I recently joined a group of ecommerce owners on a hiking trip in Utah. It was 15 of us more or less, sharing our entrepreneurial journeys amid stunning scenery.
Late one night, four of us gathered around a table for this episode — three former guests of the podcast and me.
Mark Taylor is the founder of Warehouse Republic, a 3PL. Mike Tecku started Momentum, a nutritional supplements company, after selling his Amazon Marketplace businesses. Will Roman is the owner of Chisos, a direct-to-consumer boot brand. My company, Beardbrand, is a DTC seller of men’s grooming products.
We reflected. Why own a company? Is it worth the hassle?
We discussed those questions and more. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited and condensed.
Eric Bandholz: How would you start an ecommerce business in 2023?
Mark Taylor: My company, Warehouse Republic, is a 3PL. I know the nitty-gritty of logistics and fulfillment. I would go to work for a few years for a company much larger than my current operation to understand large-scale processes. I would then come back and raise a significant amount of money to build a much more sophisticated warehouse.
Mike Tecku: I sold my Amazon-marketplace companies in 2019 for enough money to not have to work again. I got bored and decided to make rules for any new venture. First, I wanted recurring revenue. The hardest thing in business is getting sales. And I wanted to be passionate about the person I serve and the product I’m making. That’s a mind shift from being work to being play. No one has to force me to do it.
Three years into Momentum, my nutritional supplements brand, the thing I would do differently is avoid partners. I’m a control freak. I would bring on an operator and a marketer as employees, not partners. When you work with partners, sometimes there is no alignment on the vision and who’s in charge. Someone has to be the CEO. But I would love to hand off the things I’m terrible at.
Will Roman: Owning a company is a journey. It’s hard work. I want Chisos, my DTC boot brand, to align with how I want to live. I regularly take my team to the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park for camping. I inject my values into the business. When I ask myself if I want to run this business for 20 years, the answer has to be yes.
Brandon Chicotsky is a phenomenal marketing professor at Texas Christian University. I’m joining him in a class this fall. We’re tackling how to start a single proprietor ecommerce business in this era. We’ve assembled a list of 26 principles. Many of these I’ve learned at Chisos,
Bandholz: How much time and thought goes into your business now versus when you launched?
Taylor: When we started, I was 100%. I lived in the warehouse, sleeping on an air mattress. Now it’s 93%. My podcast, Supply Chain Saga, gets 2% of my effort.
Tecku: When I ran my Amazon businesses, it was 5%. It was not meaningful work for me. But Momentum is much more mindful, occupying 95% of my thoughts. But I like it. It’s a high-level chess game, with nonstop problem-solving.
Roman: When I began, it was 99% of my time and mental energy. I’m not married. I don’t have kids. Now it’s probably 89%.
Bandholz: Where can we support you guys?
Taylor: Our site is WarehouseRepublic.com. Supply Chain Saga is my podcast.
Tecku: I’m at MomentumShake.com.
Roman: You can find my boots (and me) at Chisos.com.