“This is something that was difficult for me: learning that I had to give up control. I wish I knew from the start that this was part of the process if I wanted to scale. At first, it was challenging to loosen the reigns and allow others the chance to work on my business. I loved being at the stage where I had full control, knowing whatever mistakes happened, or success experienced, was because of me. Eventually I had to face this fear and hire other people in order to grow. Teamwork is essential at a certain point.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Melissa Ryan, an internet entrepreneur who has created e-commerce stores generating up to six figures per month. She began her journey in entrepreneurship modeling for local brands, then discovered and studied online business. Her first successful venture was starting to sell on her Amazon store 2 years ago at the age of 22.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thank you so much for interviewing me. My name is Katie Melissa and I live in the quaint beach town, Carmel-by-the-Sea, in northern California. A little over two years ago, I attended college in the Monterey Bay area studying psychology. I originally wanted to become a family therapist and help people with their problems. I have always had the desire to work for myself and make the most out of my time here and also give back to others. Little did I know I would go on to create e-commerce businesses and an online coaching business where I would be able to help people in a completely different way.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company.
Something I find amusing is that I thought I had diligently documented all my business expenses. Just last year, my second year in online business, I forgot to include one $10,000 deduction I had! Needless to say, I filed an amendment and have a more efficient accounting system now. On top of that, I hired a new CPA to help me keep everything organized. Mistakes are for learning from, not repeating.
Another funny experience to mention is after my first e-commerce store became prosperous, a few people I went to high school with started asking if I was hiring.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My coaching business in particular stands out because I help teach people of all ages and experience levels e-commerce. I have trained people from age 18 to those who are twice my age. My main goal is to get people started in selling profitably on the Amazon marketplace and share more advanced techniques once they gain experience. A recent success story is from my new student, Mike, who grossed $2,000 in his first 10 days selling after my coaching webinars. My favorite thing about coaching is the excitement I see from new students. Once you start seeing results, it becomes addicting.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have taken many e-commerce and digital marketing training courses online and had direct mentorship from some big names in the Amazon space including Tommy Rodriguez and Matt Gambrell. I look up to them both and am still in frequent contact with them. It’s incredible experiencing just how powerful the internet is and how much I’ve learned from people I have met online.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Currently I am working on selling one of my large e-commerce stores, which is considered digital real estate. With the earnings I would either invest in physical real estate or start up and grow a new store from scratch. I may even design and create my own branded product to sell. Right now I am working on increasing the value of one of my current stores as much as possible before selling.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I sure hope so! My ultimate goal is to live the life of my dreams, with the freedom to travel, while helping others achieve the same. If I can teach someone a skill of great value that helps them succeed, then I am doing my part to contribute. If you give the world the best that you have, I believe that will come back to you in life like a boomerang.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
When I was ten years old, my mom read me Jack C. Bogle’s book, “Common Sense on Mutual Funds.” From then on she started bringing me to the Boglehead’s reunions all around the United States. This is where my interest in money and investing initially developed. I was lucky enough to speak with Mr. Bogle on a few occasions when I was very young and those moments made a lasting impression on me. This October, I will be attending another Boglehead meeting and seeing him again for the first time in over a dozen years. The company he founded, the Vanguard Group, is now worth over $5 trillion and is the largest mutual fund company in the world.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. I wish someone stressed to me the importance of bookkeeping. Everyone’s main focus when starting up a business online is becoming profitable and making sales. But in reality there is so much more to come and things become complicated quickly, especially keeping up with numbers from multiple businesses.
2. Another thing I wish I knew was how to scale a business from the start. Of course, I learned as time passed by, because I was forced to if I wanted to grow and improve. It would have been so nice to have a clear plan laid out on the table beforehand.
3. Third, I wish I was told to have daily goals from the start. In my early days of entrepreneurship, I didn’t have a set goal to work toward every day. I was still figuring things out and overwhelm took over some days. Currently I have goals and tasks I write on my phone weekly so I know what my focus should be for that week.
4. I wish someone told me how complicated it would be. People see travel and inspirational pictures on my Instagram, e-commerce sales and profits, but no one knows what really goes on behind the scenes. Success doesn’t happen overnight, well, not for most. All the time spent learning, practicing, and working eats up most of my time. When I was 23, I had to hire three virtual assistants to assist me with my workflow.
5. Lastly, this is something that was difficult for me: learning that I had to give up control. I wish I knew from the start that this was part of the process if I wanted to scale. At first, it was challenging to loosen the reigns and allow others the chance to work on my business. I loved being at the stage where I had full control, knowing whatever mistakes happened, or success experienced, was because of me. Eventually I had to face this fear and hire other people in order to grow. Teamwork is essential at a certain point.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
There are dozens of influential people I would be honored to sit down with, but I’ll name just a few. Some of them include Oprah Winfrey, Grant Cardone, Jeff Jordan, Timothy Sykes, and Mark Cuban. I would love to hear their stories from childhood to where they are today. Motivation is the key to my productivity and learning about these astounding people on a personal level would be incredibly moving!