A savvy teenager has detailed how she went from a ‘broke’ McDonald’s employee to a six-figure salary in just two years.
Olivia Percoco from Melbourne has always dreamed of living a life of luxury.
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But the high schooler – who made $11 an hour – knew she had to find a sustainable way to boost her bank account.
When Australia was plunged into a COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, the 16-year-old taught herself how to start a ‘dropshipping’ business – a modern method that allows people to sell items on behalf of suppliers for a profit.
As Olivia was spending more time at home than before, she started her own e-commerce business on eBay after seeing huge demand for popular household items during the height of the global pandemic.
“It’s so surreal that at the age of 18 I started a business that generated over $500,000 in sales for me,” Olivia told 7Life.
“There is no way Olivia, 15, working at McDonald’s, would have thought she would be able to achieve something so big in such a short time.”
Before starting her gainful activity, the teenager started working at the age of 15.
“As soon as I was allowed to find a job, I did,” she says.
“I’ve always been hugely motivated by money, so when I was 15, I started working at McDonald’s.
“But I wasn’t very happy working there.
live pay to pay
“I was slowly losing my motivation after seeing my payslip at the end of the week after working five days a week, which included weekends and after school.”
As she lived at home, Olivia said her parents helped her financially with “most things”.
But if she wanted to afford designer handbags and extravagant vacations, she had to raise her own money.
“I always dreamed of living a life of luxury, but I knew I had to work hard to achieve it,” she says.
“At $11 an hour, I wasn’t going to get there very quickly, considering I couldn’t even afford a nice pair of shoes after I got my pay stub.
“So I had to come up with something new.”
With her working hours reduced and her teachers offering online lessons due to coronavirus restrictions, Olivia decided to use her time to “find ways” to “earn money from home”.
“That’s when I discovered e-commerce. Working from home while running my own online retail business? It sounded too good to be true,” she said.
“E-commerce basically means online retail. These are transactions carried out via the Internet.
“The e-commerce model I practice is called dropshipping, which is where you find products from suppliers and list them on eBay.
“Customers will buy it from my eBay store and then I would have it shipped directly from supplier to customer without ever touching inventory.”
Dropshipping is legal in Australia as long as online retailers follow Australian consumer law.
Like any business or employee of an organization, dropshipping sellers must pay taxes on everything they sell.
In addition to income tax, vendors are required to pay GST.
“I pay taxes like any business operating in Australia,” says Olivia.
“Not only do I pay taxes based on the tax bracket I’m in, but I’ve also made sure my business is registered for GST as I sell goods online.
“So yeah, even though people like to assume I don’t pay my taxes, or even think you don’t need to pay taxes when you dropship…you actually do.”
As the “middleman” in the sales process, Olivia says her role is to find the right product which “requires a lot of trial and error.”
“What I usually do when it comes to product research is order the product from me,” she says.
“I do this so I can test the quality of the product so I know my customers will receive quality items from my supplier, and I can take pictures of the product to list on my eBay store.
“If the product sells well, I will leave it in my store.
“If, however, it didn’t make sales, I’ll delete it from my store and try again with a new one.
“The advantage of using eBay as a sales platform is that you can list up to 40 different products at once, which means you can test as many different products at the same time.”
“Sales are skyrocketing”
Just months after launching her side business, Olivia began saving “every penny” she earned at McDonald’s so she could take an online course to learn more about the business model.
“I wanted to expand my knowledge and improve my business because I only made $100 profit in total,” she says.
“The course was definitely helpful and my sales started to skyrocket.
“The COVID lockdown certainly contributed to the increase in sales as people were not leaving their homes and resorting to shopping online.
“Unfortunately, this also meant that many of my suppliers had inventory issues, which meant that I had to scrap a lot of the products I was selling and source new ones.”
His best-selling item is the Starbucks coffee machine.
“It was one of the first products I started selling – and it’s still my most popular,” she says.
Like any start-up, Olivia says she faced many “challenges and hurdles along the way.”
“The biggest challenge I faced was learning the dropshipping process and putting the things I learned into practice,” she says.
“I found it all quite overwhelming and I wasn’t necessarily ‘tech savvy’, which was a minor inconvenience considering it was all done on a computer.
“I felt like I wasn’t getting very far in my progress after nine weeks of trying to learn how everything worked, and there wasn’t a lot of free information on the internet.
“But my limited resources were not going to hold me back.”
When her business took off, she was able to quit her job at Macca after making over $50,000 in sales in a single month.
Olivia says her business has given her financial freedom.
“E-commerce has completely changed my life. I can live the life I always dreamed of,” says Olivia.
The biggest advantage
“Not only can I afford things I’ve wanted since I was young, but I have such a flexible work schedule that allows me to spend more time doing the things I love, like traveling.
“That’s the biggest advantage of owning your own business and working online, being able to work wherever you are in the world.
“Not only do I have the ability to travel, but I have also moved into one of Melbourne’s newest and most luxurious apartment complexes.”
For those looking to pursue a career in dropshipping, Olivia offered three things she learned about starting a business.
“First, ignore people who tell you that e-commerce is oversaturated,” she says.
“There are 7.8 billion people in this world, each with different wants and needs – all you have to do is find a product that isn’t oversaturated.
“Second, eBay dropshipping is risk-free.
“If you want to start your own business but are worried about losing thousands of dollars, eBay dropshipping is your safest option.
“Finally, every business you start, no matter what, will face challenges, and sometimes even failures. Don’t let that put you off.
She adds, “If you’re having difficulty, whether it’s motivation, finding products, or starting your business in general, reach out to the right people to help you.”
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