The Reason I Started Doing eCommerce in the First Place
Hey guys, welcome to the eCommerce Paradise podcast.
Today, I want to talk to you about why I started doing eCommerce in the first place.
My eCommerce journey started back in 2010. I really just wanted to get out of my office job and become freer. I had this epiphany when I was out on a hiking trip one day.
I was thinking to myself. I see all these other people around me starting their businesses and stuff like that. Why can't I do that? I decided right then and there. I made a decision. I promised myself that I would put more work and effort into building a lifestyle that I would actually enjoy living.
The first thing was getting out of my office job. The other thing was, I wanted to travel more. I didn't want to be stuck in an office anymore. I don't want to spend eight hours a day, five days a week working on someone else's business to make them money. If you haven't read Rich Dad, read it. I definitely recommend that you read that.
That is where you start in life. You have to get a job. You're going to learn how business works. Once you get beyond that, you'll understand how to be a freelancer, how to have your own solo entrepreneur business, and maybe even get in a partnership with somebody and start a business as a partner. Then you can actually sell products or services directly to end consumers.
Regular jobs are great, but they're not going to make you rich.
Regular jobs will not give you the ability to travel all the time. But being a freelancer is not the norm. It's an exemption. On the podcast, I've met digital nomads along my journey, traveling around my wife. And we've met people that work at regular jobs, and they travel all time. So it does exist. But, of course, most people don't know that those jobs exist. And the other thing is that it's just a different lifestyle.
A classic digital nomad is when you are a freelancer, and you're working while traveling. It can be difficult because you're trading your time for hours, or if you get paid salary, you're still trading your time for a particular set of work you have to do all the time. It's not a passive income. At that time, I just knew that I wanted to move beyond being an employee and move into the second quadrant.
The third thing is building a bigger business. Being a big business owner, means you don't run the business yourself anymore. You outsource your tasks and functions as an entrepreneur. You outsource all those tasks and functions to other people. Hire employees and virtual assistants. And have them run the business for you. And of course, along that is hiring managers to manage your employees. You don't have to do the management yourself.
That's kind of the next big tier in life, and it's very difficult to obtain. To reach that, you have to grow as a person first. You have to remain a student of life, and you have to take management classes. You have to practice hiring people. Hiring people is a scary thing. And you have to get good at it to make it worthwhile and make it profitable.
I know training someone can be daunting at first because you are paying money out. But if you get something in return, that's an asset that you can use to make more money in the future. You have to figure out first what that is and how to obtain it, and then you can figure out doing it.
That is another year in life when you're moving from quadrant two to quadrant three, which is being that entrepreneurial, solo pioneer, or a big business owner. You are moving up in life, and you're building an asset that can be sold for quite a bit of money as well if you want to have an exit later on. That's the key.
I read that book, and at the time, I didn't understand exactly what it was going to be, but I knew that it was going to be something outside of my day job. I didn't even know I was going to be in eCommerce. That time what I thought was real estate investing or stock investing or making a skateboard brand. I thought all these things were going to be cool and passionate and fun like actually making money doing that. But, you know, it freed me from the slave kind of servant I was at the time because I was only getting paid a couple of thousand bucks a month. A couple of thousand dollars a month is nowhere near enough to make ends meet anywhere in the United States. Maybe if you live in the boondocks of Idaho, you can get by, but that's no fun. You don't want to live in a place like that unless you have family or friends out there. But honestly, I wanted to live in Los Angeles. A lot of other people feel the same. They want to live in big cities, but they're very expensive.
Day jobs, even in a big city, they don't pay you that much. And if you don't have a side hustle, if you don't have some sort of a business you're working on, you'll end up going into debt. There's so much to do in a big city; you want to go out, want to have fun, and buy beautiful things. And all these things are costly.
Things might come up, and health care and dental care are not cheap in the states, and you might go into debt because of emergencies like that. I knew the first thing I had to do was learn.
I knew that was the first thing. And it wasn't the classic go to school and learn. But the most important thing I started doing was reading books written by other successful entrepreneurs because I knew that was the real path to enlightenment in this whole journey. And it started with Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And then I read Think and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and also Stephen Covey's book. He wrote a book about productivity entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I read for four hours a week. All those books led me to discover that there is a whole world out there that I didn't even know existed. And then I start talking to people about it.
The next thing that I did that got me is I started networking with people and talking to people about what I wanted to do because if you keep it all to yourself, no one's ever going to know and no one will ever help you be able to help you because they just won't even know. You have to get out there, and you have to start talking to people about it.
You can't be afraid to talk to people about it. I'm talking to you guys right now. I'm talking to you and your headphones right now. And that's because I want to share my wisdom, share my experiences, and make friends, because I appreciate when other people write me and they're like, "Hey, I really liked what you said, you know, and let's talk more." This is a nice and easy way to make new friends. And I can do it digitally and make friends from all across the world.
So if you guys think about starting a YouTube channel or podcast, honestly, I think that's the best way to go about networking in today's world because it's so easy and comfortable to launch. What I started doing was just talking to people that were right next to me because back then, it was 2010. I didn't know about podcasting. I didn't know about YouTube. I did know about Facebook barely. So, you know, it just took talking. A lot of people didn't know what I was doing to know what I was talking about. And they were kind of, you know, that will be OK.
Here's the thing. When people don't know or don't understand something, they're fearful of it. Come to understand people and understand why they react to certain ways, especially family, friends, or anybody who doesn't understand entrepreneurship. And you, if you talk to them about entrepreneurship, they're not going to understand it. They're going to be fearful of it, and they're not going to like talking about it that much. Because it doesn't give them endorphins to talk about it, so just understand people.
Most of my coworkers were like that, and that was OK. But I did have one coworker that was a cool guy, and he was an entrepreneur in the past, and he was kind of intrapreneur. He kind of did entrepreneurial things within the company to grow. He's a really good manager, and he became good friends. He helped me out along the way to discover new books and and and audiobooks and audio programs to listen to that would teach me more about things like economics and finance and things like that. It really helped me along the way as well.
I met one very interesting fellow. He's actually a customer of the company I worked at. I started talking about what I wanted to do. And he's a business owner, a small business owner who is just him and his wife. And he does the work, and she does the accounting. And he wanted to help me.
He saw that I was somebody who was excited and wanted to build something and wanted to escape. And I was hungry, and I was young. And that's the best kind of person to work with, hungry and young, because we have the most flame and the most vibrancy when it comes to building something. When you're building something, you are not going to have any kind of short term benefits from that.
Usually, it takes a long time to break even on any new business monetarily. Even when you're building out just like a content base, it takes a long time. People even take notice and get subscribers and get people to comment on your stuff, and take notes on what you're doing. So you have to understand that it takes months to get anything going. You'll take three to six months, and that's OK. That's to be expected. But, he knew that I was ready, and I was primed. And I was willing to do what it took to figure out how to find success with something.
He introduced me to a term called Drop Shipping, which I didn't know about. Then I figured out what that was. It was really enlightening for me because then I realized it was actually possible. Before that, I thought you had to make your own product. That was the only way to sell something. I realized you could actually sell other people's products, and ironically enough, I worked at a wholesale distribution company, a company that sold other people's products, and a lot of the times, we would actually enter dropship orders. So I kind of knew about the word dropship before. I just didn't know it was possible for an entrepreneur. I didn't know it was possible to have your own company selling merchandise directly from a manufacturer to the consumer. I was working at a distributor to distributor, so I thought that that was the way it was in the world. And so it was good to have that conversation with him because I was able to open my eyes and open my mind to a business model that exists. That's actually very lucrative, and it works.
He and I tried to go after skateboards, and we realized the products were too low price to make enough margin profit and make it worthwhile. Not only that, but the skateboard industry is young, and it's not really made for dropshipping. You really have to have your shopper or warehouse, too. Then a really good marketing plan that includes a lot of videos and a lot of print advertisements to sell the stuff.
Now it's all online, YouTube, and blogs. But skateboarding is heavy when it comes to videos. So if you're not out there, you don't have it. A team sponsored writing your products and utilizing their fan base to sell your goods. Then you're probably not going to find that much success in the skateboarding world. So that's a big part of it now.
We found a different niche that worked out really well for us. And he just found it because he was just observing what was around him on an everyday basis. And that's why I tell everybody I talk to is if you don't know what niche you want to start, just start by looking around you. And when it comes to e-commerce, I generally sell more expensive products because there's more margin involved. If you're going to sell a ten or twenty dollar product, you're only going to make a few bucks per sale, depending on the margin. If the margin is 50, 60 percent, you'll make like five bucks or ten bucks. But still, it's only five or ten bucks per sold item. You go through the same amount of effort to fulfill that order and to do the customer service as you do for inexpensive products.
Now, expensive products have a caveat, and that is that it usually takes more effort to sell them. But that's actually not as hard as it sounds. It's all about building trust. And I'll get into that later in your podcast. This is just about why I started what I was doing.
We knew that we didn't want to go too expensive because the suppliers are harder to get. And when you're first starting, it's more of a risk. If someone buys your product, you ship it to them, and then they file a chargeback and win that they keep the product, and they keep the money. So the higher the price, the more risk you're taking. And we didn't really want to take that much of a risk. We settled on a product category that was right around three hundred dollars average, 200 to 400. And it was perfect for us, a fairly big product.
Not a lot of people were selling it online, and hardly anybody with any marketing skills was making any online sales. Most of the people selling these products were on eBay or Amazon. So it really ended up working out well for us. And I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to just sell on eBay and Amazon because I've done it before. And they took a huge chunk. They take about 10 to 15 percent fee when you sell the products on their platform. And that's half your profit margin when you dropship. I mean it could be upwards like 30, 40 percent, but usually, you're right around 20 percent gross, 20, 25 percent. You have to pay for advertising, web hosting, email marketing, and your graphics and content. So by the end of the day, you're taking home 10 to 15 percent, at the most. The margins are so low that when you sell on these platforms, you're sometimes taking home only five percent at the end of the day - net margin and net profit. And it's not worth it because, as I said, it's the same amount of work.
I knew I wanted to start my platform, and I knew I wanted to keep more profit margin. And I was willing to do the extra work. So. You have your brand, and you have your website. You can sell that. It's an asset you can sell for quite a bit of money, like, you know, 24 to 36. Let's be realistic for like 15 to 25 x monthly net revenue, monthly net profit. Suppose your monthly net profits are like two thousand dollars. In that case, you could sell it somewhere between 20,000 to like forty thousand dollars. It depends on how big your business is, how well it's rounded out, how good your sales funnels are, and how many customers you have if you have a recurring income model built into it or not. Investors look at all different types of businesses, but the bottom line is you can sell your website.
It's an asset. I knew I wanted to do it also because of that. And that's why I started with it. I started selling other people's products through dropshipping because I didn't have to warehouse anything. It is a very low-risk business model selling lower-priced products in the high-end range. And I knew I wanted to do my site. I went to that direction and boom. It started working. We got some sales right away.
One thing led to another. In a move beyond just getting out of the office job, I was able to quit. I got laid off. I got fortunate that I was going to quit. But then I got laid off about a week or a day before I was going to quit. Ended up taking advantage of that and filing for unemployment. I had about an entire year's worth of half my income. I got about a thousand dollars a month from unemployment. So it was kind of like seed capital to build my business. And I put all my effort into building my business, our internet business that entire next year.
By 2014, it became profitable enough to where I could actually have my wife quit her job - the other reason why I wanted to start in the first place. And it worked out that I could hang out with my wife all the time now. She was getting frustrated with her job, and she did not want to work there anymore. And I knew that I wanted to hang out with her all day and I'd rather just work with her instead of working with somebody else. And it was perfect that it worked brilliantly. I mean, it inadvertently ended up achieving that as well, which was awesome.
Anybody else out there who is an entrepreneur, a sole producer and either their girlfriend or wife is out there working a day job or something, just understand that business is a business, a job is a job, and they're very similar. And if your girlfriend or wife is working on a job, they could simply do that same thing for your business or learn a similar skill that works on your internet business. You guys can work together on it. And I definitely recommend doing that with a complementary skill set.
If you're really good at sales and she's really good at customer service, do it that way because then you can work on your strong points. And it's a really good partnership. Keep the respect, happiness, and friendliness in the working relationship. So that never gets to be a weird, awkward partnership. But it's more like a still a romantic relationship because that's how it really should be.
Moving beyond that, I wanted to see my family more often. I am starting to do that now because I could choose whenever I wanted to travel. And it wasn't based on my boss's approval. It was more like, "Yeah, I can do that. Yeah, no problem. I'm totally open." If it was even just that next month and I wanted to take a long weekend to go traveling, or on a camping trip, it will not be a problem. You know, I could hang out with family, I could hang out with friends all the time. It freed up my lifestyle.
That comes with a caveat, too. I mean, everybody thinks that it's really easy to be your own person. Honestly, it's not. You have to become a more proactive person. You have to become better at time management, managing your own time, managing your tasks and not being not getting distracted by other people's needs as much and not getting distracted by social media and advertising and marketing. So you have to be really good at keeping your focus and productivity and building projects out.
I was just talking to my friend Matt about this, that you have to be a student. You always have to be learning and always be focusing on learning more from other people. To go along with that, you always have to try to be a teacher as well, because if you're teaching people something, then you can ask them for money in exchange and they'll be willing to pay because you're teaching them something that they can't just learn somewhere else. So be a student for life.
Always be learning new skill sets and being willing to teach those skill sets to people, teach it for free, and create really well-organized programs for people to learn. You can charge them money for that, even if it's only five bucks or ten bucks a month. People are willing to pay a little bit of money for a lot of value. And so that stuff works really well.
I remember myself saying to my coworker back when I had my job: I wanted to work half the amount of time and make twice as much money. That was my goal. And ironically enough, here we are today, and I'm working probably about half as much as I used to be. I work rigorously for four to six hours a day, depending on the projects that I'm working on and how much work is involved. A lot of the work is stuff I actually what I enjoy doing. It's work, you know, on my computer, building content like this, just talking for a half-hour at a time. It's work I enjoy doing. I wouldn't even call it work.
I worked eight hours at my day job and then three hours in the evening going to school learning. So it's like, I'm working half the amount of time, and I'm making twice as much money right now. I know that's not where I want to be now. Where I want to be now is work half as much as I do now. And then make twice or more like ten times as much money.
My goal now is to get up to that like thirty or fifty thousand dollars a month because I know that I'm worth it. And you have to get that point. You have to know that you're worth it. You are worth that money. But you also have to understand you have to make yourself worth that money. It's a learned skill set to be willing to teach them and give people organized ways of learning the skill set. And if you can help somebody achieve something in life that they want to achieve, you can make that level of money, and Napoleon Hill talked about it in Think and Grow rich.
You have to be focusing on providing value to people. And once you've provided value, if you can learn how to sell that value, and selling is persuading somebody to take action, if you can persuade them to take action, to change their lives and charge them a fair amount to do it, then you can make a great living. And when you don't charge somebody a fair amount, you're belittling your program's value. And people won't take you seriously. So you have to put a high price tag on your program if it's worth it, to get people to take you seriously and to get them to take themselves seriously and change their lives.
For most people, if they buy a ten-dollar course on Udemy.com, they don't actually watch the whole course. I mean, I've done it myself. I bought courses like coding courses, and I didn't actually finish them because it's only ten bucks, no big loss. And I know there are other things I want to work on like marketing. If I would've paid a thousand dollars for that course, I would really take it seriously and face the whole thing and learn everything I can out of it and squeeze every little bit I can. And that's just the human mindset.
It's really ironic, but it's an emotional base. It's not rational thinking. It's emotional. You would think, "Oh, I got this course for ten bucks. Awesome. I'm going to learn the whole thing. I got such a good deal." It's not like that. You'll have a much stronger emotional reaction to the fear of loss than you do to the possibility of gain. Understanding that in your life and applying it to selling to other people, you can make a lot of money by triggering that fear of loss instead of just talking about gain.
If you haven't heard of it yet, Ryan Deiss wrote it in a book called The Invisible Selling Machine. They talk a lot about the game logic, fear sequence, and basically an email sequence - an autoresponder that talks.
The first email is all about gain. A lot of people don't respond to that much because the gain is nice, but it's not enough. Logic, a lot of people like to respond to logic, but it's also not enough. But that final email is what closes sales. It's fear, and it usually about storytelling. It's telling a story about someone who didn't take action and what their life ended up being. And you don't want your life to end up like that, right. And it goes for any niche.
You can sell health products like that. Fear is all about that sales process and the emotional stages people go through before buying something, especially a high ticket product. That's that final fear of loss. It really gets people to take action.
I knew that, and I was going through that. I was at fear of loss in my life. What if I don't start a business? What if I decide to take the easy way out and just go for the day job and go the safer out? What is my life going to look like in 10 years and 20 years? Am I even going to be able to travel places that I see all the time? Am I even going to be able to skate all these places I want to go to? Will I be able to spend time with my family, or am I going to spend more time with my coworkers? I don't really like that much. It was more important to me, and it's more important to a lot of people to actually gain those things. But it isn't until you have that fear of loss that you are pulled and persuaded sometimes.
And again, we go back to that logic. It's the fear of loss and the logic of the pros and cons of whether the money is worth the results. All those things kind of go together, and you end up selling yourself, which is the truth. And that's a big part of sales. You don't want to tell people what to do, but you want to tell them stories, parables about somebody else who took action and was successful or somebody else who didn't take action and wasn't successful. And those stories convince people to sell themselves on your product or service.
I hope you guys are learning a lot. There are a few more reasons why I started doing eCommerce.
I want to do more work. I mean, seriously, who wants to do work they don't enjoy doing? I know that when I start on a project or even if it's just in a niche and I start not enjoying it, I get burnt out. Maybe it's just a product I don't use, don't understand that much, even though there's a lot of money to be made, I don't find myself excited about it. And this is true among a lot of entrepreneurs.
I hear this a lot, and I see it a lot out there that people are more excited to start new things than they are to build those things and scale them to the next level. Even though logically, it makes a lot more sense to take something profitable and scale it. Where emotionally, with the fear of loss and the possibility of gain, right?
Going back to that. As entrepreneurs, we want to start new things. It's so common, and it's totally OK. But as an entrepreneur, I like the idea of starting new projects, building them out and finishing them to a point where I can make money, and people are willing to pay for it.
It is making money. Keep it for about a year then sell it because at by a year's point, somebody else will be willing to pay for that. And it's going to be a big chunk of change. Since you have now gained the skills that it takes to build a project out like that, you can do similar projects and keep selling them out like that. And you can become a true professional in your space and mentor other people on how to do the same thing. And then they can pay you a lot of money. And now you're your income is exponentially growing. So, you know, do work you enjoy doing and find out what that is.
If you enjoy partying, maybe you could become a party promoter. If you enjoy putting your makeup on, you become a makeup artist on YouTube. If you like to skate like I do, go out and make cool tutorial videos on skating and having fun with it.
It also helps you to make new friends. People in your space that are out there that you probably wouldn't have met otherwise, but appreciates your work. They feel like they met you because you've done some content, and that really helps.
So, yeah, I do work that you enjoy, meet new friends in new places, and create good work that people will appreciate. You'll meet new friends and new places all the time. People are just going to be more attracted to you, more drawn to you, and you're going to be more attracted to meeting people. You're going to feel more confident about yourself. And everybody likes an attractive character. Become that attractive character by doing work you enjoy, and you'll meet new friends and new places.
I tell you guys, one thing leads to another. That's how life is.
I'd like to talk about the two main things that I'm on right now. And as a personal note, I want to build passive income projects I could be proud of and make a living with. And I've been talking about this the whole time. But the key here is passive income.
Passive income just basically means that you build a project out that will sell itself, or at least that you create automated replaying webinars or sales videos and funnels to sell a product. And that product will sell itself over and over and over again. You can partner with other people who have audiences and give them a split of your revenue. That exchange is called a joint venture. And a lot of people do that. That's called affiliate marketing.
You can have other people sell your products for you, too, and you can keep launching and relaunching them and make a lot of money that way. That's one of my goals to make the world a better place. I want to do that by first helping people become freer and become more open-minded and help themselves because people can't really make their world a better place until they start helping themselves, right?
When you're on an airplane, they tell you that before you put the oxygen mask on your child, put the oxygen mask on yourself first because you might pass out before you put it on your child. So put the oxygen mask on first. Help yourself. Learn the skills that it takes to make enough money where you can be free. Then work on projects that will make a bigger difference in the world around you. And if you have a goal of making the world a better place in all these different ways, you might end up working in a niche that is all about environmentalism. You might end up working with people and trying to help people make their own companies into the environmentalism niche or in the health niche to make people live a better, healthier, longer, more satisfied life.
If you just take an active approach to make the world a better place in the back of your mind, make that the foundation of your business, and you'll take on sort of a social entrepreneurship role. And that's what I always knew, that like to build a business, I needed to tell a story about why I was building that business as not just to make money. It's to make the world a better place. And when you tell people that story, they'll listen, and they'll resonate with that, and they'll choose you over the competition, over the other choices out there. Because you have that mission and you're telling that story.
That's the reason I started doing eCommerce in the first place and becoming an entrepreneur. And I hope you resonate with that. I hope it caught your attention and inspired you to do something more with your life.
Check out our blog on ecommerceparadise.com and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Like and comment on our videos. And also subscribe to our podcast.
We'll see each other next time.
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.
AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate referral links. I will get a commission from the vendor when you make a purchase after clicking them at no added cost to you. As a result, many of them also provide you with a special discount just for using my link. You can go directly to their support if you have any issues with their software or product.
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:
Resources for Starting A High-Ticket Drop Shipping eCommerce Store
These are the resources I've created to help you start your own high-ticket dropshipping eCommerce store:
Recommended Resources for eCommerce Entrepreneurs and Digital Nomads
- Best VPN Service
- Best Keyword Research Tool
- Best Domain Registrars
- Best Web Hosting
- Best Business Email for Small Business
- Best Small Business Phone System: Best VoIP for Small Business
- Best Virtual Mailbox for Every Traveler and Digital Nomad
- Best LLC Services: The Top 7 Business Formation Experts
- Best Business Credit Cards for eCommerce and High-Ticket Dropshipping
- Best Business Checking Accounts for eCommerce and High-Ticket Dropshipping
- Best Online Trading Platform for Entrepreneurs
- Best Credit Report Service: Excellent Tools To Monitor Credit Score
- Best Bookkeeping Services for Small Business
- Best eCommerce Platform for Dropshipping
- Best Shopify Themes for eCommerce
- Best Shopify Apps for Drop Shipping
- Best Email Marketing Software for Small Business
- Best Landing Page Builder for Shopify
- Best Social Media Management Tools
- Best Answering Service for Small Business
- Best Online Course Platforms