22 Jul, 2020

From Bank Employee to Dropshipping Entrepreneur: One Man’s Journey to Make His Dreams Come True

A stressful work environment. Increasingly overwhelming demands. Limited prospects for professional growth. And a salary that could barely pay the bills at the end of the month.

Just two years ago, the paragraph above was an accurate description of Thalles’s professional life. He was working at a bank, selling and pre-approving loans, and dreaming of a job that could grant him and his wife more freedom and money to travel the world.

“Even though my salary at the bank paid the bills, there wasn’t enough money in it to make my dreams come true.”

There was, however, a solution: Open a business of his own.

Thalles took the plunge. He spent about five years trying to set up different stores. He experimented with different products and searched for alternatives to the traditional business model of physical retail.

And it didn’t take very long until he found out about affiliate marketing. It looked promising, so he decided to give it a go.

Unfortunately for Thalles, it didn’t work out as expected. During the three months he experimented with different affiliate programs, he only made one sale.

Yep, that’s right. One. When it comes down to it, entrepreneurship is not as easy as some people make it sound.

But Thalles didn’t give up. He picked himself up, recharged, redefined his goals, and started to look for other ways to make money online. That’s when he found out about dropshipping.

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Dropshipping: The Missing Piece

Thalles came across the dropshipping business model while watching a video online. In it, a man announced a training program that would help aspiring entrepreneurs set up a business and start selling online in the record time of just 21 days.

That sounded good — at least in theory — but Thalles was still a bit suspicious. After all, he had come across people selling dubious “get rich quick” online schemes before, and there was a strong possibility that this program could be just a waste of time.

When he started watching the video, however, he realized that that guy wasn’t selling a bogus money-making scheme, but rather a way for people to achieve financial freedom. That guy in the video highlighted the fact that a real entrepreneur should always be on the lookout for new business opportunities and new ways to improve themselves professionally.

This message resonated deeply with Thalles, who, by that time, had been trying to open a successful business for years. He understood that for him to achieve financial freedom and forge a new career, he would have to try his hand at a non-traditional ecommerce model.

Luckily for him, that video also discussed the “free plus shipping” business model and the dropshipping model in greater detail.

Perhaps more importantly, this time, Thalles was absolutely sure that this was what he wanted — and he knew that now he would have to work even harder to make his dreams come true.

“It was then that I realized: maybe dropshipping could be a path to success.”

As soon as he completed the training, Thalles set up an online store with Shopify. It took him just three days to customize everything. When it was time to decide what products to sell, he didn’t need to think twice. He already knew the Oberlo app was the best call.

We should also note that with this first online store, Thalles’s main goal wasn’t to set up a niche store. He just wanted to find a good product to sell and to build his store around that.

With everything set up and ready to go, it was time to see if his business idea was actually going to work or if it was going to be another flop.

But, the hard work paid off, and he made his first sale in his very first week.

Life is Made of Challenges

That first sale was crucial not only because it happened so fast, but because it showed there was good money to be made in dropshipping. For Thalles, this meant that perhaps he was finally on track to make his dreams come true.

“The Oberlo and Shopify blogs were absolutely crucial to me. They are filled with relevant content tailored for entrepreneurs who are just starting out.”

He started to look for new products to sell. He also learned a bit more about dropshipping and decided to invest more of his own money and time in marketing strategies for the store.

And then came trouble.

When Thalles decided to expand his marketing strategies, he started spending more money on Facebook Ads. He didn’t really know how to work the platform, so by the end of the first month, he ended up spending more than the store had earned.

This experience is why his first piece of advice to first-time entrepreneurs is:

“Read the Help documentation on the platforms. That’s what they’re there for! Facebook’s Business Manager guide, for instance, has all you need to know to optimize your marketing strategy.”

After that first mishap, things started to fall into place. The store was going well, and Thalles found a new drive to carry on his daily routine. By day, he worked at the bank, and by night he went to law school (yes, you read that right – he decided to pursue a new degree in the middle of all this). Then, he worked on his store until the wee hours of the night.

“Pretty soon, I was making over half of my salary at the bank in just one day of operating my store.”

It sounds like a lot, but it was all part of the plan. Thalles decided that he would quit his job after he had saved enough money to keep him and his wife afloat for at least six months.

After months of living this exhausting daily routine and profiting about $11,200 in sales, Thalles knew it was time to make some decisions.

The first one was to drop out of law school to have more time to work on his dropshipping business. The second decision was to open a new online store.

Second Time’s a Charm: Opening a New Dropshipping Store

Thalles’ decision to open a second online store is tied to another tip he has for first-time entrepreneurs:

“If you’re just starting out, my advice is to think ahead and prepare for the long haul. It’s about building a brand and not just an online store.”

Thalles that opened his second dropshipping store was not the same one who had opened that first store a few months back. He was more prepared and more experienced. He knew that he had to establish a brand with well-defined values and that it was necessary to create personalized content to go with the new products he was going to sell.

The immediate results were good. He profited almost $ 6,000 selling just one product, a plush elephant pillow for babies.

From then on, things really took off. Just one month after opening the second store, Thalles decided to sell a seasonal product that generated about $30,000.

Things started to go so well that by the next month, Thalles decided to quit his job at the bank finally. Now, he was a full-time entrepreneur.

And pretty soon, it became a family business. Thalles’s wife, Bianca, also quit her job to work with him in managing the store.

A Bigger Team and Bigger Results

Bianca came on board right before Black Friday hit Brazil in 2018. Around that same time, Thalles received a Facebook Business Manager notification stating that November 11 would probably be one of the highest-grossing days for business.

He decided to go all-in — and it paid off. He made about $ 130,000 in sales.

Following such an amazing outcome – one which topped all expectations – Thalles decided it was time to bring more people into the team to streamline operations. He and Bianca then welcomed his sister, Nicholle, and Letícia, a childhood friend, to the store’s team.

But this expansion was more than a way to work with people that were so dear to him. It was, first and foremost, a commercial strategy:

“If your revenue is boosting, you might also need to boost your store’s internal structure after all, you’ll be dealing with more products to sell, more clients and more sales. Of course, it’s good to make more money, but first, you need to have a well-organized and optimized machinery.”

There is no question that Thalles’ story is one of success. But that doesn’t mean that it was an effortless and straightforward journey — and he’s the first one to admit that.

Encountering Issues and Being Accountable

Right after that successful Black Friday in 2018, Thalles updated the variants to a pair of shoes that were selling really well on his store. However, the problem was that he updated the variants incorrectly, and many of his customers ended up receiving pairs of shoes in the wrong size.

He was quick to correct his mistake and decided to take full responsibility for it. To fix the error, Thalles asked his clients to send him the faulty products so that he could then order the correct items and reship them. Thalles also paid for all costs involved.

It was a nightmare, but it also brought about an important lesson:

“Because I was establishing a long-term strategy, my priority was to keep the customers that had already made purchases in my store. To me, it was more important to retain those customers than to try and acquire new customers from scratch.”

In 2019, Thalles had to face another crisis when his supplier made a mistake and incorrectly shipped a large number of products not via ePacket, but a more traditional shipping method. This led to delays and a lot of unhappy customers, who had specifically paid the ePacket fee for faster shipping.

Thalles knew, from experience, that the right thing to do was to cover all costs and try to keep his existing customers. It was one of the darkest moments of the store, but he still mustered up the willpower to deal with it appropriately so he could close that chapter.

Nowadays, he’s optimistic about his brand’s future and is currently thinking about how to expand the store further. Right now, he’s prioritizing creating branded products with a print on demand service and sell them alongside his dropshipping items.

From One Entrepreneur to Another: A Few Actionable Tips

We couldn’t end this success story without asking Thalles for a few actionable tips and some practical advice tailored for people who want to get started in dropshipping. Here’s what he had to say:

  • Study (and I mean really study) copywriting and persuasive writing: You need to know how to market your products, create appealing product descriptions, design marketing campaigns, and establish your brand identity.
  • Test your products before selling them: Pay extra attention to the internal data and statistics compiled by the Oberlo app. A successful store is not something that just happens overnight; it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of effort, and a lot of decision-making.
  • Choose your suppliers with the utmost care and always put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

Thalles’ last piece of advice is:

“Metrics, numbers, and data are crucial to your marketing strategies. But don’t forget that there’s a real person on the other side of all this. A person that liked your store and decided to buy something from you. Do not let this customer down.”

 

For this Brazilian entrepreneur, dropshipping was a pathway to success and financial freedom; it allowed him and to live the life he always dreamed of.

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Matheus Santos: