Gabriel Dias is a person who doesn’t just dream – he does. As a grade schooler, he was fascinated with Siamese fighting fish. Some kids would have watched videos online, or maybe read some books. Gabriel imported fish from Thailand and then bred and sold them. After this first taste of income, Dias transitioned to selling Florida’s fresh, local fruit door-to-door, and then offering car washes. When he was ready to do something else, he experienced a rude awakening when he found that almost nobody would hire a 15-year-old. This is how he turned to Shopify’s dropshipping model. The stunning feeling of $300 in sales on his very first day got him hooked. Since then, he has been nurturing and flipping stores. Last month, he pulled in a cool $100,000 across all of his ventures. In only his first year with dropshipping, he has maintained revenue in the mid-six figures.
At an age when most of his peers are playing video games or hanging out, Dias has learned many lessons that have helped position him for success. Time management is critical, he told me, noting that some of the things he had to learn the hard way included eliminating distractions, prioritizing tasks and goals wisely, and managing cash flow. His respect for Marines and Navy SEALs has informed his work ethic: He tries to model their dedication and work ethic. Other major role models include Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg.
In addition, he heavily emphasizes positive relationships within one’s personal network. He told me, “Bad company corrupts good character. If you surround yourself with lazy, unmotivated, unsuccessful people, you’re going to become lazy and unmotivated. But if you surround yourself with people who are driven, motivated, and successful, you’re going to become driven, motivated and successful.” He also believes in delegation and specialization of tasks, often relying on freelancer marketplaces for graphic designers or virtual assistants, which keeps his time free to focus on the parts of the business that matter to him; this also allows him to use experts instead of struggling to create graphic designs when he is not a graphic designer, and so on. He credits this choice to allow his business to scale, and is how he defines the idea of “working smarter.”
Likening himself to a lion always hungry for prey and new opportunities, Dias is aggressive when it comes to pursuing business opportunities. He sees his goals as the lion’s “next meals.” However, even though lions are ferocious and win most battles, they are also fiercely loyal to their pride – which fits Dias’ models as well. This is not just because he credits pride in oneself as a characteristic leading to success, but also because he wants to use his success to help humanity. One of the most important causes for him is helping the poor and the homeless, as his hometown has a tragically high population of homeless individuals. He is hoping to start a foundation that will provide services to the homeless in the next few years.
Dias’ story has a lot of key takeaways for other entrepreneurs. In addition to working smarter, not harder, he emphasizes both role models and positive peers as keys to becoming successful. By managing time and resources, as well as curating your network, you, too, could find success.
Gabriel invites anyone looking to start an online business to DM him on Instagram.
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.