Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey! My name is Stephen Somers & I’m the co-founder of a company called Marketplace SuperHeroes, an online education company that helps people from all over the world learn how to sell their own products globally on Amazon, from complete scratch.
Together with my business partner, Robert, we've sold over $12m of products on Amazon and helped over 5,000 people learn to do the same. We’ve built an 8-figure coaching and services business, along with a consolidated freight company (SuperHero Freight) over the last number of years.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
If we rewind the clocks, you could say I started out in business when I was in my teens at college. I’ve always been quite entrepreneurial, trying everything from starting my own band, to spending hours at night learning everything I could about marketing, business, and personal development.
I reached a point in my early college days when I thought to myself, ‘I’m not really learning how to become an entrepreneur here. I’m basically learning how to become an employee.’
From there, I gave up the college dream and got a job where I was working for the Government as a data processor... which is literally THE most boring job on earth!
I went out - as a lot of people do - and started Googling things like ‘how to make money online’ and ‘how to start an online business.’ Unfortunately, I ended up getting scammed left, right and center. I was falling into traps of products that promised a ton of stuff but didn’t really deliver a whole bunch...other than leaving me out of pocket.
So there I was, stuck in a job I hated. And after 3-4 years of running round in circles trying to find a way out of my job and into an online business that could change my life, I said to myself ‘I gotta find somebody who can help me. I need to find somebody with a ‘vehicle’ to learn how all this business stuff works.’
A strategic partnership could also bring your business access to new products, a new market and the opportunity to increase customer loyalty. It really is the true synergy of two plus two equals five!
I then had one of those lightbulb moments where I realized that the easiest way for me to get started in business was to sell physical products.
And after months of searching for somebody who knew how to do that, I was introduced to a guy called Robert Rickey through my Aunt and he is still my business partner to this day. He invited me to work with him in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to learn how all this business stuff actually worked.
So I quit my job, moved into my aunt’s spare room and started working in this (freezing cold!) warehouse where I learned how the whole business worked - which types of products sell, how to do fulfillment from a warehouse and a ton of stuff which (thankfully) we don’t have to do any more thanks to Amazon.
For the first time in my life, I saw a real, living, breathing business operating. It was FAR, far away from the BS opportunities that everyone else seemed to be plugging (and I’d blindly fallen for.)
The other HUGE difference was that Robert was selling his own, branded products online. He wasn’t selling a product and then asking some suppliers who he barely knew to ship it out to customers. And so over the next 9 months, you could say I received my own ‘online MBA’ in selling on online marketplaces like Amazon.
- They are the biggest eCommerce company in the world
- They have millions of customers and website visitors
- They ship your products out FOR you (using their FBA program)
- They enable you to sell globally (not just on Amazon.com)
- They are the most legit, trustworthy site in the world
Fast forward 8 years later and we’ve sold our own branded products on Amazon successfully and have shared our process with over 5,000 ‘Heroes.’
Describe the process of launching the online store/business.
When I was working with Robert up in Northern Ireland, I started to think back to all the previous years in college and all the valuable knowledge I had acquired from books. The key purpose of a book is to help you develop your own thoughts, right? And your thoughts mold your actions, which in turn help grow your personal and business capabilities.
So I started to apply my knowledge of the online business world to what I was learning from Robert and what he was doing with physical products. From there, we basically re-engineered the entire business. The key difference this time was that I really began implementing what I had learned, as opposed to just consuming lots of information.
At the time, Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) was growing in popularity. So we decided to get rid of the warehouses, along with all the staff and slim down the business to just myself and Robert. We then aggressively started to find new products in new markets and worked our butts off for an entire year. Long story short - we built a multi-7-figure business over a period of around 18 months from complete scratch.
We found that the success of a campaign or project depended a lot on our team. The team has to be strong - but it can only be strong if there’s an effective communication strategy.
Of course, this was absolutely fantastic from a financial perspective. But in all honesty, we started to get bored! Ironically I’d started seeing a bunch of experts teaching people how to start an Amazon business online - but the way everybody else was teaching this was completely different to our way of thinking (and some of it was downright scammy!) So we thought ‘maybe we should share and teach our way of building an Amazon business.’
And that led to the birth of Marketplace SuperHeroes back in 2014. We’re now an 8-figure business with an awesome team that helps people from all over the world really get this business going. It’s really fantastic to be a part of.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I’ll break this section down into two parts:
When it comes to letting more people know about Marketplace SuperHeroes, we let the program and our members’ results speak for themselves - that generally does the ‘selling’ for us…
You can see more awesome case studies and results here.
We also have a free Facebook group called Amazon SuperHeroes where we teach real skills, which will help you to create a real online business and enable you to fund your freedom.
That’s all organic. We do also run a selection of paid advertisements across a number of platforms. Here are two examples of Facebook Ads which are currently running and working really well for us:
Both are standard images of myself with a chunk of text where I share my story on how I got started in business (top tip: engaging stories work great for advertising!)
Typically, we share the details about what we do on webinars and how we get to work with incredible partners. I can’t emphasize the value of building strategic partnerships early on in your business, as this has been a huge reason for the growth we’ve experienced.
When it comes to retaining clients, our goal is to always offer education and services that go above-and-beyond that of any other program, in the most transparent and honest way possible.
Why? Because we actually give a damn about our clients and we want them to use our education and services to help them to succeed. It’s exactly why we used our own money to invest in the future of our clients’ success long-term, by building a freight company called SuperHero Freight where we do all the shipping from China for our members.
We had thousands of members who needed to ship their products - and there was definitely no point in us referring them to a terrible freight service provider!
Instead, we built the service we wished we had been able to use when we first started out selling on Amazon. And that really is the point where - we’re not just going to sell you a course...then lie on a beach drinking mojitos! We go all IN with the Heroes in our community and create services you can’t get anywhere else, meaning we’re always connected to the long term success of our customers.
We also stay in touch with our prospects and customers via email multiple times a week, letting them know about any new videos we share on our YouTube channel, or about any promotions they may find interesting or useful.
All of this communication is done in a friendly, non-sales way. We tell stories and we have a bunch of fun doing it!
What does the future look like?
Great question! Well, to this date, we’ve built an incredible community of sellers and soon-to-be sellers. I like to think our main goal would be to remain the same and continue expanding what we’ve already built while sharing what we’re doing with more and more people across the globe.
We’re also looking forward to sharing other opportunities which can help people to create a new income stream or business from scratch. We want to teach real skills to our members that can create real change in their lives and keep supporting them along the way.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Since launching Marketplace SuperHeroes all those years ago, I’ve learned a ton of valuable lessons - I’m going to share 3 of the things that have stood out to me:
1. The Value Of Strategic Partnerships
Strategic partnerships have given us the opportunity to grow our customer base and improve the business as a whole. Sure, new customers are a great reason for forming a partnership - but remember that a strategic partnership could also bring your business access to new products, a new market and the opportunity to increase customer loyalty. It really is the true synergy of two plus two equals five!
2. The Importance Of Systems
Forget trying to build a business flying by the seat of your pants! You need a proper structure to reach true success with any business. As we grew, there came a point where we knew we needed to put the right plans in place, allowing the business to run - to some degree - on autopilot.
Once we had all the tools and team members in place, setting up systems was one of the key things that helped us scale things up. Fast.
3. Communication With Our Team
One thing we relentlessly focused on in 2019 was team communication. We found that the success of a campaign or project depended a lot on our team. The team has to be strong - but it can only be strong if there’s an effective communication strategy. As I mentioned before, Slack and MeisterTask are two of the main tools we use for effective communication within our team.
Which platforms & tools do you use for your business?
How long is a piece of string!? In short, we use a plethora of tools and platforms to run our businesses and services from. For platforms, we generally do most of our customer communication via Facebook Groups and Email Marketing using software like ClickFunnels.
As for tools, here are a few we use daily:
- Team Communication: Slack
- Team Project Planning: MeisterTask
- Website and Funnel Building: ClickFunnels, Zapier, SendGrid
- Customer Support: Zendesk
- Content Creation: Wistia, Adobe, Photoshop
(I could sit here for days listing out all the tools and platforms we’ve tried and tested!)
What have been the most influential books, podcasts or other resources?
Although I have hundreds of books I could advise you to read, here are 5 of the most influential books that I like relating to business in no particular order:
The Millionaire Fastlane I talk about the rules and lessons from this great classic a LOT. It’s a little uncomfortable to read but it’s a serious punch in the face! It’s not for everyone, but if you’ve got a bit of a sense that the ‘traditional path’ isn’t leading to wealth and happiness, then this could be the wakeup call you to need.
Rich Dad Poor Dad Many people work hard. Very hard. But they never really seem to earn enough money. They earn just enough to make ends meet. In this book, Robert Kiyosaki explains how we can potentially escape this ‘rat race’ and reach financial freedom.
The One Thing A great read that explains the great power of simplicity and doing the ONE thing that can make everything else seem either easy or unnecessary.
The Success Principles This book will help you transform your mindset and take responsibility - and control - of your own life, so that you can get from where you are right now to where you really want to be.
Relentless If I was to recommend one book that you should go out and buy (immediately!) it would be this one. This book alone will give you the mindset required to be a hands-down, badass winner in business and life!
My BONUS Rules For Reading Books:
Rule #1: Take the book seriously
Rule #2: Implement things that make sense FAST
Rule #3: You DON'T have to read cover to cover
Rule #4: When you disagree - it's likely the thing you need
Rule #5: Make your own rules!!!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
One of the best tips I can give to people who are just getting started in business is to get into the Entrepreneurial mindset.
The Entrepreneurial mindset is a certain way of thinking that will change the way you approach challenges and mistakes. It’s important because it’s the one core thing you need to propel yourself forward in business.
Of course, there are times when your mindset can feel somewhat faded as you get entrenched in the daily life of being an Entrepreneur. But by making the daily effort to embody this mindset, you put yourself in a position to meet everyday challenges and experience MASSIVE growth - something I can tell you from experience!
Where can we go to learn more?
We’ve got a few ways that you can learn more about Marketplace SuperHeroes:
One little known secret is that I don’t have a huge following on Instagram yet (it’s something I haven’t been actively focusing on), so if you want to chat with me directly, the best place to do it is there!
Hopefully, look forward to chatting with you - and if you have any questions, make sure you drop them below!
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