Chris is the author of Unoboy.com. His mission in life is to demonstrate that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create a world class ecommerce business or have a sophisticated marketing operation. Chris started in his late 20s, creating an ecommerce business called Bec Sport and scaled fast through Instagram. Today Chris owns and runs multiple ecommerce stores selling physical products all over the world.
Find out more about Chris Jones at:
Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show Respect the Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is the show where we interview people who’ve achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone who has achieved mastery and examine what it took to get there. Today on the show, I have Chris Jones. He is a well-known online marketer. He is a founder of several companies. He’s got software plays, he’s got eCommerce. Chris, welcome to the show, Respect the Grind. Thanks so much for joining me.
Chris Jones: Thanks for having me, man.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. So Chris, for the people at home who don’t know who Chris Jones is, tell us a little bit in your own words, so they know a little bit about you, where you came from.
Chris Jones: I came from selling software over the phone 15 years ago and I hated it. And I know that this show’s about respecting the grind, but I freaking hated that grind. And so I was always looking for the side hustle. I’m sure a lot of people who are listening can relate. And I had a couple and most people have a couple of half starts before they find their thing and I think I made my first dollar from editing a novel for some lady based on an ad I placed on Craigslists. In college, I was just really good at copy editing and commas, apostrophes, that kind of stuff, and so I posted the ad and got some lady who’s writing a novel and it ended up being super awkward because she was really old, and she wrote a sex scene about herself that I had to edit. But that was [crosstalk 00:01:56].
Stefan Aarnio: That’s an awkward story so an older, you’re a young guy, how young were you back then?
Chris Jones: I was 21 or 22.
Stefan Aarnio: So 22 and was she 66 or what?
Chris Jones: Oh, no, I’m thinking like 75 dude.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh wow, 75. That’s [crosstalk 00:02:13].
Chris Jones: She was a novelist. She had written a couple of novels and she paid me 500 bucks to edit that 200 something page novel. Ended up taking 500 hours. So I was making less than minimum wage, but, it was my first thing and of course it just stokes the fire and you get hungry. And so I started looking for other things. It turned out that I was pretty good at selling physical products thing. So I developed an athletic like an active wear brand, Bec Sport, they still run today and I had instant traction, traction’s that thing you know that this just works. I actually made my first sale by accident, before this story even launched and I was just mostly by accident that’s how most of my success has happened. But mostly by accident I was doing a lot of things.
Chris Jones: And I started writing about it. So now I run the website unoboy.com where I write about some of my eCommerce successes and I started other brands since then. And I’ve also acquired a software company that I think falls under the eCommerce header. And so I still write about some of the strategies and techniques I use to grow those businesses.
Stefan Aarnio: Chris, I love your story, man. You’re a man after my own heart. Sounds like you’re quite a writer. Did you study writing in school?
Chris Jones: No. I went to college for public administration. I wanted to get into politics. I thought maybe I could be a speech writer, but I had a love of writing because I was actually homeschooled in high school and it was something that my mom thought was the most important skill that you could ever have. She didn’t care if you were a math genius or you knew sciences or whatever. She thought if you had the ability to communicate that you’d always be hireable. And so-
Stefan Aarnio: We’ve given that a gong, Bro. That’s some real wisdom. Say that one more time for the people at home in the back.
Chris Jones: Yet if you have the ability to communicate clearly, then you’re always gonna have a job. And it’s something that my mom always lamented that like they don’t teach anymore and since she was homeschooling us, we double focused, we put up hundreds and hundreds of reps. So just writing, like men, I hated at the time. It was the stupidest stuff. But, got pretty decent at writing. I’m like the best, but I can communicate an idea. And so that’s how I got there.
Stefan Aarnio: I love what you said there, Chris. And I gotta tip my hat to your mom. My mom is an English major, something minor, I don’t know is she had a masters, pre masters in education and she would edit my stuff. I started writing when I was young. I wrote my first novel when I was 12 and destroyed it after because that’s what artists do. We create and we destroy and my mom would edit my stuff and she’d be like, you don’t know how to write a sentence. And I remember going to … I graduated from high school and then going into a university as we have in Canada. We call universities states. It’s college. I go to university and I dropped out of the music school. I was a jazz musician.
Stefan Aarnio: I wanted to be a rockstar. I dropped out of the jazz school that I dropped out of the business school, I dropped out of computer science. Finally, I said, look to the registrar, “How can you get me outta here without disappointing my parents?” She says, “Take two poetry classes. You get an English degree.” So it was either going to be hardcore math or hardcore writing. And I’m really pleased that you chose writing because Mark Cuban says … Mark Cuban, the Texas billionaire on Shark Tank. He says that an English degree today in 2018 is one of the most valuable degrees. Whereas 10 years ago when I got it, it was bottom of the barrel. Would you say that the ability to write today’s one of the top skills?
Chris Jones: Yeah. So I never graduated, but I know statistically, and this might not be true anymore, but five years ago, English degree was the most likely degree to get you into law school actually, without a doubt, the number one skill that you can learn is just the ability to communicate. If you can write, you can talk, even if you suck at public speaking in the beginning, if you can write, you can get enough reps at speaking publicly and that sets you up for literally all kinds of things.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, it’s amazing. I just published a book, Hard Times Create Strong Men, 151,000 words. I wrote it in 11 days and that’s just skill, that’s just the trade, writing by trade. So I’m really pleased about that. Another thing you said on your story that I’m really pleased with is you’re selling software. Tell me about the grind of dialing the phone and selling software. What kind of software was it?
Chris Jones: It was like a real estate website. So why the connection with real estate? My Dad was a realtor and I ended up getting kind of interested, I never got my real estate license because it wasn’t a business I really wanted to be in, but had that connection. And so I got hired at this company that was selling, I mean, not great websites to realtors, but it was a cold call job. So I’m sure you’ve done some cold calling in your life, it’s trial by fire. It sucks, but it will make you such a better person. My Dad used to say when I was a kid, he said everyone should work in the food industry, the food service industry for at least a year.
Chris Jones: So you know what you don’t want to do and so you’re motivated to not ever have to do that. It’s the same with the same with like a cubicle phone sales job. Everyone should do it for six months just so they know that they need to build some skills and talents so they don’t ever have to do that for the rest of their lives.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. Wow. You had some good parents, [inaudible 00:07:46] your mom. Great Advice. Your Dad, let me ask you this. Do you have siblings? Brothers, sisters?
Chris Jones: Yes. I got an older brother and two younger sisters.
Stefan Aarnio: Okay. So four kids, now tell us about the homeschool decision. Because one of my biggest videos on Instagram is school sucks and I got this rant I do on Instagram, school sucks, why school sucks. So the classes sucked. The teacher sucks. The courses are shitty. The kids could go on Google, they don’t have to come to class anymore, because my mom’s a teacher and we were driving out to the lake I think like a year and a half ago. And she said to me, she said, well the kids aren’t trying to school anymore. And I said, “Well why would they?” They can Google all of the answers and the teacher sucks. He’s not passionate about what he does. It’s not relevant anymore. So I run a training company and we’ve gone with a coaching mentoring model where the coach phones you every week and you work out stuff, but we don’t really have classrooms. Tell me about your parents and the homeschool decision because you’re obviously a very bright guy, I’m sure your brothers and sisters are bright, your parents are smart. How did homeschooling come about?
Chris Jones: Yeah, I’m the stupid kid actually, I had the lowest SAT scores out of all of us. But the decision came about, it was at the time we were going to a Christian private school and we can only afford it because my mom was a teacher there and she’d grown increasingly disillusioned with the schooling process because she thought they didn’t teach critical thinking. That was like her big deal. You needed to learn to think critically so you could reject the popular ideas that were wrong, the popular nonetheless. And so we were going to this Christian private school, which again, we could only afford because she was a teacher there. And she ended up having a major disagreement with the principal and overnight, I think it was one month into fourth grade, I was in Mrs. Fisher’s class, but overnight she pulled us out and she said, I don’t know how we’re going to do it yet, but I’m going to start homeschooling you.
Chris Jones: And so actually it was like the best week of our lives because it was like we’d just gone back to school and you were lined up for that like three months at dread before you got a real break again. And we got a free week. We played basketball outside for a week straight while my mom was trying to figure out what the curriculum was going to be, but yeah, that’s how it happened.
Stefan Aarnio: Have you ever seen that movie, Captain Fantastic?
Chris Jones: No.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, it was a great movie. You gotta write it down and you gotta see it. It’s got Viggo Mortensen in it and it’s about this lawyer, she’s a redheaded lawyer. And her husband is, I think he’s an army ranger, US army ranger, a navy seal or something, you don’t know what he does, but they have six kids and they say, “We’re going to reject the school system.”
Stefan Aarnio: So they sell their stuff, take their six kids out to this forest, this plot of land in the middle of nowhere. And they’re making the kids read guns, germs and steel, and they’re reading Plato and they’re reading Socrates and these five year old, eight year olds, they know Socrates and Plato and they’re trained like Olympic athletes because the dad’s army ranger and the movie is about the mom, she gets cancer and she dies. So they’re going to go to the funeral. And I guess the parents of the mom, they’re rich and they say, “Hey, you know what, you can’t be out in the forest with your homeschooling.” And let me ask you this, why do you think they take the critical thinking out in the schools? Or why do you think your mom was so against that?
Chris Jones: I don’t know. I’m not a big conspiracy theory, so the popular conspiracy line would be that they’re trying to create robots so that they can control and get them to work in the factories for them. I don’t know. I don’t know if I buy that. I think that it’s hard to school 30 critical thinkers that are challenging. I still have a bad habit today. If somebody throws something out there, I automatically disagree with it, it’s a habit that my mom instilled in me, you might relate. I think it’s impossible to school. So I think it’s just a practical answer. I think it’s impossible to school 30 critical thinkers with one teacher. So it just becomes like a math equation. Do we have enough money to hire enough teachers to school 30 critical thinkers and it’s something my mom always wished that parents just cared more about educating their children because the parents cared more. The teachers wouldn’t have to do as much and you could get a lot more done with less money. But.
Stefan Aarnio: I like that answer. It’s a practical answer. I’m been a conspiracy theorists [inaudible 00:12:10] on myself. I’m a bit of … Listen to this, I’ll give you some conspiracy theory Chris. I think about it because I got a list [crosstalk 00:12:16] and I got to train employees. I got like 11 right now. We’re probably going to get 22 pretty soon, so I got to train these employees and what I’ve noticed is I’ve offloaded the training onto the employee so they have to pay their own costs of training and they come in pretrained and they go, this is what Rockefeller and Carnegie did. They invented the university. So the employee would offload his own cost of training onto himself and the talent pool would be pretrained and smart and you get it for free. The company gets it for free, but the employee is in debt slavery now to pay for his on training. Isn’t that a hot idea if you’re like a big industrialists.
Chris Jones: All right, I’m sold.
Stefan Aarnio: You’re sold.
Chris Jones: Yap. I’m a conspiracy theorist now.
Stefan Aarnio: Okay, man, so let’s talk about your business. So your big theme was eCommerce. Tell me about the eCommerce trend right now, Chris, like how hard is eCommerce? How important is it? Should everybody be doing any commerce? Tell me about eCommerce.
Chris Jones: I think anybody can do eCommerce, if you want to do eCommerce. I think that the key to getting traction, a word I mentioned earlier is starting with something that you’re actually suited to sell. So common thing I see is people get into … They read an article on Shopify about how some ex-con started selling camping gear even though he hates the outdoors. And then overnight he becomes a millionaire and it was all drop ship from China and he didn’t have to do any work.
Stefan Aarnio: [inaudible 00:13:40] he’s a bitcoin millionaire.
Chris Jones: I’m sure that now he’s into bitcoin. You’ve got to start with an idea that you are suited to sell. And so this is big. This is something that Tim Ferris talks about a lot, actually, like stretch your own itch. Derek Sivers, says never start a business that somebody is not asking you to start.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving that a gong. Gong right there-
Chris Jones: That’s number three.
Stefan Aarnio: Dude, we’ll get to 11. He wants 11 gong show. I don’t know if it’s going to happen Chris, if your record broke.
Chris Jones: All right. So Derek Sivers says, never start a business that somebody is not asking you to start. I think it’s okay if it’s you that’s asking you to start the business, right? So if you’re scratching your own itch. So I always have people look at their spending like what do you spend your disposable, not like rent and utilities and stupid stuff, but where do you spend your disposable income? If you analyze that, you could probably find a niche that you should be in and that you understand so you’re suited to sell it. And then as far as developing a product, there’s basically four questions. I’m probably gonna get them wrong because I write them down and I teach people these all the time. There’s four questions that if you can answer these questions, you have a product idea or product or service idea that is guaranteed to have tractions. So one is like, what’s the product you always wish existed but doesn’t. Number two, and like I said, I’m probably gonna get these wrong.
Chris Jones: Number two is, what’s a product or service you always wish was better? This is how I started Bec Sport. Our flagship product was a pair of athletic pants and the reason I designed them is because I had a bunch of athletic pants. I go to the gym every morning and they freaking suck. They don’t fit, you can’t lift weights. And they’re terrible. And so we designed basically a better mousetrap, like something that would work for me. Question number three, is what’s a … This is one of my favorites actually. There’s so many good business ideas here. What’s a product or service that would compliment or piggyback on your favorite products?
Chris Jones: So the products that you use every day that you’re in love with-
Stefan Aarnio: Broken ships.
Chris Jones: Was that?
Stefan Aarnio: Broken ships.
Chris Jones: Exactly. No. So did you watch the Pokémon Go phenomenon from afar? Like I did, fascinated?
Stefan Aarnio: [inaudible 00:15:45] were ever going to get to world peace. That was world peace for like a week.
Chris Jones: You’re not lying, dude. It was so fascinating. Well, one enterprising young entrepreneur he designed this like holster that would go over the phone so I never played the game but apparently you have to throw a pokey balls to capture the monsters and if you came upon this rare beasts you throw the ball. But if you miss it, you swipe in the wrong direction, you miss it, it runs away and you never see it again. Okay. So he designed this holster that had a perfectly straight throw every single time and it was actually 3D printed, it cost him 10 cents to make, 10 bucks. And he sold, last time I checked you sold over 100,000 of them. So that was a million dollar product right there. And it was piggybacked on something that he already liked. Does that make sense?
Stefan Aarnio: Yes. Coconut chips, man, everyone’s buying coke, salty chips or vice versa, what’s the fourth one?
Chris Jones: And then question number four is what’s a product or service that is poorly marketed or marketed to the wrong people? So this is like the drop shippers dream. So how many products do you have in your life that you use but you don’t use them for their original intended purpose, is actually a great … Do you know what the Air Hammock is?
Stefan Aarnio: I’ve never seen the Air Hammock.
Chris Jones: Because I’m going to look like an idiot on video. I don’t know if I’m going to be published on video, but the Air Hammock, is that like nylon trash bag? Do you swipe through the air then you like tie it off and then you can sit in it. The chair, you know what I’m talking about?
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Jones: You see this, it went viral all over Facebook. It was originally designed as a just like an alternative furniture for a dorm room or something and it didn’t catch on. Nobody wanted it. Then somebody came along as a Shopify store and he said, Do you know this product is perfect for hikers?” They have their packs and spaces at a premium. Weight, is it a premium? And they don’t have access to electricity where they can pump up a mattress, but anybody can swipe this Air Hammocks through the air and tie it off so you have this awesome beanbag chair looking thing and you can use it out in nature. And so he records a great viral video of all these hikers and outdoorsy people having fun and being cool with the Air Hammock and it goes viral.
Chris Jones: It gets like $80 million views and I’m sure that he sells a ton of product. But that was just something that already existed. He didn’t invent the Hare Hammock, he just noticed that it was being marketed to the wrong people or it’s being poorly marketed all together.
Stefan Aarnio: So it’s kinda like the Dollar Shave Club, he had a warehouse of razors, these crappy Chinese razors or whatever that his dad’s friend had made one video viral video, sold 100 million of razors and then she’ll have bought them for a billion with a B.
Chris Jones: I didn’t know that story. That’s actually, that’s really dope.
Stefan Aarnio: Bro. It’s hot. It’s hot. I have my marketing guys, so I just partnered with these guys. They’ve got in house marketing now, I said, hey, we got to make a Dollar Shave Club video because one good video, you make one kick ass good video and you spend all your money driving everybody to that one video and you have made Valhalla man, you are now a viking in heaven, you’re treasured forever.
Chris Jones: Yeah. You’re not lying.
Stefan Aarnio: But let me ask you this, Chris. So I love the eCommerce thing. I said to you before you started the show. I had my first black Friday on the weekend and I’m a believer now, dude, I mean black Friday. I was like, whatever. That’s for punks. We had a ton of orders, I think 500 orders and my store wasn’t doing like nothing before and my guys that are on my team just they smashed it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe that people would buy things like that, but black Friday is like a religion.
Chris Jones: It is.
Stefan Aarnio: Talking about products though. You said something really smart and I’m going to rephrase it in a different way because you’re looking for the product for your store. One thing I do when I’m looking at businesses, I was looking at where is there competition? For example, real estate, right? There’s always competition in real estate. There’s lots of realtors. There’s lots of rental properties, there’s obviously money in real estate and same with products. They look at what are people buying and a competitive product and I want to cut in with a competitive product with a better brand or something. What do you think about that strategy where people are already buying it, they’re competitive with it and you come in and you just maybe do it better.
Chris Jones: Yes, so that actually falls under question number two, what’s a product or service that you wish was better or that you could tweak slightly? I still think that people should start with scratching their own itch, especially if they’re just getting started. If you answer one of the four questions, trust me, you have like a gold ideal in your hand and in all, most of the time it’s not going to cost a lot to get the business started, but once you have a little stacked up and you can take some risks.
Chris Jones: Absolutely the strategy coming along and taking somebody’s product and tweaking it slightly or improving it slightly and then cutting into their revenue is absolutely a strategy. We actually do this in the software business, we’ll take somebody who’s selling a piece of software and we’ll recreate it, make it better, and then we’ll offer it for free as a lead generation strategy and you savage crushing people’s dreams. It really pisses them off. But it’s a great way to capture email addresses.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. You are a brutal savage. My friend, I’m gonna start calling you Chris the raider that’s idea is getting a gong. I love talking to another raider or a couple of vikings talking here now. Chris with products, I’m a product guy, dude. I love making products. Written five books now. I’ve got two journals. I just, I’m an artist. I keep making stuff. Sometimes I can’t sell it because I just make it. I think it’s cool. I’m scratching my own itch. It’s not that cool. Let me ask you this. What’s your philosophy on building the product and having inventory and going to China and get some custom? Like I did some journals for example, I got this premium journal. It comes in a beautiful box. It costs more than the journal and it’s got three ribbons and elastic because journals are hot, right? People are buying journals right now in eCommerce. I went and got this journal. Then took me like two years. China to produce, you have to send the proofs [inaudible 00:22:09] the ocean. There’s a slow boat. There’s airfreight, there’s all these, there’s Chinese, there’s English, there’s six brokers. All these people in the middle.
Stefan Aarnio: Do you think that somebody who’s getting into this game, should they make their own product and have a garage of it and the risk of that or do you think you should do something simpler or just brand something or drop ship? What do you think about making your own product? Is that a risky thing to do?
Chris Jones: Yeah, it’s risky for sure. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. So, my first purchase order, so I created my own product. My first supplier was in Pakistan. Don’t do it. Their prices are good for a reason. Okay. Don’t do it-
Stefan Aarnio: They’re gonna jack them up later, dude.
Chris Jones: It’s the culture, they’re going to get you and then jack you up later. Stick to China. I ended up … I finally settled with a supplier. I actually got a broker in Singapore that found me good suppliers and that worked out really well. But anyway, my first purchase order was $562. I think I bought it was like 50 units. Okay. Most MOQs minimum purchase orders are really high and it scares people away.
Chris Jones: It’s like you got to produce 1000 units and you’re gonna spend $5 a unit or whatever. I don’t have $5,000. I can’t get started, you can negotiate MOQ’s. I went in and I acted like I was already this massive active wear brand and they were requiring a huge customer. And I said, “Look, I’d like you guys, but I need to test your product.” I just need 50 and I need them at the same price. Can you do it? And you can negotiate MOQs and you can get out for a lot less and $562 at the time it was a huge risk for me. I’d actually sell crap out of my house on Ebay just to be able to afford it, but I just proved it. Anybody can go sell crap out of their house and raise $562 to create their first product overseas.
Stefan Aarnio: So it sounds like the real estate debt paid off there and the phone sales paid off for you to go, “Look bro, I like you. Let’s do 50. Let’s just try it out. And I got more money I’m bringing in, let’s have a longterm relationship here.” A little bit of negotiating, right?
Chris Jones: Yeah. He thought he was acquiring a whale and the truth is he did.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving that a gong, he did get the whale, he was captain Ahab with the spear. And you were the Moby Dick.
Chris Jones: Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Chris with Shopify. I got to ask because I’m like, I’m a new Shopify guy. So I want to pick your brain on the air in front of everybody. Traffic to an eCommerce store, it’s traffic and conversion. How many people can you get in? How many can you convert? What are some of the best ways to get traffic to your store? Let’s say you got a garage full of the diet snap pants or whatever you’re making, or you got the banana hammock or journals in my case, how do we drive traffic to it? Do we use ads? Do we use SEO? Does SEO. You can play in and Shopify, tell me about eCommerce.
Chris Jones: Yeah, solike to boil everything down to what I referred to as a growth engine. So growth engine is anything that can bring you customers on a reliable. If it brings you multiple sales per week. It’s a growth engine, right? And I don’t think about like, oh, Instagram is the hottest thing. Facebook is the hottest thing. I remember people saying, Oh, Snapchat is where eCommerce is going-
Stefan Aarnio: Snapchat is for nudes, bro. It’s for nudes. That’s a-
Chris Jones: Duh. That’s why they invented it. It never really changed. It’s not for eCommerce anyway, so there’s always I think it’s chat bots and it’s just, for me, it’s like boil it down to a growth engine. Can you generate multiple sales from this system or this growth engine? And then, if you can, trust me, there’s no system out there that you can’t automate and scale. So I don’t care if you’re selling, I consider it still eCommerce.
Chris Jones: If you’re on your tablet, at the local farmers market, selling your honey that you’re producing, wherever you’re selling it at the farmer’s market, if it brings you multiple sales a week, it’s a growth engine and it can be automated. You can either outsource it, you can bring in employees, you can scale it by going to the neighboring towns. There’s always ways to automate and scale. So I think about everything from a growth engine standpoint and you [inaudible 00:26:12] go where your ideal customers, so depending on what you’re selling, sell journals to different people you sell athletic pants too. So not all weight lifters or into the journal thing, the self-help thing. But I gotta go over there. So Instagram was huge for me because everyone wants to post their workouts online so it’s really easy to find out where they are, using hashtags and get in touch with them and sell stuff. But if you’re selling journals, you might want to go somewhere else. You know what I’m saying?
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. So let’s talk about Instagram for a minute, because Instagram is like the hot hot thing right now and this is funny because we’re recording. It’s like five years. So and solicited like, “Instagram, what’s that?” So Instagram’s hot right now. And one thing that I’ve discovered recently, I’m slow to the game, I’m primitive human being, but there’s a thing called influencers and influencer marketing. How hard is influencer marketing right now? What is that? Tell us about that, Chris.
Chris Jones: It’s super-hot. It’s a bubble actually. I would say, most of the time it’s too expensive. They’re still really good opportunities. I like to think of them more as partners because if it was any other business and it wasn’t like basically like girls taking selfies, we wouldn’t call them influencers, we would just call them partners. So they’re still good opportunities. Usually it’s like the kid in Pakistan who’s running this super viral account, posting travel images and he’s got 80 million followers. He’s the guy you want to partner with because he’s way more business minded than the girls just taking selfies that things that her post is worth like $2,500.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving you a gong for that.
Chris Jones: You know what’s funny? We did a big influencer campaign. It was the same thing. I said to my guys, I said, Give me these little shitty pages. I want these little $25, spends a little 50, just more work for my guy.” But the big page, we did some big $2,500 ad spend pages. We had to negotiate down for like three grand. To me it wasn’t … I didn’t feel it was worth it and our dollars per customer went up and I was like, dude, I don’t know. You can say you’re on the big page and you can say you’re all cool now, but I said, we don’t need to do that. Already won. Reached at hall of fame. I don’t have to go get that award again. I got the award. Then let’s not do it yet. The hotel and restaurant industry basically created this massive bubble where suddenly, Oh, if you want to be a hot hotel, you have to get influencers and the bigger the better.
Chris Jones: And it created this bubble where they didn’t even care about ROI, they didn’t care if they got more hotel bookings, they just had a big advertising budget and they were going to spend a certain percentage of it on getting like Kendall Jenner to come stay at their there and whoever the Kendall Jenner light is to come stay at their hotel and take pictures and be all relaxed and drink the drinks and everything.
Chris Jones: And it created bubbles to like, now it’s impossible to get ahold of an influencer and say, “Hey, let’s partner because that’s all they are as a partner. Let’s partner, you post my stuff. Okay, you endorse my stuff and I’ll pay you.” Right? And they’re like, “Oh, that’ll be $2,500. Yeah, but you only generate $300 in sales, so how can I possibly pay you that?” So there is a bubble, like you just mentioned, there’s still really cool opportunities if you know where to look.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, well, it’s a real time intensive game like I’ve got about 13 employees who are now gonna go up to 21 pretty soon. I don’t have time to dick around with that, but you can get a guide, a broker that and that’s his job is just batting around influencers all day. So Chris, let me ask you this. So you’ve got eCommerce, you’ve got software, you’ve got some sport line kind of thing. What’s your favorite opportunity out of those things right now? What’s the Chris favorite? Because I know it’s like having kids. You always got a favorite today and then you got the one kid, you’re like, whatever. “I love you too baby.” Tell me about it.
Chris Jones: Yeah, it’s the software business. I’ve realized, and this is by no means like a universal rule that other people should follow, but I’ve realized that you talk about getting into Shopify. I would way rather sell the Shopify hustler, some software that makes his life easier. Then I would like to sell like Apples or athletic pants or whatever, or journals, whatever you’re selling, I’d way rather sell something that makes his life easier than to sell the product to … Because you have to sell less of it, right? You can sell it for higher prices and you don’t have to sell as much of it. So it’s less time instance. So software business is big for me because I think that, well, it already presumes a ton more revenue than all of the other opportunities combined.
Chris Jones: But from a profitability standpoint, the payoff is way bigger, just because it doesn’t cost anything extra to add another technology user. And so when we talked about partners, you can get in touch with a bunch of partners so where you don’t even need a sales staff anymore. But anyway, definitely the software business is my favorite.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s amazing because software is almost like a living book. It’s written code and it’s digital and it’s living and it can infinitely scale and you don’t need a bigger building, you don’t need bigger anything. It’s just I’ve got one software took me two years and $10,000 to produce, which I don’t know if people might think that’s cheap or expensive depending on who you are and the software is super cool because it prints money. It’s like a printing press, right? Just prints and prints and prints. Now I’m going to come up with a book, Chris, please don’t steal my title. It’s called Don’t Fight Wars, Sell Guns instead. And what that’s about is selling the opportunity. How powerful is selling the guns to the guys that want to fight the war? We’re talking about, you want to sell the software to the Shopify guy’s going to take the gamble on the Apples or he’s going to take a gamble and say, “Why do you want to be the opportunity seller?”
Chris Jones: I think, and I don’t have this fully flushed out, it’s just like a nascent thought that I’ve had in the last six months or so. I think it’s just higher profit margins. I would way rather be the guy that sells the yacht then and makes the commission on the yacht that makes the commission on selling Nike’s at the local footlocker. It’s a little more work up front, but it’s not like you make 100,000 times more and it’s not 100,000 times more work. So it’s just more leverage in selling to somebody at a higher profit margin and there’s just higher profit margins and selling tools than there is in selling physical products.
Stefan Aarnio: What you’re saying there too, man. I mean physical products got shipping, you’ve got duty, you’ve got taxes, you’ve got all these-
Chris Jones: Lots of moving parts. Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s crazy. One of the biggest complaints we get, it’s interesting. We do a 1.99 audio book that we sell that’s like a funnel lead and thing. And then we also ship books. I have a book funnel that sends the actual book for 8.95 or nine bucks. Let me have a 1.99 audio book thing. And it’s crazy. Like after the Black Friday, my customer service [inaudible 00:32:43] had 100 emails of people. “I can’t find my book, I can’t get into it. I don’t know how to log in. I don’t know where the Spam folder is.” All these little things. And it comes with physical products, especially like, you get a charge back. “Oh man, my book didn’t show to my apartment.” “Well, you didn’t put the unit number and your own customer human error, but we’re the bad guy.” What do you think about the economy today where it’s no longer a buyer beware. It’s seller beware where people can write reviews about you now. And you gotta protect your brand and reputation.
Chris Jones: Man that’s like realer to me than you know. So my best friend in the whole world, his name is James, he owns a restaurant and it’s like a middling restaurant here in North Carolina. Does $1.2 million a year. But he does all right for himself. And a week ago he had a customer posts on social media. Social media is like the best thing ever created and also the worst thing ever created. A customer goes online and posted a picture of his baked Ziti. It’s an Italian restaurant, baked Ziti, had a Band-Aid in it.
Stefan Aarnio: I’m giving that a gong, bro.
Chris Jones: Now here’s the thing. This is my best friend, his name is James. He runs a really tight operation. Like the kitchen is clean, he goes above and beyond, even with the health inspector wants from him. He goes above and beyond. He just has really high standards. It can literally happen to anybody. The Band-Aid can literally happen to anyone. And the next day he didn’t have a single customer until four in the afternoon. The Band-Aid got 1500 shares. It got 600 comments. And literally everybody was like, “That’s fucking disgusting. I would never eat there.” And what was cool is I had this, like, I don’t even take credit for it, but I had this idea the next morning I said, “Hey, I want to help you out.” I helped him out with a response back to the writing thing.
Chris Jones: So thank you mom. I helped them out or the response that it didn’t make the customer the bad guy and be like, “Hey, you’re a dick. Why’d you post that picture?” But just basically like clearly let it be known that this is a great clean restaurant and you can still eat here even though there is a Band-Aid in the food. There’s not even proof that it was our Band-Aid, that’s not the case. Same kind of a Band-Aid that James stocks at his restaurant. But in any case, the next morning I had this idea, he had just told me a few days before that he had just had his 10th anniversary in the restaurant business. So it had been 10 years in the restaurant business. And so I said, “There’s all these things that you tell me that you learned about the service industry. And I want to put them into a piece, this is called 10 Lessons From 10 years In the Restaurant Industry or something like that. It’s on Facebook. I’ll share with you if you want.
Chris Jones: Anyway, I wrote it. I was hoping that maybe our true fans would read it and be like, “Oh yeah, I’m definitely coming back to eat.” And so I wrote it. It ended up getting 700 shares, 80,000 views. I didn’t put any money. It was a note on Facebook, so I couldn’t even put money behind it if I wanted to. And ended up getting 80,000 views and the next day the restaurant was busier than before the Band-Aid came or the Band-Aid showed up. And so I don’t even remember what the question was. It was about the risk of basically our customers can sink you with-
Stefan Aarnio: Seller beware instead of buyer beware.
Chris Jones: It really is. But I think one of the lessons that I wrote in that 10 lessons of have business, and I’m going to get really corny and syrupy on you for a second, but one of the lessons I wrote in that article for my friend and something that he truly believes in lives by, is that you really have to love your customer more than you love their money. And so if you’re not here to create value and here to make people’s lives better, I don’t mean like, oh, you have to join the big brothers, the community and do charitable work. But even selling a journal make somebody’s life better, you know, that. Okay? And so if you’re not here to make somebody’s life better you know that, and so if you’re not here to make their life better and improve their life in some way, then you’re just trying to get rich and probably never make it.
Chris Jones: And if you do it [inaudible 00:36:55] will happen for you. So there was a huge lesson that came out of that is you got to love your customer more than the money, but it also allowed, it prepped us, that primed us, that belief primed us to come back with the right response. So the normal response from a restaurant owner would have been like, “Oh, you’re such a dick. It wasn’t ours. That’s not the kind we stock. You’re a liar. You’re probably trying to set us up and get money from us.” But we didn’t do that. We came back. We really nice. We thanked him for posting online and keeping us honest and ended up leading to an even bigger success. I think it’s going to be like a record month for him actually.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, that’s tremendous. I love this quote. I saw it was like 2015 lemons, 2016 lemonade, 2017 lemonade. It was a lemonade stand and I thought, Ooh, you’re taking your lemons. You turned into lemonade. I had a friend here and his restaurant across the street here in Winnipeg where we live up where it’s cold, man. It’s like, I don’t know if you see out the window here, it’s like ice and snow. There’s a restaurant here and they started serving horse meat, so it was a horse meat dish at this French restaurant. I guess the French, they lost the war with Russia, so they had to eat their own horses. So in France they eat horse meat, they’re servant horse meat in Winnipeg and the marketing team started marketing the horse meat to all these vegans and vegetarians and Peta people and the ripple effect of those people getting angry about the horse meat, the place was packed every day, packed, packed, packed, people just eating the horse meat because they got the free publicity from these angry vegans and-
Chris Jones: So they promoted Facebook ads to vegans on purpose.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, they took their horse meat message and they went to like the Peta people and animal people and the vegan people and the vegetarians that were serving horse meat and they got so mad they all started sharing it and then restaurant’s full the next day. So.
Chris Jones: That’s ingenious. That’s savage.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Oh, dude, that’s like some viking stuff. They’re coming to rage.
Stefan Aarnio: So that’s tremendous. Now let me ask you this, Chris. Being an entrepreneur I think is kind of dangerous, it’s risky, it’s dangerous. I always say this about businesses. If you’re not selling enough, you’re going to go into business and if you’re scaling too fast or selling too much, you’re going to go out of business. How dangerous is scaling a company?
Chris Jones: I don’t know. You want me to express my number is as a positive integer, like one to 10 or something?
Stefan Aarnio: What do you think about the idea of scaling being dangerous?
Chris Jones: I think that because we live in a middle class society, we’re all way too risk averse. I don’t think it’s dangerous at all in the sense that it is dangerous in the sense that could you lose it all? Yeah, but what I think is a way more dangerous idea is working nine to five to earn 50 to $60,000, invest in some retirement in the sky that you can only use when you’re too old and decrepit to enjoy it, that to me-
Stefan Aarnio: Or you’re dead.
Chris Jones: Or you’re dead, right? Not everybody lives to retirement. I mean, to me that’s a way more dangerous idea. And so, could you lose everything if you try to scale your business too quick? Yeah. But you know what, the next day you could go wash windows, we live in a free country and you could go wash windows and pay rent. So I actually have a buddy that I was coaching recently that has auto detailing service and now he’s turned it into a coaching service on how to start auto detailing business. [crosstalk 00:41:03].
Stefan Aarnio: Just a lemonade, it’s a lemonade stand right there.
Chris Jones: Yup. Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, I mean it’s dangerous in the sense that could you lose what you’ve already amassed up? Yeah, but that’s a scarcity mindset. I think way more dangerous is, oh, let me go to security. Let me go work for this company that doesn’t care about me, they made $60,000 a year and if they don’t fire me, I’ll get to retirement, I’ll be 65 and I’ll be too old to enjoy all this money that I’ve saved up.
Stefan Aarnio: Chris, what do you think about … What’s a moment where you thought you were going to fail and this whole thing was going to be over and you’re like, “Oh my God, I don’t know if I’m going to make it.” And you just thought the next day this was done.
Chris Jones: It was when I started Bec sport, the athletic brand. I told you I got my first sale by accident and it was before my shipment had actually arrived in the US. And, so I just emailed everybody. I said, Hey, look, the shipment hasn’t actually arrived. I wasn’t open for business, but if you’re willing to wait then, we’ll keep your order. We’ll ship it when it gets here.” I told you about that a Pakistani supplier I had, well, is the order never came and I had-
Stefan Aarnio: You get a gong for that, bro. How’d you get to a [crosstalk 00:42:13].
Chris Jones: So the order never came, it was like months after month and people started emailing me, “Hey.” And I would always give them the option, “Hey, if you want A refund it’s cool, but if you want to wait, that’s cool too.” [crosstalk 00:42:25].
Stefan Aarnio: Sell everywhere.
Chris Jones: We just had some hiccups. Well, turned out I saved every single sale. I didn’t have to process a single refund because I went to a local guy who had some material, I cut them up. So these are all like my ideal customers is a crossfitter or a power lifter and they’re like crossfit. One of the top crossfitters always wearing this goofy had been, this looks like a sock over, you said basically. And so I had some made up with our logo emblazoned on it and I sent out a really heartfelt letter. Again, thanks mom for teaching me how to write, send out a real heartfelt letter along with this free headband that could have been sold for 20 bucks, but I sent it to them for free because only cost me 75 cents to make.
Chris Jones: And not only did I get a lot of people who sent me emails and thanked me on social media for helping them out, but I didn’t have a single canceled order and I was able to use the money from the preorders to go and get another supplier since the first one had screwed me, don’t worry, I got them kicked off of Alibaba. The first one that screwed me. So I went and got another supplier and ended up fulfilling everything. It wasn’t as profitable as I wanted it to be because I did have to fix that mistake. But there was a couple of weeks there where I thought, “Man, what did I do here? This is so screwed up.” But ended up coming up-
Stefan Aarnio: From all the stories, thank you Mam, I’m glad I know how to write. I’m a smart guy. And then the other thing is I guess China over Pakistan.
Chris Jones: Yeah. I mean, it’s not a cultural thing. It’s not a race thing. But from a business standpoint, China over Pakistan for sure.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Okay, cool. Now Chris, coach people, what causes the biggest failure in other people when you’re helping them, what do you notice that or things that people just don’t do and it all collapses on them?
Chris Jones: They don’t go to work in the morning. So I have a phrase that I use a mantra at chop wood and carry water. I definitely think it’s gone worthy. Even if you don’t … Chop wood and carry water is basically like, are you willing to get up and do the backbreaking work every single day? And if you are, you’re always going to have chopped wood and you’d have water to drink. Right?
Stefan Aarnio: So it’s like respecting the grind pretty much.
Chris Jones: So there’s an interesting phenomenon and this started a few years back, I call it like the Justin Bieber effect and it’s not totally fair, I’m actually a fan that I could call myself a believer, but-
Stefan Aarnio: A believer?
Chris Jones: Yeah. So Justin Bieber started this thing where people think like if you try too hard then it’s not cool or you don’t get credit for your success, right? If you’re like, let me give you an example. This happens on Instagram all the time. Okay. So when I got an Instagram, I wanted to grow it as fast as possible, I wanna scale as possible. So I paid for influencers or partners and I used automated engagement to reach as many people in my segment as possible. I scaled up quickly and I made a ton of sales. Okay. A lot of people look at that and they’re like, “Oh, well if you’d had a good Instagram page, it would have grown organically.” Right? Is the Justin Bieber effect because you’re supposed to just get discovered. If you’re good, you’re supposed to just get discovered one day. And so there’s almost like, I find maybe it’s just millennials, maybe I’m just becoming an old man, but I find that this generation, almost like looks down on the grind and if you’re grinding, it means that you must not be that talented. Right? Or it means that [crosstalk 00:45:49].
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, bro, you just hit it there. We hit gong. Tell me about this hitting of the gong that we just did.
Chris Jones: So, yeah, you gotta chop wood and carry water. Even if you are talented, it’s only going to take … I keep dumping on Justin Bieber because he got discovered by Usher or whatever from the YouTube video.
Stefan Aarnio: But his mom pimped him on a Disneyland. His mom was … He was four and his mom’s like, you’re going to sing and we’re going to take you to Disneyland. He’s out on the street. It’s like child slavery. That’s how he-
Chris Jones: And I’m bagging on it. But like how many voice lessons did he go to? How many practices? How many repetitions did he do to get to the point-
Stefan Aarnio: He’s always body hair, he’s hairless men. [inaudible 00:46:29] body hair. You have to dance like Usher, it’s hard-
Chris Jones: I didn’t know that, but. So we always look at like the … I guess that’s another lesson is we look at the youtube video that finally got discovered by Usher, but in reality there was years of backbreaking labor that went into that one viral video. So.
Stefan Aarnio: It’s grinding man, it’s grinding with the Dollar Shave Club guy going back to that, that guy was an improv guy, so he’s an improv actor and he took his improv skills that he grinded on for so long. Did one video, boom. So it takes 10,000 hours to reach that moment. Now, Chris, top three books that changed your life. What are the top three/
Chris Jones: Derek Sivers. Anything you Want, takes like 45 minutes to read, is so short. It’s the best business book you’ll ever read, especially if you’re just getting started. Number two is it’s just a classic. It’s Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek and those cliche answer, but there it is. And then going back to my homeschooling days, there’s a book by Soren Kierkegaard called Fear and Trembling, so kind of a religious book, kind of a philosophy book, it’s my personal favorite book. And it’s not really accessible if you’re just interested in entrepreneurship, but a great book nonetheless.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, I love the non-thinking grow rich and the non-Rich Dad, Poor Dad answers like everyone of us know, like, “Oh man, it’s think and grow rich and [inaudible 00:47:55].’ I’m like, “Bro, come on. We’ve been friends ever since, come on bro. Give me a beast side. Don’t just play the hits. Give me a beast side.” I wanna hear-
Chris Jones: So here’s another … Here’s the good beast side, So Dale Carnegie’s is famous for the how to influence people. He wrote a book called … I’m going to forget the name. It’s [crosstalk 00:48:13] Yeah, yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: Start living.
Chris Jones: I’m not even stressed out guide. And like the whole thing, the entire book, I was like, I’m gonna use that. I’m gonna use that. I’m a pretty chill laid back guy. Not much gets to me, but there’s lots of like actionable tactics that you can implement the minute that you read them and they’re extremely helpful.
Stefan Aarnio: He’s the original man, Carnegie’s the original Warren Buffett, world’s richest investor, does not have his degree on the wall, but he has a certificate from the Carnegie Public Speaking Course on his wall and he said, “if I didn’t get this, none of this would happen.” So believe it. Pretty cool. Pretty cool. Side story there. One more question before we wrap up. Chris, by the way, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show, man. Really appreciate talking to you. What is the one thing that young people need to succeed these days? 20 year olds, 15 year olds, 25 year olds, a younger generation. What do they need more than anything?
Chris Jones: Persistence. I know this is a boring non-sexy answer, but persistence or you want to call it determination. It’s like the one thing that will allow you to unlock all the other skills and talents, is another corny story. But I taught myself how to ride a bike when I was five years old. My dad took the training wheels off and he was going to teach me on Saturday, but I’m really impatient and so on Thursday I went out in the front yard in the grass and I’d seen everybody else do it and so I just got on and tried to peddle it like everybody else does and I probably felt like 105 times. And I know this is like, there’s some like corny Michael Jordan Nike commercial or something. I felt 105 times but because I was persistent, suddenly I unlocked this skill to ride a bike, right? So on the 105th time, 106th time, whatever, I ended up making it down the road, turned around, came back and I could ride a bike.
Stefan Aarnio: You know what I also love with that story. And this is the subtext there, Chris, is you saw other people do it and because you saw them do it, it was in your mind and you could replicate it. And I think that’s one of the biggest things with people is they don’t see someone set up a Shopify store, they don’t see someone flip a house, they don’t see that. And because you saw it, you could do it. Would you agree with that?
Chris Jones: 100% agree. Visualization’s super important. And it’s also a great reminder where like when I’m stuck in a hard place and the businesses failing or I like have an impossible obstacle to overcome. Is that I was always thinking, you know what, I’ve seen dumber people than me already achieved this already get past this obstacle so I know that I can do it and it’s just sit down and figure it out.
Stefan Aarnio: Amazing. Chris, thanks so much for being on the show. How can people get in touch with you and your software, your eCommerce, how can people get some of these things if they want to know more?
Chris Jones: Yes. I talk about all my businesses on Uno Boy so go to unoboy.com
Stefan Aarnio: How do you spell that?
Chris Jones: Just U-N-O-B-O-Y six letter domain.
Stefan Aarnio: Good for you, man. Good for you.
Chris Jones: As a [inaudible 00:51:08] one more minute, this is actually one of my favorite stories and we didn’t get to talk about it.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Let’s milk it man, let’s milk it, go.
Chris Jones: My current girlfriend, hope to one day be fiancé, wife, love of my life. I’ve known her since I was 12 years old. She despised me. Okay. But that’s why persistence comes in, right? I used to wear this … I was such a nerd. I was a homeschooler and we went to math counts together. That’s like math Olympics where you compete with math like who could solve the problem the fastest, real dorky stuff. Okay. I wear this one tee shirt, I this band, I think they were called [inaudible 00:51:42], but they had this tee shirt design that was like the Una wildcard on the tee shirt. And I wore every day because I was that kid. I was a dork and it was my favorite shirt so I wore every day of course. And so she called me. Una boy. And it was a six letter domain. Everybody knows how to spell it. Everybody remembers it, sticks in the brain. So that’s what I am now.
Stefan Aarnio: You got for 7.99, did you get that for seven bucks or did you have to buy from another Uno boy?
Chris Jones: Nope, I was the original.
Stefan Aarnio: You were the original Uno boy.
Chris Jones: OG Uno boy. Yeah.
Stefan Aarnio: I love the story. You wearing the same thing every day. I have this this America sweater I wear to … I dressed up for this show today because I wanted to respect my guests. I got this like I’m Canadian and I wear this America sweater. It’s like stars and stripes. It’s just like wild. I’m Canadian, so it’s offensive up here, my assistant Tara. She’s always like, “Oh my God, you wore like same outfit. You wear that same thing every day.” So I can relate, man. Awesome. Any last words Chris, really appreciate having you, man.
Chris Jones: No, I really appreciate. It was actually really fun to talk to you. I’ve done a lot of these, but this is really fun. I appreciate it.
Stefan Aarnio: Thank you Chris. Respect the Grind. Hey, it’s Stefan Aarnio with you. Thank you for listening to another episode of my podcast, Respect the Grind. Now, if you liked the content on this podcast today, you are going to love my new book, Hard Times Create Strong Men that we live in an age right now where the men have become weak, society has become weak. The mindset has become weak, and what does it mean to be a man? Now, whether you’re a man or a woman, you’re going to find value in this book. Hard Times Create Strong Men which reveal the philosophy and the power of what it takes to be strong in today’s market economy. Go ahead and get a copy of Hard Times Create Strong Men at hardtimesstrong men.com/podcast. That’s going to give you a special offer just for podcast listeners. That’s hardtimesstrongmen.com/podcast. Get the book. You’re gonna love it. It’s going to change the way you think. I’m Stefan Aarnio, Respect the Grind. We’ll see you on the next episode.