It was one that was much more mobile and could carry it to the far corners of the world. Months later, consequentially, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s net worth skyrocketed 68 percent.
It’s probably safe to say that had it not been for the seemingly random brush of contact between humans and wildlife that led to a worldwide pandemic and lockdown and the subsequent e-commerce boom, Bezos wouldn’t have been able to grow his wealth so quickly.
He may have already been on that path and it was only a matter of time before he’d get there. But the coronavirus pandemic sure expedited the process.
This raises the question: What’s Lady Luck’s role in entrepreneurship? Does it determine the success or is it more of a catalyst?
In this article, we’ll look at three case studies to explore if and how good fortune affects success.
Picked up by Local News
While many stores struggled to stay afloat during the coronavirus, Australian teenagers Lachlan and Taylor were able to start and drive a store to success – while under lockdown. Both have had entrepreneurial ambitions for a while and even their fair share of e-commerce failures.
When COVID-19 hit, they had an inkling.
“I knew when the coronavirus hit, there was going to be a lot of opportunities coming, and we were trying to pick where it’s going to be,” said Taylor. Their hunch proved right.
After validating their product idea, the duo launched their store, which was in the toys and hobbies category. It was a success right from the start and they made $1400 on their very first day. Their biggest turning point, however, came when their local news featured the product.
Having caught wind of this before the broadcast, the duo was able to pivot its ad strategy to target the channel’s viewers and capitalize on it. The young entrepreneurs ended up making $70,000 in sales in just one month.
Featured in a Rapper’s Music Video
Entrepreneur Suhail Nurmohamed started making money online at the tender age of 16. After years of mistakes, failures, as well as relatively successful hustles, he eventually decided to start an online men’s fashion store using the dropshipping model.
Looking for a low-cost way to promote his brand, Suhail turned to influencer marketing. And it worked.
“I was literally in school, I would be in class, and I would have £1,000 days in class,” said Suhail. It even led to an unexpected celebrity feature.
American rapper Jeezy reached out on Instagram about one of his products. And as part of his customer service strategy, Suhail responded immediately, kindly, and helpfully.
What followed was a viral Facebook post and memes and soaring sales. “He literally just messaged me about a couple weeks later, or a month later, sent me the YouTube link and said, ‘This is the music shoot, the music video,’” said Suhail.
“He’s got like four million followers. They had a music video, and the guy wearing the clothing was the main actor in it. So that jacket got me so many sales.” In just 18 months, Suhail’s store generated £112,000 in sales.
Chanced Upon an Early Monopoly
These tipping points don’t have to necessarily come in the form of serendipitous promotions. Sometimes, it’s about being in the right place – or on the right page – at the right time. Merchant Tze Hing Chan had an insider’s advantage with his winning product: boba plush toys.
Knowing that the boba drink, also commonly known as bubble tea, was extremely popular within Asian communities and countries, Tze knew that its plush toys would be a winner.
Despite combing through AliExpress religiously, he found no trace of the product – until one day.
“I came across that bubble tea plush. And as soon as I saw it, I knew it was gonna work because I was already looking for bubble tea plushes before this, and that was a few days ago,” said Tze. Fully aware of what the find meant and the product’s potential, Tze jumped at the chance immediately. “I saw it, immediately imported it, and just started running ads, and it just took off from there.”
The early detection meant that Tze’s store, Subtle Asian Treats, had a complete market monopoly at least for a while, which helped him make $7,500 in revenue in just the first two weeks.
That is the paradox of the epidemic: that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first. – Malcolm Gladwell. There’s no denying that these merchants had an external push.
Without the local news and rapper featuring their products, Lachlan and Taylor and Suhail may not have achieved the revenue in the time they did it in. But that’s not to say that they weren’t going to get there anyway.
After all, their groundwork had already been laid and they were already seeing early signs of success. And had it not been for their past experiences (failures included) with e-commerce and marketing knowledge, which they learned from and applied to their stores, these opportunities may not even have presented themselves.
In Tze’s case, it was his understanding of his target audience and their culture, and keeping his eyes peeled for opportunities that granted him a market monopoly. A stroke of luck does help. But such opportunities only appear if the legwork has been done to cultivate the right conditions.
Beyond that, the right acumen and judgment are also needed to be able to take full advantage of them, and all this comes from having tried, failed, and above all, persevered.