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EXECUTION Starting my first E-commerce venture.

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Strm

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A bit more than half a year ago I came up with a simple product idea and have been working on it since. I got some samples about 4 months ago and they were quite popular, sold them pretty fast, so I decided to invest in it a bit and go for it. Last wednesday I got my bulk order here in Estonia and the same evening got the first sales as well. I'm happy that I sticked to it for all this time, not really knowing where it will lead me. I took a break from my construction job abroad (was so fed up with it too) and now I am finally back home and can work on my own project. Luckily my boss is a good friend so I will probably have work when I need it. This thread is long overdue but I didn't want to make it before something real was going on. My last execution thread died too quickly :)

From wednesday to sunday I sold 18 units, that's around 620€ in revenue (not profit). When I calculate all the expenses, including ad cost, the net profit per unit should be around 25€. I need to sell around 90-100 units to cover my first investment. I'm ignoring the crisis and I know that people have money just like they always do. My product is not an essential but still seem to press on some emotions and people are buying. Also I have found out that I am pretty good in customer service so that helps. When I got reviews for my last business, people always said how nice it was to communicate with me. I'm keeping it up this time too - no need to be an a**hole!

I'm taking orders only on FB right now, sending invoices manually, packing, shipping and doing all this stuff, so the next goal is to get a website up and running to automate it a bit. I will probably use Shopify. It's a bit scary but I know it will be next level for me! I also need to learn more about Instagram and other platforms to use.
I think I will have enough money in May to make a second order and slowly start to sell in Europe (maybe I will use my personal funds to make the process go faster) because the local market is pretty small. There's only 1.3 millions of us Estonians. But I see some potential in it. I was hoping for maybe around 30 sales per first month, but I think I will get there on wednesday - after just one week. To be honest, that's huge for me!

I have some personal savings for maybe about a year or so. So I have time to work on this and hopefully grow this business. But sales are so addictive and it's a bit challenging mentally, real emotional rollercoaster. Even now when there's some proof that people like my stuff, I still find myself doubting. :) I guess that's the part of it. No problem. I can handle it. I'm enjoying it actually.

So I'm writing this thread to keep you guys posted. Maybe weekly updates on sales numbers and also when I have something big to share. Thanks for all of you inspiring people who are here in the forum giving advice and helping so often. I hope this thread can inspire someone in the future as well.
 

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Strm

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Hey buddy, congrats!!! Really impressive to see you made some sales already. Keep it going and please keep us updated!

Thanks a lot, appreciated! I will!


Congrats as well. Celebrate for a day. Then come back and hit it big. No reason to stop momentum.

Hey, Kid, thanks for taking the time! I'm enjoying it a lot and can't think about anything else anymore :rofl: So I guess I'm celebrating as I go.

Bro, thats amazing! To me, it almost sounds too good to be true lol. Are you sure that you aren't missing some costs here? for e.g. VAT?

Hi, Champion! Thanks for offering your support!

My companies revenue is so small now and I don't pay VAT at the moment. There's a law in Estonia that when your yearly revenue is under 40K, you don't have to pay it. I'm not there yet :)

I'm planning to sell it for 39€. Right now I am selling for anywhere from 25 (to friends who pay cash - because I can use that money right away and put it to my personal savings) to 35€ while offering free shipping around the country. So it's a small discount period. I am not 100% sure about the ad costs, but at the moment it seems that 25€ net profit is the region. Even with VAT. But as I am just getting started, this can change a bit. I will get a better picture in the coming weeks.

It doesn't cost so much to make the product and I took a lot of time to find the right manufacturer. And my order was small. When I can make a bigger one next time, the price will go down a bit. I alllmoost chose another supplier who made me an offer that was 3x more expensive than the company I am using now. I thought it was good but luckily I kept on searching!

Monday is almost finished here and made 5 sales today.
EDIT: Make that 6!
EDITEDIT: Make that 7.
 
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Strm

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What ads are you running on fb, im guessing just image ads?

Right now, yes. I've learned FB ads, and I'm getting good results right now. Definitely want to make some cool videos and stuff also in the future!

Small update - just had my 50th sale, pretty crazy. I think I will make a longer post on Sunday.
 

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Time for a small update!

Almost two weeks since I received the products. It's been going great so far, 80 units sold. Last week was amazing, I never hoped to make so much sales. Haven't found time to add up all the numbers though. Profit should be around 2K I think, but that's not so important right now.

I paused some of the ads because I need some calmer days to finish the online store and make contracts with local delivery companies etc for the website. It will be a simple page. I've learned a bit about my customers now and a lot of them are a bit older, 40-50yo, and I try to make the website easy to navigate and to finish the purchase, also I know now what kind of info is important to them about the product. So hopefully I will finish it in the coming days.

I'm already planning the next order from the manufacturer. Have to decide if I'm going to sell outside of the country already or maybe should wait a couple of months and focus on local growth now.. and save some cash along the way. If anyone has an opinion on this, would love to hear it.

Anyways. It's my birthday today - turned 29. I did all the things I promised I would last year, business wise. I told myself that if I say I want to build and own a business, I have to back it up with actions. No reason to stop now!

Thanks for reading. Be safe!
 

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Do you have automated email flows setup ?

Nope, nothing automated yet besides the invoices. Other than that, I send mails manually when the product is shipped.

Finally time for another update!

First full month is behind me now. Sales revenue through website was 5498€, some paid cash and some transferred money straight to the company bank account so the total number is around 5800€ I think. I made some stupid errors with SM ads (another lesson learned), so May 7th-8th and 13th were very quiet.

Screenshot 2020-06-02 at 14.41.21.png

I ran out some of the best selling products in the middle of the month so the decline was to be expected but to be honest, the second half of the month was still better than I had hoped.

I hope to get another shipment in after 3 weeks from today. That shipment is much better quality, so I hope to crush my best day in the end of June and hopefully July will be the best month so far.

For me the #1 takeaway so far is that the profit margin is pretty much everything! I am surprised that I haven't thought much about this before. So many different costs that I didn't think about before this venture and I am so glad that I jumped and started this. I simply can't put a price tag on this experience. If I have a bad day and sell only 1-2 units, then it is still going to cover all the ad spend and other costs. If you start out, make sure you think about this, especially if the product is not that expensive. It will probably be helpful once I decide to sell this too. And it is good to know that I am building a saleable asset.

I have a lot of free time now until the shipment comes in, so I try to stay positive and work out a lot, think about new marketing techniques etc. And I have to clean my basement or I can't fit the new shipment in there :D Definitely don't want to get a mini warehouse yet.
 

Strm

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July is almost over and my sales revenue so far is over 10K! Amazing month and finally I have some cash sitting on my business account - almost 11K, for the first time in my life. Finally it's going in the right direction. I am still working for almost nothing, I have some customers paying cash though and I am saving all of it. My goal is to finish the year with 25K on business account, so I am comfortable to pay myself a small salary next year. I am very cautious when it comes to spending. :)

I will make the 3rd order for the factory this week. It is going step by step and it has been mentally a bit challenging (especially because I don't have any income, there is always this doubt). But it will be worth it, I am sure.

In august I am planning to do something different - I will give 2-3€ from each sale to Estonian Union for the Protection of Animals. They have had a busy summer and they are helping a lot of animals, so I'd like to help a bit. Of course it will do good for me too in the long run. What goes around, comes around.
 

Strm

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The same night when I wrote my last post, I realised that it is mostly an "upper limit problem" (ULP). If you're not familiar with the concept, it's from a book called "The Big Leap" by Gay Hendricks. I read it a couple of months ago. When things are going great and we are out of our comfort zones, we sometimes tend to self-sabotage ourselves. That is the ULP, in short. We all have these moments sometimes, I think. Especially rookies like me :D

When you realise that your ULP has kicked in, you can tackle it. I took a step back and I see that I don't need to worry so much. I also know now what I have to do to grow my business and become more secure financially. I've been feeling much better since. Time to put my big boy pants on.
 
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Strm

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Hey buddy. Amazing progress!

Starting my own small e-commerce venture this week. Looking forward to follow your progress :)

Hey, man! Thanks!

That's great, good luck! I'll bet your social media ads experiences will help you a lot. :) Looking forward to your progress thread too!

This week has been slower than I would've hoped, around 4 sales per day. I found out that there was a small error on my website for Chrome users, now it is fixed but it probably cost me some sales. I try to be calm and I'm constantly reminding myself "It is just the beginning - you can test stuff and it's okay if some of the things are not working out!"
I also need to be more systematical with my social media post and ads as well.

105 units sold and my first investment is now back on my account.

I have more or less confirmed another order from the factory (waiting for their email) and got a price for the transport as well. I am always using the same Estonian company, I will pay the fee when the goods have arrived to Estonia and everything is OK.

Last night I couldn't sleep and realised that the best feeling in the world is not caring if it's friday, sunday or monday!
 
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Strm

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Wow, August just flew by. And I've been lazy here. Sorry about that!

So last month was a charity month for me and we raised some money for animals. Because I did not earn a profit last year with my company, I couldn't pay the charity with my company money - it would have been taxed hard, for some reason. So I paid with my personal funds.

I also made another order for new products. They should arrive in the end of september, hopefully.

To be honest, I've been struggling a bit mentally. When the days are not so busy, it's a bit boring and I feel like I'm not doing enough. Then I'm thinking about scaleing or starting something else on the side, but on the other hand, I need to save some money on my company account so I can pay a low salary for myself. If my next order arrives and things will be as good as they were in July, I think I am able to do it at the beginning of next year. My goal was to have at least 25K on business account before paying myself a salary. I also need a warehouse when I make another, bigger order. It's not easy to find a good one in this small town. I'm over thinking a bit and maybe I'm too comfortable now because right now I can manage the business from home or in my basement. And that will change with expanding. A lot more driving around, less free time etc. And I am still having doubts about international e-store because that means more spending and OMG what if it all goes to shit and I have to go back to work. :rofl: So yeah, it's hard sometimes mentally. I worry about money because I don't have income yet.

But I have to be grateful because I can enjoy freedom! I tend to forget it sometimes. :(
 
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Strm

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I launched my website earlier today and got a first order through it as well. It felt good! :D This makes the whole process a bit easier and faster.
Other than that, this week has been quiet, as expected after I paused most of the ads. I will work on that during the weekend. But still around 3 sales a day, which is good! I hope to get this number back up to 7-8 per day next week, hopefully even more!

Have a great weekend everybody, stay safe!
 
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Strm

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My new products have arrived in Estonia and I will get them on tuesday or wednesday! Can't wait. A lot of people are already waiting for them.

I have been taking it slowly for the last weeks, I'm almost out of stock so I turned off all the ads and tried to enjoy the hot summer a bit. We had some holidays too here, so it was good to take time off. It's nice to have this kind of control.

My (bold) prediction for July is around 200 units sold and 4500-5000€ profit. It will be the third full month of action, so if I would get to these numbers that would be awesome.
 

Strm

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Hello Strm
Congratulations!
Do you know how much starting capital do you need to start making a product.
I am currently working part time and saving money to start.

Hey! Thanks for the support!

It really depends on the product and the quantity, but usually a couple of thousands should be enough to start.
I was not working in my home country so I knew I can't start before I am home for a long period. I wasn't comfortable before I had savings for at least a year, then I took some time off from work to start selling and get the online store up. But I started with samples and social media while still working to see if there is interest. If you have an idea for a product, you should first start with the manufacturers. Take your time to find not only the best price but also people who communicate well and maybe you can find a good connection. I am super happy with my supplier, they have taken a lot of extra steps to make me feel comfortable.

If you work from home or in your home town, it should be a bit easier to start because you don't have to quit your current job. Save money and start with connecting with manufacturers. If you don't have a product idea yet, try to find some items that can be improved. Remember, people buy with emotions. Make sure the product makes people feel positive emotions.
 

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I crossed 25K mark this week, from the end of april to now. This is through website only. Total sales revenue is higher, probably around 30K .

Bold predictment for this year is 50K, with profit more than 50%. I think I have to pay VAT as well before the end of the year so another new experience and this will eat away some of my profits. Theres always an option to make another company and not pay VAT. I'll work it out, but exciting times ahead!
 

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OFF-TOPIC

Sometimes you have to do something different. Today was first time for me to run a half-marathon. I didn’t prepare at all and I haven’t run much this year, but it was my goal and I just did it. It was very hard but nice to get my mind off of business and concentrate on something else. My legs are killing me now :D
 

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Absolutely! I think I will start testing this in the summer, and Scandinavian countries are definitely in my thoughts. Maybe I will do it the same way like I started out locally. First I need to build some capital and focus on local growth though. I have some friends in Scandinavia too, so maybe I can use that somehow in the future.

Sounds great! Really good that you started early and got the product validated and built an audience. Now it pays off!

I live in Sweden and work in Denmark. So Scandinavia is my playground. Feel free to ask me anything when/if you launch here at some point :)
 

Strm

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Sounds great! Really good that you started early and got the product validated and built an audience. Now it pays off!

I live in Sweden and work in Denmark. So Scandinavia is my playground. Feel free to ask me anything when/if you launch here at some point :)

Thanks! I will!

TIME FOR AN UPDATE

Time flies! Crazy. I started this already a month ago. I think it was exactly a month the last Friday. I added up some numbers: sales revenue from 8.04-8.05 was 5800€. The record so far was on 5.05, sales from website were 371€ and I think there was one guy who paid cash so it was around 400€.

I have different designs for my product, not all are selling as good as others. But that was to be expected, so no worries here. I don't net as much from these but that's fine. I have lowered the price for some products, the price range for my products right now is 19-33€. We will see what happens during May :smile2:

I changed my website a bit, I think it looks so much better now and my sales are back up again (only 2 on Friday when the website was down and ads cancelled). I paused all the ads and started over, better photos, better copy, and that has lowered my ad spend a bit. I'm still pretty much testing but slowly figuring out what works.

OK, gotta go and eat dinner now. :)

Thanks & take care!
 

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Hey !
Congrats on your success !

Are you doing some kind of print on demand, or is that a genuine products that you created ? If so, what was your process from idea to samples ?

Hey! Thanks!

No, it is not a print on demand. I am selling my own products from my warehouse which is my basement :D

I just saw a product where I thought I could add my own unique touch and make it something a bit different. I was fed up with the bullshit of dreaming and action faking so I really wanted to know if this was worth doing or not. I had some earlier experience with dealing with different factories so I started there. That was around August I think. I only made 2 different samples and they were not so good :D one was more or less ok and I sold it. The other one is still in my basement.

Then I thought that okay, maybe it's not so smart to do it after all and I forgot about it for a month or two. But I realised that it wasn't the product that sucked, it was what I did to it. But I still sold one so I decided to find different factories, make new better looking samples. They were quite popular so I made the first order.

It has been a long process to get to this point, filled with doubt and anxiety, and I did it while working long hours on construction sites in Norway and Sweden. It was autumn/winter and everything was dark, cold and I was so f*cking depressed to wake up before 6am. I had no other choice but to try this.
 

Strm

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UPDATE!

Another week has passed - my best so far. A bit over 2K in sales last week. And I f*cked up my ads one day (wanted to add some budget, and then it was in review for over a day). But still good progress. Best day so far was 497€ in revenue. My ad bugdet is around 30€ per day.

I've noticed a couple of things during the last weeks - when people give me reviews or write to me personally, they mostly praise my fast shipping and the customer support I give them. It seems like the product is secondary (although it get's some praise too). :D It has given me confidence to keep doing what I'm doing. My social media posts are getting better too and I'm getting more engagement than before. Also I was a bit anxious and doubting a lot during the first month or so but now I feel a lot better.

A lot of customers are coming back to make another order - which I never thought would happen, given the nature of my product. I think it's so cool!

I don't think I will get my second order from the factory before the end of June, at some point this is going to be a problem because I may run out of stock when I go on with this pace. But I will figure it out and make it work, no doubt! For example, I could raise the price. Or I could cancel my ads and test with great social media post and still get some traffic to my website. I may lose a bit in sales, but that's irrelevant.

And one more good news: THE GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED TO OPEN UP THE GYMS AGAIN!!! I got there 7am this morning and it was so f*cking goood!!!!!
 

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Strm

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According to my forwarder, the cargo should arrive in the first week of October. This is order nr 3, around 950 units. I want to make another smaller one (around 500 units) ASAP so I get them before December. Hopefully I'll get it done this week. These two orders combined is around 6500€ investment which is pretty big for me. :D But there's no other way. Ideally I will sell at least 1000pcs during Oct-Dec. But to be honest, I have no clue how the winter will go. But I will find out!
 

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I really can't tell, it mostly depends on your idea and budget. I went the old China and Alibaba way. There are a lot of them and you have to take your time to find the best for you. But I plan to buy @Walter Hay 's books on importing and finding manufacturers. I think he doesn't recommend China so much and there are other options.
If you are not dealing direct with the real manufacturer you will always be paying more than you should.

Yes I do strongly recommend sourcing from countries other than China, and my book will give you instructions on how to navigate some of the sourcing sites in 39 other countries, most of which are not as easy to use as Alibaba.

One big advantage is finding unique products, as you have said you want to do.

Walter
 

Strm

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Awesome thread, really inspiring!!

Did you grab an already existing product and made it better or was did you start something from the ground?
I really like your approach to finding products that trigger people's emotions, never thought about it that way.

I'll keep following this thread! :)


Thanks for the support! :smile2:

I took an existing product and added a unique twist to it.

I also put a small thank-you note in the box and a couple of candies in a beautiful velvet bag. Just the other day I got an email from a customer who said that it was so nice and the candies brought a smile to her face after a long day at work. She said that they will definitely recommend my product to their friends. So it helps if you can surprise people. Makes them feel that it is well worth the money because they get more than they paid for. And it only takes me some seconds to add it to the box.
 

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What I don’t completely get you sell this one product. And you want to sell your shop. So if you’d do that you would sell another product or the same?

Let's say I'm selling mugs with Estonian flag - that's why they sell well here because Estonians can relate to that. I have social media and website built only for local audience. It's going well and this doesn't require a lot of time and effort right now. I want to sell abroad as well so I need to get new products in that have to be different and without Estonian flag, let's say. I am thinking if the market is so small, maybe it would be wise to sell the local shop, get new products in that would appeal people from other countries. The product would be the same - with different features.
 

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without getting too much into details is it something that can be copied easily?

I wouldn't say "easily". There are some issues with it.

Update!

October was pretty successful as expected.

1. november was my record day so far. But still short of 1K. And with that, my 40K threshold is exceeded. So I registered for VAT number today (I also raised the prices on my website a bit, to test how it goes in the coming days). It takes away some profits, but it's inevitable and shows that things are moving in the right direction.

I'm making a new order for the factory in the coming days for new products to sell outside Estonia. It's going OK at the moment!
 

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Hey buddy, congrats!!! Really impressive to see you made some sales already. Keep it going and please keep us updated!
 

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Hey buddy. Amazing progress!

Starting my own small e-commerce venture this week. Looking forward to follow your progress :)
 

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I would take 4 sales a day in a heartbeat if I had the chance :)

Really think it is amazing that you in 2-3 weeks have sold out your initial inventory. Looks like your product definately has been validated and the audience as well. And like you say, this is just the beginning. The more data you will get, the more trust you will build, the better the sales will be.

4 units a day is already 100 euros in profit for you. Each day. More than twice the average salary in Estonia. At this is just in your first month. It will only get better from here.

So also remember to appreciate and celebrate your achievements, and of course keep updating this thread :-D
 

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I hope so! I paid for the second order today, it's bigger than the first and I think it will be even better because I listened to the customers a lot for this one. Can't wait :D

This has been a solid week so far. Wednesday 7 sales, yesterday 10, all through my website. It's fun.

That sounds so great. Really rooting for you!

Boring, dirty work is also a part of starting a company. Hopefully, with time you can automate as much as possible and focus on what you are good at :)

I might have missed that in your posts, but how did you get started after you got the products? Did you just leverage your personal network in order to get the first sales and get brand awareness? Or did you start running some FB Ads?

Imagine you are doing so great in such a small market as Estonia. If I were you I will choose the Scandinavian countries next when you are thinking of expanding. From what I hear our mentalities are pretty similar, and we are almost neighbours. Plus the purchasing power in Scandinavian countries is huuuuge :)
 

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Congrats, you're miles ahead of most people on this forum!

Thanks!
I guess it's true, but I'm not comparing to anybody. But I have taken the first steps and I believe that this is the hardest part for most of us. Can't see myself going back to the "normal life" anymore! :humph:
 

Strm

Mamba Mentality!
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Estonia
My new order arrived in the end of June and the products were on sale on the 1st of July.

Yesterday I finally crushed the 500€ mark (total sales revenue was 542€). Sales from the first 5 days of July are pretty much the same as whole June combined. But I was chilling for the most part last month too and taking time off :D So we have to wait and see where we are at the end of the month.

As I am slowly generating money to my business account and I have a basement full of units to sell, I've been thinking how to make this thing better in the long run. One option is to move one part of the manufacturing to Estonia. I already contacted my supplier to see what they think and if they can help me. We would still work together and it would be beneficial for the both of us. Could be huge for me if my vision would come to life. The downside is that I would have to work a lot more and I would also need a bigger place for the production. I'd be fine with both of these and it's always possible to hire someone to manage the production later. This would add some extra value to my company too. I hope to get an answer next week.

So I'm going to work hard in the next coming weeks to get some sales - hoping to have more than 10K on my business account in the end of July!
 

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