Zain Shah is a full-time seller on eBay, Amazon and Shopify. He makes Youtube videos about making realistic passive income streams.
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Zain Shah: [00:00:00] The reason people struggle to find a hot product because they don't have a specific knowledge about any specific niche. Period. So I can talk about my niche, mobile phone and accessories for example, I know if I need to sell the covers for iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, I wouldn't buy a cover which will not sell, I will buy the cover which is a plain black or the clear one, because this is the one are off the most fast selling items.
Joseph: [00:00:35] 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.
As time goes on, I wonder about the experience of up and coming generations. What will your work experience look like? What will be on your resume? I ask because our guest today is Zain Shah has a wide array of experiences coming from the retail slash brick and mortar sector, which teaches valuable lessons and has a keen influence on what he does today.
Zain Shah, it is great to have you here in Ecomonics. How are you doing today? How are you feeling?
Zain Shah: [00:01:24] Thank you so much for having me. I'm I'm I'm doing really good. How you doing?
Joseph: [00:01:27] I'm doing pretty good too. You're in the UK, right? So it's actually rather late in the day for you, right? Because I believe the UK is about five hours ahead of us going to Toronto.
Zain Shah: [00:01:37] Yeah, it's around, uh, around 10 o'clock here.
Joseph: [00:01:42] Okay. So I had another interview earlier today with, um, with Jason, uh, Jason Gan, and it was 10:00 PM for him too. So, you know, for morning morning for me evening, for me both like daytime hours, but both of my guests, uh, mumbling to come on at 10:00 PM. So if our bed wasn't right next to our computer, I would be pulling my way so I could get, I gotta give it a year before I got to. So I'd be like, all right, it's three am. I'm going to go talk to the guy in Singapore. So, so thank you for, for, for being here.
Zain Shah: [00:02:10] Thank you so much for having me.
Joseph: [00:02:11] Totally. Well, we'll take about an hour every time and then we'll, uh, we'll let you either get to your three hour shifts. Cause I know the entrepreneurial lifestyle is like that or I get to bed, whatever, whatever suits you.
First question. Well, actually it used to be the same question for like the last, I dunno, 60 episodes, but I made an edit to it. It, cause I would say like who you are, what you do. But I already said the name of the top of the. Like, why am I doing that? Anyways. So tell us what you do. Tell us what you're up to these days.
Zain Shah: [00:02:35] So I, at the moment I'm, full-time seller on Amazon, on eBay and on Amazon, I have 201 private label products. And speaking of eBay, I have around 5 to 6,000 listings at the moment and I sell mobile phone and accessories. And, uh, I rather not call myself six figure, seven figure, eight figure seller, because that word is very much overcrowded nowadays.
So I would say I'm a full-time seller, full-time e-commerce seller. And this is my, like a full-time gig. As a hobby, uh, on a social media side of it, I have a YouTube channel where I talk about, uh, how to run an e-commerce store, really. So that's, that's all that I'm up to nowadays.
Joseph: [00:03:21] Excellent. I like your, I like your methodology of not wanting to say that you're a six figure, seven figure, eight figure.
Uh, I have to admit that after having talked to so many, uh, wonderful people, all of whom are successful, um, I, I tend to think, okay. I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to them, but if I can say I'm a six figure, so. I'm gonna try it out just to see how I feel.
Zain Shah: [00:03:42] Yeah, you're absolutely right. But my main thing is, I mean, it's always concerned me, everybody who will introduce themselves, we'll call it like six figure, seven figure seller.
I hope they are six figures. seven figure seven sellers as well. But for me, I, I truly believe like if you're a full-time seller and you completely rely on selling things online, it's, it's, it's, it's a good achievement as well.
Joseph: [00:04:07] So it's an a, and I know from your, from looking at your background, you do have, um, some, some different experiences which have led you to this point.
And I think, you, you were, you were on the ground level, you know, you were working in a retail store, would you want to talk about, and so I think having that grounded approach has, has come with you as you take more of a grounded approach here in, uh, in the content that you do. And even though it's scaled upwards, and now you selling the fact that you said like what, 5 to 6,000, uh, products and, you know, 200 private label products.
That's a lot. So the humility there, I think is really. Something helpful for your own psychology as well as to, uh, differentiate yourself from how other people introduce themselves. It's an interesting take.
Zain Shah: [00:04:50] Yeah. Uh, but what I always like to add in that, like, it took me around eight years to be in that position.
It's not like, uh, I started yesterday or a year ago as well, and I don't really believe that I've been lucky in the process. I truly believe that human being can make their own luck and that can normally work if you really work hard and stay consistent. So eight years. Many sleepless nights and many double shifts, uh, for, for five years, I wasn't a full-time salary.
So I had a job as well. And, uh, from parts three years, I been in a position where I, I, I could leave a job and then just do this for full time.
Joseph: [00:05:35] If I could just share my philosophy on luck too. I, I agree with you more or less in principle, but I do have my own different take on it, which is, I think everybody does receive luck, um, maybe in different ways.
And I think in order to capitalize on that luck, what we need to have is the mechanical skill in order to actually take advantage of it. So if people don't put in the practice, they don't put in the. Then the luck that they do have the opportunities that they do have will either be an adequate or there'll be an adequate for, or it'll pass by the completely.
And they won't realize, I tend to try my best, not to get too meta about this, but I spent 10 years as a freelancer doing audio editing, learning how to listen, learning how to host. And so three days into going to Upwork and looking for it. On the third day I got this and this has changed my life. So, you know, luck, luck is there, but we do need to do the work in order to be ready.
Zain Shah: [00:06:29] I, I completely agree with you on that. So when I talk about luck, it's more like a lottery kind of luck. It's like, it's a very, very rare chances that you're going to win a lottery, but if you really win the lottery, then you're absolutely lucky. Yes.
Joseph: [00:06:45] Yeah. Yeah. There's different trends where I know there's like, there's I know this fortune and they're there along those lines.
All right. So we, we don't talk to as many people in the Amazon and eBay. Well, Amazon a little bit more than eBay, but eBay is definitely a sector that we don't get to talk about as much. And to my recollection, the last person I talked to who's an expert on the eBay side of things was Amy Hunt. So for those of you who kind of want to get a little bit of, um, uh, extra, uh, listening in assuming you haven't listened to that episode already, you all know what to do.
The takeaway that I had when I spoke to her about ebay is that it doesn't require having say my own domain. Uh, I don't necessarily have to focus on like a brand per se. Like I don't have to have a company mission. I don't have to have a social media. So what I found was really effective, but eBay is that it was really good for learning the muscle memory of how to sell, because it's a very straightforward arbitrage, uh, process.
So that's everything that I know going into this conversation, um, for our audience who there's only so many episodes they can listen to before they bite the bullet and try their own Shopify store. But let's just say that they're doing it and they want to try some other options first, or maybe E-bay might be a better fit for them.
Why would it be a better fit? And you know, what are the things that you usually instruct people line when they want to get started on ebay?
Zain Shah: [00:08:01] It's a, it's a very excellent question. And just to simply, just to, just to simplify that opening a Shopify store, it's just like opening a physical shop inside a graveyard.
I don't know how to batter into some perspective. But what I mean by that is like, if you open a shop where nobody is passing by, there is no traffic. You will have to hire someone who will stand on a high street or in a downtown where he will call people to come and have a look that there is another shop, which is inside a graveyard.
So, but what I mean by that advance you open your own shop, your first store, you have no traffic unless you do a paid advertising or you are a very known brand when it comes to platform like which our e-commerce platform like eBay and Amazon, the major difference is that the people and the consumer already know those platform and they trust those platform already.
So visibility when you are just starting out is not going to be an issue as much. It can be an issue when you open your Shopify store. A hundred percent of the time on Shopify, you will have to do paid advertising, or you have to do social media marketing, or you have a background from there without that you will not get any traffic on your website.
So that's the reason I recommend because it's one less thing to worry about. And it's a very midget thing as well, because you simply can't run the business without having a customer without having a consumer, which been taken care of if you are selling on eBay or if you were selling on Amazon as well, because those platforms already have the customers for you.
Joseph: [00:09:51] I, I, I mentioned before we recording, you know, uh, don't hold back and you certainly didn't, um, because the setting the store up in a, in a graveyard. So in order for me to take that analogy and think, well, how do I get out of the graveyard? You would have to put in the resources to physically lift the store.
And take it somewhere where there's less dead people, more alive people.
Zain Shah: [00:10:13] Yeah.
Joseph: [00:10:14] Preferably. Yeah.
Zain Shah: [00:10:15] Uh, that's a very, okay. I truly believe for the longer run because I, when I say something like this, I have to share the boat side of the story. I think for the longer run, if you really want to establish a business, your own website, your own brand.
In other words, Shopify store is something, is, you have to do it. If you want to scale it, then what you're going to have is you're going to have more control over the people that you are dealing with. The people who are salaried on eBay and Amazon. They're very familiar that not all the time, those platform, or actually be feared.
The sellers, they are consumer centric platforms. So sometime they make many unfair, uh, kind of decision and they always going to take the side of their buyers as well. So you, you sometime you feel like you have no control over what you are selling. Uh, they can just switch down the, the algorithm at any time.
If they decided to block your, they kick you out. You don't have any asset for yourself, but your website, if your, your Shopify store is the URL, which belongs to you at the end of the day. So this is, uh, like a pro side of it. And I think for the longer run, once you have it, uh, really discovery people know your brand, then obviously Shopify is the way to go for a longer run.
Joseph: [00:11:42] Right. And, and speaking to branding for a moment too. Um, I mean a brand, isn't just something that we do in order to check a box. A brand is an extension of the self it's how do I convey an idea or a set of ideas into something that has memetic value so that other people will, uh, ascribe themselves to that.
And then it spreads on its own. You know, I, I, as soon as I say, brand Coca-Cola pops in my head and a well that's just because the brand awareness has been, has permeated through my entire life. So, so there's an element of, you know, why do I want, what do I want to convey? And you know, my own, um, Shopify store, um, which is slow going because, uh, uh, haven't been forbid, other than speaking, I can't seem to do anything fast.
The, the principle behind my store is I want people to think more about where they live in the sense of how do you use your walls? Can you hook things to it? Uh, my, my key item is a drawer. You stick it on any desk and people not everybody thinks about that because they think, well, my desk is kind of cluttered.
What can I do to declutter it? Oh, well, here's a drawer for you. So am I, is all my passion ascribes to the drawers? No, but my passion is in remote working it's in, uh, helping people make the most out of all the space they pay for, like, I ain't just renting the floors. I'm renting the wall, I'm renting the ceiling, I'm renting the air that I weigh my hand through.
So that's where more of my passion comes from. And so that's why I would want a brand because it is something that I believe in.
Zain Shah: [00:13:10] Yeah. I, I absolutely agree with you because overall, when you look at a lot, like you've given me an example of Coca-Cola, uh, speaking of e-commerce, once you are, this is another side of having a brand and, uh, making your name inside the consumer market is.
Uh, then people not just only know you bound for one particular product, then you are, uh, you, then you can just go for any product after you have established yourself inside the market as well. So, uh, I, I mean, I, I, I mean, we can take example of apple. So apple is not only about the laptop. It's not only about, uh, the iPhone nowadays.
Uh, anything that happened will make people buy it because it is from apple. So for the longer run again, I said, it's something that you will have to look into it because it's good to start from Amazon. It's good to start from me because barrier to entry is very low. And a lot of people months, they will start.
They might have a investment, but not, everybody's willing to take the risk as well because it's a risk at the end of the day. Uh, and then again comes the knowledge as well. And I think starting from ABB or starting from Amazon, it's something that the, if you put little bit of effort into it as compared to starting your own shopify store, it's a bit easy right now.
Joseph: [00:14:41] I would be doing myself a huge disservice if I didn't consider eBay and slash or Amazon as another method to start selling the product, you know, because I haven't had a sale yet, other than I gave a coat to my friend to tasks that can you see how long it takes to get your, uh, get the product.
And that was a long 36 days. So there are certainly a lot of incentive to want to use these plans forms you in, in, so in your position, I don't know if you would characterize where you are as like a middle point, or have you reached like your end game where you're content with the, the, the scale, the scope that you're working at?
Um, cause it sounds like this is it's, it's like really professional and all of that, but it also seems to, um, lose to a lot of like old school bootstrapping where, you know, you are, uh, going winning battle by battle. Um, cause you said part of what you wanted to do, what you would, one of the advantages to running a Shopify store is the ability to scale.
So how, like how much is scaling really integrated into the work that you're doing? So, um, I'll, let me, let me summarize all of those thoughts and to a more cohesive question, which is what is the day to day, week to week operation look like at the level that you're working at.
Zain Shah: [00:15:52] On Amazon side of it, obviously Amazon do offer you something which called Amazon FBA fulfilled by Amazon.
So all the products that I buy they go straight to Amazon FBA and Amazon is taking care of fulfillment and here I would like to add a little bit, because you mentioned before I came from a background where I actually had a physical business before actually starting an e-commerce website. And, uh, that was a mobile phone shop as well.
And yeah, while working on a mobile phone shop, I had this leverage and I had this opportunity to make a connection with the wholesalers as well, because at the end of the day, you came from a marketing background. It's all about building connection is getting to know new people. So in terms of Amazon, I already mentioned like most of the product they get shipped by Amazon.
So on the ebay side of it as a I'm living in UK, you might not be familiar with it. There's a company called Huboo. So Huboo is the one, what you do is, is just like Amazon FBA. Uh, but they do offer you fulfillment for ebay. So what you do when you buy the stock from China, you ship it to Huboo and they have the software, which linked with your eBay account.
So anytime you get the order, you actually ship, they ship the order for you. Obviously they charge you for the storage and they charge you for fulfillment as well. Just like Amazon FBA, but not all the fulfillment is done by Huboo as well, because there are some products which I sell. They're very complicated.
So for example, when they say complicated, not like, so I buy used mobile phone from online auction. And once we buy them the com in a very different variety, in very different condition as well. So we have to sort them out, like depending on condition A, condition B, condition C, condition D, mobile phone normally do not take a lot of space.
They do not like cover a lot of, uh, a lot, a lot of area as well. So if you can see the cabinet sitting behind me, it's, uh, it's full of mobile phones. So these are kind of shipping, which I actually have to do by myself. In overall, in order for me to manage all of, of the things I have to work around packing and shipping order, probably five to six hours.
And also I, as I was born in Pakistan and a lot of people who sell on eBay and Amazon, the normally tend to hire someone from overseas. Like the countries from Philippines, India, Sri Lanka from Pakistan. And the reason I speak two languages, it's actually, I have this, uh, leverage over many other sellers because I can communicate with them in their language. And I can get the person who actually really gonna work for me. So they, they normally take care of like a customer services side of it, like replying, uh, messages and all those kinds of stuff. So this is like my day to day operation. Sometime when we are launching a new product, it can take, like, I will still have to work around eight to 10 hours every single day.
That's my day to day operation.
Joseph: [00:19:19] So I going back to the private label and the five to six. I got it right. Like 5,000, 6,000 products it was on. Okay.
Zain Shah: [00:19:28] So the products can be similar. So I can give a little example. If, for example, you have iPhone cable, that cable will work for iPhone five, six, seven, eight, iPhone X. So you have many listing buildup for one product as well.
So anything that you're going to need in mobile phone accessories probably I will have it in my store this to make it short.
Joseph: [00:19:51] And I, and I think it's great too, that you're, you know, you're doing a mixture of, I don't know if there was like a more respectful term than bootstrapping. I would say that, but I can't think of it.
So I say that with a lot of respect is still the bootstrapping of, you know, getting the phones. You have to analyze each one because they're specific and you know, they don't take up too much space. So clearly you're not getting the Blackberry passports, um, rap Blackberry passport. I was like my favorite phone.
I just, I love that thing, mini computer. So, but however, I I'm, I'm presuming that there's only so many things that are within your, your domiciles. So product acquisition is the other side of it too. I also want to hear more about, so you, uh, again, because our audience is most familiar with drop shipping, uh, which I will, we'll talk about by the way, cause I know you have a take on drop shipping, um, which is it's, it's an advantageous in that it is held onto, by another seller and then that's how they ship said.
Now, funnily enough, If anybody wants to actually drop ship going, like ordering directly from AliExpress, they're screwed because it's going to take way too long. Most people don't have that kind of patience and heaven forbid the product ends up being like a lemon or something like that. Um, either because it doesn't work, it would actually, they physically got a lemon, uh, which would be crazy.
I even, even from my imagination. Um, so with you, you, the products you're acquiring a, I, I understand it as a more on the lines of arbitrary, like wholesale arbitrage. So what are your and if you can tell us what are your sources? Yeah.
Zain Shah: [00:21:18] I, I have no secrets in those I'm and I'm very transparent how much money I make.
I all always clear on, on, on my channel. Uh, so, but I would say, uh, the reason you probably asked this question and whoever is listening to us will be interested in that. How do you actually know that this product will sell before you put your money in? That's the major question and that's a lot of people struggle with this, like finding the right product, finding a hot product at the end of the day.
And, uh, the reason people struggle to find a hot product because they don't have a specific knowledge about any specific niche. Period. So if you, so I can talk about my niche, mobile phone and accessories for example, I know if I need to sell the covers for iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, I wouldn't buy a cover which will not sell. I will buy the cover which is a plain black or the clear one, because this is the one of the most fast selling items. Okay. Let's talk about charging you, but I want to give an example here because people will clearly understand what I'm talking about. A lot of people have been, they go into it. They will, they will sell iPhone one meter charging cable, which normally comes in the box.
Everybody Samsungs will give you one meter charging cable life, and we'll give you one meter charging cable. The one of the top selling products that I sell on Amazon at the moment and it's been there for, for five years now. And it's, it's ranked number one at Amazon. Uh, it's actually five meter iPhone charging cable.
It's not one meter iPhone charging cable. So what we'd really have to understand when we talk about hot selling product. I don't think I, myself Newton, I mean, do I look like Isaac Newton? No. And the first thing is Isaac Newton so we not gonna invent something isn't it? Like, because we are not scientists.
What we need to do is we need to take an existing product and come up with a creative idea and then sell it to the market. How easy it is. It's easy as leaving a bed in the morning. Because that can take a lot of work. So when we ended 2020, we had w we had hundred and 99 private label product on Amazon.
So when we ended 2019, we had 199 product. You know, how many products we launch in 2020?
Joseph: [00:23:47] How many products did you launch in 2020? Is this rhetorical, or do you want me to guess?
Zain Shah: [00:23:50] I mean, private label products so in total we have 204 products. So only five products in the whole year. Um, I'm talking about only five private label product in whole year as well.
Joseph: [00:24:04] Yeah. My guess was way off. I had at least two digits to my guests, but go ahead.
Zain Shah: [00:24:08] What I'm trying to say here is it can take a lot of time as well. So anybody who is struggling in the beginning, my advice to them will be, first of all, see what you are personally passionate about. Like it's we always hear this one on the internet, many people talking about it.
We don't actually really get the meaning of what it, how it can actually help us at the moment. You can see if, if, uh, I mean a lot of people that follow, uh, Logan Paul, they follow Jake Paul as well. He's doing a show where he's opening up a Pokemon cards and all those kinds of stuff as well. Action figures.
And many people sell that if I have to think, okay, can I, because it's, it's a trending and the sneakers are trending. Can I be a person who can sell a sneaker? Then I should ask a question to myself. How much do I know about those things? If I don't know about those things, then if you show me this sneaker, if you show me this Pokemon card of the, obviously I'm not going to have any idea how much it will work, how much I can buy it from.
So I believe the major problem that people are really struggling with. They're trying to find a product which will make them a lot of money. And at the same time, they are not willing to wait. And at the same time, they're not willing to risk as well because it's something, something works for Zain doesn't mean it will work for Joseph as well.
So sometime you will have to try your luck at the end of the day, to summarize the whole things, find what you're passionate about. Try to get as much knowledge you can about that particular niche, and then take a risk or lose a chance.
Joseph: [00:25:54] This is going to be a silly question, but I, cause I think there might be people who are faced with this issue of how they might reconcile their passion with trying to make money off of it.
Like for like, I will say I'm very passionate about video games and I always will be, but for some reason it doesn't occur to me to modify that. Um, cause I have like six other things that I'm passionate about. So I, I didn't quite go with, I didn't go with number one. I went. You know, 2.5, I went with number three.
So that to me seemed to be like a more reasonable approach to it. So I guess even for me, it, uh, it's a factor. Uh, but have you, have you encountered, um, people who maybe have reached out to you in the past or how they're kind of like coming to grips with really dealing with any passion whatsoever, uh, and trying to commoditize.
Zain Shah: [00:26:42] I, I, I completely get where you're coming from. And then it's not just you. I think every human being have this problem and other passions and another hobbies actually change over the time as well. If I be very specific, you talk about the video games right there as well. Look at the example of ninja. I mean, if, if we talking about money at the end of the day, I mean, he's just like us, you can talk about, uh, Harris Heller, the, the alpha gaming channel on, on the YouTube as well, growing up.
So I, I don't, I don't, I I'm, I'm sorry, but if you are really passionate about something, uh, You don't want to be a broken artist. I think that are there as long as there is a will, there is a way, and there is always a way, but if you choose to be lazy at the end of the day, that's your own fault. That's you can't see it.
There is no opportunity. And then there are not chances. I'm not saying you are lazy on anybody who is listening is lazy.
Joseph: [00:27:46] Well it's okay. I, I just struggled with it. Like I I've gotten, I've gotten better because I've, I started playing a dancing game with my girlfriend and that's boosted my energy levels.
So I'm working on it. It's okay. I, I do have my flaws.
Zain Shah: [00:27:58] Yeah, I'm mean, I have my flaws as well. I'm not trying to come across a person who is angel and who is a great Elon Musk. I'm not talking about that. I'm just another human being who just, I don't consider myself a good or mentor or even this, whoever it is listening, this is, I mean, this is not even advice that you should have been listening to.
It's it's this, I'm trying to share my experience and what I really believe in it. And I think it's like, uh, I'm not gonna change my perspective on the things just because it will probably make somebody happy. No, I'm not going to say that. Uh, I, what works for me? I'm I'm, I'm, I'm just going to say, so I was talking about, uh, you know, being lazy and all that kind of stuff.
I don't think anything that you can, if you are passionate about, you're going to find something to actually make money out of it. Like, I truly believe that it can take long time. And it all comes down to how much consistency and how much hard work you're putting in. And at the end of the half to ask this question to yourself, because nobody can answer it for you.
Honestly, just sit down and think, okay, am I doing enough? Like, is this is the max I can do? Is this is the one max I can do? What, what I don't understand is Joseph, I'm just going to give you this example right here is because we having this conversation. A lot of people will not even start a Shopify store just to give an example because it's cost money as a monthly subscription, you have to pay for it.
And if you ask those people how much money you spend in a Starbucks, they spend probably triple of that amount as well, but just to pay $29 per month, it's $1 a day. They don't going to spend it. And I'm not talking about people who it's $29. And I don't really get, I don't really get it when people I ask, they're going to ask you, okay, not everybody had the same opportunity as you had.
I did not come from a family who was like super rich or anything. No, no, but the thing is like, if you are looking to start something, you're looking to start a Shopify store. If you're looking to start your own website or anything that you want to make money out of it, uh, doing a little investment in the beginning, it's, it's not a bad idea.
Otherwise, think about how much money is spent. Otherwise, which I wouldn't say it's a waste, so that's my opinion on it.
Joseph: [00:30:30] Yeah. There's there's, I mean, there's, there's hundreds, if not thousands of, um, ways to, I guess, help answer that question. Um, it, you know, I, I, we can, we can go on all day about bouncing back up for a different reasons.
Like I told you, before we started recording, I come from more of like a liberal and more of an arts background. Um, so you know, a lot of my friends in high school were talented artists illustrators far better than I, that I, uh, I am. I just I'm. I'm like, um, well actually, no, that's not a good excuse. I was going to say I'm probably a blind in my left eye, but my girlfriend has similar visual issues and she is actually really good at it.
But that's beside the point, if these people had continued to pursue their passion. Something might have come from it. And a lot of that is that defeatist, self limiting factor where they just don't think anything is going to happen. I had another friend, he was a talented photographer. Um, I told him, you know, you could pursue photography.
And he says, no, that's not realistic. People don't make money off of it. I'm like bro. Or it w w one of the issues is that there was so much information out in the world that you can take a fact base position. I pretty much anything I can take a fact-based position on why it's good to be a photographer.
I can take a fact-based position on why it's bad. So whatever is inter internalize in my psyche. I can validate that by going online and finding information for it. So what I, what I've noticed in all of the people that I've had, the luxury and the honor, really to talk to including yourself, is that entrepreneurship and e-commerce, and all of this is fundamentally about freedom, which is for somebody whose ability to set their own rules and have their own system rather than be guided by another system, say working for somebody else. Um, I'm, I'm in a cool position where I'm kind of like in a hybrid state where I get to take a lot of initiative, but I still have my obligations. So, you know, I'm, I'm happy. And a lot of people, they just, you know, the, the, it's freedom that calls to them.
And, and, and it calls to everybody, but not everybody answers because people are fearful or they just don't, you know, they have family to take care of, or they have dependents, or there's very, very good reasons, but there's also not good reasons, too. So, you know, it really is. It's you really, really figure it out is just go person by person and just understand where they're coming from.
I, there was no broad sweeping answer that is fair to, to assess.
Zain Shah: [00:32:52] I completely agree with you. There is no, if I, if I talk about like, this is the secret, and this is the secret recipe that you need to know, there is a no secret recipe. Like there isn't one, it doesn't exist as well. If somebody is trying to tell you the secret and the thing you'll get, there is a secret that why they don't actually make money out of that secret, why they actually tell you that secret as well.
So anyway, the conversation will go to a different topic here. Uh, but uh, you mentioned a photograph, Peter McKinnon make a lot of money out of photography. So that's not really something that, again, if you want to do something about it as well, like you can always do. And then the other thing which I like to mention here as well, If you're really passionate about something it's coming from a guy, which might not sound really good, but if you're really, really passionate about something, you actually do not care about money, money.
I'm not saying money's an important in your life. It is. Um, and money can absolutely buy you happiness. There is no, if somebody tell you no, it can't. It can.
Joseph: [00:34:03] Yeah. I completely agree with that. Yeah. I definitely got a lot happier.
Zain Shah: [00:34:07] Depends on how you define happiness and definition can be very subjective person to person.
But speaking in general, I can't, uh, if we look at the example of, uh, I mean the one of which is in the media and the news everyday, because I don't want to talk about somebody who people might not be familiar with it, but let's talk about Elon Musk. For example, when he sold his PayPal, I mean, after the PayPal that he could just retire.
I mean, he choose to put all the money inside space x, inside Tesla. And he came to a point where he had no money, absolutely whatsoever. But the only reason he was really kept going, because he was really passionate about sending a rocket to the Mars. So he was really passionate about electric cars.
And that's why you can see the stock for the Tesla today. I mean, it's skyrocketing. So w w what I don't re, uh, I mean, it's very hard to define and it's, uh, it's not something that I'm, I'm still struggling to understand myself as well. I believe in some time I changed my mind about it, and I said, okay, if you're truly passionate about something, then making money out of those things is not the only one thing that you are going to going to wish for.
Uh, it's your own personal satisfaction. You know, uh, I hardly see how much CLA you have got last week. I, you know, it's, uh, I, I do check by the end of month and, you know, we, we do compare how the things are going and everything, but I'm not really obsessed with it. Looking at everyday, like yesterday was gone bad.
And not today. I wasn't, I was never like this. I mean, I never really looked at it, but only thing which I, which I do when I try to make sure is, have I done enough today? And I always feel like I haven't, I'm not saying I'm very satisfied. And I say, I have done enough and I can go back to bed peacefully.
No problem. But I always think about before going to bed, have I done what I could today? And even if, even if I talk about today, like to be honest with you, no, but it's always, there is, there is a, these are the things that we can improve every single day.
Joseph: [00:36:34] I do want to make one another point to, to contribute to this, which just, uh, is more, more to speak to, you know, what drives people and why some people aren't driven.
Well, two points for one, it just like my final say on passion is that I think you have two paths. You have your profession, you have your passion. If you're lucky or fortunate or whatever word it is, and they're combined great. But if not, that's okay because it, you know what the Pixar movies soul pretty much nailed it.
So I'll just say, go watch that movie and then, and then come back. Uh I'll wait. Okay. Welcome back. Great movie. So the other point that I wanted to make is, uh, again, far reaching, which is, I think what was the limiting factor for a lot of the people that I referenced is that they didn't answer it to a higher cause now that doesn't have to be God, uh, I'm a bit of a God-fearing mortals.
You know, there, that does drive me. Um, but it doesn't have to be that it could be to an idea it could be to accompany. It could just be it to a family, some way of, um, motivating ourselves to, uh, work for something greater than ourselves. I think that a lack of that is one thing in common with everybody who couldn't do what it is they wanted to do, even if it was for fun.
Zain Shah: [00:37:44] Yeah. Because of a conversation went to a different side of it. I wanted to talk about the after, when I finished the university, my first job was actually as a sales assistant inside the internet cafe that we talking about back in the days. And then, uh, also they used to sell mobile phone and accessories as well and all with this, uh, this tart is actually stuck in my mind, is the by Steve Jobs.
And he says, you can always connect the dots by moving backwards, not by moving forward. Speaking of funny talk about the opportunity is, and having a chance is the place where I used to work. I used to run it as a full-time. I wasn't a shop assistant, so it was just my, it was my responsibility to open the store and close the store as well.
So I was the only one person working in that store. And this is where I actually had my folks experience about mobile phone and accessories, because I used to work in that place. Uh, when my, my boss actually, he was an immigrant in England and he decided to go back to India because of his parents sickness and everything.
So he was selling a business. That was the longest job I had for for four years. I believe not for some people that might not be very long, but that was the longest job for me, which I had when he was going back to India. He told me, Zain, my business worth this much at this stage, but you've been working with me for four years.
If you want to take over this business, I will charge you 4,000 pounds, which is roughly around $600, $6,000 in American currency. And that was the cost of the equipment, which was, uh, already inside the shop. Uh, he wasn't toddling me. We call it a business Goodwill, you know, normally you have your cost to your equipment and then the business Goodwill and that business worth around five, six time.
More than that at that time, not just, he was actually giving me that he was telling me, I know you were working on a salary. You might not have a saving. You can pay me slowly, slowly, I'm going back to India. And he was like that kind with me at that time. And I thought, okay, I don't know if I will be able to pay back.
I have, I'm not sure. And I have this link and that was the first mistake I have in, in like the bigger mistake in, in, in the business, in my professional journey, I could have taken that store. So the point, which coming back to the point, which you make and the opportunities and chances actually come to you, you have to take them like these are most of the time going to be one time thing only.
So, uh, don't, don't miss out on the, on the things.
Joseph: [00:40:34] I, I have to say, I, because I did know a bits and pieces of that story just in, and I actually thought you did take the store over. So, um, what did you do? What did you do after that point instead?
Zain Shah: [00:40:44] So when, uh, when he sold the shop to a different person, uh, I was actually, I was.
I've worked there because I liked the job, but mostly I actually liked my boss. I learned a lot of things from him. So I, even though I was getting paid less, I was, I was working for him. Uh, and I, I didn't have many expenses at that time as well. So I was completely fine. After, when I left that learned, I actually started working in a telecom company.
And again, coming back to the Steve Jobs where he said, you know, you can always connect the dots by going backward from that job when I'm telling a story. I, I w I would, rather than telling all the story, I will say what I actually learned from it. I've worked in a telecom company and what I learned from it, it doesn't matter.
Uh, it doesn't matter how much you get paid. It matters who you work with. That's the most important things for, at least me from, from that job experience. When I left that job and a lot of people ask me, like, where did he get the money to actually open the first shop as well? That actually came from the connection and all, all, all the friends that I made while working in the internet cafe as my first job as well.
And I borrowed some money and then I borrowed some money from my dad. And, uh, I opened my first mobile phone store. And then I run that phone store for very longer period of time. And then the rents in London, they are just like in New York city, they are very expensive. So to the point when the business actually started to go down, I had to find another way to make the money.
And then I started to sell online. And to sell online. I didn't have to make any investment because I had all the stock in my shop already, which I could just list it on online. And then there came to a point where I was actually more money, making more money by selling things online as compared to the walk-in customer coming inside the store as well.
So I thought, okay, well, I don't have to pay this expensive rent. I just can take a, take a story and then stick some, some office there as well. And I can, I can work at, at the cheaper places. I don't need to be in a commercial property. So that was how I actually came, uh, into e-commerce world.
Joseph: [00:43:11] And the thing that I find just really puzzling and if not perplexing about the, uh, about the commercial business model is you know, what does it take for it to not only be sustainable, but really worth the effort if I may be so frank. So I w I really want to know, you know, how long were you running it for and throughout? Were you in the red? Did you, where was it? Was it profitable? Was it w if you, if, if e-commerce, hadn't called you, as it seemed to have, you know, what would it have taken in order to continue to survive and thrive in that, in that position?
Zain Shah: [00:43:46] A very positive thing for anybody who want to start a physical thing, it's like you have to be the most dumbest person to actually lose the money from a physical business. If you have, if you're a normal human being, you always going to make money out of it. Uh that's that's my opinion about it.
Like that's how I think about it. When I actually started to show up, I was not married. I didn't have any kids. So once you, when see a lifestyle change in terms of your family members change, your expenses goes up as well. And rather than renting a room, you have to rent the house and then comes to a point.
You have to have a card and then you have to buy a house. So if it was just for me, I was making probably triple the average income that anybody will make from UK by running a job about by a shop. I never went to, went into adapt or anything like that. Once your expenses will go up, obviously you need to find a different ways to make money.
And that's when I went into e-commerce world. Uh, but the physical business I will, uh, yes, a lot of, a lot of them are now dominated by eBay and Amazon. A lot of things have gone online and it's my 2d that people. We'll only go outside just for socializing side of it, not something they actually want to buy people, buy things online nowadays.
Anyway, so just for this socializing side of it, people go outside and, uh, only probably the food shops and any shops, which will have a social law social aspect to them will exist in a high street, but shops like a clothing shop, probably mobile phone shops. I don't think they will live and exist on a high street. 10 20 years from now. I don't think so.
Joseph: [00:45:44] Yeah. I, I, I tend to agree with you on that. Um, there's a, there's a high end mall close to, um, where, um, my girlfriend and I live and just as like, as a cheap, so, you know, like half date, you know, and not all of them are going to be romantic dinner, sometimes it's just going out and, you know, it's still an enjoyable experience because you can have a lot of discovery, you'll be able to walk.
And while I don't, I can't discover as many items as if I was going on Amazon. It's more about the tactile experiences is what there is a lot of, a lot of value, at least from the, from the consumers and the consumers are having the time of their life, uh, going, going, and physically shopping. So, so we're doing great, but, um, being on the opposite side of it, you know, you, you do have to have, uh, like I say, the, the right, uh, the right product to solve because not everything is going to be around.
Zain Shah: [00:46:32] Yeah, I, I completely agree with you on that. And that, that is like, it's not really good for our high street and I as much, uh, I love selling online. I want my local high street to survive as well. And, uh, I think this is the point, uh, recently with the, with the university based in here in, in the UK, I been a part of a study where there was a, they actually submitted a report to treasury there where they asked, how can we save over high street?
And my opinion was that was you have to give them a tool so they can start selling things online because not all the local small businesses are actually selling online at the moment, but you have to give them incentive as well. So incentive will be, if you have a physical location and you decide to sell online, you probably have some tax relaxation, so that will give them more incentive to have online visibility.
Uh, so yeah, I, I agree with service-based business, like a barbershop or a beauty parlors and those kinds of stuff exist, but anything which is not service based or Ford related, I think, unfortunately we don't see them on high street.
Joseph: [00:47:49] Yeah. I just want to throw the sticks out and then I'm going to get to, uh, another question before we, uh, we'll let you out of here, which is, you know, one store that I thought was a great business model.
It was a comic book shop, but it was also a cafe slash board game place. So it integrated the social aspect into it. And so anything as long as the social side of it is, uh, integrated into the business, I would say the business is in decent shape. So do I see a phone store slash coffee shop hybrid in the future?
I don't know about that one, but I didn't notice because you were saying it was an internet cafe as well as a phone store. So there was a social side to it too, so I can definitely see, I see the logic in that.
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We're getting closer towards the light last a little bit. And I want us to get your take on, on drop shipping because I know your position roughly is will not positive so to speak, but I think you're, you're pretty fair minded. So I think like what you were saying with Shopify could be bad, but it could also be good.
So I want our audience to hear your take on it, because I want to take these opportunities to hear different opinions on it. So, you know, go ahead and let us have it.
Zain Shah: [00:49:21] Yeah. And that you probably have to grab your popcorns here. I'm not going to make it very long, but I will try to, I will try to discuss the things which a lot of consumers or a lot of salads or dropshippers will be able to understand.
Now we are living in a society where the people want things on demand they want when they pay, they want it next hour. Like this is the things where they're going to go. I believe five years from now, one day or next day delivery, or even same day delivery from morning to afternoon is going to be too late as well.
Uh, you're going to get your things delivered. Uh, speaking of drop shipping, the it's good. Good in a sense, if you are starting out, uh, dropshipping, uh, you were just starting out. Uh, you can learn how e-commerce work without putting a lot of money inside it. I mean, this is the side of it, but you have to set the realistic goals for yourself.
The one of the biggest problem with the drop shipping this model existed from as far, probably the human beings are alive. I have nothing against this model. Uh, it does work at the end of the day and the reason it does work because the marketing side of it, like why the people don't buy directly from AliExpress, they buy from a drop shipper and wait for same amount of time because the person with the Shopify store is a marketer, is able to market those products very well as well.
So that's the only reason they buy as well. Uh, if you're just starting out, you have to set a realistic goals and then you have to also keep in mind that I'm going to learn if this e-commerce is for me, because. Uh, again, coming back, going back to your things about the passion and things we are passionate about, I, because of her passion changed all the time and we, we go into dropshipping with the attention of learning.
That's the first thing. And then to realize, is it something which is for me as well or not because the things are getting a lot complicated solvency or e-commerce seller. You are a graphic designer. You are, you were a video editor. Uh, you have, because nowadays you can, uh, put the videos on Amazon for your products as well.
You are, you will do the product photography. You will have to be such into an optimization expert as well. So you're gonna ha you're gonna have to wait a lot of hats. So once you're drop shipping, I will say, try to learn those things, because this is something which I value more than anything because the knowledge is power, you know, at the end of the day, that's the knowledge of it matters cost as well.
But problem with dropshipping is, unless you find a supplier, then the problem is he won't be able to be the price. Unless you find a supplier based in the US, or if you're in UK, the supplier, which is in UK as well, then you have a chances of getting a little bit sales, but you won't be able to make a lot of profit on it.
And that the end of the, what is the identity that you were making for yourself? If I, as Zain drop shipping the product from Joseph, I'm actually working for Joseph. I don't feel like this is a true business. Uh, and, uh, If you have a, if you have a supplier based in US, or if we have a supplier based in UK, they are not selling your products on the price, which they bought it from China.
And then went through the headache, dealing with the customs and dealing with the import duties and everything as well. Obviously the price is going to be high, uh, but try it. You might make some money. Uh, but try it in, in, uh, with, uh, with attention to learn and it attention to really realize it, if it's something for you as well.
And also the main, another side before I finished this one as well on the social media, like, you know, on the YouTube, which we, a lot of people consume nowadays as well and other social media platform as well. The people who will talk about drop shipping or the people even who will talk about e-commerce or stock or crypto or anything like that, their business is actually talking about crypto or their business is actually talking about drop shipping.
They make money by talking about it. It's not realistically, they actually have set up something on the background. I have seen so many videos, many, many times where people will talk about something and a lot of people will go, boom, man, this is. This is extraordinary. And the person who actually knows like, no, I'm sorry.
That's not the way it's work. I mean, this is this how you're going to deal with this and how you're going to deal with that. Yeah. I don't think anybody have any kind of secret, um, most of the thing that you need to know even about drop shipping or selling on e-commerce, you can, you can find them on internet for free nowadays as well.
So the only thing about if you buy some mentorship or buy some course, or only thing like that, there is no secret inside them. There is nothing new inside them, but if you're a person who actually really want to save your time and you won't do the point information by all means, if you have the money, go buy a course, but you don't really need it.
Like if you were patients enough to learn the things by yourself, Uh, you can go and learn by yourself. So that's my whole point of it. I mean, not all the people actually like it, but, uh, that's my position.
Joseph: [00:55:13] Well, I definitely wanted to make sure that we heard it because like I said, it's important to get as a diverse and array of opinions on the subject, as there are available. Um, I'm, I'm glad to hear it. I think approaching it as a learning process.
Zain Shah: [00:55:26] Yeah.
Joseph: [00:55:27] Is, is wise. And the thing too, is that the learning is going to happen. For sure. Even if people don't go in with that mindset, but going in with that mindset, I think gives people a little bit less pressure on turning this into something profitable right away and more into this is something that's going to teach me how to run a business, how to be a marketer, how to be the graphic designer, the photographer.
And I think, uh, combining that with using Amazon and eBay, uh, like I was saying at the beginning about some of that early muscle memory is at that starting there, I would say as a learning process of just how to sell pure and simple. So, you know, you combine those two things together and that makes it person that can make a person pretty potent.
Zain Shah: [00:56:07] I completely agree with you.
Joseph: [00:56:09] Excellent. Well then we're, uh, we're just about to hit an hour. There is one less than that. I actually wanted to hear from you because, uh, I think this is a really cool program that you do. I don't know if you're like actively doing it right now. Cause I did see on the website, it's your scholarship?
Um, is this still something that you're doing actively or is it?
Zain Shah: [00:56:25] Yeah, so we, we do scholarships, uh, for. Uh, even for the courses that we do on over on our website, I don't call them a course. So the people who actually manage my website, uh, it's 20 pounds, which is around $25. And I had done the course by myself as well.
And if, if somebody actually emailed me and they tell me they can't afford it, or they're not, they don't want to risk to pay for it. We give them for free, it's a scholarship, but you have to be someone not like you and I for next. And you want to apply a scholarship. Uh, I have two people who actually look after that website and they organize my content in the like a step-by-step guide.
They organize my YouTube video step-by-step guide and it clearly says on a website. There is nothing new inside. There is no secret, which I tell you inside this course, if you're willing to spend 20 pounds, which is absolutely nothing, comparing the courses, which are right out there, I don't call it a course.
Uh, so, and if you can't even afford that, then you can apply for a scholarship, but you have to be like, uh, on what we call here in UK is a, is a universal credit is like a, uh, income support scheme from the government or your business has been affected by coronavirus, or you've been, you are a small business will want to have online visibility, then go ahead and you can do.
And some time I am able to spend like, uh, not a lot of time, five minutes on, on the call of them, but not with each and every one of them. Like for some person, I I'm able to give them a five minutes to really give them a personalized answer. So all those details on, on a website.
Joseph: [00:58:13] Is it specific to the UK?
Zain Shah: [00:58:15] Yes. At the moment, it's very specific to the UK if we want to go worldwide. But the problem is like, uh, I do this for the hobby and I don't find enough time to actually, and I, I, I don't want to be called out a guru or something like this. And my, my main focus is e-commerce and, uh, thanks to God. I make good money out of it.
I don't really need to rely on selling courses. And also by saying that I have nothing against people who actually sell courses as well, because it's your knowledge. And at the end of the day, you value it, how much you want to sell it for it's their personal choice. At the end of the day, they want to sell it for a thousand or 2000.
And there are many good courses says out there as well. If a person really have the money and want to save their, their time, then by all means they can go join the courses. I I'm saying that I don't want to sell the courses. That's like nobody gets the impression that I'm against any core seller or anything like that. No, I'm not.
Joseph: [00:59:13] It's all. It's all good. It's all good to hear on, uh, on Ecomonics. Uh, like I said, just happy to hear your take on it and your position. And as I've, as I've said, numerous times, you know, one of my goals is to help our audience figure out who, would be the right person for them to take after some of it is region specific.
So I think if our, we have listeners from the UK, then I might have, might help them to be more advantageous to speak to you rather than somebody in the states or whatever, but that's, um, uh, that's, uh, the extent of which I'm going to give it thought. Um, but altogether, this has been a great hour, you know, I definitely feel like I've gotten some good insights into it.
And I want to thank you very much for your time. I know it started late. It's getting even later.
Zain Shah: [00:59:55] Yeah. Thank, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity and, uh, also what I, what I like most is like, uh, I didn't feel like I actually hold myself back or like I was being myself completely. And I, I really, really enjoyed talking to you as well.
And before, before the last word, I, I just wanted to say whoever is listening to today, regardless of where you are, what you are doing at that particular time look into selling online, because I, I truly believe this is the biggest opportunity that anybody can have at the moment, coming from a country where my parents was always against.
Uh, okay, this is not a real job until today. My mom does not know what it is. If he asked my mom, she can't define it. What I do, she, she just going to say, it's not a real job. That's, that's what we think. Most of the people. So is the market is oversaturated. No, because the people who know this as a real job and the people who know how to do it, they are not old enough to do it here.
They don't have the resources to do it, but once they will come into market, then this market will be saturated. Whatever you do, you do a job or whatever, do this as a part-time just try and regardless how much money you make in the beginning, just stay consistent. And I can, I can't say I can guarantee you, but if you put in the good efforts and you stay consistent, uh, you can make it.
Joseph: [01:01:30] I, I think so. And I know, so I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm honored to be able to speak to so many people who have we talked to successful people. We don't book people on who didn't make it. So, and if I'm looking at the calendar right now, there's a lot more people, um, uh, coming down the pipe and the weeks and the months to come.
So, um, it is 100% possible. And with that, usually the final question is if you have any, uh, last words or piece of wisdom you want to share, you're free to you pretty, you just did that. So, you know, uh, I ahead of the curve on that one. But, uh, other than that, just let the audience know how they can find your content and, uh, learn more about what you are.
Zain Shah: [01:02:03] Yeah, so the best place to find me, it will be youtube.com/zainshahofficial. If you follow me on the social media, that will increase the number, but if you message me, I'm sorry, I can't keep up with the messages. Uh, but for me on the other social media platform, as an author on all the links that you will find from a YouTube channels or all other social media platforms are there as well, but I'm most active on the YouTube.
Uh, I post almost like two to three videos every week. So, uh, that's the main, uh, social media platform where they can follow me. That's all.
Joseph: [01:02:43] Fantastic. And with that, um, one more, um, extension of gratitude, both to our guests, uh and to our audience as well, your, uh, participation, uh, makes all of this worth doing.
So it's not just for me, it's for all of you too. So I take the information and run with it and we'll see you on the other side with that take care, all the best and we'll check in soon.
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