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Progress Thread Swim lateral to the riptide of mediocrity

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by Millenial_Kid5K1, May 1, 2017.

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  1. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hello all, I've been lurking for a few months and I feel it's finally time for me to put my thoughts to metaphorical paper. I'm not a terribly poetic writer, so I hope my somewhat rambling style is still useful to some of you.

    I'm a chemical engineer. I make decent pay, not quite 6 figures. Not bad for someone who's been in the work force for all of 11 months. I enjoy the concepts I learned in school, but unfortunately my job isn't challenging my intellect like school did, it only drills my motivation and energy into the ground 5 days a week. Every day it's a new crisis, every day the business is once again in danger of going under unless I figure out what to do and take care of it. I work with a group of people who have learned helplessness a dozen times a day.

    My dad would say that I need only stay the course to find myself successful. He's an entrepreneur, but his business is a J.O.B...Only in the last couple years he's begun to relax a little and been able to travel a bit. He's been grinding for 20 years. So it's unsurprising that he always pushed me to go to college and get a place to go 5 days a week with some job security. But my goal is a different path.

    Before buying TMF, I had started to realize that I wanted to live unscripted, to swim lateral to the riptides of mediocrity around me. I bought a duplex and am having my tenants pay the mortgage(Live for free!). Using slowlane methodologies, I had already started to calculate how long I would have to grind to break free of the system. The only difference is that I was thinking of minimum sustainable income. "If I can make at least 4% return for the rest of my life, I could retire at this savings.". "If the stock market does 10% for the next 4 years, I can retire then." et. cetera. The scenarios flew past endlessly, as I tried to figure out how miserable I'd have to be for the next 4-6 years, and how much I'd have to ration myself after that to stay out of the rat race for good.

    I bought TMF November 15, 2016 and spent a few weeks reading it during every lunch break. It changed the way I think about money, but I'm a slow thinker. I spent the next 3 months coming up with ideas and slowly moving towards executing. It's only in the last couple of months that I've been putting some real work in.

    Because work takes almost all of my energy and time but leaves me with plenty of money, I think an e-commerce business is ideal for my situation. I can work it on nights and weekends, milk the job until it becomes irrelevant, and then leave the 9-5x5 for a 9-9x6.

    My progress so far:

    1. I've been pretty consistently going to the gym, eating right, and sleeping decent hours. This helps a lot with managing my emotional energy.
    2. I've been finding people in my area to do all the time-consuming work for me(plumbing, mowing, maintenance).
    3. I've cut down on time with my girlfriend, as I realized she was literally taking the entirety of my weekends. I'm proud of this one because it gets me back a lot of time, but it hurts at the same time, and she's made it obvious she doesn't like it.
    4. I've found a solid product with a relatively high barrier to entry.
    5. I've created a corporation and an associated bank account
    6. I've contacted a dozen or so supposed manufacturers.
    7. I found 6 or so who could make OEM products.

    In what I find to be a very amusing aside, one manufacturer insisted that they could make the product, but was very whiny about every little thing. e.g.:

    Him: "HI MillenialKid5k1,
    How many qty will be in total ?
    Thanks and Best Regards"

    Me: "Joe,
    Because this is a new product for us, we are hoping to test the market with a small order. Once we have evaluated the marketability of this <item>, we are hoping to form a long-term business relationship with the company who will be manufacturing it. Do you manufacture your own <items>? Are they made using <technique>?"

    Him: "Then you could try to sell our regular item , not designs some new one its not good choice .
    Kind noted
    Regards/Joe"

    Needless to say, this conversation didn't last long, and he actually said his company wasn't taking on new customers (I smell bullcrap.)

    8. I made custom CAD drawings of the product in question.
    9. I've exchanged samples with a few manufacturers
    10. One of the samples was made of a material other than what they said it was. Unfortunately, this was also the most responsive and easy to deal with company I've ever dealt with, and they quoted me a great price. I've gone into talks about buying raws of these materials if they'll let me recoup the costs on orders, and find a place to test it which can certify the materials to certain standards.
    11. I've used 99designs to design myself a logo

    Now as much as I know MJ advises against doing multiple things at once, I came up with an idea that I think is pretty huge. I've been reaching out to thoughtstopaper to try and lock it with a patent pending and eventually a patent. They'll do the patent search for me(well worth it), and we'll see if it's as original as my own search indicated it might be. It's definitely not my main focus right now, but if it ends up being feasible and operating as intended it's the bigger business opportunity by far(Think "Paint brush cover"). For now I'm more than content to focus on my ecommerce product.

    Well, those are my jumbled thoughts, I'll post in here periodically with status updates. Thanks for reading!
     
    ksc23, jon.a, Justin W. and 6 others like this.
  2. amp0193
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    amp0193 Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    You want a custom designed product, but you also want small quantities? They aren't whining, you're just being a bit unrealistic. His suggestion to test the market with a pre-made product is a good one.

    It sounds like you found a manufacturer that was willing to do it, but I don't think it was out of line for that factory to shy away from your request. The time and effort to produce a new product, for a market that you admitted to being unsure about, isn't exactly exciting.

    I prefer to frame the "small order" request as a test of the manufacturer's product quality, rather than to "test the market".
     
  3. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Okay, that makes sense. I'll definitely implement your advice going forward. I was surprised by how insistent manufacturers were on getting an exact order quantity. Unfortunately I don't feel I could make do with their existing product. I've yet to find a manufacturer that makes this product with sufficient quality (materials and design), save a couple in the business in America.

    A couple of manufacturers have quoted me an MOQ of 1000 pcs, which makes me hesitant to continue talking with anyone who is going to demand much more than that. Plus I only have ~$15,000 saved up so far, and this is a $5-10 product I'm planning to mark up to $20-30.

    Thanks again for your input, it's very valuable.
     
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  4. OldFaithful
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    OldFaithful Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    It's quite common for sample parts to be produced using materials that are different from the final design: ease of manufacture, machining vs tooling, availability, etc. My only surprise is that they didn't communicate that to you. I wouldn't give up on this supplier yet, just seek more communication.

    Yes, very common in manufacturing. Bringing a product to market will require roughly the same amount of time for their development team for 100/yr as for 10,000/yr. They are trying to determine if your total sales potential is worth x months of their development time.

    If the quote to you is $20 each, at 100/yr, then it's is a total sales of $2,000. They won't want this project, there's no $$ in it for them.
    If the quote is $10 each, at 10,000/year, then it's a $100,000 project. That's much more likely to engage their interest.

    Yes, they quote that minimum...but it's still quite flexible. Read the threads by @Walter Hay for info on dealing with MOQs. There are always alternative methods, you just have to be creative. Don't give up.

    Great progress thus far, please keep us updated. Best wishes!
     
  5. OldFaithful
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    OldFaithful Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Excellent suggestion!
     
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  6. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Damn dude, you should be pretty proud of yourself. You've accomplished quite a lot, from the good job to the tenant paying your rent, I definitely can see you accomplishing great things in the Fastlane realm.
     
  7. Contrarian
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    Contrarian Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass

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    I love the humility of this. Right from the beginning... "I make decent pay, not quite 6 figures..."

    Mr. Everyman in your shoes, 11 months into the workforce, would be boasting about how much of a baller he is for making almost 6 figures straight out of college.

    And for most people the story would stop there. For you that was just the vantage point to (much) bigger things. Awesome. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your progress. :)
     
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  8. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Unfortunately that was not the case this time. Upon inquiring after I received the samples, they insisted that the material used was X, when independent testing I did makes it very unlikely that it is X. Is their supplier duping them? No clue.

    Supposing that being coy isn't working, and I have no idea what the total demand might be, should I fudge a number that seems feasible? My gut says yes, unless there's a strategy I'm not thinking of.

    In this particular instance, I'm liable to stick with about 1000. It makes my initial order somewhat costly, but I feel it is appropriate for the amount of custom work they will have to do to bring the product into existence(The product will not function as intended without both the proper materials and design)

    Thank you very much!

    And thanks to everyone else offering words of encouragement. I'll try not to let them get to my head! :p
     
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  9. OldFaithful
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    OldFaithful Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    I'd try to get some market feedback before going much further, personally. At 1000 pieces, you are about to sink quite a chunk of change into a gamble!

    Perhaps survey a sampling of your prospective customers. Contact them somehow somewhere and estimate how many respond favorably. Perhaps online pre-orders, reservations, or something of the sort. It might help you avoid the situation that several here have run into...developing a new product without a qualified NEED.
     
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  10. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Just a short update, I received an email Thursday informing me that I could not sell my product on Amazon's platform. Oh well. I'm now learning about shopify and html templates. This means I won't be shooting fish in a barrel like I thought, but that barrier to entry looks good for business!

    I think I've picked my supplier, they're in the process of making final samples for me. I'm hoping to be no more than 2 months out from launch, depending on how long order #1 takes.

    I've got about $16,000 burning a hole in my pocket. I've got to put that money to work! Using a UPS calculator I think it shouldn't cost too much to ship air courier straight to me(They estimated $1200 on ~$5000 worth of product?), so I may do something like that. I'm honestly not sure what to do with the rest of the money. I guess I'll hold onto it for now, and start looking for a second product. I'll have about $3800 surplus per month from my job that I'm trying to put into this. While I doubt it'll be hard later on, I've gotta get my first product ordered before my money can start working for me.

    There are 3 major competitors for this product. I believe I can equal or surpass any one of them in quality, utility, and branding. I think I can beat all 3 on the price. The number of people with a passing interest in my product should be around 2.5 million, and I've done a bit of research on other key metrics, such as the people with a real interest, and the amount of this product that my competitors have sold. Also, I was a consumer of this product at one point, and I wondered why a modification like I'm making didn't exist on the market.

    All that to say I have a strong belief in the market need for this.
     
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  11. amp0193
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    amp0193 Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Why?

    You're not approved to sell in a certain category?

    Or like the product itself is not allowed on Amazon? (like drug paraphernalia)


    Amazon emails like this aren't always the dead end that they first seem to be.
     
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  12. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    The product is not allowed on Amazon.
     
  13. amp0193
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    amp0193 Legendary Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Well, that there's a dead-end.

    Been there, no fun.
     
  14. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Like I said, I'm viewing it as an opportunity. It's kept all but 3 businesses from cropping up in the space, and I think I can compete evenly with any one of them. I'm pretty confident in the market need. Onwards and upwards!
     
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  15. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    I quit my job! I have 0 sales and 0 revenue, but I saved up a year's worth of living expenses, so I just did it! Now where were we...

    After working out all the quirks, I got to finalizing orders with my distributor. My first order is 1000 pcs. I bought a server through bluehost, then chose wordpress and woocommerce for my site because it seemed like you could highly customize everything, even the checkout screen. Self hosting and woocommerce have been steep learning curves, but I've managed to build out a fairly complete, professional, benefits-focused ecommerce site.

    That's about when I left my job, 4 weeks ago. I probably lazed about for 2 weeks, during which time my 1000 pcs. came in and I promptly forwarded them to my fulfiller, ShipBob. Then I was at a family reunion for a week, during which not much happened. Last Monday, I was laying in bed at 1 pm, thinking, "What am I doing with my life? I'm going to be homeless in 6 months." I shot out of bed and started what I'm calling my 66 days to success. Basically I deprive myself of cheap entertainment for 4.5 days straight of the week, or a little under 80 hours(see that thread for details).

    Since then, I've mailed off samples to reviewers within my niche, two of whom said they would give positive reviews based on the high quality of my product. I've also learned adwords and facebook ads to the extent that I can now run split-tests, and try different targeting strategies. I'm absolutely in love with @Andy Black's explanation of the customer cycle, about waiting until the customers have done all their personal research and are ready to buy (with a credit card in hand) to target them. It's so simple, but so elegant.

    I'm also in talks with my manufacturer about a bigger second order. Based on the rave reviews and attention I've gotten for the product, I'm scared I'll run out of my 1000 pcs in the 60 days it will take to manufacturer 4000 more. Still no sales, just a few ecstatic reviewers and a lot of peeled eyes. Definitely not pulling the trigger until I get hard confirmation in the form of a sales spike after the reviews go live.

    Any idea of a second venture has been put on the back burner for now, but it is the main reason I'm learning HTML/PHP, so I can have that skillset ready to go.
     
  16. sam9530130
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    sam9530130 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    I don't think I saw that explanation. Do you have the link? Thanks and good luck with your progress!
     
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  17. Millenial_Kid5K1
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    Millenial_Kid5K1 Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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