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NOTABLE! Describe your first sale as an entrepreneur!

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Andy Black

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I love reading stories of how people got started, especially the turning point where people make their first sale and get hooked.

Let’s see if we can inspire other forum members to make their first sale.


What’s the story of your first sale?
  • How did you feel in that moment?
  • What changed from that moment onwards?
  • What has it lead to?

In hindsight:
  • What would you have done LESS of?
  • What would you have done MORE of?
  • What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?
 

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ANR

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Started a "Clothing Company" at age 16/17.

At the time I thought all you needed for success was some printed jumpers and the rest would be history.

My FAVOURITE part of the whole thing wasn't making the first sale but was seeing people around my school wearing something I had created.


Biggest Takeaways:
1. You need to do some form of promotion if you want to sell beyond your small group of friends.
2. One jumper/one design does not count as an apparel company! aha
3. Don't spend all your revenue on yourself leaving nothing to expand the business.


Even though the venture wasn't successful financially, it is the cornerstone memory I go back to when I am feeling exasperated by my current projects. I look at it and say trying to create businesses is one of my major life themes, just keep trying and learning. That usually gets me right back on track.

Memory of First Sale
Started an illicit sweet shop out of my book bag at age 10. DAMN. Coming home after school having doubled my money felt incredible. The man who owned the shop knew what I was doing and would always ask 'How's business?' when I came in. I felt like a boss.

Great memories!

First Sale Mountain
I think that 'making that first sale' becomes a mountain when you start a new project that can intimidate people. I know that i'm guilty of jumping to the conclusion that my ideas are rubbish if I leave it too long to try and connect people with my project.

Start with something small and get the ball rolling.

A
 

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What’s the story of your first sale?

How did you feel in that moment?

What changed from that moment onwards?

What has it lead to?
Since I've only just made my first sale I can say it's like scoring a goal in a football (soccer) match. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions, the euphoria of starting, the anticipation of the first sale, the niggling doubts and urges to change things, the waiting and then BAM... the first sale.
Now for the next, and the next...gradually improving and always learning.
What's it leading to is still the unknown, but I'm looking forward to the adventure.

In hindsight:

What would you have done LESS of?

What would you have done MORE of?

What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?
In hindsight I'd be less concerned about getting things perfect and wanting to keep changing things.
I would do more initial research, no so much about the product but the selling process itself.
Finally my advice to someone about making that first sale would simply be - just go for it and get the momentum going.
 

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I was 18 years old and I just had finished watching 5 hours of wordpress tutorials. It was time to monetise this new knowledge!

I searched for local businesses that didn't have a website and very quickly found a flower shop about 5 mins away from where I live.

I get on my bike and cycle down there. I lock my bike to a nearby lamp post as I prepare to walk in. My heart is pounding before I walk into the shop.

I walk into the shop, dark place, 2 people standing there.

"C-c-c-an I speak to the owners please?"

"We are the owners" (It was a husband and wife)

"Um.. oh.. I noticed you didn't have a website... you wouldn't want one made by any chance would you?"

"Yes, we have been meaning to get one for a while actually"

SOLD :D

I walked out of that place feeling like I had conquered the world.

I cycled home to make the website.

This was it! I was going to make an income that was separated from my time! :)

Back then I had no idea how to charge, so I just asked for £10 monthly, that seemed fair.

I'm still getting paid to this day (about 4 years later)



 
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404profound

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Mine came just two weeks ago!

I have been developing my writing and marketing skills for about half a year. A contact of mine, a CEO of an organizational development consulting firm, got a hold of one of my samples. She emailed me and asked for a quote on a detailed marketing paper her sales team could use to showcase their consulting services at an upcoming conference. Having relatively low confidence, I proposed $200.00 (I later learned this was missing a digit). She counter-offered $350.00.

I began vigorously working on the paper, and completed the first draft in under 24 hours (research and all). after a few critiques it was in good shape, and I sent the PDF over along with an invoice. The $350.00 check came in the mail three days ago. One of the greatest feelings ever.

Now to figure out how to scale it.
 

Joaquim

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I have 2 first 'milestone sales, one offline and one online.

Offline:
When I was 6 years old I was selling music cassettes at the door of my house. We really had a lot of music cassettes at our house, but I wanted to get rid of them. One day my parents were out working and my grandmother came to keep an eye on me. I installed my little shop: one little table, a little chair and a cassette player. Played the music cassettes out loud and waited for people to pass by.
I wasn't sold out, but I sold a handful of cassettes. These sales were more a results of me being a little kid than anything else, but hey I sold something :)

Online:
2017 was my real milestone year. Began my first online store (shopify) and within the first days, when I even didn't expected it, I heard the famous 'sold alert' on my phone. From that moment I'm so addicted to that noice haha. One day I will have to put it out, but then I know I'm doing something right :p.
 

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Thank you, @Andy Black for this thread. I haven't seen such a thread throughout my time here, oddly.

My thoughts on my first sale reselling books:
'YAY'......let's make another call for more buyers and go back to work hustling.

My thoughts on my first Upwork gig:
'YAY'.....let's do another proposal for another job. Yikes, no time? Let me see if I can negotiate a pay raise for an additional add-on.

My thoughts on having my first Follow or Rep on TFLF:
'YAY'.....let's make another post. (which let to a crock of wantrepreneural crap for some time):inpain::inpain::rofl:


How did you feel in that moment?

What changed from that moment onwards?

What has it lead to?
TBH, I felt a tad excited, but then I knew that victories and defeats don't last forever.

Moved on to the next sale. And another.

These days I don't think much of it any more.

But I remember Dan Pena speaking on the importance of success as a benchmark of emotional backing to have you continue to push on.

In reality, the things that we do are just commodities.

We do things over and over again, such as getting more sales because we want to feel that feeling of success all over again, or more of that. MJ calls it the feedback mechanism loop.

What would you have done LESS of?

What would you have done MORE of?
Generally, I should do my best to be more amicable and genuine with my customer.

Less of? Product or service specs. Don't load up whatever you are offering to the marketplace with too much. Sell something that offers great value, but won't have the customers 'overeat'.

What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?
How you make your first sale is how you will approach the business.

If you force people to buy, that is how you will approach the business.

If you manipulate people to buy, that is how you will approach the business.

If you hack Amazon or Google or whatever online mechanism to get the first buyer, that is how you will approach the business.

If you have people coming in to buy because your value fits their needs, that is how you will approach the business.

On what ground will you build your sales upon?
 
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Ika

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What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?
Making the first sale will be scary
You've sent out countless emails. Week after week, with nearly no results. You got on the phone with some businesses, but that never went anywhere. For weeks, your efforts felt out of place. But suddenly, things lined up. He answered your email with an enthusiastic tone. Went on the phone right away, energetic about you potentially solving his problems. And somehow, you didn't break down and cried, but managed to have a productive conversation.

He asked for one final summary via email but already agreed on your price. You've outlined his problem, and described your solution. A really well-written email.

But yet ... you don't hit send.
Is this really the right decision?
Will I be able to help him?
What if he realizes I'm a gigantic imposter?

This is normal. Over the weeks, you've got so used to not closing the sale, actually making the first sale seems out of place. The thing is, you know what to do if he would have rejected you. But now, he wants to give you money, and you are faced with the unknown. As weird as it sounds, failing became comfortable, because you got used to it. Winning, on the other hand, means discomfort. Figuring out a payment system, a contract, and your boundaries. And even worse, actually doing the job.

What I'm trying to say is:

I backed out of countless "first sale" opportunities at the last minute, just because my fear ultimately led me to talk myself out of it. If you find yourself in that situation, try to make the decision based on facts - not your emotions.
 

ApparentHorizon

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I don't actually remember my first sale. Just the one that launched me from, directionless in life, to "business" as a career.

Ever since I was a wee lad, I was always messing with technology and online marketing.

I sold html4 websites on forums and freelance sites, logos, graphic design, etc.

Toward the end of high-school, I found myself on Fiverr, while it was still fresh. In less than a month it quickly grew to $1k/week, but I was working on it 12 hours a day. Even during class.

But it was draining, with the occasional client that was a life sucker. For $4.25, I'm not going to revise your logo 20 times. You can take your indecisive and rude a...

Anyway, I quickly realized I wasn't going to let someone else dictate what I'm good at. Even if it meant giving up a paycheck higher than my parents at the time.

Looking back, there was plenty I could have improved. Better communication on my part. Learning to ask the right questions. Getting the client involved with the design process, rather than try to interpret what they wanted.

If I'd have stuck with the platform, I could have even turned it into a semi-automated income stream. But I dropped it completely instead.



(On a slight tangent, but I have to mention this. One of those design clients was the sweetest old man I had ever worked with. He owned a small pet blog, and wanted 5 ad banners done. After asking how many revisions he could get, I told him, until you're happy with it. (Which to this day I still use as a metric for success - it's not the KPIs that get you praise and referrals. It's how the client feels after working with you.) All the while he gave me pointers on how to align certain elements, where to match colors. A small gesture on his part which didn't take much effort, but it left such a positive impression on me, that I still remember it a decade later.)

Fast forward 1.5 years into college and I was still messing around with online marketing. SEO was the flavor of the year, where you could just rank with keyword stuffing and other questionable practices.

I had been doing SEO for my own sites that was bringing in a few dollars here and there, but nothing to write home about.

(Pro tip: Most sites, especially new ones, implement some sort of primitive ranking factors. Ones which you can game like the early Google algos. On Fiverr, keywords and fast feedback was essential.)

At this time, I also came across TFL book. "Help 1 million people for 1 dollar and you'll be a millionaire." Or something like that. But I remember that line sticking out.

Something must have clicked, although I couldn't piece it together. Why or how. It felt like I was on autopilot, always had a feeling that things would work out. (Studies show the male brain doesn't fully develop until your mid-20s, so that may have something to do with it...)

Then I came across a template. It was a generic proposition to sell online marketing services to SMBs.

This was during the time where everyone was sharing all of their methods freely online. So I took what was shared and tweaked it to fit what I was already doing. But making it toward the customer.

It turned into a direct response campaign to 100 businesses within a 5 mile radius of my dorm room. (No car, so the opportunities were limited) Complete with a you focused approach, and a giant manila envelope that you couldn't ignore.

Printed address on the front with my logo. Giant CONFIDENTIAL letters across the opening. And within it, a 2 page report about the potential to gain new customers.

These ended up costing $1.12 each, taking into consideration ink, stamps, etc.

After I sent them off, I got back to work on what I was doing previously. Almost like snapping back into drone mode. Studying for classes I hated, and wandering around the internet without a compass.

A week later I get a phone call...

"Uhh...Hello?"

"Hi I'd like to speak with AH"

"Uhhh...Speaking..."

"Hi AH, DECISION MAKER received your packet and would like to know when you're available to come down and discuss your proposal."

YYYYAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!11

Another week later, I suit up, walk 2 miles into downtown. Dress shoes and everything. My feet were in terrible pain by the time I got back home.

The weather was sunny, but cool enough that I didn't drench my shirt in sweat.

Sitting at the door of the DMs office, I pace back and forth until I get called into the conference room. Where I awkwardly setup my laptop for the presentation.

Then walks in the big cheese...and this is where my life changes:

The thing is, I didn't "sell." I just went in and discussed how the system worked, and how it can help your business. There was no reason for me to know that you have to take a YOU focused approach.

I knew my sh*t, and we had a conversation. That's it.

The only "trick" I remember trying was mirroring. When the DM leaned in, I leaned in a few seconds later, while I was directing his attention to something on screen. That way he didn't notice the blatant attempts.

Later on when pitching others, I became conscious of what I was doing, and proceeded to try to force it. And it ended up backfiring multiple times.

During this original meeting, I broke numerous "sales principles." The main one sticking out was telling the DM that he was wrong.

ME: There is this thing called, black h*t tricks people use to catapult their success overnight.
DM: That sound mysterious and interesting. (Excitedly implying that he wants an ROI ASAP)
ME: No no, you don't want that. A couple of months from now, you'll be left with no results because Google will change. My goal is, once you implement this campaign, you'll be on the front page for many months and years to come.
DM: Oh...ok

And then we went back and forth again. I let him vent for a while, we joked about George Carlin, and how most people are insane.

Basically, it was accidentally, the smoothest sale it could have been, given my experience. With very little knowledge about the process, I walked out of there with a 10k check over a 6 month contract.

Over the next few months I was making more than what an entry level position would have paid me, if I'd had stayed in school for another 2.5 years, and taken on $20k in debt.

Ironically, I came to a point where I wanted to learn about the sales process. And the more I learned, the less effective it became.

Terrible methods from online Gurus who only made money from putting butts in seats.

Forcing "tricks" like mirroring.

After a while of struggling with that, I hit reset and went back to what worked in the first place. Being someone who actually likes what they do. Getting joy out of interacting and helping people.

This "first" client however, stayed with me for another 2 years, spending an additional $25k.

And I believe it came down to a couple of reasons:
1. Tell the truth, even if it hurts your clients feelings. They'll respect you more.
2. The metric of success is happiness (both yours and your client's). Not an analytics KPI.
3. Luck. I don't think I would have taken this path if that 1 client, out of 100, didn't respond. But I was always trying something. You create your own luck.

What would I have done less? Not sure...

More? Persistence.

100 packets is nothing. I ended up sending 1000s. But what if no one responded to the first 100?

Advice about first sale?

Go in and do the right thing.

Forget about looking like a big company.

Go in prepared. Be well groomed. Be respectful.

If someone asks you if you'd like a bottle of water. Say "Yes please" then "Thank you."

Do your homework before hand.

Point to specific instances in a company's business you can help directly. And draw a projection map in their minds. This is called future pacing. I was already doing SEO for my own sites, so I knew what he could expect.

I have a different approach on failure though. Rather, the context is missing, when most people say go out and fail. No, don't go out and fail. Do everything in your power to succeed.

If you fail, acknowledge and accept it. Studies show people who accept negative emotion, overcome it faster.

Try to get some sort of win. Being rejected over and over again is painful. Some people can brush it off and keep going at it stubbornly.

In my early days, I couldn't take rejection very well. Even today, I sometimes have a hard time with it. But I know the feeling of a win, so I can break through the downturns.

Do anything you can for a win. For that dopamine and endorphin release. Play a video game. Do high intensity exercises. Sulk in your sorrow if you have to, and take as long as you need. Then get up and do it again.

Then once you have your first step of action under your belt, go do it better.

I had a professor in college who was a real dick. Always bragging about his programming experience at major companies, etc. But he said one line which sticks with me till this day:

"First you do it, then you do it right."
 

ANR

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This reinforces for me that these is no 'set pattern' that you have to follow other than guiding principles. Just help.

I have a different approach on failure though. Rather, the context is missing, when most people say go out and fail. No, don't go out and fail. Do everything in your power to succeed.
For new people just coming into entrepreneurship I feel like the obsession over failure could get confusing.

Someone may come in and think failure is the end goal, when really it's the lessons that you take away that count.

TRY TO WIN. PLEASE.
 

Real Deal Denver

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This story dates back to about 1982 or 1983.

My first big sale was the result of an accident that put a severe crimp on my lifestyle for a week. I accidentally dropped a corning-ware glass cover (cookware) and it broke. I, of course, ordered a new one to replace it. That cost me $15. I couldn't believe how poor I was because I had to skimp a whole week to make up for that $15. I thought - what if I had to replace a water heater, or a car battery? That would really kill me! So I devised a plan to double my weekly paycheck by working one day extra (Saturday).

At that time, video was the new super cool thing. I had always been interested in film, but film was very difficult to work with - and expensive. Now, here I had INSTANT footage that I could watch on TV (no projector set up!) - with SOUND! This was a huge advancement in technology! It was like I could now be in charge of my own STUDIO and make my own MOVIES!

But I had to figure out how to buy a video camera first. They were $5,000 in those days, which was about the price of a CAR! I had one thing of value - a pretty nice coin collection. I sold that for about half of what it was worth, and took out a massive loan on a credit card for the rest. Now, remember, I couldn't afford to buy a $15 glass lid, and here I was spending thousands!

So, to put myself in business to pay for this thing, I started a videotaping business which videotaped weddings. I was terrified. Who was I to think that I knew how to videotape a wedding? I had never done this, and had no training. But, I put together a collection of packages of what I would want if I was the customer. It took off like wildfire. Every wedding I did, I booked two more from members of their families that had upcoming weddings. I was making around $400 to $500 a day doing this. I was getting paid about $380 for my regular job. So my income doubled. I could now afford to buy an entire SET of corning-ware and give it away as a gift!

This went on for about seven years, until one day I realized that I was booked solid for every weekend for the next 2+ years. I couldn't commit my life that far ahead without a backup plan! I tried to hire people so I could step back and be a manager. Run the business, instead of the business running my life. I couldn't do it, so I quit taking on customers and finished out the two years.

Made a lot of money in that time, for sure. But I don't know where it all went to. Wish I would have done something with it, but it all frittered away somehow.

Anyway, in the end this was a great lesson in life. I learned that I could create a force in the marketplace and be successful. When I started, I was not the only one doing this - but I drove my competition out through advertising and superior service. I was amazed at how they were not able to compete with me. They could have hired me and saw how I did things, and copied me - but they did nothing. So they became extinct rather quickly.

Now, decades later - I have a video editing system sitting next to me that is 1,000 times more powerful than what I had before. I'm still going to make a movie or two, eventually. But at the present time, I have some fast lane things I'm working on. Everything in its own time.

That brief business changed who I was. I went from being an employee hanging by a thread and hoping to get ahead, to being the premier leader in a fantastic field of business. Next up will the the real thing... not just the primer.
 

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TonyStark

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I’m not sure if I remember my first sale...

I’m not even sure if selling was something I was good at...

But not too long ago, I read this article (How A Lack Of Focus Kept My Friend Broke For 6 Years.) and it made me think of what I was good at, and what came naturally to me.

“Sales!” I thought. But what was I going to sell?

I walked with that mindset into work, and sure enough, my dad had plenty of construction equipment that he never used.

Bam. There it was.

I have been selling upwards of $50K in used construction equipment in the past 6 months via eBay.

———

If anything I enjoy what comes after the sale, which is putting together all the pieces of the puzzle, the logistics, etc.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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Bump, great idea @Andy Black, some great stories incoming!
 

FiftySeven

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Hey @Andy Black, you mentioned that you wanted us to describe our first sale.

Here’s first sale and a couple more. Maybe more than you want to hear!



First sale for me was when I was in 1st or 2nd grade in school. Not going to guess what year that was. We lived on a farm about 8 miles out of town although, being a kid, it seemed like a long trip into town. All the farmers drove into town on Friday nights to get groceries and visit. Dad would go into “Monkey" Ward, Mum would go to the 5&10 and Penney’s; we kids would ram around all over Main St.

Just before we left for town, Grandpap would give us 50 cents, then Mum & Dad would give us 50 cents. It was a decent allowance for kids back then; the money was actual silver as well.

Our town had two “5&10s”: G.C Murphy Company and McCrory’s. One Friday night I went into McCrory’s and bought a fountain pen and a small bottle of ink. I forget if they were 29 cents together or 29 cents each but still 60 cents max.

Monday I took these items into school and sold them to my friend Tim for $1.00. Folding money! See, I was thinking about making money even at that young age. I forget if Tim saw the pen and wanted it, or if I had to “ask for the sale”. Making money via sales felt GREAT!

My mistake was made at the supper table that evening. I mentioned the great deal I had made with the pen. Dark looks among the adults ensued. I was given to understand that I had to give Tim his money back. I forget the reasoning, if there was any. I went in to school the next day & told Tim I had to give his money back & please don’t ask why. I guess I really didn’t understand. Tim lived on a neighboring farm, maybe Dad didn’t want me making money off the neighbors. But this was maybe a lesson in abundance vs scarcity mindset: our farm had coal, timber and of course the surface farming operation. We failed the farm a few years later ( it did not fail us, we failed it ) and had to move off.



But I digress. Come the summer of 3rd grade, I became interested in comic books. I looked up to my big sister; she bought comic books with her allowance. Good for me, I got to read them for free! But what I saw on the back cover intrigued me: “Hey, Kids! Win Swell Prizes! Join the Junior Sales Club of America!”. There were pictures of bicycles, BB guns, baseball gloves, lawn darts: all the stuff that as a kid, you didn’t have money for: or if you did have the money for it your parents wouldn’t let you buy it. And it was all there before my greedy, beady little eyes!

All you had to do was clip the coupon, send it in and the greeting card company would send you a big cardboard box filled with smaller individual boxes of greeting cards. No money in advance! I don’t remember if I let my parents in on it or whether they were surprised when a big cardboard box showed up in the mail! The individual boxes of greeting cards sold for $1.25. That was a little over 1 hour’s minimum wage back then. The first sale was easy – all I had to do was “ask for the sale”. “Hey Mum, would you like to buy a box of cards?”. “Um, well, yeah, I guess, maybe..” Then I hit up the grandparents, aunts, etc. Then sales kinda dried up…

I didn’t have a bike. So I would take a big brown paper grocery bag, stuff it with boxes of greeting cards, put on my red-white-and-blue Junior Sales Club badge and start walking. I don’t know if I told Mum I was leaving or not; just started walking toward some “neighbors”. Now, living out in the country the neighbors were few and far between. I walked five miles or more to sell a box of cards. It was different back then; people didn’t worry much about where the kids were. Just so you were home by suppertime. I’d come home at night and they’d say, “Didja sell any cards today?”.

Sometimes you’d ring the doorbell and a 19-year-old kid with a pimply face and a Thunderbird sitting in the driveway would say, “No, I can’t buy anything, I’m as poor as a church mouse”. I didn’t know what a church mouse was, but I came to understand it meant “No Sale”.

Some people would buy 2 boxes. Others would buy nothing but invite you in the house out of the sun and give you a glass of lemonade. I didn’t know what lemonade was until I started my career in sales!

Other times my classmates would be standing behind their mothers, laughing when I asked, “Would you like to buy a box of greeting cards?”.

When I got back to school in the fall those classmates would say, “My Mum only bought those cards because she felt sorry for you”.

But I had the last laugh!

The summer of 3rd grade and the summer of 4th grade I sold 48 boxes each summer, won the prizes I was after, and still have the two prizes I won.

Eat your hearts out, all you mother-stander-behinders! There’s a new kid in town and he’s selling stuff. He’s standing in FRONT of your Mum, TALKING TO HER AS AN EQUAL. He’s a businessman.


But when I was selling stuff for $1.25, I think my Dad was happy, proud, thankful, intrigued? Did he change, did I change, or was that thing in 1st grade just the right thing on the wrong day?


I’ll bet I still have that Junior Sales Club badge.


Which brings me to my latest sale from the Vigilante 30-Day Marketing Challenge ™. Our family had a product we made. We began making it while living on the farm. Yes, THAT farm. While going through my house a couple months ago, I found some of our vintage product all boxed up and ready to sell. At the 2018 Fastlane Meetup I ran into @Vigilante and the rest is History – subject to revision and individual interpretation, of course. Like all History.

Long story short, after having one of our vintage new-old-stock products up on eBay for 21 days, it sold. I priced it high and just waited. Man, I was so happy that I jumped up from the breakfast table, did the Happy Dance and called Vigilante! I just wandered around in circles, in disbelief, happiness, daydreaming, scheming, whatever you want to call it.

About 9:30 AM, I was thinking, “Well, I’ll just sneak into town tomorrow and mail it”. Then I began to wonder, Good Friday IS a postal holiday here in the U.S., isn’t it? Nope. So I ran around, found some of our old letterhead, envelopes and receipts. Wrote the customer a note on letterhead, filled out a receipt, added a couple little bonus items and got it off in the mail about 4 hours after learning of the sale.

Then I listed another identical item on eBay. It’s getting traction!

It was gratifying to make the sale, gratifying to receive all the help here on the forum. Writing the copy, fleshing out the product’s web site, setting up social media and pointing it to the web site, learning eBay: all in all it was very satisfying and a good learning experience. All that stuff is set up and ready to build outward and upward on.

It was especially gratifying to find that people are still looking for our product. It was kind of a humbling experience to write a personal note to someone who believed in our product enough to buy it after 50 years; to see that what my Dad, Mum & Grandpap started so long ago is still bearing fruit. I wonder what they would think?

Takeaways: try eBay, that’s where the customers are. If somebody smarter than you is giving advice, take it now, argue for your way later. Start a Progress Thread and put yourself out there. Force yourself to sink or swim. Try New Stuff. Build your network. Building our product was almost the “easy” part – we didn’t know how to sell them. I went with my Mum many times as she visited stores selling our product. The only sales technique she knew was “ask for the sale”. If that didn’t work, she would ask for the sale in a different manner. If all else fails, ask for the sale.

What I’d have done differently: started 20 years sooner.

Learnings: especially if you are a “techie”. When people mention something new, a different way of doing things, new ideas – don’t scoff. Try it out. Be open to the idea that working with people could actually be f-u-n. No, really. Dealing with people, solving their problems, is where the satisfaction is. If all your dealings with others are stressful, maybe it’s time for those dreaded “soft skills”. Hint: Dale Carnegie, Toastmasters, smile, ask questions, listen, converse about things other than tech, other than the emergency at hand.


Andy, thanks for the opening.


Thanks!

‘57
 

Bearcorp

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I dont remember my first actual sale, I remember the first product I sold though.


What’s the story of your first sale?

Had our social media for a few months and we'd been getting asked about products, so we bought 2 different styles for samples. When we released them we were filling orders via email, then PayPal payment. 1 style sold out straight away, the other, I think we still have a couple kicking around the warehouse :rofl: The process was a bit punishing but necessary for us to find out how much interest there was.

"email us your details to get a PayPal invoice!"

a lot of people didn't have PayPal, or they would email and leave out some details we needed, it was often 3-4 emails back and forth before we'd get the actual sale. Quite a few customers would go through it all and not actually purchase, quite disheartening when your starting out!

How did you feel in that moment?

Very confident that the right products would sell to our market, and excited to keep refining and expanding our range.

What changed from that moment onwards?

Personally, the mindset that I could create something people would part with their hard earned cash for, and that if I could do it once, I could do it a million times.
For the business, everything. a need for a website, learn and develop sales and marketing, trying to never be out of stock in core products (something we still battle with).

What has it lead to?

thousands more sales, and the ability to leave my slowlane job 18 months ago to do this full time.

What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?

You'll always wish you started sooner. Get it out there, learn from your customers/target market as you go.
One more thing, if you wouldn't pay for it, why would you expect anyone else to? Respect your customers and the fact they want to spend their money with you, when they could be buying beer, food, or anything else in this world.

*EDIT: Sorry one last thing. Don't waste a second of time on the opinions of people that don't know what they're talking about, in fact don't tell anyone that doesn't understand what your doing.
You wouldn't ask a morbidly obese person for fitness advice, because even if they know WHAT to do, they clearly don't have what it takes to get it done. Same with starting a business. Family, friends, colleagues, they might have your best interests at heart, but if they don't know the product/niche/venture that your into, then they don't have an informed opinion. Its your job to do the research and find out if theres a need or not. If there is, crack on and get it done.
 
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Who will inspire us with their “first sale” story this week?

What will you do to make a sale this week?
 

ProcessPro

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I started a little side business of doing portraits in black and white oil paint (wasn't thinking fastlane at the time). I got my first job and made almost the equivalent of my previous job's salary in that one sale. Best part? It took me about 5 hours to do. I couldn't believe it. It felt awesome, almost too good to be true.

What I learned:
-It's possible to make money quickly. It depends on value.
-Earning that so quickly raised my minimum standard. It's difficult for me to now work an entire month to earn the same amount; the thought is actually depressing.
-Don't underestimate your value by undervaluing your work. Have a price that matches the market, unless a low price is part of your value skewing strategy. People associate higher prices with higher value, so lowering your prices may not always have the result you expect.


-M.
 
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Mile

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The beginning of my first company in a nutshell.

I can remember as it was yesterday (12 years ago). I was 16. It was midsummer. I checked my phone for missed calls after a football match. There were three missed calls from my older sister. I called her back and found out that she had been in a small car accident and that one side of the car was ruined. The insurance would not cover the car repair, because the accident was her fault and she had no money to fix the damage in a car workshop. I said her to her "Don't worry, I've got this. Just buy me a sanding block, spray gun and some painting materials" As a mechanic, I didn't know anything about car painting but I always liked to try something new. It took me 3 months and 4 repaints to make it work and on top of that, I had to pay for the wasted materials. It was a bad deal. A total loss for me. I posted before and after pictures of the car to Orkut and 5 days after a local man contacted me and asked if I could repaint his BMW. Since my first paint job was a total loss I needed to make some profit. And I did. The customer was happy and he even gave me a tip. It felt great. No pain, no gain.
:smile:
 

adventureguru

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Here is my little bit of history.

I was making my way through high school.

I had a love of rock music since I was a wee little child and seeing Live Aid in 1985 and Queen's Freddie Mercury commanding the world in the palm of his hand in 1985 at this global jukebox.
I was hooked. One of the worlds greatest showman of all time


With my spare pocket money, gifts and savings I slowly built every Queen album, I then began visiting record fairs to get whatever I could by Queen, CDs, posters, foreign issue sleeves, picture discs, bootleg live recordings.

These are in days prior to the internet, I bought collectors magazines and mailing lists to learn what was valuable and what different things were worth. Although I didn't have the cash to buy what I saw. I had a good memory and could recall prices and valuations of different Queen items. I could know roughly what, was worth what

Fast forward to the latter part of my teens at 16 and still at school, I had now been collecting for some three or four years when I go to visit my local record fair. Around 1994/95

I get chatting with a guy ahead of me who is also looking through the Queen section of CDs and he says he has some Queen items he might be looking to trade/swap in his car.

We step outside to his car and I glance through his box of 7" singles and I see many items I have never seen before at record fairs or offered for sale in collector magazine.

A penny drops in my head, " THESE ARE RARE "

I ask him what he wants for them, expecting some ridiculous valuation and being out of my league and he says,

"Well really I would just like to get the studios albums on CD as I have just got a nice Bose CD system and would like to hear their music the best way possible"

without letting my guard slip I said,

"Yeah, sure we can do a deal" I ask where he is from and he is only a few miles from where I live.

I arranged to swap some of my CDs on our first little deal.

I had saved hard to get these CDs and got to pick a few of the 7" sleeves I didn't not recognise or know the value of. Had i made a big mistake ? I thought

I could either keep or flip them? choices, choices

So with my favourite CDs gone, I have to go into research mode as to what this box of vinyl booty might be worth.

I call around the few dealers I know, I send off lists in the mail of what I have to sell, I reply to collectors ads at the back of Record Collector magazine and hope for the best.

Low and behold I had found Queen's Eldorado!

This guy who had been collecting since the 1970s had the rarest issue items, he had bought everything before Freddie Mercury past away in 1991 his collecting days were done in the early 80s when he became a father. What I find out in the week to follow were the dozen or so 7" singles I had from him totalled just under £1,000.

£1,000 at age 16 still at school with no job/little effort was amazing, £1,000 for swapping out a few CDsworth £30/£40 ! WOW !

I kept the guys contact details once I had sold off these first batch of rare 7" sleeves , I now had the bankroll to see what other things he had.

I visited his house and it was a Queen treasure trove. Original concert posters, autographs, 12", LPs tour jackets, programs and more 7" from around the world. ANYTHING Queen he had it all

Fulfilling his need for wishing to get every studio CD for his new Hifi we swap out a few more deals, then now I have just shy of £1000 in my arse pocket, I have the firepower to pick out what else I want.

I deal going all in with all the cash I have, to get half of his collection and then I return into flipping mode.

Although I loved Queen I found I love cash £££ even more!

I listed my first classified ad in Record Collector magazine in under a month and listed these super rarities sold, and sold quick.

I quickly learned about posting,
what registered post,
what was recorded delivery,
how to source packing materials,
improving the final product with the best high-quality PVC sleeves
learnt to include my full catalogue with each order for future business
collecting customers wants lists of items they need, in super short space of time I learn a lot.

These folk from Italy & Germany & USA are happy to send some kid in the UK £200-£300 for a single item, I bet they didn't know if they were dealing with a 16 year old kid still in school!

So with this last half of his collection still available I have close to £7,000 in my bank, I buy the last of his collection and I am on my first steps of self-employment

I use a fraction of this £7,000 I had made to get the last of this guys collection.

When all was said and done I went from next to nothing to just under £15,000 in under 4 months.

I have never had a deal with lucrative come my way, but think it all happened for a reason!

This set me on my way, I was hooked on this money drug.

............................................................................................................

I went on to university and did/attempted my degree.

However, it was at uni I found a USA site called eBay.com in 1997

Our uni internet speeds killed home dial-up speeds.

I began arbitraging promo USA CDs wholesale from the west coast of America to leading UK dealers.

My uni days were not ones of study but burning the eBay midnight oil and earning coin in the uni's PC labs.
Why study when I could be making money now>?
eBay paid for my lacklustre uni studies, my housing, my nightlife, and live like a student king.
Some weeks I could be brought in £3,000-£4,000 profit at its peak

Nothing good ever lasts forever and my little niche soon got saturated, within a year or two but it profited me to the tune of having everything paid for through uni, learn me a whole boatload of knowledge and expertise learned first hand and not out of a book or from a lecture.

Leaving university I had one notch off the crappiest degree possible, as I had made no real effort in the degree, my passion was eBay I left and had no debts and high five figures in the bank

All by taking action - Striking when the iron is hot. Fulfilling needs.

People will happily throw £££ three figures sums with a giant smile and think you are a king without issue if you can provide them what they want

...............................................................................................................................

Graduating, I tried a 'proper' job and lasted six months.

I went back to what served me well, eBay and sought to learn that.

eBay kept me in a good lifestyle and the bills paid from 2000 until this past year.
Over 50,000+ previous eBay customer sales I have brought value to and furthered their music collections, about the same amount served through mail order and who knows how many people served through 100s of Record Fairs I have worked

Sadly I have been action faking this eBay 'job' for over a year now and time for a change

Relying wrongly on the eBay venue most of my income, relinquishing the (C) ontrol element to my business

Now what to start next ................................... what I choose to do now, I really don't know though ! (yet !)
 

Squanchy

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My first have sale was when I was 14 and I started getting into graphic design. I would design Twitter header and YouTube banners in Photoshop and sell them on Sellfy. I only got a few sales because most of my design were trash, but that feeling of getting that first sale was magical. I started getting a fair amount of traffic but I didn't take the hint and lost motivation which made my creativity hit the wall.

I would of done less complaining and more doing
 
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dmichaelmccann

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I just closed my first sale last week. I made a similar post describing it in my progress thread but I thought I would share here too.

Back in February I decided to start a web design business and although I managed to get a couple free jobs just posting on facebook groups, I was struggling to sell.

I posted an ad on craigslist for discounted web design services a bit over a week ago and I got one reply from a private eldercare business. When it came time to talk on the phone I was a bit nervous but once the call started I was doing great. I asked all the right questions and managed to convince her of the value a new website could bring, and I closed the sale for $200. Having never made any money outside of a job before it was such an amazing feeling when I hung up the phone and when I finally collected the money last night after I finished the website.

She ended up being kind of a difficult client but it was still worth it when I finally broke through and got the sales monkey off my back.

I've made more money in the past doing other jobs for people, but nothing can compare to the first time you are paid to create something completely on your own.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Andy Black

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Any new sales stories?
 

LittleWolfie

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When I get one I will. I don't think I could sell water in the Sahara (I would probably call it bottled hydrogen dioxide and no one would know what I was on about) I've been trying to learn copy.
 
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Andy Black

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When I get one I will. I don't think I could sell water in the Sahara (I would probably call it bottled hydrogen dioxide and no one would know what I was on about) I've been trying to learn copy.
What if someone came up to you and asked if they can buy any water off you?
 

Lex DeVille

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I love reading stories of how people got started, especially the turning point where people make their first sale and get hooked.

Let’s see if we can inspire other forum members to make their first sale.



What’s the story of your first sale?

How did you feel in that moment?

What changed from that moment onwards?

What has it lead to?



In hindsight:

What would you have done LESS of?

What would you have done MORE of?

What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?
I was working collections at the hospital and was sick of it. I had a business idea (making portraits out of LEGO). People had already asked how much to buy one. So I quit my job and decided to sell LEGO portraits instead.

Kid Face.jpg

At the time I didn't have any systems or processes. Only the ability to take a picture and turn it into a portrait made from LEGO. At first I only made people's faces, but soon realized I could make words and logos too.

I knew my savings wouldn't last long. It was only a couple thousand dollars. So I needed to make sales fast. I decided the best way was to go back to one of the businesses I worked for in the past and try to sell my old boss. He always seemed supportive in the past.

So I created a design of the business logo and mustered up the courage to walk into the old office. When I did, the boss wasn't there. So I just talked with my old colleagues and showed them the design. They were pretty excited about it and got the boss on the phone. We talked for a minute or two and then he invited me over to his house to learn more.

When the day arrived, I went to his house in a nice part of town. It felt very awkward because of my introverted tendencies and because he's an extremely social guy. He showed me around, and took me on a tour of the renovations. He offered me something to drink, and made small talk. He asked about the design, and wanted to see pictures.

So I whipped out my laptop and showed the designs. I explained the process and how long I thought it would take to build. Then he said something like, "Cool, how much?" and pulled out his checkbook. At the time I was really nervous about losing the sale, so I cut him an extremely good deal (one I would later regret). He wrote a check on the spot and handed it to me and a short time later I was out of there with my first sale!

Later when I started buying materials and assembling the product I ran into a problem. I'd underestimated the costs. By the time I built the portrait I wouldn't make any money even though I sold it for over $100. In fact, I would lose money. So I met up with my old boss again and showed him some options. Basically it was, "I can make this X size for the price you already paid, but for just X more I can make the portrait bigger and better."

He seemed skeptical at first and asked, "how much more?" I gave him a price and he agreed. It was still less than I should have asked for, but what did I know. I was a total amateur. At least the costs to make the product were covered now. So I built it, finished it, and delivered it to my first 100% satisfied customer.

Express.jpg

In hindsight:

- Didn't know what I didn't know at the time
- Should've spent less time trying to sell and more time on our relationship
- Should've ate the expense of the project for the mistake I made
- Should've asked for referrals afterward
- Should've spent more time meeting with local business owners
- Should've learned a bit about pricing and set prices that would actually make sense

The biggest takeaway for me was probably the relationship. I came away feeling like I'd tried to make a sell and get out of there too quickly. My old boss values relationships, is well established in the local business community, and probably has a million connections. Plus he likes to help entrepreneurs. If I would've realized this at the time I might be on a completely different path today. Instead, I soon ran out of cash and had to go back to a "real" job until I could build up enough to try again.
 
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Andy Black

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I was working collections at the hospital and was sick of it. I had a business idea (making portraits out of LEGO). People had already asked how much to buy one. So I quit my job and decided to sell LEGO portraits instead.

View attachment 20045

At the time I didn't have any systems or processes. Only the ability to take a picture and turn it into a portrait made from LEGO. At first I only made people's faces, but soon realized I could make words and logos too.

I knew my savings wouldn't last long. It was only a couple thousand dollars. So I needed to make sales fast. I decided the best way was to go back to one of the businesses I worked for in the past and try to sell my old boss. He always seemed supportive in the past.

So I created a design of the business logo and mustered up the courage to walk into the old office. When I did, the boss wasn't there. So I just talked with my old colleagues and showed them the design. They were pretty excited about it and got the boss on the phone. We talked for a minute or two and then he invited me over to his house to learn more.

When the day arrived, I went to his house in a nice part of town. It felt very awkward because of my introverted tendencies and because he's an extremely social guy. He showed me around, and took me on a tour of the renovations. He offered me something to drink, and made small talk. He asked about the design, and wanted to see pictures.

So I whipped out my laptop and showed the designs. I explained the process and how long I thought it would take to build. Then he said something like, "Cool, how much?" and pulled out his checkbook. At the time I was really nervous about losing the sale, so I cut him an extremely good deal (one I would later regret). He wrote a check on the spot and handed it to me and a short time later I was out of there with my first sale!

Later when I started buying materials and assembling the product I ran into a problem. I'd underestimated the costs. By the time I built the portrait I wouldn't make any money even though I sold it for over $100. In fact, I would lose money. So I met up with my old boss again and showed him some options. Basically it was, "I can make this X size for the price you already paid, but for just X more I can make the portrait bigger and better."

He seemed skeptical at first and asked, "how much more?" I gave him a price and he agreed. It was still less than I should have asked for, but what did I know. I was a total amateur. At least the costs to make the product were covered now. So I built it, finished it, and delivered it to my first 100% satisfied customer.

View attachment 20046

In hindsight:

- Didn't know what I didn't know at the time
- Should've spent less time trying to sell and more time on our relationship
- Should've ate the expense of the project for the mistake I made
- Should've asked for referrals afterward
- Should've spent more time meeting with local business owners
- Should've learned a bit about pricing and set prices that would actually make sense

The biggest takeaway for me was probably the relationship. I came away feeling like I'd tried to make a sell and get out of there too quickly. My old boss values relationships, is well established in the local business community, and probably has a million connections. Plus he likes to help entrepreneurs. If I would've realized this at the time I might be on a completely different path today. Instead, I soon ran out of cash and had to go back to a "real" job until I could build up enough to try again.
Great story, thanks for sharing @Lex DeVille. I wonder what would happen if you went back to that guy and laughed at how green you were?

Loved your takeaways.

So you reckon building a relationship was more important than a few bucks?

Totally reminds me that R+R=Profit (Repeat Business plus Referrals).
 

LittleWolfie

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What if someone came up to you and asked if they can buy any water off you?
Okay, then I'd probably have to convince them that the strangely shaped opaque bottles labelled aqueous dihydrogen oxide where in fact holding water.

"But it doesn't say that."

"It is literally the same thing"
 

theOfficialRJ

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What’s the story of your first sale?
- I was actually not looking to sell anything at all! I found a product only which was essentially small piece of aluminum with some engraving on it. And it cost $39! I figured I could design it myself and 3D print it for much cheaper. And so I did.

I then posted a picture of it on a Facebook group and people LOVED it and they all wanted one! That's when I started making and selling them to people in the Facebook group. The profit margin was massive! It cost my less than a dollar of material to print it and I was selling it for $20 a pop. It was still half the price of the aluminum one that I found online. The customers were happy and I was happy.

How did you feel in that moment?
- This can actually happen! I can actually think of something in my head, bring it to life, present it to people, and get them to buy it!

What changed from that moment onwards?
- I knew I couldn't sell that product forever. It was pretty lucrative while it lasted however it was meant for an extremely niche audience and it wasn't a consumable. Eventually, everyone that wanted one, got one.

What has it lead to?
- I have designed and manufactured several other products since then and I'm currently in the testing phase. These are targeted towards a much larger audience and will hopefully be a huge hit!

In hindsight:

What would you have done LESS of?
- Procrastination

What would you have done MORE of?
- Advertisement

What one piece of advice would you give someone about making that first sale?
- Learn how to talk to people without sounding like a desperate car salesman.
 

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