eCommerce Lifestyle
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Start Small & Keep At It

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​Entrepreneurship has given me so many opportunities that I couldn’t find in a traditional job. I’ve been able to travel the world, set my own hours, spend quality time with my family and friends, and live life on my own terms! All of this is possible for you too. You just have to start small and keep at it.

In today’s podcast episode, I share how you can keep moving forward on your entrepreneurial journey.

What's Covered in This Episode:

  • ​F​inancial disappointment
  • ​Investment
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Transcript

What's up everybody. Anton Kraly here from ecommercelifestyle.com, and welcome back to the podcast. For anybody that's new tuning in for the first time, this podcast is designed to help you increase your revenue, automate your operations, and become number one in your niche, whatever niche that should be. And typically with the podcast episodes, what I'm trying to share is either a strategy or a tactic, or something that you can apply to your business pretty much right away to help you achieve those results, to help you run a better eCommerce store. But today I wanted to shift the flow of these episodes, and just share something with you that I think will help a lot of, maybe even new store owners or people that are thinking about getting started with their first eCommerce business. It's a message that I've learned time and time again since I got into entrepreneurship way back in 2006, actually.

It's something that I think and I hope will resonate with you. So the main message is that with whatever you're doing, the goal should always be to start small, and keep at it to get it to where you want it to be. Let me just present this as I typically see it with members of Dropship Lifestyle, which is my online coaching program. Now a lot of people come to us, and they get excited and they say, "My goal is to build a seven figure business, and to be making net profit hundreds of thousands of dollars per year."

And listen, that is awesome. That is a great goal, and it's something I think most people can achieve. But if you go in thinking that's what I want, and you don't have a timeline on it and you don't have a budget for it, and you just come in thinking this is what I'm going to make happen, you can get yourself in trouble. Both with the goals that you set in a timeframe, and also with a budget that you're planning on putting in to starting up your business. Because it's really important to know that every step as you're building your business is going to present new challenges, and all of those new challenges are going to require new solutions. And what you originally planned for may never be.

So as a business owner, you really need to get comfortable with embracing change, and not getting stuck in your ways because if you do, I'm telling you it's only going to lead to disappointment, and this could be financial disappointment as well. That's why when I say start small, I really do mean with how much money is going into this operation. Because what you see when you're putting that money in, or putting that time in again, it will not look like what you thought it would. I don't know if there's ever been anybody that's had this vision in their head for how things were going to work out, where they've done what they thought they were going to do. And the end result is exactly what they pictured. And the way that they got there, more importantly, is exactly how they thought it was going to be.

And what we can do as business owners is start small, and really reduce the risk. I talk about all the time to be successful with entrepreneurship, you do have to be comfortable with risk, but it also has to be managed, so you're not putting yourself in a situation where you're financially stuck somewhere, or you're financially tied to something that you can't get out of because all of your money is in it.

Let me give you some examples from my personal life experience. I graduated from college in 2006, SUNY Albany. And as I was getting closer and closer to the point where I was going to be done with school, I knew I wanted to not get a job, with all the different insurance companies coming to the school and pitching us how we can sell insurance, or work at a car rental shop and being an assistant manager.

No, that wasn't my plan. My plan was I'm going to get out and I'm going to build a business. Back then I didn't know about online businesses. I really had no experience. My plan was, I'm going to open a franchise. I'm going to become a franchisee into an existing business model that already has proven results, that can basically train me on how to build these businesses successful. As I was still in school, I was actually visiting all these Franchise Expos. They do them all around the country. I went to Franchise Expo East because I'm located on the East coast, I think it was in Philadelphia, and talked to all these different franchise reps.

The one that I thought I wanted to do business with is called Pita Pit, still in business. They make great pitas. Kind of like Subway, but in a pita. And I was talking to them, had a bunch of meetings with their team, and my original plan was I'm going to open one of these on Long Island, which is where I'm from in New York, and I'm going to open it near Hofstra, which is a huge university that's literally 10 minutes away from where I grew up.

So I had the whole Pita Pit team come out. We were scouting locations together. Again, that's some of the benefit you get when working with a franchise. And they hooked me up with the SBA, went through all the paperwork with them, and I actually had a loan that I could have signed. I was literally ready to sign it. I had all the paperwork, and it was for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, what that loan would have given me is the money to sign this longterm lease with this new building, this new construction to build out the store, and to basically cover operations for the first, I think it was six to 12 months, as we got up and running. And my thought process here was obviously I don't have that much money. I'm a kid who does landscaping in the summer, and works construction and I don't have much money.

So now I have this investment. I could build this, I can grow it. I could build another one and another one and another one. I could sell those businesses. I could buy my next business, and go up and up and up of the ladder of entrepreneurship and financial freedom. Now, why I didn't do that is because I started to meet with all of these different franchisees. Some of them were in Manhattan. They had those locations already opened by NYU, and I was talking to them about how they currently did business, and what they thought about what they were doing. And a lot of them were in still the very early startup phase, meaning they were at that point where they were working in those stores 80 hours a week plus. They were the ones grinding. They were the ones actually seeing the numbers. They were the ones that were really evaluating, am I making a good choice?

And some of them were like, "Yeah, I still have this vision, this is what I'm going to do with this." And some of them I could tell were just super burnt out already. And that didn't bother me because I do believe there is a trade off between short term delayed gratification versus longterm gain. But what I saw from some of them is they were stuck in this position where I could tell they were second guessing themselves, and they weren't really confident or comfortable with what they were doing. But they didn't have an out because they either invested all the money they had made from their previous jobs, or they already had these huge loans for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they couldn't just say, "Well, you know, I tried, I'm not going to do it anymore." So they didn't start small.

They started the way I was planning on starting with this huge investment of time, of capital, other people's capital. And because of that, there was not an easy out. That made me really think, okay, listen, I'm still at this point 21 years old. Do I want to be in this position, or is there another way? Luckily, I remember having a conversation with anybody that gave me this advice, but I thought, let me not do this yet. Let me hold off. The opportunity of opening a franchise that makes sandwiches, isn't going anywhere anytime soon. So let me do what I can with what I have.

So back then I had about $25000 that I had saved up from working throughout high school, from working during off periods of college. And I bought the cheapest business I could find. Now, this is something I don't recommend, but this was a delivery business for a cookie company basically, for a bakery in Brooklyn, New York that's been there forever, that had great product, cost $25000. I got the rights to drive into Brooklyn to pick up these cookies, to drive out to Long Island where I'm from, and sell them to grocery stores wholesale.

This business didn't have the income potential that the franchise did, but I got in for a lot less money, and I knew if worst case scenario happened, I can either sell it, get some of my money back, or ideally what I thought was going to happen. Obviously you go in confident, I could build it up, make it worth maybe a hundred thousand dollars, sell it, take that a hundred thousand dollars invest it into another business, build that up, sell it, and go up the ladder that way. I decided to start small. Now you might have heard this story before, but what happened is I started to run this delivery route. I realized I hated it, but I wasn't ready just to take a loss on it. Luckily for me at this time, the book, The Four Hour Work Week came out, thanks Tim Ferriss, because he really changed the whole trajectory of how my businesses grew. That book introduced me to eCommerce and Google ads, Google Ad Words back then, so I decided, okay, let me build a website, and see if I could sell these cookies online. That investment, again, very, very small, cost me $29 for my first month of web hosting. Took a bunch of photos with like a one megapixel digital camera of cookies, set up some Google ads with, I don't know, a $10 budget. And that very, very, very small investment that I started with, started to make money, started to bring in sales, and started to even outperform that delivery route that I paid $25000 for.

Again, start small. I didn't have to invest $20000 or $50000 to have a web design company build me an eCommerce store. I simply used a templated design that was super cheap and super affordable for what it provided you with. Again, at this time where I was still probably making just a couple thousand bucks a week from this cookie website, I still wanted myself to have a seven figure business, ideally an eight figure business, and I wanted to be financially free.

So I thought, okay, how can I scale this to something bigger without having to actually take out a loan or lock myself into something, start small. So what I did was start to look at products in China, and figure out the whole process of importing. And instead of just finding the products that I wanted and wiring $30000 to China, and hoping products showed up, I built a website where I started to actually pre-sell products, like Kickstarter before Kickstarter. And I listed all these products, I set up Google ads the way that I knew how, and I started selling items for $500, for a thousand dollars, letting customers know that they're going to be delivered in eight to 12 weeks. Now, sales came in within a few weeks, I actually had enough money to pay for the entire first container from China without actually having to, again, dip into savings or borrow money.

I still wanted a seven or eight figure business, but now instead of making a couple thousand a week, I was making maybe five, six, $7000 a week and I was able to float these orders with customer's money. Now, as that grew, what happened? We got more orders. We bought more containers. And our cash reserves started to build up, because obviously we were profitable from day one. Again, getting closer to the goal, but not just thinking from day one it's going to happen, and not trying to make it happen by a huge investment of other people's time or capital.

Now, from there, continued to build and things actually got even cheaper. I actually was able to move forward with even smaller investments because this is when companies started to reach out to my online stores, basically saying, "Hey, we see you sell these widgets. We make these widgets. We have them in stock in the US. If you want, you can list them on your eCommerce stores. When you get sales, we will ship them directly to your customer."

So that's actually how I learned about drop shipping. It was from other companies reaching out to my stores, asking if we could sell their products. So what did I do? Spend some time, uploaded a whole bunch of new products, made a lot of new ads on Google, started selling a lot more products, and only paying for them after people paid us. So again, growing. And at this point, guess what? I had the seven figure stores. I was making the income I wanted, and I was doing it with something that started with a minuscule investment. I was actually making much more money than I ever would have made from opening one of those franchises like a Pita Pit.

But I was doing it without that huge loan, without that commitment tied to this business that I wouldn't be able to get away from. And I was doing it working probably 20 hours a week instead of having to be in this sandwich store 80 hours a week trying to manage a team, payroll, theft and everything else that comes along with it. I do feel like I almost got lucky because I just, again, I don't remember having this conversation with anybody about not being comfortable with that bigger financial risk, but I'm so, so glad I made that decision. Because if it went the other way, if I had signed that loan from the SBA, if I had built out that store, I wouldn't even have the time to be able to pivot. I wouldn't have the time to make different decisions, and I would be nowhere near the situation that I'm in now.

So I hope this message does help people. Again, I think it's totally normal and fair to want to start a business because you have big financial goals, but please just know that those goals don't require you to lock yourself into something where you can get stuck, where you can feel like you have no outs. I feel like with certain people that causes depression, that causes them to give up. That causes things like bankruptcies even. My philosophy in business ever since then is to be, I guess what I would call lightweight. To have small monthly overheads, not huge fixed expenses, and really be in a situation where if things aren't going so great we can dial back expenses with the click of a few buttons and still be profitable. Where if for any reason I got inspired tomorrow and I wanted to go build this whole other project, I would feel comfortable doing it without a lot of money invested, and where I'd feel comfortable honestly even walking away from other projects because again, I don't have that huge financial string pulling me towards them, or attaching me to it.

So I don't know guys, again, a different type of episode today. Hope you found it valuable. Like I said, this is probably more useful for everybody that's just getting started. Or honestly, even for anybody that is already growing, and thinking about what direction they want to go, in my opinion, even now, been doing this stuff for what, 14 years? I still start small. Every time we get into a new project, I keep at it, I grow it, and I have that ability to pivot when and if necessary. Because like I said in the beginning of this episode, nothing ever goes according to plan. You always will need to pivot. You can get to your goals, but the path to your goals, you might've seen that, I don't know what it's called, an infographic before where it is not a straight line, it's up, it's down, it's sideways. It's probably going in all different dimensions too.

So stay light. Be able to pivot. Build yourself a successful business, and do it in a way that you can make decisions without having to stress out about it. So as always, guys, if you found this podcast helpful, please do leave a review on Apple podcasts. It really helps. And if you're watching the video of this, please do give it a like and leave a comment below. And as always, if you're new here, and you want to know how we build highly profitable semi-automated stores, be sure to go to dropshipwebinar.com. You can get my free training there. And I'm also going to give you a list of profitable niches that you can sell in if you want to follow the Dropship Lifestyle business model. So again, that's dropshipwebinar.com. Thank you everybody. Appreciate you, and I will talk to you the next steps of the podcast. See you.

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