Ep. #1165 - Streamlining Your Processes on Amazon
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle features Andrew Morgans and three-time guest Vanessa Hung, Founder & CEO of Online Seller Solutions. They talk about streamlining the processes on Amazon. Listen to Andrew and Vanessa extensively discuss growth and lean modes and how to navigate them. They also discuss the importance of examining where your business is growing, gaining momentum, and knowing the cost of growth.
Covered In This Episode
Selling on Amazon is a complex process, and sustainable growth can be elusive. Online Seller Solutions helps streamline your processes on Amazon by turning inward.
Listen to Amazon experts Andrew Morgans and Vanessa Hung exchange insights on navigating growth and lean modes as a seller. They discuss practical examples of growth, the cost of always being in growth mode, and gaining momentum during growth mode. Vanessa points out the importance of stopping to see where the business is going to avoid stalling. They also discuss the challenges of running a team, using decision journals and AI, and more.
Streamline your growth on Amazon now by joining the conversation in this Startup Hustle episode.
- Who is Vanessa Hung, and what does she do? (2:28)
- Navigating growth and lean modes (12:06)
- The cost of growth (18:12)
- You’re always in growth mode (23:03)
- Practical examples of growth (26:24)
- The importance of taking the time to see where the business is going (29:44)
- Gaining momentum during growth mode (34:39)
- Decision journal and using AI (40:24)
- Running a team is highly complex (45:48)
- What is Vanessa working on both professionally and personally this year (49:06)
- Where to contact Vanessa (51:48)
- Vanessa’s speaking engagements (52:54)
As a brand and as an agency, I really think that we need to ask ourselves, is this growth worth it? Is this cost low enough to justify the pain because growth is painful. And I like it. And that’s what gives you the evolution mode, and you become a better human and a better leader, and a better team member, partner, whatever. But sometimes, it takes too much out of you. And when you go to the other side of the growth, it’s like, oh, all this pain for this, was it really worth it?– Vanessa Hung
One thing that I am very, very afraid of as an individual, as a person, but also as a leader is making bad decisions and not being able to get out of it. Because sometimes bad decisions… [have] ripple effects. Like, one thing then gets you in a bad mood, and then it gets you in a bad mood with the team. And then your team is frustrated. And if your team’s frustrated, then their work is bad, then nobody hires you.– Vanessa Hung
Building a business, being an entrepreneur, this stuff is not easy…You’ve got humans in your business. You’re not just software. You’ve got real people to think about with real problems, real families, real lovers, real partners, real needs, you know, it adds complexity to everything you’re doing. So for me, it just starts down to having relationships with the team and with vendors and getting back to the basics of what those are, talking to them, and then making decisions around those conversations.– Andrew Morgans
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 00:01
What’s up Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans founder of Markology here as today’s host of Startup Hustle, covering all things E-com, Amazon marketplaces, entrepreneurship, you name it. Today we’re going to be talking about streamlining your processes on Amazon, both as a seller and as an agency. Today’s guest is, is no stranger to the show. This is her third time on the show. And before I introduce her, a shout out to our sponsor for today’s episode, hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Like I mentioned, she’s already been on the show several times. Vanessa Hung, welcome back.
Vanessa Hung 00:43
Thank you, Drew. Excited to be here again. I think this is where one of the podcasts that I liked the most because we have that flexibility on talking entrepreneurship more than, like, what to do on Amazon, give me a step-by-step, everybody wants their good content. And today, when I was getting to the office, I was driving to the office, I was like thinking about this conversation. And I thought, the podcasts, in my experience, that have been the most impactful in my life and in my career were not the ones that were tactical. They were the ones that taught me how to think. And I hope that we can have a conversation that teach people how to think about processes, about business, especially if they’re on Amazon because that’s our specialty. I know that you do a lot more. But that’s definitely my my sign of genius. So yeah, I’m excited.
Andrew Morgans 01:46
Thank you. I’m super excited to have you back in. Before we clicked record, I think we could have been talking an hour before we even went live. So we had to start the show somewhere. It’s always good to catch up and hear what’s happening. You know, firstly was Fort Lauderdale. Now you’re in Salt Lake and I think, moving soon again to Texas. So I’m gonna share all of that news, but you’re always on the go. And it’s good to connect with you even virtually, I think it’d be great for any of our listeners who might not have heard, you know, your first couple of episodes on the show. Just give a quick, you know, intro of who you are, you know, your agency, what you’re doing and working on. So people can kind of know where you’re coming from.
Vanessa Hung 02:28
Perfect. So I am the CEO and founder of Online Seller Solutions. And that’s an agency that helps sellers streamline their issues and processes in the backend of Amazon. So we take care of the operation part. That’s why, like, my specialty I said is the unsexy stuff of Amazon and answers the unsexy stuff of the platform. So all of the processes, how to deal with the platform, when the algorithm changes the systems and implementing those things that when you think about launching a brand, or launching a product on Amazon, that’s not the first thing that you’re thinking about, like, you’re thinking about product, branding, brand, advertising, awareness, all of that. We do everything else that supports that machine. So like the in on the infrastructure, the backend stuff. Also, I am community ambassador for Carbon6. So Carbon6 is an ecosystem of tools to that support sellers, online sellers, to get them closer to success. So we have a suite of multiple tools that help in specific areas of the business. So think about inventory management, about advertising outside of Amazon, let’s say Google, TikTok, Instagram, you know, all of the Meta products. Also inside of Amazon, like, PPC advertising on Amazon. We have alert, we have keyword research. We have reimbursements. So it is amazing because at the beginning and I got to Carbon6 a year and something ago. And I remember the idea of having something connected and having an ecosystem was nice. And we were, like, oh, well, I think that could change the game for a bunch of people in this space. But it was like our goal. Right now it’s reality. And we are closer and closer to provide an experience that people can go to go, like, their one-time stop, and they can get all of the support that they need. And in that I’m building or I’m leading a project with the team. I’m not doing this myself, but we have an amazing team of a bunch of talented people. And we’re building the most comprehensive audit that the industry has. And its goal, the profitability audit and then we’re gonna have a second stage, which is the performance audit. So basically you plug in your brand and your plug in your business, and we’re going to tell you how much money and how inefficient you are. That’s something that not a lot of people are doing. And most agency stuff for service like that focuses more on performance, rather than profitability. So we’re there telling them, like, Okay, this is where you’re missing money or losing money in your bottom line. And, and in the performance side, we’re telling them, like, what is that they can improve to grow their their top line. So those things keep me busy. But my favorite project today that I’m working on is boot camp. So I’m creating an education program for people to learn what I like to do, which is the backend management of an Amazon seller central account. And I made that promise to myself six years ago, when I got into the space. And I said, I am going to teach people. And I think I’ve been doing that going to events. And you know, during public speaking and through my social media, where I am extremely active posting all of the content that one should have. But this is like an extra level. And I’m excited, I’m testing things. I’m seeing people like it. And yeah, fulfilling that promise is probably the thing that I’m the most proud of right now. It’s just, it’s just cool to see that something that you thought about, like, six years ago, it’s coming to life now.
Andrew Morgans 06:35
No, I think that’s amazing. And there’s a whole lot of other things you’re doing too. You know, what came to my mind when you talked about that promise was? You’re still, Are you still a host in Spanish? Okay. So when I met Vanessa, we actually met in Miami, and she was part of wizards of E-com doing the Spanish. The Spanish events, podcast, yeah. So we’ll have to pick that up another time. Because I still think that’s a, you know, a big area of opportunity. I know you’re still involved there. But that’s great. And I honestly, really resonated when you were talking about an audit of profitability. I recently did a webinar with Mina. And we we broke down a client that was tanking and profitability kind of live on the show, and really just went into, like, you know, how we turned it around in 30 days, and what we were looking at, and, you know, very tactical in that regard. It’s kind of like a boot camp. But I think that that’s the most important area of Amazon, you know, as an agency owner, I realized quickly that I could grow sales performance wise for brands and businesses and Amazon sellers all day. But if they were not aware of their numbers of their profitability, of their expenses, of where they’re, they’re losing money, or could be better or more efficient, it’s only a matter of time until that client realizes, you know, exactly where they are positioned. And, you know, in in services with us, so, as an agency owner, I’m always thinking about, well, one, I just like doing the right thing. Okay, two, that’s meanings having a profitable business. But number two, is I need to help these sellers, these brands really understand their their numbers on Amazon. And, and it starts with profitability. We don’t even work with brands now where we don’t have that, that look into their profitability. There’s just no way we can really, truly give them good advice or help them navigate the challenges that are on Amazon with things changing without that. So I love to hear that that’s coming from Carbon6 as as listeners to the show know, you know, I was privileged to have Justin Cobb tell his story of why, you know, he founded Carbon6, and why Carbon6 is here in the marketplace, and kind of the, hey, we’re here, ecommerce, Amazon world, we’re here and we’re going to do some big things. I think that was over a year ago. And so today to see what they’re doing is, is really awesome. So I know you’re working on the bootcamp, you know, for teaching people even at a higher level, what goes into like streamlining your processes and flat files and the backend catalog and all those things. You know, before the show started, we started talking about, you know, entrepreneurship and being an agency owner, and this difference between, like, growth mode and lean mode, and it’s something that I talk about all the time, people can call it different things. But for me, it’s this period of, like, just, you know, when you’re running, I don’t know if anyone’s a runner on the show, but like when you’re running downhill, and you’re going as fast as you can, and it starts to feel like your feet just can’t keep up. Like you’re just, like, I don’t even know if I’m moving my legs. They’re just like going and it’s just, like, I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to keep up or if I’m gonna fall down flat on my face. And it says we’re just in between of going maybe faster than you’ve ever gone before and feeling uncomfortable with it. And I think that can happen a lot of times in an Amazon business, sure. But as an agency that runs Amazon businesses, a machine built to run Amazon brands and businesses. You know, there’s this period of, like, is this going to end? When do I get into lean mode? And how to get your mindset right for those different modes? I know, for us, you can’t be half on the fence all the time. You can’t be having, you know, an Amazon brand comes in, you’re like, Okay, what are our goals? Like, what are your KPIs? What do you really want to achieve working with Marknology? You know, on Amazon, they’ll be like, well, I want to grow sales and get more profitable and lower returns. And, you know, they pick like, you know, the Holy Grail. And it’s, and I oftentimes have to tell them, Well, that’s, that’s great in theory, but in actuality, what I believe is more productive. And a better way to focus our time is to be all in on growth, or all in on on leaning and optimizing. And so, a lot of times, if you’re growing at a fast speed, there is a lot of wastes, there’s just a lot of wastes. Because you’re not nitpicking every little thing, you’re making decisions quickly. You’re hiring and firing, you’re saying yes to things because you don’t have three weeks to analyze them. And you’re just moving as fast as you can. And so to be doing things like that, and then to overanalyze all of your decisions, like you are in a lean mode or looking to clean things up, it’s just not very productive. I want to pass it back to you with this question, like, talking about the bootcamp and the workshop and your team. I would say that you guys are definitely in a growth mode right now with this new initiative. And, you know, how is that sitting well, with the team, how do you feel in those moments? Like, is it something that you tell them, there’s light at the end of the tunnel? You know, how do you navigate that with your agency?
Vanessa Hung 12:06
Yeah, so I had a conversation, I was telling you this before we started, I had a conversation with my team yesterday, and they were, like, we’re drowning? FYI, we’re drowning. And I’m, like, yeah, I know. I’m very aware, everybody’s drowning. But we are in a position and I was giving this analogy is, like, we are in the ocean, and we’re drowning. But if we don’t keep swimming, the sharks will eat us. It’s too late. It’s too late to say like, oh, let’s go back to the ship. There’s no ship anymore. Like, we keep swimming, or we’re gonna die. And I like that mentality in certain stages of the business. Because you need that push, you need that fire to go through things that, again, you thought about six years ago, and now you’re making it happen. I knew since since I had that thought, I knew that it was going to take a lot of resources, it was going to take a lot of time, it was going to take a lot of people. That wasn’t a surprise. But I I believe that as a as a leader, we need to be very transparent with the team saying, like, we’re gonna go into this phase. We’re gonna go into a time where work-life balance probably won’t be there, you will probably be putting in extra hours. But when we end this, there is a reward. Right? Like, and you can feel your reward. Like, I told them like, well, there’s obviously a compensation. Like, if you need a week off, you take a week off, like, there is a bunch of things, so you could do but the cool thing is that with the agency of with your own business, you have that flexibility, right? And I also think that is the responsibility of the leader to be transparent, but also, like, try not to push them or try not to keep people in that growth mode all of the time. And I think that that’s, that’s part of this hustle culture, you know, grind forever, and sweat and bleed and you know, cry, it doesn’t matter, you’re gonna grow. At one point, I realized that I don’t like that, like, I don’t think that’s sustainable. We need to stop sometimes. And, and, you know, stopping not because I don’t want to keep growing and I don’t want to keep succeeding, but sometimes been being, like, calm give you perspective in where you want to go and you mentioned something very important is like when you’re in growth mode, you’re saying yes to everything, because you don’t take three weeks to analyze it. If we are there all of the time, and we keep putting in place we keep putting stuff in our plate, then we could end up in a in a, you know, in a place where we didn’t want to go, right. So I tried to balance that in the agency. And on the other part, working on the profitability part site for brands, one thing that I realized, and this shift happened, because a lot of like the economical, you know, environment and, and everything that is happening in the world in America is selling people, it’s not as easy to borrow money anymore. So if you don’t, if you don’t take care of your cash flow, if you don’t take care of your profitability numbers, you’re not going anywhere. So I guess that in 2018, a brand could spend a million dollars just to get market share. But losing at 30%, right, like losing 30% on that. Right now that’s not possible because they don’t have that same cash flow coming in or infusion or or investments. So they cannot justify the growth at any costs. Right? So those are the things that I like to eat taught me a lot building the this profitability audit is, is asking myself the question, if I’m growing, how much is this costing me? Right? Because if I’m putting the mental health of my team, and the hours and the sweat criteria, all of it, is this worth it? Right? And that’s a question. For me and the project that we’re leading right now, it is obvious that the answer is yes. But there are some other circumstances that the costs, the damage is too high, to justify the growth, right? So as a brand and as an agency, I really think that we need to ask ourselves that, like, is this growth worth it? And is this cost in, like, low enough to justify the pain because growth is painful. And I like it. And that’s what you know, give you, like, the evolution mode, and you become a better human and a better business and a better leader and a better team member, partner, whatever, like, you need to go through those phases. But sometimes it takes too much out of you. And when you go to the other side of the growth, it’s like, oh, oh, all this pain for this, like, was it really worth it? So yeah, I’ll lead with that question. Always. And then finding the tactical things, like, what are the changes that you’re gonna do now to your business specific things like, oh, do I need to take more of my profitability? Do I need to see if the margins of the things that are coming back from Amazon are good? Like, should I make a removal? Or should I just leave it there, liquidate it make the pros not returnable? Like, what are the decisions that you’re going to take? But everything comes from that question? Like, is it worth it? Right?
Andrew Morgans 18:12
No, I love that. And beautifully said, I, couple things came to mind was, at least for me, and 2023, these modes have switched quickly. So you know, it has, you know, for me, since 2020, has been growth mode, almost a growth mode for 2020. I mean, as far as Marknology has been every year, being in growth mode, but in seasons of that 2020 2021 2022 a blitz toward e-commerce and Amazon just absolute craziness. And being one of the more experienced agencies in the space. We’ve seen a lot of different things, a lot of different problems, a lot of different brands, you know, we were in high demand. 2023 I think is really where the economy is seeing those costs of goods finally get adjusted, those shipping rates get adjust it and and it could happen overnight. So you know what, what we saw, like I was talking in that webinar, the cost of goods changed. And it was really, it happened so quickly, like two months later, is where we really saw a profitability hit. And it was because we saw like a almost 100% increase in our cost of goods on an item, it doubled. And this was not even during the pandemic with containers. This was after the fact you know, people are adjusting to inflation in the economy and things like that. And so we had to go from not even being in a crazy growth mode, but to even slow down more and be like, Okay, we have to right the ship right now we have to be in a lean mode and figure out how do we adjust, we raise prices, we negotiate with suppliers differently. Do we stop these different maybe grow things that we’re trying Google Ads, TikTok, you know different things. Like, don’t go back to the basics. You know, what are those things. And I think as you go through different growth modes and lean modes, you start to realize when it’s changing. But for me, some of the hardest part can be, you know, there’s no like, recipe or map or guide that says, you’re in a growth mode, you’re in a lean mode, you’re in a growth mode, you’re in a lean mode. So there’s always this limbo in between them when you’re like, Okay, where should I be focusing as a leader? Where should I? Is it? Okay, let’s get better as a team, let’s get our processes better our systems, our automations time for me to learn and just improve what I have? Or should I be out there hunting new business, new employees, new vendors, new partners, and there’s no one telling telling you that and then, you know, if you’re just following, if you’re following what everyone else is doing, you’re, you’re behind, because you’re not leading the way you’re behind. So, for me, that becomes one of the hardest things is knowing. If it’s not intentional, meaning I’m not, you said, you set out, like, I’m gonna plan this workshop, I’m gonna build this bootcamp, I’m gonna do this bootcamp, we’re gonna do it, you know, you intentionally went into it. Sometimes these growth modes happen without you even intentionally saying we’re in this mode. And for me, one of my biggest stressors, as a business owner, or an agency owner has been to not overwhelm the team, like our, our, and I say overwhelm as in like, they can only sustain growth mode so long. And, you know, but how do you get out of that, while you’re like, Well, when we get this in place, and this in place, and this in place in this account manager gets trained, and then we get rid of these bad clients that take up a lot of your time and this, like, maybe we’ll have for air, you know, we can get some air and get some rest. But there’s not always just an easy like a date that says like, okay, August 1st, we’re going to have the bootcamp and it’s going to be done. And you know, we’re going to live or die on August 1st with that boot camp. And so I run a lot of the sales here at Marknology. And I think a lot of times the sales team that pushes growth, and the account team that that manages and has to execute, can be misaligned at a lot of companies. And so one thing I’ve tried really hard to do to be aware of that when I need to switch modes, is just staying super plugged in to the people doing the work. And not just being a salesman, all the time selling, selling, selling. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. And then not communicating. It’s like the heads not communicating with the body, so to speak. So I’m in a phase right now, where I’m just bringing my communication up internally between all of the employees and my team’s like, you know, I’m trying to talk to every employee once a week. So for me, that’s, that’s a, it’s a big step. You know, it’s not so hard when there’s five of you, or ten of you, but we’re in the thirties. Now on our team, and, you know, it doesn’t have to be this long thing. But, you know, just trying to take a step from focusing on visionary stuff, and instead making sure I’m nurturing the team and making sure that everyone’s heads above water, so to speak.
Vanessa Hung 23:03
Yeah. Now that you, you set it that way, I don’t think as a as an entrepreneur, you’re ever not growing. But the growth happened in a different way. So for example, when we tell when we were talking, we said, growth mode and lean mode. I think growth mode is growing from things that happen on the outside, more opportunities, more business, more clients, more events, you know, more awareness, the lean mode is growth to happen internally. So let’s say that, when you are in lean mode, quote, unquote, you are growing your processes, your account managers get better, like, your communication gets streamlined, like, there is no waste of resources. So to us, like, is that growth, to me, it is, totally. So that’s where you said like, where is the line? Right? Where are you, when you are liking growth to the outside and growth in the inside? You never stop growing. But they focus sometimes changes from being external to internal. So how does that look for a brand? Let’s say that, you when you launched, you need to be in a growth mode, you need to be targeting the market, you need to be growing your customer list, you need to be a target social media you, need to go and doing all the advertising that you can do, right? But then when you get to that point, you need then to me to go back and say, like, okay, what are my employees doing? Can I renegotiate things with my supplier? Can I become more more profitable? I think that’s also growth because you’re growing your bottom line, not your top line. So two difference there, differences. And I think it’s very important because when I talk about it, and you know, I’m like, oh, yeah, you know, the hustle culture and you, you know, cry on until you die, and you work until you die, you never sleep, you never stop. That’s where I disagree. Because there are some times that you need to stop and look inside and start growing things inside. And those things are sometimes the most more most difficult ones. Because you can always put a higher bid on your campaigns, right? Like, you can always acquire a customer for $1,000. And that’s amazing. But how can you make your employee more efficient? That’s hard. Right? But it’s growth. So yeah, reflected into that. And if if you’re saying, okay, the external, the external growth, how much is that costing me? Like, how much am I am I neglecting for things that are outside and, and growing outside is sometimes the most attractive thing because that’s where you see the little shiny things, right? And you lose the focus. So yeah, now that I that you set it that way, I don’t think that there is a, I don’t think you ever stopped growing until you literally are, like, you know, closing the business or going out of business. That’s the case. Like, that’s a completely different scenario. But if you’re still, like, you have that that entrepreneurship fire, you should be growing internally or externally. Both both look different.
Andrew Morgans 26:25
I love that. And before I go on to the next part, a shout out again to our sponsor, FullScale.io. Finding experts, software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io. We can build a software team quickly and affordably use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. So one thing I was thinking about is like some practice, practical examples of because we’re calling it growth and lean mode, but really, its growth external and growth internally. And, like, internally, what that can look like is instead of running Google Ads, or going to conferences as an agency owner and in sales, instead of paying for Google advertisements to grow business, or, or going to conferences, or speaking events, or things like that, and there’s nothing wrong with those, but it can look like instead spending those dollars on a coach for a certain area of your business. Or, you know, I’ve got an agency coach that’s working with me and my sisters, right now, the leadership team that we get on several calls a month, we got Slack access, where we’re getting coached on some of the areas in our business that that we’re struggling with, or we need some help. You know, I’ve got a coach in M&A, an M&A coach right now. I’m going to courses, to learn more about mergers and acquisitions and exiting a business. In case I want to sell brands that we’re building or any number of things. I’ve also got a coach, for my sales team, we’re getting coached on on outbound marketing and outbound leads, and how to nurture them and how to go out and hunt, you know, for businesses that you want to work with. So those are three practical, like, coaches that I have in my business right now. And those are dollars spent investing into the business. But it’s more of an internal growth, it’s like getting a personal coach at the gym, you know, that’s something for yourself that help you your body in mind versus, like, you know, clothing that might go on that body, right, which is like apparel or fashion. And I really like how we’ve kind of framed that. And there’s things that you can do inside your Amazon business as well. So, you know, you can be trying to spend advertising PPC, and go out there and acquire new customers and top of funnel. Or you can work on improving the things that you already have in place, like, you said, like maybe you’re getting a content refresh, or you’re bringing some talent into your team by hiring somebody that knows more than than your current team, hiring an agency to come in and work on your business. There’s a lot of ways to not just streamline but optimize and grow internally. And I think they are different. for me, the internal work can be very difficult. Like, I love it, and I love my business because it’s forced me to do that. But it’s one that doesn’t come easy. I’m very opinionated, I can be stubborn. I think about things all the time. So I have strong opinions on them when challenged. And I find it just very difficult versus going and trailblazing a new area with a machete, so to speak, and being like, oh, let’s go check this out and see what this can do for us. It is a lot easier for me than the opposite.
Vanessa Hung 29:45
Yeah. Especially because when you get out of let’s say your coaching or your training, there is no dashboard. There is no Andrew dashboard that says, like, you know what, you increase three points in your IQ, right? When you go in the growth mode is like, Oh, I have $300,000 more in my pipeline, we’re growing the business 10x, whatever, you know. And those diaries, the thing that I liked the most and what I call on Amazon, the unsexy stuff, like, the things that you still need to do in order to grow. But you don’t want to do it because they don’t look sexy. They don’t look appealing. And it’s like going, Yeah, going to a coach or having a coach is a perfect sample. Like, after being, I don’t know, six months, three months a year, getting out of that you are a completely different person, but how can you measure that? Like, how can you say, I am like five times better? Or I am, you know, so that’s probably why it’s not appealing, and why most people struggle because they don’t see obvious progress, right? So that is difficult. And but as an entrepreneur, it is probably the most important part of the business is, if you’re not growing in those invisible ways, you will die. Like as a, as a machine of ideas. As a leader, you need to invest in yourself and your team. That’s so so so important. And going back to the agency work, sometimes making a team more efficient, and, and giving them the tools. So this is we’re streamlining the processes on Amazon. A few, maybe a year ago, I met a lady that had a boutique agency. And she was basically giving financial analysis for e-commerce brands. So I saw her work. And it was actually pretty nice, like, the dashboards or the reports that she she was building, they were, like, interesting. But then I asked myself like, this is work that our software can do. And this is data that a and then an owner and a founder should a, analyze, right? So those are the things of like, should I spend three months teaching my team or hiring somebody to do these dashboards that our tool provides. So it happened in my business. We didn’t have a CRM until very recently. And we tried to build a CRM on clickup, which is our project management software, whatever. And we tried to do that, and it kind of work. It was kind of, like, you know, a little bit uncomfortable. But then we’re, like, no, we need something, we need something else, we need something new. And I jumped on a CRM that I thought it was great. Not naming names, but we thought it was going to be great, I thought that it was going to solve all of our problems regarding to CRM terrible, like, it actually complicated a bunch of things in a way that I wasn’t even close to imagine. So that’s when you say, like, if you don’t take the time to see where you’re growing, then you start making decisions to just like being in the rush of maximizing that efficiency. Like I need my team to be more efficient, I need a CRM, I need them to have everything automated. And right now we are stuck with something that is not useful for us. So same thing with any area of the business that you can take off, take the time to see what’s the best path to grow. Because for your sales team, for example, you said, like, they have a coach, there are training them on outbound. Like, that’s a great decision because you’re investing in your team, in your employees and, and they see that as a value. But another decision that could be valid as well is hiring somebody that is already an expert, right? But maybe that doesn’t align with your values or doesn’t align with your goal because you’re adding more into your system, into your company. So one more employee versus a tool, or one more employee versus a coach. Those are the things that we really need to be very careful. And nowadays that I believe the whole world is in a lean mode because it’s not as easy to borrow money. It’s not as easy to say like, yeah, for sure, let’s let’s hire another person, or let’s launch the other product. It’s not those decisions should not be taken lightly. Not anymore, at least for now.
Andrew Morgans 34:40
I’m definitely a person that’s more comfortable going slower. I love hard work. I love work. I love the work. It’s always been in my blood. I don’t know if I’m just from farmers or what the case is, but like I love to work. I don’t love to be rushed. And I don’t love to make this visions hastily. So the growth mode is not the external growth mode is not my natural default setting, so to speak. I can do it, I can try to keep up. But I feel like my job as the founder, as the CEO, still here at Marknology, I wear a lot of hats, but my job is to make as many good decisions as possible. My job is to make decisions. And if of those decisions, if I can make a lot more good ones and bad ones, I’m doing a good job as a leader. And so if that’s the output that I’m looking for, then what are the inputs that make me a better leader that can make me better decisions? Is it being more educated in certain areas? Is it having coaches? Is it having data that helps me make better decisions? Is it having better mental health? Yes. Is it being surrounded by yes and no people? People that are going to give you good advice? You know, is it reading books in you know, and not more knowledge like that? Is it going to boot camps? For me, it’s, I’m making better decisions, if I’m in a place in a place where I can do all the other things that make me calm in the face of adversity. So if I’m able, you know, I can, some of my best work has been done in chaos, like, I’ll be honest with you, like, you know, because I was just in the right mindset to be able to handle that chaos, so to speak, if that makes sense. Just calm. Yeah. You know, making good decisions. But I think when we make mistakes in these modes, it’s because we’re just not equipped to be making decisions quickly and hastily. So, when you’re talking about really just taking a step back and thinking, Okay, what’s the best move for my business? What’s the best move for my team? What’s the best move for me? How do I get in that spot? For me, it was over the last year going to less conferences, and getting my physical health back in shape, getting to the gym, eating better, more home cooked meals, better rest at home, being around my family, my dog, just routine for the life for a couple of years, since the pandemic, once it opened up, it was just like, conference, conference, conference speaking events, speaking events speaking event, and I just didn’t, I felt like I was just running on on autopilot instead of like, from a place of like, being grounded as a leader, you know? So for me, that was an action step I took whether it was the right one or not, I think it was the right one. But it was like, what are the things you got to do to put yourself in a position to make the best decisions. Whether you’re, you’re in growth mode, or in internal growth mode, for me, the internal growth mode just feels like 10 times the work is slower. But it’s essentially picking out all the areas that you know, you have weakness, instead of focusing on strengths, which is usually like that growth mode, you’re really just pushing where you guys are winning. But one thing I found I’m gonna turn it, turn it turn the conversation just a little bit here. For me, it’s been when you’re like, where was I going with this? When you’re when you’re pushing, you’re like you’re growing, growing, growing, you’re in like, growth mode, then you switch into lean mode, which I think everyone’s in lean mode, or in this like internal mode, how can we look inward? That’s why some of the agencies are struggling because the companies are like, Okay, where can we cut costs? Where can we lean up? They’re like, Okay, let’s get rid of, let’s get rid of this coach, let’s get rid of this agency, let’s get rid of this outsource team. And that can be problematic. But for me, it’s when you’re in that, when you’re in that switch, you lose momentum in growth, you can lose momentum when you start something new. So you’re looking outward. And then you’re now you’re saying, Okay, I want to start leaning out inwardly, or growing inwardly, there’s not momentum, you’re starting from scratch again, a lot of times because you haven’t been focused here and you’ve switched focus. And so coming in and out of those different areas, those different modes, those different mindsets. For me, the hardest thing and the thing I’m focused on and the thing that I’m always trying to get going is momentum, whether that’s momentum with the team to buy into the new stuff, we’re trying the new systems, the coach get momentum with this new system, we’re doing this new CRM, get momentum with you know, our book club or at the gym, with physical health, whatever it can be. Momentum is a very big thing. Specifically when it comes to sales, so for me some of that work is okay so we put the brakes on on new business new brands with Marknology for a while we had a waiting list never completely paused but was definitely pushing less because we were just overwhelmed. We were we were we had so much business, put a pause, slowed it down, and now it’s getting the machine going again, getting that mindset getting that hunters mindset instead of that, that professors mindset so to speak of like trying to teach and learn. Now I’m trying to get back out there and hunt, and find the brands we want to work with. So just being transparent in that in this moment, essentially of like, the difficulties around switching modes and the things to be mindful of, and my focus, if you’re saying what are you trying to get Drew? I’m trying to get momentum in growth mode. So does that make sense with you in regards to how I explained that?
Vanessa Hung 40:23
Yeah. And also, I will say that, sometimes even when we have speed, or you know, because I think that you’re referring to momentum as acceleration, right like that, like getting going fast, super fast, but I don’t, or I know you for a while now. And I have never seen you in a like below 10 speed mode, like, and sometimes when you’re in business, you don’t realize it’s like when you drive a car, like you’re driving, and you you if you’re not paying attention to how how fast you’re going, then you realize at one point that you have been like 100 miles an hour. And you don’t realize because you’re inside of the car, like, it’s very hard. If you have a good car, I guess, you don’t realize how fast you’re going. Right? So that is something that we should keep up having steady, like, can the car drive itself at a certain speed at all times? So we don’t we never stop? And probably that doesn’t seem like growth, but it definitely is not slowing down like it’s not shrinking. But acceleration on the other side, is that, oh, that’s the growth mode? How can we go faster? What is the what are the things that I need to put in my car to make it go faster is a turbo? Is it a oil change? Is it a new pilot? Like, you should pay attention to those things. And the other thing you mentioned, which is very important. And I learned this from Carlos Alvarez from Wizards of E-com was the decision journal. And I think there’s a powerful tool as an entrepreneur or decision journalist to write down or I mean, I guess what there is a very structured way to do it. What I got out of it. And the way I use it is just writing down every day the decisions that I took throughout the day, like, what was that I told my team in that meeting? What was the thing that I decided to do? Like things as obvious Or as simple as, like, did I skip lunch? Or did I ate lunch, like, those things. And then when you go back in your, your week or your month to review, you can pinpoint the day where you’re like, Oh, this is where everything went uphill or downhill. Right? And you said something like, as a leader, we need to make more good decisions than bad decisions. And I don’t know if that’s super obvious for people, until they until they are literally in the end result. So if they see that check that’s coming in, like, around 10x their business, oh, that’s, that was a great decision. But then if they are in a legal sewer process because something went wrong with a client, then oh, that was a bad decision. But I think that we should, as as leaders, we need to be better at noticing those faster. So you one thing that I am very, very afraid as a as an individual as a person, but also as a leader is like making bad decisions and not being able not being able to get out of it. Because sometimes bad decisions are, like, I don’t know, like, it goes in ripple effects, like, one by thing then gets you in a bad mood, and then it gets you in a bad mood with the team. And then your team is frustrated. And if your team’s frustrated, then they the work is bad, then the work is bad, then nobody hires you. So it’s just so bad. Same thing, I can say the same thing with good decisions, you make good decisions, and you can just, like, increase acceleration. But having the journal was a powerful thing that I learned from Carlos. And I’m very grateful for that. If somebody wants to check that out, like, just Google, like, our decision journal. And also one thing that I’ll say, Drew, it’s because I’m crazy about it, like on my life is running a lot with that to make processes better. It’s just AI. I don’t know how much you’re implementing AI in your business. But if you’re looking to find one single thing that could 10x your productivity, or to help you take better decisions or made better processes for your team, or create better agreements with your clients or your suppliers, go to ChatGPT, I love it. It’s been great for us, like, obviously, you need great inputs, like, if you don’t get accurate input, then you are getting terrible, you know, output. But that’s helped me a lot to kind of being more efficient. And, and I don’t know, I feel that it’s like having an external brain and I’m getting smarter because I could make faster and better decisions with it. I don’t know if you use it at all. But if if I don’t know if you ever talk about this in the podcast, but AI is is one thing that I’m paying a lot of attention, and
Andrew Morgans 45:47
100%. And I know it’s big in the industry. I mean, it’s like getting shoved down our throats in a lot of ways. But I think it’s because it’s exciting. It’s really exciting. It’s got some wrong information about me out there. I don’t know how to correct the AI, but I need to. I’ve asked some questions. But no, I, you know, I use it a lot as a sounding board. You know, to edit some of my writing, or give me feedback on my writing or some simple contracts for things I didn’t have before. Like, you know, if I’m, if I’m moving into something new, it can kind of, whereas maybe I would get stuck for an hour or two trying to learn something that’s like, pointless. The AI is just, you know, so we’re definitely using it in in our PPC and in our SEO already as a team. But for me moreso using it as I’m, as I’m coming up with, let’s say writing case studies, or, you know, hard emails that I that I wanted to soften up. And I’m just scared to write it up. So not completely AI, but really taking kind of what I’ve done, and then just giving me feedback on it without needing to stop some one of my other team members or my sisters or someone else that has a lot of stuff. So it’s been pretty cool. And I know, it’s just going to get better. Paul Baron is doing some fun things. And we’ve been chatting back and forth just about some of the stuff that he’s building and playing with. And he’s got a think of it, like, it’s got a lot of his writings, all all in there. And so it’s really talking like him, which is pretty crazy. So I know the potential of it, we’re running up on time. And I could talk to you forever about this stuff, especially agency stuff. You know, building a business, being an entrepreneur, this stuff is not is not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart, so to speak. So running a team and running humans. I say running humans as, like, you’ve got humans in your business, you’re not just a software. You’ve got real people to think about with real problems, real families, real lovers, real partners, real, real needs, you know, it adds complexity to everything you’re doing. And not everything is robotic. So for me, it just starts down to having relationships with the team and with vendors and getting back to the basics of what those are, and talking to them, and then making decisions around those conversations. You know, and that can be, like, hey, what’s the problem here? Okay, let’s put focus on this process. Because this team member is, like, hating this part of his job. And we can make it easier if we put some focus on it or something like that. So it’s really just breaking things down into a level that, you know, you’re able to see from a bigger perspective and say, Hey, how can we make this just a little bit better? How can we streamline? How can we get, you know, our partners, our team, or our our own self, our own focus? You know, better dialed in. I want to leave, leave, leave this with this podcast with a couple questions. One, I know you’re working on the bootcamp. But what is something else in your business that you’re excited about that you’re working on? And then personally, something that you’re working on this year that you’re excited about as well?
Vanessa Hung 49:06
Oh, okay. Besides the bootcamp, with AI, we are trying to build some automation, some kind of a software, I’ve always wanted to go into software. I think I the, the way you could scale really, really fast, it’s just carrying software. So playing around with AI helping us build a software that can work internally. And it’s perfect to eventually take it out to the public and say, like, Hey, we build this. That’s exciting. And it’s taking a lot of resources and a lot of mental energy to build that because honestly, if if you’re thinking that AI will solve your problems, not really, as you said, like, it can help you tweak your input and it could help you clean it up but not really build something for you. So you still need to put the work. So that on the on the business side, I think that we’re going to go get to that goal faster. So what took me six years to build in the on the education side, probably will take me maybe less than a year to build it with AI and launched this, you know, software, piece of software. And on the personal level will moving, moving to a new city. It’s always a challenge. I’ve been doing that for, you know, the past couple of years. So I’m very excited. Austin, Texas, it’s been my favorite city since I first went there for my birthday in 2021, 2021. Yeah, it’s just that place that I think is magical. And I don’t know why. I don’t know how to explain it. But I feel that I belong there. So I’m just going to go, check it out, and see what happens. I hopefully, next time we meet, it will be there. And that will be the place that I stay for a while. Let’s see.
Andrew Morgans 51:02
I love it. I love it win or lose. Austin is amazing place, I think you’re gonna have a ton of fun there. I know, the last thing was a Carbon6 event Q4 kickoff event. There in Austin, it was packed the bar was we had rented out the bar, and it was absolutely packed, it was a lot of fun. I barely even got to talk to everyone. It was a really good turnout. And I just hadn’t seen anything outside of Miami or New York that was really, you know, well attended. And it was it was an awesome event there. So I think having a community is a big part, you know, of being successful to having a good community you can lean on. Okay, so as we sign off, where can people contact you? If they’re interested in the boot camp? Where can people follow you along with your content on social media? How can people get in contact with you?
Vanessa Hung 51:48
Yeah, so the website of the agency is OnlineSellerSolutions.com. And if you go to the website, you could see there in the Menu, we have an Education tab. So that will redirect you to the bootcamp or go to OnlineSellerSolutions.com/bootcamp. There’s where you find information. Social media, I will put a lot of effort into Instagram to make things that look pretty, but sometimes are not the most valuable as far as content, like, it’s just it looks pretty, right? And that’s why people use Instagram for it to just, you know, see appealing things. My favorite one is LinkedIn. So on LinkedIn, we’re there extremely, extremely active, tweeting and posting all over the news, all of the changes all of the algorithms. So that’s Vanessa Hung. And yeah, if you want to email me ask a question or, you know, learn more about what we do. Just kind of email me to Vanessa@OInlineSellarSolutions.com. And, yeah, thank you so much, Drew, for the time. I love it.
Andrew Morgans 52:49
Of course. Vanessa, are you do you have a speaking event on the calendar?
Vanessa Hung 52:53
Yeah. I’m leaving to Chicago, for the E-com Summit on July 30th, I think. I’m leaving on the 30th. But I think it starts on the 31st for, for everybody. And then, 31st or irst, I don’t know, July has 31st. Well, yeah, go that weekend or that week. And then I have one in Jersey at the end of April. And so far, lots of the ones that I have in person. But you know, we I’m always doing like virtual webinars and going into YouTube channels that are important. That’s where I believe we impact the most amount of people and I sometimes I prefer those more on the content side and they impact in person events, hard to build relationships, but
Andrew Morgans 53:49
100% Thank you. I just want to give a shout out. I think she said the end of April, she meant the end of August. Scott Needham with smart Scout that’s that’s his software. He’s a he’s a great guy in the space. And I was the one in Jersey I think so. Anyway, you guys can contact Vanessa if you want more details. Thanks again for being on the show. Thanks again to our sponsor Full Scale that I owe. They have the people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts when you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions. Then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers and leaders at Full Scale. They specialize in building long term teams that work only for you learn more when you visit full scale.io. Thank you Hustlers. Thank you, Vanessa, we’ll see you next time.