21Apr

There are so many amazing startup founders who have built successful businesses. Some have succeeded via dropshipping, a business model which involves shipping products straight from the supplier to the customer, while others have succeeded by creating their own products. Some have sold via their own online stores others used marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy. No matter where they started, or how they’ve built their first successful business, they’ve all managed to make over $50,000+ a year. These inspiring stories from startup founders will make you realize that anything is possible in business.

One Tribe Apparel

Ryan O’Connor is the startup founder of One Tribe Apparel. His company sells harem pants, boho handbags, and more. Their store features several great features such as a lookbook, shoppable Instagram feed, and some awesome product photos.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with your online store?

Ryan: We recently launched an international lookbook featuring women from 16 different countries, all of whom we connected with through our Instagram community. We’ve gotten some good press & blogger collaborations from it and overall it’s just a nice showcase of our brand mission and a reflection of our ethos at One Tribe Apparel.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

Ryan:
We hired someone to do AdWords PPC and they just wasted thousands of dollars of our money. It made me realize that I need to learn more about each marketing channel before I outsource it. You need to be able to outsource to scale but you also need to be competent in the main channels of your business. In the end no one is going to care about your business nearly as much as you are.

Which strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

Ryan:
SEO accounts for 40% or more of our sales. It’s my background. I used to work at an agency and then moved on to freelance consulting. SEO is a long term investment, but the great thing about it is that once the traffic is coming in it’s sustainable and doesn’t cost you money for each click.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Ryan: In 2017 I would actually say for most first time e-commerce & physical product entrepreneurs that they may not want to dive right into Shopify. I had someone reach out to me recently wanting to start a streetwear fashion brand and they said they had a $1,000 budget to get their first product made, build the site, photos, etc.

That’s just not enough money to get things going properly so my advice to them was to take that money and buy a decent camera or a GoPro and build up their social accounts. If they are passionate about street wear they can build a following doing one off custom pieces, recommending other brands, and most importantly showcasing the lifestyle. If they grow the accounts well enough they will start to get offers from brands who are giving them free clothes and paying them to post. We work with a lot of Instagram influencers and it seems like a pretty good deal. Many of them are getting $200 or more for a single photo wearing a piece of clothing or holding a product.

The other thing is that once you build your following and you eventually launch a store/brand you’ll already have a captive audience that trusts you and getting those initial sales will be much easier.
A 2nd alternative would be to prove the concept of your product on Amazon or Etsy and make sure it sells, work out the kinks, etc. before launching your Shopify store.


Hagwood Soap Co

Startup Founder

Chris Hagler  is the startup founder of Hagwood Soap Co. His store sells soap, balms, shampoo, and other healthcare products. His store features a giveaway section, offers conditional free shipping on orders over $75, and even allows people to wholesale his products.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with any of your online stores?

Chris: My biggest accomplishment was to turn something I was into creating as a hobby, into something that provides value to people. To me, providing value is the key in any business. Reading numerous emails and Instagram messages daily about how or soaps changed their lives is what fuels me to push harder everyday.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

Chris: My biggest mistake and lesson I have learned is that a very vocal, unhappy customer can be turned into a very vocal HAPPY customer more than 90% of the time. Never ignore your customers and always treat them with respect. Remember, they are going out of their way to buy something from YOU rather than thousands of others, how cool is that!

What strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

Chris: My best strategy for making the most money is to just be myself and to stick to what my company stands for. Don’t copy anyone else, keep your head down, and keep grinding day in and day out. Show your face, don’t be afraid to do live videos, don’t be afraid to mess up. People buy from people who they can relate to.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Chris: I’d say the biggest piece of advice I could give is to be patient, but yet aggressive. Don’t think you’re going to start a business and be able to quit your job in 5 years and “live the dream”, but also be aggressive in the sense that you want to get there at all costs. You have to be the tortoise IN the hare’s costume. Also, don’t worry about what everyone else has and how far every other company is, focus on you and then watch the people come to you. Don’t try to please everyone and stay true to what your brand stands for and the customers will relate and find you. If you can do all of that while staying patient, you’re golden.


Heyday Footwear

Startup Founder

Darin Hager, the startup founder of Heyday Footwear, sells high top gym sneakers on his online store. His website has countless positive reviews from raving fans who love his products.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with any of your online stores?

Darin: The biggest accomplishment with Heyday Footwear has been raising the bar on the customer experience. We use live chat, explainer videos, zoomable HD photos, referral marketing, loyalty program, user generated content, surveys, and blog content that resonates with our customers. We keep the customer engaged and coming back to the site even when they’re not ready to buy.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

Darin: I learn from mistakes everyday! Figuring out the threshold at which customers will continue to buy despite paying for shipping has been really important. We “lost” a fair amount of margin last fall offering free shipping on everything without increasing prices enough to cover the cost. We’ve since found that free shipping over $150 drives as much traffic as free shipping on everything.

What strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

Darin: A big money making strategy has been to do pre-orders on upcoming styles. Our gym sneakers are limited edition and tend to sell out quickly. By offering pre-orders, we’re able to generate a large amount of cash flow prior to delivering the product and furthering the notion that you need to “buy now or cry later”.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Darin: My best piece of advice is to network, network, network! You never know when someone you meet (especially in Shopify FB groups) could be important!


Never Forgotten Designs

Startup Founder

Pege Yates is the startup founder of Never Forgotten Designs. In addition to running a physical store, she also sells items online such as confectionary supplies, custom candy lollipops, edible images, and more. She complements her online store with in person events such as cake decorating classes.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with any of your online stores?

Pege: My biggest accomplishment is seeing the repeat orders, year after year. A new customer is great, but seeing a customer come back to me and for custom needs is fulfilling on a whole new level. The fact that when they’re planning a special event, or a special cake, and I come to mind to help make it unique is priceless.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

Pege: The mistake I have learned from the most is under charging to get orders. My work is very time consuming and at first I thought, if I were the cheapest people would buy from me. It just lead to me feeling overworked. I had to raise prices to get what I am worth. I had to find confidence in my value.

What strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

Pege: Finding a product I can make that that’s return is worth the time I put into it’s creation. 

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Pege: Be real and do what you actually believe in and enjoy doing.  When your business picks up you need to see your heart in it to make it worth it. Nothing comes easy. Always be open to changing your ways of thinking to appeal to your target market.


Fast Battery Charger

Startup Founder

James Labron is the startup founder for two online stores. One of his stores is Fast Battery Charger where he sells phone chargers.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with any of your online stores?

James: Our biggest accomplishment from our online store has been the fact that we’ve provided an income stream that we own now. If you’re selling on Walmart or eBay you don’t own the customer and you cannot remarket to those customers.  With your own store you own the customer experience and you can grow your store through email marketing.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

James: The mistake we made most often was the fact that we wasted a lot of advertising dollars on Facebook. There are a lot of customers on Facebook but they’re not on facebook to shop and that’s what we learned the hard way.

What strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

James: Fast Battery Charger’s biggest money maker has been to advertise on Google as most people searching are in the buying process and will purchase from those type of ads.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

James: The best advice would be to start out marketing with only Google Adwords and learn everything you can first and then move to other marketing areas.


Stevens Guillon

Startup Founder

Stevens Guillon runs an online fitness store where he sells apparel and other accessories to fitness enthusiasts.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with any of your online stores?

Steven: The pride of succeeding in making my shop despite the ordeals and difficulties. And of course, making a very comfortable salary.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

Steven: My worst error was wanting to do things too fast. Taking the time to do things, and doing them well is the most important thing I should’ve done when starting out.

What strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

Steven: Facebook ads. Working and optimizing the ads is one of the keys to success.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Steven: Never give up!


Jovan

Startup Founder

Jovan is the startup founder of a network of online stores. His store sells items such as beauty products, art supplies, and watches at an affordable cost. 

What’s been your biggest accomplishment with any of your online stores?

Jovan: Well recently I consecutively hit over $10,000/day in sales which is a pretty big milestone for me. However a lot of my goals are based around specific numbers and dates. I set 3 month and 12 month goals. My goal for this year is to do $500,000k in profit, which will mean doing about 1.5 to 2 million in sales.

Which mistake did you learn the most from?

Jovan: Have back-ups of everything. Back up stores, back up suppliers, back up credit cards, back up product sourcing, back-up advertising accounts– everything. Depending on how your business is set up it can be a very fragile, linear chain, and if anything happens to even one of those links, your sales can go from $10K yesterday to ZERO today. So when you start doing sales, make sure to cover your grounds.

What strategy or tactic has been your biggest money maker?

Jovan: If you want to do really big numbers you have to find a scalable advertising method. For me it was Facebook advertising, but you might find more luck with Google ads, YouTube video ads, Instagram influencers, and so on.

The way Facebook works is if you’re spending $5/day on ads and you earn $10 profit, then in theory if you spend $5000/day you would earn $10,000 in profit. And these are just impulse purchases, not taking into account the lifetime value of the customer.

That’s what makes Facebook so powerful and is why I was able to go from literally $0 to $50,000 in the first 10 days of opening up my new store. But I also want to say before that I had MONTHS of no success until I got the hang of it. FB ads are very complicated and will be an extreme learning curve.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out?

Jovan: “Failure is not the opposite of success; it is part of success.” Fail, learn from it, fail a hundred more times, and eventually you might just succeed.