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4 Wildly Successful People Who Started From the Bottom

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We all love a good rags-to-riches story about successful people who worked through adversity. Whether they were challenged by learning disabilities, a bad family life, or a dangerous environment, these 4 entrepreneurs started with nothing. Today they’re at the top of the world.

Daymond John is the founder of apparel line FUBU and investor on the hit TV show Shark Tank. He’s a true definition of a modern-day renaissance man with a net worth of $300 million.

The fire of Daymond John’s entrepreneurial spirit was always stoked by a desire to run his own business. Even from a young age, Daymond came up with creative ways to make money, such as scraping the paint off pencils and customizing them with the names of the prettiest girls in his class. 

As an adult, he waited tables at Red Lobster, where he gleaned some entrepreneurial guidance from the way they would generate revenue through appetizers and drinks. 

Work didn’t follow him home, leaving him with time to focus on his real passion: an apparel business for young men that would also link Daymond John’s love of Hip-Hop. His mother—who Daymond lauds as his main inspiration—taught him to sew wool caps. He sold 80 of them at $10 apiece; when they sold out, he went back the next hour and got more material.

Daymond John’s mother recognized her son’s passion, so she mortgaged her home to raise six figures in startup capital. Daymond’s business launched in 1992 and grew in extreme popularity as rappers wore FUBU in their music videos. 

Today Daymond John celebrates the power of leveraging a “broke mindset.” His book, The Power of Broke, details ways to get creative in the face of poverty like he once did. 

Tai Lopez grew up in Long Beach, California with a less-than-optimal family life, raised by his mother and grandmother—his father was in prison off and on.

When he was six years old, Tai sold cherry tomatoes with his mother for a quarter a bag. Realizing that cherry tomatoes weren’t so popular, he decided to sell “lemonade with sugar.” When he started making ten times the amount he made with cherry tomatoes in the same amount of time, he recognized the power of product and demand and taking entrepreneurial risks. 

Long Beach in the ‘80s was home to a lot of gang activity. Thankfully, Tai was very shy and turned to books to cope with his environment. Tai wanted to learn more about the idea of a good life, so he wrote to his grandfather, a successful scientist. Tai’s grandfather sent him a box of eleven books, hand-picked to fan the fires of Tai’s natural curiosity and spark a lifelong love of reading. Tai began to read thousands of books, and soon became filled with a desire to travel and meet people like those he read about in his books.

Tai set out to travel 51 countries and immerse himself in experiences like working at a leper colony in India and living among the Amish—where he learned to avoid procrastination by doing the hardest things first.

Broke from his travels, Tai moved back in with his mother, sleeping on the couch of her mobile home. In desperation, he opened the Yellow Pages to find a mentor. It just so happened that Mike Stainback, the owner of a local insurance firm, had been searching for an ambitious mentee at exactly the same time. 

Tai moved on from the insurance firm to become a top-ranked social media influencer and internet celebrity when his famous video of him standing in his garage next to his Lamborghini—and a library of several thousand books went viral. A true testament to the love of books his grandfather sparked many years ago. 

Tai Lopez associates his success with experience and a self-guided love of reading—he still immerses himself in one book every single day.

Ben Buckwalter is the founder of one of the fastest growing sales training schools in America—and a perfect example of getting to the top through hard work.

Ben grew up in a small Midwestern town surrounded by farmland; his inspiring story showcases not relying on a formal education to achieve success in life and earning big while overcoming the limiting beliefs of other people.

After years of struggling to find success in school because of his ADHD, Ben dropped out of college. On the last day of college, a professor told him that low test scores meant he would never get a well-paying job and he would struggle in life. 

“I will never forget the feeling of hopelessness I felt when I heard those words,” says Ben Buckwalter. “At that moment, I decided that I didn’t need college or community support; I decided I would create my own path to success.”

Ben didn’t quite know where to turn, so he took a low paying summer job shoveling dirt at a garden center. In his desperation to get out of the summer heat, he took the next available job he found and moved on to selling insurance at a call center. 

He continued to grow and educate himself and it was in his new role as an insurance salesman that Ben got an important crash-course on sales, cold calling, and most importantly, how to close a deal. Before long, he was the company’s top seller. 

Ben left the company and used his experience and knowledge to successfully launch multiple businesses selling millions upon millions of dollars in programs and products, across multiple niches from the agrochemical market to digital marketing. 

Today Ben Buckwalter is an award winning sales strategist and successful entrepreneur working with global brands to master their selling process. Ben has gone on to become one of the most sought-after coaches in the sales and marketing industry, where he teaches his students to shatter the glass ceiling of their own expectations.

When Ben looks back on his journey, he relates that this feeling of being “up against the wall” helping him find success, and he’s never let that inspiration go. 

Lewis Howes is a shining example of how someone can overcome multiple challenges to find greatness in life. Howes grew up in Delaware, Ohio, the youngest of four siblings. He struggled for attention, he struggled with the way he looked, he struggled with reading comprehension, and he struggled to find friends.

Howes’ parents met and married when they were 19. They had both wanted to be professional opera singers. Instead, they ended up struggling financially as Howes’ father worked three jobs. Neither parent was living their dreams, and it showed through their stress and tension.

This stress impacted Howes and his siblings. One brother was jailed for selling drugs, while a sister struggled with alcoholism. Howes was placed in special education classes because of reading issues. The idea of public speaking put him into a cold sweat.

Miserable at home and at school, Howes turned to sports as a ticket out. But his path to success actually started when he made some friends at a Christian summer camp. These particular kids attended a boarding school in Saint Louis, and Howes was captivated by their positivity, energy, and creativity.

He petitioned his parents to go to this boarding school, where he excelled at football. He wasn’t the best at anything, but he was willing to sacrifice pain for playtime. He attributes this drive to his feelings of loneliness as a child—as if he had nothing to lose. 

Howes made it to the bush league of Arena Football. Then his wrist broke in 2007. Penniless, he moved in with his sister, went through rehab, and entered a job market impacted by the 2008-2009 recession, with no job skills. Even worse, Howes felt like he had lost his identity.

Watching a handball game, Howes decided this could be his sport—but he needed money to get to New York and start training. He started spending hours every day on LinkedIn, learning the ins and outs of networking. He created a group for sports executives, which ballooned to 10,000 professionals in about a year.

People started telling Howes that his work on LinkedIn had helped them network their way into a job. Howes started speaking at events, opened a coaching business, and hosting live meetups. He also reached his goal of playing handball for the US Olympic Team. 

Today Howes has a top-100 podcast, The School of Greatness. He’s been named by the White House as one of the top-100 entrepreneurs under 30. Above all, Howes is dedicated to saving people from unhappy careers, which leads to unhappy lives—strongly believing that if people do what they love, the world will be a better place.

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Isabella Zulli Shares Her Top Tips To Create Compelling Retail Signage

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Isabella Zulli Shares Her Top Tips To Create Compelling Retail Signage

Isabella Zulli’s top tips to create effective shop signage are:

 

  1. Be Direct And To The Point

It used to be difficult to figure out what to Tweet when we were only allowed 140 characters or less or having to edit a video for YouTube so it wasn’t longer than two minutes. Since those days, attention spans have gotten even shorter, and Vine is a prime example of that. The bottom line is people are in a hurry and you need to respect this.

 

  1. Fonts Need To Be Easy To Read

There’s a key difference between jotting on a chalkboard with crayons, getting away with and driving sales. It is crucial to have clear font characters, which means not use multiple colours or curly-cues. Customers’ attention should immediately be drawn to your message, followed by your product. If people can’t immediately read your sign, then they’ll just go to another retailer.

 

  1. State The Reasons For Customers Buying Your Service/Product

Is your customer going to buy your service or product to look good on a date? Maybe they’re going to buy it to manage their hair. Whatever the reason is, you want to state the reasons they should buy your product.

 

  1. Use These Words

The words you want to use are words such as yours and you because this creates a visual for your prospective customers. Signs become more powerful when you use those two words. For example, the phrase “you will make heads turn wherever you go”, creates a visual for customers. They can picture themselves turning heads if they buy your product or service.

 

  1. Less Is More

More and more people are only using initials or an emoji or two to communicate in texts. The point is we are getting used to very short messages. This is why you should edit your copy until you have a few words. Remember, less is more.

 

  1. Test Out Your Sign

It’s nice to have a brand new sign that you love, until you realise you can’t really see it through your windows or the font isn’t as big as you initially thought it was. If you’re on a busy street, then drive by your place to see what the sign is like, or have someone you know do this. If you or your friend can’t tell what your sign is, then it’s time to edit it.

 

  1. Have Fun During The Process

Boring signs are boring, period. You want to grab the attention of the casual browser, which means boring signs are not going to cut it. Feel free to include jokes, puns and things of that nature. Such content shows your business is fun.

 

Sure, some people won’t think you’re funny. However, this is fine because most of your customers and audience will love it. They may even snap a pic of your sign, share it to social media and then it’ll go viral. This means more potential exposure.

Read More: Tips For Building An Unstoppable Brand

 

Isabella Zulli Said: Here’s What To Avoid

Don’t be generic. Too many retailers have used generic stuff for their signs. The bottom line is you want to be as creative as possible and do your best to standout of the crowd.

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This marketplace for college sports equipment is attracting athletes, consumers, and sports clubs

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It’s always a good time to get your Marie Condo on and de-clutter. Letting go of things that no longer spark joy is already a challenge enough but selling your unwanted goodies shouldn’t be. There is a wide variety of marketplaces and platforms to connect sellers and buyers for just about anything you can imagine. 

Facebook Marketplace, eBay, letgo, even Craigslist are all great options to sell or buy goods but since they are so huge–it creates an opportunity for niche marketplaces to better serve specific communities. Naturally, entrepreneurs like Ahmad Elhawli identified opportunities like the fact that currently, there is no dedicated platform for colleges and college students to buy and sell college merchandise and sports equipment.

The recent news of the NCAA announcement to move forward with a proposal allowing college athletes to profit from the use of their name, image, likeness (NIL) makes it a great time to be in this college sports space.  

A marketplace platform for colleges

Sportsfinda is poised to be the go-to social marketplace enabling students to monetize on their personal brands and colleges to sell their equipment and merchandise on one platform. Being that college merchandise, like branded apparel and accessories–and sports equipment, like baseball bats, gloves, and helmets are integral elements of a student’s college journey–a dedicated platform was really needed.  

With a robust web platform and an app for iOS and Android–Sportsfinda is very simple to use. Sellers can simply list their products and buyers can like, comment, make an offer, and purchase sought after sports equipment or college merchandise.

Sportsfinda provides a valuable service to the colleges themselves as well since they are major buyers of sports equipment regularly as they continuously upgrade their inventory. All that old equipment has to go somewhere so once per year, colleges work with Sportsfinda to list and sell their retired sports equipment. In addition, the college stores that sell branded apparel and accessories can list those products on Sportsfinda to reach a wider audience interested in college gear. This allows students to align their products with their colleges and make them easily searchable. 

Humble beginnings

Sportsfinda–the brainchild of digital marketer Ahmad Elhawli–originated in the way many great businesses get created–through necessity. Elhawli experienced the problem firsthand in his pursuit of a sports item. 

“It all began one day as I was searching for a pair of LSU football gloves, I was moving from platform to platform and it was very hard to keep track of what I did find and what I had not,” recounts Elhawli, of his journey to his aha moment.

After some research and good old brainstorming, the dots connected for Elhawli and Sportsfinda was launched. 

The man behind the curtain

The founder of Sportsfinda, Australian-based entrepreneur and digital marketer Ahmad Elhawli, is no stranger to startups. Elhawli owns and operates a digital marketing agency while hosting a business-focused podcast called Business Wilderness where he has hosted guests from Forbes, Microsoft, Coca Cola, Hubspot, and many more. But his entrepreneurial spirit dates back to his early adulthood with a failed business at the age of 19. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in digital marketing and committed to the continuous learning required to stay sharp in this field.

After a decade of hard work, Elhawli was recognized as an expert in digital marketing for his work directly supported the generation of hundreds of millions of dollars. Elhawli has taken everything he has learned over his career as a digital marketer is applying it along with his passion for sports to build Sportsfinda from the ground up. 

For college students with some retired gear, it’s a great time to get those products listed on Sportsfinda and get paid. College students aren’t the only people using Sportsfinda, but so is the average person at home. With more online shopping happening than ever, everyone is checking out the new marketplace to look for hidden treasures.

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Want To Reach Your First $10,000 Month? Avoid These Three Biggest Mistakes That Keep You Stuck In Your Business

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Struggling entrepreneurs often wonder why their businesses are not thriving, despite working long hours and consistently marketing their offers. What they probably don’t realize is that they are making three common mistakes that can be easily prevented.

For young entrepreneur Ellen Yin, it is easy to spot why some entrepreneurs are failing to achieve their first $10,000 month. Yin explained that they are likely committing three big mistakes that keep them stuck in their business. “Based on my own experience scaling my service-based business to multi-six figures and helping other entrepreneurs make their first $10K month, trying every strategy being taught by industry gurus will keep you overwhelmed and chasing shiny objects. We’ve been sold this lie that we have to post every single day on every platform like a content machine, or that building a large following should be your number one priority. They always advise entrepreneurs to increase their online presence on social media platforms. What I have learned is the simpler you can keep your marketing system, the better.”

Mistake#1: You Need A Large Audience To Make Your First $10,000 

Yin said that most entrepreneurs think that they need to build a large following so they can attract new clients. “This is not the case for most service-based businesses who are working with clients one-on-one. You do not necessarily need to have a huge following or audience on social media to make your first $10,000,” she added. Also, she emphasized that popularity does not equal to profitability, saying that, “I only had 3,000 followers when I made my first $10K month.”

Many entrepreneurs will ask what they should do instead. Yin responded that it is easier to borrow influence than to create it. “You do not need to wait to build a large audience in order to connect with your ideal clients. What you need to do is find them in the communities where they already exist,” she said. It is an efficient strategy executed using targeted hashtags, search filters, and platforms built by influencers in your space. She added that entrepreneurs must look for individuals who are already talking about the need that their business or service can fill. “In my experience, it is easier to sell to someone who is already problem aware and is just looking for the right solution than trying to convince an individual that they have the problem that your service can solve,” Yin said. Instead of paying so much attention to vanity metrics like their number of followers, she urged entrepreneurs to focus on profit-driving activity.

Mistake#2: Trying To Achieve An Income Goal Without A Game Plan 

Yin observed that some entrepreneurs try to reach their income goals without having a strategic plan.  “They forget that a dream without a plan is just a wish. You need to reverse engineer how to get to your income goal and develop a marketing plan based on data, not on guesswork,” she added.

“If you are standing on one side of the river and you want to get to the other side, you need to build a bridge so you can cross the river and get to that side,” Yin explained. 

Yin shared, “I guide entrepreneurs in answering a set of questions to reverse engineer their first $10,000 month.” Yin asked entrepreneurs how many hours they spent in a week delivering their client work and the number of hours they need to complete it. “It allows you to determine the maximum client load that you can handle in a week. By answering these questions, you can better establish how to price your services to reach the first $10,000 month,” she explained.

Yin also asked entrepreneurs to track their average conversion rate, which in turn determines the total number of leads they need to secure each month in order to close their desired number of clients to make their income goal. This gives entrepreneurs clear marketing targets for outbound engagement. “By answering a few simple questions, you can create a customized game plan tailored to your business,” she said. 

Mistake #3: You Need To Post Every Day And Be On Every Platform

Some entrepreneurs spend all their marketing efforts on creating content. They believe that they need to post every single day and be present on every social media platform to make money. Yin busts this myth by clarifying that it’s not the quantity of content but instead the right type of content that results in sales.

Yin explained that posting every day on every platform is time-consuming and not sustainable.  “I know this is an unpopular opinion, but you do not have to put out consistent content to attract consistent clients. What you can do is leverage evergreen content rooted in sales psychology. This content is strategically designed to help your audience overcome their objections before they even speak with you. The right content will educate and attract new potential clients to you daily, even when you don’t post,” she said.

Connect with Ellen

Yin is the founder of Cubicle to CEO, online membership and podcast of the same name for service-based entrepreneurs. “I teach struggling service-based entrepreneurs a step-by-step system to attract consistent clients and make their first $10,000 month,” she explained. Through her social media marketing agency, she has helped boost the growth of many businesses, from local startups to multi-million-dollar and Fortune 500 brands.

To learn more about Ellen Yin, please kindly visit her website at www.ellenyin.com.

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