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INTRO Merging into the Fastlane

akotu

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 7, 2015
9
14
28
Phoenix, AZ
Hey everyone, I read MLF back in 2015 and it fundamentally changed my thinking and motivated me to come up with a plan to finally leave my corporate job. Two years later my business is now doing over $150k/mo in sales.

Here's my story

When I was in high school I started dabbling with selling misc tools and other items I found in my father's industrial hardware store on eBay. I ended up finding a fairly profitable niche on items and they started selling well. So well that my sales attracted the attention of the manufacturer (I was undercutting them on eBay). They quickly put a stop to it. I had the opportunity to attended a trade show with my father and we found some good closetout deals to sell in his store. I mentioned that some of them might sell well online as well. When I graduated from High School, my father gave me a very unique graduation gift...

One day I came home and the UPS driver pulled up and started unloading a large amount of boxes. I asked my dad what all of these boxes were for and he said it was my graduation present. The 36 boxes contained 500 pairs of bucket boss work pants. Pretty strange, however the margins were good and they sold well. It took me a while to sell them all, I was even fulfilling orders out of my dorm room for most of my freshman year at college. Those work pants ended up paying for a good portion of my first year's tuition.

Throughout college I purchased and flipped a house and continued to sell misc closeout items on ebay. I made pretty good money for a college kid but nothing to make me consider going full time with it after school. Selling closeouts on ebay is a tough game as sourcing can take a lot of time and once they are gone they are gone.

I keep thinking about the niche I had in high school that was very profitable but the mfgr put a stop to. Well the company was having these built in China and simply private labeling them. I went on Alibaba and found a company that was making a similar item, and I figured I could just create my own brand and sell them myself. I got a quote for a sample, but I was too scared to spend the money to get one shipped (very heavy item). I knew it would be successful but kept making excuses on why I shouldn't. This was back in 2007 and I would have make a killing. Lesson learned.

Once I graduated and got a real job, I GOT COMFORTABLE. I started making okay money and liked not having to work at night dealing with the ebay stuff. After my first 2 years of working, I got bored and started to brainstorm different business, but nothing really sparked me. I ended up moving companies and taking a position at a Fortune 100 company a making good money and got REALLY COMFORTABLE.

After about 5 years, I read the MFL and it gave me the kick in the a$$ I needed. I decided I was going to quit wasting my free time playing video games and start spending it developing myself so I can one day gain my own financial freedom.

Over the next 6 months I spent a lot of time reading and researching business ideas. I read a reddit post about a guy who was crushing it with private label FBA and I really consumed myself with learning everything FBA (I did not buy any of those ridiculous courses, all the info you need can be found for free). I found an item that was selling pretty well and found a supplier that could make it. I didn't pursue it because I felt the niche wouldn't be big enough (boy was I wrong!).

Several months passed and I found out my wife was pregnant with our second child. We were making good money but our daycare costs are very high so if we wanted to maintain our same lifestyle I would have to bring in an extra $900/mo. I went back to the one lead I had on a product and said screw it, I might as well try it out even if I only make a few hundred a month.

I ordered samples and pulled the trigger on the order. I launched several different variants of the product at the same time. My first sale was in July 2016 and sales picked up quickly. By August I was scrambling to place another. In December I was making the same as I was at my corporate job, but I refused to take money out of the business and kept reinvesting it in inventory and sku expansion. By Spring of 2017, I could not keep up with both my corporate job and the business and I knew my job was holding me back. I was working 8am to 5pm and then once the kids went to bed, I fulfilled orders from the garage until 10pm. I didn't have any time to work on the business (just in it) and I was getting burned out so I quit my job in May of 2017, at the time I was doing $50k/mo in revenue. By August I was at $100k/mo and last month I did $160k.

Currently I am working on growing the business I have 2 employees (I probably need to hire about 3 more}. My family and the business will be moving down to Phoenix, AZ in July/August to be closer to family and to escape the cold winters. We live in North Dakota now (not recommended).

If there's interest, I plan on documenting some of the info I discovered on my journey while I grew my business so I can give back and add value to the community. Thanks for reading and I look forward to meeting everyone!
 

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Sagemoney

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Mar 12, 2018
62
251
155
Michigan
Hey welcome to the forum,

First off congratulations on the major success with FBA, We have a few ecommerce experts here and if you have time go through @biophase and @Ecom man gold threads. There's a ton of value, And please don't hesitate to share whatever you know lol.


A had a question though, did you use any tool to find your FBA item or was it just regular old searching?

Thanks and nice to meet you!
 
OP
OP
akotu

akotu

New Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 7, 2015
9
14
28
Phoenix, AZ
Hey welcome to the forum,
First off congratulations on the major success with FBA, We have a few ecommerce experts here and if you have time go through @biophase and @Ecom man gold threads. There's a ton of value, And please don't hesitate to share whatever you know lol.
Thanks for the info. I've read quite a few of their posts and there is a TON of value in the them.

A had a question though, did you use any tool to find your FBA item or was it just regular old searching?
One of my main products I found by searching top sellers in various categories. The other one I found using a tool like jungle scout, I believe it's called ASINspector. The problem with these tools is the data can be pretty inaccurate but atleast it gives you an idea of what is popular and what isn't.
For example, the item I found with ASINspector stated that monthly sales were $30k/mo which obviously grabbed my attention. I had no idea what the product was or what it even did, but it was related to the niche I was trying to get into (complementary items). This product was not an off the shelf item and would need to be custom designed and manufactured. The good thing is it could be made on most CNC machines.

A co worker of mine ran a small part time machine shop out of his garage and I mentioned the product to him. He said it was fairly straight forward to manufacture so I had him make up some drawings for it and asked him to quote it for me.

After finding more about the product, and searching sold items on eBay, it looked like the volume was significantly lower than the $30k/mo estimate, more like $1-2k/mo. I rechecked ASINspector and the data was completely off, it had the item incorrectly categorized which skewed the estimated sales. Either way I figured I would move forward even if I only made a few hundred dollars a month of profit on it. Once I started selling it, I was very wrong, and it exploded in popularity. It's now one of my most popular products and has spawned several different spin-off products as well.

Several key lessons that I learned in my search:

1) Don't pigeon hole yourself when looking for a product and limit your search to items you are personally interested in. Customer's don't care what your passion is, they only care about themselves and having their problem solved. I knew very little about my niche when I got into it, but I consumed myself with learning more about it. I'm not passionate about my products, but I am passionate about building my business and serving my customer's needs.

2) Don't try to reinvent the wheel. It's okay to take an existing product and make it more appealing, either by features, price, or branding. Just pick something and get started. You may be surprised with the results.

3) Don't just focus on high volume products. I started off with low volume, high margin. There is a lot of low hanging fruit with the low volume/high margin products. Look for something where there are only one or two other sellers and see if you can beat them either on price or marketing.

4) Don't only focus on items that would be a good FBA fit. One of my highest margin items is not FBA (too heavy).

I hope this helps and best of luck.
 

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