On a Tight Business Budget? Here’s How to Make It Work [Podcast]

Ying Lin COVID-19

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Let’s go back a few years. Chris was working 30 to 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job. He had no drive and no idea what he wanted out of life.

Things took a turn for the worse when his long-term relationship ended. He was so knee-deep in bills, he had to resort to eating crackers for dinner.

Attempts to make some extra income on the side weren’t very successful either. That was until he came across dropshipping.

Here’s Chris’ story about how found success in dropshipping and above all, how he persevered through failure. He also shares some insights and advice on coping with an ecommerce store amid the coronavirus.

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Life Before Dropshipping

Chris’ first taste of dropshipping began in 2017. Back then, he was receiving minimum wage and had no real focus in life. Faced with a seemingly insurmountable stack of bills, he tried to make some extra income by selling things on eBay, starting a PC repair company, renting out his driveway, and even gambling.

All of these attempts saw limited to no success and things were looking pretty bleak. 

Then, he discovered dropshipping.

As with all successful dropshippers, Chris failed in his first few attempts in starting a dropshipping business. After five failed tries, he decided he needed a breather so he took a break and cleared his head. 

But what’s failure but a path to success? Refusing to let this knock him down, Chris decided to give it one last shot.

Setting a Humble Goal With Limited Funds

Financially strapped, Chris set a $300 budget on his dropshipping ecommerce store. Such a tight budget meant he had to acquire most of his knowledge about dropshipping from the host of free online content on YouTube, Shopify, etc.

His initial goal was to make an extra 200 pounds per month, which would have made a world of difference given the financial rut he was in then.

Dejection took over when he failed to make a single sale on his first day.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t afford to do this. Why am I doing this? I’m an idiot.’”

But just a day later, he made his first sale. That got the ball rolling and sales eventually grew to $10,000 over the next month and a half. Over the following two years, his store generated over half a million in revenue.

Realizing He’s Made It

Chris’ moment of realization that he’d made it came one morning after waking up to find that he’d made 200 pounds in profits overnight while he was asleep. That started becoming a nightly affair, which soon ballooned into 1,000 pounds and then 5,000 pounds in a single day.

Despite this success, there was always a nagging doubt at the back of his mind: “How long can I sustain this for?”

But for Chris, it was a natural thought to have and one that was part of the success because it was so different from anything he’d ever experienced.

A Financial and Psychological Boost

From his dropshipping success, Chris’ life improved in more ways than one. Not only did he see financial gains, but his confidence levels have also grown.

He’s stopped worrying about life so much now that he’s in a more comfortable place. Thanks to his newfound confidence, he’s since gone in front of the camera to do interviews, launched his own YouTube channel, and even started a dropshipping academy.

In his own words, 

“It’s all because of what dropshipping has done for me personally that allowed me to take those steps and really just take a leap out of my own comfort zone.”

Coping With COVID-19

Chris' new-found confidence from dropshipping lessons

Armed with the knowledge and experience Chris has today, he has a few words of advice for dropshippers going through a rough period of time amid the coronavirus and its impact on businesses and shares what he’s been doing:

How Chris Is Managing

  • He’s reduced his ad spend to lower his risks during this period of uncertainty.
  • Though his suppliers in China may be back to 100 percent operating capacity, there’s still a risk because dropshipping still relies on distribution networks around the world.
  • Chris reckons things are going to get worse before it gets better. The smartest thing for him to do now is to limit his risk until the situation has passed its peak.

Advice for Dropshipping Businesses

  • Think twice before advertising on Facebook now. Though CPMs may be cheap, customers are generally warier of spending money. 
  • When it comes to advertising, it depends on what you’re seeing across the platform.
  • If you’re profitable, keep it going. But to avoid logistical delays, communicate with your supplier to understand what processing and shipping times are like.
  • Focus on tracking your product to make sure they are getting to customers.
  • Take it day-by-day and make decisions as you go along and as the situation plays out.

Advice for New Dropshippers

  • Though masks may seem like an attractive product to start selling, do not do it because you don’t know what the quality is like and above all, it’s morally wrong.
  • If you’re starting with a low budget, hold off on advertising to limit your risk.
  • In the meantime, learn as much as you can and improve your store.
  • Get everything on the backend side ready so you’re ready to go when things return to normal.

“I’m trapped in the house and haven’t really got much else to do other than work on my business, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m just using this time as productively as I can, really.”

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Ying Lin
Ying Lin
Ying Lin is a journalist-turned-content marketer who is on a journey to help companies scale. She is also the co-founder of Dear Content, a content marketing boutique.