Ben Jacobs worked at successful tech start-ups: Jet.com, Bird Scooters, and Salted. He has run a successful e-Commerce drinking game side-hustle biz. He left his full-time job to build new retail e-Comm venture.
Power Hour Tower – For anyone 21 and up – visit Power Hour Tower and use the promo code FIRE to get 20% off!
Ben Jacob’s Website – Subscribe to Ben’s newsletter!
3 Value Bombs
1) Get out there and do it.
2) It takes years, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of time. Things don’t happen at the speed you wanted them to. Having an awesome co-founder, a buddy that you can stick through laughter and horrible times with, it makes it all worth it in the end.
3) Life is a constant battle between what’s good for you now and what’s good for you down the road.
**Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.
Today’s Audio MASTERCLASS: The Art of the eCommerce Side-Hustle.
[1:24] – Ben shares something interesting about himself that most people don’t know.
- Ben fell in love with entrepreneurship when he sold $500 worth of pink bracelets that says “I Love Bo*bies” on them. The profits he got from that were donated to a foundation for breast cancer.
[5:16] – Where does one start when coming up with a concept or idea to pursue in the e-commerce space?
- Find something you like and that you’re uniquely suited for.
- It takes years, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of time. Things don’t happen at the speed you wanted them to. Having an awesome co-founder, a buddy that you can stick through laughter and horrible times, it makes it all worth it at the end.
[9:36] – How is Ben growing his e-commerce business while working a full-time job?
- There’s so much time you can allocate throughout the day to your side hustle.
- It can be frustrating at times, but you’ll learn so much during the process.
[11:40] – The benefits of learning your craft while making mistakes.
- You have to have a tactical strategy with different targeted campaigns and different layers in your marketing funnel.
- Ben’s mistake was not hiring a mentor sooner. He would’ve saved a lot of pain and money.
[16:23] – The value of building a network, and how to use it to uncover the best learning resources
- Have a call with any single person who’ll reach out. You’ll learn something from any single phone call.
- Check what people say – read blogs.
[18:12] – The benefits of having a side hustle.
- You’ll feel so accomplished. You’ll feel like it’s something you have ownership of, and that you’re proud of.
- It helps you to have the confidence to take on bigger challenges.
[21:30] – Ben’s definition of entrepreneurial freedom.
- It is getting up in the morning and not needing a coffee. It is researching, thinking, writing, and talking to people that are better than him & who’ll help his businesses.
- Life is a constant battle between what’s good for you now and what’s good for you down the road.
[23:55] – Ben’s key takeaway and call to action for Fire Nation!
- Power Hour Tower – For anyone 21 and up – visit Power Hour Tower and use the promo code FIRE to get 20% off!
- Ben Jacob’s Website – Subscribe to Ben’s newsletter!
- Get out there and do it. You may be thinking about it, but whatever one idea you have the most faith in, just chip away day-by-day and you’ll be proud down the road.
What shaken fire nation. JLD here with an audio master class on the arts of the e-commerce side hustle to drop these value bombs. I have brought to Ben Jacobs on the mic. He has worked at successful tech startups, like jet.com, bird scooters, and salted. He's also run a successful e-commerce drinking game side, hustle, biz, and left his full-time job to build a new retail and e-com venture. And today fire nation, we're talking about coming up with an idea in the e-commerce space. What about e-commerce as a side hustle, we'll talk about building a network to uncover the best learning resources and what does entrepreneurial freedom look like?
And so much more fire nation. When we get back from thinking our sponsors fire nation, are you looking for a step-by-step roadmap to financial freedom and fulfillment? Will I have some great news for you? My first traditionally published book, the common path to uncommon success is available for pre-order. Now visit uncommonsuccessbook.com to pre-order today and lock in the incredible bonuses that are going away soon. Uncommonsuccessbook.com Ben, see what's up the fire nation and share something interesting about yourself that most people don't know
1 (1m 22s):
What's up. Fire nation, Ben Jacobs here, super excited to be on the podcast. Something interesting that people don't really know about me is how I actually fell in love with entrepreneurship. And I think it's a pretty funny story. So when I was about 15 or 16, I had no idea I'm from Westchester County, New York, about 45 minutes North of the city. And my older brother was living in New York and I went to go visit him. And he lived on like the edgy St Mark's street, which if you've been in New York and you've been on St. Mark's, you know, it's a funky street. And I saw everyone was wearing these bracelets, like almost like live strong type bracelets that said, I love boobies on them that were pink bracelets that said, I love boobies.
1 (2m 7s):
I was like, Oh my God, those are cool. And then I went home and I went online and I was like, I think I could sell these to people in my school. And I went to my mom. I was like, Hey mom, can I borrow some money to buy like 500 of these bracelets and buy them at a bulk discount? So I got all these bracelets and then I went into school with like a backpack stuffed are these pink. I love boobies bracelets and started selling them. And I started to learn about entrepreneurship. I hired little sub salesman who hit their grade selling bundle packs. And after doing it for a few months, I was able because, because I wanted to do it for a good cause I took all the profit, paid my mom back and then donated the rest to the Susan G Komen foundation for breast cancer.
1 (2m 56s):
So that was kind of my first taste of the entrepreneurial life and kind of living this salesman business development type mentality and taught me a lot, taught me about bundling, taught me about having other people help you do your work. And most importantly, what I think it taught me is that even with every entrepreneurial endeavor, you get some ancillary benefits that are unexpected. I actually wrote my college essay about that experience and I got into the college I wanted. And now 10, 12 years later, I'm telling that story again on this podcast. So every time I've done something entrepreneurial, it's always had benefits beyond just the profit earned,
0 (3m 42s):
Lot of cool angles to that story, fire nation. And actually Ben and I were chatting a little bit to pre-interview about just like taxes and the benefits of living in Puerto Rico and only paying a 4% total tax, no state, no federal. And you know, I really like how he kind of tied that in where, you know, he was doing this entrepreneurial venture, you know, it was for like a philanthropic, it was free philanthropic cause and he was doing it for a good thing. And you know, that's kind of one mentality and mindset shift I've had over the years where a lot of people just love throwing that phrase out, Oh, money, can't buy you happiness. And I can guarantee you, everybody that says those words and thinks those words are true, has never been able to give a large sum away to a cause they believe in is.
0 (4m 23s):
I can tell you like when Kate and I donated over a hundred thousand dollars, a pencil pencils, a promise to build for schools in developing countries like, man, that brought me happiness. I can tell you that. So that was the vehicle that brought me happiness. And just like, you know, Ben was able to learn that he could really impact some cool philanthropic change through the entre venture as well. I'm sure sparked kind of a lot of what he's done over the years, too, because as we shared at the beginning of the episode, this is all about the arts of the e-commerce side hustle. I mean, Ben's worked at jet.com, bird scooters, salted other full-time, you know, kind of corporate structure businesses, but you know, he's always wanted to have this side hustle going on that, you know, is eventually going to be turning into this full-time thing that we'll be talking about.
0 (5m 7s):
So let's talk first and foremost, Ben for fire nation about the concept of coming up with an idea in the e-commerce space, where does one start
1 (5m 18s):
Find something you like and to find something you're unique uniquely suited for? So the e-commerce business that I've been running for the last few years, it's called power hour tower. And what power hour tower is, is it's an adult party game, a drinking game that is an iteration on Jenga. So I was going to bars in New York steady as, as recently graduated. And I kept seeing Janga all over the place,
0 (5m 45s):
Any of those in the upper West side, because those were always my favorite ones.
1 (5m 48s):
I would say upper West side, lower East side, everywhere in between. And I kept seeing these Jenga blocks all over and playing Jenga. And then I saw people scribbling on bottom of each of the blocks and it would be like kiss the person to, to your left or like chug your beer. And like, if you pulled that black from the tower, it would say that on the bottom. And I was like, wow, that's super cool. Like I wonder if I could buy one of these online. And I went online and I didn't really see anything of high quality and everything that I did see that was on that was high quality seemed to be manually made on Etsy. So I was like, huh, I wonder if you could create a pre-made funny version that could be sold online.
1 (6m 30s):
And I had no idea what I was doing. I had to figure out the whole supply chain where to cut wood, where to sand the wood, where to get it printed. What type of packaging hired a graphic designer to do all the graphics had to come up with all the rules and bit by bit, I was just spending my weekends and nights and probably some times during the Workday when I probably should have been doing some other stuff, but I, I kinda just got it off the ground. And the most important thing I did was to get my best friend from high school and ball and someone who I thought had an adjacent skill set, then we could compliment each other well. And so we kind of stuck with it and bit by bit. And we did about 30,000 sales our first year just doing it in 2018 and then have doubled and tripled.
1 (7m 16s):
And now we're, we've built it where it's gotten large enough that both of us have left our full-time jobs to pursue that amongst some other endeavors. So it takes years, it takes a lot of mistakes. It takes up a lot of time. Things don't happen at the speed you want them to, but by having an awesome co-founder and someone who's a buddy and, and you can stick through and laugh through the horrible times and the frustrating times, it makes it all so worth it at the end. And it does take the time. And then once you've done it, I feel like I can replicate that success now for other endeavors.
0 (7m 54s):
So fire nation, there's a lot to take away here, but the biggest thing is like, you've got to have your eyes open your ears open when you're just walking out into this world. I mean, think of that idea. Ben had just from looking around him and seeing what people were doing and saying, Hey, there's a better way. There's a better way. And doing some research. I mean, that's the foundation of entrepreneurs on fire. I couldn't believe when I found out there was no daily podcast interviewing successful entrepreneurs about their stories. So eight years ago, I made that I did that thing. So keep your ears and your eyes open and say to yourself like, Hey, what do I want to take on as a challenge? Like what do I want to create that isn't currently in this world as a solution to a very specific problem.
1 (8m 37s):
And just to add on that, like, I've had a, a notepad on my phone with just various horrible ideas and you have hundreds of ideas. I wanted to reinvent the salt shaker. I wanted to develop tools to help people apply for jobs, but ultimately you'll find that that sticks with you and that's good enough to pursue.
0 (8m 58s):
That's one of those things too, that I think is really important is that not every idea that you see or you hear you think up should be pursued. I mean, they have to check off a lot of blocks. Like, do you have passion for it? Are you excited about it? Are you fired up by this? Do you have some skills and expertise? Is there improvements you can make to that thing? Like it has to go through a little bit of a gauntlet first fire nation, but you know, you have to have all these bad ideas, you know, first and understand what a bad idea is before you can identify what a great idea is. So let's talking about, let's talk about that e-commerce side hustle, like building this up while working a full-time job, because like I said, you were at jet.com, bird salted these other places.
0 (9m 38s):
So how were you actually growing and building this while you were working a full-time job?
1 (9m 44s):
There's so much time in the day that you can allocate to these side hustle ventures. You could do 30 minutes prior to work. You could do 30 minutes during lunch. You can do 30 minutes at night. And then I was, I love going to coffee shops on Saturday mornings and just kind of putting in two hours of work, then two hours on Sunday. Cause that slowly adds up and you know, like it, it does take a lot of work and like, it can be frustrating and you can be like, what's the point of this? And I think you will learn so much through the process. Like I learned digital marketing, I learned about how to build a supply chain that imports from China.
1 (10m 25s):
I learned about like how to correctly brand your products and like how important content is and high quality imagery and really like crafting a message around your product. All of that requires effort and time and conversations with people. But ultimately you'll develop the skillset where you feel confident to then build your next product or for, or scale this business or consult people on how to do that. So just by starting that first venture and putting in the time other doors open every job interview I had since starting power hour tower, how our time has been, the only thing I've talked about, that's the only thing that people who interview me are interested in.
1 (11m 10s):
They don't care about my previous traditional full-time work experience. They care about the side hustle, the things that make you different. So it's worth putting in that time and in those odd hours, and there's plenty of resources online, Twitter, this podcast, I mean, it's unbelievable amount of information out there. So just rip the bandaid off and do it.
0 (11m 33s):
We'll make mistakes on our entrepreneurial journeys. So talk about learning our craft while making these mistakes. What's the benefit there?
1 (11m 43s):
I can't even tell you how much money I've wasted running ads without putting forth the effort to truly understand like how Facebook, how Instagram works, how Google works, how Amazon PPC pay-per-click ads work, because there's a science to this. And if you think that just by turning things on, like putting a picture with some copy and just turning on the ad, it's going to start yielding not only sales, but profitable sales and new, you don't really know what you're doing because there are people who have full teams dedicated to this and you're competing with them for this space online.
1 (12m 24s):
And so you need to have a tactical strategy with different targeted campaigns at different layers in your marketing funnel, from prospecting new customers to retargeting, to re-engaging all the way to retention. And if you're not thinking through, okay, how am I going to hit this demographic for retention? And you're just using like one solution for all of them. You'll be like me, and that's fine. You kind of have to do that to learn. But my mistake is I should have had mentors and, and been working with someone to know all this stuff earlier on. Cause I would've saved myself a lot of pain, definitely some money, but it's all good now, but definitely took some time
0 (13m 12s):
Fire nation, just accept the fact that you're going to make mistakes along this journey. And you're going to learn from those mistakes if you're going to succeed. And that's why I'm a huge believer in it comes to finding mentors. You want to find somebody who's currently where you want to be in this world because that person has been on your journey. They've made mistakes. He can help you avoid or maybe take a shortcut or just, you know, fast track on certain things. And that can be a huge, huge help for you. So understand it is a journey. It is a process and we have so much more to talk about when we get back from thinking our sponsors what's up fire nation. I'm so fired up for the launch of my first traditionally published book, the common path to uncommon success right now you can pre-order your own copy and lock in some incredible bonuses that will be disappearing soon by visiting uncommonsuccessbook.com for all of 2020, I've worked tirelessly to create this life changing book.
0 (14m 6s):
The common path to uncommon success has 17 crucial, yet simple steps that will guide you to your version of uncommon success. To sum it up. The common path to uncommon success is your roadmap to financial freedom and fulfillment. Also I've convinced 17 of the world's most successful entrepreneurs to contribute their genius to these 17 steps. We're talking about entrepreneurial all-stars like Howe L rod Selena, Sue John Morrell, Billy Jean, Leslie Samuel, Sean Stevenson, Jeff Walker, Amy Porterfield, Russell Brunson, Stu McLaren PatFlynn Rameet Satie and many more by your nation. The time to take control of your future is now visit uncommonsuccessbook.com and pre-order your copy today pre-orders will help so much in making this book launch a success.
0 (14m 47s):
So if I've added value to your life in any way over the years, it would mean world. If you pre-ordered this book today and locked in your amazing bonuses, uncommonsuccessbook.com. So Ben we're back and I want to talk about building a network, the value of that and how you've used your network to uncover some of the best learning resources that have helped you on your journey.
1 (15m 12s):
I am down to talk to anyone. I will have any call with any single person who reaches out to me because you learn something from every single phone call. And not only does that come from just networking, but also reaching out to companies. Companies will, we'll chat with you say, you're interested in learning more about social media management, or if you're interested in SEO or whatever it may be, where you want to talk to an Amazon seller expert, you can find those resources and companies that focus on that and just connect with them. And the more conversations you have, you're asking the experts in those fields.
1 (15m 54s):
So you can ask your most pointed questions and start having this bank of knowledge that you can then take to your next conversation. And you're starting to ask more thoughtful, more developed questions that kind of get to the true, like a hidden secret sauce of that particular problem you're trying to solve. So I'd say like through that, I've gotten to know a ton of people in the industry in this e-commerce world, because I'm just down to hop on the call and I'm down to seek out these calls and not just wait them, wait for them to come to me. And by always checking Twitter and following what these people are saying and reading blogs and doing all that, it's been amazing, the amount of resources that I can now lean on it and tap into this network.
0 (16m 49s):
Talk about the benefits that you've found with a side hustle that you've been doing. I mean, again, you've worked full time for a very long time. You still had the side hustle going on because you identified in spite of this opportunity, but what are the benefits of it? Like why would you do something like this instead of, you know, using your free time to do fun activities, maybe exercise more, do X or Y or Z. Talk to us about that.
1 (17m 15s):
I mean, I would love to exercise more. I think I do a decent job. I want to say I'm in that good of shape. I'd say the benefits are that you feel so accomplished. Like you feel like it's something that you have ownership over. You're proud of it. I mean, I sell a adult party game, a drinking game, but I'm proud of that. I built that from scratch with my best buddy and I'm 27 and there are so many people who say they're going to do things and they just don't. And so I know I can always hang my hat on, being able to say like, I've done it. And now I have the confidence from having done it to think like, okay, I I've built and scaled this.
1 (17m 57s):
Like, what's the next thing that I think is a stretch for me that I think I can do. And I don't know how to do it now, but I know that I'll figure it out along the way. And I don't know exactly what that is now, but I'm confident that my ability to get things done, whether it be on the side or whether it be a full-time thing, hopefully eventually is why I think you do it, why you start the side hustle, because it builds that muscle memory, that confidence, you know, how to do all the annoying admin work. You know how to like cut from a, to, to M as opposed to start from a to B.
1 (18m 39s):
So I think it's, I think it just helps you have the confidence to take on bigger challenges, whether it be on the side and maybe starting a side Airbnb hustle or whatever it may be. You now have the confidence, knowing that you've been able to get something off the ground and really see it through
0 (18m 58s):
All we have in this world is time. And listen, if you're listening to Ben and myself today, and you're happy and you're satisfied with where you are in life and like you've achieved what you want to achieve then guess what? You're spending your time. Fine and wisely. Yeah. If you, if you're playing video games, cool. Cause again, you're happy. You're where do you want to be? If you're watching Netflix for two hours a day as awesome too, if you're doing whatever you want to be doing, that's great. Personally, I spend sometimes between eight to 12 hours a week playing pickleball, and guess what I love doing that. So that's my choice. I didn't do that years. One through five of my business, but I am doing that now. But the reality at the end of the day is if you're not happy or satisfied about where you're at right now, well look into and actually take account and, and study how you're using your time, because it probably could be used better.
0 (19m 45s):
And, you know, Benz use this time to try some different side hustles. Some have worked some have not, but he's learned every step of the way. So how you use your time is going to dictate your future. Not, not necessarily today or tomorrow, like financially or whatever that might be, but in the long haul, for sure. So Ben, with all of what I just shared and everything that we've just talked about, what does entrepreneurial freedom mean to you?
1 (20m 10s):
Entrepreneurial freedom to me means that like I get out of bed and I don't need a coffee. I am researching thinking, writing, talking to people that I think are, are bettering me and helping better. My businesses that in turn will help my family, my friends, my community. And I think there's plenty of value in working for a company and learning from the people above you and seeing how to operate. But if you have that fire in your belly where you want to be an owner, you want to be the one making the decisions you have to earn that you gotta put in the work.
1 (20m 53s):
And to me that it's worth putting in that work because it gets you what you ultimately want. I feel like life is a constant battle between what's good for me now, and what's good for me down the road. And that could be all the way from like, you know, what's good for me now probably eating an ice cream that would, that would make me very happy. But is that good for me later in the day when I'm trying to be productive? Probably not. And the same goes for, for business. It's like, do I want to spend a Saturday? I, instead of watching college football, working on the side business, probably not, but in a year, if I add up 12 Saturdays where I'm doing work on a side hustle, I'll be happy the next year when I have a business going and I'll be happier.
1 (21m 40s):
And, and there'll be that longer term benefit than any of the short term benefit I got from watching college football or whatever it may be by the way quick. Call-out I absolutely love tickle ball and I will gladly fly to Puerto Rico and take you down.
0 (21m 56s):
Okay. Well, I live in Palm stone, Mara, as you know, and we actually have a WhatsApp group called pickle Del Mar because we are that into pickleball. We play every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And I actually own the lot next to me here in Puerto Rico. And I've literally gotten a quote to build out my own pickleball court. I'm not a hundred percent sure I'm going through that yet. It's probably more like 20 or 30%, but I've literally gone that far to get a quote for lights, the whole nine yards. So a pickleball is so much fun. Fire nation reach out to myself and or Ben about pickleball, if you are one of us. For sure. So Ben, let's just share with fire nation, the one major takeaway that you really want us to walk away with from everything that we've talked about here today, I know that you have a direct call to action and you know, even a little bit of a gift for us here.
0 (22m 47s):
So give that as well. And then we'll say goodbye.
1 (22m 50s):
Yeah. Well, first off, thank you so much, Sean. This has been awesome. Two quick things for fire nation power hour tower. It is the best party game for any adult, anyone 21 and up definitely check it out. It is the best thing since cards against humanity. So if you go to powerhourtower.com and use the promo code fire, you will get 20% off a power hour tower. And secondly, I write a weekly newsletter covering tech business and culture sign up benjacobsdotsubstock.com. It's called Benny for my thoughts and final takeaway. I'd say just, just get out there and do it.
1 (23m 32s):
I know you've been thinking about it. I know you've had some ideas and there's always these random circumstances that pop up, but whatever one, you have the most faith in, just chip away at it day by day. And you'll be proud six months on the road when you have a little bit something and then even more proud, six months down the road from there
0 (23m 51s):
Nation, you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. And you've been hanging out with BJ and JLD today. So keep up that heat and head over to EOFire.com type of bed in the search bar. And the show notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today. Links to all that jazz best show notes in the biz. And of course you got a couple of calls to action. Number one was the power hour tower, 50% off Ben. One more time. Where do they go for that?
1 (24m 19s):
So go to powerhourtower.com and use the promo code fire to get a power hour tower, 50% off.
0 (24m 28s):
I love that phrase, Benny for my thoughts. One more time. How does fire nation?
1 (24m 33s):
Yup. Check out my weekly newsletter. It's the coolest thing you read all week. It's Ben Jacobs.substack.com. I promise. I promise you'll like it.
0 (24m 43s):
Yes. Fire nation. Awesome stuff. Glad you stuck around to listen through the end and Ben, thank you brother, for sharing your truth, your knowledge, your value with fire nation today, for that we salute you and we will catch you on the flip side. Hey, fire nation today's value bomb content was brought to you by Ben. And if you're ready to rock your own podcast. Well, I have a free, I said furry podcasting course, where I teach you how to create and launch your podcast. Free podcast course.com visit free podcast course.com and I'll catch you there fire nation, or I'll catch you on the flip, the flip side fire nation. Are you looking for a step by step roadmap to financial freedom and fulfillment?
0 (25m 25s):
Will I have some great news for you? My first traditionally published book, the common path to uncommon success is available for pre-order now visit uncommonsuccessbook.com to pre-order today and lock in the incredible bonuses that are going away soon. Uncommonsuccess, book.com.
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