How to Get Started in Ecommerce in 2020 feat. Allen Walton

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Allen Walton from SpyGuy joins the PodShop today to discuss whether or not dropshipping is a good business to start in 2020 and how to get started in ecommerce.

See the full conversation with Allen above.

Have you thought about starting a business with all this extra time at home? Many people are, and they are seeking the right information on how to get started. A listener named Sabrina, who is quarantined in Tokyo wrote to us as she’s looking for entrepreneurial opportunities and wants to know how to best use this time to learn.

Sabrina wrote:

“My question is about dropshipping, I know nothing about it yet. However, I have time now and cash to learn. I also like the idea of taking a gig to learn. I’m looking to learn about PPC and Facebook Ads that drive traffic. A lot of what I read online about dropshipping may be outdated. What do you guys think about that? If I pick the right product and niche, can dropshipping be a sustainable muse still?”

To answer this question, Dan and Ian invited Allen Walton of SpyGuy.

Allen has been running SpyGuy, an ecommerce store, for the past six years. If you’d like to hear his full story, listen to his 2018 TMBA interview.

Allen and the guys discuss on the Podshop:

  • Why a lot of information is outdated and not very useful
  • Whether or not you should start a dropshipping company
  • How to get started in ecommerce in the year 2020
  • How to find an apprenticeship

Some concepts to define as they pertain to the show:

Dropshipping: This is when the manufacturing of the product you’re selling ships the product for you. This allows manufacturers to ship the product directly to your customers.

Muse: This is something that is congruent and integrated with your lifestyle. It’s something that you love, you do, and lets you live. Muse for many entrepreneurs is a ‘lifestyle business’.

Let’s jump into the main points of discussion on today’s show.

How does knowledge help you in entrepreneurship? (8:43)

It’s one thing being book smart and knowing various concepts, but to get to where you want to be, you have to apply the knowledge, it becomes ingrained into your being. This takes years, but it’s doable. Find the information that inspires you to dedicate time each day to learn. Then, build out your network and see how you’ve applied what you’ve learned for consistent practice.

Why is a lot of information in the dropshipping and ecommerce niche outdated? (11:30)

Three main reasons

  1. Many companies can’t share this information because it’s very competitive and the niches aren’t defensible. Meaning, sometimes it’s easy for someone new to come in and start selling what you’re selling. People aren’t incentivized to share as they could lose much more than they would gain
  2. The practitioner to preacher ratio issue is off. If a mediocre Amazon seller starts making $3k a month, it’s easy for that person to start sharing how they did that and monetize that, but that isn’t necessarily the person you want to be learning from. Be suspicious of the information and the motivation of the publisher.
  3. There’s a delay in the information from “gurus”. Someone who is now sharing information about Amazon selling has to spend a few years learning and getting to a successful place. They then have to prepare what they learned into a book or courses which takes more time. By that time, it’s probable the industry has changed and the information is outdated.


Is dropshipping a viable option to start a lifestyle business in 2020? (17:49)

Allen says that starting a dropshipping company in 2020 would be very difficult and probably not the best decision. There are lots of successful dropshipping companies, but starting one now is not a path he would want to go down.

This is because you have to differentiate yourself from everyone else who is already selling that exact same product. It’s not only just finding a product, but you also have to find a manufacturer who will make the product, and then ship it out for you. In Allen’s space, there are few manufacturers who are willing to ship for you and the margins are razor-thin. Your acquisition cost would have to be so low in order to make money. You’re also at the mercy of manufacturers as they sometimes discontinue products.

When starting out in ecommerce or dropshipping, your company needs to be focused on being a content business and an SEO business. This is because your business is as much about getting information in front of people as it is distributing a product. When you get into ecommerce, you should also be getting into the information business.

How do you recommend learning and getting started in ecommerce? (23:13)

Allen suggests consuming as much information as possible. Read books, listen to podcasts, and find the experts. Try practicing what you’re learning to build the skill set and make the knowledge valuable. Not sure where to start? Start with researching the area you want to enter, understand what’s needed to thrive there, and start learning.

For getting started in ecommerce, Allen recommends learning:

  • Persuasive copywriting
  • Basic HTML skills
  • Software to build your store

To continue your education, find the people who have done what you’re learning about. See what podcasts and publications they’re on. There’s tremendous knowledge available to learn these things for free. Learning directly from experts is the best way to take your skills to the next level.

Allen’s take on apprenticeships on how to find one:

Allen believes apprenticeships are amazing. In fact, this helped him grow SpyGuy in 2014 by finding a PPC expert and learning directly from him. However, finding apprenticeships is the hardest part. Allen recommends finding the experts and showing them what you’ve learned. By showing what you’ve accomplished on your own, you can confidently ask an expert if you can help them with their business while they teach you along the way.

Information is good, but the practice is what’s important. Few people finish the courses they bought or read the books that were recommended to them. Impress people by showing them you’ve put the information you’ve consumed and put it to work. You’ll earn your place at the table by proactively offering to help and not asking for him in return.

There isn’t a course to take or a book to read to solve this, it requires action and heading into the unknown. Because the answer isn’t simple and the path is messy, few people do this, but the payoffs are huge.

Work to learn. Don’t work to earn.

How many products should I start selling? (39:15)

Allen recommends starting off with just one product. What’s more important than selling the product is first creating your brand and making it attractive to an audience. Once you have that, you can choose a single product to start with. The product doesn’t have to be something never before seen. If you have the brand and the audience, you can pick a product that’s doing well. Then you can beat the competition on price, style, or expertise on the product. Once your first product is successful, that will allow you to launch more products later on.


What’s next?

More resources and actionable advice to help you build wealth through entrepreneurship: Best of the TMBA

Connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and receive access to services to grow your business: Dynamite Circle

Grow your bootstrapped team or find remote jobs that don’t suck: Dynamite Jobs