A few months back, I asked you guys to tell me one thing that IWT has helped you do. Out of the 430+ comments, this one by Chris stood out.
Ramit’s Earn1k course helped my wife & I launch a successful freelance
business, which we transitioned to a successful retail store. The
IWTYTBR book & blog helped us save up the $15k we needed to put down for
the retail business.
From Earn1K to successful retail store? Sounded like a good story, so I reached out to Chris for the details – and he was VERY transparent about the ups and downs of the last two years. Read on to learn how Chris and his wife have used proven business techniques — that they learned in my Earn1K program — to take their business from $10,000 in side income, to a retail store grossing over $100,000. Recently, Blossom Girl started selling online as well.
“We thought $1,000 seemed manageable. Then we made $10,000.”
Chris, 27, does internal audit work. “It’s a Fortune 1000. The focus is business operations and process improvement, so I get a lot of opportunities to improve the company. It’s challenging.”
But ever since he graduated and started working full time, Chris has had a problem at work. “It’s really not a company of top performers. It gets frustrating for me – when you aren’t surrounded by other high performers it’s tough to push yourself to be your best.”
Meanwhile, Chris’ wife Kerry was having a similar problem. “She dropped out of college and went to beauty school to become a makeup artist. She graduated from that, but didn’t really love it, so she tried a bunch of different things – like becoming a nanny.”
Chris started to realize that he and wife might be able to solve both their problems with one go – entrepreneurship. “When we got married, I was encouraging her to do something on her own – like wedding makeup, but it is a really hormonal day or whatever for the brides. So she already had the makeup and everything – it was more just trying to figure out how she could use the skill set she had.”
Enter I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
Chris already knew about Earn1K – he had been reading my site for about a year. “I used to follow all the personal finance blogs that were like, ‘you should budget’, or whatever. Then I found Ramit through a guest post he did, started reading his stuff, and overtime I couldn’t even look at those other sites anymore – Ramit’s stuff is just so much more actionable.”
But Chris had a problem – he still had to convince his skeptical wife. “She had looked through Ramit’s book and read parts of it, and had read different articles of his I sent her, but she has never been as fervent in following Ramit, and seeing the kind of results he can give you. But for me – I had that trust and knowledge. I knew it was going to be a great product, because I could see what Ramit put out there for free – and for him to charge this kind of a price I had no doubt about the quality. And we loved that this was not, ‘quit your job and go out there to risk it all for this business’, it seemed really manageable to earn $1000 on the side.”
Just before I closed registration, Chris made his decision. “Kerry said, ‘it’s up to you. If you are comfortable with it, let’s do it.’ We had already started this process of starting to think about freelancing and how we can earn money, so I knew I just had to do it – I signed us up.”
The first gig: $300 for makeup
Over the next few weeks, Chris and Kerry studied the Earn1K materials, treating it like a college course. “You’ve got to study and really apply yourself to it. It was just a couple weeks in we hit on Ramit’s ‘getting inside your customer’s head’ video and landed our first client – a friend hired us to do makeup for all the girls at her daughter’s party.”
That first gig was worth $300.
What to charge: “All the moms were like, ‘this is so great! I want my daughter to have a party like this too!’ And from there, it was all about getting inside our customer’s head. It helped us know what to charge. We could have looked at it all day – well, this is what it will cost us, and this is how much of a markup – but then we learned to look at it from the mom’s perspective and say, ‘okay, here’s what they are going to be comparing us to. Here’s what they are spending on food, etc.’ So we looked at what they would be willing to pay. And then – certain types of moms wanted birthday parties at their houses, but we were missing a large part of our market that wanted to host it somewhere else – which is what got us thinking about opening an actual location.”
By getting inside their customer’s head, Chris and Kerry’s venture evolved – becoming a better fit for both service and price as they learned more about their customers. In the next 8 months or so they earned about $10,000.
How they went from $10,000 to $27,000+/month: “The next step was opening up our store. At first we thought it would just be for parties, but when we sat down to look at the numbers it just didn’t work – and parties have the problem of just being on weekends or evenings. So we thought maybe we could do a retail store during the week, and just do private parties on weekends.”
It turned out that the parties were too much trouble, “we had a lot of them, we did well with the parties, but they weren’t helping our retail sales as much as we thought they would – and they were a big headache.” Chris and Kerri went back to the Earn1K lessons – and their business continued to evolve. “We stopped doing parties and focused on the retail. At first it was makeup, jewelry, and accessories for girls aged 6 to 14. But we realized a lot of our customers are actually under age 11, so we’ve adjusted our inventory pretty substantially to reflect that.”
Chris described year one as a huge learning curve – but a profitable one. “We had big hits, like holiday themed shirts at Christmas time, and then we knew it could sell, so in the new year we brought in a full clothing line.”
The end result? “We opened the store in late August, and by October we were doing a little better than our break-even goal of $13,500 per month. In December we doubled it.”
All by getting inside their customer’s head.
10 stores in 10 years?
Chris and Kerry aren’t done yet. “We have plans for a second store in a big city – so we’ll get a lot more foot traffic there – and I want to have 10 stores in the next 10 years. We’ve just expanded online, too.”
Right about now, the entrepreneurial couple is feeling a lot more positive about their “work”.
“We love it. It’s the most challenging, and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I imagine it’s similar to parenting – if you aren’t prepared to wake up everyday and try and make yourself better it will eat you alive. It’s definitely tough, competitive, hard work and takes a lot of energy — but when you put that effort into it, and see the results and rewards, its amazing.”
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