Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down for an interview with Fanuel Kebede. We talked about manifestation, growing a business, and much more.
Give a brief introduction of yourself.
My full name is Fanuel Kebede, I’m 21 years old, and I moved to the United States from Ethiopia about 6 years ago. Before moving here I always wanted to be a pilot, and I still plan on getting my private pilot’s license sometime soon for fun, but it wasn’t until my mom, younger brother and I were all on our own here that I started my career as an entrepreneur, in every sense of the word. I wanted to fly planes and travel the world, but I never thought that I’d be selling products online to make that happen!
Did you go to college?
I attended a community college on a scholarship for a little over a year before dropping out. Somehow I was still getting good grades while working far more than 40 hours a week to help my mom with bills. So before I found dropshipping and digital marketing I was set on getting a degree in computer science – my counselors swore to me that was the best route to getting a solid, well-paying job as soon as possible. The only problem was I hated programming classes, and I seriously hated school. It felt like such a waste of time! Eventually, I think my turning point came after I had been running my eCommerce businesses for a bit, and the professor of a business class I was in asked me to take over teaching about digital marketing. I taught 3 classes for that guy, after less than a year of teaching myself this stuff! That’s when I knew college just wasn’t going to do much for me, so I dropped out and I’ve never looked back.
What motivated you to be an entrepreneur?
My mother and my younger brother, 100%. They are the reason I’ve gotten to where I am today. My mom made the tough decision to move my brother and I to the U.S. all on her own and never asked for any help, she worked non-stop to make sure we went to good schools, had food and clothes, and were taken care of as best as she could. All I ever wanted to do was try and thank her for that, to do anything I could to make all of the sacrifices she made for us worth it. So it started with me just wanting to pay our bills or buy her something nice, and it spiraled into a lifestyle I never would have dreamt of but was probably always meant to do.
What were your biggest success and your biggest failure?
My biggest success was realized pretty recently actually. When you think about it, I’ve actually accomplished something pretty spectacular in the world of dropshipping. After almost two years of devoting a lot of attention and resources to one of the stores I started out with, I’ve managed to establish it as a brand worth multiple seven figures. I’ve actually been in talks with some investors and biog-name businessmen looking to purchase the brand for over a million dollars. Which, if you know drop shipping, you know is extremely difficult to accomplish and hardly ever attempted. As for my failures, I don’t know if I’ve had a moment in my career as an entrepreneur where I really felt defeated, or like I had really screwed up. I’m constantly learning, constantly testing and researching new strategies and business ideas. So, it’s kind of like I’m always looking at the mistakes others in my field are making and I just adjust my strategies to avoid them. Just keep learning and failure won’t ever feel like you’ve really failed at anything, it’s just a lesson.
Have you ever leveraged personal branding?
I’m starting to. Up to this point I’ve never been huge on broadcasting my business or what I’ve been working on to get to where I am, but I’m realizing what an overwhelming need there is in our society for more people to take control of their own lives. If I hadn’t made the decision to reject the pressures everyone was putting on me to go to college, get a real job, and live the normal 9-5 life, I never would have thought any of this was possible. Since I’ve made it this far, I just want to bring everyone else with me. And I’m realizing in order to do that, people need to connect, they need to trust. This is a huge venture to get into and they need to know the person that’s trying to convince them that it’s possible. So yes, recently I’ve been dedicating more time and resources to establishing my personal brand as an option to people that weren’t cut out for an average life.
How important has a positive mindset been?
Staying positive and seeing the good, or seeing the lack of necessity in negativity, is one of the most important tools you’ll have in this life, hands down. As I was explaining with not really having a failure to speak on, it is all about perspective. When my mom was working all the time, or when I was having to deliver food and work 3 jobs to help her pay bills, I had the choice to either see us as struggling and feel sorry for what we were going through, or I could see it as an opportunity to step and make something of the situation. My girlfriend sometimes thinks I’ve never been sad in my entire life, I’m just that positive all the time. The truth is I just don’t see anything productive about being negative, it doesn’t help anything so why dwell in it? If a bad or stressful thing is happening, adding to the negative energy is just going to make it worse and give it more power in your life. So instead, you do what you can to help the situation, and if there’s nothing you can do then there’s no point in dwelling. Keep moving forward and find the next good thing, just keep moving forward no matter what.
Have you ever leveraged manifestation?
Not intentionally, I don’t think. I always just had the mindset that I had no other option, I HAD to help my mom, I HAD to be successful and make something of myself. It was that or nothing. So in a sense, I guess you could say I manifested my success with just a constant drive towards this goal I had for myself, but it was really just a lot of hard work and dedication, and when you have that with a ton of discipline, there isn’t anything you won’t be able to accomplish, ever.
What would you tell an aspiring entrepreneur in high school right now?
Find you why. I wake up every day, push through the tired mornings and the long nights because I have something to work for, I have a responsibility to achieve my dreams and I don’t take it lightly. Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, it’s just not. But if you know it’s for you then you have to find something that is going to keep you motivated when you don’t feel like working. At the end of the day, as much fun as I have to be an entrepreneur, there will always be days when I just don’t feel like working. That’s when my family comes to mind, and I stay motivated to push even further and work even harder.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve got a lot in the works, there’s so much I still want to accomplish. I’m only 21 – I’m just getting started here! I’ve really only been in this stride for a couple of years so there’s really no telling what the future holds. Right now I want to focus on making a name for minority entrepreneurs, and giving a path to success for people that might not think they match the typical persona of other big names in this sphere. If an immigrant kid can drop out of college and make this happen, I doubt there’s anyone out there that couldn’t do the same. So right now I want to find those people, and show them what’s possible. After that, there’s no telling what I’ll do next.
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