Still Earning My Living on Craigslist: 2013 in Review

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pohiki
I was really discouraged the other day as I looked out before me and could see nothing but obstacles. It’s easy for me to focus on the things that need to be worked on and lose sight of the growth and improvements that have recently taken place. So I started reflecting on this past year to remind myself about the progress that has been made.

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My Family is Growing

Balancing work and home life was one of my goals for this past year, and I didn’t do a very good job at it. Working from home creates some unique challenges as you are always tempted to work. I need to be able to disconnect from work on my days off, and it’s going to take some more work and possibly hiring another person to pull that off. So that’s on my list of things to accomplish this next year.

We are continuing to homeschool our children, which is going very well. My wife does an incredible job.

We have 3 boys that are 8, 7, and almost 5, and our little girl who is now 3. And….we are going to have another baby at the beginning of the summer! #5! We love children, and our kids bring us an enormous amount of happiness. So we are having another one.

Expanded the Appliance Business

The biggest thing to happen to the business this past year was bringing on a partner. When I first started this business I wanted to create it in such a way that it could operate without me. To do that you need to be bring on people to help do the work and you need someone to manage things. I chose to pursue a partner to split the business with rather than trying to just hire employees and managers. I wanted someone with heavily vested interests in the business who was capable of handling all aspects of the business.

I found that in Peter. I took a pay cut on the first day that he started as we didn’t double production and sales overnight. Slowly over a number of months we increased sales to bring the profit back up to about where it was before he joined. I tend to focus on my personal income, when the reality is the business doubled sales year over year. That is significant progress and I have needed to remind myself of that.

Then we hired another full time employee. That brought the profits down a bit for a while as we again had to increase sales to match the increase of expenses. I would gladly take a temporary pay cut and be able to spread the workload around more knowing that eventually the income will increase once adjustments are made to the new size of the business. I look forward to much more growth in 2014.

Got out of debt

This past year I wrote about my goal of getting out of debt. I’m happy to report that after aggressively paying it down, and taking some unusual steps (selling our only vehicle to the business) we are now out of debt. (outside of our mortgage, which is in a good place as well) This was a significant milestone for us. Now that we are out of debt, I look forward to investing more this next year.

Adopted a cat named Wilson

While I was checking the free section one day this past year, I came across an ad for a free cat. When I saw the picture of him in the ad (see above picture) I was convinced that he was an incredible cat. So I immediately contacted the owner and said that we would be willing to drive up and adopt the cat that day. The woman couldn’t care for him any longer because of some life changes and I promised her that we would give him the best home she could imagine.

Since that day I’ve had a friend with me at all times when I’m at home. He actually follows me around everywhere, even to the shower where he will sit on the edge of the tub while I shower. When I’m in the office he sleeps behind me on the leather couch in a cozy little dog bed.

Wilson was a great addition in 2013 and has made an excellent companion.

Built an office

This past month or so I built an office in our garage. I framed in new walls, vaulted the ceiling, added a window, cadet heater and thermostat, as well as all new electrical. It will also have a twin sized loft bed in when it’s fully completed.

We needed to convert the bedroom I was using as an office back into a bedroom to accommodate our growing family. Plus building the office out in the garage will allow more focus and separation when I’m trying to work during the day.

Coaching/Consulting

Earlier in the year I was wrestling with how to make the blog at least pay for itself and whether or not to write a book, or try advertising. I was stuck. So I reached out to Penelope Trunk for advice. In literally two minutes she dissected my current plan, and convinced me to put more efforts into coaching people one on one. (As an aside, Penelope is an incredibly gifted career coach. You can check out her site at penelopetrunk.com)

The coaching went very well and I was given the privilege to meet and teach folks from all over the country, and a few outside the US. I spent the majority of the time teaching about the appliance business, as well as a few other niche product markets.

My latest project

After teaching the same thing over and over I realized that I wanted to make the training process more efficient and complete. I was teaching the same things over and over and knew that there had to be a better way of helping people reach their goals. So I decided to write an entire course that goes through every step of starting and operating a profitable appliance business. With the help of a friend of mine, we’ve put the course along with training videos, a forum and a handful of other resources up on a private membership site that we are going to be publicly launching this month. My goal was to not only teach people about the business, but to create a vibrant community at the same time to connect those heading down the same path.

I’m really excited about it and will be writing more about the project soon. If you would like more information before we officially launch, email me.

surfing
We are going to Hawaii for a month

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you know that the Big Island of Hawaii has a special place in our family’s heart. We love the people, the warm weather, the surfing and have many dear friends out there we love spending time with. So all six of us are headed to Hawaii for a month! I will try to record the stares that our family will receive as the six of us walk through the airport and board our plane. To top if off, my wife is pregnant and is beginning to show!

It is a vacation, but I will be working part of the time. The kids will be doing some schooling out there as well.

This has been a great year and I feel very blessed. When I view all of these areas of my life as investments, I’m starting to see returns for my time and labor. That is a sweet feeling. This site continues to grow and I continue to enjoy writing as well as the interaction with many of you.

I hope you are all doing well and that 2014 is a great year for each of you.

-Ryan

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From Oregon now live in Hawaii. Father of 5 beautiful children and married to an amazing wife. I love to buy and sell things and add as much value as I can in between. I also love helping people as I have been the recipient of much help myself.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I continue to find this blog to be an inspiration! Congrats on yet another year at home!

    I hear you on the work/life balance. I really struggle with that myself, and even more so this year, when I feel like I only have a few months to actually work until my next two kids are born.

    I’m hoping I get enough saved up in the next 10 weeks to be able to take a ‘maternity leave’ and be there for the wife and kids. We’ll see.

    Enjoy Hawaii!

  2. Awesome to hear you identifying your struggles and focusing on eliminating them for a more superior balance in your work and personal life. Few people do that sort of thing, and you can see how it pays off! I’m still single so I can’t really visualize my role in a family as of yet, but I can imagine it must be a consuming yet pleasurable aspect in your life. I understand balance in a different way though. Since I still go to school while working part-time, it’s definitely hard to try to manage everything equally. Very often I can’t, and have to view my CL-selling as a “side hobby”. On one hand, I understand finishing school is a priority, but I enjoy the whole CL thing so much that I often have dreams about taking it further. I’ve had great success thus far. Just need to find out what the next step is…

    On a side note, one of my co-workers got married in Hawaii a few months ago and was telling me everything about it. You sure picked a sweet spot for vacations!

    • Thanks Alexs. You never know what your CL buying/selling venture will turn into. Just keep working hard and you will be very successful.

      I have been saving vacations for the winter when it’s cold, wet and gloomy so we can get some much needed sun and warmth. The tickets are also at the lowest price of the year around now. Can’t wait!

  3. Been loving buying/selling since I found this blog in September. Way to go! My wife just ranted about my work/life balance last night, i’m doing better, but have a long ways to go!

    I’m with Aleks above, i’m almost done with my CPA, but i’m so sick of accounting I’m ready to do something fun like CL full time.

    • Thanks Tom. I think we will struggle with balancing the important things in our lives as long as we are breathing 🙂

      If you keep working at buying/selling on CL part time, don’t be surprised if it goes well enough to turn it into a full time gig!

  4. Reading this on the lanai (balcony) of our rented condo on the Big Island…great place to be! You’ll have a blast,. Congratulations on the new little one.

  5. Ryan, I want to say thank you to you and your effort to make this blog is an incredible blog.I live in new york city area,and right now starting buying and selling in the electronic section.Because i’m just started,so i can’t hoping a big money soon,but i’m really enjoy doing this since i was in junior high school,so i hope your contribution to all of us will be continued.Thank you!

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