Episode Twenty One features Rob Cosman about how he makes money on Amazon with Online Arbitrage as well as living as an Expat in beautiful Costa Rica. Pura Vida!
My Key Takeaways:
I really enjoyed talking to Rob and learning not only about Online Arbit...
Episode Twenty One features Rob Cosman about how he makes money on Amazon with Online Arbitrage as well as living as an Expat in beautiful Costa Rica. Pura Vida!
My Key Takeaways:
I really enjoyed talking to Rob and learning not only about Online Arbitrage but his decision to become an Expat in Costa Rica.
To learn more about Rob Cosman, you can check him out at SellingFromTheBeach.com. You can also learn from his free online course at https://www.oamasterclass.com/freefba or his online webinar at https://www.oamasterclass.com/webinar
Now next week, we'll have on Joe Pulizzi talking about his book, Content, Inc. and how you can start a Content First Business, Build A Massive Audience, and Become Radically Successful with little to no money! Be sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app so that you don't miss it or any other episodes.
[00:00:00] Greg Mills: Our guest today has been selling online in various ways since 1998, when he made his very first website and launched a company, selling online craft products. Today, his family of four had been living in Costa Rica since 2017, and they're loving it. In 2012. He and his wife decided that they didn't want an employer to have control over their income anymore.
[00:00:22] They didn't want to work long hours for someone else. And they were tired of making excuses, why commuting two hours every day is not that bad when actually it is. They found themselves exhausted from working harder and not better. He decided to take action by starting to sell on Amazon, again, creating an e-commerce company, selling home products for large retailers, including Home Depot, opening an accounting firm and writing children's books in four different languages. Without further ado.
[00:00:51] Rob Cosman.
[00:00:53] Rob Cosman: Hi, Greg. Thanks for having me on today. That was an amazing Intro!
[00:00:58] Greg Mills: Well, thank you. Now, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from that intro and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world today.
[00:01:06] Rob Cosman: Yeah, sure. I mean, you know, trying to keep track of the dates and you got me pretty good there.
[00:01:12] I first started back in 99. I created my own e-commerce website. Um, you know, at the time everybody was all big on dotcoms and I'm like, Okay.
[00:01:21] I need to do something big on dotcom.
[00:01:23] What can I sell it? I don't know. So then I was trying to different things and trying to brainstorm it. And funny enough, my, my dad at the time was manufacturing these craft products. So it would be called them, like for tole painting. So predominantly women would buy them and they're made out of pine and maybe it's, you know, like a little sign and would, they'd told, painted nicely and nice pastel colors, like, oh, "Home Is Where The Heart Is" and things like that.
[00:01:45] So he kind of said, Hey, I'll sell you some of these I'm like, Okay. cool. So now I gotta figure out how to build a website and how to get credit cards. This was before PayPal and everything like that. So I contacted my local telecommunications company, which was like NBTel at the time.
[00:02:02] They built me a shopping cart feature. It was super clunky, super terrible. We use like visa manera, credit card processing, but it kind of worked. And I built a website and the way I did it was I went to Amazon's page and I went Right- click, Save As, and I saved their page.
[00:02:19] And then I started to try to learn how to code it and kind of put it in HTML and make it look not terrible. And so I launched it, and no one came and no one bought. So then I started to go into these forums where people hang out in these ladies with predominantly ladies would talk about
[00:02:40] Tole painting and running classes. And I started to get in there and, you know, say what I had. And then I realized I was onto something because instead of somebody, you know, who's a hobbyist by one or two of an item, you know, two or three different things. I could sell it to the teachers who were like, they buy 10 or 20 for their class and they keep coming back and keep coming back because they keep running more classes.
[00:03:02] So I was on to something there. So that was kind of my first real taste of entrepreneurship. So I did that for a few years and then I ended up graduating university. I went and got my CPA, my accounting designation and worked for KPMG in Halifax, Nova Scotia, back in Canada. And then, had a bunch of student debt, so I needed to pay my student debts.
[00:03:25] And normally like people in Nova Scotia would go to Bermuda. That's kinda the thing, you know, you go do a couple of years Bermuda it's tax-free and I was lucky. I'm like, Okay.
[00:03:34] Bermuda is like, subTropical. And then my dad mentioned to me, Well, what about Cayman islands? I hear that's pretty cool and sexy.
[00:03:41] I'm like, yes, that sounds sexy. So I looked it up, got on a call and next thing I know, I'm like, Okay.
[00:03:46] great. You can move to Cayman. You get a job there. So I moved to Cayman, worked there for three years and just did kind of the corporate gig, you know, . It was like university, except people had money- like it was all young, single for the most part, moving down, you know?
[00:04:01] And you're just like, this is fun. You know, you work, I'm going, you go hang out, play boat, whatever scuba dive is a big thing. So I did that for a few years. Cayman there's just either insurance or audits for hedge funds and things like that. I like businesses that do stuff.
[00:04:15] And part of why I got into accounting at first was I needed more than just an undergrad degree. I needed something else. I get a CPA and they'll basically pay for my schooling and I can see a bunch of cool businesses along the way, doing audits. One thing led to another friend of mine from university, he was working for a startup.
[00:04:30] They were just launching in Canada. He used to be the President. He's like, Hey, do you want to move here? And I'm like, well, things are pretty good. But at the time my wife's office was starting one in Toronto too. So we're like, Okay.
[00:04:41] Maybe this is the move for us. So in 20, I think that was 2006. We moved to Toronto, you know, start up really fun.
[00:04:50] It was a company called Amp Mobile, and this was before like iTunes and stuff. So you've watched like UFC on your phone and download music and everything. It was awesome, you know, like parties but it was, it was hectic and crazy. You're working long hours cause it's startup trying to get it going.
[00:05:04] And one thing led to another, our US parent went bankrupt and then remember coming home one day and it was like, Oh,
[00:05:11] there's a package for me at the condo. And I opened it up. It's like, oh, you need to be in court tomorrow, cause some creditors were taking actions. I'm like Better call a lawyer. I called the lawyer and that night we put the company into receivership and I was kind of out of a job.
[00:05:24] So, bounced around a bit. I did some consulting, get a job at, Mars, which is a consumer packaged goods, like M and M Snickers. I think it's Milky way. Stuff like that. And I worked there for a while still trying to climb the corporate ladder. And I was just kind of frustrated, not really for me.
[00:05:42] I just want to move faster. And then 2012, we had our first son Jackson and I had an opportunity to take up a CFO role at a small little telco. I was like, okay, that will move me up, get a new son. We started this commute and I'm driving an hour, each way. Plus traffic, my wife was working downtown.
[00:06:02] She was now on maternity leave for a bit.
[00:06:04] Is this really what we want to do? And that's when we took some action, we kind of came up with a plan. So one thing was, I started selling on Amazon. We started our own accounting practice cause my wife's also a CPA. So two of us said, okay, let, let's start our own accounting practice.
[00:06:18] And, she actually wrote a children's book, which was based on our son. And so she self-published it and put it on, Amazon Kindle, print on demand. So basically she creates all the artwork. She's not an artist or anything. She just hired someone to do it. So she just rented, wrote the story, made sure it rhymes and things like that.
[00:06:34] Put it up and then somebody buys it. She gets a royalty. So there's no investment, just the investment in the original artwork and you know, doing it, putting your time in, but then actually once it's live, then someone buys it. She gets a few bucks. So she was like, Oh, interesting. Great. So I'll take this one artwork and one story.
[00:06:53] And have it translated into multiple languages. So, you know, kind of leverage that you've already done the work, so why not? And then she's put it on, Amazon Germany and things like that. So we're like, Okay.
[00:07:00] good. This has started a passive income. You might call it. Right.
[00:07:04] Greg Mills: Okay.
[00:07:04] Rob Cosman: So then I was selling on Amazon I've launched another e-commerce business, selling home products. I was just trying everything right.
[00:07:11] Cause we, we, we decided then when we had Jackson that we didn't want anybody to control us cause I, I just started to see so often anybody can get fired any day. Like it's crazy. And then, I remember one day meeting with the directors of this new company and they were, we were doing some consulting and we're trying to go after a project and all these guys wanted was to get paid for their time to help do a presentation when I'm like, well, I did all the presentation, right?
[00:07:37] I did all the work and you just came in and tried to take some glory for it, and then you want to get paid. And that's when I really started realizing like, no, no, everyone's out for number one. And they'll fire me in a minute. If they have the opportunity, everybody's disposable, you know? And then we started to see that in our accounting practice too.
[00:07:54] When you start a business, you have no clients, but you need to make money. So we were doing $99 personal tax returns. Like I hired a company to go put them on the telephone poles. We made some posters. That's how we got our first clients was like, I saw your flyer on a telephone pole
[00:08:07] and all we did, we started going and you know, we got a few and you just need to make some money, want to get a go at him, proof of concept because you know, don't get some clients you kind of get down on yourself. Is this really what we should be doing? So we started, kind of building that up.
[00:08:20] And at the same time I started selling some stuff on Amazon. So then, we just kinda slowly started to build both of them up, you know, the accounting business and then what I was doing on Amazon. So when I first started, I was just doing thrifting. Just like things like that, like not so much the thrifting, but I've watched a couple YouTube videos.
[00:08:42] These guys were like, oh, I go get these board games, you know, and use board games and you sell them. And I'm like, cool. And I got a couple. And then I'm like, well, I gotta to make sure all the pieces are here. And I'm like going through them, this is really painful. So you know that wasn't working.
[00:08:55] I was using Amazon FBA, which is when you basically buy the item, you package it up and you ship it into Amazon. It sits in their warehouse until the customer sells it. You know, that's why you get the prime label. And people are browsing and they see Amazon prime. They know, and trust prime they'll pay more for it because they know what's in an Amazon warehouse and it's going to get shifted.
[00:09:14] If there's any problems they're going to call Amazon and Amazon is going to refund them the money and take care of it. Right.
[00:09:19] So yeah, I started doing the games that was terrible. The one things I did have some success on and you probably still can have success is you know like a Rock Band and Guitar Hero.
[00:09:30] You know, those video games where they had the actual guitar and the drums. If you find those, cause you used to find them, you know, like five bucks, I find a guitar and I'd sell it for like 60 or 70, you know, obviously you got to test it, make sure it works, but they're hard to find.
[00:09:44] They're not making them. And you know, they always ended up in thrift stores cause parents clean up the kids' junk and That's the biggest things to go, right?
[00:09:52] Greg Mills: If I ever get back into doing Amazon, I'll have to check on that. Now, what was your first product that you developed with Amazon or that you sold on Amazon?
[00:10:05] Rob Cosman: I kinda did the cart before the horse. Usually the evolution is, people start with like thrifting and then they'll do like retail, arbitrage. Retail Arbitrage is you go in the store and you look for items that you can sell, you know, you're going to Walmart, you find stuff that's on sale and then you flip it onto Amazon.
[00:10:22] Or online arbitrage, which is mainly what I do now, where you go to the websites and do the same, flip it on Amazon. There's wholesale too, but then Private Label is a big thing where, you know, the whole, you go on YouTube and you see these people. They're like, okay, we're doing private label.
[00:10:35] You just go to Alibaba, you find this yoga mat, you find this whatever, and you put your brand on it and sell it. It sounds super easy. So when I started, I took it to another level. I'm like, I'm going to try supplements. So I made my own white labeled supplement and I call it white label, private label. I found a manufacturer and it was super sketchy.
[00:10:56] You know, it's the Green Garcinia, Cambogia, Green Bean Extract, Green Tea Extract something. And, Raspberry Ketones. I think everybody was like, oh, Dr. Oz is saying how great they are. And I never saw an episode where hesaid that . Apparently he did. And I really had no idea how sketchy the industry was, but I found a manufacturer and they're like, Yeah, sure. Put your brand on this. So that was when I actually started with them selling on Amazon.
[00:11:23] Greg Mills: Oh, that's frightening. The barrier of entry for that is, is not that high. Were you ever concerned about, you know, the, what, what you might've been, what might've been coming in the package?
[00:11:36] Rob Cosman: So you, you have to get properly, USFDA Manufacturers and things like this. I wasn't buying these from China. I was getting these manufactured, There's obviously a lot of government restrictions and I had from a proper place and they were large manufacturer for a bunch of private label.
[00:11:52] But I mean, all they do is like, here's the bottle. Do you want to put your name on the bottle? Here's all the ingredients. Everybody's got the exact same thing. You put your name on it and you're like, Okay. sure.
[00:12:00] Greg Mills: Okay. Well that makes me feel a little bit better. That's kind of like the private label, grocery thing where, they all buy from the same Cola manufacturer, but they have their own brands.
[00:12:10] Rob Cosman: Yeah, exactly. I started to do that. I spun my wheels on it and it just wasn't really working. The thing they don't tell you is you got to spend money on ads and get your own product. You get to spend ads. So it's like, great. You bought a bottle for $4, you know, to sell it for 12, but then you have to spend two or $3 on ads and now it's even higher.
[00:12:27] It's more competitive. So that's kind of the, the dark secret that a lot of private label sellers don't fully know, and that people don't really tell you is how much ad spend you're going to have to spend up front. You've got that initial capital, like I'm going to make my own product. I'm going to say yoga mats.
[00:12:43] You know, I bring them in from a name on a boom it's five grand, my initial order, 10 grand, but then I haven't sold any. And then I get to spend money on ads, maybe another five grand to try to sell them. And you know, that's the, that's what I, I didn't have the capital nor the desire to do that. So that's when I kind of evolved it.
[00:13:02] Greg Mills: Okay. Now just dropping back a little bit. Do you come from an entrepreneurial background? Was anyone in your family, an entrepreneur? It sounds like your dad might've been.
[00:13:13] Rob Cosman: My parents had, video stores when I was growing up, so my dad used to be in construction. And then when, VHS and Beta kind of first started, he started one of the first video stores in our town. So we did that. So I grew up in my parents had video stores for a number of years.
[00:13:28] That would be us. They were called video back then. it was neat. It was fun. So I had a bit of that exposure and running a business. And then I was, I think I was like 13 when I first started working in the stores, just doing some of the back work and, warehouse stuff kind of thing.
[00:13:43] I did that for awhile and then I transitioned, I was working on the front desk, so I was interacting with customers all the time. Yeah, I had that entrepreneurial taste, but I also. Worked since I was 13, I had a part-time job. Right.
[00:13:56] Greg Mills: Okay. Yeah. most of us did, you know, growing up. I was kind of laughing too, because I imagine Jackson is going to have no idea what a video store was. Why didn't they just stream it?
[00:14:10] Rob Cosman: we watch mostly like Netflix and Disney bless and stuff. And every once in a while we'd go somewhere. And it was like regular TV with commercials. And they're like, what are commercials? What's going on?
[00:14:18] Greg Mills: Yeah, your TV is broke. I've had our grandson say that to us before, because they're used to more streaming services that we have. So, what prompted you to choose Costa Rica?
[00:14:35] Rob Cosman: I came down, I guess it was in, what was it like? 20 15, 20 14. No, I think it was like 2012 actually. You know, I always before Jackson, so probably like 2008, I'm going to say I came down with a friend. Um, we rented a house just on a vacation, one of the house for like, about a month him and his wife and me and my wife.
[00:14:58] We came down, it was like, whoa, this is really like it. We had traveled here once before, um, when we lived in Cayman. Cause that was kind of a thing to go for Easter weekend. They used to have direct flights from Cayman into, Costa Rica. So we came a couple of times and like, I like it. And then, you know, we went down, we liked it when Jackson was born, we start talking about how is this really what we want?
[00:15:18] We were living in Toronto, we had townhouse, it was three bedroom, you know, we did fine. It's a big city and neither of us had lived there before. So we didn't have like, when you go into Toronto and this is what we've missed about Cayman.
[00:15:31] When you go into Cayman, you show up and nobody has family. Everybody's, you know, new ex-pat or just coming in. And everybody's auditioning for friends. It's easy to make, to meet people. We got to Toronto, everybody's lived here and they have their circle of friends. And, you know, like you don't to take out a Craigslist and be like, Hey, new couple here showing up, you don't look auditioning for friends, anybody interested?
[00:15:50] It's tough. So we were Okay.
[00:15:52] this isn't where we want to be. Where do we want to go? What's the plan. And we started talking and looking at different places. We consider going back to Cayman, but it was so expensive. We just kind of kept coming back to Costa Rica was good. And after we came the first time with my friends, we ended up, uh, my wife and I were going to get married.
[00:16:10] We're going to do a destination wedding. We checked out a whole bunch of places. Costa Rica was too expensive, checked out, more, ended up coming back, found a better deal, got married here in Costa Rica. So that was the second subtle hint. Maybe someone were going through and evaluating all that criteria.
[00:16:26] What was important to us. As we started to progress, we had two boys at this point, We had Jackson and Chase so education was going to be important. Healthcare was going to be important, reliability of internet and, obviously location and warm weather. We went through a hurricane, a Category Five when we lived in Cayman, decimated the island. It was kind of like you're scavenging for few days after.
[00:16:48] I didn't really want to do that again. So you know, that wasn't high on my list, but then we also wanted to end up somewhere where we can actually become residents too and be able to stay. Because in Cayman, everybody was on a work permit and to try and get permanent residency was very difficult. So, you know, once we started going down that we started evaluating Panama.
[00:17:06] We started looking at Costa Rica, places like that. And then eventually Costa Rica just kind of kept coming up and coming up. Later on my wife and I decided, Okay.
[00:17:16] let's take it all kind of an adventure. Let's take a trip down. Maybe we'll buy some land, you know, maybe we'll really scope it out, check out the school.
[00:17:22] The kids would go to, you know, get a little committed to it right. More than just, you know, the high, Oh
[00:17:28] we're talking about it someday, someday, someday. So funny enough, we came down, checked out the school, liked it, like the area, the area where we originally came on vacation, just made sense. There was a lot of schools around here.
[00:17:41] A lot of ex-pats, you know, that community where, you know, people are just kind of coming in, but still a lot of, you know, Chico's that live around, you know, we're like, okay, that was a good blend. We didn't want to go rural, you know, off the grid in the jungle, that kind of thing. That's, that's not my gig.
[00:17:54] And so this just kind of worked for us. So now, as I'm sitting here, I live in the same area, , resort complex, whatever you want to call it, that we actually got married at, 10, 12 years ago. So sometimes you just kind of got to go with it, right. Like if it works and it feels good, it feels right.
[00:18:11] And you've been here and you're familiar with like, Okay.
[00:18:13] let's, let's do it.
[00:18:14] Greg Mills: You've kind of come full circle, so to speak. So you look like you're in great shape. How has Costa Rica benefited your lifestyle? I'm looking also at your Live Fit shirt.
[00:18:28] Rob Cosman: It's risky. Right. Cause you feel like you're on vacation, vacation cocktails can flows. You gotta be careful about that. But I'll tell you like coming from Canada where it's cold and you know, like trying to get out of bed. I mean, as an entrepreneur, you know, like you gotta motivate yourself some days, like, cause it's an open book.
[00:18:46] It's awesome because you can do whatever, but you still got to make money and get things done and keep things moving. So I'll tell you. I say this to my wife often, it's a lot easier to get up when it's sunny. We get up here at five 30 now I go to bed at like nine, but the jungle all comes, you know, the, the monkeys start howling at five 30, the birds start, everything's starting to go at five 30 in the morning, but it's easier to get up because it's sunny.
[00:19:09] It's not raining. It's not snowy, it's not cold and you don't have to wear pants it's just, there's, there's more oomph in your day. I feel. And I know you get out and get going, go for a walk, you know, kind of start your day.
[00:19:21] The food is it's fine. Whatever you want, you can get it there's enough. You can get pretty much whatever you get from your home country. You just gotta pay for it. There's like the gringo grocery store, which is really nice air conditioning, and the prices are pricey,
[00:19:35] or you can go to the local fruit markets down the road. Yeah. Stuff that probably came off a tree literally like yesterday, right?
[00:19:42] Greg Mills: Now you're, you've been blessed in that you've lived in a number of very scenic, gorgeous places. My wife and I took a trip to Nova Scotian just absolutely loved that area.
[00:19:54] Can you describe what the Pura Vida lifestyle is in Costa Rica?
[00:20:01] Rob Cosman: It's funny. Everybody says Pura Vida , you know. It's almost like a greeting or, Hey, how are you? People are definitely relaxed. It depends on where you go. If you need to do something with the government or you gotta go somewhere and get things done, and then quite often it'll take you two or three times. People give you bad information and you show up somewhere it's closed.
[00:20:17] So you gotta just kind of roll with it and expect it. When we first came down, we were doing a lot of things to get our temporary residency and things and know, I was just like, well, you don't want probably going to do this twice. Right. You know, and just, oh, we might open today. Uh, today we didn't open, you know, the thing is that it's relaxed.
[00:20:36] You don't get too stressed about that. But at the same time, when you're trying to do things, sometimes it does get frustrating . You'd be like, Aw, man, you know, Pura Vida and sometimes it's a bit of a scapegoat, but you know, like the thing is for us here, we've engineered where we, you know, like our school is just 20 minutes down the road.
[00:20:52] Everything's close. Like the beach is a 10 minute walk down here. The golf course is a five minute walk. We have a golf membership. I never could have afforded that back in, in Canada. Now we golf as a family, usually once, sometimes twice a week.
[00:21:05] You can't get as much stuff as you want to purchase.
[00:21:08] So. You're not so wound up in that, Hey, I love Amazon. Don't get me wrong by all kinds of stuff on it. But like, you don't need all that here. I mean, I don't even own a pair of pants. The other day it was raining. And I said to my son, I'm like, oh, your rain jacket doesn't fit you.
[00:21:22] And he's like, it's been like a year and a half since I put on a jacket. Like, you know, it's fun, it's different. But,
[00:21:30] it's what you want to make a,. I still work quite a bit. Some people they don't work, maybe they have retirement savings or, you know, they work very little or they're on a sabbatical.
[00:21:39] So they're like, oh, I'm doing yoga class today. And I'm learning Spanish in this hour, you know, like kind of what you make it, you know, and everybody kind of has their own experience and, and how they.
[00:21:51] Greg Mills: I think you mentioned that you bought property. So you are in Costa Rica. You are allowed as an ex-pat to, to own property.
[00:22:00] Rob Cosman: Yeah, so we, when we first came down, we bought a plot of land, in a gated community. We're talking about building a house and yes, you can own it. You know, like you can own it in a corporation, you can own it directly. But Yeah.
[00:22:13] there's, there's no problem with that. So right now that was when we, I guess that was five years ago, maybe six years ago, we bought her a piece of property there with the plan I'm moving down.
[00:22:24] I think the goal was 20, 22 was when we originally said we were going to be there, , I think it was, 2016. I remember. So at this time I had been packaged out of my corporate job and I was working on my accounting practice, working on Amazon. The packaged out. My wife messaged me.
[00:22:43] She's like, I think I'm getting fired today. And I'm like, you're crazy. She goes, no, I just passed the HR girl on the elevator in the hallway. She always talks to me and you know, they kind of bro out and, you know, chit chat, but she doesn't, she doesn't work in the same building. So she's like, Hmm, you're here, but you wouldn't really talk to me and just kind of like, Hmm, that's weird.
[00:23:02] Two hours later she messaged me and she was like, come get me, got fired, got packaged up. She was like, we're moving to Costa Rica. I'm like, whoa. You know, like, let's just do this. I was excited, but I'm also nervous. I was like, Okay.
[00:23:14] we've been talking about it, you know? Yes. We bought the land, but you know, this is like 2016.
[00:23:19] And we kept saying 20, 22 maybe. And you know, like it's really raw. Like let's just talk and relax. I said, she's like, no, this is what we're doing. And you know, so that was in she finished up in December. I think this was like November. She finished in December of 2016. And then we just kept doing the tax season and we said, Okay.
[00:23:36] we'll finish out the tax season in Canada and then move.
[00:23:38] And, and that was what we did because we already had the land, but we didn't have a house. So then we ended up finding a house that was just a little bit down from, the land, you know, in the same community to rent, that way it would give us a bit of a feeling which I'm still an accountant, a little risk adverse, right.
[00:23:53] Like I, I bought the land, but I'm like, do we do enough research? You know, we're only down a few days, is this exactly where the best place we want to live? What about further down? You know, we really haven't explored so many more areas, you know, within that like half an hour, there's there's Flamingo, Expressive, Lidos, Potrero, there's Tamarindo.
[00:24:10] So we were still cautious about building until, you know, we were down here and really kind of lived in the area bad. I mean, you know, you spend, like we spent, it was like $78,000 a piece of land. I don't want to spend another couple hundred grand to build a house yet. Like let's just, you know, kind of wait and I'm glad we did cause we didn't build it.
[00:24:30] Greg Mills: Okay. So the prices it sells like for, for land and, you know, building a house like, the type that you wanted sound very similar to the states at least in the part of the country where I live.
[00:24:43] Rob Cosman: yeah, for sure. And since COVID the prices have just gone through the roof here, I think that what's, COVID hit a lot of people were at home. They're like, Okay. you know, what, what am I waiting for?, maybe we need that second property. Or maybe, you know, we spend half the time there and with the move to working from home.
[00:25:01] So many more people had that flexibility. Like I've seen It here, like where I live. There's very little inventory for rentals and the prices just keep going up because usually what happens is, you know, there's like a group of families that will come in and just say, okay, I'm going to do a year here and they'll rent a place for a year and get a car and go to school, you know, just try the adventure for a bit.
[00:25:21] But, you know, leave after a year, that's a, downpipe. It's kind of, it's a little transient sometimes. Um, but when COVID hit, they didn't have any of the people flying in. So it's almost like there was two years of built up people that wanted to come. And then I think COVID created a lot of people to, to reflect on what they were doing and, you know, life and, you know, is this really what we want?
[00:25:41] And, you know, we keep saying someday, maybe some days now let's do it. Or let's, you know, buy a place, rented out most of the time, you know, we'll come down for a few months at a time and you know, so the prices have really gone up and the availability is definitely low. So I don't know how long this is going to last, but right now it's a hot market..
[00:26:04] Greg Mills: How how'd your family prepare for the move? Did you have to sell everything or did you kind of prioritize stuff or ship it over.
[00:26:13] Rob Cosman: Yeah, so again, sometimes things just start to work. So we're in the middle of tax season. It was busy, but we lived in Toronto, so it was a super hot real estate market. And I keep an eye on what's going on and we lived in a townhouse and there was a row of them and there was one for sale, a few doors down.
[00:26:30] And I was trying to see, you know, what I went for and I heard, and I was like, okay, interesting, cool. You know, like that's what it'll be. But I mean, we had two kids, uh, Chase at the time was three, you know, we had nothing nice. You know, we had crappy couches, you know, like stuff. When we first bought, we moved to Toronto, that's all we've had.
[00:26:48] And you know, you buy a few things. Kids destroy stuff. And we're like, we're not buying anything nice. And we didn't, you know, a lot of our stuff, we either threw out, we tried to sell some, we try to give away things. Um, and then we put some into storage too, with the idea of shipping it down, you know, the better stuff.
[00:27:03] But, you know, I mean our, our couch, we're just like, yeah. Straight to the garbage, you know, it was ripped up. It was, you know, like junk. Right.
[00:27:10] I can't in good conscious sell this to anybody. I can give it away for free, but it's not even worth that.
[00:27:15] Put it on the curb. Someone takes it. Your problem, not mine. Right. So, yeah. So we, we, we did that. We put someone to storage, um, which was a bad idea hindsight, but one day, all of a sudden, you know, we're working away and the lady knocked at the door and my wife opened it up and it was a real estate agent.
[00:27:33] She was just cold calling. She says, yeah, I have clients who just missed out on the bidding war, you know, four doors down. Are you interested in selling? Marsha yells up to me, you know, upstairs. I'm like, come on it. So that was on a Wednesday. She had her clients in Friday and I said, look, you know, this is the place it's lived in.
[00:27:50] I'm not staging it. I'm not doing any of it, but you know, you want to make a deal. I already know what that one sold for. I know what your commissions go for it. You know, I know what the market rate is. What do you want to do? So that was Wednesday. She brought her clients Friday, Friday night, we had a deal. Done.
[00:28:07] Greg Mills: Wow. That was just incredibly easy. I'm assuming that you sold your cars as well, your vehicles and you bought something there.
[00:28:16] Rob Cosman: yeah. So we had, we had two cars at the time, and again, weird coincidence. One of them was on a lease and it was just finishing, you know, in may. So we're like, perfect. Get rid of that one. And then the other one, I ended up giving it to my parents. So they had it shipped down to New Brunswick, but then the stuff that we had, the good stuff, we put it in a storage lot.
[00:28:37] 24 hour, public storage, security, blah, blah, blah, all these access codes, terrible decision. In hindsight, three months later, my wife comes back to check and get some stuff shows up. She's like, Hmm, this is not our lock on the unit, opens it up. Sure enough, the TVs are gone. My Sono system, our bikes, you know, pretty much anything of value is all mocked off.
[00:28:59] And, you know, tell me that wasn't an inside job. She went down to the counter and the guy was like, Yeah.
[00:29:04] here's the pamphlet call the number. If it was my business and all of a sudden someone's broken into, I'm like, we're pulling the tapes. We need to figure this out. We need to get to the, you know, the problem.
[00:29:14] We finally ended up shipping it down and the stuff we did end up shipping, it wasn't a full container or anything. It was only a half, you know, not even, and it was just some fragile pieces that were valuable or had sentimental value. But before we did it, we went back again and went through it because stuff you think you needed.
[00:29:31] And then, you know, after a year you're like, no, I don't need that bin that get rid of it. You know, like it's a different mentality to, you know, like sometimes you just want to hold on to stuff and I'm bad at it. And my wife rags at me for it.
[00:29:44] But like, you know, I may need that someday, you know, but just trying to let go of it, the less stuff you have, the less mental capacity it takes to think about it and worry about it.
[00:29:53] Greg Mills: Now, let's switch gears a little bit here, and I'm going to kind of throw both of these out. You mentioned Online Arbitrage, as well as Amazon. Can you walk us through those?
[00:30:04] Rob Cosman: sure. So I sell on Amazon and I use a method. In the biz. We call it online arbitrage. So it's really just flipping re reselling it, flipping stuff. So what I do is I'll go to a website like Walmart and I'll find a Lego set that's maybe on sale and I'll buy it. And then what I do, because I'm here, I have it shipped.
[00:30:26] So I have a lady who works for me in Toronto. It's shipped to her, or I have a couple of prep centers. So there's businesses out there that will prepare your products for you. So I have, I used to have them in the states, another one in Canada, plus my helper. So I ordered the stuff it arrives to it's in the prep center.
[00:30:42] They'll, inspect it, make sure it's not damaged. Then they'll create a shipment in my Amazon Seller Central, like my backend that, and then they put it in a box and they ship it into Amazon for me. And it sits there until someone buys it. So someone goes on and they they're looking for this Lego set.
[00:31:00] It's a Star Wars Lego set, let's say, and they look at it and they say, oh, it's, you know, 199, it's Amazon Prime. And they add it to the box. Most people you'll look and you'll see, sometimes it's shipped by Amazon sold by Amazon. Sometimes it's shipped by Amazon sold by Rob Cosman, but a lot of people don't really notice that.
[00:31:18] And so that's what I do. There's kind of two main methods either. I'm buying things , at a discount and trying to sell them to kind of the normal price or I'm buying things, usually like normal price and selling at an inflated price, either due to demand and supply. It's hard to find some stuff that's like particularly Lego sets that might be retired or harder to find , um, shoes and boots and things.
[00:31:43] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, do you use any type of special software or, things for track deals or how does that work?
[00:31:52] Rob Cosman: I use tons of it, but it'll just starting out. It's it's it's really simple. So one thing is there's this one little software, and if anybody shops on Amazon, this is going to change your life. It's called Keepa K E P a keepa.com. So it's a Chrome plugin for your Chrome browser and what it will do, there's a free and a paid version.
[00:32:11] The paid version is like 15 Euro a month. That's what I have because it shows me a sales rank. But what this does is it will show you the historical price of that item over time and then you can set an alert. So if, for instance, you're looking to buy this PlayStation and it always sells for 300 bucks, but every once in a while, it drops to 250, you can send an alert to say, Hey, send me an email when it drops to $250 and it'll send you a.
[00:32:37] So KEEPA plugs into the data from Amazon through like their backend and it's always pinging it, it's gathering historical pricing and it's also gathering what they call a sales rank. So you look at our listing, it'll tell you what a sales rank is. And that's a number anywhere from like one to, like millions.
[00:32:54] But depending on it, say, if I look at a toy and it has a sales rank of 2000, I know that's probably selling me this time of the year. Maybe it's selling 50 units a day. So there's data available using like Keepa to help me make these decisions like, Okay,
[00:33:11] this normally sells for this after the Amazon fees, you know, how much money am I going to make on it?
[00:33:16] And how quickly would that probably sell? So that's one tool that I use. And another one is one called AZI Insight and it's another Chrome plugin. When I look at the Amazon listing, it pulls up this little calculator. And I put in my bike cost. So it pulls in what the current selling price is. I put in the buy cost and it shows me my profit margin, my ROI right there.
[00:33:36] It pulls in all kinds of data as to how often, you know, historical pricing. Um, what's my break, even all those calculations right there. So literally I can look at a Lego set, look it up really quickly on Amazon and putting my bike cost and show me right there. Okay.
[00:33:52] Is, you know, will they make the threshold of how much I want to make?
[00:33:55] Great. And then the sales rank, well, how often would sell, Okay.
[00:33:59] I'll buy three of them. I'll buy 10 of them. I'll buy 20 of them. I'll buy a hundred. Right.
[00:34:03] Greg Mills: Have you ever gotten stuck with something, that you thought would just fly off the shelves, something that looked like it was a great deal, but had a horrendous sales rank and you might not have realized it?
[00:34:17] Rob Cosman: Well, I'll tell you one story. And yes, you still make mistakes. Cause I'm also taking risks, you know, especially on, going into Q4 and the amount of supply shortages everybody's talking about through, everything coming from China and toys, you know, like, I'll take a risk out.
[00:34:30] Like last year I bought one toy. I was, and I'll probably buy it again. Cause it's still hard to find a but hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of units. And I was actually buying it from Amazon, selling it back on Amazon. Amazon was the only person that had them. So I would just buy them and sell them and buy them for 20 bucks.
[00:34:45] Sell them for like 60. But what few years back there was a shoe. It's an Adidas superstar. It's a very classic shoe. It's a white one, but it was for women and it was the white with the black stripes. And for whatever reason, it was hard to find in the states. And I could find them in Canada. So I went into a couple of shoe chains and I said, Okay.
[00:35:05] how many have you got all across the country?
[00:35:07] And you know, I bought like, I don't know, it was probably like a hundred, 150. Maybe even more across various sizes. So I brought them all in I was selling them like crazy. It was great. Then all of a sudden, Amazon says we're restricting a couple sizes. It was like seven and seven and a half. I couldn't sell those sizes for whatever reason.
[00:35:25] And I found out I looked at it, there was a bunch of people manufactured, a bunch of knockoffs that were selling it. So people were complaining on those sizes and it was only those ones that I guess they were knocking off. So suddenly I had, you know, 30 or 40 pairs of these shoes at a hundred bucks each.
[00:35:41] And they couldn't sell on Amazon where I get the most amount of money. And I was like, Okay.
[00:35:46] what am I going to do? Eventually I waited it out after a couple of months and they finally opened it back up and I was able to send them in. But you know, shoes are different than a hot toy. You know, sometimes I make a judgment on, you know, like I think I was doing, um, I think they call me like a Furby type thing and I thought I was going to be really hot and the supply would shrink.
[00:36:05] And I, we started buying a bunch early on in October. The supply never shrunk. So. Yeah, you get to a point where you're like, Okay.
[00:36:12] fine. Just get your capital back. Right. You know, maybe it didn't make any money, maybe take a $5 loss on each, but get that money back and then you can reinvest it into something versus waiting another two or three months and hoping, you know, sometimes you just gotta cut your loss and, and, buy something else.
[00:36:28] Greg Mills: How much time would you estimate that you work on this per day or per week?
[00:36:33] Rob Cosman: Amazon. A couple of hours a day, it really goes up and down, depends on how much money I have, how much credit card room you have. Um, but most of it like I've outsourced it. I mean, really what I just do is the buying and I've outsourced all my prep. So the prep is all done. I have a repricer which automatically adjust my price depending on the competitors.
[00:36:54] And then I've got guys that handle customer damages. Cause you know, people return stuff, it gets damaged. So I have a system in place that, you know, the guys we call those open cases, get me reimbursed. Then I sent it off to another guy, excuse me. He sells them on eBay, Poshmark, wherever he can. So I've got that.
[00:37:11] So basically all I'm looking at is some pricing and just the purchasing, you know, I could start to outsource some of it, it also depends. It's seasonal for me. So for Q4 in around Black Friday, things like that, , I'll do more of it because I'm buying more and I'm spending more money, but stuff's turning over.
[00:37:29] Whereas in tax season, I'll spend less because I'm spending more time on the Accounting. So, you know, I spend less time on Amazon. So it's kind of, you know, ebbs and flows. It's really, if I can go some days I'll go two or three days and not buying anything. But if all of a sudden, you know, one of my favorite stores and I've got like 10 of them, let's say one of them is having a 25% off sale today.
[00:37:50] I'm like, well, let me go see what I can find.
[00:37:54] Greg Mills: That makes sense. Now, what category do you recommend? Somebody just starting out to focus on?
[00:38:01] Rob Cosman: When you first start out, you're going to be gated is what they call it. You're not going to be allowed to sell every type of brand or product. Some of them are going to be gated forever. Others require you to find a good wholesaler, a correct wholesale act. You get on gated. Um, others will just open up over time and then new brand new account.
[00:38:19] Amazon's not going to trust you to sell Nike's because they think you might send it fake Nike. So when we first started out, probably Home Goods, is what you're going to have, like coffee makers and, things like that you might be able to start with, but really it's about just scanning.
[00:38:33] So you download the Amazon seller app on your phone for free. I have a paid one called Profit Bandit, but you can just use that. And literally you just scan items. You go up to them and you look at the barcode, you scan it or you look up the barcode on, on the website and see if it gets sell it.
[00:38:49] But you know, you're going to be gated in toys for the first bit. If you can get on gated, their toys are good, but I would start probably with. Home goods are usually pretty decent. You know, a lot of people recommend starting with books, um, around your house, just looking to see what books should have both.
[00:39:06] I mean, Amazon is a book company. That's what it started with. right.
[00:39:09] So use books that would probably cost you no inventory. Just go and start scanning what's in your house and sell it.
[00:39:16] Reference manuals and some textbooks and, things like that, cookbooks, you know, those are what people are looking for, specialty cookbooks, you know, it's the more obscure things, but I never did books that didn't really have a lot of books and.
[00:39:27] Books are too much for me. It's just too much time. Like I was starting with a thrifting or you scan a bunch of books and, you know, I just want to be more efficient. So I just, I kind of jumped the books and went straight to, arbitrage and buying brand new items and flipping them.
[00:39:41] Greg Mills: Okay. Now are you selling any physical products that you are sourcing not via the online arbitrage, like you had started with the vitamin supplements or are you doing any of that now?
[00:39:54] Rob Cosman: No. So I do have another business with my father where we have our own e-commerce website and we make some Home Good products. He manufactures those and we sell those on multiple channels, like Home Depot and HOUZZ and places like that. So, but he makes it, instead of me going and get a Chinese manufacturer, you know, he's the one that manufactures it and, you know, we do like reclaimed wood products.
[00:40:18] So he makes those and then ships them out. I handle all the backend. I handleon the customer service calls, you know, we don't get that many, but you know, I get people that call them, have some questions and, you know, I'm Okay.
[00:40:30] to talk to, and I can chat with them on the phone. And, you know, it's usually, you know, people like, oh, I'm, you know, confused about square footage and you're not, can you help me through this calculation and, and stuff like that.
[00:40:40] So we still do that, but Amazon's not our main channel for that, you know, Home Depot and our own website are the main channel for those businesses. I don't do any of the kind of traditional private label stuff that people advertise.
[00:40:54] Greg Mills: Now with a Home Depot, how did you get started with that? And do you, do they do like a fulfilled by, well, we'll say fulfilled by Amazon, but fulfilled by home Depot or do you have to handle the shipping?
[00:41:08] Rob Cosman: Yeah. So we do the shipping, we do a drop shipping, so they pay for the shipping, I get the orders and then we slapped their labels on it. But it's a drop shipping?
[00:41:15] Yeah. So then they don't carry the inventory. We're not available in store. It's only online. But how I got there, so that business kind of evolve.
[00:41:22] It's funny. We started with Etsy, you know, when you're doing reclaimed products, reclaim wood products, you know, I saw something on HGTV and I said to my dad, can you make that? And it was like a reclaimed wood light thing. He was like, yeah, I can make that. So we started doing that. And then we were doing some iPad holders that are reclaimed wood and we're getting some good traction on Etsy.
[00:41:40] Then we evolve to a website called house H O U S Z And that's same type of thing. Third party marketplace. We list our products. We drop ship them. You know, they give us the shipping labels and we send them in. So we did that. And then we became popular in a couple of categories. And then suddenly home Depot came knocking and category manager found me, you know, I think category management might be.
[00:42:03] And he's like, Hey, are you interested in selling home Depot? I'm like, heck Yeah.
[00:42:06] I am. But I'll tell you, It's an entirely different game onboarding with that kind of a company, like literally six, eight months to set up SKUs and get going and just really slow. And no, like I'm not the smartest guy, but, I kind of understand some of the tech stuff and making SKUs and things, but there was just a whole another level and it was really painful, but like most things, if it's painful and a higher barrier of entry, fewer people are going to do it, so it should be less competition.
[00:42:38] Greg Mills: It's probably worth it then. So did they require you to have any special insurance that you didn't
[00:42:45] Rob Cosman: You gotta have a liability of 2 million, I think, general liability, product liability insurance. You gotta have all that, they're big on, you've got to hit all your metrics, you know, someone orders, something it's gotta be shipped within 2 days. If you're late on the shipment, they send you a fine 125 bucks.
[00:42:59] I think it is. If it's big, like the other day I got an email and they're like, Hey, we're doing it. They call it category refreshed. And you've got to go in and update some of the items on your SKU because there's all these different details they need to know. And if you didn't do it within like two or three days, you could be subject to fines.
[00:43:18] So again, they just fine us and they just withhold it from what you're going to pay. So, you know, that's, that's a downfall. I mean, these guys have?
[00:43:25] massive traffic, massive, massive customers, but you know, you're kind of at their whim. They're not your customers. They're Home Depot. They're, Amazon's, you know, like that's the thing.
[00:43:34] When they come to my website, they're my customers, all that's, that's what you always want to try to do. But you know, having your own website, trying to get customers there isn't necessarily the easiest thing when you've got behemoths like that, the customers are all there. So, you know, so.
[00:43:48] Greg Mills: Have you, have you figured out any way to, to transfer or, say you sell something on, on home depot.com to actually capture the customer's email?
[00:44:02] Rob Cosman: you know, you don't get that because if you do that, that's how you get kicked off. Right.
[00:44:07] Same with Amazon. You're trying to go after, because they're their customers and they're very protective. Like I've got the customer contact details, but I can't contact them because they're home, Depot's customers, they're Amazon's customers.
[00:44:20] And that's where people get into trouble, especially on Amazon people trying to incentivize them for reviews and things like that. That's what gets in trouble. Home Depot's a little more relaxed because store reps will call me, and they're like, Hey, I got Joe here. He's got some questions about your product.
[00:44:34] Or when can you get this in stock? When can we get that in stock? They're a little more flexible, it's funny when you talk to the home Depot customer service reps and people on their there, they're smart. They're good. They're people like you and me, you know, like there people are, that's their career job.
[00:44:49] Whereas, you know, you talk to the Amazon reps, it's all about metrics. They're trying to get as many calls as they can. They just don't read things. They just reply with a standard template that could be anywhere in, based in the world. And if they don't answer 30 cases in an hour, they're fired kind of thing.
[00:45:02] So it's frustrating. But dealing with the Home Depot people way smarter, way better
[00:45:08] Greg Mills: I was originally gonna suggest capturing warranty information and then, contacting, but you, the way you explained it, that makes perfect sense. They're not obviously not going to want you selling directly to their customer.
[00:45:20] Rob Cosman: And sometimes they are more flexible because, they will call and say, Hey, I've got this customer we're out of stock. I'll just sound to your website. Okay. Sure. You know, I'm, I'm happy to, but I don't want to be actively going out there and, getting it, I mean, we give instructions on how to install and, you know, in the product.
[00:45:36] So, you know, it's got our website on it. Yeah. They find us, they come to us after, you know, but you know, not necessarily the repeat business is usually from designers and contractors that are doing, Starbucks and Universities and, they keep coming back. The average person is going to order from one time kind of thing.
[00:45:52] Greg Mills: Okay. Do you find yourself having to take a lot of customer service calls or tech support calls for that?
[00:45:59] Rob Cosman: No, no, it's pretty good the good thing is we, we sell a very good quality product, so we don't get many returns or issues. And most of it's usually just questions or, people that are indecisive like, oh, I'm not really sure what color and you know, what do you think I should do? And sometimes they just want to bounce an idea off you.
[00:46:14] Like, here's the size of my room? What size do you think I should use and what color? And you know, they just want to somebody that they can chat with. Like then, you know, I make some jokes about, you know, oh, what does your wife want? What is your husband? Why, you know, happy wife, happy life, you know, they just, it's usually pretty light.
[00:46:30] It's pretty good. It's nothing too technical
[00:46:33] Greg Mills: What's if you don't mind my asking, what is the name of your brand?
[00:46:37] Rob Cosman: East Coast Rustic.
[00:46:39] Greg Mills: East Coast Rustic. Okay. I'll have to look that up
[00:46:42] So what are some of the common mistakes that you see people making when they're selling on Amazon or when they're selling on online in general?
[00:46:53] Rob Cosman: I'm an accountant for a lot of Canadian Amazon sellers. And I see a new people coming in and. There's a big trend and it's all over YouTube and Instagram, whatever. Like it's called private label. Where, as I said, with the yoga mat, Hey look, this yoga mat cost $20 on Alibaba. You can sell it for $30 on Amazon.
[00:47:13] Like look at all the money, make your own brand. And they have this aspiration, okay, I'm going to do that. Put my own name on it. And I'm going to eventually sell it for millions of dollars. But when you're first starting out, you don't understand the Amazon game. , Maybe you've never really run a business before.
[00:47:29] And it's not that easy. Who was that easy. Everybody would do it. You know, like, Hey, I sell a high-end course, but other people sell courses and I've seen these guys make more money selling courses than actually doing it. Um, you know, I'm different. I make a lot of money doing it and I also make money teaching people how to.
[00:47:47] So the biggest mistake I see is people like, great, I'm going to start, I'm going to do my own brand. I'm using this software that tells me how often something sells. And I'm going to decide on the product based on that. And that software is used by a thousand other people. And then when we go to China and we have made in the same manufacturer that you have made from is also going to sell the same thing under his brand.
[00:48:09] So then, you know, by the time it actually arrived, six months later, there's a ton of other people already selling it. And the decision you made when it was, you know, someone at $50, now the price is way down to 30 or 20, plus your ad spend. And suddenly you can't make any money at it. And you've got five or 10 grand invested into one product that now you can't sell.
[00:48:29] Whereas what I like is the arbitrage, like particularly online arbitrage, because I just go to websites and that's what I do. But if you're going to retail, arbitrage or online arbitrage with thrifting, you know, you're taking small calculated risks. Like you're not sinking five grand or 10 grand into one SKU that's unproven. You're buying this one Lego set that I, using the data I know sells for this price usually, and it will sell 20 units a day. So therefore, if I buy three at half price on clearance, I'm going to make money and I'm going to make a few dollars and I will turn that over. And probably by the time I buy it, ship it in, sell it and get paid.
[00:49:08] Maybe it's three weeks later, right. I'm not getting samples and doing research and getting, you know, from Chinese manufacturing, you know, waiting three weeks to get a sample and realizing that's crap. And we want to find another one and you know, like just take small risks, make profit, get comfortable, you know, maybe you do selling home goods and you like that category.
[00:49:28] But then some other categories start to open there. You're like, Okay.
[00:49:31] let me look at toys for a bit. Now let me get into shoes for a bit, you know? And you're only taking you. Just buy two items. Okay.
[00:49:38] I buy them. I saw a pair of shoes or, you know, I saw this toy. I think it it'll make me money. I'll buy two of them if you're dead wrong.
[00:49:45] You're going to lose, you know, like 20 bucks, 30 bucks, right. And you're dead wrong on a private label product. You are gonna lose the 10 grand you put in. Plus the ad spend that you you've spent trying to figure out that you were dead wrong. You know, take small risks, go broad first, figure out what works, actually sit back and say, Okay. after I bought it and I finally sold it when I bought it, did I think it was going to sell for a hundred dollars and they make X number of dollars.
[00:50:10] What did I actually sell it for at the end? And did that make sense? Sometimes I do it too. I buy things that I don't really lock in. They're huge. And I'm like, well, that was too big. The amount of time it takes to prep these big items and send them in and the amount of profit, it wasn't worth the effort.
[00:50:26] The post analysis to say, was that a good decision or was that a bad decision? And being able to face the truth and say it was a bad decision, don't do that again. Or it was good. Amazing. Let's go do more of this. Find more of those when people don't do the posts. So, you know, that's what I see as big risks.
[00:50:44] Just take small little risks, get your confidence, start building up that cash flow, take that small investment, roll the profits over, and then you can start buying more inventory. Right?
[00:50:54] Greg Mills: Okay. Talking a little bit about your course. How in depth is it and is it interactive as far as, or are you kind of leading people through or is it more of an evergreen type where it's already generated?
[00:51:09] Rob Cosman: I'm going to call it a hybrid. So I've got, so it's funny when COVID hit, basically for the last like year and a half, two years, I started making training videos and, I think I've got probably like 12 hours now, 12 to 13 hours and they keep adding to it. But I started making all these training videos.
[00:51:26] Whenever somebody asks me a question, I was doing it. I'm like, let me record it. And I'll talk just like this, you know, going to be talking head on. No just me in the bottom corner and I'm walking you through what I'm doing and how to set things up or how I'm sourcing. I'm like, look, I'm going to Walmart right now.
[00:51:40] This is how I look. This is where I find things. I've got videos that are very, here's what to do. And then I get videos where you're standing over my shoulder and I'm showing you how to do it, but still those are Okay.
[00:51:51] Those are canned. That already happened in the past. I've showed you what, you know, here's the strategies to go find new stuff.
[00:51:58] Now I have lists of stores. I am all kinds of that. But then I also have a Facebook group just for the students where I'm in there. And I'm basically spoonfeeding you stuffed to buy because you know, like in a private label course, you know, people are like, Hey, go research this. And then it's going to take you six months before you even launch a product.
[00:52:18] Whereas if I'm doing online arbitrage for someone, my course is, I'm like, no, no, go buy this right now. You will make money right now. I want people to use it. I don't want you to just buy it and not use it because I know how powerful it can be. I mean, I've seen, you know, some of my best accounting clients, I've seen them grow over the years using this model and they start out with making 20, $30,000 in sales, another millions, you know, two or three years later, they've scaled up.
[00:52:43] I know what it can do. And it's not that hard. So I can spoonfeed you like, literally go buy this. You get that win, you feel the success, you're like, Okay.
[00:52:53] Why didn't that one work? Why was that a buy? How did he find it? Let me go do more of it. Right? So if I can stack the deck, because you'd say like in your favor, as much as possible by telling you, Hey, this is a great lead, go get it.
[00:53:05] I get some people at DM me. And they're like, Rob, I'm thinking about this. What do you think? You know, I'm going to buy 10. Does that make sense? And I'm like, Yeah,
[00:53:12] I would definitely buy 10 or I buy 20 or no.
[00:53:15] I don't like it because this, you know, like, so I, I do have that interaction. Um,
[00:53:21] it's not one-on-one coaching, but some of it is.
[00:53:24] I just want you to win. I want people to make money, right. Profit.
[00:53:28] Greg Mills: okay. And you teach people how to do it remotely as well.
[00:53:34] Rob Cosman: So part of my, my training is, you know, from the very basic setting up your account, how did you that getting your tax settings right to okay. Here's, you know, some of the plugins, the tools I use, here's the methods of sourcing, but here's also the evolution too first. I always say, do it yourself. When you first start out, you have more time than you have money.
[00:53:52] And if you don't do it yourself, how do you know how to measure someone else too? How are they doing a good job? Or what's your definition of success? How many units are they getting through that kind of thing? So, at first I'm like, do it yourself. Here's the labels. Here's how it works. Understand that.
[00:54:08] Then as you start to grow that. Then, okay. Now go to the prep center and here's what to look for in a prep center. Here's some of the prep centers I use here's, you know, the pros and cons of them or going to, Hey, getting friends and family, you know, that's kind of an evolution of, a lot of people will do they'll do it themselves.
[00:54:25] Then they'll get the family involved sometimes. Like it's a it's, you know, the husband and wife or partners or whatever, then maybe they get the kids. The kids help them to do some prep. As the business starts to grow and they pay the kids a few dollars, then they get an honor and uncle and family friend, because it's one of those things where look, I just got a bunch of toys.
[00:54:42] I need you to slap labels on it and put it in a box. You can do it at any time of the day you want, I don't care. So for, you know, friends and family, it's like, okay, I can make a few extra dollars. You know, you pay me a dollar, a unit to prep. Okay. cool. And that's how they start to grow their business and evolve.
[00:54:57] And then they eventually, okay. Now maybe we go to the prep center.
[00:55:01] Greg Mills: Okay. Well that makes sense. Is there anything that I have not asked you that you'd like to cover or expand on?
[00:55:11] Rob Cosman: We lived in Toronto and, we were saying that we were moving, you just hear so many people saying, I wish I could do that, but I can't, I wish I could do that, but I can't.
[00:55:19] Well, why? You know, everybody has their reasons. Everybody has their objections, you know, like, do I have my reasons why I couldn't move for sure. But you know, it's also, why not? You know, if it's, if it's what you want to do, you just got to kind of figure out how it works. I mean, some people just cut on a whim and say, Hey, I'm leaving, sell everything and move on.
[00:55:37] We've been planning a very slowly, I mean, it's different if it was just me and you're like, Okay.
[00:55:41] see you later. And nine to five job, I can go wherever. But once you've got kids in the mix, you need to be, you need to be sure. And sometimes, I see people coming down here and they're not sure they don't have their money.
[00:55:52] Right. They think that they'll figure it out when they get down here. And those are the people that leave sooner than they wanted, you know? But that's why I love selling on Amazon. I mean, it's opened up a world to us, you know, the flexibility and you know, like, I don't care what age you are, whether you're 18 or whether you're 68, like, it's, it's something that you can do.
[00:56:14] If you have a little bit of computer skills, it's doable, it's achievable. And it doesn't matter where you live in the world. And I was, as you've got computer access and you know, your bank account credit card, you can do it.
[00:56:25] Greg Mills: Okay. Let's talk about a little bit about your podcast.
[00:56:29] Rob Cosman: Sure. It's a, it's called selling from the beach. That's our brand and that's our website. We've obviously we have our accounting firm, but you know, we decided that we wanted to go do more teaching and do more courses and things. Then, you know, we rebranded, so we're selling stuff for the beach.
[00:56:44] So, um, my wife has a course on how to create your own children's books, even if you can can't draw or anything. So she did that at the same time. I did my online masterclass. Um, so that's why we kind of roped in all around that. But at the same time it was during COVID and I started listening to a ton more podcasts and I was like, maybe I should make a podcast.
[00:57:04] I dunno. That sounds like fun. I mean, Hey, why did you make, when it sounds like fun, right, Greg? So I do the same.
[00:57:11] Greg Mills: of interesting people.
[00:57:12] Rob Cosman: Yeah, So I do the same, uh, interview style kind of. But I do it too. You know, basically almost everybody I've had on the show has been a friend of mine, just, you know, talking about their stories and you know, how they get selling and whether they're selling an Amazon or there's Shopify or, you know, whatever.
[00:57:30] And it's, it's fun. It's inspiring. And you know, it's, and that's how I do it, but it's only stuff that interests me. So lately I've been, you know, like I really wanted to talk to somebody who sold Lego full-time. So I found a guy in one of my Facebook groups that sells Lego full-time. So I had him on, you know, like it's, as you said, talking to people that interest you, right.
[00:57:51] Greg Mills: Yeah, I'll definitely have to check it out.
[00:57:53] What's the, what's a good profit margin when all is said and done, obviously, you know, as high as you can get it, but what is a realistic profit margin?
[00:58:04] Rob Cosman: So I look at, when I'm looking at an item, like let's exclude all the other costs, and that would be, let's just say, if I'm looking at an item to sell, I don't care how fast it sells. I want to make a minimum of $5, whether it's a $5 item and I can sell it for 20 and I profit five, whatever. I want to make $5 a year to anything less than that is already worth my time damages.
[00:58:23] This, that I just don't. So the more I like to sell higher dollar items because Amazon's fees are there's two fees. So one is a percentage of your selling price. And the other is a fixed fee based on the size of the item for them to basically pick and pack it. So if it's going to cost me five bucks for them to pick and pack it, if it's a $20 item, that's a higher percentage than if it was a hundred dollar item.
[00:58:46] So if I could sell more, a hundred dollars items, then my overall fees as a percentage will be smaller than if I sell the cheaper ones. Right. So I'd rather sell more expensive stuff, but I want minimum five bucks. Don't care how fast. And I, my minimum is like 30% ROI return on the investment. So if I'm, you know, if I'm going to buy something for a hundred bucks, I want to make at least 30% 30 bucks on that, Okay.
[00:59:11] The longer it's going to sit, the more ROI or profit I want to make out of it. So, you know, if I'm buying a shoe, it's not going to move as fast as the hot selling toy. So I need to make a higher ROI and profit to do it. If you look at a business overall, you know, as you first start out, if you're selling less, you can cherry pick more.
[00:59:34] So your ROI and your margin should be better. You're not paying a prep center because they're going to cost you, you know, go at 50, a dollar 60, a unit to prep. Um, you know, you're going to have additional software fees and that'll start to go. But when you first start, it's going to be high. As you start to go and grow up, you know, I say, you'd want a 20% margin after all your expenses.
[00:59:54] If you didn't have a 20% profit margin. So you're selling, let's say you're selling a million. You know, and you should have a $200,000 profit.
[01:00:02] Greg Mills: Okay.
[01:00:03] Rob Cosman: what, that's what I would be aiming for. Now. Some people go a little bit lower because maybe they're doing more wholesale. Some people should be able to get a higher if you're cherry picking more, you know, retail online arbitrage, um, it depends of use in the prep center.
[01:00:15] If you're in, have you noticed anybody on salary? Um, if you're doing all the work yourself, you know, that should obviously be higher because you're not paying yourself that profit is, you know, what you're ultimately getting. Um, but that's, if I was lower than 20, I'd be disappointed. Even if it was fully outsourced, I would start to look, you know, I've seen some people where they start growing and they they're worried about the top line sales, but then, you know, the bottom starts suffering because they get more overheads and they get a bigger warehouse and things like that.
[01:00:44] And suddenly you're like, great, you doubled your sales and your profits only went up, you know, 5%.
[01:00:51] Greg Mills: Yeah. What point do you think somebody should actually start using like a prep center.
[01:00:59] Rob Cosman: when you can't do it yourself, when you're confident in them and you know what you're doing, and then when you can't do it yourself, but I mean, I've seen people that jumped straight to it. I've seen people that, you know what I'll prep for a month, learn it, understand the labels, the skews, things like that, and then totally outsource it.
[01:01:16] No one's going to do it as good as you, no matter what it is in your business, anything in life, you're always going to do a better, you should most things. They're not going to care as much because you're just a client, but you know, when you can't do it anymore, you don't want to do it. Then you should get the prep center.
[01:01:31] And I'll tell you, when you first start out, you get excited. You're getting the hustle going. You're buying products, but they also take over your house and that's fine for the verse a little bit, but then it wears on you, you know? And you're like, my house is never empty. There's always boxes showing up.
[01:01:45] There's always. Like Zoe's chaos, you know, you want your house back. So then when you decide you want your house back, that's when you need to get a prep center.
[01:01:53] Greg Mills: Yeah. I, even, when I was selling the books are, remember they, you know, they would take over and it was also, I was doing a lot of the book fulfillment myself, and I had a pretty good system about where to put stuff, but it would, I wouldn't invariably sell something that I could never find and ended up having to re refund.
[01:02:13] And I hated doing that. Then of course you find it like a month later or something.
[01:02:20] Rob Cosman: yeah. See, I don't do the merchant fulfilled. I do only Amazon FBA. I do it every once in a while, but for the most part, So.
[01:02:27] we get the stuff and ship it out. It's an Amazon, but even still, like when I was first doing it, you know, we had a small spare bedroom in Toronto. That's what I used. Then it became the garage.
[01:02:38] And then after I through the grass and it was when we moved here and it was totally.
[01:02:43] Greg Mills: Okay. Is there any way at all when you're buying stuff on Amazon and reselling it on Amazon, is there any way to have them be the, like the middleman and drop ship for you?
[01:02:57] Rob Cosman: no it's uh, yeah, no, no, you can't. I wish, you?
[01:03:01] know, literally I'm like, Hey Amazon, just take your label off and put mine on it. But no, unfortunately you've got to, so those are called Amazon flips where you buy it from Amazon, you get it and send it right back in. And you know, sometimes Amazon doesn't do the Right.
[01:03:14] prep that they're supposed to do.
[01:03:15] You know, they want you to polybag at a bubble rapid and they don't do it. So, you know, do, as I say, not as I do. Um, but a lot of people don't even know that you can do that. And you know, they can't even wrap their head around Amazon flips, but Amazon is a retailer. Like everybody else, you know, they need to clear out inventory.
[01:03:31] They need to get rid of boots during the summer. You know, they need to get rid of sandals during the winter. Um, other competitors go on sale for this Nintendo game and they dropped their price. So, you know, there's, and there's also Amazon exclusives where Amazon gets a specific skew, like a Funko pop or Star Wars figure.
[01:03:49] And it's only available on Amazon. Well, guess what? You can buy that. And when Amazon runs out of them, you can sell it back at a higher price.
[01:03:56] Greg Mills: Let's go ahead and get ready to wrap this up. I'll let you get back to your day and to your family and to Costa Rica. I was earlier, we were admiring the view looks like you've got a great place.
[01:04:10] Rob Cosman: yeah. It's, uh, it's not bad. We live in a, this is it's called a reserve, a concerto, and it's this big reserve. It's a massive development.
[01:04:20] There's two hotels in the grounds. There's a massive 18. whole PGA caliber golf course that pretty much nobody plays on that for us, and then there's a bunch of condo developments and some houses.
[01:04:32] We've got a beach club, we've got a beautiful pool. Um, the beaches down there, like it's all, it's nice and it's safe for my kids and, you know, they can just play outside. And, um, yeah. And it's, you know, on something lately, lately, who's been on some storms over on the Atlantic and we're getting some of that.
[01:04:50] So there's been a lot of rain, so it's not all sunshine, but, uh, and we're going into our rainy season now, so we will get more.
[01:04:57] Greg Mills: Yeah, what's the number one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners.
[01:05:07] Rob Cosman: if you want, like, I don't care if you want to move to Costa Rica, if you want to start, you know, you want to travel in an RV, whatever. We always say you want to design a lifestyle that you want, figure out what that side hustle is and let it grow. You know, like I'm of Amazon, because it's a very low barrier to entry.
[01:05:29] You don't have to deal with the customers. You don't have to create a website, all this stuff. Like it's something that you can start so easily with a few dollars just at night, you know, and it can grow into a full-time business where you could, you want to travel in an RV, traveling RV, you know, like I, I know people that they tour the country just in an RV all summer and they worked for, you know, kind of Q4.
[01:05:53] So on Amazon, like there's just so much freedom, but start that plan, start that side hustle while you have that job, because then you can build that nest egg of profit and keep turning it over to build up that inventory so that you get to that amount with the profits that are kicking out, could replace that job.
[01:06:12] You know, like some people think, oh, I'll quit my job right away. No, no, no. Keep working that job because that's what you live on. Build up that side hustle and that nest egg of inventory until eventually it can replace the job.
[01:06:24] Greg Mills: Good advice. What's the best way for people to check you out and get in touch with you.
[01:06:29] Rob Cosman: Probably our main sites selling from the beach.com. That's our website. And from there, I've got links to the podcasts or Facebook group. Facebook groups get to Hey, like 1300 people in there. And we just mostly talking about selling on Amazon. That's about other things. Um, that's the main hub and you know, I've got my free, I have a free course.
[01:06:49] Um, which if you're just want to get in, start exploring, you know, that address is OAA masterclass.com/free FBA. And there you'll see a bunch of my videos. Once you get into the course, it's totally free, but it will get you to set up your account and give you a little bit of taste of, you know, what's going, I mean, the biggest barrier is pulling out your credit card and, you know, spending 39, 89 a month on an Amazon account to get going.
[01:07:13] But if you can do that, guess what? Maybe you'll sell some stuff. Right. So
[01:07:18] Greg Mills: All right. That's a wrap. Thank you, Rob, for being a guest on entrepreneurs over 40
[01:07:23] Rob Cosman: thanks, Greg, man. It's been a lot of fun buddy.
[01:07:25] Greg Mills: same here.