Lessons From A 17-Year-Old Entrepreneur: How To Start A Dropship Business From Your Bedroom
Impressive is only a lackluster term I would use to describe Terrell Gray, a SMART Apps student, customer, and soon-to-be 18-year-old entrepreneur.
Tenacious, driven, and inspiring are words worthier of characterizing him.
At the young age of 17, Terrell made a decision that most adults don’t even dare to muster up – Terrell decided to become an entrepreneur.
Despite being on the high school football team, preparing for college, and maintaining a part-time job, Terrell decided that the best way to spend the little free time he had was running his own business.
Not only is he juggling 5 roles, but in the short month and a half he’s had his store running – he’s been able to generate $200.00 per day, almost every day.
If Terrell stays on track with his current earnings, he has the potential to make an extra $72,000.00 each year – from his bedroom.
Obviously intrigued by his story, I reached out to Terrell a few weeks ago asking if he’d be willing to chat with me about his entrepreneurial voyage. He agreed to spare some time to talk to me all about his trials, tribulations, and inevitable success.
When I had asked Terrell about his introduction to eCommerce and how he became familiarized with the industry – I was more so expecting the usual, “I just happened to stumble across it.”
Contrarily, Terrell casually told me that at the age of 13 he began building and managing social media accounts – similar to Life Hacks and Life Instructions.
Most 13-year-olds are worrying about the logistics of getting to and from the movie theatre – “If my mom takes us, can yours pick us up?” – Terrell, on the other hand, was filing for EIN’s and trailblazing a digital career.
He continued his introduction by saying that some larger accounts had approached him, wanting him to help out with their eCommerce business. He became curious and decided to do some research.
It was at this point that Terrell’s mother had gotten involved and decided it would be best for him to focus on being a kid instead of handling multiple thousand-dollar accounts.
This only paused his pursuits, briefly.
Flash forward 5 years, and here we have, a still very young Terrell, who is diving back into his entrepreneurial suit.
“My household is real entrepreneurship. Like my mom, she has her own business. She started her own business years ago. And from that I’ve always been like, ‘I’m not working for anybody.’ I refuse. I can’t stomach the thought of having someone above me.”
Clearly, determination and drive run thick in his blood – and he has a strong support system to guide him through it all.
Terrell opened his store mid-March and started making sales the first day he began running ads.
In the short month and a half that his store has been open, his average daily revenue lies between $200-$250.
A Day in the Life of a Young Entrepreneur
When I asked Terrell how he’s able to manage it all – a work/life/school balance – I am once again blown away by his response.
An average day for Terrell begins at 6 a.m. – he wakes up early before school to work on his store.
After, he heads to school until 1 p.m., trains for football, and then goes straight back to his desktop to work more before clocking into his part-time job at Walmart.
Once he clocks out at his physical job, Terrell once again comes home and jumps right back into Shopify, refusing to rest until he completes everything for the day – approximately around 2 a.m.
He does proudly mention that he doesn’t have to work long hours at Walmart anymore since his online business has begun to provide more income, so he has even more time to devote to his store.
Since then, the near round-the-clock shifts have subsided, but he is still spending the better part of his waking hours putting work into his store.
Plans to Grow: The Golden Product
Terrell’s ambitions beyond high school include continuing football throughout college and pursuing a degree in computer engineering.
He believes that no matter which career a person chooses, everything soon enough will be STEM-based (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), which is hard to argue with.
As far as plans for his store – scale it with only one product.
He already has a product in mind but is waiting for it to make its 100th sale to make sure it’s a winning product.
He believes the best way to grow his store is to focus on one product only and sell it really, really hard. No one can deny the success of that business model.
Recently, we’ve seen more and more single product stores and companies arise.
Quip, Crocs, and Moleskin all became household names based off of the laser-targeted focus the companies had on their single, original product.
A single niche item gets the focus and attention needed to properly market the product, while also having the potential to position it as the leader in the category.
Think about it – do you ask for a painkiller or an Advil? A soda, or a Pepsi?
All of these questions are framed around a brand that is more so associated with the category than the individual product itself.
Learning to Scale on a Budget
It seems as though Terrell knows what he’s doing, so I asked him if he’s faced any turbulence in the short amount of time he’s owned his business.
His response: budgeting.
When he first opened his store, he was a little too aggressive with his ad spend.
Starting with $20 a day wasn’t the best approach for him, especially testing ads for the very first time.
He went on to say that he had initially blown through his ad allowance, while simultaneously watching his ads die, quickly.
So he pulled back and readjusted.
“It was a learning experience; I learned that I have to be more careful with how much money I put into my ads when I start them off, and with someone like me … I had to learn how to stretch it for a longer time. Start off my ads with smaller amounts of money.”
Secrets to Success
In addition to being naturally business savvy and goal oriented, Terrell mentions that a mix of camaraderie, proper training, and effective tools synergistically propelled him to his current standing.
At the end of February, Terrell had signed up for an in-depth eCommerce training course of ours called HCOM. Back then, he dedicated a lot of time to watching and rewatching the training videos, while making connections with people through the exclusive Facebook group.
Bruce goes to college full time, and because of the training he received through HCOM and SMART Apps – he has also scaled a profitable business that he wants to operate full time after he graduates.
“Bruce has been my, what’s the little angel that’s on your shoulder telling you what to do? That’s who Bruce is for me… He’s been helping me out, and he’d be up late with me talking about the store and finding products… When I was first getting started, he tagged me in certain videos, just helping me out a lot, you know?”
In addition to the collegiate-like training Terrell had immersed himself in, he also had given praise to the tools that helped him scale.
The two tools Terrell mentions are both a part of the SMART suite of apps.
“…The Express fulfillment thing is perfect… Now that I have like 60-something orders to fulfill right now… If I had to sit down at the computer and type in every single person’s address… that would take hours…”
SMART Express is an all-in-one automation app that allows you to import products straight to your store from AliExpress as well as automate your fulfillment process.
“…I literally sit and I could do like 60 orders in 30 minutes. And now it’s coming out with something that’s even quicker, where all I gotta do is hit a button.”
The ease of fulfilling orders in minutes compared to hours lets him concentrate on the crucial parts of his business – running ads and finding products.
If you’re interested in learning more about the app that allows Terrell to manage his time effectively – check out SMART Express!
Terrell then goes on to talk about the other SMART tool he uses: SMART Scarcity Timer.
“Once I started using the scarcity timer… it definitely helped with my conversion rate… With the scarcity timer, I just put like, sale plus free shipping ends in 15 minutes … it’s definitely helped with my conversion rate. My conversion rate now is like in between 5-9% on my good days.”
The power in the scarcity timer is potent, yet subtle.
SMART Scarcity applies the psychological tactic that uses fear as a driving force for action.
Including a sales countdown timer effectively reminds your customers that if they don’t act (buy) now, they will miss out on a great deal in front of them.
As We Were Wrapping Up…
…Terrell had mentioned the short term goals he has for himself and his store:
“… Just this month alone I’ve made like $1.7 [thousand] something in sales… I’m 17 right now and by the time I turn 18… I feel I can hit at least $20K in sales by then.”
The confidence he has in himself and his store, in addition to his optimism, was genuinely contagious.
The near instant results Terrell has generated since opening his store doesn’t lead me to doubt that he will, in fact, be able to 10X his revenue by the time his birthday rolls around.
Just 45 minutes after our interview, Terrell had eagerly messaged me saying that he had hit his 100th sale, and 2 short days later, his 150th.
These rapid milestones not only prove my point on his ability to astronomically scale his store in just a few short months but also goes to show that no matter what time restrictions or external obligations you have – you are always able to achieve your goals with enough perseverance.
Terrell can now pivot his store to focus on the one-item product line that he had initially hoped to do.
Also, Terrell had managed to blow the whole SMART team away by his unwavering determination and professionalism.
Terrell’s persistence, support system, industry training, and tools have paved the way for his unfaltering entrepreneurial quest – and we’re genuinely excited to see where his business takes off from here. There’s no doubt that it will.
If you’re interested in learning more about the training and tools Terrell used to scale his store from $0 to $200.00+ per day in 4 weeks – check out Cookie.io. We’re currently offering a 33% startup discount right now for new eCommerce businesses, and you can get started today for just $1.
Cookie.io is a suite of softwares and webinar trainings that allow you to:
1. Get instant access to proven-to-sell products with our robust product research tools
- Discover trending dropship products that are selling RIGHT NOW on AliExpress, Pinterest, or Etsy
- Find Stores Selling Your Products & Reveal Top Sellers – If you find a product you want to sell, we’ll instantly show every single Shopify store selling that product. You can also reveal the top sellers on those stores to broaden your product line
- Compare Prices – If you find a product you want to sell we’ll help you find all suppliers that sell this item, so you get the best price possible for high profits
2. Participate in our exclusive monthly “Bite-Sized Breakthroughs” with industry leaders
- Attend live training sessions 2-4X a month with industry leading experts including our own Devin Zander & Matt Schmitt, as well as others like Dimitris Skiadas and Phil Kyprianou.
- These experts reveal how to build million-dollar brands using the tactics they applied to theirs, answer questions, provide custom-tailored critiques, and educate you on the latest industry trends and techniques
3. Gain access to The $10K Shortcut course that includes the same tactics that got Terrell on his path to success
- If you’re entirely new to eCommerce or Shopify, you get this 0-100 step guide to setting up and launching a profitable Shopify store
Typically, Cookie.io is $67.00 a month; however, you can get locked into a $47 a month with our 33% off startup special if you act now. And top of getting locked into the $47/month deal, you only need to commit $1 to unlock your 7-day trial.
Patricia is a self-proclaimed dog enthusiast who also happens to spearhead the content marketing efforts at SMART Apps. When she’s not petting dogs or writing about the industry insights, you can find her on a yoga mat or reading anything that feeds her bibliophilic needs.