Pure Cut Supplements
Total revenue for 2019 was roughly $250,000, and I expect to crush that this year after the launch.
Pure Cut Supplements actually came about from a previous failed business. In college, I started up a subscription box company called What’Supp (as is What Supplements do you take). That business never really took off, but one of the companies I worked with was called Cocaine Fitness. Their pre-workout was one of the best I ever tried, so I contacted the owner asking where he got his products made, how he selected the ingredients, etc. He gave me the info, but also mentioned he’s starting a new career so if I purchase his remaining inventory I can just take over (he was only selling a few tubs a month). I jumped on that opportunity and started the transition. When I took over in May 2017, sales were around $200/month so there was already a “functioning” site in place and the beginnings of a social media presence.
To be honest, I kind of just looked at it as a fun side project and didn’t put that much effort into it in the beginning. About an hour a day posting on social media, making small changes to the site, answering emails, etc. It took about a year of running the company for me to see that there was some real potential here. With me bartending at the time, I knew I had two options. Either buckle down and work harder on the company or start looking for a “big boy job” in the real world. In 2019, there was definitely more focus on the company as I went from 4 bartending shifts a week to 2. And at the end of last year, I put in my 2 weeks and now run the company full time (although I do miss the free beers).
Our products are for people who want to get the most out of their workouts. Overall, my goal is to educate people on the different ingredients and options available to them, so they can make an informed decision even if they never choose to buy our supps. On each product page there’s a detailed breakdown of the formula, and an explanation of what each ingredient will do for them. It’s crazy how quickly you get to know your customers, especially through social media. Each has their own personality, and I recognize a lot of the names that come through on our orders. There is one strange experience that stands out to me though. I had a guy ask for a “love letter” from us. In our “order notes” section, customers will put things like “throw in a free sticker” or “write a joke on the box”. And this fella put“write me a love letter”. Kind of odd, but I figured it was someone just messing with me, so I whipped up a rendition of a sonnet and emailed it over along with his order. He said it gets him going, but obviously not enough since that was the only order he ever placed on our site.
My savings from working in college helped with the initial $3,000 purchase, and I used a Chase Ink card to fund the other expenses. They have an option for 18 months with a 0% interest rate which is a good way to get things started. I’m currently the only employee and I use freelancers to help with tasks out of my realm of expertise. In the near future, I’ll be adding someone at least part time to help with the day to day operations. It’s hard when you’re starting out because the money is usually tight. And as a founder, you basically have to be 75% good at everything. Have a grasp with designs, marketing, website work, writing copy, and everything else. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you want to hire out the work, and you have to be “smart enough” to know where your skill level stops, and use that to vet potential hires.
Some freelancers I pay for:
In college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after I graduated. I was too busy thinking about the next happy hour to give it any real thought. I had that subscription box business I mentioned, but the highest monthly revenue that ever got up to was around $4000/month with the profit margins being extremely thin. I liked the idea of having a company for a side hustle while I “figured out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life”. I think a lot of people face a similar struggle while they’re in college. They’re enrolled in classes but no particular career path is drawing them in. They know they want to do something interesting, but nothing has stood out yet.
My family was supportive of the company, and since I was bartending at the same time I was able to pay the bills and never had to face any extreme hardships. And for my friends, I think they think it’s a cool idea, but they can’t really wrap their heads around everything it entails.
If I’m being honest with you, things go wrong all the time. Pivots are a monthly, if not weekly, occurrence and being flexible is just a part of the job description. The end goal here is to continue to grow and expand operations while putting away as much money as I can. I’d like to eventually get into owning rental properties and grow that so I have enough passive income to live off of. Once you have something covering your day to day expenses and necessities, I feel like a world of opportunities really does open up. In the near future, I’ll be pivoting away from our main product “Cocaine Preworkout” to a name that is more marketable. That name is eye catching and memorable, but as you can imagine it comes with plenty of cons. I can’t use certain payment processors, can’t advertise on Facebook and Instagram, some stores don’t want to carry it because of the name. Once I make the switch I know I’ll start seeing a heavy increase in sales thanks to those new avenues opening up.
Advice for starting out…
I’m 25, and 2.5 years out of college so I can still vividly remember the struggles.
Here’s some general advice/things I did wrong
1- I didn’t work enough in high school/college and spent a lot of hours doing nothing productive. I’d say get a part time job and just start saving as much as possible, so when an opportunity opens up you’ll have the capital to fund it. PLUS it’s much easier to not spend money when you’re working all the time.
2- Start tracking what you spend, and see where you can cut back. Making enough money as an entrepreneur to live off of is much easier when you’re spending $2,500/month instead of $5,000. Live in a cheap place, buy a car less than $10,000 and try not to finance it.
3- If you have no idea what business you want to do, you just know you want to do SOMETHING with ecommerce/running a company, I recommend getting good at one niche and reaching out to companies offering to do it for free. Focus on graphic design, social media, product photography, email marketing, paid marketing, Google Adwords, or ANYTHING that has to do with a single aspect. Consume as much free material there is for you to learn, and then start sending your pitch to different brands. This will either lead to you eventually charging for that work, a part time or full time position at that company, or at the very least you’ll get first hand knowledge and a behind the scenes look at things.
4- Start building your own personal brand on social media. Get used to making posts/videos on a consistent basis to build a following. That way whatever you end up doing down the road, you’ll have thousands of potential fans/customers who have been seeing all the work you do leading up to that. I focused on Instagram, and this year dove into YouTube + Tik Tok to expand my reach.
5- Workout and eat healthy. Make this a part of your life and do it consistently.
6- Get into some sort of daily routine. In college my schedule was all over the place, and usually involved me hungover and sleeping in til 11-12 (and usually missing a morning class). Get used to a daily task list, a regular sleep schedule, and getting in some sort of exercise each day.
7- For me growth has been slow and steady. You’ll hear these stories about 0-million in a year, or founders being bought out in 2 years for $200 million. Kudos to those people, but the reality is that’s not going to happen to most of us. A side hustle will turn into a decent second income, which will eventually turn into a priority, and then a way to replace your job. So don’t get bummed out if you’re not acquired by Microsoft after 6 months.
8- Replace listening to music with podcasts. Here’s some of my favorites:
Shopify Masters- stories of businesses that use the Shopify platform, lots of actionable items here
How I Built This- it won’t really teach you anything, but it’s cool hearing the stories and struggles from some of the biggest companies out there
Ecom Crew- A guy who built a large ecom business and gives transparent advice and his actual sales numbers
Ecommerce Fuel- Interviews it ecom owners and founders
Smart Passive Income- Doesn’t focus just on ecommerce, but business in general
Robinhood Snacks- 10/15 minute episodes on 3 current news stories. Bonus props to them for giving my dog a shoutout on her birthday
Last Podcast On The Left- Nothing to do with business, I just like the true crime and conspiracies
9- You don’t need to work 100 hours a week to grow a company. Make time for friends, family, your mental health, physical health, hobbies, etc. We could all get hit by a bus tomorrow so enjoy life every day.
Companies can copy/knock off your product, but they can’t knock off you. Be the face of your brand, be personal and genuine with your customers. Stand out by adding character to your email/website/social media/any other interactions you have. Having a damn good product helps as well, so put pride into whatever you’re selling and always find ways to adapt/improve it.
Klaviyo- Hands down the best email marketing and automation app available. The customization, flows, and segments are extremely valuable.
Some sort of chat function on your website, I use Tidio but there’s plenty of others out there. Your customers like/need the option to instantly contact you with any questions.
This isn’t an app, but my daily/weekly/monthly task list. It keeps me organized and focused each day. Check out the “Bullet Journal” method for a free guide to getting started.
I mentioned some podcasts earlier, but for books I recommend the cliff notes from Derick Sivers. You can browse through those to see if you want to take the time to read the full book.
The next step is cutting out the “Cocaine Preworkout” to open the company up to more opportunities. That’ll involve a five-product launch early April which is huge since right now I just have 4 total supplements on my website. I also did some recent limited edition flavor launches that sold out quickly so I’ll continue that trend. With this launch, I’ll also start selling on Amazon and start reaching out to more retailers (my products are sold in about 40 right now across the US, UK, and Canada). I want to see how these next few months go and how the numbers look and then I’ll reevaluate where I stand. I’m blessed to be at a point where I can do this full time because I wake up each day truly excited to go to work and learn new things. Early mornings and late evenings are much easier when you’re doing something you truly love. Total revenue for 2019 was roughly $250,000 and I expect to crush that this year after the launch.
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