This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
Three ways to replicate Kevin Zhang’s success.
4 min read
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Success in ecommerce is the fruit of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. While there may be many who make it appear as though anyone can get rich quick in this realm, that is certainly not the case. Competition is fierce. Time is a major factor. Technological difficulties and mishaps have a way of happening far too often at the worst possible times. For most entrepreneurs in ecommerce, success follows after years of trial and error across numerous fronts.
Yet for 23-year-old Kevin Zhang, the CEO of eCommerce organization Kreator eCommerce, success to the tune of over $20 million in sales, over 250,000 customers across 20 countries and an organization of over 60 team members worldwide came within the first year of operation. While he did indeed achieve the American Dream his Chinese parents worked hard for, this Vanderbilt University graduate and former McKinsey & Company consultant earned his success after a series of trials and tribulations.
Inspired by the success stories of brands such as Warby Parker, Bonobos and Dollar Shave Club, Zhang recognized ecommerce as the future of business and became determined to capture its opportunities. “I think the most unique thing about my story is how fast I was able to grow and how little I had when I started. I think it’s very much a story of this moment and time in history. I started with only $3,000 in my bank account,” says Zhang. “I went from being broke living in my parents’ basement trying to learn ecommerce and digital strategy through failure after failure until things finally started to click. Now at 23, I am at the helm of a truly global business”
Zhang has plenty of insights to share on how anyone can replicate his success.
Always focus on growth
Zhang claims that most individuals that enter ecommerce, especially through the drop shipping business model, view it as a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s important for all entrepreneurs in ecommerce to understand the importance of consistently inventing and reinventing themselves and their processes. Just because something is being done well doesn’t mean it can’t be done better, so keep investing back into the business for greater scalability.
Stay sharp while staying focused
The importance of being hands-on with his business and employees is not lost on Zhang, but neither is the importance of staying sharp by focusing on things outside of the needs of the business. What goes around, comes around. “While my core ecommerce activities continue to scale, I actually only spend around one to two hours on average each day on them. I’m spending most of my days working on other initiatives such as an ecommerce software for the mass market that’ll help people navigate digital strategy.”
Zhang is also active in the world of entrepreneurship education through Generation E, a movement he created that’s aimed at inspiring and empowering new ecommerce entrepreneurs. “I truly can’t express the amazing feeling that comes from giving back to my peers so they can also work towards achieving a similar level of success. And to be honest, I learn from them as well. Teaching them keeps me sharp and helps set the tone to how my future lectures, blog posts and podcasts should be laid out.” Generation E is over 2,000 members strong and features free educational content.
Diversify your portfolio
Kreator eCommerce owns and manages several subsidiary men’s apparel and accessory ecommerce brands and is on track to surpass $100 million in sales by 2021. Its work doesn’t stop there. “We also offer core services and strategic advice through our consulting arm to businesses and individuals that are serious about ecommerce. Past and present clients include: A-list celebrities interested in creating their own clothing brand, a high-end designer fashion brand focused on improving digital sales, a 9-figure gaming company focused on promoting a specialty collection and several celebrity athletes. We’re not only about providing great products with great service, but also giving back so others can do the same.”