Carefully choose who you allow to invest in your business. This is important. If you are raising capital, whoever invests in your business is now more closely connected to you than ever before. So that being said, you need to make sure the investor is a good fit for your values and direction.
The rules of engagement when dealing with big corporates. Have patience. That’s it. If you are dealing with big corporates and think things will go fast, you’re wrong. It’s a slow burn so, by all means, deal with them, but know it will take some time to reach the desired outcome.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Fenech .
Michael has gained extensive business experience in both tech and e-commerce across the globe. He has successfully raised capital in the US and Australia, run successful e-commerce sites, and has partnered with some of the biggest companies in the world. Michael is also fortunate to have been mentored by some of the biggest names in tech. His e-commerce experience has come from having over 700 SKU’s being sold in the US via Facebook and Google shopping.
Michael then ventured into selling on Amazon and by using his incredible product research skills, he found products that were instant winners. Michael and his partner now have a range of products being launched under their well-respected brand.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I suppose my appetite for business models that can operate while I sleep was a significant factor when it came to how I ended up in this career path. I remember I was surfing the net late one night while on a business trip in Los Angeles and came across an ad about eCommerce and that one ad led me down so many rabbit holes that I found myself deeply entrenched in eCommerce daily.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
There have been lots of hard times during my journey. It’s part of being an entrepreneur. Some of the most challenging times, during the growth of our tech company, came from having cash flow struggles.
Like all startups would know, especially if you’re pre-revenue, managing your runway and not running out of cash is the toughest thing to handle because there is no “quick fix”. This got me down, and I must admit I struggled because I felt there was no way out. But we got through it and came out the other side which was a massive relief.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Like I said, a clear vision is all the fuel you need to keep the drive going. If you have a strong vision, you should never give up. If you do, you aren’t passionate enough, or your dream doesn’t mean enough.
So, how are things going today?
Things are going great. Our eCommerce group has grown to over 2,100 members, and we are launching more products within our brand. We are also running a series of one day eCommerce workshops for the eCommerce sellers within our group.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. One of our tech companies is going through a tough time at the moment, but that’s part of being an entrepreneur. We will improvise, adapt and overcome as best as we can.
How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
By being in the trenches and “doing battle”, you learn about what works and what doesn’t. So applying what works from a constant assessment of my actions is what led to eventual success. Had I have given up, I would not have learnt those valuable lessons.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
The funniest mistake I made was assuming that every product I’d launch when I was drop shipping, would be a smash hit and I would make lots of money. I think it was just blind optimism.
I laugh when I think about it now, because in reality, selling products online doesn’t work like that.
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I learned that when you launch a product to sell online, you can’t guess. You have to base your launch decision on data, the amount of opportunity there is as well as looking at the competitive landscape.
What do you think makes your company stand out?
What makes our company stand out is that we put our customers/group members at the forefront of our thinking. Every decision we make is based on how it can help our group become better eCommerce sellers. If we do something, it has to move the water line in our group’s businesses, or we don’t do it.
Can you share a story?
We do a thing in our group called the 5 in 5. We post into the group a zoom link and the first 5 people to jump on the zoom call in 5 minutes get to have a pop-up mastermind meeting with me and my partner.
On that call, we deep dive into people’s businesses and try to add as much value as possible.
It’s become a pretty cool thing in our group because people scramble to get on to those calls. It’s a lot of fun, but again, it’s designed to help people which is our primary goal.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take regular breaks. I have a saying which is “You need to sharpen the axe”. So if you want to cut a tree down, to make things easier, you need to stop now and then to sharpen the axe. Imagine cutting a tree down with a blunt axe? Not having a break is the equivalent.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
Yes there is, but it’s not just one person, a few different people have mentored me. I was very fortunate to build a really powerful team for one of our tech companies.
My team comprised of ex-Facebook executives, former VP’s of major US corporations as well as a very successful entrepreneur who had a 9 figure exit. I learned so much from each of them, which I suppose made me the entrepreneur I am today.
Can you share a story?
I remember once we had to pitch a very wealthy family office during a capital raise. And one of my mentors made the introduction and decided to come along for the pitch to help make a better connection.
The pitch went well, and the family office was excited about participating in our funding round.
I got to see how my mentor operated during this meeting, and it was inspirational to see someone at the top of their game.
But it was what happened after the meeting were I learned the most. This family office went quiet, and after wanting more information, it was quite strange that they went silent.
But I saw first-hand how to handle a situation of this nature. We needed an answer, and I was taught to conserve your time and give investors deadlines with a yes or no. It’s so hard to do, but it conveys that you aren’t desperate, which ultimately helps you move on during what is a stressful time when raising capital.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
With the knowledge I’ve gained in eCommerce, my partner and I started our own Facebook group, and our number 1 aim was to help people who are about to jump into eCommerce or are already there. This group has grown so quickly, and it’s off the back of our fortnightly zoom calls where we go live and bring next level learnings to our group.
This goodness we are bringing really resonated with our group members, and we recently won the “Best Facebook Group for Amazon sellers” award in the 2020 global Seller Poll voting. It’s a huge honour and shows that the value we are bringing is really hitting the mark with our members.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Have a product that really solves a problem.
This is mission-critical. If your product or service does not solve a problem, people aren’t in enough pain to pay you to solve it.
2. Revenue should be the number one goal.
Businesses are created to solve problems and make money. So revenue should be the number one goal with every business decision you make.
3. Growth is less important than revenue.
We were fixated on growth which is important, but at the end of the day, revenue wins every time. Can’t stress this enough.
4. Carefully choose who you allow to invest in your business.
This is important. If you are raising capital, whoever invests in your business is now more closely connected to you than ever before. So that being said, you need to make sure the investor is a good fit for your values and direction.
5. The rules of engagement when dealing with big corporates.
Have patience. That’s it. If you are dealing with big corporates and think things will go fast, you’re wrong. It’s a slow burn so, by all means, deal with them, but know it will take some time to reach the desired outcome.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start a movement which would involve teaching people how to become entrepreneurs, how to look for ideas, how to solve problems and build businesses.
The reason I would do this is that everyone would win. The entrepreneur would win by having the tools to start a successful business and the customers win because they are having their problems solved.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram — @michaelfenech. Each day, I provide tips to help people become better entrepreneurs.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!