Get Out Of Your Way
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Get Out Of Your Way
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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get out of your way because when i get out of my way and i actually open myself up like i have a business coach we use now and i actually open myself up to allowing someone else to give me some advice and say hey sandra this like you really need to go down this route like hold back on this do this it really opens me up for great things to happen and i mean that's really what's been happening now for us with tidy spaces is like when i get out of the way all these things start to happen and it's unbelievable [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devon miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as a ceo and founder of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help now today we have another great uh guest on the podcast sandra de meria maria maria maria i i was like oh i'm gonna slaughter this i was close with that you were a class so um we'll just go by sandra then then i'll make sure to do it but uh give you a quick introduction to sandra so i didn't go to college right away i wanted to go into uh the olympics with horses which sounds really interesting um and then kind of things fell through with the horses didn't quite end up working out so then end up going off to university i went to the north carolina got a degree i think it was in germany german and psychology if i remember right and then went into sales started out i think with copiers and then got into pharmaceutical cells and then biotech and then took a bit of time off to figure out what she wanted to do after doing sales for a period of time started a company helping public speakers booking gigs and kind of started that business with a few other partners and then those some of those partners fell through closed that business after a few years and then went into more of the event venue business with another or helping other businesses um did that for a couple years as well and they decided to go out and do her own thing or that which is what leads her where she's at today which is with the tidy spaces and she'll get into a little bit more about what that is and and how that's going so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast andrea thank you so much for having me i'm so excited to be here so now i have to ask just because i messed up on the last name is it sandra or sandra which one do you prefer sandra is what i prefer i will answer to either hey i got it right the first time but i'm like you definitely got that right definitely got that right so i gave kind of a brief run through of your of your journey but let's go back a bit in time to where you were going to your plan was to do uh horses in the olympics so tell us a little bit about that now your journey got started yeah so i rode horses uh since i was seven years old it was just my passion and my love um when i was in high school i had a horse that was definitely olympic material and that was kind of our goal our plan and i graduated high school in 1992 and instead of going away to college i took three four years off to try out for the olympic team um and unfortunately it you know it didn't work out i gave it my best um things don't always work out as planned and because i was a good student i made straight a's you know there was this i had um other adults that i rode with that were doctors lawyers teachers and they were like sandra you can always come back to horses they'll always be here but go to school get a degree because you got to have a trade to fall back on because very few people make it in the horse industry it's an extremely expensive sport it's a very risky sport i've had several friends with major injuries that have not been able to come back and it's like one percent of the people really do it to make a living i mean the people that like do the racehorses and own them they're making millions but that's a whole different sport than what i did i did three day eventing um so i decided to go to school and go i got a degree actually in biology and really quick so what is for those that don't know myself included what is three day eventing with horses or what were you going to do in the olympics with horses i i i'll plead my ignorance i didn't even honestly know that horses were in the olympics i'm more than curious as to what what you do with horses in the olympics well on the olympics they always keep the equestrian like 200 miles from the action because especially you need a lot of room for them you need places to board them and then you need all the arenas to show them in so three-day venting it was it's basically like a triathlon for horses the first phase is dressage it's your basics it's flat work the second phase is cross country which tests their their endurance and speed and your bravery because you're like running around the field with your pants on fire jumping like like these huge things it's crazy but it's fun and then the third phase is stadium jumping so that's a lot of people are familiar with show jumpers that's kind of like a smaller version of that um so it it it's tough and um it usually takes place over three days hence it's called three-day eventing so that's all right interesting i just was curious and it's it's it shows a bit of an ignorance my wife isn't doing the olympics a lot more than i am so she'll probably tell me how how i should have known this but i appreciate it so now that that fell through and you went off to college and you started insane you got german in psychology is that right biology biology isis it's the science of biology fair enough so once you got those now how did as you're coming out of school how did you take german and biology and get into sales so um i always wanted to be in science that was my science and math were my two favorite subjects in school and i really was going down a pre-vet or a pre-med route and i worked at a country club during college i went to coastal carolina small private school down there in conway south carolina and i worked with all these doctors and after talking to them they're like don't go to medical school they're like the amount of malpractice like you know they're filling me in on all this stuff and a lot of them have already been sued like three times and they're like unless you go into a specialty the money's not there anymore like you should have heard them they all would have done it differently and i'm like really and so they're like you need to go sell pharmaceuticals you have the right personality you're such a good sales person you're smart enough you'll learn all the you know the pharmacology stuff and they like you'd be foolish because you'll make great money you'll have a life you won't get food you'll have your weekends off like you shouldn't lawyers they ruin everything so i basically um you know i started having second guesses about do i really want to be a doctor this that and the other and i kind of went and talked to other people in other careers and you know that did sales that did different things and i just realized that this was something i really really wanted to do and like because the thing about going to medical school it's a commitment and it's a ton of money you can't do it halfway and if you have any little bit holding you back like that to get into that kind of student loans and that kind of you know you're talking i mean most people i know that did medical school it's a half million dollars or more they're paying back it's ridiculous so i was like well i can always go back to medical school it's not that hard to you know apply and try to get in so i decided um i came back to greenville south carolina and went to a job fair i talked to a couple of pharmaceutical companies and they were like well you have no business to business sales experience when you do that for two years come back and talk to us and i'm like well what do i need to do and they're like either go sell cars cell phones or copiers so at their job fair was a company called at that time it was called quality business systems they sold digital systems basically copiers and um i went for an interview and got hired on the spot and that's really how it all got started and um the guy that hired me is still my mentor and friend today and i was that was back in that was 21 years ago 2000 but and i like the point of the er it was a small point of the story which is they said go sell one of these three scenes he said he took that literally okay all pick copiers just it was there and i was like how hard can this be to land the stuff and it and it's it's hysterical because i go in for this interview and i'm thinking you know this like i'm looking at all these other people around me and i don't even think they care i had a college degree they asked me a couple questions i don't even remember what it was um you know i that that's a that was so long ago but they just like we're looking for somebody and i remember my boss told me this years ago um he said you just had this hustle about you you had something like about like an edge about you and i just knew that if people told you no you weren't gonna care and he's and he's like and i knew nothing about sales nothing about the process nothing about copiers i mean if i could plug it in we were doing good um and so that's how my sales career got started and to this day i still use some of the things i learned from that job which is just unbelievable you know when you think back 21 years ago it's like oh my god i still do some of the stuff that bill taught me um and i'm so great his name is bill canamere he has a company in charlotte and he's just so great and i'm so grateful for everything he taught me years ago and um and he's a really great person and um has done very well for himself so yeah so so you do that now for a period of time now what made you you got it you did copiers and then then did you get and then i think if i remember right you did get into pharmaceutical sales is that right yeah i did copiers for two years and i mean it really was a great way to find out if you're made for sales because it's a ton of rejection you have to and this was back when cold calling knocking on doors was how you did it now it's so different and i mean literally i would just go in and be like hey do you want a copier i knew nothing i had no skills nothing but they but he taught me and trained me everything i needed to know and all i did was i had the hustle and the grind and the grit that a lot of people don't have it was something he couldn't teach and i would just set up these appointments and demos and then i'd bring him in and he did his thing and i don't even know how we got what we got eventually i learned what i was doing but the first few months i just was like i set seven appointments for tomorrow and he's like great let's just and a couple of them were like bogus he's like why why do you have me in here i'm like i don't know they said they wanted a copier like you know what else are you coming if they said they wanted to buy it that's what i was told to do so but then like over time he finessed me and i got a skill set and i it got to where i didn't need him i could go close my own deals do my all my own paperwork but it was a lot of fun it was hard because the money like we got nothing for a salary it was the commissions you made the money on and then while i was working for him i had a pharmaceutical company at that time it was um a contract company called cardinal health and they hi they did an interview with me i actually went and met the boss the manager for lunch um bill paisley unfortunately he passed away this past year um and he called me up and he's like i like you i will have we're like relaunching a product we're gonna have a couple new territories i will have a job for you in two to three months and i was like okay he's like just chill out and hang doing what you're doing don't take any other offers and i had other i had two other people that knew this manager they're like yeah he wants to hire you you're good and three weeks later he called me and said somebody just left the company the territory is an hour away from you but you can at least get started with us we can get your training going and i got in with cardinal health they got bought from a company called bar laboratories and then bar laboratories later on down in through the years got bought from teva pharmaceuticals teva is still in business today i believe they are the top producer of all generics i mean what are they like a six seven billion dollar company um they're big and we i did all women's health called on ob gyns so now he did pharmaceutical sales for a while and he went back and forth between a couple of the the various companies now once you got you know then i think after that you took a break before doing public speaking and helping others to do public speaking or tell us a little bit what made you decide to take a break you know so you did you got the degree and then you said okay sales is the path to go then you went and sold copiers got the experience then you got into pharmaceuticals which is what you were shooting for what made you decide to you know go a different direction and take that break and uh and then eventually get more into helping people do public speaking or book public speaking goods yeah so gigs yeah so i did pharma and then i did a biotech for about two years after and so i did a total with all that about 12 plus years and at the end of it unfortunately i'm probably in trouble for saying this you know these pharma companies they're very greedy um you have you know it got very over inundated with sales people you had all these pods and you know the way they they had too many people selling the same product and it's a lot of money they're spending but they're also spending a ton of money in on drug and research and um and samples and all of that and it got very unethical like i had a manager one of my last managers that i worked for um i mean he's a nice guy but he just wasn't for me he was a bully and he wanted you to sell off label with which the fda and the department of justice would not be okay with and you know they're threatening your job they're threatening you like you need to do this or you're not going to have a job now i was in the top five percent of my company for about four years straight i was always at 123 of my sales i was untouchable so i of course pushed the envelope like i'd talk not talk back to him but i'm like no i'm not going to do that because it's not legal it's not ethical and that's not okay like you cannot sell a product off label that is so wrong on so many levels um i don't know if anybody saw that movie love and other drugs that was written by an actual farm farmer rep for eli lilly and there's things that happen in that movie and of course it's hollywood based so things are taken over the top but there are some things in there that yeah you really can't do like that's not okay so they had we had like a lot of layoffs going on like something like a 60 layoff and i just called the company and said um if you're looking for volunteers i'm ready to go because i was done i i literally i believed enough in myself to know i could find another job i could do something else and there was always other opportunities out there and i don't need this i don't need to be bullied and threatened and you know i want to sleep well at night and feel like i'm doing something for others and putting something out there that's worthwhile and i just i was done um and so they call us one day and let us go and everybody else is crying i'm drinking lunch i mean i'm like hey let's go have a cocktail because there's something else out there and i think that's what people forget is what their worth is and they get sucked into like my boss tells me i'm this and that's all i can do so um i then took about sorry i took pride i ended up taking about two years off i traveled i did i had fun um i turned 40 had a big party um and then i realized well maybe i should go back to work and do something so i just started thinking about what i like to do and i met um i met this girl through you know at that time it was all the meetups the networking events and i met um this girl named michelle who we just started talking and i had a concept about helping speakers find gigs because i had a couple friends that were speakers and they always struggled finding paid gigs and what it is is they were really good at speaking they just weren't good at selling themselves and i'm like oh you just need somebody to sell you i can do that how hard can that be and so through that we started this company called icubed agency which stands for um influence inspire impact and we met some other people we ended up having five partners which probably wasn't the smartest thing but you know it was a good learning experience so we got into this with five people and unfortunately i think three of them really wanted to start getting paid within three months of the business starting and you know as an entrepreneur and these startups you don't always as the owner you don't always get paid right away sometimes you do but i think it just depends and it's really hard when you have five people that are running this business and only one of us right here was the only one out there selling and they're all like well why aren't we getting paid and i'm like well go out and sell something and maybe you will like i mean we all have to kind of contribute and wear multiple hats so that's how i got into that um and it was it was a lot of fun we had a lot of really interesting speakers some really good some needed work but we set it up where they just paid us a percentage of like what they got paid um and we also ended up doing some um conferences one was an anti-bullying conference that we didn't do any marketing we didn't know what we were doing we really didn't and um we somehow had 400 people show up for this thing with minimal everything but it turned out to be a lot of fun and it was for pre-teens and teens a ton of kids showed up and got a lot out of it and it was amazing the stories that were shared um the different people that came to speak a lot of people wrote books about bullying that came and talked to these kids and it was a great experience and it's something like it's one of those things that i would love to get back into something like that down the road because it was such a good thing to do for the local community for the kids and it was something that you could offer in a lot of cities all over this country that could be very beneficial um because bullying is really different from where it was when we were kids so i really enjoyed that and i'd love to get into something like that again down the road well it's cool now it sounds like a fun business sounds like you know always some trade-offs with partners and you know if everybody pulls their own weight and everybody feels like they're contributing and inevitably my experience is that you'll always have some that pull or put or pull more weight than others and contribute more and how everybody views it so it's always a bit of a juggle so now you did that for a couple years and then you i think you transitioned or moved into doing a event venues business with another business or with other businesses is that right yes so while i had i cubed agency going i had a company reach out to me that had just it was a catering company um and they had just purchased or rented an event venue and they were having a hard time getting people to you know rent it out they're like we don't know really what to do with the space and i can't remember how i met them it was probably at some event or something and i talked to the owners and they did a quick interview with me and i said well i'll come in part time and give you about 20 25 hours a week this is what i can do that lasted about a month maybe two months and then they're like we want you full time um and i said okay i said well you know if i do it this is the i want to work from home like you know i had a haul on my list of stuff and they worked with me they were really fair well then about halfway into 2016 it was around the summer the owner approached me to take over the company he goes i have a lot of problems and i'm like you think he had people running people that were in charge of me that should have never been in charge they had no business they didn't know anything about running a business they had no standard operating procedures it was like they were a really good bartender and they were made sales director with no edu no formal education nothing it was just and he couldn't understand why i wasn't making money and i'm like well because you have somebody sitting there selling your wedding venue to people who can't afford it and instead of her saying we're not the right fit she's just discounting things across the board even discounting labor labor is one of the most expensive things in that industry you don't discount it and he went making money he was having a lot of problems so basically he approached me and said you have everything i'm looking for in a leader you're exactly what i want i need you to take over this and i was like no he approached he approached me like six times i'm like no no no no i don't want to do this this is a ridiculous hours i'm gonna work like there's a lot of problems here i don't want to take it over so then he finally said i have to do something you have to help me and i said okay we're in september of 2016 we got about three four months less to the end of the year i'll fill in while you interview and find the right person but that's it and i need a raise so he gives me a raise i took over and i had a meeting with them december of 2016 and i'm like hey have you found anybody what's going on no we really like you and want you to stay what do we have to do to keep you and he said can you show me what you were paid with pharma and all that so i pulled out some old offer letters and i said don't pass out because i mean he's he's a small business he's a three million dollar company he's not going to be able to afford what i got with pharma so he looked at it he goes i can't afford this i'm like i know you can't and i'm not going to ask you to do that because you would end up bankrupt i said but what you can is this and i wrote some stuff down that i wanted we agreed on most of it we had i mean it was some negotiation and so i said okay i will take over on one condition i have to let go about 70 percent of the people that currently work for you on the catering and the event venue and you need to let me hire who i need to hire and you need to invest some money you're to pay a little more in your salary to get the right people in here and um don't call me up and complain about it i need six months to get this where it needs to be for you and um basically don't bother me and yell at me that i'm costing you money and his wife thank god for her she was amazing she got it she was very progressive thinking she understood what i was trying to do she saw the writing on the wall and she totally backed me up and if i couldn't get it from him i got it from her if it was something i needed and within six months he was only making about sixty dollars a person when he did a wedding this was the venue the catering the bar everything within six months he was making over 150 a person because i changed up how we did it i put in a contract i mean i researched contracts i called his attorney to have them help me drop i would like write up a contract send it to them to make sure it's legal because you know they make it all fancy with the big words you know that um and that was it we turned it around and i did that until april of 2019. now what made you decide on uh on april 2019 to kind of you know after putting in a whole bunch of effort building the business turning it around what made you decide okay i want to go do my own thing um well yvette and anybody that works in the event industry whether you're a caterer you run an event venue you're an event planner a wedding planner it's a lot of hours a lot of time and you give up a lot of your personal life and i just kind of was like i'm done like i did it for almost three years um i was tired he was wanting to get out of it i knew that like he actually got out of the venue and just kept the catering business so i just sent them a nice note and said it's time for me to go i'll give you 30 days and that's it and i really had no plan everybody's like what are you going to do i'm like well i'm going to take like at least 30 days off and clear i was exhausted i mean i worked 80 to 100 hours a week and even though i was in charge i still don't work for myself i mean he was the only person i had an answer to the boss of the business but i still had an answer to someone and i just didn't want to anymore and so so yeah so you make that decision you say okay i'm gonna go do my own i'll take a little bit of time off i'll give them 30 knows give it take a little bit of time off now how did you you know decide from there to go to what you're doing i think now which is tidy spaces kind of how did you land on that and and then how has that gone since you've made that transition to be your own boss yeah so what happened was um at the same time my current business partner susan she had reached out to me we actually hadn't taught her in a few years and i met her years ago through um a retail store because her background was fashion and retail she reached out to me um she was like a regional manager for talbots and they had shut down the store in charleston and she was not in a position to move with them they wanted to move her and she reached out to me that you know she's not sure what she wants to do blah blah blah blah blah and this was right around april of 2019 and i was like hey sues i said you remember when i bought my house like you know this was like seven years ago and i had the closets custom done and you came in and organized for them and they looked amazing and you know i've stuck with every system you put into play i said how come you haven't turned that into a business like that's a great i said don't you know there's a whole national association of professional organizers out there like this is a business and it doesn't look like it's that hard to start da da da da she goes you know sandra i've thought about that because i have a couple friends that i did a few things for like i did for you but she goes sandra i really there's things about the business i don't know and i won't even know how to start a website social media like you got to be able to do all that now and that's just not my thing and i said but i know how to do that like i i could help you so we met in like later that month um at a mexican restaurant in hilton head south carolina over tacos and tequila we came up with tidy spaces the name the concept it took us about an hour to put it all together and we just had our two-year-old birthday on mother's day may 9th of 2019 we officially were llc'd and um that first year we didn't do a ton of clients we did just a few things because we were really trying to figure stuff out like do we want a website you know all these things that go with the business putting in operations a process and um we you know we just kind of came together and it was around january of 2020 we her and i talked and said okay what do we really want to do with this like are we going to do this full-time is this going to be a hobby where are we going and i was at the point where it's like well i just want to work for myself so we can definitely do something with this there's other things i want to do and we just decided okay we're going to move forward with this so we hit the streets like we got people booked we had clients signed up we were doing a ton of stuff with seniors and people like downsizing from big houses to assisted living that was kind of becoming our specialty well then what happened in march of 2020 covent do you think any senior citizen was going to let us in their house even with mask and a gl and gloves on no way we lost every client we booked from march and through april i think may june i had clients booked march through june every single client cancelled and i didn't know if i was going to get them back and we couldn't even get into like assisted living to help them get moved in things like that so we then were like okay what are we going to do and i said well we got to go virtual i said there's this you know all this zoom out there and face time we got to figure out how to do this we got to really hit social media hard we've just got to do more so we ended up hiring um three amazing young women that work for me that help us with content social media blogs things like that that are way smarter than those of us that are a little older and they're super talented and they really helped us drive that social media and you know make sure it looks good we're getting real followers not fake ones and we just then we're like we did a few virtual like like we are right now on zoom helping people organize their closets like whatever you can come up with to survive and then by end of may beginning of june we were able to start getting into people's houses and we like i did some work with a realtor um i had several realtors i did work with and we just started building and it's just kind of been a snowball effect i actually ended up coming back to south carolina because unfortunately my dad is not doing well but things here have been going really well um and you know we've had our ups and downs but overall it's great like everything that you wish for is happening and now it's to the point where i'm getting ready to hire some sales people to help with sales because susan and i are getting so busy with the jobs like you got to find that balance and you know i just put an ad out and i must have like 50 resumes to read now and i'm like oh my gosh i got to really do this all over again but this is always plenty to keep you busy but this is the fun of it like you know it's that for me it's like that drive that like like somebody says like when do you work i'm like i'm working all the time but it sometimes doesn't feel like work i don't know if that's like that for you you know i always always used to joke that you know my hobbies were startups in the sense that usually if i wasn't working and doing my business i was my mind was always thinking about the next business i did the next startup or the next day and yeah and there's always more things to talk about than time to talk about them so as we as we start to wrap towards in the podcast that kind of brings us up to where where you're at today i always have two questions that i ask at the end of each podcast so why don't we jump to those now okay so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it um so i think the worst business decision was i think probably when i was getting into the icubed agency and i think something that happened was not asking for help allowing my ego to get into the way in the way of what we were doing and not asking either my partners for help or like other people whether it was a business coach or somebody else who had done it i think that really probably was part of the downfall of that business i mean i'm glad in a way the business failed because i learned a ton from it um but i think not asking for help was the biggest mistake because i think had i like sat down and gotten some help in areas where i thought i needed or i thought i didn't need it when i really needed it i think it would have been different but i think i needed to learn that lesson so i don't know and i think that you know that one's often times as a entrepreneur or as a startup or minded individual someone you know likes to to be in charge it's always hard to step back and say hey wait a minute i don't know everything some things i need to learn i need to ask for help a lot of times there's a lot of people willing to give that help and wanting to to you know give input give feedback pitch in or whatnot but if you never ask they'll never know to help so i think that that's an easy mistake to to learn but something some def or easy mistake to to make but definitely something to learn from so now as we jump to the second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business what'd be the one piece of advice you give them um i think and this i just recently really learned um get out of your own way i think it is i am someone that i can do anything i want when i when i am like on fire and at the top of my game but when i'm in a place where like either i'm not in agreement or i'm resisting or in the wrong mindset oh my gosh what a big chaotic mess it can be and i think i've had to learn this and i think anybody that is truly that entrepreneur who's driven and ambitious we want to control everything and do it our way just like you know the frank sinatra song i did it my way which would be my theme um but get out of your way because when i get out of my way and i actually open myself up like i have a business coach we use now and i actually open myself up to allowing someone else to give me some advice and say hey sandra this like you really need to go down this route like hold back on this do this it really opens me up for great things to happen and that i mean that's really what's been happening now for us with tidy spaces is like when i get out of the way all these things start to happen and it's unbelievable um and i'm i'm so grateful that that is a lesson i've learned i'm willing to learn it i hope i don't have to repeat it again but i might um but i think that's the biggest thing that if you want to get into this just get out of your way and and listen to others because that has truly helped me and i like that i think that that's certainly good advice and certainly something that people can take to heart as they are as they're getting their startup up and going well as we wrap up if people want to connect up with you 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 find out more um so we have a website tidyspaces.com um also i can be reached at sandra tidyspaces.com or follow us on facebook or instagram and instagram it's thetidyspaces and facebook it's tidy spaces llc we do a lot of tips and tricks and advice out there for organizing and anything to get you organized and motivated in your home or office but um we'd i'd love to hear from you feel free to reach out and i look forward to hopefully meeting some of your followers one day awesome well i definitely encourage everybody especially those that need to keep their spaces tidy which is just about everybody um to reach out find out more and then and get involved so well thank you again sandra for coming on 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 and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com we'd love to have you on the show two more things as a list as listeners one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast players so you know what all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so others can find out about all of our awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else with the business just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat thank you again sandra and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you so much devon it's been a [Music] pleasure you