Welcome to eCommercepreneurs
Hi all. I'm Nick - a motivated, self-taught eCommerce entrepreneur (‘eCommercepreneur’). I started my first business at 16 when I was still at school, selling on eBay, Amazon and on my own eCommerce store. It involved created brands, finding suppliers, importing LCL & FCL shipments from Shanghai, manufacturing OEM products with my own trademarks, and have since specialised in digital eCommerce. I have also worked in marketing, the building services industry and as a web developer, and have work experience at Peter Jones TV.
what's your purpose?
I want to help people build their web-based businesses and avoid making the mistakes I've made. There's a lot I wish I knew when I started, like how to source products, create brands, build an eBay listing, eCommerce store or website, marketing, the law, etc and I want to teach people the same way I wish I was taught. I understand their situation and learned the hard way. I'm also not shamed to admit that I'm trying to make a living from it.
my business career so far
- Started selling on eBay at 16, buying different products from domestic wholesalers and experimenting with different selling methods to smell what sells
- Discovered a product called a ‘PMP MP4 player’, which I advertised as a Nintendo DS alternative to access a large market of people searching for the NDS and bundled free media like games and cartoons on it, which started to make good money for little effort once set up
- Started sourcing suppliers from overseas to reduce unit costs, increase reliability of supply & increase customisation
- Paid for eBay’s ‘featured first’ marketing option so Nintendo DS buyers could see my alternative, which started generating serious money
- Studied business at university which was useless, but continued running business which generated revenues of over £5000 GBP/week for very little maintenance work involved, which made me considerably wealthy as a teenager
- eBay stopped featured first, disabling my ability to find tonnes of customers which damaged sales drastically as it was difficult to generate traffic
- The supply chain then stopped producing my profitable game consoles, which ended my first gaming business, although I was able to take away a good chunk of money and valuable experience
- Lessons Learned: I should have retained customers via adding them to an email marketing list to sell to them again & again, effectively recycling the valuable traffic I had; create a brand and put it on your products!; trying new things is a great way to discover what works & what doesn’t; don’t rely on a single source of traffic - build an eCommerce store to open up more marketing options & spread the risk; relying on a single product can be risky; markets or the supply chain can change imminently overnight!; be in control of the supply chain by creating your own product
- I then had work experience with Peter Jones’ investment director at Peter Jones TV at the Dragons’ Den, where I learned more about business in that week than my entire university ‘business’ degree - I learned the value of having a brand and realised how easy it would be to create my own brand and put it on products I sell via OEM manufacturing
- Started next business venture selling ‘airsoft’ supplies, creating my own brand ‘Kingdom Airsoft’ of BB pellets, OEM manufacturing my brand name on each bag of BBs I sold & importing my first FCL shipment from Shanghai, costing me about £30,000 GBP
- With little USP, high competition, little traffic & low profit margins from eBay/Amazon fees, I eventually sold off that business but managed to recover all my money although generating very little profit
- Lessons Learned: build an eCommerce store to avoid heavy sale fees & have somewhere to recycle & send traffic to; be different to the competition; don’t bother entering small crowded markets; only bother selling products with large profit margins & high ticket prices unless you can sell millions of them
- Started 3rd business venture selling a different, less multifunctional gaming console and gaming accessories under my next brand, buying another expensive OEM-manufactured LCL shipment at about £30,000 GBP again from 5 different suppliers
- Got a job in marketing while I waited for my shipment to arrive & business to hopefully grow, which I (and all the other 4 new recruits) got fired from by a boss who didn’t know what he wanted
- Got another job for a building services company which I also got fired from as the boss sensed I’d always want to run my own business and hence thought I wouldn't commit long term
- The business venture also proved to be a fatal mistake: I put the wrong brand on my products, where the brand aimed at retro gamers but the product aimed at parents buying for children
- The products were also poor quality, sourced from overseas manufacturers with poor QC, which destroyed the brand’s reputation
- I quickly realised the business would fail, so I sold it off to a liquidator for just £7,000 GBP, losing about £23,000 GBP in the process; a pivotal mistake but valuable in what I learned
- Lessons Learned: try not to take a big risk unless you have to - start small & scale up after you know the concept works; do your market research!; only put the right brand on the right product & be very clear; don’t put your brand on low quality products; use manufacturers with good QC procedures; hide any business ambitions from any employer; if you know something won’t work, accept it, sell it off, brush yourself down & move on - and more importantly, learn from it for next time
- Hit rock bottom with a failed business, comparably less money, 2 fired-from jobs & little employment prospects thanks to my worthless degree; all I had was my nice Lexus & a ton of valuable experience
- Next I trained as a web developer & got a job in web development
- In the interim, I wanted to explore a less risky path of eCommerce that sells digital products and wouldn’t require much money upfront - so I started Outset Web (now eCommercepreneurs) & enjoy making money from selling digital products like eBay templates, courses and email marketing all on autopilot
- I hope to scale this business up over time eventually via paid ads, and later create a business that manufactures fun, custom ODM products that I'd enjoy using myself and build a massive brand in the process
To summarise: you can’t learn any of the above by going to university folks!
what advice can you give to new eCommercepreneurs?
Start now, enjoy it & learn from it.
Only sell a product or service that interests you, otherwise it'll hinder your motivation and progress. It's also not necessary to spend a fortune at a university or business school when learning about business, which is a mistake I made. Short courses and reading books are much better and more focussed, yet pragmatic experience is above all. As Richard Branson says: "You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over".
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