First business

Although I had never smoked cigarettes before, I got interested in e-cigarettes. I was intrigued by the concept of DIY electronics and the competition of chasing the biggest cloud. E-cigarettes are straightforward devices. In the simplest mechanical form, they consist of a high-ampere battery, button, heating coil, and cotton inside it; everything connected and packed into a housing. Pressing a button closes a circuit, which heats the coil and so the cotton inside it; the cotton is soaked in e-liquid that vaporizes at high temperature.

I started to create my own heating coils and mix my e-liquids. It was much cheaper, give a lot of space for experiments, and I could earn some money by selling them. It was not enough, though.

One day, my cousin showed me a website where e-cigarettes cost about thirty percent of a regular price in my country. He asked me if I could order him one because I had a multi-currency bank account. My first thought was that the website is a scam, but I could risk that few dollars. The delivery time was about 60-days, but I didn’t care; it was so cheap that the risk was worth it. I ordered two e-cigs, and after two months, the order got to my parent mailbox ✓ , e-cigarettes were there ✓ , and everything was working ✓. My first thought was that if I sell it for the doubled price, it will still be a forthy percent cheaper than in on-premise shops, so I shouldn’t have problems selling them. Eureka! I just found the golden goose.

Immediately I told my cousin about it and asked how much he wants to order in the next batch?

I couldn’t believe that someone could reject such a simple, effortless and profitable business idea. I ordered them anyway. After sixty days of waiting, they appeared at my parent’s mailbox, ten fully working e-cigarettes. I posted an offer on a Facebook group where people were trading second-hand e-cigarettes. The interest was so high that I sold them in few days. I wondered what I should do now. The question wasn’t if I should do it again, or if it’s legal——the question was how many will I order next time. I ordered twenty e-cigs, and one month after another twenty. Once again, I’ve sold them without any obstacles. Before I turned eighteen, I was earning about the national minimum wage, working a few-hours-a-day job.

Even after the website become widely known, and people started to copy my business, some people were still buying from me. The first lesson was about business credibility. Even more interesting is that despite the doubled price, people were still buying from me. Why? Because they wanted it now, not in a month, not in a week, now. The second lesson was about the time and money correlation.

  1. We are paying for the exchange of time. Time is money. If you are in a hurry, you will pay someone who can afford to wait.

  2. You have to risk to earn money. The ratio of profit/risk is constant. The more you risk, the bigger payout.

  3. Capital can limit you. In the beginning, I couldn’t afford to order more e-cigs than I had money in my bank account, even though I knew I would double the money.

Btw. the name of the website is aliexpress.com