The Entrepreneur Forum | Financial Freedom | Starting a Business | Motivation | Money | Success

The Entrepreneur's Forum for learning how to build wealth and financial freedom the Fastlane way!

Say "NO" to mediocre living rife with jobs, ascetic frugality, and suffocating savings rituals— learn how to build a Fastlane business that pays both freedom and lifestyle affluence. Join our forum with more than 70,000 entrepreneurs who are making it happen.
Join for FREE Today
Get the books
Remove ads? Join Fastlane INSIDERS
(Registration removes this block)

24 Years old: QUIT six-figure Job, Launched two Businesses

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
What better way to spend a Friday night than working on my businesses and spending time with my Fastlane brothers and sisters? Don’t you dare try to answer my rhetorical question!

It is about time I updated everyone! I AM OUT OF THE CAGE. I quit my $XXX,XXX per year investment banking job a few months ago (June, 2014) after two years at the firm. I worked my a$$ off to get the job and at 24 years old I am sure many sheeple would think I am insane for leaving my “stable and high-paying career”. On the contrary, I have never been more sure of a decision in my life. That job was a cancer to my system. A drain. A real life-suck. Waking up and going to a toxic work environment fueled by caffeine, corporate-bureaucracy, a$$ kissing and alcohol infused weekends…it was not for me. The industry of high finance is amazing, but the same can’t be said for the minions who work in it. It was painful to ride the train downtown every day. Worse yet, there was a ball-and-chain blackberry (my work phone, I called it the “bad-phone”) attached to my hip at all times in case the client said “Jump!” and we said “How high!” (No, I did not actually wear my BB on my hip…only really cool people wear cell phones on their hips!)

The job was changing me as a person. I was not happy around friends and family. I was constantly stressed for no reason. My eyes grew darker and sunk into my head. False deadlines became the norm. My fitness was non-existent and my health was far from peak (those $30 a night dinner stipends were truly amazing though! Lots of sushi.)

It wasn’t all terrible. I figured out who the good people in the business were quickly and have made some lasting friendships. I saved all my paychecks instead of "buying bottles" and cars, and I lived for free while working. And while I did not partake in the alcohol fueled weekends (okay, maybe a few), I did partake in soaking up a wide variety of industry knowledge while I worked at the firm. I now know things that you couldn’t pay someone on Wall Street to teach you (put it this way: I can make a “really pretty” PowerPoint presentation ;)). But I digress…

So June 2014 rolled around and I had had enough. I threw in the towel.

Following my resignation, I decided I deserved a couple months to relax overseas…but not before launching an ecommerce business FIRST. I launched my niche site on May 1st, 2014. At launch I kept remembering the one thing everyone is always saying around here, “All you need to do is get ONE SALE.” Get that first bite and the snowball will be rolling for you! Could that really be all it is? Could the mantra I hear over and over online be true? One sale can’t be THAT hard to get. And compared to the 85 hours a week I worked for someone ELSE, pssh, it wasn’t.

I built my ecommerce site late at night during the last few months of my job. I would get home at 11pm or 12am and then work until 2am or 3am on my site (loading product, back-end, learning basic HTML and CSS, SEO). I constructed the site using only the free eCommercefuel guide and the masterful posts here on the forum from @biophase. I didn’t ask any questions about which niche was best or which hosting platform to use. Those are questions I believe that anyone with an ounce of effort can answer on their own. I read, I researched, I looked to the opinions of experts in the field, I evaluated, and I chose on my own.

When I got my first sale notification on my iPhone just three days after I launched my ecommerce site I was EXTATIC! My long nights had paid off. I rushed to the computer and called my supplier to get him to ship the order right away. It was then, by Murphy’s Law (naturally), that I ran into my first problem: the product was out of stock! I was mortified! I called the customer promptly and made him aware of the situation. I explained that we didn’t have clarity on when the particular product model he ordered would be back in stock, but that I would surely call him as soon as we knew any more information. I issued a prompt refund and added a free-shipping credit on the customer’s account for future use.

That same customer ordered from me 1-month later, and I have done $12,000+ in total product sales since that day with very limited work. I treat my customers with the utmost respect and have seen that pay off in spades through positive reviews on my site and through re-orders like that one. It feels pretty damn good!


No, I will not be sharing my niche at the moment, not until one year of operations and until I have decided whether or not to stay in it. The margins are rather thin (~20-25% before monthly administrative costs) because the product is heavy and I am using 8 suppliers here throughout the USA (dropshipping, not manufacturing myself).

I am no expert at ecommerce by any means, but I had a desire to learn the business because I lacked coding skills and thought it would be fun to earn while I learned. I am currently only using my own site to sell (no FBA, no eBay, no 3rd party services). That may change. I also spoke with Jack Edwards about switching the business to B2B / brick-and-mortar earlier this year. We brainstormed some great ideas and I believe that model could be more fruitful with the right amount of hustle.

YOU TOO CAN DO THIS. I want to make note about not wasting people’s time with questions you can answer yourself: Even though @biophase is a real life friend of mine, I didn’t ask for help nor did he know I was building the business until I sent him the fully-launched site to check out for feedback. What I hope some here will take away from the launching of this business is that YOU CAN DO IT. The information is out there and it is free. Search this forum. Only YOU have the power to change your life. And please, don’t complain about problems that don’t exist yet (i.e. “What if I don’t get traffic?” “How do I know my niche will work?” “What about getting an LLC, how do I do it?” etc. etc.). NO ONE IS GOING TO CREATE YOUR DESTINY FOR YOU. Only YOU have that power (and you do have that power my friends =), I know you do!)

Just remember…at one point in time even the legendary biophase didn’t know a lick about ecommerce…yes, it’s true!

Truthfully, I use my ecommerce business to fill my time when I am not working in my real estate business (it only takes 1 hour a week). For that reason I may lose focus on it. Only the next few months will tell.

On the home front, I have remained true to my core focus: real estate. In March of this year I met a carbon copy of myself by chance one day who has now become my business partner (I always told myself I would never have one). He is a few years older than me (27), but we are currently evaluating projects and have something under contract that I will post about when the time comes. Will also keep you updated on our capital raising activities (truly fastlane).

All I am trying to say in this thread is GET OUT THERE AND GO GET IT. Plan ahead. Have faith in yourself. Entrepreneurial life is amazing and feels weird in the beginning (it still does for me). You command each day. There is no structure anymore other than that of your plan. It is like opening the front of a cage that was preventing you (the lion) from running out into the Serengeti (the world).

I come here because it keeps me focused. I love the people on this site and I love sharing my story as it develops to help motivate others when possible. I also want to get feedback and imagine I will have some questions in the coming months. THE REAL FIRE HAS BEEN LIT.

Goals for year end 2014 (3 months):
Partnership apartment units: 15
Personal apartment units: 6
ecommerce site sales: $25k

“I’d rather be a hungry lion in the wild, than a well fed lion in a cage.”

-----
I am truly thankful for this forum @MJ DeMarco. I need to thank @biophase x 1000 for your posts and continued guidance. I also want to thank @JackEdwards for this thread.

And thanks to all my RE mentors, especially @SteveO @RealOG @GLC65 and those who are not members here.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.
Last edited by a moderator:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
BOOM.



$100,000. And it's only May. $26k per month last three months. This month (May 18th) is at $28k already.

"But I don't know how to code!! But I don't know how to do ecommerce!??!"...
I could have said the same thing a year ago...because I really didn't at that time.

Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn. Be thankful for the difficult times; during those times you grow. Be thankful for your limitations; they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for your mistakes, they will teach you valuable lessons.
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
I joined the Fastlane in 2008 when I was 18 years old. I had been an entrepreneur since as long as I could remember, but joining gave me a venue to help me direct my energy. Back when I joined this place, it was a small and tight-knit community of a few thousand members all supporting each other as we strived towards our individual personal goals. I am blessed to have made the relationships I have on this forum and I will be proud to continue to post here as long as it exists (which will be as long as the internet is around I would assume).

Yesterday was a big day for me. I hit a major milestone in what was the culmination of both my learning and application of experiences in real estate since I was in my late teens.

Yesterday, I bought my first commercial apartment building in Chicago with the young business partner I mentioned earlier in this progress thread.



I'll save the details on this one for now in order to keep this thread rolling as a progress thread, but I want to thank some very important people!

Thank you sincerely to @SteveO (for being an amazing mentor and encouraging me at such a young age), @RealOG (working with me on analysis and showing me a great time in Scottsdale every time I've visited you), and @GLC65 on the real estate side. You guys were instrumental in teaching me and guiding me on where to look for materials to educate myself. @biophase you are a rockstar man, you really are. The amount of information you have shared with people here for free is staggering. Thanks for being such a great wealth of knowledge and someone I am proud to call a friend.

Thank you @MJ DeMarco for this place. Thank you for providing a venue where creativity is curated, thank you for your book, your wisdom and your humor. I owe you multiple beers and lunches next time we are in Scottsdale (at the same time). I also owe you some free Chiropractic services when my girlfriend begins opening offices in the Phoenix area (I'll be helping her with that).

And last but not least thank you to all of you who read my material, comment and share insight and encouragement. You guys are the best.

Onward and upward! Very excited for this year and more importantly I am excited for right now. I am excited to be living the life I am currently living.

Status update:

Current:

Partnership apartments: 6 units
Personal apartments: 3 units
eCommerce sales 2014: $26k

Goals 2015:
Partnership apartments: 100 units
Personal apartments: 6 units
eCommerce sales 2015: $100k

Love you guys! Keep chasing your dreams!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Hey guys! As @Andy Black said, after getting several PMs about this thread over the last year, I figured it would serve more people on the outside.

Things are moving along at 100mph every day! I'm very blessed for that and to be able to make so many customers happy across two separate businesses. Quick update (sorry for no dashboard pictures today):

eCommerce Business:
  • Finished up last year with $1,850,000 in sales across multiple channels
  • Continually learning more of the distribution side of the business
  • Took a trip to China because we are launching our own product line this summer to sell through our respective sales channels (offers brand insulation and margin expansion)
  • 2017 Goal: $3,500,000 in sales + hiring another sales person this year (already have the ad up online and interviewed 2 people)!
B&M Commercial business:
  • My partner and I finished the year 2016 with $720,000 in sales!!
    • We also had a rather ugly breakup with an investor/3rd partner in our first commercial deal (he seemed like a Saint when we met him and came highly recommended). Great learning lesson. Partnerships are like marriage. Breakups feel like divorce.
      • We will not be taking on another partner ever again. It's just me and my main man of 3 years who will stick together. We will use LPs / investors... but they will be VERY limited in what they can do if they decide to invest.
  • Hired full time GM who runs day-to-day (so we can focus on growing the business)
  • Opening two more B&M locations this year (one in May and one in September)
  • 2017 Goal: On pace for $950,000 in sales this year at first location (not including new projects opening)
I had a meeting with a guy who manages a $1.3 billion PE fund last week. It was a great reminder to FOCUS on the two businesses I already have. As entrepreneurs... we think (and know) that we can do anything... which leads to comparison (which is the thief of joy). We want to challenge ourselves constantly and so we look around at other successful people and say "I can do that!" (and we're not wrong)... but it is so much more important to keep your focus on what's in front of you and not to spread yourself too thin trying a million things. Don't put too many irons in the fire.

You can be the guy who owns 10 apartment units, a website, 20% of the hardware store down the street, a landscape company, a dry cleaner, and 2 vacation homes that you rent... or you can be the guy with 1 or 2 focused projects/businesses that both do $20,000,000+ in sales per year (or more).

I'm striving to be the latter.

Much love!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Goal I set on the first post in this thread, accomplished! $26,409 in sales for 2014. Exceeded the $25k target I set back in October by $1,400. Feels good since I only launched the site in May and it has been a side focus. Momentum has been exponential the last two months.

2014_Results_zpsd058a298.jpg

And already got my first sale of the year this morning while I was sleeping last night :rockon:.

In my last post, I prematurely thought I was on page one of Google (forgot to clear my cookies); I am actually result 11 (top of page 2) in my niche, but I had my biggest month so far. $10k in December sales to exceed my goal. Projecting run-rate sales of $115k for 2015 with about an hour of work each week.

Will have a real estate update soon :)

I can NEVER go back to "normal" life, I am too far gone now.

Let's have a huge 2015!!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Thank you ALL for your kind words :). I am thrilled I was able to infuse some motivation for people and I will continue to do so by updating my main story in this thread. I will also post more detailed individual deals / related information in proper sub-forums.

You mentioned no structure.. did you have a problem with work ethic/discipline with no structure?

It's something I'm trying to overcome right now. If I have a deadline I can get anything done, but setting a deadline for myself doesn't have the same effect.

I guess in short, what kept you so motivated, and were you always so motivated?

@Jakeeck, if setting deadlines isn't working for you...it's because you have some type of fail-safe in place to reassure you that you will be able to sleep at night and eat when you wake up (i.e. you haven't burned your ships yet) (just ask @(zen*******)). That is the only reasonable guess I can make as to why you don't take your own deadlines seriously. There should be ramifications (just like in the "real world") for not getting something done that you tell yourself you will accomplish (even small tasks). Try punishing your insubordinate a$$ for not taking your badass boss-like self seriously (and believe me, there WILL BE real ramifications by way of your ultimate success if you don't shape up my friend!). You can do it, you just need to want it.

To answer your other questions. I have been motivated to succeed since as long as I can remember (6 or 7 years old; really hit me around 12 when Lamborghinis came into the picture). I have always had a very strong work ethic. I work harder than anyone around me to ensure I win the game because I am hungry.

Keep your head up! Make a list and if you complete all your weekly goals, treat yourself to sushi or something. And I mean ALL YOUR GOALS, be truly productive; if you miss one little thing you better not reward yourself or I will show up and break-ya-kneecap with a shovel. If you do miss something, ask yourself what you were doing that was more important than earning yourself a new Lamborghini themed mega yacht. While you're contemplating this question, I will walk in with the shovel and remind you not to screw it up next week!
 
Last edited:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
At a very high level, before the road splits into 5 different directions, can you provide a few pointers that could help someone like me at least pick a direction towards picking a product/niche? Like you said, the research and evaluation are ultimately up to me and I don't expect anyone to piggyback me towards a specific industry/niche. I would just like hear about your thought process that helped you zero in your specific industry/niche.

I'd normally point you to go read all the threads I have already recommended, or to read the free eBooks I posted about in here... but I'll give you a couple quick tips my friend (because I get PMs like this all the time too)!

When picking your Niche for an ecommerce store:
  1. Think about your hobbies when picking a product (and try to be between $100 - $500 per order retail price point)
    • Use Google "Keyword Planner" to find out if your primary product search keyword gets at least 10,000 searches per month
      • Or if the combination of your top two keywords gets 10,000+ per month
  2. Once you find a keyword that is a hobby and meets that criteria... go type it in google and check what the top three results are (organic results)
    • If the 1st result looks like crap (old website, no customer reviews in place, no social media accounts)... then you're onto something.
    • If the 1st result looks good but the 2nd and 3rd look like crap... you still might be onto something.
    • If all 3 of the top results look like amazing websites with lots of traffic, customers, reviews.... then your niche may be too competitive... so start over with another hobby product
  3. Make sure your product isn't super heavy
    • You don't want to get burned with high shipping costs that you can't pass down to customers
    • If you do have an item that is heavy, check to see if your potential competitors are offering free shipping or if they are charging customers shipping (just do a pretend checkout on their store, but don't actually order)
  4. Search for USA suppliers (if you're in the USA) of your product by typing in "[Your Niche Product] Distributors" or "[Your Niche Product] Manufacturers" (manufacturers sometimes drop ship or can point you towards a distributor they use)
    • You want your suppliers in the same country you are drop-shipping product to, otherwise your lead times to ship to customers are WAY too long and you won't have happy customers
  5. Call the distributors and open accounts (let them know you are an expert in your field and you are launching a new website soon). Suppliers want your business. They want to make money too. Convince them that you can help them make more money (i.e. sell lots of shit for them)
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Thank you my friends for the kind words! Things are crazy, and growing crazier as always. I wanted to come back and give an update for those asking here and in PMs.

eCommerce Business
The eCommerce business continues to grow and challenge me. More competition (including one or two new good-quality competitors, who copy my website directly) have come on to the scene over the last 12-18 months.

This hasn't slowed me down though! I now have 4 full time employees & me (5 total in the business). We just passed $5,000,000+ in 2018 Sales for the first time ever this year on Dec 1st. Hope to finish around $5,500,000 this year! I cannot believe the hard work has taken us to these heights with a small niche eCommerce business. I am so blessed to have information gathering be my strongest gift, and application of that information being the second strongest (along with an instinct to kill haha). I sometimes forget to celebrate these "wins"... because I am so busy pushing the ball forward and setting higher goals. But I understand that $5,000,000+ Sales in one year (and now over $11,000,000+ Sales since the beginning of the business) calls for a celebration and a memento. So I got one to remember it: Breitling Superocean Heritage II 44mm

44471808010_e2e83051e8.jpg
32416964228_21b0779189.jpg


As to our new / heightened competition that I mentioned; we are Apple... they are Microsoft/Samsung. Always copycatting. Never innovating. My only real regret in this business is that I am only able to spend 30-40% of my time on it due to my other brick and mortar business, which I have to nurture as well. But I do like having diversity-of-income from multiple businesses.

I really want to take this business to $8,500,000+ next year (2019) and to $10,000,000+ in sales in 2020. Goal has been set. Team is in place. Will achieve through combination of selling many more items in our niche we previously haven't offered/gone after + increasing our output of product videos on YouTube, and continuing to be the best at offering our bread and butter products & customer service.

Brick & Mortar Business
I updated many people in-person at the meetup this past February... but I have been keeping this one a little more quiet on the forums. We now have 35 employees and 3 locations. Just me and my one partner. Currently in process on 2-3 more locations for 2019. Revenues for the current combined locations are $2,500,000+ with much higher margins than the eCommerce drop-ship business... But the cost to open these locations (and the debt load) make them more stressful than an online business (but more stable long-term, 20 yrs+).

The equity upside on each location (as well as the cash flow) is amazing as well. My only issue with the business is how much time the deals take on the front end. But knowing I can make $1,700,000 on average per deal makes it worth the time (although... I do wonder if I could make more just opening more/ bigger ecommerce ventures in my vertical and other similar ones, and producing more of our own products). If anyone has any input here, I'm all ears.

Personally:
This February (2018) I got anxiety pretty bad (about a month after I got my Lambo). It lasted well into August. I just grew too fast and hadn't paid attention to my emotions since the time I was 18 (so about 10 years). I guess I was having trouble coming to terms with my success too... which sounds silly - but it isn't. You lose friends (that you've outgrown), you realize success is not a destination, but a journey (which is preached all the time). And I guess for me I just always felt like life would be/feel a bit different once I had "arrived". It doesn't.

What's MOST important in your life are your relationships: the friends and family around you, your relationship with yourself, and serving others. That has become my mission (not just customers, but my employees). But first, to take care of others you need to take care of yourself. You need to love yourself and you need to learn about yourself inside (study YOU). We study everything else so much, but tend to neglect OURSELVES. Why are we doing what we are doing? What's the meaning behind it? Money CAN buy you happiness (trust me, you will be happy when you buy a Lamborghini or even just a nice dinner or nice pair of shoes), but money can't buy you fulfillment. They are very different things.

This year has been an amazing year of personal growth for me and a good re-balancing of my life (and the businesses kept growing too). I am so ready for 2019. Let's go get a Murcielago SV or Huracan Performante!!
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Hello all :)

Apologies for my lack of updates. I felt like I should come back to give a shot in the arm to anyone who is on the fence about "taking the reigns" in their life starting in 2016. I also want to set some public goals here for 2016 that I can track.

BUT FIRST: Remember my eCommerce goal for $100K in annual sales this year?...

899f7754-2dfe-49cf-b3aa-172f72040667_zpsb6zztaun.png

$437,000
in 2015 annual sales!!

Important to note: a new real estate acquisition I made in September 2015 meant that I had to stop answering the phone for my website and automate the business more. My conversion rate dropped from 1.8% to 1.2% from September--December as a result of this. And with 10,500 uniques each month and a high dollar amount for an average order, I lost $25K in revenue per month for the last 4 months of the year. Sales could have been $550K. I will fix this by hiring someone to answer the phone/ run the site this January, 2016 (more on that later..... possible Fastlaner who wants to learn ropes + get paid?)

Now for a glimpse at the "event" related happenings of my first full year out of the cage. I'll start with a recap of the goals I set last year (Dec, 2014) vs actual results:

bcf4bd5d-23ad-4117-9ad1-2acd5485be1a_zpsqqh7oj3w.png


The commercial RE line item is a new venture, acquired in Sept. 2015. Purchase price was $1.4M and the returns I found in this deal were far better than I could find buying 100 apartment units syndicated. I also chose to forego buying another 3-flat for myself just to save for investment in 2 to 5 more deals in the coming year. Targeting end value of $3.0M for deal #1 by year-end 2016 (with my equity being 33%). After you take out debt of 85% (of purchase price), my net equity would be $600K.

Goals 2016:
Partnership apartments: 12 units
Personal apartments: 3 units
Single family home: 1 (for me -- could possibly be another 3-flat)
eCommerce sales 2016: $825K
$750K website #1
$75K website #2​
Commercial RE 2016: $6,000,000 (with minimum of 20% average equity) and healthy cash flow.

Wishing you all the best in the coming year. Let's go get it! :rockon:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Little update for those who are still interested!

YTD_5.16.2016_zps6hezg20p.png


Well, that escalated quickly!

Surpassed last years sales already. Maintaining higher conversion rate. Hired GM for the eCommerce store in February. He is AWESOME! I've been able to get away from day-to-day to focus on growing the business. Launched an Amazon store for the eCommerce products for new sales channel:

YTD_AMZ_5.16.2016_zpsaq02juz1.png

...and a second website (which has done $4,100 since March so far, and sells similar products).

Adding the first site and Amazon together, I finally crossed the half a million in yearly sales threshold and it's only May 15th (and it feels like nothing at the pace we are moving)!

Outside of my online business, I've been focused on my B&M business (in which I have a partner, and in which we are grooming to be a franchise). It has one location so far, but we get asked if we are a franchise all the time by our customers (due to our attention to detail when building it). We will open several more locations as a chain first and then evaluate our options.

Onward and upward!
 
Last edited:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
It’s funny you bumped this thread today. I was just thinking about the Fastlane and all my entrepreneurial friends out in Scottsdale, and that I needed to come post here. Thanks for asking, @Greg Rutkowski I have been very BUSY in the best way possible.
  1. Got a new view to look at while I’m busting my a$$ (my home office in my new condo):
    35843543702_49cf7115e4_z.jpg


  2. On pace to break goals I set for this year:
    35625093410_c1a3e9cb4c_z.jpg

    35881107811_2b892718ef_z.jpg
  • $1.47MM website + $660K Amazon = $2,127,000 YTD 2017 Total
    • Hoping for stretch goal of $4,000,000 in full year sales this year
  • Insulating the business with our own line of product
    • We have one of our own Branded products selling already, with two more coming before fall
3. B&M Business Location 1 (separate business) is doing amazing and we are opening two additional locations
  • Received a loan commitment letter from largest SBA lender in my state two weeks ago for roughly $4 MILLION in business development loans, which will allow us to expand from 1 to 3 locations by the end of this year. Pretty excited to have that kind of trust from banks at 27 years old in tougher-than-the-past credit markets.
  • B&M Location #1 is on pace for $1,100,000+ in revenue and $360K+ in Cash Flow this year
On the whole I am extremely happy and can't wait to give more details when all of the growth begins to mature in the future.

It's not all peaches-and-cream though...this work isn't without its stresses. I get personal fulfilment like crazy from challenging myself and helping others (both my employees within the companies, and all of my customers)… but I also have earned my fair share of grey hairs from the grind and taking on the risk. It’s the way I’m wired though, so I can’t complain! And I haven't had a boss or J.O.B. in 3 years now - it's unbelievable to think about that. My life really is unscripted .

Praying that both of these B&M deals end up closing smoothly. And that I use everything I have to take these two businesses as far as they will go!

Can’t wait to give you guys another update! Keep grinding!
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
I didn't say it was luck you dumbass's. I ask a simple questions and you fastlane fan boys... start preaching this nonsense.

He had a mentor help him a lot...

And yes its actually true, no 24 year old can make that much progress that quickly with literally no help from anyone, so shut the F*ck up.

@The Grind
I think your line of thinking is actually a bit off base. And it's off-putting to see you chastising other members here... A mentor didn't come down from a golden cloud in the sky and hold my hand while guaranteeing me success along the way. I busted my a$$ making friends with intelligent individuals (teachers/mentors/forums/blogs/articles, etc.) --- I offered to help people in any way I could (free marketing, cleaning up their excel spreadsheets (a skill I had), etc.) and paid close attention along the way so that I could learn. I have been doing that since I was 18 years old. In turn, these individuals suggested books I should read (that had helped them), pointed me in the right direction and watched me take flight.

When it came to my ecommerce website -- I built the ENTIRE THING just by simply reading threads here on The Fastlane + one eBook. The information is out there for free (you should thank your lucky stars and God that @biophase is as amazingly generous with his time and knowledge on this forum as he is and that @MJ DeMarco built what he built for us). Bio basically laid out the ecommerce roadmap here for EVERYONE, yet people still put out their hand for help and are too blind to see he has already handed them the keys to a HIGH POWERED vehicle. If you put the pieces together (and take good notes), it is all here for you already. The secret receipe. The golden goose. The reality is --- there are no secrets. Only a hunger for knowledge and the undying pursuit to be a better man tomorrow than you are today.

Happy New Year
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Hey guys, big milestone for my website:

My first Million!

(If you include Amazon and my second site the total is $1,329,000 already).

But I'm most excited about my little, self-contained store I started two years ago :)

Keep chasing your dreams. Much love!!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

SteveO

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 24, 2007
4,222
18,998
I have said this story before but it is worth repeating. When @G_Alexander was 18 years old, he arranged to come to my house in Scottsdale. @biophase was there also. He had his dad drop him off to spend the evening at a stranger's house to talk business with a few experienced people that he only knew from the forum.

I know at the age of 18 that I would have been doing anything else but that.

It was impressive and I am very happy to have been able to follow along with his success.
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
8,520
39,658
Scottsdale, AZ
400k in sales...
it takes years to hit those numbers, dont understand.

You don't understand because you have a limiting belief in yourself.

I don't understand why you think this? $400k in sales is $35k a month or basically $1100 a day. If you are selling $100 product, that's like 11 sales a day. If it's a $300 product, it's 3.5 sales a day.

I was shocked and nicely surprised when I saw the $400k number. It's a great number to hit!

If you think he had help, it was all from this forum. I do know Alex but I've talked to him ONE time this year about his business. The point is that you CAN do this yourself without much help. Don't just give yourself excuses as to why you can't.
 

Kingmaker

Gold Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jan 26, 2013
396
1,324
San Diego
I didn't say it was luck you dumbass's. I ask a simple questions and you fastlane fan boys... start preaching this nonsense.

He had a mentor help him a lot...

And yes its actually true, no 24 year old can make that much progress that quickly with literally no help from anyone, so shut the F*ck up.
ZH7DPV7.gif
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Happy Friday! I always love making Friday night posts - I figure most other people are out getting bottles and I'm just over here refining my business :smuggy:

**Milestone Alert** $3,000,000 in sales
Sometimes I don't want to share these milestones, because I expect more of myself and have wayyyyyy more planned for the future... but I know it is important to reflect along the way. The last 3 and 1/2 years have been a total blur. I think it is because my online business would be plenty to fully occupy most people's time, but then I have the B&M Private Equity business with my partner... and that thing has been ripping along too. One of the big reasons I come share is that I don't want to wake up regretting that I only look forward all the time - so I come here to share with you guys and remind myself of where I started (+ set measurable goals). With that:
[GALLERY=media, 78]2million-2017 by G_Alexander posted Oct 6, 2017 at 9:44 PM[/GALLERY]
[GALLERY=media, 77]1million-2017amzn by G_Alexander posted Oct 6, 2017 at 9:44 PM[/GALLERY]
That's my little online business crossing the $3,000,000 Sales mark for 2017.
  • $2,002,000 on the main website
  • $1,011,000 on Amazon
At this exact time last year, I was posting how we just hit $1M on the website (and $1.3M including amazon).... can't believe we are more than double that now in just 1 year's time.

My stretch target was increased to $4,000,000 this year. Hoping we can hit that! Honestly, if the B&M business didn't take so much time I think this could have been an even bigger year for the online business. I'll have to buckle down for the holiday season to hit the stretch!! We now have 3 full time employees though, and have and have great plans for 2018 (Walmart.com & more of our own brand) :smile:

I know it might be a little confusing in this thread sometimes because I have two companies in one thread (and I haven't been sharing much about the B&M business with you guys)... but I will share more about that business in the future. We just closed on one of the new locations I mentioned a page ago (a $2,000,000 acquisition) with another one due to happen this month, God willing! Pretty insane.

Keep on keepin' on men (and women)!
 
Last edited:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Happy Friday night my fellow Fastlaners!

Just wanted to come in and drop this off on this fine evening:


Just surpassed 2014 sales totals and it's only the first week in March :cool:. Granted, the business was only around from May-Dec of 2014...Still, conversion rate is ramping up like CRAZY. Pricing has remained consistent. Going to be a big year for the ecommerce side business!

You guys all have the capability. Don't be afraid to lose a few thousand dollars trying ideas until you get it right. What would you spend right now if I could guarantee you that you could replace your current job with your own ecommerce business?.......$100? $500? $1,000? $5,000?? The answer is probably A LOT. So don't be afraid to take a calculated shot. If you miss, just shoot again until something works! If your research is done right, the first shot will be all it takes. All the information is on this forum. GO SEARCH. GOOD LUCK!

G

EDIT: PS. Right after this post got another $500 order. Now over $27k in two months for sales. Here is daily conversion:
 
Last edited:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
had actually been exploring the jump into that sector of finance, but have been debating if its worth it while my end desire is to be 'fastlane'.

If you did it again, would you do the 2 year stint, or would you go straight into entrepreneurship?

Honestly wouldn't change the way I have done anything to this point. I have forged my opinions through real experiences. It is also nice to have a pile of investment capital to attack my new ventures with.

One question; What would you do if you were 20 years old? (like me now)

I'm feeling a little lost..i see all this opportunity in the internet businesses etc etc and i don't know which direction to head

You should be LEARNING as much as you humanly can, and taking action WHILE you are learning. You will learn your entire life, so DO NOT wait to arrive at some "destination of intellect" before you start taking action. Just make sure you are constantly reading things to add to your real world skill-sets (stop reading articles about how others made it, if you are). Comparison is the thief of joy.

I think @Jam Wheel got it right as well; I would just add that while you should pick an opportunity that interests you...be diligent in making sure that it MAKES MONEY with a healthy margin for error in case things go wrong (which they will). Just keep trying stuff until you get traction with something. Thanks for answering Jam!
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Another Friday night, another update for my Fastlane Family. At the beginning of this year I set a goal to hit $100k in sales this year. I hit that yearly goal in just 5 months (in May) when I had $26k in sales just a little more than halfway through that month and posted about it. At the time that $26k was more than what I had done in all of the past year (my first 6 months ever).

The snowball is really rolling now. May finished out with $42k. June was $52k. July is chugging along at pace. And BOOM:



$200k already and still 5 months + 1 week to go. Let's see what we can really do this year. I am setting a stretch goal of $350k in sales.

Hope this motivates some of you to trust yourself and make your leap of faith. You get one life. It is slipping away from you each day. Everyday you wait to start could set your plan back 1 month, 6 months, a year, or even a lifetime! There are no excuses.

Plan -------> Get out of your comfort zone = success (even in failure). When things get difficult you are just "leveling up" like in a video game. Embrace the challenge. GO GET IT.

In the meantime, I am going to continue to travel, spend time with family and friends and to wake up when I want and do what I want each day (which is hustle). I will improve the site little by little, and submit LOIs on properties for my real estate business. Have something big in the works right now. Won't be able to share for a while, but excited to let you all in when the time is right!

Also finishing up an eBook I am doing to help you guys by diving into deeper detail on my "STOP: Paying rent, live for free" thread. I will literally spoon feed everything I have learned about buying properties from 7 years of mentors, reading and real world investing into a compact 30 pages which will outline the live free process. I will keep you posted on that as well!

ONE LOVE
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Topic of the day: Growing vertically.

May 1, 2014. The day I launched my ecommerce business. 6 months of preparation leading up to the big day. Two days later... I had my first sale. That was over two years ago now, and looking back I can't believe how much has changed.

I have worked through dozens of considerations throughout this time:
  • Optimizing product offering (cutting the stuff that doesn't sell, adding in stuff I like or I see selling elsewhere) -- I CONSTANTLY monitor
  • Dropping suppliers (the ones who were slow or didn't offer the things I liked)
  • Picking up new suppliers (ones I didn't know about orginally or who thought I was too small when I first approached them)
  • Negotiating on my pricing with current suppliers as my volume increased
  • Monitoring search analytics within my own website (in the BigCommerce control panel)
    • Your customers search your website for what they want quite a bit (using the search box)... so don't neglect this. If you see lots of searches for a product in your niche that you don't carry... get it up there!
  • Bought a domain and built half an ecommerce website in a very similar niche (more on this later)
  • Bought a domain and launched a second website in my same niche
  • Considered manufacturing my own brand of products...and stagnated for a bit while honing in the growth of my store (which still has more room to go).
Back to what I said about the "half an ecommerce website":

One of my top 3 biggest suppliers (I spend the 3rd most with them... and I am the largest customer they have in my niche) offers 20% products related to my niche and 80% of their products in a similar niche that is MUCH larger -- which means it has much more competition. This larger niche has very solid competitor websites (top 2 or 3 on google are $30-50M+ a year in revenue with hundreds of employees). I knew I could get on the first page of this larger niche in 2-3 years, so I started building a second website in it.

Halfway through loading product for the new site (didn't mess with the design at all, thankfully)... I had a thought: Have I truly reached the full potential in my current niche? The answer was: no. So I stopped loading product for the bigger niche that instant and instead bought a domain for a second website in my own current niche.

You might be asking yourself, "Why would you double down in a smaller niche?". I am already the number one google result for the products I offer in my first cluster of keywords... so what is the play here? Well, I'll tell you. My customers have been asking for me to offer more product options (within my own niche) and so have my suppliers.

Imagine, if you will, that I sold "seat covers" for cars (which I don't)... I am DOMINATING seat covers, but many of my customers call and ask if I also sell air fresheners, floor mats and steering wheel covers (which all my suppliers carry) and I am happy to ring them up for. After enough of these phone calls, a light bulb turned on and I launched a second website for all these products. No new suppliers needed. Same LLC. Made perfect sense.

The reason I needed a second website was I didn't want to clutter up my first website with an overwhelming mixed bag of products, thus diluting my "expert" in the field approach. So we set up shop and are now on google page 2 for the second website/ keyword cluster (basically the same niche just another, bigger keyword set) and have done ~$20,000 in sales so far in 2016 on this new website.

The reason I bring up this story is that sometimes I think people want to grow horizontally (getting super wide and offering tons of products in different niches) -- when really, there are neglected subsections of each niche that could be dominated further. The best thing I can liken this to is to call it targeted "narrow-horizontal" growth. Staying close to your niche, but bolstering your offering (or simply "beefing up your offering"). Makes a lot of sense and utilizes the same platform you already have in place.

The next logical step for me now that I am "wide enough" is to grow up the stream (become a distibutor and, finally, a manufacturer) -- Just had a great business trip to meet with a supplier I do a lot of business with. His family owns a factory in China and he is now going to private label my brand (and even stock it for me since I do $x,xxx,xxx with them per year. Hoping to build a network of retailers we sell directly to.

Just wired $4,000 over to China two days ago. Samples will be here in November. More on that later. Very excited =D
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.
Last edited:

smithsta

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
May 4, 2014
126
224
This is the bit that stands out to me: 'I built my ecommerce site late at night during the last few months of my job. I would get home at 11pm or 12am and then work until 2am or 3am on my site (loading product, back-end, learning basic HTML and CSS, SEO). I constructed the site using only the free eCommercefuel guide and the masterful posts here on the forum from'

So many people I know need to read this! I hear too many excuses like 'I don't have time to start a business' or 'I don't know how'. Bullshit! Lazyness!

Brilliant post @G_Alexander, I'm really impressed and inspired! :D
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
what value are you offering your customers if you're higher priced?

Extremely clean website in a world (niche) full of cluttered sites that look like they are from 1999. ATTENTION TO DETAIL in customer service. I get a lot of people ordering from me and they are so happy I treat them with respect, remember their names on the phone, follow-up quickly and offer advice; even when they don't order.

It's surprising how many companies treat their paying customers like dirt.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Just booked a flight using points from my capital one business credit card. Already have $500+ in airline miles from purchasing product from suppliers. Feels great to travel for free from my own business :cool:
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
What kind of acceptance rate as a dropshipper did you get for suppliers?

I had a list of 15 potential.
1 said yes.
3-4 are maybe and on the fence.
The rest said no.

@Eddie Morra what method are you using to contact them (calling, emailing, etc.)?

I made a list of the top 15 brands I liked in my industry and began contacting manufacturers (who directed me to distributors, if they used them). Called 9 total suppliers and 8 of them said yes. The one supplier who told me no said it was because a B&M store they supply is located near me (they have a policy not to supply any stores within 5 miles of each other, regardless if B&M or ecom). I am going to revisit using them soon, because they are a high quality distributor.

Are you sending emails or calling? I would recommend having your reseller ID ready to go (if you are serious) and getting on the phone with your potential suppliers. Tell the potential supplier your name, where you're based, that your expertise is in running niche ecommerce websites, and that you are launching a ***insert niche here*** site on XXXX, 2014 (give an actual date, and make it your target). After solidifying your status as a "real player" in your introduction, have a list of questions you want answered in advance:
  • What are the profit margins on your [main product]
  • What do the profit margins look like on your [accessories]
  • Do you offer drop shipping? Do you have purchasing minimums or MOQs?
  • How much do you charge to drop ship? Do you accept credit cards for payment?
  • What are your return policies?
  • Etc. etc.
Don't feel like you owe potential suppliers anything, they are a business and they want to supply you so you can make them money!
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
I'm also in Investment Banking - was there any reason you chose eCommerce as your side hustle while you were still on the IB grind instead of say copywriting/aff marketing/something else?

Also, how did you manage the real estate side business while working the IB stint?

@tpm767 Just because it simply appealed to me the most.

I hired out management for 5% of my gross income. Totally worth it to not have tenants knocking on my door. When it came to construction projects, I would just get up EXTRA early to get bids and quotes, and then manage the process along on my phone.

Are you growing your online business so that you can acquire more properties or are you changing focus?
Do you find more excitement from your online business vs Real Estate?

@EvanOkanagan
You basically hit the nail on the head. Ecommerce is sexier, but more work to remain relevant. I am still investing all the money I earn into new RE deals, which I will continue to post about as well.

I'm fairly sure @biophase went through this same tribulation. He began by investing in real estate and was more attracted to the ecommerce in the end. I do have an avenue in real estate that is almost as interesting as the ecommerce business, which I have brewing behind the scenes right now. I will keep you posted as that deal progresses.

Real estate is boring, but boring makes money too. Barrier to entry in the mid-sized real estate market makes it attractive as well. Anyone in the world can throw up an ecommerce site...not everyone can get financed on a 50+ unit apartment building.

Right now my owned real estate takes about 1 hour of attention per week. New projects in the pipeline consume about 15-20 hours of analyzing, paperwork, etc. My ecom website has me on the phone for about 1 hour a day and then 15 minutes to send out order tags end of day.

Without my "future projects" hours...I would be working about 10 hours a week (but we all known 10 hours ain't gonna cut it for Murciealgos and a couple contemporary homes ;)).

Life is good my friend :cool:. The hustle has only begun!!
 
Last edited:

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Well, had a milestone today. I had planned to hit this goal by December 1st, 2014...but it has come sooner.

11/14/2014: Hit the first page of organic results on Google for my niche (link number 7)!! Passed the largest site in my niche (old 1997 styled site) who I originally set out to destroy.

$15,300 total sales since launch. Re-working some things on my site and designing version 2.0 which I will implement post holiday season. Also adding several new items to my inventory to make sure I am offering as wide a variety as top competitors.

Excited to see the traffic spike that will result from being on page 1. Couldn't be better timing with the holiday season!

Hard work pays off. I will also say that traditional SEO is not dead and that I was on page 20 of Google last month. I have a new technique that I am thinking I will share with INSIDERS, or at the Fastlane Meetup. I plan to continue running my paid ads as well, but will scale back budget. Will keep you guys posted :rockon:
 

MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
Staff member
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Rat-Race Escape!
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
35,626
142,184
Utah
BOOM.



$100,000. And it's only May. $26k per month last three months. This month (May 18th) is at $28k already.

"But I don't know how to code!! But I don't know how to do ecommerce!??!"...
I could have said the same thing a year ago...because I really didn't at that time.

Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn. Be thankful for the difficult times; during those times you grow. Be thankful for your limitations; they give you opportunities for improvement. Be thankful for your mistakes, they will teach you valuable lessons.

Dude, give it up. A 401(k) is a much better investment.

Marked Gold.
 

The-J

Dog Dad
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Aug 28, 2011
3,932
9,890
Ontario
Don't wait. Get going NOW.

It must be noted that you don't ACTUALLY have to learn to code a website from scratch to start selling things online. You don't have to hire a developer, either.

You can learn by jumping right into a CMS (I chose Wordpress, but Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and Clickfunnels are a million times easier and can create amazing websites). Toss $10 on Namecheap for a domain and purchase a trial of Shopify or Squarespace. Figure out where everything is, play with it, and start building. I don't know if anyone here has played Minecraft, but it's similar to that. You just jump right in, figure shit out, and start building.

Got a problem? Google it. Don't know how to make an effect? Google it.

A few hours a day for a month is more than enough time.
 

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
472
4,297
Bump for a great thread.

I hope @G_Alexander your businesses are doing fine despite Corona.

@MakeItHappen thanks my friend.

Between continued hardcore SEO efforts, COVID online shopping increases, and growth in my industry... my online shop did $13,900,000+ in sales last year and is currently growing at a large clip again this year. 10 full time employees now, along with 7 full time VA's overseas. Competition in my industry has stepped up, but I am diligently working all the time to keep ahead with good quality content (that, and having a 7-year organic headstart sure helps).

The Brick & Mortar business did approx $4,600,000 last year, and EBITDA % increased a good amount as well... but we did experience a month of mandated shutdowns at our Michigan locations, along with 2.5 weeks in Illinois. We have 3 new locations in process right now, with two to open this year.

Been INSANELY busy (and that's putting it lightly)… and just trying to allocate my time each week to each company properly, while launching other passion projects as well.

Every once in awhile I get notification email from this forum, so I gotta pop back and say hey =)
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

Guest post submissions offered HERE.

Must Read Books...

must read books
Download FREE and share!
Download
Explore books recommended by MJ DeMarco and other members of the Fastlane entrepreneurial community.
Fastlane Bookstore

Latest Posts

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top