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bsharp78

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Hi all,

It's nice to be here - although I wish I found this a decade ago. I'm Brandon, a husband and father of 3, and I've been trying to get something going for years. Listening to the book, I realize my big issues are 1) chasing the money and not focusing on the problem; 2) not taking immediate, or consistent, action; and 3) feeling complacent in a job. I received my PhD in 2015 and have a comfortable job at a great company, but have always wanted to break out and life my life by my own design. In graduate school, I started an Amazon FBA business, selling styrofoam balls, which was actually pretty lucrative (relatively speaking), but it showed me the potential. Although the margins were incredible, I got sick of dealing with the sourcing from China and didn't like pumping styrofoam balls into society. But it was when I decided to partner with my brothers to scale the business and to increase the portfolio, when everything fell apart. Learned a ton, though.

Anyway, I've been trying to follow the money, purchasing several get rich quick programs. Some are really well done, some are straight scams, but never felt passionate enough to follow through with them. One of the better ones taught me how to make affiliate websites, which I have 2 that are bringing in some money/month. But I tried to cut corners and outsource it, since I have the capital and didn't want to take up my time.

I've considered just focusing on my 9-5 corporate job, but there was a significant life event that flipped everything around recently. Because of this, I listened to The Millionaire Fastlane and am ready to commit and take action. Especially since I'm working from home, watching my 6 year old son play by himself from my office window. Just reading through these posts, I realize that there are enough resources that make it difficult to fail in the long term. It's just up to me. I look forward to growing with you all!
 

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robertwills

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Sep 9, 2020
384
247
93
Atlanta, GA
Hi all,

It's nice to be here - although I wish I found this a decade ago. I'm Brandon, a husband and father of 3, and I've been trying to get something going for years. Listening to the book, I realize my big issues are 1) chasing the money and not focusing on the problem; 2) not taking immediate, or consistent, action; and 3) feeling complacent in a job. I received my PhD in 2015 and have a comfortable job at a great company, but have always wanted to break out and life my life by my own design. In graduate school, I started an Amazon FBA business, selling styrofoam balls, which was actually pretty lucrative (relatively speaking), but it showed me the potential. Although the margins were incredible, I got sick of dealing with the sourcing from China and didn't like pumping styrofoam balls into society. But it was when I decided to partner with my brothers to scale the business and to increase the portfolio, when everything fell apart. Learned a ton, though.

Anyway, I've been trying to follow the money, purchasing several get rich quick programs. Some are really well done, some are straight scams, but never felt passionate enough to follow through with them. One of the better ones taught me how to make affiliate websites, which I have 2 that are bringing in some money/month. But I tried to cut corners and outsource it, since I have the capital and didn't want to take up my time.

I've considered just focusing on my 9-5 corporate job, but there was a significant life event that flipped everything around recently. Because of this, I listened to The Millionaire Fastlane and am ready to commit and take action. Especially since I'm working from home, watching my 6 year old son play by himself from my office window. Just reading through these posts, I realize that there are enough resources that make it difficult to fail in the long term. It's just up to me. I look forward to growing with you all!
What was the use of these Styrofoam balls? What annual, or total, dollar amount were you selling? Who were you selling them to? What made it fall apart?
 

bsharp78

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 2, 2021
14
21
25
What was the use of these Styrofoam balls? What annual, or total, dollar amount were you selling? Who were you selling them to? What made it fall apart?
Hey Robert, thanks for asking.

Funny thing was, I had no idea who'd use them when I went into it. I listened to podcasts and learned that I could use Jungle Scout to monitor sales of different products and filter them by specific metrics (shipping weight, etc.). I didn't want anything electronic, or have too many parts where manufacturing defects could play a part. It really was a proof-of principle thing.

When I saw that 2-inch styrofoam balls sold really well, I found a supplier on Alibaba and bought 5,000 for just over $300. I packaged them, sent them into Amazon and they all sold within a few weeks (packs of 100 for $25). I started ordering partial containers of them (20 - 30k balls), which brought the landed costs to ~7 cents/ball.

My brothers wanted to get in, and I thought we could get into other products and scale up as a partnership. With 4 brothers involved - everyone had different ideas of what we should do. We ended up trying small dog products, but I found that I was doing most of the work since I was the only one who knew how to source and import products.

It was kind of a hot mess. I was also in charge of setting up the products on Amazon and setting up the advertising. I tried to delegate, but it ended up being more work for me. They were also getting discouraged because the products weren't moving fast enough. We ended up selling the business.
 

robertwills

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Sep 9, 2020
384
247
93
Atlanta, GA
Hey Robert, thanks for asking.

Funny thing was, I had no idea who'd use them when I went into it. I listened to podcasts and learned that I could use Jungle Scout to monitor sales of different products and filter them by specific metrics (shipping weight, etc.). I didn't want anything electronic, or have too many parts where manufacturing defects could play a part. It really was a proof-of principle thing.

When I saw that 2-inch styrofoam balls sold really well, I found a supplier on Alibaba and bought 5,000 for just over $300. I packaged them, sent them into Amazon and they all sold within a few weeks (packs of 100 for $25). I started ordering partial containers of them (20 - 30k balls), which brought the landed costs to ~7 cents/ball.

My brothers wanted to get in, and I thought we could get into other products and scale up as a partnership. With 4 brothers involved - everyone had different ideas of what we should do. We ended up trying small dog products, but I found that I was doing most of the work since I was the only one who knew how to source and import products.

It was kind of a hot mess. I was also in charge of setting up the products on Amazon and setting up the advertising. I tried to delegate, but it ended up being more work for me. They were also getting discouraged because the products weren't moving fast enough. We ended up selling the business.
Interesting. Working with family, or anyone, in the same business in my experience often doesn't work out, not to mention the real possibility of bad blood forever. I prefer to outsource everything and everyone pulls their weight. This has worked well for me.

You are definitely a winner and will succeed at whatever you do. A profitable business you can live on though is very difficult, but very possible.

I would stay away from the traditional "get quick quick methods" and look to traditional business models and then find your own niche and take on it. I did this in business to business goods. I originally saw established companies buying and selling "stuff" and getting huge payments at a time. When the company I worked for closed I started to "trade" on my own account. It's not easy at times and there are lean times but when it works it has given me more than I could have hoped for.
 

SteveO

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Welcome to the forum Brandon.

Able to sell without even knowing what the product was used for. Interesting. An obvious guess would be arts, crafts, ornaments... Although that is gone, you now have experience with Amazon.

I don't sell products online so won't be much help to you. There are lots of people on here that do though. Read the topics that have a gold rating for starters. Here is one to start: GOLD! - Ask me anything about eCommerce (Ongoing)

Good luck!
 

SteveO

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A profitable business you can live on though is very difficult, but very possible.
Well. I have seen many do this directly from the forum here. Difficult is relative. I quit a decent paying job after 19 years. It took me three years to build my business to the point of quitting the job. Never looked back.

I know people on here that have never had a real job and are doing quite well. Others that left their jobs in their early 20's.

There are always challenges. I don't view them as difficult, just challenging. But I really enjoy solving problems which is what it takes.
 

Flint

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 14, 2020
232
425
197
Welcome @bsharp78. Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Sounds like you can make it happen. Have you found a market need that you'd be excited to satisfy? Was that the missing ingredient with the styrofoam balls?

I received my PhD in 2015 and have a comfortable job at a great company
To what degree could any of this be transferred to your own business, either as a product or service you could offer? I'm thinking skills, know-how, product-market fit, industry knowledge, client or talent network etc. Not that you need to stay in the field.
 

robertwills

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Sep 9, 2020
384
247
93
Atlanta, GA
Well. I have seen many do this directly from the forum here. Difficult is relative. I quit a decent paying job after 19 years. It took me three years to build my business to the point of quitting the job. Never looked back.

I know people on here that have never had a real job and are doing quite well. Others that left their jobs in their early 20's.

There are always challenges. I don't view them as difficult, just challenging. But I really enjoy solving problems which is what it takes.
In my experience I have seen with my own not only is business success, defined as profitable, very difficult it can lead to ruin of person finance and relationships. I knew one person, a graduate of one of the best universities in the world, someone who is very smart, invest a years professional salary in the manufacture of a product they created. They lost all the investment! This is more common than not.

Business is very difficult. But like I say very possible. There may be people on this forum that succeeded wildly. I succeeded decently but let me tell you, what I had to go through at times was nearly unbearable. For example, early on I had one company contracted to pay me a fee on every unit sold. I thought I was going to be rich. The president of the company kept telling me that things weren't going as well as planned but would eventually. This went on for months. The guy had an impressive resume and was totally believable. A real smooth talker.

After months I decided to call his customer who informed me that they had been buying from the company for months and paid them a lot of money. I then called the company and the president admitted they had been selling to the company but there was no money left because his wife took it all a divorce procedure or something. That's a reality of business. Today I do my best to ensure that the reality is nice dream and not a nightmare.
 

bsharp78

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 2, 2021
14
21
25
Interesting. Working with family, or anyone, in the same business in my experience often doesn't work out, not to mention the real possibility of bad blood forever. I prefer to outsource everything and everyone pulls their weight. This has worked well for me.

You are definitely a winner and will succeed at whatever you do. A profitable business you can live on though is very difficult, but very possible.

I would stay away from the traditional "get quick quick methods" and look to traditional business models and then find your own niche and take on it. I did this in business to business goods. I originally saw established companies buying and selling "stuff" and getting huge payments at a time. When the company I worked for closed I started to "trade" on my own account. It's not easy at times and there are lean times but when it works it has given me more than I could have hoped for.
Thank you so much for the encouragement - and the reality check. I know I'm in the right place when I hear real experiences...warts and all. I look forward to learning more from you and the group in general.
 

bsharp78

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 2, 2021
14
21
25
Welcome to the forum Brandon.

Able to sell without even knowing what the product was used for. Interesting. An obvious guess would be arts, crafts, ornaments... Although that is gone, you now have experience with Amazon.

I don't sell products online so won't be much help to you. There are lots of people on here that do though. Read the topics that have a gold rating for starters. Here is one to start: GOLD! - Ask me anything about eCommerce (Ongoing)

Good luck!
Hi Steve,

Thank you. Yeah, I learned once I started selling that people loved them for crafts and science projects.

I'm not sure I want to get back into Amazon FBA at this point. I wanted to find something made in the US, but everything is just way too expensive, especially after Amazon takes their cut. Also, dealing with fake negative reviews was such an issue when I was doing it. Hopefully, that's improved. Anyway, I'm not sure exactly what my venture will be and am hoping to get some ideas from this group. I have been putting more time into my affiliate websites and looking into making an info-product. I've just been paying attention to everything and honing my mindset to identify and think of ways to capitalize on needs/pain points.
 

bsharp78

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 2, 2021
14
21
25
Welcome @bsharp78. Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Sounds like you can make it happen. Have you found a market need that you'd be excited to satisfy? Was that the missing ingredient with the styrofoam balls?


To what degree could any of this be transferred to your own business, either as a product or service you could offer? I'm thinking skills, know-how, product-market fit, industry knowledge, client or talent network etc. Not that you need to stay in the field.
Hi Flint, thank you. I received my PhD in Biomedical Sciences. I'm positive there's a market for something in there, like a resource helping graduating PhDs or Postdocs get jobs/network. I can do science at any level, but finding monetization there has eluded me so far. I'm open to ideas though...
 

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bsharp78

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Aug 2, 2021
14
21
25
Any thoughts on the VAXCClNE?
Haha - I have a lot of thoughts. As a trained virologist, I used to have many discussions with people about the necessity, efficacy and safety of vaccines. In my experience, once someone is committed to one side or the other, it is nearly impossible to convince them otherwise. And once you try, they just dig into their position more. I'm more perplexed on how it has become a political issue, so I'd rather not get into that discussion here. Whatever your political leaning, everyone here has something positive to contribute to helping us all grow in our fastlane journey and that's what I look forward to the most.
 

SteveO

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Thanks. There are lots of discussions on this forum. Thought I'd ask when I saw your specialty.

Btw.. MJ has the spelling changed automatically so the forum does not get picked up by bots.
 

Flint

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Jul 14, 2020
232
425
197
Hi Flint, thank you. I received my PhD in Biomedical Sciences. I'm positive there's a market for something in there, like a resource helping graduating PhDs or Postdocs get jobs/network. I can do science at any level, but finding monetization there has eluded me so far. I'm open to ideas though...
Looks like we have related backgrounds, maybe even play in similar niches.

I moved on from the academic and strictly R&D lifestyle years ago and have worked in many environments (from early startups to large enterprises) doing both technical and strategic/commercial/sales stuff. Pretty much a full range of exposure to different stages of business and product lifecycle.

Since discovering TFM, I've played with several little side projects (including Amazon/e-commerce) in new fields outside my field of expertise to expand beyond a very regulated and slow industry that requires massive funding, human capital and infrastructure. Unlike you, I haven't made money doing so. But it's been fun and I've learned a lot, like spotting opportunities under my nose... lol.

So I ended up buying some RE assets and I'm working on fixing one up right now. A massive learning curve, also extremely rewarding. I find exhaustive physical work bringing tangible results very satisfying.

As my main gig (still working for the man to build up my capital after previous adventures), I do business development and deliver work for businesses in my core space. A lot of B2B and B2B2C type of stuff. Great opportunities for networking and building connections, both with businesses and with great talent.

Shifting from R&D to business development and working directly with multiple clients has been one of the best decisions to trim the mental slowlane fat and see there's another way.
 

Saad Khan

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
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Mar 14, 2021
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Pakistan
Business is very difficult. But like I say very possible. There may be people on this forum that succeeded wildly. I succeeded decently but let me tell you, what I had to go through at times was nearly unbearable. For example, early on I had one company contracted to pay me a fee on every unit sold. I thought I was going to be rich. The president of the company kept telling me that things weren't going as well as planned but would eventually. This went on for months. The guy had an impressive resume and was totally believable. A real smooth talker.

After months I decided to call his customer who informed me that they had been buying from the company for months and paid them a lot of money. I then called the company and the president admitted they had been selling to the company but there was no money left because his wife took it all a divorce procedure or something. That's a reality of business. Today I do my best to ensure that the reality is nice dream and not a nightmare.
Lesson learned, don't hand over your cashflow to some other person or entity. Have control over your money flowing in from your business.
 

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