I’m 38 years old, married, 2 kids and have been driving in the fast lane for about 2-3 years (for the previous 4 or 5 I dicked around in the slow lane while admiring the fastlaners going by).
Despite first reading the millionaire Fastlane a few years ago, it kind of got mentally lost in a sea of self help and wealth books I was tearing through at the time. I recently rediscovered the audio version 2 weeks ago and listened to it twice through (now almost through unscripted as well).
On the first re-listen I realised that at least some of the lessons from my first read through must have sunk in because I’d applied so many of them to my business without even consciously thinking about them.
I first became interested in entrepreneurship around 7 or 8 years ago after following some bro marketing courses for the Amazon Affiliate program. I didn’t make much money (although I still cash amazon checks today) but I learned how to build websites, do SEO, copywriting and quite a few other skills that I fully utilize in my business today.
Despite seeing a little success with the program (I had a lot of failures over those few years too) my desire wasn’t strong enough and neither was my self belief. I chased after various shiny things in the marketing world, life got in the way and I was sidetracked for a few years. I always intended to start a proper side business but then would always find excuses to put it off.
Fast forward to around 3 years ago and my wife, who is a beautician by trade suggested that I should look into importing and selling some of the products she regularly buys for her salon. Not exactly the business I dreamed of owning but I thought f*ck it, why not at least look into it. I also soon realised that as MJ points out, you don’t have to be passionate about the niche or even know much about it to be passionate and obsessive about building a business around it.
So I started looking around at what was selling on ebay and the websites that showed up when I entered search terms for these products. I discovered that there were quite a few sellers who were making sales despite some poor quality pictures, poor descriptions with no copywriting skills. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was a great niche. The barriers to entry were high (knowledge of these specific beauty products) so it kept away professional marketers and was mostly dominated by beauticians who decided to sell a few things part time, with the exception of some of the more professional websites at the top of the search rankings. The niche also impacts millions as it involves selling to beauticians and beauty salons who in turn have hundreds to thousands of customers themselves. I knew then that I could at least start out making some money on ebay.
Next I started to talking to suppliers on Alibaba, looking at ebay and shopify fees, postage rates etc to work out the margins involved. I figured most products (there's a huge number in this niche & we currently have over 500 SKUs) would cost about $4 to produce and ship here, another $2.50 in shipping (I initially ate the shipping fees so we could offer free shipping on ebay) and then another $2 or so in fees. These products retailed for around $17 so we would profit around $8 on each sale. Given that beauticians in this niche regularly order anywhere from 1 to 10 of these in each order (these days we have customers who order 100 at a time) there seemed to be some good money to be made.
Despite my research showing promise I was still extremely doubtful and nervous about starting this venture but also extremely excited so I ploughed ahead. I was working full time in a decent but slowly soul devouring IT position so I used my nights, mornings and break times to obsessively go through shipping options, packaging options, website hosting options (I went with shopify) etc etc.
My wife tested the products and we initially found 2 suppliers to purchase from. I put a full 3k into our first batch of stock and got to work setting up the website, mailing responder etc and coming up with the business name, logo, colour scheme etc. I found a short memorable business name where the .com was available and paid an online company 37 dollars to come up with a logo (in hindsight I wish I’d paid more and got a better quality design but the one we have isn’t too bad)
With the products in hand I set out to photograph them as professionally as I could by myself (I researched this for days and the results were very good). I also spent a long time on copywriting, keyword research and SEO so that I could hit the ground running.
A week or 2 before launch I was fired from my IT job of 10 years. And while not a surprise as the company was downsizing it was still a bit of a shock to the system. I did end up getting a pretty good payout however that I figured would last me at least 6 months while I got this business off the ground
While this was a very tense time it was a blessing in disguise. Losing my job gave me both the time and the added motivation to get this shit working. Otherwise it was most likely back to a worse paying even more soul crushing IT job than the last one and worst of all back to life in the slow lane.
I got to work and my initial strategy was to beat all the competing ebay sellers in this niche on price, quality, copywriting, service and basically everything I found I could do better. I would then filter the buyers over from ebay and get them buying direct from my website where the margins are better for me by using discount offers. Being business 2 business this niche works on repeat sales so I decided my customer service would involve doing everything I could to keep the customers happy and coming back. To this day we give no hassle refunds and exchanges etc and bend over backwards for our repeat buyers.
Within a few days of launching I’d made a few sales and it was an awesome feeling. While looking back now there were many things I’d do differently in the beginning, those few sales represented validation of my decisions and gave me huge confidence going forward. Over the next few months sales gradually increased to the point where I was profiting a few hundred each week (not even a quarter of what I made at my 9-5 but it was a start).
I worked my a$$ off in those first few months, obsessing over SEO and expanding our product range and in the coming months it paid off. My knowledge of SEO catapulted the website to the top of google for quite a few competitive keywords and traffic increased. Within 11 months from start I was making more than I made in my old IT job and felt amazing.
I remember being at the beach with my family lying on the sand watching my son play while in the background my phone dinged a chime sound every few minutes for a new sale. Oddly enough only 4 or 5 years before that I remember being on the same beach reading ‘Think & Grow Rich’ by Napolean Hill and dreaming about such a day.
Fast forward to today (business has been going for 2 and half years) and profits have skyrocketed to almost 7 times what I made in my old day job. I’m making more money each week than I ever would have dreamed despite now working only 30 hours a week (I have worked a lot more than this at times over the past 2 years however).
The business outgrew the small home office it started in and I now operate from a large office and storage facility I had built in our backyard and am about to hire my first employee to handle the packing and shipping.
While I’m extremely happy and grateful with my current situation, my latest listen of the millionaire Fastlane has lit a fire in me. I now want to shoot for “great money” instead of just “good money” and so I’ve set some lofty goals for this year and a solid plan to reach them.
Anyway. I apologise for the long, unedited rant but after anonymously stalking this forum for a couple of weeks I thought posting up my story might help to inspire some of you who are in the first stages of starting your journey.
Really liked the entire story, congratulations !
Your business is B2B, right ? Did you only use online prospection (eBay, SEO, ads...) or did you also use traditionnal prospection techniques (visiting potential clients...) ?
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