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Module 1 of Product University

August 16, 2020

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Sophie Howard's Product University (Aspiring Entrepreneurs)

MODULE 1 - Foundation

In-depth Overview of Module 1 of Sophie Howards' "Product University" internet ecommerce course that teaches the ins and outs of Amazon FBA.

If you're looking for a different detailed to the max, up-to-date review of Tim's PLM, then stop clicking and start scrolling because you have arrived. 


MODULE 1 - Foundation

5 hours, 37 minutes, & 50 seconds

Session 1: Welcome

In this first session, Sophie has 6 main points, she
 
  • tells her story, showing that she's qualified to teach the course
  • speaks about actually writing down key lifestyle changes that are desired
  • emphasizes the importance of having an end goal when starting your amazon business (ongoing income, cash sale, etc.)
  • clarifies what she means by "knowing your why" and shares hers 
  • shares that her goals in 2017 were output and lifestyle driven
  • sets first goal for members have product selection and supplier selection done and ready to place first order
 Session Duration: 1 hour 2 minutes and 23 seconds 


Session 2: Habits & Mindset

In this session, Sophie focuses on the behavioral side of running your physical products business.

She introduces online strategies, working in ways that move your business forward, or as the cliche goes, working both on and in your business.

Sophie talks about her experience and different behavioral patterns to watch out for (like burning the candle at both ends and not being there for your family).

She shares many different personal stories like the impact of horseback riding has for her mental health as well as factors that she and her husband considered when the moved back in 2016.

One of her efforts has been striving to get into more joint ventures where she's more of a consultant than an every-day-operations person. 

2 Mistakes to avoid:
  • analysis paralysis, getting stuck in the thinking and not acting on faith that you've done the right due diligence. 
  • avoid Facebook, instead read the Wall Street Journal, Tech Crunch, and other non-amazon related material. remember that amazon is ultimately a means to an end.

While recommending Hal Elrod's book, "Miracle Morning," Sophie encourages the creation of really good morning habits that enable you to get your day under control before 8am.


Sophie's Time Usage Tips: Schedule your week out in advance so you know what you're doing. To build focused periods of time, she recommends the Pomodoro focused work time method, which is where tasks are divided into 25 minute periods, with 5 minute break periods in between. 


Great for on boarding and keeping track of exactly what needs to be done by who when. Sophie provides another book recommendation, "Smart Work"  by Dermot Crowley, which is all getting to the end of the to-do list good feeling and what that does for you. 


Miscellaneous Guidance:

Virtual Assistants: As establish daily, weekly and monthly to-do lists for VA's.

Recommended Programs: Sophie started using Ontraport after building a large email list, but said that MailChimp did just fine until then). She uses Calendly to schedule appointments and integrated Gmail since it has different auto-forward automations, which help her keep her inbox fluid.

Mental Health: Everyday she tries to get outside and either run or horseback riding as she said she gets "cranky" if she doesn't.

 Session Duration: 7 Minutes 59 Seconds 


Session 3: Smart Business Moves: Actions that Get Results

Sophie begins the session by saying that Amazon is the best place to launch a product as there are already customers, you don't need to worry about fulfillment and it all really hinges on your product selection. 

Next, she takes a very practical turn and emphasizes the need to discover ways to set up your work time and workspace that will give you the productivity necessary and enable you to be confident, decisive and realize that making a few mistakes is not the end of the world.

Written Goals: Check In, discussed differences between having a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset using Carol Dweck's ted talk on Mindset. Importance of entering this business model with a learning attitude, a positive belief in yourself that you can acquire the skill sets that undergird having a successful Amazon Business.

Grit: steely determination and willingness to lean into the hard work. Have nerve and be willing to work a lot. Solve the problem, don't stop because of the problem. She challenges her students to lay out their routines to that they can be ambitious, optimistic, relaxed, smart (thinking of clever shortcut that can be outsourced), open-minded, adventurous, decisive, disciplined and action-oriented.  


She goes on talking about her new ventures and brands she is close to selling and new products she found while in Bali (she went for three months with her family after selling one of her accounts for over 7 figures). Sharing extensively at the end of her third session, she gives an overview of how she will be private labeling incense.

 Session Duration: 1 Hour 15 Minutes 


Session 4: Your Amazon Year

In this session, Sophie does a run through of what the next year will likely look like.

6 Topics she covers:
  • Product selection (both the analysis and creative parts) 
  • Branding (setting your product apart from your competition) 
  • Seller Central Account Set Up (basic walkthrough) 
  • Promotions (Using Amazon Marketing Services) 
  • Building a Virtual Team (enabling you to scale faster)
  • Miscellaneous "Fancy" stuff (some crucial details)

She begins by cautioning not to rely on one data point (i.e. Jungle Scout), rather get lots of different pieces of data. Also she shares that using Amazon's search bar's autocomplete feature to gain ideas has been helpful.

Pro Tip: Marketing to Millennials
Sophie then discusses the unique desires millennials bring to the branding and marketing world, such as 
  • Wanting to know where the products are sourced from
  • Desiring to know the story of the product 


Product Sourcing:

As far as product sourcing, she encourages finding local products that might be viable to be sold on Amazon, helping the smaller businesses gain an online footing.

Remember, Sophie encourages, "started is better than perfect." How long should product research take? Sophie offers the figure of 2 months, explaining that it could take a couple weeks to complete each phase of the process.


Brand:

When discussing brand, Sophie elaborates on these five areas:

  • Research
  • Hiring talented designers (says she has had a lot of trouble finding a good one)
  • Good briefing process
  • Thinking WAY ahead about trademarks, and domain names
  • Positioning your brand in the market.
  • She shares her business structure, from company licensure to how many brands she has per amazon account, etc.

2 Tips when Tackling the Supplier Search Process

  • Using the Search Engines
  • Getting the Best of the Best (negotiating price, M-O-Q, etc.)
Sophie's Unique Take on Samples
Fact: She doesn't get samples, but she does tell the supplier that a lot of the first products will be going to her reviewer network and the reviewers will let Sophie know about quality issues. 

Reason: She says that she doesn't get samples because its too easy for suppliers to send you one really nice one and then send a lot of rubbish ones to the customer.


She doesn't go into walkthroughs on the set up Amazon accounts or how to use the seller central account, rather she gives some high-level pointers and then says that Amazon's phone service helpline is good for going through the step-by-step process.

Amazon Seller Triplets:

  1. Ungating
  2. Brand Registry
  3. Websites

Sophie relates them all by saying, You need a website in order to get the previous two.

Team:

Sophie's Suggestions: Find yourself someone who is detail-oriented, perhaps a paralegal who works in the Philippines, Sophie reasons, as they have advanced degrees and excellent english.

Before hiring anyone, make sure you understand all the aspects of your business yourself and keep proprietary information private (hence Sophie uses LastPass, a password keeping service in the form of a Chrome Extension, which enables you to share passwords and still keep them private).

To have a solid business, you need more than a product that does well for a season, says Sophie, you need a product portfolio that adds stability to your business. At the end of the session she shares an update on her incense product project that she explained in a previous section.

 Session Duration: 1 hour 17 minutes 


Session 5:  6 Different Business Platforms

In this session, Sophie shows where Amazon fits in the overall scheme of an ecommerce business.

She compares a number of different ecommerce models,

starting with a few points about Amazon:
  • it's relatively simple 
  • requires a bit of capital
  • you only have to do half of what other businesses do
  • conversion rates are excellent if you do the listing right
  • and finally there are lots of markets to sell in (US, UK, China, Australia, etc)

Facebook:

Sophie shares her experience on using social media to build brand. 

In short, she talks about having

  • some sales
  • hard to measure
  • low cost
  • high time
  • community can be engaged but not buying
  • facebook ads are incredible with their targeting abilities

Digital Products:

  • Training and education
  • competing with free
  • better margins
  • expensive traffic
  • nice combo with physical products
  • nice bonus or to build a list
  • membership course model (good for recurring monthly income)
  • easy to launch

Joint Ventures

  • Good for Cash flow
  • Need a track record to get good percentage
  • Humans involved so it takes more time than when you are working by yourself
  • Can learn a lot and creates new opportunities
  • Need to be open minded with sharing profits and risks.
  • JVs also create access to different parts of the world that you wouldn't have otherwise. 

Services:

At the end of her session, Sophie names multiple services that you can provide alongside running your Amazon business like:

  • Coaching (teach others the skills you've learned)
  • Consulting (advise a company's activities)
  • Freelance (work on different jobs with another business)
  • Sales rep/distributor (sell your product to be distributed through other channels)


Sales Funnels:

One of Sophie's new ventures is constructing sales funnels (at the time the course was made, she had recently completed a sales funnel training course). 

She spends the last half of the session sharing the different projects she's been up to and then answers some questions at the end.

  • Pretty complex because you need a bunch of skills
  • pretty easy with a lot of templates and software
 Session Duration: 1 hour 13 minutes 


Module 1 - My Primary Takeaways 


Sophie's first module is packed with foundational information. The hardest part about building a business is developing the gritty mindset that enables you to persevere through the startup period. 

Having experience in starting her own FBA Private Label only a year and a half prior, Sophie has the experience that qualifies her to speak on that entrepreneurial mentality. She does a great job at sharing both her experience and some resources that she's found valuable along the way, including how to manage time efficiently and getting the day started right. #miraclemorning

One of the most valuable pieces of this module was her session that laid out the expectations that new Amazon sellers need to have about how long it will take to select a product until it arrives at the amazon warehouse. I think that the schedule she lays out is helpful especially for my generation, the millennials, who are often under the impression that things happen instantly. 

The biggest takeaway I have from this module is Sophie's unique take on branding. A lot of courses I have worked through are based on listing common products and scraping up some sales by creating high quality listings. Those courses encourage starting your business with product selection after legitimating demand.

Sophie's process begins by picking a niche and then exploring different audiences via the search engines and social media (later on she'll show how to use a tool in Facebook's business's side to discover interested groups). Her process enables her to essentially create her own markets and removes her from the sight of competitors. 


VIDEO QUALITY 75%

Video Quality: 7.5/10

Sophie uses the webcam on her computer, so the video quality is moderate. 

SOUND QUALITY 75%

Sound: 8/10

The sound is a little muffled, but her speaking is mostly understandable. 

CONTENT QUALITY 90%

Content: 9/10. 

Sophie does an excellent job of introducing the process of building an FBA business, from the mindset it takes to succeed to explaining the different parts of the parts, from branding to finding suppliers.

OVERALL 90%

OVERALL IMPRESSION OF MODULE 1

This Module provides a great intro to the course and the Amazon business opportunity as a whole. It teaches what you will need to do first and what to expect to have to do once your product is selling. This module gives valuable information for both novices and FBA-hardened sellers.


Lead Generation is my #1 Online Business Choice 
(IMO Less Hassle Than Selling Physical Products)
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Ippei Kanehara
Founder/CEO Ippei Leads

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2020, is to build your own 6-figure lead gen biz. You can learn more here.

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