How did a guy who kept getting fired use drop-shipping to create a profitable company?
He’s working on a program called “How to Succeed at Anything You Attempt,” which is based on his podcast.
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Alright, let’s get started. Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner and I am the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart, and home of over 800 interviews with proven entrepreneurs who tell you their stories, how they did it, setbacks along the way, and how they overcame them.
That’s what we’ve got here for you today. In this interview I want to find out, first of all I want to find out if I can talk a little bit slower so people can understand me. The second thing I want to find out is how a guy who got fired ended up using drop shipping to create a profitable company. William Shaker grossed millions selling sunglasses online. In this interview I want to hear the story of how he did it, the setback that he had along the way, and how he learned from it. He’s currently working on a program called “How to Succeed at Anything You Attempt” and it’s based on his podcast.
William: Hey, Andrew, thank you so much, man. It’s an absolute honor.
Andrew: Thanks. I should’ve run that intro by you, actually, to make sure. Do I have that right? Is it that you grossed millions selling sunglasses online?
William: Yeah, that’s fine. We can get into it. That’s totally cool.
Andrew: What kind of revenues were you generating when you were selling sunglasses?
William: Oh, wow. Starting in 2002, what kind of revenues? Well, at the peak of my business I was probably generating a couple of million dollars.
William: I was doing pretty well. Everything was great. Everything was peachy.
Andrew: This is a couple of million dollars in a year, or overall?
William: It all depends. I had some of my businesses making a lot of money, and then I had some of my businesses making very little money.
Andrew: I see.
William: At the time that I started my business I was working my way up. It was a couple hundred thousand dollars. Eventually, it started making a couple million dollars. But, it was like sometimes it would be between one to three years it would be that much, and then other times towards the end of the peak of the business where it made the most money it was towards the end as well. It was kind of towards the beginning, towards the end.
Andrew: You know, one of the things that I notice about you just from my snap judgments looking at you on camera is you just look so composed. It looks like you’ve got it together, and you look like someone who maybe has always had it easy. But, when I see the notes from your pre-interview with Jeremy I see that there was a time when you were really suffering, where you were living at home with your mom. Why’d you start out living at home with your mom?
William: Wow. Why did I start living at home with my mom? Actually, I was with my mom before I started my business.
Andrew: Obviously, we all grew up, most of us, living at home with our parents, et cetera. But, I mean after that as an adult. What happened?
William: Well, I was living with my father and my mom. We were all living together. My father passed away when I was 18 years old. I and my mom kind of separated. We went our own ways. We were struggling a little bit. I had some odd end jobs. I was working multiple jobs, sometimes for weeks at a time, sometimes for months at a time.
I really couldn’t keep any job that I usually had. I hated working. I hated working. It was like the worst thing ever. I guess, you know, one of the reasons why I started my business is because I always hated working for a living, and at the time…
Andrew: …What do you mean by that? This is actually our second interview. The first one the audio and video crapped out. I just bought a new computer so it never happens again, but what I’ve noticed now in watching you twice is. You have a mic, you’re prepared with the headphones.
Last time you had the same setup and you prepared but you worked extra hard, more than most people and you had a second computer waiting in case that first computer didn’t work. So you’re obviously not a lazy person. When you say you didn’t like working, what do you mean by that?
William: I guess you can say, Andrew, that my personality is not that type that would take instruction from someone else.
Andrew: I see.
William: And it’s not that I don’t like taking instructions. It’s not that I’m a good follower. I really believe, Andrew, I really believe that in order for you to be a good leader, you have to learn how to be a good follower. So I am a good follower. I can take direction. I’m not lazy like you said. I’m just the type of personality that likes to take charge of his own life. That likes to do things on my own.
Andrew: Give me an example, what job did you have where you were asked to do something that you said, I just can’t do that?
William: I think it was every job.
Andrew: Really? Give me specifics. Let me understand so that I maybe can relate to this.
William: Well Andrew, I just want to let you know that the last job I had was in 2001, so you’re asking me to go back 20 years. I wish I could remember everything but all I want to let you know, and your listeners know. The people who are watching your show is that I’m an E and TJ personality type.
If you’re familiar with Briggs Myers, or if anybody is familiar with Briggs Myers, and they look up E and TJ, that type of personality is very headstrong, is very dominate, and is the type of personality that is a leader, born leader. And it’s a personality type that really likes to startup businesses. Is interested in having a business empire. Is interested in leading, and this is my personality type.
I’ve taken multiple different types of personalities, not necessarily to brag about myself. Not necessarily to tell other people who I am. But to diagnose myself. To figure out who I am at the core. And I’ve learned that I get along better with people as long as I’m the one in charge, as long as I’m the one calling the shots.
Andrew: Did it bother you that I was guiding the first interview. I wish I had a good recording of it. Is even having me guide this conversation frustrating where you feel like, no, I should be calling the shots here?
William: No, actually. I like I said, I’m a good follower. I have no problems, yeah, I have no problems with that, Andrew.
Andrew: I’ve sometimes been interviewed by people and I end up trying to take the lead in the interview and saying no, you should be asking me this question. And here’s where you could go with this conversation. It’s really hard to turn the tables. All right, back to your story though. Then you picked up a copy of Rich Dad Poor Dad, and that was a turning point for you. Why did that book turn you?
William: That was the book that changed me forever, dude. Andrew, I bought that book, gosh, when was it, no telling all those interviews and going back 12 years, 13 years, is really hard. Let me just scratch my head and just figure this out for a second. In 2001 I got laid off, and I went to Buy.com and I picked this book up, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and after I finished reading this book. I had a huge paradigm shift.
I learned that there are four types of people in this world. You have the business owner, and I’m not going to use my middle finger here. You have the business owner. You have the entrepreneur which is the business owner. You have the investor, you have the employee. And then you have the self- employed.
Now the self-employed, and the employee are always in the rat race. The more money they make, the more money they spend. We know that already, you’ve probably had several people tell you that already. So the investor and the entrepreneur they’re always making money, but the toys that they’re buying. The house that they live in, the fancy vacations that they go to are all paid for by their investments, and their businesses.
Whatever money that they make the reinvest it into their businesses. Now this wasn’t just the business model that I wanted to get into. This was also a lifestyle that I wanted to get into because I never liked working for anybody. I wanted to work for myself. I wanted to have my own business. I had a huge paradigm shift and ever since then, it’s never been the same for me.
Andrew: And you went to a site, was it called Wholesale Central?
William: Which site?
Andrew: You searched the internet and you went to something called Wholesale Central. And you clicked on Be our partner. That’s another thing that sent you on the road to towards this drop shipping business that you launched.
William: Well before you get into that Andrew, let me take hold of this interview. I do want to mention that before I actually went to Wholesale Central I found a website that I wanted to mimic, I wanted to kind of model my business after because I learned in Rich Dad, Poor Dad that you don’t need to have your own money. You don’t need to use your own time, you can use other people’s time, other people’s money and other people’s resources.
At the time I was living with my mother. At the time I collected six months of unemployment and I wasn’t making a great salary. I mean there was somewhere around $35, $40,000 per year I was making and the unemployment wasn’t much either. So I wanted to get this up and running before my unemployment ran out. I had learned from the book that you can use other people’s time, other people’s money, resources. So drop shipping was the perfect model for me because: A) You don’t need to carry products. B) They ship it for you. and C) When you get money from Andrew XYZ company ships it to Andrew and I pay XYZ company at the end of the month. See how this works?
Andrew: I see. So you don’t have to take possession of it. You don’t have to take a risk that maybe you can’t sell it. You don’t have to handle the shipping and logistics of it. You just have to sell and the drop shipper ships it to your customer?
William: Right exactly. That’s exactly what I did and when I sold these products I collected the payment from the customer and then paid the company that shipped it at the end of the month. So, that’s how everything started and I think what you were going towards was Wholesale Central and how you found products and stuff like that, correct?
Andrew: Yeah. What is Wholesale Central?
William: Okay, Wholesale Central is for anybody who wants to buy or resell merchandise. This could be anything from trinkets to clothing, anything you want.
Andrew: I see. And are they drop shippers or are they manufacturers that you find there?
William: Well you can find manufacturers. You can find drop shippers. You can find up [SP] shops that sell stuff that you would resell after you buy.
Andrew: Okay. Alright, so now what did you do there? You were looking for drop shippers I assume, at first right?
William: Yeah I was looking for drop shippers. I was looking all over the place and then I landed on a website that had drop shipping as part of their service. So I started drop shipping with them and I modeled my business exactly after their website.
Andrew: Alright, so I see that they’re selling and so they’re giving you a model of how to sell online. I see that they also happen to have an opportunity for you to use them as the drop shipper. Great, so now you have the model, you have the product, you have your shipping handled, finding customers though, is the one missing piece here. How did you find your customers?
William: Oh wow. That’s a great question. And you know what, back then, Andrew, it was very, very simple. By simple I mean if you have Andrew Werner’s [SP] website and you want to have just as many people come to your website, so you would model Andrew Warner’s website. You would make yours just like his. Not necessarily copy, I’m talking about having a unique website because I had a unique website. The key words that I had, the type of content that I had, everything was similar to my competitor’s website, which was the guy who was drop shipping for me.
Andrew: So he was both your supplier and the competitor that you were copying, right?
Andrew: And you were saying if the content is so similar I needed a way to stand out, so how did you stand out then?
William: Well I actually did it. . . That wasn’t my goal to actually stand out. My goal was to make sure that. . . Because at that point, Andrew, Google, Yahoo, and I forgot which other search engine there was at that time. I think it was MSN. They weren’t really keen on 150, 2,000 different algorithms as they have now. They weren’t too keen on that so they were really interested in just having a website that was key word rich, that had the meta text all filled out, that maybe had a good description and a picture and maybe some copyright information. The criteria wasn’t really that big.
As long as I followed whatever that the search engines were requesting of me, whatever that my competitor had; their key words, their descriptions, their pictures, all that stuff, I basically took it and I put it on my website. They really. . . They told me, they said, ‘You know what, here are the pictures. You can take the descriptions as well.” and I just did that. The search engines found me. As soon as they found me. . . Maybe I think it took about two to three weeks maybe four weeks. Again, I’m going back 13 years so forgive me if I’m not correct on this.
William: But, you know what, they found me and that was it.
Andrew: You’re not a coder though. You’re new to the web, I think, at that point. I don’t think that Elance and oDesk and Google.com, I think some of those sites existed, but they weren’t as well-known as they are today and it wasn’t a natural to go to those sites. So how did you get your website built?
William: Wow. How did I get my website built? Well, first of all, it was all HTML.
Andrew: Static HTML, no CMS.
William: No, no CMS at all. There was…
Andrew: … No Shopify.
William: No Shopify. Nothing. As a matter of fact, it was all HTML based at first, and then I had these buy buttons. I forgot which company it was that provided these buy buttons. I know it’s not PayPal, because I don’t think PayPal was available back then. Right? Was it?
Andrew: I think they were there, but I don’t think they had buy buttons the way that they are now. Frankly, I don’t even think most people understand that PayPal has buy buttons that you can create and put on your site so easily. But, back then I don’t think they had it. So, how did you get the buy process?
William: Like I said, I had a company that I connected with that had these buy buttons, and I connected it to my HTML website. Every single page was built by hand. We used Dreamweaver I think.
William: We developed the template out of Dreamweaver and then created every single page in Dreamweaver so everything linked to each other. We cross referenced it to make sure that there were no broken links. Everything was manual. There was no CMS back then. That’s how we did everything back then. The guy who was working for me was a kid. I think he was 14 years old at the time. Miraculously, I think it was a couple of years after that, a couple of years ago, maybe two or three years ago, I found him on Facebook. So, now we’re kind of friends.
Andrew: I love those teenage hustlers, because those guys are clever. I feel like when I was a teenager it felt like I had infinite hours. If a teenager has an interest and he can fill those seemingly infinite hours with something productive like this, boy, they’re going to go so far.
I used to get e-mails and phone calls from this guy, Neil. He had recently launched HelpJuice and just happened to be here in my office to talk about how he built it, to just chat with me, and to talk about the good old days. He’s one of those guys who has a teenager who’s hustling, who’s making calls to me, listening to Mixergy interviews, and I bet he was contacting people from Mixergy interviews. He’s gone so far, so much further than other people who are his age. He’s not even drinking age.
Andrew: And he’s got this company with funding, and customers, and people who are now depending on him for their livelihood.
Andrew: Hey, I see how this business is developing for you. Before we continue, I want to get the bigger message from this. Because I don’t want to leave this as a, hell this guy got started back when the Internet was easy and today it’s impossible. Partly because I don’t want to leave the audience with that, and partly that I know that your motivation for doing this interview is to show people how you became successful not just to say that you lucked into it. So, give me the bigger picture. What did you do right here that others can learn from?
William: Are you talking about my sunglasses business?
Andrew: This drop ship business so far as we are right now. There are a lot of people who feel like they should be boss who aren’t bosses. What separated you from them? Was it that you just happened to be lucky and launch your site at a time when static HTML pages were competitive? Or, was there something psychological going on in you that gave you an advantage over other wannabes?
William: I think it was something psychological, Andrew.
Andrew: What was it? Break that down.
William: Okay. Let’s see here. I’ve never been asked this question. It’s a very good question, so excuse me if I…
Andrew: …I’m a professional question asker.
William: I may have to think about this for a second, but I’ll just let it flow. I think for me it was urgency, Andrew. I had that fire inside of me that, hey listen I’ve got six months here. If I don’t produce in the next six months I’m not going to be able to pay rent, and chances are that I might be out in the street with my mom who I very much love. That’s someone I want to take care of.
For me, it was urgency. I think any time where we’re backed against the wall we make miracles happen. I think that’s something that everyone can learn from. When you’re backed up against the wall that’s when you make miracles happen. That’s when everything happens for you. So, for me, it was really psychological.
Number two, I think for me, yeah, it is starting out at the right time. I did start out at a great time when the search engines were brand new. I think that the level of opportunity, I’m not saying it’s not great now, I think it’s greater now than it used to be. There’s a lot more technology, there’s a lot more useful information available now than there used to be, but, also, at that particular time you really didn’t have that many rules. It’s called a world wide web, but at that time it was the wild, wild west.
Anyone with a website can be on the search engines very quickly, attract customers, and start making a lot of money right away. But, of course, with all that said, there are a lot of risks involved, and there’s a lot of chances for failure as well, so it’s a two part thing.
Andrew: But for you it was the hunger, because unemployment was going to run out. And you had to get some kind of money in or you and your mom would be out on the street, or maybe even worse than that you’d have to go get a job and not be who you really are.
Andrew: Here I see from Jeremy’s notes to me about your pre-interview conversation. He says that within two months on Google you were making more money than the company that you were learning from and that was doing your drop shipping. What did you do that got you to beat them so quickly?
William: Wow, that’s a great question. Yeah, I was making a lot more money and they did give me the boot. They said, you know what, you’re making more money than we are. They kind of told me, you’re encroaching in our space.
Andrew: Oh, so suddenly they’re threatened.
William: They are threatened, because they were like number one on Google. They created their website some time in 1998 I think, if I go back and check.
William: And I came out of nowhere in 2001. So, they were number one, and I was somewhere around number two. They felt threatened. At the time I was making a lot of money and I was buying sunglasses for them and they were drop shipping it for me.
As an example, this, again is something great that happened. Just like I’m sure we’re going to get into it about me getting fired and all that stuff. Just like getting fired, it’s also great that I was let go by this company. Because I started making a lot more money. I was drop shipping, and it was costing me five dollars per sunglasses to drop ship. But, after I started buying all these sunglasses directly from China it ended up costing me about a dollar twenty-five to a dollar fifty to start shipping these products out.
Andrew: I see. So, basically what you’re telling me is these guys felt threatened by you. Not that you were beating them, but you were number two and you were hot on their heels. So, they were starting to feel threatened that they were supporting a competitor. And you said, alright, if I can’t get it from you and you guys are threatened by me, I will go directly to China and have a manufacturer ship to me. Yes, it means taking inventory, but my cost per sunglasses is going to be reduced. How did you find a manufacturer in China, a supplier there?
William: Well, like I said, there are a lot of companies out there such as Wholesale Central which you brought up at the beginning of this podcast interview. I did find a lot of manufacturers directly from Wholesale Central. Later on, I started contacting other people from a website called alibaba.com. That’s a great website to connect you with places such as China, foreign countries to get goods and services from.
Andrew: Do you still use Ali Baba? Because sometimes I want to buy things in bulk from an overseas suppler. I go to Ali Baba and put in my request, and it’s so hit or miss. Maybe they’ll make it, maybe they won’t. Maybe they respond, maybe they won’t. I know that there are ratings, but I feel like sometimes the ratings are just out of touch with my own personal experience with them. Maybe I’m doing something wrong.
William: Right, yeah. The thing with Ali Baba, and of course you know, you just have to realize that any country you call they’re going to be a 24 hour distance from you. It is difficult because there’s a language barrier. The service you get kind of sucks, but the prices that you receive at the end are pretty good. So, there’s a give and take to everything.
Andrew: Alright. So, you’re continuing. Was it working? Did you reduce your cost, or was it worse to go directly to a supplier?
William: Well, in the beginning it sucked, man.
William: It really sucked because I had to struggle a little bit. Like you said, contacting other suppliers and going directly from China is really, really difficult. In the beginning what I did was I found companies that would sell wholesale from the US. So, instead of paying five dollars per sunglasses to drop ship I ended up paying two to two and a half dollars for buying it wholesale. So, each dozen would end up costing me like 30, 40 dollars per dozen. That lasted for maybe a year, two, maybe three years. I really don’t remember, to be honest it’s been so long.
Then, after that, after I started creating contacts, after I started getting more clever and more educated in the business, then I started making contacts in China where I actually had sunglasses shipped directly from there that would cost anywhere from a dollar to a dollar fifty. So, the cost went down a whole lot after that, but you would have to buy a whole lot, too, from China.
Andrew: Alright. So, here’s the guy who kept getting laid off who suddenly becomes an entrepreneur, the place in life that he was always meant to be. Money’s starting to come in. How much money are we talking about, and how did it feel to finally be vindicated, to finally find your true self?
William: Oh, wow. How much money started to come in? As soon as I lost my job and Google and search engines started picking me up, I would say, probably, within a month or two I started making really good money, and, probably, in six months when I lost my job, finally, I was making more money at that time than I was making at my previous job, so at that time I decided to never work again for the rest of my life. I kind of threw in the towel, and I said, ‘That’s it.’ I can’t do this anymore. I don’t think I need to do this anymore. I told my mom, you don’t need to worry about anything anymore, because I’ll take care of the rent on my own from now on.
Andrew: In a box, storage box, in Los Angeles, I’ve got a copy of one of my first checks, one of my first big ones from Sony, for $7,500, back from my first business. I still remember that it was $7,500. I still remember what the check looked like. I still have a copy of it, and I have other milestone checks too, copied there. Do you remember, at that point, one big milestone sale or one big milestone, that you hit, in your bank account?
William: Yeah, I was looking, going back so long. I remember I was looking at 2003 or 2004, and I think my net for that year was $430,000, for that year, and that’s the point that I realized, holy sh*t. This is nice, and you know, of course, it’s a corporation, so as an employee you pay half of everything in taxes. Well, as a business owner it was great, because I was living off my expenses. I think at that time, it was still a home based business, and I wasn’t paying that much taxes, because a lot of my expenses were tax deductible. I was also buying investments, so that was tax deductible as well.
Andrew: What kind of investments?
William: Just different things like commodities and I few other things.
Andrew: Oh, I see, you were trading commodities on the exchange?
William: No, no, I was buying physical commodities.
Andrew: Like what?
William: Gold, silver.
Andrew: Really? And you held onto it? I see. Okay.
William: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: Is that an expense? Is that an expense that you can use on your taxes?
William: I really don’t know. I’d have to go back and speak to my accountant about that, but he devised it in a way where this would be accounted for an expense, and I would pay the taxes on it. Everything would be accounted for after I sold it, so I don’t know how he did it, but that’s all being taken care of now, so I’m happy with that.
Andrew: Interesting. Yeah, I don’t know how we would do that either, because I think if you buy gold and silver it’s considered an investment, like you’re buying an asset, and that comes out after your bottom line after all expenses. Alright. Let’s see. You’re building this thing up. Everything’s looking good. But from what I understand at this point, shipping becomes a problem. What was going on with shipping?
William: Yeah, shipping was a problem, because I was having a difficult time with shipping, and the problem was that as these products were being shipped out, some of them were being late, and in the beginning we would have tons of boxes and everything would have to be done through stamps.com. At first, everything was done manually, because there was no stamps.com, and I really didn’t have the postage meter and all that stuff, so doing all of these in the beginning was really tough.
Andrew: You mean you’d go to the post office with your collection of envelopes, or boxes, and be the guy standing in line while the person at the post office would apply postage on at a time. I’ve stood behind people like that. They are so proud, and I feel good for them, but it is one of the reasons why I hate going to the post office.
William: Yeah, that’s the problem I had in the beginning, and that’s the problem I had after I stopped drop shipping, because this was the pain in the ass part. I’m no longer drop shipping with people, so I have to learn all these things on my own, and as learning all these things on my own, I do this for a little while, then Stamps.com comes out, and from then on, my assistant, he goes and just drops off all the boxes, and that’s done. In the beginning, yeah, there was a problem.
Andrew: And you’re still depending on Google for traffic, right? Did you, at this point, buy ads, or did you do anything beyond Google?
William: No, actually. I never invested in Google AdWords, maybe a little bit, but not a whole lot. My entire business model, at that time, was 100 percent dependent on receiving traffic, directly, from the search engines. I think that was my biggest failure.
William: I will never depend on Google, or Yahoo, or any other search engine.
William: Well, first of all, you don’t know when they’re going to take it away from you. It’s better to diversify, and that’s one of the rules I have now. I will never, completely, depend on one source to get all my traffic from. In fact, what I’m doing now, I’m not depending on Google. I couldn’t care less if Google sent me ten visitors a day or ten thousand visitors a day. I’m doing things a whole lot different than I used to. When you depend on Google, when you work that game, then that’s what you depend on, and if they take it away from you, like they did with me, then I’m completely screwed, so no longer.
Andrew: Yeah, I get that feeling, so you’re doing well. Google changes their algorithm. Do you remember how it impacted your sales or traffic?
William: Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: What happened?
William: You want to go to 2010. Is that what you’re referring to?
Andrew: Yeah, let’s talk 2010.
William: Okay. Well, 2010, came around, and I was doing great. I was at the peak of my game. Everything was great. I was getting thousands of visitors from Google, not just Google, but all the search engines. I was making a ton of money, and then out of the blue, without any announcement, because I really didn’t follow the search engine algorithms that well, and I was just so used to living under a money tree for so long, without any care in the world, and I kind of neglected that part of my business.
I wish I’d put more emphasis on it. I wish I’d put a little bit more attention towards it, but I didn’t, and as a result of that, as a result of my own failure, what happened was, the Google panda and penguin updates came around, and I noticed that there was a huge spike in my traffic, and everything went down. At first, I’m wondering, what the heck is going on? So I contacted my search engine guy. I contacted my web guy, and we’re looking at the stats and everything, and we’re noticing that everything is going down the tubes. You know, what’s going on here? So I looked online, and I realized that there was a huge algorithm change, and that really affected me and brought everything down the tubes.
Andrew: And it’s, like, overnight. They don’t have to give you any warning. They’re not accountable to you. They don’t have to do anything. They just make a change, screw everyone who’s dependent on the old system. It’s not different. Wow, and is that the reason why you sold your car?
William: That’s the reason why I sold my car. Yeah, that’s the reason.
Andrew: What was the car that you sold?
William: It was a 2007, Porsche, GT3. I loved that thing.
Andrew: Is that what you were doing a video of as it was going away?
William: Yeah, actually. Me and Jeremy, we talked about that.
Andrew: What happened there?
William: Well, it was kind of like a sad moment, because in 2010 I lost my business. Before that, I bought the car in 2009, I think, a year before that I bought my car, and when I lost my business, I no longer wanted to keep that car, because I realized that sh*t hit the fan, and it’s best that I get rid of this big expense, this big toy, and that’s what I did, and I sold the car on eBay. The guy came and picked it up, and as he was driving away, I was standing behind him with a little video camera in my hand. I think it was my iPhone, or something, I have no idea what it was at the time, but I did take a video of it as he was driving away. I just wanted to remember it one last time, so that was that. That’s kind of embarrassing to talk about.
William: I don’t know. It’s just a car. It’s really nothing of importance. It’s a thing, but it’s a thing that I’m passionate about. I had that car, not because I could afford it, I could have bought that car a long time ago, but I really love cars. It’s something that is a hobby for me.
Andrew: You’d go to the races with it.
Andrew: The race track.
William: I did go to the race track with it. I did race it. I had a lot of fun with it. I have videos of me racing the car. I have a video of me almost crashing the car doing 140 miles an hour on the race track, with the go pro behind me of course, but you know, I had so much fun with it. I think it was like an emotional breakdown I had after that. I was like, oh, man. I got to get rid of this thing. I had so much fun with it. It’s a passion of mine, you know?
Andrew: I think you used the phrase, ‘Lost the business,’ but even if you don’t have traffic coming in, why would it cause you to lose your business? Your expenses are fairly low. You don’t have to buy inventory if your sales are going down. You don’t have to pay for expensive web hosting. Why did it damage your business so much? Why did you lose the business because of it?
William: Well, like I said, a lot of my visitors were new visitors. I don’t think I mentioned that but I will now. A lot of my visitors were new visitors, and the visitors I had coming in that were buying from me, yeah. There was people buying from me, I had customers that were buying from, but, um, once the new visitors stopped coming, the old visitors were my returning customers. They weren’t really buying much. And it wasn’t as much as before so I felt like this sucks, I can’t, I don’t want to live off of this kind of money anymore. It’s better that I just scrap everything and start from scratch. Do something completely different.
Andrew: Scrap it meaning close down the business or sell it or what?
William: Sell it.
Andrew: Who’d you sell it to?
William: I put it up on I think it was Flippa [SP]. I got rid of it from I put it on Flippa and I got rid of it from there. There was a couple of websites though, they were all gone after that.
Andrew: What about the email addresses of all your customers. What happened to that?
William: I guess they went to the new buyer, everything went to them.
Andrew: I see, but you hadn’t built a business where you could… You hadn’t built a business with a lot of recurring revenue. You weren’t on a regular basis contacting your past customers, building them up. Selling them other products beyond glasses, I see.
William: No, no. You have to understand something. You probably didn’t touch up on this, but I will. I was at a point where I was getting kind of tired of the business to begin with. And I said to myself, like a year or two prior to that. I’m reading so much, I’ve grown so much as an individual from 2001 till now. And there’s so much that I can help people with to add value to other people’s lives. And I wanted to do that for myself, and I wanted to do that for other people.
Andrew: I wanted to do that too. I’m wondering why? What is about us, because frankly it would make more sense to say, and a logical point. From just a purely selfish logical point of view. Figured out how to make a business work. Go create another business. If you made hundreds of thousands or millions before, you’ll make millions or tens of millions this time.
Just keep going. Buy more cars, have better vacations, maybe buy a jet, why aren’t we thinking of that. Is it that we need other peoples love so badly that we’re willing to teach them so that they can love us back and say thank you for doing this. Or is something else here? Go deep with me.
William: Andrew, I think for me it was more about my legacy. It’s great to sell sun glasses. It’s great to make tons of money. It’s great to go buy fancy cars and go on the race track, but at a certain point in a man or a woman’s life. You’re going to get to get to that level where you’re going to thinking about your legacy. What people will think about when you’re no longer around.
And it’s great to be remembered as the sun-glass guy, or the sun glass man who’s been doing this for so long. That was successful , that is no longer successful or is successful for the next 20 years. But there’s also another part of me that wanted to provide value, to be a man of value. That wanted to teach other what I learned for myself and to give back to society. I wanted to create a legacy where I was remembered for doing great things, for adding value to other people’s lives. And I guess you get what you ask for in the end, because I’m doing that now, and I’m very, very happy doing it. And I would love to talk more about that.
Andrew: What are you doing now?
William: Well, I have a podcast.
Andrew: What’s the podcast?
William: Well, the podcast is about entrepreneurship, motivation and success. And I’m really happy about what I’m doing now, Andrew. I get emails every single day with people who are asking me questions who are telling me I am doing great. As a matter of fact I had a review yesterday from a guy who’s telling me that the kind of podcast that I have out there, they’re just as good as a Stanford University type of startup speech somebody would give. Or a fancy speaking engagement.
This is in my reviews in iTunes, anyone can go check it out. I mean when you read the reviews, I mean I can definitely see that I’m adding value to people’s lives, and this is something that makes me really, really happy. This is what my new motivation, to add value to people’s lives.
Andrew: I get it. Do you end up with more than a half million in the bank after the sun glass business?
William: Yes, give or take something like that. I mean I don’t want to really get into it. It’s kind of private, but I talk to it, I can talk about it.
Andrew: Having that bank account gives you a since of confidence, don’t you think?
William: Absolutely, yeah.
Andrew: I don’t think people talk that enough. That we’re only supposed to get confidence from external factors, but sometimes an external thing like that is a huge help.
William: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: Is it uncomfortable for us to talk about this?
William: No, I’m just agreeing with you.
Andrew: All right, did you try to create another sunglass business or another drop business after Google’s algorithm change?
William: Did I create another? No actually, I didn’t.
Andrew: It was just straight to this. You said I’ve got to get going with this.
William: Yeah, straight to this. I’ll tell you one thing. I suck at multi- tasking. I don’t do two things at once. I concentrate on one thing and make sure that it’s great and make sure it’s the best and I move onto something else. Not completely quitting it. I guess you could say I’m a serial entrepreneur or whatever you want to call it. Whatever catch phrase there is. But I’m concentrating on this and giving everything I have. It’s fulfilling for me. It’s not that it’s making me millions of dollars, but as long as I’m doing something that makes me happy, that I know is fulfilling for me, I think that’s what matters most.
Andrew: I know what you mean. I’m the same way. I don’t like to do Mixergy and three side businesses the way other people do. Who’s going to focus on it? If I love it and I do it right and I want to continue it and keep improving it. Otherwise, I feel if I have these other side projects when things aren’t going well at Mixergy than instead of pushing through it, I’ll go and get distracted by the side projects and ignore Mixergy. And in the past with a previous company, too, I wanted to focus fully on it. Don’t you hate it when you tell people what you’re doing and you’re excited about it and they go ‘oh yeah, it’s nice that you have this part time thing. What else are you doing?”
William: Yeah, first of all it’s difficult to tell people what I do now. I mean I don’t even know if there’s a title for what I do now. What do I say? I’m a podcaster? I have a blog, I’m blogging. And they ask ‘how do you make money off of that’ and so-
Andrew: How do you make money off of it?
William: How do I make money off of it? That’s a great question. Well, right now with my podcast, I’m not making money. It’s not something I planned to make money off, the podcast. It’s something that I wanted to develop relationships with and I’m doing that and I’m very happy about it because I am developing relationships with it but I have a book right now that I’m creating. It’s called “Life Purpose.”
Andrew: “Life Purpose.”
William: “Life Purpose,” yeah. A practical guide for creating the life of your dream. So I’m creating a book. I have a free book on my website called ‘Optimized’ that anyone can download and of course I have the podcast and the next project I’m working on is “how to be successful at anything you attempt.” Now, when that product launches, I hope it’s going to be the launch of the century and it’s going to make me tons of money but that’s something that’s going to be done, that’s going to be something that’s going to be released before the end of the year. Hopefully, sometime around August, or maybe, did I say August? I mean, October or November.
Andrew: All right, 2013. And we’ll look out for that. Is the website WilliamShaker.com the best place to refer people?
William: Yeah, absolutely. WilliamShaker.com.
Andrew: WilliamShaker.com. Thank you so much for doing this interview. Hey guys, thank you all for being a part of it. Bye.