The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

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

OP
OP
G_Alexander

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
470
3,863
879
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.

IGP

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 24, 2015
506
1,329
426
46
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
I know you don't want to "clutter up" your site with these new products and that is somewhat understandable, but I would definitely add the best selling products to your existing store and use them as up-sells during the checkout process.

I would also add these "other" products to an autoresponder series for your existing customers that give you their email address.

You will increase your avg order value and profits substantially if you do those 2 things. And they only require a small, one time effort!

Good work, G!
 

Andy Black

Any colour, as long as it's red.
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
May 20, 2014
8,331
35,204
4,306
Ireland
Moved back to outside at @G_Alexander's request. People were PM'ing him asking where it is and he thinks it will benefit more people back on the outside.

A few posts were amended to remove specifics.
 

KSR

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Feb 28, 2017
230
401
188
Australia
Thankfully this was moved back to the outside, I'm enjoying this thread thoroughly.
 

cmor16

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 30, 2016
386
1,289
413
46
Nova Scotia, Canada
This is the 2nd mega progress thread I have read in the past 2 days. This time I used my bosses time instead of my own.

Amazing thread and unbelievable progress! Thanks for the inspiration @G_Alexander

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk
 

ChrisJHarrington

Silver Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Nov 27, 2014
322
622
278
26
Sorry if this has been answered already but how much money did you have saved when you quit, @G_Alexander ?
 
OP
OP
G_Alexander

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
470
3,863
879
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!
 
OP
OP
G_Alexander

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
470
3,863
879
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):


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

  • $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!
 

MiguelHammond10

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jun 12, 2017
92
66
58
34
Seattle
Congratulations, thanks for the update and always keep us with the updates.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

PhilPhil

New Contributor
Nov 23, 2015
14
9
14
Wow. I can't believe I have never seen this thread before. Definitely one of the best ones out there.

@G_Alexander, thank you for all the information you've provided. Your motivation and work ethic is inspiring.

Question: You noted in your first post that researching and picking the right product/niche can be done with an ounce of effort and with a little bit of critical self-thinking, and I completely agree. But with so many gurus, classes, and information out there, you could say I am stuck in the never ending analysis paralysis.

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.

Thank you!
 

MJ DeMarco

Administrator
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 23, 2007
28,799
97,801
3,751
Fountain Hills, AZ
Freaking ya gonna make me create a PLATINUM thread tag. Love your updates man, this is why I write books!!!
 

mike24601

Consumption Bear
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Apr 8, 2017
195
500
231
Illinois
This thread just makes me smile every time I read it. It is what drew me in and inspired me when I first visited the forum, and it's what keeps me motivated as I continue my journey.
 
OP
OP
G_Alexander

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
470
3,863
879
Freaking ya gonna make me create a PLATINUM thread tag. Love your updates man, this is why I write books!!!
@MJ DeMarco haha! You're the best man, thank you for the kind words. You + this forum + the great group of guys I met on here when I was 18 (can't believe it's been 9 years) definitely helped me make about 10,000 less mistakes than I otherwise would have on this path. So I am eternally grateful to you.
Speaking of your books, UNSCRIPTED was delivered yesterday and I can't wait to read it in Cabo this week :smile:
 
OP
OP
G_Alexander

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
470
3,863
879
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)
 

Sfbloo

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 9, 2017
27
29
25
36
Uk
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)
Nothing but respect to you. This thread is inspirational.

I've reread it 3 times this week. I've started edging towards an ecommerce site myself and im put off by the lack of control with dropshipping. But drawn in by the reduced start up costs and being able to offer a wider product range from the off.

Can I ask... do your suppliers let you personalise packaging, add inserts etc. Or is it strictly on their terms?

What's the biggest issues you've faced using distributors/dropshipping and trying to maintain outstanding customer service?

Well done on your many achievements so far!
 
OP
OP
G_Alexander

G_Alexander

Does it Cash Flow?
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 7, 2008
470
3,863
879
Can I ask... do your suppliers let you personalise packaging, add inserts etc. Or is it strictly on their terms?

What's the biggest issues you've faced using distributors/dropshipping and trying to maintain outstanding customer service?
When you submit an order to a distributor you usually give them a packing slip for them to give to the warehouse/fulfilment team. Most suppliers/distributors should be able to drop in your store's packing slip at minimum, which will have your logo, web address, and any custom notes you typed on your packing slip. They may also be able to drop in, say a company sticker and a company business card with each order... but not all will do this.

Two of my primary suppliers drop in my store's custom packing slip, and would put other items in if I asked them as well (but I usually don't). I asked them if they could do this up front (if they had said no, it wasn't a deal breaker for me... some distributors are too big to logistically handle all of your requests... that is until you are too big for them to lose.)

Biggest hurdle with dropshipping is quality control (wrong product getting shipped, then you have to deal with returns/exchanges) and speed (they don't move as fast as you might, so it creates unnecessary customer service inquiries).

You can avoid these things by working with excellent suppliers who are organized. The best suppliers will have an internal website of their own where you can put in orders yourself, match SKUs, and track shipments. That said, my best supplier relationship has us submit all orders via email (as does my 3rd largest supplier).
 

Sfbloo

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jun 9, 2017
27
29
25
36
Uk
When you submit an order to a distributor you usually give them a packing slip for them to give to the warehouse/fulfilment team. Most suppliers/distributors should be able to drop in your store's packing slip at minimum, which will have your logo, web address, and any custom notes you typed on your packing slip. They may also be able to drop in, say a company sticker and a company business card with each order... but not all will do this.

Two of my primary suppliers drop in my store's custom packing slip, and would put other items in if I asked them as well (but I usually don't). I asked them if they could do this up front (if they had said no, it wasn't a deal breaker for me... some distributors are too big to logistically handle all of your requests... that is until you are too big for them to lose.)

Biggest hurdle with dropshipping is quality control (wrong product getting shipped, then you have to deal with returns/exchanges) and speed (they don't move as fast as you might, so it creates unnecessary customer service inquiries).

You can avoid these things by working with excellent suppliers who are organized. The best suppliers will have an internal website of their own where you can put in orders yourself, match SKUs, and track shipments. That said, my best supplier relationship has us submit all orders via email (as does my 3rd largest supplier).
Thankyou. It's really helpful information and puts my mind at ease with a few things. I'm Uk based so the number of distributors may block access to certain markets. I wouldn't want to dropship outside of the UK.

Are some of your products only available via one supplier? Or do you always have the safeguard of several suppliers. I've looked at a few products that only have one UK/european distributor. So there is additional risk.
 

jcvlds

JC
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 9, 2016
226
241
165
Mexico > Texas > Florida
Hey @G_Alexander, thanks so much for sharing your story, tactics, and advice here, it has been truly inspiring and motivating for many of us (me!). I am in the works of finding and launching a service like this for a niche of my own and was wondering if you could help me out a bit with how you managed the financial side of the business while ramping up. Did you forego any salary (even if minimal) while you were initiating the business? If not and you did pay yourself, would you shed some light on maybe a rule of thumb or any advice you can give on how much to pay yourself depending on what level the business is at (by revenue I assume).

Many thanks in advance for your insights and once again thanks for sharing your story and wish you even more success to come!
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Ninjamin

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Jul 29, 2017
5
5
22
Singapore
@G_Alexander , thanks for everything (this post, the constant updates, and guidance).

I am definitely motivated to find my own path to success.

Onwards and upwards!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Fox

tiagosoares17.22

Bronze Contributor
Aug 5, 2017
69
119
135
Porto, Portugal
What an amazing thread! I am impressed. Fantastic job!

I am 25 years-old and I am now starting my own business in the wine industry. The goal is to create a new brand (which I am doing) and sell it abroad. To be honest, I have no clue how I am going to pull this off, but I will have to find a way.
 

Laughingman21

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Sep 7, 2015
169
353
193
@G_Alexander - thanks for sharing such an incredible and inspirational story with everyone on the forum.

I've got just a couple of questions about how someone might start out following on a similar path:

1. Do you think it's necessary for the niche you choose to be something you already do or have an interest in?

2. How do you deal with returned items when dropshipping?
 

ButGregSaid

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 9, 2017
72
165
141
30
Michigan
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
Can anyone point me to the eCommerceful guide mentioned in this thread? I'd love to read up on it!
 

Fox

Legendary Contributor
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 19, 2015
1,979
14,484
2,776
Europe

Fox

Legendary Contributor
Staff member
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 19, 2015
1,979
14,484
2,776
Europe
@G_Alexander - thanks for sharing such an incredible and inspirational story with everyone on the forum.

I've got just a couple of questions about how someone might start out following on a similar path:

1. Do you think it's necessary for the niche you choose to be something you already do or have an interest in?

2. How do you deal with returned items when dropshipping?
The guide I just posted above addresses both of those questions in great detail.
 

ButGregSaid

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 9, 2017
72
165
141
30
Michigan
http://www.ecommercefuel.com/profitable-ecommerce-ebook/

I think this is it, they have other great guides too.
Thanks Fox! Really appreciate it, I was looking to get into eCommerce myself since I'm looking to tap out on my job but wanted to make sure I had all the tools under my belt first. I'm in that place where I'm looking across the chasm knowing I want to take the leap but have no idea how to jump. Getting started is the hardest part.
 

Alexo

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jul 1, 2016
37
34
55
32
Thanks for the post. Can't wait to be in a position to quit my day job to focus full time on the business!
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.



Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe to become an INSIDER.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom