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23 Year Old w/19 Employees: Just Did $5m in 2021, *OFFICIALLY A MILLIONAIRE* - AMA

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Silk Cuba

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£3m (online) + £1m (offline) ~ approx $5.3m so far in 2021. Profit $1.5m+

First of all, THIS FORUM IS AMAZING. I only wish I had come across it sooner! Hoping to become an active participant adding value to this forum.

Yesterday evening a random thought popped into my ahead, how amazing it would be to find an online community full of people, like I. So I simply google searched 'millionaire entrepreneurial forum' and I found this beauty. I spent the whole night reading success stories and here I am now....introducing myself to the forum.

CAREER BEGINNINGS
At the early age of 13, there was only one thought in my mind - being a successful entrepreneur. From the ages of 13-15, I sold anything I could get my hands on through classified ads. Stuff like old electronics from second hand shops, junk from my mum's garage, old clothing etc. Having a few hundred in pocket money at all times at such a young age was amazing.

At the age of 15, I discovered cryptocurrencies after reading an article on the famous once known market called Silk Road. In the early days, BTC was super difficult to purchase since exchanges were not as easily accessible as they are today. 9/10 people in 2013 that were aware of Bitcoin, wouldn't have a clue on how to actually purchase it. Exchanges were limited, fees were super high and banks were stringent. Through a lot of research, making private banking connections (yes I was contacting higher-ups at financial institutions, acting way older/bigger than I was at the time), using foreign currencies / exchanges, I was able to buy Bitcoin at market rate + 0.1%. I would re-sell or broker the coins at the time with a mark-up of 7% which was relatively low compared to others at the time, this put me in the game. Buying coins for $70 and re-selling them for $75 was a great for me at the time. I would usually sell between 70 - 150 BTC per day including weekends, averaging around $15k per month in profits. Costs were really low, I didn't need staff and my biggest cost really was an office at $1400 per month. At my peak, I probably made around $70k net in a single month - this was largely due to a big sale I had brokered between Coinbase and an investment fund. The Coinbase guys had even visited my office just to discuss this opportunity when they heard about it, shows how small they were at the time:happy: Over the next few years, as banks started accepting cryptocurrency exchange payments, countries legalising it and tax laws being put in place, the margins became thinner and thinner. Anyways, I never really considered this much of a success story, or an actual business. I didn't spend much time on it (apart from 30 mins or so per day executing trades), I had no company set up, I wasn't building on anything and I knew the future wasn't bright as bitcoin broker.

FAILURES
FAILURES HAPPEN. Most of capital I had accumulated from my various crypto dealings were simply lost on various startups between 2015-2019. I mean...these ideas were like SURE THINGS in my mind that never really amounted to anything. Years of work, capital and a lot more wasted on failed business ventures. I knew the odds were against me, so I never gave up. I knew it was never going to be easy, its evident because only 1% of the worlds population is a millionaire. You probably hear this a lot...but, it's just that simple. If you keep at something, you'll eventually make it work. I legit probably had like 7-10 startups fail on me. I guess one of the reasons was that I was trying to do multiple things at once, following the famous saying "the average millionaire has 7 streams of income". In my opinion, they should replace the the word millionaire with billionaire. A million dollars is not much at all in the grand scheme of things, you don't need 7 streams of income to make a million. Maybe for a billion you do. As @G_Alexander said, I'd rather focus on one venture that brings in $20,000,00 :clench: STAY MOTIVATED AND KEEP KEEP TRYING!

MY FIRST SUCCESS STORY
Mid-2017, I opened a e-commerce site after a solid 6 months of research. All on my own, no partners or mentors to help. The niche I had chosen was Home & Garden products. It was towards the end of April when the site launched and in our first full month, we did $35k in revenue. Yes I said that right, in May 2017, my first month trading, my store did $35k in revenue. I was shocked. Trying to stay in stock was so stressful since my capital was limited at the time, but...my hard-work had finally paid off. I did have my fair share of problems with product re-calls, electric hazards and things of that nature - standard stuff for someone as inexperienced as me, I learned from the mistakes I made though. That being said, things were looking up for me finally! This was nothing for what is to come though. The store was doing well, although my net profits were pretty low, I had 2 full-time staff members and life became enjoyable. In 2018, I ended up selling the store on EmpireFlippers. The offer was just so good that I could not refuse, the buyer had much more capital and experience to be able to increase its margins. It would have taken me years that make that sort of money in net profits. I knew that with the money from the sale and the experience I had gained, I could make an even better store, like much better. This time, I would make a proper brand from scratch, as oppose to just finding the products on Alibaba which was what I had done before.

With a low 6-figure investment from myself, I started the main venture in the summer of 2018. Aside from the website sale funds, I only had a small savings pot of around $70k, which would last me around 9 months (yes I do spend quite a bit... spending money on memories so no regrets here). When I started this venture, it wasn't like any of the other ventures I had started. Things got serious pretty quickly. I knew that if I really wanted to make it in this world, I would have to change my lifestyle, I needed to stop going out 4/5 times per week just because I could afford it. Becoming more productive was amazing, it had a massive impact on my performance and focus. I also started eating less junk food, working out and generally leading a healthier lifestyle. Fast forward to today, I am a millionaire (not to blow my own horn) and I HARDLY go out nowadays, I prefer doing this on a Tuesday night...working on my business and reading up on fellow entrepreneurs stories:)

Things were going as planned, I grew the brand slowly to ensure that things were being done correctly and to the highest quality. I won't specify the niche of my business, for now anyways. We did around $1.4m in revenue during 2018 and 2019, MAKING NO PROFIT IN THE FIRST 2 YEARS OF BUSINESS. This was all part of the plan but people thought I was crazy, even my own staff, PURPOSE BEYOND PROFIT! Don't be afraid of losing time/money.

When the pandemic came around, our business sky-rocketed in every sense. I had to hire more people, get a bigger office and upgrade all of our systems to be able to handle the increase in business. My 3PL couldn't handle the influx of orders so I decided to stop outsourcing logistics and resultantly, we got our first warehouse location in 2020. This increased our net margins to around 30%. 2020 ended strong with net profits being close to $1m. Yes, a whole million:wideyed: This would have blown my mind a few years back.

Fast forward to 2021, growth has been consistent in every department and we are on track to do around 2x our numbers in 2020. We have started trading B2B and supplying goods in bulk, this has amounted to 25% of our income. Furthermore, we've just secured the lease on a new and MUCH LARGER warehouse location, which has capacity 30-50 staff can work with state-of-the-art-tech. This allows us to move everything under one roof and the size should suffice for at least the next 2-3 years. We will move in on the 1st of January 2022! Please note, I still own 100% of the company, selling equity in anything I own isn't my cup of tea. I'd rather grow slower and keep all control. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future...I've just been given a nice 7-figure credit line facility, which will enable aggressive growth over the next 12-18 months.

BREAKDOWN OF GROWTH AND FIGURES
2018:
$400k in revenue, hired 2 staff members and worked from a small 3 person office
2019: $1,000,000 in revenue, 5 staff members and worked from a medium sized 6 person office
2020: $2,900,000 in revenue, 10 staff members and worked from 2 locations (office and warehouse)
2021: $5,800,000 - $6,000,000 in revenue depending on how the rest of December turns out (fingers crossed), 19 staff, 4 VA's, 1 office and 2 warehouse locations

I have set myself a goal of $15m in revenue in 2022 and $50m by 2025.

Very excited to see what the future holds! If you have any questions or need assistance in any sort of way, I am here for all of you JUST ASK AWAY. Let's keep chasing our dreams!
 
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SalesGod

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Congrats on your success.

Home & Garden products is an interesting niche for a young guy/girl to pursue, maybe I am biased but whenever someone on shark tank creates a home and garden product they tend to be like 40+ lol

I am interested to know, did you start off with just one product SKU? Or several? Because 35k in your first month is pretty insane and so is your growth rate.

Did you invent a totally new product(s)/get patents?
 

Vadim26

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This is so epic dude. Congrats.

This time, I would make a proper brand from scratch, as oppose to just finding the products on Alibaba which was what I had done before.

Can you expand on creating a proper brand?

Have you invented new products?
How did you differentiate yourself? Branding, better marketing?
 
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Ivex

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Your story definitely reinforces the idea that entrepreneurialism is a personality trait. You start on a project as a kid, you get the entrepreneurial bug. Comforting for me as we have a similar journey except you gotta divide those annual revenue stats by 50 to get my numbers :rofl:(except maybe this year, we can divide it by 30 this year).

I can definitely see why a million isn't much in the grand scheme of things. The more you make, the more you realise just how much you have to make to be truly financially free.

Congratulations on your amazing success! I peak the GBP, if you find yourself in the North East anytime soon, the invitation for a pint is open!
 

BlackMagician

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Tiago

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Epic story! It's interesting how our childhood and teenage years shape us. If at 13 you only thought of becoming a successful entrepreneur, that molds you.

Question to you: Why was that thought in your mind? Parenting, your close environment, ...?

I've a friend who in school lunch whenever he didn't finish a bag of chips, he would go and sell the remaining half of the bag. Today at 28 he's worth millions, and has got probably around 300 employees under his different businesses.
 

Silk Cuba

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Congrats on your success.

Home & Garden products is an interesting niche for a young guy/girl to pursue, maybe I am biased but whenever someone on shark tank creates a home and garden product they tend to be like 40+ lol

I am interested to know, did you start off with just one product SKU? Or several? Because 35k in your first month is pretty insane and so is your growth rate.

Did you invent a totally new product(s)/get patents?

I started off with just the one SKU. With the first store which I sold, I didn't actually invent any new products or get patents. I was pretty inexperienced and capital was limited. I just found factories in China already creating the products and I added my designs to it i.e. a different colour or brand name. Now, we do it all.

This is so epic dude. Congrats.



Can you expand on creating a proper brand?

Have you invented new products?
How did you differentiate yourself? Branding, better marketing?

Yes we are inventing new products now. Quality is of the most importance to me, even if that means we have to charge a few extra $. Marketing is key, we spend a lot on marketing. Hence why we made no profit in Y1 and Y2.

Your story definitely reinforces the idea that entrepreneurialism is a personality trait. You start on a project as a kid, you get the entrepreneurial bug. Comforting for me as we have a similar journey except you gotta divide those annual revenue stats by 50 to get my numbers :rofl:(except maybe this year, we can divide it by 30 this year).

I can definitely see why a million isn't much in the grand scheme of things. The more you make, the more you realise just how much you have to make to be truly financially free.

Congratulations on your amazing success! I peak the GBP, if you find yourself in the North East anytime soon, the invitation for a pint is open!

As a kid, I never looked at it like that TBH. You are right though, some people have it and some people just don't. I feel like everyone on this forum is on the right track, just even being on here sets you aside from others. Your numbers are still pretty impressive! My first 2 years were somewhat similar. Just the fact that you've been able to create something yourself that's actually selling is a major achievement that many will only dream of.

I mean yes a million is a considerable amount of money but once you have it, it doesn't feel like much. Maybe things will change at 8 or 9 figures.

Haha, yep. Sure we can!

The 100% ownership is impressive.

What's your philosophy/lessons on using credit for growth? Cashflow? Payment processing?

In most business, utilising credit for growth is really important. Debt isn't a bad thing. If you can take a $100k loan and make a ROI of 5% monthly and your APR is 8%, then why wouldn't you? During Y1 and Y2, I didn't really take on any borrowings since I felt like the business wasn't ready yet. When 2020 came around, the business was pretty established so I started getting financing and I am still doing so till this day. A large % of my assets on my balance sheet is actually borrowings (<50%). If I didn't use credit, my revenue would probably be 40/50% less.
 
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Silk Cuba

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Epic story! It's interesting how our childhood and teenage years shape us. If at 13 you only thought of becoming a successful entrepreneur, that molds you.

Question to you: Why was that thought in your mind? Parenting, your close environment, ...?

I've a friend who in school lunch whenever he didn't finish a bag of chips, he would go and sell the remaining half of the bag. Today at 28 he's worth millions, and has got probably around 300 employees under his different businesses.

To be completely honest, I don't actually know why that thought was in my mind. Was it a from a movie, or a book, I don't actually remember what ignited the passion. I've just always had it, thats how early on this was.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Congrats on the success and thank you for posting! Yes, we love stories like these here!

Can you share with us how you got from $0 to $100K? I think that is the biggest problem people have... the initial growth. You didn't mention Amazon, is that your primary channel or elsewhere? What has been your most effective form of marketing? What else do you think has been a critical "make or break" moment in your process?
 

Silk Cuba

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Congrats on the success and thank you for posting! Yes, we love stories like these here!

Can you share with us how you got from $0 to $100K? I think that is the biggest problem people have... the initial growth. You didn't mention Amazon, is that your primary channel or elsewhere? What has been your most effective form of marketing? What else do you think has been a critical "make or break" moment in your process?

Thanks pal. Glad to share.

Well thats the thing, I did $30k in revenue in my first full month of trading, so there weren't many failures to learn from. You could say luck played a big part in it. I'd say the launch was one of the more simpler things. In my opinion, its not that difficult to get from $0 to $100k with e-commerce if you aren't profit driven so early on. Going in heavy on launch strategies and spending a ton on marketing, giveaways and so on can actually lead to sales pretty easily. The real challenge is then getting organic sales and turning it into a profit-making business. Amazon PPC was one of our most effective forms of marketing. In Y2 & Y2, our ROAS was around 2.05. Now, our ROAS is closer to 10x that...although we don't spend much money on this anymore.

My "make or break" moment in this whole process would have to be when I sold my first e-commerce store, that was right before I began my second and current venture. I received a 6-figure sum from the sale and I spent a month or two doing nothing...just thinking. I couldn't believe that I was actually living this life. That's really when I went from a part-time entrepreneur, from working on my business as a hobby, to making this a full-time job working 12-hours per day. The sale of the website had a great positive impact on me, I went from a boy to a man. I realised that there is actually a world full of opportunity out there, with nothing being unrealistic.
 
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SPM_ENT

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In most business, utilising credit for growth is really important. Debt isn't a bad thing. If you can take a $100k loan and make a ROI of 5% monthly and your APR is 8%, then why wouldn't you? During Y1 and Y2, I didn't really take on any borrowings since I felt like the business wasn't ready yet. When 2020 came around, the business was pretty established so I started getting financing and I am still doing so till this day. A large % of my assets on my balance sheet is actually borrowings (<50%). If I didn't use credit, my revenue would probably be 40/50% less.
Congrats on the success. Could you tell us more about your thought process for taking profits for yourself to live on vs using financing to grow the company?

As in if you had profits, how did you determine how much to take, or was it just enough to get by? Then use all profits & financing above your living expenses to advertise once you felt confident? At what point did you decide to take more home?

E-commerce right? So I supposed ROI is easier to track when advertising and selling online. I have a b2b service business and the returns for advertising aren't as easy to quantify.
 

Silk Cuba

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Congrats on the success. Could you tell us more about your thought process for taking profits for yourself to live on vs using financing to grow the company?

As in if you had profits, how did you determine how much to take, or was it just enough to get by? Then use all profits & financing above your living expenses to advertise once you felt confident? At what point did you decide to take more home?

E-commerce right? So I supposed ROI is easier to track when advertising and selling online. I have a b2b service business and the returns for advertising aren't as easy to quantify.

I am re-investing 90% of the profits to finance growth. I am deep-in. I currently hold no other investments. My only focus is growing this company.

I pay myself a salary enough to get by and occasionally dividends when necessary. I am not at that point yet where I can justify taking funds out of the company, when it could be used to purchase stock etc.

25% of our business is now B2B, although we didn't market ourselves for B2B clients, they just came to us. I have a question, why is it more difficult to track return on ad spent with B2B? I haven't tried it yet so I wouldn't have a clue.
 

LiveEntrepreneur

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MASSIVE congrats man, that's bloody amazing. It's great that you got in it at such a young age. I'm curious to understand your thought process on how you approached challenges. When it came to challenges such as being unprofitable, not getting enough customers, similar things like that. How did you start to think to solve these problems?
 
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Silk Cuba

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MASSIVE congrats man, that's bloody amazing. It's great that you got in it at such a young age. I'm curious to understand your thought process on how you approached challenges. When it came to challenges such as being unprofitable, not getting enough customers, similar things like that. How did you start to think to solve these problems?

The profitability factor I knew I could eventually turn around once I had enough traction and buying power.

1) Being able to lower my COGS by buying stock in much bigger quantities i.e. by the container and negotiating discounts for the products and then the logistics.
2) Spending less on marketing as our organic sales % grew to the point where we sold more organically.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Upgraded to GOLD, thanks for answering questions.
 

SPM_ENT

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I am re-investing 90% of the profits to finance growth. I am deep-in. I currently hold no other investments. My only focus is growing this company.

I pay myself a salary enough to get by and occasionally dividends when necessary. I am not at that point yet where I can justify taking funds out of the company, when it could be used to purchase stock etc.

25% of our business is now B2B, although we didn't market ourselves for B2B clients, they just came to us. I have a question, why is it more difficult to track return on ad spent with B2B? I haven't tried it yet so I wouldn't have a clue.
Wow, full commitment, love it!

When you reinvest your profits in the company do you factor that money out of the numbers or profit percentages on the P&L, or how does that work for you? Or do you do something like take the profits out then use a shareholder loan to the company with a monthly payment and interest?

I think our business models are different and that's why it might be more difficult for me to track but let me know what you think.

In my situation, I have to hire a sales guy, train him, then send him out and see how he does. I can see the return in say 3 months. If I paid him 15k and he brought in 70k it's easy enough to quantify but it takes a few months and each salesperson is different. I'm only on my 1st full-time sales guy but once I get it sorted with him I will have proof of concept as well as a benchmark to expand on. I haven't done any internet marketing yet. When I hired my branding consultant he did interviews and market research on my target clients, he found that none of my clients were on the hunt or searching for my service because all of my competition was already marketing to them in person. I took that as spending money on google ads or yelp wouldn't be as cost-effective as maybe someone in your position?
 

Silk Cuba

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Upgraded to GOLD, thanks for answering questions.

Thanks my man! Going to order the fastlane book later today, will let you know my thoughts. I already know it will be super useful just based off the reviews.

Whoah impressive, how did you know when to quit the businesses that didn't work out?

As soon as I had exhausted all other options and nothing seemed work, I would just lose the passion I once had for the business. When this happens, my work-rate drops and thats when I know its time to quit. I cant force myself to do something I dont enjoy.

Wow, full commitment, love it!

When you reinvest your profits in the company do you factor that money out of the numbers or profit percentages on the P&L, or how does that work for you? Or do you do something like take the profits out then use a shareholder loan to the company with a monthly payment and interest?

I think our business models are different and that's why it might be more difficult for me to track but let me know what you think.

In my situation, I have to hire a sales guy, train him, then send him out and see how he does. I can see the return in say 3 months. If I paid him 15k and he brought in 70k it's easy enough to quantify but it takes a few months and each salesperson is different. I'm only on my 1st full-time sales guy but once I get it sorted with him I will have proof of concept as well as a benchmark to expand on. I haven't done any internet marketing yet. When I hired my branding consultant he did interviews and market research on my target clients, he found that none of my clients were on the hunt or searching for my service because all of my competition was already marketing to them in person. I took that as spending money on google ads or yelp wouldn't be as cost-effective as maybe someone in your position?

Thanks! When I mentioned re-investing, I just meant that I always keep the money in the business. It doesn't actually leave the business. So I am not liable to any costs or taxes. In order for me to grow, it's literally down to having more capital. The more capital I have = the more inventory I can buy/sell. So I am still not yet taking much profit out, even in my fourth year of trading. As oppose to your business, where you can hire people who bring in business etc. So I guess most of the profits can be taken out?

The only time my P&L is affected, is when I take dividends and pay taxes on whats withdrawn ( which I rarely do) or when I receive my monthly wages and pay taxes on that too from both sides. I include everything in the P & L numbers. Gross margins and net margins vary quite a bit in my business.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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I just meant that I always keep the money in the business. It doesn't actually leave the business. So I am not liable to any costs or taxes.

How are you organized? Is this basically a UK C-Corp?
 

Silk Cuba

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How are you organized? Is this basically a UK C-Corp?

Currently as a UK LTD. We've also just registered ourselves in the US and formed an LLC in the state of Wyoming at the cost of less than $1,000. This I believe is the best route to take for non-resident, mainly online businesses that plan to expand to the US. We plan to launch in the US during Q1 next year.
 

chabs

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Currently as a UK LTD. We've also just registered ourselves in the US and formed an LLC in the state of Wyoming at the cost of less than $1,000. This I believe is the best route to take for non-resident, mainly online businesses that plan to expand to the US. We plan to launch in the US during Q1 next year.

This is interesting!

I have been fortunate to be selling some items successfully and am also keen to sell in the USA, as have heard the volumes are insane. There’s also apparently a simpler process with fulfillment due to Amazon’s FBA.

But then, how do you cope with managing both the domestic brand and the US one? Would you have a team working on the UK day to day business whilst you dabble into the US or how would it work?

Also.. another question..

When you’re producing new designs do you involve employees in the process at all, do you allow them to contact factories, etc, or is this something only you have access to?
 
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rsrs

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Awesome thread! Thanks for sharing.

My question is how did you manage to keep margins this year with crazy freight rates? You mentioned buying containers, so I imagine you source from chinese factories.

My business was destroyed this year by freight rates. We had an amazing Q1 but then shipping costs raised product costs a lot, we raised prices but quickly find price resistance.
 

Silk Cuba

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This is interesting!

I have been fortunate to be selling some items successfully and am also keen to sell in the USA, as have heard the volumes are insane. There’s also apparently a simpler process with fulfillment due to Amazon’s FBA.

But then, how do you cope with managing both the domestic brand and the US one? Would you have a team working on the UK day to day business whilst you dabble into the US or how would it work?

Also.. another question..

When you’re producing new designs do you involve employees in the process at all, do you allow them to contact factories, etc, or is this something only you have access to?

The plan is for myself to oversee the US operations for the first year until things are up and running while the team focuses on the U.K.

My staff do so, why would I alone have access to it? There is no point in having employees if I were to do that. I hardly communicate with suppliers now, unless there's something important to discuss. Most of the day to day operations are run by my team, while I overlook and make the important decisions.
 

Silk Cuba

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Awesome thread! Thanks for sharing.

My question is how did you manage to keep margins this year with crazy freight rates? You mentioned buying containers, so I imagine you source from chinese factories.

My business was destroyed this year by freight rates. We had an amazing Q1 but then shipping costs raised product costs a lot, we raised prices but quickly find price resistance.

We source from China, the US and Eastern Europe. Logistics costs have increased and made our margins thinner indeed.
 
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rsrs

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63
Brazil
We source from China, the US and Eastern Europe. Logistics costs have increased and made our margins thinner indeed.
I see. Thanks for your reply.

Look at INSIDERS portion of this forum, it’s a paid and closed forum with amazing progress threads. I signed up for that some days ago and I can’t believe how much value there is in there.
 

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