I launched a new business today:
A number of people send me emails asking more about my business ventures. What am I up to, how do I pick what businesses to start, and when am I going to blog about it.
I decided I’d give an inside look today.
First, I usually don’t pick the businesses I start. They often pick me.
I’ve been considering starting EcomLab for over a year.
If you’re a regular ForeverJobless reader, you know I started doing e-commerce stores over 2 years ago. I had a million questions when I got started. How do I find suppliers? How do I know what products to sell? What’s the best way to get traffic to the site? Should I hire someone to build my own store, or go with one of the shopping cart platforms? Should I start a store from scratch, or just buy one that’s already making money?
A lot of people who hear about my e-commerce experience assume I just knew this stuff already. Hell no. I didn’t have a clue about any of it when I started. In 2011 I started from scratch knowing ZERO about e-commerce stores.
I was looking for something new to try, and a friend who had made a bunch of money in e-commerce told me to give e-commerce stores a shot. He said it was pretty easy, didn’t take much money to start, and that I should just go for it. So, I did what any normal person would do…I said it sounded risky and I went and watched TV instead.
I went for it.
I bought one store, and started another from scratch around the same time.
The site I bought was already making money. I had no idea what I was doing, and I always assumed sales would just vanish once I bought it. They didn’t.
“I could get used to this”, I thought. Then one day, a couple months down the road, a different order came in. Oh! This was the site I had started from scratch. It actually made a sale!
A week or two later…
Holy shit another sale!
It was pretty sporadic at first, but as the months went on, the store I started from scratch was getting orders every day, and eventually became a pretty good income source.
So it’s that easy, you just throw up some stores and the money starts coming in?
I spent all sorts of time searching around forums, watching youtube videos, trying to find people to outsource things to, and googling anything and everything e-commerce. I was also lucky to have a good friend I could call to ask questions that would have taken me hours, or days on my own to figure out. Having my friend help guide the way was the biggest help by far.
I was always wondering why more people didn’t start e-commerce stores. Then, I realized…
“Duh? They don’t have a friend who crushes e-commerce they can just pick up the phone and call”.
I kept starting new stores, and buying more as well. There were so many untapped niches, that I got a little carried away. At one point I had about 20 active stores. (I’ve since sold some to keep my sanity)
I’d get asked all the time how to get into the e-commerce store business. I didn’t know exactly what to tell them…
“Well, you can sign up for a store here, you can Google around and find out X, Y or Z, you can visit this forum to learn SEO, I’d recommend talking to this guy about PPC, etc…”
There wasn’t even a go-to e-commerce store forum I could recommend.
I started thinking again about creating what is now EcomLab. I was busy with some other projects, and wanted to start writing some, so I decided to postpone doing anything for the time being.
Fast forward to August 21st, 2012. I put out a blog post that detailed several different ways I had made money in e-commerce:
Despite my blog only being 3 weeks old, I probably got 100 emails about that post.
Everyone had the same questions I’d had when I started with e-commerce stores:
What should I sell? How do I find suppliers? What’s the best way to get traffic? The list went on and on.
I wanted to say, “just start, you’ll figure it out.” I did, and I knew they could too.
However, I remembered back to how helpful it was to have my friend there to guide me through everything, and the same answer came back to me:
“Duh? They don’t have a friend who crushes e-commerce they can just pick up the phone and call”.
Several people wanted to hire me for consulting. While I wouldn’t mind doing consulting on a limited basis, I prefer to work on my own projects.
Okay, so I set up a service where I hire a few e-commerce guys and people can call in and chat with them?
Well, in theory that sounds okay, but besides being inefficient, it probably prices a lot of people out of the market. Charging people a high hourly rate to help you start an e-commerce store isn’t something I’d recommend to anyone. It wouldn’t make financial sense. Their money would be better spent elsewhere. I thought everyone should be able to afford e-commerce training.
So, I created EcomLab.
Instead of paying hourly rates to consultants, or paying even bigger agency fees, people can pay a small monthly fee to get access to actionable videos that give them the information they need.
The response to the e-commerce post is what finally pushed me over the fence to create EcomLab.
That’s why I say I didn’t pick this business, it picked me. There were plenty of times I said, “someone needs to start this.” And I’d go back to working on whatever I was working on. A while later I’d look around and there still wasn’t anyone filling that hole in the market. “Someone needs to start this”, I’d say again. Finally, I decided to do something about it.
Note: This is something very important that aspiring entrepreneurs often make a big mistake on. They focus on themselves first. “I want to make money” is their motivation for starting whatever business they start. They should instead focus on the needs of others.
A lot of people are providing products or services because they want to make money off of them, not because they’re offering something of value. That’s where most people get things confused. Don’t go into e-commerce stores, blogging, or anything else unless you plan to add value for people. If the reason you’re getting into something is just to try and make money, you’re doing it wrong. If instead, you’re getting into something because you think it can add value to people, you don’t have to worry about trying to make money with it, it will come because it’s something people need/want.
Why not just release a book, or a course?
Two big reasons:
1. As the e-commerce landscape changes, EcomLab is able to keep people up to date on how you should change your strategy. Everything from Google algorithm changes, to new opportunities that arise for generating traffic, to tax changes, to new product sourcing opportunities, etc… That’s why a membership site makes a lot of sense. Basically up to date e-commerce training, and a constent stream of new ideas to implement into your business. Also, as our members give us feedback on what they’re struggling most with, we can create that content and release it.
The goal is to create the greatest amount of value for customers as possible, and with the ability to release many new videos every month, it’s easy to help solve the biggest issues as they come up. If a member makes some progress but hits a plateau, maybe we’ll do a review of their site and turn that into a video to help other members too. If a member has a phenomenal success story, maybe we’ll feature a case study about their store for other members. If a lot of members want to hear from a specific expert on a subject, we’ll do our best to bring them on for a future video. That’s the reason I chose to make EcomLab a membership site that keeps helping people as they progress with their stores. It was where I felt the biggest need in the market was, and it’s what I would have wanted if I was starting over in e-commerce.
2. Because there are a lot of people out there who are experts at their specific area of e-commerce. I may have some decent experience with e-commerce stores, but there’s plenty of areas I wouldn’t consider myself an expert at. Instead of me trying to train members at each and every aspect of e-commerce, it’d be much more valuable if members learned subjects from people who are experts at whatever sub-niche within e-commerce they specialize in. So, we contacted all sorts of people in the e-commerce space who are experts at each individual subject, and they’re going to be coming on and making videos to help make the training as valuable as possible. Experts on everything from SEO, PPC, product manufacturing, e-commerce store optimization, email marketing, etc…
“Wait, will you be making videos too?”
I’ll be going into detailed examples on EcomLab with case studies from stores I’ve owned. I’ll be showing where I found some of my best deals when buying sites, how I found some totally untapped niches, how to work with suppliers, some untapped traffic sources for your e-commerce store that pretty much no one is taking advantage of, and much more.
I’ll be taking a lot of e-commerce store examples similar to what was in this post: https://foreverjobless.com/how-to-get-lucky-in-e-commerce/, and going into much more depth, and giving specific examples, so that the “luck” I had on those deals can be replicated by members. Rather than reading about it, look over my shoulder as I share my screen with you and walk you through it.
I’ve learned a lot since being in the e-commerce store business. I want to save people the hassle of making the same mistakes I did, and help members uncover opportunities I think most people miss.
We’ll be interviewing e-commerce experts like Neil Patel, and there’s even an e-commerce forum to trade stories with others who are building e-commerce stores. If you’re in the e-commerce store business already, or you’re interested in starting one, come introduce yourself.
I got a lot of interest when I mentioned the possibility of this blog post about the new business on my Facebook Page. If you liked this post and would like to continue hearing updates and getting an inside look on how EcomLab is doing, and how I’m growing it, leave a comment and let me