Most of the people I talk to, easily 8 out of 10, already have some sort of business idea or venture they'd like to try.
It may not be your be all, end all world changing big idea, it may just be an area you have expertise in. It may be a connection you have that can get you a product at a low cost, it may just be an opportunity in an industry you already know well. Perhaps you're in management at your current job and realize you could start your own business doing what you already know how to do.
That's good! Let's start with something like that.
IF you need to go back to the basics when it comes to researching your idea, then click below on the free idea trainings I provided in the email course:
- Idea Lesson 1: Finding your idea
- Idea Lesson 2: What should I sell?
- Idea Lesson 3: Which business style is right for me
Once you have your idea, or are at least in the ballpark, keep reading on to the next lessons.
Don't worry, it doesn't have to be set in stone yet. As you continue through this course your idea will begin to take shape and line up.
Don't let the product selection process become overwhelming for you!
This is one of my favorite parts, and should be seen as fun.
Watch this quick video and you'll see 4 simple methods you can use during the brainstorming process:
I'll be talking about this a lot throughout these lessons. I want you to validate your idea - FAST. Learn from my mistakes!
Some of the best advice I've ever heard on how to start your first business FAST was in this three step process:
It's worked for me and it's worked for others that I've taught. Here's what I mean by it:
Step 1: Rip. I want you to find a company/business/website that you want to be like. I want you to google search your competitors and find the online store you like the most. You like their style, their motto, the way they do business. When you look at their company you think, "Wow! This is what I want! I want a business like this one."
Step 2: Pivot. Now I want you to take the company from step 1 and "pivot" from their idea. Meaning I want you to tweak it, adjust it, change it just a little bit towards you and your style. Make it fit your personal brand or perhaps a new demographic you want to reach.
For example: Maybe your company from step 1 makes high end baby shoes for girls. You want to pivot their style and make high end baby shoes for boys, or just for infants, or just for toddlers...etc
Step 3: Jam. Get after it! You know what you want your brand to be like, (step 1) you know the new direction or approach you want to take your business (step 2) NOW GET AFTER IT - JAM!
Put your head down and dive in. I go 100 miles per hour each day as I work on my businesses and you'll be surprised at how fast you'll get there when you take this three step approach to starting fast.
In this video you'll learn about the basic business model that your online business needs to revolve around: The email list!
The purpose of your business is to bless people. And in turn, you will be blessed as well.
This is possible when your customers know, like and trust you.
This is done through building value with your customers through your email list.
The REAL value is in the email list.
It's not in Facebook fans or Instagram followers. It's in the email list. Facebook and social media platforms could all disappear or change the way they operate in the blink of an eye. Your email list is yours. It can never be taken away from you.
If you lost your website tomorrow, you could bounce back and be just fine if you have an email list full of people who know, like, and trust you.
In this video you'll learn the basic business model you'll need your website to revolve around. We'll discus lead magnets (aka opt-in bribes) and how to deliver value in exchange for a customer's email.
Here's a quick strategy to keep in mind when choosing how to price your product, ebook, or service.
(Hint: Cheaper does NOT mean better!)
A friend of mine shared some wise business advice from his father.
His dad asked him, "Son, do you have the worst T-shirt printing company in town?"
"Of course not!" he replied.
His dad hit him back with, "Then why are you the CHEAPEST?!"
Selah (pause and think on that...)
VIDEO: Watch me go from idea, to validating the idea, to finding the product to sell (This lesson is worth more than the course!)
Follow along with me as I take you behind the scenes and literally walk you through the formula I use to find a new product, validate it, and source the product. (This could change your life. Literally!)
As mentioned in the above lessons, we can use a few tools that will show us how many people are searching for a particular term, phrase, or product each month. This will help decide if there is enough traffic, or enough demand, to justify pursuing our product idea.
When brainstorming for your business idea, keep in mind that the average "conversion rate" of an online store is only about 2%. That means for every 100 people that come to your site, you should sell around 2 products. Now that can vary either way, depending on the product and price point, but it's something to keep in mind.
Here's a list of a few keyword research tools:
- Toolfeast.com (NEW!) Free SEO/Keyword planner - use this one first! You'll sign up for a free account first - this one is probably my favorite right now.
- Google keyword planner - free, but you'll have to set up an Adwords account to use
- Merchant words - paid, and this is used for people searching Amazon.com
- SEMrush - really powerful tool. Has a limited free trial
- Jaaxy - free trial. Shows you avg monthly searches and about how much traffic you'd get if you ranked number 1 in google for that term.
- SERPS - good tool
Those are some great tools to use. Most use the "Free trial" model asking you to upgrade to a paid account to get more information.
Honestly, you really just need to see roughly how many people are searching for that term each month. That can be accomplished through the free trial versions of most of those research tools.
For example, let's say I search for the term "wooden clogs."
I see that wooden clogs, along with it's variations (like women's wooden clogs) brings in about 2,000 searches per month.
Let's say for safety sake, I calculate that if I can convert 1% of those searches into buyers, that would mean 20 sales per month.
I've found a supplier on Aliexpress.com that sells wooden clogs for about $21 including shipping.
Competitors are selling their clogs for $39 dollars.
That means I stand to make a profit of about $18 per sale. 20 sales per month = $360
So I would determine it's probably not worth pursuing 🙁 I want items that can get me at least $3000+ per month and help me escape my day job!
Now if the profit margin was much higher, or there were a lot more searches per month, then perhaps this would be a good niche. But based off the example, I would pass and keep searching.
Use these tools, keep researching, find something that can get you in the ballpark then launch out and take action!
Once you find a product you'd like to pursue, you'll need to email potential suppliers to see if they'll be a good fit for your business.
Here's what I send to basically all the suppliers I'm interested in:
My name is Travis and I have an online store here in the US and am very interested in carrying some of your products. I think they’d be a good fit for my audience and I believe we could do a lot of business together.
Before I move forward on my first order I just have a couple of questions:
- Do you accept paypal?
- Can we set up a drop shipping arrangement?
- What is the total cost to get 1 unit, including shipping to the US?
- How long will it take to receive my order once placed?
Thank you so much for your quick reply. I look forward to doing business together.
Best regards, Travis”
I literally copy and paste that email into every potential suppliers. Even if they said their minimum order quantity was 1,000. Just send the email anyway. You’d be surprised at how many companies will allow you to ship one at a time.
Then, once you start getting responses, weed through them:
- Eliminate the ones with horrible english. (Clear communication is huge!)
- Eliminate the ones that don’t take Paypal, or that won’t do the drop ship method.
- Shop and negotiate for the best price from the remaining suppliers.
Don't be scared of this step. Remember, they WANT your business.
They are excited to gain new clients and I have found that most are very eager to help you get started and will work with you.
Now go send some emails!
In this video I'll diagram the steps to getting you to $500 and $1,000 per month in profit as fast as possible using our T-Shirt Cannon example.
I want you to see how it simple it can be (if you have the right mindset) to make an extra $500 a month.
One of the most important parts of starting a dropshipping business is coming up with the RIGHT product to sell.
It can also be one of the most stressful aspects - if you let it.
Let me take some of the headache out of the process.
- Don't stress about your product/idea. You're an entrepreneur now. See yourself as a "master tester." We launch the beta version and then adjust and tweak from there,
- Your first idea may not work, AND THAT'S OKAY! All that matters is that you launched, and that you learned something.
- Go niche. Don't go with a broad product, go with a niche product, and become the expert in that niche.
Let me give you an example:
Here's the broad idea: I want to sell men's clothing. (Bad idea)
Niche that down a level: I want to sell men's socks. (Better idea)
Niche down again: I want to sell crazy cat socks. (Best idea)
Sounds crazy right?
I just watched a webinar where they did a case study on a guy who sold crazy cat socks. That's it. Socks with funny pictures of cats on them.
He consistently makes $3,000 A DAY in profit.
Because he niched down, and made himself THE go-to guy for these funny cat socks.
It's actually genius because it's in a niche with fanatics.
We all know several people who are cat fanatics, so when he would post his ad on Facebook, he would target people who like cats and cat related pages, and then people began commenting and sharing his post like crazy.
People would tag the cat fanatics they knew and it gave his online store a mini-viral effect.
How to test your product idea.
Go to Aliexpress.com and purchase just one of the items you want to sell.
When it arrives, (take note of how long it took to arrive to you) take pics, shoot a video, test the product, and write a review so you'll have that information handy.
Now, go setup a free account on Etsy, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
All of them.
Now post your product ON ALL FOUR OF THOSE WEBSITES for the price you would want to sell it for on your own website.
Write a great description, post the benefits, lots of pictures, and put it at the price point you would like to test.
This will be your "trial run" with the product.
My whole philosophy for success is to START FAST.
I live by the motto: "It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done."
So by going through these four avenues, you are eliminating excuses and starting fast. You don't need a website, you don't need lots of inventory, just post your product on these marketplaces and get some results.
Doing this will help you "test" your products appeal to the masses.
Here's what the process would look like with the crazy cat sock example:
- Go to aliexpress.com and search "cat socks." You get something like this:
Let's go with the ones in the corner at $1.09 a pair with free shipping.
2. Place an order for yourself and have them shipped to your house.
3. Setup accounts at the marketplaces mentioned above. This particular item will probably fit best on etsy, since etsy already has "built-in buyers" of crazy cat socks.
4. Post your item for sale, provide lots of pictures, (Use pics from aliexpress, or take your own if they don't have any) and list them for $9.99 plus $3.00 shipping.
Now wait and test.
If your product sells fast, then maybe go and order a few more pairs and try it again. You could even try bumping the price up by a few dollars. Once you've done this 1-3 times you should get a pretty good feel if you have a hit product or not.
If your product DOESN'T sell, that's okay, don't stress, use that data to re-evaluate and make some tweaks. Remember, this is your "beta test."
You can try lowering the price a bit, maybe your pictures need to be a little nicer, maybe offer free shipping.
Take a look at what other successful sellers on etsy and ebay are doing and glean from them. (You can read the reviews from customers and see what makes them so great)
Remember though, the whole purpose of this exercise is to test the waters. I don't necessarily want you to become an expert etsy/ebay seller. (It's too much work, we want to create more passive income) I just want you to test your product there, before you invest a ton of time in building your website and marketing it.
Once you've validated your idea with a few sales, then let's dive in and create a simple website that will take payments and help you setup your automated drop shipping business.
This is a great way to start fast, test the waters, make a few bucks, and then dive in head first!
I get emails pretty much daily from my readers asking me, "What should I sell??"
The honest truth is I can't answer that for you, the possibilities of what you "should" sell are limitless!
You'll have to run your own tests and find out what the best fit is for YOU.
That being said, as you've seen in the videos above, there are some criteria that I personally like to run my product ideas through.
You don't have to adhere to these exactly, but in my opinion, these guidelines are what makes a product idea worth my time.
What makes a product idea worth pursuing:
- You can sell it for $200-$900 (this will usually give you a good profit margin. It may result in less sales, but means less work for you on the backend. I'd rather make 15 high profit sales per month than 500 low profit sales)
- I like when a product has at least a 50% profit margin. For example, if you can buy it on Aliexpress for $150, I would want to sell it for at least $350 and make a $175 profit.
- Decent to high demand. On one of my first drop ship products I remember there were 6,000 monthly searches for the item. (Google's keyword planner) I figured if I could get even .5% of those searchers, (30 sales per month) and make a $175 gross profit each sale, that would bring in about $5,250 per month for me.
- Little and easy-to-beat, competition. If there is a demand of let's say 6k searches per month, but only 4 competitor websites selling your product, check to see if you can beat them at their own game. Can you make a better looking site? Can you make yourself look like THE authority on the product? Can you beat them on price by a little bit? Can you use Facebook Ads, Google Shopping Ads, and my Pinterest Strategy to bring in better, more targeted traffic? Perhaps their sites look old, outdated, and unprofessional. You can come in and look like the most professional seller, build trust with your visitors, and you'll start to gain the new business.
Again, you don't HAVE to use this criteria perfectly, but I will say, this will shortcut your success time.
If you find a product that fits into ALL 4 points of that criteria, (and there are THOUSANDS of products still out there) then you can almost guarantee your success. *Almost.