Erik’s Story: How the community helped him to regain his life
If you’re part of the ImportXperts community, you’ve probably seen happy-and-helpful Erik, offering support to as many members as possible. But this chirpy Erik was a very different man, just one year ago. Naturally an introvert, but he’s become an extrovert in the group, because, he says he “feels so at home here”.
So we interviewed Erik to learn all about his journey – what he’s learned, how far he’s come, the obstacles he faced, and how he’s helping other members in Erik’s Friendly Chats.
Let’s start with a bit about who you are and how you got into ImportXperts?
So hello – my name’s Erik! I joined ImportXperts around 8 months ago now…
Prior to IX, I was working 70+ hours per week as a project manager in Brussels airport. I was in the red zone – working all the time, feeling anxious, stressed, and totally burnt out. One evening, my son asked me: “Dad, can we play once you’ve finished being angry?”
But I didn’t listen, I kept on slaving away. Eventually, my wife found me on the floor after I’d had a panic attack. I went to the doctor and was signed off from work.
When I was off work, I started to explore the Internet. I realized that there was more to life than the grind of the 9-5 (or the 8-8 as I was more commonly working). I found the SFM and my eyes were opened up to the possibility of building my own business….centered around the things I liked.
I realized that it is possible to do a job around things you love! You don’t have to do a job, just because you’re good at it – or because society tells you to.
So I took out a loan to help me afford the training. I knew it was an investment in my future. And it was just before the Xcelerator Challenge began. I decided to join the challenge and from week 1, I was hooked.
Tell us a bit about the Xcelerator Challenge and how it went for you!
I loved the Xcelerator Challenge! It was a wonderful way to meet the fellow ImportXperts members as well as understanding the whole process of launching a product. Jay’s energy was inspiring and he set us small, manageable tasks to achieve each week which made it super motivating.
It was the energy I needed to get back on my feet. After experiencing burn out, I had lost a lot of my enthusiasm, excitement, and… emotions. The chirpy and happy Erik had gone. At the time, I struggled to read, couldn’t analyze anything, and was hyper-emotional. But the more I got into the challenge, the more I regained my mind.
The Xcelerator Challenge means so much to me than just a 10-week journey where we were shown how to launch a product. It helped me get my feelings back – and so much more.
So the Xcelerator Challenge helped you to change your perspective on work and life too?
Absolutely! Before the Challenge, I was stuck in a stressful job and I had no idea what I wanted to do. Work was just a means of paying the bills.
Now, I have clarity around what I want to achieve in both work and life – and I’m doing everything to create the best life for me and my family.
What’s the best life that you’re striving to achieve?
I’m launching my business with the end goal to achieve financial freedom for my family. I’d love to be able to move my family to Singapore – so that we can freely travel to Thailand, Bali, and everywhere else!
My ideal day includes a family breakfast, the school-run, visualization in the hammam, analyzing my Amazon stats, a business lunch with fellow eCommerce friends, being able to contribute to a charity, as well as getting lost reading in Waterstones, as well dinner and pillow talk with my family.
I’m putting in the hours into my online business to be able to achieve this day. I really believe that I can do it.
It was only by taking a step back and having the time to reflect, where I was able to work what I wanted from life.
I thought the burn out was the worst thing that could happen to me but through The SFM, it’s given me a whole new view on life. The positivity from Importxperts is crazy!
My vision in life has changed significantly in the last 8 months. I would never have prioritized taking the kids to school – now, it’s a non-negotiable for me.
I’m building my business for my family. Everything I do is for them.
Have you had any challenges along the way?
Oh yes! I hit my first obstacle before I placed my first order. I was really nervous to pay the supplier for the stock! I was brought up with the mentality of saving. I could hear my mom’s voice in my head telling me “don’t spend money if you don’t need to!”- why was I paying a Chinese supplier (who I’d never met) for all this stock? It was the first time I’d ever done anything like this so the concept was really foreign to me!
I hit my next obstacle when I was designing my images for my product listing. I tried to save some money by doing the product images myself, rather than hiring a designer. This meant my images were terrible so I barely made any sales!
How did you overcome the challenges?
Well, when it came to paying for my stock – The Squad helped me to change my mindset about it. I wasn’t spending my savings, I was investing in my future.
When I launched and didn’t make many sales – I asked the community for feedback on my listing. I was blown away by how many valuable comments and ideas people had. The unanimous feedback was to improve my product images. So I hired a designer from 99designs and my sales dramatically increased. It’s crazy, it really shows the power of great images!
Did you ever feel like giving up?
Yes! I was really low because I felt like I was failing. But the community – and The Squad in particular – picked me back up. They helped me to realize that it’s not a case of winning and losing; it’s a case of learning and improving.
After that day, I re-committed. I changed my mindset. Every obstacle is just a blip in the road which will help me get to the next level.
I couldn’t have overcome these obstacles without the support of The Squad and the IX community.
Tell us about The Squad!
During the Xcelerator Challenge, one of the early tasks was to use Jungle Scout to find popular products on Amazon. As a Jungle Scout account can be shared between 6 people, Jay suggested we team up with other ImportXperts members so that we can split the cost of one account.
So 6 of us formed a JS team, which we renamed The Squad… And we quickly became best friends!
We’re always chatting to each other, sharing support and ideas to help each other. We keep each other accountable and it’s so great to know we’ve got each other’s backs.
Everything which I’ve achieved has been down to The Squad and I’m so grateful to everyone for the support.
How have your sales been so far?
Since I improved my images, the sales have been much better. However, after a mastermind session with The Squad, we noticed the seasonality around the search for my main keyword; more people search for it in summer than winter.
So I’m currently selling off the rest of my stock and am getting everything ready for the launch of my next product.
My first product has taught me a lot about the process, but I’m more passionate about my next product.
Tell us about the next product!
I’m ready to go again! I’m really excited about my second product; it’s much more in-line with my own interests and I can see that there’s a gap in the UK market. While it’s popular in the US, it hasn’t taken off in the UK yet.
I’ve learned so much from my first product – especially around product images and PPC ad campaigns.
I’m going to overinvest in my listing and get some killer images designed so that I launch with the best images possible. There’s no point running PPC campaigns if the product images are poor and the conversion rate is low.
What part have you enjoyed the most?
The community! I’ve learned everything from the community – whether it’s from the coaches, members, blog, or The Squad. Everyone has value. If you have a question, please ask – because chances are, someone else is wondering the same thing but they might be too nervous to ask.
The community is the best source of knowledge. Everyone is posting and speaking from experience, and you can ask the coaches like Anna and Jay questions too. It’s a real gold mine!
When I asked for feedback on my listing, I got so many incredible ideas about how to improve it. Immediate feedback on my product listing – well, you can’t get that from training videos.
The training is the skeleton but you need to put the meat on the bones… And that’s what you get from the community.
What have you gained from the community?
The feeling which I get from the community – that it’s full of my people, my friends. When I found IX, I felt like I found my home.
I know what it feels like to feel as though you don’t belong anywhere. You might have a house and live in a society – but still feel like you’re lacking a home and a community.
It’s always been my mission to make people feel worthy of belonging.
I want to do as much as I can to make people feel as though they belong in ImportXperts too.
And that’s why I launched Erik’s friendly chats.
Tell us about Erik’s Friendly Chats!
This might come as a surprise to you but I’m actually quite an introverted guy! I feel so safe in the IX community that I can be the extroverted and chatty guy – but I know there will be some members hiding who feel nervous to ask questions or reach out.
So I want to provide a safe space for one-on-one calls where anyone can reach out and ask me anything.
It’s all completely confidential but I encourage anyone who learns anything from our calls to share it in the group so that other members can learn too.
I’ve had an overwhelming response – my calendar is booked up for the next 2 months! I’m just really pleased that so many members feel comfortable enough to reach out to me and really hope that I can help.
Do most people ask you for help around the same topics?
People ask for help on lots of different things – a lot of people ask for tips around how to get the right mindset actually. But I love talking about everything!
[You can book one of Erik’s Friendly Chats by clicking on this link!]
Have you ever met any of the community in person?
Yes!! We attended one of the IX meet-ups in London and it was SO cool! I felt like I’d known everyone for years but it was great to meet everyone in person too. Sometimes it can feel a bit lonely doing everything online, so it’s nice to connect with people face-to-face too.
What’s your ultimate goal for your business?
The goal for this year is to launch my second product and get approved into the Amazon brand registry. I don’t expect to make a profit but I want to get everything set-up correctly, so I’m on track for scaling next year.
Then the longer-term goal is to be able to show my kids that they don’t have to do what they tell you. To show them it’s ok to go against the “norm”. And that they don’t have to work a 9-5 job if they don’t want to.
And finally, what words of wisdom do you have for anyone looking to start an eCommerce business?
I’d like to offer three words of advice:
Firstly, get ready. Have a bit of cash on hand and clear your diary so you have the time to spend learning. It’s not something you can start with just $200. Realistically, you’ll need about $2000 as a minimum so you can invest in product, images, and ads.
Secondly, expect a rollercoaster journey. Some days, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world and ruling the universe! But other days, there will be moments of doubt.
And finally – don’t underestimate the community. Make sure you tap in and share. Sharing will help you get through the low parts and we’ll all be there to celebrate your highs.
Thanks so much Erik… Do you have anything else to share?
I just wanted to say that even though you’re talking to me – this interview is on behalf of the whole squad. I wouldn’t be where I am without the squad and we’re a team. So thanks to everyone for being part of it!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Erik’s story. If you’d like to book one of Erik’s friendly chats, just click here.