8-Figure Ecommerce Business Story From A to Z (Interview)
If you have ever wanted to know how to go from nothing to building an 8-figure business online, then this story is for you.
Philip Williams is a former student of mine at BusinessMentor.com. Since 2014 he has gone on to build an eCommerce business empire which earns him 8-figures per year!
This is his story about how he built his empire over the past 5 years.
Q: What led you to start your business?
“When I joined BusinessMentor.com I was in a pretty miserable place in my life. I was working for the BBC as a TV producer and let’s just say I wasn’t a very good employee - I wasn’t made to work for somebody else. I knew that I wanted to do something different and that I didn’t want to be stuck doing this job for the rest of my life. It was during this time that I came across BusinessMentor.com which got me started. Getting started was the hardest part, I was very directionless, BusinessMentor.com gave me some good practical advice about how to get started.
I used the skills that I had learned as a TV producer to start trying to sell video making services to different businesses which I started out trying to do by cold calling, which is not fun at all. However, I learned a lot from it – communication skills and resilience. Sales to me was the toughest thing I had to learn in the world of entrepreneurship, everything after that was easy!
I would get up at 5 am each day and make Skype calls to Australia so I could make calls within their time zone. It was a great experience; I learned a lot from doing something so difficult.”
Q: What made you persist with your business even during the hard times?
“When you are working in a job and you don’t know what to do, someone will be there to tell you what you have to do and give you all the pieces. So, when I was out on my own trying to get started I found it useful to have been advised by BusinessMentor.com about what I needed to do. My main driver to make things work for me was desperation. I didn’t want to keep on doing what I was doing in my job, I was 32 years old and realized that If I didn’t make a change soon that I was going to be doing that job for the rest of my life. This desire for change is the main thing that kept me going.”
Q: You have grown a sizable eCommerce business. However, you had to invest a lot of your own money at the start and for the first two years, you were not able to take any money out of the business. How did you overcome this?
“In eCommerce, you have to pay for physical inventory, it's not like a service business where you can make a profit immediately. It’s a cash flow game, it was difficult. I was not a numbers guy, as a journalist, I didn’t even know how to use a spreadsheet or work out formulas. I had to learn to adapt. I had to focus on learning key skills. I was also lucky that I got through it. One of the things that really helped me was to reinvest the money that I made back into learning and growing. It took a lot of delayed gratification – even though I was making money, I had to keep putting it back into the business. During one Christmas period, I remember buying up a lot of inventory to sell and being very worried that It wouldn’t go well and I would be left owing a lot of money and having a lot of products I couldn’t sell. This was a big risk, but it eventually worked out and it helped the business to grow to another level.”
Q: That Christmas period was about 3 years ago, did you still reinvest your profits back into the business after that, even after having a breakthrough period in your business?
“One of the downsides of growing the business and having no business experience was that it ended up causing a mess. As we grew, we didn’t have any systems in place, organization, or reliable financial systems. It was a period of growth followed by a period of trying to get our act together. I was fortunate that I made some very good hires and brought in some very good people who helped to organize the business to make it more robust. I learned a lot during this process – especially around the financials of the business.”
Q: What does life look like now for you that the business has grown (both in revenue and in organization)?
“I realized the other day that I should stop calling what I do work, because work suggests that you have to do it. I realized the other day on a Saturday that I didn’t need to do anything, I just went down to a nice coffee shop with my laptop and started brainstorming ideas – I realized this is what I love doing. You have more freedom to set your own routines, I spend a lot of time traveling and learning, and meeting new people. I don’t see a time when I would ever stop – growing is important to me – by investing, learning more, and working on new projects. I love new challenges; it makes me excited. It’s really great now to be able to go into new projects with some experience and a team of knowledgeable people.”
Q: Would you recommend that people go into the agency model?
“Yes, when people ask me about business and how to get started, I recommend they think about doing the agency model. The agency model doesn’t require a lot of money to do or time to get things going – you can start it as a side project, work on the weekends, after work, etc. The main thing is to get started, do not worry too much about the details, focus on sales, it’s the most important thing to learn. I studied International Business at university, but I learned more from doing cold calling than I ever did during my degree!”
If you liked this story, please check out BusinessMentor.com, where you can find more stories like this. You can apply to work with me directly to learn how to build an agency business online.
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