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Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Invest In Experts
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 it's worth making the investment in people that are really good at their job you focus on what you're really good at and your expertise and hire those the attorneys the hr professionals the marketers whatever holes that you have uh make the investment on the front end because it's gonna actually save you time and money down the road versus you trying to figure it out on your own [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups and seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law for help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast lori heibi and there's a quick introduction to lori so i went to high school loved art classes and went to university and started to or started out in our classes before moving over to marketing and has been in marketing ever since so um worked full time and did school and nights and weekends i believe i worked for a web development company while in school graduated worked for a couple different marketing agencies um and then while working at the last agency uh her boss and mentor got into a motorcycle accident i believe and uh she took over some of her of his accounts and then she took over his book of business and then the last or later the owner asked her ask the owners or later uh ask the owner she become a partner decided that would leave do her own thing in about 2008 and so thought she could do a better which i think is the uh or how most entrepreneurs in business starts and it's then evolved over the last 13 years from there so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast lori well thank you you you did a good job capturing all the notes didn't you that's right i try and give a i try and condense a much longer journey into a 30 second uh preview so i did my part now is turning it over you just a bit so now let's unpack that a little bit more so tell us a little bit about where your journey got started in high school with art class yeah i mean i as any high school student is you know what is it that really what kind of classes do you want to take where do you want to go and i i just found that i was really passionate about art and so i i exhausted all the programs that my high school offered and i actually ended up taking some classes um so art college courses um while i was in high school um and then that's where i learned a little bit about kind of the path uh related to going to college and in the um art career so i started going out for uh commercial art which is now referred to as graphic design today so that might give you a little um tip as to my age they don't even call that anymore um but when i was in class uh attending a sociology course i found and was completely fascinated by the concept of how other how your surroundings really influence your decision making and that's really where my interest in marketing came so i changed my major from commercial art to marketing um very non-traditional student as you mentioned so i was going to school nights and weekends while working you know a couple different jobs um equating to about 40 or 50 hours a week let me ask one question just before you jump too far so you started out kind of taking art classes in college um what made you switch to kind of go the you know or now graphic design but you know our yeah and what made you switch to marketing was that hey job prospects are horrible in art and i never were going to be employed or was it more hey i love marketing and want to do that or hey some you know had a good class or good experience or kind of what made you decide to shift yeah it was so that sociology class that i took and you know there was a chapter that about like how messaging influences decisions you know and and your surroundings and and so um when i was you know going to school for the commercial art and understanding like colors and images and visuals and how how they can influence um things the messaging side of things is really impactful too so marketing uh and just how understanding and creating messages that connect and resonate with your audience really is what attracted me and i realized that you know from a creative perspective it doesn't just have to be you know drawing or painting something it's so much bigger than that and that's what was like wow i didn't really this was like a whole world that exists from a from a you know career perspective and yeah a lot more opportunities than you pursue marketing versus uh commercial art which is this really small window of of creativity no and that definitely makes sense and so didn't mean to interrupt your story so now you say okay gonna switch gonna it's a different field never realized it was even out there and it sounds fun and exciting now you worked uh as a for a firm as you're going through uh college right yeah so i was actually working at a web development company while i was pursuing my commercial art uh degree and learning a ton of really cool things when it comes to just the creative and visual side of things but um when i switched to marketing it expanded it even further and it's like okay so you can make a website look pretty but let's talk about making sure like that user experience is is really powerful and the messaging is strong and then how are we going to get people to that website so it's just like opening up this whole world uh as i mentioned so um i went from i'm gonna pursue an associate's degree to now i'm gonna get a bachelor's degree in marketing to wow this whole business thing is fascinating i'm gonna go get my master's in business um so that is fascinating journey went to school way longer than i anticipated no but you know it's interesting so i never i got an mba or when i did the law degree in the and i did an mba at the same time but it was interesting more so after i got the mba and i got into the real world is interesting the psychology behind marketing and converting people and calls to action and funnels and follow-ups and you know it's one where i never really for a while in my career never really thought about it oh you get a client you get do the work you take care of them and they'll come back but there's a lot more involved to that and it makes it a lot more interesting and fun because it has a lot of opportunity to you know have skill to try things out and do different things and adapt it to different markets so i can definitely get the appeal there so now you so you're coming out of school you've been working you know night or working full-time doing school nice weekends you get that all finished up you graduate and then you went to uh a marketing agency is that right yeah well i was working at a web development company while i was going working on my associates and um and then i switched to a more traditional advertising agency and so there you know i learned a lot about doing outdoor radio print you know putting ads in newspapers buying billboards so i mean that was really cool to learn all those things but i learned um at the end of the day that the digital was really kind of where i was excited about like the technology the new up and coming i mean you could do so much more from you know testing things like if you're putting an ad in newspaper once it's printed it's printed you can't you know go back and you delete it and erase it like you can right yeah so there's just a lot more i guess cushion for um creativity because you can quickly tweak things in the in the digital space and just i was fascinated by the evolution of what's happening in the space i mean this was um you know 15 plus years ago that i i really found that i'd rather be in the digital space as opposed to the the traditional marketing space no i think that definitely makes sense and this certainly was probably the right choice given where um marketing and sales and the our online and everything it continues to move in that direction so now you worked with the i think you mentioned you worked with a couple different marketing agencies over a period of time and it was the last agency you worked with that i think your boss and mentor got in a motorcycle accident that kind of sets you on in a roundabout way saying on the path where you're at now so maybe give us a little bit of insight there sure yeah i mean i don't think that you know there's some people that are very serial entrepreneurs like yourself like this is what you're going in and this is what you're gonna do and i didn't necessarily have that mindset going in um i found my mentor and i was super excited because i i was kind of looking for one um and unfortunately i only got to spend about 10 months with him because as as you mentioned you got in a motorcycle accident and that was kind of what i refer to as like my pivot point in my professional career is i was either it was my time to like go all in and just kind of support the business as much as i possibly could or say you know i'm not in i'm not interested in and and leave them hanging and you know go find a job somewhere else and i decided to go all in and i learned a ton you know here i was um early super early twenties managing over a million dollars worth of business for this agency um and and was given you know some responsibility to not only maintain it but to grow it um and i did that which was super awesome um and they wanted me to kind of pursue some additional new business opportunities and that's where i said hey i'm doing all these great things make me a partner um and i don't know if it was you know they're looking at me like this young foolish little girl we're not gonna make you a partner um they're they were close uh getting ready for retirement so you know if anything it was an opportunity for them to to build their exit plan um but they didn't look at it that way so i decided you know what i can do this on my own and that's what i did my my young ignorant self not really knowing what i was getting into but i think that anybody that sets off on the entrepreneur do your own thing start your own business path has to have a relatively high level of naivety in in the sense that if you knew all the things you're getting yourself into the sleepless nights figuring things out the being the janitor being the boss being the hr department marketing sales client development everything all and all mixed together you probably would never start so i think that definitely it's it's one of those once you get in you probably love it but you would nev nobody had ever started they knew what they were getting in for on the front end so so now you get going on you know do your own business say okay they're not going to make me partner i'm going to go to go my own way i'm going to do my own thing it sounded like you had a few clients that were willing to follow along with you or to come along with business now did it go once you started out did you go swimmingly you just hey we got clients and we built a big business and it went successful and no issues and no drawbacks or is it the opposite of hey it was a big slog and it was hard to find clients and you had to pivot you almost went bankrupt or kind of how did it go for you um i just like to describe being a business owner entrepreneur as a roller coaster ride i can just answer that question for you right away um you know i've seen some visuals shared on social media like oh yeah i'm a business owner and it's a straight line to awesome dollars but no the reality is it's you have there's highs and lows and you've got random loops that you're thrown into and as much as you plan and i'm a huge advocate for planning and i'm sure we'll cover that later but um it's never going to go the way you planned so um you know i blasted my entire network everyone i knew email address mailing address and said hey this is what i'm doing let me know if you're interested i got my first three clients that way i did have some clients follow me which was awesome um you know i respected the business and didn't didn't actively act uh reach out and and try to win their business they um they reached out to me so that was fair in that sense um and then um yeah i had a business partner for a short period of time that was extremely short-lived and uh basically i've been on my own um since uh about six months into starting the business i would say um and yeah i learned some serious lessons especially on on the legal side of things uh related to to that so it cost me a lot of money to get rid of my business partner um about fifty thousand dollars so i know you have a question around your your worst business decision so i might be jumping ahead to that one don't answer that question but i think that one point kind of follow one question because i think that you hit on it you know first of all i agree with you i always look at it and i always used to say it was the same thing as a roller coaster and then i always had i had someone else as another guest on the podcast said you know it's more of like the whole theme park you get to the parking lot and you're excited you get your tickets you go in then you go on sunrise and get banged around and you have to take a break and then you go and you get the corndogs and you eat way too many and it makes you sick and you have to take a sit down then you go get on the bumper card and you can dink all around and then you at the very end you go you go back and you say that was fun but i i need a break so i mean it's kind of that whole thing i think i always look at i'm like well that's pretty good like it probably yeah i could see that yeah yeah but so you get kind of that that right and you know go along and do that and one of the things that i think a lot of people get into is hey should i get a business partner should i not get a business partner is it a good experience is a bad experience and i've seen it go both ways some people again it can be bulky people that hey i'm not a good person who wants to be a business partner i like to do my own thing i like to be able to make decisions i like to be fast paced and i don't want someone else that i have to always run and buy on the other hand some people are saying you know hey i need someone that is a good mentor that offsets my skill sets that i can bounce ideas off of so kind of what uh what took you a bit into partnership and then what you led what led you back out to doing your own thing um yeah i guess yeah i think the business partnership was was maybe um a confidence or a crotch for me to actually move forward you know it's like i'm not doing this all by myself i have someone coming in with me um and uh you know i guess in transparency it was a family member um semi it was a cousin so not not immediate family i would never ever ever recommend doing that [Laughter] um but you know i don't think even you know with family it's always a tendency to want a new family you know the person you typically have a relationship with them you can trust them and so it's one that you often gravitate towards and it can be good i've known some but it's also one where you know now when you go to thanksgiving or you have family activities or anything else it is one where if it doesn't work out well or there's tension or you know it's not like you can get away from it as easy you know a lot of times when it's a business partner that you don't see after work then you know you go home you relax you don't have to deal with them and you know you can go back in or or it's easier to part ways and so i definitely get to say hey even if it's was a good relationship it's still a hard one and then if it's one where it has some tension it it it it snowballs a bit so now you're saying okay thought i would uh hire a family member didn't work out decided to you know buy them out and we can talk a little about the worst business decision go on your own now where is that kind of bring us up to speed a bit today where is it been where is it going kind of where do you see the future because i know when we talked a little bit before you mentioned it kind of pivoted and adjusted it took you a bit of time to kind of figure out where you want where you're going sure so when i started we were only doing websites website design website development and you know eventually people were asking me hey what's this facebook thing and and should i do something with it is this good for my business and i would tell them what to do and then how do i i how do i get found on google and you know i know all the answers these questions so i just tell them what to do and then i'd get the question back well can you do this for me so aha of course i can if you're going to pay me some money to do it so really instead of just saying we do websites we totally shifted our model to being full strategic digital marketing so instead of just yeah we're gonna manage your facebook for you let's be let's really do some homework do some research and and understand your ideal customer and figure out is facebook actually the right channel and then what's that message and you know as like some of those things i talked about earlier that really got me sucked into wanting to do marketing is understanding the message and the positioning and where you actually have to place that information to get in front of that ideal customer and help them solve the problem that they have at the end of the day so uh we went from we only do websites which is project-based work so you always have to keep looking for your next project to now we support the big picture uh digital marketing strategy and the full implementation and the beauty of that from a business model is that's more of a recurring revenue model so you know it's ongoing engagements that we're constantly managing creating content and that's way less stress from a business perspective to have that recurring model because you're not you're not chasing for that next new project and you're being more thoughtful and intentional about the type of work that you take on no and i think that there's a lot it'll jump back in there but i think one is you know a lot of times it's hard depending on the business and the industry if you're continually having to chase it because once you build a website generally it's typically done i mean you may do a little bit of seo updating but to a large extent you finish the project and go on to the next one so you're always having to bring in new clients and you're always having to find them whereas if you can find something that's a bit more ongoing service and it still has to add value it's not just ongoing services oh for sure but now you can say okay i'm transitioning towards it makes it a bit easier to sustain the model because you're having repeat client here once you build that clientele it kind of builds on itself to where you're having clients that are giving it that basis to continue to grow the business so definitely makes sense plus it's one where i think it's an area that people are still trying to figure it out it's still it's still evolving and it's still different freeze industry but still there's certainly one that's had a major impact on on marketing so it sounds like it's a great journey so with that now we've teased it out a few times and we haven't or we haven't actually got to yet so we're going to jump to the the two questions i always ask at the end of the podcast now before we jump to those as a reminder to everybody we are also are doing the bonus question we'll talk a little bit about intellectual property so if you want to hear that question make sure to stay tuned after the how the podcast wraps up to hear that question but without any further ado um first question i always ask at the end of each podcast is what was the worst business decision you ever made what'd you learn from it oh well i did tease that so it cost me fifty thousand dollars um but uh when i was departing from my business partner i was trusting the internet for you know that writing the business contract and the the agreement of terms and and did not um did not invest the time in speaking with the experts instead i was trying to do it on my own and i realized yeah and finding the first legal form online is that the takeaway yeah i would say that's pretty much what i'm trying to get um it probably would have cost me a significantly lower amount of money to work with an attorney upfront to get some you know contracts drafted properly versus um trusting uh what what random piece of advice i found online no i definitely get that you know it there's a lot to unpack there one is that you know bringing on a partner you always want to be careful because whenever you have to separate it's a lot like you know a divorce or you're getting because you're you're a lot of times you're working you're with that business partner half the time more than you are a spouse because you're there every day in day in day out people are putting in time and effort and everybody values their contribution differently and when you guys step or when you separate um usually it's not unless you're buying them out or they're retiring going for another position but if it's not an amicable separation much like a divorce they can get messy and it can cost you a lot more and so i think that that's definitely one take when the other one is they hit on was googling a search you know google has made it so everybody thinks they're an expert on everything takes five minutes they'll find a form and it's gonna be perfect and i don't need to go pay the attorney and sometimes that's true i think that there are situations where it works out but more often than not you end up finding out well those forms that i thought that i knew what they were and that i could probably figure out didn't work out quite as well and so i think that you know finding the expert as your business grows to make sure it's done how you need it can save you time and money in the long run so i think those are lessons that definitely a lot of people learn but also great takeaways totally second question i always ask is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or small business would be the one piece of advice you give them i think it kind of aligns with my biggest challenge it's worth making the investment in people that are really good at their job you focus on what you're really good at and your expertise and hire those the attorneys the hr professionals the marketers whatever holes that you have uh make the investment on the front end because it's going to actually save you time and money down the road versus you trying to figure it out on your own no and i think that you know that's a great take it's one that's sometimes a hard lesson to learn for a lot of entrepreneurs because the reason why you got into business is you thought you could do it better you thought you were smarter than the other people and you could do it and so and a lot of times it's true and you do do it better but even if that's the case you're very seldom 99.9 of time not going to be an expert in everything and even if you wanted to become an expert in everything then you're going to not it's not the best thing for the business because you're not going to be if you're trying to do everything and be the expert everything you're not focusing on where you can add the most value so i think realizing that there are areas where other people can provide that expertise and that value can or definitely be beneficial to your business well if people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be an investor they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you contact you find out more oh great question so i'm super active on linkedin just search for laurie highbee i post almost every single day there otherwise you can visit keystoneclick.com and you'll get a contact form phone number all the great details on how to connect with us but i'm always open to chatting connecting and answering anyone's digital marketing questions all right well i definitely encourage people to reach out for any or all the reasons that were stated because they're definitely a great resource for your business so thank you again for coming on the podcast reminder we're all still they're still doing the bonus question but thank you for coming on the podcast as we wrap up um 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 a podcast we'd love to have you just go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show also as listeners make sure to click subscribe share because we want everybody to find out about our awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else in business just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat so now as we wrap up on the normal part of your journey and what a journey it was it was great and thank you for sharing now it's always fun to shift gears just a bit and talk a little bit about the subject that i live in or live day and day day in and day out which is intellectual property so what and uh with that much is a shift i'll turn it over you to ask your number one intellectual property question i have a really interesting question around podcasts so i've had my podcast for four years now it's called social capital um and i've got about 300 something episodes i never trademarked the name and i just came across someone else that's using that same name for that podcast so uh i guess what's your opinions should i do something about that should i have trademarked it all right so here's my very short answer that i'll attack go trademark it right now okay now that sounds like a self-interested answer of an attorney asking a pet trademark sure yeah yeah but the the way the trademarks work to unpack that a bit is and it's the same whether it's podcasts or any other industry is typically the first person to file the trademark is a presumptive owner and has the most rights to it so when if somebody else comes along after you the trademarks at first they they are in a much better situation to own it to manage it and to otherwise limit your ability to grow now you do have some rights is the first user now they're limited and i wouldn't recommend relying on them so give you an example of how those rights work so let's say you open and i'll make it easy the world's best pizza shop and you started in chicago and you everybody loves your pizza you just had one location in chicago and we're going to call it abc pizza because that's an easy one to remember and abc pizza was great and so you came along you were doing that for 10 years people loved you and you eventually said okay you know i should probably franchise or i'm going to expand into other locations or do something of that nature and say well when i'm going to do that i'm going to go trademark and i should probably see if i own the right well let's say during those 10 years that you were just in chicago somebody else had gone and trademarked it what it does it gives you the situation where you can continue because you were the first user the geographic area where you were starting to use it in this case chicago you can continue to use the trademark however the person that just went and got the trademark gets to use it everywhere else except for chicago so in other words you can't go out of chicago they can't come into chicago and so it gives you a presumption of yes i was the first user i can continue to use it but if you want to expand if you want to do more things if you want to go into other markets or hit different demographics or geographic locations it makes it much more difficult to be able to expand in those areas if somebody else already owns a trademark so that was the longer answers to why i would go get it now just because the first person that files on it is in a much stronger position as far as ownership and be able to manage and direct the trademark than somebody that's maybe started using it first but now has to say i have to define where i where i started where i'm currently using it and i can't expand out of that area sure interesting okay cool so thank you i should trademark it great market now that's right but thank you so much any of the listeners have any other questions we can help you out as i mentioned before you can go to strategymeeting.com love to dive in love to chat love to make sure everybody's taken care of in the meantime appreciate you coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last awesome thanks a lot this is a lot of fun thank you for inviting me absolutely [Music]