Corey started out his business on Amazon while still working as a physical therapist. Without any official training or guidance, he was able to launch, survive COVID, and bump his revenue by 150%.

Key Takeaways

In this interview, you'll learn this from Corey:

  • The benefits of making healthy choices.
  • How to delegate duties appropriately to the right people.
  • Respect for people no matter who they are.
  • Putting family first always.
  • How to be Intentional about everything you do.
  • The benefit of tracking business growth.
  • How to set and achieve brand goals.

Corey Smith Interview with Nick Shucet

Nick (00:02) 

Alright. Hey, what's up, everyone? Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers podcast. I'm your host, Nick Shucet. And today we have Corey Smith on the call.

Corey, thanks for coming on, man. How are you doing today? What have you got going on?

Corey (00:22):

I'm good, Nick. I appreciate you having me on it. It's an honor to be here and excited to kind of get a chance to share my story and connect with you.

How Corey Joined MDS 

Nick (00:29): 

Nice, man. And you've been in the group for a while. When did you join MDS?

Corey (00:37):  

I don't remember the exact month, but probably two and a half years now, something along those lines. And I can still remember, I was introduced by a guy in MDS also. And he'd been talking to me about it for a long time and saying, "You gotta get in here, it's killer stuff” and I dragged my feet. And the selling point was, someone had a connection to get better reimbursements from Amazon.

So like “I got in here I got these reimbursements and you're gonna get all this money back if you join." So I was like, "All right, I'm in." And that was kind of the catalyst that locked me in. It's funny. And that's such a small nugget of value in the grand scheme of things.

Nick (01:13)

Yeah. And any idea how much money you made from that reimbursement tip or service? Was it a service or a tip on how to do it on your own? 

Corey (01:26)

It was a service. It was one of the guys in the MDS, I think, who was doing the service at the time. It was a lot… it was like $18,000 or something that came back the first go around. And that switch change to get it or whatever... but it's, I mean, that was just an easy nugget.  I was like, "Man, I'm already paid for years of membership."

Nick (01:46)

Yeah, man. You know, it's amazing. MDS doesn't really have a marketing department besides its own members. I mean, it's all word of mouth. 

And so many people come into the group and just save big bucks just like you did, man. It's crazy. It still blows my mind to this day.

Corey (02:10)

It really is crazy like the value that comes from so many facets of life and business. Not just... obviously the Amazon stuff is expected, but I mean, we can go on about credit card stuff and like investment vice. And it's just nuts that all the nuggets that are in there.

Nick (02:30)

Yeah, man. Lots of good stuff. It can be tough to keep up with sometimes. And they've got so much great stuff going on now, like with all the events and stuff like that. I wish I could make it out to all of them.  We’ve got a couple of great MDS days coming up. So how's Amazon been treating you, man? What kind of projects are you working on, on the Amazon side of things? How's business going for you?

The Entrepreneurial Journey of a Physical Therapist

Corey (03:00)

It's been good. You know, we started the business about six years ago now, and at the time I was still working. I was full-timing as a physical therapist, that was my trade. And then you just started with some nights and weekends. I ended up listening to Ryan AMS Moran’s podcast. So a lot of his stuff was my education getting into the Amazon space. I never did an ASM or any official training. 

But yeah, just launched for that and just took it slow. I was still working full-time for probably three years. And then went halftime in the clinic, full time with the business. About a year and a half ago, I resigned fully and have been full-time in the business since then.

Going All Out

Corey (03:45)

And man, that was a scary decision, honestly. To kind of make that decision to say, “All right, I'm going all in on myself." Like I got two young girls at home too and my wife. So to be able to say like, "All right, this is it.” Like going heavy on yourself? It's scary because I didn't dislike physical therapy. I mean, I enjoyed it for the most part. But it just came to the time.

Like the upside in owning your own business and having the flexibility of your schedule, like just a no-brainer. And once I made the decision, it was obvious that it was the right decision.  So yeah man, fast forward, to six years this should be the first year that we should hit eight figures. The last two quarters were just under 5 million in revenue and things are just trending up.

I mean, we had obviously some weird stuff with COVID, and March and April were super scary. And then our stuff isn't fitting the Amazon terms they had. But it wasn't like the stuff that was shipping fast. So everything was shipping 30 days after people bought it. So sales plummeted, and I ended up pulling stuff into my garage actually. So I was shipping FBM out my garage for like three months or something like that. And the winter up here in Northern New York, which was...

Surviving After COVID

Corey (05:01)

It got us through honestly, and we didn't suffer too much on the top line, at least doing that. And then once things opened up with COVID, it was just nuts. Our growth was crazy in Q3, and Q4 last year. And Q1 was great. And, I'm starting to see a little bit of slowing here in Q2, which seems to be pretty standard from what I understand, but yeah, man, it's fun. 

And I mean our strategy really is to just be creative, launch products that are just a little bit better than what's out there. Do great market research and find out what people are buying and put our brand on it and make it a little bit better.

Nick (05:40)

Solid stuff, man. I like how you took control of that COVID situation and did some FBM stuff. I did something similar in one of our products, man. The FBM, when we switched to it, the ranking tanked. And it just seemed like there was nothing I could do about it. Did you guys run into that issue or were you able to keep your keyword positioning when you had to switch to FBM?

The Buy Box Experience

Corey (06:10)

Yeah. No, I actually had such a bad time. I totally forgot about that issue, but yeah, there was soon as we went to FBM, the ranking just dropped. So I feel like we ended up doing both. We duplicated. So we had one FBM and one FBA and that restored the rank, but could choose to buy the FBM. One that would shift faster. Then we had the issue with the buy box and like the FBA one was still showing in the buy box.

Then you had to adjust pricing a little bit. It was, “What a headache. I'm so glad that's not happening right now.”

Nick (06:43)

Yeah. It can get pretty tricky with that buy-box rotation, man. I used to deal with that a lot back in my reselling days, just figuring out how to get into that buy box spot. It's crazy. A lot of PL guys, like strictly private label, don't really get to experience that. But it's crazy how much more sales volume you get if you're in that buy box position compared to not being in there. Especially if it's a really well-ranked item.

Like you can slide into that buy box and you can snag just so many sales in a short amount of time it's mind-blowing.

Corey (7:25)

Sure. Yeah. That's something I've never really done. A whole lot of wholesalers had many issues with the buy box. So it was a full learning experience to understand that there's an FBM and FBA, but the FBAs always win, unless the prices, I guess, are a certain percentage different. It was quite the learning process, but, that's business. You figure it out, you fly and knock down problems one by one.

How Corey Started at Amazon

Nick (7:48)

So, Corey, you mentioned you got in through Ryan Moran. I believe it was a Ryan Moran course that got you into Amazon.

Corey (08:02)

So it wasn't a course. If you remember way back, I think it was “Freedom Fast Lane.” That was his initial podcast. He does like, but he had documented the whole process of launching a yoga mat. He had a business partner at the time and it was back when Amazon was super easy. The launch strategy was: “You create a Facebook group that's separate from your brand”

And like I'm in the pet space, so I did like an 'I love dogs’ page. And then you just bring some people in, then offer them the product for a dollar or 99 cents.  And you would just, you know, give away a hundred of them and you'd just shoot up the ranks. And you could use promo codes at that time and all that. And so he literally laid out the whole process of how he would launch his yoga mat. And I just did it for the pet space. 

It was so easy. It's crazy. So that was the process.

Nick (08:54)

Nice. Do you still have any of those social media assets still? Do you still have that group? Do you still use it at all for your business?

Corey (08:59)

Not too much anymore. I think we probably still have the page, but I think we rebranded it to a different page. And we don't use those pages for launching at all anymore.  So it's more, we have our, you know, we have an internal tester club and we use rebate key to get some sales through that. And that's typically our process for launching. So we've stepped away from using our social pages for that.

And just our brand page we try to stick almost no discounts and keep our brand people paying full price. And understanding that they're just getting the quality stuff that they expect. And they're not gonna wait around for the 80% off launch deals or something like that. 

Nick (09:51)

All right, Corey, so you mentioned this internal tester club. I really like what you've done with that. I think a lot of people on Amazon neglect that brand-building aspect. And I think that shift is kind of happening where things are way more competitive now. Amazon's pushing branding a little harder. They're pushing external traffic harder. Can you provide some insight into how you went about building this internal tester club?

So someone looking to do something similar can kinda learn from you a little bit.

The Internal Tester Club

Corey (11:27)

Yeah, sure. You know, I guess just like everything with Amazon, it changes so fast. So we've had a few different modifications or generations of our tester club where initially we just did it through email. So we collected emails and we did some email appends as well. And then we would just randomly, try to borrow our Tester. We would just send an email saying, "Hey, would you like to consider joining our tester club?."

It's so exclusive free products are heavily discounted products in our brand new lines. They'd be the first ones to have them in exchange. We just like some feedback on that. So we started by growing that way. And then as many chat and Facebook messenger became so popular, we ended up pushing people into that.So we could have just a more detailed conversation, you know. Better open rates, and faster replies.

We could actually do the surveys inside the tester club or inside Messenger itself through the flows. And then everything changed with Messenger again. And we actually tried to go back to email thinking that would be fastest and sort of attached it to like a Google form.

The Stats: Email vs. Text Message

Corey (12:38)

But our open rates were so bad that we would… we have around 800 members just for context in the tester club. And we'd send an email to 800 offering a new product and we'd get like 60 people to sign up. This isn't gonna work. So we ended up going back and we actually used Twilio and we had a developer build a web app for us through Twilio. So we just send text messages now.

We have a new product ready for testing, you know, free for you just reply back with, "Yes." If you'd like to test the product and that Twilio on the backend attaches to Google Sheets. So it'll kind of post in there who's opted for and tested the product. And then we can kind of go through that process where we either send 'em a rebate or let 'em know the product and go through that process of launching there. 

And then usually three or four weeks after purchase, we'll ask them to fill out a survey and kind of get some feedback on the product. So it's been working much better with Twilio and text messaging versus the email side. So, I mean, nothing really unique as far as inviting people in. We just emailed our current audience and we have 130,000 emails total on our brand list.

So it's not hard to pull in more whenever we want to. But you could be creative... Facebook ads, you know, run some Facebook ads to a tester club signup form through Google or you know, anything like that. So that's what I would do nowadays if I was starting fresh. 

Nick (14:14)

Man. Yeah. You don't hear too many people in the Amazon game talk about Twilio. I looked at it a while ago. I was like, man, this seems interesting. And I was like, "Oh crap, you need like a legit developer to figure this thing out."

The Developer From Upwork

Corey (14:28)

Yeah. That was my exact stress. I looked into it thinking, "Oh, this is gonna be like an out-of-the-box solution and definitely not that." So, I just found the developer on Upwork. Someone that, you know, had experience with Twilio. And actually had to go through two or three guys and just had to think through what I wanted first. Found this guy in India who had built something similar.

We just need to do the modifications, I believe it's a Zapier hook through Twilio to Google Sheets. But It's pretty seamless now.

Nick (15:03) 

Nice man. Yeah. I love how it sounds like you didn't waste much time trying to figure it out yourself.

Is that right?

Corey (15:13)

No. Yeah. That's right. For sure. I mean. That's something...

Nick (15:17)

Cool. I always make that mistake.

Corey (15:21)

Or you just pass it off to somebody else to figure out. That's what It should be more of.

Nick (15:25)

Yeah. I always make the mistake of trying to figure it out myself. Yeah. Instead of just… I still... I've had so many good experiences on Upwork. But I think it's just like a... it's a habit I have of trying to do things on my own all the time. You know, now with three kids and multiple businesses and so many responsibilities. I've somewhat learned my lesson. 

But I wanted to highlight this because I think, you know, even if you're... let's say you're a young single guy or a girl with plenty of time on your hands and you've got this business of your own. If you can shift your mindset from, I'm gonna do everything myself to, you know, I'm gonna find someone to do this for me, you know. The sooner you can have that mindset shift the better.

Did you ever have that in you where you try to do things yourself very often? And what was that like for you?

Corey on Delegating Duties

Corey (16:35)

Oh yeah. That's a lesson I continue to learn way too frequently. You know I grew up pretty blue-collar. I was one of the first kids in my family and extended family to graduate college. So it just came from you know, just the idea of like, I'll do it myself and I'm not gonna pay for that type of thing. And it's not until recently that through enough mistakes and missing things and not having enough time to do things... It's forced me to kind of have that mental shift. But it's a very uncomfortable thing for me, honestly. 

And it's... you know, we have a staff of 14 people and we have an office in a warehouse in Rochester, New York. And, you know, growing a team, and then you start running at a time because you're doing things for other people. And then you're falling short on your commitments to others because you're just wasting time on things you shouldn't be wasting time on. And it forces you to be like, “I gotta be better. I gotta stop making those mistakes.”

So I've had that shift really since January of this year when I hired a coach for the first time ever. And he's helped me just work through that stuff mentally, he's helped me think bigger, understand the value of my time. Understand the value of my choices.  Like every little choice matters, you know. He uses the phrase "It's either comfort or combat."

You can make a decision to be comfortable and get a little worse. Or you can make the cliche combat decision and do things you don't want to do, even if it's uncomfortable.                                                             

Corey (18:07)

It's the right thing to do when it's moving you towards your goals. So yeah, this last month, was the first time I hired a personal chef. I'm not like making my own meals at work and you know, I'm not worried about DoorDash and wasting money on unhealthy stuff. And that's like, was super uncomfortable for me to be talking to a chef about meals and like the stuff I want to eat. But I think you got to at some point, start to make that decision for yourself and understand that it's saving you time and making you healthier. And it costs a little more, but it's totally worth it, you know?

You can make a decision to be comfortable and get a little worse, or you can make the cliche combat decision and do things you don't want to do, even if it's uncomfortable. -Corey Smith

Making Healthy Choices 

Nick (18:43)

Yeah. And I think that's one of those… I know you've kind of, got a background in physical therapy, right? So I'm sure you're also interested in other aspects of health. And you know, I think it's coming to light more so these days. But not very long ago, you know, people didn't really draw a connection between our personal health and our performance at work.

I think that shift is definitely happening. But you know, I'm sure you've seen a lot of benefits, not only in your personal life but probably at work as well by making that decision to hire a personal chef. Would you agree with that? 

Corey (19:08)

A hundred percent, yeah. I mean, you get caught up and it's every form of what you just said where you feel better, cuz you're eating good food.  But you also, I mean, you get caught up in the day-to-day of work. And next thing you know, it's 2:30 and you haven't had lunch yet and you're cranky and your energy's down. You can't think straight. 

I would've eaten at 12 if I had something, but I forgot to put meal prep this weekend. And now, I gotta order something through DoorDash or whatever it is. And you know, it just throws off everything. You end up with a headache or whatever it is. So, you know, just having this stuff organized ahead of time. And I went through like four or five chefs to find this guy, cause I wanted something that was automated.

And someone who just sort of understood the rules that I wanted to follow. So I have some weird allergies too, so I also didn't wanna… there were a couple of places that had good reviews. But you have to go in and sort of order your meals on the week before I don't wanna do that. Like I don't want to have to think about anything. I want someone to send me a menu on Friday and I can just, okay it. And then it'll show in the morning at the office, you know?

Nick (20:32)

Yeah. That reminds me, man. You know, right now, my wife has been doing a great job of meal-prepping for us. She likes macros, the meals out, and everything for me, she's crushing it. She's doing great.  But occasionally she'll be like, "Hey, what do you want to have to eat?" And I'm just like "food." you know like I don't wanna... I'm like I want 30 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat, and this many carbs. 

You know, like I just, we make so many decisions every day and you know, we're putting out so many fires every day at work. Like when I get off, I don't really wanna make any more decisions. I kind of just want to have what I need and it's just, I get so exhausted from all the decisions I'm making every day at work, man. So when you're able to free up those decisions in other areas of your life, you know, in my opinion, it just easily spills over into work as well. And you just feel so much better. 

And like you mentioned, the energy levels, the headaches, the irritability, the frustration. It's so easy to work through lunch and skip a meal. And then you get off work and you know, you come home and you're a little frustrated. And, you know, then you wanna spend time with the kids, but you're slightly frustrated. And it's just like a never-ending cycle that impacts every area of your life. 

Corey (22:05)

I can, a hundred percent, relate to that. And you don't think at the moment, like what's the cost of that? Like do I really wanna pay $25 a meal for a personal chef? But it's like if I don't pay that, then one day, a week I have a headache and I can't work the afternoon. Like what's that cost me, you know? A lot more than $25 a meal or whatever.

So it's just changing our mindsets to understand the cost of not doing things as well as the cost of doing things. And I think that's what we need to do as entrepreneurs and business owners and just value that stuff differently. 

Nick (22:44)

Yeah, I think that's a great way. You mentioned the cost of not doing something or the cost of trying to save a few bucks. I really like that approach because you know, I think it's just...a lot of people don't think about that stuff, man. Have you seen like...when did you say you got that personal chef? How long ago did you say you started doing that?

Putting Family First

Corey (26:19)

Not that long ago. Like maybe six weeks ago, or seven weeks ago, something like that. And yeah, it was an easy decision, but honestly, it's the little mind shift. That's how we started talking about that at all. Working with my coach, helps me think through the decisions I'm making. Not only at work either, like he's a really great guy and helps in sort of all facets of my life with body, with health and family stuff, with two kids. 

And one thing I've always struggled with is the home life stuff where...I'm so clear on my goals and where I want to go with the business and financially to get my family where we want to go. And yeah, it's hard for me to shred it off. And I don't know if you experience that too, but it's, you know, I get home and it's really easy for me to be on my phone. And I got two young kids, four and two, and it's like, I do that stuff.

And then it eats at me after like, this is not the father I want to be. This is not, you know, it's not the dad that my kids want. And so I've been working hard on that stuff too, to make those comfort versus combat decisions where it's almost comfortable for me to start working again. You know, when my kids are in the bounce house or just running around, I'll grab the phone and start doing email or checking on Seller Central or whatever it is.

And, you know, the actual combat choice is to put the phone away, man, and enjoy the time and be present and be the dad that my kids deserve. So working through all that stuff and just understanding the impact of all the choices. And little choices and decisions that I'm making, you know. Who do I actually wanna be?

And executing those things consistently, and you know, we're not, we're never gonna be perfect, but if we can get that 80% number, we're gonna be moving in the direction we want pretty quick.

Nick (28:13)

Yeah, man, I can totally relate to that. I've got three little ones at home. And I hate when I catch myself, you know, like I'm walking with my son and he's talking to me and I'm thinking about some business idea and I'm like, "Huh, what'd you say?" You know, like I hate when I catch myself in those situations man it eats at me later, just like you said. Like I've really got to practice living in the moment when it comes to my children.

And they just appreciate it so much like it's so rewarding whenever you take the time to really just focus on, you know, being present with your significant other. And being present with your children. And just soaking up that time in, because it goes by so fast. And like I have a, you know, my three-year-old daughter, and she's absolutely like rocking my world right now. I'm obsessed with her.

And she's only gonna be three, like, you know, she'll only be three years old for one summer, you know? And like, those are the things that are really eating at me right now man. I wanna maximize this time with my kids while they're in these stages of life because they're just so amazing to be with. And I learned so much from my kids too. It's definitely on the top of my list. 

Has your… Do you guys have any specific things you're doing or not doing? Because I think that's a good subject as well is like, what things are we not gonna do while we're around our kids and things like that. Cuz like you said, it's so easy to get on the phone and talk on Slack or whatever communication channel we have. Are there some specific things you're doing or not doing to help you work towards that goal of being the best dad you can be?


Corey (30:18)

Yeah, totally. And it's one of those things that, again, just need to be intentional about it. But I started months ago—four or five months ago. Probably started doing a daddy, daughter date, both my daughters. So every twice a month, I'll take one kid out for a date first two weeks in a month. And then the other kid, the second two weeks.

And when I say dates, not like dinners off. Sometimes, we'll do meals out or something like that. But the whole idea is what are they like, what are they into? And then actually do it with their type of thing. You know where a lot of times like we can go to a playground and I'll sit on the bench and they'll go play. That's not what I consider a date.

It's like, this is the one hour, two hours that we're gonna go to the playground. Like I'm gonna be on the slide with you, things that you like. I'm all in, a hundred percent focused on them and just being a kid with them.  So they like, “Oh, you know, I guess we can connect deeper on the stuff that they're into. And you know, we did other things. Like we did rock painting where a lot of times we do that, I'm not gonna paint a rock, but on the date, man, I'm in there.

I got paint on my hands and you know, we're having a good time painting rocks. And it's just crazy the conversations that come out of those things. And it's just, this is an idea for my coach to start doing this. And you know, the long-term vision of why I think this is so important for my family is the idea. I want my kids to know that I'm gonna always be there. And they can have those conversations with me. And I'm gonna be the pillar in their life.

When things get stormy they can always come to Dad and confide in me for whatever they need. And I think it starts with these kinds of silly dates, you know. And cause at home it's hard sometimes to connect, you know, everybody else would run around and just stuff gets crazy. But you know, when you're covered in rock paint, like it's different. 

Nick (32:16)

Yeah. That's awesome, man. I'm sounds like you and I are in a pretty similar situation when it comes to what we're trying to accomplish as husbands and fathers.  How old are your kids?

Corey (32:31)

The oldest is four. She's gonna be five in August. And then my youngest Lexi, she's two, will be three.

Nick (32:39)

So nice. Two girls?

Corey (32:42)

Two girls. Yep.

Nick (32:44)

Yeah, those are good ages, man.

Corey (32:45)

Until they're teenagers I may not think it's as cool, but for now, it's really cool.

Nick (32:51)

Yeah. I always wonder, man. You know, I feel like a lot of members inside of MDS you know, we're not the average individual. And I know a lot of people, they throw that stuff our way like, "Oh wait, wait till their teenagers, you know, wait till they're this and wait till they're that." And like, I get it. But at the same time in my mind, I'm like, well, you know, I'm not just gonna accept that. You know what I mean?

Like I'm not just gonna accept that my children are gonna be a pain in the ass when they're teenagers. Like, is there a chance of that happening? Yeah, definitely. But I'm certainly gonna do my best to make that not happen. 

Corey (33:37)

Exactly. I'm not just gonna lay down and let it happen. I'm gonna try to...

Nick (33:41)

Yeah. Like you have so many of those things that are just like accepted mantras, like, "Oh yeah. Wait till they're two, the terrible twos," you know. Like I'm just sitting around waiting for my kid to be terrible at two. I just, you know, I try to mentioned the word intentional earlier and I just really try to get real intentional with those things as well. 

I just like to have that part, of course, like I'm prepared for the worst, but I've got high hopes that everything works out.

Being Intentional

Corey (34:17)

Absolutely. Yeah. Honestly the word “intention and being intentional” is probably like the theme of my year. So far that's something that I don't think I've always been great at. And you know, one of the books that's had the biggest impact on me this year is the "12 week year by Brian Ran."  it's nothing that's super farfetched, but it's just chunking down your goals. Like stop doing union goals, do 12-week goals, and focus on that. 

But the whole idea is once you have your vision and your long-term goal for your family, you chunk it down into like, what am I gonna focus on in this 12-week year? And then actually like breaking it into tactics and like scheduling it out of the 12 weeks and then just being crazy hyper-intentional about your weekly tasks. And then just make sure you're knocking those down every week. And I'll pass that on to the whole team. 

So we do traction or EOS operating system too. We've implemented this as sort of like a curveball to that system. And it's been crazy. I mean, again our numbers have grown, we're 150% higher revenue this year than we were last year. I think these little adjustments are making that difference.  You know, it's having... not only am I intentional about what I'm doing but having them be intentional about their daily actions.

Like what's the most important thing you should be doing to get us to our goals. And it's crazy how that stuff works. Cause it's such a simple concept. But it's powerful, man.

Nick (35:44)

Yeah. It is. I totally agree with you. It's like, “How did we miss it in the first place, right?” Like what the hell were we doing? Just kinda of logging into Amazon Seller Central and like seeing what we needed to do. Right? 

Corey (36:02)

Yep. So willing to leave.

Nick (36:04)

I've got a process I have my team do. We run EOS as well. I love the level 10 meetings. But we've got a process we do as well. I call it powerfully starting your Workday.  They go to ClickUp—our project management tool. And in the home section now they've got this great new feature where you have your list of tasks for today. And you can actually drag and drop them over to your calendar.

And it'll put a start and a stop time on them depending on how you build your day. And that's been working really well, cuz it's just like setting that intention of what I'm doing today.  And you know, I think that's one thing that traditional business gets right. And entrepreneurs, I think a lot, and especially digital entrepreneurs...I think a lot of us are so against the grain.

We kind of go against the norm and we miss out on some of those things that traditional business has gotten. And then guys like you and I, we get a couple years in and we're like, "Oh, I should have that to-do list. I should know what I'm signing. I should know what I'm doing each day and what metrics I need to hit." And you know, that stuff starts to make sense. And that's the biggest thing I try to teach people.

You know, when they're asking for advice on starting out is like, "Hey, you know, take some of these things into consideration because trying to... I mean, I don't know what it was like for you, but I had a million-dollar business already." And then I tried to get it under control and you know, what's gonna be easier to tame? A baby lion or a full-grown lion? So it took me a while to get it under control. 

Did you have an experience kind of similar to that one?

Tracking Business Growth

Corey (38:13)

Yeah, for sure. I mean honestly, I don't feel like we did a great job until probably two years ago. And whenever we implemented EOS, that was the turning point for me. Like when I actually sat down and we started building scorecards. And this we were tracking things and, you know, actually had a three-year vision for the company. And we set like super clear goals there.

That was a turning point. And I think that was two years ago around that. So I was four years in business and I had personal goals for my life financially. But I never broke those down and said well, for that to get there, the business needs to be doing this. And then, you know, stepping back from the three years to the one year, then to the quarterly rocks.

And once that happened, you know... and then the scorecards and the issues list and accountability chart, like putting that all together was just like an aha moment. And things just opened up and then it seemed having that skeleton there was okay. Now we can start to scale with the people in the right positions. And, you know, it's still crazy to me to think that there are 14 people.

And MDS is so humbling because it's like for little Corey out here in Rochester, New York, The 14-person team seems epic. And, you know, MDS is just about 10 million in revenue. That's sort of laughable, you know. And the same thing with like these guys here, but I'm so proud to have a team and people on payroll and supporting families and all that stuff. 

And, you know, implementing these little things where I was going in for the accountability chart is we have a full-time videographer on staff. Now we have a full-time photographer just like to bring our brand to life the way that I want it to, an operations guy. We have a few guys in the warehouse that are, you know, fulfilling orders, but also, you know, packing some of our consumables. 

And it's just been super fun to start to implement those systems. But none of that can happen until, you know, you have that, that strong foundation and, taming the lion, like you said first, and then you can scale it from there.

"I was four years in business and I had personal goals for my life financially"

Nick (40:17)

Yeah, man. I wish… EOS has been such an eye-opener for me. And everyone says the same thing. Like you, I've never heard anyone say something negative or bad about EOS. Like it has the same impact on everyone. You know, we had Mike from EcomCrew on the podcast. And, you know, he said he didn't really feel good about what he was doing until he implemented EOS and found his integrator.

And we really dived pretty deep into EOS on his podcast. But you know, it has a huge impact on everyone, no matter where they're at in business. It just seems to bring that clarity that so many of us need, especially if you identify as a visionary, according to EOS terms. Like that's what keeps me, it's like my compass, you know. It brings me back and shows me where I'm really trying and helps keep me on track. 

And you know, just Mike from EcomCrew he called his integrator... the way he put it, he was like, "Yeah, that's my staff's shield from me as the visionary."

The Integrator and Visionary Roles

Corey (41:34)

I love that. I could use a bigger shield, but for now, there's something down there.

Nick (41:40)

Yeah. I'm still sitting in both roles myself. I definitely am a visionary, but for now, I'm still fulfilling that integrator role as well.  And I like doing some of that stuff, but it's just not something I see myself doing forever. I'm definitely... you know, I have probably 10 ideas a week, maybe one or two of 'em are good And I like, that's just me. I like ideas. I like new stuff. I kind of like the chaos a little bit. Just keeps me excited. 

Corey (42:20)

Yep. Now I can relate to it. Like when I go back to, I think my comfort of being Corey. It's like, I'm probably better, more comfortable as an integrator and offer doing those things. But I also... I mean, as I've changed and shifted in my role, I've liked that stuff a lot less. And I find this stuff... just being busy stresses me out more. And I'm definitely more the product developer or the idea generator, the systems builder, more of that stuff. 

So I still am dabbling in the integrator role, but we have...we still have a VP of operations. But it's just not... it's not fully systemized yet and the rest of the staff is still bringing me problems and ideas instead of him first and then me. So I still run level 10 meetings. I'm still the one prepping the agenda for that, so far from 'em the perfect visionary. But steps in the right direction, I'd say.

Nick (43:31)

Nice, nice. And where are you guys running those level 10 meetings? 

Are got like a Google sheet you guys created, or are you guys using a project management software for those?

Corey (43:21)

Yeah. Google Sheets, work cards on Google Sheets. Our agenda is little sheets separately. And we've tried Clickup literally four times now. We made a big push and we sort of organized it somewhat well. And I don't know, I guess just old habits die hard and just didn't get used the way that it was supposed to, and it probably stems from me.

And yeah, I still use OneNote. I use that as my daily calendar. I just plug my week in there and I have a smart text that, like plugs in my meetings and or my weekly meetings that are recurring type of thing. And so I think having that, and you know, it's an app on my phone too, so it's just really easy. And I just like that. So having ClickUp to like check somewhere else for stuff to do, I didn't do it.

And then everyone's like, well, Corey's not really checking there. Like I probably shouldn't either. And It just didn't work too well. But every time I see your stuff on Clickup and hear you talk about it. I'm like we should try to make that work. 

Nick (44:39)

Yeah, it's so easy to get wrapped up in the software and think you need something different. And I feel like one thing I've learned over the years is just as long as you have something and you're consistent, you're ahead of the pack. In most cases compared to, you know, bouncing around between five different things, you take notes on. And, you know, having a to-do list here and project management there, like it can get hectic, man. 

And I still catch myself, you know, getting roped into these marketing messages where they make me think, “You know, I need this, this thing too.” It's tough.

Corey (45:30)

And then these tiny objects, they're so shiny sometimes, and it's just like, I want to give the business a chance to try the best of the best. And, you know, sometimes it's just a slippery slope.

Nick (45:41)

Yeah. It really is man. And it can throw the team off track and it can definitely add to anxiety levels. And not to mention just costing more money when you have all these, monthly payments coming out because you're testing all these different things.

Corey (45:58)

And definitely adds up too.

Nick (46:00)

Yeah. so, Corey, man, it sounds like you're doing pretty well with your brand. 

What are some goals you guys are working towards on the brand side?

Setting Brand Goals

Corey (46:13)

So the way we've set it up, we are...I'd be curious to get your take on this too. I'm very open with the finances of the company with the whole team. And we try not to communicate in terms of revenue or sales numbers. Instead, we'll communicate in, you know, how many pets did we help today, or how many pets did we have our pet owners reconnect with? And so we have a goal this year to do 2300 pets per day, that we're helping.

We have a big glass board that's in our break room and we write that as the goal. And then when you say, how many pets did we help yesterday? And every day our operations guy fills it in. And just some culture morale stuff that seems to, it seems to be helping and gets people at least something to look at as like a score point every day to focus on and track.

So that's the number, but I didn't just pull 2300 out anywhere. It's based on a revenue number of 10 million to get us there. And you know, Q1 was just so good for us that we had to like bump our number up. We were actually... I think we're at 1700 was our goal for the year. And we hit that like right away in Q1. So we changed to 2300. And now Q2 is sort of flat or a little lower. So we're going to be pretty aggressive here in Q3. 

And we have 10 products in the pipeline that we're going to launch this quarter. So it's going to be pretty insane. That's a lot for us. It would mean… ten products is probably pretty standard for some folks. But it's going to be an aggressive quarter for us to get all the assets together and launch those appropriately. But that can bring in a substantial amount of units to get us closer to that 2300 number.

Nick (48:06)

Awesome. And I think it's a great idea. And it's pretty interesting that you mentioned that because last week we had some newer members on the show, Basim and Ramsha. And they're in the supplement space. And they said the same thing. They actually… one of their KPIs is the number of customers—the number of people they've helped become healthier. And they focus on that first and revenue is secondary to that.

And man, just what a simple shift with a huge impact. I mean, I was just blown away because I started to imagine the meetings and going over those scorecards. And just the way that the whole team would feel about recognizing that, "Hey, we impacted, you know, 10% more people this week than we did last week." And just the motivation that would provide as a team, like it really blew me away.

Corey (49:19)

Yeah. And I definitely agree. I mean, it's because when you think about what motivates people. And I mean, I don't know how your employees are, but you know, we're not in a position where we can pay top dollar for the best employee. So, you know, I try to incentivize them in the right ways with culture and we have a really colorful office. And I'm super flexible with their schedules. 

You know, the idea is that they work 40 hours a week, but I don't really care if they do or don't. No one's abused it at this point. And I hope they don't. But you know, the warehouse guys have to be here, but you know, if you want to work from home, they got appointments. They have a schedule. Like they know they can do it and they don't have to come to me for approval first.

But really the premise of that is from the book "Man Up" by Bedros Keuilian. I don't know if I'm saying his name right. But he's the CEO owner of the Fit Body boot camps. And in his book, he talked about you know, he's always thinking in terms of revenue. But he knew that wouldn't be the culture that communicated across all his franchise owners. 

So it was more like we're going to help. I don't know how many millions… 10 million people this year lose weight and continue the fitness journey. And we'll do that by opening up X number of franchises. I was like "Ah." It was instantly a shift for me. I'm like, we should do that in that space where the guys are going to be so much… and the girls are so much more excited about helping more pets and helping their owners be happier with better products. 

And we instantly made that shift and it seemed to resonate pretty well.

Nick (50:59)

Yeah. I love it, man. And clearly, it's working, I mean, you guys mentioned you're up 150% compared to last year, right? That's awesome, man. It's, you know, nothing beats having a good team of motivated people who love what they're doing. It's an absolute game-changer in your business when, you know, you have that team that's driven and motivated to meet those goals.

Corey (51:30)

Yeah. I'm really grateful. And, you know, I wish... I was like, you know, talking to people and they're like, how do you get people to buy into that without paying top dollar? And I don't have a good answer. Honestly, I just, like to say it's luck, but who knows? I mean, I feel like I respect people. I've approached people with care and empathy and I've been an employee as a physical therapist.

And I remember positions where I was super happy and I remember positions where I was not. And it all comes down to autonomy for me. If I'm able to... was able to practice the way I wanted to, within best practices and sort of have some control of my schedule. I was happy, man. I didn't mind that I had good mentors. Those are the things that mattered to me. So I'm trying to deliver that back to my folks and it seems to be working. 

So again, it's intentional, but you gotta get good people in here first. 

Nick (52:28)

Yeah, man, definitely. And I see a common theme with the way that you think about things and it's like, it's one thing I do as well. And I actually posted in MDS about it. And I called it 'the negative way.' Like what do we not want? Cause sometimes defining what we do want or what we think something is, can be tough. And if you're trying to get a bunch of people to agree on something it can be even harder. 

But in my opinion, and actually in my experience, if we… you know, health was my example in the post. But like we can easily get people to agree on what health is not. Getting people to agree on what it is, sends us down a pretty you know, argumentative, rabbit hole sometimes. But you know, we can... I draw on a lot of my past experiences, you know, how I grew up and how I want my children to grow up or not grow up. You know, how I want my employees to be treated or not be treated. And sometimes I have to start with the things that I don't want to do in order to get closer to the things that I do want to do.

Corey (53:48)

I love it. That seems like really healthy exercise. That kind of gets you closer to that sweet spot.

Nick (53:53)

Yeah. It's definitely helped clarify some things for me. Well, Corey, before we sign off, man, I've got a few quick questions I want to ask you. And I'll go ahead and dive in, man. Are you ready? All right. Let's see. So what's...we talked a little bit about habits and the things you're focusing on. But what's something that you're specifically working on right now?

Corey (54:27)

From a habit standpoint?

Nick (54:28)

Yeah. There's something you're trying to, some habit you're trying to adopt, or, maybe something you're trying to kick?

Letting go of Old Habits

Corey (54:36)

Yeah. I wouldn't say well… health. We go back to health. One thing that has sort of always been a struggle for me is... it's never been a problem, but I really love to come home and have that beer or three. It's never, I mean, it's almost never a problem that I would ever go to like four to six or more. But I just know that's a deep habit for me that if I didn't have it, I would feel a little less happy in it.

And then that's where I'm like, this is probably not a healthy thing for me. So this quarter is the first time I'm going to make a change on that. And I didn’t... with the 12-week year specifically, they really stressed not to have too many goals. And you know, the business goal and my family goal is always going to be one and two. So I have some health stuff that's sort of the sand and not like the main rocks in it. 

So the one habit in front of you about making the super long-winded is like four nights a week. There's no booze, a simple thing three nights a week is okay. Which probably seems like "That's a pretty small win, Corey." But for me, that's a really healthy step in the right direction to just say, "All alright, four nights a week, you can do it. It's no problem."

And sparkling water has been amazing. So that's a small habit that's moved me in the right direction.

Nick (55:58)

Yeah, man, I like it. I think you're on the right track. Like you gotta get those small wins because just saying, "Oh, I'm not going to drink at all anymore." You know, like that's a lot harder and you might give up compared to meeting your goal a hundred percent of the time in four days, you know. And then it just makes it easier once you nail that one. Then it just becomes easier if you do want to say, "Hey, I'm going to cut this out six days a week or whatever the case may be."

Corey (56:29)

One thing I found interesting is once I started with healthy eating, with the personal chef, it's like, that was the one domino that made it all easier. Where I felt like I had taken the stride or knocked over the domino, like meanwhile, consistently. And I was like, now I actually want to drink less because I'm moving. And I'm actually really active towards my health goals. It's funny how, like you always read about you knock over the simple domino first and then the other ones get easier.

Once I started with the healthy eating, with the personal chef, it's like, that was the one domino that made it all easier.

Like a weird mind shift when that happens. It's like actually you would prefer to just be really healthy all day today.

Nick (57:07)

Yeah. I love it, man. It sounds like you're… I totally agree with that tactic, man. I think you're... I think you're doing it right, man. All right. What about what else are you into, man? What are some hobbies… you know, when you get some time to yourself, I know it's hard being a dad and owning a business. But what do you do when you get some free time?

Getting to Know Corey a Little Better

Corey (57:33)

Yeah, that's a great question. Now I work out consistently, you know, then I've shifted between CrossFit style, workouts, and running. And now I've just been back into more of a bodybuilding style of workouts now where I'm in that eight to 12 range. Working out for aesthetics more than function. And that's been going well. I've always been really scrawny.

I'm 6ft 5” and played college basketball. And you split hoops at 180. So I was really scrawny. And I'm up to like 230 now and just thickening up a little bit. But it's crazy. Cause I'm still… I still feel pretty spawned, but it's definitely, you know, thicker. I could feel it when I reached behind me like there was some meat on my shoulder that didn't use to be there and stuff like that.

So definitely you know, fitness is the thing that I do most consistently. I don't do a lot of stuff socially. You know, I have a couple of buddies in the area that we'll get together once in a while and just kinda hang out. But you know, two kids, a wife, and fitness and business. That's a full day. 

Nick (58:46)

Yeah. It really is, man. We're pretty similar. It's tough to be social. We just moved into a new neighborhood and got some good neighbors. So that makes it a little easier to get ourselves around some more people.

Corey (59:03)

We're in a pretty small development area. There are 30 houses. There are a lot of toddler kids in the area, which is really fun. And, you know, have the kids have friends and able to like to go to a friend's house and jump around for a while. It's definitely huge.

Nick (59:22)

Yeah. It helps, man. Let's see. What is...what's your book suggestion? You mentioned a couple, but if you were going to pick one to suggest that the readers check out either personal or business, what's one, you would suggest?

Corey's Reading List: Business and Personal

Corey (59:42)

Good question. Probably the two that have had the most profound impact on my business are traction and 12-week year. Those have been awesome. One of the books I read early on, I've always said to anybody who's asked, "What's your favorite book?" It's the one thing that's still, you know, really trying to live by a lot of those principles. And I'm looking at my day and just the premise that you know, willpower drains throughout the day. 

So focus on your most important thing first and try to block that time and protect it. So that's honestly... it's probably one of the best nuggets anyone can implement in my opinion. But probably for this year I just finished "who" and I read "who not how." So two different books, but sorta on the same line of bringing on or working with people that can do the things for you instead of you having to do everything.

And it's really a mindset shift for me as well on that, you know, there are people out there that want to do the things that you don't want to do or that's that. And for me, it's like, you know, when you think of someone's cleaning your house or mowing your lawn or cooking your meals. it's like my instant thought is like, I think I'm better than them. So I'm going to ask them to cook my meals.

And that's not where it comes from. It's not like the place in my heart that it comes from. It's more about protecting my time so I can do the right things for the people around me. But once I read that part, that sentence, or that paragraph where there are people who actually choose that as a profession and want to do that. And that's how they make their living. It changed it and made it a lot more okay in my head.

Nick (01:01:21)

Yeah, I kind of liked hearing it. Like when you said there are people out there that actually want to do the things you don't want to do. Like when you said that, it definitely impacted me.

I think that's a great way to look at it.

Corey (01:01:37)

Yeah, definitely. So, yeah.

Nick (01:01:40)

And that was a...what book was that one in?

Corey (01:01:43)

I think that was the "who not how." But "who" is very similar. "Who" kind of takes on more of a, ‘how to find a player’s role’ type of thing where one of the big nuggets in there is we should constantly be asking for referrals. Anybody we meet or employees like the question they say is “Who should I be looking at hiring? Who do you know that should work with us?” 

Just asking that question consistently with the team and people you meet, you'd be surprised how many people they know that are super talented. That probably works somewhere else. That would be like, “I'd love to meet them or set up a call and have coffee.” And I was like, “Wow, I've actually never done that. It's a pretty good idea.”

Nick (01:02:24)

Nice. Yeah. That does sound like a good idea. All right, man, I got one more for ya. What sets a successful Amazon seller apart from an unsuccessful one, in your opinion?

Corey on How to Stay Successful at Amazon

Corey (01:02:42)

For me, I would say it's a couple of things. One thing would be just being persistent. I think that is… I think the number one trait in me is that I am super competitive. Not in the sense that I want to beat my competitors. But I'm competitive with myself that, you know, having this quarter being somewhat flat or somewhat down was hard for me because I'm like, “That's the wrong direction.”

It's a loss in my book. Like we always get better. We always beat our previous number, like those types of things. And I think it's healthy, but I also think it's probably challenging for me at a lot of times too. But it allows me to be just extremely persistent. Amazon can be frustrating as you know. And if you can just grind through and push through the hard times and figure out and find people that can figure it out for you. But it's not easy all the time.

And then you need to have some sort of ability to be persistent in and go through that. And a lot of that I think comes from the competitive space. But I'm also super, super clear on the goal and the vision I have for my family. Like I've spent so many hours at the lake writing about this vision and rereading it. And I can see myself on the lake house with my book, sitting in my boat.

Like I could see it. I could feel it. I can hear the air. Having that clear picture for me makes the persistent difficult times easier.

Nick (01:04:10)

Nice, man. I love it. Great stuff. Great advice, man. I think there were a lot of nuggets in this episode. Thanks for coming on Corey. I really appreciate it, man. It was great chatting with you and I look forward to kicking it with you in Wyoming this September.

Corey (01:04:30)

Absolutely, man. I enjoyed it. I appreciate you having me on.

Nick (01:04:32)

Yeah, thanks again, man. And I'll be talking to you soon.

Corey (01:04:35)

Sounds good, Nick. Thanks

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