A Corporate Escape Story: How eCommerce Changed My Life


My official corporate headshot. Someone needs to slap that smug look off my face.

It was 5:00 on a Sunday, and I still had hours of work to do at the office. My girlfriend – who lived nine hours away and was in town for a rare visit – was sitting alone in my apartment, anxiously waiting for me to finish (and likely reconsidering the wisdom of her choice to date me).

How did I end up in this position? I never really intended to go into investment banking, a field notorious for long hours and insane work schedules. But it was an enticing job right out of college, offering solid job experience and the chance to really see how large businesses worked.

Our schedule wasn’t nearly as strenuous as many of the bigger investment banks, where 100-hour work weeks are the norm. Still, the 60- to 80-hour weeks, unpredictable schedule and inability to commit to people and/or plans quickly grew draining, especially for work that I didn’t love.

I made the decision to quit and started to save as much money as possible. I kept my beater college car longer than necessary in order to save more money – a car so hideous I had to hide park it blocks from the office. I banked 100% of the bonuses I received and earned a reputation around the office as a bit of a miser. In the small amount of spare time I did have, I read Tim Ferriss’ “The Four-Hour Work Week”and started dreaming about my future plans. I was laying the foundation for my escape.

In November of 2007, I quit. It’s both an exhilarating and slightly terrifying feeling to leave a good job to start your own business. After a solo cross-county road trip, I settled down to start building my future. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I did, however, know the required characteristics I wanted my new venture to have. It needed to:

  • Offer a high risk-to-reward ratio
  • Require little capital
  • Be scalable
  • Be location-independent

It’s amazing how a total lack of income motivates you to action. After exploring a number of potential ideas, I quickly settled on e-commerce as a business model that fit all my criteria. I opened up a bank account with $1,500, created an LLC and picked a niche: CB radios.

It’s about this time I think my mother lost total faith in me. Already somewhat distraught that I’d quit my job, she now had to let friends and family know her son had left the finance world to hawk CB radios via the internet! To be honest, I had a few doubts myself, but because my research methodology (outlined in my eBook) indicated CB radios might be a viable niche, I took a leap of faith and started Right Channel Radios.

Within a month I had my website online and live. Bootstrapped and designed by myself, it wasn’t going to win any awards, but it was a working prototype that could take orders and test my idea’s viability. Shortly after launch, I received my first order. As any business owner will tell you, few things compare to the thrill of your first sale, and it provided an incredible motivational boost.

Over the following months, I threw myself entirely into growing and improving my business. I hungrily learned as much as I could about online marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), my customers and my new market. Sales began to grow, albeit sporadically. My girlfriend (now wife) Annie could tell from my mood each evening how orders had been that day. I continued to bootstrap the business, reinvesting the earnings and my own sweat, but never adding any additional equity apart from my original $1,500 deposit.

Slowly but surely everything began to pay off. Within a year, I was making enough to support myself and Annie. I hired a part-time virtual assistant (VA) to help manage business operations. Within two years, I launched a second e-commerce site, TrollingMotors.net, and shortly thereafter hired my first full-time local employee.

With a great team in place to run most of the daily operations, I decided to take a break from growing the business to pursue a goal of mine: long-term international travel. So in February of 2011, Annie and I departed for a seven-month working vacation that took us to more than 20 countries. The trip was financed largely by over 2 million frequent flier miles I had generated by paying to fulfill business orders.

 

Teaching in India

Hiking in Patagonia

Sailing in Greece

 

After an incredible trip, we returned home in November. Despite being gone seven out of 12 months, it was a record year for revenues with my businesses collectively generating $1 million in sales and setting the stage for well above that in 2012. It was my best year ever in terms of income, and I earned significantly more than I ever did investment banking.

Four years and numerous businesses later, I’ve decided to start sharing my knowledge on this blog. My hope in writing is to help others who, like me in my banking days, want to build a better life for themselves through entrepreneurship. While my path has been unorthodox, it’s one that can be re-created by anyone with the determination to make it happen. This isn’t to say that building your own e-commerce business is easy – far from it. I think with entrepreneurial “success” stories, it’s tempting to indulge the good and downplay the bad. I want to intentionally avoid that.

Building a cash cushion so I could afford to quit my job required frequently saying “no” to myself and delaying my gratification. Starting my first site was hard, really hard. It required a lot of work, much of it tedious, with little visible success for the first few months. Staying motivated with little to show for your efforts is extremely challenging in the early days of a venture.

Business success of any kind, e-commerce included, requires significant sacrifice and work, but I’m here to tell you that the investment is absolutely worth it. I believe there has never been a better time in history for individuals to start their own businesses. For online ventures, the risks are small and the rewards significant. If you decide to head down the same path I have, I hope the information I share here will help you along the way.

Thinking about starting your own business?  You’ll definitely want to download my free eBook, a detailed guide to starting a profitable online store. It’s based on my experience and full of information I wish I knew when starting my first site.

Enjoy this Post? You’ll Love My eBook!

'Profitable eCommerce' is my 55-page detailed eBook that covers:
  • How to identify profitable eCommerce niches
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Comments

  1. Stuart says:

    Very happy to read your story. It has inspired me to think out of the corporate box again. I look forward to reading more – including the ebook that you are writing up.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Stuart! Striking out on your own is definitely worth it – and totally possible. Best of luck! I should be releasing that eBook within the next week or so. Keep an eye out on the blog as I’ll be announcing it here….

    • Metia Redd says:

      Thanks for your encouraging words. Inspiration at its finest. I am on the way to success!!!

  2. Huy says:

    Hi Andrew your story is so inspirational – cant wait for that ebook. Anyway I am starting a ecommerce site as well, but more general category, women’s fashion. Do you have any tips to get traffic to the site?

    Many thanks,
    Huy

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Huy and best of luck with the new site! Driving traffic is one of the biggest challenges with a new eCommerce site – it takes a lot of work and creativity. Here are a few tips I’d recommend:

      - Identify prominent bloggers in the industry and see if you can get your styles in front of their audience.

      - Make sure you have GREAT photos, with people modeling the product. For fashion, this will be a must.

      - The fashion niche is a PERFECT one for a blog, as it’s always changing. If you consistently post good content, it can serve to build business relationships and drive traffic.

      - I’m think the recent Pintrest craze has been overblown, but this is an ideal match for your audience. The vast majority of Pintrest users are women, and much of the content is fashion related. I would recommend showcasing your products there.

      - Using PPC (paid advertising) is great early-on to test conversion, but I’d strongly recommend on building long-term, organic free traffic from google.

      Just a few, but hopefully they get you started! Best of luck……

      -Andrew

  3. chris says:

    Such a solid story. Did you narrate the trolling motor videos? wow. I have just launched an ecommerce site, also in Magento. I get 1 sale a day from organic traffic – just shows how awesome Magento engineering is. But how do I go from trickle to 10k per month? Do you blog or Facebook/tweet?

    Cheers, Chris

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the comment, Chris! And congratulations on your recent launch – that’s really exciting. Building traffic is one of the biggest challenges of any online venture, but especially eCommerce sites. It’s a topic I’ll be writing a few detailed posts on in the future, so keep your eye open. For now, I’d recommend:

      - Article marketing to sites in your niche. You can usually include 2-3 links back to your site
      - Contacting blogs in your niche and offer to guest post on a topic useful to their visitors AND that ties into your offering
      - Contests and giveaways. This is a great way to build traffic.
      - Create the most informative, useful niche site you can. Over time, great content = more traffic.
      - If you haven’t already, make sure you start learning about SEO. I recommend SEOMoz as a great place to start.

      It takes time, but with a solid strategy and consistant execution you should be able to dramatically increase your organic traffic.

      Also, I am on Facebook / Twitter, although I’m just getting started with my eCommerceFuel accounts there. You can follow me – and have a shot at scoring 2 hours of free one-on-one consulting – here:

      http://www.ecommercefuel.com/connect/

      Thanks for reading!

      -Andrew

      P.S. Yep, that’s me narrating the trolling motor videos.

  4. Eva says:

    Hi Andrew!!! Wow!!! What a WONDERFUL story! :) You made me believe that if I really want to make a living from the internet then it is possible. I am new to all of the eCommerce thing….I don’t know exactly what it means. I just downloaded your Ebook. I will continue reading it tomorrow.

    About choosing a eCommerce site to build…. do I need to chose a specific thing? I mean….if I want to do a site about Fitness… I will need to dig deeper? like (just for the example) to build a site for ellipticals? or do I build a site that covers everything about fitness?

    Thank you so much for your help! And that you so much for sharing your great story with us! Good Luck with this new blog!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for reading and for your comment, Eva!

      Generally, the more specific a site is, the easier it is to market and speak directly to your audience. For eCommerce, the “fitness” category is really broad – I’d definitely recommend focusing on a sub-category to improve your chances of success. The eBook addresses a lot of these issues (how specific to get, what the ideal search and competition levels are, etc), so hopefully it will be helpful.

      • Eva says:

        Good Morning Andrew! :)
        I wanted to ask if it is building eCommerce sites are also for someone that doesn’t have a bank account in the U.S? Probably you cover all this stuff in your ebook….going to read the rest of it now…..
        To be honest with you I have no idea what exactly an eCommerce site is. need to read all about it. I am new to this.
        Do you have any coaching programs? or 1 on 1′s?
        Thank you so much for your FAST reply! :)
        Have a great day!

        • Andrew says:

          In short, eCommerce refers to goods that are sold online and shipped to customers. On this blog, I’ll be writing mostly about drop shipping, which is a form of eCommerce where the merchant (you) doesn’t have to stock a ton of inventory, but can instead purchase an item from a wholesaler only when you need it to fulfill an order. Then, the wholesale warehouse will ship it directly to your customer. You’re right – the eBook covers this in more detail, so hopefully that will be helpful.

          As to needing a U.S. bank account: it just depends on the supplier as to whether they will allow you to purchase and ship goods within the U.S. if you’re an international merchant. But you would definitely be able to operate and deal with suppliers in your own country. This might be a good topic for a future post!

          I’m currently not offering any paid coaching or 1-on-1 sessions. However, I do give away two hours of 1-on-1 coaching each month to a new social media follower. If you’re interested, please see below:

          http://www.ecommercefuel.com/connect/

          Thanks Eva!

          • Eva says:

            Thank you Andrew…
            I did “Like” on facebook….I don’t remember my twitter account…and I don’t have linkedin or google+
            I hope that if I follow you on Facebook it will be enough!
            Thanks for everything!

  5. Arleen Shamon says:

    I soooooo want to quit my job! I’ve never been a “numbers” person or CEO does it matter? I don’t even have any intense computer skills but want to help others come to understand true health! I want to write an ebook that would explain “true” health, not just eating what’s good for you but understanding the true nature of who we are! I am interested in using content from other books as well, how do I get permission for that? Or would I just blog that? What is a blog anyway? You are very inspiring to me! Thank you

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Your story is very inspiring. It definitley gives some of us who are thinking about starting an ecommerce business a glimmer of hope. I just downloaded a copy of your ebook, and I’m about to begin reading it shortly. I’m considering starting an ecommerce business preferably selling health products. However, one of my problems is that I’m a novice when it comes to web design. I do know many hosting companies do offer tools in helping people like me in building their websites; however, for now, I would rather outsource this function to a realiable hosting company. Could you recommend a reliable company that specializes in designing an ecommerce site specifically for selling health products? Thanks a lot for your help Andrew.

    • Andrew says:

      If you’re just getting started, I would highly recommend learning how to build a basic website yourself. It’s the nuts-and-bolts of your business, and if you’re completely dependent on someone else from the get-to, it’s going to be 1) frustrating to make changes 2) expensive.

      Sites like Shopify make it easy to get an eCommerce store online without too much technical knowledge. This is where I’d start.

  7. What a great story. This is exactly what I want to achieve too. Did you sell some of the sites or just keep them all and expand your staff to manage them? Congratulations and keep up the good work for you and your family.

    I have subscribed to your newsletter. I’m sure reading your blog will teach me a thing or two. Can’t wait to start on the e-book.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Owen!

      I’ve never sold any of my sites – they are all run by my team members both in the U.S. and abroad. I hope you find the eBook useful and thanks for subscribing! Best of luck with your new furniture site, too.

  8. Tuan Nguyen says:

    Thank you for your story. It inspires me much. I am a web developer and now I want to try with e-commerce stuff. I hope I will discover more cool things from your site. If I have question, may I send it to you for advice?

    Wish you all the bests with your family and business.

    • Andrew says:

      Hey Tuan! I’m happy to answer specific question via email. Just see the ‘About’ page for my contact info…

  9. Christina says:

    I love real life stories like this – I’m going through a bit of a mid-life need to change course after nearly 30 years as a number cruncher with one company – I still love it – but I also dream of building something bigger for my empty nest years (youngest starts 11th grade in the fall) I’ve got a business partner who specializes in SEO and has turned me on to internet marketing and copy writing and I’ve been intrigued at the potential. We are dabbling right now trying to figure out what we want to do exactly. Just downloaded the ebook and will read it this week. I’m sure I’ll have questions afterwards!

    Thanks again for being willing to share your knowledge.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the comment and best of luck with your new venture! I hope the eBook will be helpful….

  10. James says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it just brought a smile to my face. You are who I want to be!
    I have just read your ebook and like you I read 4hr work week by Tim Ferriss (awesome book!) and dreamt of a better life. I’ve quit my job and following in your footsteps and following your advice in your ebook. I am just about to start making my website. I have my products decided and in the next few weeks I’m going to learn as much as I can about SEO and online marketing. I just had one question, how long do you think it will take on average for a sale to occur from the time of opening the site? Also how long should I wait before I give up? Ideally I don’t want to give up and I want to tweak the website and try as many different methods of online marketing as possible until I’m successful but realistically speaking I have about 4 months to start seeing some progress, and if that doesn’t happen I’ll be back looking for a job. So should I focus all of those 4 months on this one site? Spend 2 months on one and give up if I see no progress and try another? or try to make multiple sites simultaneously?

    Any advice will help!

    Thanks Andrew

    • Andrew says:

      James,

      Congratulations on quitting your job and diving in! I’m excited for you! Having 4 months is a bit of a blessing in disguise as it will motivate you to work like crazy, and help you prioritize things. Here are my recommendations.

      1) I would take 2 weeks to build a store with Shopify. It doesn’t need to be beautiful or perfect. Use the stock, manufacturer descriptions. Have your prices be very competitive. And put a HUGE phone number on it, and start driving traffic via PPC. All of these things we will change later, but you have three goals for the first month:

      - Learn about your customers
      - Learn about your products
      - See if the niche is one that gets a lot of commercial traction

      If you’re not making many sales with low prices and paid traffic, that’s a bad sign. But if you’ve been generating some decent sales, there’s a great chance the market is viable. So, after a month of learning as much as you can, I’d invest another 2-4 weeks in improving your store. Write outstanding descriptions for your top 1o to 20 products. Take some pictures. Raise your prices a bit. Try to add value. And then cut back on the PPC ads and start working on SEO and marketing to boost your long-term traffic and profits.

      Best of luck!

      • James says:

        Thanks for the speedy response Andrew! I’ll do as u said and see how it goes. I’m really grateful that you took time out of your busy schedule to reply to us and help us on our journey. I have shared your eBook with several people and will continue to do so. Thanks Andrew. BTW, do you do any personal coaching? It would be great if I can have a mentor or someone to email with queries and get some advice every now and then. There are a few questions i’d like to ask but not in such a public forum so if you do coaching please email me and let me know if you’re available and your rates.

        Thanks for everything mate!

        • Andrew says:

          Unfortunately, due to a number of projects/businesses, I’m not offering personal coaching or consulting at this time – I’m sorry! As always, I’ll try to keep the content on this blog as useful as possible and love hearing about potential ideas/topics you’d like covered in future posts. Additionally, I’m happy to answer a specific question or two via email so feel free to drop me a line.

        • Andrew says:

          Also, thanks for sharing the eBook! I really appreciate it!

  11. Hello Andrew,

    My nephew (a programmer in Seattle area) sent me to your website to help give me ‘food for thought’ in kicking off my e-commerce site. I am having trouble finding dropshippers that carry quality products…or just haven’t discovered them yet. I want to have items to stock a kitchen from scratch, the must haves, to those of a well stocked kitchen, the want haves. ( Want Haves, L.L.C.) I want my site to be middle range…affordable yet quality. Is that too broad?

    You ARE an inspiration. I HAD to leave my career due to a disabling illness and miss it so much. I have always wanted something of my own, something I love. Since I wasn’t able to get out and about (Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and just became a Cancer Survivor) the internet has been my sole means for over four years now. It feels so right for me, since I am a buyer on many, many, many sites. This is an exciting new venture that I am committing to . I appreciate any tips you can share. I will continue to follow you and your followers… all very inspiring!

    Regards,
    Holly Stringham

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the comment Holly! And I’m sorry to hear about your illness.

      In terms of tips, I have a lot to say and try to offer as much as possible here on the blog. Especially if you’ve read through the eBook, you’ll have a great start. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

  12. James says:

    Your story is an inspiration to me and my current business. I quit my corporate job a few years back, despite being successful at it, to start business on my own online. I’ve sold thousands of e-books about 10 years ago, and a few years ago, decided to be a fully online business after realizing what a mistake it was for me to continue working at my day job. Online is certainly where it’s at, and the future for e-commerce is bright. Great read.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks James! Glad to hear things have worked out for you online, too. There’s a ton of potential with online business – I love it. Best of luck.

  13. Johnnie says:

    Hi Andrew,

    This is Jon and I was surfing online and landed this post. Amazing story and I can definitely relate to you. I am also in investment banking, I also read the 4 Hour Week and followed it’s path and took the leap of faith. Similarly, planned for the escape and in the last 6 months started a website called http://www.connectsclub.com (check it out if you have time), on the side I am also planning to start an eCommerce site so I will download your copy to take a look!

    • Andrew says:

      Great to meet another former IB! Tried to check out your site, but it seemed to be down.

      Best of luck with the new eCommerce site!

  14. Amery says:

    Hi Andrew, Thanks for all the great info. What do you think about ecommerce do it yourself sites like Volusion or shopify? I’m under the impression that building your own ecommerce website might be better in the long run.

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Amery!

      I think shopping carts like Volusion and Shopify are great tools, and a great way to get a store up-and-running quickly. For 99.9% of new store owners, I think building a store completely from scratch would be a waste of time and resources, and time that would be much better spent on marketing.

  15. Your story mirrors so many of my i-banking classmates from business school. They chase the brass ring (and try to stem the tide of student loans) at the loss of their humanity. Eventually, you learn that the chase isn’t worth it and that the marginal utility of that extra dollar really isn’t worth it. Ironically enough, once you embrace how you want to live your life (as opposed to the “chase your passion” advice columns), you find ways to enable it.

    Do you know Derek from http://www.socialtriggers.com or Lea from http://www.locationindependent.com? It sounds like you’d have a lot in common with both of them; I’m happy to do introductions for you.

    Your story resonates a lot with me; thanks for putting it out there!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jason! You’re dead-on about the marginal utility of the extra dollar. They’ve found that once people make over a certain amount – I think it’s around $60K to $70K – their increase in happiness is not related to income, but to other non-financial elements of their time.

      Don’t know Derek or Lea, but will definitely check out their sites and I appreciate the offer for an intro – thanks! May take you up on it. ;-)

  16. Michael says:

    The thing that really resonated with me was the girlfriend 9 hours away. How often did you all see each other or speak to each other? It must have been tough.

    • Andrew says:

      It was tough! We still wonder sometimes how we managed to make it through 2.5 years of a long-distance relationship. If we were lucky, we’d get to see each other once ever 5 to 6 weeks. When I was really busy, that often stretched to 7 or 8. But she’s an amazing girl, and it was totally worth it. :-)

  17. Vu says:

    Hi Andrew

    It is difficult for me to set up a business online in my country because of the lack of logistic system and online payment. Could you give me any ideas about products which is suitable for e-commerce?

    Thanks,
    Vu

    • Andrew says:

      Vu,

      There’s a lot of that goes into picking an eCommerce product, and I’d recommend picking up my free eBook which discusses the topic in detail. And while I don’t have personal experience selling internationally (outside the U.S.), I’ve been getting a lot of requests for this type of information and will be researching and writing about it in the future. Thanks for your comment!

  18. Deepak Agarwal says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Looking for some suggestions and help here.

    I am a supplier to few of the Drop-ship model based e-coms in India.
    The major problem I’m facing is that it requires me to Invoice the customers individually which is a burden for me as a manufacturer. If I go for: “Bill To: Ecom party and Ship to: Customer” – is it lawful? and then again, I’ll need to send invoices to each customer. How’s that possible?

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
    If you’re available on email or instant messengers, please inform.

    Regards,
    Deepak

    • Andrew says:

      Unfortunately, as someone who isn’t familiar with manufacturing processes or the Indian legal system I can’t offer much helpful advice. I’m sorry!

  19. Your story is a great inspiration for all!!!

  20. Thurman Chisholm says:

    I am very happy that I found your information online. From reading your materials you seem like a really nice, down to earth guy who is not working to resell the Brooklyn Bridge to readers. This is SO refreshing! My sister is retired and so am I but we have strong interest in opening some type of business, ecommerce is it for us. The thought of signing a lease for a brick and mortar building scares us. I downloaded your ebook and look forward to reading and learning from it. The best to you and your company.

  21. Andrew, good job on writing the book! I love how you share the tips about Google ad words, very-very valuable information and I feel like this was a very important part that not many “guides” share. I wish there was a more affordable way to invest into the Drop Shipping listing, I know that Googlin’ is an option, but so far I did not have much luck with it for my niche I am thinking… Do you think it’s a possibility to buy WordWide Guide with someone else who is interested in ecommerce?

    Thanks, Roman

    • Andrew says:

      I’m pretty sure WWB “official” policy is that you can’t share accounts, but you’d have to check with them.

      Glad you enjoyed the eBook!

  22. Nick Ling says:

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing and inspirational story. Not to mention for taking time to share your knowledge, wisdom and experience through your blog. Thank you so much, your book is awesome and I enjoy reading and learing from your blog posts. You’re a champion, thanks again Andrew!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Nick! Appreciate the comment, and glad you’re enjoying the blog! I’ll do my best to keep it useful going forward. Best of luck!

  23. Louli says:

    oh WOW, I am so fortunate I found you! Great story! — after trolling away in a long career in NYC law firms and private equity I totally can relate with the work week hours that never end. Last December, I was almost PUSHED from the corporate world (not that I minded) by a car accident and neck injury that’s kept me out this long, so first thing I did was pick up Tim Ferris’ book and start reading! I am determined not to go back to that prison!! I invested in a brick and mortar shop first, and quickly realized that’s not gonna cut it…retail is like watching paint dry after the pace with which we have lived…….so August 1st, I hopped on Shopify and started building my niche little site for monogrammed gifts! Just two days ago, without any marketing and an unfinished site (in my opinion) I actually had my first sale!! Like you mentioned, I’m through the roof with excitement! It quickly has me back in the saddle and ready to perfect my site, officially launch and start marketing! I guess that is how I just found you…. I need all the guidance and help I can get! Just got your ebook and plan to read everything you’ve written…thank you for being a great resource who has ‘been there done that’ !!

    • Andrew says:

      Congratulations on your new store, and especially on your first sale – that’s fantastic!!! Best of luck, and I hope the resources here on the blog are helpful as you continue to grow your business.

  24. Monica says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Congratulations on your eBook-55 pages wow… I can’t wait to read it. Also I’m very excited to have found your blog on IBM. I have an eCommerce website(camping gear) that needs much attention. My husband and I started http://www.yourplaceinthewoods not knowing a thing, nor spending enough time with it. We are learning as we go and are ready to put our store in-gear(no pun intended) so we too can use the internet to make a living for ourselves.
    We were thinking about taking a different route from eCommerce, but with your new eBook and blog site, we probably can start another store with a more specific brand and have a better insight of what we are doing. Thank you so much for all your help, can’t wait to read more!

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Monica! Hope the eBook and blog are useful as you’re considering re-vamping and/or launching a new site. Best of luck…

  25. lucky says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I’m from Indonesia
    Glad to find your blog and free ebook, those very inspired me..open my eyes to new insight. I fairly loosing my idea to find the best way to make money online. I’ll be watching your suggestion further more..WWB has a good concept than I ever known

  26. Jenny says:

    Hey Andrew,

    Great story- it´s very inspiring! I´m ready to get started on my online business as I´ve got a couple of product ideas in mind. I´ve been reading a lot about using Worldwide Brands ($299) to source products and wanted to ask for your opinion on it. Is it necessary/worth the price?

    Thanks in advance,
    Jenny

    • Andrew says:

      Jenny,

      WWBs was one of my first investments when I got started, and how I found my first supplier. If you’re serious about eCommerce, I think it’s a good tool to have and can recommend the service. Congrats on getting started and best of luck!

  27. vinodh says:

    Hi,
    your life story is inspiring . I am eager to read your ebook.
    I subscribed and will thoroughly go thru it for knowledge.
    I am from india. I got your website for a seo related search phrase.
    Thanks a lot for the search status plugin.
    regards
    vinodh

  28. vinodh says:

    Your ebook is GREAT. I am going to apply the concepts to a niche to learn ecommerce hands on.
    regards
    Vinodh

  29. Susan says:

    Hi Andrew:
    really glad you share so much info for free!
    For someone who is not computer savvy, would you recommend Shopify or Big Commerce?
    I like that BC has all in one approach.
    Thank you!

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Susan! From what I’ve heard from others, Shopify is a bit simpler to setup with better themes but Big Commerce has a more dynamic feature set. So it really depends on what your goals are. However, if you’re not really computer savvy, I’d probably recommend Shopify.

  30. Jeffrey says:

    Hi Andrew, It is amazing how similiar your decision making process was to mine to quit your job. I am based in Johannesburg, South Africa and have been toying around with eCommerce for two years without much success due to demands from my corporate job at the end of 2012 I decided to call it quits with enough savings to cover my monthly expenses. I am now on the journey to find out what niche would be profitable and finding suitable products for the niche. I downloaded the ebook and are busy going through it.

    Thanks for great and inspirational post, it will really keep me motivated that I am not insane to start a online shop and that hard- and smart work will pull me through.

    • Andrew says:

      Congrats on quitting your job, and in saving up to do it – that’s awesome! Best of luck to you as you’re considering your options for eCommerce.

  31. Johany says:

    thank you so much im a single mommy im really young i will try to do my best to do an online store for women appeal

  32. Erin Kroll says:

    Hi Andew! I love your blog. I’m a wedding and lifestyle photographer located in Portland, Maine. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on service vs product nitche. Can photographers and services providers experience the same success online if they offer services?

    • Andrew says:

      Glad you’re enjoying it Erin!

      I think it’s definitely possible to do well with service, it’s just a different model. The advantages are that it’s probably easier to generate cashflow early on, but it’s more difficult to scale. With eCommerce, once I have traffic coming in and a solid website, it’s fairly easy to hire a team to manage the business for me. With service businesses like photography, it’s still possible to do but harder to outsource as much of your offering is wrapped up in your talent – which is required for each shoot! So you can definitely do well, it’s just a different model.

      Hope this helps!

  33. Nassib says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Great read! Thanks for the inspiration. I would like to get in touch with you personally for some consultation. Can you please contact me on my email? Thank you.

    Nassib

  34. Adam Hunter says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I read your ebook and found it very helpful and filled with practical advice that I can actually use. Congratulations on all of your success.

    For 10 years I ran a small advertising agency with 4 employees. Although I struggled for years, I was unable to grow the business. My business wasn’t losing money. It paid for my house and a modest lifestyle. But it didn’t seem like the amount of stress was worth the reward and my business model felt flawed. I finally decided to pull the plug on this business and try something different. This was quite a shock to the system because I had identified myself with my business for so long. Not knowing what to do, I took a job with a software company were I made good money, but I eventually decided it wasn’t working out and quit. After letting all of what had happened to me digest and sink in, I decided I want to open ecommerce stores and eventually live my dream of extended travel and scuba diving all over the world. Currently, I am working as a freelance consultant with some of my clients from my past business while I plan my first ecommerce store. I came across your book and was really impressed by it. I feel it gave me exactly the advice that I need right now. Thank you for providing this excellent information. I really appreciate it.

    Kind Regards,

    Adam

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for sharing, Adam! Sounds like you’ve been through a pretty challenging road. Best of luck with your new eCommerce store and I hope the blog and eBook are helpful!

    • Charles says:

      Be very careful before you launch into a new ecommerce venture. The market has changed over the past 12-18 months.

      First, it is significantly harder to gain a presence via PPC and/or organic SEO. Second, it is essential to have either unique product or curated product where your curation adds value. If you do not, you will lose to Amazon. Amazon offers cheaper product and faster delivery than you can. Period.

      Third, if your product is sourced from Asia, be aware that Alibaba, the Chinese marketplace is now launching worldwide. As a result, you can increasingly buy direct from China ta fraction of the price. In addition, Alibaba shipping costs via Fedex are a fraction of what you can negotiate due to their massive volumes. Again, you lose without unique or curated product. While few people will buy direct from China today….in 12-18 months it is entirely possible that they will do.

      Fourth, make sure you are able to manage all the social media assets such as Facebook, Blogs, Pinterest, Twitter etc since customer acquisition is increasingly moving on to social media and away from basic online search. This means hiring someone or more likely, some people to manage such disparate social media assets not to mention the basics such as SEO and PPC.

      Fifth, putting Amazon aside, make sure you can ship same day which means having large inventory or miraculous relationships with all your suppliers.

      Pu the above together and you should understand that launching an internet venture with any degree of success beyond the Mom & Pop stage requires significantly more capital , both financial and human, than was required just a couple of years ago. You have been warned!

      In other words,

      • Andrew says:

        Charles – Quite the sunny outlook on the eCommerce market! :-)

        But in seriousness, I agree with you on many of your points. Paid traffic is much more expensive then it use to be, and I think it’s crucial to add value somewhere along the line (through a unique product or best-in-class training). However, I disagree regarding needing to manage a plethora of social media sites. I’ve managed to build a number of businesses without heavily relying on social media, and while they’re a great tool for interacting with existing customers I don’t think they’re 100% required to build a business. They can be a great channel, to be sure, but are not mandatory. I also think focusing on the one network that best fits your customer demographic (Facebook, Pinterest, etc) is a much better strategy than doing a mediocre job on half a dozen networks.

        But ultimately I think with a unique product/value-add, a lot of marketing and great customer service it’s still possible for individuals to launch profitable eCommerce businesses. Thanks for making the well thought-out points, and congratulations on (what I’m assuming is your) microscope business. Looks like a great site in a solid niche!

        Best of luck!

  35. Ali says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I came a cross your blog and LOVED IT!!! I’m RN and have no clue about e-commerce business, but I want to start my own business and be free from my 9-5 job. I have 4 kids that I want to spend more time with. Thank you for your e-book, I can’t stop reading it. I know, I want an internet business special e-commerce and I’m working on my niche. It’s hard to find an honest person willing to share ideas, so thank you for the e-book.

    What would you suggest as far researching products to sell? Can you be contacted via Email?

    Thanks in advance!!

    • Andrew says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the blog! I’d recommend my eBook as a great starting point for research products to sell online – but you’ve obviously started reading it. :-) I can be contacted for email – see the ‘Contact’ page here on the blog.

      Best of luck!

  36. Emma Watkins says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I can’t tell you how much I got out of your story. I’ve spent the last 5 years advising entrepreneurs on setting up an e-commerce business (I work for a cart software provider in the UK) I’ve wanted to start my own business for sometime and start putting into action some of the advice I give out!

    I’ve been teetering on the edge trying to decide where to go for it. I’ve got myself in a good position and am just looking for suppliers. But I’ve read so many stories of failure that I was having serious doubts. Your story has shown me that I’m not wrong it is a good idea worth investing in. My specialty is e-commerce SEO so if anyone can make it work surely I can!!

    Thanks again, Emma

    • Andrew says:

      Nice to meet you, and thanks for sharing your experience in the industry! You’re right – if anyone can make this happen, you should be able to with your experience in SEO and eCommerce. Sounds like you’ve got a stellar foundation to start from. Best of luck with your future plans and thanks for reading!

  37. Kira Sue says:

    Great, inspiring post! And hee hee on the picture. I think this calls for a tangential, but still relevant post on ways to cut costs while saving for launch. I think every independent has a story like keeping the college car, selling their fancy mountain bike, switching from expensive meat to rice and beans…little stuff adds up.

    By the way…good looking blog.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Kira! The little stuff does add up. Working hard + not spending tons = money in the bank. Glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  38. Courtney McCrory says:

    Andrew you are my hero. I am in the research/learning and niche searching stage of the game, and gleaned so much stealth, sound advice from you so far. You are a true humanitarian for sharing your personal story and offering such valuable wisdom. I am keepin’ the old Kia and building a start up fund! What is your affiliation with Shopify, if I may be so bold to ask? I picked them for my store, and I think they are great so far. My friend recommended it and its making his life much easier and profitable. Anyway thanks for all you do! Your wife is a very lucky lady, I might add.

    • Andrew says:

      Keeping the old Kia – I love it! My affiliation with Shopify? I write for them on a semi-regular basis on their blog (as well as help with occasional projects here and there), but I haven’t yet had the chance to use their platform to launch a store. Hope to do that in the near future.

      Best of luck building your start-up fund, and with your new store.

  39. Emmanuel says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Your story has inspired me to take positive action. I have very viable ideas (some of which I’ve seen others implement before my very eyes) but keeping myself motivated has been the issue.

    I know that’s all changing…

    Thanks

  40. Regina says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for sharing your story which is inspirational and motivating. Seven months ago, I was terminated because of a reduction in force; I was notified 5pm on Monday, July 30, 2012 that my last day would be Tuesday, July 31, 2012. You had an option to leave, but the decision was made for me. Since that time I have been trying to find wholesalers and drop shippers that specialize in large size women shoes. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for the eBook.
    Regina

    • Andrew says:

      Sorry to hear about the layoff – I’m sure that is / was difficult. In terms of finding wholesale suppliers, I’d recommend seeing the section on finding suppliers in the eBook, as well as the video I did previously on the blog titled ‘Finding Wholesale Suppliers’.

      Best of luck!

  41. Hello there.
    Your blog and eCommerce book is amazing. It is informative and practical and addresses the issues that I have found hard to get answers for from other sources.
    Could you answer this question please. ….I have found that a lot of manufacturers not only make their own products but sell them via their own eCommerce site and high street store. They are happy for you to start your own site and sell their products but I can’t help thinking that there may be a conflict in interests down the line. They could stop supplying you for example if they felt that they wanted to be the sole supplier of a particular product or they may be able to make more profit selling direct.
    I wondered what your thoughts were on this and if your suppliers sell through their own site. Maybe i am focusing too much on this at the moment . It would be great to hear from you.

    Thanks again
    Matthew

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Matt!

      Great question, and I think it really depends on how dependent you are on that one manufacturer. If they supply the majority of your products – or ALL of your products – I’d be very leery of getting into that niche as you’re in a very risk position. But if you have a number of other products you’re selling alongside them from other manufacturers then I think it’s less of a deal breaker.

      Hope this helps!

  42. Andrew Claremont says:

    I share your name and also your views, and now I’m looking up to you as my inspiration. I’m on the road to starting my own ecommerce apparel store and your advice is of great help.

  43. Ryan Cruz says:

    What a very inspiring story Andrew. I’ve downloaded your ebook and would definitely start reading it. Thanks for sharing your story here.

  44. Sven says:

    Hi Andrew,

    just downloaded your ebook. Thanks for sharing! Awesome that you share one of your shops in a FREE blogpost too. Highly appreciate it. Bought a bunch of info-products related to dropshipping and they won’t disclose one of their projects for sure… So chances are that I stay on your list and visit your blog from time to time, haha.

    Have more then 10 years IM experience under my belly and will start out my own dropshipping business soon. Doing freelance sucks. I need something new!

    Best and thanks
    Sven

    • Andrew says:

      You’re welcome, Sven! I think it’s important to share so you know I actually am not just full of hot air. :-) Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the note.

  45. Leticia says:

    Hi Andrew
    I just came across to your ecommercefuel site at 3:35a.m. (this is how despert I am in my research) and it has been very enlightening. Fist of all, your story is very inspiring for someone like me that did also quit her job 8 month ago. I was belittle, scream at, humiliated several times and in top of that, after working for long enough in that company, the position I have been waiting for was given to a friend of the new boss. It was the worse company I have ever work for in my life. I think with God’s help there are and will be better things for me and my family in the future.
    I have always wanted to sell woman clothings, shoes, acesories etc. But I have never been able to have enough money to open a store. Well, three weeks ago, I was sitting in my couch thinking we will need have enough money to pay some late bills soon, our son is going to college in two years, my daughter in four, my husband had worked soooo hard for soooo many years it will be nice for him to take a break and be able to travel, plus he is dievetic and needs to get in a better health situation. So I though, I could go and get a job, or start a business on the internet but what? how? when? Then a lighting ball came up, what if I sell stuff from wholesaler for little money and start a business on the Internet, so I started looking for wholesalers, but the word dropshipers came across. So after talking with my husband about it he agreed and gave me some ideas about a website. My husband happens, to have lots experience in lounching website for big retailers like Macy’s, JCpenny and others so he is making me a one. I will really apretiate any ideas. About the niche, I feel that women clothing, accessories are cover every where and I’m concern that I won’t see to much business coming in. I thought like you about another website idea but again not sure. Do you recommend something that isn’t that common or fashion will do fine? So far I have one wholeseller but still I want a diversify website.

    • Andrew says:

      Glad you’re enjoying the content, Leticia!

      In terms of a niche, I unfortunately can’t tell you definitively if a fashion site will work well, or not – there’s just too many variables including how well you market and execute it. But I wish you the best of luck as you’re picking and launching your new venture! Please let me know when you do get your new business off the ground…

  46. Ash says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I think your one of the very few people online who are genuine. Most people just want your money, whereas you help people and dedicate your own time for free. Im really happy for your success and I plan on following your route to success and I would be grateful if you could help me along the way. Im currently out of job and desperate to make some money ad improve and make a success of myself. I have tried a few things online and it turned out that they were a scam. I have done some research on drop shipping and it interest me greatly. I have already ordered your free book and hope to get some help of you in this e-commerce business!

  47. Leticia says:

    What a great book. I couldn’t put it down. I just finish it. It was a big help for someone like me that is starting very soon a business over the internet. I definitely need it.

    Thank You Andrew!!

  48. Tim Franklin says:

    Right off the bat, I hate my job. I googled drop shipping and your name was right at the top, so you must be doing something right. If drop shipping can get me freedom and even a modest income, I’d be eternally grateful. I know it’s hard work, I expect that. But just looking for a plan I can a foundation to a better life. I hope to look back at this post a year from now and feel a great change has been made.

  49. Sash says:

    Hello Andrew,

    Your story’s first half is my story till your mother lost all hope. Well, I pulled myself and now after quieting my corporate 100 hours/week low wage job. I am not in export-import international business with the help of my 2 eCommerce website (General & Health).

    I thank you for posting real life experience, which makes individuals motivates to be successful and profitable. Yes, start-ups requires to be focused in their goals.

    I would ask you add, “Trust” in your ebook. Diversify your objectives to reduce risks and trust. If you will not trust yourself, no one else will be.

    I remember Arnold Schwarzenegger, told in his speech, too his mother did not had trust on him, ever. When he took her to his room to show images of bodybuilders and wrestler.

    Well, I am in SEO targeting phase and shall be in order, this month.

    Best Wishes to you and your family.

    -Sash

  50. Kris says:

    Hi Andrew,

    So much of what you’ve written here speaks to me. I completely agree with all the other posts above, you are truly an inspiration and obviously a very humble person to be sharing such important information. I am in the research stage of my business. I stumbled upon your site as I was trying to figure out how businesses handle dropshipping from multiple suppliers. It seemed to baffle me. I can hardly wait to read your e-book.

    In any regards, the kicker came to me a few days ago when my hubby said “You’re the one with the business degree and are scared to start a business. People have no background in business and can be very successful”. Fear is truly my enemy, but knowledge will guide me through the rough waters….Thank you, Andrew!

  51. Andrew says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I found out about your ebook from The Fastlane Forum. What a fantastic read!

    I’m still going through it (up to SEOmoz bit) and I have gotten heaps out of it so far. The information you have included would usually be part of a paid ebook.

    I’m also listening to your interview on the Build My Online Store podcast which has great content. Your voice and they way you speak really reminds me of Jay from Internet Business Mastery.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the great info. And keep up the great work!

    Another Andrew

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks, Andrew! Glad you’re getting some value out of the book, and I appreciate your comment. I’ll take the Jay comparison as a compliment, too. :-)

  52. Kim says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Just found your site today! I look forward to reading your eBook and I’ve also followed you on FB and Twitter :)

    I am currently researching opportunities to start my own eCommerce site. Man, trying to decide on a niche is tough! Rather than building an eCommerce site though I was considering selling only on Amazon through their FBA program. Do you have any thoughts on that? Have you sold your items on Amazon? If not, why?

    Thanks for sharing your story! Blogs like these are the best kind.

    Kim

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks for the follows, Kim!

      I’ve personally never sold on Amazon, and have a few hesitations about it. But I do think it can be a viable channel for selling products from an existing, independent store. I’d be pretty wary of relying solely on Amazon as your method of sales. Anytime you build a business solely around someone else’s platform and (more importantly) traffic, it’s risky.

      But combined with an independent store that you’re marketing and building a brand around, I think it could be a solid component of your strategy.

      Best of luck!

  53. Notice the tense you used! Past tense about building successful businesses. Twelve months ago Facebook was irrelevant to ecommerce sales. Now look at Country Outfitters, for example with 5.3mm Likes and most sales derived from social media.

    The point is that you must be ready to compete in all channels whatever they are ‘tomorrow’. It is grossly over simplistic to advise focusing on one alone and a disservice to potential new entrepreneurs. It is no longer as easy as it used to be.

    • Andrew says:

      I disagree. Trying to compete in all channels for any type of business is a sure way to fail. I think depending solely on one channel is very risk and foolish, but trying to be all things to all people is impossible. It’s important to focus on the top 2-3 most effective ways your business can reach an audience and really excel at those. If you try to have an amazing presence on every social network, incredible SEO, top-notch PPC, a stunning media/branding campaign and more you’re going to be spread too thinly.

      I’ve built numerous businesses focusing on a handful of very successfully tactics, ensuring they were done well, and ignoring strategies that didn’t tie into my business plan. Again, I don’t advocate putting all your eggs in one basket – that’s too risky. But the only thing worse is trying to juggle 20 baskets at once.

  54. Barb Trainer says:

    Hi Andrew .

    I downloaded your ebook, a couple of weeks ago. I have read it and refer back to it often. I have also followed many paths from your book, but I seem to be missing some thing.

    This is probably the wrong place to ask questions. I need to know how I set up this e commerce store. In the retail I have been in, three different towns and, you go find a vacant location, chase down the owner make the deal. Set up displays bring in your stock. And open for business . There is a little more to it than that. My point is I can’t seem to come up with how to do this on line.

    I know you are very busy so if you could just recommend a web site, or book to send me in the right direction. That would be great. P.S. where does one ask questions? Facebook , twitter, Blogs ???

    Thanks for your ebook, I am sure I will continue to go back to it often . Barb

  55. Steven says:

    Hi Andrew. I have just read your story and it is amazing. I am currently a teenager, and hope to be as successful as you one day. The one obstacle that I have trouble with is coding/programming. I can successfully program/code, however I do not currently have the recourses to create a large scale ecommerce website. So my question is, how did you setup your first ecommerce website. Thank you so much.

    • Andrew says:

      Thanks Steven!

      In today’s environment, getting a store online is the easy part. The hard part is marketing it and building a brand around your store. Sites like Shopify and BigCommerce make it very easy to get your store launched, but when I started I used ZenCart – an open source cart that’s still available.

  56. Josh Pyo says:

    Dear Andrew,

    This is amazing. I just want to applaud to your courage and generosity to share how you became successful in e-commerce field with e-buddies on the internet. I will look forward to learning more about this from your e-book and future relationship with you.

    Thank you!

    Josh

  57. Ronnie Deaver says:

    Is it worth it to have a company design, host, brand, logo, and market your idea for you? Is it worth the capital and less maintence to get better SEO as well as customer satisfaction? Thanks!

    • Andrew says:

      Starting out? I don’t think so. I’d recommend going with a basic theme and logo, and use a site like BigCommerce or Shopify to get your store online quickly. The biggest challenge isn’t the site or graphical side of things – it’s connecting with customers, marketing and offering something of value. THAT’s where you need to spend your time early-on.

      Best of luck!

  58. Anthony says:

    Wow. Your story hits especially close to home with me.

    I did the accounting thing in school, even took the CPA exam. So I pretty much expected to be working insane hours for the rest of my life, and the crazy part is, I never even thought twice about it!

    That kinda changed after my first job and never getting enough sleep. For some reason, when you’re in school it just doesn’t register that getting up super early and working late every day will supremely suck! There just had to be some other way.

    So about 3 months ago, I too read the 4 hour work week on a whim. That was quite possible the most eye opening book I’ve ever read. Since then I’ve been researching online business like a maniac and reading everything related I can get my hands on. I also thought it was hilarious that at about the time I was finishing up Tim Ferriss’ book an investment bank contacted me about coming to interview with them. No way!

    Right now I’m working a part time job and I’ve got a bit of a cash cushion which for me is the ideal while I research and prepare to launch my ecommerce venture. Some of my family and friends think I’m crazy but I know this is something I have to do.

    I’ve been reading through your ebook and I can’t believe you’re just giving it away, there is so much valuable stuff in there. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks and best of luck to you!

    Anthony

    • Andrew says:

      Awesome story, Anthony! And nice work on turning down the banking offer – that can be difficult to do. I know from personal experience. :-)

      Glad you’re getting some quality information from the eBook and I’m excited to see where your research and journey takes you. Please let me know when you finally do get your site live as I’d love to see it!

      Best of luck!

  59. Ronnie Deaver says:

    Oh! Also, awesome blog! Definitely followed you on Facebook! Real quick question on your response though, what if the value I provide stems from something that must b designed into the site? Something that can’t be done in a template and actually defines what makes my site different. How do I go about that? Thanks for your blog and responses!

    • Andrew says:

      In that case, you’d need to create a custom template. But you’ll need to weigh the premium you’ll be able to charge with the added expense of the custom development – it may or may not be worth it.

  60. Azhar says:

    Hi Andrew currently reading your ebook… a lot of juice inside thanks for sharing – really appreciate it

    Anyway for someone like myself in southeast asia where internet and e-commerce (most sell on facebook and blogshops with no dedicated shopping cart) is still at it’s infancy I would say,due to the limitation and awareness of drop shipping what would you advice should I start to buy wholesale?

    I’m selling an evergreen item.

    thanks for the time – sorry for my not-perfect english

    • Andrew says:

      Glad you found it useful, Azhar!

      I’m sorry, but your question is a bit too broad. If you can get a bit more specific, I’ll do my best to answer it.

  61. Tri' says:

    Wow!. Your blog inspired me. Thank you.

    You provided great information for people like myself who know nothing about this ecommerce industry. I do know that I have 14 years experience working hard as a makeup artist in the beauty industry, and now I’d actually like to work the smarter. I’d like to open an online store to sell Makeup. I have my EIN number, seller documents a vision and that’s it. I know the brands of products I’d like to offer, but I’m not sure how to go about buying these items from the manufacturer or locating a drop shipper. I do know that I need a more stable income, and you’re proof that ECommerce works!
    Help!

  62. Vinz says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I was thinking of launching a new ecommerce site and while i’m searching for some source for dropshipping,it just happen that i hop on your blog. And out of nowhere i find myself learning from reading your blog.
    It gives me a lot of ideas on how to start a relatively good business, but to find a good source of products that offer dropshipping is not that easy. Can you advise us on where we can find a good source of manufacturer that offers drop shipping as well?

    Thanks and Regards,

    Vinz

  63. judy bee says:

    Andrew thanks for this article as well as others that you have written. I owned my own business BI (before the internet) I would love to build a business up again, utilizing e commerce. Let me ask you this? How did you decide on the products that you would sell? And from one Armenian to another, thanks, again, Judybee

  64. Firas says:

    Again Really Really Great e-book…….it really gives you soooooo much info and saves you so much time and short cuts… excellent job and we really appreciate all the long long hours that you put into it…..

    Firas.

  65. Greg says:

    “she now had to let friends and family know her son had left the finance world to hawk CB radios via the internet!”
    best line in the article – very funny!.

    The old saying is business was location, location, location and with the internet the new saying should be niche, niche, niche. To me the hardest thing is picking a good niche. You need the right balance of demand without too many competitors.

    Are there any tools or services useful in choosing a niche?

    Do you offer any one on one consulting ?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    Greg

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t at this time, I’m sorry – Greg! In terms of finding a niche, I’d recommend downloading my eBook. It’s a detailed primer, largely on how to pick a great niche market.

      • Greg says:

        I did download your book and went thru it. I have picked five different product ideas and am trying now to locate a supplier. I did find the book helpful!.

        Greg

  66. pappi says:

    Greetings Andrew!
    What an awesome story! Congratulations on your success.
    Thank you so much your information. I bumped into your site by chance. I have been reading and you-tubing so much for ideas to start my own business.(drop shipping on Amazon) I am so glad I found you here. I dont need to keep browsing anymore..You make it so simple and easy to understand. I am totally inspired by your story and your willingness to help others.
    Thank you for your time and all your valuable info. I cannot wait to read you ebook.
    Best wishes to you!

  67. Naeem says:

    Andrew,

    I just want to say! This is Great and many Congrats!

  68. Tham says:

    Hi Andrew,

    As a newbie in this e-commerce field, you are an inspiration to me. I struggling to decide if I should do this full time as my day job consumes a lot of my time.

  69. Kimfedy says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I am so please to meet you. I met you through the brown box formula training course which I am currently on. I just read your story a while ago and what gets me really excited is the fact that you said you have a great team that helps you with your business, meaning you were able to set up a structure to help you while you had a nice time with your wife. I’ve been thinking about how to get a team because I’ve got great business plans and ideas and I know I won’t be able to do it all by myself. I still have my job. I’m just about to build my very first site, http://www.deluxegiftssupplies.com. I’m excited and will visit your site often from now on to get info. Please point me out to resources that will help me as I go along, organize a great team for my businesses. I would really appreciate this. I work as a missionary and need extra income to fund the various charity projects I do. I need to be able to successfully combine my missionary work and the businesses. Thanks.

  70. Hi Andrew, I’ve only recently come across your good self via the Shopify blog. Your story is fantastic, well done for getting to where you are now! I own a few ecommerce businesses including an agency set up to help retailers sell more, it’s very liberating when you see success. Out of interest, would you like to guest post on our blog webtise.co.uk/blog? I think your story and expert advice would be a great fit. Thanks for all the awesome content on this site too btw! D

  71. derell geide says:

    Hello Andrew.

    Fantastic article. Thanks so much for writing it – i’m sure you’re giving insight and help to thousands of aspiring drop shippers. Congratulations on creating a beautiful lifestyle for yourself.

    I’m seriously thinking of starting an commerce/dropshipping business. My question to you is: do you have any tips/suggestions/advice on how to best go about selling a “kit” online that comprises of 5-6 different existing products (and therefore different manufacturers/distributors)?

    My idea is to source the 5-6 different existing products, repackage them in a beautifully designed container, make and include a “how-to” DVD, and then resell online.

    Do you have any experience in sourcing various products, getting them repackaged, and dropshipping them without needing to buy inventory, or having lots of different orders to different vendors/suppliers?

    Thank you kindly in advance, and all the very best to you.

    Derell Geide

    • Andrew says:

      Derell,

      Glad you enjoyed it! Doing what you want from a drop shipping perspective would be difficult if all the products are sourced from different places. If you could find one supplier that carries them all, it might be feasible. But if you need to source all the items from multiple suppliers the shipping costs and logistics could be complex to try to automate. Sounds like you might need to stock the items at that point to accomplish what you want in a cost-effective manner.

      Good luck!

  72. Ashish says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Liked your Ebook very much, was eager to know about your Stores. Can you please send me its addresses.

    Thank you very much for your hardwork.

    I have added your ebook to my facebook.

    Regards,
    Ashish
    (Delhi, India)

  73. Kimann says:

    Congratulations, I Love your story and your rise to success with all of your e-commerce businesses, very inspiring and the traveling part of your story was amazing as I love to travel and I hope that one day I will be able to do more of that myself!

    I actually just started this last month by clicking on an advertisement that had Amanda Bradley (I think if I remember correctly) showing how to post links for income so I clicked on that and then got into making money from home on the internet. I had been taking notes and watching some videos and calling to talk with a specialist to get started.

    From there I ended up with a different department and I have now invested over $4,000 for a continued coaching and training for a 6 month or so period which teaches multiple streams of income in the e-commerce field (very informative). This past week I spoke with another department and they wanted anywhere from $1,000-$3,000 to build me a website but I could pay a small amount on a monthly payment plan. Wish me luck because I am really concerned about that decision that I made and I still even did the download for your e-book which I want to say I really appreciate you offering that at no charge and I look forward to reading it.

    I say this because the value that can be placed on the wealth of information from personal hands on experience one has can and does happen in more cases than not become a money making tool it self! So, especially with this dive I just took with all of that money up front for education which I know there are some tax advantages to a home based business but it is a lot to take on upfront and of course I just started learning and I am not making income yet but I am so overwhelmed and on information overload!

    No seriously though, I am already a partner in another business and I have an 18 month old with me 24/7 which does make it a little hard to focus on the computer all day long (and two teenagers), so any advice you have for me is greatly appreciated! P.S. I read through almost all the blog posts too and I think that your story, experience and level of communication is very valuable to so many people everywhere, so again thanks for sharing!

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Kimann! Thanks for sharing. My advice to you? I hope this doesn’t come across poorly but I’d slow down and stop spending money so quickly. Is the coaching a good value? Perhaps. But from where you’re at, I think it’d be beneficial to invest a bit more time in learning on your own. Then, when you have an idea of what you really want to do you can move forward slowly. I’d recommend doing most things yourself first (like building a basic website) and THEN outsourcing them. With Shopify.com, you can easily build a site for $25 / month – not $3,000 – and you’ll know how to update it.

      Hope this helps and best of luck!

      Andrew

  74. Hey Andrew,

    I have always wanted to start an eCommerce business. I knew that the internet was going to take off in a big way back in the mid-ninety’s. I took a shot at it in 2007 and ended up getting ripped off by a group with a lot of hype. Yes, I fell for it. I wanted so much to start a business but knew nothing about keyword/competition analysis, content, analytics, seo…etc.

    Well to make a long story short…I started the eCommerce site on a part time basis about a year and a half ago. After a lot of work, a lot of trial and error, especially in finding the right store hosting company that would have the ability within their system to support multiple drop-shippers, I am in eCommerce land up to my ears. We are in a highly competitive industry, however after our due diligent analysis we believe we have a shot.

    Your story is inspiring, I know, I can relate and then some. I downloaded your ebook at the end of last year and due to so much going on around me, it is now that I get to sit and read your ebook, I too have giving up my position, I have been in the IT industry, to pursue the dream of being involved on the internet doing business. Your story has re-inspired me to sit and read your eBook.

    There are still some parts of this learning process that I do not have a complete understanding, so I hope you would not mind if I would, if future posting/communication, ask a question or two. I have been in the work force for the last 40 years, I have had enough of working for someone else. The eCommerce business is my dream of retirement, to have a relatively lucrative business that can be operated from anywhere in the world, as long as one has an internet connection and a phone. So, my congratulations for your courageous plunge into the Internet Marketing world. I am sure a lot of hard work went into it, and, thank you for sharing your experience. I am sure it is helping a lot of people that are going through the same experiences.

    Regards

    Timothy W. Rodriguez

    • Andrew says:

      Sorry to hear about the unfortunate times back in 2007, and I wish you the best as you’re gearing up again. Good luck, Tim!

  75. Katy Melancon says:

    Hello Andrew,

    I’m building my first ecommerce right now and reading your story was so inspiring for me! You can’t imagine how useful your ebook was for me. I will keep it forever as I want to know all the strategies and methods by heart.

    People that are opening a new ecommerce without having your ebook as a ressoure are missing something important!

    Thank you so much for sharing all this knowledge with your public. This is an amazing gift you are giving us all!

    Sorry for my English, I’m a French speaker.

    Continue your good job! I’m sure I won’t be the only one to follow you!

    Thank you again!

    Katy

  76. Melanie says:

    I’ve been listening to your podcast since episode 1 and it truly is inspiring. I’m now in the process of building my first site and I will surely re-read this post whenever I need the boost in the coming weeks/months.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  77. Marcy says:

    Thank you so much for this informative blog. I know it takes a lot of time and energy to make such a comprehensive blog. You have encouraged me more than anyone to go for my dreams of entrepreneurship in the world of e-commerce. This is something that I’ve always wanted to do. The world of corporate America is often times a one way ticket to a life that has passed you by. I’m so ready to break free from this box. Fear is a powerful thing that spreads like cancer. It has prevented me from doing so much. I’m now ready to take that risk to secure my future. I wish you much success for all the good and light you bring into the world. I have to download the e-book and read it in it’s entirety. I know that’ll it be highly informative. Let me know what I can do to support you in anyway.

  78. Jody says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you so much for sharing your e-book and your personal story.

    A couple weeks ago I had a disturbing conversation with my Manager. From that day I’ve been really bothered and my wheels having been to turning.

    My 2 girls are my #1 motivation for starting an e-commerce business but the conversation I had definitely lit a fire under me.

    I will definitely will be using the details you’ve outlined.

    Thanks again

    Jody
    Toronto, Canada

  79. Jimmy says:

    Hi Andrew,

    This is an awesome story. I love that you were inspired by Tim Ferriss in the pursuit of freedom.

    One quick question for you. After the grueling first month of building your website, what exactly did you do to generate your first sale? Did you buy ad space on website, magazines, etc? Or did you focus entirely on SEO and didn’t see your first sale until a couple months in?

    Thanks!
    Jimmy

  80. Lindsey says:

    Andrew,

    Great story. You are seriously my inspiration right now! I have read your entire free ebook, as well as Tim Ferris’ 4HWW. I’ve just negotiated with my first supplier, and it was surprisingly much easier than I expected it would be. Luckily I live in NYC, and have the ability to meet many wholesalers/dropshippers face to face. Now with a small site built, products, etc… it’s time for the sales!

    I am curious about the same thing Jimmy (question above) asked. The internet landscape has drastically changed from 2007 to now, do you think that makes starting out, finding a viable niche, etc… more challenging?

    Looking forward to more of your posts.

    Thanks,

    Lindsey

  81. Andrew,

    As a baby boomer who was successful in the direct mail business many years ago, I have had a hard time making the transition to online marketing. Your story and ebook really convinced me it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. I really appreciate all your help and support moving forward.

    All the best,

    Kevin

  82. Ravi Raj says:

    Hi Andrew,

    It was really influencing story. I am zero in eCommerce but reading your life, I had also started following it. I am from India and not as much as you in terms of financial aspects, running a small website/blog and earning some how. I had dedicated an article relating to your life, hope you like it.

    Please give me suggestions:
    http://www.khmedia.in/2013/12/12/influencing-person-andrew-youderian-ecommerce-builder/#sthash.7icWuuqD.dpbs

  83. Charuta Kulkarni says:

    This article is like god sent to me…for the last one year or me, i had been wanting to start something n my in in the e-commerce business. I work for a private company, and support my house. hence i cannot think of saving and then giving up the regular income for a few months for my entrepreneurial dream. i came across your site when i was searching for ebooks on e-commerce. what i liked about your write-up is that you have been brave enough to say that all was not hunky dorky, and the road laid out. i have downloaded your ebook and will take it up for reading ASAP. Million thanks again for the motivation!!!

  84. Greg Traver says:

    Andrew,

    Truly an inspirational story, thank you for sharing this. I have read your e-book and I have to say that I have NEVER seen a “freebie” that has as much relevant, common sense content! The best part however, is how you drive home the point that it is WORK and it is based on a lot of common sense and research, not a GRQ scheme that is launched on a whim. That kind of honesty is getting harder to come by.

  85. Pablo says:

    Hi, just discovered your blog. Simply amazing.

    Just one question. You encourage all the time to build our own ecommerce websites. Is this mandatory? Why not just concentrate all the efforts selling on ebay instead?

    I am curious about what you think

    thanks!
    Pablo

  86. BETTY says:

    ANDREW THAT INSPIRED ME EVEN MORE THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS

  87. Grace says:

    Such an inspiring story. I downloaded all your podcasts for my commutes. Keep it up! :)

  88. Bryan says:

    Great intro Andrew!

    I am also in the same boat, have spent a year building an eCommerce site, have have been struggling with SEO. Looks like you have lots of great articles, which I plan on reading over the next few day.

    Thanks for sharing you knowledge.

    Bryan

  89. Ekaterina says:

    Hi Andrew! Thank you for ebook and this blog, they are a great guide and inspiration.
    What did you mom say after your succeed in eCommerce?
    Just asking because I’m at the stage where I finally graduated from business school, quit my comfortable but boring office job to pursue my passion for art and travel (in the process of setting up my first eCommerse website), and my parents are not talking much to me and about me. I just hope they will understand soon :)

    Thanks again)
    Ekaterina

  90. Arpit says:

    Hi Andrew..

    I always was looking for ways to do independent business, but was scared because of the risk of loosing hard earned money. I am very thankful to you for getting me started in thinking in the direction of online business, where I can experiment my business abilities in real market only for few dollars.

    The question I have for you is, why it is so important choosing a niche really carefully… I know you would like ideally one to produce own product and setting one self apart from any competition. I do understand importance of avoiding as much competition as possible. But really competition is unavoidable. The moment you launch a unique idea, someone will copy you, and in couple months you will have competition. My suggestion is why not jump in existing market with some competition and be happy with the market share you can gain.

    For example, there are tons of people shopping “Toys” online. I know there are existing “Toys” giants like “Toys R Us”, but hey I don’t mind as long as I can even earn a fraction of “Toys” market with my store. And long term is going to get better. I have cool URL domain, I will design my site well, I will provide hand picked toys, and I think that should be enough for me to jump in that market as long as I can find a supplier.

    http://www.toytojoy.com
    Arpit
    Please provide your feed back. What you think is of value to me…

  91. PJ says:

    I assume you were looking for a low risk-to-reward ratio, not a high one…

  92. Andrew, there is a lot of stuff here but it seems to me what you too are looking for is a way to reach as many people as you can… and add as much value to their lives as you can.. Great work. Thankyou so much for the goodwill, hardwork and inspiration. BUT… Now that you have influence what does money mean to you? What are you really going to do with your life ? Who and what can add the most value to your core influence(ideas or products)? Just a few quick questions from someone in Australia who wants to get the best out of you and out of this world.

  93. angel says:

    Wow!
    I am so inspired by your story.
    I have been in a seamstress business for the past two years and it just wasn’t working, I was unhappy and working too hard and barely making ends meet. Now I be decided to follow in your footsteps. I am so excited I can barely sleep at night. I be found my niche but I am still hunting for the right suppliers. Your book is amazing. Thank God bless you

Trackbacks

  1. […] A Corporate Escape Story: How eCommerce Changed My Life […]

  2. […] model has been an amazing way to learn eCommerce and has provided the lifestyle flexibility for some incredible adventures, but I’m ready to step into a business that holds the potential for larger […]

  3. […] Andrew built six-figure stores with US$1,500. Johnny did the same with US$200 while living in Thailand. […]

  4. […] Like all businesses, success and profitability rely on a number of variables. But when done correctly, it’s possible to create highly profitable online businesses with drop shipping. Drop shipping isn’t a magic formula – and real success takes significant work and time – but it’s a viable online business model with very low risk. Drop shipping was the model I used to start my own online store, allowing me to permanently quit my corporate job. […]

  5. […] Andrew Youderian operates one of my favorite blogs about all things related to eCommerce; eCommerce Fuel. Andrew left the corporate grind to pursue his dreams and decided to focus on finding business opportunities that were high risk and low reward, scalable, and able to be operated from any location he wished to be in. The best fit he saw for his desired critieria were niche eCommerce stores employing a dropship model. Drop shipping is when your store forms a relationship with a supplier or wholesaler that stocks the products that you’re offering for sale to your customers. When you receive orders from your customers, you forward the order to the Drop shipper, who then handles packaging and shipping the products to your customer. You profit from the difference between what your customer paid you and what your Drop shipper charges you for the product and service; which are often wholesale prices. […]

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