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Progress Thread Journey to Fastlane

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Harbourmaster, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. Harbourmaster
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    Harbourmaster Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hi all,

    As stated in my Introduction thread, I am currently in the process of steering off the Slowlane and trying to eventually find my way onto the Fastlane.

    Introduction thread found here: Introduction - Sales, sales, SALES!

    I am creating this Progress thread for a couple of reasons. First, I read a recent posting about getting the most value from the forum is a game of give and take. No rep dollars on the forum probably equals few Fastlane dollars in real life. Therefore, I want to take a more active and interactive role on this site. Secondly, I want a place where I can be held accountable for the action I am taking towards my Fastlane goals. It's one thing to daydream about the eventual event of being wealthy through entrepreneurship, it is a completely different thing all together about documenting the day to day grind of the process. And thirdly, maybe someone reading this thread will gain some kind of value in watching a real life example of joining the Fastlane from the ground level.

    In order to document this journey properly, a baseline must be established. So here goes...

    The Baseline (What has been done to this point?)


    I currently work in corporate sales, so I have a decent grasp of the fundamentals and process of selling. However, as far as online entrepreneurship, eCommerce, importing & exporting, etc. goes I am still a sponge and learning as much as possible. My process for learning thus far has been to read all related threads on the Forum (both public and Insiders). I do not want to fall into the trap of just reading/learning so have taken some action as well.

    As mentioned in my Intro thread, a friend and I have built a number of sites for personal contacts. Web development is a very competitive space to be in, and although creating these sites has been beneficial to learning, I don't think I will pursue scaling this option. Kudos to anyone on the forum that has made a successful business on this path - I hope Web.com buys you out one day and you can cruise off into the sunset!

    After building a couple sites for others, I ventured into setting up a Shopify store using Oberlo for dropshipping. Although this form of eCommerce really intrigues me still, the barrier to entry on this set-up in almost nonexistent. The result was having to shut down the site because 2 month order fulfillment of mediocre products was unacceptable in my eyes. All customers from the site were properly taken care of before shutting it down. Again the obvious fact that a real need must be met in order to have a healthy, long-term business was demonstrated.

    What is coming up?

    Going to dive back in to the Amazon and eCommerce threads, find a niche where products need improvement, add real value to those customers by improving the products, create a brand surrounding those products, and build engagement with those customers.

    It will take time and some investment money to get this off the ground. But I am determined to make this the year of breaking into the Fastlane.

    Thank you for reading, please provide any feedback.

    I hope you check back in.

    -Harbourmaster

    "Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don't be afraid to take that first step." - Muhammad Ali
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
    jon.a, edward ace and MidwestLandlord like this.
  2. Harbourmaster
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    Harbourmaster Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hi all,

    Time for an update on my Fastlane endeavours.

    What have I been doing?


    It has been a couple weeks since my last update. The last three weeks for me have been about researching and setting up infrastructure for my business. I have filed for a Sole Proprietorship - which in Canada is the simplest form of business registration. This has allowed me to open up a (free) business chequing account and register to sell on Amazon. All my Fastlane business activities will be conducted under this umbrella to keep personal and business expenses separate at no additional cost.

    I have also purchased Jungle Scout and have been using it to determine which products and niches I want to compete in. From everything I have read, I understand the information presented on JS can be imperfect, but I am using it to gain an understanding of how to research data an Amazon and the general process for finding profitable ideas.

    I am continuing to read and re-read the threads on eCommerce and driving traffic on the forum and would like to thank everyone that continues to make very valuable contributions. I have also started a couple courses through Lynda on Facebook advertising and eCommerce, and will continue with those as the journey goes along. I am consciously trying to avoid analysis by paralysis and do no want to get discouraged feeling that I need a perfect grasp on all things related to digital marketing before taking action.

    What is coming up?

    Over the next couple weeks I hope to place my first order overseas and have it listed on Amazon and shipped using FBA. That is the goal I am setting for myself.

    I want to continue to use Jungle Scout to find products and niches that I can add value to, and then validate those ideas before ordering in bulk.

    I am also going to purchase the importing guide from @Walter Hay as it seems to have a good reputation around the forum and I want to set myself up for a smooth first-time experience sourcing and importing.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.

    -Harbourmaster

    "Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you're probably being slow." - Jeff Bezos
     
    Kingmaker and edward ace like this.
  3. Harbourmaster
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    Harbourmaster Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Has been a couple of months without an update, so here goes...

    I have been steadily working away on my import/export business most evenings and weekends. I have selected a niche to focus on for my first product to import and list on Amazon. Using Walter's import guide, I have been able to find a manufacturer that I have been communicating with to create the product. Samples have already been ordered, product has been tested by some friends and the feedback seems to be very positive. A few people have already offered to purchase one now, but I have insisted they wait and go through the official Amazon channel and leave me a five star review :)

    I was hopeful that the product would be listed and selling by June; however, what I have realized is that each step along the way is it's own mini process to be worked through. For example, I have built a relationship with a customs broker that is going to handle the shipping/regulatory side of the business for me, but they first needed me to set up a tax number, import number, etc. Definitely not complaining, as these steps are simply barriers to entry that other people probably won't take to set their business up properly.

    The entire time I have been working on this product I have been thinking in the back of my head, "How am I adding value to what already exists?" Here is what I have determined are my value-adds:

    1) Better product - Higher quality, more durable, etc. This was determined through some measurable "specs" of the product compared to competitors during development.

    2) Better design - Professional branding done by an ex-coworker of mine who is a graphic designer. She crafted a beautiful logo and colour scheme for me to use. Very classy feel that I believe will appeal to my target demographic.

    3) Developing a story surrounding the product - Will get professional photos done to showcase the product properly and will find organizations to support through the sale of the product.

    I think I am about a month away from launching officially on Amazon and have a ton of work left to do before I'm ready. Once that happens, I will have a much better grasp on what the marketmind has to say. Right now I am marching through the desert working towards getting that feedback...

    -Harbourmaster

    "There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” - Paulo Coelho
     
  4. Harbourmaster
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    Harbourmaster Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Lots to update, lots more to come. The following is a list of updates that has happened since my last post. I am going to switch up the format of my posts a little bit here - I'm going to say what took place, the approximate cost and the lessons I learned (whether or not I will repeat it for the next product). Here goes:

    Final products ordered:
    I ended up ordering 850 pieces from my manufacturer. Shipped by sea, customs broker handled the process for me. Cost: $7.05 landed (approximately $4.50 per piece, the rest being for freight, duty, brokerage fee, etc.). Would definitely advise the use of a customs broker - we exchanged about 10 emails and 10 phone calls as I'm sure I annoyed her with newbie questions, and her fee was only $136.

    Social media pages set up:
    Going with Facebook and Instagram. Instagram is where my demographic hang outs, Facebook for running and managing ads eventually on both platforms. Cost: free

    Photoshoot:
    Expensive day, but to differentiate myself I need to present a premium feel. Hired a creative director, two models, hair & make-up artist, photographer and videographer. Got product photos for Amazon done, as well as about 20 usable photos for Instagram and four of the best product videos I have ever seen. Cost: about $3,000 - creative director: $900 (was super helpful pulling it all together - hiring everyone, timelines, etc. On the fence whether I could do what she did myself or have my gf oversee the day instead), models: $300 x 2 (would definitely use them again, they have about 60,000 Instagram followers between them and have already posted a number of my photos and are helping me generate buzz), videographer: $900 (was amazing, everyone says Facebook video ads are where the money is so time will tell on whether this was a worthwhile investment), photographer: $700 (he was ok, next time I will research their work on IG beforehand, I trusted the creative director to hire the photographer and I think she hired her friend)

    Final product picked up:
    I have about 1,200 lbs of product (four skids worth) sitting in my 700 square foot condo. Cost: one annoyed girlfriend until they sell. Rented a truck and went to pick it up at the warehouse. Truck was about $90 as opposed to getting it delivered to my door for an additional $240.

    Amazon listing:
    Currently have a company doing my listing for me - uploading the UPC's I purchased, getting ASIN, loading photos and professionally writing the page. Cost: $240 (I could probably do this myself but am paranoid about my first listing being perfect. It also takes a lot off my plate as I am still working a full-time sales job).

    All in all, I am about $10,000 into this project. It's a lot of money; however, if I can sell my initial inventory my projected revenue is about $34,000 at over 50% profit. In my head, if I can turn over my inventory three times, then I have a real business. Basically doubling my money 2-3 times. $10,000 -> $20,000 -> $40,000 -> $80,000. If I can reach these levels I would seriously consider jumping full-time into FBA, but in the best case scenario this likely won't happen until summer and I know I have a ton of work to do before then.

    Next post will be sales results on Amazon and Instagram. I am hoping to somehow, somehow make my way to the Summit - it is what I dream about.

    "If you are afraid to fail, then you're probably going to fail." - Kobe Bryant
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
    AlessioLC and WJK like this.