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Damien Defranco, Serial Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Consultant & Mentor

Many dropshippers fail because they underestimate what’s truly involved in running a business.

Starting a dropshipping business is easy, getting successful is not. Working on it, and growing a dropshipping store is extremely hard.

Shopify is one of the go-to platforms that most dropshippers choose to use, it has a 14 day free trial that can get you started on their platform. Wordpress/woocommerce is right there behind. But I recommend using Shopify as it’s easier to get started for dropshipping.

Shopify stores are just like any other business. Thousands of businesses are started each week, and very few ever succeed.

It comes down to the Entrepreneur who’s running their business. The abilities, knowledge, experience, and resources of that person. A lot fail - especially recently due to lack of information, people completely underestimate what’s involved with running a business, so most fail.

People just don’t understand how to get quality traffic who are willing to spend money at the store. Marketing is a huge pitfall and not many people realize the work that goes into it to succeed.

With the surge of Entrepreneurs starting their own businesses in the last couple years, many ‘fake gurus’ online have been boasting about starting a business, and how easy it is. Social media is flooded with people showing off the ‘easy’ businesses. Due to all the hype online, there is tons of people starting businesses lately.

Here are some things they don’t tell you. Much of this can contribute to reasons why businesses fail.

“Working Your Own Hours” is a very common saying, and catch phrase. Truth is, starting a business requires a lot of hard work. Most people who want to be successful are doing 70–80 hours a week minimum. You don’t really get to work your own hours. You eat, sleep, and breathe your business. It’s not until you find success and have a team that can take over workload do you get to cut-back and choose your own hours.

“Financial Freedom” is another catch phrase used in the hype the last couple years. It takes a while to earn money in business. Most of it needs to go back into the business for growth, and you can’t really take money out right away. Everyone online is telling people that business owners make millions, this isn’t true. It could be months, and years for most before they are able to take money out. Again, it’s not until you’re successful where you have earned enough to take money out and reap the rewards.

“Work Smart, Don’t Work Hard” - this is one of the biggest BS lines I’ve ever heard. Working smart is not enough, working hard is not enough. Whoever thought it was smart to tell Entrepreneurs not to work hard, but work smart instead should be kicked off the internet for causing such damage to the Entrepreneur world. If you want to make it in the business world, you need to do both. You have to be working hard everyday, and work smart. After-all, your competitors are doing both, if you want to compete and stay alive, you need to do both. Doing one is not enough.

“Be Your Own Boss” - This is only partially true. This is good for the solo-Entrepreneur starting a small business, and keeping it small. You get to dictate your own business. However, once you grow your business to where you either have investors, or staff, you’re not really your own boss anymore. You are working for your company. Your money is not your own. Any mistake you make costs other people their jobs/lives, and other peoples money. When you take on investors, your investors are your boss. When you have staff, you are working hard to ensure you keep your staff employed. For most companies, you need the staff, you need the investors to grow/save your business. You need them, they don’t need you, so they are your boss.

“How Easy It Is” - It’s true, starting a business is easy. Anyone can start a business. Every self-appointed business guru explains to everyone that starting a business is easy. But that’s the easy part, and no one ever tells you the rest. What they don’t tell you is that running, and growing a business is hard. Running a business and trying to make it successful is extremely hard. For 99.99% of people, it’ll be the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your business/career life.

“Chances Are You’ll Succeed” - Fact is, most people fail. Most people fail their first time, sometimes their second time, sometimes even their third time. Failing is good, failing is learning. Fact is, 8/10 businesses fail in the first couple years, and only 3% last longer than 5 years. People always forget to mention this when teaching/coaching others, especially online and on social media. They want to sell their product, so they leave this out to encourage everyone to buy their product that teaches them business. Negativity and the truth doesn’t sell their brand/lifestyle product.

Here is a rough timeline of step-by-step creating a dropshipping business, wrote it down from memory, might be missing some steps, but here is a general idea.

Day 1)

  • Domain Registration
  • Webhost Setup with CPANEL
  • All Email Accounts Setup (info, admin, noreply, payment, webmaster, newsletter, etc)
  • Shopify Store Registration
  • Shopify Store General Settings Setup
  • Paypal Setup
  • Bank Account Setup
  • Point Website to Shopify DNS (CNAME)

Day 2)

  • Social Media Account Setup - (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook)
  • Shopify Template Setup
  • Shopify - adding all the good addons that most dropshippers use
  • Setup email marketing (klavio or chimp)
  • Logo Design
  • Banner & Social Media Graphic Designing for site and social accounts
  • Writing up descriptions, about us, contact us and other CMS pages for website, as well as social media accounts

Day 3)

  • Setup auto-reply's for emails, and social media messenger systems
  • Setup templates for email replies
  • Setup templates for email marketing and prepare first campaign.
  • Setup templates for Facebook posts
  • Setup Blog on website, and prepare templates for easier postings
  • Upload logo and all banners to website
  • Upload logo and all banners to social accounts and finish off social media account profiles fully.
  • Setup website shop categories
  • Add 1 test product

Day 4)

  • Prepare gmail account to test all contact forms, and email marketing lists (newsletter)
  • Use gmail account to test emailing (and replying back) for all email accounts, making sure auto-responses work, and that signatures are working.
  • Use gmail account to make test purchases on site
  • Test credit card payment, and test Paypal payments
  • Write up return policy, shipping information, terms of use, etc
  • Verify that all website links and all social media account links are working and everything is linked together.
  • Create Facebook ads manager account, and create pixel for your Shopify store. Connect your site to the Pixel.

Day 5)

  • Start adding products, either by using a Shopify addon like Oberlo, or manually inputting ones you can dropship.
  • Make clear SEO-type titles, great descriptions, and edit photos as needed.
  • Everytime you add 10–15 products (same category), stop then post on Instagram and Pinterest the products you just added.
  • At the same time, create a tweet about the newly added products (hashtags), and also create a Facebook post about it.
  • Also create a Blog Post about the products.
  • Once you’ve got about 30–45 products added, start your first Facebook Ad campaign (targeting Engagements)

Day 6)

  • Continue adding products.
  • Continue posting on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest Daily.
  • Post on Facebook 2–3 times daily (using templates, keep to the same style as often as possible).
  • Monitor your Facebook ads every few hours.
  • Create new Facebook campaigns for different products, testing out $5/day ads.
  • Kill off campaigns not doing good, scale ones that are work.
  • Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
  • Make more email marketing campaigns
  • Answer customer emails (using templates for most info)
  • Reply to ALL social media inquiries, engage with customers
  • Fullfill orders as they come in.
  • Repeat Repeat Repeat!!! More products, more social postings, more ads.
  • Keep starting up 5–6 ads ($5 budget each) per day, kill off bad ones, scale or duplicate good ones. Learn the system. Trial and error.

Within 1–2 weeks of constantly repeating all steps in Day 6, you’ll start to see growth. If you are really good at Facebook marketing, you may even hit hundreds of sales in a matter of a week. Keep scaling.

On Day 6, I would also recommend trying out Instagram Influencer Marketing, then combining that with Facebook Re-Targeting Ads instead of only using Facebook ads. Sometimes the results are better. It varies from store to store.

One thing to note is that most ‘guru’s’ online that teach dropshipping, are not good at it themselves. They’ve had some luck, they have typically smaller stores (under 5 million sales/year), and they turn to teaching because teaching makes them more money than actually running a dropshipping business.

So you can ignore all that ‘work your own hours’ ‘financial freedom’ ‘work 5 hours a week only’ ‘be your on dropshipping boss’ that they spew out. This doesn’t apply to any real person getting into dropshipping.

The people that are in dropshipping industry that barely work on their stores are already successful, but they didn’t start successful. They grinded, they worked that 70, 80 hour weeks, week after week. And more importantly, they have VA’s (Virtual Assistants) that run 95% of the business for them, which frees up their time. Ultimately this is the goal of any dropshipper, but you have to get there first.

How much time can vary, in a dropshipping business you are typically doing this DAILY MINIMUM:

  • Adding a new blog post to your site.
  • Posting to Twitter twice a day.
  • Posting to Instagram twice a day.
  • Posting to Facebook 1–2 times per day.
  • Posting to Pinterest each day.
  • Spending 5–6 hours a day finding new products, and researching market trends.
  • Adding at least 5 viable products per day to your store.
  • Running Facebook Ads everyday, and checking on them every few hours.
  • Creating videos, graphics, banners, and texts to go with all new ad creatives. And for adding products as well.
  • Split test, split test, split test, split test.
  • Replying to emails, replying to social media comments, liking comments and inviting people to your page.

This is stuff you do every single day, and never skip a day. This doesn’t include even processing orders, and handling chargebacks/complaints. And there is much more too.

You can see now that VA’s (Virtual Assistants) are crucial to the success of the business as you need them to take on the majority of the tasks. But what about dropshippers who don’t have the money to hire multiple VA’s.

That means the the owner gets to do all the work. And suddenly working 90 hours a week doesn’t seem that much compared to the work load.

Don’t even kid yourself if you think you can get away with 40 hours a week. That’s not enough. It’s way too competitive. You have to go above and beyond what others are doing to even start getting traction in the industry.

Most dropshipping store owners that figured out how to grow and scale their business while being profitable are outsourcing most of the ‘smarter’ work such as Facebook Ads, Instagram Influencer Marketing, Google Adwords, and Youtube Influencer Marketing. They are also outsourcing video and graphic work to make everything more professional and better-converting. The owner themselves then just sticks to grunt work that doesn’t require a full time dedication to a single task.

A couple of my former students (who failed the first time around) spend millions a year on Facebook ads now and have full teams working for them on their new successful store(s). If they can do it, many many others can too. If I can do, so can you as well.

One important thing you need to do is create what is called perceived value.

While it’s true that some niches are a lot more crowded than others, more competitive. That doesn’t necessarily have an impact on your profitability.

Research is a key component. In each niche, there are always items that will be more profitable than other items, especially if the item is trending.

A lot of what’s involved in selling with dropshipping is how much value you add to products. How great the image is, how great the description is. How much perceived value can you give to the item.

Take for example two stores ( A and B ) both selling the same item from Aliexpress, both buy it for the same price of lets say $4.59 with ePacket shipping.

A) This seller used the ‘stock’ photo, as well as the basic description from the supplier. The seller did everything basic to work on just getting mass products out. The sales price for this seller is $11.99 + free shipping. So a profit of $7.40 before transaction fees.

B) This seller ordered one for himself, and took his own photos. They also spend about 2 minutes writing a custom description, adding coupon codes, security site seals, warranty/guarantees, etc. The sales price for this seller is $69.99 but they discounted it to $39.99 + free shipping. So a profit of $35.40 about.

Because of the ‘value’ that seller B gave to the item, making it look better, making it more detailed, more professional, and giving it a higher (before discount) price, the seller is giving the item Perceived Value.

There are customers who will pay more for an item if they believe it to be higher quality. In this case, if the stores were competing against each other with the same base budget for advertising costs on Facebook. Seller B would be insanely more successful.

Here are some rules you should live by when you are getting into dropshipping.

  • Always Be Motivated. Motivation is extremely important. With proper motivation you can look forward to getting up each and everyday and get to it. Being motivated will have you at your best to ensure you can get done what you need to get done. Lack of motivation will put a damper on your day.
  • Learn Something New Each And Every Day. Generally it’s best to always try to learn something each day. Investing in yourself is really important. From reading books, following influencers and relevant media, studying, and much more, there are many chances each day to invest in yourself by learning something new.
  • Never Make The Same Mistakes Twice. Learn from your first mistake and never do it again. There is no reason to ever make the same mistakes twice.
  • Don’t Be Afraid Of Failing. One of the best ways to learn in life is through failing. If you are afraid of failing, you’ll not be prepared to get the most out of it. The lessons you learn from failing is highly beneficial to your growth and future. Don’t go looking to fail, but embrace it when it shows up on your doorstep.
  • Cut Out The Small Stuff/Noise. A lot of people like to say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, and this is great advice. Your life is really short, you don’t have time to be wasting it on small noise. Cut it out of your life and don’t give it a second look. You’ll accomplish more.
  • Show People From Action, Not Talk. Don’t spend your days (or life) wasting away talking and talking and talking. Instead take action on your ideas. Show someone what you want to do by taking action on it instead of just talking.
  • Know What You Want. If you want to be successful, you need to know yourself, you need to know what you want. Then take it.
  • Don’t Just Work Hard Or Work Smart, Do Both. Working hard in life doesn’t cut it. Working smart in life also doesn’t cut it. You’ve got to both work hard and work smart if you want to get ahead and be the best you can.
  • Don’t Just Dream, Do. Dreaming is nice, but you’ll never achieve your dreams if you don’t take action on it. There is never a more better time to start than now. Just do it.
  • Ten to One rule. Always remember that whatever your beliefs are, whatever your morals are, whatever your religion/politics are; there is always going to be ten other people that disagree with you. Respect others who think differently.
  • You can’t please everyone. Following the above 10–1 rule, you can’t please everyone so don’t even try. Be yourself and make the brand/business that you want, not what others want. If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.
  • Remember Life Isn’t Fair. Life is far from fair. Every single person in the world is dealt different cards. Everyone has different luck. People are born in different countries, are brought up in different families, learn different things. Much of which cannot be controlled until adulthood. Countless people die at any age, even as kids who never get a chance to grow up. Don’t take life for granted. Accept whatever cards you yourself are dealt and work at improving your future.
  • Never Give Up. Life is a uphill battle 24/8. You’re going to trip over rocks, you’re going to have boulders crash down on your head, you’re going to run into walls. Every single day you’re going to fall down, pick yourself back up and never give up.
  • Always Look Out For Number One. The only one that has your best interests at heart is yourself. No matter what anyone else says or does, you are your best chance in the world.
  • Never Regret. Live your life and never regret any choices you make. There are no do-overs.

Damien Defranco