Charlie Camisasca is the founder of The eCommerce Boardroom, an online resource center, consultancy, and SaaS tool for eCommerce Entrepreneurs. Prior to that, Charlie spent 5 years as a Management Consultant, designing software for corporate legal departments at several Fortune 500 companies. But all the while, entrepreneurship seemed to be calling him. During his tenure as a consultant, he devoted nights and weekends to creating his business, eventually building three successful eCommerce brands in his spare time. In early 2020, he finally took the leap and quit his full-time consulting job. Armed with a desire to help others and the knowledge that eCommerce is an incredible opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs, Charlie created his new company. The eCommerce Boardroom is the intersection of his unique expertise in eCommerce, Consulting, and Software Design. As a CEO, Charlie is dedicated to helping others to see and realize the lucrative and life-changing opportunity that eCommerce represents.
Where did the idea for The eCommerce Boardroom come from?
As I began to scale a couple of eCommerce brands that I had started, I learned two striking things that contributed to the idea for my new company.
1. There is a massive online community of aspiring eCommerce entrepreneurs.
2. eCommerce is really, really complex.
First, the community. I can’t tell you how many eCommerce Facebook groups, blogs, podcasts, forums, and influencers I’ve followed or subscribed to. And each one represents a community: often 10s or 100s of thousands of people that are just trying to “make it” in the world of eCommerce. Truthfully, I have been encouraged by just how engaged, supportive, and helpful these communities are. But the sheer number of people who are starting an eCommerce business is enough to overwhelm any newcomer to the space. After all, aren’t all those people technically my competition?
Second, the complexity. Starting an eCommerce business is hard. But scaling one? That’s even harder. There are so many touch-points: systems, platforms, tools, and service providers that all work together to make the business tick. With many touch-points, comes much data. And with much data, comes confusion.
If there was an “Aha Moment”, it was when I listened to a podcast that interviewed Tobias Lütke, one of the founders of Shopify. I can’t remember if it was Tobias or the Interviewer who called Shopify the ultimate “pick and shovel” play in eCommerce. In case you don’t know, this phrase comes from the California Gold rush. Who is guaranteed to make a killing in a gold rush? The people selling the tools (picks and shovels) needed to mine the gold.
Today, eCommerce is a gold rush.
After listening to that interview, I did a quick Google search. As it turns out, there are over 1 million active Shopify Stores and more than 2 Million active sellers on Amazon. Amazing!
That’s when I realized that, although Shopify might be the ultimate “pick and shovel” play, it can’t be the only one in town. The lightbulb turned on.
Instead of viewing those massive online communities as competitors, I saw them to be potential customers. And instead of feeling overwhelmed by the high degree of complexity involved in scaling an eCommerce business, I began to see this as an opportunity to coach others. And so, the idea of a SaaS / Consultancy hybrid for eCommerce entrepreneurs was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I can’t claim to have a “typical” day. A startup with a small team, I am focused on removing roadblocks and the day’s most pressing issues.
That being said, there are some recurring activities that I often find myself knee deep into: designing the next iteration or features of our software tool, advancing our SEO strategy, designing ad campaigns to generate leads, and networking with other entrepreneurs.
I stay productive by prioritizing each morning and re-analyzing those priorities in the evening. It helps to take a step back and think big-picture about where my attention needs to be each day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am a planner. I am good at formulating a vision for the “end state” of a project and coming up with the milestones or key steps that need to be taken in order to make it a reality.
But planning only gets you so far. Once the plan is crafted, and the team is onboard, you have to execute. And (this is key) be willing to pivot when reality demands that a change is needed. It can be difficult to deviate from a well-designed plan, but you have to swallow your pride and admit when a shake-up is necessary.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Turnkey e-Commerce. The marketplace has finally reached a stage where the tech is advanced enough that non-technical people can throw their hat in the ring. And they are. That number – 3 million sellers between Amazon and Shopify – is only growing. And it is exciting to me that the playing field of business is dramatically flattening, such as it never has before in all of human history. You don’t need a loan to open a brick-and-mortar store; you just need 30 bucks to open your Shopify store. That’s incredible!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The habit that increases productivity for me is a routine that includes time for mental health. I’ve found that I need to carve out 3 specific times each day to do this.
First, for me, the early mornings are critical times of meditation, reading, and prayer. Second, (this one is the hardest for me) I’ve forced myself to get into the habit of taking a lunch break. And third, I take 15-30 minutes at the end of the day to reflect and journal.
I can’t stress enough how important these have been!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Stop using the internet to share memes and cat videos.
The internet is the single most comprehensive library of information ever assembled is available at our fingertips and accessible with incredible speed. Today, there is greater parity of information through the internet than at any other point in history. You can learn anything you want to, faster than any prior generation was able. Take advantage!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a dynasty in the making. Watch. You’ll see.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Ask for feedback.
From your employees, customers, competitors, peers, family: the more the better. And don’t get discouraged from negative feedback. If you hear one negative comment in isolation that you disagree with, don’t stress. Maybe that person is having a bad day. But if there is a chorus repeating that comment, then it’s time for a shakeup.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The truth is, the only way to scale a business is to deploy a top-to-bottom comprehensive plan to develop and close leads. I call it a Systematic Marketing Strategy. And it’s the key to truly scaling with reliable precision.
The components of a Systematic Marketing Strategy are: Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing, and Email Marketing.
This includes social media, website landing pages, blogging for Search Engine Optimization, and all other forms of content marketing. With inbound marketing, companies create a “net” and then encourage their ideal customers to “swim” into it. The customer finds the blog post or picture posted on instagram (for example), engages with the content, and pokes around the company’s site. The goal is for them to become a Subscriber (joining their email list) or a customer. Inbound marketing content should always include a call-to-action, usually via a free offer, that serves to engage the prospect and/or acquire their email address.
As opposed to a “Net”, Outbound Marketing can be thought of as a “Spear.” This includes Cold Calling, Cold Emailing, and (everyone’s favorite) Paid Advertising. Advertising is the most powerful and rapid way to scale an online business, and so it often gets the most attention. There is much ado online about scaling ads, but the reality is this: profitable ad campaigns get scaled, and unprofitable ones get canned. A robust ad strategy is one that tests frequently. Don’t rest on your laurels. It should be a constant exercise to refine and optimize.
The goal of a Spear (whether it is a cold outreach or an Ad), just like a Net, is to convert the viewer to a Customer. Secondarily, both Inbound and Outbound serve to grow the company’s Email List as a byproduct. Email Marketing is different from Inbound / Outbound because the viewers are all people who have volunteered to stay in front of the brand’s content by virtue of providing their email address. The email list should be nurtured with free and valuable content. And of course, it should be presented with regular offers that generate repeat business and grow the perceived value of the brand.
The Systematic Marketing Strategy is a concept we teach regularly on the eComm Boardroom site.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I made every mistake when I was first getting started. The funniest was probably mixing up the “Consignee Address” with the “Delivery Address” when importing my first product to the US. What does that mean? Well, my Freight Forwarder, per my instructions, was about to deliver 50,000 disposable plates to my apartment in Chicago! Fortunately, an agent noticed that something looked a little “off” (warehouses don’t typically have a Unit #…) and called me to double check. We had a good laugh on the phone, but can you imagine if the truck had shown up at my apartment? I’m not sure what I would’ve done! The lesson? Sweat the details. They MATTER.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there is serious potential in the transition of brick-and-mortar stores to the online space. Study up and get good at performing a service, like creating custom WordPress sites, and approach traditional brick-and-mortar stores with the offer to help them modernize. Many are in need of this and would be willing to pay big bucks!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I spent recently…probably was to have a professional editor review my book. I am publishing a KDP book (called How to Start and Grow an eCommerce Business) and after spending months writing it, it was difficult to want to accept feedback. But I can tell you that it is very much worth it! This speaks to a broader lesson: don’t be afraid to outsource in the areas where you / your team don’t have the best skillset.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Working in the eCommerce space, I use various Product Research Tools: Aglopix, Viral-Launch, and Sell the Trend to be specific. We use these to keep a finger on the pulse of the e-Commerce market. They give us a sense for market size, competitive landscape, and the viability of launching a product on various platforms (Amazon vs Shopify vs eBay, etc.).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
In my opinion, the best Growth Marketing book I have read is From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross and Jason Lemkin. It gives an outstanding framework for fostering growth by developing a holistic marketing strategy.
This book provides an excellent overview of:
-The importance of a robust strategy for inbound, outbound, and word-of-mouth-marketing.
-How to restructure Sales & Marketing Teams such that they work in concert with one another.
-How to design specialized sales & marketing roles so that: prospectors prospect, lead specialists develop leads, and closers actually close deals with maximum efficiency.
What is your favorite quote?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – Jesus Christ
• eCommerce is a gold rush. Turnkey solutions like Shopify have flattened the playing field, making it possible for anyone with a Wi-Fi connection to start a business.
• The internet provides greater parity of information than at any other time in human history. Use it to learn, habitually.
• Don’t be afraid to outsource things where you or your team lacks a skill set.
• Carve out a time each day (or multiple times) for mental health. That’s the key to staying productive over the long haul.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.