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Ing

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Hi man,
still running well?
 

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CivilianCone41

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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.
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
 

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!
 

Kid

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Speedway Pass
Mar 1, 2016
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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...



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!



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.



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.



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!



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!
This is condense!
Great post @Real Deal Denver
 

ItsAJackal

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Oct 16, 2018
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We do the product development ourselves. We work with a number of different factories and some are better than others. We have a really good relationship with the factory that supplies the largest percentage of our SKUs and they are really responsive when it comes to changes. They'll even make suggestions to us based on what their customers in other geographies are doing with similar products.
This is all fantastic, well done. I actually had a question that you kind of touched on here. I might have missed it reading through everything else, and if I did I apologize.

When you started, you said your wife was a beautician and you saw an opportunity in the market. To start did you simply find existing products that were selling well and find a supplier that could provide you with the same? Or did you end up finding the factories that manufactured it and worked out your own deal to provide the products in your own packaging?

At what point did you start doing your own product development to make your own new products? That seems like such a leap from being an online reseller to developing your own line of products.
 

MythOfSisyphus

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I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 15, 2018
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Australia
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...



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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!



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.



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.



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!



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!
Thanks for the advice. Some of the suggestions you've made were based on posts I made a few years ago and have since been implemented (For instance I hired a 2nd picker and stopped picking/packing myself, hired a bookkeeper etc.).

A lot of your suggestions though I can still definitely take on board. There's a lot to unpack here but I'll go through it again and see what I can implement.

Much appreciated insights!
 

MythOfSisyphus

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 15, 2018
204
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Australia
This is all fantastic, well done. I actually had a question that you kind of touched on here. I might have missed it reading through everything else, and if I did I apologize.

When you started, you said your wife was a beautician and you saw an opportunity in the market. To start did you simply find existing products that were selling well and find a supplier that could provide you with the same? Or did you end up finding the factories that manufactured it and worked out your own deal to provide the products in your own packaging?

At what point did you start doing your own product development to make your own new products? That seems like such a leap from being an online reseller to developing your own line of products.
Thankyou!

From the very beginning I found factories that could produce what we wanted with our own packaging. There were several products though that we couldn't find factories capable of producing quality better than what was already on the market for certain products so for these ones we used existing suppliers with their branding (and still do for several products).

Regarding developing our own products... we weren't exactly coming up with anything completely new in most cases. It was more about taking an existing product and changing it in more subtle ways... different colours, sizes, quantities, shapes etc. It never really seemed like a huge leap, just a gradual change.
 

MythOfSisyphus

Gold Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jan 15, 2018
204
1,039
356
41
Australia
Hi man,
still running well?

It's been a long time since I did a proper update so here goes...

Things haven't progressed as well as I'd hoped lately. Covid has had an impact on both our customers ability to trade and our suppliers ability to provide us with stock.

There's also a LOT more competition in our niche now.

At the moment we're averaging around 160k per month but it's been on a gradual decline for several months now.

I expanded into some new areas of our niche about 18 months ago and fortunately that move has paid off. I'd hate to think where we'd be now without the extra revenue coming in from the new products.

There are some new categories I'm also desperately trying to expand into but covid has made this a real pain in the a$$... delays due to border closures, material shortages, huge increases in shipping costs etc.

Anyway... that's how things go sometimes. I can't complain too much given where I was only 6 short years ago.

I have a solid plan to turn things around in the next 6 months so hopefully I'll have some good news toward the end of the year.
 

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