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How to Successfully Exit Your eCommerce Business with Ben Leonard, Co-Founder of Ecom Brokers

Ben Leonard

Ben Leonard is an ecommerce consultant and the Co-founder of Ecom Brokers, a UK-based ecommerce brokerage that helps companies sell their businesses for the best possible price. Ben has been in the entrepreneurial industry since 2016 when he founded Beast Gear, a fitness equipment company that he grew to seven figures. After selling his business in 2019, Ben decided to spread his knowledge about achieving profitable ecommerce exits to other entrepreneurs. That same year, he was also named the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year from Elevator Awards.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Ben Leonard’s background in ecology and environmental engineering and why he pivoted to entrepreneurship
  • Ben shares the process he used to scale and sell his business, Beast Gear
  • The common pitfalls entrepreneurs make when exiting their ecommerce businesses — and how to avoid them
  • Why valuation is different for every brand
  • What does life look like for a brand owner after an exit?
  • How to determine the right exit strategy for your business and Ben’s tips for choosing the best buyer
  • Ben describes what to expect from working with an ecommerce broker to sell your business
  • Ben’s advice to current ecommerce entrepreneurs

In this episode…

Are you ready to sell your ecommerce business, but don’t know where to start? Do you need advice on how to improve the valuation of your brand and find the right buyer? With a successful ecommerce exit under his belt, Ben Leonard has some expert tips and tricks to help you get started.

Before Ben contemplated a career in entrepreneurship, he was an ecologist and environmental engineer. However, after falling ill, he decided to start a new path and launch a fitness equipment business in 2016. Three years later, he scaled the business to seven figures and decided to make a profitable exit. Now, Ben consults other entrepreneurs on how to successfully sell their ecommerce brands and achieve their ultimate career goals.

Join Joshua Chin on this exciting episode of the eCommerce Profits Podcast as he sits down with Ben Leonard, the Co-founder of Ecom Brokers. Ben discusses his experience scaling and selling his seven-figure ecommerce business and the lessons he learned along the way. He also shares the pitfalls to avoid when exiting, how to get what you deserve from a buyer, and much more. Stay tuned!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Special Mentions:

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Chronos Agency.

If you are a direct-to-consumer ecommerce brand that wants to unlock the optimum customer lifetime value through email marketing, then look no further than Chronos Agency!

Our team of passionate email marketing experts have helped hundreds of brands generate over $70 million in return from email alone, and our clients receive an average of 3500% ROI from our efforts.

Chronos Agency has worked with a variety of brands, including Truly Beauty, Alya Skin, and many more. Our mission is to help real businesses achieve real results. 

If you want to take your revenue to the next level using email marketing, be sure to email our team at sales@chronos.agency or visit chronos.agency to learn more.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the eCommerce Profits Podcast where we feature top founders and experts in the ecommerce industry and take an in-depth look at the struggles and successes in growing ecommerce brands profitably.

Joshua Chin 0:21

Josh Chin here, I’m the host of the eCommerce Profits Podcast where we feature top experts in the ecommerce industry and we go behind the scenes of the struggles and successes in growing a brand. Now, this episode is brought to you by Chronos Agency. If you’re a direct to consumer ecom brand that’s ready for next-level growth and to unlock an optimal customer lifetime value for your brand through email marketing, Chronos is your company. We’ve helped hundreds of brands get over $70 million in revenue from email alone, and our clients get an average of 3500% ROI from our efforts. Now we’ve helped brands such as Truly Beauty, Alive Skin, The Udi, and many more. The next step is to email us at sales at chronos.agency. Or you can go to chronos.agency to check out more. Today’s guest is Ben Leonard, he founded Beast Gear, a fitness equipment brand that he’s scaled past seven figures, in fact, multiple seven figures in British pounds, mind you, and sold it after three years. Today he’s a co-founder of Ecom Brokers, a brokerage specialized in helping econ brands find successful exits of their own. Ben, welcome to the show.

Ben Leonard 1:33

Hey, Thanks, Josh. Good to be here.

Joshua Chin 1:35

All right, let’s start from the beginning. You told me a little bit about your background, which before we hit record, and I didn’t really want to dive too deep into that, because I wanted to have that recorded in the show. your background is in. You told me whales and dolphins. Tell me about that. And yeah, how did you find a transition to ecommerce and entrepreneurship?

Ben Leonard 1:58

Yeah, sure. Um, I had no interest. Or I did not know that I had an interest somewhere deep inside my brain in business until I was in my late 20s. I’m 32 now almost 33, I founded my first business when I was about 27. And prior to that, immediately prior to that, I was working in the oil and gas industry as an ecologist advising oil and gas companies on how to play within the rules, how not to mess up in terms of the environmental regulations. And also I worked with the environmental regulator, helping them make the rules and my background passion had always been the marine environment, whales and dolphins. I studied zoology. And then I studied ecology and I spent some time in, in the Mediterranean studying population of dolphins out there. And so that’s how I ended up you know, working as a marine kind of consultant. And I loved it. I enjoyed it. It was great. It was fun in meetings to tell engineers No, you can’t throw that chemical in the ocean. And so it wasn’t a story. You know, you have these stories of people, they quit their job because they hate their life. Fortunately, I did not hate my life. But I ended up in ecommerce and becoming an entrepreneur in a way that’s not uncommon, I think this happens to quite a lot of people. I had a bit of a health scare. I got quite ill, late 2015, early 2016 with a heart problem, it was the third time that I’d had it. And I had to stop all of my fitness hobbies whilst I recovered. And so no CrossFit, no boxing, no weightlifting, no running, that type of thing. And I had to take a cocktail of all of the drugs. And whilst I recovered, I needed something to occupy my time occupy my mind. And I ideally, I wanted that to keep me in touch with those hobbies, even though I couldn’t physically do them. And my then girlfriend, now wife was studying and she was busy. And she encouraged me to, to do this idea that I had, which had been a few years prior, I’d had this idea and done nothing about it to have a fitness brand or start fitness brand of equipment, and call it Beast Gear. And, and so I did, I felt like I could make better fitness equipment than I owned already. And I could provide better value to the customer and the user in terms of you know, better value equipment, better quality for the price, and better, a better overall experience. And it was supposed to be a hobby, something that might earn me some extra pocket money, but really just to be a project. But I found out I was pretty good at it. And so quite quickly, I realized this was going somewhere. And so you know it’s the usual story you hear the hobby becomes a job. Or a side job becomes your full-time job when you quit your day job and becomes everything that you’re involved in. And eventually, there came a day where it was time for me to sell my business.

Joshua Chin 5:12

That’s incredible. And you scaled Beast Gear past multiple seven figures in just three years before selling it at a really good valuation. So what was going through your mind as you were scaling through this? Well, three years is a relatively short amount of time. In my opinion.

Ben Leonard 5:32

Well, I mean, I must admit, when I founded the business, as I said, it was a hobby. And I had no background in business, right, I learned by doing and having a scientific background helped, right, because actually, the process through which I learned by doing was, try something, see what happens. Take the results, analyze those results, think about what they mean, and what you then need to tweak, right in your business. And I did that, whether it was product development, and improving products, or the marketing, or the logistics in the supply chain, every aspect of the business, I took that approach. And so what was originally quite a haphazard learn by doing approach turned into almost like a well-refined scientific approach, which I would rinse and repeat. And as I did this, the flywheel began to spin faster and faster, and the snowball began to get bigger and bigger. And it was working and the business was scaling. And so it became quite straightforward, really to do a couple things. One was, you know, after I’d launched the first few products, well, because I was my customer, I was the fitness fan who needed this equipment. I knew what other equipment I needed. And I was able to create a brand around a suite of products, which, you know, solved related problems for that customer, right, addressed their pain points and their challenges. And then it was a case of, well, once you’ve got several products, let’s bring them into new markets. So I expanded internationally. And that’s really the international expansion was really where the numbers started to grow. And it was, it was crazy, because like I said it was it started as a hobby, and then you know, you’re doing, you’re turning over millions of pounds. And for someone who had no background in business that was quite startling at first, you know, wow, this is achievable kind of thing.

Joshua Chin 7:30

So why did you sell the brand?

Ben Leonard 7:32

Yeah, good question. It was the right thing for me and my family at the time. You know, to put this into context. I was running this business on my own with with the exception of a, a small, but excellent team of freelance remote workers, there’s three of them. The growth of the business was rapid and only continuing. And it became clear to me that I had to take quite a lot of money off the table. Now I had a choice, I could continue to scale the brand, which was an exciting proposition. Yeah, I was looking at that time of going into the US, potentially even going into China. And whilst that was an exciting proposition for me, my family at that time my wife was pregnant, we wanted to move house, we were both I was 30, my wife was wasn’t even 30 yet. The opportunity to take some significant money off the table and provide ourselves with that safety net. And also stop running around like a headless chicken crying on the phone to Amazon seller support at 3 am was quite an attractive proposition too. Not that we were just selling an Amazon, I was selling on my own site, too. Yeah. And it was the right thing to do. I, I received some advice when I was thinking about selling. And that was sell your business at the point of peak romance. And what that means is there comes a point in your business where it’s growing, it’s growing, it’s growing. And you think this could be huge. But because of the structure of the business, there was quite a lot of risk tied up in it. So equally, should certain cogs fall out of the machine, should certain levers break, it could fall to pieces. And then it wouldn’t be huge. And so that when you reach that tipping point, if you sell at that time, that’s a great time to sell. Because there’s a romantic notion that it could be huge. And in which case if you do sell well, if you structure your deal correctly, you’re going to realize quite a lot of that upside anyway. And you will always be the person that founded that business that became huge, right? No one can take that away from you. And secondly, if it doesn’t continue in that trajectory, well then you got out at the right time. And I feel like I hit that point, pretty much, you know, bang in the center of the target.

Joshua Chin 10:07

Makes sense. And what so, you know, you’ve built an incredibly successful brand, you’ve sold it. And now you advise people to go through that same path, or a similar path of your own. What are some of the common pitfalls you’ve seen entrepreneurs in the ecommerce space face when they are preparing to sell or even beginning to think about selling their brand?

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