that they can download and read on their Kindle, or iBook. Note whatever. It's at exit printer.io four slashes get t.so exit printer.io four slashes get t done. As far as hope it. Yep.
Joe Valley 54:39
As far as hope and inspiration go for the entrepreneurs that are out there. I would suggest two things. Number one, really, really analyze what fills your cup. What are you happy with? What do you like to do? And then look at whether or not you're doing that now and if you're not maybe readdressed that and focus on it, it worked well for me, right? So I did incredibly well when I was in the middle between my clients and my call center when I ran jVi media, but then I floundered for a bit on my own.
Joe Valley 55:15
When I stepped into the role again in between buyers and sellers in quiet light I florist once again. So think about where you're at, what fills your cup, and what you're good at, and try to focus on that. Second, look, you're an entrepreneur, you're building something that has value, odds are you know what the value of your house, your car, your retirement fund is because you can look at it, it's there, it's simple, you're gonna look at comps online, but you probably don't know the value of your greatest asset, which is your business, most of the money meaning that least 50% of all the money you're ever going to make from your business will come the day that you sell it. So don't wake up one day and decide to sell like I almost did get some training,
Joe Valley 56:01
Get a copy of the book, connect with an advisor, either a quiet light or someone else that you trust that can give you a current valuation of your business. Because one of the most important things that you need to do is set goals, right? I will sell my business for X dollars in the year 2021 or whatever, you know, get very specific about it and then talk about how you feel or how you want to feel with that goal and then reverse engineer the path to that number. And the way to do that is to figure out what your business is worth today and that way you can see how close or how far you are from that goal.
Yoni Mazor 56:31
Not so know what you want. Know where you want to be set the goals to get there and focus all your mind just getting there and you're probably going to find a good outcome. Beautiful stuff. So Joe, thank you so much. Wish you and you know quiet lighting, and much-continued success. I hope everybody else enjoyed staying safe and healthy next time.
Joe Valley 56:48