Launching a Store With a Full-Time Job

Launching a Store With a Full-Time Job

One of the biggest obstacles to launching an online store is finding the time to do it.  And while I think focusing on your business completely is a great option, most people just aren’t in a position to quit their full-time job.

That’s why I was impressed when I met Kamal Taylor at my recent eCommerceFuel reader meetup in Austin, TX.  Despite working full-time jobs, both he and his co-founder have managed to research, build and launch CurbSide Air, an eCommerce site specializing in humidifiers.

Due to his success – and the fact that he’s an all-around stellar guy – I invited him to share his experience on the blog.  He’s also offered to answer your question in the comments section below.

Take it away, Kamal!


My name is Kamal Taylor and my journey began back in 2004 when I sort of fell into a career in online marketing. Since then I’ve been honing these skills at a few different employers, learning and applying many different strategies and tactics to drive results online.

In 2009 a longtime friend and I had several long discussions about our futures and where we wanted to be career-wise in 10 years. We both agreed that whatever we were doing in 10 years we wanted to own it 100% and be calling the shots.

Fast forward to 2011 and we really began giving serious thought to what sort of business we wanted to get into. After several months of research and soul-searching we settled on e-commerce as a medium that could leverage our marketing strengths and help us meet our personal goals.


Doing It With a Full-Time Job

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” –Frederick Douglass

A valid question we asked and that you may be asking yourselves is: “How can I possibly launch a full-fledged eCommerce store when I have a full time job/social life/wife/children, etc.?” There is no way to sugar coat this – in order to create a feasible online store there is much sacrifice to be made. If you have a regular job and are looking to launch an eCommerce store in your spare time, be prepared to give up nights and weekends to work on your store on a regular basis.

At the beginning of this journey, I had a tough conversation with my wife to set the expectation that there would be times where we wouldn’t see much of each other during nights or weekends. I frequently had to turn down friends for dinner and other social gatherings. I also gave up watching television for the most part.

My weekends no longer consisted of a lot of fun outings, staying out late and sleeping in. On weekends I was up early at my desk cranking. The one extracurricular activity that I didn’t give up was working out. I think it’s important to maintain both mind and body even in the busiest of times.

It takes a great deal of patience to get through the tasks required before launch, but if anyone ever told you would get rich quick from eCommerce, they lied. There is definitely a TON of opportunity in eCommerce. However, in order to capture some of that opportunity, you’ll need to make sacrifice and bust your tail.


How We Picked Our Niche

How in the world did I select a single product niche out of thousands of possible choices?  For several weeks I carried a notepad with me and any time I saw or thought of a product niche that sounded like a good candidate for eCommerce, I wrote it down.

At the end of those few weeks we had a list of about 300 niches. We then proceeded to pull as many data points as we could about each of those product niches, which included:

  • Search traffic estimates for main niche keywords using the Google Keyword Tool.  We made sure to use “exact match” results only.
  • Keyword difficulty, average linking domains, and average links for the top 10 Google results for a niche using SEOMoz
  • Average product price in Amazon
We used the following assumptions to further narrow down our list:
  • Estimated that we could capture 5% of total search traffic in 1-2 years being in business
  • Estimated conversion rate at 1.5% based on industry data we’ve seen
  • Estimated revenue for each niche by using 5% of traffic, conversion rate and average product price

Being able to put traffic and dollar values next to our niche ideas was immensely eye opening! It’s an exciting feeling to say, “A potential dehumidifier site has $1 million in annual revenue opportunity.” If that isn’t a motivator I don’t know what is!

In your head, you may be poking holes in our niche research methodology. I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t perfect. However, it was what we needed in order to make an educated guesses as to where to put our focus, given our limited time due to our busy work schedules.

The final step in niche analysis was to review each niche based on revenue opportunity and difficulty/competition level. We focused on 5 or so niches that fell into the mid-range of revenue and difficulty. If you do an analysis similar to ours, you’ll find that, as expected, difficulty generally scales up with revenue opportunity.

This niche research project took us about a month but could certainly be condensed to a smaller amount of time for someone more determined than we were at the time. We also found immense value from the eCommercefuel eBook during our niche analysis project.


How We Found Suppliers

This step was actually easier than we thought it would be. We found that the hardest part of finding suppliers is getting over the fear of calling them. Overwhelmingly, the response we got from suppliers was very positive. Most are very eager to sign on new stores who will sell their products.

In our experience, calling the manufacturer first yielded the best results rather than trying to find distributors. If the manufacturer didn’t offer drop shipping themselves, they were happy to refer us to their suppliers that do drop ship. This often yielded great results due to the fact that most suppliers carry multiple brands. So talking to one manufacturer could actually lead you to forging a drop ship relationship for several brands.

One challenge is that some suppliers/manufacturers may be hesitant to sign on a new re-seller if you don’t have a live website. So, we got creative and simply sent the site mockup that our designer made. This proved sufficient for quelling suppliers’ fears that we weren’t serious about launching our store.

My advice to you is to not fear calling suppliers or manufacturers. For one, it shows how serious you are if you’re willing to pick up the phone rather than opting to simply submit a contact form. Also, manufacturers and suppliers want new business so it’s in their best interest to talk to you.


Launch, Marketing & Next Steps

We launched CurbSide Air on October 15. It was a glorious day! But now the real work begins.

The first thing we did after launch was send out an email blast to close friends and family to let them know about our launch and ask for feedback. After you are “head down” working on launching your store there will certainly be broken links, typos and other things you failed to find or fix before launch. Your friends and family will be willing to help you out in finding those issues. And with any luck, one or two of them will buy something from your store!

With the site live, it was time to start in on marketing.  I’m a huge proponent of both paid and organic search marketing, so I think a lot of focus should be given to those areas in the beginning and an ongoing basis. Some other areas of focus on our 6 month marketing plan include:

  • Find relevant and quality directories to list our site on
  • Build relationships with bloggers in our niche and collaborate on content or guest posts
  • Launch paid search campaigns on Google, Bing and Yahoo! for “bottom of funnel” (long tail) keywords
  • Write buying guides and other high-value resources (it’s all about great content)
  • Write 3-5 blog posts for the store blog per month
  • Contact additional manufacturers to expand our product selection

I’ve soaked up an immense amount of knowledge since embarking on launching our store. Reading amazing blogs like eCommerceFuel, SEOmoz, and others, I’ve gained enough knowledge to feel confident launching a store of my own. You should feel the same way. If there is anything you’re not sure about, Google it. Chances are there is an amazing blog, resource or community out there to help you through it.


What Questions Can I Answer?

I hope sharing my story has inspired you to either take the leap or helped you solidify your desire to launch an e-commerce store!  And I’d love to answer your questions about the journey and process I’ve been on.  Ask your questions in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to answer them.

(Looking to land some eCommerce experience during your 9-to-5 vs just on the side?  Check out our list of interesting companies looking to hire on our eCommerce Job Boards.)

Photo by Mark Sebastian

Andrew Youderian
Post by Andrew Youderian
Andrew is the founder of eCommerceFuel and has been building eCommerce businesses ever since gleefully leaving the corporate world in 2008.  Join him and 1,000+ vetted 7- and 8-figure store owners inside the eCommerceFuel Community.

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Anthony CastrioJune 13, 2013

Hey Kamal, you wrote a great article thank you!

I noticed your about section at CurbSide Air was a little lackluster. I re-worded and formatted to better convey your and Danny’s message, I’ll paste the text below. Take a gander and let me know what you think/feel free to use it on your site. If you want the html to insert into your site I can email that to you. Congrats on all your success and best wishes!
-Anthony Castrio

About CurbSide Air

CurbSide Air was founded to deliver customers quality air products and to create healthier homes.

The CurbSide Air story began about 2 years ago when my son was born. Like many first time parents, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I was going to provide my child a safe and comfortable home to grow up in. For the first time in my life, every choice I made would directly affect another human’s well-being.

The birth of my son was the beginning of a new life for me, and I found that my new life centered on him, this wonderful gift that my wife and I somehow created. I realized the only thing really important to me was my family’s health.

I started looking at humidifiers soon after my son caught his first cold. I put on my research hat and discovered just how important air quality is to our health. Cleaner air benefits childhood lung development and could even reduce the effects of my wife’s allergies (we all know that a happy wife is a happy life!)

I became determined to improve the overall air quality in my infant son’s bedroom and in our home. I found myself talking about the benefits of air purification with my friends and family. I was obsessed with clean air!

I became an expert on clean-air technology and decided that I needed to share my knowledge with others. I founded CurbSide Air with my good friend to help educate our customers on the benefits of air purification and air quality. It is our mission to deliver the best air products including air purifiers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers to help our customers create cleaner and healthier homes.

Cleaner air can have amazing benefits, as I found out for myself! Now we, CurbSide Air want to share our expert knowledge and our high quality air purification products with you. We want to arm you with knowledge and provide you with a premium source for air quality control products so that you can clean up your air and help your families too.

After all, your friends and family are the most valuable things in the world. We hope you enjoy shopping for air quality products that improve both yours and your loved one’s lives. Please drop us a note and let us know how our air quality products have improved your life.

Danny – CoFounder, CurbSide Air

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SarenaJanuary 14, 2014

Good JOB
I hope Kamal appreciates this. IT was Incredible of you to take time out and do what you did. I appreciate that there are still some AWESOME people out there ( Kamal for being brave and sharing his story, Andrew for posting very valuable information at no-cost and you) that just like to help out!
KUDOs to U– ALL—! 🙂

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MikeAugust 29, 2013

This is awesome – I am in the niche research stage as of now and love reading articles like this. Great stuff!

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Andrew YouderianSeptember 1, 2013

Glad you enjoyed it Mike!

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35 Lifestyle Entrepreneurs You Need to Know - Navid MoazzezOctober 10, 2013

[…] Launching a Store With a Full-Time Job […]

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KhairulOctober 27, 2013

Hey Kamal & Andrew, i’m glad i came across this article!
It gives me the motivation that nothing is impossible if you have the drive.

I had a couple of questions though; Kamal mentioned about calling the manufacturers which, in his personal experience, lead to suppliers whom provide drop shipping services.
Do you mean ‘suppliers’ as ‘wholesalers’? Bcos in my knowledge, wholesalers are the ones who buy bulks with multiple brands and sell it to retailers isn’t it.

Also, Kamal said about the suppliers being reluctant to offer reseller account if you do not have a live website. In this case, how do you go about doing the mock up website? I’m currently in the sourcing for suppliers phase and I’m using shopify to build the website, but i’m not sure how do you go about doing that. The CurbSideAir website seems more professional and the budget for it seems to be on the higher end and I presume that helps a lot to quell their fears. How about Shopify in my case? Can I still do the same?
If you don’t mind sharing, what was the cost for your website design? if it really helps to have my own customized website, i would need to calculate my budget for this! Lol.
Hope to hear from any of you guys the soonest!

Thanks and Regards,

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Jennifer DePaoliNovember 17, 2013

Wow – I am going to need to read this article (and the comments) again because they were both so informative and inspiring! I just launched my online store ( ) last week and made my first sale today – after paying my supplier, $30 never felt so good! My long term goal is to be able to make enough so I can retire from my day job and be home more for my daughters and husband. Thanks for sharing and you site looks great – I agree with a previous poster – females always look at the ABOUT US page and love a good story. Here are my questions:
1 – you are just drop shipping – correct? Do you ever plan to have your own merchandise for a bigger profit margin?
2 – how do you and your partner divy up responsibilities and make sure everything gets done?
3 – do you have any virtual assistants?

Thanks for sharing your story!

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JohnMarch 1, 2014

Hi Jennifer,

I like your site. I see that you went with Shopify. I am starting a gemstone and jewelry business that will include some drop shipping but we own most of the merchandise and can get the rest on consignment on favorable terms. I read with interest Andrew’s piece on picking the perfect shopping cart. I was leaning towards Shopify prior but wanted to see if you would share your reasons for choosing this hosted solution as well. Also now that you are up and running, how has your experience been — pros and cons?

This is an important decision and I am taking the necessary time to research the best solution for my business situation.
Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. John

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JenniferMay 11, 2014

Hi John, I am so sorry it took me so long to respond – I got way behind on my email and I am just reading this now. I choose Shopify because I am not very tech savvy and it was super easy to set up my store. I also like how everything is included – I once started a business and I had to get a separate hosting and separate merchant account – it just makes sense to have everything included in one place. So far I have been happy with Shopify but right now I am at the point where I want to make some changes to my site and you are very limited to making major tweaks if you do not know html and css. I am looking into hiring a Shopify expert to make a few changes and would probably have the same issue with any other cart. You are smart to do your research but I would also advise not to over think it – it did that for a while and it caused me not to take action for a long time – you are going to make mistakes no matter what but once you get going you learn as you go and everything gets easier. Good luck and let me know what you decide!

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Jennifer DePaoliNovember 17, 2013

also – thanks James and Kate for the tip on getting CC rewards for drop shipping orders – I will be taking care of that ASAP!

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KennethNovember 28, 2013

Dear Andew and Dear Kamal:
Thanks for making this infomation available.
could please explain a bit more how you gone about your pricing structure in comparison to prices which often unfairly lower than other websites.
thank you for your attention.

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Chris MercerDecember 9, 2013


Great article and congrats to all three of you on pursuing your dreams of breaking out of the 9-to-5 and operating your own successful stores! I’m currently in the 9-5 career world. Great job; it doesn’t suck; but, like you, long-term, I want to be in control of my own destiny. I have an online retail drop-ship business already, which I’m currently pumping juice into, with the goal of it one day soon replacing the 9-5 income. While I know how to setup sites and go through the motions in that regard, I have a very unique, niche product and don’t have much experience with lower cost, higher volume products, such as humidifiers/dehumidifiers. My question is kind of lengthy, but you’ll understand it =):

When contacting suppliers and working out the logistics of your dropshipping agreement(s), did you find that dropshipping offered lower margins, as opposed to, say, pre-paying or warehousing and shipping the goods yourself? If so, did that factor into your marketing plan (e.g. “We want to dropship, to be hands-off, with lower margins, we need to strive to sell X vs Y if we were to warehouse the products.”?)



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DillonDecember 21, 2013

This post was amazing and shed light on someones first attempt at building an e-commerce site. I finally launched my site a couple days ago. Slow traffic but we are focusing on adding valuable content which is all SEO optimized to get that traffic rolling in. I would like to see some sort of challenge happen where a group of people take one month to choose a niche, find suppliers and launch a site.

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JFebruary 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing Kamal. I went through and still going through the same thing. Just launched my eCommerce store and I think this is where the real work begins. I’m one of those weirdos who loves their job so I didn’t want to quit my 9-5. I agree that there’s no real exact science in picking a niche. You can just make educated guesses based on the data available. I had a similar process. But in the end, I just went with what I know and love. More power to your biz!

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JLambMarch 12, 2014

Kamal, Great story and website, is this your only store, and are you still working full time.

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RuckerApril 21, 2014

Awesome post Kamal.

How did you come up with the $million/yr revenue estimate? When I use your methodology (5% of total traffic, 1.5% conversion rate, $200 average product price [guess]), dehumidifiers would have to generate 555,555 monthly searches. I haven’t seen anything like that number for dehumidifiers when using the Google Keyword Planner. Am I just making a really dumb math error?


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Michelle's Hair Color BoutiqueMay 13, 2014

Michelle’s Hair Color Boutique

Creating an Online Store with a Full-time Job |

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JamesJuly 4, 2014


Thanks for your post. I am just starting to learn about ecommerce and this topic was exactly what I was worried about from the get-go. Did you ever return phone calls to customers after work when you got home? Did that create an issue that you were calling people back around 5:30-7PM? Or did you wait to return calls on weekends? Thanks!


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Michael VickersOctober 1, 2014


Any idea what happened to I had looked at it before, as you cite it as a success story, but now when you go there, it says:
“Down for Maintenance
We’re currently working to bring you the most amazing shopping experience for Air Purifiers, Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers.
Stay Tuned!”

Looking at the Wayback Machine, the most recent entry was from May 2014.

Offline for 5 months. Doesn’t look good. Have you heard anything from Kamal lately?

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SpadesNovember 8, 2014

Hey Andrew,

I have just read the article and the comments, and I am curious same as Michael, what is it going on now with Kamals’ webstore.

All the best to everybody

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Gaurav AgarwalDecember 31, 2014

Research of Niche was an eye opener, but the marketing plan was lot to do for someone who is in full time job 🙂

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KFebruary 2, 2015

I ,ust say congrats on your website. I once had a website for about 3 years. When I made my first sale on amazon of $300 plus I was so elated, like I had won a million dollars. I did not have enough time to write on the website so I wanted to sell it. My colleagues who had lots of website said it was worth a pretty penny at the time.

Then some one hacked it. I was devastated,did not renew my contract with go daddy. so it jus died. So, I am very happy for you, because I know the hard work that is needed to be successful in ecommerce. I hope to start over again.

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Rajeev KhannaMarch 8, 2015

I read your story and i motivated for my action plan. I was planning to start ecommerce before reading your story But i had some questions in my mind about my new step. When i read your story i got lots of answers from it. I am running my own interior goods store at my town in punjab india. Due to very compitive market, it is very difficult to survive. So I decided to sell my product through online but when i read your story then If felt that why i have put lots of money in inventory.
Now I have some questions so please let me know what should i do?
1. I have vendor list, whom with i can start initial work through their stock. How would I do agreement with them and what will be the policy I should make to develop my online business? I require “Agreement” format.

2. How could we settle margins with the vendors?

3. How could I tieup with courier company?

4. Coz i do have knowledge about web development. Then what should I do?

please solve these above me quieries.
I would be thankful to you
Rajeev Khanna

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amodMay 11, 2015


I am amod from India, and recently started to reading your own story and later on your blog. I learnt many things from this website like how to start own online store while working, how to get initial traffics etc.

I am working person and recently 22nd april 15, I launched online store, currently its running as fashion store. I read many article and knew how to increase traffic. but i don’t find its working.

I would like share few challenges, It will help if you can address it.

Ways to increase traffic from various sources :

1. Share website with friends & family…I did but only 100 people viewed it.
2. Share website on another site….I tried but no one is willing to take my new website on their sites.
3. Share guest post on other bloggers site….I am not good in writing blogs.
4. Write buyers guide/blog on my website…I am not good in writing blogs.
5. Get paid traffic from google….I have limited $ 2 dollar budget/day. So i get only 20 visits/day
6. Get SEO traffic…I have very limited content on my website like 25 products with description, shipment, return and privacy policy and about us. That’s it. So I don’t know how to increase ranking and more visibility of my website.
7. Promote it on social media….When i promote in on Facebook in groups, Facbook temporarily blocked my sharing.

Besides, there are other many challenges. But I will be happy if you can address it above difficulty. My expectation to get every day 1000 visits/day vs. 50 visits/day (currently)

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AzulMay 28, 2015

Thanks everyone for sharing true topics/fundamentals on ecommerce. Ha–you show and shorten my learning curve at the same time.

Truly inspirational. I’m in the research stage for a niche. I’m trying hard to stay in an industry that I already like and will enjoy growing expertise in. Some of you are in multiple niches. On a high level, what was most important to you in choosing the niche(s) personal expertise, industry interest OR trends revenue opportunity??
Also–I landed here on Andrew’ site looking on steps to get started in online business. If you were me–just starting—what advice would you give towards learning & launching with speed and competence?

thanks again

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MitchelleJune 29, 2015

Hi! I apologize for repeating a question that has already been answered. I haven’t had time to properly search. My husband and I (Mostly my husband is doing the due diligence) We are really struggling with importing stock and pics. we purchased a plug in for Woocommerce (sp?) seems like it is way more difficult than it should be, are we the only ones with this issue. The issue seems to be with the lists provided from the supplier not being complete. Thank you for ANY feed back. So frustrated.

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