How I Created A Million-Dollar Business in 4 Years By Selling Online

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In 2009, I was 27-year-old, and I got laid off by my previous employer.

That was when everything started to transform. I thought it was the worst thing ever. I was jobless for 6 months before I started working for my father at a traditional wholesale company. I had no business background and I had no common sense in the business field. My father’s company was in a very bad shape at the time, I had no interest in staying for long.

After one year, my father and myself thought we needed a new direction for making money for living. In 2011, we decided to sell on eBay like many people did. At that time, I didn’t consider selling online as a business but just to make slightly additional income. The only e-commerce experience I had was to sell my old textbooks on Amazon and

We took action immediately without overthinking. We spent $600 to buy our first batch of inventory, directly from the factory in Asia. I spent 1-2 months to take photos, set prices, set up a web store, and list in eBay (Amazon wasn’t the mainstream in 2011, but we did launch our Amazon store a few years later). Everything was done in our one-car garage.

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Our web store and eBay store were launched in March 2011, and we started making sales within 24 hours. I packaged each of the order and dropped off our daily orders at a local post office. The revenue for our first year was $43,000, and then it reached whooping $1,070,000 in 2014 after 4 years. In 2015, we have a 5,000 square feet warehouse space in Los Angeles County and we have 8 people in our team.

It turned out, the laid off was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I never thought I could make this much of money when I had a 9-5 corporate job. All I focused was to climb up the corporate ladder to generate more income. The best thing I enjoy as an entrepreneur is to work whenever I want to, and to take vacation whenever I want to.

So, what exactly I did to reach this point? Below is the three simple concepts you can adopt to become an entrepreneur:

Find A Niche

The number one MISTAKE that startup online sellers often make is selling popular products. And guess what? There are so many competitors out there already, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd unless they have thousands of money to spend on advertisement each month.  And that’s not what you want to do as a beginner. You want to keep the budget minimum at the beginning. Therefore, you need to focus on finding your niche market. Imagine in the overcrowded marketplace, you have only a few competitors. All you need to do is offering competitive prices.

How to find your niche market? I have launched a free step-by-step course to walk you through how to find your niche products.

Non-Stop Learning

Your business will not grow if you don’t grow. Non-stop learning and executing new strategies for entrepreneurs are essential for business growth. And what is the fastest and effective way to learn? It is to develop daily reading habit on inspirational and entrepreneurial books.  Most of the successful entrepreneurs read: Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg even has his own book club. In the books, you learn the entrepreneurial mindsets. For learning new strategies. you attend conferences or taking online courses. The world is changing rapidly because of technology. The most effective marketing strategy you learned 5 years ago may not apply for today. So, keep learning and execute them.

Act Now

Recently, I have launched a new online training course to teach people exactly how I successfully built my online business. I talked to many people and friends, and I found the top one reason that keeps people away from success is procrastination. One of my friends approached and asked me how to start an online business. I explained to him the first step is to find the right niche and I sent him a link of a 10-minute step-by-step video tutorial I made. After two weeks, we met at another friend’s house for a gathering.  He came to me and said “Sorry I still don’t have the time to watch the video.” I figured if he doesn’t have the 10 minutes to watch the video now, he would not spend weeks to find vendors and list his products online. I understand that humans are afraid of possible failures and changing themselves to do something completely unknown. But if you don’t try now, nothing’s going to change. Imagine 5 years from now, you are still the same old you because you couldn’t step out your comfort zone. So act now!

The statement of “Get Rich Quick” is true, but it is not easy because we weren’t taught to become entrepreneurs, especially at the beginning. And there’s no supervisor to give instructions and assign tasks. Many people give up too early before they can see the payback result. The truth is – they haven’t tried hard yet to make it work. It takes time for entrepreneurs to explore and figure out what will work and what will not work. Learning is an ongoing process. You can download my free eBook on starting an online business.

Ellen Lin

Ellen is the founder of Ellenpro, offering online training courses for people who want to build successful online stores, based on her successful experience of co-founding Scuba Choice- a 7 figure online store built from $600 in 4 years.