“How to start a business”

While their companies are drastically different, three Amazon sellers have overcome the same challenge: launching a business while working a full-time job. Now, their companies are thriving in Amazon’s store and creating innovative products. Hear each seller share how they successfully built a business while supporting their families, employees, and customers in Episode 7 of “Hi, I’m an Amazon seller.”

Michael Schmiedicke, Strong Oaks Woodshop

Michael started woodworking after his physical therapist told him he had to get out of his desk chair and start moving. It didn’t take long before he started selling furniture made from reclaimed wood, and Strong Oaks Woodshop was born. Strong Oaks builds each furniture piece from reclaimed wood salvaged from across the country. Michael turned to Amazon with the launch of Amazon Handmade, and has been selling Strong Oaks furniture in Amazon’s store ever since.

Learn more about Strong Oaks Woodshop in our seller story, “Good things come in trees.”

Jamelah Tucker, EasyPeasie

Sisters Dorielle and Jamelah created EasyPeasie to give Dorielle’s kids exposure to vegetables early and often. What began as a solution for young, picky eaters led to a business idea that offers families a convenient way to add nutritious vegetables to meals. With backgrounds in engineering and pediatrics, the sisters are helping parents win at mealtime with vegetable blends that include carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, kale, and spinach.

Sean Brownlee, Ravenox

“Manufactured in the USA” means a lot to Sean Brownlee, a Special Operations Marine and the founder of Ravenox. In 2012, Sean founded Ravenox as a way to serve his community. Ravenox ropes were initially made for the outdoor adventurer, but they have a multitude of other uses, from tug-of-war, to crafting, and pet leashes, or anything else you might need a rope for. They are proud to be one of only 27 manufacturers in the world whose ropes meet the manufacturing standards set forth by the American Cordage Institute.

Video transcript:

00:07 – [Michael] You need to roll with the punches. You need to be a little bit patient with yourself. You need to know that there’s discouragement and difficulties, and the unforeseen is going to happen. But when it does, you stick to it, you’ll probably make it through.

00:24 – [Jamelah] If you have current employment and you’re starting up a new business, my best advice would be to keep your nights and your weekends free. Because you’re going to need that time after you kind of manage the responsibilities of your current job, to start picking up all the tasks that you’re gonna need to do for your new business and your passion project. Definitely take time for yourself and make sure you’re taking care of yourself, but you might also find that you’re working nights, and weekends, and holidays sometimes as well.

01:03 – [Sean] I did a number of case studies and how to start a business, how to create a business, and really just essentially kind of grow something that’s scalable. And I realized the fastest, easiest way to do that was to use Amazon’s business model and piggyback on Amazon’s services, such as their Fulfillment by Amazon, to quickly scale a business that was sustainable at the same time.

01:42 – [Sean] We are focused on the same things today that we will be throughout the entire holiday season, through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and into the New Year. And that is working on inventory management fulfillment, making sure that we can meet our customer’s needs, whether it’s last minute or whether it’s something that’s months away that they’re gonna be looking at. And making sure our supply chains are solid so we can meet our customer’s needs.

02:13 – [Jamelah] You need your family. It’s a blessing to have family that’s willing to help you and interested in helping you. So I would say definitely it’s amazingly important.

02:24 – [Sean] As far as family goes at our manufacturing facility, we’ve been able to keep a number of different family members. From spouses, to fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters. We’ve got quite a few of those family types going on here, so it really does feel like a family. And we’ve had long term employment because we’ve been able to maintain consistency through our sales through Amazon, by managing that inventory that I talked about earlier. To make sure that we have consistent sales so I can keep people employed, so we don’t have the ups and downs. Which has allowed us to have that family environment here where, you know, they carpool in together, they maybe live right down the street from one another, they live together and they come in to work together. And it’s, really does feel like a family here.

03:12 – [Jamelah] I would say it’s my sister. She’s my little sister, but she’s great. She’s super smart. She’s a hard worker. She’s really great at time management. So I know that it’s quite cheesy, but she really has been an inspiration to me.

03:27 – [Michael] My wife and my kids. They’re the ones that I get up for every morning and this is a hard job. I wouldn’t do it for myself. I’d have petered out years ago. I’m sure of it. But for her and for my kids, yeah, no problem, every day.

03:45 – [Sean] My inspiration really comes from my brothers and sisters in arms, the ones I serve with, the ones who don’t have the opportunity to do what I’m doing right now. My friends along the way, some of the greatest men and women I’ve ever met in my life were in the armed services, and they’re my inspiration. What I do every day is in their honor and their memory, to have a rich and fulfilling life that is service oriented.

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