EP 63 - Chelsea Cohen - Building Your Success by Helping Others Succeed

Awesomers Origin - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.
Chelsea Cohen is the co-founder of BadassBusinessBuilders.org with her husband Ari and is passionate about building businesses and helping others to do the same.
In 2014, Chelsea & Ari started their own physical products business on Amazon. In just 7 weeks, they launched their first product and in just a few months were making more with Amazon than they did in their regular jobs. They’ve since quit the day jobs and have been running their business full time for 3 1/2 years now.
Beyond building her own business, Chelsea can be found coaching and consulting within the Amazon community of entrepreneurs, making and saving thousands for those she’s helped, and has been featured on AM/PM Podcast, Jungle Scout Seller Stories, and other community interviews.
Passionate about Amazon copywriting, her popular 2017 Amazon copywriting presentation, How to Double Your Sales Without Spending a Dime, is still helping sellers to double their conversions. Chelsea loves entrepreneurship and loves helping others to find success in business.


Building Your Success by Helping Others Succeed

Entrepreneurs should not only focus on achieving and building their own business but also in helping others around them. Because only when we help others succeed, can we truly become a winner in life.

On this episode, Steve’s special guest is Chelsea Cohen. Chelsea is a young entrepreneur who has her own successful E-commerce business. Together with her husband, Ari, they created badassbusinessbuilders.org. Here are more golden nuggets from this episode:

  • The defining moments that helped her along the way.

  • How she’s in favor of hands-on knowledge than getting a degree.

  • The tools that Chelsea Cohen used in improving her business.

  • What Badass Business Builders is all about and how it helps entrepreneurs.

So join us on today’s episode and find out how you too can succeed in business while helping others.

01:32 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Chelsea Cohen, a successful E-commerce entrepreneur.)

03:57 (Chelsea talks about how she and Steve knew each other.)

11:50 (Chelsea explains why she doesn’t want to get a college degree.)

15:45 (Both Chelsea and Steve talk about their defining moments which helped put them on their path today.)

20:33 (Chelsea shares the lessons that she learned along the way.)

25:38 (Chelsea shares the time she almost gave up.)

30:03 (Chelsea talks about some of the best days in her life.)

37:04 (Chelsea talks about the tools/resources she use in improving her business.)

41:08 (Chelsea talks about the future of Amazon.)

49:03 (Chelsea talks about how she got rid of the things that are not profitable in her business.)

55:32 (Chelsea imparts final words of wisdom to Awesomers.)

57:14 (Chelsea explains what they do in Badass Business Builders.)

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson, and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Steve: You are listening to episode number 63 of the Awesomers.com podcast series, and all you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/63 to find any relevant show notes, details, and links that we've discussed here in today's episode.

1:32 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Chelsea Cohen, a successful E-commerce entrepreneur.)

Now today, my guest is Chelsea Cohen, and Chelsea's a bright, young entrepreneur, and she's been running her own successful E-commerce business for over 3 years, grossing well into the 7 figures just in a single year. And she's also been working to help other Amazon entrepreneurs and E-commerce people, including doing live group and one-on-one coaching for Ryan Moran's Freedom Fast Lane within the tribe. Now they went on, Chelsea and her husband, Ari, have went on to build a website to help entrepreneurs and do it in a constructive way so that (a) it didn't monopolize their time and (b) that it could be systemic and sustainable for the recipients of that knowledge. And so Chelsea and Ari are able to kind of work together to help entrepreneurs using this, the Badass Business Builders website, and we're going to talk about that in today's episode. Chelsea's going to talk about her origin story. I think you're going to love it. It's going to be super, super exciting to see how this young entrepreneur was able to put some things together after a number of things that didn't particularly work that well. And that level of persistence, I think a lot of us can identify with but at least the need for the necessity to have it, and Chelsea's a great example of it. She never stopped and never given up, and now she's climbed great heights and is continuing to go higher and is really like a star of the show, right? She's an amazing entrepreneur and somebody that we can all learn from not just from the basic things that are so important, like copywriting, but the bigger picture things, like how to run a business and still lead a life, and I think that's a great thing that Chelsea's been able to do. So we're thrilled to have Chelsea on board, and I know that you're going to love today's episode.

Steve: Hello, Awesomers. It's me, Steve Simonson. I'm back again with another Awesomers.com podcast, and today, I have a very special guest, Chelsea Cohen. Chelsea, how are you?

Chelsea: Good. Thanks so much for having me.

Steve: Well, thank you. My listeners are on the edge of their seat I'm sure to figure out if I pronounced your name right because my records not so good. How did I do today?

Chelsea: Good. Yes, that’s right.

Steve: That’s another one for the win column, everybody. I'm going to send out like those baseball scoring notebooks for everybody to keep score because my times getting the names right really far between I have to admit. So I'm thrilled to have you on today. We've known each other for some time. I think, do you recall what we met? I think I do. I'd love to compare notes.

3:57 (Chelsea talks about how she and Steve knew each other.)

Chelsea: Yes. We met in Maui actually, at the Maui mastermind.

Steve: That is quite right. Yes. So Amazing.com was having a mastermind meeting or an event in Maui, and you were a guest, I was a guest, and I just saw this really smart you know young couple, and Chelsea and Ari were just you know, they were just having fun, and they were getting things done. They were super smart, and it's like, “These kids, they go it.” And they got the it, and Chelsea certainly has done a great number of things since then. So we're thrilled to have you on. I've already read in the bio and kind of a little bit of top-level information about you but tell us in your own words what you do day-to-day in your you know regular routine.

Chelsea: Yes. So we sell on Amazon, physical products business on Amazon, selling kitchen products, healthy kitchen products, and we've been doing that for about 4 years. About a little less than a year ago, we decided to get a little more into helping people, a little more structured with how we help people. We've been helping people for years, but we started to actually offer services, built up a team to be able to provide services in terms of listing optimization and copywriting services to help people increase their sales. So we've been doing that since pretty much the beginning of the year, and that's been going really well. It's a bit more fulfilling than just selling physical products on Amazon because then we get to see you know people able to you know start changing their lives by increasing their income.

Steve: Yes, I can understand that very well, and that really is for the Awesomers out there. Listen, a good lesson to take away is that you know the potential to change your life is around us every day. We you know, the opportunity exists and people, like Chelsea, are able to you know kind of embrace an opportunity. They put product out there. Now they have their own brand that they're selling products on and so forth, and they've been able to you know continue that journey by helping educate others and participate in other people's life-changing events, which is pretty inspiring I think.

Chelsea: Yes, it's great.

Steve: So, before we're going to do a little bit of an origin story, before we do that, we're going to do a quick break, but when we come back, we're going to ask Chelsea all the revealing questions you won't want to miss. It will be right back after this.


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You're listening to the Awesomers podcast.

Steve: Okay, Chelsea, we're back again, Steve Simonson on the Awesomers.com podcast, and we're going to dive into those the nitty gritty that really helps us understand people, and I like to go right to the beginning which is where were you born.

Chelsea: I was born in Los Angeles, California.

Steve: Aha! La La Land. I've heard of it. I've seen it on TV several times. How about your parents? What kind of business or work did they do?

Chelsea: Yes, so my mom actually had a private school. She started out with the daycare. My older brother was having trouble learning how to read, so she thought she could do a better job helping him to read than the teachers were. So she basically pulled us out of school and started teaching us, and then other parents asked her you know could they teach their kids, and so she kind of grew organically. She converted the daycare into a school, and so starting at second grade, I basically did my entire second grade through high school with my mom. I graduated at sixteen, just before I turned sixteen, so I was able to kind of study at my own pace, but she ran that school for until my youngest brother graduated. And then my dad, he worked. For a little bit, he had a copy graphics business of his own, and now he does air quality investigations, but I have you know on both sides of my parents sort of an entrepreneurial example I guess, an entrepreneurial spirit bred from there just kind of this attitude of you know well, why can't I?

Steve: Yes, I love that. That really is the differentiator many times. Somebody has asked me the other day, they're like, “Well, When you bought your first business at eighteen, you know who told you how to do it or who you know?” It's like nobody said I couldn't do it, so I just did it you know. I was too dumb to know any better. So I think that is a really good premise to start from which is why can’t I, right? You know let's just assume that we can and somebody prove me wrong. So I like that. How about any siblings?

Chelsea: Yes, I have a rather large family. I have three brothers that I grew up with and then an older male cousin who lived with us for a good part of our life and then a stepsister who came in.

Steve: Any of them showing entrepreneurial bent.

Chelsea: Yes. None of them have very regular jobs but my oldest brother, he started his own dance competition. He's a dancer. His wife is a dancer, and he had that same kind of why can't I where he was working for a dance competition as a judge and an emcee, and he worked for many years and started asking himself full you know. This guy is pulling in sometimes a million dollars in a weekend. There's a lot of money here. I know kind of how to run this thing, so he started it, and they're in their first, they're going to their third season now of that.

Steve: All right. Well, it sounds like I need to dust off the old dance shoes. That's impressive. So I definitely enjoy you know kind of the fact that your mom was, she basically built a school for herself, which is how a lot of entrepreneurs do things, I need the solution solve for me and then other people start to go, “Hey, can you help me? Can you help me?” And I suspect that as that's probably come up again in your life you know. As you got good at writing copy, I'm sure other people ask you for help, right?

Chelsea: Yes, and that’s a funny story because you know we have our own business, and we you know kind of as a matter of course people reach out to us and we help them, so we get a lot of people asking us, and I did a talk on copywriting, and then I started getting a lot of people asking me, and I kept turning them away and turning them away, and at the end of that last year, I stopped asking myself you know, I stopped telling myself, “No, I can't do this” and started saying, “Well, how can I?” I knew that I only had a certain amount of time in the day. I knew how much you know it took to actually you know write copy, and I knew that I couldn't service everybody doing it on my own, so I actually built a system and trained a team to be able to do that, and that's kind of the motto that I've had recently, and it's opened a lot of doors for me just in this past year of how can I instead of saying no. We automatically go to no and really if it's something that you want to do or that might interest you you know, start asking yourself how can I instead.

Steve: I like that. It's almost like turning the same question we talked about earlier on to the inside, right? Well, why can't I? What limitations of myself imposing why can't I? “Don't tell me what to do.” That's the conversation that goes on in my head anyway. I probably need help. So let's get back into history for a minute. Did you decide to go to university, and if so, where?

11:50 (Chelsea explains why she doesn’t want to get a college degree.)

Chelsea: I actually feel like I went to college accidentally. I never thought about it. I mean I guess I went. I did one semester and then I kind of got out of it. But my mom you know, I wanted to be a writer, so my mom said, “Well, why don't you go to this community college and take this screenwriting class?” So I ended up taking a screenwriting class and sort of fell backward into a film program. I didn't do any of the general education. I stayed in the community colleges because I didn't feel like I needed to take on a huge you know debt by going to UCLA or USC, and I'm very glad that I didn't because I'm not using that degree. I didn't get the degree. I got a Media Arts certificate because I didn't want to do all that general education. So really that was kind of my experience. I was more interested in getting the hands-on knowledge than you know gaining a bunch of credit so that I could get a degree.

Steve: Yes. First of all, for the Awesomers out there listening, whether it's you considering it or somebody you know, some Gen Z person, going into debt for college is a really troubling thing in my humble opinion, unless you're going to be an engineer or a doctor or you know somebody who really needs that very particular set of skills. #LookUpThatMovieReference. I think that was taken. But unless you need that particular set of skills, then do not go into debt in my opinion. And I far prefer your approach which is I'm going to find the pieces of this thing that I like, the things that I'm really interested instead of being forced into the you know whatever. For me, it was like the dance 101 class. It's like, “All right, this is . . . I'm not going to . . . I'm studying computer programming. Dance 101 is not in the center of my target.” And by the way, I dropped down after one semester to, although I also dropped the dance class, I switched to photography, and when I showed up to the photography class, I'm ready to take pictures. I'm excited. They're like, “No, no, this is the history of photography. Open your books. We're going to learn about history of photography.” So the point is don't go into debt, pick what's important to you, and I like the Chelsea method of education. So how about your first job? When you came out of university, did you have a traditional or proper job as I call it?

Chelsea: Actually, the thought that comes to my mind when asked about my first job was my first job when I was younger because I feel like it was very indicative of where I was headed, and I was probably about twelve or thirteen. My friend's mom had a gift service, so she would build gift baskets and sell them to companies, and our job was to take these little cellophane bags and fill them with jelly beans, and so you know we had several hours you know filling with jelly beans. And my friend, whose mom owned the store, was goofing off a lot. I ended up doing probably at least twice as much as she did, and then at the end of the day, we ended up getting paid the same amount. Okay maybe this isn't for me because you know that whole idea of like you know working for hours didn't make sense you know, just right from the get-go.

Steve: Well, that one worked out really nicely in a communist country, right? Because everybody's just going to get paid the same based on check it in. But you know entrepreneurs and really Awesomers in general, we understand that we want to be rewarded based on our responsibilities, our accountabilities, our merit, and in fact our accomplishments, and even it's amusing to me that at twelve or thirteen, you're kind of looking at the check and then look at you know your friend over there and like, “Hey, you're nice enough, but you did not do half the work I did, and we got paid the same so that's good.” How about you know from kind of then to now, was there any particular defining moment that stood out in your mind that you know kind of helped put you on the path that you're on today?

15:45 (Both Chelsea and Steve talk about their defining moments which helped put them on their path today.)

Chelsea: Yes. I mean that was one of them. Another was when I was working in accounting. I actually did some work in accounting, and it was just very interesting to me to see that I was getting a lot of praise. They gave me a lot of bonuses. I was kind of put up as the model employee. And it was very confusing to me because I didn't feel like I was doing anything special, and then I finally realized that just doing your job and not needing a lot of hand-holding or you know coming back and you know basically not being having to be run by a manager wasn't normal, and so I found that very interesting. A friend of mine had the same experience, and we were kind of comparing notes, and that was a big defining moment of I think that self-starters and people who can just figure things out. I'm very good at figuring things out. I google things. I you know look things up. I don't ask a lot of questions. Like I taught myself how to make you know how to create a website, you know how to order domains, like all of that stuff. My brother, when he started into the field of business, he came to me, and I had to help him with an Excel spreadsheet, and he looked at me, and he has been a dancer all his life, and he said, “I have no skills, Chelsea.” I was like, “Oh!” You know. So it's very, it was a very interesting thing. That was a defining moment of like, “Okay, I'm someone who just figures things out because they need to be get done.”

Steve: Yes. I think that's very interesting and something that people don't often think about. But I remember a similar kind of defining moment where I realized that what I considered my average, my just kind of regular output was above everybody else's, and when you looked around, I remember I owned a carpet store back in the I suppose it's early 90s maybe late 80s, and I went to this convention in Vegas, and you know they are you know behaving in ways that are you know crazy to me, and by the way, we're all in a professional business setting. This is not the night at the club stuff. We're in a professional business setting and a conference and so forth, but I'm like, “Man, if this is my competition, I got nothing to worry about.” And by the way, I was you know twenty-one, twenty-two at the time so early nineties, and it's just that idea that you know the ordinary to us can seem extraordinary to others, and that's actually a very defining characteristic of an Awesomer, which clearly you are, is that you know when your best is really your best, then everybody else thinks it's a miracle, and so kudos to you. So what age do you think you learned that?

Chelsea: I mean, at that point, I was probably mid-twenties. I had been in film industry, and then it was finally getting to you know into accounting that it really started to become you know apparent to me.

Steve: Yes. I just love the idea, and I think this is a story that anybody should be able to reflect on which is if you're tasked with something, if you're given a responsibility, figure it out. You know Google is like the endless answer machine. There's no, it's infinity. You can get any answer there. Whereas still to this day, you know we'll hire somebody, and they'll be like, “I don't know how to do this,” and so they just want to sit there and wait, and it's like that was a bad hire because that's not the right attitude. We want problem solvers, right?

Chelsea: Yes, I feel exactly the same way, and that's what I you know I always have to have patience when I'm you know onboarding a new staff member because I you know I actually had that skill I mean remembering when I was in film school, you know they had this thing called fake it till you make it. So you say you can do things you know, and I said, “Oh yes, I can you know do schedules and budgets. I can you know, I can line-item a script, take a script, and figure out what we need to buy” and all of that stuff. I had no idea, so I would take it home. I would you know copy versions. You know I would get a call sheet, and I would copy it on my home computer so I had my own version, and it was just always you know anything that I didn't know. I would have to learn kind of on the fly, and then I would bring into the next job.

Steve: I like that. By the way, fake it till you make it is a one of the common phrases from the 80s movie Working Girl, which you probably wouldn't have known of, but it's a classic, and everybody out there should watch it. It's amazing. Melanie Griffith's . . . I definitely think that your previous attitude of why can't I should enter into every you know every task, every responsibilities like, “All right, here's what I got to get done. Now let's just figure out how to get there.” So I'm a big fan of that. How about any big lessons that you've learned along the way. Was there any lesson that stood out and said you know maybe it wasn't even an easy lesson to learn, but you know like I'm glad I know that now.

20:33 (Chelsea shares the lessons that she learned along the way.)

Chelsea: Yes. So there were a couple you know off the top of my head. I think enjoying the journey was definitely something I had to learn. You know I was all about you know I'll be happy when and I'm going to, when I'm here, I'm going to be happy like bringing a lot of that, putting a lot of the ideas of happiness and success into the future, not really looking at what I was actually accomplishing. Everything was you know some, some day this and someday that, and I even got that when I went into, I did some network marketing, and they talked about delayed gratification, and I think delayed gratification is the biggest scam out there you know, and it's just this idea that's been propagated, and I've always, I had to actually teach myself. I bought a necklace that said the journey is everything, and I quilt a plaque on my wall, and I had to remind myself it was like a whole process of working myself out of that mindset, but I became a much happier person for it.

Steve: Yes, I think that's a very good secret to life. The journey in fact is the point of what we're doing here, right? We're all you know on a quest to that you know six feet under destination, and regardless of you know is there afterlife or not afterlife or am I going to be reincarnated as a butterfly, whatever it is, on this earth, we got one destination. We may as well enjoy that journey, and too often, all of us and myself included, we get tied up in that day-to-day, almost like . . . it's like a compression chamber, right? It just keeps pushing in and pushing in, and you know and sometimes that's the normal that we're willing to accept, and so I think your advice is very, very wise to say, “You know what, let's just take a minute and enjoy what we're doing.” And as I have defined in my past you know talking about how to find your why, eliminating the things that you don't like is the first step into getting to what you do like. There's things all of us are doing every day. In fact, I was doing a list late yesterday of some of the things I'm going to get rid of, maybe their businesses, maybe their responsibilities, but I'm going to take these off the list because it's like this is not delivering you know any degree of happiness you know. Money doesn't make you happy, what's the point? And so, boy, you're so smart, so young. That's amazing.

Chelsea: That's great. Actually, you know you say you know getting rid of the things that you don't like that was another thing that came to mind was figuring out what you want. Sometimes what you think you want in life you know whether it's your career or possessions or lifestyle is not necessarily what you end up wanting, and so that was a lesson that I really had to learn. You know I said I wanted to be a director and I wanted to go into film. When I started directing, I actually hated it. I was much better at producing, which kind of goes in line with you know running a business, and I had to one, admit. You have to take them the time to do that thing to actually experience what that life is like to really know whether you want to do it or not. The first thing is to try a lot of things you know to figure out where are you, where your capabilities and your interests lie, and the second thing is to actually have the guts to admit it and to be humble enough to admit when that thing is not the right thing.

Steve: Well, it does take a certain amount of courage to look ourselves in the eye and go, “You know what, this thing I've been wanting for so long, not that into it after all,” right? And that particular, I don't know, decision-making process, that evaluation, internal introspection I suppose is difficult for people to get to and myself again. You know the target does change, like you, at one point you want to be a director and then realize then maybe not so much. You know all of us kind of go through those things and having the courage and being quick about it. You know maybe even as a process evaluating this more often. Is that how you carry on today? Do you look at this more often?

Chelsea: Yes. Looking at what do I want to be, what do I actually want to be doing, do I actually want to be doing that, and you know kind of if I don't and it needs to be done you know, how can I find a way to give it to someone who's actually better you know at it, then I would be even.

Steve: Yes, I think that's a very sage wisdom. How about you know along this journey you know as in the Facebook culture we live in you know beyond the you know Cuban sandwich that I'm having today that I take a picture of and make sure everybody gets a good look at, there's so many times we've just posts the coolest best things that we see out there, and this creates kind of a culture of everything's always great, but was there ever a time where things weren't so great or you wanted to kind of give up on whatever the project of the day was? You know any time that you just kind of hit the wall and you're like, “I'm out.”

25:38 (Chelsea shares the time she almost gave up.)

Chelsea: Yes, there was a particular time, and I feel like I didn't ever have a real job up until this point. I had worked for my mom a lot so teaching kids at her school, and then I had you know I had film. So I did film work, and that really wasn't making me happy, and so I walked away from that, and then I was doing network marketing. And there came a time where I had to go back and get a real job, and I went into the accounting. And it was going back to something that had, I always worked at this company off and on you know. First I did you know when I was a teenager. I did filing for them, and I did assistant work,but I was always kind of running away from it, and it was finally like you know, I have to go back you know. The savings have run out you know. I have these taxes I have to pay.

Steve: Oh, pesky taxes. Oh no!

Chelsea: Yes, and so you know so was one of those things works like, “Okay, it's now time to admit that you have to be a grown-up and you have to get a job.” So I went back to this job, and I stayed there for 4 years, but it was the first time that I had always told myself you know I was going to accomplish big things, I was going to have you know be able to make a lot of money. I had all these goals you know like all of us pretty much do. And it got to the point where I was like you know what maybe everybody's right, maybe life is just hard, and maybe you know this is the way it is, maybe I can you know finally admit, maybe I'm not special, and you know the magic isn't going to happen. And it was that first time, I think it was twenty-five years old, the first time you know from running away from this thing and chasing, I was always chasing some big goal, and it was the first time that I stopped. Everything, every situation I was in was okay even if I had a job. It was okay because it wasn't the thing I was really doing. I had this other thing that what I was planning, this other everything that I was building the first time I stopped building something.

Steve: Fascinating! And how did you feel during that time because it sounds like it took an actual step back to you know instead of the I'm doing this thing on my own, I'm going to go be an accountant for this company. How did you feel?

Chelsea: It was pretty disheartening. Yes, it was . . . I had never not had a plan. I had never you know but everything I had tried had kind of fallen through, and I didn't really have the energy to try something else. So it was one of these you know, it took me a couple of years of going through that, to really figure out what the next thing was going to be, and then I actually ended up getting back into writing a couple years into it, getting back into writing, and that was the only thing that kept me going. And there is a network marketing. There was this one speaker who always used to say, “Good is the enemy of great.” You know when you're good, you know when you're bad you know that you got to get out of that situation, and for me that was that. So I did as much writing, and I did a thousand words per day, every single day because I was trying to get up in that bad situation, and so I was the most creative writing-wise because of that. Now that I am in a good situation, I don't really see much writing.

Steve: Well, it's funny how those things change, and I really appreciate you the fact that you are able to share that with us because so many Awesomers out there, they really do find themselves in a position they don't want to be unnecessarily, and in many cases, they can become quite hopeless, right? There may have been a time even during that course that two years that you know like if you never started writing, you could still be sitting in a cubicle doing accounting.

Chelsea: Yes.

Steve: Right? But you decided, “No, I got to do something. I got to push myself a little bit,” and that writing then was your bridge to the next thing, which just turned out pretty well. You got a nice little story there. So I really like that, and you know I kind of empathize with it because I understand where you're coming from. How about a best day? You know from kind of the beginning to now, was there a day that you just looked back and said, “Wow! This is a victory lap time, I got a high-five myself for everybody around me. Tell us about the best day.

30:03 (Chelsea talks about some of the best days in her life.)

Chelsea: Yes. Two days come to mind. I would say first off was you know speaking at the amazing summit last year. That was you know one of my prouder moments. I you know did the amazing selling machine course, and Ari always wants to meet the people. If we see a celebrity, he wants to go up and meet them. If we see you know whoever, he always wants to go up and meet, and I'm always like no. You know I am a little bit more shy about that, and I tell him I don't want to meet you know Matt and Jason who built the course. I don't want to meet Matt and Jason and tell him at a little bit higher level like I'd actually accomplished something. He had made one sale, one-two sales at that point. And so it was kind of one of these full circle moments of you know I was watching on stage, now it's like, “I’m going to be on that stage one day.” And that's going to be really cool to finally actually you know being there and getting a really great response that I did. And I still get people you know coming up to me and telling me that their conversions have increased from that specific training, that their conversions have doubled or even better which is great because you know that's something more you see the impact of it even you know a year later. You know seeing people at events and they come up and tell me so that was been a really cool experience.

Steve: Certainly would be. And I suppose there's probably people in the audience where the husband or wife's pushing, “Hey, go meet Chelsea.” Like, “No, I can't meet Chelsea.” So it has come full circle believe me. But I really do like the fact that you know that first event that you went to what you're just joining, you just started even though you're moving very rapidly that you are like you know that looks fun, that looks interesting, and then you had the chance to see that come to life, and now here, a year later, maybe a little more than a year, you've been able to see the results of that, which is I'm sure quite satisfying, yes?

Chelsea: Yes, definitely.

Steve: You mentioned two days. So that was one. Did you have another one in mind?

Chelsea: Yes. The other one was short and sweet. We had last year, mysteriously, we had a really big sales day, and I think it was like December . . . in mid-December, and we couldn't figure out where the sales just kind of like went crazy and like you know like three-four times what we were used to or better, and we couldn't figure it out. We checked. We made sure that we didn't have any coupons where people were actually you know getting a real big discount on our product, and you know Ari was freaking out, and I was like okay, you know we've checked everything. Like it's just something good had to happen. Like you know we had had a couple of different things that we had dealt with earlier. You know the third quarter wasn't as good as we want it to be. It’s like just like embrace it. It's good. So there was that mystery you know sales day. And then our assistant was talking on the phone to one of our customers, and she like, “Oh yes. You know I saw spiralizer. It's on Today Show.” We sell spiralizer. Everybody knows we sell spiralizers, and so I was like, “Okay, that's great.” So I was like, “Wait a minute. Our competitors did not get the same spike in sales, so they didn't talk about spiralizers. They talked about our spiralizers.” And so we have this little clip, and you know we're able to . . . but it was just really cool they just found us. You know they just happen to find us. We got reviewed by a big you know reviews website, and then they pulled all of their Christmas promotions from that reviews website, and so they featured us during the Christmas holiday. And so that was really cool, just to be kind of recognized as you know more, one of the mainstream versions you know just from it you know an Amazon-based business you know, and I think that's what's really cool is that you've got these Amazon-based brands that are now becoming more recognizable. It just shows you that you don't have to start with you know a huge budget. You don't have to be Coca-Cola to really build a solid business.

Steve: No doubt. Well, what a great brand story to know that the work you know got you on whatever that review site was, and then you know the Today Show, you know national broadcast was able to pick up that review, and you know they did all the due diligence, right? They went to the review site or whatever, The diligence is done, and they feature you without you know, it's very organic. It was real, and that is a you know such a great thing, and that is actually a testament to your ability to build a brand. Sometimes I rant about this idea that you know I don't like the name private label because it implies that we just went to the big trade show on the sky, and we found some generic thing, and we stuck our label on it, and now we have a brand. But that's not really what it is as you well know. You guys have differentiated. You've iterated. You’ve made your product your own and special, and that has to be shown through the brand marketing. But the testament or the proof of concept is the fact that Today Show said, “Yes, this is the one you should look at.” And it sounds like it was a nice surprise. That's one of those lightning bolts that are nice.

Chelsea: Yes.

Steve: Yes. That is a very fascinating one. Well, we're going to take a quick break. When we come back, I'm going to ask you to share your favorite tool maybe that helps your business today, and then we're going to talk a little bit about the future. We're going to do that right after this.


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Steve: Okay, we're back, everybody, Steve Simonson’s Awesomers.com podcast, and I'm here today with Chelsea Cohen. And we've talked about all kinds of fun things and quite a lot of good takeaways so far, but one of the things I like to get especially from somebody who's so tuned in to the environment and the online space as you are, E-commerce in general, do you have a tool or resource, something that you use day-to-day that you think has really improved the quality of your life or your business efficiency? What have you?

37:04 (Chelsea talks about the tools/resources she use in improving her business.)

Chelsea: Yes. We have been focusing on our business in building our team and really trying to get our systems in better because the better our systems are in, the more smoothly our business runs and the less we work we have to do in it. So that's been kind of our goal is you know identifying good performers and building that out, and then in terms of running it, there's a few tools that we're using. We use a sauna, and we use a. . . there are a couple of tools that I find a lot of people haven't heard of that I get really excited about in kind of a nerdy way. One of them is called Airtable. I use the free version. And essentially, air table is like a spreadsheet on crack.

Steve: I enjoy crack, and I enjoy spreadsheet. Sounds really good! Carry on!

Chelsea: So basically you can put images in there, you can put formulas, but you can also sort it. You can group the things based on the various different columns. There are so many different kind of functionalities to it. You can you can pull things from one tab to the others, so if you've got all of your data on your cost of goods and shipping, you can pull it from that one tab of the spreadsheet and move it into the other, and so it only have to update in one area. But there's just a lot of different ways that we're using it. You can create a form and send the form to someone, and then all the data imports into the spreadsheet. So we use that for managing our teams on a daily basis for our copywriting, for our listing optimization. So that's been very helpful. We also use it to track various different things, like cost of goods and inventory and stuff like that. So that's Airtable. And the other one is called Process Street, process.st. And that's basically an SOP software. We've been looking for ways to run our programs and run our systems. You know kind of one of the things that we're used to, we call them routing forms. Essentially, it's a step-by-step checklist of things that have to be done, but it goes from one person to the next, and we hadn't been able to really find that in a software form. So now it's something that's in a software form. You can also build in the training. So if you know step one says this, you can build in you know, here's the video, here's the screenshots of it, here's a subtask list to get that one done, and then that person gets all his tasks done. And the minute that he finishes his tasks, the next person on the list sends an email that his turn is up to complete the task, so you know building out for launching products that helps a lot because you've got a lot of people in there, photographers and copywriters and you know list builders. And so it really kind of organizes all of that into one place.

Steve: Yes, I like that both a couple of gems there. Now is it airtable.com so we can get that in the show notes later?

Chelsea: Yes. I believe it’s airtable.com.

Steve: Okay. We'll double check that and assume that's the case. But we'll pop all these things, including contacts to Chelsea's company in the show notes so everybody can find these and get a quick access. A lot of good stuff in there. But I want to have you get out your crystal ball here for a minute, and you know we're dealing with you know kind of a dynamic environment, E-commerce in general but Amazon specifically. What's your vision of the future? How's Amazon going to change in the next five years or E-commerce, whichever you prefer to speak on?

41:08 (Chelsea talks about the future of Amazon.)

Chelsea: I mean one of the things that I've seen in terms of Amazon that I've been paying attention to were also in the grocery category. The things that Amazon has been doing recently have made it apparent that they are really looking to take over that space, so I think it's a great place to get into. Some of the things are buying up Whole Foods. They have their own curated gourmet website called Wickedly Prime. They sent out mailers. I got like a little tea bag you know in promotion for this. And they have you know Amazon fresh in some cities. And then the other thing is that for anyone who has products $15 or less, they actually cut their commission in half, so they're really, really trying to entice people to sell in the lower price gourmet category for Amazon. So I think that we're going to see more and more rolling out, them really starting to put, to get their hands on the grocery category. There's a lot of money to be made, and they're trying to kind of scoop it up. So there's that. And I also think that Amazon's going to try to take a lot of these softwares that are coming out. They're trying to make their own versions. I don't think they're going to do very well. None of the stuff that they have produced has in terms of the softwares to support Amazon service. It's really done all that well, and no one seems to be adopting them. But I think you know kind of, I went to the boost event and some of the things that I was hearing, it just sounds like more and more they're trying to make things better for sellers. Hopefully, you know they will improve, but I think that's something that we will be seeing. It's more and more them trying to take back the automations from the SAS builders.

Steve: Yes. So in some ways, it's like the SAS builders wouldn't have to build it if Amazon had it and it was working, right? So it was built out of necessity. Do you have an example of one that they have available or is eminently available that you think is probably not as good as the other markets out there or the other service providers?

Chelsea: I mean they've always had inventory you know alerts inventory management, but you know as you know we as sellers usually have inventory off-site, so anything not you know having to do with Amazon, it's not going to service us to you know the degree that it actually needs to. They're never going to interface with you know these other platforms you know. So that itself is not going to work. I am interested in . . . they've got a couple of things. They've got this new thing called Voice of the Customer. It's supposed to give you more insights on why people might be returning your products. But I don't think it gives you enough data. It's not complete. But these things they're putting out there, you know suppliers are giving you access to your suppliers being able to print their own labels which I think is one of the more interesting and helpful in terms of the things that they're rolling out. So that's something that we're starting to beta tests. That you don't have to print the labels. Your supplier can print labels for himself straight through the Amazon interface.

Steve: Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, the supplier would have their own login or whatever.

Chelsea: But it also makes me nervous because AmazonBasics comes out, and then they have all your supplier data. So that's just something to think about when you go to you know adopting something like that.

Steve: Yes, I think that's a fair point in my own opinion of that because I've had these kind of conversations with sellers for a long time where you know when you're shipping in you know directly from your supplier and FBA, they know your supplier data because it's on the you know bill of lading. It's on the shipping documentation. I don't think that Amazon is well enough coordinated today to actually put that information into effect, and also they have quite sophisticated resources when it comes to sourcing. I know guys who are running around and they're sourcing you know fifty to one hundred products at a time for some of Amazon's private label brands. They can do it you know in a very significant way to make the AmazonBasics or you know whatever the brand happens to be. So your point about that of course is you know there's some threat coming from Amazon's own brands, yet there's some opportunity as a result of Amazon picking up things, like Whole Foods.

Chelsea: Yes.

Steve: Which I think is probably how always the truth is, right? Yes, there's some threat to the left, but there's an opportunity to right or you know how we like to view it. I definitely . . . so for those out there in the grocery category, there's a new platform that helps connect you to buyers and take out some of the distribution and some of the other layers and actually get you access to big, wholesale accounts that are in the grocery category. And I don't have it off top of my head, but if anybody's interested, they can just go to Awesomers.com/contact, and we can try to connect them because this is a way to make a pitch or make a presentation to big boxes or some of the larger wholesale entities if you're in that space of consumables and food and things that would typically be found in a grocery store for example. They don't have to be perishables per se, just something in the grocery store. And that could really help open up additional channels. I'm curious. So I agree and salute you for having your own warehouse and having to keep track of that. What led you to that conclusion that you should also have you know your own third-party logistics or your own warehouse under your control?

Chelsea: We don’t own our own warehouse. A friend of ours has a warehouse that we use, but it was really Amazon’s fees going up. You know they're fees and wanting to you know especially you know by the time you know fourth quarter comes around you need to have your inventory and the fees go up, so keeping the storage costs down and then having a cushion so that you know you can kind of minimize running out of inventory. Those were really the main reasons to get a third-party warehouse, and you know we ship things into Amazon on a you know monthly basis and keep excess inventory off-site.

Steve: Yes. I think that's really smart. You know I've been railing on this for the last couple of years because I think that Amazon’s sellers are . . . the easy button is just so simple to just like, “I'll just send it all to Amazon, and then they have it, and then if I have a big sales day, it sells, and everybody's happy.” And all that's true to an extent, but it comes at a cost. And the costs are increasing, extraordinarily increasing over time. And so you know not just the day-to-day handling and storage and inbound cost so forth but those long-term storage fees if something is not moving as fast as you wanted to can really . . . they can really destroy your margins, and so having a just-in-:time inventory, the JIT philosophy, is something again that you know obvious of course for you know a couple decades, but it's something that even the smaller Amazon players should really think about using a third-party warehouse to stage their inventory. We call it a staging warehouse. Some of them are just storage, like the big bulk storage, and then some are staging where you ship in weekly or biweekly or monthly as you mentioned. All of these are really good strategies for optimizing revenue and efficiency in profit. You know for every dollar you save in long-term stories that goes right to the bottom line. You don't have to make one more dollar in sales. That's pure profit, and it sounds like you guys understand that very well.

49:03 (Chelsea talks about how she got rid of the things that are not profitable in her business.)

Chelsea: Yes. I mean we sell products that are you know between fifteen and twenty dollars you know, some even lower. So we have to pay attention to all of that because any little thing you know you got to sponsor that’s not performing you know well, and you know that starts cutting into your profit, and that's something we've been cutting down, our sponsored ads. It's you know . . . anything that's not you know profitable, you got to get rid of it.

Steve: Yes. I think having a strategy on how you want to deploy your ad and marketing resources is very important. I'm curious, for you guys, do you manage your responsive products yourselves or do you have somebody else do it? How do you take on that challenge?

Chelsea: Yes. I manage them, ourselves. We've outsourced before, and the agency that we use just spend a bunch of our money. So you know they kept sell but look at the ad spend is going up, and I'm like, “That doesn't . . .” Their markers are very different than our markers. Mine was profitability. So we have outsourced it. I've taken it back in-house and just kind of cut a lot off. I'm starting to look at you know using you know some software. I've tried. Some of them haven't really worked out, so I'm trying a new one. I'm not necessarily going to name it here because I haven't really tested it out. If you can find a software that will really analyze those search terms reports, that's really what I am working on getting in now because it takes forever, and then you don't do it as often as you should.

Steve: Yes, I think that's kind of that . . . the double-edged sword. Yes, you have control, but yes, you're responsible, and so by leveraging the technology, I think it's a good strategy. And we're going to have a guest on here in the coming days that will talk about his solution, how he developed it. Once again it was their entrepreneur who had the problem that needed solve for him, and then he's been able to deploy this as a resource that everybody else can use. But it is a delicate balance, and I will just tell you, I'm going to predict some of your future if you don't mind, Chelsea, so just relax. So all of us have gone through this process where we've outsourced it and the agency didn't deliver what we wanted, and sometimes it was on them, and sometimes it was on us and sometimes both. But in general, if you're really going to do it at scale, you want to find experts, and you want to find somebody, so even if you bring that person in-house for you, and by the way, there are very easy ways to hire somebody who's you know a sponsored-products person. They could be on your team, and they can keep weekly track of it, or you know you can hire them on a part-time basis. Maybe they work for you 5-10 hours a week. So these resources exists and bring them on your team or to use an outsourced person, but for most people when you scale, you're going to really have to have that specialization because you as the you know expert and the top dog, you're just not going to have enough time to filter through that stuff forever. So comes some point where you're like, “You know what, here's the system. It's good enough. We'll meet on it weekly so you can show me your key metrics.” And in this case, key performance indicators, KPIs as people like to call them, include things like the ACoS ratio, right? Pretty obvious. What's the ACoS that you personally find attractive? Is it five percent? Is it 20 percent, depends on your margin of course, and it depends on your strategy, right? If your strategy is “I'm all about growth. I want to capture market share,” then you're willing to spend more you know as a percentage of ACoS. But you should also, and I highly recommend people do this, if you don't know your individual profitability by item, including any ad spend, any marketing spend, that also includes, by the way, any giveaways, any promotions, any broken units or destroyed damaged units, returns, etc. If you guys don't know that, and this is not directed specifically to Chelsea but any Awesomers out there, if you don't know your line by line, product by product profitability, you're really just shooting in the dark. And every decision you make is based on instinct, and as good as our instincts are, they're not perfect. They're certainly not infallible. Use data. And so my expectation is, once you kind of get a sense of it and you feel like you got it under control, you'll probably find a way to get somebody else to manage that day-to-day, and that you'll establish those KPIs as guardrails, and then you'll manage them on a kind of a you know weekly or bi-weekly basis to make sure they're delivered on your numbers. What do you think?

Chelsea: Yes. I definitely agree with that. I’m looking forward to that. And I think that you really said it in terms of knowing you gotta know what you want before you can outsource it you know. And that's kind of what we're doing right now. You know we're figuring out you know what do we need to see? What you know makes the most sense? The strategy does change you know from whether you've got a product that you're maintaining or you're launching a product, and so really getting those you know standard procedures kind of down and documented so that we can get this offloaded. We've got other things that we've started offloading, but this is one of those things. When it comes to the money stuff, you know you really got to have that done. You can't just let it you know let it go to someone who without keeping your eyes on it.

Steve: Yes, that's quite right. The concept of delegation versus abdication is simply talk about regularly, and that you know just saying, “I don't like doing this. Somebody take it over.” That's a recipe for disaster, and by the way, agencies . . . we've had agencies that did great jobs for us, and we have agencies that were just like a mystery. We don't know what they were doing. We just paid huge invoices to them, and our economics you know got worse over time. So it can go either way. But fundamentally, even with an agency, it comes down to managing them versus abdicating them, right? Delegating. Here's what I expect. Here's your budget for spend. Here's what my ACoS ratio. Here's what my contributing . . . margin should be very tight. All of those little details that you guys probably know now will be instructive for them in the future, and then every week or every two weeks, you make sure that they're reporting on those and make sure that the numbers hold up.

Chelsea. Yes.

Steve: Because when it works, the sky's the limit, right? You don't mind spending as long as its profitable spend. That's . . . we're all thrilled about that. Well, this has been very helpful to me, and it's been fun to catch up and learn a little bit more about your background. I wondered if you have any final words of wisdom for the Awesomers out there?

55:32 (Chelsea imparts final words of wisdom to Awesomers.)

Chelsea: Let’s see . . . final words of wisdom. Yes. Tenacity is really what it’s going to take to you know to get to where you want to be you know. For me, living you know a regular life was not an option. So you know even if whatever you're doing at the time is not working, you know I could have given up and just stuck to accounting the rest of my life, but you know it was trying you know multiple things, trying so many things, and my cousin actually told me you know that he had seen me do all of these things and fail at all of these things and then see me succeed and it was very you know encouraging, and I was like, “It's encouraging to me too.” But that's really what it takes. Just knowing that you know that the end of your story is going to be a good one, and so you just keep moving forward and be aggressive you know. We've seen a lot of people. We've coached a lot of people, and really the people who have made it have been the ones who stuck to it and had a positive attitude and a positive outlook, and the people that you know really kind of didn't were the ones who were negative and who always we're looking for excuses and people to blame. And so honestly, the best advice that I could probably give would be that it's all about your mindset in the way that you look at things. Even when something bad happens, my perspective is you know that it's going to pass, that we're going to get out fine, and it's going to be okay, and it's going to slip into our favor you know. And a lot of times now just having that sentiment, it actually does.

Steve: Yes, that's really sage wisdom, very good advice. Give me the elevator pitch on Badass Business Builders.

57:14 (Chelsea explains what they do in Badass Business Builders.)

Chelsea: Okay, Badass Business Builders essentially started as a website because we got a bunch of questions coming in about Amazon and then the Amazon business, and so we wanted to continue to help people, but we also needed to have a life and run our business. So we started taking those main major questions and filming training videos to answer those questions. We threw them up on a website that is a free website where basically you can sign in and watch those videos. And so that's how it started. And then beginning of the year, we started doing, listing optimization reports and copywriting where essentially we find out what is a . . . what are the things in your listing that are making it so that your sales or you know your traffic or your conversion is less than what it should be and help you to get it to a position where you're making more sales.

Steve: I love it. Yes, so if you want to figure out how to take your business on Amazon level up a bit, definitely you're going to have to take a look at badassbusinessbuilders.com, and we'll have those links . . .

Chelsea: .org

Steve: Fair enough. Maybe it's .gov. I don't know, but yes, badassbusinessbuilders.org.

Chelsea: Yes.

Steve: Okay, good. So we'll make sure we get that in the show notes as well. So thank you again, Chelsea. It's been a great pleasure to have you on Awesomers today.

Chelsea: Thank you so much.

Steven: It's always fun to hang out with Awesomers and hear their origin story, and for those Awesomers at home listening, we'll be right back after this.

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Steve: Oh yes! You know one of the things that I really enjoy about Chelsea is the fact that she legitimately wants to help other people succeed and that's fulfilling and satisfying for her. And I certainly understand that and identify with that and have great respect and admiration for it. It's not corny. It's not something that people should go, “Oh, that's not really the case.” It's a true authentic and genuine thing that is emanating for Chelsea and her husband, Ari, as well. They are great people and great entrepreneurs, and it's a great honor to be able to have somebody who's so focused on not just achieving and building her own business but also helping others around them. And as you guys know, I love it when entrepreneurs help each other because we can get better, faster, and smarter together. And that's really part of the point of this podcast. Now this has been episode number 63 of the Awesomers.com podcast series, and I hope you've enjoyed it. I certainly have. And I'm always just you know really honored and thrilled when you guys join us for this journey, and I hope that we'll see you on the next episode as well.

Well, we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team, and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.