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GOLD! Come and watch me make FU money: Over $100K/mo now.

MythOfSisyphus

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I’m starting this thread to document my journey from “good money” (you can read my intro story here) to FU money.

I aim to do this in the next 5 years by getting my online salon supply business to the stage where it’s profiting 7 figures a year and then hopefully selling it for several million. I’ll then have enough money invested to live comfortably off interest and investments for the rest of my days. Or at least that’s my plan. Let’s see what happens.

I’m documenting this for a few reasons...

First of all I hope that sharing my successes and failures will be of some value to you on your own journey.

Secondly I see it as a way of holding my self more accountable to my goals. Not that I think I’ll slack off or give up, but I this will add some extra motivation for me in hitting my milestones.

Thirdly, because while I’m confident in what I’m doing , it never hurts to get a fresh point of view. Hopefully your feedback can help me see things I might be missing.

And lastly, all I seem to do lately is work on the business and learn about business. This thread will give me a much needed creative outlet.

I’ve decided that I won’t be giving away any major details about my business apart from what I’ve already stated in my intro thread but I will try and be transparent as possible regarding what I’m doing and my progress toward the financial targets I’ve set.

Goal for 2018: $1,750,000 in revenue
I aim to make $1,750,000 in revenue (a figure more than double what I made last year) and I’ll start setting financial targets to hit each month in order to get there.


Monthly totals so far:


January: $101,992

February: $103,041

March: $50,689 (At the halfway point)


Considering I need to average $145,000 every month to hit my goal I’m a long way behind where I need to be. But while the start has been slow, I think if I put in the hard work now, I will see my efforts start to pay off in the back half of the year.


I’ll set my goal for March at 108k which would be a good result considering my position at the halfway mark.

The goal for April will be 118k and if I can grow revenue at around 10k per month thereafter I might be able to hit the annual target by years end. It’s an unlikely goal, but why not shoot for the moon?


How I plan to grow revenue:

1. Hire & Outsource – Until 2 weeks ago I was handling everything on my own. I have since hired someone part time to assist with packing & shipping which will free me up to spend more time growing the business. I’ll also be looking for other opportunities to outsource work to VA’s and other contractors.


2. Expand the product line – I’m currently talking to 2 new suppliers in China after ordering samples of some new beauty products and am about to put in large orders with both of them for variants of some products we already stock that have been extremely popular. I’ve also just started stocking some new aftercare products (products that the salons we supply can retail to their customers) and so far they’ve generated around a thoursand dollars worth of sales within the first week or so.



3. Improve marketing campaigns – I’ve been spending around 5k per month on advertising on adwords and facebook but haven’t put in the time and effort required to really test and tweak the campaigns. I spent my nights over the past 2 weeks doing an online adwords certification and completely overhauled the old campaigns and set up some new ones. They’ll need time to settle but once they do I’ll continue to tweak and adjust to get a better ROI which will mean I can increase the overall marketing budget and generate more traffic and more revenue.


4. Increase Social Media Presence – This has probably been the most neglected area of my business. I keep meaning to post more regularly but always seem to find other things to work on instead. I think this is partly because as a guy selling beauty products, marketing them doesn’t come naturally to me and I’m not an avid social media user outside of work either. Having said that, Instagram is huge in my niche and other brands are taking advantage so I need to step up my game here. I did try to outsource the social media work by advertising on upwork however I couldn’t find anyone with knowhow in both B2B and the beauty industry.



5. A heap of other stuff - I use Trello to track all my various to do lists and I probably have well over 100 changes planned for the business from website tweaks to improving my email campaigns to improving ad copy. Basically anything that will 1) Increase traffic, 2) Increase conversions, 3) Increase order value. These are the things that will grow revenue.


So that’s my first post done. I’m not sure how often I’ll be providing updates. I’ll at least do a run down for the end of each month documenting how I measured up against the financial goals and what changes I made. What went wrong, what went right. I’ll also try and provide updates and answer any questions each week as well.


The plan is to keep coming back to this thread and setting new goals each year, all the way through until I make that sweet FU money and drive off into the sunset in my new lambo.
 

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amp0193

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Skimmed the op, I saw the word unlikely way too many times.

If that number is your real goal, think outside the box about how you could achieve it. If there’s no realistic path to reaching a target, then it’s more of a dream than a goal.

What could you do to make it likely? What elements can you influence to make this a reality?

If it’s cash, get cash.
If it’s time, get employees/VA and automate.
If it’s knowledge, bring in an advisor.
If it’s fear, conquer it.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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One thing i learned from your thread is that your niche has to have recurrent buyers, ex in your niche : Plastic gloves (hygiene), kit, etc..

These are the thing they regularly buy in order to work, that's a great opportunity.

Its definitely a massive plus, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's a necessity though. There's plenty of successful businesses that have 1 time buyers.

I don't remember where I heard it but it's believed that when evaluating their success entrepreneurs often overrate their own input and underrate the part that luck played, and people evaluating the entrepreneur from the outside do the opposite... They overestimate the importance of luck and underestimate the importance of hard work.

In my situation I'd like to think I have a pretty realistic view. I got into very good niche... It had high barriers to entry and its a rapidly growing part of a larger evergreen niche (the beauty industry). It was a lucky break to hit a niche like this on my first attempt at a proper business.

But... I put in years of work beforehand, often with little to no reward learning the ins and outs of marketing, copywriting, SEO, Web design etc. It was those years of slugging away with nothing to show for it that put me in a position to make the most of my lucky break when it came along.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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August Revenue Goal: $165,000

Actual Revenue for August: $176,447.97


Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: 1,043,716.38 (as of today, not end of August)

Sorry for the lack of updates lately but August was a massive month, much bigger than expected so I'm now well on my way to that FU money. Still need to average around 175-185k a month for the next 4 to hit the target but I think it's pretty achievable now.

The bookkeeper and digital marketing expert have helped free up some more of my time and hopefully I'll start seeing some additional revenue coming in from our adwords campaigns. I've also advertised for a 2nd picking/packing assistant to aid with the increase in orders expected over the busy period from November through February and also to cover for my existing assistant who will be having 3 weeks off during the peak period.

I'm finding it hard to set new goals or know exactly where to take this business next. There are a tonne of small improvements I can make to everything, but apart from 2 or 3 new products which I'll be getting in soon there aren't a lot of other popular products in this niche to target.

I've been considering starting a 2nd business in the beauty niche. Different products, however many of the salons we already sell our existing products to would also be using these as well so I could leverage the existing customer base.

I've also been spending a lot of time learning about investing so that I'll actually know what to do with all this money once I've done the basics like pay down our debt.

The funny thing is, I'm earning around 60k a month now after expenses and still haven't splurged on anything for myself (I did just take the wife away to a fancy hotel for the weekend though). I love the feeling of freedom and the excitement that comes with seeing the bank account increase but stuffed if I know what to actually do with the money. I still drive a second hand car and we still live in a modest house in one of the poorer parts of town. We're looking to build a nicer house but even with our current means it will still be relatively modest and should be paid off in a number of years (I still stress about borrowing an amount that I can easily repay)

I'm keen to invest the money and snowball it into even bigger monthly income, but I wonder at what stage I'll actually feel secure enough to start and spend it more freely. And yes, I'm quite aware of what a stupid problem that is to complain about. I just find it interesting how my mind hasn't quite caught up with the reality of the situation.

Revenue goal for September: $165,000
 

MJ DeMarco

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Holy shit, when I saw the title of the thread I was like, "Uh huh, I won't believe a thing until you've sold $100 worth of stuff..."

But then I saw this...

Monthly totals so far:

January: $101,992

February: $103,041

March: $50,689 (At the halfway point)

Which gives me evidence that you're no action-faker.

Thread watched!

Also, are these you're own personally branded products? Or are you just distributing?

I think there are two big differences between the two.

Good luck, can't wait to see this unfold!
 

MythOfSisyphus

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MARCH UPDATE

Monthly Revenue Goal: $108,000

Actual Monthly Revenue: $109,591.49

Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: $321,970


For a while there it looked like I would miss the target, however an Easter long weekend sale netted about 10k in 2 days which got me over the line and resulted in my best month ever by a fair margin.

What went right:
  • 6 new products that I stocked earlier in the month ended up taking in $2800 in sales
  • Easter sale netted 10k in 2 days
  • Re-invested a large percentage of profits into some new stock that will hopefully arrive this month and should really boost revenue over the coming months
  • Hiring a part time employee to handle shipping freed me up to focus on activities that will grow revenue in the next few months.
  • Website traffic was up by about 20% from the previous month which is a huge increase

What went wrong:
  • An overhaul of my adwords campaigns didn't pay immediate dividends, netting only 30k in revenue for an 8k spend. (February saw 28k in revenue for only a 5k spend). I'll be tweaking the keywords and budgets in the next week or so to see if I can improve those figures.
  • Several best selling products were out of stock for an extended period due to manufacturing delays caused by the Chinese new year.
  • Had a higher than usual number of returns and refunds
  • Selling on the newly launched Amazon Australia is still being delayed due to several frustrating issues. I had incorrectly assumed it would be as easy as listing items on ebay.
  • Conversion rate dropped by 2% from previous month

Revenue Goal for April: 118k

April is traditionally the month that sales really start to dip due to the colder months here in Australia so if I can hit this target I'll be very pleased. I'm expecting several new products to arrive but probably won't see many results from them until next month due to the time it takes to do photography, copy and website adjustments.

Any growth this month will hopefully come from improvements to my paid search campaigns, continued sales from the new products introduced last month and more time spent engaging with our customers on social media.
 
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MythOfSisyphus

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2018 FINAL UPDATE

December Revenue Goal: $163,623

Actual Revenue: $173,788 (Down 27k from previous month)

Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Final Revenue: $1,760,166


WooHoo!

Made the monthly target pretty comfortably in the end but to only hit the overall goal by 10k over was ridiculously close. To be honest though, I wouldn't have been upset or disappointed if I missed the goal. The point wasn't the final figure or the goal itself, but to get the business to the point it needed to be at to reach that goal.

If the business stays at the point that it's at right now without any further growth then I'm making enough money to put away a few million in assets and investments over the next couple of years and then potentially sell the business for around 3 million or so which gives me more than enough FU money for my family and I to live off for the rest of our lives. Not that I think I would want to, but retiring at 40 is an option now.

What went wrong
  • Not much at all really apart from sales slowing down as they do over the Christmas period.
  • A minor issue is that the new hire is struggling a little and not quite packing as fast as is required and still makes some small mistakes.

What went right
  • Hit the monthly and overall revenue target.
  • Things ran smoothly in my absence. I only need to do around 1-2 hours of work answering a few customer emails while I was away. I'm now handing over a lot of the customer service to my employees so that next time I'm away I'll hopefully only need to do a few minutes of work.

Plans for this year

I haven't set any overall financial targets or goals for this year and I don't know if I will. However I would think around 2.6 million in revenue would be a reasonable target although I'm expecting that growth might become a little tougher to sustain this year.

Plans for the business include launching a new logo, a new website and moving into the new warehouse which will help me expand the product range a little faster. At the moment the backyard warehouse is pretty much full capacity.

I'll also be looking at expanding the product line a little further to include some other products in a slightly different but still related cosmetic niche.

Anyway... thanks to everyone who followed my success last year and contributed to the thread. I'm not sure yet if I'll keep providing regular or formal updates this year but I'll definitely try and keep the thread alive and keep you updated on my progress. While the business is going well, I haven't reached that final FU money stage just yet so I'll keep you all updated on that.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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thanks for doing this. I'll keep an eye on it for sure.

I have a question. I'm a software developer, and as such, I use Trello quite often. I know how I use it in my field and it works great for that but how are YOU using it? Do you have any examples of your boards and cards. It might help some people out to see a tool to organize their thoughts and tasks. I could dump a bunch of questions on you but I'll not burden you with my silliness. What ever you want to tell us would be great! Thanks.

Sure.

I just use the one board, however I have that board divided into several lists...

Reminder List - This contains a card that displays a visual display of my revenue goal for the year, and then my revenue goal for the month. Undearneath these are simply a few ongoing reminders (with due dates set) that I need for the future.

To Do List - This one is the most important. This is where the tasks I'm currently focussed on are kept. When they're completed they get moved into the next list

Completed - Pretty self explanatory. This is where my completed tasks go. I archive the contents of the list at the end of each day so that each day I can see it filling up with the tasks I'm knocking out. This helps me see what I've acheived.

Project Lists - I have about 10 other lists for the various projects I have going on. For instance I have one for the Amazon migration I'm doing at the moment (adding our products to Amazon Australia). I also have ongoing lists for things like website updates, social media, ebay, advertising etc.

Prioritising the tasks - This is what makes my system really effective - Any task that is tied to my goals of increasing revenue is marked with an 'IMPORTANT' label, so for instance something like setting up a marketing campaign for an upcoming sale will have a direct impact on revenue and therefore be marked with the important label. Anything that requires immediate attention (can't be put off until tomorrow or next week etc) will be given an 'URGENT' label.

So what I do is grab all the tasks listed as both 'IMPORTANT & URGENT' and add them to the top of my To-Do list. I then grab any listed as urgent and do them next. After that I prioritise anything listed as 'Important' to do next. Things listed as neither urgent, nor important i just get to when I can.

This is basically just a simplified version of the Eisenhower decision matrix but I've found it works really well at keeping me focused on only the most important revenue raising tasks and helps keep me organised and motivated.

I hope that's clear. Let me know if it's not though.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Wait i might have read this wrong, and i dont know the industry. But you get B2b sales to beauty shops/salons with ads and ebay and stuff? I figured that was more of a reaching out type of thing. I don't picture an owner surfing ebay for products but like i said, completely have no idea of this industry.

The niche I'm in has a lot of buyers who have home based salons, so we sell to anyone from part time work at home mothers to professional beauty salons, to beauty schools.
 
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MythOfSisyphus

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Holy sh*t, when I saw the title of the thread I was like, "Uh huh, I won't believe a thing until you've sold $100 worth of stuff..."

But then I saw this...



Which gives me evidence that you're no action-faker.

Thread watched!

Also, are these you're own personally branded products? Or are you just distributing?

I think there are two big differences between the two.

Good luck, can't wait to see this unfold!
The business has been going for about 3 years now so it took some errort to get to where I'm at.

I was actually quite content (and still am grateful) to be at the level I'm at right now, but re-reading TMF a month or 2 ago lit a bit of a fire in me to really go all in on this thing and see where I can take it.

90% of the products are my own brand. The other 10% I buy wholesale from a major brand in the industry. I stock their products because I haven't been able to find (or have made) those particular products of the same quality anywhere else.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Quick progress update:

I've been meaning to come back here and update more regularly however it's been tough to find the time.

So far April is looking okay but I'll struggle to make the target of 118k. It's looking closer to around 110k which would still be the biggest month ever but not a big improvement over March unfortunately.

I've had a stack of new products arriving that I should have up on the website for sale in early May. It's at this point that I'm predicting a big jump in revenue.

There's also a new product I've found that could be a huge innovation in our market and if I can get it out there first it should be a massive boost. This one is probably 2 months away from being in stock though.

This month I've spent a lot of time researching my competition and seeing what they're up to. I've actually ordered a lot of stock from some of the main competitors to see things like how they package their orders, what their order notifications and follow up sales tactics are like and it's been a great experience. I've come away with a lot of ideas to improve. eg. I'm having some stickers printed that will go on the inside of the box and have a nice message for our customers when they open their order. Improving little things like this will have a payoff in the long run with brand loyalty and customer retention.

Anyway... back to the grind and hopefully I'll have another more detailed update soon.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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September Revenue Goal: $165,000

Actual Revenue for September: $158,217 (Down 18k from previous month)


Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: $1,201,933 ($548,067 to go)


Average per month required: $182,689

So September was a bit off where I wanted to be at this stage but the target is still achievable (just). October will hopefully see a spike in revenue and November is traditionally a very good month, as is most of December, however the Christmas period hurts sales at the end. Hitting this target will basically mean that the business is capable of earning around 1 million (profit) a year going forward which is staggering considering where I was only a few years ago. I'm also looking forward to a couple of weeks after Christmas driving along the coast with my family and planning what will come next.

What went wrong:

Some of our search engine rankings for major keywords went downhill. Some investigating revealed that we lost positions on a few different keywords to the same competitor. They look to have outsourced their SEO to someone or some company that is using a bunch of spammy blogs to create artificial banklinks. I won't be doing the same, however I will be putting a focus on SEO and doing what I can to get the rankings back.

We also had some delays in restocking products due to switching the supplier for our bestsellers. Some variants of the products we supply were new to them and took longer to deliver. Hopefully they'll be faster moving forward.

What went right:

The campaign manager I hired to work on our adwords campaigns has done well so far by attaining roughly the same revenue as we had previously but cutting the monthly ad spend by around 3-4k. No impact on revenue, but there's a full time wage worth of savings there.

I negotiated a new shipping rates contract with Australia Post which didn't seem to be great value initially, however they have just announced that there will be price changes to their standard delivery costs very soon (which I am assuming means a price hike)

I finished reviewing resumes and interviewed for a new picker/packer who should start in the next week or so and once trained up should free up an extra 2 days a week for me to focus on more important matters.

The loose ends of transition from a sole trader to a company have pretty much all been tied up now (this was quite a time sink for me over the past couple of months)

Thanks to the tax man and mortgage brokers I no longer have that pesky issue of all that surplus cash sitting in the bank that I was learning how to invest ;)

Plans for October:

Apart from a sale or 2 and some good marketing there's not a lot I can do to impact sales over these last few months of the year. I basically have to hope that the hard work I've done throughout the year pays dividends. So this month will mostly be about long term planning...

  • Getting the new employee hired and trained up before things get hectic around here
  • Rearranging what little room we have left in the backyard office and storage facility to make space for said employee
  • Contacting suppliers about new products to stock early next year
  • Focusing on SEO to regain rankings on the more competitive keywords in my niche
  • Continuing to focus on social media


October Revenue Goal: $180,000
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Marked NOTABLE, congrats on reaching the revenue goal. You socking money away?

BTW, here is your intro post if anyone wants a link or missed it in your first post.

INTRO - In the fastlane and looking to go even faster
Thanks, I'll probably miss this months goal but revenue is heading in the right direction.

And yes, I'm re-investing heavily in the business but have also almost completely paid of the mortgage and am just about to purchase some waterfront land that I'll be building an investment property on next year. Looks like I'll also have enough borrowing power to build a commercial property or properties that I can move the business into some time next year as well. Living the dream.
 

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May Revenue Goal: $125,000

Actual Revenue for May: $144,153.36

Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: $586,616.17


Wow, what a month. I thought 125k might have been out of reach, particularly given that I'm coming into what is traditionally the slowest time of year for sales so to hit 144k was completely unexpected. It's an awesome result and has put me back on track to hit that big annual goal. Revenue so far this year is up 215% on last year which is pretty decent growth 3 years into the business.

What went right:
  • The addition of afterpay continued to boost sales
  • The new products I launched sold quite well particularly in the first days after launch due to email and social media campaigns
  • I continued to keep nearly all products in stock permanently which saw more consistent sales

What went wrong:
  • Not a lot really. The adwords campaigns continue to struggle netting only 30k from an increased 9k spend so we're trending downwards there.
  • Some ongoing struggles with our shipping software (I paid 5k to have this software customised and it's been a massive dissapointment with constant bugs and wasted time). No direct impact on sales but frustrating none the less.

Plans for June...
I'm still currently running my accounting from a spreadsheet which is becoming completely unmanageable so I've hired a freelance accounting expert to assist me in setting up online accounting software.

In an effort to get better results from my online advertising, I'm going to hire a digital marketing expert to work a couple of hours a week to get the adwords and facebook campaigns doing better returns and also to provide me with better analytics and reports.

I'll also start shipping internationally this month which will hopefully start to pay dividends toward the end of this year by growing a repeat customer base overseas. There's a little bit of red tape to get through first with GDPR compliance

Currently we're still sending items on ebay via envelopes in an effort to provide free shipping (All items via the website go out in mailing boxes) . This has been a great strategy in the past because it's much easier to sell on ebay with free shipping, however ebay now only accounts for less than 10% of revenue and having 2 different shipping methods is a pain.

I've started charging a small flat rate shipping fee on ebay (at a loss) and will ship the ebay orders together with the website orders in an effort to streamline our processes. If this proves to have too drastic of an impact on sales then I'll back out.

I'm mindful of losing customers this way because traditionally ebay has been great for siphoning customers from there over to my website and in the long run it could have a bigger impact on long term sales than I'm predicting. If this is the case I may even consider offering free shipping but still using the mailing boxes which would mean on most individual items sold on ebay I'd be making no money and in many cases a loss, however if this means I'm still gaining new long term customers regularly then the hit might be worth it, especially if I can renegotiate my shipping contract with Australia Post (which is also on the agenda)

Revenue goal for June: $155,000

To be honest I'll be happy if I can sustain the great sales from last month, but there's no reason I can't build on those sales and hit this lofty target.
 
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October Revenue Goal: $180,000

Actual Revenue for October: 183,624 ($25k Up from previous month)


Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: $1,385,558 ($364,442 to go)


Average per month required: $182,221

October went pretty well and ended roughly where I expected it to. Sales in December suffer because of the Christmas week so November will need to be a pretty big month to get me over the line.

What went wrong:

  • No major issues but after the Adwords campaign performing quite well in September, October was relatively poor with an increase spend but stagnant returns. I'll meet with the campaign manager next week to address this.

What went right:

  • Sales continued to trend upward.
  • Hired a new employee and they've started pretty well which has freed up an extra 2 days a week for me to focus on other things
  • Most products remained in stock throughout the entire month
  • I managed to actually post to our social media pages quite regularly and should be able to continue to do so


Plans for November:

As November is the busiest month of the year I don't have anything major planned. Just hoping to stay on top of the day to day things and put out fires wherever they start (that's basically 50% of my job now anyway). I have around 50 small tasks on my radar that I'll try and get through including doing an overhaul of the slightly dated website.


November Revenue Goal: $200,000
 

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Just thought I'd do a quick update for anyone who's interested in how the current situation is impacting the business.

Basically all of our customers (we're B2B) businesses should be closed with very few exceptions so I expected revenue to drop dramatically but at the moment we're only down about 30% over the last month.

We've seen a big shift in the type of products we're selling with many new customers purchasing training related and use at home products.

This sudden shift has meant that we're under-stocked for many products and overstocked for others. This hasn't been a major issue with most of our suppliers in China and Korea still able fulfill our purchase orders quickly.

My 2 staff are still working the same hours but I am finding additional tasks for them to keep them busy and ensure their lives aren't impacted too much by the current situation. One of them is now on more money than she was previously due to Australian government subsidies for business impacted by COVID-19.

I'm running the business from home 95% of the time while also home schooling my 8 year old son which has been a challenge so far.

I've cut back costs where I can but unfortunately most of our overheads aren't able to be scaled down with the fall in business.

Given how many businesses have already been ruined and how many jobs have been lost so far I can't complain at all. We're still turning a tidy profit and things should recover well once the restrictions in Australia are lifted.
 

ZCP

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Time to hire, setup proper books, erp, dedicated marketing staff / outsourcing. Get help and advice and grow the company.

Order to go in.....
Cash flow, then Profit, then Growth.

Consider an inside thread where you lay out a little more of the business specifics and we can help with some advice there.

Sounds like a great opportunity!
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Mini progress update: Revenue for the month currently sits at $77,460 which means I'm potentially on track for my biggest month ever but will most likely fall short of my goal for the month of 108k. The Easter break may have a negative impact on sales as well.

Im considering a sale early next week to see if I can't boost things along to try and hit that target.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Awesome mindset man!!! I love how streamline you keep your strategy. I believe it was Earl Nightingale that said "get good at one thing at a time." Sounds like you identified competitive pricing as your first "thing" and pressed go. Love it!
Thankyou.

I've been asked a ton of questions since I first posted on here regarding all sorts of tiny details... "what was your initial branding strategy?" "what formula did you use to decide on your wholesale pricing?" "what lead gen strategy did you have in place?" "how did you set up your remarketing campaign?". And while these are all good questions and important considerations for a business they are honestly just things I pieced together along the way.

In my opinion there's only 2 basic things you need to worry about in the beginning...

1. Value... MJ harps on about this for a reason. If you can't offer the consumer a better option than what they already have then don't bother.

2. Traffic... If you can't get people to see the value you're offering, again... Don't bother.

It's really as simple as having a solid strategy for these 2 things. Everything else can be figured out along the way.
 

AlessioLC

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One thing i learned from your thread is that your niche has to have recurrent buyers, ex in your niche : Plastic gloves (hygiene), kit, etc..

These are the thing they regularly buy in order to work, that's a great opportunity.
 

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MythOfSisyphus

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June Revenue Goal: $155,000

Actual Revenue for June: $146,409.43

Annual Revenue Goal: $1,750,000

Revenue so far: $733,025.60


Didn't hit the target this month but managed to keep up the strong sales from the previous month. June/July are generally the worst months of the year so I should see some pretty solid growth toward the end of the year. I now need to average 169,000 in sales each month for the rest of this year to hit the target so it's important that I at least stay around the 145-150 mark for the next month in order to not have that average increase too much.

What went right:
  • The new products stocked in previous months continued to sell well and sales stayed solid
  • I began shipping internationally which saw an extra 3k or so in revenue. Not an impressive figure by any means, however building up repeat international customers will be a long game and I expect sales from overseas to increase month on month
  • Agreed to a deal to purchase a warehouse for the business to move into next year.
  • My small business that started in a 3 by 3 metre spare room, officially became a company.
  • Finished the financials for last financial year and realised I did just over 1 million in sales.

What went wrong:
  • I made the decision to stop sending items on ebay in envelopes and use the same system as our website orders in order to streamline our packing process. In order to do this I started charging a small shipping fee on ebay and sales on there immediately halved (ebay loves free shipping) so that cost about 5k in the short term and potentially might cost a bit more in the long term. I'm still weighing up my options here and may simply go back to free shipping (but boost the cost of my ebay products by 10% or so) and take a small hit in profit margins in order to get the revenue and potential of long term customers back up.
  • I paid a guy 1k on upwork to help set up an online accounting system. He is a charted accountant and charges $65 US an hour. He seemed to know what he was doing during the interview, but as time dragged on I realised I should have simply set it all up myself as most of the work he did was pretty straight forward and it wasn't possible to integrate with shopify the way I had hoped (and someone who claimed to have done this kind of work before should have been aware of this from the outset). Anyway, lesson learned and not a major issue in the end.
Plans for July

I've been making some pretty big changes over the previous months, however in July I'll be focussing on some minor improvements here and there including:
  • Hiring a marketing expert to assist with the ad campaigns (I ran out of time to do this in June)
  • Potentially installing a new website theme as the one I'm currently using is a little dated and doesn't have a lot of the built in functionality I want like built in currency conversion.
  • Spending some time reviewing and improving internal processes and putting rules in place for customer engagement. Reason being that I see the business expanding pretty rapidly in the next 12 months and realistically I will need to delegate many of the tasks I'm currently performing. I'd like to be in a position to have rules and processes around almost everything we do in order to reduce the potential for human error.


Revenue goal for July: $150,000

July is a very slow month traditionally so 150k will be tough to hit but I'm hoping international sales will continue to increase and might plan a sale toward the end of the month to try and get closer to the target.
 

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MythOfSisyphus

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Thanks. The month started off pretty slow, even slower than October so things weren't looking good but it picked up a bit about half way through the month. Black Friday weekend was huge with Friday almost doubling the revenue record for a single day. Currently sitting on 191k for the month so should hit the 200k target.

Will provide a full update in a few days.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Since you have your own brand, it seems like the quickest way to a dramatically increase of sales would be to find resellers in countries/cities outside areas you currently serve? Have you considered or tried that route?

All the best, seems like business is moving along nicely, rooting for you!

Not as yet. I'd definitely be open to exploring it but not sure how viable it would be in my niche. Most of the sellers in this niche have their own brand of products.

I have recently negotiated a contract with Australia post for domestic shipping, but one that also includes the option of much lower international rates as well, so resuming international shipping is part of my plan in the coming months. I originally scrapped it due to the effort required to complete manual paperwork for customs. This process is now automated so I'm good to resume.

Approximately 10% of daily traffic to the site is international (around 30 to 40 visitors a day) so there's money on the table there.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Skimmed through the thread, question; can you walk us through your marketing as it stands from beginning to sale?

Sure. All of our current marketing efforts are online... The majority of new customers come from search (both paid and SEO). We invest pretty heavily in adwords (around 15-20k per month) and also run paid facebook ads (around 1k to 2k per month).

We see a much larger return on adwords as it can be quite difficult to target business owners on facebook so there's a lot of wasted ad spend. Our best results on Facebook are from our retargeting campaigns (as we have a lot of repeat buyers).

As far as social media goes instagram is the most popular platform in our niche and we currently outsource to an agency to put together 3 posts a week for us, however I will be looking at hiring a contractor from upwork instead as I'm finding I'm still having to micromanage the agency and edit many of the posts. Social media has been an ongoing struggle.

We also use mailchimp (I'd love to migrate to Klaviyo) to market to our customers. Anyone who signs up to our list will receive a series of around 5 emails intended to introduce them to our full range of products and to get them back to the website. We also have campaigns for abandoned carts, customer loyalty rewards, and lapsed customer offers.

That's basically it off the top of my head.
 

Real Deal Denver

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The funny thing is, I'm earning around 60k a month now after expenses and still haven't splurged on anything for myself (I did just take the wife away to a fancy hotel for the weekend though).
Wow - serious money. I don't know why you ran this like a sideline for so long. I'll focus on that with the comments below...


I finished reviewing resumes and interviewed for a new picker/packer who should start in the next week or so and once trained up should free up an extra 2 days a week for me to focus on more important matters.
A picker will free up two days for you? Big problem there. There is an elephant in the room. Why are you picking? Do what you do best, and avoid menial tasks. Work smarter, not harder - print that out as a large one-line mission statement and tape it to the top edge of your computer screen so you see it 100 times a day.

As November is the busiest month of the year I don't have anything major planned. Just hoping to stay on top of the day to day things and put out fires wherever they start (that's basically 50% of my job now anyway). I have around 50 small tasks on my radar that I'll try and get through including doing an overhaul of the slightly dated website.

Delegate. I'm glad I saw your income post early on. Combine tasks for your employees so they are much more well-rounded instead of doing menial repetitive tasks. Once they know more, they can do more, and you can assign the small fires to them to put out. How much is your time worth per hour? What are THE top three most important tasks that bring in the most revenue? Do those three well and offload the rest.

I'm now handing over a lot of the customer service to my employees so that next time I'm away I'll hopefully only need to do a few minutes of work.

Ah yes. What a breath of fresh air! Offload as many tasks to your employees as possible. This will free you up to do the truly important stuff while improving your efficiency by leaps and bounds. Give your people a path to grow and pay them well for what they do. Good people are hard to find. Utilize them to their potential. Appreciate them.

In the very beginning it was very much just guesswork (and still is for new products) however I now use a shopify app called inventory planner which is amazing. It uses past sales history data to (pretty damn accurately) predict future sales.

Glad to hear you are using a powerful app. Earlier on you said you were using a spreadsheet for accounting and had no barcoding. You can easily squeeze 20% more profit by being efficient and organized. Did you hire a consultant from Upwork? Get serious. Why are you using an amateur to build out your company? I have been down this road, and I hired the best damned accounting firm I could find. I want a top-tier accounting program that is as automatic as possible and will generate things like bar codes and pick lists - and shipping labels, too. When you have all of that, your shipping dept should have handheld bar code readers to check the order - which will also feed your inventory status program so you can reorder automatically. Man - you HAVE to use technology if you want to maximize profitability. With your profits, there is absolutely no excuse to wing this flying by the seat of your pants.

Maturity - The business is now in the start of it's 5th year and the kind of growth we were experiencing in the first 3-4 years (basically doubling revenue every year) was always unsustainable

Think how much more you could do if you detached yourself from managing small potatoes tasks - and automated everything. Speaking of automating - I see a lot of shelves stacked side by side in your warehouse picture. Put them in a single line to eliminate steps zig-zagging back and forth between rows. Color code areas for fast and easy identification. Add signs - you need BIG signs so things can be found. Anyone should be able to use your system - Row B - Section 12 - Shelf 6 - Box 6. Strive for pinpoint accuracy. If your software puts a picking list in numeric order AND calculates the size of the box(s) you need, you can fill an order by walking down one or two rows super easily - no backtracking - and no looking for an item in the "general area." You want fast - precise - and failproof results. Software, man - software can perfect it for you.

All of our current marketing efforts are online... The majority of new customers come from search (both paid and SEO). We invest pretty heavily in adwords (around 15-20k per month) and also run paid facebook ads (around 1k to 2k per month).

B2B doesn't need social media - and probably a ton less of SEO. You are not finding consumers that will come and go - you are finding established businesses! THOSE businesses are looking for consumers, so let THEM use digital marketing. Your job should be finding those businesses. Google should be able to do that for you with a simple search - then use a CRM drip campaign and one on one direct marketing. You should be able to identify your customers very easily and capture 80% or more. Focus. They're already there - just search them out - you don't need a mass campaign to cover the market. If I were selling car parts, how hard would it be for me to find car dealers to sell to? Name a city - I'll have every one of them in less than an hour. Think like a skilled hunter. Track your prey. I'll work on a commission of 14% of whatever my new customers buy. I can MAKE you money, and not be an overhead expense - and I'll make a ton of money for myself in the process. Don't just hire me - hire three of me! The world is a big place - don't waste your time saving a buck by using a bag, instead of a box, for shipping. Think big! Or, better yet, as @Kak would put it - KILL bigger!

As far as social media goes instagram is the most popular platform in our niche and we currently outsource to an agency to put together 3 posts a week for us, however I will be looking at hiring a contractor from upwork instead as I'm finding I'm still having to micromanage the agency and edit many of the posts. Social media has been an ongoing struggle

B2B. Search and destroy. The substantial funds you are wasting on mass advertising could go into direct marketing instead. How many new customers could I - for example - find for you in one day? A lot. Be effective - quit shooting in the dark.

When launching a new product or SKU, I'm assuming you have an email list that you blast? How else do you get it to gain traction at launch? Do you do much with buying Amazon reviews or running FB traffic to AMZ to get it to rank, etc? Or are you only on your own ecom store?

Email marketing is an art unto itself. This is another gold mine that you could mine. Make your emails WORTH reading. Make your customers look forward to getting them. I buy from several companies every month - based purely on what their emails promote. When I see their emails, I know they have something good going on. Make them an offer they can't refuse - and they won't.

Yes, we have an email list of around 20,000 now and for most products we do a launch email. For smaller products we usually just do a social media post though.

Are smaller products smaller orders? Get your customers to order more at one time. They will still be buying the same amount but in fewer orders. Give them a reason to buy more - tiered pricing for quantity - specials they can only get if they order X dollar amount - and add on products. You already have the customers - so why not save on order processing - shipping - and tap into additional products? Milk this baby. So many companies only look outward to grow their business - I bet you could increase your existing order sizes by 30%. More profit - fewer orders - less work - built-in promotions that cost you NOTHING to run to your already sizable customer base. Gotta love this! Work it!

A big congratulations. I sat and read the entire journey for the last 2 hours. Lots of good info. I am clapping outloud for you. #Inspirational

Your posts and progress are nothing less than fantastic. I too am clapping my hands for you! I just love a good business - and yours could continue to double in size if you pushed in the right areas and relieved yourself of the work part of your business. Plot that course - sail your ship - and prosper. Everything else is just details, and that's what you pay other people for. Congrats on a great business! Here's to your continued success!
 

MythOfSisyphus

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Like MJ and many other great people here say, you create your own luck!

What would make you say were the high barriers to entry into your niche? Industry knowledge? Capital for inventory? Trying to evaluate your experience to see how we can try to look for niches like yours systematically and find ones with barriers to entry that we can overcome but others won’t


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The main barrier is Industry knowledge. Most people probably wouldn't bother touching the niche without knowing how to use the products. It was just fortunate for me that my wife had this knowledge. Now that I've been doing it for a while that initial barrier isn't too important. I know quite a lot about the niche and it's products without ever having performed any of the beauty procedures myself.

The majority of my competitors are women who were in the industry already and decided to start a side business. Most of them have good knowledge of the products but poor business models and poor websites.

There are a few at the top of the chain who appear to be both industry professionals and very astute business people as well.
 

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