Don't Make Their Mistakes

Don't Make Their Mistakes

Remy Blumenfeld

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

10/9/2020

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Don't Make Their Mistakes

There are inevitably people who have trod the path that you are on beforehand. And, whereas it may feel like an exciting adventure that you are on alone, there are people who have made mistakes which you don't need to make because they can tell you what they are.

There are people who have had successes that you won't understand until they share them with you. So the role of advisors and mentors and board members, however they have come into your company, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is "take their advice"...


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.

ai generated transcription

there are inevitably people who have tried the part that you're on before and whereas it may feel like an exciting adventure that you are on alone there are people who have made mistakes which you don't need to make because they can tell you what they are there are people who have had successes which you won't understand until they share them with you so the role of advisors and mentors and board members and however they come into your company it doesn't really matter what matters is take advice [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 built uh 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 uh guest on the episode uh remy blum bloomfield i almost said it wrong um but uh remy is has is a first of all lives in kent england so he'll his accent will be slightly different than my accent i'm always slightly jealous of other people of accents so generally utah has the most in a good or hasn't the least recognizable accent and that's their interesting side back just as a side that's why there's a lot of actual call centers that are outside that you're out in utah is because we don't have a very recognizable ass accent we don't have a lot of words that we are based on where you're from so we actually have a lot of call centers because we don't have much of an accident so i'm always jealous of an english accent or an australian accent or other cool accents but anyway now i'll go back for my aside so um remy has a history in doing a lot of what i say journalists are working in the um film and tv and radio or broadcasting production those type of industries so started out as work as a wall street journal as a reporter in the wall street journal then switched over to be a journalist for another company and then at one point the company is working for um went under overnight and so he had to making a bit of an adjustment and then bringing him up to where he's at today um with doing some content creation and then building his own business so there's a very uh very condensed version of what we'll go through today but welcome on to the podcast remy thank you it's great to be here with my english accent all the way from england hey as i said i'm always jealous because nobody nobody ever says utah has a cool accent so whenever i hear somebody else's accent i'm always a slightly jealous but so i gave you maybe a brief overview of where you're at but maybe if you wanted to start back in history and tell us a little bit about your journey that got you to where you're at today well you did a great job devin so i did start my career as a reporter for the wall street journal tv report and i went on from there to be a reporter on american tv stations where i actually learned how to speak to americans in english harder than you might think so as a side note so are you able to turn off your english accent and have an american accent i am able to do that but that isn't what i did on tv i just spoke english in a way that was clear so americans could understand it all right the reason now you've got me down another rabble because i don't know are you ever familiar with the show house it was an old doctor show and yeah yeah laurie you laurie i i like you laurie but he was i think he's english anyway he has an accent i can't remember it's english or not but then you watch the show you have no idea and then i watch like you know when he does other things and he talks in an english accent and it was it was just interesting how you could switch it on and off so easily well i can talk in america and i can speak with an american accent you might not actually know that i was from great britain when i'm speaking american like this but it feels a bit phony so i'm going to stop it right now um that was pretty good so i didn't mean to do it it just was we got somehow got down that rabbit hole so i thought it was interesting so one question before you dive into that when you did wall street journal and then you did the other ones so what kind of because you know excuse my ignorance you know wall street journal has a lot of i would say different types of articles or different types of categories and certainly journalism in general so was there a specific niche of hey i cover wall street and i covered the you know stock exchange or did i cover businesses that were fraudulent they're you know now they're getting investigated what kind of work reporter and the wall street journal report at that time the wall street journal tv report only came out once a week so whereas the paper was very reactive or as reactive as the daily printed paper could be to the news the tv show was taped on a friday and usually went out on a saturday sunday monday across the stage so we did mostly feature reports in other words taking stories which had been in column six of the front page of the wall street journal and turning them into features so i i did what you would call feature reporting on trends in lifestyle spending consumer habits uh that kind of thing and and mostly my career in the states and i was in my late teens early 20s when i was doing that and i then came back to england and built my first tv production company when as you rightly said the channel that i was working for merged and i was made out of out of work overnight so i since my since my mid-twenties i've been an entrepreneur founding companies um two of which i've managed to sell and then i've gone on to work for the parent company in what is termed an earn out so i have a little understanding of what it is to be an entrepreneur and also what it is to be the acquiring mega company that acquires small businesses and all this stuff you hit on a very interesting note then you jumped quickly off after it so you had the one company that you were working at and basically kind of overnight it went under right or you overnight it went away so how do you as an entrepreneur as a business person go from hey we're having a good company or successful to almost overnight having it shut down and what's that experience or how do you deal with that because it in some way you know i get it's a different motivation reason but that's kind of what happened with a lot of people coping right things were going great literally almost overnight you had lockdowns and shutdowns and people had to say my business was gone or i've got to figure out something else to do so how did you make that transition or how did you deal with that well i was in my 20s so i was quite lucky in that way also the company that went under wasn't the company that i owned so it was really only on upside i didn't see that that way at the time seemed like a disaster but it gave me the opportunity to found my first company because when you're creating something from nothing it only there's only upside um so my company that was employing me going out of business actually provided the opportunity to start a new company and what i wouldn't say is this devin i have been coaching through this pandemic both the founders of companies that are retrenching and founders of companies that are just launching now in this pandemic and what's really interesting i think is to look at the lessons of these pandemic startups and see how we can learn from them because what they're doing is they're just saying to themselves what is the company i would love to be running for the next 10 years what is the company that i feel most excited by what is the company that has a future from this point on and when we don't carry the past with us we're able to be much more creative and much more inventive and a lot of the founders that i work with who have been working on their business for 10 15 20 years feel a great sense of loss because they're having to cut people back they're having to give up offices they're having to make these very tough decisions around slimming down whereas what i'm trying to encourage them to do is to see this as a time when they can actually rise from the ashes as any kind of phoenix they wish to because effectively everything has stopped so it's really hard when you're to turn around a ship when you're in a in a current or in the wind but when you're in a dead calm you can actually say is this the right vessel for us or would we be better rebuilding this vessel in a new way what's been really exciting is to see some founders use this as an opportunity to create a new business from scratch around the debris of what exists around them to say what is the company that we would most love to be running and then try and assemble the team that they need to run that and very often it's a smaller company with less people on the payroll it's in smaller premises or people working remotely and nearly always it's something that's connected to their vision of the world now and it's often a vision that involves giving back because i think the only kind of company that really has a future is a kind of company that connects with communities and values of people around them that's who we want to buy from that's who we want to work with no and i agree and it gives me kind of pause or reflection back on some what would be my own journey and i typically don't share my envelope give this a quick aside and you know so one of the companies i started with when i was all the way back in mba school started with a business company or a business competition and buying out the partners it was for wearable for hydration monitoring and at one point um it went through a period where we got a frivolous lawsuit but we were building it it's going well and then also we got a frivolous lawsuit contrary to yes i am an attorney but it still takes a whole lot of time money and effort aside from building the company to deal with that whether it's a good lawsuit frivolous loss or anything and people always say oh i'm going to show them in court but yeah you take money away from the business you can't reinvest takes time away and short story is is that you know it put us not a full pause we were still going but it put a very large pause on the business but it also made us sit back and reflect almost kind of what you said is now if we were to you know reimagine what this business could be or what we could build this business or how we could adjust it what would we do differently and from that you know we ended up acquiring the company the suit us which we got them for pennies on the dollar and then we also pivoted and took it in a much different direction and it's provided a lot more opportunities since then so but it's kind of that having a sit or sometimes to have being forced to take that hard pause you oftentimes don't want to do but because you're because you're entrenched because you've been doing it away and and if you'd actually take that hard pause and sit back and have to think about it it can create a lot of better businesses or opportunities so just that was my short aside but maybe as we just now let's jump back into your journey just a bit so had to take that pause had your own production companies and then how did the how did you pick up the journey from there and where did you go from that point well i guess what i discovered is what many leaders discover at a certain level is that 90 of what i was doing running my own companies was coaching the people who were at the senior management of that company and the only thing was i wasn't trained to be a coach and they weren't coming to me for coaching so it was a slightly weird situation which i decided to take action on by training as a coach because i thought if my job 90 of my job is coaching people i should have some coaching skills and i guess i discovered the fundamental difference between what i was doing before as a coach and what i was meant to be doing as a coach was that before i was trained i was trying to solve people's problems for them i was rescuing um whereas having been trained as a coach i've learned how to get people to solve their own problems so i don't need to understand your industry intimately in the way that i understood the industry i was in before i simply need to know how to lead you to a place where you can make informed and better decisions from the place of a leader so i did that training and found that i so enjoyed that process being a professional coach and i so enjoyed the luxury of being able to work with people across the creative industries not just in the television production sector that i had experience in but i decided to roll that out and and that's what i have grown my business to do so now i run a business which only coaches founders and ninety percent of my founders are the founders of content businesses publishing companies tv production companies animation houses gaming studios and the like and i've created a nine-part program for founders everywhere in how to build grow and sell a successful content driven business and and that's yeah that's my livelihood and that's what brings me joy no i think that that certainly there is a is a fun path to go so one question is like as i dive a bit deeper so you kind of alluded to it or started into it but as you you know you decided hey what i'm really doing within my production companies oftentimes more doing coaching and mentoring and helping them out and guiding them then i'm doing production type of a thing you know so as you made that transition was it just a kind of uh start one day i woke up and i had this realization that i'm going to switch more into coaching or is it more of an incremental or what kind of caused that transition because for a while in your career you are in the production you work everything from wall street journal to tv or tv shows and production and niching down and focusing on that and it seems like you know while you're still in the same industry but you're doing a much you know different job on the coaching side how was that transition or you know what what gave you motivated you to make that transition well i i guess it was a couple of things it was first of all the other 10 so i wasn't just coaching as the leader of my own company i was doing a lot of the time but not all of the time and then also the fact devin that the people i was coaching weren't coming to me for coaching very often that was what they needed however that wasn't the contract we had they were my employees and to coach employees is important but you have the best way to coach people is by invitation and with permission and since i loved coaching i figured i actually saw the difference between the experience of coaching people who'd come to me for advice who come to me for mentoring and special business advice and coaching the people who were working for me who i was coaching and it was so much more enjoyable coaching people who had come to me specifically for that and we're paying me because when you pay somebody else when they're an employee it's really hard to coach them it's really hard to coach them because they're trying to impress you they feel like they should be taking on everything and have all the answers they don't necessarily want boring and coaching um whereas the people who i now coach wanted so that's a big difference and that that makes all the difference in what i'm able to achieve for them no i think that makes good sense so so now as you made that and they've made that transition now it's focusing on the coaching and finding clients and people that actually want to coach you know is the business gone well has it gone up has it gone down has it been a roller coaster or how is that shift to coaching are gone as far as you know what you're now that you kind of put your focus on that well my business is very specific to to founders of content companies and it has grown to that so i had a lot of clients who weren't necessarily in that space before and now all my clients are so that's the main difference before i think when i started out i was understandably risk averse i didn't want to put all my eggs in one basket and and this is really one of the key bits of advice that i pass on to any any founder of any business it's so important to define your niche in a very narrow way and i thought that i was defining it in a narrow way by saying i coach creative industry leaders because that to me seemed quite narrow but it isn't nearly as narrow as saying i coach founders of content companies so there's lots of creative leaders who i don't coach and if you'd asked me to pin that to the wall when i started i would have said i can't do that no one will come but what i discovered is they do and in fact you know the narrower my niche was the more clients i attracted and my my company has grown to the point where i've decided to launch this course so that i can roll out a lot of the content that i deliver one-on-one uh with people via video around the world because it's just not possible to coach everyone one one-on-one not unless you can start to clone yourself or you have a very very dish market but yeah and i think that that you know the draw you're not the drawback the reason why a lot of people don't niche down or they don't dish down as much as because you feel like you're leaving money on the table right i niche down so many i only i won't have any clients and or i'll have all these people that would otherwise be my client but then they think oh he can't do that because he's too knit and so i think that that's kind of almost you know for lack of a better trap that a lot of entrepreneurs or startups get into is you have to be everything to everybody in order to make sure you don't lose out on any of the sales or you know lose out on any of the nuclear clients that could walk through your door and you know i tend to agree with you more that as you niche down as you find what one you enjoy into what you can offer where the value is that you're much better at and different from tends to add or helps to grow your business more and make it flourish and that's even as i look at you know what we do with miller ip law most of the legal industry doesn't niche down to startups and small businesses they want to go for big businesses and i get why and they can make a lot of revenue but when we niche down said okay are really our focus is startups and small businesses that's who we're going to serve us that's we're going to build things around it was when we started to really have that focus that it helped us to grow into and to expand and reverse what we were doing previously so i think that that's very smart so now as you so now you take that and you say now let's look at the next six to 12 months where we're headed what we're going to do where what how we're going to build or how we're not going to build or how we're going to stay small or whatever the plans are what does the next six to 12 months look like for you guys well for me it's really rolling out my nine part course which is called standout content company founders because there are people in canada australia across america new zealand who are in this very interesting time and i say interesting advisedly but it's challenging and it's around how do we create a company that has a future and that excites us because if you're the founder of a content company it's really important that you love what you do so it's not just about surviving if you want to survive there are plenty of other things you could do so how do we build a company that we love running that has a purpose that delivers to clients and that has a future so that one day someone will want to buy it and that one day may well be a bit more in the future than you thought it was going to be before because we're in strain we're in strange time i think there will be a lot of consolidation for many reasons not least because medium-sized companies will find it more efficient to be brought together whether they do it uh as collaboratives or whether they're acquired by larger companies so i think there's going to be consolidation and there's going to be a lot of repurposing around companies redefining what they want to do so i'm there to support the businesses that do that and and that's you know that's my role as a business advisor and a coach i don't have any huge plans to grow my business beyond where it's at now um but i am excited by the possibilities which our digital age offers and you know to your point about niching um and by the way i think being an ip lawyer for small to medium-sized companies is quite nice because you're an ip lawyer and it's just being an ip law in itself is quite niche um but no one actually goes out online looking for a lawyer right they look for a divorce lawyer or a corporate lawyer or a ip lawyer so i think saying what it is you do well is so important at whatever sector you are because no one actually goes out looking for a coach or business advisor they go out looking for a coach or business advisor with a specialty which is their specialty so you start you immediately stand out from the crowd when you say what it is you do best and well because that then connects you with the people who are looking for you so if you just said you know we're a lawyer who would come to you all the wrong people whereas if you say we're an ip lawyer for small to medium-sized businesses you immediately attract the people who have that need and it's the same for me i am a coach for founders of content companies who want to build grow and sell no yeah and on that i think that it one it clarifies your message right so that way when startups you know and i'm taking my example the same for you when startups or small businesses come to us saying after when they're looking for an ip attorney one that they can find someone that actually lines up with what they're looking for but then when they find us and say no this is what they do and it's a much clearer message rather than just hey we're an ip firm that does ipv pads and trademarks for anybody out there and they say okay well they're probably the same as everybody else right we don't stand out because we are you know when you make it so broad you know you know nobody knows that you hey we have this area of expertise and specialty because you're trying to be everything everybody so that's kind of i think kind of plays off with what you did so so now as you take that and you're you're building it we're gonna now jump to the two questions i always ask at the end as we start to wrap up just a bit so the first question i always ask is uh throughout your journey what was your worst business decision ever made well i think it was probably a series of repeated worst business decisions that were the same worst business decision and i think it's another thing which small to medium-sized founders often do um we start businesses i started a business so that i didn't have to work for somebody so that i could be my own boss right and i started a business so that i could have autonomy and i started my own business so that because i i like running my own business but what i didn't do when i was first running my own companies was i didn't hire people who were better than me at different things i didn't hire people who were more experienced older had more connections had of their own niche specialties and of course clients occasionally gave me not so subtle hints in a british way you know they'd say have you ever thought about hiring such and such an executive and i i'd go no and of course what they were saying was we think you're too young and too inexperienced to trust with this much money in this kind of project and we as a client would feel much safer if there was someone who we could blame who had a real reputation in that area and i was missing a trick which i think a lot of founders of small businesses miss which is when you are the owner of the business whatever opportunities the people who you employ bring you benefit from so if you bring in someone with twice as much experience and twice as much pulling power and twice as much name recognition as you have whatever business they bring in no matter what deal you do with them you're still benefiting no matter how much you pay with them no matter what the split on profits is you as the founder of the person who's benefiting the most and your business is benefiting the most so it's really important to put that ego aside and just go what would it take to make this sale and it's usually a person it's hiring a person who's the right person for that particular project relationship client whatever it is and and doing it at whatever the cost to your self-worth feeling of being good enough just do it so that was the mistake i made i didn't hire people who were as good or better than me in different areas and it took me a long time way too long i'm embarrassed to say how long it took to actually turn that round and recognize you hit on a note which is i think common throughout a lot of stars from you know as a founder or co-founder you guys first of all you think that you're you're smarter than everybody else or you can do it better than everybody else and then you also tell tend to tell yourselves the lies of hey well by the time i bring someone on i'm going to have to train them it's going to take me longer to bring them on board and train them than me that's doing it myself and so you end up spending more time and effort and at some point you may be able to do a better you know one-off or short-term you may be able to do a given task but if you're always forever doing it yourself and never bringing on those people with expertise and or being offloaded so you can focus on what you do best it always makes it for you know at some point you're not able to deliver or you're always running behind or you're never able to do or grow as well as you want or provide as good of a service so i think that's a good lesson to learn from and i would be in the same boat as you as far as waiting too long to my first hiring yet then once you start to make those hires and say oh now i can offload this and i can upload that these people are gonna do this much better and i can focus my time on this which was a lesson that i had to learn the hard way as well so so as we jump now to the second question which is um if you're talking to someone that's in or just getting started with a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them i would say choose your mentors and advisors and again it's a matter of swallowing whatever you need to swallow in order to do that because there are inevitably people who have tried the part that you're on before and whereas it may feel like an exciting adventure that you're on alone there are people who have made mistakes which you don't need to make because they can tell you what they are there are people who have had successes which you won't understand until they share them with you so the role of advisors and mentors and board members and however they come into your company it doesn't really matter what matters is take advice if you need to pay for it but make sure that you're learning from other people's mistakes so that you don't make them no i think that's that is great advice and something that everybody should certainly um take to heart well as we now as we're wrapping things up if people want to whether they're in the content creation industry and within your niche they want to use your services they want to learn more they just want to learn more about your story or otherwise connect up with you what's the best way to connect with you the best way is on my website which is remybloomanfeld.com and that is spelled r e m y b l u n e n f e l d dot com remybloominfeld.com or of course on linkedin all right well i definitely encourage people to reach out i think you're you're certainly for within your niche a great resource for people to to use and to utilize and to help them to grow their business and find those mentors and those coaches and people that will help them excel so thank you again for coming on the podcast now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own story to tell your own journey then you'd like to come on and be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventivejourneyguest.com and apply to be a guest on the show and uh for those of you that are listeners make sure to click the subscribe to get a notification of what each time a new episode comes live so you can won't miss any of the great episodes including this one and uh last of all um for those of you that need help that are startup or small business with your patents or trademarks feel free to reach out to us at miller ip law remy thank you again for coming on it's been fun to hear a bit of your journey wish the next next lead leg of your journey even better than the last and uh look forward to seeing how things continue to go for you kevin take care all right [Music] English (auto-generated)

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