hero image

Getting Discounts on Other People's Mistakes with Mike Jackness - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 134

Mike started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. 

From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:09] Talking about Riverside.fm
  • [01:49] Quick background to Mike and Terran
  • [02:26] Preparing for inflation by purchasing brands
  • [05:15] Balancing Shopify and Amazon
  • [08:30] Removing the risk from Amazon
  • [10:35] Getting distracted by “shiny things”
  • [11:47] The mistake that Mike wants you to avoid
  • [16:30] Complex but not difficult
  • [17:27] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
  • [17:47] Sponsor: Mesa getmesa.com/honest
  • [18:41] Sponsor: Rewind rewind.io/honest
  • [19:16] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [20:44] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [21:53] Why Mike prefers buying businesses now
  • [26:40] Buying businesses like flipping houses
  • [28:11] Do your due diligence
  • [28:30] Third party to deal with messy stuff
  • [29:32] Having a standalone content site
  • [32:39] Separating the podcast from the agency
  • [33:47] Perfection is a hindrance
  • [34:26] Why you need to launch now
  • [35:01] The importance of feedback
  • [36:42] Mike and his companies


If you’re enjoying the show, we’d love it if you left Honest Ecommerce a review on Apple Podcasts. It makes a huge impact on the success of the podcast, and we love reading every one of your reviews!


Mike Jackness  

You can spend tons of money and time doing all these things that you wish you could do. But the reality is that I can spend way less money and time on doing what's actually working.

Chase Clymer 

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show. 

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host Chase Clymer. 

And today, we welcome to the show, another podcast host. You're gonna see a theme here lately. I'm gonna have... I'm doing a little bit... 

We're doing a little swapsies with a few different podcasts. And Mike from EcomCrew had me on a week or two ago.

I think we first chatted and I have no idea when that's going to come out. But it will be out probably before this one. So go find it. And we talked about some really fun stuff on that episode

Mike, welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Mike Jackness  

Doing good, man. This is my first time using this platform to record and it's a little bit of anxiety. It counts down. And you're "Is this thing gonna explode when it hits zero? Or what's gonna exactly happen?" But here we are, and everything seems to be good.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. So he's talking about... We use Riverside.fm. So if anyone out there is thinking about podcasting, this helps... So this platform really helps with doing the video podcasts. Me and Shawn, my partner, tried 4 or 5 of them. And this one seemed  the easiest? It's the only way I could describe it. So that's why we settled and it works.

Mike Jackness  

Yeah, it's cool. I'm gonna check it out myself. We were talking about it when you were on my show. And I think it's pretty neat. We're going to take a look at it ourselves.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So for the uninitiated... So Mike, you... Obviously you've got the blog and podcast EcomCrew, but you're also the CEO of Terran. And you guys currently have 4 Amazon brands. Is that correct? 

Mike Jackness  

We do. Yeah, we have 4 brands in hot and cold therapy, a stuffed animal baby brand... We own Tactical.com and have tactical products around that. 

We just purchased a home decor business back in... It was like our New Year's gift. It was December 31 of 2020 we closed. So yeah, quite a bit going on.

Chase Clymer  

That's amazing. That's amazing. So me and Mike decided beforehand, since we're both podcast hosts, we're really good at just thinking at the top of our head. So we're rolling with that today. But I already have questions. 

So as an Ecommerce business owner, when did you decide to double down on the industry and purchase another brand? Was it a thing that you always felt or did it slowly evolve and you realize that this is something that was repeatable?

Mike Jackness  

Well, we actually sold a brand in 2019. And we just really... We have been growing, doubling every year, since we started doing our own private label stuff in 2015. So $1 million to $2 million, $2 million to $4 million, $4 million to $8 million. 

We were on the way to... Not quite double the next year, but we are certainly going to go over $10 million, and found ourselves in a predicament of we have been growing at this rate. And it all looked great on paper. 

And we're paying lots of taxes, but never actually took a penny out of the business. I didn't pay myself a penny all those years. Luckily, I was able to sustain that, personally and from a financial standpoint, because we had made some money in previous business endeavors. 

And were able to do that. But I also was at a point where I didn't want to have the "doomsday scenario" happen and just end up walking away with nothing. And so we did take a sizable 7-figure cash outs on only one of our brands. 

A couple of years had passed since that and I found myself ready to do something else or some more. I'd say not something else, but just add on to it because I'm still a big believer in Ecommerce and think it's a growing space. 

That combined with just some of the SBA programs right now and where I see inflation going, I feel like it's almost crazy not to do something like this. Just the SBA loans or 10 year terms at low, single-digit interest rates with very little down, immediate cash flow-positive scenarios where that just doesn't exist, typically in life. 

And I do think that inflation is coming. Actually, I think that inflation is here in a big way. One of the things that you see, as an Ecommerce owner, is inflation indicators before they really start to happen. Shipping costs have gone up raw, material costs have gone up. Everything's gone up (laughs). It's crazy. 

And so if you're buying a couple of million dollar businesses at today's value that might double just based on inflation, or go up 50% or whatever it might be. 

All those things were kind of a perfect storm for us to, to get back and put more chips on the table, I should say, in Ecommerce, but not in the same crazy way that we were... Where it was making me get panic attacks back before we took some chips off the table. So yeah, that's where we're at.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Awesome. And with you, you guys are heavily invested in... Not necessarily a private label. That's an easy cop out to say. But it's more Amazon, Amazon-esque brands. 

And we were speaking a little bit in the pre-show about how you've just found that your processes and strategies allow you to scale the Amazon-side of the businesses way faster than Shopify?

Mike Jackness  

Yeah. The brand that we sold, ColorIt, was about 80-20. 80% Amazon, 20% on Shopify. I think you had... Had the Amazon [side] shut down, we probably could have doubled pretty quickly on Shopify. I think a lot of... We were driving a lot of the traffic towards Amazon. 

And it's just been this constant struggle of... There's all these people talking about, "How do I get sales off Amazon? How do I pull my Amazon traffic off Amazon and get it on my Shopify store?" 

And in some ways, I think that that's a mistake. I definitely understand the logic behind it. And the default innermost instinct to want to do that it's your customer if it's in your store and you have more control, etc, etc. 

But when you look at the other end of the claim, Amazon is 57% of Ecommerce. And it's getting more and more competitive there. And every sale you take off of Amazon slows down the Amazon flywheel.

 And so what we really discovered is that, for every sale we take off Amazon, it's really taking off like 1.5 2.5, 5 whatever the long term effect is of that the ripple effect, the butterfly effect of getting that one less sale on that keyword that somebody would have searched, that knocks you down one organic position, that then produces a couple less sales and knocks down a couple more positions and your competitors are waiting in the wings to overtake you. 

So that's just the position we found ourselves in. It's not... It isn't that I love Amazon and that we're all in on Amazon necessarily. It's just that right now, just looking at the numbers and being realistic, it's hard to really focus on trying to grow a Shopify store. 

So what we have done is grown a lot of off-Amazon content. And so we push the content towards Amazon --we could push it towards our own store at some point in the future-- But we have these off-Amazon assets that we're building that I think will keep us nimble, should something change in the future.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that was that was a question I had it was how do you risk your commitment to the "800-pound gorilla" essentially. And you answered it without me asking. And so that's what I want to highlight for the listeners here is... 

They found their golden ticket and Amazon works, but in an effort to de-risk it, they are building assets that they own off-Amazon. 

And if, for some reason, something happens with Amazon or Amazon decides to take their product category on with the AmazonBasics line, they can just turn around and pivot pretty pretty quickly to direct all that traffic to their own store on their Shopify domain. 

Mike Jackness  

Exactly. And so some of the blog content we write is actually on our Shopify store. And again, we aren't it... It doesn't [mean] we ignore Shopify or don't want those sales. It's just that 95% of it or whatever is coming from Amazon at this point, which is uncomfortable. But again, it's hard to fight the trend. 

It's just where things have kind of fallen for us the types of products that we have right now. Also, ColorIt was easier to run Facebook ads and do direct response ads and get that stuff that... Hot and cold therapy ice packs, that's not... You can't run Facebook ads for that. And so again, yeah, we're building these off-Amazon assets, we have... 

We still have a Shopify store that still does six figures a year or whatever. It's still a pretty big asset for us. In addition to that, we're writing lots of content. 

Actually, on our own Shopify store, we have "Go Buy It on Amazon" buttons because again, getting that external traffic off to Amazon helps us in these more competitive categories that I know we would have no chance of ranking in, if not for that.

And then we also build standalone blogs, like Tactical.com, that don't have any store associated with them on the actual blog and we have several of those properties that we've been working on as well. 

And that again, brings organic traffic and we can drive traffic to our Amazon listings at such a point in the future. When we might not see that traffic go to Amazon, we could send to our own store, off to Walmart, off to eBay, whatever it might be. 

And I feel like we're doing the best that we can with the facts that we have right now and, and doing the best we can to get the most out of our business while we can. I think that's really important.

Something I've learned in life and in business over over 20 years is to really not fight things. And you can spend tons of money and time doing all these things that you wish you could do. But the reality is that I can spend way less money and time doing what's actually working and and just throwing off lots of cash outflows.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I think that's something that... It goes back to that "shiny things" mentality where there's always something new and fun and exciting to do. But oftentimes, there's something old but tried and true and predictable, that you have not optimized. 

And it's almost against human nature, and especially that royal mindset. Building stuff is way more fun than tuning things, I guess. You got to learn that lesson. And we do it. We deal with it at the agency all the time. 

We go down big rabbit holes. We thought about... We didn't think about it. We launched an info product, and realized it was just a "shiny thing". We're like, "Why do we care about this when our lifetime value as a client of the agency is.."

Mike Jackness  


Chase Clymer  

"...so much more than this?" It's like, "Why are we getting distracted?" And it was a big mistake. And we learned from it, 

Mike Jackness  

Because everyone else was doing it. And I gotta do it, too. So, yeah.

Chase Clymer  

You see these...

Mike Jackness  


Chase Clymer  

You see this thing on Twitter... 

Mike Jackness  


Chase Clymer  

... and you're like "We could do that."

Mike Jackness  

The guy on Twitter only has 140 characters to tell you how awesome it is. He doesn't have 10,000 characters to tell you what a mistake that is.

Chase Clymer  

Alright, so let's talk about mistakes. What's the mistake that you've got to want to let the people know "Don't do this"?

Mike Jackness  

Well (laughs), that's a good [question] it depends on what angle you're going for. I think one of the things that we learned the hard way, when we sold ColorIt is we had everything commingled in one company. 

And so in terms of big mistakes, I still look back and regret having put us in that situation because what ends up happening is... 

First of all, to defend myself and what my thinking was --even though I ended up being wrong-- I thought that when I would go to sell, I would want to just be out of Ecommerce. 

I feel like my personality typically is just like, I'm all in, and then I'm going to be all out. When that happens, I'm going to just sell everything and just leave the hell out of this. And it just ended up not working that way. 

I thought I would sell the whole company --all the brands and everything-- all together all at one time and just be like, "See you later and I'm done." But the situation popped up that I talked about earlier.

We were growing so fast, and a victim of our own success to some degree --to such a high degree-- that I wanted to get rid of one brand and not everything else because I really was enjoying Ecommerce still. 

It was more just that I needed to take some chips off the table. And so trying to jettison one brand out of a commingled LLC. Absolute freaking nightmare. You got... First of all, one Amazon account in that situation. 

So it was creating a lot of stress... If one Amazon account gets shut down, it shuts down the whole 9-figure or 8-figure business story. That was one stress point. We had one commingled set of books. 

And so when you go to sell the business, it's not going to be SBA qualified, because you're only selling part of it. And the SBA won't lend to potential buyers if it isn't just all one clean tax return. So we eliminated a huge buyer poll. 

And then of the buyer pool that's left, you then have to convince them and get on the same page with them that your shared overhead expenses or other things, you can brush it under the rug, aren't actual baggage that you're selling them or things you're trying to get away with and just charge them a higher price. 

And so all those things were difficult. We got past them. We still found a great buyer. They're very happy. They've grown the business quite a bit. And we've become good friends. We've actually invested in some of the things that they've done on future projects. It's just been awesome. 

But it doesn't take away from the fact all those things I mentioned. We probably could have got a higher price if we [went] on the market to a more widespread audience. The only thing that caused a huge problem was…

Okay, now we're ready to sell. We could convince someone to give us 7-figures or their money. 

They wanted our Amazon account and we're still selling millions of dollars with the stuff of things that they're not going to keep through that Amazon account. And so we had to go make new Amazon accounts. Take the inventory out of the existing Amazon account, recall it... Anybody who's ever done that... 

That stuff shows up from 37 different warehouses and all kinds of different conditions and definitely never buys the case. 

And so we're getting about $800,000 worth of inventory at our cost back out of that account back to our warehouse, which was only 3000 square feet, trying to navigate as quickly as we could getting that stuff back, re-case packing it, relabeling it, getting it back in Amazon. 

We just felt like this carousel of crap would show up one day and we tried to get it right back out the door the next day so we would have enough room for the next day's crap that was going to show up.

And that was months from that and we actually had a delay closing by 30 days to get another 30 days to get the rest of the inventory out of the account and get the new accounts set up. 

And so in terms of things that are mistakes and things that we've solved now, having each brand in its own LLC, having each brand have its own Amazon account has been a lifesaver.

The other thing that it's done --from a positive [point]-- is it helps stop some stuff we were talking about just a minute ago. Now for me to like to have another harebrained idea and start another brand, it's a lot more difficult. 

And so I need to have a much better business case of "Why am I going to do this?" versus the other brands that we started. "Oh, well shit, we already have an Amazon account. And we already got an LLC set up and all [that] was left to do was go register the domain name for $8 and I got a brand. 

This is much more difficult. I got to make an LLC, I got to open up a checking account, I got to get a new credit card and stuff, a new paypal account, opened up a new Amazon account, convinced my COO that this is a good idea... 

Though, there's a much higher barrier to entry to do this, which is good for us entrepreneurs that get that shiny object syndrome (laughs).

Chase Clymer  

You went so far down the rabbit hole there. So I thank you a lot. And there's some good stuff there. And I guarantee there are 2 or 3 people listening to the show. 

Mike Jackness  


Chase Clymer  

We got to split these things up. 

Mike Jackness  

Yeah. And do it now. Right? If you aren't planning on selling for a year, you can make it not that painful. But if you get the gun to your head, it's painful.

Chase Clymer  

This isn't tax advice. Let me put that... 

Mike Jackness  

Not at all.

Chase Clymer  

You have to say that.  But the way that we run stuff is... iIt sounds complicated when doing taxes having multiple LLCs. But it's actually really easy, if you have an account that knows what they're doing. Basically, it's a funnel and it works great and

Mike Jackness  

It's a little more expensive, because you got to... But not more difficult. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Chase Clymer  

It's a lot more paperwork. It's not rocket science. It makes a lot of sense. Once you do it once you're like okay, that's how that works. 

Sponsor: Electric Eye

If you're struggling with scaling your sales, maybe Electric Eye can help. 

Our team has helped our clients generate millions of dollars in additional revenue through our unique brand scaling framework. You can learn more about our agency at electriceye.io. That's E-L-E-C-T-R-I-C-E-Y-E.io. 

Sponsor: Mesa

Mesa is the easiest way to integrate any top Ecommerce app or service with your online store designed exclusively for the Shopify ecosystem. Yes, that includes Plus

Mesa's automated workflows can get back your time spent on repetitive tasks while growing your business all at the same time. 

Join other merchants that have embraced the simplicity of Mesa's no-code approach to building workflows. 

You can create new ways to improve customer engagement. Encourage repeat purchases without lifting a finger, reduce manual data entry, and much more through a simple point-and-click interface. 

And with Black Friday, Cyber Monday planning around the corner, now is the time to ask the question: Is my online store prepared? 

Optimizing every step in the shopping experience is the only way to create a lifelong customer. 

Get Mesa and capitalize on one of the biggest commerce events of the year. Visit get mesa.co/honest for a 14-day free trial. That's G-E-T-M-E-S-A.com/H-O-N-E-S-T.

Sponsor: Rewind

Our partner, Rewind, can protect your Shopify store with automated backups of your most important data. 

Rewind should be the first app you install to protect your store against human error, misbehaving apps, or collaborators gone bad. It's like having your very own magic Undo button. 

Trusted by over 80,000 businesses from side hustles to the biggest online retailers like Gymshark, Gatorade, and MVMT Watches

Best of all, merchants like you can get 1 month of automated Shopify backups for free by visiting rewind.io/honest. That's R-E-W-I-N-D.I-O/H-O-N-E-S-T. 

Sponsor: Gorgias

Hey everybody, do you want to win back valuable last time for your support team? 

Gorgias has machine learning functionality that takes the pressure off small support teams, and gives them the tools to manage a large number of inquiries at scale, especially during the holiday season. 

Gorgias combines all your different communication channels like email, SMS, social media, live chat, and even phone into 1 platform and gives you an organized view of all of your customer inquiries. 

Their powerful functionality can save your support team hours per day and makes managing customer orders a breeze. 

They have allowed online merchants to close tickets faster than ever with the help of pre-written responses integrated with customer data to increase the overall efficiency of customer support.

Their built-in automations also free up time for support agents to give better answers to complex product-related questions, providing next level support, which helps increase sales, brand loyalty, and recognition. 

Eric Bandholz, the founder of Beardbrand says "We're a 7-figure business and we have, essentially, 1 person on customer support and experience. It's impossible to do it without tools like Gorgias to help us innovate." 

Learn how to level up your customer support by speaking to their team here. Visit gorgias.grsm.io/honest. That's G-O-R-G-I-A-S.G-R-S-M.I-O/H-O-N-E-S-T

Sponsor: Klaviyo

Businesses are the most successful when they own their own data, customer relationships, and their growth. That's why more than 50,000 Ecommerce brands, big and small, trust Klaviyo to deliver their ideal customer experience. 

Klaviyo is the ultimate ecommerce marketing platform for online brands of all kinds and all sizes with email automation, SMS marketing, lists growth tools, and more. 

You'll get everything you need to build strong relationships that keep your customers coming back. If you're tired of relying too heavily on paid advertising or third party marketplaces for your sales success, you're not alone. 

It's time to take back control of the customer experience. More and more online businesses are moving to Klaviyo to grow higher value customer relationships through personalized email and SMS marketing. And the results are staggering. 

Ready to drive future sales and higher customer lifetime value with a marketing platform built for your long term growth? You should get a free trial of Klaviyo over at klaviyo.com/honest. That's K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.C-O-M/H-O-N-E-S-T

Chase Clymer  

So you skirted around this statement. And I don't know if you have a thought here. But for entrepreneurs that love building stuff versus buying something that's already created, where... 

Now that you've been in the game long enough, where would you spend your energy?

Mike Jackness  

This is a fun question. I'm in my mid 40s. I've been in business for 20 years. And if you asked me that question, several different times throughout that journey, you would have got a completely different answer. 

And so today's answer to this question, I'm definitely in the "buy" camp. And I don't know that I'll ever change my opinion again. Maybe I will. Ask me again, in 5 years. I might look like a fool.

Chase Clymer  


Mike Jackness  

But here's the reason why it is fun to build a business. I agree. It's actually one of the most fun things that I've ever done but my success rate on this is certainly not 100%.  

I'm man enough to admit that I've started probably 30 different things. Maybe 50. I don't even know. I've lost count. 

And maybe only 5 of them have been successful over the years. And I'm pretty good at starting something, realizing it's not going to work and not taking that personally, not holding on to it forever and just moving on to the next thing, trying the next thing, trying the next thing... 

And it's worked well for me. It's worked really well because the things that end up working well have been life changing. They're just disproportionate. 

It's similar to investing in the stock market. You might buy 50 different stocks. And one of them is the Apple or the Amazon, or the Tesla's that you bought and just held on to for 10 years and it is 10,000% x'd or whatever. And that's all you need. You just need one of those. 

And so, being good at that. But the other reality is that you can buy someone else's mistakes or get a discount on someone else's mistakes, I should say. And so businesses that are for sale are the ones... Let's say... 

In my case, five out of the 50 things that I've done the other 45 I didn't sell... They cost me money. And so buying a business that's established, that's been through it, that you're getting the ones that are the successful ones that you can then continue to build on.

Now, the other thing that's really quite interesting is that if you were to start a brand new content site today [with] everything that I know, I'm good at it.

I can build a content site in pretty much any niche and be successful with it in 3 to 4 years if you're going to do it the way that I like to do it. It's putting in the hard work, it's doing it the white-hat way. 

This stuff takes a long time. You can't just snap your fingers and have a site that's getting 50,000-100,000 visitors a month or more and generating lots of revenue. And so you're buying all that time as well and so you eliminate... 

You're getting a discount on other people's mistakes, you buy a bunch of time that is really hard to replace or impossible to replace really. You can't ever invent more time. And if you're good at what you do, you can buy something at a 3x multiple of 4x multiple. It's where things are selling these days. 

And really get your payback time to be something in the 2x range because if you can double the business over the next couple of years, your effective multiple is in the 2x range. And so what that means is that you're getting 50% cash-on-cash return on your money. 

And so not only is it solving all these other things that we talked about in terms of time, and getting a discount on people's mistakes and buying, the successful things that are already established, and etc, it's also just a really damn good investment. 

And then where else are you going to get these types of returns anywhere else in the world? It doesn't exist. 

And I think that this is why you see a lot of these Amazon aggregator businesses popping up right now that are investing literally billions of dollars into buying Amazon businesses, because you're buying a part of the digital shelf, you're making a really great investment, you're getting, a 33% return on your money, even if you don't grow the business by buying something at a 3x multiple. 

And people with a lot of money are like "Holy crap. I've been getting 3%, 4%, or 5% of my other investments. And this is returning 33%?" And so I think all of those things combined, it really really got me solidly in, in the buy camp.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And this is something that I harp on often on the podcast which is: There is no magic wand for product-market fit. And most businesses that are for sale, have already cracked that code, which is by far the hardest part of business in general. That is the hardest thing, hands down. 

Mike Jackness  

That's a fact. Yeah.

Chase Clymer  

I don't think that's my opinion. I think that's just a fact out there. And you can shortcut it by months or years. And so once you buy a brand or... There's all sorts of businesses you can buy. Everything's for sale. 

Basically, the lens that I view this through was almost like the same lens that you view a house through. If you have the vision and the foresight to look at this thing, you're like, "You know what, with a new coat of paint, new carpet, all this stuff, it'll be worth so much more." 

And I know how to do all that stuff. And it's just the same approach that you take to buying a business. You're like, "Hey, their marketing is garbage. If we streamline all these things, we focus on this thing, we blow this out, there's my money back and then some." 

Mike Jackness  

Exactly. Yeah. No, that's a great analogy. I mean, it's exactly like buying a flip. A house flip. New coat of paint, new carpet, do some landscaping, place... 

Do some kitchen cabinets, because that's the room that seems to make the most difference in people's buying decisions, and flip the damn house, and make a bunch of money. And so you can do the same thing with a digital business.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. But also akin to buying a house is if you don't do your due diligence...

Mike Jackness  


Chase Clymer  

...you could get behind the drywall and it could have rats. There could be... Don't just go spending money willy nilly because you heard two guys on a podcast talk about it. You need to do your research and you need to go through the books. 

There's people out there way smarter than me. Mike's bought a few businesses, but I'm sure he'd say that gotta learn the ins and outs of what you should be looking for in these deals. 

Mike Jackness  

I hired a third party to do due diligence. They're called Centurica. That's all they do. They were also hired to do due diligence on the sale... When I sold my business, I was on the other end of it having to send them lots of paperwork and improve everything. 

But you want someone who's really good at crossing every T and dotting every I and let them be the enemy. That's the other thing. 

Most of us are softies and in some way you want to be nice to the person you're trying to buy this business from, you want to get the deal done, you get emotional about it... 

You can start to feel bad asking for stuff so let someone else do that crap and just let them do it. 

They're really good at it and they will come back to you and say, "Yeah. You should go buy this business. Everything checks out." or "Here are the things you should be aware of. You can make your own decision." Or "This is a really, really bad idea. Don't do this." They'll do that legwork for you.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's fantastic advice. (laughs) I wish I could have a middleman sometimes working on these project deals, man because when you start investing time on both sides, people get emotional. 

And even though it is just business, sometimes the business is a big part of your life so things get a little rocky. But it is what it is. So you mentioned earlier that you have a few content sites and I wanted.. I'm always like "Content. Content. Content." You guys need a content engine.

It pays off eventually. You can't just be worried about direct response. You mentioned that you have a few content sites that aren't on  Shopify or a direct-to-consumer CMS

What is the advantage? Or what is the strategy or thought process behind just having a standalone content site?

Mike Jackness  

Yeah. It's funny because we get asked this question all the time. "Where should I host my content?" And so we've taken a content first approach to our tactical brand versus  a product first approach. 

And so having a standalone site for the content does make it a lot easier. And typically, [it will] come off more trustworthy to the reader than if you are an actual brand. And so if you're doing a top 10 review of tactical flashlights or bug out bags, or whatever it might be... Survival food…

If you're a brand that sells one of those products, that review is going to seem a little suspect. It's also going to be much more difficult to get backlinks from other brands and other organizations as a brand owner as a physical product company. 

And so, we found that, in general, having this content machine, free-standing, can be a really great asset. And so there's some idiosyncrasies, and some fine line things between picking which way we go with it. 

But again, we took a content first approach to the Tactical brand. We've been building out this site with lots of great content, growing the traffic over the last couple of years, growing our email list, growing our community, and doing that in a way that is non-brand centric. 

And so we do have a "Sister" brand of products that we do sell, and some people make that connection, which is fine. But on the surface, like all the things I just mentioned, it does make SEO a little easier. 

It does make positioning some of these top-review type articles a little bit easier. And also, the thought is that over time, we will have multiple properties like this. 

We're either buying them as we go along and find good opportunities so we can have multiple blogs that are all free-standing, that all point to each other, and point to the physical product brand. And if you just have one physical product website with all your content there, it limits you in those regards.

Chase Clymer  

That makes a lot of sense, especially to me. And it's very top of mind, because obviously, for anyone listening or watching this podcast, honestecommerce.co exists completely separate from the agency electriceye.io

At one point, they lived together, and we split them off about a year and a half ago, I think. And a lot of it's for similar reasons that you said. I feel like it'd be disingenuous to do some of the reviews. And  the content that we produce is... 

I try to be very down the middle with my opinions on things. I've even said that Shopify isn't the right solution for certain things, even though everyone knows that's what I do for a living. I try to be very... 

But at the same time, if the podcast lives on the Electric Eye website and it's sponsored by Gorgias... Am I pitching Gorgias to every client? Does that feel disingenuous? So there's, there's a lot of decisions, I went through and did it. 

And even today, in conversations with my partner, we were talking about," Do we want to put them back together? Do we want to keep it separate?" 

And I'll tell you right now, there's no right answer.

Mike Jackness  

There's no right answer. There's definitely... Some of these things. And that's... One of the things...You got to be okay with [whatever happens]. I think that's something that I've learned as I've gotten older. 

When I was younger, I was always trying to find the perfect, most optimized, exact right answer. And a lot of times it just... It doesn't exist. And so, as I've gotten a little bit older... 

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. Chasing perfection is just a young man's game. 

Mike Jackness  

Mm-hmm. Yeah. And it was fun being young too. There was a lot more energy. So you can... At least for me, I was able to get a rabble out of the mistakes I made by just being the bull in the china shop, because I just never had... My battery's less than 98%.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. But you're right. I think you know, what I want to pull out that highlight for the listeners is, perfection is the enemy of improvement. If you are focused on it being perfect, it'll never be perfect and you'll never get done. 

You'll never get shipped, if you take it from a software perspective. Just ship it and you can even fix it later. You can iterate upon it. That's like... 

Building an MVP and iterating upon it is the best way to approach any sort of business thing. Like "What's the cheapest, fastest, quickest, efficient or quality way we can launch this thing?"

Mike Jackness  

Yeah. And I mean, when you do that, it also gets you to the feedback stage quicker, which is probably the most important thing. You can... 

Yeah. You can design software or products or whatever, be one of the best in the world at it, then after you launch, you realize that you did all the wrong things, because you weren't focused on the things that everyone else really cares about. 

You just did what you thought you care about or you thought that they care about. And so a lot of the things that we've done over the years, our most successful products, most successful things we've done, actually are all from feedback. 

One of our most successful ice packs, when we released it, thought it was the best thing ever. People complain that it condensated and whatever. We're like, "Well just use a freakin towel. You're an idiot. Obviously, condensation happens." 

But we listened to the feedback over the years and just started shipping it with a cover and went from like a 3.5 star product to 4.7 star product and we sell a container of these things a month now.

And so it's just one very small example of just listening to what people are telling you. And the quicker you can get there, the better off you'll be. 

And we have at least a couple dozen products at this point that have all fallen in this bucket of "Just listen to what the markets tell you. And if we were still trying to make it perfect before releasing it, we'd still be in the design 4 [stage] and never get the stuff out.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. And if this is interesting to anybody listening,  read or listen to the Lean Startup. It basically talks about this thing. Ship early, ship quick, get to the feedback stage, iterate, iterate, iterate.

Mike Jackness  


Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Mike. So if people... A shout out to the brand, so people go check them out. Let's get that out of the way.

Mike Jackness  

Well, EcomCrew is the podcast and training and content site about Ecommerce. That's that brand. We have Icewraps, which is a hot and cold therapy brand. Wild Baby which is the stuffed animals. And Tactical which is the tactical gear.

The other home decor brand is the one thing that we don't talk about publicly. We just mention that as home decor. 

We bought it through eCF Capital. eCF is eCommerce Fuel. It's a community for 7-figure Ecommerce owners. I became really good friends with the owner there and several other members of that community. And they started a fund called eCF Capital. 

And as a part of that, we agreed that we would be a little bit more vague.There wasn't really anything for the investors to gain by us just kind of publicly talking about it. So since I don't own that 100%, I keep that a little bit more close to the vest. 

But the other stuff I mentioned, you can go check out. All the things that we're doing. Go copy us if you want. I don't recommend it. Don't be a follower, be a leader. But we're pretty open about everything we do.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Yeah, go check out the podcast. Obviously, if you want a slow transition into what he's talking about. Just go listen to the episode I was on.

Mike Jackness  

Exactly. I don't have that episode number handy. But yeah, it'll be sometime soon when this comes out.

Chase Clymer  

People think we prepare for these things.

Mike Jackness  

We do a better job now than ever. We actually have a full time staff that do all this stuff and they could tell you exactly what episode number you're going to be on. I have no idea. 

They schedule my calendar, I show up, and turn on the mic when I'm supposed to. I have some notes. And that's it. That's it. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

I know my part of the process. I know my part of the process. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Mike, thanks so much for coming on. And I'm sure I'll have you back in a couple months and we'll go down some other rabbit hole. I had a lot of fun today. Thank you so much. 

Mike Jackness  

Love it. Absolutely. Same. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. Make sure you subscribe, leave a review

And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.