A serial entrepreneur, Greg Mercer is the founder and CEO of a suite of tools to empower Amazon sellers as well as the owner of multiple physical product brands. He loves all things Amazon, big data and building company culture for a remote team of 20+ employees.
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- WorldTimeBuddy.com – Greg’s small business resource
- Rework – Greg’s Top Business Book
- JungleScout and Fetcher – Greg’s Websites
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3 Key Points:
- You don’t have to have the scarcity mindset—competition is a great thing.
- If you want to become an entrepreneur, just do it.
- Breaking even is WINNING in the first month of your launch.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:01] – Three years ago, Greg was working as a civil engineer in the corporate world
- [01:18] – Greg and his wife are digital nomads and they’ve been in 20 different countries
- [02:45] – Greg believes it’s still great to sell on Amazon regardless of their new rule of giving discounts in exchange of reviews
- [03:05] – Greg shares a launch strategy for Amazon
- [04:33] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: When Greg got scared by his competition
- [07:35] – “Competition can bring more education to the market. Focus on the betterment of your product.”
- [08:07] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: Introducing recurring revenue is Greg’s idea for his AH-HA moment
- [09:26] – Greg used a subscription plan for his SaaS software
- [10:17] – The tool that Greg made where he was getting a one-time payment was a Chrome extension
- [11:31] – The Chrome extension and Jungle Scout have different features
- [11:53] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? “I’m really fired up about continuing to grow the SaaS software… and we just released a new tool that is profit analytics for Amazon which is called Fetcher.”
- [12:50] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? – “It was completely my mindset”
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – “To optimize your pricing”
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – “I do a lot of walking”
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – WorldTimeBuddy.com
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Rework – “It’s an all-around fantastic book”
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter is taken cared of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – “I would find a product to sell on Amazon and start contacting suppliers”
- [17:00] – “It is what you believe in yourself that you can do… and go out there and take action on it”
- [17:35] – Shoot Greg an email or find him on Twitter
Greg: JLD, I am ready to ignite.
John: Yes, a serial entrepreneur, Greg is the founder and CEO of a suite of tools to empower Amazon sellers, as well as the owner of multiple physical product brands. He loves all things Amazon, big data, and building company culture for a remote team of over 20 employees. Greg, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Greg: Sure. So, we’ll rewind. About three years ago, I had a corporate job, working as a civil engineer. Wasn’t very fulfilled with that – wanted to become an entrepreneur. I think that’s when I found your show and a lot of others and kind of learned a lot of what I know today. So, I quit that job, started selling on Amazon as well as the software company. And my wife and I were actually digital nomads. So, we’ve been traveling for about two years. I’d say we’ve been to about 20 different countries the past two years, and we’re homeless
John: You say that with pride, as you should. Because I can tell you, being a newly-acquired home owner, it’s not all it’s cracked up to me. It’s a little bit of an anchor.
Greg: I agree.
John: So, stay homeless as long as possible, Greg.
Greg: There you go.
John: So, let’s talk about your area of expertise. Kind of break that down for us in a few sentences. Let’s hear what you specialize in.
Greg: Sure. So, I’m involved in all things Amazon. So, I sell on Amazon myself. I have a few dozen brands I sell on Amazon. And that kind of led into creating a suite of software tools for Amazon sellers, to help them become better sellers. So, whether it’s finding good product to sell on Amazon, profit analytics, helping you optimize your PPC or your email seat reviews from customers – kind of all things involved with Amazon.
John: Well, I sell stuff on Amazon, specifically the Freedom Journal. And soon, to be the Mastery Journal, so check that out, Fire Nation. But, Greg, tell me something that I don’t know about Amazon. Tell me something that Fire Nation hasn’t heard of before, that you think that we as entrepreneurs need to know.
Greg: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think a big thing about Amazon right now, that a lot of people are kinda confused with, is recently – about a month ago – Amazon said you can no longer give discounts or free items in exchange for a review. So now, a lot of people are confused, like, is it still a good time to sell on Amazon? Can I still successfully launch new products and new listings on Amazon? And the answer to that is absolutely yes.
And if I just break down a new launch strategy in one minute, it would be that you want to, first, get your product up on Amazon. I still like giving away products at a discount, so you give away your product at, say, like, 50 percent off to get initial sales. After you start getting those initial sales, that tells Amazon’s algorithms to start ranking your product a little better. Which, then, in return, leads to more organic sales.
During that time, I also turn on Paperclick, maybe spend a little bit higher budget than normal. But I think your goal, if you’re launching a new product, that first month should just be break even. Maybe you’re not turning a profit, but you’re making sales through additional ad spend, or giving out discounts. And then, that in turn will lead to the organic sales.
John: Yeah, Fire Nation, if you can break even, literally, you’re breaking even, on spreading your voice, your message, your mission, your product, your service, whatever it might be – you gotta do it. I mean, that’s what you do to get going. That’s what’s gonna get you that additional momentum. So, breaking even is winning when you start. And then, as you start to dial the knobs later on down the road, a few months down, and you start getting more organic traffic, and maybe you’re producing podcasts, maybe you’re being featured on EOFire, that’s driving traffic, etc. – then you can say, “Okay. Now how do I actually start to turn a profit?” But that’s not gonna come overnight without work.
So, Greg, you weren’t always traveling the world, being a digital nomad, 20 countries in two years. I mean, you have had the ups and the downs. So, let’s talk about your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. Greg, take us to that day. Tell us that story.
Greg: Sure. So, I remember the first time a solid competitor came out for my software product. I remember, at the time, when I had a very immature entrepreneurial mindset – I was so concerned and so worried about it. I was like –
Greg: Yeah. Man, I was like, “Man, this guy – he’s probably gonna take half the sales now.” I’m just thinking of all these crazy ideas; how the whole world was gonna end because I had a competitor now. I was no longer the only one in the space. And looking back, it was really, like I said, just a really immature mindset, right? Now, I don’t even worry about the competition at all. I’ve learned many times over that it really doesn’t matter.
If you focus that same amount of energy that you would worrying about these people into making your own product better, growing your product, talking to customers, whatever else – you’ll be 10x further ahead. So now, when I hear people worried about the competition, I just have to laugh a little bit, just reassure them that it’s not that big of a deal. You don’t have to have this scarcity mindset, right? That was my worst day.
John: It’s one of those things that so many entrepreneurs go through. And I just kind of wanna take them and shake them a little bit. Because we complain, as entrepreneurs, like, “Nobody’s paying attention to my product.” Or, “Nobody’s paying attention to my service.” Or, “Nobody realizes how big of a deal this is or this is gonna be.” And we freak out about that. And then, what happens?
Well, maybe you were a little ahead of the game. And now, everybody knows how awesome it is. And you can’t just expect to sit back and not think that other entrepreneurs aren’t gonna take advantage of the great opportunities in this wave that you probably had a decent part in creating has come. And, I mean, I look back, and I have had so many people reach out to me.
And there’s been articles written online. I think it’s called, “The John Lee Dumas Effect,” where there’s been over 40 podcasts that have launched post-EOFire, of something on fire, like Fireman on Fire, Athlete on Fire. They’re like, “John, can I just fire – aren’t you just so pissed off at them? You should sue them.” I’m like, “No.” I’m like, “I wish them the best.” In fact, a lot of them reach out to me. They’re like, “John, it’s just the perfect name for my podcast.” And I’m like, “It is. And go with it because that is an amazing name for your podcast.”
Because I know that, together as podcasters, we can continue to build each other up and not tear each other down. So, that mindset of scarcity, Fire Nation, is no way to live. Competition is a great thing. Step up to the challenge and win and collaborate and come up with new ideas. Push yourself. So many people just sit in the comfort zone, and that’s why they never move forward, and they never improve their product service to the communities because they don’t have that competition, or they live in that mindset of scarcity. The mindset of abundance is the only way to live as an entrepreneur.
So, Greg, that little rant was my feedback on your worst day. What do you wanna make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Greg: Competition actually can be a really good thing. It can bring more education to the market. It can make people more aware of, maybe, the tool or the service that you’re selling. And it’s not a zero-sum game by any means. So, don’t be worried about it. Focus your energy on making your own products better, and being positive is the only way to live as an entrepreneur.
John: Greg, what’s one of your greatest ideas you’ve had to date, your a-ha moment? Take us to that story.
Greg: My a-ha moment? I can’t say I’m the first one to think of this idea, but really, what turned my business – and I’m specifically talking about my software business – to where it’s at today is introducing recurring revenue. So, when I initially launched Jungle Scout, it was a Chrome extension. It was a one-time fee. And it did pretty well. It was selling pretty well. But there was no kind of security. There was no kind of predictable cash flow each month.
And then, once I was able to launch a SaaS product with a recurring revenue, that is when business really began to start to grow. It’s much easier predicting cash flow and revenue when you have recurring revenue. So, I think looking back, that was a turning point in my business.
John: So, let’s dig a little deeper. Give some specific examples of that idea and, really, what you did to implement them.
Greg: Before, I just had one software tool. That was a one-time fee. So, it was $100.00. So, I was only collecting $100.00 from the customer, and that was it. I was like, “Thank you. Goodbye. Here’s your product. I’ll be around for customer support.” But there was no longer any type of monetary transactions with the customers. Instead, if you introduce a – let’s say a membership – or in my case, a SaaS application – so there’s a monthly-recurring revenue – in exchange for using the product, then all of a sudden you have a customer every month. You’re collecting money from them every month, as well as providing them a service.
So, if you can kind of – for everyone listening – if you can kind of use this same model for your particular business – think, “Okay, how can I continue to generate revenue from my customer base on a monthly basis?” Then, I think, overall, that’s like the mecca of a great business opportunity, right? Like Dollar Shave Club or whatever else. We were collecting memberships or monthly revenues, just a fantastic type of business.
John: So, what was that Chrome extension like? What was that service when they were paying one time, and then you were just supporting them, potentially, for eternity?
Greg: The tool they used inside of the Amazon store. So, I could make a search – maybe I searched for journals or daily diaries or something. And on Amazon, I could click the little Chrome extension; I would see a popup in the window. And in that window would give me a whole bunch of key metrics that I needed to know to make educated decisions for product research or forecasting on Amazon. So, it would show me how many estimated monthly sales all those products on Amazon had. It’d give me other key pieces of information, like what’s my net revenue after Amazon takes their fees? As well as just some other pieces of information that Amazon sellers would like to know or need to know to make those educated decisions.
John: Now, did you turn that product into a monthly-recurring, or was it the next product that you created that you made SaaS from the beginning?
Greg: Yeah, so I was gathering feedback from the customers off that Chrome extension. And a lot of them wanted additional functionality that wasn’t a great fit for the Chrome extension. So, that’s when we thought, “Okay, let’s continue to build on the Jungle Scout suite of tools and make this into a SaaS product.” So, the features you find inside the SaaS product are complimentary to the extension. They’re not the same features. So, now the Chrome extension and the SaaS product go really nice together. And that bundle is kind of everything that Amazon sellers now need to find a profitable product to sell on Amazon.
John: So, Greg, let’s fast-forward to today. What are you most fired up about right now?
Greg: I’m really fired up about continuing to grow the software, the SaaS company. It’s not only for monetary reasons. A lot of it is – it’s fun, and it’s exciting for me right now. The software company is only a couple years old, so it’s kind of like my newest baby. It’s the most exciting. And we actually just released a tool about a month ago, which is profit analytics for Amazon sellers. It’s called Fetcher, and that’s why I’m really excited about getting out of bed this morning for.
Again, because it’s new and it’s exciting. I also think it’s probably our best tool to date. And I think a few years from now; it will be the company’s most successful tool. But I’m really fired up about [inaudible] [00:11:38] continue to collect feedback from the customers on it, hear what they like and don’t like – iterate on that. That’s really exciting for me right now.
John: Most exciting for me, Fire Nation, is that we are gonna hold Greg’s feet to the fire during the lightning rounds, right after we thank our sponsors. Greg, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Greg: I’m ready. Let’s do it.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Greg: It was completely my mindset. I thought, “Okay, I know these people can do it, but I don’t think I can.” I think I was telling myself I wasn’t smart enough or wasn’t gonna be able to figure it out like they could. Looking back, that was the only thing stopping me from becoming an entrepreneur. And I imagine anyone listening who hasn’t become an entrepreneur yet, you really just need to do it because, if you’re listening to this podcast, you probably already know more than you ever need to know to become an entrepreneur. It’s just mindset. You just have to tell yourself you can do it, and you can.
John: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Greg: It’s to test and change your pricing and optimize your pricing. I think it’s a small thing that’s often overlooked by people, but it can have a huge impact on your company’s revenue and the number of customers you create. So, on a quarterly or a semi-annual basis, I think everyone needs to re-look at their pricing and adjust it accordingly.
John: What is a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Greg: I go for a lot of walks. That might be partially because I don’t have a car. It’s kind of hard to put in my backpack. But I walk to work; I walk to lunch. When I’m frustrated or can’t figure out a particular problem, I go out for a walk. I come back with a clearer mindset. It kinda gets the blood flowing, makes me feel good. And, yeah, I love going for walks at a time that I feel like I’m just not being very productive.
John: Can you share an internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation?
Greg: I use a website called worldtimebuddy.com a lot. It helps – you can put in different people who you’re trying to communicate with’s time zones and find a certain block of time that would work for everyone. And it helps a lot when you’re trying to coordinate with people in different time zones.
John: Well, that’ll help me in Puerto Rico because we don’t do the time change. So, we went from being the same as EST to now we’re on Atlantic Standard Time. And it’s like, “What? What’s going on?”
Greg: Oh, man. Yeah, that’ll help you.
John: Quite confusing. If you could recommend one book, what would it be and why?
Greg: My favorite book of all time is called Rework, by Jason Fried and the guys at 37signals. I think, without a doubt, it’s the best business book out there. I feel like I’ve read every business book out there. This one’s much different. It’s just an all-around fantastic book. If you haven’t read it, it’s a quick read. I think everyone needs to.
John: Greg, this is the last question of the lightning rounds. But it is a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand-new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Greg: In the next seven days, I would find a product to sell on Amazon and start contacting suppliers. I think it’s – in my opinion, the best opportunity for any budding entrepreneur, anyone trying to get started to make some money or create a system to generate cash – of course, it helps I know a little bit about it. But I would start finding that product, start contacting suppliers, and get something up on Amazon to sell.
John: Greg, let’s end today on Fire, brother, with a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Greg: So, we kind of touched on this a little bit earlier, but the mindset for entrepreneurs is so important. And you’re off to a fantastic start if you’re listening to this podcast.
Greg: This is, I think, what holds back entrepreneurs or stops your growth or something. I didn’t used to be much of a mindset guy as what I am now. I used to just be like knuckle-deep in the tactics – I just needed to learn as much information as possible. And now, looking back or looking forward, I’m realizing more that it’s more so just what you believe in yourself that you can do, how big of a thinker you are, and that kind of thing.
So, like I said, I know everyone listening to this can do it. You can become a successful entrepreneur. If you already are a successful entrepreneur, you can be bigger. You just need to believe in yourself because I know you can do it. So, you just need to get out there and take action with it. That is my piece of parting guidance. If you want to get in contact with me, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] Or you can find me on Twitter at mercer_greg.
John: Love all of that. And Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with GM and JLD today, so keep up the heat. And head over to eofire.com. If you just type “Greg” in the search bar, his show notes page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. Best show notes in the biz. Time stamps, links galore.
And, of course, if you wanna just reach out to Greg directly, ask him a question about Amazon, about selling on Amazon – believe me, I’ve talked to him multiple times. I’ve had him talk to my team multiple times because this guy knows his stuff. [email protected] And, of course, check out Jungle Scouts. It’s a great suite of tools for you, so get on over there and – again, if you wanna just email Greg, by the way, too, at [email protected], and say “hi and thank you for coming on EOFire,” feel free to do that, Fire Nation. It would be a nice gesture.
And Greg, thank you for sharing your journey, brother, on Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Greg: Thanks, JLD. Take care.
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