Breaking Down The 100K A Year Barrier With Your Small Business

Several of my friends and acquaintances that follow MyWifeQuitHerJob.com find it hard to believe that our online wedding linens business can possibly make 100 thousand dollars a year in profits for selling to such a tiny niche. And they are correct. We don’t make 100K a year. We make much more than that now that our business has expanded and we are more established.

money

Photo by Borman818

While a six figure profit number might seem like a lot of money at first, getting to 100K a year is actually not an insurmountable task when you look at the number in smaller, more manageable pieces.

In fact, my wife and I initially chose 100K to be our profit goal for the first year because we felt that it was a number we could actually hit. That, and 100K per year was roughly the salary that my wife left behind when she quit her day job.

The key when trying to achieve any large goal is to sit down and break the problem down into smaller chunks and assign a monetary strategy to each piece. Breaking a large problem down helps for two reasons.

One, seeing a smaller problem will provide you with the confidence to succeed. Two, dealing with smaller pieces will allow you to make consistent progress. For my wife and I, we broke the 100K number down to a series of daily monetary goals and managed to meet our initial profit target in a little over a year.

Dissecting Six Figures

At the heart of it all, making 100K a year means that you need to make approximately $8333 a month. Assuming 30 days in a month, that means you only have to make roughly $278 dollars a day in order to hit the magical six figures mark.

How achievable making $278 per day is will depend on your average profit per transaction. After doing some back of the envelope calculations and some initial trial sales on Ebay, my wife and I estimated that our average profit per sale for our online wedding linens store would be roughly 50 dollars which meant that we only needed to complete 6 orders a day to reach 100K. Thinking about it this way, 278 dollars a day didn’t sound like a scary number at all.

So with this goal in mind, my wife and I devised ways to hit 6 orders a day as quickly and as easily as possible.

Forum Marketing

The first thing that came to mind was that I could infiltrate and immerse myself in some of the wedding based forums out there. Thousands of would be brides congregate at places like the wedding channel and the knot forums. If I could take the time and ingrain myself within the community, I could drum up some consistent business by pitching our products directly to our target audience.

After getting banned several times from these wedding forums, I finally got the hang of it and discovered that I needed to be more clever when marketing on the forums because the system administrators did not tolerate any sort of self promotion.

I found that by being genuine and helpful to these would be brides, I could occasionally slip a few subtle recommendations and not make it seem like an outright sales pitch for our online business.

Early on, we used this tactic extensively to drum up a few orders a day and establish some word of mouth.

We Used Adwords

If you are starting a website from complete scratch, it can take a good amount of time to get indexed into the search engines. And what happens more often than not is that your website will sit in the Google sandbox for an extended period before it is released to the general index.

Fortunately if you have the budget, you can buy extremely targeted clicks directly from Google using AdWords. Using a fairly intuitive interface, you can create a simple online advertisement in under 10 minutes and have it show up immediately in the search engines.

Looking back, most of our early business came from Adwords. I also remember that in the beginning, we actually spent more on Adwords than we were making in revenues. But gradually over time, we managed to filter out the non profitable keywords from our account and soon we were turning a massive profit from Adwords advertising alone.

Adwords works! It really does. In fact, I think that during our first year when our adwords budget was pretty low, we still managed to make about 4 sales day which cost us roughly 5 bucks per conversion.

We Solicited Testimonials

Once we got prospective customers on our website, it was crucial to have them feel confident shopping at our store. So early on, we gave free product away to our friends and acquaintances and had them provide us with their reviews. In addition, we also sold some of our hankies on Ebay and used the Ebay feedback as testimonials as well. By placing our testimonials prominently on the front page for everyone to see, it made our prospective customers confident that we could deliver quality product on time.

The combination of having a clean looking website and great testimonials along with decent amounts of adwords and wedding forum traffic, we managed to well exceed our 6 order a day quota to make 100K during our first year of business.

We Targeted Wedding Planners

The final boost to our revenues that allowed us to hit 100K was that we gave wedding and event planners special treatment. We went through the internet and contacted these planners directly and offered discounts on bulk purchases of our products.

While this tactic was hit or miss, when we did manage to lock in a wedding planner, it was usually for a large sum of money. In some cases, one order from an event planner exceeded over 5-7x what a typical day’s income would be.

100K Is Within Your Reach

If you take the time to think about it, making 100K a year with your online business is well within your reach. The key is to have a gameplan on how to get there. By breaking down your earnings goal to a daily value, you can plan ahead and figure out how you are going to make your numbers. Using this guideline will also allow you to figure out early on whether your business idea is even viable and whether you need to raise prices as well.

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35 thoughts on “Breaking Down The 100K A Year Barrier With Your Small Business”

  1. I have to remember to break down large goals to smaller, daily goals and tasks. In terms of $100K+ per year, I think it really depends on your niche. Yours was/is obviously in demand without a lot of competition. I cant say the same thing about mine!

    1. @Carla
      The niche you choose is definitely a factor but I don’t believe that any profitable niche can remain uncompetitive for long. For example, many competitors have popped up in our territory in the past 2 years alone. I think it’s about making your store unique and compelling for customers for factors other than just price.

  2. I love the advice about breaking down those larger goals down into smaller more manageable goals. It’s like the saying goes – how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    1. @Bible @Steven @JMom
      Yeah, it’s amazing how much your confidence increases just by looking at things in a different, more achievable way!

  3. Steve, this was a brilliant post. It’s all about the mindset. When you say $100,000 compared to 6 sales per day it sounds so much more achievable. Thanks for the wonderful advice.

  4. Good stuff Steve! YEs, being genuine and truly wanting to help others instead of just spamming your own stuff is key. Glad you share your banning with us.

    So, I guess the next question is… around how much does the store bring in +/- $100,000? Are you close to the $250,000 mark yet?

    Cheers, FS

    1. @Financial Samurai
      While I will never publicly state how much we make at the present time, our profit numbers can be deduced based on information from prior articles. If you are really curious, I’ll leave that exercise up to you.

  5. Hi Steve! I agree … I shot for $8333 a month instead of $100K, too! I didn’t like breaking it down daily, though – too much pressure for me. But my profit is also between $300 – $3000, so it’s a different landscape in my business. And when I do a launch, I can easily do $5K in a day or two.

    I haven’t actually done any paid advertising and have built to multiple six-figures, thanks to a great mailing list and my affiliate program. It really can be done!

    Blessings,
    Andrea

    1. @Andrea
      That’s incredible! Imagine what your numbers would be if you ever did decide to do paid advertising!

  6. Great article! Very positive and uplifting for any small business person, online or off.

    And yes Adwords does work if done correctly, and at the risk of getting banned a la “Steve on the wedding forums” feel free to contact me anyone for advice on how to go about Adwords the right way.

    Congrats to you and your wife, very impressive :-)

    1. @Seamus
      Thanks buddy! I’ll keep you in mind if I ever need some Adwords advice.

  7. I love how you broke it down. It’s true what they say about breaking things down into bite sized pieces… then it doesn’t seem so insurmountable.

  8. Hey Steve,

    Once again sound advice. Breaking things down into smaller chunks really helps to avoid making mountains out of molehills and gets you to your goal faster.

    Happy to see that adwords helped you get there! Stories like yours go a long way for PPC experts like me to convince small businesses that PPC can get you targeted, cost effective traffic that converts into sales.

    I’m curious – with so much success on adwords have you branched out your campaigns onto Yahoo and MSN? The ROI on those engines tends to be quite a bit higher. So even though the search volume is lower for the most part, you can snag some sales at a much lower cost per sale.

    1. @Xurxo
      About two and a half years ago, I gave Yahoo a shot, but the interface was so horrible compared to adwords that I was immediately turned off by it. I had some free credits so I let it run for a few months but never really got many clicks and very few conversions. Ultimately, I decided to focus my energies on Adwords. I have yet to try MSN however. Maybe I’ll give it another shot now that they have Bing

  9. Congrats on your success! I believe that $100K can be done. It’s great that you broke your goal down into more manageable ones. I don’t do adwords because I find it almost a full time job just to monitor my campaigns. Your marketing strategy and work definitely paid off!

    1. @Evelyn
      Thanks! I find it odd that you found it a lot of work to maintain your adwords campaigns. These days, I check up on my adwords only once a month depending on the shopping season.

  10. Steve,

    I hear ya on Yahoo’s interface being horrible and complete turnoff. Don’t get me started on customer their support either!

    Just the same, the returns have time and time again been worth the effort for our clients and the same can be said for MSN especially now that Bing has gained some additional market share.

    In Yahoo’s case, they default you in to their content network like Google but unlike Google they only have 2 keyword match types – standard and advanced. You’ll want to make sure you’re on standard to begin with as that’s closer to Google’s phrase and exact match and will get you better quality traffic. Advanced is the equivalent of broad and is of course on by default which is likely why you didn’t get good results with it the first time around.

    As always, just give me a shout to let me know if you need a hand with either of the three engines…

    1. @Xurxo
      Thanks a lot! When I start using Yahoo and MSN, I make take you up on the offer!

  11. @Steve –

    Interestingly enough, making $100K from a website is not something I see as a problem. The problem I find is find a product to sell in the first place. I did really well for a while selling camera gear, but my vendor quit selling to US companies and I lost my competitive advantage (price).

    Any thoughts on how to source product would be wonderful.

    Mike

    1. @Mike
      Interesting. Whenever I go to Asia, I find a gazillion vendors that sell camera gear (mostly bags and cases) at great prices. Perhaps you are looking in the wrong place for new vendors. Have you tried going to any of the product sourcing tradeshows?

  12. Wow! What a brilliant article, congratulations to you and your wife on the success of your business.

    I love how you broke down your sales target to bite size chunks, which made it seem more realistic and achievable, and obviously it worked :-).

    I also have my own on line business (based in the UK) specialising in organic baby and children’s clothes. We are just starting out into our third year, and the good news is that our sales have pretty much increased month by month but we are not achieving sales as high as we hoped.

    We have tried Google Adwords but we found they didn’t work for us, they took up a lot of our time to manage and cost us a lot of money. As there are so many other areas to concentrate on in the business, we haven’t had the time to try Adwords out again. The reason why they may not have worked for us, was probably because I am not specialised in this area so I may have not used Adwords to it’s full potential?

    Would you say that Adwords are one of the most important ways of driving the right customers to your site and increasing sales? As I think for 2012 this is definitely an area to consider to increase our sales. We have, and continue to do lots of seo work for our website and the results are starting to pay off. We rank quite high within the organic listings. Would you say it is as important to use Adwords as well as ranking naturally? Also would you recommend that we pay a specialist to set up and monitor our Adwords for us?

    Thank you

    1. Adwords fluctuates between 20-25% of our business so it’s definitely significant. The reality is that organic listings are getting pushed lower and lower on the screen as Google tries to increase their revenues so they are almost forcing you to use Adwords. I don’t think a specialist is needed but definitely plan on losing some money in the beginning.

      1. Hi Steve,

        It is interesting to hear how significant Adwords is with your business, it is definitely something we will be considering.

        Thanks
        Victoria

  13. DaNia says:

    Hello,
    In your post you mentioned to find “your average profit per transaction” in order to figure out how much money to make per day to achieve the monthly goal of $8,333. How can you determine the average profit per transaction when a store does not have any sales? I’ve just started my business and have only received two sales. I’m a little confused on how I can calculate this number with no sales.

    1. Hi DaNia,

      Your average profit per sale is a number that you can estimate based on whatever data you have. For example, since we sell handkerchiefs for weddings, we made some rough assumptions about the number of people that would be in a typical bridal party. Sometimes, you can also use marketplaces like Ebay or Etsy to make an estimate as well.

      Overall, it depends on your products and what your profit per item is and that nature of the goods you sell.

  14. DaNia says:

    Thanks for the explanation Steve. Looks like I have some number crunching to do.

  15. Denise says:

    Does anyone else have a problem with that damn popup window? I would love to read some of these articles (and might even purchase the How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps. ) but can’t get through reading one paragraph before the ad pops over the paragraphs and makes it unable to read. I scroll up or down, and there it is again. Very annoying.

    1. Hi Denise,

      Can you send me a screenshot and what platform you are on so I can fix the problem?

      Thanks.

  16. Hi Steve,

    Your advice resonate very well with what Neil Patel advised on his quicksprout blog. I am referring to the number 2 point ….offering testimonials.

    This is what my blog is missing and I will definitely introduce it on my blog and seo consulting service website.

  17. Manny says:

    Hi Steve

    I found this old blog post and love it.

    I am thinking hard on the profit per sale number and notice yours if very healthy at $50. Mine in coffee wholesaling is more like $7 and this concerns me in terms of transactions I will need to make say $100k. Do you have a post that discusses this more ?

    Cheers

    Manny

    1. That doesn’t sound too bad if it’s 7 dollars per bag. After all, I would imagine you sell hundreds at a time right?

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