A Quick Update on Progress

Hey guys its Megan and this is week five of The Bootstrap Boutique.  Thank you so much for coming back.

Today I just want to continue giving updates and being really transparent about the process Im going through about building an online amazon business, since now we know thats what I want to do.  It’s exciting stuff, I know.

I got some samples in for a product I’m thinking about sourcing the good news is the samples are fine, they are exactly what I was expecting.  The bad news is I only have samples from one supplier and everything I read online says you should really talk to multiple suppliers, so you are getting a good feel for the different products that are out there and different prices, but I’ve only so far been able to get this far down the road with one supplier and I’m just not sure…is that ok? should I do some more?  On one hand its ok to take the time to do it but on the other time is money and I don’t want to loose steam and loose motivation.  I want to keep moving forward.  So i’m really just trying to weigh which one is more important right now.

Just so you guys know I”m not going to share the actual product that I am working on sourcing and hopefully selling on amazon.  The reason for that is its really hard to find a good niche that doesn’t have a lot of competition in it and if you just blast it out there once you’ve found that area, you are really opening yourself up to other people swooping in and taking advantage of the work that you did.  So its very common among people that have amazon businesses, virtually no one shares what it is that they are actually selling.  There are two good places that you can go and that I have read and watched if you want to learn more about specific products, how people found them, how they sourced them and so on.

The first is Greg Mercer and Jungle Scout.  He did a collaborative product launch which was really cool because what he did was he went through the whole process of finding a product, sourcing it, he was at the Canton Fair in China, and met with suppliers, did the marketing and launched a product called Jungle Stix.  They are 3 foot long bamboo roasting sticks for marshmallows and stuff on the fire place.  And he did that publicly and what they are doing is sending all the proceeds or the profit that they get from that product to charity.  I think they are doing Doctors Without Borders which was a great idea and a great way to show people with an actual product how to go through the steps to selling on Amazon.

The other is a blog and youtube video series called Seller Labs and there is a guy there that did the same thing.  He started with a retail arbitrage strategy where he was buying some kind of locally made peanut butter that was local to his area and he was selling in on Amazon.  He moved into the private label space with soap molds, silicone soap molds, and that worked out really well for him too.   So there are two places, there’s probably more if you really want to see a specific product where you can do that.  It’s just because I don’t even really know what I am doing enough to invite that kind of competition in, I’m not going to share.  Just so you know.

So like I said before, I did get a sample, I am trying to figure out if this is something that can truly be profitable for me.  It is a lower dollar amount sell price on Amazon than what most people recommend that you target and thats because they have bigger margins.  I can probably get a hundred percent margin on this, return on cost, depending on what I have to spend on advertising, it’s just of a smaller dollar amount right, so the net profit is lower.  And I think that’s ok, I think that there are so many people out there talking about having to sell between fifteen and fifty dollars and you have to have a ten dollar profit margin and you need to sell ten a day and so on and so forth, that for people that are following those instructions and those guidelines, to me it seems like that area might be getting a little saturated.  So I took the strategy of going to a lower priced product thats also selfishly less money up front, that I am fronting for these products.

So, we’ll see, it’s a gamble because there is less margin for error there, it could go bad if things go wrong.  Luckily, this is money that I don’t necessarily want to lose, but I think its worth taking the risk.  I recommend absolutely do not go into a product like this or a strategy like this if you don’t have any money that you can lose.  This is going to be a pretty capital intensive project and that is something that you have to go into aware.

One Month of Progress…What Did I Accomplish?

Hey guys, my name is Megan and this is episode four of the Bootstrap Boutique.  Thanks so much for coming back again this week, this is week four so we’ve been doing this for a month now, which is really hard to believe but really exciting also.  What I wanted to do is take you through what I have actually been able to accomplish over this past month.

So we started four weeks ago with nothing but an idea that, hey I want to start an online business, a little side job, a little something to do to bring in some extra money and just kind of learn about how to run a business, its something I’ve never done before, something I’ve always kind of though about in the back of my mind, hey I want to do that one day and really I’ve decided that that day has come.  I read online, I can’t remember who said it, but they said, “This is not your practice life.”  That really was like “whoa.  you’re right.” Its’ not. We don’t get to do this again, we only get one shot.  So I have entered into my thirties and I’m ready to get going.  It’s not time to think about someday anymore, that day is here.

So in my first video I said, “guys you know, I really don’t know what I want to do.  I know I want to have some sort of ecommerce business but that was about it.  That was about as far as I had gone with my thinking of it.  I just knew I wanted to do something online, and its not an information product that really dealt more with the physical goods sector.

So I was looking at a lot of different online resources, I have read almost every blog entry that Steve Chou has posted on mywiftquitherjob.com, and he really inspired me to look at the ecommerce business and physical product space pretty closely.  Because I think what he has done is really interesting  and he has obviously had a lot of success with it.

As I thought about it a little bit more and I did a little more research, one thing kind of lead to another and I found private labeling products and selling them on Amazon through Fulfillment By Amazon or FBA.  That is something that I am really excited about for some reason, I’m not entirely sure why but it just seems like such a great opportunity.  I buy almost everything from Amazon, if they would ship me frozen chicken, I would probably buy that too and just never go to the grocery store again, but one day they will probably be there, they just aren’t there yet in this area.

So that’s where I am, that is something that I am really excited about and after I made the decision “ok this is an area I want to go down, I’ve been using a couple of resources really heavily that have helped to guide my thinking and shape my thinking to do some product research.

The first is a gentleman by the name of Scott Voelker and he runs a podcast called The Amazing Seller.  What he does is he started private labeling products over a year ago or maybe sometime in 2014 and he has really shared his journey and has talked about what he has done step by step through they way.  I’ve listened to most of of his podcasts, especially ones in the beginning where he was kind of figuring it out because that’s where I am now.  He talks about stuff now that is a little over my head but I figure, I’m a year down on him so I’ll get there eventually.  But he has been really instrumental in helping me understand how the process works.

The other product I have been using is called Jungle Scout and that is like a data aggregation tool that uses Amazon to help you predict what kind of sales and profit you receive from a product.  I actually listened to a webinar that Jungle Scout put on, Greg Mercer is the founder and president of the company, and one of his co-workers, and it was really interesting and insightful and it was so cool because this is something that I had never even considered before.

When I buy something on Amazon and it says “Fulfilled By Amazon” I never knew what that meant, that that was some random person possibly selling a product that they had branded and improved on or created  I just thought it was …I don’t know what I thought it was.  I never paid it any attention, but trust me, my mind has just been a little bit blown by this whole process.

So I’m really excited to get started.  I’ve actually found my first product, potentially, what I think can be my first product.  I’ve emailed suppliers in China and I’m working through the process of getting some samples and this whole thing is just so cool and its exactly what I was hoping for when I said, “hey, I want to start a business just to learn how to start a business and to learn how to run a business.”

Its been really really fun and exciting and I can’t wait to hear back from people and start wheeling and dealing and all that stuff, and see where this leads.

On the legal side, the maybe not as exciting side, but the very important sides still, I have my LLC papers from Legal Zoom so I am all set up and official.  I did get an EIN (an employer identification number) from the IRS, that was a really easy process I would not recommend that you pay somebody to do that.  It was about 10 minutes on the IRS website and you just press a button and you have an EIN.  It gives you the paperwork and everything and now I have that.  So again, Legal Zoom and I know some of the other companies out there like Legal Zoom will do that for you, its fine if you don’t think you can do it yourself but I would encourage you to try, because its really easy, even if you aren’t that tech savy, like I said I had it in about 5 minutes.

I still need to open a bank account because I want to separate my personal and my business assets obviously.  I’m just waiting to get my tax return done because I think I’m going to owe some money this year, probably the money I had earmarked to go towards this business, is going to go pay Uncle Sam which is fine if that’s what we owe, its just going to be one more road block that we have to face and its going to delay a little bit my first owners capital contribution, which sounds really fancy but it just means that I’m taking money out of my account and putting it in the business account and saying, “hey this is the businesses money now.”  But again, it sounds kinda cool, right?

Alright guys, thats all I have this week.  Like I said, it was just going to be a quick update to let you know that things are moving, progress is being made and I’m really excited about where this is going.  I feel like I have learned so much already.  I want to know what you’re doing too, so leave me a comment, send me an email, subscribe to this channel so that we don’t miss a chat and I will see you next week.  Thanks guys!

Can I Start an Online Business While I Still Have a Day Job?

Hey everybody, my name is Megan and this is episode 3 of The Bootstrap Boutique.

Thank you so much for coming back this week, I’m really excited to talk about another question I see asked a lot on the internet, which is, “Can I or Should I start a side business while I still have a day job?”

For almost everyone the answer is going to be pretty emphatically, “Yes! You should, you can!” I really think that starting a small side business and the skills and knowledge that you are going to learn in doing that is actually going to make you a better employee for your day job.  So absolutely, you should.

Here’s the thing. While you’re starting your side business, you really cannot afford to neglect your day job.  Why? Well, for one, it pays your bills.  It’s what allows you to have this little thing that you have on the side going.

And it can be really hard when you are starting something new because you’re so excited about it, you’ve got that shiny object syndrome going on where all you want to do is think about your side business but it’s so important that when you are at work, at your day job, that you’re really focused on that.

What I’ve found since I started my side business, which is slowly starting to gather some momentum, is that it’s really making me a better employee as far as my work during the day.  I’m more focused during the day because I know that I’ve got other stuff that I want to work on outside of office hours, so I can’t just kind of get through the day and work on a little here and there and pick up the slack at night, which is what a lot of people do, they bring there work home with them.  I just don’t have time for that right now.  I know that when I get home, I hang out with my son, and I put him to bed, and then it is time to get to work on this other job and not finish up things that I should have done during the day.

So it’s really helped me to focus in and be a more productive employee during the day, which is another benefit to your employer.  That brings me to what I think is a really important point about this, which is don’t work on your side business, or your side job, while you are at your day job.  So that means you may find that you are having to wake up early, you’re having to stay up late, or put in some hours on the weekend.  And that’s ok, that is the time when you should be working on your side business.  No employer wants to hear that you are doing something on the side and its effecting your concentration or the work that you’re doing while your there, and they are paying you to be there, or that you’re doing side stuff as opposed to what again, they are paying you to do.

It’s really important to find little pockets of time during the day when you can do incremental things that will help move your business forward.  An example of that would be your commute.  If you are driving into the office, if you are walking, if you are on a train or a bus or an airplane like I find myself a lot, that’s a great time to listen to podcasts.  That can be either a business podcast, or a money podcast or or just something that has to do with the industry that you want to start your side business in.

You could also do audiobooks, there are tons of great audio books out there.  When I used to have a forty five minute commute one way I got through several really good audio books with what was basically found time, which was really nice.  Another idea I had to share with you is to just keep a little notebook or notepad beside your desk and as you think of things during the day, just go ahead and jot them down.  I think that is a “getting things done” method and what it does is it takes it out of your mind so you don’t have to think about it anymore and you you’ve got it recorded somewhere.  I actually just keep one of these, this is just a little moleskin notebook, that I keep beside my desk.  Its full of notes and sticky notes and things and as I have ideas I just jot them down during the day and then I go through them at night when I get home. It really helps keep me focused and helps keep those ideas flowing.

Also, you could challenge yourself to see “How much can I get done on my lunch hour?” For most people, thats an hour of time where they can do pretty much whatever they want.  So, you know, maybe instead of going out to lunch with your coworkers or your friends or going to run errands like I usually find myself doing during lunch, really try and do something that is going to help move your business forward.  So maybe that is going to open up a bank account for your business or reading over operating agreement documents for your LLC or prospecting for new clients if that is something that applies to you.  Just any little pocket of time that you can find is really going to help you stay motivated, stay engaged and stay moving forward and making progress.

One last thing that I wanted to mention.  If you work in a highly regulated industry like I do, I actually had to get this whole thing approved before I was ever able to take one step with my business.  If that’s not something that is common in your region or your area of work, then that probably seems very intrusive to you, and it is but I’m just kind of used to it because its what I’ve always been around in my working career.  So, you know, I would encourage you to, no matter what it is that you do, or what the requirements are in your industry because maybe they are more lax than that, at least run it by your manager so they know what you are up to.  Not because its necessarily their personal business what you are doing, but most companies do have some sort of moonlighting clause which says that you can be involved in another business, it just can’t interfere with the activities of your company.  You at least want to make sure that your manager is aware for that reason and to know that you are doing this side thing, but its not going to interfere with your day to day duties and responsibilities that you carry out at work.

So in closing, yes, you can and you should have a day job while you’re building up your small business.  If you are really trying to bootstrap, then the best way to do that is to make sure that you still have an income coming in every two weeks.  Also, we’e got no guarantees of success here, we really want to succeed, we are going to work our tails off to do it, but thats still not a guarantee.  You don’t want to let your industry contacts and your job go and find yourself in a really tough position six months down the road or something if it doesn’t work out.  Just make sure that it’s clear as it needs to be that when you are at your day job you are focusing on your day job.  When you are at your desk at home  doing your side business you are focusing on that.  The power of focus is really important here and its something that is really going to help you keep your two duties separate and continue to excel at both.

So thanks so much for joining me this week, I”m glad you came back.  Please make sure that you tune in next week, I just want to do a progress report on what I have done for my business and also share some updates about a direction I want to go.  It’s something I’m really excited about.  I can’t wait to share it with you and I can’t wait to hear about what you have done this week to take action.  So go ahead and leave me a comment below, you can send me an email, subscribe to this channel, tell your friends, and I will see you next time.

Thanks so much.

Can I Start an Online Business with No Money?

Can I Start an Online Business with No Money?
Can I Start an Online Business with No Money?
Can I Start an Online Business with No Money?

Watch the video on YouTube: Can I Start an Online Business with No Money?

Online Business – 2 Ways to Make It Happen

Hey guys, thanks for coming back. My name is Megan and this is episode two of the Bootstrap Boutique.

Today I want to talk about something I see asked all over the internet all the time, which is “How do I start a business online with no money?”

And if you really want to start a business with no money, there are some things you can do. I’ll give you two ideas really quickly.

The first is start a blog or some sort of content, authority based website. You can go to Blogger, you can go to WordPress, you can start that site in five minutes and you can be in business.

The second way is you can go to Kickstarter if you have some sort of product that you want to create. So you are probably familiar with Kickstarter already, but if you’re not what you do is you go to Kickstarter, you create a video, similar to this, and you say, “Hey Kickstarter! I want to make this cool thing.” And you explain what that cool thing is and if people are interested in your cool thing, they will pay you money for it. You hit your funding goal, you get money, you go out and create that cool thing and you send it to everyone who already told you they are interested.  It’s a great way to test a market and see if there is interest in something that you want to do before you go sink thousands of dollars into production and then you can’t sell it, it’s just sitting in your garage.

E-Commerce Online

So let’s talk about how to start a retail business because that’s what I’m kinda leaning towards as review my options. So there are two different types of retail stores as you know.

There is your traditional retail store where you have rent, you have labor, you have to have everything that you are going to sell right there in the store, otherwise you really can’t sell it. There’s a lot of barriers to entry and that is definitely going to cost you money.

The second way and what I’m looking at more doing is going to be an online e-commerce site. So, with that, still going to cost you some money. You still are going to have to have a domain name, you are going to have to pay for hosting, you are going to have to have some sort of shopping cart on the site, and you are going to have to have a way to accept credit cards. None of that is free, you are going to have to pay for it all.

But we want to look at ways that we can minimize those expenses and get the most value for it at the same time.

So again, how do you start a business with no money? Well, you probably don’t, unless you are in a couple of specific areas. Otherwise, you spend where you have to and you do the work yourself where you can.

Progress Report

Ok so I want to give you an update on what I have done so far in starting my
business. And honestly, its not a lot. So I think I probably jumped the gun, but the reason I did it is because I wanted an EIN (or an employee identification number) to set up whole sale accounts so I can start looking at products with distributors, and I thought that I had to have a LLC to get an EIN. Now that I have looked into it a little bit more, I’m not convinced that that is true, but I’ve done it now.

So, I’m looking at that as my first investment into the company. $250 I know. But even with paying the $250, I did manage to find a few ways to save on expenses.

Legal Zoom is really good for walking you through step-by-step what you have to do to register a LLC in your state. And what I found is that they also offer some services, that if you didn’t want to do them, they would be happy to do it for you. Obviously for a fee, they are a business.

But there are things that I looked into and are things that I can do myself. First is, when you open a business as a LLC, you have to have something called a Registered Agent. Best I can tell, what that means is someone who is available at your office, or at an office, during business hours to accept legal documents or something from the government. I can do that without much problem so I just decided to be my own Registered Agent and save that fee.

The second thing that I found that Legal Zoom could do for a cost that I can do at no cost for myself was get a tax identification number or that EIN I mentioned earlier and they will go out and they’ll do it for you as part of their process but I was looking around on the IRS website and found that you can get an EIN at no cost. It doesn’t appear to be a very difficult process so I just opted to go ahead and do that myself. There are also going to be a couple of state filings that I am pretty confident I can handle myself and opted out of those too. But, if you are someone that doesn’t feel comfortable doing that research, you can absolutely let legal zoom take you through step by step and just have them do all those things for you, just know its going to cost more than $250.

So there is one other thing that I have done this week is set up a free wordpress blog just like I mentioned earlier. Its thebootstrapboutique.wordpress.com again it’s free, we are bootstrapping and we aren’t trying to spend a lot of money to start. So I really don’t plan on doing a lot of blogging there but I wanted one site where the YouTube videos and the few blogs that I may do here or there can all be housed in one place. So if you need one place to find me, that would be it going forward.

So feel free to check that out, please subscribe to channel, like the video, share it with your friends, and I will look forward to seeing you next week. Thanks!

You can watch this video on The Bootstrap Boutique’s YouTube channel here.

You watch more videos at The Bootstrap Boutique YouTube channel here.

The Bootstrap Boutique – An Introduction

what is the bootstrap boutique
what is the bootstrap boutique
What is The Bootstrap Boutique?

Watch the video on YouTube: The Bootstrap Boutique – An Introduction

What is the Bootstrap Boutique? How do you start a small business and what does the “hard work” involved actually entail? Join me as I try to figure it all out!

The Bootstrap Boutique – Transcript

Hi everyone, my name is Megan and you are watching the first episode of The Bootstrap Boutique.

And you’re probably asking yourself, what is The Bootstrap Boutique? And to answer your question right now, this is video one, and it’s just me, hoping to start a small online business.

This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, and you know in all the years I’ve thought about starting a small business, I’ve done lots of reading of business books, I’m just a reader by nature.

What is ‘Hard Work’?

What I find is that entrepreneurs and small business owners, they always talk about the start of their business, by saying, “I did a lot of hard work.” And, I always thought, “well, what does that mean?” I always wished people would dig in a little bit more and do a little more explaining of what kind of hard work they had to do to start a business.

I know it’s going to be hard just to 1 – to take action 2- to find paying clients 3- to keep those clients and to grow but you can pay some lip service to that but I just wanted to go through what that actually looks like in a week by week process.

So I hope that this is something that you will find value in, and that you will want to follow along with. I plan on covering every step that I take to start a small business from deciding what I’m going to even do, because I don’t have that wrapped up yet, to business structure, to how do I build a brand online, all of these things are things I want to talk about in this series so we can learn by doing and you and I can go through that together.

Stick with Me!

Again, hopefully that is valuable to you. If you think it will be, please go ahead and subscribe to this channel so I know you’re watching or leave a comment and I will look forward to reading those.

If this is something that you are interested in, come with me, take some action of your own, and I will look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you!

You can watch this video at The Bootstrap Boutique YouTube channel here.

You watch more videos at The Bootstrap Boutique YouTube channel here.