This is a small summary of how my husband and I became entrepreneurs and what it took to get a full-time income from our business.
It started out as a small idea from my husband. He wanted to resell items to his country, Norway. While he researched, he saw an online shop that resold clearance and coupon items from stores in the U.S. to Norway.
He was bummed out that there were competitors initially, but then he realized there must be room for us too.
Committed to the end
We had a plan (sort-of). The hubby would work on the website and then get inventory for us to add in our shop. We set aside $10k for inventory and he worked on the store, translating to Norwegian.
One mistake and another
Our first mistake was spending too much time “perfecting” the website: it took 4 months. Our second mistake was the platform: prestashop. It was impossible to make the smallest changes and it took a lot of money to hire web coders.
The website looks like a million bucks to this day because of the design, and I invested a lot of time taking product photos.
Our third mistake was starting too big: we got 170 different products that all needed 3-5 pictures for optimal selling.
By the time we launched, we were $30k in debt, and got ONE sale.
We celebrated our first sale and then realized we were in deep trouble…. $30k worth of trouble and zero sales.
Our sales were slow, and we tried giveaways and advertisement.
Then we stumbled onto our first success, we looked into ways to just move our inventory as fast as possible, making all our money back as quickly as we could: we looked for more channels.
We tried selling our products on a Norwegian equivalent to eBay, we also run promotions through a Norwegian deal site. Then, we tried eBay and Amazon.
Stumbling onto Retail Arbitrage
Finally, we caught on to the fact that what we were doing was called “retail arbitrage”: to buy items from any physical store and resell them at a profit.
Getting out of debt
Once we realized our channels were bringing enough money, we decided to supercharge our efforts into paying our $30K debt, it would take a while before we could do it.
The timeline went like this:
- March 2015 -$30k in debt
- August 2015- debt paid off!
It took a lot of work: we returned products that were slow selling, we sold some at a loss and kept our eye on the fast-movers best sellers.
Growing, growing, grown?
Once we were fully out of debt, we managed to start making a profit and finally, we paid ourselves. We kept our expenses really low until the business was out of debt completely and we were operating in the green.
At this time, my husband worked 10-15 hour days, we both got very little sleep. I stayed at home with my 1 year old and had him ALL the time. Meanwhile, I would bag and help with the shipping of all our products. We were both exhausted but we finished 2015 with +$25k.
We, of course, reinvested it all on inventory.
The tipping point
Once January 2016 came around, we decided to automate our business. We hired 3-5 employees, moved into an office and put our child on daycare.
Our work hours have lowered since we made this decisions, and it has decreased our stress by 1000x.
We now have $140k in inventory, a steady income, and an almost automated business that can run without us.
We’ve been able to “take time off” for a month to travel to Norway and Spain. We never stop working, as our business still depends on us checking in and working a few hours a day.
What might 2017 bring for us?
We don’t know yet, but we are certainly gearing up for the holiday season (Q4) which is a huge selling season for retailers.
Wish us good luck during the holiday craziness!