I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. It happens to help you learn, it happens to help you grow.
As a young entrepreneur I started my journey right out of college in 2010. I took a job for a larger company in the college town where I met my wife and we began looking for a home to purchase.
We spent months looking for a home (in a college town) and could not find anything that suited our needs. At the time I didn’t know it, but this was also the beginning of my entrepreneur journey.
Instead of purchasing a house, we decided to build one. This was right after my wife and I got married. We had traveled together to Europe and shared our differences, but this whole house building thing brought things to a new level.
It wasn’t until about 1.5 years after we built that house, which I realized we needed to do something more then work a 9-5 job. My wife was pregnant with our first child and it was time to make something happen.
Luckily our parents had both helped us with school and I was a big saver, so neither of us had any debt. I didn’t appreciate this at the time, but looking back at it now, while my friends are still paying student loans off. I have purchased and sold 4 homes. Well I haven’t sold all of them. But here is what we did do, we decided to move out of our house and rent it while we flipped homes.
We were able to rent our house out to pay for the mortgage and taxes, while making a few hundred bucks a month. Why not have someone else build your equity for you?
Where did we move? We moved to Naples Florida to flip homes. I quit my day job we moved into a house and immediately started to tear it apart. You think building a house is testy on your relationship, try renovating a whole home with having a pregnant wife all while living in it. This put our relationship to the test.
Anyways, to cut the story short and get the real reason why you are reading this, we flipped a few homes in 2 months and were able to make a significant amount of cash in a very short period of time. We hit the housing market at the right time, were able to buy the houses at a low cost and luckily turn around and sell them for a great profit.
By this time the housing market had started to rise quite rapidly. Both my wife and I had seen the 2006-8 housing market crash, and yes heard all of the horrible things that happened to people that were heavy in the real estate industry. People literally lost everything.
At this point we knew we needed to start looking into other options. I am stubborn and I didn’t want to go back working for someone else and creating their future. I wanted to create our own.
By this time we had two rental properties with a nice steady income coming in from those, and we also had a good chunk of cash. My wife and I like to travel so I began to brainstorm about ways to be able to work remotely. I had been watching the market for online businesses and after 6 months of watching I took action.
I went in cold feet into an affiliate marketing business that wrote reviews on different web hosts to provide customers coming to the site; it’s the site you are reading this blog :).
The first few months were great. The money was coming in and sales were great. I hit Christmas time and sales were almost stagnant. I thought to myself, shit what did I get myself into. But, I quickly realized that the Internet has a bit of seasonality, depending on the industry you are in. So starting January things started picking up again and I was feeling a bit more comfortable about my investment.
But then a few months later, one of the largest affiliate companies I worked for got in a new CEO and started to change things dramatically. They started to change the way they paid they started to change the so called guaranteed income and boom my sales plummeted again.
But you know what, this time I realized that this was all apart of business. Some months were going to be good, and yes some months were going to be bad. This also made me realize that I really needed to understand the market place I was in.
So I dropped everything and started reading as much as I could. I needed to learn how to build a website, I needed to learn how to build links I needed to get a hold of what I needed to do to market this product using the internet.
Let me tell you something, the Internet moves extremely fast. Things could be a certain way one day and the next completely different. I started following some of the top reputable people in the industry and stay on top of the trends.
And wow, did I learn a lot in over the next few years. I started my own web/ software and digital marketing firm, as it just seemed natural as I was already doing this type of work anyways.
Yes I still produce money from this site, but it doesn’t perform as well as it once did. Why am I telling you this? Because you need to continue to innovate and grow as an individual to succeed in the online world.
Which brings me to my next point. Although I don’t make a lot of money from this web hosting affiliate review site. It taught me a lot and it also helped me form some relationships that I would have never formed had I not gotten into the business.
If your still with me reading this, then here comes what you have been waiting for.
What happened next was interesting to say the least. One of the developers I had worked with over the last few years had started creating and invoicing software about two years ago, he halted the project due to a lack of funds and needing to focus more on his clientele.
He asked if I would be interested in investing in the software to complete it to the full extent. I thought about it for a few weeks and jumped in. Over the next two months another developer worked on the invoicing system to perfect it and make it something that business’ would actually want and benefit from.
Little did we know we were creating something much bigger that would be the backbone for larger project.
My developer is from a third world country, where buying things online isn’t common, he told me people in his culture are lucky if they get 10 letters mailed to them in their lifetime. He had done a little bit of testing and was able to sell some items within a few hours.
How? He had run some Facebook ads to a store he created on Facebook and it was as simple as that. Right away I thought about this. I thought this just seems to easy, but I want in. So I chose another niche, researched the hell out of the products and found some suppliers on Aliexpress. This was great, but yes it took a lot of time.
If you make a big list of questions for these suppliers, they answer maybe one of the questions if you’re lucky. They have a difficult time communicating, so working through all this took some time and was a major headache. Honestly, this is probably where most individuals give up.
But I knew we could sell the product it was just a matter of establishing that relationship and then we would be off to the races.
In the meantime, we were able to find some local product and get it up in our store. Yes people were willing to pay more for the same exact product they could find at their local market simply because buying something online and having it shipped as a package to their home was something new and exciting. Its pretty much like you waking up when you were a little kid on Christmas morning for them.
I bet your still wondering about those suppliers from China, well as soon as we figured out all the logistics with the supplier, the next hoop we needed to jump through is finding someone who could import the items from China to our country where we were running the business (I’m not going to reveal the country as we are working on a very large project that could disrupted the current marketplace and I don’t want to tip anyone off).
So where was this business running? It was literally running off of a Facebook page we created in 5 minutes. Yes people were buying by messaging us directly on fb messenger with their orders. We were running ads for each of the items and sales were flowing in nicely. Our marketing expenses at the time were coming in at about $2 per item.
Things started to get heavy and we doubled our initial investment in the first month and again in the second. The customers service side of things began to get to be so much that decided create a website. First we needed to choose a hosting company to support our website, such as Bluehost. Oh yeah and did I mention that its so old school where we are selling that when they purchase an item. You don’t actually get paid until you deliver the product at their doorstep. Yes, this term is called “cash on delivery”
We are still continuing to go this business to this day with on big project in mind. We want to become the Amazon of their country, but something better. A sales channel that is so robust and so smart that anyone can setup and run their own store through our channel.
Although this project is still in the works, it is definitely achievable. In the meantime, we are still working on growing several small profitable stores that will be the basis for our marketplace.
The point of my story is that although some things happen that are negative, or you make think are negative at the time, they might actually be positive. These negative items might make you learn something, they might create relationships that you may never had or they might create businesses opportunities that you never thought were possible.
I want to leave you now with telling you that through business, you will have your ups and downs, it is important to keep your head high and focus on what is important for your business. Just remember, all things happen for a reason.