RYB 942 Selling Crickets Online to a Serial Entrepreneur and Millions In Sales with Carlos

I'm excited to have another special guest on today! I have Carlos Alvarez on, and he has a lot to share with us. We're going to talk about his twenty plus years as an entrepreneur. He'll share with us how he started.

He has built several businesses both on and offline, and how he has built several businesses and generated millions online. He has built a massive community in the Amazon space, and he'll talk about how he's made it so successful. Let's get right to it. 

The Start to Carlos's Entrepreneurial Journey 

I'm actually an elementary school dropout and had a difficult childhood. In my mid-twenties, I was working four jobs at one time. It was a difficult time for me, and I was doing as many odd jobs as possible to pay my bills and earn some extra money to please my girlfriend at the time. 

One of the odd jobs I discovered was to sell things on eBay. I quickly realized that it felt empowering to have people purchase things I sold and get positive feedback from my customers. I quickly started to start putting all my free time and energy into learning how to sell more on eBay. When I wasn't working, I was doing that.

My family and friends saw that eBay was a good side job and wanted to help me succeed. They ended up putting together $81,000 to help me grow my business and boost my career. No one that invested wanted interested.

They all just wanted to rally around and support me. They weren't in a rush to get paid back. Around that time, I had discovered Alibaba and really liked it. I had found these amazing little rings that I was buying for 16 cents and was selling them for $26. 

I got the loans from my family. Next, I found a guy on Alibaba to purchase these rings from. I wanted to buy $81,000 worth of them because I was making so much money off of them. I wanted to invest what my friends and family gave me. The company I choose to purchase the rings from didn't exist, and the person I spoke with was fake.

I ended up losing every single penny that I had been given to invest. It was so devastating to lose everything, and I ended up not telling anyone. I wanted to get their money back. So started to sell everything that I owned so I could earn it all back. 

Then I got the inspiration to start breeding insects to sell online. I saw that there was a demand for it and got straight to it. I did find that shipping was a nightmare, and I learned a lot during that entire process. Initially, I was shipping mostly to individuals, but after a while, I started Googling a lot of people who were purchasing large quantities and reached directly out to those who were pet store owners so I could get them to purchase larger quantities. 

Around two years after I started my insect business, I had someone approach me who wanted to purchase my business. I walked away with 2.6 million dollars from that business. I did have to sign a non-compete agreement, and once that ended, I started a similar business.

During this time, I was in my early thirties. I realized that the only thing I had done up until that point that was extremely successful was selling things online. So I went back to what I knew and started to sell things on Amazon, and I have been selling online ever since, and I really enjoy it.

The Importance of Delegating Tasks 

I have sold and exited several Amazon businesses in the course of a decade. Whenever I do, it's always the best payday, especially when I'm able to get rid of all the inventory that I have. I've learned within the past two years the importance of hiring people that know how to manage numbers, so I don't have to worry about that part of the business.

First off, I'm not very good at it, and if I knew that I had to wake up every morning and handle the cash flow part of my business, I wouldn't want anything to do with it. 

I am very aware of what's going on in my businesses, and I know what kinds of questions to ask. I'm also very conservation which always makes things easier. But delegating does help relieve some stress and allow me to do what I enjoy the most, which has helped grow my businesses much faster. 

Most of the time, your business's bottleneck is most likely you trying to do everything yourself. It shouldn't be about what you're trying to do. Instead, you need to find the people who can help you. That way, you can focus on what lights you up and makes you excited to wake up and go to work every day.

How I've Use Meetup to Grow My Brands

If I had to start over from scratch, I would not let pride get in the way of making a living. If I only had $100 to my name, I would go out and get a job before starting a business. I've found that I make much better financial decisions when I'm not so worried about surviving and trying to find random ways to pay my bills. 

I am relativity new to the information product stuff, so I don't think I would focus my time and energy on that. My strong suits are building communities and building an effective email list. Honestly, if I were to start over again, I would start directly on Meetup.com. I would create an information product and start selling it to the people that I created relationships within my community. 

This may come as a shock, but I would also send out direct mailers. A lot of people think that direct mail is dead, I'm here to tell you that it's not. I would send out bright, beautiful flyers to get people's attention and send them through direct mail directly to their mailboxes. It's a great way to stand out from the competition, get people to an event, or visit your online store. It's especially since when you're hosting a local event or promotion. 

I've used Meetup to build communities for my brands for ten plus years, and I know the platform very well. It's been a very effective way for me to grow my businesses. Whenever I want to launch a brand in other countries Meetup has been very helpful because it's global. 

Remember, the better the name of the group you choose the better chance you have of people joining and showing up. Meetup also does a great job of sharing your invite with people within a 10-15 mile radius of the event to help you boost attendance.

The Power of a Tight-Knit Community 

I created an Amazon community on Meetup a few years ago. We currently have over 5,500 active members and some that show up without signing up on the platform. There is something really special about a bunch of people who show up in person to support each other, and we have a close-knit community that I really cherish. The Facebook group that I have is more focused on people around the world that want to connect and not so much meeting face-to-fact. 

For the vast majority of MeetUp groups, I haven't made a lot of money, at least in the past. That wasn't my focus. I wanted to provide a ton of free value and build a community. I knew that some people I connected with would eventually circle back and want to work together. Thankfully I have picked up a lot of clients that way. 

About two years ago, I also started recording the events and now upload them all up to a library that I charge people $30 a month to access. I've had a lot of people join from all over the world, which has been really inspiring to me and brought in some good revenue. 

There are two main reasons I wanted to do MeetUp events. The first is that I want to write a book, and I need a community that I can sell to from the start. I also want to do some larger events and want to have a good foundation of people who want to join. 

I loved having Carlos on the show today! It was an inspiring call, and I learned so much. 

Thanks For Tuning in!

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“Remember, I'm here for you, I believe in you, and I'm rooting for you! Now it's time for you to take action and go rock your brand”! 

Take-Aways From Today’s Episode

  1. The Start to Carlos’s Entrepreneurial Journey (3:34)
  2. The Importance of Delegating Tasks (20:12)
  3. How I’ve Use Meetup to Grow My Brands (5:45)
  4. The Power of a Tight-Knit Community (34:55)

Helpful Links

Quotes: 

  • “If I had to start over from scratch, I would not let pride get in the way of making a living”.
  • “If I only had $100 to my name, I would go out and get a job before starting a business”.
  • “There is something really special about a bunch of people who show up in person to support each other”.

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