Yosef Martin founded the fast-growing Merchandize Liquidators in his one-bedroom condo in 2003 with nothing but $375--and these three pieces of advice.
When I was an international student working toward my BA, I took a risk and jumped into the closeouts market. I founded Merchandize Liquidators in 2003, working with high-end department stores and manufacturers to buy their overstock and damaged goods, and then selling them in secondary markets. I set out to solve the small profit margin problem that retailers faced when buying from traditional wholesalers.
Merchandize Liquidators consistently ranks as one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation. I credit this success to my willingness to diversify the business and sell in every logical category--and by only hiring salespeople who have a passion for the business and know how to be legitimate team players. Without these three pieces of advice, however, I'm not sure where I'd be.
1. Create new opportunities.
For a business to really succeed, you need to create something out of nothing. McDonald's didn't invent the burger, but it did bring convenience and affordability to the restaurant industry. When I launched Merchandize Liquidators, I had $375 to my name. My mission was to create substantial buying power in a market where there really wasn't any.
Once I was able to achieve prices that were far more affordable than those of my competitors, I saw the business take off. I got smart about diversifying and taking overstocked goods that others weren't interested in. Then, I created something called the Bank Program, which gives wholesale buyers three months to pay off the merchandise they're buying from us. There's a minimum buy-in of $250,000, which lowers the risk, and it gives us a huge edge over our competitors, who only work with upfront payments. I implemented a solution that changed the industry--and created an opportunity for myself.
2. Learn to delegate.
Your business is only as good as your employees. Yes, it's a big challenge to delegate to and train employees properly, but it's a short-term goal with endless rewards. The role of a company founder is not to handle every tiny task, but rather to make something out of nothing and hire a competent and passionate team to then carry the vision forward.
There's really no task too large or small that I wouldn't consider delegating to a trusted team member. If someone on staff can do something better than I can, it makes sense to hand over the challenge. That being said, I only delegate what's critical, because I need to play an active role in Merchandize Liquidators in order to anticipate its evolution. Before I delegate, I weigh the time it will take to train for the task versus tackling it myself, analyze the skillset of myself and my teammates, and take a close look at the task itself. It's not hard to see what's best in each scenario.
3. Be willing to fail.
Entrepreneurs are not very different from elite athletes. Can a gymnast avoid risks and still excel? Not a chance. The same is true in business: no guts, no glory. I never anticipate failure, but I don't fear it either. It only makes us smarter. Just like you have to accept that you're not always right, you have to make friends with failure.
The great thing is that you can fail multiple times, but you only have to "make it" once. I once walked into my warehouse and found it completely flooded, but I had no insurance and no profits to cover the losses. Half the merchandise was lost. But half was not. I then experienced a surge of adrenaline and motivation, and the incident inspired me to restructure the business and sell the remaining goods in more creative ways. The mistake made my business stronger.
I still employ these tactics today, which really were born out of failure. I believe in making lemonade, in never ending on a negative note. Failure is not an ending, but a beginning.
Yosef Martin founded Merchandize Liquidators. In 2010 and 2011, Inc. named it one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation. The company has experienced 732 percent growth over the pase three years.