These Are the Best Watches of 2019

Originally published by Jon Bues on Hodinkee.

The votes have been counted and the results are in. The winner of watchmaking’s most prestigious industry award, the CPHG Aiguille D’Or, is the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin. This is the serially produced, commercially available version of a watch that readers may remember from its initial debut as the Royal Oak RD#2. Presented at the SIHH 2018, it was made of solid platinum and was an experimental prototype. 

Today’s winning watch is made from titanium with a platinum bezel and polished platinum bracelet interlinks. Like the RD#2, the Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin measures just 41mm x 6.3mm with a perpetual calendar movement that clocks in at just 2.89mm thin. These record-breaking proportions were achieved by taking the classic, three-level perpetual calendar construction and and compressing everything into one layer, as seen in the below image. The Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is an incredibly impressive watchmaking achievement, and one that clearly impressed the Grand Prix jurors in Geneva. 

Though AP has won several GPHG awards across numerous categories, this is the company’s first time taking home the top prize.

The 2019 Winners

Aiguille D’Or: Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin

Ladies’ Watch Prize: Chanel, J12 Caliber 12.1

Ladies’ Complication Watch Prize: MB&F, Legacy Machine FlyingT

Men’s Watch Prize: Voutilainen, 28ti

Men’s Complication Watch Prize: Audemars Piguet, Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Minute Repeater Supersonnerie

Iconic Watch Prize: Audemars Piguet, Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-thin

Chronometry Watch Prize: Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, Carburised steel regulator

Calendar and Astronomy Watch Prize: Hermès, Arceau L’heure de la lune

Mechanical Exception Watch Prize: Genus, GNS1.2

Chronograph Watch Prize: Bvlgari, Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic

Diver’s Watch Prize: Seiko, Prospex LX Line Diver’s

Jewellery Watch Prize: Bvlgari, Serpenti Misteriosi Romani

Artistic Crafts Watch Prize: Voutilainen, Starry Night Vine

“Petite Aiguille” Prize: Kudoke, Kudoke 2

Challenge Watch Prize: Tudor, Black Bay P01

Innovation Prize: Vacheron Constantin, Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

Audacity Prize: Urwerk, AMC

“Horological Revelation” Prize: Ming, 17.06 Copper

Special Jury Prize: Luc Pettavino, Founder and Organizer of Only Watch

Hodinkee is the preeminent resource for modern and vintage wristwatch enthusiasts. Through in-depth reviews, live reports, and dynamic videos, Hodinkee is bringing watches to a 21st-century audience.

Instagram Will Remove ‘Likes’ From Posts for Some U.S. Users

Facebook Inc.’s Instagram plans to remove the number of “likes” visible on posts for some users in the U.S. to decrease competitive pressure among people on the photo-sharing service.

Instagram has been hiding like counts in some markets since April, beginning in Canada, and later expanding to Japan and Brazil. The U.S. is one of Instagram’s largest markets with more than 106 million users, according to data analyst EMarketer.

“What we’re hoping to do is depressurize Instagram a little bit, and make it a bit less of a competition,” Instagram boss Adam Mosseri told after announcing the new test at a conference in San Francisco sponsored by Wired magazine. “The idea is to try and reduce anxiety and social comparisons, specifically with an eye towards young people.”

Users will still be able to see the likes they receive on their posts if they want, but those metrics won’t be visible to others on Instagram, the company said. Mosseri said the test will begin next week, and will impact just a portion of Instagram’s U.S. user base.

Instagram’s follower counts and likes have made it one of the top places online to compare one’s popularity with others, especially among teens and young adults. The company has tried for years to combat the competitive trend by promoting good role models via posts on its @instagram account, hoping to reflect the parts of the app that are about creativity and art as opposed to self-promotion. Still, striving for the metrics was irresistible for its users, contributing to mental health issues and other ills, like users paying for fake likes and followers from bots.

Even some of the app’s most prolific celebrities have said a service without likes may be healthier for its users.

“It would be really beneficial,” said Kim Kardashian, speaking at the New York Times DealBook conference on Wednesday. Kardashian, who has 151 million Instagram followers and regularly receives more than 1 million likes on her posts, said the Instagram team has been discussing the changes with select users to get feedback, “and that makes me happy.”

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been at the center of debate around issues like smartphone addiction and online health in recent years. As a result, product “health” has become a priority at the social-media companies, which are trying to balance the need to drive user growth and engagement with the outside perception that they are contributing to problems such as online bullying.

Instagram, for example, has also announced a feature where users can limit the amount of time they spend on the app in a given day. Apple Inc. built a similar “time spent” feature into its iPhone software, and Google offers tools like this for Android phones. Twitter has a beta version of its main product that hides engagement metrics, including likes and retweets, from user replies and interactions.

How To Keep Productivity High When Motivation Is Low

The first time I experienced this motivation-deprivation was after I quit my job to start my own venture. After the initial excitement of the start, fear and self-doubt started to sink in. I had no idea how to structure my day, hold myself accountable or revive the productivity that was so familiar to me for so many years. Here are four pieces of advice I learned along the way on keeping productivity high when motivation is low.

1. Create to-do lists when energized.

Even in periods of low motivation, energy continues to ebb and flow. I took advantage of the times I felt the most energized to create weekly and monthly to-do lists. As Akshay Gupta writes for the site Fearless Motivation, “Giving [your to-do list] an emotional touch will make sure that you take it seriously. To do this, you can write a note at the top of your list.” 

Perhaps your note will be about a vision you have for yourself and your career goals. My notes were about the energy I wanted to feel when I was completing the task, a piece of advice I took from Brendon Burchard’s book, High Performance Habits. Instead of, “I have to get X done,” the energy of the list became, “I get to do this for my career and my career dreams,” and I instantly felt better about every item.

2. Work with a coach or accountability partner. 

If you can’t hold yourself accountable, it’s a good idea to bring in an outside influence. I spoke with some coaches to see if one would be a good fit, but ultimately decided to make a pact with a friend as “accountability partners.” The premise was simple: We’d touch base every Thursday, set three action items that needed to be achieved by the next Thursday, then touch base again the following week to make sure they’d be done. And we’d heighten the stakes, agreeing to Venmo the other person a certain amount if we failed to achieve our action items. It worked.

A recent article for Develop Good Habits reminded that it’s often easier to blame other people (or circumstances) than take personal responsibility when we don’t achieve our goals or get our work done, noting, “Playing the blame game can derail your efforts at accountability because you’ll struggle in understanding the relationship between taking massive action and getting results.” An accountability partner forces you to acknowledge the ways you’re sabotaging yourself, take personal responsibility and complete that to-do list. 

3. Eliminate distractions.

Far easier said than done, but eliminating distractions is the best way to keep your productivity high. To do this, though, it’s important to understand the cause behind your distractions. Behavioral-design expert Nir Eyal shares in his new book, Indistractable, that we often blame our smartphones for distractionsm but that without them, we’d find another way to distract ourselves because of an emotional need for distraction. This need is usually discomfort. 

A fix: timeboxing. Eyal asks in the book, “Does your calendar reflect your values?” By eliminating white space in your calendar and planning your productivity ahead of time (using the energetic and vision-board method for to-do lists), you’re more likely to stay on task and be less vulnerable to the usual distraction suspects. 

4. Switch up workspaces.

If you’re going back to the same workspace every single day and trying to feel different about your productivity, it may be hard without a spruce-up. So, if you work from a home office, move your desk to the other side of the room and add a plant. If you always work from the same coffee shop, try a day at a nearby co-working space. As David Spencer astutely blogged for OfficeSpace, “A drab, static office hurts both morale and productivity. Experimenting with new layouts can help keep employees from getting tired of their surroundings.”

A trick I learned in college was that once you find a place that works for you, return as often as it serves you. One corner on the fourth floor of the library always fueled my best focus and work. Accordingly, everytime I went back to that lucky corner, I acted in accordance with my beliefs about that spot and it helped my productivity soar. The same is true with certain coffee shops and offices. 

Motivation is often hard to pin down, everchanging and available at some periods of our lives more than others. Each season of our life serves a purpose. If you need rest and reflection more than you need to be productive, honor yourself. You may return to your work more productive than ever.

Tesla Will Reveal Its ‘Cyberpunk’ Electric Pickup on November 21st

If you’ve been eager to cast your eyes on Tesla’s pickup truck, you won’t have to wait too much longer. CEO Elon Musk says the automaker will reveal its Cybertruck at a Los Angeles event on November 21st.

Musk talked up the truck at Tesla’s annual shareholders’ meeting in June. He suggested that Ford’s F-150, which Musk called a “great truck,” is a bit of a benchmark for Tesla’s own vehicle (Ford’s working on an electric version of that, too).

The Cybertruck has been crafted to “meet or exceed an F-150. If the F-150 can do it then a Tesla truck should be able to do it.” Musk suggested it has a bold “cyberpunk” design, “like it came out of a sci-fi movie.” It seems the rest of us will get to determine whether that’s accurate in a couple of weeks.

Musk also noted the reveal date is “strangely familiar.” The classic cyberpunk movie Blade Runner is set in Los Angeles in November 2019, after all.

Want to Retire Early? Do This One Thing.

Have you ever done the math to see when you can retire? There are many retirement calculators that can help with this eye-opening exercise, but you may find that your income won’t add up as soon as you’d like.

I’m here to give you good news: You don’t have to wait decades for the financial freedom to retire. One way to potentially retire earlier is to start an online business. Doing so can substantially change your income and lifestyle — if you go about it the right way.

For example, Amazon sales are increasing exponentially, and half of them come from small and medium-sized businesses. But for all the successful businesses, there are many that fail.

Here are seven common mistakes I see many online business owners make — and what you should do instead.

Mistake No. 1: Trying to invent a market.

I’ve seen many entrepreneurs jump in feet first with a product idea that’s completely unproven in the market. They spend a lot of time and money developing and launching it because they think it’s a cool idea, only to find that nobody else does.

Unless your goal is to exercise your creativity, the best way to launch a profitable e-commerce business is to find a product category that’s already popular. Even if you aren’t selling on Amazon, take a look at the Best Sellers Rank (BSR) on Amazon product pages to see how a product is performing, with No. 1 being the bestseller in its category. Look for products with a BSR between 100 and 6,000 in the high-level category, which means they’re selling well but aren’t too competitive.

Mistake No. 2: Selling someone else’s brand.

It’s tempting to sell a product with the manufacturer’s branding rather than go through the trouble of creating your own. While that’s easier at first, your competitors are selling the exact same product — which means you’re competing on nothing but price. As a result, your margins are tight at best.

Instead, create your own brand. Many manufacturers on Alibaba.com will let you “private label” their generic products, meaning you can package and sell them under your own name. (To be clear, you should not and legally cannot counterfeit someone else’s unique product. But you certainly can manufacture your own versions of generic products, ranging from basic tools to complex electronics.) This differentiates your business from the competition, even though you’re still selling similar products. When you own the brand, your margins are higher, you have more control, and you’re building a valuable business that you can sell later if you choose.

Mistake No. 3: Choosing the cheapest product.

Many people go with the cheapest version of a product possible. But if you’re selling a low-quality product, you won’t get repeat sales, referrals, or positive reviews that you can use in your marketing, which ultimately means the business won’t be profitable.

Consider a car cell phone mount selling for $30. The difference between the lowest-quality version and the best is often only $1 or $2, especially if it’s coming from China. That doesn’t have a huge impact on your profit margin, but whether you choose to spend it can have a long-term impact on the business. 

However, don’t assume that a product is higher quality just because it costs more. When you’re deciding what to sell, research the reviews of competing products to find out what people like and dislike. To go above and beyond, order a few of the bestsellers that you’d be competing with. Then research suppliers on Alibaba, ask them for product photos, and eventually pay for a few samples before choosing a product that’s as good as or better than what’s out there.

Mistake No. 4: Spending too much money.

I’ve heard horror stories of entrepreneurs who spent $40,000 on a bad product and are stuck in debt with a product that won’t sell. Unless you’re willing to risk that kind of money, you should never order that much inventory — and there’s no reason to.

We coach hundreds of online businesses and found that they spend an average of $1,200 on initial inventory. Once you sell your initial inventory and confirm your idea works, you can use the profits to invest in more. If you can’t get the business off the ground for a few thousand dollars — $10,000 at the most if you have extra money — then you’re probably doing something wrong.

Mistake No. 5: Underestimating the importance of marketing.

Many people spend all their time and effort developing the product, setting up the business, and building their website or Amazon product page; so they lose steam before it’s time for marketing. Then they expect magic to happen, but that’s actually where the realwork begins.

Unless you get lucky, it’s likely going to be a grind. Don’t get discouraged or invest too much right away. First, test different marketing strategies to find out what works for you. Start by advertising on Facebook (and Amazon, if you’re starting an Amazon business), testing on a small scale; you should be able to spend as little as $200 to get a statistical significance. Then expand slowly, doing more of whatever works.

When you’re ready to try new things, what works best will depend on you. If you’re analytical, you might enjoy optimizing your ads more. If you’re creative, you may do well with social media or content marketing. 

Mistake No. 6: Prioritizing incorrectly.

Many entrepreneurs need to get their priorities straight. For example, it doesn’t matter how many people your marketing drives to your website or Amazon page if it isn’t strong enough to convert them into customers. Prioritize finding a quality product, then creating a solid website. Only after you’ve dialed that in and had success with ads should you test other marketing campaigns.

Mistake No. 7: Scaling too quickly.

Once you’re doing well, you might think it’s a good idea to add new products — or worse, new brands. Launching a new brand is almost always a mistake because you have no leverage other than your experience. You can’t sell to your existing customers, so you’re starting from scratch.

It’s human nature to want to expand quickly but go deep before you go wide. Double down on marketing before adding a new product; otherwise you lose focus on your first one, which may not be as stable as you think. If you try to manage too many products at once, the whole business can come crumbling down.

You may be ready to scale when you’ve been producing consistent and predictable results for several consecutive months. What’s most important is that you aren’t constantly putting out fires; so first make sure your business is running smoothly. Even if you plan on scaling, don’t forget to stop and celebrate when you reach that point — because it means you’re on your way to early retirement.

Ecommerce Expert Jay Wright on Why Being ‘Client Obsessed’ is Key to Success

Who are you?
Jay Wright: I’m an e-commerce growth expert and advisor to a community of over 200 e-commerce business founders. I started my career in finance in 2007 and worked in stockbroking before eventually moving to derivatives trading in London. After the global financial crisis, generating leads was critical to survive and prosper in the industry. So, instead of making endless sales calls like everyone else, I turned to online lead generation.

After a long, cold winter in London, I returned home to Australia and decided to explore my interest in digital marketing rather than jump back into finance. I founded my first company in 2012 and grew it into one of Australia’s premier e-commerce marketing agencies, with three locations and a team of over 30 world-class digital marketers.

After I sold the company in 2017, I ran marketing for the cult children’s book, “A B to Jay Z.” My strategy and execution helped take them from an $8,000 Kickstarter campaign to selling over 250,000 copies in their first year. I then co-founded Alphabet Legends, which released another 20 books and reached seven figures within 12 months. I still work on my e-commerce ventures daily while managing my consultancy, the Ecommerce Equation.

Share an interesting fact about yourself that not many people would know.
Jay Wright: My parents relocated to the Pacific Islands for work when I was a kid, so I spent most of my youth growing up in Samoa and the Cook Islands. It was a great experience that taught me to embrace change and see life from different angles. I recently followed in their footsteps and relocated my family to Bali, Indonesia, so my kids can have the same opportunity to experience different cultures and perspectives. When I’m not working, I enjoy exploring Bali, traveling, and raising my kids.

What excites you the most about your business right now?
Jay Wright: Applying a decade’s worth of learning and experience to help other businesses. Seeing our clients’ rapid, transformational results is so rewarding. I’m also excited that I get to choose the projects and people I work with — it’s not about taking anything and everything on board to survive.

What’s your favorite quote?
Jay Wright: Tony Robbins said: “The only way to become wealthy, and stay wealthy, is to find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing in an area that people really value. If you become a blessing in other people’s lives, you too will be blessed.”

Robbins has been a huge inspiration and part of my self-education over the years. To me, this quote is one of his most profound concepts and has influenced one of my core business principles: being “client obsessed.” I believe what’s right for the client is best for everyone. I’ve made countless decisions based on what’s best for the client, even if that means sacrificing short-term personal or business gain. I believe this strategy returns tenfold in the future and has been a large part of my success — plus, it creates good vibes.

What was your biggest, most painful failure?
Jay Wright: My biggest mistake early in business was underestimating the complexities of running the back end of a physical product business. After years of working on the front end of marketing and sales, the transition to manufacturing and fulfillment was a steep learning curve.

The first 40-foot container of products that we sent from China to the United States was a complete disaster. I didn’t know about quality assurance inspections or container insurance, so we sent an uninsured, uninspected container across the globe. Luckily, it made it to port, but around 14,000 books were unsellable because they were damaged in transit.

Then we tried to fulfill a backlog of 10,000 presale orders ourselves, driving to the post office one Honda Odyssey van load at a time. It was so slow that we had a terrible customer service problem trying to keep everyone happy. Things are smoother now, thanks to freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers, but that nearly put us out of business.

What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?
Jay Wright: Many leaders haven’t walked in the shoes of the people they are leading. To move others to action, you must lead by example to inspire certainty and demonstrate what’s possible. It’s hard to do that if you’ve never been where your client is striving to go. I would never advise a business to do something I haven’t done myself.

Unless you’ve scientifically tested a strategy or tactic, it’s just an opinion, not true leadership. Before advising my clients, I spend my own money on my e-commerce businesses to see what works. My clients want to build e-commerce businesses that reach multiple seven figures. I have created two. They want to crack the elusive million-dollar month. I’ve made that happen.

How do you evaluate a good business deal?
Jay Wright: To me, a good business deal meets three critical criteria. First, I must be able to leverage my skills to make an impact on the business. Second, it must make sense commercially. Business is a numbers game, and even a rough analysis of the numbers can tell you whether it’s a good or bad deal. Rationally reviewing the commercial model, without emotion, can usually tell me a lot.

Finally, it needs to be a “flywheel” opportunity, a concept from the Jim Collins book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t.” Good-to-great transformations don’t happen in one fell swoop. Instead, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel until you build momentum and have a breakthrough. E-commerce businesses can be great flywheels if you create enough momentum. Each customer has the potential to buy more or tell their friends to buy from you. Each sale spreads your fixed costs across more customers, so you can spend more to acquire new ones.

Which single habit gives you 80 perecent of your results?
Jay Wright: Being scientific. Numbers don’t lie and can give you superhuman clarity and confidence in the direction you’re going. I analyze the data behind my results and iterate until I find the actions that get the results I want. Then I double down on them with laser focus and ignore everything else, even if that goes against the grain.

What are you working on right now?
Jay Wright: My life’s mission is to help established e-commerce business owners find a clear and compelling path to scale and give them the tools and knowledge to make it a reality. Right now, I’m just helping those in my inner circle. But I’m also creating a forum and community where all e-commerce business founders can connect and access the strategies and tactics that are working.

What is the most exciting question that you spend time thinking about?
Jay Wright: “How can I make it better?” I love this question. It helps me determine how to create a better lifestyle for my family. It also helps me serve e-commerce businesses in their quest to scale by identifying better processes than what’s out there.

Connect with Jay Wright on LinkedInInstagram, and Facebook or visit his website.

7 Realistic Ways to Make Money Online

Whether you’re looking to make some fast cash, or you’re after long-term, more sustainable income-producing results, there are certainly ways you can make money online today. The truth is that making money online isn’t as difficult as most make it out to seem. It does require some discipline. 

However, if you’re looking for realistic ways you can start earning money online now, then it really truly does boil down to seven paths you can take towards profit. Some will provide you with immediate results, helping you to address your basic monthly necessities such as rent, utilities and groceries, while others have the potential to transform your life by revolutionizing your finances in the long term.

No matter what method you select for generating your online income, there’s one very important thing to understand. Money can be earned and spent, saved and pilfered, invested and wasted. Not time. That’s why time is far more valuable than money. You can’t recreate time. Once it’s spent, it’s gone forever.

When you lack the luxury of time, making money on or offline can seem like an impossible task. How are you supposed to do that when you’re working at a life-sucking nine-to-five job? While the stability of full-time employment might allow most to sleep well at night, it doesn’t empower your creative juices to search for new income-producing strategies.

No matter what method you end up using to generate an income on the web, you need to adjust your mindset to help empower rather than discourage you. The truth is, making money online can be fraught with avoidable pitfalls. Cancel the noise by keeping a few fundamental guiding principles in mind.

If you’re at all serious about generating a full-time income and possibly more from your online activities, then you need to focus on passive income as opposed to active income. Sure, the active income will help you survive. That’s the scarcity mentality at play. But it’s the passive income ideas that will help you thrive.

Considering that you have a finite amount of time, passive income should make up a large part of your work. If you’re serious about generating any semblance of income online, then passive income should be one of your sole goals and ambitions. Why? Wouldn’t you prefer to do the work one time and get paid repeatedly as opposed to relying on your time to generate that income? Invest the time at the front-end so that you can reap the benefits on the back-end. This means putting in a bit of sweat equity and not getting paid today. Rather, you’ll get paid somewhere down the road. And you’ll continue getting paid whether you keep building that passive income stream or you stop. 

Anyone interested in making money online should be pursuing passive income, while also working on active income. There are loads of ways to generate an income passively on the internet, many of which start at the foundation of having a blog, generating substantial traffic and building an audience and a list. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. 

That doesn’t mean you need to start a blog to make money online today. You could opt for a non-blog-starting route, but if you’re looking for longevity in your income-producing abilities on the internet, then a blog should be your primary aim.

1. Leverage the app economy

If you’re looking to address some immediate financial needs, then the app economy is likely right for you.

Uber or Lyft: If you’re in a locale where you can find Uber or Lyft, or  one of the many competitors around the world such as China’s Didi, the hours are flexible and you can work as you see fit, making it perfect, even if you currently have full-time employment but are looking to make some money on the side. 

Postmates: You don’t even need a car in some locations to make money with this app. In some major metroplitan areas like Manhattan, a bike would suffice. 

iBotta: Earn cash back rewards by purchasing featured products at major retailers. All you have to do is add rebates, go shopping, then snap a photo of your receipt to earn your cash back. Simple and effective. 

Task RabbitAnother simple and straightforward app for making a bit of side-hustle income is the Task Rabbit app. Tasks can be anything from simple repairs to more exhaustive undertakings. The app carefully vets each service provider to ensure the highest quality, and it’s a great way to make some extra income on the side on your own terms. 

Ebates: This app offers a simple way to make money online by buying whatever you’re already buying and then getting a cash-back reward. With eBates, there’s no scanning receipts. Simply click a link in the app and buy from the store. You’ll automatically be credited your cash rewards upon purchase along with receiving an email confirmation.  

SwagbucksWith Swagbucks, there are a number of ways you can make money. You can shop online, watch videos, answer surveys and surf the web. The app gives you both cash back and gift cards as a reward for your efforts. 

Inbox Dollars: Another app you can use to make money online is Inbox Dollars, which pays you for watching television, taking surveys and shopping. There are cash offers here and it’s relatively similar to some of the other apps in this arena.  

2. Use existing websites

You could also opt to use existing websites for making money. These include both active income and passive income methods. For example, you could sell some used items or invest in creating some digital designs that then can be sold on merchandise. Again, devote a sizable portion of your time to passive income so that you can slowly build up earnings that will arrive on autopilot without any extra added effort. 

Of course, a large portion of these sites do have their own respective apps. But these are certainly less involved in the gig economy, and more so in the longer term projects that exist in the fields of photography, online marketing, graphic design and web development, for example. 

Craigslist: This site has been the go-to resource for over a decade now for people that are looking to make a bit of extra money online. You can easily sell your used stuff, rent out a spare room in your home or apartment, and offer up your services to the world. 

Upwork: This website offers a great marketplace for selling just about any professional service. You don’t need a merchant account, website of your own or anything else for that matter. All you need to do is be able to provide a high-quality service at a reasonable price. But be informed, you will have to compete with many others that are constantly bidding on open jobs. 

Cafe Press: This website allows you to create digital designs that can then be sold on the platform. You’ll earn a commission for everything that sells and you’ll never have to deal with logistics like printing, warehousing and customer service. If you have some graphic design skills, then this is a great potential source for your web-based income. 

Fiverr: Israeli-based Fivver was started in 2010 by Shal Wininger and Micha Kaufam. You can offer gigs as low as $5 but also get paid much more for upgrades and add-ons.  

Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you’ll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online. 

Flippa: If you have a penchant for buying and selling, you could use Flippa, and its higher-end counterpart, Deal Flow Brokerage to buy and sell websites for a profit. You’ll need to know what you’re doing here, but you could easily make a sizable income by flipping income-generating websites for profit. 

Etsy: While Etsy’s popularity has declined recently, it’s still a great resource for selling handmade items online. No need for complex ecommerce sites or merchant accounts or any sort of automation. The company takes a commission of every sale and charges a small listing fee per item. But many still use Etsy as their primary source of income. The best part is that you can also sell digital products on here such as poster designs. 

Shutterstock and iStockPhoto: Have a keen eye for photography? Why not sell photos on some of the leading photography sites. You’ll need some design software skills to tag along. But if you do have skill in this arena, it’s a great potential source for passive income. 

Threadless: Similar to CafePress, Chicago-based Threadless also allows you to sell digital designs in the form of t-shirts and other merchandise such as phone cases, mugs, beach towels and so on. 

Zazzle: Another great resource for selling online is to use Robert Beaver’s Zazzle. The site is somewhat similar to Etsy and virtually anyone can make money online selling a variety of items here. From art to handmade items and customizable products, you can pretty much sell anything here.

3. Sell your own stuff

If you’re ready to enter the ecommerce fray, you could sell your own stuff. Of course, along with selling your own stuff on your own website comes a whole slew of both responsibilities and technical configuration and requirements. For starters, you’ll need a website and a hosting account. You’ll also need a merchant account like ones offered by Stripe or PayPal. Then you’ll need to design that site, build a sales funnel, create a lead magnet and do some email marketing.

You’ll also need ecommerce software, fulfillment software, worry about warehousing, customer service and refunds. But that’s not all. You’ll also need traffic. Think search engine optimization, Facebook ads, and other social media campaigns. It is hard work, especially on your own. You could opt for Amazon’s platform, which might be the easier route. But, then again, at the end of the day, this is a serious business, which could produce significant profits. So you’re either all in or you’re not. 

Shopify: Want to build your own storefront? You could opt to create a Shopify store. You could also install WooCommerce as a plugin and run your ecommerce store from your blog. You’ll need an SSL certificate and a way to process payments, but you might find this easier to get up and running fast to start selling immediately. 

Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA): You could  start selling on the largest online store in the world and not spend the time to build out your own infrastructure or worry about traffic. You will need to pay a commission, but most of the other processes will be automated for you. 

Drop-shipping: Amazon offers one form of drop-shipping, but there are other resources for drop-shipping products that you’ll never actually have to see or handle yourself. You’ll simply need to close the sale. Providers like SaleHooWorldwide Brands, and many others, offer you a resource for drop-shipping your products.  

High-ticket consulting or coaching: You could sell your own high-ticket consulting or coaching products from your website. You’ll still need a website, merchant account, sales funnel, lead magnet and many other items. But you can easily earn a substantial amount of money from each individual customer, making it well worth the arduous setup required. 

4. Sell as an affiliate

There are loads of resources for making money online as an affiliate. You could source products from ClickBankCommission JunctionRakuten MarketingShare-a-Sale, Impact Radius and many others. Plus, many of the larger companies have their own affiliate programs as well. Do your due diligence and find the right company with a relevant product or service to your audience that you can sell as an affiliate.

In some cases, you will need an active website with substantial traffic to get approved. Selling as an affiliate isn’t easy by any means, but if you do have the audience, it can definitely amount to a substantial amount of income.

5. Start a blog

If you’re serious about making money online, start a blog. Blogging is one of the easiest and most sustainable income sources. As long as the blog is setup the right way, in the right niche, with the right content targeted at the right audience, and the offer is complementary to the content, you could make a tremendous amount of passive income from a blog.

While some might think that starting a blog is an arduous effort, when you understand the precise steps you need to take, it becomes far easier. It all starts in the decision of choosing a profitable niche and picking the right domain name. From there, you need to build your offers. You can easily sell things like mini-email courses, trainings and ebooks.

6. Email marketing

If you’re interested in online marketing, setup email software and create a lead magnet that you can use in your sales funnel. Then, build up that list. It’s often said that you can expect to earn about $1 per subscriber per month. If you have a list of 10,000 subscribers, that means you can earn roughly around $10,000 per month. You will need to deliver value and not pitch them on every email, but it is a very achievable goal in a short period.

There are many ways to get people onto your list. Lead magnets are one such resource. For example, you can build ebooks, checklists and cheat sheets. But you can also do content upgrades, such as PDF versions of an article with added resources in them, four-part video training series, and more. Think about your audience and what you can offer them to better serve them, then treat them with some respect and you’ll eventually reap the rewards.

7. Webinars trainings

Webinars are quite possibly one of the most potent ways you can make an exorbitant amount of money online. You’ll need an audience to train and you’ll need to know what you’re talking about. Of course, this usually requires having a website and some semblance of an online presence. However, people can still do webinars without all of that. For example, you might have a sizable social media following and you train them every week on something to do with social media. But you will need a product to embed and sell at some point. Don’t worry about it in the beginning. In my experience, the best webinar platform out there is GoToWebinar

No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you’ll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you’ll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter. 

How to Start a Business: 13 Steps to Get Your Business Up and Running

Running a business can have a powerful impact on your life and the lives of those around you. But before you can run a business, you need to start a business.

Deciding to start your own business can seem like a daunting prospect if you’ve never done it before. Luckily, plenty of other entrepreneurs have, and you can benefit from the wisdom they gleaned from their successes—and their mistakes.

These 13 time-tested steps will help you start a business—whether it’s your first or your 10th—with tips on everything from finding and validating your money-making idea to figuring out your shipping strategy to finally launching your product or service.

  1. Use the time you have available
  2. Identify a business idea
  3. Validate your business idea
  4. Find a business name
  5. Make a plan
  6. Understand business finances
  7. Develop your product or service
  8. Pick a business structure
  9. Research licenses and regulations
  10. Select your software systems
  11. Find a business location
  12. Plan workload and team size
  13. Launch your business

1. Use the time you have available

No matter how ambitious your business goals ultimately are, you can still start a business in your spare time, working around the current commitments in your life. Not everyone has the ability to quit their full-time job and pursue launching something of their own, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get started.

For example, it’s possible to launch a handmade goods company on the side of a full-time job, or start a blog that you later turn into a business.

2. Identify a business idea

Finding a business idea is something you can approach systematically by relying on time-tested approaches that have worked for other entrepreneurs. No matter if you’re looking to start a low investment business on the side or you’d prefer to go all-in on your idea, the best way to find a product to sell includes strategies like:

  • Mining your personal interests. What do you like to do in your spare time? Are there products you can sell that relate to your hobbies, or that would solve a common frustration you have?
  • Research existing products. Peruse product reviews to see if there are common complaints about popular products, and see if you can identify gaps in the market.
  • Capitalize on trends. If you notice a particular product seems to be popping up everywhere, or you have a great idea to help make the most of a popular product, those can make for great business ideas.

Remember, all you need is one idea to get started. Many successful businesses launched with a signature product and expanded into complementary goods from there.

3. Validate your business idea

Validating your business might sound difficult, but it’s really just a matter of testing whether customers are willing to pay for your product before you sink too much time and money into it—and it’s important to do no matter what type of business you’re starting.

There are plenty of ways to validate your business, from the simple to the complex. Here are some tactical examples that can help you figure out how to gauge market demand before getting in too deep.

  • Set up a store to take preorders 
  • Launch a crowdfunding campaign
  • Create a beta of your product or service to sell

There are other ways to validate your product ideas, but when in doubt, start selling as quickly as possible. Learning from direct customer feedback, and understanding how your products are being used, is invaluable when growing a small business.

Take PopSockets, a now-ubiquitous way to confidently hold a smartphone in one hand. Initially, David Barnett designed PopSockets as a way to manage headphone cords. It wasn’t until he saw students in his class using their PopSockets to get a better grip on their phone that he realized the unplanned value his customers saw in the product. That insight helped PopSockets sell more than 35 million units. 

4. Find a business name

Work on finding a name for your business that makes it clear what you do, that’s short and memorable, and that isn’t already in use in your industry. This isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that’s achievable with a bit of effort and imagination.

Name generators can help you come up with a list of unique ideas, and there are also plenty of time-tested naming best practices you can lean on to help build your own list.

A strong name will usually have a few characteristics:

  • Short and simple. You want customers to be able to quickly remember your name, and the best way to do that is to avoid long names. One or two words is ideal, although three to four short words can also work if they create a memorable phrase.
  • Different. If your market research shows that everyone in your industry seems to have similar names, or relies on similar elements, it can be helpful to avoid them in order to come up with a name that really stands out.
  • Original. Beyond just avoiding similar names, you’ll need to make sure that your business name isn’t in use by a competitor already. To do that, run a free trademark search in the countries you’ll be doing business in, and make sure to check Google and social media sites, too. (The same goes for URLs, so do a domain name search too before you register anything.) Even if someone hasn’t registered a trademark, in many jurisdictions they can legally challenge your use of a name they’ve been using to do business in the same industry. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult independent legal counsel for advice specific to your situation.

5. Make a plan

Writing a business plan helps validate and formalize your idea, and can streamline the business-creation process by getting you to sit down and think things through methodically.

A classic quotation that’s especially applicable to the business plan process is, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Many entrepreneurs say they rarely look at their plan once they’ve launched—but they’ll also tell you there’s value in thinking through and researching your idea while creating a plan. 

If you’ve never done it before, here’s a comprehensive guide to writing a business plan, and a business plan template to help you structure your thoughts. 

When creating your plan, make sure to pay extra attention to the competitive analysis and SWOT analysis sections. While nothing can replace validating your idea by confirming that people will pay for it, the research involved in completing these sections can be further proof you’re on the right track.

6. Understand business finances

The shared goal of any business is to make money, which means the flow of money is an integral part of running a business. You’ll need to understand some basics to get started and scale that knowledge as you grow.

There are plenty of businesses you can start with only a small startup cost, but others will require money for inventory, equipment, or physical space. A clear view of your total investment—before you spend a cent—is a must, and can help you make important projections, like when you’ll break even. 

A clear view of your total startup costs is a must before you spend a cent.

If those calculations show you you’ll need more funding than you can afford to spend out of pocket, you can look at funding options like a small business loan or a crowdfunding campaign. 

Bookkeeping needs to be one of your primary financial tasks as soon as you’re ready to start making purchases for your business. Accurate records of your income and expenses will help you keep an eye on cash flow, and make for a smooth transition to working with an accountant or bookkeeper later on. 

To make the process even easier, consider opening a separate bank account and credit card for your business. Keeping your personal and business finances separate makes doing your business taxes much simpler, and can help you automate some of the steps as well. 

Resources:

  • Shopify Capital. Helps approved merchants get the funds they need without lengthy bank approvals or giving up part of their company.
  • Profit First. A book designed to help make sure your business is profitable, no matter what kind of business you run.
  • Accounting tools. Apps that work directly with Shopify to streamline your accounting processes.

7. Develop your product or service

You’ve done the legwork, and you understand the financials—now it’s time to dig deep into the product or service you’d like to offer. 

For a product-driven business, developing your product could mean taking one of three general approaches.

  • Creating your own product. Whether you’re making items by hand, or sourcing an original product from a manufacturer, developing your own product to sell can help you stand out in the market.
  • Customizing an existing product. With print on demand options, you can add your unique designs and ideas to products including t-shirts, leggings, towels, backpacks and more.
  • Curating a selection of products. Dropshipping is a way to stock your store without creating a new product, so you can start selling almost immediately without managing inventory.

As you develop your product, keep your total costs in mind when figuring out your pricing. While your product’s price is not solely driven by costs—and there are many factors that influence pricing strategy—it’s important to price your product profitably.

8. Pick a business structure

Your business structure influences key parts of your business, from taxes to operations to your personal liability. Choosing the right structure is about balancing the legal and financial protections you need with the flexibility offered by different options. It’s an important decision, and it’s one you should consider carefully before you launch your business.

Choosing the right structure is about balancing the legal and financial protections you need with the flexibility offered by different options.

Business structures vary based on your country and area, but two common types—that may go by different names in your country—are sole proprietorship and incorporation. A sole proprietorship is great if you’re the only person involved in the business, and is usually the lowest-effort structure to pursue, but you remain personally liable for the business and its activities. You can even hire employees as a sole proprietor, but you’ll need an employer identification number to do so, which means registering your business.

On the other hand, if you opt for a more formal structure like a corporation, it’s easier to involve multiple owners in the business, and you’re not personally liable for the business—but there’s more paperwork and steps involved in starting and maintaining a corporation.

When it comes to choosing a business structure, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider. 

  • Where is your business located? Your country’s laws will outline the different business structures you can form., and whether or not you need a business license to get started.
  • What kind of business are you running? Some structures are more suited to businesses of a certain scale or within a certain industry. There might come a time when you need to restructure your business in order to work with new partners. It’s not uncommon for large businesses to ask that their suppliers or partners be incorporated, for example. 
  • How many people are involved? If you’re going it alone as a solo founder, you may be able to look at streamlined options. If you have a business partner or multiple people with ownership in the company, you’ll need to look at more advanced options to ensure everything is set up and shared properly.

An accountant or lawyer can be helpful in evaluating the different options available in your area and with the process of setting up your business.

9. Research licenses and regulations

No one wants to end up in legal trouble. Your business is subject to the laws governing businesses in your area, as well as laws and regulations specific to your industry. For instance, a food service business needs to follow specific licensing and regulations for handling what it sells, but it also has to pay attention to the legalities of its marketing efforts and to trademark and copyright laws. 

With so much to know, and a lot of it specific to your location and industry, it’s worth consulting with a lawyer to get advice before you launch your business. Investing time and money upfront to obtain legal advice can save you from considerable headaches down the road.

10. Select your software systems

One of the best ways to reduce the heavy lifting involved in running a business, and to set yourself up for future success, is choosing software that can help you automate or streamline the things you need to do.

Often, when you choose the right software systems, you’ll be able to set them up once and have them run efficiently with little ongoing work. Consider looking into software to help you manage the following:

  • Accounting. With multiple options to help you track everything from a meal with your business partner to a big inventory order, accounting software is one of the best ways to start your business off on the right financial foot.
  • Email marketing. A good email marketing tool will help you stay in touch with your current (and future) customers and make sure you’re able to send the right messages to the right people at the right time.
  • Ads. Paying for ads is often a cost of doing business, especially online, but there’s marketing software that can help streamline the process and make the most of your advertising budget—no matter how much you have to spend.
  • Project management. Even if you’re a sole proprietor, having one place to plan your work and keep track of important tasks can help you stay on schedule. Tools like Trello and Asana can help.
  • Website or online store. Choose a platform that allows you to easily manage all the critical tasks involved in running your business. Look for a theme that supports your product lines to the ability to take and manage orders easily. To get an idea of what you’ll need to do, here’s a comprehensive store launch checklist.

Free Course: Getting Started with Shopify. Learn everything you need to know about starting a Shopify store, with step-by-step video walkthroughs, from a six-figure store owner.

11. Find a business location

Your business plan will help guide what kind of space you need for your business. If you’re selling print-on-demand t-shirts, you may only need to find space in your home for a small workspace, a desk, and a laptop. On the other hand, if your business requires in-person retail space, you’ll need to find a place to rent. 

To help narrow down what you need from your business location, consider these questions:

  • How much space will you need for inventory? If you’re accepting deliveries of thousands of items at once, you may not be able to accommodate it in your living room.
  • Do you plan on offering in-person retail sales? While selling out of your home is certainly an option for your first orders, if in-person is an important channel you’ll want to find space that’s comfortable and easily accessible for customers to visit.
  • Will you be packing and shipping orders from your location? Depending on the scale of your shipping operations, that may necessitate more space than you have available in a home office.

It’s possible you’ll be able to run your business from a space you already have available, especially if you don’t plan to sell in-person. If that’s the case, here are some home-office design ideas to help you create an effective workspace while you get your business off the ground. 

12. Plan workload and team size

How much work will you need to do and what skills will be required to launch your business? These are fundamental questions you’ll need to answer, because they’ll guide both your timeline and your level of investment in the launch. 

If you plan to do all of the work yourself, you’re limited by the time you have available to invest. If you plan on hiring help, you’ll need to account for those costs—as well as the time involved in finding and onboarding freelancers or employees.

Here’s an overview of the basic skills you’ll need to learn, know, or hire as you launch.

Design

There are many design decisions that need to be made as you set up your business, from designing a logo to choosing your brand’s colors. There are tools available to help make some initial decisions and guide you in the right direction.

  • Logo. You can rely on a logo creator like Hatchful or online image software like Canva to build your logo.
  • Colors. Start with one of the many online tools that can create a color palette, or use Hatchful to pick colors for your brand.
  • Website design. Starting with a professional theme for your website gives you a site that’s based on design best practices.

If a DIY approach to setting up your store is too far outside of your area of expertise, you can find professional designers by asking for referrals from other business owners or searching for a Shopify Expert. 

Photography

Great photos are essential to your business, especially if you’re selling online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t DIY your product photography. 

Marketing

Marketing is an integral part of your business, and can require multiple skill sets. Start by deciding which marketing activities will have the biggest impact for your new business, and use your plans to make a list of the skills you’ll need to execute them. For example, running paid ads is a much different skill set than taking lifestyle photos to build your Instagram following. 

Research and understand some of the most common promotional tactics used in your industry, and make sure you have the skills required to implement them.

Shipping

Once products are ordered, how will they get from Point A to Point B? Make sure you have a shipping strategy in place that covers key details like:

  • Pricing. Will you offer free or discounted shipping to your customers, or pass on the exact cost to them? This is a nuanced decision that impacts many parts of your business, so it’s important to run the numbers and weigh the options.
  • Packaging. Lighter packaging often means lower shipping costs, but you’ll need to balance weight with protection. Cardboard, while heavy, is more protective for many products than a poly mailer. 
  • Locations. Will you ship internationally, nationally, or just locally? The answer will depend on your products and your goals—and it can change as your business grows.

Whatever your shipping strategy, Shopify Shipping is here to help with negotiated rates with USPS, UPS, and DHL in the US, and Canada Post in Canada.

Hiring help for your business

If you don’t have the time or skill to DIY everything you need for your business, hire help. You can find a virtual assistant for ongoing, routine tasks, or work with an expert for more involved projects, like creating your website or your marketing plan.

Managing your workload

Once you have a good understanding of what needs to happen and who will be completing the work, it’s time to add a bit of project management to make your life easier. Consider using a time management tool like Trello or Asana to write down, assign, and track tasks. Time management tools are especially helpful for keeping teams on schedule, but don’t underestimate the value of structure for yourself as well.

13. Launch your business

You’re ready to take the last step in starting a business: launching. The preparation you’ve already done has laid a solid foundation to support your launch, so you can focus on marketing activities and making your first sale. However, a plan of attack, especially as you’re trying to build traction, can help make your launch even more successful.

While every launch will be unique, there are some elements that can boost any business’ first few days of sales.

  • Leverage your network. Promote your store first and foremost on free channels that are already available to you, which includes your personal social media and your contacts list. Sending one-on-one emails asking for support, which can be as simple as a social share, can go a long way towards gaining traction.
  • Consider offering discounts. Rewarding early customers with a discount code that fits with your profit margins can help you get traction early on, especially when your store is new and may not have many customer reviews or social proof points.
  • Test paid ads. Even if you start with a small budget, paid ads can be one of the most effective ways to get in front of your ideal audience. Testing early and learning from your results can help you drive your first few sales and optimize your ad performance as you scale.

Start a business and make an impact

Starting a business isn’t easy, but it also doesn’t have to be daunting. Whether you want to bring a product into the world to solve a problem you’re having, build a profitable business to be self-employed, create opportunities for the people around you, or bring in some extra money every month, these steps can help you make your dreams a reality.

Essential Outerwear: 7 Jacket Styles No Gentleman Should Be Without

A new jacket: surely the most exciting sartorial purchase a man can make. We’re not quite sure why but as far as new clothes go, nothing else quite compares. Well, a luxury watch or a pair of British-made shoes come close, but there’s something extra special about picking up a brand new outer layer to see you through the cooler months in style.

Still, there’s an enormous wealth of variety out there. Meaning picking a design that will keep you warm, looking great and retain its cool factor for decades to come can be tricky. But there are a select few tasteful top layers that really can tick each one of those boxes and more. Think of them as a sort of jacket capsule collection. The essentials. The key styles no modern man should be without.

With this considered, these are the seven cool jackets Ape believes every stylish man should have at his disposal.

The Bomber Jacket

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Those with even the faintest passing interest in menswear will be well aware that men’s fashion has long taken its cues from the military. Unsurprisingly, the bomber jacket is no exception to this rule.

The style was first used by European Air Forces during the 1950s and 1960s. It was a result of advancements in aeronautical technology that meant planes could fly much higher and therefore conditions in the cockpit became much colder. The cropped length and lack of a collar were to allow a parachute harness to fit more comfortably, while the orange lining was designed to catch attention from the ground in the event of an incident.

These days the bomber jacket is more commonly worn for its stylish looks than its functionality. The silhouette was championed by various youth subcultures during the 1970s and 1980s, but today you should pair one with slim-fit denim, a roll neck and minimalist sneakers for best results.

The Harrington Jacket

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The Harrington jacket is a pop culture icon steeped in a rich British heritage – something that makes it an absolute must in every man’s rotation. Popularised by stars of the fifties, such as Elvis Presley and James Dean, this simple workwear design quickly became the hottest new thing in menswear.

It all began in Manchester with a company called Baracuta, which first designed the Harrington jacket back in the 1930s. It was lightweight, water resistant and featured a fashionable cropped length and stand collar. Before long the brand began exporting its garments to the United States, and when one was worn by Elvis in the 1954 film King Creole the style really took off. That first jacket was the Baracuta G9 – and it’s a style that’s still in production today.

Later on, the Harrington became popular with subcultures including the mods and the skinheads, regularly accompanied by a Ben Sherman or Fred Perry shirt.

In terms of styling, a black Harrington lends itself nicely to a white T-shirt, black jeans and a pair of Chelsea boots to give a nod to its rebellious, rock ‘n’ roll roots.

The Motorcycle Jacket

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It’s a common misconception that you need to have slicked-back hair and a cigarette perpetually dangling from the corner of your mouth in order to effectively carry off a leather jacket. However, so long as it’s worn with unabashed confidence, almost anyone can nail it.

The motorcycle jacket became a menswear icon after Marlon Brando donned a classic Schott Perfecto in the seminal 1953 movie The Wild One. Following its big-screen debut, it became a symbol of rebellion and masculinity, being picked up by rock and punk royalty over the course of the decades that followed.

Still, pulling a leather motorcycle jacket off today doesn’t have to mean dressing like the fifth member of The Ramones. Avoid looking like you’re going to a Grease fancy dress party by balancing it out with cream-coloured knitwear, raw denim and a pair of brown desert boots. Or even white trainers.

The Down Jacket

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When the mercury begins to plummet, keeping warm is key. But that doesn’t have to mean reaching for an arctic parka. With a quality down jacket in your wardrobe, you can stay insulated and looking sharp without having to dress for the North Pole.

This jacket’s effectiveness in battling the chill lies in its unique design. Utilising feathery “down” insulation between two layers of fabric, the result is a garment which traps heat so the wearer remains warm inside, even on the frostiest of days.

When it comes to choosing the right option, avoid anything that looks like it came from the props department of Kevin and Perry Go Large. Instead, opt for a lightweight, streamlined cut that’s trim but without sacrificing any fill power (that’s the density of the insulation, for the uninitiated). In terms of styling, throw it on over a knitted roll neck, chinos and chukka boots. Or on the iciest of days, use it as an underlayer along with a wool overcoat.

The Chore Jacket

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Staying warm and looking good simultaneously needn’t be a chore. Well, not when you have one of these workwear classics hanging up in your wardrobe, that is. The chore jacket is rugged, durable, timeless and versatile. In other words: everything you want from a good piece of outerwear.

The chore jacket was designed in the early 20th century for manual workers as a means of keeping warm and dry. In those early days, the preferred materials were either heavy duck canvas or denim. Cuts were generally loose too, allowing for freedom of movement and alterations to be made more easily.

These days the chore jacket still exists in something close to its original form, although the style varies depending on which brand or designer you choose to shop with. The main differences being slimmer cuts, premium materials and other modern details.

The Technical Jacket

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The likelihood of finding yourself stranded on the north face of K2 while nipping out on your lunch break is highly unlikely. But if it were to happen it’d be nice to know that your outerwear is up to the job. That’s where the technical jacket comes in.

These high-tech waterproofs are designed with the elements in mind, but don’t let that put you off. While once upon a time functionality came at the sacrifice of styling, it’s now a very different story thanks in part to the rise of athleisure.

Today, there are a number of labels producing high-quality technical jackets that wouldn’t look out of place on a Fashion Week runway. Brand’s like Arc’teryx Veilance, Nike ACG and Stone Island produce some of the slickest-looking outerwear on the market, and it’s more than capable of giving the likes of Patagonia and The North Face a run for their money in the performance stakes.

The Overshirt

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The rocky middle ground that separates summer and winter is notoriously difficult to navigate. Step out in a thick coat and you can guarantee it’ll be 20 degrees come lunch time. Leave home in a T-shirt and the temperature will no doubt plummet before you even reach the office. The answer? A simple transitional layer that falls somewhere in the middle.

An overshirt is the perfect garment for the job. It’s light, it’s simple and it’s ideal for layering up or down depending on what the weather decides to do from hour to hour. It’s a seriously versatile piece of kit and an absolute must in any man’s fall arsenal.

Wear it on warmer days over a tee with cropped wool trousers and a pair of Derby boots. Or layer it with a more substantial coat or waterproof when things turn sour. This is a garment you can wear year-round – so if it’s value for money you’re after then look no further.

 

Introduction to Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the merchant never sees or handles the product.

The biggest difference between dropshipping and the standard retail model is that the selling merchant doesn’t stock or own inventory. Instead, the merchant purchases inventory as needed from a third party – usually a wholesaler or manufacturer – to fulfill orders.

Benefits

Less Capital Is Required – Probably the biggest advantage to dropshipping is that it’s possible to launch an ecommerce store without having to invest thousands of dollars in inventory up front. Traditionally, retailers have had to tie up huge amounts of capital purchasing inventory.  

With the dropshipping model, you don’t have to purchase a product unless you already made the sale and have been paid by the customer. Without major up-front inventory investments, it’s possible to start a successful dropshipping business with very little money. 

Easy to Get Started – Running an ecommerce business is much easier when you don’t have to deal with physical products. With dropshipping, you don’t have to worry about:

  • Managing or paying for a warehouse
  • Packing and shipping your orders
  • Tracking inventory for accounting reasons
  • Handling returns and inbound shipments
  • Continually ordering products and managing stock level

Low Overhead – Because you don’t have to deal with purchasing inventory or managing a warehouse, your overhead expenses are quite low. In fact, many successful dropshipping businesses are run from a home office with a laptop for less than $100 per month. As you grow, these expenses will likely increase but will still be low compared to those of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses.  

Flexible Location – A dropshipping business can be run from just about anywhere with an internet connection. As long as you can communicate with suppliers and customers easily, you can run and manage your business.

Wide Selection of Products – Because you don’t have to pre-purchase the items you sell, you can offer an array of products to your potential customers. If suppliers stock an item, you can list if for sale on your website at no additional cost.

Easy to Scale – With a traditional business, if you receive three times as much business you’ll usually need to do three times as much work.  By leveraging dropshipping suppliers, most of the work to process additional orders will be borne by the suppliers, allowing you to expand with fewer growing pains and less incremental work.  Sales growth will always bring additional work – especially related to customer service – but business that utilize dropshipping scale particularly well relative to traditional ecommerce businesses.  

All these benefits make dropshipping a very attractive model to both beginning and established merchants. Unfortunately, dropshipping isn’t all roses and rainbows. All this convenience and flexibility comes at a price.

Disadvantages

Low Margins – Low margins are the biggest disadvantage to operating in a highly competitive dropshipping niche. Because it’s so easy to get started – and the overhead costs are so minimal – many merchants will set up shop and sell items at rock-bottom prices in an attempt to grow revenue. They’ve invested so little in getting the business started so they can afford to operate on minuscule margins.  

True, these merchants often have low-quality websites and poor (if any) customer service. But that won’t stop customers from comparing their prices to yours. This increase in cutthroat competition will quickly destroy the profit margin in a niche. Fortunately, you can do a lot to mitigate this problem by selecting a niche that’s well suited for dropshipping. We’ll discuss this more in Chapter 4.

Inventory Issues – If you stock all your own items, it’s relatively simple to keep track of which items are in and out of stock. But when you’re sourcing from multiple warehouses, which are also fulfilling orders for other merchants, inventory changes on a daily basis. While there are ways you can better sync your store’s inventory with your suppliers’, these solutions don’t always work seamlessly, and suppliers don’t always support the technology required.  

Shipping Complexities – If you work with multiple suppliers – as most drop shippers do – the products on your website will be sourced through a number of different drop shippers. This complicates your shipping costs.

Let’s say a customer places an order for three items, all of which are available only from separate suppliers. You’ll incur three separate shipping charges for sending each item to the customer, but it’s probably not wise to pass this charge along to the customer, as they’ll think you’re grossly overcharging for shipping! And even if you did want to pass these charges along, automating these calculations can be difficult.

Supplier Errors – Have you ever been blamed for something that wasn’t your fault, but you had to accept responsibility for the mistake anyway? 

Even the best dropshipping suppliers make mistakes fulfilling orders – mistakes for which you have to take responsibility and apologize. And mediocre and low-quality suppliers will cause endless frustration with missing items, botched shipments and low-quality packing, which can damage your business’s reputation.    

Is It Worth It?

As we initially warned, dropshipping isn’t a perfect, stress-free way to build a successful business. The model has some definite advantages but comes with a number of built-in complexities and problems you’ll need to be able to address.  

We’ll be examining these problems – and how to best address them – in future chapters. The good news is that with some careful planning and consideration, most of these problems can be resolved and need not prevent you from building a thriving, profitable dropshipping business.