The Inventive Journey
Podcast for Entrepreneurs
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Be patient in the growth process of what you intend to build. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it WAS built. So lay the groundwork of the company. Create slow but steady systems and processes within your company that you can apply every day.
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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um find what were you where you can bring value something that you enjoy because you're gonna have to do lots of things you don't enjoy find where your strengths are and something that's monetizable get all them together and find what's in the middle there'll be something in there for you that you can do that'll bring value to the world or get you paid will be something you enjoy and you'll be something you'll be good at and in that nexus point that's what you want to do [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 has grown sever or several startups to seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks and today we have another great guest on the episode lee chamber or chambers with an s and uh lee came from what would be a a blue collar family had both parents worked very hard um taught him to work hard he was relatively smart in school and then he went off to study business and i think it was psychology and then after graduation he landed a job economy crashed orlando graduate 2007. economy crashed lost her job went away and then he decided to get into wholesale video game sales and uh did that for a period of time grew it to a larger business and then decided to switch up what he did and i'll summarize it to bring him to where he's at today where he now does workplace well-being well-being training is that a quick but accurate summary yeah lovely and concise sir that's my journey all right so with that now we'll dive a bit more into the journey so i gave the high level a very quick overview but maybe if you want to now rewind and walk us through a bit more of your journey and how you got to where you're at today we'll go from there yeah so again blue color blue color upbringing in the north of england and i was always that curious child that one who was trying to convince my mum to sell her stuff on the end on the end of the street um i masqueraded as a as an 18 year old as a 12 year old so i could sell amiga games through magazine mail order and i've always had a bit of an entrepreneurial streak i was trying to sell candy at school um that i'd that i'd buy at reduced price and then bring it in and sell it edit inflative price take the margin but they the head teacher stopped me because apparently i was breaking hygiene laws so i i was i was that kind of curious and disruptive youth but i was good in education i managed to be the first one in my whole family to go to university and studying business and psychology it was it was good because there was a wide range of skills that i learned from communications and language to geopolitics and really wide inverted because i didn't know what i wanted to do and at university did i have some challenges sorry just to jump back slightly so how long work did you sell the candy in school before you got caught oh hey two months two months i probably made about four hundred dollars so how did how did you finally get caught um well the problem is you need to transport it into school and they started to see me with a big rucksack with me books and a massive rucksack full of stock and eventually my school such big bags of stuff to school yeah because the school lockers only held so much and then i was wheeling it out at dinner selling it that's funny but hey for two months uh it's a a younger kid in school that's not a bad uh not a bad profit so i know i i learned a number of entrepreneurial lessons from making margins to marketing to you know so upselling i'll learn a lot of stuff doing that for a few months anyway so continue on with your journey didn't mean to interrupt that's just a funny story so i thought it was a follow-up question yeah and i got into the middle of my degree and i just started to struggle a little bit with our adolescents adult transition um just found that i was struggling to really find who i was as a man that took me on a bit of a journey where i struggled with mental health and i ended up going home from university and taking a bit of time to rebuild myself back up i then went back and graduated which as you said was in 2007. i managed to get on a quite prestigious graduate scheme at a national bank um doing financial advisory which for me it combined two things i really love data statistics and numbers and helping people but again six months in they've offered me twelve thousand dollars professional training and all of a sudden overnight that got pulled and i'm not affluent i've not got rich parents yeah i would had to work on my way for education that was a bit of a blow but looking around at my colleagues clearing their desks made me realize this is this is much bigger than just me and while i was at university i'd written a business plan for a wholesale video game business because i've always been of that mindset but i took it to a esteemed business advisor here and he openly said to me lee this is good this is a good business plan you forecast the water tight your figures are your figures aren't over-inflated they're realistic but he said to me look you're a young you're a long young black lad you know you've come across from a betting attitude problem you've not you've not got any of that industrial knowledge your rough edges haven't been shaped yet you're going to struggle in this industry it's very quick moving and it's controlled by people who are going to look at you when you go and pitch to them and think who's this young kid here who's this upstart he's disruptive he's so what he said is maybe consider going into software going into coding or developing it's much more diverse it's much more a young person's game and you'll find it easier there so what that did is that made me think take a step back it's not said that from a place of hate but maybe i do need to go out into industry and curve my edges so i'm more of a finished product to go out and build a business so that kind of dampened the entrepreneurial spirit when i got made redundant six months in all of a sudden it lit up like a fire because i was like i had to move home back into my parents house to reduce my overheads there were no finance jobs out there so it's like well i've got this business plan i feel it'll work i honestly believe that if i go all in and use that fuel of being told you can't and use the adversity of this is going to be challenging for you maybe you can just make this work because at the moment you haven't got much money you can't get back into the field you are expected to go into so why don't do something different so from my parents back bedroom off it off the adventure begins i buy my first batch of stocking with a wage that i've got from working in local government so that's the only job i can really get at the time but i know that that one month's wage will pay for my first stock because i don't have any overheads and i can i can ramp it and accelerate it from there so the journey began i bought that and all of a sudden it moved very very quickly such a dynamic market when people want a game they go and get a game and because it moved so quickly i found myself being able to accelerate what was a bedroom startup with two thousand dollars worth of stock into a six figure business in seven months it just went like a trend and all of a sudden boom i'm i've got my parents house filled with stock and i'm saying get out you do it i'm heading that's right you're filling up our whole house with stock you make enough buddy go back out on your own so so as you did so you said and remind my friend you said on that business plan you came up with it while you were in school and then you circled back to is that right yeah so one question i have because it sounds like you know you grew it over set you know six seven months to grow to a six figure business is a great accomplishment and certainly kudos to you and so what was the reason why you didn't just coming out of school just jump to that business directly was that hey i didn't have the startup cash or it was the traditional everybody tells me i need to go get a job like everybody else and so i'd go do that or you were you were excited about the opportunity as far as you lined up for graduation just didn't work out or what was the reason why i didn't just didn't jump to that startup originally oh it was a whole mix of those things dabbing so it was a little bit of me thinking oh my parents have never took this jump a little bit of they've said i can't do it and maybe they might be right and a little bit of the old will actually think that i will like financial advisory and i know i can build uh build a career that can then fuel me in there to life and lots of those little ideas of almost limiting beliefs that you kind of get throughout your existence as you grow up i've always been that curious disruptive entrepreneurial type but it was almost slightly uh burned out of me as i went through that educational system which doesn't prepare you to go and set up in business it prepares you to go and sit in a job and by the time i finished education and been through those challenges it actually been dampened a little bit and it took that feeling of desperation that feeling of you're at home stuck with your parents again you've got nothing to lose maybe it's time to go all in and just do it and that's what i did no and i think even you know i think it's a good point but you know and one thing you often education is always preparing you not to go down and you know not to do a startup but to be a good a good candidate or a good employee for someone else and yet you know and the myth is is that hey go work for a big company they're going to be stable right which is always the thing and yet you know i would say as many times as any the big companies aren't any more stable than the small companies and usually the first one ends their first one first ones in or the first ones out and so that's you know the appearance of stability whereas if you do your own startup you're doing your own business you can make your own path such that you can have a lot more direction as to whether or not it's stable or not stable you know what's going on and you can actually figure out your own way so i think that that you know i i'm in complete agreement that you know education does well to give you the skills but not necessarily teach you career paths or startup or small business or what or what not so yeah and i think the kind of there's a parting thing on that what happened is when i got made redundant i sat there and reflected and said you know what i want to build something where the only person who can make me redundant is me and if it fails i will be able to learn something because i've been pivotal on that journey and i wanted something where you know what i can fire myself if i want i can take myself out of the business if i want i can make myself redundant if i want but please give me something where the economic wins can come and i can actually control where this goes no i i can i completely agree and so i said and but i i tend to agree with you as well i came out even a law school and they said i do a few different things and i didn't come out uh with the startup that i started that did go that i did when i was in mba school that grew into you know multi-million dollar company but at the same time it was kind of hey i need to go find a stable job or go work for the big law firm which i did for a few years period of time before i finally said hey enough's enough i want to make my own leap i think i can do this i can do it better than others and i'm going to be or take that direction so so now as you built you know first year of the company did that um wholesale got it up to a six figure business moved out of your parents house back out on your own then what or what was the next part of your journey yeah so i just kept ultimately replicating what i was doing because it's such a quick moving industry and i was quite tunnel visioned so i was really determined to prove those people wrong so suddenly in year two revenue doubles and in year three revenue doubles and all of a sudden this new house that i've bought is literally a warehouse there's barely room for me to sleep and i'm just so so focused on making this work that what actually happens is i start to not see the bigger picture so i've suddenly got it up to 800 thousand dollars revenue and it's still just me and a bunch of automations and what was kind of happening is because it was fueled by that anger by that frustration i was determined that i could do this on my own just me and anything i can't do i can automate and what started to happen is it got bigger and bigger and bigger and i wasn't growing personally because i was so still ingrained in it and i wasn't taking the time to step out and work on it that i needed to i was spending too much time in the business still finding ways to automate and this would have been a perfect time in hindsight to start delegating and doing more of where i run the value but it's very easy to say that looking back because ultimately i was there in that position and i was still fueled by this i'm going to prove them prove them wrong i'm going to show them blue collar background is he's gonna make it somehow he's gonna do something significant and it really got to the point where i still wasn't willing to delegate anything but i was building more and more processes that i could automate so all of a sudden i actually started doing less because i was managing to automate so much i built a series of algorithms that helped me to decide when to move on stock and when not to building in previous experiences in different fluctuations and started to look at the european markets and how they moved as well and it actually got to a point where i decided that i had enough energy here to start something new so i actually launched a video game merchandise box subscription scheme and that was great it absolutely took off because of leverage early days of social media to get into the places where the people who you know ultimately were going to purchase it where the market was on the forums on the very early facebook groups for this kind of thing and it took off like a rocket and all of a sudden i was overwhelmed in more ways than one but what actually led to is very quickly a significantly sized competitor as in a company that's probably 60 70 times bigger than me got wind of it and i hadn't managed to really protect enough of the property of what i was doing it was fairly easily replicatable because i wasn't able to afford every license for the merchandise so some was licensed some was unlicensed and obviously i had permission but i didn't have the money to pay the licenses and this company went in and bought up a lot of the licenses and literally i out advertised me i pushed me out sold me and that if you look at the kind of statistics it literally sat off like a rocket and burnt out and fell back to us so one one thing i think we talked just a little bit about the before the pot er before we uh jumped onto the the podcast um was you know as you're building you know the six figure almost a seven figure i think you said eight hundred thousand plus doing it all on your own which hey that's kudos to build a business all by yourself to 800 800 000 almost a million dollar revenue you know now again that's not all profit but that's you know the size of the company but that's still you know kudos to you but at the same time you mentioned you lost the ability to walk almost you got very ill and it wasn't a sustainable business to work 24 7 all the time especially just you and by yourself and then not to mention you had a competitor that comes in that makes it all the worse so maybe expound a little bit because you know you always hear that hey i worked really hard and i built this huge business and there was no doubt there was no downside nothing else just perfect you know storybook kind of a thing but really you know as you mentioned there are there are downsides and there are things you have to account for as you're building a business so maybe if you wanted to expound on that just a little bit yeah definitely so i kind of i'd had that point where i'd effectively been bullied out of any market share that i had with that and actually utilize that and look back and instead of thinking you know why me this is not fair i just thought you know what what can i learn from that because it was working until it wasn't and i kind of took that reflective approach and actually realize that the video game business i needed to move down the supply chain because looking forward what was happening high-speed internet was becoming more prevalent digital download was becoming a gradually more impeding force on the physical aspect of games and i started to realize actually focus on what you've got for the moment build that into something that's more sustainable before you start going off on all these tangents because at the moment you've got one on business and yeah it's got the foundations but you literally you've dug them yourself you're not gonna be able to build a big house here on your own you're gonna find yourself stood in the sudden with a few too many bricks and not enough cement at some point um and that is like when you alluded to i all of a sudden became unwell and my immune system attacked the connective tissue with my joints and over the course of five days i went from fully mobile fully independent running the business uh and looking after my young family to being stuck in a hospital bed unable to move unable to feed myself properly unable to go to the toilet or shower and everything changed on that day when i realized okay so you've been so stubborn about it you've been short-sighted you've not seen the bigger picture because now you find yourself still able to run this business with one hand from your hospital bed but it could have been different and what i realized is i was grateful that i had that business because that business paid for my recovery it gave me the space to recover and re-learn to walk and it's ended up paying for me being able to stay with my children but it's not all the glamour of entrepreneurialism it's so much easier for most people to just go and get a job take your salary learn what you need to do navigate a workplace it's not all this beautiful social media imagerized you're an entrepreneur and you're a superhero because it's not it's hard and when adversity comes you've got to face it because ultimately i had that challenge in that hospital bed to re-learn to walk and that all of a sudden became my focus the business wasn't that important when my health was in jeopardy and that was when i started to realize i've built quite a significant network but almost been blind to the fact that all these people that i've built relationships with they can help me in fact they're amazing they bring value they know the market they have different skill sets and strengths than me why not reach out in my time of need and admit and be vulnerable and say look i've been an idiot i've known you for years i should have trusted you and i should have taken you on i should have you know offered for you to come in and do something but i've been a bit blind i've been i've not had my glasses on so to speak and that became a turning point because then i was able to actually utilize and leverage other people's skills and that allowed me to recover and it took that much of a lesson to learn just how important it is to look step back work on your business and realize where you bring value and where you what you enjoy do more of that because why was i doing oh yeah you know what i'm quite a high performing individual i'm hopeless at some things but when it comes to a business i could do the accounting i could do the marketing i could do the sourcing i could do the sales but why was i doing all that was just to prove a point wasn't anything more than my own ego than my own you know telling myself that i could trying to prove something to myself i wasn't doing anything that was wise and maybe just maybe me working so hard might have actually attributed to me becoming unwell now he's never really been able to directly say that but i spent a good number of years working probably beyond what i should have and that's a massive lesson if anyone can take anything from this podcast is try to keep your eyes open on the journey try to realize that when you get to a certain point other people will bring more value in almost every area of your business than you will just let it go don't micromanage it let other people start to drive your car for you because you can't drive it forever so now and i think that's all very good and i think that you know when you look at it part of what it is you know one is when as your startup in it most people and maybe not all but have kind of that type a person or hey i can do it all i can do better than anybody else and it's you know it's that learning to let go of the things that maybe you you know i hold on to the things that you can do the best you are best suited to and letting go of the things that other people can do as well or better than you can and sometimes i always go you know you hear 80 20 rule for a lot of different applications i always look at it more as if somebody can do a job 80 as well as i can and i can offload it to them then it's worthwhile to offload that so i can do the things that other people aren't able to do as well so as now as we jump forward as we fast forward that you know bringing it up to where you're at today so you made that adjustment that pivot you went through the health you know the health issues you saw the competitors come in so you decided hey i'm going to now pivot my business to where it is today which is more of well-being training and well-being trainer as related to the workplace so how has that gone and how's that business taking shape yeah so it was quite interesting because obviously when you tell people about that significant shift they're like whoa those industries don't seem related at all and i suppose what i kind of saw is in my time in tech i saw how much people struggle with the mental health i saw how much of a concern it was and through my own journey that really ignited a fire in me to think back to being that financial advisor why did i want that i wanted to help people and i realized that through venom games the video again business i wasn't helping anyone wasn't making any lasting impact on the world any legacy i was just moving some products around so as crazy as i am i want to go into the well-being industry and i look at it again it's not uh it's not a place that where i look like the face of well-being well-being is generally an area you know for your 40-year-old white female they spend the most on well-being if you look for imagery you'll generally find them because marketers are clever they're gonna go to where the market purchases where the people are absorbent and engaged in that and i was like okay maybe this is another industry i can go in and disrupt so last year i decided i was going to actually launch it and i've done a number of qualifications over the years and that again would stem from losing those qualifications back in the recession and i've been doing qualifications ever since in nutrition in sleep i took a master's in psychology and just generally pushed that forward and if i bring all these together with my genuine desire to help people and the experience of going through my own health issues and mental health issues and i'm sure i can bind all that and fuse it and deliver it as a service into businesses and coaching business owners to understand that what i've been through you don't have to you can become empowered engaged and enabled earlier to see look at the wider picture understand that your health mentally physically it's your biggest asset it's bigger than your business it's bigger than any grudge and it's bigger than anything that ultimately you can generate for your business and now i run workshops within organizations looking at the culture looking at the well-being of the employees looking at communication and just looking at how leadership leads the company forward the values and the purposefulness and i caught individual entrepreneurs and small business owners to really anchor into the fact that you're own personal and professional development are just as important as your business growth you don't want a massive business and to feel like a tiny person because that mismatch doesn't feel great and i really now anchor in and help people who've kind of been on a similar journey to myself hopefully before they hit that really big hit that big boom or that big crisis that really jolts them into realizing and knocking them out those patterns no i think that that's a a great great advice to share and what what people often are needing is they get into the startup and small business culture work 100 hours a week so to speak and looking for how to to keep a healthier lifestyle and a better balance and avoid some of those pitfalls so well as we now get towards the wrapping up the air towards the end of the podcast and always run out of time and never have enough time to talk about everything you could so we'll jump to the the couple uh questions always asking the end of each podcast so first one is is what was your worst business decision um it was probably not leveraging not hiring anyone else that's my worst business decision trying to do it all along self-made man i think you can do that up to a point but then you know as you discovered you reach a point where you you you only have so many hours of the day even if you can have all the skill skills and the talent you can't do it all by yourself so whether that's you know bringing out a partner whether they're saying hey i want to keep the equity and then just bring out employees or it's finding independent contractors there's a myriad of different ways but i think that's a good good thing to learn so now second question i always ask to starting or talking to someone that's just getting into startups or small businesses what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them um find what were you well you can bring value something that you enjoy because you're gonna have to do lots of things you don't enjoy find where your strengths are and something that's monetizable get all them together and find what's in the middle there'll be something in there for you that you can do that'll bring value to the world or get you paid will be something you enjoy and you'll be something you'll be good at and in that nexus point that's what you want to do and if you can do that execute it and just realize that you need very early to get into that point where you realize that it's not what you want it's what the market needs and find where your niche your audience is and start to learn their language all right no i think that's that's great advice on both on lessons you've learned as far as as well as um what people can do as they get into startups small business well as people want to reach out to you they want to learn more about how to do work you know workplace well-being they need a trainer they need wanting to come into a corporate gig they want to just connect out or find out more about you or anything or all the above what's the best way to connect up with you and reach out to you the best ways would be through my websites which are essentialize.cor.uk spelling will be in the show notes no date and leadchambers.org and all my socials are also bought on those websites all right perfect well i certainly invite everybody to reach out to you find out more about how they can find that work-life balance how they can help a better well-being and a better life and certainly appreciate you coming onto the podcast for everybody else that's listening if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to come on and be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventivejourneyguest.com to apply to be a guest on the podcast certainly if you're a listener make sure to click subscribe so you can get a notice notification of this and all the new website and all the new episodes as they come out and lastly um if you ever need any help with uh patents or trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip lot and we're always here to help start us in small businesses well lee thank you again for coming on it's been a pleasure it was fun to hear your journey and good luck on the next phase of your journey and wish it even better than the last thanks it's been a privilege devon you English (auto-generated) All Recently 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