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Alan Chen - Tax Filing And Financial Advice For Growth And Prosperity

icon-calendar 2021-07-13 | icon-microphone 1h 18m 11s Listening Time | icon-user Joseph Ianni

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Taxes can be a frustrating and intimidating matter, whether you're a massive corporation or a part timer at a diner, we all have to deal with them. What we talk about today with my guest Alan Chen is a mixture of some practical tips you can deploy to get the most out of your expenses but also a shift in mindset, imagine as tax season rolls around and instead of dreading it, we look forward to it like another Christmas. Impossible? Listen to the episode then answer the question.

Alan is a Certified Public Accountant and one of the founding partners of FreeCashFlow.io a leading accounting and consulting agency based out of Los Angeles, California focused on one niche and niche only: Online business owners especially those in the ecom space. 
The agency offers an all-inclusive package where they take care of all your business tax planning, sales tax filing and threshold strategies, cloud-based bookkeeping, and smart cash flow allocations so that you can keep more of your profit in your back pocket.



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Tags: #Ecommerce #E-commerce #Shopify #Dropshipping #ShopifyStore #Entrepreneurship #Debutify #freecashflow.io #alanchen #tax #bookkeeping

Alan Chen: [00:00:00] Let the expert handle their area, right? If you're doing your own email marketing and you're only getting, you know, a two X ROAS, a firm can promise you five X, why would you not do that? Right? If it's, if it's a game and TV term for you, right? And then you get to not have that burden of doing email marketing, and then really focused on your core business, which is growing your product line, right? Negotiating better rates, where your suppliers possibly, you know, doing better customer service. There's always, there's always more areas you can improve on and more things that you don't have to spend all your time doing. If there's a better solution out there.

Joseph: [00:00:40] You're listening to Ecomonics, a Debutify podcast. Your resource for one of the kind insights into the world of e-commerce and business in the modern age. This is Joseph. I'll be presenting a wealth of industry knowledge from interviews with successful business people and our own state-of-the-art research. Your time is valuable so let's go.

Taxes can be a frustrating and intimidating matter, whether you're a massive corporation or a part timer at a diner, we'll have to deal with them. What we talk about today with my guest, Alan Chen is a mixture of some practical tips you can deploy to get the most out of your expenses, but also a shift in mindset, imagine as tax season rolls around and instead of dreading it, we look forward to it like it's another Christmas. Impossible? Listen to the episode and then revisit the question. 

Alan Chen. I have been looking forward to this. It is good to have it here on Ecomonics. How are you doing today? How are you feeling? 

Alan Chen: [00:01:36] I'm doing great, Joseph. Thanks so much for coming on the show. I'm a big fan.

Joseph: [00:01:39] I'm a fan of  your work too. Uh, I, uh, shout out to, uh, our, our mutual friend to, um, to, to Brendan who got us connected. So anybody who's been a previous guest on the show, feel free to make references. We're all about that here. You and I have had a chance to be acquainted in the past.

I always appreciate getting the opportunity to meet and chat with people. Um, it's, it's fun in some ways to dive in and, you know, meet somebody for the first time. Uh, but it is also nice too, to get a little bit of that acquaintance going. So I like that. I get to have multiple experiences, different pathways to get to this point.

But now that we're here, tell us what you do. Tell us what you're up to these days. 

Alan Chen: [00:02:13] Okay, awesome. Uh, yeah. So my name is Alan Chen. I'm a CPA just certified public accountant here in the US um, I'm a founding partner co-founder of freecashflow.io is basically a leading accounting and consulting agency.

That's based out of Los Angeles, California, and we focus on one niche and one dish only you guys well more specifically online business and e-commerce owners out there. So we basically cater to e-com owners, online businesses that we help them really all aspects of accounting and tax and consultation.

And we like to think of self that's not a typical tax repair firm. We're not just, you know, just there for tax season, help you do your taxes and then just disappear and put out a year were kind of there to be your outsource financial consultant all year round. Um, we kind of helped you. Anytime businesses do to come up with and we kind of just tackled them along with you.

Right. We, we really believe in a lot of constant communication. We really believe in partnering with you hand to hand to solve these issues. So that's kind of what, what, what we do in, uh, what our clients are really happy to know that we're always there for them. 

Joseph: [00:03:16] And you've dabbled in e-commerce as well. Cause you wanted to know what the experience is like now, did you dabble into e-commerce so that you would have more empathy for the work you're getting into?

Or was it like, were you motivated to do it prior to this? And you just say, you know what, actually, I kind of want to have my hand and try out this whole drop shipping e-commerce Shopify, Shopify world. 

Alan Chen: [00:03:35] Yeah. That's a great point, Joseph. Uh, it's really, it's really two factors, right? I would say honestly it started out just curiosity right during the whole, um, COVID no pandemic stuff going on last year.

Um, I was like kind of like, wow. Everyone is just working from home now. I've wanted to be mode. Yeah. Everyone's selling somebody online. So I was like, I need I'm I'm, I'm just, I'm kind of more of an introverted guys. I'm like, just like following along to forums, right. Or just watching popular, uh, dropshipping gurus talk about on YouTube.

And I was afraid to get my hands dirty, but then one day just kinda in my head, I was just like, no, I just, I just gotta give it a try. I just got to do it. You know how it is. So I just kinda dive in. Um, I think my first product, I, I, uh, try my hand on, was this, uh, smart net massager. I came up with clever name.

I call it a neckflix, you know, a play on Netflix. So I was like, yeah, you can neckflix and chill. That was my comment that I go motto and went there. It started with my shopify store and put it on. It was like crickets, no sale. What am I doing wrong? I, and it, it really, it really bought into my head. Like you really got to try the thing that you're afraid of. So you really know what's about and how, how it is. And so I did, I, I went to do a lot of tribulation. I went to do a lot of different products. And at the end I did find a product that was, I wouldn't say like wildly successful anything, but at least I was able to run the store for a good five, six month period of may sales.

I think I broke even at the end, but it really gives me that full experience of how much entrepreneur goes through. Because a lot of times you're doing it by yourself. And for me we're family, I was doing it like at midnight to 3:00 AM. Cause that's the time slot I can find. I was like, and you have to do all aspects, right.

When you're just so entrepreneurial, you have the marketing, the site design, the customer service part of it. And you're able to upon negotiation with someone from China possibly. So it was, it was a lot of work and I was overwhelmed. And then I read these forums and I was like, and then just the worry about sales tax, you know, to worry about tax implication.

Once they scale bigs, like, oh shoot. Well, what do I do now? Is the government gonna come after me? What's going to happen at this point. So we realized, uh, I later in the game. This is such a big issue that is e-comm owners who have scaled to a certain point, made us assess, and now worry that, you know, to heartburn money is gonna get taken away by someone, right?

So we're like, well, I'm a CPA. My partner is a CPA. Why don't we form agency and help these guys out? Right. So, and we talked a lot of these guys with the survey and they're like, yeah, we would love someone that just focus on us. You know, that's higher finding some guy on Google and that kind of knows what they're doing, but not really, it doesn't speak the lingo.

And we're like, yeah, we we've done it. We did the whole Shopify experience. We kind of know what it's about. So we think we can help you more directly. 

Joseph: [00:06:09] Also a quick correction. I got the name wrong. It wasn't Brendan. It was Jonathan. So sorry, everybody just a, a mixed up. I have to, I've talked to like a hundred people so far, so that's, it's going to happen once in a while.

It reminds me of a conversation that I had had, um, with Tyler Jefcoat. He he's like similar field also, uh, some in the accounting incidentally, I asked him specifically, like, does he do taxes? And he doesn't. So it was cool that like, oh, well, do, if you kind of like, uh, can get, uh, get along and, and provide.

Uh, uh, assistance in different areas. The e-commerce industry is pretty big there's there's room for everybody. And I was just taken away by the, you know, the  for, for this industry in particular. And I think the enthusiasm that, that you see in the you're taken by as well is the entrepreneurial spirit.

And people want to make their own way in some cases, because they don't have a choice oftentimes, and this is kind of the situation that I was into is that I've, I've tried and I've attempted to be part of a more regimented, uh, structured system. And it kicks me out, even if I'm good at it, it's like, you know what?

Forget it. We, we, we, we don't like the cut of his gym, just get him out of here. And for a lot of people, entrepreneurship is really like the only option that they have and whatever job that they have leftover, they're just holding on as long as they can to get whatever money that they can get so that they can invest that money into this business.

And then they start making money in this business and they have to continue to reinvest it. And all of these things keep popping up that I don't think people, um, are, are mentally ready for w w if I'm just, if I'm just trying to sell, you know, shoes or, or, or pants, or in my particular specific case drawers, you can stick underneath the bottom of the desk.

There's a lot of things that can catch people off guard, uh, especially in, in taxes. And if I want to sell to all 50 states provided that all 50 states have desks. You know, that's a lot of things that I have to worry about. So we'll a little bit more in your, in your backstory to open up on it. Um, what were you blindsided by?

You know, you're blindsided by, by the taxes, but luckily you have a great deal of experience in this. Um, but what are some of the other things that have caught that caught you off guard and coincide and on that same note, what were some of the things that the people that are working with you, uh, that you're helping?

What are they typically blindsided by? 

Alan Chen: [00:08:14] Yeah, definitely. Um, I think one big, uh, issue that I think a lot of the clients that we have are, I would say blindsided by is they don't realize that you know how impactful it is at the end of the day is the government's portion of the tax that they have to collect.

Right. And it's not just, it's not just the federal level. Right. It's if you're talking about sales tax, like you were mentioning, yes. All 50 states, I cooking for empire have desks, so they will all want a piece of the pie. Right. So if you start getting to, I would say to seven to eight figure mark, and you start having a w what we run is what we call it, concentration report.

Right. We look at, we download your complete customer listing, and we try to fit them into, you know, what state they're in, but even more specifically, what city, what district and what zip code they're in. Because surprisingly, a lot of people don't notice, but sales tax doesn't end on the state level in every state.

I mean, sorry. Every city, every district, every local jurisdiction, they all decided to have their own tax rate. Yeah. It's crazy, like down to US. Right. So it's not just that you have to memorize, I would say like 40 to 45 state sales tax. Right. Are nicer and decide not to have a state sales tax like Nevada, for example.

But, but then all these cities and Locos is like, Hey, we also want some part of your tax and he's a weekend fund, a local park or something like that. Right. So they say, well, then you really got to see that specific customer where, what city he's located in what district he lives in, what county he lives in, and then combine it with a state sales tax rate and dash your combined rate that you are supposed to collect.

And the later on remit to that state government. So a lot of time, uh, we, we, we have customers saying it's easy. Just multiply this by 7.65, right. Something like that. And then unfortunately, no. Unfortunately has a little bit more complicated like that. If you want to do it correctly, if you want to do it, go under like underpayment penalty.

So, um, we, we really educate our customers and, and out on that level too, um, we, uh, we actually just launched a course was called it's, called tax-free e-com. And it basically is for those clients that we can't serve directly, we kind of just want to get them started with a good foundation of tax and accounting.

So then when they do grow and when to do scout business, they're not blindsided by all of these things, that's coming their way. And they kind of understand what business strategies they should be implementing early and what loopholes they can be looking forward to business and how they really should structure along the way.

So then at the end of the day, when they do grow big and they are well prepared and not like someone who suddenly over overnight made eight figures selling and then it's like, oh shoot, what do I do? And, and that just a whole lot more work catching up on historical and just doing a right at pumped by from. 

Joseph: [00:10:44] I think you might be able to weigh in on this to the degree that I'm hoping for, but if you can't, I would also understand because this might have more to do with say like a backend and, um, having the right condition set on, on Shopify. Um, but for that level of specificities selling, not just on the federal level, state level, county level, district level, gated community level, um, how are people, um, reflecting that in the price point on their website?

I mean, how much of it does a website automate, um, is it, how will I know where I need to adjust prices depending on, you know, what I'm part of the earth I'm, uh, I'm, I'm selling to. 

Alan Chen: [00:11:24] Yeah, that's a great question, Joseph, and I think there's two ways of addressing this, right? What should we tell our clients?

So first way is yes. Shopify does have a, a way you could set a rate, I would say right where they try to, I would say estimate on the best rate they have available to them of, you know, if you have a customer. Ships to a certain address. This is how much you should collect as part of that price. Right? So it really is a line item on it, right?

So you can say you have an item, like a gummy bear backpack, and you charge 29.99 for it. You charge $5 for shipping and then a sales tax comes after that. Right? And that's the little distinction. I'm not sure if Szabados does correctly would not. Because some states they will charge sales tax on the shipping portion of it.

But some states I'll say you can exclude shop. Uh, the shipping portion, as long as your shipping portion is equal to what is the actual postage, right? So if it's actually costs you $7.32 cents to ship this item to Wisconsin, then you're fine. But some, some Shopify stores like to sign their own rate, right?

So $10 flat rate. And that case you actually did make that difference in profit. And that, that difference is revenue to you. So you would need to charge sales tax on it. So there's two ways of doing it. One is you literally display a it's the best guesstimate of what Shopify think the rate is as a line item.

That's one way of doing it. But sometimes, uh, you know, customers don't like that. They're like, oh, I thought I was going to, when you paid $30 for this item, I didn't know you're going to charge me sales tax at blah. I'm exiting out abandoning cart. Right. But then, so the other way we tell, we tell our client is okay, we know you don't like adding that extra line cause they might balk at that.

Then just include as part of your price, right? Instead of charging 29 99, charge 34 99, knowing that part of it, you can have to pay out later as part of your sales tax, right. You kind of just over there set a higher sales price. So it's all inclusive, but just know that portion of it, you're going to have to pay out later.

And that might, that might be a better strategy because customer just sees that price. It's like, okay, I'll have to pay $35. Um, I'm going to do it. Let me check out and finish the sale. 

Joseph: [00:13:21] Yeah. And if I know my, uh, my, some of my taxes just from the sales work that I've done in the past is that that's a little bit closer to how VAT is structured.

Say in Europe, where there are surcharges on every part of the manufacturing process. So for instance, if somebody wants to sell shoes, then there's a surcharge on the production of the string of the leather, of the souls of the tag to tell you what the, what size it is. Some of the time the shoe was available in a store, in, in anywhere VAT applies, it's already taxed up to, to the nth degree.

And so that way, when they pay it, they're not thinking about any of the additional tax codes. They're just paying the flat amount. And, and all of that is disseminated across the manufacturing processes. Is that right? 

Alan Chen: [00:14:02] Yeah. That's, that's a great insight. I didn't know you have this endeavor tax knowledge, but that's the difference?

I would say between the us. 

Joseph: [00:14:07] I was working with Rolex's in my previous job really handy. Yeah. 

Alan Chen: [00:14:12] That's I would say that's the main difference between the US sales tax system and something from Europe, which is the vast system. The value added tax you mentioning is that the value add tax, as you said, is spread out across.

Parts of the production cycle, right? Where the US sales tax system is only charged for whoever the actual end user is. Right. In this case, it is the consumer of that. Yes. Or that gummy bear backpack. So it's only one rate charge at the end versus being at four to seven. Well, just make it up 7.6, 5% to be spread out across the most of manufacturing or production.

Joseph: [00:14:43] We're going to get into some, um, I would say some of the, uh, entry level basics, just so that people are a little bit more primed in the mindset before we do that, there is a question here that I've, I really like to get your opinion on, just because of your, your wealth of expertise. So you have the, what's the, what's the, what's this the same for burning the midnight oil on both ends or a double-edged sword or something along those lines.

But anyways, there's two tension points on the one tension side. You have everybody looking for some way to minimize their tax burden. Um, I, there's a, there's a pretty funny line that I read where, uh, the two greatest pastimes in the US are baseball and figuring out how to minimize your taxes. Uh, and then something along those lines I did, but I did butcher it.

Yeah, go ahead. I'm pretty sure it's public domain in any of mine. Um, and then on the other side you have, uh, okay, well let's call it the government, but, uh, the, the libertarian that I am, I like to call them the fed because I just had to pay the fed 300 bucks because of my, uh, my income situation. So you're, you're welcome the fed and typically government programs expand in size and scope.

It's very rare to see a government program recede, at least as far as my experience goes. So you have everybody looking for ways to save money on their taxes. And you look at for the government who is continuing, or they're going to the fed, they continued to expand programs, which cost them money. And it seems like there's, this is like an unsustainable system.

So what would you, I guess, what would you like to see in, in, in. Uh, in the tax code go, what would you see as like a fair and equitable means for people to, um, at least feel a little bit more, I guess, comfortable with the tax with the degree of taxes that they're paying. And it's not just like e-commerce businesses either.

It's Amazon, for instance, I was the only Amazon pays a penny in taxes as far as I know. 

Alan Chen: [00:16:27] Yeah. That's, that's a great point, Joseph. So it's, it's, it's a very, I would say tax the tax code and the US is overly complex. Right. So I think that's why people are so afraid of it. Right. They, they ask a lot questions.

They don't always get the right answers and then they get very, I would say muddle and confused and you know, what ended up doing, they just end up avoiding it. Right. And I think that's one of the big problems of the us tax system is there's actually tons of people out there that neither well it's two ways.

I intentionally don't want to pay their taxes because they just want to avoid it. There's like, ah, I'm just going to run to Bermuda or something, you know, I'll be fine. Or two is just, is not that they're trying to be a bad citizen of the state. They just don't know how to approach it. Right. They, they, they get behind and.

They want to cash out, but then they're so afraid of looking at those forms. That's the complicated IRS website. And then they just like, what do I do? And if I have to talk, I would say a little bit political about what I would like to happen is I would like an overhaul where they just simplified the system for people.

Right. It makes them a lot more easier to understand, um, makes it so that it's almost like, uh, you know, TurboTax is tax for, for individuals is wonderful, right? It provides a step-by-step guidance for people who don't understand tax duty, like yeah, this, this, this pump, this is what you should enter.

And there's a little question mark. Then you can click on to understand a little bit more about it. I would say if the us government could adopt them. People will be less afraid to submit their taxes. I, I don't know an exact, but I'm sure it's in the hundreds of billions where it's just miss miss tax dollars for the US government, because people are afraid to submit their taxes.

They're afraid to be a good citizen because they don't know what to do. And it happens more often than you think, Joseph, but yeah, there's a lot of people who just don't pay their taxes. And I know, I know you want to address the other issue, which is a company like Amazon, right? Who knows who? Uh, I was a former auditor at a big four audit firm.

We, we, we face this problem all the time where you have these big multinational companies have these huge billion dollar cup firms like Amazon and Facebook. And they just, they just know all the tricks and tips in the books. Right? So they ha they have the, the resource and the money to hire, you know, tons of tax experts, people who works direct for IRS.

They're just like, yeah, what bring you over to, because you read the tow tax code, you probably wrote it. Would, they find every single gray area loophole they can find to minimize, they use multiple entities. They find ways to offshore money. Right. So, and I'm sure when, when this stuff hits the news, they be, it was like, ah, it's so unfair.

You know, why can't, why can't Amazon get to do this. But what about me? What about me as a small business owner? And for us. Yeah, where were we? I can't get you Amazon level money back, but we're going to try to bring some more expertise. Do you guys do that? We have learned and picked up along the way. So then you guys don't have, don't have to pay more than you need to.

Right. Because, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's really tough. I would say being an entrepreneur, like, like I mentioned before, like yeah, I'm sure like, um, we have some clients that, uh, so we, we talked to them on slack. Right. And you know how slack has a little, like little green.to indicate that you're online, you know?

And then we like, sometime I, when it, when, um, when my baby and I'm asking them, wow, this guy is still, like, one of my clients would be still up to like two or 3:00 AM. Like, man, you're burning the midnight oil here is like an edit. Like, yeah, I'm just stressed out with my business. And you know, I'm trying to talk to my suppliers stuff.

Wow. It's like, and I noticed guy just got out of his nine to five job. I'd be like, yeah, but you're kind of like, you kinda just left one prison to enter another one, you know, in a way, cause you, you, you're looking for that freedom of time and you're looking to break out, but you kind of just step into another world where you're also being shackled because you haven't found a way to make your business profitable.

And those are the guys who really, really want to help. Right? If they haven't found a way to turn to entrepreneurship, entryway, successful business and to something that they can really, you know, have a owner's draw every month where they can keep money for their own personal needs for their family.

Those are the things we want to figure out for them. Like how do we do cashflow analysis through profit margin analysis. We want to really find one to find trendings where we want to find out why this is not doing as well as it should being at what the revenue level. 

Joseph: [00:20:30] And this, uh, transitions, uh, pretty, uh, smoothly into an Ecomonics tradition, which is asks anybody who's, um, uh, writing or a part of an agency, uh, about, uh, data in aggregate.

Uh, I think I, I tried to come up with a way to combine it to, I kind of like that dagger get, but I don't know. I almost sound like it's cool. Like it's not bad, but I don't know. I feel like somebody might, if I'm in prison, somebody might pull out a dagger get out of it.

I want to hear about some of the, the main, I guess, lessons or, um, patterns or things that you observe, um, in, in, in entrepreneurs, like I said in aggregate, because you're not just working with one, you're working with multiple, what are some of the main fears or some of the main, and finally it goes as granular as you can, by the way, if you want to is, you know, what are some of the obstacles that they, uh, they come into and then conversely, what are some of the um, uh, methods that they've been able to overcome these obstacles and sort of start entering into a more, you know, profitable and happy making place. 

Alan Chen: [00:21:38] Yeah. So that's a great question, Joseph. So I would say not to toot my own horn, but I'm sure Jeff mentioned the same thing is, you know, for us who I'll just focus on this one niche, but we'll just, we'll just e-comm owners.

We do have a lot of data right on e-comm owners. And we really utilize that to our best advantage NGO to vantage of our clients. Right? So we see the patterns, right? And we we also have our own algorithm where we go over just the relevant deductions and credit just for these guys. And we compare it. We also do a comparison between, you know, if that's your year over year of our, for this client, who's in a similar industry, have similar revenue operating expense, you know, cost of goods, sold levels.

Are they, are they actually able to maximize their tax deductions? What is your tax rate? And if the answer is no, why not? What are they doing differently than this. That makes it so that they are not able to maximize, is it because they haven't hired enough employees? Is it because they're not sourcing correctly?

Like what is going on? Right. And to give them more, I would say granular example is what we do for our client is not only just the, I would say tax, but, uh, the bookkeeping portion, we really go pretty in detail in that when we do bookkeeping, we really want to give you, like, I'll say, well, we call iron clad financials.

It's basically financials that you would not be embarrassed to show your mama or an investor. Right. That you can just tell, you can just show that to them. And then they can be like, oh, okay. I can see you run a clean business because this is what your financial is showing me. You know what you're talking about?

You've sent it well. And one at one of the things that, uh, well, the one, one little, I'll go a little sidetrack here. 1, 1, 1 thing that we had was one of my clients was like, Alan. I, I did it. I said, what do you mean you did it? I was like, I have an investor interested in me. I was like, oh, that's great. I'm happy for you.

He's like, but I know, I don't know how to talk to them. Like, I don't know what to say. I don't want to mess it up. It's like, oh, okay. Well, do you need, I'll help for like put together a little deck for you? Like, yeah. Yeah. I'll put a little deck for you. And I sent it to him and he's like, Alan's like, I don't know what to do with a stick.

I was like, okay. Okay. That's fine. Okay. That's fine. I'll you want, do you want me to sit in, on meeting with you and explain it? It's like, yeah, yeah, please do. So then we went to this meeting. I introduced myself as I'm a CPA and where I work for, you know, to give some potential. And they're like, I just went through to financial with them.

And then at the end investor was like, you know, I really wish that all these founders would pull in their CPA or their financial partner on his meetings. It just beta so much clear. I have founders trying to explain to me numbers and it just didn't make any sense, but I feel more confident and wants to invest in the business.

So I, it was just a new example. Being able to be on top of your numbers is so important, right. Especially if you're going towards, where you're trying to exit, right. Is like, if you can't explain, what's good about your business, what, what makes it click? What makes us shine? If you can't do it and you can't express it, they won't, they'll never find out.

Right. So, uh, one thing we, we, we tell clients like, yeah, make sure your bookkeeping is tight. I know it's it seems like you can just hire anyone on internet to do that these days. And you can also use software. Yeah. Which is fine. You can, I'm not, I'm not doubting that at all. It's more, can you also explain it?

Can you really analyze it? Can you really go through and say what things mean and what, what, what cashflow do you have in your books? And really let an investor feel comfortable that you're a vibing business. That's going to have a good trajectory. What's going to the moon, right? It's not crashing. So that's, that's really what, what, what we have I gather.

And, and because we have so much comparable data, we can also explain to these guys like, yeah, this is one of our top clients. You know, we have all these other guys and these guys are performing great, you know, compared to these other owners we have. 

Joseph: [00:25:03] And, and I, and I think it just goes to show the importance of you being uh, immersed in the e-commerce space makes you, makes you much more, um, uh, capable of being in that conversation and being able to, uh, hold the conversation with them. I understand that the jargon and knowing what it is that the investors are looking into, as well as what are the needs of your, of your client.

And also, I just, at first, I don't, I almost saw it. It was like a, it was a moment of sarcasm really well. So what do you want me to come sit in the meeting with you? And like, he was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, please do that. Okay. I guess I will then. 

Alan Chen: [00:25:37] No, definitely not. I'll always be sincere in offering it and, but I didn't know if he wants to be there.

Right. Cause sometimes, sometimes we have, we have found out who wants to be in the spotlight. Right. They want to be the CEO over everything. And we, we, we really applaud those guys too, but, but if they, if they can, uh, build as a super genius that can do it in eight hours, four hours, they're like, that's fine.

But if you're, if you're going to 16 hours, cause you're trying to be a VA of customer service doing, doing everything I think style perfect. And at that point. 

Joseph: [00:26:03] And that reminds me of something that I had, uh, remembered. So yeah. Get to talk to a lot of people. And, uh, I, in every time that I, um, see, uh, one of my guests has a YouTube channel, I subscribe to it.

So my subscriber list is massive and it's a great thing. Now we're like every day I have like 20 videos. Some of them are 20 seconds long for some of them are 10 minutes, 30 minutes. And so I guess to absorb a lot of continuing information from a lot of what, a lot of these, a lot of these sources, uh, previous guests, Kerry Egeler, he, he, he was at the time, uh, explaining to people where they need to divert their energy.

If they're going to run a successful e-commerce business and you need to put themselves in the mindset of a CEO and not in the mindset of seem stressed or whatever is the equivalent of that. Yeah. Um, but it's like an equivalent to like a laborer's position. And so what I was wondering is, you know, in a lot of the clients that you would see.

Where are they putting their time somewhere that was ineffective given the relative importance of their position? 

Alan Chen: [00:27:03] Yeah. That's, that's, that's, that's a great one to go with. So we have, we have seen a lot of examples of that, actually. I think it's, it comes down to trust. So a lot of time and I, I faced this myself right where I know during my Shopify days, I was frustrated.

Like why, why doesn't, why doesn't neckflix and chill work? It's such a great model. It has to work. And, and I would actually, I invested in a mentor. Right. But, and especially the first mentor I invested in was, you know what, didn't work out. I, to say it's a scam. It maybe did work in the past basically. Well, all you did was you see through a needle in a haystack, right.

He just put a product out a product and just hope one sticks. That, that that's, that's the way the mentorship worked out. Wow. So you have to go into hundreds of product before you find when it works. And I think in the old days, but now in a couple of years where it's very mature now drop shipping, you know, everyone has gone to auto pots, so you it's, it's really not the way to do it in my opinion.

But, um, going back, going back to your question. One thing that we have noticed is a lot of times these founders don't know that they should be the leader of their company, right? Because of trust issues, they don't want to hire out, you know, they, they still want to do everything themselves. They have grown to, I would say, you know, mixed six-figure business, they obviously have the profit, you know, they can, they have the ability to have the cashflow to hire.

They don't do it because they have been burned by a VA that didn't do a good job answering customer inquiries. Right. What did he got burned by a VA that, you know what, it had a weird time zones or didn't fulfill orders on time. It got delayed. So then they just stopped hiring altogether. I just decided to do it all themselves.

Right. And then we look at our business. Hey, your, your business is thriving. Like all your metrics are pointing in the right direction. You can easily doubled as business. If you just let go a little bit, you know, because they're so in the weeds, right? Like you said, Joseph, like there's so being, uh, what was the example?

Yeah. Yeah. They're being, being the guy. That's doing the person selling the clothes instead of presents selling the clothes to Macy's. Right. So they need to, they need to kind of like step back and really look at it. And really like, we, we kinda tell them, like, what is your, what is your goal? Like, what is your financial goal?

What is your end goal? What is your family goal? Like is it to label this business for 16 hours or all the time? Like it does that, that the life you want to live and we really want to get them to get to jump, to stand. That it's very important to, to, to expand and hire Alen find help. And that's kinda what, what we're here for too.

Right? We're like telling them, Hey, you would have so much on your plate. Are you sure? You want to add, you know, accurate bookkeeping and getting yourself tax savings on top of that too. Right? So they're like, yeah, just let us handle that part. Let, let us give you the advice you need and give you the reports you need.

So then we only have to talk in a month and we'll just talk about like, we have a monthly COVID, I'm just talking on monthly basis. We update you. We let you know how your business is doing. We'll give you recommendations. You can move on and be the CEO, actually grow your business from that point on. 

Joseph: [00:29:56] You have, um, yeah, just, I'm just gonna try to like off the top of my head, um, pull up like all of the different, um, exterior, uh, services and products.

I mean, for one we're we're in drop shipping country. So the, the, the essence of the business is outsourced, um, CPAs, obviously, uh, such as yourself, different, uh, organization, uh, different service. Um, you have third party logistics. You have, um, you might have somebody else do your marketing, whether that's agency ad agency, you might have somebody else doing your, your retention marketing.

We've talked to people like that. So we, it is important to be into that mindset of not only a leader, but I think also an ambassador to, uh, have my brand, to also have these relationships with all of these other, uh, these empires in these kingdoms to say, you know, And, and, and, and it reflects more of what in our healthy economic system is like, which is we are relying on people and really in all parts of the world to, to make this, this business a function.

Alan Chen: [00:30:53] Yeah. And you hit, you hit the nail in the coffin there, Joseph it's like, let the experts handle their area. Right. If you're doing your own email marketing, and you're only getting a two X ROAS, a firm can promise you five X. Why would you not do that? Right? If it's, if it's a guaranteed return for you, right?

And then you get to not have that burden of doing email marketing, and then really focused on your core business, which is growing your pot align, right? Negotiate, better rates, where your, uh, your supplies possibly, you know, doing better customer service. There's always, there's always more areas you can improve on and more things that you don't have to spend all your time.

You mean, if there's a better solution out there. 

Joseph: [00:31:30] Here's the, here's what I want to ask you about the, uh, the exit is funny cause like, um, I only the, the, the concept of, um, uh, exiting an e-commerce business was actually a relatively new one of my more recent guests. Um, uh, guy's not even 25 yet. And he was already like sold off one of his businesses, um, and, and credit to him.

So have you ran into complications where somebody wants to sell their business in that there are all of these external factors that go into making this business functional? I mean, it's one thing that the business had everything internal, right? They have like internal marketing internals CPA, even internal the customer service, uh, fulfillment.

And so it's a more of like a contained ecosystem. And I can see that being a little bit easier to sell to an investor or an interested a company that wants to buy us out. Um, does a difficulty. Uh, increase or possibly even decrease if somebody has a, more of a, um, externalized and really like an outsource operation.

Alan Chen: [00:32:28] Yeah. You know, you know, your stuff Joseph. So for sure, like I would say. 

Joseph: [00:32:31] It's been, it's been a long road, but I appreciate that. 

Alan Chen: [00:32:34] We haven't seen, I would say too many times where a, a pure, I would say pure, pure dropping shipping business, get too much interest from outside investors, purely for, to put a foot factors that you mentioned.

Right. Because every, every single party business outsource, right. Usually invest investor, want to see something I would say proprietary. Right. They don't want to see that. Me, me, Alan, selling. You know, my neck massager, but actually it just 10 other people sent me the same thing. Just I came up with better, clever name, which still didn't work.

But that, that doesn't help them. Right. They're like, well, you got, you have immediate competition immediately. We buy a company, does 10 other guys that can sell the exact same thing. What's the point? Why should I buy up your company? Right. So they want to see something proprietary. They want to see something that you and you invented or that you added on that's enhancement and further.

And that is something that you're able to prove that you can produce. Right? Sometimes a lot of things become, I would say prototypes or just something that's in progress, but you haven't executed on it. Execution is one of the big things they want to look for. Like, okay, you have, you have this great deck set out.

You say in the next two years, this is what you're going to do. This is what I'm going to bring to you. Have you, can you do it first then, then let us, and then call us, you know, w w we'll we'll give you a number, right? So I would say it's actually pretty hard if you're just doing drop shipping to possibly find a choir.

Right. It's it's, it's only when you transform your business into more of a branded business. I would say at least, yeah. Branded white label is kind of hard too, but more branded more just, um, no one, no one can take this from you, right? Something that you can even, I would say slack, a, put a copyright, what?

Trademark on it. That's one day that's when investigators really interested. Cause they like, okay, you have this, this, this enhancement, no one else in the marketplace does you're the leader in this. Yeah, we would love to work with you and partner with you and possibly, you know, find you an exit. Right. So I would say those are type company, we have seen as most success when they, when they take things into their own hands.

Joseph: [00:34:24] And this might be, yeah. Uh, a short question, but has, um, somebody say a dropshipper of this is an important question for, for, for my audience, but, um, have they found a route, say like they start, uh, just drop shipping to move to white label, uh, and then maybe they do their own internal fulfillment as, has anybody gone down that route?

Has anybody, you don't have to like go specific with it, but have you seen anything along those lines? 

Alan Chen: [00:34:47] Yeah, for sure. Definitely. I'm not an e-comm guru at, by any means, but just from what I seen from my experience, That is the, I would say the recommended route these days, right? Dropshipping is a great space to get started.

Like it's, it's a great way to get your foot wet, to be a way to get testing done and see if this is a right business for you. Right. See if it's something that you want to do. But then I would say, if you're really serious about it, the next evolution is to take that product, figure out how to make it better, right.

How to make a better mousetrap up against the common saying, right. And, and how to, uh, put your spin on it. Right? Put your, put your label on it and make it your own. Right. And I think that that comes with coming out with, you know, custom ads for it, like hiring models to do it. And then you really, you really just want them not to know you for that product before.

Right. You want them to know you for the brand of Netflix instead of the product that you have. Right. And then, then, then they, they followed a brand, right. They followed like the anchor right. For the apple of the world, but they don't just follow iPhone air pod. Right. So I would say that that's the most appointing and yeah, this is, I think it's a very common trend right now of, of owning your product and then, uh, owning the manufacturing process and then fulfilling in the US. 

Joseph: [00:35:57] It's good to hear.

And, and that's certainly a, a point that I wanted to, um, uh, reinforce as well, just so that, you know, our audience understands like where I stand on it and my own, my own progress is that, so the store that I was, uh, that I, that I have up at first, I called it, um, close to her because I wanted it to be about, you know, the, the, whatever drawer is closest to us tends to have our most valuable items.

Like the one, right by me, he's got keys, it's got my wallet. Um, it's got my lip balm, you know, the things I can't live with it. Um, and, and then I, and I guess started thinking of it in a more fundamental level. And I realized, you know what, this is really about. It's about. Giving people more agency over where they live.

It's about how can I use the surface underneath my desk? How can I defy gravity, but a drawer underneath there. Now I have that. I have walnuts all over, all over my wall. So I ended up rebranding it and calling it a second space. And it is about, um, encouraging people to think about all the space that we don't immediately go to as something that we can use to improve our living situation.

And we don't know where this is going to go, but if I were to sit in a room and try to interest somebody on it, I wouldn't focus on the drawer that I can stick underneath the desk. I would focus on the ideology. And then the products that represent that the products are the extension of the brand, rather than the brand, as an extension of the product. 

Alan Chen: [00:37:18] You hit it, you hit it, you hit it right on.

Joseph: [00:37:21] Well, I appreciate that. Uh, hopefully the investor in, uh, four or five years from now. 

Alan Chen: [00:37:26] Okay. And you can, you can feel free to pull me in that meeting too. 

Joseph: [00:37:30] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I keep on the Rolodex, but it's a brave, brave aside, but it's just been like one of the most, um, crazy experiences that I've had. How many people have added onto my rolodex?

Uh, it just in like in the last. The year that just, wow, all these, all these emails, all these contacts. And, um, and to be able to meet them in a space where I can provide value because you know, I'm not bad at what I do. Anyways. Okay. Pat, on the back over. So for our, for our audience, we want to condition.

And by the way, this is something that I got to deal with too. So, you know, I'm right there with them is that we want to condition people, two things. Number one is to get out of the fear mindset and into the excitement mindset of, uh, I'm not afraid to file my taxes. I'm excited to do it because I want to a be completely upfront and above board about what I do.

And reap the benefits. So there's, there's that, and then there is the actual work that I need to do to start conditioning myself, to be mindful of the expenditures, maybe how I should set up my bank account. So if you want to choose a, this is a choose your own Nova for a second here. Do you want to go with the mindset first or actually, you know what let's do that let's do that because mindset is always a better place to start.

So how do we excite people to, um, have this relationship with their taxes? 

Alan Chen: [00:38:47] That's, that's a great way to put excitement. Okay. So I, I laugh because excitement and tax you don't go together, right? Like I'm, I'm, I'm, uh, I'm going to give a little, little tidbit about myself, even in college. When I was just going to do my accounting program, I fell asleep in my tax class, honestly.

Right. And my corporate tax class, it was just so much numbers. Don't Emmy me so many tax rates. I was like, oh no, it is not working an hour. And sadly, I was a dumb, I was sitting in the second row as a teacher. Alan, what are you doing? I was like, okay, got it. Um, but to fast forward, I realized how, you know, after working and after, uh, working while at east, uh, multinational companies, how impactful tax is right.

And how detrimental it is when you don't do it. Correct. Okay. And not to, I would say fuel, further fear into people, but we, we here, we here at free cashflow. We truly just want to educate people. That tax is not a scary thing. Okay. Let me, let me give you a, let me give a little story if that's okay. Joseph, a hundred percent.

Okay. So we have a client, right? That's uh, it's a former client, uh, because he has move on and, and the exit business now, uh it's he, he was, he was so sad one day, right? Because he came to me and said, Alan, I made a big booboo. I was like, what kind of food? That was like, I, I hit the seven figure mark. I was like, wait, what do you mean?

Congratulations. It's like, isn't that great? It's like, you move from six figures to seven figures. Right? It's like, They're like, put that that's terrible. Wait, wait, why is that terrible? I was like, I was like, I'm screwed. I was like, what do you mean? So when we went, we went like went back and forth like that over text.

And he finally, he told me, um, basically he was bought to believe that there was this thing called a millionaire tax. Okay. And what it does is as soon as you hit seven figures in revenue, they tax you super heavily because you're a millionaire now. Cause I was on you, you know, you hit a nice 1 million marketing Shopify, screenshot it and put it on a form and you're like looking at it.

I did it right. They're like, yeah, like I'm screwed, like the IRS going to send agents at my door. They're going to like really watch how I use my money and not going to come after me. He's like, if I do anything like in the gray area, they're gonna come out. And I was like, okay, that's first of all, that's not a thing.

That's not, it. That's not true because I, and I think like it's just an example, but I think there's a lot. Misconception a myth out there like that about taxes and about accounting, where people believe that that is the truth, that, that there's such thing as millionaire tax, would they just get immediately hit with them and Iris, our agents start following them around with something.

So I'm like, no, that's not a thing. And I think people are afraid to even make more money because they think they'll just get this like super heavy tax would be like, people could start watching them really closely. And like a hog, like FBI didn't come after the most something. But yeah, that's, that's the, that's the part where we're like, there's a lot of education needed in this space.

Right. And part of reason why we, we, we made the course of a tax-free e-comm is to kind of like for these people starting out and they found some success, maybe they're making, you know, five to 10 K a month, like don't be afraid of. Going further. Don't don't be like, Ooh, if I make pass this mark, what happens?

Who's gonna come after me. Right. Cause they cause like, I guess it's scary because you know, I, I just happened to me too. Like Shopify started asking me for, to identify myself, right. It's like, Hey, you're at this revenue mark. Now, can you submit your identification right. With some kind of proof that you are, who you say you are.

And he's like, I think that scares people like, oh shoot, they just got to stop my sales. If I don't tell them who I am and things like that. Yeah. Adds to the fear of, I don't know why should be doing at this point, like saying like I made too much money. Like what's gonna happen to me, you know, are they gonna come up to my house?

Are they going to take my car away? And I think that's all like these things that keeps people along with other issues, I'm sure in econ, right? Like, like, like ad spin and your ad chem closing on you that keeps people from wanting to be the best form of themselves. Right? Like they can do it at w I'm ordinary I'm ordinary person.

Like you're ordinary people. And there is only people who are making incredible success stories into space. And I think like I tell them like, you're, this is no different than you. You can do it to it just don't be afraid of these little robots and things. Again, you'll wait, I'll say, um, it's the way it goes down.

I was like mental, like you said, Joseph, like they have to get them. There is no roadblock. You can drive through all of them. You know, you have a Ferrari, just rammed through all of them. 

Joseph: [00:42:55] I can tell you a quick story too. This is just a, just for the fun of it, but definitely I, one time I received this, um, this visa bill and the bill was like 5 cents, maybe 10 cents.

And I was like, what did I transact on my credit card? That was 10 cents. And why would somebody have, let me have this transaction? And I actually got kind of excited cause it, it made me think, well, what would happen if I didn't pay this 10 cents? Like, are they gonna come after me? And if so, are they going to have a means that would cost them less than 10 cents?

Like, is there the phone gonna ring like. 

Alan Chen: [00:43:26] Over 10 cents, even 10 cents keep you up at night. And you can imagine what these guys are facing when they had to see a tax. 

Joseph: [00:43:31] Yeah cause like, well, you know, we want what we were owed. So, you know, we're gonna, we're gonna, we're gonna come to this on principle.

That's like I comes knocking on my door is, is, look, I just had to take the bus to get here. Uh, so you gonna have to pay up.

Alan Chen: [00:43:43] Yeah, I wish we would have to have this mindset that you have. They should rightfully get what they owed. Right. And that's, that's one thing that they don't realize with taxes is that no, one's not uncle Sam or no one from the government.

Oh, you overpaid us. Oops. Let me give you back to you. Like, you know, like, no, one's going to tell you that you forgot to take a certain deduction, a credit, right? They, they're not going to mind you and that's just money. You're kind of giving away. That's that's profit. You earned from working hard in your business.

Joseph: [00:44:11] By the way, if you're a current user of Debutify or haven't tried this out yet, Debutify version three has been released and now is a good time to upgrade or get started as any. A streamlined user interface along with an ever increasing array of conversion boosting add ons is waiting for you. So download today for free and start your journey. Who knows, maybe I'll be interviewing you before too long.

Onto, uh, tactics. So in my position right now, I am. Okay. Like very, very specifically. Um, I'm just waiting on, um, a little bit more of my product to arrive because I want to do some ads for myself. And then, um, some of those ads, uh, be on Facebook. And so, and then it begins for, for people who might even be further back, but they might not even have settled on their product yet.

Um, there, maybe they're still fitting around what do they, what can they start doing right away to be conditioned, to be prepared to, um, uh, approach tax season with us. Um, gusto as, as possible prior to eventually being able to reach out to someone such as yourself. 

Alan Chen: [00:45:15] Yeah. That's a great question. Um, so I would say if you're just starting out there's um, oh, Amanda's, it's pretty big area, but I would say just a couple of things right now.

Just a couple of tips in general. Um, one is a, uh, does one, does what really often miss the deduction that, uh, obviously newcomers in the space don't know about is the startup cost deduction. It basically allows you to take $5,000 of tax deduction off your first year of business that you're operating for things that you did before you start your business.

So for example, Joseph, if you have done research right, and your business, and be like, Hey, I want to see if I should start, let me research it that whatever the cost of data is, it's deductible, or you say, Hey, I need to go visit my, uh, uh, supplier who a manufacturer in Ohio or in China, and go talk to them about, is it possible?

Is it possible for me to me to make this. That part is part of that $5,000 deduction too. So, and then any organizational costs, right? If you, um, had fees for starting an LLC or fees for incorporating getting a business license, that's all, that's all deductible part of 5,000 now. So I would say you're just starting out, make sure you don't discourage yourself with big tax bills.

So take our tax collection. You can especially just find out without tax deduction. And number two, I, we mentioned it like, I would say, um, if your comp, if you're any, I would say even seven out of 10, confident that this is not just going to be a one-year thing for you, that you're gonna, you know, be into e-com job-embedded for, for longer term than one year start an LLC immediately.

I would say I'm an LLC limited liability company. It basically provides, uh, some, I would say level of protection for you as far as your personal liability. Right? So, um, if you don't have an LLC, what happens is, you know, if you, if you happen to have a very dangerous product, like a toy, what batteries that leaks or anything like that, uh, the consumer.

And come directly after you, right. As a person personally. So, um, you kind of want this LOC to be a way to stop gap that where they can only go after the business assets. Right. So they can only bankrupt your business, take your desk away, but they can't go after your car or your house when it's something like that.

So I would say those two are really big for people just starting out. And number three is, you know, just start keeping track of everything. You know, like I think a lot of times when you start your business, you get very excited and you're like, ah, Do, uh, act at tests, but this I'm going to spend another $10 tests with this.

And then you think things are racking up, right? And in the world of credit cards right now, it's just very easy to spend. Right? You enter your credit card on Facebook, you just start spending and they send you a bill. When you reach your threshold, we're going to do a credit card in Shopify. It's like, oh, there's so many to be these shiny new apps in here.

I want to try it as marketing wine. And even for me, I try to like five email marketing wine. Cause they all look, it seems like different, great features for me, you know? And then you, you get a bill for it and be like, ah, my Shopify bill was $300 a month. What, what happened here? So I've encouraged people to really keep track of that, right?

Because everything's money for you. Everything's money going out for you. So don't lose track of things. Don't, don't only look at the winning asset that has your 3.0 row ass add hub, all the ones that didn't work out, that you're just testing with this because those are money going out. You really want to know.

I would say, get a true cost of operating your business and not okay. Kind of like have blinders on and just look at what you want to, what, what, cause you want to look at it. Cause it's not a true representation of really how well you're doing and you really want to be, I would say, truthful and transparent to a self first so that you're not like, you're not like thinking you're doing great, but actually, you know, you're not cash flowing well and you're actually losing money at yeah.

Joseph: [00:48:42] And you, you raise a great point about, um, sole propriety. We've had to other people on the front end before Mark and Andrew Pierce, they do an LLC, um, uh, uh, formation company. Uh, okay. That's that is not the official term. That was just the closest that I can get to at the top of my head. But, um, so for the audience, I definitely recommend referring to that episode, uh, to learn a little bit more specifically about, um, not only the, uh, the efficacy of an LLC, but also how cost efficient it can actually, it can actually be.

Um, so there's two things here. One of them is about like, so I, I set up a sole propriety, uh, in my early twenties. And I remember I was listening to some of your YouTube content before we started. And, and the point that you had made is that. Sole proprietor is fine to start if, just want to learn how to, how to run a business.

And it's, it's, it's a great entry point, but then when we start making money, it becomes a liability to, because now I'm, I'm held liable for anything that goes wrong. And so the two things that I want to talk about, one of them is like, Why in God's name is, are the feds. So like protective of LLC versus, um, so vicious to where it's sole propriety, you know, if I'm, if I'm, uh, you know, I'm just one person, I just want to run my business.

You know, it, to me, it just seems like an easy flip of the switch for the business to be held up, uh, accountable rather than me being held accountable. And just, it, just, to me, it just baffles my mind that the most, it would be like, like if, if I wanted to learn to play guitar and the learning instrument costs $5,000, but then the professional one is like a hundred to 200 bucks and it's like, so it's actually really, really risky at the beginning.

And then if I get over. I there's like a million metaphors. Another one is like when the baby turtles are on the beach and I was like trying to make it into, into the water. It's like the most dangerous part of the turtle's life is like the first 10 seconds before they get into the water. And then they're fine.

So I don't know. It's always just boggled my mind. Just how not a good idea it is to run a Soper priority. And I don't really have a question, but I, if you have anything you want to say on that subject, I'd love to. 

Alan Chen: [00:50:45] Yeah, yeah, no, that's, that's a good little tip it. Uh, but I think the whole point of LLC it's even beyond just the protection part, which I also have a great metaphor for. It's like, if you're going into battle, well, a shield, right? You wouldn't do that. And the LLC is kind of like that shield that you going to battle with. But, uh, but, uh, the whole, the whole thing with LLC is it's, it just brings, I would say a level of legitimacy for your business, right?

So what, when LLC gives you is you can, you can also get a EIN number with it, which is employee identification number. And what you can do with that is, you know, you can go set up bank accounts, right. Or, uh, go apply for business credit card, which I also highly recommend people do actually, because they have great points systems for businesses, especially small businesses.

Um, and, but the thing with LLC is it also gives you like put you in a mindset that you're serious about this, right? Because if you think about it as a sole proprietorship is there's no paperwork to file. You're just kind of like I'm a bit by toe in here. If it doesn't work out, I'm going back to my day job.

Right. And then you're like, you're not committed. Right? You, you maybe do it for a month. You're like two sales. That was fun. Let me go back to, you know, what it's like. And then when LLC I know there was a cost involved, but I, thankfully these days, it's, it's a lot less costs, right. It's only a couple of hundred dollars and there's a lot of great providers out there.

Um, and the thing is, LLC you kind of like, oh, I'm officially a business. I have paperwork, you know, have statements incorporation with it. You know, I, um, someone knows that I exist, right. Someone knows that Netflix exists out there in the world and it's kind of like, it gives you the mindset. Oh, I I'm running a business.

You know, I'm a true entrepreneur. I would say even right. I can put a comma LLC behind my name when I fill in a form. Right. And I think that's part of something that's, I would say indescribable that you can't put a number on it, but money on it, where you're like, it gives you that sense of urgency, but sense of like legitimacy that you're running a real business.

I should try to make this work because I pay a fee for it, but you invested into it. So I, I should, I should try to make this into successful. And I think we've have seen that people who have gone through to LLC route are lot more successful than just those who are, you know, after six months and are still sole proprietorship and unsure.

Right. I think it flips a switch in their mind that they should be serious about business and invest more time in it. 

Joseph: [00:52:57] That's a great take on it. And, and I think, um, the focusing on the, on the mindset is what I think is far more compelling. Um, The mindset that I have, which is, you know, don't get bankrupted by the fed.

So that's, that's definitely a much better way of looking at it. Now, the other thing too, that I there's, there's another side to this too, which is, um, is there a C Corp when there's S-corp and I wanted to touch on this briefly because I think this might be important for us to understand, but I think holistically LLC pretty much covers what an e-commerce store, such as the ones my, myself and my audience might make.

Um, but I'm wondering if it can go all the way through to the exit. So where would a C Corp or an escort be relevant in this, in this context? 

Alan Chen: [00:53:39] Oh yeah, that's a great point to bring up. So I would say for most of our audience out there, especially those drop shipping. Right. And obviously is more than enough, right?

Uh, the reason I say that, because it's actually, I would say the easiest structure to, for formulators to start up. If there's very little paperwork, you can probably do it. Like a sitting, right. If you've gone to site and then they'll kind of take care of the rest and then you'll get your, your official paper and what a six week time, I would say, and typically, um, but a, an a C Corp, right?

And as on the extreme end of the scale, where there's tons of paperwork to deal with, you have to, you know, go, do you have to actually have to have board minutes, board minutes for meetings. You have to have a president. Vice-president secretary, basically. There's a lot of things you gotta do to become a C Corp.

Now, why, why are the two primary reason people become C Corp is really two reason. One to, uh, attract. Outside money, right. Or to, to, uh, basically become, um, internationally recognized, I would say. Right. So having a C Corp from having that ink behind your name, and basically let people know that, Hey, I have arrived, right.

Um, as certain point IRS forces you to switch, like, unless you volunteer to do that, but it has certain revenue level. They're like, yep. You have to become a C Corp now. Like, no, there's no, no way around it. And, uh, it's, it's fine if they do that, that, that just means you you've made a lot of money. That's great.

Good news. Congrats. But I would say that if you haven't hit that threshold, I would stay with LLC. Um, for all you listeners out there, because it's just easier to set up. Um, there is a lot less paperwork to go through to lawless headache for you to go through and it's more than enough protection, but a C Corp is a hoarder.

B C Corp is separates you from the entity entirely, right. An LLC still ties to you as an individual person, but C court stands on his own, right? So this is very morbid to say, but say, you know, Joseph, you know, pass away. Yeah, the c corp that goes on, you know, your, your, your, uh, your business, you know, your desk business.

It can, it can thrive. It can become the more and more of it too, by the way, if you want, I feel like so Joseph fell down the stairs and I was going to say, run over by a car, but basically my favorite is hit by a truck and it's something very cathartic. Sounds like it hurts the most. It's so hard.

Joseph: [00:55:49] It's just like the fastest way anyway.

Alan Chen: [00:55:51] Okay. I'll say this car, you just become an a, you know, okay.  But anyway, so the point is with C Corp, the business lives on, right? Your legacy lives on your, you know, your future children can take over it. They want, you know, you can also pass it down to just a board board member, but the whole thing is, that's why it's so complicated.

Cause it's, it stands on its own, right. Escort is kind of like the hybrid. I want to talk about hybrid between an LLC and a C Corp, an escort, basically. Hey, we're going to give you some, the easiness of the LLC, but you kind of become more legitimate. You kind of are a real corporation. Right. And what it brings is a lot of restrictions on S-corps, but the main benefit, I would say, why someone wants to switch from an LLC and S-corp is a, is a thing called self-employment tax.

Right? So as an, as an, as an LLC, you're responsible for pain, uh, both portioned, employer and employee portion of it. At some point back, it was about 13, 70%. But you know, if you're just an employee, you only paid half of that was found 7.6, 5%. So anyone out there working like a 95 gastric party you're responsible for, right?

So, but as an escort, what it says is. You, you actually are, you can actually declare that you are a employee of your own company. Like you're like you and owner, it can be an employee owned company. So we, we allow you to only pay the employee portion in that case. So it actually is a pretty big savings. If you add a certain threshold where, you know, you can save like the seven point something percent times, your times, the net profit that you bring in.

So we run a lot of calculations to see if that's worth it for an owner to, you know, to go through the corporate restructuring, to become an S-corp. Um, sometimes it is sometimes it's not. And then we leave it up to them, put their best judgment if they want to do it. And we let them know all the kinds of, they do switch, you know, additional paperwork to have to do.

And there's some, a lot of times they just say, may not work for them or they say, yeah, let's go for it. So if we leave it up to declined, they want to go on to go down that route. 

Joseph: [00:57:43] And w what I find encouraging about this too, is that it gives people an idea of how. Um, far that they really can go if that's what they're motivated to do, if they want their business to truly become like a worldwide brand and to go toe to toe with some of the legacy brands that we've known and yeah.

Sometimes love sometimes not so much love. I was just reluctantly supported at a habit. Um, there, there are, there are routes and, and it can start with something as simple as our, you know, our, our smaller e-commerce businesses are one person drop shipping operations. They can't get to that point. And so what I find encouraging is, you know, there, there is a path for it.

Um, it's not an easy path, but there are people on our side such as yourself who want to make sure that we have all our advantages just as much as Amazon has all their advantages get. Well, it's not, it's not a one to one, like, yeah, no, not comparable. 

Alan Chen: [00:58:35] Yeah. But we. As much as possible, which I maximize, what, what you, what you're able to.

And I just want to mention, I, I realized in my head I did really bad math path of 13 is not seven because the full rate is 15.3% would put a self-employment rate. But I think I could, people expect accounts, always do perfect math. So I just want to clarify that. 

Joseph: [00:58:54] It's all good. It's all good. I'm even worse at math in that.

So I just inherently, that's kind of the funny thing is, is like I, we do inherently trusted the, the academy. Yeah. I know my maps. I was like, all right, I'm just gonna crack myself. I don't even know seven can be a half. What is decibels? But it's what is this witchcraft? All right. So, um, we actually hit an hour, but we're gonna go a little bit over, um, just because, uh, there was one of the thing that I've been wanting to ask about, and then I wanted to give you like also a moment to just in case there was any other like key pillar to this that you want our audience to know.

Cause like I'm inundated with questions here and I can't quite. Uh, curate what I think is the most important ones. I'll give you a chance to do that, but I also wanted to ask you about the sales tax nexus. What is sales tax nexus? How does it work? And, um, is this, uh, I'm sorry, I, that, to me, this may sound a little silly.

Is this like a specific tool that you offer or is this a more broad reaching subject? 

Alan Chen: [00:59:45] Oh yeah, no, no problem. So sales tax nexus is basically a term, right? It's the word nexus is, um, as I say, the actual definition is it's an affiliation or connection to a person. I think that's what for, how do I define it?

And basic, yes, it basically, uh, it basically is a way for the IRS to determine, do you have an affiliation or connection to an area, right? So let's, let's take, for example, your business established in New York, right? But you have my manufacturing plant in Florida, you have, and, and branch office and Ohio with a couple of employees there, you have a third party wholesaler relationship with someone in California.

Right? So all those things I mentioned are nexus points, right? Which means that to the IRS, you are somehow responsible for all those points that your business are doing or transactions. So, uh, for IRS purposes of sales, tax purpose, all those states might have a sales tax impact on your business. So what will you evaluate for the businesses?

We asked them these questions, right? We asked them, Hey, where, where is your fulfillment center? Where's your manufacturing? Where are you having employees in and under states? Right? And so that's, that's one part who does there's. Now it's natural. It's a very long explanation, but it's basically split into two kinds of nexus.

Now that we look at, right, this is physical nexus, which is why I mentioned having a physical plant there, having physical employees there. But it's also economic nexus, which is what's troubling online sellers these days, right? Like due to a court case, I think south Dakota was Wayfair. Um, and they make it so that, um, online businesses have what they call economic nexus, which means as long as you have a concentration of customers that you're selling to in a certain state, they also want you to collect and you also have nexus in that state.

Right. So, so you're doing really well. Tons of people have destined Georgia and you sold over a hundred thousand deaths in Georgia. Well, that triggers the threshold for that state. As that you have, you have economic nexus in that state. You have to be mid sales tax debt state now. So that's kinda an example of what, how economic next is will come bite you. And I think, I don't know if all has realized this, that even if they don't have a physical presence in that state, like they're not physically located there, but due to economic nexus, they will be still responsible. You know, Georgia will eventually, you know, you know, government a little bit slow, but it will eventually catch up and come after you for it.

Right. Because there, there's what they call a statute of limitation. Um, that's basically a rule about how long it com entity has to come after you, after for tax fraud, what tax related issues. Right. And it's usually around like five to seven years. So, so even if you think you're okay like today, like, ah, it didn't come after me.

I'm so smart. I got it. Three be years later, they might send you a letter, say, Hey, we're investigating into your sales because we see you have a large amount of shipments and customers and I'll state like what's going on. And, um, you know, you kind of want to run into that issue when next is right. And that's why we want to evaluate for you firsthand before you, once those issues of, Hey owner, these are the 15 states, you actually have economic messages.

Here's your successful eight-figure business. Let's get ahead of it. And let's see what the ratio is. And let's strategize of when you actually crossed that threshold. And maybe because of specific role, because each state come up with their own rule for how they want to determine, like some state says, okay, immediately after you cost it, you have to pay.

Some states are like, oh, we will really nice stay. You can wait til, uh, you know, next year. Okay. The next year then you pay us. Right. So it really depends. Sorry I use, I said that by sort of like Canada, if Canada was a state, be one of those, that's super nice. It says, yeah, you can wait till next year to pay us.

So we're like, so we're like, yeah, Uh, we, we really want to teach them that too. Right. We're like, okay. So for these states, you okay, because they're very loose with their regulations about how special is surpass. You can wait on DS. And if other things were like, oh, you're around. I would say, I don't know, 90,000 in sales to a state and their threshold is a hundred K.

Well, how much more sales you think you're getting the last 15 days of the year? Is it worth it to you to still sell to the state or move your ad, spend dollars elsewhere and avoid a sales tax for that state. Right. Avoid having paid a stay in it. That is a huge amount of savings sometimes. Right? So it could save you like $10,000 a week, if you do something like that.

So we try to educate them on their dads and then they'd be like, oh, I didn't even realize that I didn't. They would have just blindly kept selling. Right. And then maybe it's not worth it to them. Maybe it's better for them to allocate their dollars and constantly in other states where they haven't cost do a show and they could do equally as well, as far as you know, their ending of revenue at that point a year. 

Joseph: [01:03:59] Interestingly, and I guess a threshold, um, I suppose, like I said, it's, it's a state by state basis, but I think generally it is.

Probably in the, like the, in the six figure seven figure range. So while I don't think it's like an immediate concern, it is, as you say, Wednesday, it's large enough to have a clear influence on the economic health of that state. Then I can understand why they would want to come in at that point. 

Alan Chen: [01:04:21] Yes. I think it think at the beginning, you just kind of want to have a general idea of where your concentration is as far as your sales, but you don't have to worry about it.

Like I said, usually the only state you have to start off by paying sales tax is to stay you're located. And which is, which is another great point that we, that we bring up to our clients, especially those who are single and don't have family obligations, tying them down to a certain state. We tell them, Hey, you're running an online business.

No one really mind what state you're located in. No, one's gonna be like, oh, because you're gonna stay in California. I'm going to buy from this guy list. Okay. Sometimes they do, but most of the time put upon your selling, it doesn't matter. Right. So we would actually highly encouraged them to move to a more friendly sales tax and state income tax state.

Right. I think Nevada is, is a great wine. Uh, Oregon is another great one, right? If they can, they should relocate a business. So then that their physical nexus doesn't get triggered. Right? So for me, I have a family I'm in California. Um, I'm forced to pay the high sales tax, high state income tax here. Like I did for my business last year.

I'm like, ah, like crying and crying and crying a tear because how hydrate is. But, you know, I can't, I can't relocate a whole family, but for those who are, who are able to, I highly encouraged them to, you know, look for those, a little advantages that they can gain by finding lower tax rate state. We've been no state income tax states, right?

So you locate located business. And even when they have a fulfillment center, look for advantage like Texas, there's no state income tax. I have to put it there. And that's a great saving my idea right off the bat for being, just being in a better state that has better tax rates for your business. 

Joseph: [01:05:44] Andrew, uh, Mark Pierce, uh, it was cloud peak law.

I remember now, um, they were also referencing a Wyoming as, as their state is very friendly towards LLCs to the point where even myself in Canada, I can set up an LLC. And I there's a, there's a, there's a desk, a physical desk associated with my business. Just some physicality to it. It's a, it's interesting.

I didn't think a Canadian. Have, um, uh, have that means. And also, I guess, too, it's just like a small preference, but I feel like I would, if I owed them something I would prefer to have to pay up front. Uh, I just, just that way, I'm more like, okay, if I do something like that, at least I know it's going to happen right away and I'd have to deal with it right away.

Uh, hearing here in Canada, things are a little too passive aggressive. 

Alan Chen: [01:06:27] Oh, I want to bring up a quick caveat of that. Okay, Joseph, um, just, just this, let you notice this as a, how annoyed it is advantage. We're not, but somewhat advantage for, I would say international e-comm sellers, if they're trying to get an LLC in a state and that, like you said, like, for example, for you in Canada, right.

You can pick any state to incorporate, right? Like Meiomi Delaware or Devonta or the weekly states we can incorporate. But for us in the states, we kind of have to incorporate in a state off. Right. So like, I think a lot of time people search for this and that they get confused, like, okay, I'm in California.

Also can I just do Delaware because they have lower fees and stuff, but actually if you're physically located in the state of California, they will make you also file in that state also. So that's a distinct advantage actually, if you're a foreign seller, because you can get to pick, you have to pick the lowest fees states to incorporate.

So it's great, you know, and that's something, what are we going to update of course, on to, cause we yell out the international style desk says, Hey, how do I, how do I get a Stripe account? Right. Or how do I open up a, you know, an, an LLC, how do I get bank accounting, question like that. So that's only going to add a little education for the foreign sellers out there also in our course.

Cause they're, they get very confused, but I'm like, yeah, you guys actually have a great advantage because you actually allows you because you're not physically located in any of the. You can pick a state that you want to incorporate and save on the filing fees and such like that. Right? So like one, this is just too much information, but like California man is so expensive just for I having LLC.

And I say, I made zero revenue this year, like zero, right? You, I still have to pay the minimum $800. And for what they call it, a franchise tax, having the LLC in place, I've made zero revenue. Right. It was not very friendly as far as like I was a small business, but if you you're physically located in California, you almost have no choice to do that.

But if you're, if you're in a foreign owner or you just happen to live in. That's that's that you have a, you just save a hundred dollars, but you know, doing nothing right. If you'll NYO me, you're doing in Delaware, in Texas, uh, Nevada. I'm sorry. So, yeah, so it's a great advantage for foreign foreign e-comm owners in that regards.

Joseph: [01:08:26] That's terrific. I didn't know that, that, that's really interesting. So, uh, so Alan, uh, like I said, I wanted to just give you, um, the floor in case there's any other central pillar to this that you want to let our audience know about. You have to forgive me for not being able to like, figure it out for myself, but I just wanted to open it up.

Is there anything else that you really want to let our audience know before we start wrapping up? 

Alan Chen: [01:08:45] Yeah. Yeah. Uh, I mean, uh, Joseph, I would love if I can get like a couple of minutes of time to share just a couple of like tax tips, I feel like I want to really give value to your audience and just share a couple of things that they should watch out for right in your business, starting out.

Cool. So one thing is one that is one of my favorites from, uh, if you see our YouTube channel, we talk about it too, is, uh, the travel hack tech, right? So if these guys, econ one was already working really hard, they should be able to take some vacation, but it always afraid that, you know, that pay. Uh, one great tip is you should try to plan your vacation in the middle of a business travel, right?

So say you're traveling to go to a conference or an expo, right? And you know, day one day two, they 6 87 is for business purposes. They three, four, and five can be for personal vacation. You know, if it's a Miami beach, you can go on a beach and enjoy yourself. And what happens is the IRS just only looks at the beginning and end of your trip, right in the beginning of your trip.

And the ending of your trip is for business purpose. Like you fly in, fly out and you're talking to clients, you're at the expo, you know, doing a meeting, they will let you take the full trip as a, as a travel deduction, right? Usually you get full flight airfare. Uh, if you have a rental car, if you have a hotel lodging that that's all fair game, as far as getting deductions for that's, that's the first thing we want business owners to emphasize on.

Number two is, um, don't skimp on thinking about it. Uh, retirement planning is a big thing. And retirement planning is actually something the IRS really benefit. I really want to help small business with. So I don't know if you noticed Joseph, but like, you know, we have a 401k plan right in the US where you can put money into retirement.

But as a normal employee, I need to limit now is that 19,500, I want to say over a year of you can contribute to it and get the tax deduction for it. But as a, um, a, what they call a well as solo owner of a company, or if you have a spouse or your partner working for you, what you can do is you have a solo 401k plan at disposal.

And so 401k plan says you get not only the employee portion, what is the 19,500? You also get the employer portion you can contribute, which adds note about $30. So in total, it's about $56,000 that you could contribute to a retirement plan, of course, for you for your use. And that's a 56,000 tax deduction.

You can take on your taxes this year, which is no small fry. So that's two things. And the third thing we'll emphasize is we have people who come to us who start out as structuring and are afraid to legitimize their business. Why added cost? Right? They think, oh, we got added so much more cost add. There's no way I can afford this.

Right. But actually, what would hold pandemic going on the US government really want to encourage people to start businesses. So there's actually tons of credits where they give away for an employee retention. They give away what they call a bonus depreciation, section one seventy nine, which is a daily war.

You for buying equipment and machinery, uh, for your business. And they'll give you a buy now, a hundred percent deduction of it. Right. So if you think about it, if you buy like a $1 million, I don't know, plant home machinery for your. You get the full $1 million as a tax deduction at your marginal tax rate.

So it's great. Don't I, that's all we want encourage them. Like, don't be afraid of going further. Don't don't stop yourself. There's no millionaire tax. At least not yet. I was by to introduce it. Uh, right now that's going to hit you on, on that. So don't be afraid of sometimes people, uh, sometimes we get e-commerce to just want to stop at like $800,000 a year revenue for some reason, because they're, they're the seven figures.

Like they bring on a whole warmer problems, right. Were like, no, keep going. Or we were there to back you up. We got, we got you. We got you like, keep going. We're telling you, you can do it. You Cal you can expand your business. So, yeah, just, I mean, just, there's a lot more to share, but I know we're running out of time.

So I just wanna encourage them to, you know, take advantage and really encrypt themselves with the knowledge as far as tax and bookkeeping, and really just get a jumpstart on it. Right. Just, and the last thing I want to add is don't give away what you rightfully earned, right? Don't give away what you buy fully earned.

If you earned that profit through your hard sweat and labor, right? Because you, you stay up 3:00 AM every night making this business. Don't add to the end of the year, then give it away to the government. It's it just, it just, it just kind of like backward thinking, I would say, you know, just make sure you can keep that money in your back pocket.

Joseph: [01:12:49] Well, that's terrific. Um, definitely a lot of, um, actionable takeaways right at the end there. And you know, it's funny cause usually like the rapid question is if you have any last bits of advice or parting wisdom or stuff like that, but you kind of did that anyways, it, it all came together beautifully.

So I'll, I'll leave it at that. But, um, aside from that, just to let our audience know how they can check out your content and, uh, and, uh, have a look at your, your, your web presence and, uh, take those, uh, crucial next steps. 

Alan Chen: [01:13:17] Yeah, definitely. Um, you know, there are interested e-commerce out there who are at a point where they do need accounting and, you know, uh, bookkeeping help, you know, we will.

Go on a free consulting call with us. We really only take on clients that we think will be a good fit that we can help out on. Right. So if nothing else, we're on a college thing, give you some free advice. Like just like this is podcast, so you can continue running your business and doing well in it and being more prepared.

But if you are interested, we a website's freecashflio.io/book, you can get right to the book of booking page. Um, and then, you know, if you're just interested in, you know, if you're just starting out and just want some free advice, we also have a YouTube channel, which we casual agency that you can check out in.

We're trying to put more and more content on there. I'm setting a goal for two videos a week, Joseph, but hopefully you can keep me to it, but no, sometimes people get lazy and don't do it. Don't look at the schedule. I know. Yeah. Yeah. And then furthermore, I mentioned at the beginning that we have our course that we spent three months recording on.

We try to jam, pack it with what useful business advice and business tips for, uh, for people out there to really get the jumpstart. They needed to think about accounting and tax and not be afraid of it starting out and just have that great foundation. Right. So, you know, we, we really mainly only work with six figure guys, but I'm sure there's a lot of people who want to know that even before they hit that mark.

Right. So it's called tax-free e-com hyper-drive your after tax. And, uh, for the Debutify listen, as, you know, listen to the podcast, we would love to give, uh, a promo code if that's okay, Joseph out there. So 20% off, 20% off code up, I'll provide to you of course. But, uh, yeah, just, I just, for the course, we, we, we really don't price it too high.

We really just want to spread this knowledge. Like we really want people to know what's going on in the world, accounting, bookkeeping, and just be a part of business that they don't have to be afraid of anymore. And that they're not going to be afraid to outsource or just that if they do outsource, they know the right questions to ask.

Right. Because a lot of times they just hand it off and don't know what's going on. When it gets something bad, they're like, oh cool. You did it. You know, and I don't know the right terms to say, you don't know what to do, what the right deductions ask for. And of course introduce all that to you. You know, sometimes it's just knowing that term, knowing that phase is just equally as important as deep diving into it.

Right. Then you can just be like, oh, did you look, look for discussion. You know, and then they're like, did you look the R and D credit for me? He's like, something like that. Right. So it just, it just helps them get that understanding of, of accounting and tax at the basis level. So that's really what we want to do and for audience out there.

Joseph: [01:15:38] Right. And, and, and, and I think it's only fair to that for the clients to do their due diligence in this regard, because you know, you are. Uh, uh, exceedingly good at what you do. Uh, but you're also exceedingly busy. And so to some degree, I think it is fair for us to make sure that we have as much understanding and, uh, yeah, as much knowledge as we have to so that we can also ease some of the burden on you so that you can do an even better job for us.

Alan Chen: [01:16:02] Oh, that's a great plan. I didn't think of that, Joseph. Yes. That that would help. So, uh, any one, the package we offer is a con con consultation call, right? Pick our brain on anything they want. Uh, and of course, so we always encourage them to at least go wash it like halfway through the course or do it before the way then get on the call with us.

And then they can really just ask us anything you want under, under the site. Right? And then a lot of time when they do that, they have more knowledgeable questions, asked us and we're able to help them more and bring more value to the business. So, and they really can take these back and apply it. And when we see the results and we're like, we're just happy that they're doing well, happy to hear.

Joseph: [01:16:35] And door's always open. So anytime you want to come back, you know, give yourself a quarter or two and come back and let us know. I think, is it going to be more than happy to pick up the conversation where we left off and to our audience is always your participation and your, and your listening and your discretion, um, means a great deal to me.

And it's great. And I, and I can't say it enough, but thank you for giving me the ability to collect this information, absorb it, and then provide it to all of you as well. So with that take care and we'll check in soon. 

Thanks for listening. You might've found this show on many number of platforms, apple podcasts, Spotify, Google play, Stitcher, or right here on Debutify. Whatever the case, if you enjoy this content and want to help us thrive, please take a few moments to leave a review on apple podcasts or wherever you think is best. 

We also wanted to hear from you. So whether you think you'd be a good guest or want to weigh in on anything related to our show, you can email podcast@debutify.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok. 

Finally, this podcast is created by the passionate team at Debutify. If you're ready to take the plunge into e-commerce or are looking to up your game, head over to  debutify.com and see how it can change your life and the lives of many through what you do next.

Written by

Joseph Ianni

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