The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Understand Who You Are
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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me and i think for most people is understanding who you are understanding your personality understanding um what type of things that you know you're going to fit well with i mean some people you look at the garyvees and the grant cardones they just grind through it it doesn't matter what it is you know they're they're just going to outwork and oh you know and and fix it that way and for me that's torture um i i can't imagine just you know pushing pushing pushing or you know i just don't enjoy that i'm much more of the work smarter not harder mindset um so you know really understanding who you are and what fits you well hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller a serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks so if 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 lee taylor and lee graduated from high school and there's a quick introduction to lee he graduated from high school uh went into college did the mechanical engineering but didn't enjoy the studies for that degree changed schools with his uh went with his girlfriend now wife switched to a business major and degree as he was uh changing schools i went off or took two years off at school then went back and finished realized that uh or that a management degree would be useful and the win uh and went in that direction as well as in finance got an internship at an insurance company or insurance investment company after college wouldn't work for a bank um didn't decided that the bank wasn't for him went to trucking industry which is a good change um that also found real estate investing for a period of time did that for a couple of years transitioned into construction and renovation and then as they started out as a hobby went into disc golf for a period of time and decided to incorporate that hobby into more of a business and more in the retail side and uh since uh leading up to his journey now is uh we dive into that area of the journey so with that much of the introduction welcome on the podcast lee hey thanks for having me devon so i just gave a quick run through of a much longer journey so why don't we go back just a bit tell us a little bit about graduating high school going off and starting up mechanical mechanical engineering and how your journey started from there yeah absolutely um so really entrepreneurship for me i remember as an elementary school student teachers you know said what do you want to be when you grow up and for some reason i like the idea of entrepreneurship and the pushback i kept getting from teachers at the time was well what do you want to do with that i said what do you mean i want to be an entrepreneur like what do you mean what i want to do and like i didn't understand what they were asking and um i was naive at the time but as as all we all know as entrepreneurs you know that's the beauty of that is you can pursue anything you want and go in any direction and be in any industry in any type of business um you know so going to high school i didn't really know what i wanted to do into college i thought about teaching at first i liked the idea of actually being a coach and you know the in 2004 when i graduated high school really the only way to be a coach was to be a teacher and back then teachers didn't make very much so the idea of working hard to get about 24 000 a year um just didn't really interest me at the time so i looked at my other skill sets and things i enjoyed doing and i was good at math and like analytics and logic so i decided to go through the engineering path and like you said got into school love school you know a college was a great experience but didn't particularly enjoy the study side and then ended up moving over to business because i like the idea of going back to the my thoughts as an elementary student of entrepreneurship and business and just unlimited earning potential unlimited potential in general just being able to kind of rewrite the script and have freedom to do things and then you know it took me a while to kind of navigate through different industries and different companies to decide that i really like the idea of controlling my own destiny versus going in and punching a clock or working 60 70 hours a week to help make somebody else else's dream come true so you know a lot of things happened the right way to help me realize that and kind of get me to where i am now and um so you jumped over a bit of the journey and i'm gonna go back or go back and just hit on something so you first of all went into mechanical engineering and then you know you how to or how did the girlfriend now wife play into the you know was it moving to school that prompted you to switch the degree or were you already looking to switch the degree and then that just happened to coincide with moving with her following the girlfriend now why how did that all work out it was mainly from the move um so he had a scholarship that i could go to any school that i wanted to and she did not so it made sense for me to move to her school which was in a different state versus her move into my school and i mean i would have if i would have stayed i would have stuck with engineering probably um i mean it wasn't something i couldn't handle i just didn't particularly enjoy it but you know looking back i didn't really enjoy much about school at all from high school or college so um yeah i mean mainly moving to be with her was the the really the factor because the school didn't offer an engineering program so all right so now so now as we walk through the journey so you said okay gonna go to a different school gonna follow the girlfriend now wise so it sounds like it was a good decision in the long run or you couldn't tell me about your investment so um and then you so you switch into different majors and say okay this is what i love this is kind of more where i want to be and you dive into that area now as you dive into that and you know you switch that school you come out of school you with the uh more of the business degree and you get into and i think initially you it was an investment banking and then moved over to insurance is that right yeah i did an internship in college with the insurance and investment company it was basically just the sales position is what it amounted to um and really the people that had success success there they already had a network or their families had a network of individuals that were successful and doing well and with my background my family was the opposite you know we did i don't come from money and we didn't you know we're country folk you know we don't have um rich family members or anything like that you know for me the idea of success was owning a three-bedroom two-bathroom house like that was hard for me to fathom you know coming out of high school um you know looking back now i realize how small those dreams were but you know you don't know what you don't know at the time so yeah i didn't particularly enjoy that part of it um i liked working with people and helping people and that helped me you know just kind of figure out what i enjoyed doing in life and then yes after that i graduated college then it went into basically retail banking i was i was a banker just at a bank in pennsylvania and it was more the same basically you know just doing um retail sales but in the banking environment instead of working in you know a store so didn't enjoy that at all and uh i mean the hours were decent but uh that was about the extent of it definitely makes sense and you know and i think that you know banking on the one hand if you can get the that network and you have that those individuals can be beneficial on the other hand it can be a big slog and much more difficult and you know and road to host so now what so you get it here you go from banking out of trucking which that seems like a fairly big jump between two or not that similar industry so what made you decide to get into trucking and how did you get into that yep so the biggest factor there was just the ability to have some upward mobility to work in a company that aggressively promoted people and i had a friend who was already working for that company so that kind of gave me some insider knowledge on what the opportunities were i mean he graduated a year or two before me and i mean he was making over double my salary and um i just couldn't understand how i did like i didn't realize that was an option and then found out you know talking with him kind of his journey what he did and started out with and realized that i could do the same thing so really it was about the income potential and um the opportunity to grow and you know have have more through a traditional you know job instead of it wasn't business or anything like that it was just um something different no it definitely makes sense so so now you switch over to and do that and i think you're in the trucking industry for about six years is that right yeah six or seven years then something around that time frame now what made you you know so you have the the better income potential maybe is a bit more enjoyable you know i've always there's always been an aspect of me i've never done it so maybe it's one of those things kind of like lawyers that you romanticize something oh it'll be so fun i'd watch a television show and i'm like kind of fun to do trucking get to see a lot of parts of the country i love listening to radio and podcasts and that and give me an opportunity never done it but maybe someday i will maybe when i when i uh or fulfill all my other dreams we'll get to that one but you know you get they're doing the trucking industry now what made you switch kind of from the trucking industry to getting into real estate real estate investing yeah so uh you know being in the industry i was in management and uh it offered a lot of upper mobility i think we i promoted six times in seven years and we relocated five times in seven years and i was there so um offered a lot of positive change for our lives um so it checked all the boxes there the company got bought out and um the basically the leadership came in and the whole culture changed so going back to you know being wanting to run a business and being able to control those aspects i had no control over the culture the decisions coming down from the top you know my hands would be forced in the way i was able to lead manage a lot of the times i couldn't do the things i knew that my team needed me to do and the way i needed to be there uh regardless of how i felt um just because of the directives that we were being given and my boss was under the same pressure had the same issues and felt the same way um you know hours were getting longer job was getting more stressful it was a thankless job you know nobody's ever happy when something is delivered on time it's always the issues when things aren't there when they're supposed to be and so basically my job was putting fires out dealing with people that were unhappy internally and externally and just finding creative ways to get through every day as best we could all while managing a multi-million dollar operation and the p l with that and the vendors and non-payments and the new accounts and existing accounts yeah almost summer is that you got worn out of it after a while yeah um you know i'm in my 30s and i wasn't seeing a lot of my wife or my kids and it wasn't really the the husband or the father i wanted to be just because of what my job was demanding and um yeah i found the the opportunity with real estate investing and really enjoyed the potential there and so jump you know really transitioned over and took a leap of faith into that um you had a little bit of a savings built up with 401k and we had just gotten a bonus so i was able to utilize those two things to give me the opportunity to get involved there you know was very heavily active um kind of the same thing like i started off good and i enjoyed it because it was so different and then over time realized that it wasn't exactly what i wanted to do forever so i started looking at other ways to transition out of that the construction and renovation company was kind of part of what we were already doing because we were doing flips and things like that that involved rehabs and construction so we had the infrastructure in place i looked at the needs that we had as well as the needs of the marketplace with other investors and on the retail side with the traditional homeowner and saw that there was a high demand you know housing in our area is very strong so uh any type of skilled labor in working on houses in any capacity is always in high demand so we we try to get in there um same thing you know there was opportunity it made sense the further we got into it the more challenges we face the biggest one being is hard to find people um because you're talking about skilled trades um you know growing a company and you know part of that of having a business is being able to automate and scale and the biggest challenge with that was being able to automate and scale it's doable but with what we had and the resources we had available it didn't really fit and it was you know like pushing a boulder uphill you can do it for a certain amount of time it eventually gets heavier you get tired so that didn't really work too long and then like you said you know found disc golf as a hobby i really enjoyed that you know was still doing other you know real estate stuff and renovation stuff on the side um you know in the back of my head i kept looking for that way to take my passion for business and put it together with my passion for disc golf and you know just through being open and thinking about it came across the opportunity of the retail side of things you know once coveted hit the disc golf industry started booming um you know participation more than doubled across the united states new courses are going in and you hit on it let me just dive in real quick you hit on it just briefly but disc golf started out kind of as a hobby interest you know just kind of you enjoyed it did it with friends family so to speak you know you know how did you kind of as you're saying okay i can only push the boulder up so so long you know and i've done the uh real estate and i did investing and i did renovation and you know that kind of thing and it was fun at the time and now i'm kind of wanting to move on to something else how did you decide to go to disc golf and how did that transition from a hobby to something that's an actual business or something that you enjoyed and built or built a business around yeah pretty simple actually i was uh was working with a life and business coach and uh through working with her we were able to do a lot of like timeline therapy and personality profile digging and just helping me kind of understand who i was um you know one of the things was doing the enneagram like i found that incredibly helpful and beneficial to figure out how i was essentially programmed and how that worked for me and then being able to understand why i felt the way i felt when i was in certain roles in certain positions so understanding you know okay that's why i enjoyed this that's why i didn't enjoy this like certain things felt light certain things felt heavy and then being able to um look at that you know with being able to put disc golf in that bubble and looking at okay what would i enjoy doing well i wanted to take my passion and figure out my purpose was and my passion was definitely disc golf my purpose was being around people being social you know being an influencer in the space and so doing the retail side of things you know that was the logical because i'm not you know competitively it's not good it's not going to happen for me but as a retailer i get to be around all the people competing and working with them and helping them out and being able to support the community and fill in all the checking all the boxes that for me for my personality are the things that fill me up no that's cool so so now you do that and say okay here's checks all the boxes make sense want to do it you get into it you get into disc golf and kind of running it you know since you've launched it has it been a hockey stick straight to the top and it's been fun and enjoyable and it's all worked out has it been bumpy and you know you regret it and you wish you go back to real estate or you know anywhere in between but how's that kind of done as you've launched it and got into things so he said again devin he broke up just a little bit on me sure i said you know so now that you've dived into it you've actually you know got into the business you've worked on getting it going you've you know got it up and running has been a raucous shipped to the top and this has taken off like wildfire has it been one that's been a slog and you wish you could go back to real estate or is it been somewhere in between you're kind of how's it going as uh as you've started to build it yeah so um there's a lot of unknown there was a lot of unknowns getting into this business mainly because all of the companies on the manufacturing side as well as the retail side are private so there's not any public information i can't go look at balance sheets or financials i can't look at earnings reports or go back and listen to investor calls those things don't exist so i had to really build my business plan off of the knowledge that i had about the industry getting feedback from other people just you know really that intuition of seeing what's happening what type of inventory retailers had like like i said just you know really trying to look at pieces of the puzzle that were scattered all over the place and you couldn't quite see the entire puzzle you had to try to put them together to make as complete of a picture as you could um you know basically ran some numbers on through my business plan to try to figure out what the opportunities were did a lot of market research with the manufacturers to figure out what my costs were going to be knew what the sales side would be the good thing about the disc golf industry is the pricing is pretty standard so there's not you know i don't have the walmart effect of having to compete with somebody cutting lower and lower and lower that's not really an option so i knew what my baseline would be on a on an average cost per per item basis i knew what my expected margins would be you know i factored in shipping cost packaging costs um just the other you know fixed costs for running a business with website and whatnot um you know ran the numbers and um the numbers look good honestly so um i took the leap forward of you know we sold a few houses had some startup capital to be able to get in to get it rolling that way basically for buying inventory was the big thing right when i started buying inventory that was when the manufacturers in any industry as a whole it was in super high demand super low supply so everyone was facing the same problems they couldn't get product to sell manufacturers were making things as fast as they could but the demand was so high that you know everywhere they had product was basically selling out so i try to get everything going as quick as i could and quickly realized that the website i was using i needed to develop that and upgrade so um i kind of you know didn't really slack off on pushing revenue but i focused more heavily on investing in the longer term so to kind of answer your question about the revenue side of things it was not what i anticipated but it has not been it's been in between you know it's been a steady steady growth um right now we're you know we're still growing you know long term i see a much larger potential and upside than where we're currently at um but for now it's it's kind of meeting the the needs and um you know i'm continuing to grow and develop the business uh as far as what we carry the amount of inventory we have but more from uh the functional side you know because my my product is not actually the products i sell the product that i have is the business itself is the experience it's the website you know my focus is on the online side of things um so you know the products i have are the same products everyone has you know what somebody's going to come to me for and choose to shop with with disc golf america is going to be from the experience from the level of quality they get from the packaging from the customer service experience just all those intangible pieces that you know and that's where my market research uncovered that i felt that a lot of other companies were dropping the ball most companies did many things well but what i found is every every website out there struggled or they didn't prioritize certain things and i wanted to put together that complete solution for the customer so i focused my business from day one on checking all the boxes and meeting all the needs that myself as a consumer knew were important and i felt other other businesses were neglecting or not prioritizing and you know that's what's been great repeat customers people speak highly of the business every time i meet someone when i travel like oh i know disc golf america i see you guys on facebook and on instagram or you know my friends talked about you or whatever so building that organic growth um has been something that's important but it's also shown that it's working and i know long term that will have a nice residual impact and with some exponential growth um it's just you know right now we're still here on the exponential growth and we're getting closer and closer to that climb so looking forward to when that happens and i i trust that through the actions that we're taking today you know you'll we'll see that growth happen and get there sooner rather than later no and i think that that sounds like it's a fun place or a fun direction ahead and it's definitely a lot of opportunity in front of you so well now as we start to wrap towards the end of the podcast i always have two questions that we'll dive into now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made what'd you learn from it honestly probably the worst business decision i've made has been to i got into partnerships and the idea of partnership was not really the issue but we thought we had everything clearly defined and figured out and the roles and who was doing what um but you know it didn't really shake out that way um i mean these people were friends and they still are friends you know business and friendships and you have to keep them separate to keep it healthy um but you know having people and myself included in roles and performing roles that um feel heavy like i mentioned earlier you know things that we don't do well and don't enjoy doing um that was a looking back it was a mistake and you know i wish uh i don't really wish i could do it differently because if i didn't go through the things that happened i you know i wouldn't be where i'm at you know looking back everything has happened just the way it's supposed to happen when it's supposed to happen and it's my job to learn from those experiences and then to take that and grow and develop and not make the same mistakes or or you know not do the same thing twice but to make sure that i'm growing and developing and moving forward so it's been a struggle in that area but um when i went into this golf america i was very adamant about maintaining 100 ownership not giving up equity and i was able to raise funds to do that without giving up equity which you know you ask most people that's that's hard to do but um you know that those are some of the things i was able to learn and take into this business venture that have been beneficial so far and i think long term i will look back and look at those as being yeah those are very key components of being where i'm at today and not uh you know giving up too much to get there oh cool i think that's definitely a good lesson to learn from and definitely make sense so now let's dive into the second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup for a small business what would be the one piece of advice you give them a couple things you know one feet one one piece of advice is tough but i mean really for me and i think for most people is understanding who you are understanding your personality understanding um what type of things that you know you're gonna fit well with i mean some people you look at the garyvees and the grant cardones they just grind through it it doesn't matter what it is you know they're they're just going to outwork and over you know and fix it that way and for me that's torture um i i can't imagine just you know pushing pushing pushing or you know i just don't enjoy that i'm much more of the work smarter not harder mindset um so you know really understanding who you are and what fits you well and then surround yourself with with the right people and that doesn't necessarily mean in a tangible standpoint i mean the same way i found you dev and it was through a podcast where you shared things about uh intellectual property and trademarks and patents and i had no idea about any of that but listening to that podcast episode and hearing you talk about that i was able to understand the need to protect my brand because once again that that brand was my is my product um and you know going through the process with you that we've done for my trademark application has been fantastic and it's one thing i don't have to worry about now i go to sleep at night not worrying that a competitor or somebody who's you know trying to take me down a step or completely out of it is going to be able to do that because you know we're protected obviously somebody can try to do something but i know that we've got a leg to stand on now because we went through the proper channels to do that um you know but having that podcast you know as a resource is is what i look around look at for having good people i mean 2021 and the amount of information that's available for free is absolutely incredible um so for people to sit back and not take advantage of those opportunities you know that's not hurting only you it's gonna hurt your future generations you look back just a hundred years ago and the amount of information that was available was is minuscule compared to what we have now um yeah so and i definitely ground and i think that there's a lot of wisdom that they just kind of covered and i think that makes a ton of sense and so i think you know there's a lot of things to learn from business and i think those are some valuable lessons so as we start to wrap up if people have any uh if they want to be a customer or client they want to buy some disc golf they want to be an investor in your business if you ever have take on an ambassador they want to be a um a employee they want to be your next best friend any or all the above what's the best way to reach out and find out more yes so uh obviously the website disc golfamerica.com we just launched our new website as well so that's up and running and feedback's been positive there we're on facebook disc golf america on instagram disc golf america store so those are our main two social media outlets where you can follow us and see what's going on and then obviously you can message me through instagram or facebook through the disc golf america store to get in touch with me or you can email disc golf america store gmail.com is the easiest way to uh to get in touch so awesome well i definitely encourage everybody to reach out find out more support disc golf america because it's a fun fun uh it can be a fun hobby or a fun business and definitely worthwhile to check out well thanks again for coming on the podcast 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 uh inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe in your podcast players you know what all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so new people can find out about all of our awesome episodes last but not least if you have any um need any help with patents trademarks or anything else feel free to go to um strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat always happy to help thanks again lee for coming on it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next legend journey even better than the last thanks devin with my pleasure