Jimmy Esparza | Boots on the Ground: Building a Remarkable Resale Business
Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship | newsletter.scottdclary.com
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Boots on the Ground: Building a Remarkable Resale Business
There are thousands of articles, videos, and courses out there that promise to teach you the secrets of the side hustle. “Just start reselling products on Amazon”, they’ll say, “and you can become rich like me!”
This isn’t that.
A few months ago, I sat down with Jimmy Esparza for the Success Story podcast. He’s the CEO of Renewable Power USA, one of the most successful companies in America, and a leading member in the charge toward renewable energy.
Essentially, Jimmy runs a resale business. His company doesn’t manufacture the solar panels that they install, and they’re not designing new tech. He’s taking products from a manufacturer (companies like Tesla, in this case), and reselling them across the country.
Except this isn’t just a side hustle. Renewable Power USA now ranks No. 465 on the Inc. 5000 list, reporting 1,341% growth over the last three years.
How did he do it? Well, he was kind enough to share some of his wisdom which I’ve expanded on for this week’s newsletter.
Building the brand
When you're not manufacturing the product yourself, brand is everything. You need to convince people that:
You know what you're doing
You can provide value, or solve their problems
That requires real connection and not just a well-designed website. You need to develop relationships, both in the online and offline worlds. That means going out into your local community and talking directly with people, as well as using social media and other digital channels to spread awareness.
Remember: you’re not just selling a product; you’re selling yourself. So take the time to invest in building relationships and creating an emotional connection that will draw people in—even when they may be shopping around for cheaper prices or faster delivery times from competitors.
Boots on the ground
You might think that everything can be done online and in a few certain situations that may be true. But even with today's technology, there's no substitute for getting out into the world, to shake hands and knock on doors.
When it comes to reselling products, that means getting in front of your customers and building relationships with them. It could mean bringing a few products to an event or trade show, setting up shop at a local flea market, or simply networking with other business owners on LinkedIn.
In other words: get out from behind your computer screen and do some real-world legwork. Make sure you’re visible in places where potential buyers are likely to be—and don’t be afraid to make those connections face-to-face if you can.
At the end of the day, you’re selling someone else’s product. That means you need to find a way to stand out from your competition—otherwise, why should people buy from you?
The key is not just to sell the same products as everyone else but also to focus on providing something unique and different. It could be an added service or an extra perk that nobody else offers, such as free installation or round-the-clock support and maintenance.
Okay, those aren't the best examples. Because the focus here can't just point to a simple discount and say "see! We're unique!" It needs to be something that will resonate with your target market and get them to sell your product for you.
When they're asked why they decided to go with you, they should be able to blurt out an answer without even thinking about it.
The worst answer to that question is "they were the cheapest" because it means they couldn't find anything they liked about your company. The best answer is "I felt like they had my back" or, even better, something more specific.
Be local (but not small)
There's something that Jimmy said to me that I'll never forget.
"People like local, but they don't like for you to be small."
This was super interesting to me because local has become such a buzzword over the years.
Customers are fickle, and even though they may profess their loyalty to local brands and services, they still want the trust and reliability that comes with a big-name brand.
So what does that mean for you? It means you can't be too small, or else customers won't take you seriously. You need to have the capacity and infrastructure in place to handle large orders and provide quality customer service if you want to succeed as a reseller.
Build on community
That brings us to arguably the most important part, but it's also one that gets misconstrued a lot.
Every business guide these days will tell you to build a community. But there is a completely different meaning to building on community. If you want to enter New Mexico, don't just drop a team from New York into an office in Santa Fe and expect them to know the local market.
Instead, find leaders from the area to:
Join your team
Be an ambassador for the brand
Help you understand what makes the local customers tick
In other words, don't just offer products and services; give people a real reason to connect with you. Give them something they can be proud of – something that speaks to their values and experiences.
Make it their neighbor knocking on the door, the familiar face at the local market, or the artist who knows all their favorite songs. Make it something that speaks to them on a personal level.
Hire the best
Stop. Lowballing. Talent.
If you want to build a remarkable business, you need the best people in their respective fields.
Make sure everyone on your team is well-compensated for their work. It will not only help you attract top talent, but it will also give them the incentive to stay and excel at what they do.
Don't get me wrong. You need to make money. But if you invest in your team, I guarantee down the line you'll be swamped with so many qualified applicants that want to work for you that you won't know what to do.
So many of the CEOs that I've met over the years have told me the same story. They took one of their first jobs because the pay was good. They had no experience in the field and no knowledge of the product. They just needed a job. It was the only way to survive.
But they worked harder than everyone else because they were compensated well, and they started to see how the company's success translated directly to their own.
Don’t run too fast
One of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make is to jump at every opportunity that presents itself. I know, that sounds sort of counterintuitive. But it's true, especially with a business model like this.
Investors, partnerships, and even certain customers will present themselves as a golden ticket to success, but not all of them are. Sometimes you have to learn to say no to the good to focus on creating something great.
Build your brand one customer at a time, one relationship at a time. Remember what made you successful in the first place: connecting with people and providing top-notch service. That's what will make your business remarkable, not a big investor or partner that professes to know all the answers.
I'll leave you with one more quote from Jimmy that is important to remember because not all of us do:
"One thing that keeps me up at night is providing time for my family. When there's another business challenge and other things coming up – I do not want to lose my family during this next level."
Slow down. No matter what a certain engineer-turned-social-media-CEO says, you don't need to work 20-hour days. That is only going to lead to burnout, frustration, and bad decisions.
Take time for your people, and yourself. That authenticity will shine through in the rest of your business.
If you want to hear the whole talk with Jimmy, head over to the Success Story YouTube page. We discussed lots of other things, including where the renewable energy industry is headed (which is a topic a little too complex for a newsletter, I think) and his story of being a first-generation immigrant.
If you enjoyed this article, I’d love to hear from you.
Reply to this email or tweet at me @ScottDClary and I'll do my best to get back to everyone!
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