Over the past year, my business ventures have begun to experience a great deal of success, and as a result, I have found myself reflecting on what I’ve done to put myself in this position.

Here’s a quick summary of the businesses that I now operate:

  1. Our Amazon business will generate $4-5M in revenue and around $450,000 in profit this year (after my wife takes our her fair market salary). In March 2018, we did $233,000 and assuming we achieve our plan for the remainder of this year, we’ll hit $4.5M; roughly a 3x increase from 2017. I spend about 15 minutes a day involved in this business.
  2. My blog will generate around $900K in revenue this year with about 1/2 of that being profit – almost all of that coming from my WEBS product for Amazon sellers. In 2017, the blog did just over $450K. Thanks to having a team in place to assist me with podcast guest recruitment, video production, editing, etc… I’m able to run my blog in about 5-7 hours a week. The only exception to this is when we are gearing up for a WEBS launch, in which case the workload goes up to about 20 hours a week for the month prior to the launch.
  3. My Software company doesn’t yet generate any revenue because we’ve just finished the prototype. However, thanks to the relationships with influencers that I’ve created by virtue of my podcast, I estimate our monthly subscription revenue will be north of $20K/mo by year’s end.
  4. My National Motorsports Owners Association eCommerce business also doesn’t yet generate any revenue because it’s barely a month old; however, thanks to a key relationship that has come from my Amazon eCommerce business, I’m quite optimistic for growth in Q3 and Q4 of 2018 (and beyond).

So how did all this happen?

Did I suddenly get a lot smarter? Was I just luckier? Was it a fluke?

Or, has this success been the culmination of many years of struggles, failures, and learning valuable lessons?

In today’s post, I want to share the key things that I believe have contributed to my success.

My hope is that they will serve as both inspiration and a guiding light to those of you who aren’t yet experiencing the level of success that you would like.

Ideally, after reading today’s post, you will have at least one significant “aha moment” that will allow you to take new actions that will ultimately result in your “getting to the next level” just a little quicker than you otherwise might have.

Sound good?

Ok, lets dive in!

Marry the Right Person

In my office, I keep a poster on the wall from H. Jackson Brown’s book, The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book and the number 1 item on the list reads:

Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.

Fortunately for me, I picked well and my wife Liz has made a substantial contribution to our mutual success.

She has always supported me in my (and our) business ventures. Not only that, without her participation, our Amazon eCommerce business would require far more of my time – which would drastically limit my ability to create other sources of income.

If Liz were not my wife, there is no way in hell that all this good stuff would be happening.

Overcome Fear and Take Chances

Starting any business is hard…. really hard.

The reason that starting a new venture is so difficult for most of us is that there are simply so many things that you need to be good at, and in most cases, you’ll have zero experience in these areas.

So how does one get the experience needed?

Try. Fail. Try again.

That is the reality of it – and trust me when I say that I speak from experience.

As a moderately successful blogger, I have an audience that probably thinks most of the things I touch turn to gold.

That is far from the truth – I can assure you!

In fact, most of what I try doesn’t initially work out and the reason my audience doesn’t know about all these mini-failures is that I don’t waste time writing/talking about all of them.

Instead, I simply invest that time and energy into trying again.

Key Take Away: If you cannot get your brain to cooperate enough to allow you to make decisions that scare the shit out of you (at least for a while), then you are going to have a really difficult time getting to where you want to go.

Pick the Right Business Model

Years ago I ready somewhere that every entrepreneur is like a surfer and to be a really great surfer, you must have a really great wave.

Truth!

eCommerce on Amazon is a fantastic wave!

If I had chosen to keep running my marketing agency, there is no way in hell that I would have been able to grow it this quickly. The reality is that service businesses, while easy to start, are notoriously difficult to scale up because they require highly specialized labor to handle the workload.

The reason that I like product-based businesses so much is that I can significantly increase revenue without having to significantly increase headcount – and for virtually every business on the planet, payroll is by far the greatest expense.

Key Take Away: Focus on a product-based business – ideally eCommerce.

Stay Focused

One of the biggest challenges for new entrepreneurs is staying focused on their business long enough, through all of the failures that are required to obtain enough experience to achieve success.

Instead, many would-be entrepreneurs spend far too much time endlessly looking for the easy button.

There is no easy button!

To achieve success in almost any business requires that you simply slog it out for a sustained period of time. Only then will you have any hope of achieving success.

In my case, while it is true that once I committed to the wholesale model on Amazon we went from zero to $100k/mo in just 5 months, what is also true is that I spent close to 6 months of full-time effort trying to succeed with private label before that (in vain).

Key Take Away: Ignore shiny objects and stick with a proven business model like wholesale on Amazon.

Find Mentors

Earlier I told you that starting a business is really hard – and while this is 100% true, there is a hack that is used by all smart entrepreneurs.

The hack to which I refer is a mentor.

In my case, my early mentor was Dan Meadors.

After interviewing Dan on my podcast, I was able to form a friendship with him and he was kind enough to answer a few key questions – one of which was how to source products.

Out of respect for Dan’s time, I didn’t reach out very often…but when I did, the guidance he provided was always exceptionally valuable; especially in the case of how to source products.

Without Dan’s advice, I would likely have taken much longer to focus on a proven model, and then build the systems that I did to aggressively scale up his product sourcing strategy.

If I had to pick one reason why we were able to go from zero to over $100k/mo in just five months, this would definitely be it!

Key Take Away: Find a mentor and respect the value of their time.

Build Scalable Systems

Do you know why McDonalds became the world’s most successful fast food chain?

Was it luck? Was it timing? Was it key employees? Definitely not!

A the time Ray Kroc got involved in McDonalds, there were already plenty of competitors, and the placed was staffed with teenagers, so timing and key employees weren’t the reason for their success.

Instead, the reason for McDonalds rapid growth was: 1) they’d picked a great business model, and 2) they created systems to ensure everything was done exactly the same way every time.

In my eCommerce business, we have (at last count) around 70 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and every one of them is in writing.

As you might imagine, this makes delegating work to my team far easier than it would otherwise be.

In fact, I have gotten so good at relying on systems and delegation that I’ve been able to delegate myself right out of a job!

Key Take Away: If you haven’t yet started to document your business processes, you are making achieving success far harder on yourself. Start today.

Register for the webinar mentioned in the video above.

Build a Team

Once you have documented systems in place it is critical that you start to build your team because you simply cannot do everything yourself.

In the case of building our Amazon wholesale business, without systems and a team of virtual assistants, there is a zero percent chance that I would have been able to get to over $100k/mo in just 5 months.

To grow revenue that quickly we had to source a lot of products, and to do that we had to find thousands of potential products and then send thousands of emails.

How does one person do that?

They don’t. There is simply too much labor.

Building a wholesale business is a numbers game. There is no way around that.

If you aren’t consistently sending 200+ emails a week (we currently send 300), then it is going to take you forever to find enough products to build enough cash flow to quit your job, build a team, get an office, etc…

I strongly recommend that you start with virtual assistants and then as soon as you can afford it, get an office and hire your first full-time employee.

We now have 3 full-time and 2 part-time employees. As of today (April 5, 2018), a fourth full-time employee has just accepted our job offer and we are actively looking for a fifth.

Key Take Away: If you want to grow fast, you must start building a team ASAP.

Expect Setbacks

Experiencing setbacks is a natural part of success. There is no way around them.

To illustrate my point, let me share a few key events from my own life:

My offline business:

  • 2001 Founded my first company, Dyrand. This business lost money for 5 years, putting me $400K in debt at one point.
  • 2006 & 2007: We were recognized as one of Canada’s PROFIT 100 Fastest Growing companies.
  • October 2008: I sold it for $1.2M. Had it not been for our angel investor, I would have run out of cash and gone bankrupt long before we (finally) achieved enough success for me to sell it.

My online business:

  • Summer 2010: Started building micro-niche sites as an Amazon affiliate and was making $3-4K/mo within a few months.
  • November 2010: Created my first blog (onlineincomelab.com) and within a year, the blog was earning about $10K/mo.
  • April 2012: Google Penguin put me out of business in a week. I was making $15K a month from my niche sites and a blog. My income went all the way to zero.
  • Fall 2012: I bought the domain brightideas.co and launched this blog & podcast.
  • October 2013: Founded my marketing agency to service clients that the blog/podcast attracted. Was making under $60K up to this point.
  • November 2014: Signed our largest client for a $150K yearly retainer.
  • April 2016: Started doing private label and was making zero profit after 5 months.
  • May 2016: The large client terminated the agreement and our income went to near zero.
  • August 2016: Started doing wholesale on Amazon and within 5 months we were doing over $100K/mo.
  • 2017: Our profit from the Amazon business and Bright Ideas blog exceeded $400K for the first time.
  • March 2018: Revenue was over $230K/mo and gross profit was over $43K/mo for the first time.

In looking at the timeline above, I hope you’ll notice that both offline and online businesses took nearly 7 years to become successful.

Moreover, during my online business adventures, my income went to zero twice. Despite that, I never gave up on my goal of building a highly profitable online business.

Key Take Away: Successful entrepreneurs are very resilient people and not everyone has this quality, which is why the vast majority of new entrepreneurs give up and go back to being an employee.

Consume Attitude Food (Regularly)

When a setback occurs, an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset is their attitude. If you can’t manage to keep your positive attitude through a major setback, you’re done.

So how do I maintain a positive attitude during these times? I consume attitude food!

For me, attitude food consists of:

  • Podcasts
  • Books
  • Conversations with mentors

Key Take Away: When times get tough, consume attitude food and fight for your life!

Share Your Goals With Others

The best way to ensure you succeed is to make sure you don’t keep your goals a secret. If people don’t know what you are striving for, how can they help you?

They can’t.

That is one of the reasons I blog, network, and pay to be in mastermind groups. I want as many other smart people as possible to know what I’m working on, so that they have a chance to help me accelerate my success via either valuable advice, or an introduction of some kind.

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Three weeks ago, I flew to Las Vegas to have dinner with the CEO of our largest supplier. He and I had never met. During the 2.5 hour dinner, we talked about all sorts of things and I discovered that he loved cars.

Once I learned that he was a car guy, I told him about the motorsports business that I am in the process of launching. After listening to me describe what I’m doing to get it off the ground, he told me that he had a relationship in the industry that might be helpful and asked if I wanted an introduction.

Obviously, I said yes, and he made the intro to the people at Speedfreaks.tv.

I’ve now had my first call with them and it went very well. They have a large network of high-profile motorsports celebrities that I would have had a very hard time getting in touch with on my own.

After hearing what I was working on, they immediately invited me to join them at the Indy 500 so they could introduce me to all sorts of the types of people I need to meet to accelerate the success of my business.

Key Take Away: Don’t keep your goals a secret!

Be Transparent and Play the Long Game

In my experience as an entrepreneur and blogger, being transparent (sharing what I’m doing) and playing the long game have played a crucial role in my success.

As I hope you have realized in reading this post, my success hasn’t come overnight, and often times, it has been the result of valuable relationships that I have cultivated over time.

That is what I mean by playing the long game.

I believe that, as Warren Buffet has said, reputations take years to build and only a few seconds to destroy, and as such, I make decisions accordingly.

Sadly, not everyone operates this way, and in my opinion those who don’t will have a much harder time being successful over the long haul.

Key Take Away: Your reputation is your most valuable asset. Treat it that way.

Conclusion

When I set out to write today’s post, my goal was to share with you the key things I think that you need to focus on to become more successful.

If you’d like to see me explain my exact product sourcing system in detail, I suggest you register for my upcoming webinar.

Was this post helpful? What was most valuable? What are you going to do differently as a result of reading it?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Want to Discover Even More Bright Ideas?

Click Here to Access the eCommerce Fast Track

Related posts