Tan Choudhury describes himself as “one of those troublemakers in school.” But these days, this high school dropout is doing pretty well for himself. Tan has brought in about eight figures in revenue selling online and he now teaches others how to start their own businesses through his YouTube channel, which has close to 200,000 subscribers.
How it started
After Tan left school, he picked up three jobs and was working 50 to 60 hours per week. When he heard about e-commerce, he decided to give it a shot, thinking it would give him better work-life balance.
Tan started a glass-art business, where he would sell products from artists. And even though the shop was making money, the shipping was time-consuming.
That’s when he and his business partner heard about dropshipping.
“We got exposed to Shopify and the possibilities of selling products without the need for fulfillment,” Tan says. “And I think that was the really important key that unlocked this entire world for me.”
From teaching himself to teaching others
Tan is a mostly self-taught entrepreneur. He learned some of the basics of dropshipping online, but it was really through trial-and-error that he became an expert.
“Where most people really screw up with dropshipping is that they're mostly focused on the theory of drop shipping rather than actually practicing it,” Tan said. “I think there's a huge learning curve that happens when you go from watching content to actually using that content.”
Tan eventually sold his glass-art business, and started others that sold products such as jewelry and fitness-related equipment. He also began publicizing the step-by-step journey of building an online business on his YouTube channel. Some of the videos feature different challenges, like how to start a dropshipping company with only $100.
“I wanted to peel back some layers and put myself in a beginner’s seat so people can see it's doable and it's just about taking the right actions,” Tan explains. “I think when people are able to see someone else do it, then they think it's possible, too.”
Beginner dropshipping tips
1. Start with one low-cost product
“Trying to merchandise 20 products as a beginner can be pretty overwhelming,” Tan says. “You are going to lose sight of focusing your attention on what really matters, which is your conversion rate, your copy, your product photos, and really spending ample time to differentiate your store from other brands out there.”
He suggests picking a product under $100 to learn the ropes. As far as which one product to start with, consider which products actually improve people’s lives, could sell well during a popular gifting season (like the holidays or Valentine’s Day), or has the potential to go viral on TikTok.
2. Make TikTok videos for low-cost organic marketing
Like The Ecom King, Tan advises beginners to start marketing their products on TikTok, particularly if the product has the ability to hold people’s attention. For example, Tan uses TikTok to create videos for a fire wallet — a wallet that you can literally light on fire.
The best part about TikTok videos? You might be able to make a TikTok for very little investment — or even for free.
3. Calculate your per-hour earnings on tasks
Time is money, and Tan says thinking about how much money he was earning per hour changed the way he managed his time. Instead of trying to do everything at once, he attributes a dollar value to every task. He recommends other people with businesses do the same.
“What you're gonna figure out is that a lot of the tasks that you're doing for your e-commerce business do not generate revenue or generate significantly less revenue than your highest ROI activities,” Tan says.
Then you can re-prioritize, outsource the tasks that aren’t generating a lot of money and keep building.
Take a listen to Tan’s full interview on Shopify Masters to find out more about how you can start your own dropshipping or e-commerce business.