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Progress Thread Progress Thread: Importing/building a brand

Discussion in 'Process / Progress / Execution Threads' started by nayR, Jun 8, 2013.

  1. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Hey everyone, I posted a intro. thread when I first discovered this forum that can be found here http://www.thefastlaneforum.com/introductions-networking/37394-hey-california.html

    I am posting this thread because I want to be held accountable for my progress and contribute back to the forum. I never posted much as you can tell from my 8 post, but I'd finished reading the book last year in high school and have been reading the forum almost every day since. Hopefully this thread will provide some value and motivate others like how the forum has motivated and changed me.

    My life right now:
    - 18 years old, no debt at all
    - Attending a University because I am forced by my parents.
    - Working as a Waiter 4 hrs a day, 3 times a week (way better compared to Carl's Jr :))

    My current progress:

    After many failures, losing over $600+ trying to make money, I finally found a product that I want to start branding. I will not reveal the product because it is relatively new and growing, but I found it by looking at the people around me and figuring out what was a hot seller. There are many people selling the product but they are not trying to brand the product. I believe are 3-5 brands in the niche so far (have to do more research on that).

    I went on alibaba and searched for the product and emailed a few manufacturers with the help of biophase's thread on how to contact manufacturers somewhere on the forum. They all responded but I went with one that I felt I could trust. Of course I did some research on the company before hand so I wouldn't get scammed. I searched up on Google how to avoid getting scammed on alibaba and found these two that helped me 5. How to check your Supplier before ordering-Alibaba Trade Forums and 7 Ways to Get Scammed on Alibaba

    I placed a sample order of 10pcs last week sold all of them this week on eBay with a 100% ROI after fees. So I placed another order with higher quantity today and hopefully it will arrive Monday/Tuesday so I can start selling again. My plan is to continue to raise the quantity until I can reach the MOQ to start branding the product.

    My current goals:
    - Reach the MOQ to brand the product in a month or two
    - Open a credit card strictly for purchasing products to sell
    - Think of a name for my brand
    - Hire someone from 99design to create a logo
    - Create an eCommerce website
    - Think of a way to market

    It feels good to finally start making money on my own. :hurray: Reading the book and forums is really helpful and informative but it only took me so far. All it took was for me to pull the trigger and take action. I still have a bunch to learn but I am ready to start my journey into the fastlane. :driving:


     
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  2. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Here's a little update:

    The order will arrive on time but had some delay issues. I found out I have been dealing with a middle man and not a manufacturer, which is the reason there was a two day delay on the shipment. The problem with this is that the products are not covered by the manufacturer warranty at all, only defects. If a customer complains about the product breaking after a few months, I will have to cover it with my own inventory or issue a refund. For my next order after this, I will be searching for a manufacturer that will have a year/6 month warranty on orders placed to solve this problem.

    Currently, I am looking to expand the products available and will be placing orders for accessories that will be able to customize the product to the customer's preference. This is where I plan to gain repeat customers.

    Waiting for the products to arrive is killing me :( I can't wait to start selling again :pullhair:
     
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  3. TJPB
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    TJPB Defy Ordinary FASTLANE INSIDER Read The Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Subscribed. I am close to making my first overseas purchase also. Great to hear your progress and learning experience.

    One suggestion for you....I to ran out and had a logo created for my brand (got all excited about slapping it on my email signature;)). The designer was local and he did a good job for what I asked him to do. But branding is not his forté....coding websites is. I have since realized that a logo is nothing without an entire brand image and strategy behind it.

    Recently I hired an actual branding agency to re-invent not only my logo but the entire brand itself. Once that is complete they'll build my eCommerce web site.

    I'm not saying you need to use a branding agency etc, just put a lot of thought into the name, logo, colors, fonts, target market, packaging, etc before you decide on a logo.
     
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  4. Talisman
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    Really? I've been doing it all wrong it seems. Instead, I started importing the actual product, tested the market, then spent $20 on a decent little logo, changed some colours on my website to match it, and started making money. I might have to take the site down now and have it rebranded :(

    Keep up the good work. Speed+ for getting out there and doing.
     
  5. TJPB
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    TJPB Defy Ordinary FASTLANE INSIDER Read The Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Congratulations on your success. Seems there are many options for this young man to pursue.
     
  6. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    I hope your overseas purchase will go well, just make sure to do research beforehand and communicate often until you feel it is safe to purchase. :thumbsup:

    Thank you for the great information, I will have those all in mind when I am creating it.

    That is interesting, I will have to do some reading on branding products. There seems to be many ways I can approach this.

    I am wondering how your business is going? Did you run into any problems with the way you started branding your products?

    Thank you for the speed, I will continue taking action. :driving:
     
  7. Talisman
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    Talisman 100 kph Speedway Pass

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    At the moment Im branding them with a sticker, good service, and warranty/guarantee. Works well, Im starting to get hits to my ecommerce store from people looking for my brand - whether from ebay auctions or from word of mouth from previous purchases.
     
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  8. PeteLife
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    PeteLife 140 kph FASTLANE INSIDER Read The Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    You mention that you are close to making your FIRST overseas purchase, which sounds to me that you have not tested the market (correct me if Im wrong)...

    Yet, you are spending a ridiculous amount on a logo. A logo means nothing if there isnt a market and demand for your product.
    A branding agency is not needed at this point. I think you are using that to create false hope/illusion that you are actually an official business when honestly you have a long way to go before spending unnessary funds for a job you can get done for $20 (or less ...fiverr).
    This isn't a business until it starts making you $$$ ... until then you just have a very good idea that needs to be tested BEFORE letting a branding agency screw you over.

    Good Luck.
     
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  9. TJPB
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    I agree with you 100%.....if we were talking about a tangible product. In short, my product is the brand. The purchases (actual items) I'm looking to make are secondary. This is nayR's thread so I don't want to muddle it up with my strategy. (Although he can still benefit from a little branding thought.) I may start another thread for myself.
     
  10. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    If you start a thread, I will look forward to reading your progress. It will be interesting to read your strategy for branding.

    I plan to order the book "Brand Against the Machine" to gain some knowledge on building a brand. If anyone has a book or articles they would recommend, please pm me or post them.
     
  11. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Update:

    Sorry for the lack of updates. I was hit with a problem once my sample ordered came in. I did not do enough research and found out I am not allowed to sell the item on eBay. That really slowed down the sells of the product since I do not have access to many customers. Since that hit me pretty hard, I have to sell by word of mouth for the time. So far I've sold 6 of the products in a 2 week timeline (pretty lame).

    Since I no longer am able to use eBay, I have to work on my eCommerce site. I thought of a brand name I paid a guy on fiverr to create a temporary logo that I can slap onto my social network accounts and the website. I looked at my top competitors and saw how they started. Just slapped on a brand and started marketing. I am currently in the process of creating the website. Started reading SEOmoz eBook to learn about SEO, half way done with the eBook. My girlfriend loves taking pictures for fun and knows how to photoshop pretty well. So I purchased a little photo set off eBay and let her do the magic. Photos came out great, but the light bulb died out so I need to message the seller and request for a new one. :bgh: At least I know I won't need to pay someone to take photos of my products. :)

    On another note, I found a manufacturer! No more middle-man :thumbsup: the prices cut by 30%. I started importing a different product that relates to the niche and am able to sell it on eBay. Also I went into a local family owned store and introduced myself. I told him what I am planning to do with the branding and he said he was interested! I told him I needed some time before I can show him the product and he told me whenever I am ready come in and we'll talk. He said he will put my product in the store for a week to see how it sells. Hopefully it will work out once I get done creating and putting the website up so I can provide warranty on the products.

    So many things to do and not enough time! I need to execute my actions much quicker since I've been slacking a bit... Focus time!

    Here's a picture of the photoshoot today.
    photo(7).jpg
     
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  12. Phones
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    Phones Break your boundaries FASTLANE INSIDER Read The Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Hi nayR, I'm doing something very similar to you, I'm planning to start a thread as soon as I have time.
    I currently have 44 different model samples that I ordered to test quality and I was really happy with them, I think that, which proper marketing, I can sell them easily with a 200% profit margin. My problem is scale-ability, I will have to make catalogs, print them and distribute them myself until I start making enough money to be able to outsource it.

    Loved the photoset, my girlfriend will also be taking the pictures for me, I might look into one of those sets.
    Keep us posted :D
     
  13. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Hopefully everything will work out for you Phones. I would love to read your thread once you start one. :) You should tell your family and friends about the product and ask them to pass on the word. That is how I am getting my sales right now.

    Here's the photo studio I bought off eBay, very cheap.
    Softbox Light Box Cube Photography Lighting Photo Studio Box Tripod Light Kit | eBay
    It will work for now with some photoshop, pictures are coming out great. Maybe you will just need to buy some new lighting since the one that comes with the set are really cheap, but the set is worth it for the price.

    Good luck with your journey!
     
  14. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Well.. I haven't posted anything on this progress thread for 8 months and it was because I stopped working on it. I realized that I'm a wantrepreneur and wasn't consistent with taking action. The product I was importing was Vaporizers/E-cigs but the market has been saturated so much in the few months that I ruined my opportunity. A ton of vapor shops opened up all around my city because online sales margins are pretty low from the low barrier of entry. Lesson learned to take action as fast as possible and to remain consistent because the opportunity will not always be there.

    What have I been doing with my life? Wasting a bunch of time, money, and making a ton of excuses. I was smoking weed and hanging out with my friends the whole time (weed really adds up $$$). I still smoke weed but will be slowing down. Another lesson learned.

    Currently, I am in my second year of college and debating if I should join a frat. to build connections. Anyone thoughts/advice on this?

    Enough about my life, I have a new product that I am planning to import. I've emailed over 10+ manufactures/middleman on Alibaba and have about 2-4 manufactures that responds professionally and seems reliable. They are able to respond to emails but are off because of Chinese New Year Festivals. I have one manufacture that I seems really reliable (10 years on Alibaba) and responds properly. I will be talking to the manufacture tomorrow when Chinese New Year festivals ends. Hopefully I will be able to order samples. I KNOW this is my new opportunity. No more slacking. I forgot who posted the advice, I think it was LIKWID24, but I will be doing at least one things beneficial for the business a day to build a new habit. Go time.
     
  15. Phones
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    Phones Break your boundaries FASTLANE INSIDER Read The Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I just read my previous post, I was freaking clueless about what I was going to make ahah. Ended up clearing 7k in sales the next month. This might show you that you're just one step before the gold, you just got to keep the drive. Things haven't been that nice the past few months, but I'll be charging back, I'm working on building a great webstore with great content and will be scaling what I did last summer. I invested 150€ last year, now I'm going with 4k€ (2.5 from profit, 1.5 of my savings), time for action!

    Avoid doing what everyone else is doing unless you can come up with something better, the e-cig/vap is soooo crowded right now.
     
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  16. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Thank you for the encouragement! You are right, I remember seeing a meme saying most people quit right before hitting the gold. 7k the next month, that is really good. There will always be ups and down but results will be about how you handle it. Good luck with your 4k invest, you have to spend money to make money! I'm pretty sure you will make that 4k back quick ;)

    I will not be doing e-cig/vap. That was my plan when I started the thread but I ruined my opportunities for a head start since it got super crowded. I have something new in mind, hopefully the manufactures will pull through with some samples. Will keep you updated. :)
     
  17. JPBB
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    I too was looking at ecigs/vaping (along with many other things). Even though the space is crowded, it's hard to differentiate most of the offerings. I think there's opportunity if you have a new angle or niche to build a strong brand. In the end it will be about brand and building a loyal customer base. I like the opportunities in this field simply because it's a return-order business with continual eJuice.
     
  18. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    I see what you are saying. It is just that people rather go to their local vaporizer shop and try out the juices there before buying them. The margins are great for B&M stores but not so great online unless you build that brand. There are so many people selling vapes on eBay, so I chose not to pursue it. But I do agree with you, it can be very successful with a brand built and loyal customers.
     
  19. JPBB
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    I'm pursing self-publishing instead, but I still think there's great opportunity in this field. For example, one could offer a "sample" pack for little more than the cost of shipping - just to cover costs. The purpose would be to build up return customers who latch onto a particular e-juice that you sell.

    A niche that I was looking into that is underserved is "covert" vaping. That is to say, offering ecig pens that look like anything besides a cigarette. Disguised smoking - such as hidden in ball-point pens, markers, pen flashlights, etc. The market seem to think everyone wants neon ecigs with glowing tips, but I bet there's a lot of people who want to sneak some vapor on the down-low, like in their office at work.

    The only problem I have with the above strategy is that it's in no way patentable. As soon as someone starts offering "secret" or "hidden" vape devices. . .others can, and will, follow. Then it becomes a commodity (unless you've used the first-to-the-market opportunity to build up your brand).

    John-Paul
     
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  20. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Update:
    I've been so busy with college and the fraternity that it is making me second guess myself on joining. I am currently in the pledging process so I can still drop out of the fraternity if I want too. This Saturday there will be an alumni event for the fraternity and heard there will be many successful business owners. I will see if it is worth staying in the fraternity after Saturday.

    I received my sample order of 20 units last week and shipped them to amazon FBA today. It took some time to figure out how to ship to Amazon FBA with labeling, product requirements, etc.. because I never sold on amazon before but it was great learning. Now next time I plan to add a product or ship to FBA it will go by much quicker. It really should've only taken me a day to figure it out but I've been busy with school.. I need to start getting more organize.

    Since my girlfriend is no longer in my city, I decided to learn how to take product images myself. For anyone who want to learn it is really simple. You just need a camera and an editing program (I use GIMP on my MAC, is it free at http://www.gimp.org/downloads/ ). Follow this tutorial I found on YouTube at . It is really simple and a great skill to learn.

    Next goals:
    - get sales on Amazon once the shipment arrives to FBA.
    - learn how to increase ranking on amazon
    - ask family members/friends to purchase the product and write a review. (I will be providing them a discount of course)
    - create a better product description
    - develop a habit to execute everything quickly instead of waiting.
     
  21. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    There's a great opportunity in making e-juices (barrier is much higher than e-digs since you have to learn how to create juice flavors. There are many guides online.) One of my sister's friend have HUGE margins selling e-juices to vape stores, they are really cheap to make.

    That would be a great way to differentiate your product but I believe the gold in the e-cig/vape field are the e-juices. Like you said, the loyal customers will be coming back for the juices. Good luck with pursing self-publishing and any future business plans, your posts has got me really thinking. Thank you John-Paul.
     
  22. JPBB
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    The eCig/eJuice business reminds of inkjet printers. They basically want to give you the printer so you'll buy the ink.

    The same can be done (nearly) in eCigs. Offer customers a FREE eCig starter kit if they subscribe to your weekly/monthly eJuice delivery service for x months. The eJuice is where the real money is - cheap cheap cheap to make as you said.

    Now if I lived in Colorado (I don't), I'd seriously be trying to figure out how to extract THC and make a THC eJuice. Maybe someone already has done though - don't know because I don't search the internet for those kinds of things. :)
     
  23. nayR
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    nayR 20 kph Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Wow, that is a great idea. Maybe you should look into that if self-publishing does not work out for you.

    And for the THC e-Juice, that WILL blow up if created. I thought of that same idea when my girlfriend wouldn't smoke with me because she HATES the taste/smell of cannibus. If they created a THC e-Juice that tastes GREAT, people will buy it. Many of my friends in college do not smoke marijuana because they simply can't stand the taste. Cannibus Edibles are a huge hit in Colorado, I read somewhere that the stores couldn't keep up with the orders for Edibles.
     
  24. StartupsRFun
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    Just out of curiosity as I had never heard of e-juice, but did some research after looking at this thread. First it seems like a pretty viable product, with e-cigarettes becoming more popular. My question is what are the regulations for selling it online, similar to any other tobacco product? Also the way you can make so many different flavors, its as if you could create an ice cream shop out of it.
     
  25. JPBB
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    I didn't look in depth, but I *think* it's just that the buyer has to be over 18. If I were going to look into it any further, I'd read up on FDA regulations to see what's involved.

    Yes you could have a Baskin-Robins of vapor flavors. That could be overwhelming to buyers though. Hmmm. . .I can imagine an online eJuice shop that allows you to mix you're own through drag-and-drop, then the custom flavor is shipped to you. Maybe that's nuts. . .but the amount of new opportunities in the space are exciting.
     

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