The Entrepreneurial Journey At Age 21
Being an entrepreneur has become a more popular term in the world today. It seems like everyone wants to go out and do something on their own just because. There's opportunity out there and there are ways to make everything better no matter what it is. Some people have that vision to see the opportunity, and some people take advantage of it to go do it. I can't get away from the fact that I am one of those people and I am proud of it.
Seeing the opportunity is one thing, but finding the will to say you're going to jump in and not look back is another world. To many, they say it's risky, but to an entrepreneur, the only risk is in not controlling your own destiny. I see a path to success, and that path involves my creations along with my persistence. The road is a difficult one, and yes it can be lonely too, but I know that I will never stop moving forward no matter what the pace. I don't want to be a part of the system and work monotonous 8 hour days for the man because what purpose is that.
How Did You Get Started?
I started my first business back as a senior in high school selling custom labeled water bottles for advertising. This got my feet wet, and it allowed me to get the feeling of someone buying something you created out of thin air. I actually still run the business today with re-orders, I'm just not actively marketing it. Then I tried to start a healthy edible cookie dough called Fit Dough, but there were a number of reasons as to why I couldn't scale and I decided to put that one to rest a few years ago. Then there was the idea for resealable canned water because of sustainability, and getting away from the world of plastic, but turns out it's extremely capital intensive and you need a number of distributor relationships. That one is on hold as of now too. That's when my brother and I were talking about a direct to consumer business so that we wouldn't need the relationships, and we wanted something a little less capital intensive. That's when we came up with the idea for Frost Buddy.
Frost Buddy was mainly started because of the trend around slim cans with White Claws, Truly's, Ultras, etc., and we realized a need for a can cooler for these. Because of my previous businesses, I had researched about Alibaba and finding manufacturers, I knew how to do trademarks, and use social media marketing, so I found a manufacturer in about 2 weeks that sent us samples, and we liked them so we put in our first order for them.
What Goes Into An E-Commerce Business?
Starting an e-commerce business has been a huge learning experience. What better way to learn than to find people who are already successful. I quickly learned what I need to become an expert in or find an expert for:
- Website Design (I use Shopify)
- Product Quality/Production/Negotiation
- Search Engine Optimization
- Product Photography
- All Forms of Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok,etc.)
- Generating Email Lists
- Paid Ads for Marketing (Understanding analytics with them)
- Using Influencers & How to Contact Them Effectively
I'm sure there are some I'm forgetting, but that's the main ones that I have focused on. The point is I've learned more in a month and a half starting this than all my other businesses, and business school combined. I feel like it's because I am truly passionate about this, and I am confident that it can take off so it doesn't feel forced. This has been a challenging experience, but mentality is the key to driving forward. I quickly found out that producing the products were the easy part.
What's the key to every successful business?
Sales and Marketing
How on Earth am I going to get people to know about Frost Buddy, and how am I going to convert them into sales? This is definitely the biggest challenge to date. I created my site, and I am always editing it to try and find the best converting website possible. But you can have one killer website and not have a single person find it... Cue: SEO, Facebook, Instagram.
I started off by learning how to do Search Engine Optimization to get organic traffic to the site, but because of the competition in the insulated koozie space, it hasn't had much effect yet.
I've gained the most traffic from Facebook for sure, and I think that will more than likely continue to be the case. The issue I run into is once I get people to the site, how can I get them to actually purchase something. I am still learning everyday and working on that, but I know we will get there. The site looks better and better everyday. I'm trying a number of strategies through marketing with the social media, but I'm also trying to learn about growing email lists because I've learned how impactful that can be for companies. Each day is more knowledge about the business and how to make it work, and I genuinely love learning about how to win. The beauty of it is I'm at the bottom right now, and I have to work my butt off and learn how to get to the top. I'm a competitor, and I know I'm going to win this game whether in two years or ten. The key is my mentality and the ability to find small battles to win everyday to keep pushing.
This is just the beginning of the journey, but I want to keep you guys updated on the journey with me. I've always wanted to see someone post about the day to day grind instead of going from $0-$5 Million just like that. I want to give you that, and I want to show the struggles and challenges I face everyday with this. But I also want to inspire others to go out and go for it because I'm starting from nothing. No help from parents, very little money, just a goal to create something one day!