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The Right Focus – Tunnel Vision and Missing the Mark

Do you know what to focus on as an entrepreneur? Is tunnel vision and outdated thinking standing in the way of your progress?

A family member recently said, “wow, I never expected you so be doing this type of work 5 years ago!”  And I couldn’t agree more! 

5 years ago I was working as a full-time firefighter, I had just sold a barely-profitable construction company, and I really didn’t know what was next for me.  I knew that I was just too entrepreneurial to sit in the fire station every third day and NOT have a side-hustle, but I never dreamed that e-Com would change my entire life the way it has. 

Shortly after, I launched my first Amazon store and hit the seven-figure mark in just 7 months, built a sourcing and shipping company based out of China, set up warehousing and 3pl operations in the USA, and began getting involved in MANY networks and communities. 

I have since left that old career (but DANG do I still miss driving that huge ladder truck!) and am now immersed in e-com full time, and have been able to learn at a MASSIVE rate by being involved in my own business, as well as seeing what so many other people have done successfully (and unsuccessfully). 

One of the things that I have seen people do so many times that led to failure (or at least stunted success) is get tunnel vision. 

I know that we hear this term a lot, but do you really know what it means in the e-Com space? 

I am not 100% sure that we would all agree on the exact definition, but I do want to share a few thoughts on tunnel vision that I have noticed, and how that causes so many people to “miss the mark” on their ideal growth trajectory. 

The ”too small” tunnel

small tunnel

Most of us in the e-com space come from a world of “side-hustle”.   We often started this to generate a little extra income, or even as a hobby! 

But regardless of where you “come from”, there is no doubt that this industry is still saturated in the “small” mindset.  And when we are convinced that this business will remain small, we limit our own growth.  It WILL REMAIN small. 

If you are an arbitrage seller, you have growth potential.  You can build teams, systematize and automate, and then use the earnings and experience to start moving into your own product lines and brands. 

If you are doing standard “white box” white-labeling, you have a TON of experience and can scale infinitely with advanced branding and growth tactics. 

If you are a true brand, you can add products, add marketing verticals, or even create NEW brands!   There is literally no limit on how BIG you can grow this business, regardless of where you started!   So why do we think small?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I often get stuck in this tunnel of “thinking small” because I doubt myself. Entrepreneurs are one of the leading demographic of people that tend to not believe in themselves, and there are lots of reasons for this which we can discuss in another blog! 

Personally, I come from a childhood that did not lend itself to having much confidence.  Even when I started this journey, I was told by friends and close family that this is all some sort of “scam” business and will never last… 

So for me, I have had to fight that tendency to keep thinking small, and instead look with a much broader scope and realize that there are TONS of opportunities, tools, and community to make this work in a BIG way! 

There has NEVER been a better time to be an entrepreneur!  Think big, and don’t get stuck in the “tunnel” of thinking too small! 

The “beach bucket” tunnel

beach bucket tunnel

Another way that I see people missing the mark on their growth potential is having “tunnel vision” on product selection. 

When I first got into the private-label game, the method that I learned was to basically find some products that other people were already selling well, then try to compete with them by “doing it better” in terms of packaging, more Amazon reviews, etc. 

So what happened is we would look at products that OTHER people were already owning, getting those products stuck in our head, and then maybe missing out on other opportunities that were actually better.  I call this the “beach bucket” principle.

I take groups to China to this awesome market in the city of Yiwu.  I have been to Canton fair several times, as well as tons of other factories in cities all over, but what I LOVE about Yiwu is the sheer scope of product opportunities. 

There are literally MILLIONS of products there, and when you use the right strategy, it can be VERY powerful.  I took a buddy there a couple years ago on one of our trips, and distinctly remember him NOT following our training. 

We teach people many methods on the trip, and one of the main themes is to look for things they are NOT familiar with!  See something cool on that shelf?  Pick it up and inquire. 

Never seen that version of something?  Find out about it!  I saw SEVERAL trendy products more than a year before they hit the mainstream on Amazon!  The method DOES work!  So, what does this have to do with beach buckets??

Well, despite the training I offered, this guy could NOT shake the idea of beach buckets he had in his head…  He had wholesaled or arbitraged a bunch, and he just KNEW that a beach bucket bundle was his one-way ticket to SUCCESSVILLE! 

So on the first day of our trips, I wander around and check in with individual shoppers and their assistants.  I ran into this guy far from where I expected him to be (based on our system of navigating each section). 

I got a bit irritated with his personal assistant that we hired, and asked her WHY she had led him so far off track!  She politely told me that it was NOT her fault, and this stubborn dude was wandering all over chasing beach buckets!  

I calmly tried to argue with him…. “Dude, stop looking for beach buckets.  We know they are here, but there are also 20,000 other toy vendors in this one district alone.  Look for other items!”.  I left him to his shopping….

At the end of the day, as all attendees and their assistants regroup back at the hotel, there was a LOT of excitement.  People had found incredible ideas, learned a lot, and had a great day. 

My bucket buddy?  He was grouchy.  He didn’t understand why he flew ALL THE WAY to China and felt like he hadn’t found any good opportunities.  I asked his assistant where they went after I left them, and guess what she said…. 

Searching for more beach bucket vendors!!  All I could do was shake my head and try to get him started right again the next day.

Now, were beach buckets a good opportunity?  Maybe!  But he didn’t need to come all the way to Yiwu to look for them.  But because he was SOO focused on them, he probably walked past a thousand other good products and didn’t even notice…. 

Do you do that?  Do you get so wrapped up in a certain brand, niche, or even idea-generating method that you miss out on other low-hanging fruit right beside you?  I think we all do at some point… 

But when we RECOGNIZE that we have tunnel-vision in product selection, we can fight the urge to look for more “beach buckets” and start seeing what other gems are right at our fingertips!

The OLD METHOD tunnel

old method tunnel

This is one of those actions of “tunnel vision” that breaks my heart, because it is often accomplished with the best of intentions…   

We all see people teaching methods, strategies, and courses that assure success!  I know lots of people that have had GREAT success in various ways, and they want to share their knowledge. 

Or, I have seen successful sellers launch new products and new brands and done a GREAT job of it, and want to continue that path to success. 

Here is a little problem, though….  The Amazon game changes.  I would dare say even WEEKLY.  What used to work, might not anymore.  What generated great success a year ago, potentially is not available anymore. 

The methods used 6 months ago that brought tremendous growth might not be compliant anymore per Amazon’s rules.  So what does this mean?  

Well, it doesn’t mean that, by definition, the methods or strategies DIDN’T work.  They did!  But it doesn’t mean that they wor anymore.  This is super dangerous because the strategies have social proof, whether it is your own, or that of another.

It is easy to look at the past path to success and feel comfortable going down the same one again.  We are creatures of habit, and also of comfort!  Forging a new trail is a LOT harder than staying on the same road that you have traveled (or seen others successfully traveling) before. 

The only risk is that by staying on the old path, we might completely miss out on the newer methods that are currently working.  Or worse, find ourselves stuck with a bunch of inventory that won’t sell, or in hot water with Amazon for breaching their TOS rules….

So remember, just because it worked THEN, doesn’t mean it works NOW.  Having tunnel vision in this respect is exceptionally dangerous.  Keep a keen eye out for changes, and stay up to date on strategies and tactics that work NOW. 

There is a MOUNTAIN of great information out there that is current and up to speed, just make sure to open your eyes and look around for it.  And be open to change! 

Closing

So in summary, we know that this world of e-commerce is an amazing one.  Whether you are a seasoned vet or just thinking about getting started, keep in mind that having “tunnel vision” is a dangerous thing! 

Keep your eyes open, your mind, and your expectations open!  And as always, keep #crushingit!

To learn more about how Tim helps sellers, click here.

Tim Jordan
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