Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Our main product is the Drop Ship Blueprint; which was created to empower freedom through entrepreneurship. We help our members gain more freedom in their lives by training them on our business model, giving them access to our proprietary software, and facilitating the largest community of successful dropshippers online.
Recently, we have been preparing for our 6th Annual Drop Ship Lifestyle Retreat. We’ve hosted our Retreats in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Krabi, Thailand, Kona, Hawaii, Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and Bali, Indonesia. This year we are bringing the DSL community to Prague!
I started Drop Ship Lifestyle in 2013 after selling a network of stores. Since then, we have grown to over 10,000 members from over 35 countries and we have no plans of slowing down any time soon.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
My dad was a butcher and my mom did inside sales for a small electronic components company. We had a nice home in a nice town, but we were far from wealthy. Had that been all I ever knew, I’d likely follow a traditional career path.
I got lucky because one of my uncles is a successful entrepreneur. From a very young age, I realized he lived a different lifestyle from ours. Not only did he have a bigger home, he also had two of them. Not only did he have a sports car, he had three of them. Not only did he have a boat, he had two at one home, and two at another!
When I was about five years old, I asked him why he had so many things while my family did not. He told me that he wasn’t any smarter than my parents, but that he took a chance and went into business for himself at a young age. He told me I could do the same, as long as I was willing to do the work. From that day forward, I knew I would be an entrepreneur.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
My entrepreneurial journey started right after I graduated from SUNY Albany in 2006. This was back before I ever knew that building an online business with no budget and no technical skills was possible. My plan back then was to buy businesses, build them up, and sell them. Then buy bigger businesses and repeat the process until I could retire wealthy.
The first business I bought was the cheapest one I could find (Note: this was a bad idea and not a good way to find opportunities!). The business was a delivery route for a bakery in Brooklyn, New York. For $25,000 I acquired the rights to sell the product in Nassau County, along with the existing store location contracts and the truck to make deliveries.
My grand plan was to double the income by getting new stores under contract. I would then flip the business and use the money to buy a larger business. I went into the deal with nothing but confidence. However, after a few days, I realized I had made a huge mistake.
Most of my hours were spent sitting on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway or waiting behind grocery stores to speak to a manager. I couldn’t afford to give up, so I kept grinding at it for a few months… and then I was introduced to a book that changed the course of my life.
A friend recommended that I read “4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. It sounded like a scam but I figured I had nothing to lose… As I read the book, it totally opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about business. I realized that I could build a website. I realized that I could run ads. And most importantly, I realized that if I could make it work, I wouldn’t have to spend my days sitting in traffic.
After reading that book, I spent a weekend building my first ever online store. I was selling bakery products to people who wanted NYC quality goods, but who no longer lived in the area. This little website took me about three days to create and $29 to register. My first investment in Google Ads was about $100.
Within about two weeks, this little website and my $129 investment were making me more than the business I invested $25,000 in. I was hooked, and I knew my future would be in eCommerce.
Shortly after my first eCommerce store took off, I sold the delivery business and started to build more and more stores. Instead of selling inexpensive products, I started focusing on expensive products priced at $200 or more. For years, I focused on importing and private labeling products.
Then, around 2009, I discovered dropshipping because brands starting reaching out to see if we could carry their products. Again, this sounded too good to be true and I thought it was a scam…
However, as soon as I wrapped my head around this method of order fulfillment, I went all-in on this business model. I went on building and growing dozens of successful stores. As well as an amazing team and a suite of tools to support our growth and our customers’ happiness.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Most of my working time is now spent on growing Drop Ship Lifestyle by supporting our community and providing world-class content. I started the company as a side project in 2013, but it has quickly grown into the premier program for eCommerce entrepreneurs.
No one knows everything and everyone is figuring it out as they go. When you’re starting a business, it’s easy to get intimidated by your suppliers, your customers, and your competition.
We have over 10,000 members in our flagship program, the Drop Ship Blueprint, and we have over 300,000 active members on our email list who learn from the free content that we distribute every week.
We are here to help everyone who is seeking to build a business that provides them with the freedom to earn more while working less. We actively seek these people out through sharing our content on social media where we have grown sizable followings:
- Facebook: 244k Likes
- Instagram: 49K Followers
- YouTube: 63K Subscribers
This all leads to us adding between 1,500-2,000 people to our email list per day. While that’s a respectable number, we know there are many more people in the world who would benefit from our products and information. To reach them, we are expanding into new markets and growing our podcast which is called eCommerce Lifestyle.
While I still start and acquire businesses to sell, Drop Ship Lifestyle is not one of them. I love the community we have built over the past six years. The satisfaction I get from seeing our success stories is all I need to continue growing the brand for years to come.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
No one knows everything and everyone is figuring it out as they go. When you’re starting a business, it’s easy to get intimidated by your suppliers, your customers, and your competition. You don’t need to be.
Your suppliers want to retailers who can bring in more sales. You can make learning Google Ads a priority.
Your customers want fast communication and honesty. You can provide both from Day 1, even if you’re running your business from your phone.
Your competition may look like they’ve got it all figured out, but their operations may be a mess and they may be bleeding money. You can study them and exploit their weaknesses to rapidly gain market share. You should respect your competition, but do not be afraid of them.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Sales Platform: Shopify
- Order Fulfillment: Drop Ship Lifestyle App (Members Only)
- Email Marketing: Klaviyo
- Exit Intent Overlay: Privy
- Reviews: Stamped.io
- SEO: JSON-LD
- Shipping Notifications: AfterShip
- Financing: PayPal Credit
- CRM/LiveChat: Zendesk
- Project Management: Basecamp
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki changed the way I think about money. If you don’t think you need to read it yourself, I’d encourage you to buy a copy for a friend or family member who is lacking financial literacy.
The 4-Hour Workweek opened my eyes to the world of eCommerce and lifestyle design. While now dated, it’s still worth a read for any aspiring entrepreneurs.
Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson is a must-read for anyone who is already in business. I read this book about 1x per year and it always opens my eyes to new growth opportunities.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
In 2019, it’s easier than ever to start an online business… but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take real work and determination to win. You cannot just click a few buttons, upload a theme, and expect the cash to start flowing in.
You should act as if your eCommerce business was a thriving offline business – a physical retail store. Act as if it was not just one store, but a conglomerate of stores that are located on all of the busiest shopping streets in the world.
Your eCommerce store IS a real business, and it should be treated with the same respect that the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies treat theirs.
If you really want to grow your eCommerce business at a massive scale, you need to fully commit to your business as if you already had hundreds of employees, dozens of retail locations, hundreds of thousands of unique visitors coming to your online stores, and a responsibility to grow your sales and profits each and every day.
What decisions would you make then? What would your day look like? What hires would you make? Where would you cut costs? Where would you look for new opportunities?
Make a list of things, and start doing them TODAY. If you want to turn a basic lifestyle eCommerce business into an empire that can provide generational wealth, you need to act as if that is what you are already doing.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Website: https://www.dropshiplifestyle.com/
- Podcast: https://www.ecommercelifestyle.com/
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dropshiplifestyle
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dropshiplifestyle/
- YouTube: https://youtube.com/dropshiplifestyle
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomlifestyle
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Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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