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

G_Alexander

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Damn Damn Damn! Awesome job man, how's married life?

Thank you my friend! We have gotta catch up soon =). Married life is amazing. Can't believe how fast the 1st year of it went! You guys still doing poker from time to time?

Well reading this thread has really been amazing!! Congrats on all of the success!

Thank you for the kind words!

@G_Alexander do you think you could start a drop shipping e-commerce site in a new niche today and be as successful or do you think it would be harder to start from scratch now?

Absolutely. I almost started two more in the last 3 years. But the 1st one has kept me too busy. More competition these days, but I could do it all over in any niche. The foundational skills are the same.

I am launching another website soon though. Niche services business! Very excited about it.
 
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jpcoder

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Absolutely. I almost started two more in the last 3 years. But the 1st one has kept me too busy. More competition these days, but I could do it all over in any niche. The foundational skills are the same.

@G_Alexander Thanks for the reply! If you were to start a new ecom site today and knew very little about drop shipping or current SEO techniques, where would you go for this info? I know you have stated some of this in the past but I'm guessing there may be better, or at least more up to date resources now.
 

patchy

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GET OUT THERE AND GO GET IT!!!

This is great and i will always remind myself that!
 

Striver

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Thank you my friend! We have gotta catch up soon =). Married life is amazing. Can't believe how fast the 1st year of it went! You guys still doing poker from time to time?



Thank you for the kind words!



Absolutely. I almost started two more in the last 3 years. But the 1st one has kept me too busy. More competition these days, but I could do it all over in any niche. The foundational skills are the same.

I am launching another website soon though. Niche services business! Very excited about it.
1.5 years later... any updates on your story? :)
 
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jfirefly556

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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.
wow amazing story, thank you for the insight and has inspired me to stay focused on the entrepreneurial path. i love that quote about the lion, TIME TO EAT!!
 

jfirefly556

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Wow. What a great story! Inspiring!

And congratulations.

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

Thanks.
I believe that is your mission to find out brother, if you dont have a purpose, your purpose in life as of now is to find your purpose, judst my suggestion. this is your path, you must choose.
 

Brass Pockets

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This has been such a fantastic read, thank you

Very inspirational and from just an idea you have built an empire...as well as collected some great mementos along the way!

Best bit for myself as the reader was the how and when you started, this thread has been kept going for years and the value to a newbie here is as i said, fantastic
 
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21elnegocio

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First of all great post bother, love it

Do you still recommend ecommerce today ? If yes what would be the hardest thing to break through in todays competitive industry
 

DonyaSze

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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.
This is an amazing story! Thanks for sharing!
 

biophase

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@G_Alexander, it’s been almost 10 years since you started this thread! Let me summarize it.

Step 1. Quit Job
Step 2. Ecommerce
Step 3. Buy 6 Lambos
 
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WilliamSherman

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Your story really hits home. Going from a job that was draining you to feeling the excitement of making your first online sale is a huge deal.
 

G_Alexander

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@G_Alexander, it’s been almost 10 years since you started this thread! Let me summarize it.

Step 1. Quit Job
Step 2. Ecommerce
Step 3. Buy 6 Lambos
Easy as that! :hilarious:
Very inspiring! Curious how is the ecommerce business doing these days
The eCom business
Has continued to grow over the years and is doing $10,000,000+ a year in revenue. Still has 8 full time U.S. employees. 7 full time overseas VAs. A new 10,350sf warehouse (we are starting to carry best sellers, to capture more margin, and carrying/scaling our own in house brand we have been selling since 2016).
  • 80% of our sales are SEO driven. We only started Google ads last March which is 5%. The other 15% is Amazon and eBay.
  • The landscape is moving at lighting pace right now with AI content hitting the scene back in late 2022.
  • 90% of our products are drop-shipped from suppliers here in the USA. I just hired a VP of Ops in October (COO level employee) to scale our physical operations.
  • For the first time in 10-years, we launched a new theme for our store this past month (March 21st). It looks the same as the old site, but structurally is completely more modern, proper Schema markup, easier for Google to read, etc. Very nerve-racking to launch, in fact, I bailed on two previous companies who had built us a new theme because I just wasn't comfortable. I kind of wish I would have launched it back then, but I didn't want to slow the business down. Fall of 2023, we finally found a company that I felt could get most of the site architecture right, but I still had to be all over every detail of the launch (fingers crossed I caught everything). Because any time you touch your sites structure you put yourself at risk of the SERP evaluations and crawls not going your way. We noticed an immediate 8-12% drop in traffic, which is normal for the first 3-4 weeks from what I have seen online. Then it fell as much as 21%. This week, we popped back up to being 14% down, but today its back to 20% down on traffic. So it's all over the place right now, but I will keep you guys posted here on the case study.
  • It's funny, because even with the drops in estimated traffic, and the volatility in the rankings at the top levels... we had our largest sales day of the year this past week. So something is working. But a lot of dust needs to settle on this launch.
  • I knew the longer I sat on my 10-year-old dinosaur of a theme... the new competitors with modern site architecture would have an easy road to try to pass us
  • Still need to implement faceted search, update our blog style completely (it looks not great), and continue to look for any UX holes
One major thing we need to do now is continue to push and execute on content, and always think about how to best serve our customers a good shopping experience. Longevity is the key in any industry. 10 years of doing this, and the competition looks much different today (half of them have gone away). Who will be left another 10-years from now? That is where the real juice is. I'm working harder now on the business than I have in the past 5-years. Because all the new competition has copied me and pushed to where I used to be. Can't look back, have to keep innovating. The copy cats will always be there.

Brick and Mortar
My Brick & Mortar business has grown like crazy since I last updated you guys. 110+ employees. 7 locations. Pacing $13,500,000+ in sales this year, and growing. Crazy good EBITDA margins (40%+). Too much to type here right now, but I can provide an update on that one later.

Multiples in this industry were 15-18x EBITDA, so we debated selling over these past 8 months... but the crazy thing is... what do you do with all that cash? If all of a sudden you have $20M in your pocket... you have a totally new problem to navigate: you have to put it to work again. And in talking to many guys who have sold their business, they look to put their cash into deals like ours (to get better returns than what passive market investments can provide). So if they want what we have (strong cash flow), why wouldn't we just keep it going and adding more locations? Even if we slow our pace and build out a c-suite to to enjoy life more.

Then take the distributable cash flow each year and invest the cash you get out into Money Markets (5%), S&P Index funds (8-10% over time), and Treasuries. And add more diversification and cash flow to your overall portfolio. And you still own the beast that is bringing the REAL big returns.

Overall 2024
I am blessed to even have the things I have now. Everything is just on loan to me from God. And I am only competing against myself (to take on challenges and become a better human). I've mentioned it in the past, but the journey with others (along for the ride in the business) is the most fun part :).

My goals this year are:
  1. $11,000,000+ sales in the eCommerce Business ($8M site, $2.6M AMZ, $400K eBay). Increase site traffic back to 100 serp value.
  2. $2,000,000 sales in our Private Label Brand for same eCom biz
  3. $13,500,000+ sales in the Brick and Mortar
Take any distributable cash that I can responsibly take, to add $1.5M into my Schwab account (Money Markets & Index Funds), for further diversification and compounding cash growth. Goal of $2.5M in account by December.
 
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