Outsource To Experts
Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Outsource To 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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outsource to experts whenever possible whatever you don't need to be involved in outsourced to experts because if you don't have time and money to do it once you for sure don't have money to do it twice [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 in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as a founder and ceo of miller iq lab where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com and grab some time to chat now today we have another great guest on the podcast heather cox and to give you a quick introduction to heather so she grew up in southern california performed in a circus growing up which sounds kind of interesting and i don't know i think we may have had one other person at least i think there are a circus rodeo or a cow or a circus clown in the rodeo but close enough but that's i think the first full circus person um parents uh they're said not to uh to go to college or that uh she shouldn't go to college and rather go take a year off and then go to spain which would sound like great parents came back and decided to go to uh university of austin or university of texas in austin and majored in spanish um and then went into hospitality management for a period of time and then went back to california went into recruiting in sales took some time in israel also met her husband came back got back into recruiting himself had some kids asked a lot of entrepreneurs questions and started her business which is what she's doing today with diversity certification so hopefully i got most of that right and with that as much as an introduction welcome on the podcast heather thanks it's not to correct one thing my parents were for sure making sure i went to college they just said not this year they were like no question if it was where all right so it wasn't that they said never gonna cause it no this is taking a little bit more time to get ready yeah my father would like roll over in his grave if you heard someone say like he didn't want me to go to college all right always a good correction so well thank welcome on the podcast so i just gave a quick 30 second introduction to a much longer journey so maybe take us back a bit back in time to growing up in southern california and how your life got started in the circus so we moved from to southern california when i was little i was like four i think my sister was two and a couple years in it was a little town called redlands which is in the 909 people you know we all stick together the ie people over there and um we there was a youth circus that had started in redlands by a gentleman named roy coble who was who created the circus for wayward boys to give them something to do to get off the streets so but then it expanded and you know everyone kind of joined and so when we when i was about six years old my parents took us to the circus and i was mesmerized i mean there was sparkly costumes and there was cool people floating through the air and there was like ponies and elephants and like no there's no animals it's about european style circus yeah there's no animals it was just but it was kids like my age and they were like styling and they had the cool costumes and i was like dad i have to do this it's like you want to be in the circus like uh-huh like there was like no question in my mind that i was going to do this so they signed us up it was kind of like an after school instead of soccer gymnastics we did circus and then my sister joined a couple years later when she was about six also and we stuck with it until we graduated high school so you know there was a couple years we called the dark years when um the it lost insurance and so they couldn't perform so we had to get rid of some of the aerial acts but you know my parents got very involved they were president of the booster group and so we were part of it our entire growing up so we would go to school we'd go to and we'd go to the y for like four hours a day and you know and became like our other family and so um we you know that was like what we did growing up and then even in high school we were both cheerleaders my sister and i i was i was did shot put and track i wasn't very fast but strong so probably all those years holding people in the circus and so you know we did all of that but we still afterwards we went over and then when we graduated high school you know i went to europe to study spanish for a year and then i went came back and went to the university of texas at austin so yeah the circus was amazing and you know it's really interesting because i think that's why i'm not afraid to get on stage now when i speak at conferences and events because i was on stage all the time growing up it was kind of like a second nature thing for me um but i do not like heights at all but the coolest acts are in the air so i was like i have to do this and so in my head it was like 50 feet in the air i think it was like 10 in reality but when you're six or seven that's really nice i seem really hot and i would cry every single practice i did not want they like it was called swinging baseballs or swinging wise and would swing back and forth and you lay back and i would cry every single practice and then they said and cuts this is back in the day when they actually made kids like actually have cuts for things like if you weren't good enough you got cut not like today when you get a trophy for losing which my kids don't do by the way so uh i'm right there with you i i'm not a fan of participation trophies no no no there's a there's a reason for winners and losers like i'm saying like you'd be good it teaches good sportsmanship they're like that's a whole different podcast in itself but that is a whole different tangent we could spend a much longer time yeah so um they said you either do it you either do the tricks for the you know do the act or you get cut so i was like oh you are not cutting me so i did it and so and i just did it but then next year i would cry every practice again it was like the dumbest thing but and my mom was there and she's like yeah you gotta do it or you're not gonna be an act that's like there's no like oh my daughter's special no it was like you either do it or you don't that was like the extent of my mom's like pep talk so now so you do this you know you so you get in the circus you're successful you're wonderful now i i don't maybe there's a career in the circuit are there still circumstances can i tell you yes so then one summer um after ninth grade or before ninth grade we went to this thing called circus marcus back east we did like a trade so six of us or eight of us from our circus went and performed with the circus in new england right and so some i'm still friends with some of those people and some of them they're like six figures walking the tightrope i'm like my parents totally lied to me but yeah there are circus performers but no i was like gonna go on you know i wanted to so i went off to college i went to europe they went to college and i was gonna do international hospitality because now i have this love of traveling my mom and my parents have traveled their whole lives now let me just jump in really quick because one because i got it wrong in the intro but i thought it was an interesting point so i think when you can correct more and wrong yeah when you're getting coming out of high school your parents saying we want you to go to college but that was not the right time you need to go and maybe get to take a break for a year is that about right yeah so i did applause i pledged a few schools my dream school was university of texas at austin and here's why it was my dream school my father went there and which is not why it's my dream school my father went there and he was like you can go to any in-state school the only out-of-state school i will help you with is the university of texas in austin i was like i am out of here so that was like my dream i wanted to go far away that was my dream school so yeah but they were like you know what we're not really sure you're ready i didn't get an ndut the first time i applied it only has a five percent out of state acceptance rate at the time and uh so they said you know maybe you're not ready for college you know we don't want to pay all this money and then you just bail out so we're gonna send you to spain for a year because that's the safest thing for a person who's not focused to do something that's right little girl a high school student that just graduated hasn't gone to college it really hasn't been on her own and send it to a different country and tell her just to go have a good time yeah totally so i did but i will tell you i learned so much that year probably more than i learned in my four years in college right you learned a lot there and i was in a place i was in sevilla in the south there was not a lot of english speakers there not all my roommates we i lived in a house that was like what they did for a living is they hosted all these foreign exchange students and none of them they all spoke like broken english so we were speaking spanish and i would hang out in the bars because when you're 18 you're like this is super cool to hang out in the bars i can't do that at home and i just talk to people and when you are um when you have uh cushioned your fear of talking with by self-medicating with what sangria and spain you know you're not afraid to make those mistakes and say the stupid things when they laugh at you like that's not what you wanted to say i guarantee it but you know you don't care and you learn so my spanish was but not i came back fluent basically i was dreaming in spanish when i came back so when i went to uc austin i started working in hotels and um my spanish came in handy right cause you're on the front desk of a hotel and i was like talking to all these the guests that it was i loved every second of work in a hotel it was so except for the fact that people kind of lose all sense of like normalcy when they go to hotel they'd be like can you believe it's raining outside i'm like i'm really sorry i'm not sure what to do so now you came back so you've had a great time and experience in uh spain and you had you know learned a lot of things got that experience probably better than college but then you did come back and you studied in college i think you started in spanish and then went into hospitality is that right no i was always my degree was in spanish right and so and my minor was in french and so i did some i did a summer in france also um but the whole time i worked at hotels the entire time i worked so i had to support myself all through college so i worked in hotels the entire time i was in college and i loved it i loved the whole hospitality industry my mom had been in travel my entire life so i was like yeah i'm just going to do an international hospitality i'll use my spanish and my french and i'll live all over the world and it was like amazing and then 9 11 happened so i'd already been accepted to an international um hospitality school in switzerland and i even bought my big winter coat because you know in southern california and in texas you don't really need those codes and we were like all excited and then everyone got a little scared and i don't i honestly don't remember why i didn't go to the school i don't know if it was because i got scared my parents got scared like the hospitality school pushed off the year i can't remember why i didn't go but i ended up going back home because i ended up getting laid off from the hotel all the assistant managers in the hotel got laid off after 9 11 because no occupancy dropped way down so i went home and that's when i ended up my and my grandfather passed away not too long before so i ended up living with my grandmother and helping her out in the valley in southern california and that's when i got into sales and recruiting just because i was like looking for a job and i went to interview this recruiting place and they're like you're fun you want to work here hey that's a great way to find a job hey just be the best or the funnest person in the room and you'll get hired totally now so you go in you do the you do the uh you know you get hired on you do that for a period of time now you switched and went into at some point to do recruiting in sales and then went to israel is that right yeah so after a little bit of time i had like then i had recruited myself out into into um enterprise fleet sales and i did that for a little bit and then a company recruited me out to do some sales management for them for this like mlm type company um but not not like super amazon just like sorta mlm tangent you know tangential or whatever so um then my grandmother passed away and i was just kind of like oh i don't know like is this what i want to do i had kind of started like learning more about my roots and my heritage and everything and so i was like and someone offered me a scholarship to go to israel right so i was like i think i need to find myself again so off i went to israel to go find myself at 20 whatever years old i was so now so you you said okay i got a free scholarship why not go have another you know a good time do some learning along the way see a different part of the country go study there and then you also met your uh future husband and your spouse right yeah so my um we were actually set up from a matchmaker but sorta because my really good my roommate at the time a really good friend of mine she went on a date with him she was set up with him from a matchmaker and she called me and she said i went out with this guy i did not like him but i think he will that's what this kind of sounds like you know was you when you're eating something you're like oh this is horrible do you want to try to try it i know but i want to try something horrible but it sounds like it was a good idea well you know it's really funny because she is a very uh like specific her she doesn't have to i laugh at every i'm an easy laugh like i love like to laugh at things that's for me it's very therapeutic and i just i find a lot of different things entertaining she is like very in the box humor like you'll tell her a joke and she'd be like i don't get it and my husband likes to be the funny guy so like i could totally see them on a date he was probably like be like wait for her to laugh and she's like i don't i don't get it anymore i don't get it if she's like and that sounds like my mom she's always like i get it it's just not funny you know it's not funny like it's funny everybody else is laughing yeah so he then we went out and we're like i'm like laughing he's like and then we even joke because on our first date he even like he saw some girl like in the lobby we're like in a lobby of a hotel it's like a typical israel dating situation and uh i have to say lobby if you just say hotel then it sounds a little bit more a little less um above the board right so um and he was like i think i know that girl do you mind if i could say hi like okay like i tell people the story and they're like that should have sealed the deal like you two knew you were meant to be together at that point so anyway so six weeks later we got engaged and um and about uh 12 seconds later i was pregnant so i was like let's um i did not want to give birth overseas in a country i didn't speak the language and so we moved back to the u.s when i was about five months pregnant and and i still was like what do i want to do because now i'm pregnant which you know is really like the best time to look for a job by the way is when you're obviously pregnant because people are super willing to hire you yeah i can see that might be a bit of an issue but nothing i mean now i would like now that's like the best because there's no one looking for jobs so like you're pregnant you're like don't fight go get a job no problem they're just looking for someone to hire so totally right right so uh so we came back and um we came back in 2008. now honor if you remember 2008 as an attorney my husband's an attorney was not like the best time for attorneys who didn't have any real world experience yet he like taken the bar and gone to israel so we expected you know like we got married we were like yeah we'll go back he'll get a legal job in new york and it'll be great and then no yeah yeah actually so i graduated 2013. so i was going into law school about a year or 2009 i did uh two degrees but i remember even 2010 and 11 when my friends were coming out a lot of those were still just like yeah there's just no jobs and it's slow and like nobody's hiring and everybody's waiting and so by the time i graduated luckily it caught up i definitely remember like a lot of people that were smart and great attorneys were still struggling to find jobs just because of the 911 and then yes and then what happened was you know like there's all these attorneys with tons of experience taking entry-level positions and so then if you're really entry-level you couldn't get a job so it was like a little bit brutal for us like we're bradley brandy married he can't get like a real law job i'm pregnant looking for a job it was like super not stressful for newlyweds and um i was working at this non-profit and this and but i would i would tell everybody like if i need something i have no shame when i was looking to get married and something i'm like i'm looking for a husband i'm looking for a hug but look at you know whatever but i'm looking for a job i'm looking for a job i'm looking for a job looking for this right so i told everybody that i was looking for like another job like i needed some we needed some more income so i was um someone mentioned to me that these uh two women were looking for something at the same time i was trying to figure out what i wanted to do with my life so i was like let me just talk to them let me start interviewing people because i didn't know i knew that corporate america wasn't great for mommies like it's you know it's not always super flexible and unfortunately kids like don't get sick on the weekend they get sick monday through friday and nine to five maybe it has something to do with school not wanting to go and you're not feeling good on the weekend i still want to play right so um yeah so i started meeting all these women and they were like these amazing entrepreneurs some are entrepreneurs some are executives whatever but the entrepreneurs to me were amazing they were just like had all this energy and they were passionate you could see like their type a personality coming through and i love big personalities i'm very attracted to big personalities and so but somehow in the conversation they'd be like and there's this application i have to get and i can't figure out how to do it and i was like what you run like a 20 million dollar company or you run like a 250 000 whatever it is you run a company and you can't do an application what so then i looked into it and you know what something it's very detail-oriented it's very time-consuming what something's called in new jersey is not what it's called in texas it's not what it's called in california so if you're looking for a document that's not even called that in your state right is it articles of incorporation or certificate of formation is that you know do you have like maybe you never maybe your accountant did your your formation so you don't even have bylaws or an operating agreement or stock certificates right happens all the time so i was like ah and this is even before i understood the massive pull on your time and your bandwidth as an entrepreneur this is just just general human difficulties right so and most entrepreneurs like are not the most focused people they're driven right but they're not good at you know like the paperwork the detailed stuff they're visionaries and so they you know they have these big pictures but they're not the workhorses necessarily so um my natural inclination is more like a workhorse type person right which is why i like to partner with visionaries and i've kind of grown into that visionary role a little bit throughout my last 12 years of being an entrepreneur but you know in the beginning i was very much just the workhorse so that was like a perfect opportunity for me to say let me do that project for you um i think when we chatted before he even started out kind of just i'll help you out i'll do this as kind of one-time gig and that and then you started to build a little bit of referral base or reputation and started to actually say there's an actual business opportunity around here and i can actually you know create something so as you're figuring out you know how did you go how did you go about because you know today it is is a little bit more i don't know for the right words in vogue or popular you know it's more important or emphasized or whatever the word you want to choose to you know to have diversity trainings or certificates and to make sure that that's the focus of the business but i would imagine you know that's a bit more recent when you got started you know how did you how did you get or get people understand the importance well so the you know the the fire diversity world really started as an offshoot of the civil rights movement of the 60s and it was like the 70s where it became like the you know corporate social response but it was really more public sector though the 80s was corporate social responsibility it's the right thing to do and it really wasn't until the 90s that people started seeing that oh wow if i use diverse suppliers they bring me into new demographics and then into the 2000s when it really became oh this is a good business decision so you are absolutely right i had come into it when it was now starting to be seen as like a good business decision but you know like nmsdc which is the national minority supplier development council has been around for like 30 30 40 years we bang which is the women's business enterprise national council has been around for over 20 years so they had some so and i was very fortunate to meet one of these women that i spoke to who had already been certified and she kind of took me into her wing as a mentor and she introduced me to a lot of these large corporations who would then introduce me to suppliers and then they just everyone started telling each other like we really until this year did very little sales and marketing it was all just word of mouth and the first you know like seven years of the company was just me it was just me doing it and then i was like oh i well well the first five years it was just me doing everything that i'm like oh i probably should build my customers huh i had a bookkeeper you know which i wish i had done way earlier and then um there it you know then we did and then it kind of just kind of grew and grew and grew and then about six years ago or so the corporations realized that you know to have a conversation with your supplier and say look diversity is very important to us we recognize you as a woman-owned business we'd like you to get certified here's a resource it's a very different conversation than hey we realize you're a woman-owned business and diversity is important to us it's so important to us we've retained our resource to support you and so that conversation is a much more powerful stance for the corporations to take and so that is that's when they started going oh we can retain certify my company and we started hires now we're a team of five about to be six um and because we just like the corporations are now really realizing that it is a very powerful message you know it's one thing for you to tell your spouse like it's important for me for you to shower every day i mean i'm not going to and i'm not going to pay for the hot water heater but you should really shower you should really consider it no i think there's that great so so now you've said okay we've you figured out your business opportunity and figured out what you know how to where to where you where to focus on how to find the people and you started to build a team which is all exciting so that's the hardest part and the hard part but it's kind of fun you know it's always for me it's always that getting the business going is also the most work the most difficult takes the most time but then once you know after a while once you get the business established it evolves and it changes so you're no longer kind of figuring it out and coming up the ideas and trying things out that you don't share work now it's kind of going in they're kind of different phases so there's always kind of fun parts of each phase but now as you're kind of making that transition looking at the next kind of six to twelve months kind of where do you see or see things heading right now so right now i am very excited that we're moving back into in-person events because for us in-person events are where i do the majority of my business development with the large corporations i am much better in person than i am in zoom i am easily distractible plus you know my kid's school's a mile down the road so if there's an issue and one of my kids has a lot of issues so if there's an issue at school and they call me they're like hey you know can you come pick your kid up or deal with the situation and i'm like i'm at a conference they're like no you're a mile down the road you need to come get your kid but if i'm out of town i'm like i'm out of town call my husband so you know so that is a hard part for me also like my phone rings the team is calling me like i'm very easily distractible i will always come back to what i'm doing you know i'm able to refocus but it's just a matter of getting so easily distracted that i can't focus on the conversation as well so i like these in-person events where i can go and talk to people and really demonstrate um our passion for what we do because i do think that is one of the biggest sellers is that uh well i love what i do i get to work with entrepreneurs every single day i get to work with diverse businesses every day and if there's one shiny sequiny glitter of like you know rainbows and sunshine they came out of 2020 and this whole pandemic situation we've been i guess 2021 now at this point is that people but after 2020 people really saw how powerful and necessary small diverse local businesses were to the economy the reason everything was hit so hard is because the small diverse local businesses were hit so hard right so i think that people saw that and they're like oh and corporations saw that and then you know we had a lot of racial tensions at the same time and so all of that confounded together a lot of the corporations made very public proclamations so i am looking forward to getting back to events back on stage back to meeting in person with our companies and doing trainings and you know i love my entrepreneurial events that they know nothing about supplier diversity they're like oh you do like grants and stuff i'm like nope totally not at all not what i do so just you know like because there are less than one percent of the diverse businesses in the united states are certified there is so much business to be had and i get calls all the time especially if you're like in the r d in the healthcare industry if you're in any of those type of industries manufacturing they are searching for these kind of companies that are diverse owned qualified capable and certified no and i think that there's definitely an opportunity and i think that that'll be a fun we'll have to have you on and maybe just on an expert episode and then and go through a little bit of more what's the process what to expect what are the benefits why you might consider and also if you're you know if you're not there should you be moving in that direction so i think those are all fun things to hit on but for this episode as we start to wrap up to the end or towards the end of the podcast we'll jump to er as we've kind of now gone through your journey i'm looking a bit into the future now we'll jump to the two questions i always ask the end of these podcasts so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what'd you learn from it i think not outsourcing like my bookkeeping earlier that is my biggest business mistake because now if people ask me all the time what's your number one advice for other entrepreneurs i'm like outsourced to experts whenever possible whatever you don't need to be involved in outsourced to experts because if you don't have time and money to do it once you for sure don't have time money to do it twice so i you know doing the bookkeeping thing was i was like i wanted to save the money whatever but you know what it took me so much longer same with like creating ads or whatever it might cost me 250 bucks to create an ad but it would may take me eight hours to make a crappy ad right so i can pay 50 bucks up someone do it very well and they do it much quicker because you're not paying for someone's actual time you're paying for their 11 years of expertise right so i agree with you and i mean one of the things i had to learn is you know i think most entrepreneurs and i absolutely clump myself in there um you know think that oh i'm the smartest person in the room i can do it the best you know if i have to turn it over to somebody else i'll have to train him anyway and it's gonna take as long you know whatever the excuses are and so you always kind of keep things you know all to yourself and you think i can do it all myself and even if that's true which i don't think it's ever true that you can do everything but even if it's true then you never get you you never get everything yeah there's a business you don't have the growth and you know if you can pay some even if you can do it better if you can have somebody that can do it 80 as well as you you should be focusing your time and attention on the places that you can drive the most value that people can do it at 80 as well so i think that absolutely that's definitely a lesson that i had to learn as well and i think a great thing to learn from second question i always ask is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you give them outsource the experts as soon as you can because as i just said i think that people again and same thing with like certification or even like your legal work right you could do your own like certain things and some things yes are just simple processes whatever but you know what you don't want to make a mistake right you may want to get your partnerships agreement your exit strategies all those done before there is money involved on the table because everyone plays nice until there's money on the table right so all those type of things like make sure you take care of those early on and outsource it to people who know what they're doing no i like the one that you know even it's always interesting people always like i'll just get the business going and then yeah sometimes maybe someday if it's worth anything we'll get all these things cleaned up and at least you know and i'm speaking the bias their perspective but on the legal side you know usually when money's involved it's a lot harder to clean those up because when it's not worth anything people like oh yeah you know whatever the ownership is or whether the payment is they're a lot more flexible and reasonable when things are worth money then they're saying no i i contribute all these things i should get better compensation or have more ownership and inevitably with every business creates more conflict so i definitely that's a great takeaway as we wrap up um you know if people want to reach out to you they want to hire you to you know be a client a customer they want to hire you to help with the diversity training they want to be an investor they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend and you're all of the above what's the best way to reach out contact you find out more so you always go to certifymycompany.com my email is heather at certifymycompany.com we're on all the socials at certifymyco and you can find us there that's the best way to reach this is one of those many avenues all right well i definitely encourage people to reach out contact i think there's a lot of a lot of benefit to your service and definitely worthwhile to make that connection so well as we wrap up thank you for giving or coming on the podcast now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey telling you'd like to be a guest on the podcast feel free to go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the show two more things as listeners one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast please you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so everybody else can find out about all of our awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with your patents trademarks or anything else to business feel free to reach out to us just go to strategymedia.com we're always here to help thank you again heather for 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 thank you