Looking Back at 2018 – 10 Things I’ve Done & Learnt
The Lifestyle Flipper blog has laid dormant for the last 12-months yet a lot has changed in between. Here’s what I’ve achieved & learnt in 2018.
It’s been over a year since my last blog post! Crazy how fast time flies by and how quickly things change.
It made me think about why I stopped writing these blog posts and to be honest I really miss it! I love sharing what I’m doing with you guys – what’s working, what’s not working and helping out as many folks as I can along the way.
But at this time last year, I knew I had to dig my feet in and really work hard to be able to achieve the goals I set for myself in my Business Growth Strategy.
As I look back now I see that I never cut out blogging. But, I did include something that I’ve stuck to over the past 12 months “Focus on the 20% that yields 80%” (misspelling and all!)
My last post was just after I got back from the DSL Mexico retreat which was amazing. I came back energized and full of ideas and tactics to implement.
But ideas are useless without an action plan which is why after a call with my buddy Brian Angel (we actually recorded a call as I was considering starting a podcast. Check out what was going to be Episode 1. of the Lifestyle Flipper Show below and let me know what you think!)
Brain shared with me a template for what he uses as his long and short-term goal planner. I filled mine in after having a long hard think about what I wanted to achieve and how I can reach those goals.
Here’s the full Business Growth Strategy I wrote for myself in November 2017.
“To grow my eCommerce stores to become the authority in their respective markets whilst maintaining a healthy amount of time within each business. Also to grow my personal brand with the sole focus on helping others.”
I pretty must stuck to the first part of this but of course, ditched the second part by not keeping up with Lifestyle Flipper.
- Have a plan
- Focus on the 20% that yields 80% (analytical approach)
- Don’t tweak – BUILD
- Serve people, and the profit will follow
- Outsource everything I don’t enjoy or that I’m not good at doing
- Stay excited for Monday
- Think long-term
- Stay just outside of my comfort zone
Everything on my values list I stuck to and I believe it’s paid off so far.
So, What’s Happened In The Past 12-Months?
I’ll probably forget a lot of things. I can’t remember what I did last week let alone a year ago (another good reason to start blogging again!) but here it goes anyway…
1. Got sucked into the crypto bubble and bought at the absolute worst time.
Yep. I was that guy who got caught up in the hype and fomo and decided to put a good chunk of my business profits into something I knew nothing about based on the fear of missing out.
A good buddy of mine was doing amazingly well in late 2017 from crypto investing having turned $40,000 into almost $2m. I put off investing for months at stuck to my plan, thinking that the bubble would burst. Then, as I got in, it did.
Lesson learnt: Follow Warren Buffett’s advise and be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.
Also, that If I were to invest any time soon I should really educate myself first and not rely on the hype of the masses to influence my business.
I read Warren Buffett’s book “The Snowball Effect” and Scot Papes “Barefoot Investor” since getting into the crypto market and now know infinitely more than I did before about investing.
Johnny FD’s “Invest Like A Boss Podcast“ has been another great learning resource that I will listen to more of when I chose to get back into investing.
2. Started my own brand and imported products from China
This has to be the biggest change and achievement I’ve made over the past 12 months. I decided to refocus on importing my own brand of products in January (after realising I’m not going to be a crypto millionaire any time soon).
I say ‘refocus’ as I always knew that importing was going to be a focus for 2018. My buddy Dan and I attended an importing seminar in Melbourne in October of 2017 (I think?) and I was sure that this was the next logical move for my business.
I’ll go into more depth in another blog post, but basically, I looked at my most popular products and saw that the second best selling brand (by revenue) was all imported items. I was paying a bunch of middlemen and not controlling enough of the process such as quality, stock levels, features etc.
In January I started searching for and contacting overseas suppliers. By February I was receiving samples and in May I visited 6 of the best suppliers in China with my brother and dad.
3. Moved into a factory
Of course, all the stock I just ordered had to go somewhere, so I sourced and found a 250m2 factory and office space not too far from where I live. I set it up with a forklift, pallet racking, office furniture a computer and a whole long list of things that are required for a warehouse to operate which I’ll dive into more in another blog post.
As a side note, I did consider using a 3PL (3rd party logistics centre) to warehouse and despatch my items and visited one to see how they work but decided against it, favouring my own warehouse instead.
4. Began wholesaling my own brand
It’s early days yet, but I’ve started to get my brand of products into brick and mortar stores. I don’t want online retailers to sell my brand as my website is the best place to buy my products online. It doesn’t make sense to me to have other retailers compete with me for SERP rankings and in the bidding auction for PPC ads.
But the customers I can’t reach are those that walk into their local store to buy. By selling my products at a cheaper rate to brick and mortar retailers I capture almost the entire Australian market.
Early Q1 2019 I’ll be working with a buddy of mine named Jacob to test a LinkedIn targeting method that will hone in on finding the decision makers of these companies that I want to sell my brand. I’ll let you guys know how it goes!
5. Started a Hire branch of my business for one of my stores
One of my stores’ products are also used by hire companies that offer 1-day to 1-year long hire for people and businesses to use the products.
I’ve allocated each of my own branded products to hire and have already seen some great results, capturing another market.
6. Set up as a company
As I wanted to import my own products I had to move from being a sole trader to a company for liability and tax reasons.
The importer is deemed to be the manufacturer of a product so if something were to go wrong with any of the branded products I sold I was personally accountable. Not something I wanted to have on my mind when sleeping at night!
The move was quite detailed but I had the support of a great accountant who made the move as simple as possible.Along with being a company I now have to have insurances for this that and everything in between. I’ll put this on the list of blog topics, too 😉
7. Bought a car to carry my products
I used to drive a small Toyota Corolla – Amy’s old car before she upgraded to a Rav4. It was great but not suitable to carry around some of the big products I was now importing and selling.
My accountant advised me of a few Government incentives that I was eligible for that would allow me to claim 100% of the vehicles cost on the business and for it to be a 100% tax deduction from that year’s tax return.
I needed to find a ute with over 1-tonne carrying capacity and for it to be less than $20,000 (ex. GST) to qualify.
I found a great 2012 base model Mazda BT-50 with a canopy and roof cage which was perfect for carrying around the bulky items I sell and sometimes would need to haul.
8. Hired more team members
My stores have grown exponentially over the past 12 months. Just this month alone we’ve done well over 500 orders. So our team has expanded as the businesses have. A lot of people were trialled and many let go. I’ve learnt a lot about outsourcing, hiring and how important it is to find the right person to fit the company culture.
… another blog post idea!
9. Closed a store that wasn’t working
I started a store in mid-2017 that I was certain was going to be a winner. Everything seemed too good to be true!
But after 9 months of trying and losing approximately $10k on fee’s and ad spend I pulled the pin :(All was not lost as I was able to merge the products with one of my other stores where customers still occasionally purchase.
… I’ll go into more depth as to why it failed in yet another blog post.
10. Started another store
I was going to sell one of my stores to focus on the best performing one. With the profit, I could expand my branded products faster and have more time to focus on growing that business. But I realised recently after the DSL Bali Retreat that I had a great business that was bringing me consistent income. I’d be crazy to sell.
In fact, I want to grow my portfolio of stores next year to 5 and keep growing my amazing team to support it.
The synergies that come from owning multiple stores are fantastic. Plus, I love the buzz of starting a new venture and getting that first cha-ching!
2019 Is Going to Be Even Better!
There are a tonne of things I missed or didn’t mention here that have been great achievements or lessons learnt and I already have so many ideas to chase for 2019. Especially after coming back from the DSL Bali Retreat (which was amazing!).
Stay tuned for my 2019 Business Growth Plan post soon.