Location of writing: Ghent, Belgium.
Travel plans this week: Gentse Feesten – Huge week long street party in the gothic style city of Gent, filled with beer, live music, and everything else Belgian (so pretty much just beer – check it out).
Day 1 of 90
So, it begins. Starting today, I set out to start a new online business, and to be earning profit from that business, while travelling, within 90 days of today. Along with that challenge, I also set out to blog about every bit of it (challenges, tips, general rants about things I do and don’t like) along the way.
Why share my secrets? Why do it while I’m meant to be relaxing? Why bother start another business? Why why why? I cover most of this in the about page here – check it out before skipping on in!
What’s the business?
To be honest, I’m still not sure. My ideas over the past few months have been bouncing all over the shop, from dog friendly (and tasty) wrapping paper for pets, to piggy banks shaped as cigarettes that encourage you to quit smoking, to an exchange student reunion agency. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a good chance I will pursue at least a few of these things in the future. However, for now, I need a business which can be set up on the road with minimal investment and assistance. I have no postal address, limited money, and limited time.
The solution? It’s called drop-shipping. Basically, this is a business model where by the store doesn’t keep its own stock, but rather, when a customer buys from my store, my supplier will ship the item directly to the them. The result being, I don’t have to buy anything until my customer does, and I don’t even see the stock unless I order it myself.
This really contrasts the alternative (traditional) business model which we went for in the case of Namaste Collective, where thousands of dollars was needed front-up to be able to purchase / produce products, register intellectual property, set up a company structure etc. There, the business was set up as a registered company, and comes with all the associated obligations – we didn’t have a choice – but this will be discussed later anyway!
There are lots of benefits, and also disadvantages to ‘Dropshipping’, and now I think about it, it probably deserves its own blog – So stay tuned for that one in a couple of weeks! Put simply – dropshipping is your key to starting with no money, no set location, and minimal risk.
Keep in mind, this dropshipping model is a first for me too, so I will be really critical in analysing it as I dive in.
Summing that up – I have decided on the business being an online store, selling a product (TBA) through a ‘dropshipping’ model. The name? The products? The brand? Next week.
Take the daunting first steps
This is the important part. Commit. Throw yourself in. For me, the most important thing is to make yourself accountable. Don’t keep your plans secret, tell people, tell everybody. Explain it completely. By doing this, you are forcing yourself to follow through. How’s that business going Charlie? Given up? Failed? Oh shame… These are the kind of comments you have to work to avoid – conclusion being, the more people you tell, the more reasons you have to make it work.
It is about stepping outside of your comfort zone. For me, writing this blog is well out of my comfort zone. Usually I am more than happy to tap away quietly in the corner, and will happily avoid any related questions / discussions, but now, I’m forced to be an open book.
And finally, more than anything, eliminate your excuses. The most common being I need more time, more money, more knowledge.
All of these can be answered so easily with you will always need more time, more money, and more knowledge – you will never have enough. Stop waiting, and just start. Commit.
Find the time (It’s in the morning)
This can be the hardest bit. For me, it is all about the morning routine. The way you start the day can have a huge impact on how much you get done that day and ultimately how much you achieve to starting a business. There are hundreds of useful ‘kickstart’ tips out there, but below are the principles I try to actually follow the most:
Wake up early
I know not everyone is a morning person, but it is proven that the first 2 hours after waking is generally where your mind will be the most creative, and also most free from distractions. There is also something comforting in getting two hours of productivity in while you know others are sleeping – you are getting ahead. Get up, do some exercise, have a cold shower, make a strong coffee, and get into it.
Eat the frog first
What is the most daunting task you have to do that day? Get it done first. If you know you must eat a frog on a given day, get it done straight away, and then you won’t dwell over it for the rest of the day and your moral will be boosted. You won’t procrastinate, you won’t find other useless tasks just to avoid the smelly frog. Throw it down your gobba, and then the day will be 100% more productive from that point, I promise. (* I do not endorse actual frog eating)
Don’t check notifications
This is really important. We are really prone today to wake up and immediately check messages, Facebook, emails, Snapchat, Instagram, and it goes on. The result of this is that you are suddenly thrown into a zone where you are responding, taking orders, and following the directions of those notifications. You’ve spent 15 minutes lying in bed flicking around and your energy has sunk. Suddenly, by the time you get out of bed, you already have about 50 distractions on your mind and your creative focus is gone. If you can avoid looking at any of that for an hour or two, and instead decide to complete a task that does not involve responding / checking, but rather involves something proactive where you are setting the pace and taking full control, your days momentum has benefited immensely. In the end, it is very very rare that any notification will be so urgent that a response 2 hours later will make a difference. It will still be there. Turn your phone over and ignore it.
Eliminate time wasters
Easier said than done. How much time do you spend on social media, watching a series or doing anything which does not really move you forward. As soon as you know what it is, knock it out. Doesn’t have to be cold turkey – slim it down bit by bit, and eventually, you will see the benefit.
Finally, it is really important to have a set plan of what you want to achieve that morning, and do it. Don’t have 5 tabs open swapping between and doing bits and pieces of everything. I know many people claim even in CVs that they are a ‘fantastic multi-tasker’ and I was once one of them. Fact is, you will only ever do something well, like really well, if you give it your 100% focus and attention. I was guilty of sitting in uni classes and creating Facebook Advertising campaigns for Namaste Collective. Sure, I felt like some super-functioning robot genius at the time, and the campaigns did work to an extent, but the result was pretty much that my campaigns were 50% less effective than they would have been if I had given them 100% attention. One task at a time, all or nothing. Also a huge fan of Tim Ferris‘ ‘batching’ strategies – more on this another time.
So that’s it for Blog #1. A bit deep , general, maybe cheesy I know, but sometimes these are the simple and somewhat obvious tips you need to take you from the ‘one day’ stage, to the ‘start now’.
From now on, I’ll be focusing more on the actual steps required. Next week, I’ll look at picking business names, intellectual property checks, buying domains, linking with a website backend (easier than it sounds), and of course, finding a product to sell. Hmm, this is turning out to be more work than I expected. Maybe I’ll split that stuff up into two. We’ll see.
*Any feedback on any of this would be greatly appreciated. As I say in the About page, I am not looking to earn any money from this blog itself.
Rather, if you do find anything I say useful or worthwhile in anyway, it would be awwwesome if once the store does launch, you buy something you like, leave a nice review, and help get the store a little kick start into the dark scary world of Google rankings and reviews.
Belgian beer is calling, cheers!