Drop Shipping Abroad with Alejandro Narvaez
Trevor here with eCommerce Paradise.
This is an interview episode with Alejandro Narvaez about dropshipping abroad.
Alejandro Narvaez was born in Peru and grew up in Spain as a child. He went to college in the US and lived there for nine years. After graduating from college, he was employed with a nine to five corporate job. He did marketing related stuff, product management, and product marketing. He spent four years working for a multinational firm with a lot of growth potential within the corporate ladder.
When he was twenty-six, he figured he wanted to be his own boss. He left the US and moved back to Peru to start his own business. He started importing GPS (Garin) from states (basic importing through buying from eBay).
How did you get your GPS products?
"I brought from eBay sellers in the US and purchased two to three units for the top sellers. It takes a while to get to Peru (a week or two), so I also bought from local importers or distributors in Peru. I was one of his dealers for a bigger company."
He has his website to showcase his products. That was his first introduction to eCommerce.
It was his first trial as an entrepreneur, but unfortunately, it didn't go well.
He figured he wanted to start an independent location business.
When you saw the business coming to a close, did you have funds to enter the dropshipping business? How did you make the transition?
Alejandro: "When the business was going downhill, I went bankrupt. I even ended up owing money from my supplier in Peru. I ended up having a debt of around ten thousand dollars, which I had to pay for two years.
I started doubting my choice of leaving my corporate job in Boston."
What happened next?
Alejandro ended moving to a smaller city called Cusco. It's a big tourist hub because of Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world.
He thought of getting into a tourist-related job. He started doing random gigs, helped a local university and its marketing department. He also taught English in a local language school. He also started his pub-crawl, where he gathered foreigners and lead them around different pubs around the town.
But then came the need for a solid job - a stable income and would help pay his debt. He considered going back to his corporate job, and luckily he ended finding a job as an interpreter for a CEO of an education company. They needed an interpreter for his education talk in Cusco.
After the event, the CEO got to know Alejandro (his work experience) and invited him for an interview. He got in, and he moved to Iowa. He moved there for four months, for training. A few months later, he was on business trips to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha.
"That's when I realize how life is. It changes so fast, as everything goes just like in waves. You can be at the top; you can be at the bottom. But that's the beauty of it, every single moment where you are, you just embrace that and take those as lessons."
The CEO sent him to Abu Dhabi. He worked as a consultant with the Ministry of Education of Abu Dhabi. Unfortunately, he had some health problems and had to go back to Peru. During that recovery period was when he ran into the dropping lifestyle course.
It popped out of his Facebook newsfeed. He followed Johnny, started following his podcast, Travel Like a Boss. It became a huge inspiration for him.
January 2015, he launched his dropship store, focusing on a very competitive niche in the furniture area. He had his first sale on March 31st.
Were there any major roadblocks when he was setting up his business?
"I think the LLC is quite easy because you just find a registered agent."
There are tons of agents out there. You can Google them, and many of them just select the one you feel, has better fees or better service. Most of them offer the same things. Just the prices are a little bit different.
He was very fortunate because he worked in the US before and have a Social Security number, which allows him to do it online. But that's not the case for most non-US citizens.
He also had personal bank accounts, so he was able to open a business checking account online.
The reason why you need to open a bank account:
Suppliers don't usually accept international cards as a method of payment. Dropship entrepreneurs need to have a bank account because they use prepaid cards - Visa/Mastercard for all their orders.
What were Alejandro's biggest struggles becoming an entrepreneur and recognizing that you wanted to be more location independent?
"I had no experience with Shopify, Adwords, and Google Shopping. It was a lot of learning curves in there, but eventually, I made it work. I made many sacrifices, especially to my family, as I was focused on making things work."
Do you think it's possible to start like a location, independent business, like a drop-ship lifestyle while you're still working a day job?
"Absolutely! I think that it will take a lot of sacrifices and effort as it may take time before things start to work. But as there are more resources now, it is much easier to be in a drop ship lifestyle.
There are a lot of available coaching programs online that could help a lot of beginners tremendously."
"You need to have strong motivation. This kind of business really requires dedication."
Can you compare maybe the cost that took you to start up your import business versus the cost it took you to start up your dropship lifestyle business?
"It's completely different."
There is a difference in money spent. With the import business, you need to spend money on your office space, my employees' computers, and cellphone plans. It costs three times more than just buying a domain (with a drop ship lifestyle business).
"I wanted to have all the tools, which is what I had when I worked for a big company, but obviously, that's a mistake. When you are starting a small business, you have to start with the minimum."
With the dropship lifestyle business, the biggest investments are the Shopify fees (apps and theme) and marketing. When it comes to marketing, it varies tremendously depending on how big the business is.
Were the products in the import business sold in a retail storefront?
The buyers bought the products directly from Alejandro.
Can you elaborate on the time when you have some sort of a breakthrough when you saw a Facebook post about dropshipping?
Alejandro has been living independently since he was 17 years old when he left home the US for college. He was used to having his independence, his own space, and that time, living with his mom was great, but he felt that he needed to regain the freedom he had for so many years. That served as his "burning desire" to really get things to happen, and luckily he ran into a course about dropshipping on Facebook.
It took him a few days to decide whether he should take the course or not because the price was a little steep; it was a thousand dollars. Fortunately, a discount was offered, and that was when he grabbed the opportunity.
When did you finally say, "I want to start traveling", and where did you go? How did you get the money to do it?
"I was following Johnny's podcast; he kept mentioning this great place. When I started making sales, I was like, I'm going to check that out. I want to see what it was like."
Alejandro felt that people could pull all the hours, be on the zone, but at a certain point, he/she can feel burnt out if he/she is by himself.
"If you're alone, I think you need some kind of community or be surrounded by like-minded people."
His business started making some sales and getting transactions, and he was able to save up money to pay for an expensive flight from Peru all the way to Krabi, Thailand, and was able to attend the retreat.
"After that retreat, I moved to Chiang Mail; that was a goal. I know it's an affordable place to live, so it's not like I need to make much money (just enough to kind of get by), and that's what happened. I moved to Chiang Mai last year, and I was here up from mid-October of 2015 until the end of February of this year."
How have you found this place to be, and how has it changed you as a person?
"Chiang Mai is one of those places that feels like when you move into college as a freshman and everyone is excited."
Alejandro moved into a place that was $180/month rent with a swimming pool. It was one of the most popular digital nomad apartment places. It's very simple, spacious, and furnished with the basics except for the kitchen (no kitchen). There are a lot of coworking spaces, coffee shops, and bars to drink with friends.
"The city has a lot of culture, tradition, a lot of temples that people in the north of Thailand are very nice, always smiling. The most important thing I got out of Chiang Mai has been the community, the people."
Alejandro's store grew because of the tips from the people that surrounded him. He met strong connections whom he thinks have the same sort of frequency that he has.
After Thailand, where did you go next?
"I moved to Europe. I was in Europe for about four or five months. I spent two months in Germany, and I spent three months in Ukraine in Eastern Europe. It was very interesting. Then, I moved to Berlin. I was very curious because I met many Germans here in Chiang Mai who told me Berlin is awesome, there are great coworking spaces, and there are a lot of things to love. It is an amazing city. It has so many things to offer. It has all kinds of communities."
Alejandro finds the city of Berlin to be interesting but overwhelming.
"The city is so spread out that it takes a while for you to really connect. It takes a while to build a social circle."
What are your favorite other countries besides Thailand, Chiang Mai, for being a digital nomad? Which ones have you had good experiences with?
"I think Berlin is pretty good, but it's more of a startup scene, more than a digital nomad."
Alejandro has not been to a lot of places, but he heard great things about Portugal and Lisbon. He went to Vietnam, which has a big hub.
He feels that Vietnam is a bustling place, full of people working, whereas Chiang Mai is a place where you can get comfortable. He also wants to go to Bali to see the place and see the coworking space there.
What is your favorite thing about being a digital nomad?
"Some people are totally happy at their place, and once in a while, maybe they can make a trip here and there, but that's them, not us. I'm a little different in that sense, and I like to constantly check out new spots."
Alejandro calls himself an intrapreneur.
According to Investopedia, an intrapreneur is an employee tasked with developing an innovative idea or project within a company.
What kind of projects are you working on right now, and what kind of projects do you have lined up in the future?
Alejandro is part of the Dropship Partnership program with Johnny, and it's taking most of his focus. He doesn't have any projects in mind but would like to do something with the Latin American market.
"My goal is to acquire as much knowledge of eCommerce with this business in the US and then from there somehow translate that and bring it to Latin America, which I think is still quite untapped."
He wants to keep traveling, learn languages, and to practice them.
If you could be in a paradise right now, where would that be, and whom would you take with you? Or, do you think you are in paradise right now?
"I think I'm very happy right now, but as an intrapreneur, I would always want more. We're never happy where we are or what we're doing. We're always one to reach the next level. So for me, saying that I'm in paradise would make me like I'm pretty content. And that's it. That's the end of the game. Game over. And I don't think that's where I'm at. But at the same time, every time I go to a new place, I am in a different state of mind. I'm either more mature or a whole different. So it's really hard to pick one place. Paradise, for me, would be a place where I'm doing what I want to do. What's important for me is to be surrounded by people, by a social circle, a community of friends, and maybe a family later on in that city that I have the time to really spend with my loved ones."
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See you out there. Take care.
eCommerce Paradise was created by Trevor Fenner of Seattle, Washington in 2015 to help you, the entrepreneur, to start and scale your own eCommerce business selling high-ticket products online with the drop shipping fulfillment method so you can make more profit per sale, have a sustainable and evergreen online business, get started with very little upfront investment, and live a location independent lifestyle. Trevor owns multiple 7-figure High-Ticket Drop Shipping eCommerce stores and is a digital nomad, traveling the world while working remotely with the help of his team of over 10 virtual assistants from around the world. Trevor is currently located in Bali, Indonesia. Trevor is also a passionate skateboarder, surfer, scuba diver, photographer, environmentalist, outdoorsman, fitness and tattoo enthusiast.
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Step-By-Step Training for High-Ticket Drop Shipping
Here are the next steps you'll need to take to start your high-ticket dropshipping business:
- Lesson 1: Research The Market And Choose Your Niche
- Lesson 2: Start Your Shopify Website and Legal Business Structure
- Lesson 3: How To Find And Recruit The Best Suppliers
- Lesson 4: Optimize Your Shopify Website and Sales Funnel
- Lesson 5: Launch Your Store With Paid Traffic
- Lesson 6: How To Manage Your Business
- Lesson 7: Automate and Outsource Your Day-To-Day Work
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