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2015: Year In Review

Family, friends, travel, music, education, employees, a new 7-figure business, and an engagement…

2015 was a year not to be forgotten.

2015 Highlights

I made progress in business as well as my personal life. As a business owner, sometimes I feel like the months often blend together. When I’m in Southeast Asia, the winters are still HOT, summers even hotter. Sometimes I travel so much that the trips start to blend together and time seems to slip away…

In 2016, I want to be more transparent on the blog. I want people to feel like they have a better idea of what’s going on behind the scenes here at Drop Ship Lifestyle. So this post isn’t like anything I’ve ever written before (you’ll see why in a bit)…

It’s more personal. It’s more self-reflective. And it’s more honest.

As you may or may not know, Drop Ship Lifestyle helps people create lifestyle businesses. So this review will reflect just that. It’ll include a blend of lifestyle memories as well as notable business ones. So here it is: Drop Ship Lifestyle 2015 Year In Review.

I don’t want to bore you, so I’ve only covered the highlights. I assume you don’t care how many pounds I deadlifted and how I found the perfect pillow.

If you haven’t looked back at your year and done some reflection, I highly recommend it. Alright, now let’s start with the very beginning….

January 1st – New Year’s Eve in NYC.

newyears

I grew up in New York. But for some reason, this New Year’s Eve was a special one. I was surrounded by friends and family, and we had a blast  It was special because this is the first year I didn’t return home alone… I brought my girlfriend (now fiance).. but more on that later…

January 8th – Traveled to Phu Quoc Island.

phuquocvacation

After getting cold from the NYC winter weather, Thao and I went to Phu Quoc Island to get back to warm weather. We spent a few days there relaxing, but I also made it a point to draft a biz plan for the coming year. From the outside looking it, it may seem like we’ve got everything under control. The truth is, a lot gets done at the last minute.

When I wrote this business plan, I wrote out some goals for the different businesses I own, and some goals for the new ones that I wanted to start. 

Instead of looking at success, let’s talk about what goals never came to be:

  • Launch Coffee Brands
  • Launch Disaster Preparedness Site
  • Co-Launch Supplement Course
  • Launch Travel Bag Company

These were 4 HUGE goals that I had set out for myself in 2015 and not one of them happened….

Why? I decided to hold off on the coffee brands until I return to the states later this year. Another eCommerce venture took off so I put the disaster prep site on the back-burner. My partners for the supplement course decided to take a different direction to not proceed until next year. And after working with about 1/2 a dozen suppliers, while trying to source the perfect travel bag company, I decided it wasn’t the best use of time so I cut the project from my queue…

Did I fail because NONE of these goals were achieved? 

NO!

In fact, I consider this year a major success because I was able to grow my new information product business to over 7-figures while also being able to teach thousands of my students how to do the same…

performance
In addition to that, I’ve been able to learn more about marketing then I have in the past decade…

Sometimes things come up in life, and as entrepreneurs, we have to be able to adapt quickly. There is no use in kicking yourself if your plans don’t happen. Focus on the now and seize every opportunity that presents itself to you. Click To Tweet
April 26th – HustleCon in San Francisco.

hustlecon

I’d never been to @hustlecon, but wow… it was awesome. I heard presentations from lots of other non-technical founders including @_jacksmith of Vungle, @walkerteespring of TeeSpring, @timchen82 of NerdWallet, and @gaganbiyani of Udemy (and now Sprig).

What’s funny is that I didn’t even know about this conference until about 1 month before it was taking place… I casually heard about it from a friend in Vietnam and about an hour later I had bought tickets and booked my flights!

Remember what I said about seizing every opportunity that presents itself to you 🙂

This had a big impact on me. I immediately felt inspired to scale my businesses even bigger (you’ll see the effects soon).  This event also reminded me how important it is to ALWAYS be learning.  In fact, I’ve invested over $10,000 on marketing training this year alone.  Not only does it help me, but it helps my whole team to perform efficiently.

May 1st – Moved into Office in Vietnam.

office

As you probably know, Drop Ship Lifestyle is about running a business from anywhere in the world. As long as you have a laptop and decent wifi, you’re good to go. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the main reason why I’ve chosen to work online in the first place: so I can travel like a boss.

Anyway, this was a big step for me and my business… I closed my last office almost 5 years ago and never thought I would have one again after traveling so much… But, I wanted to settle down a bit and work on taking Drop Ship Lifestyle to the next level. It was weird at first, but overall this was a great business move. For a few hundred dollars a month, I’m guaranteed (okay, except when the power goes out) a place to go and get some quality, focused work time in.  

Co-working spaces and cafés are great, but for me personally, having an office has increased my productivity a ton.Plus, it’s made it easier to record videos. True, it meant I was “tied to a city”, but I love Saigon. It’s buzzing with energy and is a great city to live in if you’re trying to make money online.

May 9th – First full-time DSL employee (Alison) started.

employee

About a week after I moved into my office, we hired our first full-time employee (not including Thao). Alison had her own drop ship store that had some early success, and I loved her hustle. But I’ll be honest, hiring Drop Ship Lifestyles first full-time employee was scary.

I was worried I would overpay and not see ROI soon, if ever. I was worried that it would take up my time managing her. I was scared that after a few weeks, I would run out of projects for her to do. I had outsourced hundreds of times, but having an employee showing up at the office every day was new. 

Plus, what if I wanted to take some time off to go to Europe for a month and only be online for a few hours each week?  Would she be able to keep with the work on her own?

I managed to fight through all these insecurities and I soon realized that it was all in my head. Alison was a GREAT addition to the team. Unfortunately, Alison is a bit camera shy, so you won’t be able to see her smiling face in many DSL videos. But she’s been working hard behind the scenes on paid traffic, marketing funnels, and social media ever since. Maybe some day soon she’ll get over her fear and get on camera, but until then, you’ll just need to use your imagination (or come out to Saigon to meet her yourself)!

Having Alison on board working full-time was going so well, I realized it was time to hire again.

June 1st – Hired second full-time DSL employee (Adam).

adam

We quickly grew from two to three and it was great. Adam booked a one-way ticket from California to Vietnam and got started right away. To be honest, I never would have had the courage to do that when I was his age (21).

Adam is another successful member of Drop Ship Lifestyle who has built and sold a couple of his own stores before joining my team in Saigon.

With Adam on board, it meant we could do more in less time, and it also freed up my time to focus on more important tasks such as: creating better content for DSL students, creating mini-courses to help eCommerce beginners, adding a PPC course, and creating our own drop shipping app!  Adam came in and helped build out our funnels while also helping in areas such as: email marketing, affiliate marketing, and more.

Plus, it was nice to have another guy in the office 🙂

June 27th – Italy for two weeks.

italy

“Is this real? An office, full-time employees, what I am getting myself into!?”

OK, I was nervous about this… I just hired two full-time employees, and now I was leaving the country…

But, I have to practice what I preach (lifestyle design) and it was time for some traveling. So, I went to Italy for two weeks with my three favorite girls in the world: my girlfriend, my mom, and my sister.

romeWe had A BLAST! We went to Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, and Rome and I had a chance to see some amazing pieces of history.  I had zero interest in history while in school but as I travel more, I am beginning to appreciate it more and more.  

If you ever have the chance to travel to Italy with your family in the summer my advice is to just go!  Quality family time + history + the best food in the world = a trip to remember. (Even the 10+ lbs were worth it!)

venice

July 31 – Helped Michael & Nathan Launch FBA Empire.

After having lots of success with my own information products, I decided to help others do the same.  Michael and Nathan are both members of Drop Ship Lifestyle who also sell via Amazon FBA.  In July, I helped them launch a membership site that teaches others how to do the same.

August 1st- Hired a remote communications manager (Larry). 

As one person, sometimes it can be a lot to read and respond to every inquiry I get. I hate leaving questions unanswered, but sometimes I don’t have time to write someone the detailed response that they deserve (for example, when I went to Italy for two weeks, I barely checked email at all).

Enter: Larry. Larry helps gets people’s questions in real time. He’s been a life saver because he lives in a different time zone, so he’s able to answer questions while I’m sleeping.

larry

August 23rd – One of my Best Friends got Married!

I am 31 years-old now and I still am close with most of my childhood friends…

It’s taken this long but finally, one of us decided to settle down.  I almost couldn’t believe it, but as soon as he told me I booked a flight and decided to spend the two weeks leading up to the wedding back in New York.  It was a great trip and included lots of beach time, lots of catching up with old friends, and LOTS of golf.

September 21st – Above and Beyond Concert at the Grand Ho Tram Casino.

When you and your friends travel a lot, you end up doing some weird stuff, but you also end up doing some EPIC stuff. This night was on the EPIC end of the spectrum… I even wrote a Facebook post about it.

concertI’ve never heard of EDM music at a casino, but in Vietnam, anything is possible. The show took place a few hours outside of Saigon. Our crew was 20+…

concert2

I’m not a party specialist, but anytime you get more than 20 friends at one pre-game, it’s bound to be an epic night.

I’m not a huge fan of Above and Beyond either, but this was one of the smaller shows they’ve done, so we were able to be front row! We danced for hours as positive energy filled the air. I felt so lucky to be able to go to a random concert in a random city with so many of my friends.

concert3

October 7-10: Hosted the Drop Ship Lifestyle Retreat #2 in Krabi, Thailand.

I honestly don’t know how to describe this weekend in words. Luckily, I hired a camera crew to film it, but still, even that video doesn’t do it justice.

 

 

Over a hundred people flew out to Thailand to do what Drop Ship Lifestyle does best: work on our online businesses and travel. In the mornings, we had speakers deliver value bomb after value bomb. Even me, the one who put on the event, learned SO MUCH from each speaker.

In the afternoon, it was adventure time. We went island hopping, rock climbing, snorkeling, played volleyball on the beach, and more. Writing this just gives me the chills.

The retreat was a blast. To make sure the event ran as smoothly as possible, I even hired Kellie to help out. She wrote a nice article on the behind the scenes as well.

Running a business that helps people make money and achieve freedom gives me a lot of fulfillment. But as efficient as the internet is, it was SO MUCH better to get to meet these people in person.

I’m not going to lie, for selfish reasons, it was great to meet the students and hear their success stories first hand. Some of these people found my course, worked hard for a few months, quit their job, and now are living in Thailand and traveling the world. Simon even got to celebrate his first sale while we were there! Watching DSL students succeed first hand was truly magical.

sales

(Don’t worry, there’ll be another DSL retreat in 2016. I’ve still got to figure out all the behind the scenes stuff, but my top three locations are Hawaii, Mexico, and Thailand. It’s going to be EPIC no matter where we decide.)

November 1 – Hired a part-time content creator (Jeremy).

So we had Alison taking care of paid traffic and Adam doing funnels, emails, and our affiliate program. But I felt that the one thing that we were lacking was solid and consistent content. I enjoy writing blog posts, but I don’t have the time to be writing them on a consistent basis.

Everything in our member’s area was fine, but I was looking to make a push to improve our content in order to bring in more leads and educate people more about what we do and what DSL is about. I wanted DSL to stand out, so I wanted EPIC content.

Jeremy Ginsburg is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. For those of you who made it to the DSL retreat in Krabi, I’m sure you remember him rocking out on stage along with Adam, George, Rob, Johnny, Nate, and everyone else on that epic night.

jeremy

So far, it’s been great to have Jeremy on board. He’s helping with our email campaigns, website copy, videos, and blog posts (so if you absolutely HATE this post and see a ton of grammar mistakes, let me know and I’ll fire him ASAP. Just kidding, Jeremy).

We’ve already started creating a 2016 content schedule and brainstormed some creative/fun ideas. We have some other surprises up our sleeves…so stay tuned for our 2016 content!

December 1 – Closed Drop Ship Lifestyle to get ready for 4.0

This was a big risk, and a lot of my friends told me I was stupid for doing it. It’s closed as I write this post, so if anyone wants to join, they can’t.

Am I losing a lot of money? Probably. But I care more about having THE BEST ECOMMERCE COURSE OUT THERE than I care about making money. I probably missed out on five figures in sales, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Why? Drop Ship Lifestyle 4.0 IS GOING TO BE EPIC. I’ve invested in a few software developers and we have brand new software for DSL students. It’s going to help save them so much time it’s not even funny. Plus, we’ve got a new Shopify app, a new course on having a business mindset, and more.

I’m trying my best to give DSL members as much value as possible. If anything, I’m worried I may be overwhelming them with the amount of information inside our members area. I honestly think there’s enough in there to start several kind of online businesses, not just ones in eCommerce.

As you can tell, this stuff excites me, so I’m going to cut myself off here until I write two more pages.

Oh yeah, and the most important thing that happened in 2015….

My girlfriend and I got engaged!

engaged

Thao and I will be having two weddings in 2016. I’m not really good at writing about cheesy stuff like love and marriage, so I’ll just leave it at that 🙂

thaoandantonAlright, so there it is. 2015 was indeed an exciting year, but I think 2016 will be an even better one. I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you did, I’d appreciate it if you shared this post with a friend.

Thanks and HAPPY 2016!

 

Anton Kraly
 

Anton is a the Founder & CEO of Drop Ship Lifestyle - an online coaching program for eCommerce entrepreneurs. He began selling online in 2007 and has built and sold multiple seven-figure businesses while leveraging the power of drop shipping.

  • Katie Bender says:

    Hello. I received your free course that was email to me. My question is do I need to buy anything & must I join the forum?
    Thanks,
    Katie

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hi Katie,
      I hope you learn a lot from the free course! We do have a private coaching program and forum for our students. However, I would only recommended joining if this is something that you 100% want to persure.
      Thank you!

  • Tony says:

    So Anton, how much did you deadlift? 😀
    Oh and thanks so much for DSL, congrats on an awesome 2015 and a super bright future ahead. My store is coming along well I’m moving from Australia to work in Chiang Mai end of this month and I’m sure I’ll make it out to Saigon one day to work there and say hi.
    Thank you,
    Tony

  • Dylan Madden says:

    Hey Anton,
    I spent this past year building up my blog and learning about how the online world works. I will be starting DSL and I cannot wait to learn what you offer.
    2016 Plan:
    – Start a store and work on it until it is making $800/month
    – Start another store and duplicate
    – Release my book for my blog
    This year will be awesome. You are already doing very well.
    Have a great 2016.
    Regards,
    Dylan Madden

  • Jasmine says:

    Hi Anton,
    Great post, I set a goal this year to earn a certain amount by 31st December 2016 by investing part of my student loan rather than just spend it. . I was originally going to go down the import and sell on eBay route, but whilst researching I came across your Youtube video and became interested. I have started the mini course and want to go on to the advance course. Is that still available or will I have to wait until 4.0 is launched once I sign up?
    Many thanks
    P.S congrats on all your achievements for 2015.

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hi Jasmine,
      I think you’re making the right choice 🙂 If I have any regrets in business it is not starting sooner. I actually waited until I finished college to start my first business. I thought I wouldn’t have had the time… looking back now I realize I could have 100% done well in school while also building something of value.
      With that being said, it’s never too late to start and there will always be something new to learn 🙂
      I’m sorry but we do not have any courses available for sale right now. We have working on getting 4.0 ready and in the process of having our entire site redesigned. I’d recommend holding off for a week or so. Thank you!

  • Pratik says:

    Awesome post Anton!.
    Im currently playing around with my first store and I’ve learnt alot. This stuff really gets exciting once your in the game.
    Just wanted to suggest if you might consider teaching about cross border drop shipping advantages, disadvantages and tips on how to run it smooth. I feel like I’m running into that blind with products that maybe harder to deal with when it involves border crossing.
    Other than that, awesome work Anton, can’t wait for the new stuff to come out.
    Thanks a bunch

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Agreed! To be honest, I’m not an expert on b2c international shipping so I wouldn’t feel comfortable teaching about it. However, I’ve made an offer to anyone in our forum where if they can find an expert on any subject that would benefit the community, I will be happy to pay that expert to create the content for us 🙂

  • martha says:

    Anton,
    Great read. Your course has positively affected so many people for the better. I bought it and am so looking forward to getting my first store up and running. Your desire to share your knowledge on drop shipping and helping others stands out. Can’t wait to see the revised 4.0 DSL. Congrats to you and your fiance. All the best in 2016.

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Thank you Martha! I am glad you enjoyed it. I look forward to tracking your progress in 2016. As always, if you have any questions while getting started you can always ask me, or just post on our forum for support from everyone in our amazing community 🙂

  • Ryan Hua says:

    Great year 🙂
    I’m from Saigon. I joined DSL in November, but my listening skill is little bad. I’m looking forward to DSL 4.0 with closed caption video training. Hope to meet you, my teacher in Saigon. I’ll join a English class to improve my English so i can chat with you haha. I’m going to try my best for my dropshipping business to have success. Thank you.

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hi Ryan,
      I love your country 🙂 and the subtitles are coming to the full course soon. If you check now you will see that closed captions have already been added to the full Shopify Video Course and to the Adwords PPC Course.
      Best of luck in your English classes. I am currently trying to learn Vietnamese via an app called Memrise (I’ve got a longggg way to go)…

  • Tomas says:

    Congrats on amazing year Anton !
    Thanks for what you do.
    I missed both retreats. Firts I just got started and the second me and my girlfried were expecting a baby girl.
    Well guess what.. I am not missing third one,we are flying in with whole family ?
    Thanks again

    • Anton Kraly says:

      I love it! Congrats on the family 🙂 I look forward to meeting you all later this year.

  • Anton Kraly says:

    Hey Jim,
    Thanks for the comment and the wishes.
    Obviously, I’d recommend getting back into it 🙂 DSL 4.0 is being launched within a couple of weeks (you will have access) and it includes all new trainings plus our new product selection software, our new Shopify Theme, and our new drop shipping app. This is the perfect time to start!

  • Jim says:

    Hey Anton,
    A good read and congrats to you and your team, and also for your engagement. It has been a big year for you. I bought your course for my wife in mid 2015 after following you for about a year. The wife went in another direction online, but reading this post has got me motivated to pull my finger out in 2016 and actually do something DSL wise. We have been living in Thailand for nearly a year now, and after visiting HCMC a few months back, we are now looking at moving over to Da Nang. Might be a good time for me to start. Anyways, thanks for the post Anton, and I wish you a bigger and better 2016. Cheers. Jim

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hey Jim,
      Thanks for the comment and the wishes.
      Obviously, I’d recommend getting back into it 🙂 DSL 4.0 is being launched within a couple of weeks (you will have access) and it includes all new trainings plus our new product selection software, our new Shopify Theme, and our new drop shipping app. This is the perfect time to start!

  • **congrats…i only can use one hand sorry for the typo..:)

  • Hi Anton,
    I just joined DSL just before it closed in December, and was a bit scared because I had no prior business knowledge… a short bit about my situation, had a major stroke in 2011 left handicapped. force retirement with only 500.00 bucks per month to live on.moved to southeast Asia(cheaper cost of living). invested in your course..so far I have learned much and no longer as scared as before about running a business…got a few suppliers, hunting for more. studying your teachings every day all day to become knowledge about everything…scheduled to launch February 15th. doing all the bits and pieces to ensure I launch with a bang!!!! I know I have alot to learn but your course has given me the courage along with the mindset to see it all through and be successful. Enjoyed reading your years wrap-up. ongrats on your engagement.Hope to report in the forum on my success. Thanks!..Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Welcome aboard Wayne! Sometimes starting from the bottom provides the necessary motivation to really take action and to make a business successful. I’ve seen this time and time again with our students.
      I wish you lots of success in 2016. As always, myself and my team are here to help… keep learning – but more importantly, keep taking action as you proceed through the course. I look forward to tracking your progress on our forum.
      and Happy New Year to you too!

  • Great read. Thanks for sharing your highlights and insights. Inspired me to want more and realise I can do have this life for me too.
    Hope 2016 is going to be awesome…..

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Thanks Joyleen. I am glad I could provide some inspiration for the New Year 🙂 I wish you nothing but success and happiness in 2016!

  • Flo says:

    Thank YOU Anton for what you do. Congrats for all the 2015 achievements and milestones!
    2015 was a great year for me too. One of the reasons is because I found the DSL community. I am grateful to be a part of it. I learned a lot from you and others in the forum to launch my own business. I also had a super great time at the 2015 retreat. Looking forward to meeting everyone in the 2016 retreat. I hope it’ll be in Hawaii or Mexico :). Flo

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hi Flo,
      Thanks for the message! I am happy to be a part of your great year 🙂
      and yep – the location for the 2016 retreat is TBD but after Michael starting talking about Hawaii and how we could all take a night time cruise to an active volcano where the lava goes into the ocean and turns into rock…. I started leaning towards that!
      I think I will send out a survey in a couple of months to see where everyone prefers though. Can’t wait!

  • Jon Warren says:

    Congrats on the engagement Anton. Wish you guys much happiness.

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Thank you Jon! It’s going to a busy year. One wedding in Vietnam then another in New York 😮

  • preston says:

    Great year recap! Awesome story

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! This post seems to be getting a lot of attention… I think I will write some more.

  • Jeff says:

    Congrats on everything you accomplished in 2015. I only “discovered” you and DSL in December so I’m a fresh follower. I can’t wait for DSL to reopen and hope to join your course!

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Thanks Jeff! 2015 was a great year and I’m excited to keep the momentum rolling into 2016 🙂 I will be posting updates on the blog so check back soon!

  • Mo says:

    Good read. What do you think of the shopify dropshipping apps that are coming out?

    • Anton Kraly says:

      The beta version is being released today and our new theme should be available to members by the end of the week 🙂

  • George says:

    Thank You Anton – I am indescribably grateful to be a part of DSL. I have learned how to start and run a business that does not require my full-time attention, allowing me time to pursue other things that are important to me. Not only is the course a complete business guide that I still regularly refer to, but being connected to the membership through the Forum is critical to learning and being successful. As you said, the Retreat was EPIC. I got to know 100 intelligent, warm, hard-working entrepreneurial adventurers who were a total inspiration for me. I can’t wait to see what new changes you have in mind for 2016.

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hi George,
      I really do appreciate the kind words and it was great meeting you in person at the Krabi retreat. And yes, I agree that our forum is the ultimate tool for helping people find success. We are working to make it even bigger and better this year.
      We haven’t picked the exact location for the DSL Retreat 2016 yet but the planning will begin soon. I hope to see you there!

  • george atanas petrov says:

    I really wanted to sign up for your course but did not have a chance to do so and now is closed. I wanted to know when it will be open again and if I have a chance to sign up again with the payment plan that you had offered before.

    • Anton Kraly says:

      Hi George,
      We will be open again by the end of January! Pricing is TBD. We are getting close to the finish line now. Our new app goes into beta today 🙂

  • OmegaXone says:

    How do i start sir.

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