December 30th, 2013 2:44 AM Seattle, WA
I stared blankly at the ceiling, unable to sleep, my mind was clear, but racing with new ideas, plans and dreams. This was a different feeling than the usual thoughts of late.
Lately it has been an incredibly busy in my life and a challenging time for both myself and my family, but not in a bad way. Though I have had little time and quite a bit of stress, right now things are happening that I could only previously wish for in my dreams.
This blog has documented my journey through they years from a single vagabonding travel writer to a real estate broker and family man. It has documented some pretty damn amazing experiences in my life and also shown some of the low points which we all inevitably encounter along the way.
Today I feel invigorated, accomplished, yet still hungrier than ever for success, and excited to see the amazing things the coming year will bring.
I look back to a year ago today and realize just how immensely things have changed in my professional and personal life and it is truly unbelievable. From renting a house in Everett, then moving to Ballard and then buying a home in West Seattle, this year has moved my family both geologically, financially and emotionally closer to where we want to be and for that I am grateful.
The Beauty in a Year of Growth
To see the growth of my daughter as a three year old is stunning to me. The terrible 2's weren't the easiest of times without question, but to see her blossom into the nicest, most caring and loving little girl was something that has transformed me as a person and as a father. She has in turn made me more loving, more playful and I simply enjoy life more everyday.
This year has also brought some monumental changes in my career. Despite being at Wilson Realty Exchange as a broker for nearly 9 years, I decided in October to leave the brokerage and join The Force Realty. The move was primarily to work for an office closer to my home and actually keep more of the commission I earned from sales, while limiting the monthly costs I incurred. Many people don't realize it, but being a real estate broker can be an expensive career. From licensing, to mls dues, desk fees, marketing budgets and postage alone you can spend over $1,000 a month very easily.
With Real Estate as my day job and my wife Nicole working as a stylist at 7 salon on downtown Seattle we both were in profitable careers where we could thrive and make a good living, however in September we sat in our home we had just moved into in West Seattle and had a conversation about our longing to scratch our entrepreneurial itch and start our own e-commerce business. One week later I had slept maybe 12 hours, but we had a business license, a website and inventory on its way.
Two months later our business http://justvapeit.net is flourishing. The rate of growth has been shocking, even to an optimist like myself. My outlandish income goals I set for the business were obliterated. Though I have worked harder on this business than nearly anything in my life, the rewards are incredible and seeing your own business grow so quickly is more exciting than any trip or accomplishment I have ever enjoyed. Even as I write this my phone is vibrating every twenty minutes or so, alerting me of a new order.
We Built this business through social media, spending exactly $0 on any formal advertising yet attracting over 10,000 unique visitors monthly to our website and creating an Instagram with over 26,000 followers, many of whom we talk with every single day.
We have shipped to 17 countries and turned a $200 initial investment into a business grossing over $7,000 a month in sales in just 2 months since it's inception. It has however, by no means been easy. I am often up until 3:30 AM explaining our products to prospective buyers while laying in bed with bags under my eyes. Not to mention the guy at the post office definitely hates me. I catch his glare when I walk in and see his disdain as he scans in the dozens of packages I bring in daily before leaving him with a line out the door.
Luckily we are through the holidays, Nicole, Lilly and I are able to settle down a bit from this chaotic business that has been as stressful as it has been lucrative as of late. With all orders shipped out this morning, I had a chance to breathe, relax and write for the first time in a long time.
The Next Chapter
Nicole and I started this business as a fun entrepreneurial quest and in hopes of one day having a business that ran itself, providing income while we traveled and showed our daughter new places and cultures, something we plan on doing throughout life. The next stage of this is to automate this business, outsourcing certain elements while still delivering outstanding customer service and focusing on the things we do well and that we can do from anywhere. We plan to free ourselves from any location, minimize our time investment and grow our profitability over the next year.
This may seem like quite a tall order, however I look back to a year ago today and realize that all things are possible especially when you have an amazing life partner who wants the same things as you do. I couldn't do this business without Nicole, she is the love of my life and with her at my side, the next year is sure to be filled with more success, growth and joy. Other plans for they year include getting married in Mexico as well as launching yet another startup later this year. It is amazing what can happen in a years time. Recording my journey through travel, life and entrepreneurship here serves as an amazing reminder of just how much things can change in such a short period of time.
As I mentioned in my wrap up yearly post from last year, 2012 was a turning point. 2013 was a year of improvement and enjoyment mixed in with sacrifice and discipline which propelled my life to new, interesting and exciting experiences and opportunities I can only hope that 2014 brings more of the same.
Happy New Year to all and I wish you the best in 2014.