This is a post written by Brandon, a student in my Create A Profitable Online Store Course. What’s funny about Brandon is that he signed up for my class, quietly watched all the videos and then launched an online store selling washer toss and polish horseshoe games that was profitable right off the bat.
From the point when he signed up for my class, we exchanged like 3 emails. And the only time we actually spoke to each other was when he asked for my opinion on his niche prior to pulling the trigger. After performing the due diligence on his product idea, I told him it was all good and off he went!
Anyways, I’m still continually amazed by how diverse the students in the class are. Some people just run with the videos and zoom ahead while others require a little more hand holding. Nevertheless, here’s Brandon’s online story.
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Starting A Business As A Total Noob
This is the first business that I’ve started of any kind. I have a banking/finance background, and although it pays pretty well, it just wasn’t satisfying enough for me. Being stuck behind a desk in a cubicle or office all day every day didn’t appeal to me.
I knew I wanted to start my own online business in order to free myself from that monotony and have more time to pursue more fulfilling activities in my life. So I decided to pursue the washer toss niche because it was something I really enjoyed and had fond memories of playing while growing up.
Right away I knew it was going to take a lot of work to start an online business, so it was important for me to start a business that involved a passion of mine. Although it’s certainly not a requirement, passion for your niche is important because you’re more likely to go that extra mile to succeed.
And because of this passion, you are also more likely to be knowledgeable about your niche and enjoy what you’re doing. In fact, a lot of the work that I did for my business didn’t even feel like work because I enjoyed washer toss games so much.
Putting The Pieces Together
Once I settled on my niche it became obvious pretty quickly what my selling point was going to be: offering the highest quality washer toss sets on the internet.
Growing up, it was always really hard to find a well-made game anywhere. Most of the washer toss sets were either really cheap or just poorly made.
So one day my dad decided to build one himself because he is fairly handy, and it was by far a lot better than anything anyone else was selling.
Later, when I told him that I was thinking about starting a business involving washer toss, we quickly agreed that we should partner and he would build the games and I would build the website.
When I built the website, I chose the open source route over the fully hosted for a few reasons:
- It allowed me full control over the website
- It was a lot cheaper
- If for some reason this business didn’t work out, I could apply everything I learned to a new online store.
However, I had no prior website experience whatsoever. This is one of the main reasons I decided to join Steve’s Create A Profitable Online Store course. His comprehensive videos walked me though all the technical stuff of setting up my store.
But what’s great about Steve’s course is that he covers a lot more about starting an online store than just the technical things; from how to find your niche, to how you should contact vendors, to web design and SEO, to advertising and much more.
Everything is thoughtfully laid out so I knew exactly what steps I needed to take next in setting up my business. The other great thing about the course is the forum where all of the students can post their questions and share their experiences and tips with everybody. It’s a really great online community. Everyone is extremely helpful and encouraging.
It took just over year from when I joined Steve’s class to when the store went live. Both my dad and I work full time jobs, so finding both time and energy to start a business was tough. Since we are selling our own products, we first had to set up an efficient manufacturing process in addition to setting up an online store for the first time.
The hardest part was not getting overwhelmed with everything. There were plenty of times where we got discouraged and thought about quitting. But in the back of my mind I knew that it could actually work and be successful if we stuck it out.
After over a year, we were finally ready to go live. Even though we thought there was a chance that we could be successful, we were still very nervous that we would fail because there was no way we could know for sure until we actually launched.
We got our first sale exactly one week after we went live. Even though it was a small order, it was a huge relief and it felt like a 1000 lb weight was lifted off us.
Since we just started we obviously weren’t ranking in Google search yet, and we weren’t using Google Adwords or had any backlinks at the time so we thought it was amazing that a customer was not only able to find us, but also place an order without having any history or reputation built up.
It gave us the confidence boost we needed, and soon after we started receiving larger orders on a regular basis.
In fact, we received 27 orders and generated $2,780 in revenue in our first two months of business!
Update: Today, Brandon’s site is ranking on the front page of Google and he is making sales without spending any money on advertising.
What I learned throughout my experience of starting my online store is the value of patience. Starting my business was a lot of work, especially since everything was new to me, and it was easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated at times.
The best thing I did to ensure that I didn’t become complacent was that I worked on the business every single day, even for as little as five to ten minutes, just to make sure that I was making progress and keeping the momentum going.
So my advice to anyone starting their own business is to be patient. A successful business isn’t a get rich quick scheme. A lot of people get discouraged when they don’t see results right away. But if you stick with it, over the long term success can happen.
photo credit: danmachold
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Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.