The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

EXECUTION Journey to Fastlane

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
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
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Last edited:
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
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
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
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
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
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:

Jeff Noel

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 26, 2018
626
1,296
422
Quebec, Canada
What happened with your initial product wave ?
Did it sell as expected considering the photoshoot, the agency that produced the listings and everything ?
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
Hi all,

Wow it has been almost 2 years to the day since my last progress post. With that being said, there has not been a single day in the last 730 days that I have not been grinding away in the Fastlane. Lots of changes and learnings to share.

First, an update on the above Amazon business. Yes the product sold; made my money back, made some profit. There was a few key take aways from this:

1) Keep costs low. Looking back on it, I likely would have made the same quantity of sales with half the marketing budget. Cut unnecessary expenses while launching and focus on the activities that drive real dollars. #makethemoneymoves

2) Probably the biggest lesson learned - play for bigger stakes. MJ talks about gold gum balls, playing for movie tickets vs. playing for millions. It takes the exact same amount of time and effort to set up a business (branding, ideation, execution, social media) to launch a small enterprise chasing 10's of thousands as it does to launch a bigger, cash-flowing enterprise playing for 10's of millions.

NOW! What has happened since then... a large part of Scale these days is in digital marketing. I wasn't comfortable with my knowledge in this area, so I begged, networked, borrowed and stole (ok didn't steal anything) to join one of the largest digital media firms in the world (think Facebook and Google) as one of their Account Directors. In general sales is sales; however, don't downplay the complexity of this industry. This paragraph could be it's own post - but suffice it to say it's been a grind to learn and sell at an elite level. Big learnings - ROAS, CPA, pixel optimization, CTR, CPC, CPM. The list goes on...

Currently, have packaged all of these learnings and experiences into a new business venture. I am not ready to talk about it publicly, but the brand and business is live. I think we have a real need in the market being unfulfilled. Right team members are in place to execute, and there is unlimited upside. For the first time I see my Fastlane journey ready to take off and it's really, really exciting. Not chasing money, not following trends, and ready to go after a massive, emerging market as a leader in the space. Now that I am focused on offering value, instead of chasing money, I see ideas and opportunity everywhere.

As a thank you to @MJ DeMarco I am open to offering an Insiders Membership back to the community. Not sure how to go about selecting the right candidate. If any member has been offering a ton of value to the community and has not yet joined, just tag them here. I'm sure from the short list I can choose someone.

Cheers and keep growing.
 

Kid

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 1, 2016
555
459
241
Good to hear that things go well for you.

Not sure how "proprietary" are things you've learned about sales but some of us would probably benefit from a new small topic about it ;)

Anyway, good luck on your new venture!
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
Good to hear that things go well for you.

Not sure how "proprietary" are things you've learned about sales but some of us would probably benefit from a new small topic about it ;)

Anyway, good luck on your new venture!
Hi @Kid thanks for the follow-up. Has definitely been a roller coaster ride (and I’m still on it, and hope to stay on it).

Was there anything specific you were looking to get more information on in regards to Sales? Pretty broad subject - but I am happy to help out however I can. I’ve been in corporate sales for close to 7 years carrying high quotas the whole time. Will try my best to answer any questions you have. Don’t worry there is nothing proprietary about closing deals :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kid

Kid

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Mar 1, 2016
555
459
241
Hi @Kid thanks for the follow-up. Has definitely been a roller coaster ride (and I’m still on it, and hope to stay on it).
So fingers crossed :)

Was there anything specific you were looking to get more information on in regards to Sales? Pretty broad subject - but I am happy to help out however I can. I’ve been in corporate sales for close to 7 years carrying high quotas the whole time. Will try my best to answer any questions you have. Don’t worry there is nothing proprietary about closing deals :)
I have grasp of what CTR/CPM/CPC/pixel etc. mean. You know things one can learn from FB pages.

Insights that can be learned only by doing or experience are whole different beast.
But if ,in free time, you'd write tip or two i bet it would be interesting
for many of us ( less experienced people :smile: ).
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
Short and sweet update for right now. We just got a verbal yes to a venture capital investment that values us at $750,000. This is only a 3 month old idea/company. Lots of updates to come and hopefully some good learning moments over the next month while we close. 2020 shaping up to be a wild ride filled with 18 hour days.
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
The universe works in mystery ways...

As mentioned a few posts above. I sell digital media for my 9-5. Any salesperson worth their weight should be making over $100,000 a year. FYI - if you are in sales and this number looks unattainable to you look at the industry you're in, the company you work for, or yourself and your skills/network, or some combination of the three.

Anyways, my 3 month old start up is getting funded. Makes me worth 3x my annual salary (on paper). Now here is the funny thing... my old boss just popped up out of the blue today and offered my a substantial raise (think $50k OTE more) to jump ship and join him.

If anyone reading this has gone through similar situation let me know your thoughts. My mind and heart is saying it is a "golden handcuff" type offer.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Last edited:
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
Wonder what @Kak or @JScott would do in this situation. Probably tell their ex-boss offering $50k extra a year to take a hike and plow forward on the business.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
Nice thread!
Regarding the offer, how much time do you have to answer?
Hi Lucky,

I have a few weeks. In fact, I’m confident the job is on the table for the foreseeable future. The issue I have with the job is that it’s too comfortable. Even though it seems like a lot of money I think once I start it will loose it’s allure and become just another job. My brain and spirit needs more challenge.

The good news is that 1) it’s the holiday season so everything takes a little longer, so the time crunch to make a decision is essentially slowed down 2) the job will always be on the table, although I dislike my subconscious knowing there is a potential back-up 3) the funding will take a month to close 4) probably the most important, I’ve already gone through a true FTE at my current role. That’s a post on its own at a later date.

The more I think about it, the more I know what I need to do...
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
Deciding to proceed on the assumption that the investment will close without issue. Accountant has prepared P&L and Cash Flow Statements for us to share with the investor. For those that don't know a business has 3 major financial statements: P&L (aka Income) Statement, Cash Flow Statement and Balance Sheet. I have learned about this stuff in the past through both corporate training sessions and self-study; however, never found it to stick in my head. Once the need presents itself for your own business, I find the capacity to learn and retain relevant financial information infinitely higher.

Short-term next steps:

-Lawyers are going back and forth on both sides. Adding Shareholders to the Articles of Incorporation is not the part of the process that takes the most time, that is easy. It is the Shareholders Agreement to make sure that everyone has their interests protected and we are set up for long-term success and (hopefully) a buyout one day.

-We found a shared office space we are hoping to close on January 1st.

-Decided to stay sharp and work on a new skill. Registered for Facebook Blueprint certification. I will work on this 30 minutes a day.

-Figure out with the wife how to manage everything: taking a pay cut, paying for our mortgage, family planning, eating healthy & working out while staying sane.

Busy, fun, productive, exciting times. I guess this is "Living the Process". This is the new normal, getting lost in the day to day of growth and not working for a weekend. Bring it on.
 

Lucky Lu

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 2, 2019
131
122
68
Newport Beach, California
Hi Lucky,

I have a few weeks. In fact, I’m confident the job is on the table for the foreseeable future. The issue I have with the job is that it’s too comfortable. Even though it seems like a lot of money I think once I start it will loose it’s allure and become just another job. My brain and spirit needs more challenge.

The good news is that 1) it’s the holiday season so everything takes a little longer, so the time crunch to make a decision is essentially slowed down 2) the job will always be on the table, although I dislike my subconscious knowing there is a potential back-up 3) the funding will take a month to close 4) probably the most important, I’ve already gone through a true FTE at my current role. That’s a post on its own at a later date.

The more I think about it, the more I know what I need to do...
I can relate, even though I am not as advanced as you in my Fast Lane venture.
I have just turned down my biggest client starting January, because it paid so well that I was practically in house and that was not only comfortable but blocking my momentum to make the jump into the fast lane. It is a little unnerving because I am resigning easy money, phones, computers, an IT guy a couple of secretaries and a lot of benefits, but even keeping my line of work I need a challenge and play ball in order to be really free. Ultimately it is what I want

Good luck brother, you are way ahead of me and you will succeed.
 
OP
OP
Harbourmaster

Harbourmaster

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Mar 2, 2017
88
278
170
Canada
I remember watching Shark Tank (or Dragons' Den as I'm Canadian) a few years ago and listening to Robert Herjavec say when he started his company, he worked out of the most basic office space - no decorating, minimal furniture. It wasn't until his 2nd or 3rd company that he got some decent furniture because at that point he could afford it without thinking about it.

Anyways, we had allocated a WeWork type space to our burn rate doc, along with some basic furniture. Long story short, investor called us out on it. Offered free space in his office complex. Lesson learned: don't waste other people's money. Good news is that now we have an extra $18,000 over the first 6 months to go towards sales and marketing and driving revenue which is priority number one

28989
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Sponsored Offers

  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
I bought 4 of his courses about freelancing / copywriting. I'm halfway through the first. The...

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom