Firstly I’d like to say hello!
I am James, a now 20something guy from a little village in the arse end of nowhere in good old Blighty. I have a degree in Business & Management and in the words of the guy from Man Vs Food – ‘I have held nearly every job in a business that you could have’. I am one of those guys who really does enjoy starting and running online and offline businesses.
So, what do I know about being an online entrepreneur and go-getter…well if you have 20mins, you can read my story below. I have included links to different areas and businesses that I have had the pleasure of running as well!
When I was 16 I started and then sold my first ever business. It was a car cleaning round. Yep, I set up a weekly car cleaning round. I wanted to go on a School trip, but I had to raise £2,500 to go on this month long trip of a lifetime. So I knuckled down and knocked on every single door in my local village, giving out leaflets, taking on clients, scheduling them in to get as many people done every month as I could. Every weekend I would walk with my bucket and sponge, wrapped up in warm clothes and wellies to my neighbours and spend the weekend hustling away for £5-£10 a car. I was making around £50 every weekend without fail and I set myself the target of raising the full £2,500 through this (I had a year to do it).
I can happily say that I raised the money that I needed, and as soon as I got back from the trip of a lifetime, I sold my car cleaning round to two kids who were saving to do the exact same trip in 12 months time. Could I have carried on? Of course, I could, but, I was starting to become older, I was 17 by the time I sold this round, and I had just got my first ‘real’ job. I worked part-time in the evenings as a cleaner and then moved on to a local supermarket – Why? Because I needed a CV and really wanted to go to University in the future!
After selling the car cleaning round I realised that I had the bug for business. I loved it. Once I enrolled in college I realised that once again I needed to start a business. This time I started up a computer repair company as it went hand in hand with the IT degree that I was working towards. Evenings and weekends were spent fixing friends PC’s, sorting out Virus protection software and basically learning as much as I could about computers & IT.
University was the place that I really started investing time and money into the online world. eBay was my target, I had a friend’s Mum who had made a huge amount of money off of a craze, and I wanted to cash in on the next one! So I started researching around, looking at the top selling items on eBay and looking at where I could source them from.
Back then, phone cases were becoming all the rage – Mobile phones were more popular than ever before, and people wanted to show them off with cool phone cases. So, I looked up different places to source them, until I found the golden goose that was Alibaba. I spent weeks searching different suppliers until I eventually found one that looked good. I learnt how to negotiate and how to barter down prices (though I was pretty crap and I still got stung!) In the end I spent £500 on my first shipment of iPhone case – 500 in total. I was nervous. I waited 5 weeks for them to arrive, and once they did I was left with a HUGE box of iPhone cases. They were black and made of silicone, hardly sexy..but at least they were practical.
I then learnt the ins and outs of eBay, working out how to list items up, take photos (or use the ones from Alibaba), how to package and ship them (I even borrowed my parents to help with a lot of it). After a while, I started to buy up other smaller peoples leftover stock, to expand out my own range – That way I could cross-sell, or upsell with cables or screen protectors. My university room was basically my own stock room, full of phone accessories (not to mention my room at my parents home…).
I finally started to close the operation down once eBay opened up the floodgates to allow China to ship directly to the UK and other places, the profit started to dry up and I got my first taste of leftover dead stock… I had to offload 70% of my stock at a wholesale price and flog the other 30% at car boot sales.
University Part 2
Once I had got over being bitten with leftover stock, I decided that I didn’t like stock and I started to read about DropShipping. I found a guy online who would print me any case and any design I wanted for £4 and ship it for £2. I jumped at the deal, and opened my first every Shopify store – One that I still run to do this (though a little different these days).
I also started my first real business with business partners. I joined forces with 2 brilliantly clever guys and started creating websites for local businesses. Both of my partners knew web design and coding and I knew how to sell our websites – it was a match made in heaven. We would walk up and down our local high street and find small businesses, show them websites that we had made, or Shopify stores that we had set up offering them low upfront costs and then sell them hosting to go with it.
Thankfully both of these endeavours helped me get through University with minimal debt, and that included spending huge amounts of money of parties, clothes and a number of interesting ideas!
After leaving, and graduating I found myself full-time employment. I still kept my Drop Shipping business, but at this time it wasn’t 100% automated like they are these days (With the Likes of AliDropShip or Oberlo) and I found that I was spending all of my evenings and weekends fulfilling orders via email, on top of working 11 – 16 hour days in one of the worst jobs I have ever done!
Sadly the Web Design company had to close, due to all 3 of us separating and moving to different parts of the country, but that’s life – It was great while it lasted! (More on how to do similar here)
It was around this time, about a year and a half after graduating that I started my first successful subscription business, using the new(at the time) platform called CrateJoy. For the next 18months, I single-handedly ran an ever-growing subscription business in the health niche – It was great fun, but unfortunately, I ran out of room, time and love for the business! I eventually decided to close it down, though I still provide help and guidance to people who are in the Subscription business!
After running the Subscription business, I realised that I needed something that was less hands-on so that I could still do my day to day job (that I do love), as well as my side hustles. In came Amazon FBA. I spent 3 months listening to this Podcast, learning everything I could about it. I invested in AMZ Scout & researched my own little niche! I eventually went back to good old Alibaba and found myself a product that I could sell via Amazon.
I also updated my older DropShipping store that I had had since University, moving onto WordPress and using the AliDropShipping platform (read my review), allowing so much automation! I also started up another DropShipping site with a good friend of mine, who was keen to open his own Shopify store, so we researched ourselves a brand new niche, started a 14day Shopify trial and installed Oberlo and away we went. The new store is quite young, and we are researching new ways to bring in traffic and basically having a fun time without taking this one too seriously until we nail down all the products and decide on the final venture.
So, what do I do these days? I run a number of online stores, I write a number of blogs, showing people the tools that they need to start in a variety of different places such as eBay, Amazon FBA and DropShipping (using both Shopify with eCom Turbo and WordPress using AliDropShip), as well as introducing people to the fun world of Affiliate Marketing. I also write reviews for plugins, tools and courses that I have found useful over the years!