Just Do The Research
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Just Do The Research
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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just do the research you know so many people they they have an idea they get excited and they automatically turn to marketing and how much money and they start spending money on marketing i would just highly strongly suggest that you do the research identify is your does your product product or service have competition is it is it or is it innovative you know look see what other people are doing how what what niche do you fit into where do your customers hang out at they're just some small things to really start thinking of before you just automatically start jumping into trying to make money hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups and uh seven and eight figure businesses as well as the ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time with us to chat now today we have another great guest on the podcast eric erickson and they give you a bit of an introduction so eric's always been a bit of an entrepreneur i'm always uh in his words uh looked to make the the quick buck so to speak and so in high school uh was uh doing or doing various jobs and uh was paying or wanting to pay for clothing or anything else he wanted he had to figure out a way to pay for it um got off to college and did the same thing so it was um got into when i was in college of doing i think a bit of importing exporting and then also became an ad manager for uh what's now known as uvu here in utah and then one out or out of the day while i was in college got a call out of the blue and uh somebody recommended them to into another business to help them to figure out what they needed to do in order to improve the business and so went down there worked for the business found that he loved it and then after graduation uh got into consulting and uh when i became the on the board of uh several different companies and then uh went from there so that kind of builds his business and he'll get into somewhere the more details from there so with that much as an introduction welcome on to the podcast eric hey thanks so much devin it's good to be with you today absolutely so i gave kind of that quick high level run through of of your journey but let's dive in a bit and tell us a little bit kind of starting as being a kid and an entrepreneur and how your journey started from there yeah like you said i've uh you know i i grew up not having a lot of money but a lot of people that i knew hung out with had a lot of money and so in order for me to keep up with the joneses so to speak i would have to go do various activities to make some money and i found out that i enjoyed selling things and making money and and i think i kind of caught that entrepreneurial bug if you will and that went into my high school and college years and and uh not really understanding or knowing what a business consultant or a coach was that that experience that you ex that you explained really opened up my eyes it uh i went from uh away from like this this this thought of always making money wanting to make money to actually having a passion for for business and for helping others and seeing other people succeed so it was it was quite a drastic 180 for me when in my in my uh later years of college so so you did that or you started out as a young age and entrepreneur and so you went to high school and you know kind of figured out odd jobs or jobs in order to pay for things and he went through college and so how did you while you're in college get into i think you started out as kind of doing importing exporting and kind of what was that or how did you get into that yeah it's interesting i i um there was a couple of things that i usually when a lot of things kind of fall into place kind of like the stars align so to speak you what you wonder okay maybe i should be doing that and so i i got a magazine in the mail um to be able to buy um bulk products from asia and then i also um met a guy that in the newspaper room and in college i was selling advertising i met a guy and his parents owned an import export business and so there's a bunch of different things that just have to think oh maybe i need to try this maybe maybe the uh there's something in the stars and moon wherever you want to come whatever you believe that that that's prompting me to to uh to try out import and export and i made a lot of mistakes um uh lost a lot of lost a little bit of money but uh found out learned a lot the hard way of how to how to do import and export and and really uh really enjoy doing and still do a fair small amount of it even today um no that definitely makes sense so now you see starting next importing exporting is a kind of way to further have spending money support yourself during college and go through that and then i think he also got into ad management a bit for uh uvu as well and so as you're kind of going through and doing that then how did you get you know how did you get how did a friend or you know the a business kind of out of the blue call you and kind of how did you get connected up with them and working with them to help on their business and kind of what prompted that and kind of gives a bit of details on there yeah it's super crazy so yes i was selling i was selling advertising i was an advertising manager i was i worked with i don't know hundreds of businesses in the utah valley at the time and uh and then when this this call kind of came out of the blue uh it was interesting to me i was caught i was kind of cut off guard and i can't remember if i actually asked them specifically to tell me uh who that person was or who that business was that recommended me but i think i was just saw so ah ah shocker that uh you know i was more interested in saying okay i'm this sounds like a great opportunity and and so i use a lot of my entrepreneurial experience and and picked up a few college books that i've been that i had been using throughout my college years and and i went down there and analyzed this business and and i just kind of caught that bug you know that that just like it's like i told you things kind of changed for me it's like wow i really can help people i can really help them to show them what they need what they need to do in order to improve their business and i just had this knack for being able to see patterns and print patterns and processes and systems and and being able to explain them to people better and help them to use patterns processes and systems to make their their business more productive and efficient so so you started out and so you did that for and just that and i you may have touched on it briefly but you know what was it or maybe if you know what was it that kind of that that friend that connects you up with the business was it hey this guy is really sharp he has experience he can see patterns and others don't kind of what was it that kind of got you introduced or got you started with the the friend introducing you to him well so i i so i to this day i don't know i don't really know who it was i don't know if it was a friend i don't know if it was because i was working literally probably almost a hundred small businesses in the utah valley in provo or that whole valley area and so i i don't i don't know who that person was to this day and i'm grateful to whoever they were because it was certainly a blessing in disguise for me so so now you see now you get into that you say okay hey this is fun i enjoy it it's my passion it's my drive and my love type of a thing so did you finish up college and then you know go from there and then if so kind of how did you what did you do when she came out of college did you dive right into doing your own business and consulting and helping other businesses or did you go work for a big business or kind of what was that transition as you finished up your degree yeah so when i is when i graduated actually just a couple months before i graduated i had i put on this they call them student fairs i would bring in 60 or so businesses from the valley into the uh what is now the utah valley university campus and uh i ran this one gal and she was in telecommunications and uh kind of one thing led to another and i got into telecommunications and and there was a a business that was doing business with them and they heard about me and some of the things that i had done and they brought me out it was it was a small telecommunications startup and which allowed me to uh to help you know help them build their their telecommunications platform and also do a bunch of traveling around the united states and europe i learned how to do mergers and acquisitions i learned how to you know take smaller companies to multi-million dollar companies really quickly um i i just i i was able to to rub shoulders with some you know some big big ceos um club car international uh uh who was the other big one uh uh motorola and so it was it was actually it was it was a great experience so now if and i may have missed it again but it was it were you doing this as an employee as a contractor so you're coming out of college you kind of know you know this is what's enjoyable so it's fun this is what you want to do but how did you get into that meaning was it referral and you worked with one company that referred you to another company yeah on a contract basis or was it hey you started out with one company they post you away and you wouldn't work for another kind of how did you once you figured out your passion figure out who how to get clients and how to actually get business or build a business around that yeah so that that was that was referral that was this gal that was that worked for this telecommunications company she referred me to this to this uh to this other company and and uh they they um uh saw what my what knowledge base like experience i had already had and they they actually brought me on as a the vice president of operations for their for their their telecommunications startup and that's been most of i would say most of my my journey is um people just say hey i heard i know i know eric i know he can do this or i heard of this guy his name is eric he knows so and so um you know you should probably talk you'd probably talk to eric and see if he could help you and that's that's i've been very fortunate in that regard so now you do that so you start up your consulting business you kind of get word of mouth hey you know one person refers you to another you keep doing that you know along the way now was it all you know success hey i just worked for one business they referred me to another and i was so busy i could never keep up with it and i was always getting referrals as flooding it in or was it that ebb and flow and sometimes it was busy sometimes it wasn't or kind of how did that all work out to where you know you're you're did it work out that it was just a success from day one and you're always building or was there follies and you know downs and ups or kind of how did that go i would definitely say there was there was follies follies is a good word to use i wouldn't say that i was always uh super busy um there were a couple of economic uh things that that happened along the way um there were some uh there were there was a time where i um i probably got my head a little bit bigger pie a little created a little bit of pride and a little bit of uh thinking that i could conquer the world and and uh ended up making a seven figure uh mistake and and so um that uh yes i would say overall just to answer your question yeah it's been i wouldn't say peaks and valleys but it's definitely been some significant roadblocks and bumps in the road so now you know because you mentioned and definitely if you don't if it doesn't don't feel comfortable don't feel any obligation to answer the question but you know a seven figure and maybe that's your biggest business mistake we should wait till then but you know seven-figure loss along the way is certainly one that's gonna hurt a little bit or a bit of an ouch to a business so how did that how did that come about or how did you kind of find yourself in that situation yeah i was uh i got into the i got into the real estate business and uh i i guess i i guess the really the best way to put it is i just i was not paying attention i was not paying attention to people i was talking to the people i was working with um i wouldn't say that at the end of the day when it was all said and done tonight and i know i had to file bankruptcy that uh i i went back and said oh gosh you know i maybe i this is some things i need to change in my life i need a change in my processes and systems and how i do business so i don't let something like that happen again but i think that's i think that's it's it's it's been a lesson to me and this was back in 2002 uh when it happened but certainly it was a uh a business experience something that i was able to to eventually twist into into positive no definitely definitely you know it's one where you have to be carefully you know is the old saying goes you don't get over your skis or you don't you know think you know more than you do or you get so excited about an opportunity or a position that then you're not able to determine whether or not that's a good opportunity because you're so excited about it so always having that ability to step back a bit and look at that opportunity always makes air always there is always a good path to take so so now you did that and you've been doing that for a while um you know is that basically in in reality it's been you've been a consultant for the whole time is that what you're doing today have you transitioned to doing something else or kind of give us a little bit of you know bringing us forward to today a bit how does that interplay with what you're doing now or what are you doing now and kind of how does you know how have you leveraged or where you've come from yeah so still i still care stupid i do a fair amount of consulting i still do a fair amount of take on opportunities where a very large company would want me to come in and have a very specific task for me to to do i currently do a fair amount of training and development for a fortune 200 company that's in the media research business and then i also uh do uh the opposite of the spectrum i guess i i'm working with a lot of the small businesses and people who have that that idea that they want to see if there's any validity or marketability um for their that product or service uh i i actually i actually own another business as well uh i for the last 14 years i've been manufacturing distributing an organic pest control product made out of cedarwood oil and so we we get orders uh through the internet and then we we fill those orders and we have we have customers and all over the u.s the the united kingdom australia japan mexico canada so it's been a great ride well sounds like it sounds like it's been a great a very exciting and fun ride so so now looking a bit into the future so you're saying okay that's kind of where you're at today kind of the where you know what's led up to today what do you look for as far as what is there what's coming next in the future where where are things planning or headed is hey i'm going to continue to chug along with what we're doing going to expand going to contract going to retire going to bring out more employees kind of where do you see the next uh six to 12 months headed for you yeah so i i'll share my i'll share my my big my big ginormous goal with you um by the end of the year it's my it's my hope to only be working 70 hours per month uh it's something that uh that i put a lot of thought to i i've examined it researched it but i'll have a bunch of different models of how i'm going to do it but uh still wanting to be able to help those those businesses that that that need that i need that experience they need those tools that they don't have that i can that i can help them with and uh i i'm thinking about venturing into more uh i just learned this word a few months ago i guess they call it fractional so fractional c-suite business i know if you call it an industry or a business or just a thing i'm not sure but there's a lot of businesses out there that that they want to hire uh a ceo part-time just to help them with leadership help with with strategic problem solving and so i've been venturing into into those uh on those into those roads as well well that's awesome that sounds like a uh a fun path to head down and uh a exciting direction to go in and you know learning you know a fractional you know ceo cto cfo kind of doing that fractional economy or you know fractional in the is one that's in austin times for start-up small businesses are great options they're saying hey we don't have that ability to bring someone on full time to keep them busy all the time but we do need that assistance and that helps let's take a fraction of someone's time that they can work for us while leaving them the ability to go and pursue other clients as well so it sounds like a great idea so well now as we wrap towards there towards the end of the podcast i always ask two questions at the end of these podcasts so we'll jump to those now so the first question i was asked is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it so i guess i can go back to my 1.6 million dollar mistake and again i just i just uh you know that just comes to just not doing the research not preparing not knowing who you're doing work business with those are all you know obviously should be common sense things right absolutely no i think that you know that that's definitely something that it's common sense but it's also easy to you know i would say is a lot of times as entrepreneurs you get so excited or enamored with a given idea or give an opportunity that you oftentimes don't do you know take a step back take a breather explore the opera explore what is all involved and whether or not you should you actually have the expertise you actually know you're doing and whether it's a good opportunity so definitely make sense to both the mistakes of made and also learning from that 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 would be the one piece of advice you'd give them just do the research you know so many people they they have an idea they get excited and they automatically turn to marketing and how much money and they start spending money on marketing i would just highly strongly suggest that you do the research identify is your does your product product or service have competition is it is it or is it innovative you know look see what other people are doing how what what net niche do you fit into where do your customers hang out at they're just some some small things to really start thinking of before you just automatically start jumping into making trying to make money no i think that that that definitely makes sense and that's a it's a great point of advice so well just as a reminder to the the audience and if uh we have the bonus question on this episode where we're gonna talk a little bit about intellectual property and the top question there so if you have interest there make sure to stay tuned to the episode but otherwise as we wrap up if people want to reach out to eric if they want to learn more about what you're doing they want to hire you on a fractional basis they want to be a client a customer an employee an investor your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out and find out more yeah my website businessatitudes.com that's attitudes with an s and that is the best way to get a hold of me all right well i definitely encourage people to reach out and get ahold of you and find out more well with that and and remember to stay tuned for the bonus question but otherwise for those who are uh in the audience that aren't intellectual interested intellectual property thank you for joining and uh thank you for joining eric now 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 chat with you and have you as a guest on the show inventiveguest.com to apply to be on the podcast two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe and podcast players so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so other people can find out about the awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat so now with that as we wrap up kind of your journey and talking a little bit about the sharing a little bit about that we get to have the fun bonus question where we get to flip the tables a bit and rather than me asking all the questions i get to take a chance to answer a question so with that i'll turn it over to you to ask your uh you know or your top intellectual property question yeah so um i'm i i think this and i hope this fits into the spectrum network that we need to be talking about but uh i would say one of the uh most uh common questions that i get is around patents and people think that a patent needs to be like a physical product something that like it has all the pieces of together and and there and it's it's one it's just one whole piece that's that they're going to sell to the marketplace and i know that's not entirely true so i guess my question for you is that what other what other things are are patentable yeah no and that's a it's a good question i would say you know it almost is an easier question to ask what isn't patentable in the sense that you know you could almost go and supreme court justice you know said what's er anything under the sun's patentable and there's a lot of true to that with a few exceptions and so kind of what is or what is impactible couple things that they just said are not patentable perpetual motion machine patent office said that's not patentable can be done or you know goes against the laws of physics now if you can come up with one i am sure they'll still grant you a patent but you're going to have to definitely have your ducks in a row and be able to prove it but otherwise that one's not patentable the another one that's not as a cure for cancer and they just said hey while cancer can be treated there isn't a cure cure is impossible again if you come up with a cure i'm sure you can get a patent on it but you're getting you're going to have to show that so those are a couple beyond that really almost anything you know you're going to look at something that has to have a utility functionality and so that's where you're gonna when you're looking at patents as to what you want what you can patent think about does it do something does it have a does it perform a you know a service does it do something that has an end result and if so can we patentable now a couple things to draw or to think about as well one that more used to be patentable and it's really falling out of vogue and is incredibly difficult is on a business method in other words just doing a business a certain way conducting a business you know offering good customer service or doing a you know training this way or you know having your employees do something a certain way is very difficult to pat it's not impossible but it's incredibly difficult another one the question that often comes up is on the software side is can software repatent and the short answer is yes but there are a bit more requirements when you get into software and the main one is that you can't just take something that somebody does in their head or on pen and paper and you know put that on a computer put it on the phone or put down an electronic device do the same thing and try and get a patent on it you can't take two plus two as equals four everybody's done that in their head or in pen and paper all you do is put down a computer and say hey look i did it on a computer now it's you know now i should get a patent you're not able to do that but if you're if your software does something it takes inputs it does analytics you know it provides an end result it does something where it's improving on that where it does need to be tied to that technology in order to do it you can absolutely get software so that's kind of if if i take the reverse of your answer what's not patentable or those two things everything else is really a pretty fair open field you know you can't you know with that you can't patent something that somebody else has done or just an obvious variation of them but beyond that it's a pretty open field and allows you to really get a patent on as long as it performs a functionality and has a utility to it feels pretty wide open cool yeah that's great thanks so with that we'll go ahead and wrap up the podcast and if you if you eric or anybody else in the in the audience ever has any questions on intellectual property again you just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time to chat always happy to help out otherwise which as we wrap up i wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks so much [Music]