Be Ok With Making Mistakes
Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Be Ok With Making Mistakes
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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hey um definitely get your paperwork and everything in order and then be okay with the mistakes because that's part of the fun and part of the learning and no matter how much you study or how much you learn actually going and doing is going to give you better results even though you make a million mistakes than if you just think about it forever [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we have startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we are always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast sheila mack and uh sheila is a quick introduction so she was i think in her words uh homeless from ages 10 to 13 graduated high school at about 15 and a half got emancipated went to college got a computer science degree um later i think also a business degree from not mistaken and went into work for a jpl uh to uh there for a business um did it uh primarily for the money found out the money wasn't always gratifying so as a hobby she had uh started to buy stuff at the garage sale or garage sales and storage locker sales and whatnot and uh turned that into their hobby into a bit more of an actual business opened up a store opened up a few more got into uh shifted the the model with a bit into real estate and also went to digital and uh did a few other things so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast sheila all right thanks for having me on the show absolutely excited to have you so i just gave the much uh much condensed version of a much longer journey so let's go back in time a bit to uh your journey starting out i guess when uh when you were homeless for a period of time and graduating high school so tell us how your journey got started well um i was staying with grandparents and they got sick and there was a lot of violence going on at home so my mother actually told me to leave and i was like okay and i went from friend's house to friend's house i stayed in school and i actually worked i worked for a company called junior careers selling cups coolers and candies at 10 and a half on and so i actually made my own money and i would stay at different friends houses i actually slept on the benches at the troubadour a few times i had a friend that worked there that let me stay there sometimes and i just had to figure things out and then i found this magical foster care i didn't even know it existed and so i finally got into that and then emancipated at 15 and a half i was there a few years and had an incredible experience working for these these people that i knocked on their door they had bought the old orphanage and and they had art in the white house and the the wife did architecture and so i was like their apprentice and they taught me so much about business so by the time i emancipated i was already very involved with a lot of things and that's my alarm that should not be going off one moment sorry about that okay gosh i thought i silenced that all right anyway sorry about that that was alarming so yeah so that's that's what happened there and yeah you got emancipated and you said okay and i think after that graduated high school went off and got a degree in uh in the computer science as well as business is that right yes uh computer science business and then i got a teaching credential and um real estate at usc so i did a lot later on i had to make money in between to support myself so that kind of had to make me a entrepreneur early on so no that definitely makes sense so now you you you get the degrees you graduate and say okay the first thing i'm going to do is go make a whole bunch of money so i think you said you graduated and went and worked for a company called jpl mm-hmm yes so it you know i was not the best math teacher i taught myself algebra to do the programming class you know and i was like the c student but out of all those really smart kids i was the only one that was brave enough to knock on the door jpl and i actually got hired and i passed the whatever test and i got in and i worked there until you know my little side business of buying and selling things and i thought hey you know i'll just start a gift store and that was my first big business it was 5 000 square feet so it was a big store now let's jump back just for a second we'll definitely hit on that part of your journey but so you initially started with jpl and how long were you with jpl for uh three and a half years and then i actually i wanted to there's like at the time there was ten thousand jobs it was pasadena jpl nasa and you have to get permission to get another job in a different department so i was in the engineering department and i wanted a different job just because i never got a raise and i needed the money and so other people wanted to pay me more almost double but my supervisor at the time would not like sign the papers to let me go because she couldn't replace me obviously for the cost and i was the one that would get there early stay late and get all the work done and help everybody else you know pick up the slack with everyone else so because i really needed the job so everybody appreciated the work ethic and wanted me in their area as well and so i left and programmed with the phone company which was it was gte and then it became verizon now yes now now with going along with that so because i think one of the things we chatted about uh before the podcast was um that you know you originally went to kind of jpl because the pay was good the money was good and you know you're looking for and i think a lot of people do that looking for the security looking for good pay and otherwise been able to um you know afford a good living um you know along that uh portion of or that of your journey was there kind of when did you kind of realize that the money portion wasn't gratifying or that wasn't where you wanted to focus your career or your living at well i was helping doing the books and i was never in there for a raise and i kept being promised you know they kept promising me this raise that never happened and at the time i actually had one child young so i couldn't afford to pay for this child care and all these other things and i was buying my first triplex at that point so i was saving every penny and investing and we lived in the little teeny back back unit and rented everything else out so you know to pay that off and so i was struggling and i said you know this is just a lot and i went to my grandma who was talking to me again at this point and and i said listen you know what what do you think and she agreed and and told me to go sign up for the other job that paid about double believe it or not so i had to go take that job all right so you listen you listen you take the job and and then you're going along doing that now where did the storage unit and kind of the you know garage sale storage unit buy and sell things how did that kind of factor into the journey was that kind of i think you said it was a side hustle or side hub we were doing these jobs right so it was my weekends off i would go do that and then actually i stayed with jpl for like about a month or a few months and did the day the night shift at gte so i was like really burning myself out and then then i you know i gave my really fair notice and then left to make sure i actually helped train the person that took my place and then i went over and did that and that was my side gig that was like fun money i used to call it this is my fun money so whatever i can earn with this i could just have fun and so that was that yeah so now one question is or kind of was so you started that off as a side hustle or kind of like your fun money and i always you know have that kind of that same thing some of the times or especially uh earlier on in my career i was saying hey you know sometimes i feel bashful of taking the money that i'm earning with my full-time job and doing fun things with it i'd like to keep that for paying off debt and otherwise you know building up savings in that but it's kind of fun to have hey if i'm doing this kind of outside of my normal job let's have a bit of fun money so i definitely uh resonate with that now how did you transition or say i'm going to take what is my fun money side hustle and i'm going to make that a full-time endeavor well i saved up and then i realized you know you're making when you do retail it's two and a half times whatever you get the wholesale price for and i thought oh this is going to be easier because i can just i don't have to like go hunt for the stuff i can just order although you do have to you know buy and pick things out and i thought that would be easier i didn't know what i was getting into when i started though and and so i found this building it was the old dorsey building a big department store back in its day in montrose california and it had been vacant for like four years so i i looked up the landlord and i made a deal and i said i want at least six months free rent i want money to do upgrades and you know this and that and this is how much i have to start and so that's how i started my store yeah so now you say okay you're gonna start the store i'm gonna try it out and i'm gonna you know i've already been doing this in side hustle so i can know i can make you know at least some money at it maybe if i put a full-time endeavor i'll all you'd be able to make more out of money at it and have a replacement of kind of income but also enjoy what i'm doing as opposed to just focusing on the the money side of the career so as you did as you kind of opened up the store and put that as a full-time endeavor did it take off and do well and you're able to take that store and be able to make it you know make a good retail or make a good income on it or was it kind of rocky or did it take some some time to build a clientele or kind of how did it go or go as you were moving that into a full-time gig okay well um based on what you do the first thing i did was i did become an s-corp so that was the first thing because everybody's like oh it's trip and fall you better protect yourself or you could lose whatever little bit you have and so i did do the s corp and uh i opened and i didn't know i was 23 when this happened by this point in my life 23 and i opened a store uh 5 000 square feet a dollar a square foot 5 000 a month once that free rent was over so i had to really figure out how am i gonna make money i was still doing the night shift at the phone company to you know because i was afraid a little bit but i was having fun and i ordered things that weren't right for the community it was a kind of a retirement kind of community at that time it's changed a little bit now and so things that i ordered weren't exactly a fit so i had to learn how to buy and this the swap meet back then was still opened and and so we would go sell at the swap meet on the weekend so anything that didn't sell goes to swap meet and then i i'm really good at negotiating i don't know i've had that my whole life and maybe because i had to and so i would go to the trade shows and i would negotiate um at the end of the show it used to be that you were able to go and negotiate to buy everything at 50 to 70 off of the wholesale price and so i would buy the truck and i would rent a truck and fill it up with everything and i'd say if it sells i can reorder it and then i hired the top designers at the time i think it was 10 15 an hour probably 20 now um that actually did like armani shop in beverly hills all these fancy stores and i had them design so that the the displays looked really beautiful and i kind of learned how to buy based on what people wanted and then everything that didn't work goes to swap meet so you're still at least getting your money back or more and that's how we did it then i hired marketing about four months in i hired a marketing company and i wanted i i interviewed three or four because i wanted one that would teach me how to do it myself because i knew i wasn't going to be able to pay like a lot of money to start to continue like every month and because the monthly rent was going to come due soon and they taught me enough where i started marketing really well and i teamed up with back then it was crabtree and evelyn i had yankee candles certain items that they did uh cooperative ads and i learned i learned so much i learned i made every single mistake possible and that's how i learned oh no i think that uh that's a great way a learning experience and you know it sounds like yeah you bet had to go through you know what sells what doesn't sell what's with the community what are they going to buy you know based on your location and then also figure out a bit of the pricing or you know continue to figure out how much do i need to sell and what the pricing is to make that all work now as you start to build that i think you went from one location to a few locations over a period of time yeah so then i went and i didn't like this rent idea remember i was buying my first triplex already so i came from that environment where i had parents early on that always had real estate so i thought well you know i'm giving them so much a month i could be buying a building this is crazy and so i bought the other buildings with the cash flow from the store uh i learned about business credit which helped me i could by the time i was 24 25 if i could go buy a car with zero they would give me zero down interest zero interest whatever and no money down because it was the s corp buying it and i had this credit and i could get into land and property i did and i saved a lot of my money to put the down payments and with the business credit i was able to buy properties over time and i paid them off quickly with the income from the stores and as soon as that one lease it was a five-year lease as soon as that ended i actually left that place because i just wanted to keep buying and they the other store owners it was the mantra shopping park they were two three times my age literally and they came to me and they're like okay like you're successful and you're young and how teach us how to do this how do we we still we're still paying rent and so i got my real estate license after the first deal and i started um helping other people do commercial investments or 1031 exchanges into commercial from like maybe they had a triplex or something and that's so i kind of ended up doing something on the side that became another business that i didn't even think about yeah so that kind of happened no and i think that you know it seems like it was hey is we're getting success as we're growing as we're expanding we need more room and also generally if you can expand you can reach a different different audience and you can also increase the revenue and the income so now one of the things that we touched on is you started to pivot and adjust from kind of just expanding to your own stores and as things kind of moved online and moved away from the stores you kind of shifted and pivoted online with more of your inventory and then moved to be almost the real estate side of things as well is that right yes and and consulting with businesses i didn't even know it was called i know it's called business consulting like i didn't have like a consulting license but i had this successful business and the other store owners were like well how the heck did you do that you're like half my age or less or more and so you know could you help me and then i would charge them a fee and i probably weigh undercharged because they were like friends and i didn't know there was even a way you could charge people for this thing called consulting and then i would help them with the real estate and i was just having fun and happy to see that i was helping these other businesses because they were also friends we worked in the shopping park together and so that's kind of how that went and then after it was about 17 or so years i started switching over as we got into um we got into the computer age and things we actually could sell and buy and do things online and i realized i went back to school part-time to get this business degree because i was like running businesses and i had no business degree i was like well that looks stupid i need to have this paper just say i can run a business because i don't know why i just everybody had one and so i go back to school and i'm sitting in class and one day this professor tells me about the opportunity cost and i was like oh my gosh holy smokes i own all these buildings free and clear now and i do not have to work 17 hours a day and i was like i'm going online and i'm done and by then i had adopted three children and had three of my own so this big family and they learned so much being part of the store they i brought them in and they learned about business that way but i wanted to just spend time with my kids and so i got my degree uh ucsb i did montessori teaching and then later i did waldorf teaching and i just had fun and i still worked with the businesses and i still did real estate on the side but it was just fun stuff and it it made more than enough income and uh that that's what happened then so now that i think that catches us mostly to where you're at today right in other words you transitioned online you're now saying hey based on looking at where i'm at and it makes more sense to you leverage your real estate for other things if you kind of have that passive income now they're free and clear and otherwise you're selling that online which is where it seems a lot of that is now headed so as you've now kind of caught up to where you're at today kind of now looking a bit into the future kind of what the next steps will be or where you're headed where do you see the the next you know six to 12 months to air heading for you well i missed a whole thing where i traveled for seven years straight and i learned from tony robbins and all these incredible people and did all that fun stuff and brought my kids along for the travel so that was another experience and lots of training so right now i have a radio show that i host i have a book out um bootstraps and bra straps i have another book that is coming out very soon and so we're working on that right now and i also am continuing to grow my courses i'm doing a lot of online stuff because of the covid and all that it's just easier right now so i do lots of online consulting and courses and i'm enjoying that i and i'm really grateful i wanted to add that i traveled for those seven years because i'm grateful i did and i'm kind of good with i don't have to travel right now because i did everything on the bucket list for traveling everywhere on the planet so that that's good yeah oh sounds like it was a great way to er a great uh our opportunity to go do some traveling and now uh or to transition a bit more online or continue to translate things online with uh with everything you're doing in the endeavor so that sounds like an exciting time well as we uh start to wrap up the the podcast i always ask two questions at the end of each episode so we'll go ahead and jump on or jump to those now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what'd you learn from it oh my gosh one worse one oh holy smokes i think you know i didn't delegate enough i didn't hire enough people when i started out so one day in that store probably when i was about 23 and a half almost 24 i was doing my own um sales and use tax my own paperwork everything myself i didn't hire a cpa and one day these men in suits about 14 men or so come in and i thought oh my gosh it's the fbi they're coming to take me away i must have made a mistake on the paperwork and it turned out it was president clinton it had been ate visited rocky cola and he came over and visited we gave free gifts and then he kept going and that was like i mean i there was this moment where i was like should i run no i'll never get away you know like i was so scared and i thought okay i need to hand over and the next day i delegated and i hired a cpa and i started to hire more help because that was that was a big mistake that i made so it sounds like an interesting and fun mistake and even a little bit of excitement so that's great all right second question i always ask is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business what'd be the one piece of advice you'd give them i would say um definitely get your paperwork and everything in order and then be okay with the mistakes because that's part of the fun and part of the learning and no matter how much you study or how much you learn actually going and doing is going to give you better results even though you make a million mistakes than if you just think about it forever all right and i you know i i think that that's probably out of all the different episodes and different entrepreneurs and people we've had on the podcast probably the number one thing that i think is over there is the biggest piece of advice that people tend to give is you know you can always make excuses you can always say that now is for the reason why now is not the right time you can uh you know trying to otherwise wait and then you every time people finally make the jump they get going on and they say hey this is what i love this is what i but what i'm passionate about and i wish i'd get started on it earlier so i think that resonates well with what a lot of other entrepreneurs and business people find so well with that if people want to reach out to you they want to be you know with your counsel or with getting a consultation and having you come and consult on their business they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you and find out more um i would say go to uh www.sheilasheilamacmac.comsheilamac.com all well i definitely encourage people to reach out contact you there and find out more well thank you again sheila for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell we'd love to share your journey on the podcast just go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show also make sure to listen or listen subscribe leave us a review because we want to make sure that everyone finds out about all of our awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else in the business just reach out to us at miller ip law by going to strategymeeting.com thank you again sheila for coming on the podcast and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last all right thank you [Music] you