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GOLD! Escape the Borg! - My Journey to Freedom, Ecommerce

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Update:

I'm about to break my all time sales high for a single month with 5 days left in June so things are definitely chugging along!

I've been out of stock of 2 of my main sellers for the past week or so (I still allow back orders). Those will get restocked this week but I'm about to run out of another item.

There is a 3rd item that I designed that I was holding back on ordering until the cash flow numbers would allow it. In the next few days I will get those shipped over and will finally be back up and running at a 100% product lineup (if I can keep from running out of stock:playful:).

Reached out to a bunch of US manufacturers looking to see if they offer private labeling. Let me tell you, trying to find products in the USA to private label is nowhere near as easy as it is to do in China.

If the method i'm developing works, I will definitely share it in another thread. Hopefully most of the manufactures will reply this week and I will be able to order some samples to increase the amount of SKUs on my website.

Right now i'm looking to test my hypothesis about applying my USP to peripheral niches. I'm not sure if my offering will translate well in the eyes of the consumer though.

My goal is to order some products from these US manufactures that relates to my broader niche but are not immediately connected to what i'm selling. If they sell despite my concerns, It will be a really good sign.

If they don't sell well, I will triple down in my current niche. Then I will begin the process of building up what I have now with the goal of selling it down the road.

I also decided to skip either a semester or year off from starting college (i'm leaning towards a year) to focus 100% on my business. In all honesty though I think this is the start of skipping college completely.

The funny thing is that the idea of skipping college scares the people I tell more than it scares me. I'm super pumped to go all in on my business and don't regret my decision at all!

The only thing I will likely miss is social interaction. So I'm going to be looking around for places with like minded people I can talk to face to face every week or so.
 

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I also decided to skip either a semester or year off from starting college (i'm leaning towards a year) to focus 100% on my business. In all honesty though I think this is the start of skipping college completely.
That's what I like to hear!
 

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Happy to read you're doing fine. You absolutely deserve success!
It looks like your fears about US made manufacturer' prices were not justified! I read you had the issues about prices too close to the big guys in the market..
How did you solve these problems? Is your net per item higher than " the chinese period"?
Thanks for your replay and, please, keep posting updates...I find them very usefull!
 
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Just posting to say that this is an incredibly motivating thread. Looks like you're killing it out there!
 
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Happy to read you're doing fine. You absolutely deserve success!
It looks like your fears about US made manufacturer' prices were not justified! I read you had the issues about prices too close to the big guys in the market..
How did you solve these problems? Is your net per item higher than " the chinese period"?
Thanks for your replay and, please, keep posting updates...I find them very usefull!
Although I strongly believe no one deserves anything, I appreciate the kind words!

I thought that US manufacturing would significantly bump up my prices. However, I was able to add more value to the product ( more add-ons for free) and make the product domestically while only raising my prices by about $10 or so.

My prices are still significantly lower than the standard market price which is one of the appeals of my products.

My net profit is about the same as the Chinese products. That was done intentionally and was how I figured out what to price them at.

Although I could definitely be charging more and people would still buy it, i'm not focused on the short term money. I believe I heard it from Gary Vee that it is always easy to improve bottom line numbers. However, the difficult thing is to increase top line revenue.

My goal is to gain popularity and market share by giving people an incredible deal that in a sense is "too good to be true" - a US made product with all the bells and whistles, a killer warranty, free add ons, and free shipping. I dont need money now as im not going to college and will be living at home. I have 0 expenses.

When it comes time to actually start generating some serious profit, my goal is to be the dominant seller in my market who has gained significant market share. That's when it will really get exciting.
 

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When it comes time to actually start generating some serious profit, my goal is to be the dominant seller in my market who has gained significant market share. That's when it will really get exciting.
Somehow that's what Amazon did for a long time, reinvesting all cash to grow in sells and market's volume. :) .
 
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I'm about to break my all time sales high for a single month with 5 days left in June so things are definitely chugging along!
Thread updated to GOLD.

Maybe @LordPhenny will read this thread and listen to someone younger than him, he certainly hasn't listened to the wisdom of his elders.
 

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@PTP Thanks for sharing your experience here, man! I used to sell some soccer related items online for a while (during 2014 World Cup in Brazil!) and I will get back to it now, but with a long-term view to create a business.

What I like most about reading your thread is too see the amount of "on the job" knowledge you acquired by simply going out there and acting on your idea. Congrats! $ sent to you.
 
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Thread updated to GOLD.

Maybe @LordPhenny will read this thread and listen to someone younger than him, he certainly hasn't listened to the wisdom of his elders.
Wow thank you so much!! I'm truly honored!:smile:

@PTP Thanks for sharing your experience here, man! I used to sell some soccer related items online for a while (during 2014 World Cup in Brazil!) and I will get back to it now, but with a long-term view to create a business.

What I like most about reading your thread is too see the amount of "on the job" knowledge you acquired by simply going out there and acting on your idea. Congrats! $ sent to you.
Thanks brother! It really doesn't take a whole lot to get started and from the looks of it, you're well on your way. Good luck my friend:fistbump:
 
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Update:

So I finished off June with sales 35% better than my previous best month. The funny thing is, nearly half my store it out of stock. Despite items being out a stock for multiple days/weeks, people are still back ordering, however, this obviously deters people.

I'm excited to see what happens when I have full inventory! Also, I will be launching a third product in about 1-2 weeks. It has been ready to go for a while, but I didn't have enough cash to order more inventory and then launch this model.

Its going to be fun to have 3 products selling like in the past.

Remember all those manufactures I reached out to? All them were busts except one of them who turned out to be a potential gold mine!

While they don't personally manufacture what i'm looking for, they know people that do. They would help me to design/test new products (which is what I need!), and their partner manufacture would produce them. I talked to the CEO about our business ideology, what we're looking for and what we're about.

He seemed very interested and really liked our business model and how we plan on shaking up the industry etc... They are meeting with the manufacturing company to discuss some questions I prepared for them in a few days.
If all goes well I will be able to significantly increase my product offerings within my niche and continue to move the brand forward.

I also asked the CEO if he knew any other companies that manufacture items that while not 100% in my niche, are related enough to it to sell in the same store. He said he does and we are going to discuss it further after he talks with the manufacturer.

This would allow me to source US made products in different niches and diversify my brand further which would be awesome!

The reviewers I sent my product to with 30,000 subscribers launched the video and they loved it. It got a few thousand views and the response was very positive. I then went ahead and added their video to my website to increase conversions.

I sent out another product to a reviewer with 20k subs. They are going to be making multiple videos talking about the items in the coming days.

As soon as I get more inventory, I will ship out 3 more products to 3 Youtubers each with 60k. Then I will begin to move up the line and get items in the hands of even larger Youtubers. Almost everyone I talk to seems interested in testing out my products because they aren't used to seeing the value I offer.

Have had two logo designers designing a logo for the past we months but they weren't really coming up with anything I was looking for. Yesterday I said screw it! And spent the day designing one. Its almost done but my family and friends really like it!

Its one with where if you look at it one way, you see one thing, but if you look the other way you see something else.

Once the logo is finalized I will make some branded hats and swag for people that have been asking me for them. I'm not expecting to make a ton of money off the gear, but it will hopefully help with marketing/getting the name out there.

There's a lot more that I am currently planning to expand the brand, but i'll save that for another day once I have some more progress to show. Thank you for reading this far and Happy 4th of July!

Edit: Almost forgot to add this: top 2%.png
 

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steelandchrome

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Update:

So I finished off June with sales 35% better than my previous best month. The funny thing is, nearly half my store it out of stock. Despite items being out a stock for multiple days/weeks, people are still back ordering, however, this obviously deters people.

I'm excited to see what happens when I have full inventory! Also, I will be launching a third product in about 1-2 weeks. It has been ready to go for a while, but I didn't have enough cash to order more inventory and then launch this model.

Its going to be fun to have 3 products selling like in the past.

Remember all those manufactures I reached out to? All them were busts except one of them who turned out to be a potential gold mine!

While they don't personally manufacture what i'm looking for, they know people that do. They would help me to design/test new products (which is what I need!), and their partner manufacture would produce them. I talked to the CEO about our business ideology, what we're looking for and what we're about.

He seemed very interested and really liked our business model and how we plan on shaking up the industry etc... They are meeting with the manufacturing company to discuss some questions I prepared for them in a few days.
If all goes well I will be able to significantly increase my product offerings within my niche and continue to move the brand forward.

I also asked the CEO if he knew any other companies that manufacture items that while not 100% in my niche, are related enough to it to sell in the same store. He said he does and we are going to discuss it further after he talks with the manufacturer.

This would allow me to source US made products in different niches and diversify my brand further which would be awesome!

The reviewers I sent my product to with 30,000 subscribers launched the video and they loved it. It got a few thousand views and the response was very positive. I then went ahead and added their video to my website to increase conversions.

I sent out another product to a reviewer with 20k subs. They are going to be making multiple videos talking about the items in the coming days.

As soon as I get more inventory, I will ship out 3 more products to 3 Youtubers each with 60k. Then I will begin to move up the line and get items in the hands of even larger Youtubers. Almost everyone I talk to seems interested in testing out my products because they aren't used to seeing the value I offer.

Have had two logo designers designing a logo for the past we months but they weren't really coming up with anything I was looking for. Yesterday I said screw it! And spent the day designing one. Its almost done but my family and friends really like it!

Its one with where if you look at it one way, you see one thing, but if you look the other way you see something else.

Once the logo is finalized I will make some branded hats and swag for people that have been asking me for them. I'm not expecting to make a ton of money off the gear, but it will hopefully help with marketing/getting the name out there.

There's a lot more that I am currently planning to expand the brand, but i'll save that for another day once I have some more progress to show. Thank you for reading this far and Happy 4th of July!

Edit: Almost forgot to add this:View attachment 15374
Congrats on the good news! Keep grinding, I love to see your updates!

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D-C-338

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Just read through this entire thread, hugely inspiring to say the least... Keep at it and looking forward to hearing of your progress going forward.
 
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Not good.

For the past few weeks sales were hitting numbers I had never seen before. It was truly amazing and things were going really really well - one might say too well. That is until today...

I woke up this morning to something I have been scared of seeing essentially from the onset of the business. Can't go into much detail but its similar to what happened before when I first started off selling. Same story different platform again and again.

It appears my fears were not unfounded after all. I need time to think and reconsider a lot of things. Might be time to start in a new direction.

I need time to think...
 

steelandchrome

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Not good.

For the past few weeks sales were hitting numbers I had never seen before. It was truly amazing and things were going really really well - one might say too well. That is until today...

I woke up this morning to something I have been scared of seeing essentially from the onset of the business. Can't go into much detail but its similar to what happened before when I first started off selling. Same story different platform again and again.

It appears my fears were not unfounded after all. I need time to think and reconsider a lot of things. Might be time to start in a new direction.

I need time to think...
That sucks, hopefully you come up with a way around it. Obviously your product has market demand and willing paying customers.

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That sucks, hopefully you come up with a way around it. Obviously your product has market demand and willing paying customers.

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
This is not the first time I have run into a similar issue, and I dont think it will be the last. Its just starting to make me realize that it maybe smart to use the traction I have now to start another business - one that has a stronger foundation. We'll see though.
 

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It seems like when business is doing fine, selling platforms stop you from further improving your e-commerce. Defenitely, in this system lacks control.
It should be better to have more choices on e-commerce.
 
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So I've had some time to see how being removed from the platform affected sales and the results are not *that* bad. I will be breaking last months sales either tomorrow or the day after and I'm pretty sure that would have happened regardless of using the platform or not albeit a little slower.

With that being said, it's time to start a new venture.

There a numerous reasons for my decision which I'm more than happy to detail if anyone is interested, but the main one is lack of control.

By continuing this business I feel as though I am constructing a house of cards and at any moment it could all come crumbling down. I wouldn't be worried if being removed from sales platforms was a one time thing. Unfortunately though it has already happened on numerous occasions and I have a feeling its just the start.

The writing's on the wall and I need to be smart enough to heed its warning. Instead of constantly worrying and complaining about the lack of control, I plan to do something about it.

Does this suck? 100% absolutely without a doubt.

But... and this is a big but, I'm not angry or upset at all. I actually cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to start something new!

Why? Because I can FINALLY use all sales channels (Amazon, Amazon PPC, google shopping, facebook ads, instagram ads etc...)

Everything I built so far was done without any of these platforms (Although, I did have access to a few for 2 weeks or so;)).

I'm ready to combine my current tactics along with these more mainstream platforms and see what I can come up with. I'm incredibly scared to start over but also ready for the challenges ahead.

My plan is to find ways to improve products on the market and sell something unique - there's no room for commodities. I really think its amazing what @Vick created and find his process fascinating. Definitely like the idea of a product that's hard to imitate and extremely unique.

Also @biophase & @ddall have done incredible things as well and I really like their ideologies.

Whatever path I decide to go down i'm ready to add some value to the world create a long term sustainable brand!

Until then its product research and problem hunting for me:smile2:
 

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So I've had some time to see how being removed from the platform affected sales and the results are not *that* bad. I will be breaking last months sales either tomorrow or the day after and I'm pretty sure that would have happened regardless of using the platform or not albeit a little slower.

With that being said, it's time to start a new venture.

There a numerous reasons for my decision which I'm more than happy to detail if anyone is interested, but the main one is lack of control.

By continuing this business I feel as though I am constructing a house of cards and at any moment it could all come crumbling down. I wouldn't be worried if being removed from sales platforms was a one time thing. Unfortunately though it has already happened on numerous occasions and I have a feeling its just the start.

The writing's on the wall and I need to be smart enough to heed its warning. Instead of constantly worrying and complaining about the lack of control, I plan to do something about it.

Does this suck? 100% absolutely without a doubt.

But... and this is a big but, I'm not angry or upset at all. I actually cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to start something new!

Why? Because I can FINALLY use all sales channels (Amazon, Amazon PPC, google shopping, facebook ads, instagram ads etc...)

Everything I built so far was done without any of these platforms (Although, I did have access to a few for 2 weeks or so;)).

I'm ready to combine my current tactics along with these more mainstream platforms and see what I can come up with. I'm incredibly scared to start over but also ready for the challenges ahead.

My plan is to find ways to improve products on the market and sell something unique - there's no room for commodities. I really think its amazing what @Vick created and find his process fascinating. Definitely like the idea of a product that's hard to imitate and extremely unique.

Also @biophase & @ddall have done incredible things as well and I really like their ideologies.

Whatever path I decide to go down i'm ready to add some value to the world create a long term sustainable brand!

Until then its product research and problem hunting for me:smile2:
Keep it up! One failure is nothing. It looks like you learned a lot and made some profit so definetly keep going.
Looking forward to hearing more from you!
 
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Keep it up! One failure is nothing. It looks like you learned a lot and made some profit so definetly keep going.
Looking forward to hearing more from you!
I appreciate it buddy! It's really hard knowing how much room to grow this business there is left, but also at the same time understanding the reality of the situation i'm in.

What it boils down to is short game vs long game and I prefer the latter :)
 

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This thread is truly inspiring I look forward to not only seeing what sort of business i can produce but following this thread as im sure you will reach your goals no problem and i would love to witness you doing so keep it up man much respect.
 
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Just finished reading through the whole thing on @amp0193 's recommendation, and I'm extremely impressed. Good luck on your new business, I'm sure with everything you've learned from this venture you're bound to be successful.
 
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Update:

Record high selling month in July. Sales were 2/3 of entire last year combined although I'm expecting that to come down a little bit this month.

Started looking for a new business to start about a month ago and have essentially been in an analysis paralysis state for that entire time. After talking to my dad yesterday he helped me put everything into perspective and i'm finally moving forward again:smile:

Today I picked a niche I wanted to sell in and chose a product within that niche. Then I sent a simple email to about a dozen suppliers and will likely hear back from them this evening. From there I will choose the specific variation product I want to start with and then will order samples, make improvements, etc...

My plan moving forward:

Over the next few weeks, my goal is to find about 5-6 different products to test the demand for. Ill order samples and check for quality. While i'm waiting for things to arrive I will test for demand as follows:

1) Create a simple Shopify store/landing page.
2) Scrape pictures from other Amazon sellers and create a listing on my temporary shop.
3) Run Facebooks ads to my store to see if anyone will go through the checkout process.
4) At the end of the checkout process they will get a message saying something like "this item is out of stock but add your email to be notified when it is in stock." I will consider this a "conversion".
5) From there I will be able to analyze if anyone would want to buy as well as the hypothetical CPA.

I'll then improve/modify the winners and drop the losers.

My goal is to start this business on my own store first, and use Amazon as a platform and not as the main show. I believe there is a ton of opportunity out there for people who build up there own online stores - even in niches that would be considered too competitive on Amazon. That's something I will be testing and we will soon figure out if that is the case:clench:
 

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Started looking for a new business to start about a month ago and have essentially been in an analysis paralysis state for that entire time. After talking to my dad yesterday he helped me put everything into perspective and i'm finally moving forward again:smile:

Today I picked a niche I wanted to sell in and chose a product within that niche. Then I sent a simple email to about a dozen suppliers and will likely hear back from them this evening. From there I will choose the specific variation product I want to start with and then will order samples, make improvements, etc...
This is my least favorite part of the process. Once I've made up my damn mind, it's a blast making it all come together. But trying to decide on SOMETHING is just miserable.

I'm glad your dad helped you sort it out. What sort of advice did he give to set you straight?
 
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This is my least favorite part of the process. Once I've made up my damn mind, it's a blast making it all come together. But trying to decide on SOMETHING is just miserable.

I'm glad your dad helped you sort it out. What sort of advice did he give to set you straight?
Tell me about it! I was getting to the point of tearing my hair out because every day felt like a waste and I just wanted to start moving again.

Basically he helped put everything into perspective by saying "so what?" If this product fails, so what? I can always try again with another one. The act of talking to suppliers and moving everything forward could help generate new product ideas I wouldn't have otherwise thought of.

He also pointed out that I was in analysis paralysis. Its helpful when someone else points something like that out to you because I would not have realized it otherwise.
 

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Basically he helped put everything into perspective by saying "so what?" If this product fails, so what? I can always try again with another one. The act of talking to suppliers and moving everything forward could help generate new product ideas I wouldn't have otherwise thought of.
Yes, absolutely true.

There is never one right way. Often, there are several good options, and you just gotta roll with one and see what happens.
 

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Hi @PTP

Thanks so much for sharing. I've just finished the whole thread and it's been an amazing journey. I especially like the fact that you often say at the end something like "Thank you for reading"! Close to the end of the thread you mentioned some challenges. My best wishes to you. If you don't mind, I've got a few questions:smile:

logo:
Do you do anything to protect your logo? To my understanding without legal resitration everyone else can use your logo.

Had some help from someone I know with getting a CAD design made. I got the manufacture to sign an NDA for design and sent them over to him.
79 NDA
You mentioned NDA. Did you get your designer to sign the NDA as well? If not why?

Instagram 20k. Trying out a new strategy for gaining a following that does not involve the follow/unfollow method. Slower growth but more targeted followers.

Re-started mediation. Last time I was doing mediation I would just sit there for 15 mins with my eyes closed. Needless to say that didnt work out to well. This time im using an app called headspace which is guided meditation.
82 follow/unfollow, meditation
I've heard so many times about this follow/unfollow strategy. Doesn't unfollow piss people off? How long after do you unfollow them?

In terms of meditation, I can share something with you because I've been doing meditation every morning for over a year. As MJ said in UNSCRIPTED, visualization can affect your body, physically. Recently I've made several changes and I can see the benefits!
* As you already did, use guided meditation or at least play some soothing music.
* Find your G spot length. (btw I don't usually use this G word. please blame UNSCRIPTED.) I mostly did 50 minutes to 1 hour but I found 10 minutes in the morning is the most effective.
* In my meditation, I now focus on visualizing the improvement of my certain health issues. I imagine a healing smoke entering my body (with a color you believe has a healing power) and try to feel how great it is when those challenges are gone. I can actually observe the improvement!!!

BTW, I'd skip college if I were given a second chance. I graduated from prestigious universities but those degrees don't do much for me. The only use is, when I looked for a 9-5 job, I met one of the selection criteria (a degree from a diploma mill would do anyway). I couldn't believe I wasted so many years. I should have at least done my degrees at less demanding universities and spared more precious time doing things like what you're doing. Keep up the good work.:thumbsup:
 
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