Abdul-Qawiyy Hammed used to live on a $41-per- month allowance from his parents. He got started in e-commerce, in 2015, with a burning desire for a better life. He had zero experience and no guidance, repeatedly going through the cycle of losing, almost quitting and starting again. In November 2019, he made US$1.19 million in sales.
I recently sat down with Abdul-Qawiyy for an exclusive interview to discuss his journey into e-commerce, the rules of the trade and his vision for the future of his brands
Can you share a bit about your background and how you got into e-commerce?
I started freelancing at the age of 16. My early work was focused on using direct- response marketing, copy writing and ethical persuasion skills to make 3d explainer videos for marketing clients. Things were going alright for me, until The Great Purge happened.
PayPal and Stripe made some changes to their payment policies, which meant Nigerians could no longer receive money from outside the country. Many Nigerians-including myself- were removed from major freelancing networks. I found myself suddenly left with no source of income. I had to depend on my parents for stipends, and they gave me $41 to live on every month.
The Day Everything Changed
One day, I was in the middle of my routine search for money making opportunities on the internet. I stumbled upon an ad by Jason Stone (@millionaire_mentor on Instagram).
In this ad, Jason was sitting on the hood of a Lamborghini, parked in front of a penthouse. He was wearing a black tee and shorts. The ad read;
“Ready to live your dream life? Free from the 9-5 hustle and travel the world?”The Ad that Transformed Abdul-Qawiyy’s life
I was immediately charged up. He was offering a life beyond just managing to get by, and that was exactly what I had been searching for.
I signed up for his 1-hour webinar. At the end of the session, he made an offer to anyone interested in pushing the dream. The price tag was $297, and I paid without thinking twice.
My background in Marketing and Direct response Advertising helped me to understand the Principles of Sales. I have been doing business for six years now, and it has been on a total roller coaster of emotions.
How did you scale your business to become profitable over the years?
I knew what I wanted to do, and I realized I had to put systems in place to achieve it.
My background in Advertising made it easy for me to transition into e-commerce.
I read a book called“The E-Myth Revisited” by Micheal .E. Gerber. Gerber says, you need to work more on your business, than in it- if you want to scale to 6,7 or even 10 figures.Abdul-Qawiyy Hammed on Growing and Scaling your Brand
In time, I realized I could be more productive if I did not try to do everything myself. So, I decided to recruit a team.
Right now, I have a team composed of Facebook ads experts and media influencer agents. We use a multi-channel marketing structure so even if our Facebook is down, we can rely on Google and influencer marketing to push products.
We have built a solid customer database by offering incentives to past customers and recruiting them as brand awareness creators. They post pictures with our products, and we drive traffic to this user generated content.
How do you find and keep customers?
There are three elements that drive successful e-comm; the triangle of The Product, The Offer and The Audience.
For my brand products, we use every platform that humans converge on. In recent times, Tik Tok is serving as one of our biggest sources of traffic. We hire influencers to do unboxing reviews and videos, where they show our products and talk about their benefits. This is a great way to generate traffic for us.
in all our content, we apply direct response principles learnt from Gary Halbert, David Oglivy, Gene Schwartz and several other marketing legends. The best part about it is we have built a huge customer lifetime value, with a high number of recurring purchases.
That, I believe, is the soul of business.
What are your plans for the future of your business in terms of figures and clientele ?
I plan to scale my brands beyond the $50 million or even $75 million mark. We will grow into a multi-million dollar ecommerce empire-in the range of hundreds of millions- and become a household name. My final move is to sell the business and retire in my 30s.
Right now, we have diversified into coaching and we assist other business owners with building their own brands. It has been really exciting to help other people get results.
What are your main challenges as a business owner and how do you overcome them?
As a Nigerian, I did not access to payment gateways when I opened my first store. I partnered with someone from an eligible country. In our first week of doing business, we made more than €1,000. Then, he suddenly disappeared and went off with all the money we both worked for.
In the e-commerce industry, many people call themselves “ecommerce gurus” and “mentors” just to rip people off. They collect huge amounts from people who are desperate to learn, then they just bail on you.
Another major challenge came when I had to register my business offshore. I did not have much information to go on, so I registered in a US state of my choice. Subsequently, I discovered this state had extremely high tax rates. I could not afford this expense and it ate really deep into my profit margin.
As time goes by, I keep learning several lessons from all of these problems. Being Nigerian- in itself- is a challenge. Because of where I come from, I had an extra set of restrictions and obstacles. Therefore, it was not an easy ride. However, tough times don’t last.
Only tough people do.
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