Why I Started A School

January 21, 2014

General, Motivation, Stories

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A year ago I got an email from a reader asking me how to get into the appliance business. I ended up coaching him for an hour, and 10 months later he’s made more money buying, selling and repairing appliances than at any job he’s ever had. After that, I went on to coach dozens of incredible people all over the country. The coaching was very successful, but I wanted to make the learning process even better. So, I started an appliance school.

Here’s 10 reasons why I started ApplianceSchool:

10. We’re confident in the future of the appliance business. The used appliance business will not be easily automated. A feature story in the Economist this week talked about how 47% of the world’s jobs would be automated over the next two decades. Those are sobering numbers, but I’m not convinced blue collar skilled work will disappear. Couple that with the fact that appliances are considered a necessity by most people and I’m not too worried. Finally, I think the world economy is moving in a direction where people will more often be forced to repair things and more often buy things used. The days of wild spending and a care-free, throw-it-away mindset are coming to an end. Consumers are being forced to operate under tighter budgets and they’re looking to save money any way they can.

9. To structure the learning materials. The course was produced to take someone from their first step into the business all the way to earning a good living. We packaged the material in a structured way to make sure everything is covered in the appropriate order. From finding your first machine to hiring employees, the whole spectrum is covered.

8. To save time. I love one-on-one coaching and consulting and I get energized teaching things that I’m passionate about. But after teaching the same things over and over, I realized it was not the best use of time. Many of the subjects did not require live coaching. So, I decided to take everything I was teaching in the coaching sessions and put it into a course, along with instructional videos and other resources. The result is a more thorough treatment of the training material and an environment where the members can learn at their own pace.

 

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7. To give people an opportunity to learn. For a long time, the used appliance industry has been filled by family-run operations. After one generation retired, they passed the business onto the next generation. This has created a closed-off atmosphere for people wanting to get into the business. Add to that a massive decline in apprenticeships and you end up with few ways for someone to learn the business. ApplianceSchool, with the help of the internet, is in the process of changing that. We can now be teaching someone the trade in Seattle, Boston, San Diego, and Dallas at the same time. Our goal was to help people from small towns to large cities break into a business that has long been inaccessible.

6. To help people succeed. I’ve always been an advocate of the entrepreneur, encouraging people to start their own businesses. Many times I have been challenged by people asking what I’m doing to make a difference. You were able to teach yourself the business, but not everyone is like you, they said. At some point I realized that a true gauge of success was not how many people I encouraged to start the entrepreneurial journey, but how many I could actually help succeed.

With that in my mind, I’ve held nothing back. The big and little things that have helped me sell thousands of appliances over the years are in the course.

5. To create a supportive community. When I was learning the trade it was a long, hard, lonely journey of learning things by scavenging the internet for answers every time I couldn’t figure out a problem. The problems I was facing were not new, I simply needed someone that had been down the road before me to set me straight.

Many entrepreneurs find themselves in lonely environments as they are forced to learn things by themselves. That doesn’t need to be the case. Some of the strongest communities are built around places of learning, and that was my goal when creating the ApplianceSchool discussion forum. It’s a place where members can ask questions, share tips, discuss problems, and support one another along the same journey.

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4. I’m not worried about competition.
I am often asked if I’m worried about creating competition in the used appliance space. The short answer is no. There is a huge demand for used appliances and it’s increasing. There are 19,355 cities in the United States. There is room for many more appliance businesses in each of those cities. One of the ways I encourage people who are getting into the business to separate themselves from their competition is by offering a better product at a lower price. This can be done by keeping costs low from the beginning, especially when working from home, and utilizing resources you already have.

3. We want to encourage young people to look towards the trades. Two of our most successful ApplianceSchool members are high school students. They love business, so they are starting one, and it has been going very well for them. I would be happy as a clam if I could convince more high school students to invest their time into creating a very profitable business rather than spending their time and money on video games. One of my biggest regrets is spending my time so unproductively in my childhood.

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(Source: John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University)

2. College isn’t for everyone. More people are realizing that a college degree doesn’t necessarily provide a livable wage job anymore. On average, college graduates are leaving school with 28k in student loans. That’s unsustainable and people are starting to realize it. I think there is going to be a big push in the coming years for job-specific, post-high school education that focuses on the knowledge and skills necessary for a particular job. How many people would relish spending only $250 to learn the appliance trade instead of $25,000 or more on an education that often leaves them unemployed afterward? We are seeing it enough that we’re convinced that things are changing.

1. To encourage people to enjoy their work. I once had a job working for a lumber mill. I remember standing there for 8-10 hours a day turning sheets, making plywood. I did the same thing minute after minute, all day long. I had to focus just enough on my repetitive task that it was impossible to dream. I felt like part of me was dying. I wanted to start my own business and use my creativity to solve problems that utilized my unique gifts and skills. Working for other people isn’t a bad thing, and there are times we have to work a job we don’t like — but whatever you do, don’t stop pursuing work you enjoy. Seek out work that you are excited about, that challenges you. We will spend over 1/3 of our lives working, so choose your work wisely. Remember, we don’t live to work, but we work so that we can live.

I know there are a lot of people that would excel in the appliance business. It’s never too early, or late in life to start. I hope that ApplianceSchool will be the impetus towards a life of fulfilling work for many people.

You can learn the appliance trade if you want to. You will succeed if you are willing to work hard and keep learning. Check out the site at applianceschool.com

Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything I can help with, or barriers I can help overcome.

-Ryan

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6 Responses to “Why I Started A School”

  1. Aleks Says:

    Aha! I was wondering when you would start something like this, even when I was new to your blog I knew it seemed like a perfect thing for you to start up. As one of the CL sellers who are hopeful of developing their hobby into a full-fledged business, I’m very grateful for all your advice. Even though I’m not in the appliance game and I’ve been messing around with CL for years before finding your site, you keep teaching me new tips and tricks with every new post. Thanks!

    Now for a question… would you recommend investing in this course only for those interested in an appliance business? I plan to continue selling in my market niche (bikes & motorsports), but there is so much more for me to learn and there aren’t really any guides out there that are specific to one area of selling. Would you instead recommend your hourly coaching sessions?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      For now, I would probably just recommend those that are going into the appliance business to buy the course. There are a lot of crossover principals, but I would wait until we produce a general buying/selling course or one specifically geared towards bikes.

      I’m still offering the hourly coaching for other the other niches. Shoot me an email at ryan@recraigslist.com if you have any other coaching questions. Thanks!

      Reply

  2. Mike Greig Says:

    That bit about the lumber mill struck a chord with me. I’ve done my share of mindless jobs (including working the “green chain” at a lumber mill) and now drive truck for a living. I’m looking forward to getting inside your forums and bring part of the community.

    Reply

  3. Crystal Ross Says:

    Hi Ryan! Your blog is awesome and I love that you make your living on Craigslist. I sold all my furniture and a bunch of stuff in the last two months on craigslist. I also sell stuff on eBay and books on Amazon. I love it and you get to be your own boss. What is better then that? =)

    Crystal Ross

    Reply

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