From Small Business To Big Business – One Man’s Story

A lot of clients ask us “how do I get started with an online business?” Thomas Heath, a columnist for the Washington post, just wrote a column about one man’s rise from small sales on eBay to a 5 million dollar a year company.

Find your niche. The man in question is a U.S. Marine named Jeffrey Morin. He started in the niche of “challenge coins”, memorabilia coins that commemorate service in a military unit or exercise. He saw them on eBay selling for around $10 – $15 and knew he could buy them for around $5. A small business was born.

Grow your sales. After about six months he got an email asking if he could he find a coin dedicated to mothers with sons in the Marine Corps. No, but he could sure make one!

To market the new coin he went to blogs dedicated to Marine Corps moms. He showed them his design, found a local manufacturer and the new coin was a big hit.

Increase your market, lower your cost. He then branched out to other Marine Corps relatives (fathers, sisters, etc.) and Marine specialties (from cooks to sharpshooters). He also found manufacturers that could make the coins cheaper and cheaper.

Then, after getting out of the Marines in 2003, he read a book telling him how to advertise on Google.

In the past five years, Morin has expanded his coin business beyond the Marines to include other service branches, weddings, sports teams, and corporations such as Starbucks, Delta Air Lines and United Parcel Service. He hired a Web designer to jazz up the online site. [He] has expanded into trophies, pins and lanyards.

Heath estimates Morin’s revenue is about 5 million a year and costs are about 4 million (with a million of that going to Google) netting around 1 million a year with much of that being plowed back into the business.

He went from hiring his mom to address envelopes at 75 cents each to having 16 employees. His yearly payroll is about $500,000.

To jump up on my soapbox for just a minute, these are the people who make America, and the world, great. These are the people that should be incentivised by our government. At least, the government should stay out of their way. Instead they are looking at more rules, more regulations and more taxes.

Be that as it may, I wanted to show you that there are real people (not just Internet marketing gurus) selling real products and making real money online. It’s not “get rich quick”, but a process of finding a niche, growing your sales and expanding your market.

You can do it, too.