Opening my office in China.

So I guess a lot of you have been wondering where I have been? More than likely you could not care less but at least my mum has asked me a few times this month what on earth I have been doing.

I hope these next two blog posts will get you up to speed.

Firstly I have to say thank you to everyone out there that has supported me and believed in me enough to send me their hard earned cash all the way to China, to a guy they have never met, on the trust that I would send them the goods they ordered. I have experienced growing pains and made some mistakes but you have stuck with me and together we have looked at the bigger picture. I really mean it when I say that I wholeheartedly appreciate your business and I hope I too can support your businesses as we grow together.

Sorry, that sounds a bit intense but I’m serious, Thank you.

Let’s start right at the beginning, My first apartment in China and the “Dining table” office. Like many foreigners here working in foreign trade I started off working from a serviced apartment which was used as a base when not visiting markets and factories. From here and the shoddily built Chinese glass dining table I did my first deals, wrote my first blog posts and drank my first Chinese rice wine. The latter of which I can say won’t be happening again. My first orders were packed on what seems to be a necessity in any Chinese apartment – the L shaped corner sofa and my “stock” was kept in the hallway.

This is probably the kind of set up a lot of you eBay traders are more than familiar with, the only difference being while my aircon is on your heating is on. During this time I had my first full time Chinese assistant working with me. She was essential in helping me get the day to day “life” tasks out of the way, helping me get used to things on the ground here and showing me the places to start sourcing goods. It has to be said that without an assistant things would simply be impossible here, hardly anyone speaks English and the way everything operates here is completely backwards by western standards.

As I started to get me feet on the ground a bit and became familiar with the locations I was spending the most time in I decided to move to a different apartment close to these areas with an office a couple of bedrooms I could use for stock and space for some staff in the future. It became apparent that a large apartment like this in China is very expensive, much more so than in the UK. Much to the annoyance of the local letting agent I viewed about 30 apartments from entry level 1 bedroom suites at 500 GBP per month to duplex penthouses at 3800 GBP per month – well I was a bit curious.

I settled on a place close to the main electronics and clothing markets with 3 bedrooms for 1100 GBP per month. Having to pay 600 GBP commission to the agent and 3 months deposit made me feel very very ill inside. Yes this is a lot of money, I was blown away how much apartments cost here but like everything in China there is no middle ground. The price is either very low and below western standards or high for that “Imported” lifestyle. As I knew I was living, working and storing stock here I could just about justify it to myself.

This apartment evolved into a pretty dynamic workspace with me using one bedroom as my office, one for storing expensive stock (Less expensive stock was kept in a small warehouse), one bedroom was for me to sleep in and the large 70m2 living room was used as the main office space for 2 staff. The living room was the main draw for this apartment as I new I wanted an open workspace where I could work with the staff and keep an eye on what they were doing. Yes YouTube is banned in China but they have plenty of their own time wasting websites here.

Those of you who have been working with me for a few months now will be familiar with the fact I worked from about 8 am till 4 am every day. This was possible because I was either in factories replying on my iPad or living 5 meters from my office. The space is great and it has an awesome view of the famous Pearl River.

I got things really cranked up in this apartment and at its “Peak” housed me and 3 staff with orders being collected daily by our local delivery driver who sent my goods to Hong Kong for them to be shipped on by FedEx to their destinations worldwide. This is where I honed in my carton packing skills.

The security staff at the apartment were getting pretty annoyed having to escort delivery boys in and out of the compound so it was looking like time to move into a dedicated office and warehouse.

Next came the complicated decision of what step to take next. It does look like I will be in China for the foreseeable future. Business is moving along nicely and I love being in a country where I feel like I am at the bare bones of what is happening. With this in mind I feel a little more comfortable entering long leases and committing to things that I would not have felt happy with a few months ago. I visited a lot of office buildings and decided to go with a newly built complex about 3 minutes walk from my house. The deciding factors being that it’s new and 3 minutes walk from my house…. I signed up and started moving in about 4 weeks ago. We are just about settled in now.

Next was buying all the necessities for the new office from things like Desks to Bonsai trees. Luckily for me I am in the cheapest place in the world for things like this. Even with this in mind though I could not help implementing some of the cost saving measures that have become hard wired into me over the past 10 years of being in business. Things like buying the office computers. For 6 new desktops PC’s even here in China I am looking at 600 GBP per unit. From my experience of buying the assets of bankrupt companies I know that ex lease PC’s from closed down offices go for next to nothing so I tracked down a dealer specialising in computers from offices that have closed up shop. This was an interesting experience wandering around a warehouse stacked high with desktop PC’s. This saved me about 3000 quid though so I was happy to do so.

I also got to buy some things that I never thought I would need but even though I am far from a high roller here they are a basic requirement of an office in China. Firstly a safe and a money counting machine, I need these because I pay a lot of our factories in Cash as a purchase price levering method. With the largest value note in China being the 100 RMB note (which is roughly 10 GBP) and my average factory purchase being around 5000-10000 GBP that’s a lot of notes to count. I run everything through this neat little desktop counting machine that chats away to me in Chinese while I insert notes into his mouth. I like to think that we have a good working relationship

Then onto the more mundane stuff like an office water cooler tower. I feel like I am on a movie every time I head over to get a cup of water. The Chinese here tend to like drinking hot water as its “Good for health” so the cooling tower also has a water heater tap for dispensing boiling water for my health conscious staff. I actually had a girl working for me that was shocked that I drink chilled water claiming that it would make me ill. I live in fear to this day.

I also bought some standard issue Chinese office goods like a Bonsai tree, Money Tree and a tropical Fish tank – all of which my assistant tell me will attract wealth – got to be worth a go then? Other novelty things like multiple time zone clocks for the main countries I export to are things that should not get me excited but strangely do. Buying artwork for the walls was hard work, I only found one shop selling western artwork and ended up with some rather cool but cliché office building skyline pictures. They only had 3 so the rest of the office is still pretty bare.

Like everything in China all the elements of the new office that I could not physically do myself took a long time. I cant really put it into words here but everything is so backwards here. It makes no sense and maybe I will never understand it. Over 2 weeks to get the internet to work for instance, in the end I had to install all the cable lines and pc outlets myself but we still lost nearly 3 weeks of work time. Still, we are in now and with some new systems in place I am hoping my modest operation will continue to evolve in this organic fashion.

So there we go. From my home office in England to a dining table in a Chinese serviced apartment to our new office building situated in the heart of the main trading area of China. All in 9 months – What a journey.

I am really happy and a little surprised with the progress so far and I hope it is a sign of things to come. But from that wobbly glass table 9 months ago to this decadent looking tank of a desk I am sat at now its all been the same theory. Long hours and hard work that, if your reading this, you will know is something that we all have come to live by.

As a testament to all the other import entrepreneurs out there here is a really cool insight into the workspaces of some of my customers from around the world. From simple to exec these are the type of guys making serious income from home and small office set ups. You would be surprised to see the simplicity of some of them but then this is a new era for internet entrepreneurs.


Mark got in touch with me with a dream, some time on his hands after leaving his job and a healthy pot of money to invest. Although he did not know exactly what he wanted to import to start with that was not really an issue and we spent countless days and nights going over possible niche market items together while on Skype. Relatively new to eBay but with a keen mind Mark has built up a strong account and with some feedback building items in place the future looks good. We now have created a specific line of products together and going forwards plan to expand this line under Marks own brand name. Exciting stuff.


A young guy with his finger on the eBay pulse Toby is always contacting me with new ideas that he thinks might just be the next big selling item from China. Not limited to eBay his ideas range from products he can sell amongst his college mates to lines he could develop a neat little business from.

Do any of you remember that young kid who bought the micro scooters on his Dads credit card and became a millionaire from it? Maybe Toby will be the next micro scooter kid?


A dedicated student of Andrew Minalto’s eBay Blueprint course Kamran came to me tooled up ready for ecommerce battle. I have had the opportunity to work with several students of this Blueprint course and just like the others Andrew had given Kamran a wealth of knowledge on selling on eBay and some solid ecommerce tips in general. This has meant that Kamran and Myself could spend our time focusing simply on good selling products. We had a good laugh together as we spent a couple of weeks chatting online going through what felt like every niche market under the sun. I was impressed with his dedication to sift through the fat to find the items he really wanted to work with and his determination paid off as we decided to go with what I feel is an amazing niche with a nice untapped potential. When you take into account that he has worked his way to the top on one of the most competitive niches on eBay he looks to have a real chance of excelling in this untapped line.


A pretty experienced online seller Anthony came to me with some great product ideas and a “lets get this thing started” attitude which meant in a very quick space of time we had gone from research to number crunching to product manufacture in under a week. Now with a hot custom made product to add to his already dynamic product line I am sure Anth’s business will continue to grow and we will be doing this process together in the same fashion many times over the next few years.


With a full time job he wants to move out of Amer contacted me to see if importing from China could be a way for him to live his dream. A new customer to me Amer decided to take products he believed in due to sales numbers on eBay. By keeping the mix small and the unit volumes high he was able to drive purchase prices as low as possible giving him a great margin on eBay and a chance to undercut the competition. Its early days for Amer but I think he will get on well with this and move closer to his goals over the next few months.


Liam is no stranger to importing and has already seen some success with various items he has sourced and brought into the UK under his own steam. He contacted me looking for a more secure way of making larger orders along with an interest in working with me directly on some of my own manufacturing projects.

His product range is broad and his mind is open to new ideas – a key to success when importing from China. If the numbers look good and it is legal Liam will sell it. As well as working with items I have sourced or had manufactured myself Liam has a constant stream of new ideas with low market competition, if I can find them or get them made at the right price then we get going on them. Infact yesterday I sourced a factory to make Liam a very specific item with really low market competition. I’m looking forward to getting the first batch back to him to see how the sales figures look in real time.


Sam has been an open and easy customer to work with. After a going through the sales figures and margins together with a quick process of elimination on the products he was interested in working with we came across a very strong looking item. Next down to the customisation and manufacturing process to get it down to the price point we needed. A change of materials and juggling around of the product features allowed us to get the pricing at a level which allows Sam to undercut the competition without compromising on the products quality.

Tipped as one of the best selling items for this Christmas and winter period we should hopefully see some exciting Results from Sam.


Bart has been working with me for a long time now and we have become good mates via the likes of Whatsapp messenger, email and Skype. Due to the nature of his product and the price points we need to get them made for we have faced some headaches together but have persevered through and ironing out the creases has now become an integral part of working together.

A truly dedicated and hardworking seller Bart has gone climbed the eBay ranks and I think he may be the number one if not one of the number one sellers in his niche. He is even giving some big household names a run for their money. An awesome achievement by anyone’s standard.

By keeping his overheads to an absolute minimum and reinvesting every cent he makes Bart has been able to go from 50 unit orders to unit orders into the thousands driving his price down without sacrificing quality and allowing him to customise his products giving him that extra USP. He really has accelerated his business at a truly impressive rate. My favorite Polish customer Bart is a true testament to learning the system, playing by the sometimes crazy eBay & Amazon rules and hopefully he will start to enjoy the success going into 2013, he certainly deserves it.

Here is a look at his new loft stock storage space he just fitted out.

Amazing to see right? Just goes to show, you don’t need much to make some serious money from eBay.

Shout out to those of you who sent me in a picture of your desk, extra thanks to those of you who tidied them! If you want your desktop included here and you are a customer of mine please email it in.

Thanks again for the support, from all of the YMC office staff, wishing you a bright future.

51 thoughts on “Opening my office in China.

  1. You pay waaaaay too much for your apartment, even if it is in Zhujiang New Town. You can find a nice 2-3 bedroom apartment for at least half of the cost that your paying in New Town or anywhere in GZ for that matter. Also, in the future for your next apartment, you can get out of the commision fee by finding out who the owner is and then contacting them directly. Good luck with everything else though!

  2. Dan, great to hear what is happening at your end. Nothing that you do will ever surprise us! Love and Peace from ours in Harrogate x

  3. Hi I have been given your blog by your friend Isy i would like to ask some questions and run some ideas past you for trading in uk

  4. Great post Daniel, just goes to show what you can achieve with good ideas and hard work.
    You really have done well for yourself and I still think this is only the beginning for you….

    I am looking forward to your next blog!

    I have sent you an e- mail.


  5. What a great read. You have always been into fish tanks and Bonsai plants- how strange!!! Glad to hear you have not spent your time drinking chinese rice wine!!!
    You are a grafter Dan and you always think “outside the box”. I wish you love and success and am so proud to see you working so hard. It is great to see how things are taking shape- not easy in a foreign country with a language barrier. Keep focused and as I always say – Dont run before you can walk.People reading the blog might not realise how long you have been chasing the dream and the sacrifices you have made. Being away from home and the people and things we love is not easy. But, nothing ventured-nothing gained,so, goog luck and take care.
    Please get some sleep……Love and miss you. x

    • Ha ha,

      My first fish tank my mum still has in her kitchen. It was paid for by my takings from the tuck shop i opened at Scouts. Yes after each cub and scout meet i would sell sweets snacks and drinks. It actually did pretty good but i think mainly due to my mum driving me to Macro to buy the sweets every week. Then in another seemingly fish inspired move a started doing carboot sales to raise money for a koi carp pond i dug and built myself shortly afterwards. I made enough money to build the pond, buy the pumps filters and stock it, including some strange choice of planting for the rock garden. Crazy to think i was 11.

      Yes there have certainly been many ups and downs in the 17 years between then and now but i like to think it has all be an education and a learning curve to get me to this point. Now i feel like this is the beginning and i have learned the lessons i needed to learn.

      Heres hoping for a somewhat easier 17 years plus.

  6. Hi Dan,

    Really glad to see all of your hard work out there is becoming fruitful. I wish I was 20 years younger knowing what I do now so I could go back and start again sometimes!

    If there is ever anything I can help with or need anything you know where I am and what I do so please don’t ever hesitate to ask.

    Take care mate.


    • Thank you Darren, your support is appreciated.

      You are certainly holding a wealth of knowledge that many of us have tapped into via the means of forums etc that you post on, they say its never to late you know….

      All the best


  7. I was worried too but secretly knew that something big is coming, and I was right! 🙂

    Congrats Dan on the fast progress you’re making! It’s amazing how much you have achieved in such short period of time! But I guess it’s not a surprise for a person who works 18 hours+ a day (hat off to you, seriously).

    Once again – congratulations & keep up the good work! I’ll keep sending customers to you! 🙂


    • Thanks Andrew,

      Yeah its been a crazy few months here, it does feel like i have been in China for a very long time now and looking back to that first day i stepped off that plane in February seems like lifetime ago.

      I’m flying back to the UK to spend Christmas with my Mum, Dad Brother and Sister and i cant wait to see them but at the same time i know i will be in a rush to get back here, i think perhaps i have become addicted to work?

      Thank you for your support, i really appreciate it Andrew.

      All the best


  8. Great pics and great post. Absolutely massive pat on the back! Definitely deserve it and always great to read about somebody progressing well and then seeing the fruits of their labour all in 9 months!. Brilliant..All the best.


    • Thanks for the kind words Dau,

      I’m very lucky to love what i do for a living and i think thats important as i have had to work very long hours. I’m also lucky to have some interesting customers that i enjoy chatting to about random stuff on Skype in between discussing their orders, it helps make it feel less like work really.


    • Thanks Hassan,

      I think its sometimes difficult to take a step back and see the bigger picture allowing you to work in a more proactive manner instead of running round like a lunatic.

      For me moving here seems to have opened my eyes up a little and i think that perhaps due to what is at stake i evaluate each decision a lot more than i did when i was working in Europe.



  9. Wonderful post as usual Dan.

    Can you please let me know your skypeID ? I am looking to import new products from China and would like to cooperate with you


    Daniel Ash

  10. Great blog post Danny Boy. Really enjoy reading up on your progress, especially when i am part of it as one of your customers. I am really looking forward for my next shipment to be dispatched so we can get cracking.

    I am already aware of your next blog post and it is exciting stuff, i am sure all the rest will be excited too once its live.

    Goodluck for the future my friend 🙂

  11. I certainly have been wondering where you have been! My Skype has been very quiet without you this week being that I only use it to talk to you.

    Sounds like you made a cracking saving on those PCs. It looks like all that hard work furnishing and cabling the office has paid off. It will be the perfect environment for you to continue making your fortune. Im sure it will evolve into an empire. And once it does, maybe you’ll have time for those Oreo cookies 🙂

    Its weird to see a picture of my desk staring back at me while I type this at my desk. Its very interesting to see the work spaces of similar people out there who all share the same goal. Im sure I speak for all of them when I say having someone like you to work with will really help make it a lot easier to achieve that goal. Looking forward to hearing your progress with our latest product.

    You have come a long way in only 9 months. This has become even more apparent for me after reading through some of your earliest posts recently while waiting for a new one! And now that you are in dedicated office and warehouse space and are set to stay for the forseeable future I cant wait to see where you will be in another 9.

    But wherever you will be, perhaps you’ll be getting there and back in a certain luxury italian sports car…

    P.S Going to work with an office full of attractive ladies every day has got to help with the hard times!

    • Thanks Liam,

      Really kind words I appreciate it. Its a pleasure to have you as a customer and I am glad that I’m making this process easier for you.

      PS I got your latest product sorted today and will have the production sample on my desk this Wednesday. I sourced the material to your spec from a third party which helped with the pricing. As a bonus it looks like its going to come in under budget to. Ill speak to you on Skype about it next week. Have a good weekend.


      • No problem man. I look forward to what i have confidence will be a long and profitable business relationship for both of us. Thanks for including my desktop in the post 🙂

        Btw whats the view like from your office in this new place? Does it match that view of the Pearl River? Its hard to see how you got any work done!

        And i cant wait to read this new post now! Everyones comments have got me very intrigued. haha.

        • Thanks Liam, here is to some successful trading going into the next year and beyond.

          From my new office i can see an awesome outdoor basketball court complex, which is annoying as i spent about a week trying to find one when i first moved here. There is also a genuine Pizza Hut down there.

          Yeah i think the next post might surprise a few people, but maybe not those of you who know me now.



  12. Oh my… You must be making a fair amount if you’re able to sustain that office and employ three people! What are their jobs, and how has it impacting your duties?

    • Hey Jamal,

      Im paying them in cups of imported Yorkshire tea.

      I cant tell you what there jobs are yet, it will spoil the next blog post.

      It has however allowed me to free up more time to develop relationships with my customers and offer a very tight quality control service.


  13. Brilliant read again daniel.Sorry not been in touch about product i emailed you about as been quite busy.Will contact in new year and hopefully try get something sorted for 2013…Simon.

  14. My fix at last Dan !

    You know I’m like yr mum and wondering what you been up to from chatting to you thursday on msn and you sending me pics of the office.
    That was a small fix and I thought I might have sometime to wait for a proper fix seeing as how busy you are but you have come through !

    Great post again and an always fascinating read.
    Aim for new year is to have my desk pictured too !

    • Thanks Paul,

      Yeah i have been so busy that both writing blogs and sleeping have had to be sidelined.

      I think in my next blog post all might become clear. Those of you that already know….shhhhh…..

      Hope your good.


Any comments or questions? I'd love to hear them.