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INTRO Own a successful ecommerce business, just found this forum!!

JayB

Contributor
Aug 13, 2019
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42
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California
Hi All!!
I can't believe I had not found this forum yet but here I am. I have felt so "lonely" in our work for so many years and have spent many hours reading through threads here, so cool to find people that speak my language!
I started my ecommerce business back in 2010 while working my regular job, and left that job in 2014 to run my business full-time. I started on eBay and Amazon all the while having a website (been through several iterations of the site) and now have a retail site, a wholesale site and still sell on eBay and Amazon. I did build our own brand from the get-go which has been one of the best decisions I made in the evolution of my business.
Kind of crazy how much less info there was 10 years ago, I had many friends make fun of me for thinking I could replace my 6-figure income from my job at a Fortune 500 with selling online. It was a scary step to leave a very secure job at a large company with unbelievable perks, but I used to look at myself in the mirror of my hotel rooms every morning wearing my dress-clothes feeling like I was living a lie (I traveled almost exclusively).
While my business is nowhere near the size of some other guys, we finally broke 1M in sales in 2017 and are still growing very nicely. My business is a niche business within a niche industry, and I got in at the right time after seeing a void for suppliers. We do import everything from China but have done a very good job of protecting our market with our own brand.
I'm at a point where I am considering selling the business to work on some other ventures, I could get close to "FU" money as it sits to give myself plenty of cushion to work on other projects but have not started any of them yet. Also looking at making some changes to my current business and starting those projects concurrently.
Anyhow, thrilled to find this forum!!
 

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Gamefan

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While my business is nowhere near the size of some other guys, we finally broke 1M in sales in 2017 and are still growing very nicely.
Welcome to the forum!

It doesn't matter thanks for sharing. I just started with e-commerce weeks ago and this still inspires people like me. My sales are at $0 in that time.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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While my business is nowhere near the size of some other guys, we finally broke 1M in sales in 2017 and are still growing very nicely. My business is a niche business within a niche industry, and I got in at the right time after seeing a void for suppliers. We do import everything from China but have done a very good job of protecting our market with our own brand.
Congrats my friend, sounds like greater things are in store!

Welcome to the forum.
 

AdamBoyd

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Hi All!!
I can't believe I had not found this forum yet but here I am. I have felt so "lonely" in our work for so many years and have spent many hours reading through threads here, so cool to find people that speak my language!
I started my ecommerce business back in 2010 while working my regular job, and left that job in 2014 to run my business full-time. I started on eBay and Amazon all the while having a website (been through several iterations of the site) and now have a retail site, a wholesale site and still sell on eBay and Amazon. I did build our own brand from the get-go which has been one of the best decisions I made in the evolution of my business.
Kind of crazy how much less info there was 10 years ago, I had many friends make fun of me for thinking I could replace my 6-figure income from my job at a Fortune 500 with selling online. It was a scary step to leave a very secure job at a large company with unbelievable perks, but I used to look at myself in the mirror of my hotel rooms every morning wearing my dress-clothes feeling like I was living a lie (I traveled almost exclusively).
While my business is nowhere near the size of some other guys, we finally broke 1M in sales in 2017 and are still growing very nicely. My business is a niche business within a niche industry, and I got in at the right time after seeing a void for suppliers. We do import everything from China but have done a very good job of protecting our market with our own brand.
I'm at a point where I am considering selling the business to work on some other ventures, I could get close to "FU" money as it sits to give myself plenty of cushion to work on other projects but have not started any of them yet. Also looking at making some changes to my current business and starting those projects concurrently.
Anyhow, thrilled to find this forum!!
Welcome! I’ve also just recently discovered this forum (after listening to both of MJ’s books) and I have been glued to it.

I’ve been looking to be a part of a community like this for some time now.

It’s great hearing about your business.

1m in sales is certainly not something to be downplayed. Celebrate the fact that you have achieve such a feat. Never mind the ‘other guys’.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the forum as much as I have been.
 
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JayB

Contributor
Aug 13, 2019
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42
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California
Welcome! I’ve also just recently discovered this forum (after listening to both of MJ’s books) and I have been glued to it.

I’ve been looking to be a part of a community like this for some time now.

It’s great hearing about your business.

1m in sales is certainly not something to be downplayed. Celebrate the fact that you have achieve such a feat. Never mind the ‘other guys’.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the forum as much as I have been.
Thank you very much :) I actually had a conversation with a business owner who has a warehouse next to ours earlier this morning, and it's amazing how a guy with an 8M/year business has absolutely how to get his products on Amazon. The setup he uses is so antiquated, so it actually made me very proud to think about what we have built over the years. Although my business is not at the level I want it to be, I am reminded at just how much I have learned over the years. I jumped into my business head-first, I did not even know how to make a website much less put it on the internet, and for our industry 10 years is like a whole generation as far as what wasn't available back then. From a technical standpoint things are so much easier now, but the marketplaces are for sure exponentially more flooded than before.
What I am very proud of is how I got to where we did, I very literally started it from the ground-up. I started with a few hundred dollars of product on my home-office floor and grew the business from all from its own earnings, and to this day we have 0 debt. It is for sure a rewarding feeling to walk into my warehouse thinking of where we started, and to walk out during the day to see our guys working in a well-oiled machine.
 

AdamBoyd

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Thank you very much :) I actually had a conversation with a business owner who has a warehouse next to ours earlier this morning, and it's amazing how a guy with an 8M/year business has absolutely how to get his products on Amazon. The setup he uses is so antiquated, so it actually made me very proud to think about what we have built over the years. Although my business is not at the level I want it to be, I am reminded at just how much I have learned over the years. I jumped into my business head-first, I did not even know how to make a website much less put it on the internet, and for our industry 10 years is like a whole generation as far as what wasn't available back then. From a technical standpoint things are so much easier now, but the marketplaces are for sure exponentially more flooded than before.
What I am very proud of is how I got to where we did, I very literally started it from the ground-up. I started with a few hundred dollars of product on my home-office floor and grew the business from all from its own earnings, and to this day we have 0 debt. It is for sure a rewarding feeling to walk into my warehouse thinking of where we started, and to walk out during the day to see our guys working in a well-oiled machine.
Fantastic to hear how well you’ve done.

Do you sell in the UK?
 

Vairavan

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Hi All!!
I can't believe I had not found this forum yet but here I am. I have felt so "lonely" in our work for so many years and have spent many hours reading through threads here, so cool to find people that speak my language!
I started my ecommerce business back in 2010 while working my regular job, and left that job in 2014 to run my business full-time. I started on eBay and Amazon all the while having a website (been through several iterations of the site) and now have a retail site, a wholesale site and still sell on eBay and Amazon. I did build our own brand from the get-go which has been one of the best decisions I made in the evolution of my business.
Kind of crazy how much less info there was 10 years ago, I had many friends make fun of me for thinking I could replace my 6-figure income from my job at a Fortune 500 with selling online. It was a scary step to leave a very secure job at a large company with unbelievable perks, but I used to look at myself in the mirror of my hotel rooms every morning wearing my dress-clothes feeling like I was living a lie (I traveled almost exclusively).
While my business is nowhere near the size of some other guys, we finally broke 1M in sales in 2017 and are still growing very nicely. My business is a niche business within a niche industry, and I got in at the right time after seeing a void for suppliers. We do import everything from China but have done a very good job of protecting our market with our own brand.
I'm at a point where I am considering selling the business to work on some other ventures, I could get close to "FU" money as it sits to give myself plenty of cushion to work on other projects but have not started any of them yet. Also looking at making some changes to my current business and starting those projects concurrently.
Anyhow, thrilled to find this forum!!
Can you share the URL of your store?
 

Vairavan

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I apologize but for now I'm choosing to not divulge our business identity, I can tell you we run a Magento-based multi-store platform with a retail, wholesale and manufacturing presence.
It's okay. I'm just curious what you're selling for 1M. Can you at least tell me your industry?
 

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JayB

Contributor
Aug 13, 2019
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California
Sorry guys, not trying to create any friction. Still very new to this forum so I hope you guys can understand me holding my cards close for a bit here. When I started my business I was always worried that others were going to do what we do and blow us out of the water, even though there were and are plenty of other guys much larger than us in our industry. I actually think about that often, I used to panic about this a lot thinking that I was too late to the party and that I was never going to be good enough. Over the years I have watched many others start in the same business, and fade off in months or a couple years. Although it's of course important you choose an industry or type of product that has a viable market, but it's your work ethic and business model that is, in my opinion, a much bigger determining factor in your success than simply finding that "jackpot" product or industry. Plenty of guys could have eaten our lunch, but by building our own brand and working very hard on our internal infrastructure and policies and procedures we have built something that is very resistant to competition. Worry about yourself primarily, and you need to focus on your end goals. I assure you that is infinitely more important than what you are selling, I truly believe I can replicate what I've done in this business in another industry and am in fact starting a venture like that right now.
 

silentjay

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Feb 14, 2013
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Sorry guys, not trying to create any friction. Still very new to this forum so I hope you guys can understand me holding my cards close for a bit here. When I started my business I was always worried that others were going to do what we do and blow us out of the water, even though there were and are plenty of other guys much larger than us in our industry. I actually think about that often, I used to panic about this a lot thinking that I was too late to the party and that I was never going to be good enough. Over the years I have watched many others start in the same business, and fade off in months or a couple years. Although it's of course important you choose an industry or type of product that has a viable market, but it's your work ethic and business model that is, in my opinion, a much bigger determining factor in your success than simply finding that "jackpot" product or industry. Plenty of guys could have eaten our lunch, but by building our own brand and working very hard on our internal infrastructure and policies and procedures we have built something that is very resistant to competition. Worry about yourself primarily, and you need to focus on your end goals. I assure you that is infinitely more important than what you are selling, I truly believe I can replicate what I've done in this business in another industry and am in fact starting a venture like that right now.
Good post and you shouldn't have to defend keeping your cards close to your chest. People like Vairavan will pose no competition to you in the long run, but trust me they will give it a go anyway, pumping up your costs on PPC ads etc in the short term so why even indulge them. Pretty sure I remember MJ giving a warning to these people to stop demanding to know what everyones niche is but obviously you're still going to get chancers.
 

Tiago

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Welcome to the forum!

What is currently your biggest challenge? Deciding whether or not you want to sell your business?
 
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JayB

Contributor
Aug 13, 2019
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18
California
Welcome to the forum!

What is currently your biggest challenge? Deciding whether or not you want to sell your business?
Thank you!
I would say that yes, right now is deciding whether or not to sell. I'm at a crossroads, I can keep investing in my current business and start expanding into other ventures within the business, or cash-out and try an entirely different set of ideas. I'm thinking about building another brand within our industry, and also a much more expanded wholesale marketing approach to build the wholesale side of the business. I'd love to increase our wholesale business and phase out as much direct retail as possible, but as it stands wholesale is only 10% of our gross so it will take some maneuvering. I feel like I'm losing steam after nearly 10 years of the same business, slowly building it to the point it's at and stuck on deciding which way to go now. I guess one way of thinking about is I'm not sure what will be the best investment of my time, my industry is fairly large but still niche and there is a ceiling at some point so I don't know if I could do better taking what I've learned and moving into another phase of this journey.
 

CareCPA

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From talking to a couple brokers, e-commerce business supply is pretty low right now. All brokers are having trouble finding inventory.
I haven't seen this translate into higher multiples yet, but it could be right around the corner. May be worth putting it out there and seeing if you can get a higher-than-average multiple if you aren't in a rush to sell.

Also, no need to share any identifying info about your business or industry. It has backfired on some people in the past, so better to hold the cards tight and err on the side of sharing less.
 
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JayB

Contributor
Aug 13, 2019
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California
From talking to a couple brokers, e-commerce business supply is pretty low right now. All brokers are having trouble finding inventory.
I haven't seen this translate into higher multiples yet, but it could be right around the corner. May be worth putting it out there and seeing if you can get a higher-than-average multiple if you aren't in a rush to sell.

Also, no need to share any identifying info about your business or industry. It has backfired on some people in the past, so better to hold the cards tight and err on the side of sharing less.
Thank you for that.
Since we are on the subject, do you or anybody have any recommendations for online business brokers? I've been working with one company but am not happy with the vibe I'm getting, I get the impression they are used to selling a larger volume of smaller businesses without their own brand or anything, and aren't' giving this opportunity the attention I believe it would command.
 

CareCPA

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Thank you for that.
Since we are on the subject, do you or anybody have any recommendations for online business brokers? I've been working with one company but am not happy with the vibe I'm getting, I get the impression they are used to selling a larger volume of smaller businesses without their own brand or anything, and aren't' giving this opportunity the attention I believe it would command.
Yes. There was a list compiled here recently: Any reputable business brokers with good inventory?

I'll PM you with a couple names. They may or may not be a good fit, but it never hurts to have options.
 

Kingsta

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Welcome to the forum!

One thing I found interesting was that you were proud of not using debt? Do you think if you used debt you could be maybe 2x? 3x? maybe even 10x. People always have this negative perception of debt but there is good debt and bad debt.

If you want to make 'FU' money add fuel to the fire. If you know you acquire users for $1 and each user makes you $20 then go borrow $1M and turn that into $20M. I'm oversimplifying it but hopefully you see where I'm coming from.

This may not be applicable to you but it's what we did once we found something that worked.
 

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AgainstAllOdds

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Welcome @JayB. You'll fit right in here.

Don't feel the need to share your niche or idea. Also consider getting an Insider membership if you want to share more on your progress and get feedback from others that are in similar positions.

Good luck!
 
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JayB

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Aug 13, 2019
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Welcome to the forum!

One thing I found interesting was that you were proud of not using debt? Do you think if you used debt you could be maybe 2x? 3x? maybe even 10x. People always have this negative perception of debt but there is good debt and bad debt.

If you want to make 'FU' money add fuel to the fire. If you know you acquire users for $1 and each user makes you $20 then go borrow $1M and turn that into $20M. I'm oversimplifying it but hopefully you see where I'm coming from.

This may not be applicable to you but it's what we did once we found something that worked.

You make a very good point and I do get it, believe me this is something I think about often. I'll often ask myself the old "what would I do for the business with 100K right now" and do not have a very good answer. The short and easy answer is to go deeper on inventory, we source everything from overseas and have long, and even worse incredibly varied lead-times so we run out of products often. The products are pricey so going deeper on stock gets out of control fast, but it's definitely something to consider.
 

Kingsta

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You make a very good point and I do get it, believe me this is something I think about often. I'll often ask myself the old "what would I do for the business with 100K right now" and do not have a very good answer. The short and easy answer is to go deeper on inventory, we source everything from overseas and have long, and even worse incredibly varied lead-times so we run out of products often. The products are pricey so going deeper on stock gets out of control fast, but it's definitely something to consider.
Maybe it’s more inventory? But maybe it’s marketing/ads? More sales people? Maybe it’s a combination of multiple things.

Allocating your borrowed money effectively is a skill in itself. Those who can make the dollar stretch make the most from it.

Happy to assist/throw ideas around if you plan to proceed down this route.
 

Tiago

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@JayB, you have many options to take this venture further.

I think what's more important before you make a decision is deciding what's important to you.

What do you really want? Another business and new challenges? Finding ways to break through the ceiling of this business and growing it 10-100x?

If you knew you could have it, and it's 100% possible, what is it that you want?
 

Ernman

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welcome to the forum JayB - great success to date and I'm sure much more to come.
 
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JayB

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Aug 13, 2019
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I had a meeting with a consultant that I have known for some time yesterday, a good friend of mine is in a CEO peer group this gentleman heads and he's got a great background and network in the industry. I've really been leaning towards keeping the business for now, and after some brainstorming last night I believe I will do just that. I believe I'm at the footstep of the next exponential leap in the evolution of my business and it's a shame to cash out of it after so many years getting here. I have been working quite a bit on fine-tuning our policies and procedures, and filling some new roles to ease the burden on me and allow me time to focus on some other project both within and out of the current business. Never a better time to throw a line out there than when things are comfortable.
I am thankful for how much this life-path allows, and quite frankly requires us to keep learning about so many things both professional and personal.
 

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