Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sparkling Success Story

Ambesh and Reena Khanna aren't just partners in business, but in life too. The husband-wife duo today operates three successful online jewellery stores.

Reena Khanna has always had a flair for drawing. She realized that she could convert this skill into a profitable business proposition by creating personally designed jewellery for women all over the world. Her husband, Ambesh, was supportive of helping her make her dream a reality. “To believe in your dreams and receive that trust & support from your partner is all that you need to turn your passion into a business.” says Reena. Ambesh & Reena set up their first online store 'Khanna Jewels' on eBay, the world's largest online marketplace, back in July 2003, adopting global online payment solution, PayPal to take their business to the world.

Photo of Mr and Mrs KhannaReena believes that running an online business is the perfect solution for the modern Indian woman who often finds it a challenge to juggle the responsibilities of both family and work. “Because we have an online business, I'm able to work from home and spend more time with our family”, she says. It has also strengthened her relationship with her husband, Ambesh. “Working together has made us better partners in life. Spending more time together at work has its ups and downs but it has made us more mature at handling work and life as a whole.” As partners, they rely on their respective strengths to make their business work. Reena conceptualises and designs their jewellery, and oversees jewellery production. Ambesh oversees the operations, logistics and financial matters.

When asked about the secret to their success, Reena says “It is about making right product available at the right time and at the right place. Our diamonds and jewellery pieces are high-quality but affordable. We found a number of fair-priced courier companies that offer logistical support in delivery. Best of all, eBay and PayPal have enabled us to set up a business online which means we have an opportunity to work together and spend more time at home too with our family.”

Before taking their business online, Reena and Ambesh sold their jewellery in a more traditional fashion - sending samples to interested customers, waiting for their decisions to buy and then receiving payments for goods, often resulting in payments delayed for months. They found that setting up a PayPal account was easy and convenient, with no hidden costs or sign-up fees, and most importantly it made collecting payments a breeze. Once they set up their store online and integrated PayPal, they never faced the problem of delayed payments again.

Ambesh finds that using PayPal has helped to simplify their entire business process. “When we were operating offline, we had problems with attracting potential buyers, maintaining payment credit cycles, order procurements, travelling expenses and debt notes. Integrating PayPal has helped us to bring more customers to our online stores. The sale conversion ratio with PayPal users is as high as 99%.”

In addition, using a trusted payment solution like PayPal also created sense of confidence amongst their potential overseas customers. “As a woman who loves jewellery, I understand the apprehension of purchasing jewellery online when you may not be able to ensure the authenticity of what you buy.” Reena acknowledges. “However, the eBay and PayPal brand bring credibility and trust, removing any concerns that the buyer has. Moreover, we have never faced any fraudulent activity thanks to PayPal's screening & verification processes. They lead industry standards in terms of security.”

PayPal has over 117 million active accounts in 190 markets worldwide and supports payments in up to 25 currencies. This global reach has helped Ambesh and Reena expand their business across markets in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore. 98% of transactions made by overseas buyers are made through PayPal. They have also been able to build trust and trade with buyers from smaller, traditionally untapped markets like Finland, Norway and Belgium which contribute significantly to their revenues.

Over time, their business has evolved and expanded across other categories of diamond products. Today, the couple's business partnership has paid off and they now run three stores on eBay selling their jewellery across the globe. These three online stores specialise in three different areas. Khannajewels comprises of diamond jewellery, cocktail rings, and high end luxurious jewels while Solitaireworld sells solitaire earrings/studs and solitaire rings. Estatejewelles sells estate & Victorian-inspired jewellery.

Today, the Khanna's have a dedicated team of designers, developers, goldsmiths. Reena designs her jewellery in-house and their jewellery is manufactured in factories in Surat, Delhi and Jaipur. Ambesh and Reena are now focused on further expanding their thriving online business.

Ambesh is proud of the business his wife inspired. “My wife's passion for jewels has no boundaries! She has an uncanny ability to conceptualize and create jewellery that is a perfect fusion of Indian ethnicity and contemporary trends.” He says, “eBay and PayPal have helped us take her designs to the world. It's also given us the opportunity to work together and maintain a good work-life balance which has been great for the family! eBay and PayPal enable e-commerce, helping young entrepreneurial couples like us dream big!”


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

6 Self Made Millionaire Case Studies

The other day I was on HARO… actually, let me rephrase that: The other day my virtual assistant was on HARO… looking for case studies of people who had become self made (my all encompassing obsession as of late). Lots of people responded to our query, but 6 stood out as legitimate and inspiring self made millionaires and I thought I’d share their stories with you.
Now do note that these stories aren’t written or really edited by me, they were either written by the person’s publicist or by the millionaire themselves (you can guess which one is which). I decided to leave them this way so my thoughts or personality wouldn’t taint the information a savvy reader can gather from these 6 self made case studies.
Enjoy and let me know your thoughts afterwards… I’m impartial to their stories but I think each has interesting and inspirational lesson to be learned from.
self made millionaire - jessie conners

If there is a strong go-getter, self-made, female entrepreneur who has followed her passions to launch not just one, but four successful small businesses; it would be Jessie Conners.
Her life is a true rags-to-riches story – she went from a trailer with no running water – to an orphanage – to opening a marketing company at 17 – to buying her first piece of real estate at 19. At 20, Jessie was a published author, then a reality star at 21 (Donald Trump’s The Apprentice).
Jessie became a national speaker (speaking at over 1500 real estate conventions) and by 27 started her e-tail company Now, at 28, Jessie is finally a multi-millionaire – and she achieved all of it by chasing the dream of becoming self made.
This year, real estate magnate, author and owner of newly minted PeppermintPark expects to shatter glass ceilings with sales reaching close to a million from her latest endeavor.
By having a unique member model coupled with featuring over 300 designers that appeal to women from all walks of life, she’s looking for her Minneapolis-based one stop, online shop to almost 10 thousand members.
Jessie’s fearlessness and tenacity has wowed the likes of notables from Donald Trump when she appeared on the first season of The Apprentice as the youngest contestant to date.


self made millionaire - Bert MartinezThe keys to becoming self made and a self made millionaire are:
The saying, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he“, not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
So all people are self made, the real difference between a millionaire or a billionaire
or a zillionaire is knowledge and fear. Most people know what to do but are afraid to take action. They are afraid of money, success, criticism, work, failure, success and the list goes on. Their self-esteem or unconscious belief controls their results.
Through marketing I became a self-made “millionaire” by the time I was 30 and filed bankruptcy at 32. My self esteem surrounding money reared its ugly head, then marketing and sales allowed me to hit millionaire status again at age 35.
My company Bert Martinez Communications is dedicated to teaching small business owners strategies to grow their business and their self image so they avoid the mistakes I made.

self made millionaire - Todd TresidderCompany: Money Coach

I’ve been coaching clients to wealth for the last 12 years after achieving financial independence at age 35. I’ve written extensively on the keys to self-made wealth. It is my passion.
From a sound bite perspective the key to building wealth is to make more than you spend and invest the difference wisely. Rinse and repeat until wealth is achieved. No secret there. The key is not in knowing what to do, the key is in getting it done
* You must have a plan.
* The plan must be based on proven principles that lead to wealth including leverage, risk management, and much more.
* You must set up support structures to pull you through when you run into the inevitable obstacles and setbacks.
* You must understand the concept of “enough-ness” and the tradeoffs involved because the goal is happiness and fulfillment – not wealth. Wealth is a tool or vehicle but never the end goal.
I retired at age 35 by saving roughly 60-70% of my earned income and investing it wisely. I published an article explaining exactly how the process works here.

Company: Home Referral Network

self made millionaire - Debra CohenBecoming a self made millionaire, doesn’t only require hard work, it requires discipline. Earning millions of dollars is irrelevant if you spend more than you earn. Living lean and saving for the future have always been my mantra in addition to maintaining an affordable and conservative lifestyle.
As soon as my Homeowner Referral Network business started to generate a good income, my first priority was to save at least 1/2 of what I made. The millionaire next door doesn’t necessarily drive a Bentley–it may be a 10 year old Honda.

Several years ago after the purchase of our first home, not only were my husband and I struggling to make ends meet but we faced the all too familiar challenge of finding reliable home improvement contractors. Based on our experience, I decided to create a business to address this need in our community.

HOME REMEDIES OF NY, INC. is a Homeowner Referral Network (HRN) for homeowners seeking reliable home improvement contractors. I pre-screen and represent a network of more than 50 home improvement contractors ranging from painters, plumbers and carpenters to general contractors, architects and decorative painters. Contractors in my network pay a pre-negotiated commission on any work secured and my service is free to homeowners.
I started my business with just a $5000 loan from my husband’s retirement savings plan and Home Remedies has grossed more than $4 million to date.

Company: TeleBrands
self made millionaires - AJ Khubani
TeleBrands markets “As Seen on TV” products to the consumer audience. From the PedEgg and Windshield Wonder to today’s new Chef Basket and One-Second Needle, TeleBrands helps consumers find a common solution to everyday problems.
AJ Khubani founded TeleBrands at the age of 27 with his life savings of $20,000. While in college, Khubani began marketing an AM/FM type radio in the back of the Nation Inquirer for $10.
He broke even. But, that lead him to creaing many new products and moving into television infomercial advertising. In the late 1980s, he began marketing the AmberVision Glasses for $10 at retail establishments — the first time an “As Seen on TV” infomercial product was available in a bricks and mortar environment. The product became a household name and a new approach to the direct response television (DRTV) industry was born.
Khubani offers the following advice:

  • When you have a new product idea, start by “Googling” the idea — see if someone else invented or marketed it before you did. Take the time to do your research.
  • Apply for a provision patent for just over $100 at There is no need to begin with expensive lawyers and spending your entire savings on your product/idea.
  • Learn the marketplace. If you are creating a consumer product for a specific audience, is that potential audience large enough to result increased revenues? Be realistic in your goals.
And most importantly — enjoy what you do!

self made millionaire - Tony HartlCompany: Planet Tan & Selling Sunshine (book)

There are several keys to becoming a wildly successful, self-made millionaire. Creatively solving problems is important, great stewardship of money is a must over the long-term, and a large tolerance for risk is key as you start out.
But what really separates the successful from the unsuccessful, in my experience, is an unrelenting desire to accomplish your goals.
This is NOT an unrelenting desire to make money; it’s the passion for making your ideas into reality. Money hasn’t been the main drive behind any of the successful people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. There are more interesting things in the world than currency, after all.
People with passion who solve problems in new, relevant ways will make money, and those who deal with adversity, take logical risks, and put their money where it matters the most will grow their businesses quickly.” – Tony
Tony Hartl founded Planet Tan in 1995 and built the company into one of the most recognizable brands in the Dallas area. He currently sits on the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship Board and has been a guest lecturer at the Caruth Institute of Entrepreneurship at SMU’s Cox Business School. He has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Inc. magazine, Fortune Small Business, and the Dallas Morning News.


Ex-dishwasher now a multi-millionaire

Nothing in this life is easy.

This is wisdom that former dishwasher Larry Cortez would like to impart to his children.
Cortez left his hometown in Nueva Ecija in 1987 to try his luck in Manila.

Moving from one job to another, Cortez almost lost hope of finding success in the city.
“Nabura na ang pangarap ko na umasenso e. Ang nangyari nalang, basta makaraos. Ayoko maging pabigat sa pamilya,” he said.

Cortez started as a household help, became a security guard, and eventually found his way to the food and service industry by becoming a dishwasher.

As a dishwasher, Cortez never stopped dreaming big.

“Naging sakit na nating Pilipino, nangangarap ng maliit. Kapag nakuha mo ang pangarap mong maliit, minsan hindi mo na gusto, kaya nilalakihan ko na,” said Cortez.
His next job as a waiter paved the way for him to become a restaurant manager.
Through hard work, Cortez defeated all odds and is now the proud owner of 10 restaurants.
Despite his success, Cortez stressed that nothing in this life should be taken for granted.
“Gusto ko matutunan [ng mga anak ko] ‘yung value ng buhay. Walang easy life. Hindi napupulot lang ang success, pinaghihirapan ‘yan,” Cortez said.
“Mas mabuti pala kung ipinanganak ka ng mahirap kasi wala ka nang choice kung hindi umangat,” he added.


How Gang Life Helped One Man Become A Multimillionaire Entrepreneur

Ryan Blair's rag-to-riches story is no marketing shtick. He may have dubbed Ryan Blair gang entrepreneurone of the chapters of his New York Times bestselling book, "my philosophies from the jail cell to the boardroom," but Blair's childhood isn't naturally packaged into slogans. And the things he learned on the streets of Los Angeles, and from two stints in juvenile detention, did help him build a series of successful startups, the latest of which took in $231 million in sales last year.

Growing up, Blair idolized gang culture, he told AOL Jobs. His older sister was a gang member, selling the weed his father grew. After his father abandoned the family when Blair was 13, and his mother started drinking, he needed money. Initiated into a gang with a brutal beating that left him with a mouthful of broken teeth, he started peddling stolen car stereos, and learned the first principle of business: "Buy low, sell high."

The Entrepreneurship Of PovertyRyan Blair teenager prison

"The roots of my entrepreneurial mindset lie in seeing the entrepreneurial work of poverty," Blair says. "The working, hustling rich and the working, hustling poor are the same species, except one plays by society's rules. Or makes them, some would say."
Blair bulked up. He was 260 pounds at his peak, his body a patchwork of gang tattoos. The more intimidating he appeared, the less he would have to fight. "When you're 15 and you see someone get murdered," he says, "survival becomes your goal."
That idea, in a somewhat modified form, is true in the business world too. Success depends on the ability to adapt to your surroundings and provoke the reaction you want. "Every board member creates his signature, a signature of his insecurities overcome," he says. "A combination of old-fashioned DNA, anthropology, culture, ambition and aspiration."
Blair's "signature" is, of course, his past -- a past that he finally put behind him during his second stint in juvenile detention. His first came when he was 14, after he attempted to rob a restaurant but set off a silent alarm when he threw a rock through the window.
Gangsters, he now contends, are "entrepreneurs who steal from other entrepreneurs." The best thing small-business owners can do, he thinks, is to "educate the local hoodlums" in legitimate business skills -- "as a form of insurance." That's exactly what Blair now does with his foundation.

A Book, A Letter, A New Life

Blair was locked up for the second time at age 16, for a strong-arm robbery and battery. He says that he was beaten up on the first day, the last time around, so he decided to go on the offensive. As he puts it in his book, "If you let someone take your milk the first day, they'll start taking it every day." Blair incited a riot.
Over the next 30 days, most of it spent in solitary confinement, some thoughts gnawed at Blair. Mainly the fact that, at the judge's whim, he could be spending the next four years of his life behind bars.
He read his first, and only, work of fiction at this time, Stephen King's "Firestarter," sounding out the syllables phonetically and listening to them bounce off the walls. Today, Blair has read over 1,000 books and remembers most of what he reads, a remarkable feat for a dyslexic high school dropout. He says that it's because he doesn't read visually, but auditorily, thanks to that excruciating month he spent with nothing but his own voice.
Blair wrote a letter to the judge, with some spelling assistance, begging for leniency. "You should be writing in college," the judge replied, "not in prison."
When Blair was released, he found his mother's home ransacked -- his fellow gang members assumed that he'd become a "rat." Blair decided to begin the long, delicate and sometimes life-threatening process of leaving his gang. He got a job picking up the cans dropped off for recycling, meeting what he calls the "lowest form of life": the crackheads clutching at nickels for the next hit, the drunk who turns in his beer cans just to scrape together enough cash for the next 12-pack.
Nothing spurred Blair upward faster than staring into the eyes of the bottom. He worked almost every waking hour of the day, seven days a week, and still does. His mother started dating a new guy, a successful real estate entrepreneur, who moved them out of their crummy neighborhood, let Blair drive around in his Cadillac Allante, and hired him to do odd jobs. Blair suddenly appreciated the connection between wealth and hard work.
Soon he got a job at another company, answering phones, but impressed the higher-ups when he covered a shift at the data center. Computers had always been a passion of his. After all, he says, he'd "liberated a bunch."

Addicted To Business
Within three years, Blair became vice president. His starting salary had been $6 an hour. His new salary was $100,000 per annum. The next year, he founded his own 24-hour computer repair company, at age 21. Blair claims that this rapid rise came thanks to his ability to "hustle" and his "nothing-to-lose attitude," but no doubt his charisma helped too. Blair has the charm of a practiced motivational speaker -- which he is.

Blair claims that he "sees the world as a technologist." His current company may not seem so technical: ViSalus is a weight-loss and fitness program. But it's based on the idea of challenges; people set their goal, and get prizes for completing it. It "game-ifies" weight loss, like the many websites that keep people coming back through badges and give-aways, and anything that will tickle the brain's reward center. Blair approached his book similarly, making the chapters short enough to give his readers a regular jolt of accomplishment.
He's approached himself the same way too. "I've trained myself to be addicted to business," he says. And that's what drives him, not some misty sense of a legacy. He's requested that his foundation be wound down within 10 years of his death, along with the 90 percent of his assets that he's dedicated to it.

In 2004, Steven Levitt said that being in a gang is "perhaps the worst job in all of America." In 2012, Blair says, "it's one of the only jobs." Kids are increasingly turning to gang culture for money and meaning. Blair hopes to prove to them that they have the skills to get a lot more money and a lot more meaning, if they play by society's rules.