You Are Worth Investing In
Devin MillerThe Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
You Are Worth Investing In
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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invest in yourself invest in yourself whether that's reading a stupid amount of books or hiring a coach bringing in someone to to help and encourage you and this can kind of go along with with that last one knowing that you you are worth it you have the ability to do this but it it does there are so many things that you probably don't know so take some of your funds or set aside some of your funds and invest in yourself [Music] 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 into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller ip law where he helps 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've got another great uh podcast our guest on the podcast if i don't get too tongue-tied um which is uh joe newton and i give you a quick introduction to joe so um has a degree in classical acting from college and then i got heavily involved in the community um afterwards he moved back and moved to dallas where he's from after or back to dallas after school and started a non-profit theater with a high school buddy um started to and then started to also run a small coffee shop i think and then realized that uh they should hire out or he told his employer that he was helping to run the coffee shop that they should hire at his job and promote someone else and so he talked himself out of a job but then his wife encouraged him to get into real estate so did that for a period of time and learned about the systems and processes to make a profitable business and make that consistent and then uh until about a year ago was figuring that out and then systematized it and that brings them to where he's out with his business today so with that much as an introduction welcome on the podcast joe hey devon thanks for the introduction it's good to be here man absolutely so i just compacted a much longer journey into about 30 seconds so let's unpack that a bit so tell us how your journey kind of got started with the classical acting in college yeah so i knew growing up that i wanted to go to college that it was a priority for me to go to college and get a degree had an awesome grandfather who grilled that in to me and and the other grandkids but growing up i also knew that i was not your star academic and for me to finish a degree program it was going to have to be something that i enjoyed and that narrowed it down to either theater or history and i was able to get more scholarships with theater and get into a great school and that's kind of what led me into the the classical acting vein there all right so now you say okay this is i'm gonna go and do classical acting and now was that what they because that was enjoyed and passion or did you want to go in and be an actor and be in movies or in plays or kind of what was the initial kind of prospect of what you wanted to do with that as you were getting the degree yeah i i knew that i i loved it i enjoyed it and specifically the the communal aspect of it so the program i was a part of what i went through all four years with the same 19 uh kids at that time so we went through and had all of our theater classes together and i loved the the community i loved building i loved producing uh the theater and and i was thinking yeah after i graduated i was i was planning to go to london actually for six months i had my visa all worked out and then 2008 happened and everything kind of fell apart and i had to to reorganize at that point shall we say um and and that kind of shifted gears for me but i was planning on on doing acting out out of college all right so so now you're coming out of college saying okay i'm going to be they're doing acting love being involved with the community housing market crashes about that time along with a lot of other things that crashed along right so you moved back and so i think at that point you moved back to dallas after uh graduating from school and you got started in a non-profit theater company is that right with the high school buddy yeah so i i was originally planning on just coming back to dallas for the summer and then moving to chicago to focus on acting there but i had a good friend who was here in dallas and said hey joe what would you think about starting a theater company and i said in dallas he said yeah i said no i don't want to stay back in dallas i've got plans to get out of here um but it was amazing because all of these things started falling into place smu which is a university here in dallas has a law program and we were able to apply and basically get a free lawyer for a semester and they helped us set up the 501c3 for the nonprofit he had so an aunt and uncle who had some wealthy friends and said hey can we throw you a party with our friends and raise some money and all of these things fell into place so before i knew it i was helping to run a a not-for-profit theater company in which we're creating our own work but we're also doing a ton of educational stuff with schools and uh summer workshops and and that that really was sort of my introduction if you will into running a company of any sort so now you so you it's okay and that makes sense so you get in there and say okay we'll start this out we got you know some free legal representation love being part of the community i think it would be a good you know a fun and a worthwhile endeavor so you get all of that going and how did it go was it fun you know was it fun and exciting and loved and passionate and you know made a great business out of it and worked well with your you know your high school buddy or was it a burn in flames and it was a fun idea that never made it anywhere what where did it or where did it end up from there yeah great great uh follow-up and honest question for us it was a great success we had some big goals for ourselves and we were thinking hey in five to seven ten years maybe we'll hit most of these but we were able to achieve the vast majority of them within about two years and some of those were putting on getting in the schools and doing educational training for for high school students like like we were because we knew the benefit that it had for ourselves and and putting on a summer workshop uh for the these students and creating our own work and we brought another company in from chicago to tour a show so we were actually able to do almost everything outside of purchasing our own building uh which was was the one check mark we we didn't end up doing but for about four to five years it did really well i i ended up getting to a point where i had some other things going on in life that i decided to transition out and my friend who i started it with he was going overseas and and wanted to teach english and see the world so we shut it down liquidated it but we were able to still have i forget if it was five to ten thousand dollars at the end of the day that we were able to donate to another company who was doing similar work so i i would call it a success all right well hey but you put a check mark in the success column that's always a win so yeah now you're saying okay you did that for a period of time you know you decided to shut it down go separate ways pursue other things and i think at that point you got involved with working at a small local coffee shop is that right yeah i mean there's a little bit of gap in between there but that's some w-2 work and and that sort of thing but yeah i ended up working at a coffee shop started off at the cash register and within a couple of months had a ton of favor and i i was the general manager uh whether that was a good thing or a bad thing is probably for others to say but i i learned a ton at that point you know learned uh how to how to run a team how to create you know checklists how to do customers and and stalking and there was so much that that i learned during that time but but like you mentioned in the intro i did eventually figure out that the best thing that they could do was outsource half of my job to an outside accounting firm to to do the books and the the hr side and then i had a right-hand man if you will a young guy that i had raised up and uh it was going to be a lot cheaper to give him a little bit of a raise and have him run the day-to-day operations which he was amazing at and fire me and save about half of my salary and when i brought that to them because i felt like it was the best thing for the business they they thanked me and said okay if you're okay with it yeah we'll we'll do that so yeah i i did that and uh and and lost a job now just out of curiosity i mean because on the one hand i'm sure the employer said thank you for saving us money and and helping us reduce costs on the other hand it doesn't seem to be the best if you're intending to continue to work there and otherwise or have a salary doesn't seem like the best career move from the sense and now you're out of a job so what's the intent of me i've so what was you know was the incentive i'll point this out maybe they'll keep me on or they'll be so glad that they'll give you a promotion or that hey i have their best intended heart and if they if it doesn't make sense for me to be here i'll find something else kind of how did that as you were raising that issue how did that go yeah it was it was really i just had the best intentions for for them and and again my heart was like this is what's best for the company it's it's what you should do there's no reason to to keep paying me this money when it would be better for for most everyone if if you made that decision and for better or worse i i didn't have a direct plan for myself after that in fact as i was trying to figure out what my next step was that's when my wife said hey you've talked about real estate since i met you why don't you do that and we cussed and discussed with mr budget and figured out a way that i could go and get my real estate license and and that was my intro back into the business world and and really that's that's where uh my my master's degree and and what not to do and how to to fail as quickly and as much as possible kicked in at that point so now you said okay wife i'll listen to the you know consultant mr budget listen to my wife and she gives great advice which all her wife's uh very often do okay i'll go in and i'll try my hand at real estate and so how did that kind of transition or shift go was it you know got in there flipped some houses made lots of money and you're rich and retired or was that you know something more along i'm gonna you know takes a while to learn the ropes or to build clientele or kind of as you're saying okay i'm transitioning into this next phase how did that work out yeah i i i learned a ton because anyone i'm sure who is listening to this and has started a business unless you went to school for this beforehand hits that point to where you realize you know nothing and i i had a ton of learning to do luckily i i was very blessed in that i had some some mentors there was another real estate agent a guy i went to church with and uh he was willing to take me to coffee at least once a week and pour into me and share what he knew and uh he even gave me some opportunity starting off i i hired a coach at that point because i i knew i needed it and drank from the fire hose there but there was still a ton of of figuring out what what's the difference i i didn't know that that that framework of a job versus a business at that point and and i had no idea what a system or a process was so there was a lot of failing and and both in learning to build my own real estate business and then from there i did get excited and started some other businesses i i started a flipping business i i tried to bring in a partner to build a team and and all of that failed miserably the flipping business we got funded but we never ended up flipping one home the business partner i ended up now let me ask you one quick question because typically my my very cursory knowledge and i've never flipped a house or been into that but it seems like if you had the funding there that would be the largest impediment to flip a house is to have the funding to go get the house in order to fix it up and flip it so what was the reason why if you were funding yeah go and flip the house that's a very good a very good question and an astute observation so yeah we have i always try to make so so yeah i i went into business to to flip homes with two other guys who i thought were were good uh balances to to my skills i thought there was one guy who had some business acumen i thought there was another guy who was a general contractor i i had the real estate background it was like great we're checking on the all the boxes here i can find the properties get the properties this guy can flip them over and then this other guy can turn this thing into a real business but after a couple of months and and eventually what i figured out was i didn't ask enough questions going in and and if i was to go back and do it differently now one i probably would try as hard as possible to figure out a way to make it happen without having other partners in the business like maybe partner with people but not necessarily have an ownership partnership to where i was so rely relied on them because what what ended up happening was the general contractor came to the point where he said hey i only want to do homes that are within i think it was like a 30 to 45 minute radius of his home base and he lived in an area that he was very close to a lake which meant a large portion of that radius was taken up by a lake so there was a now a much smaller area that we could find properties and as anyone knows within the last decade in most real estate markets within the united states it's it's been shooting up and it's harder and harder to find deals and when you limit that to such a small space when you're first starting off it was impossible to find anything that met the criteria that was within that radius that we could get a good return on so all of those other boxes didn't get checked and eventually it was like hey what are we doing here um let's let's get honest it's probably better that we quit wasting our time with this and and move on so that's that's what happened there and was was the lesson learned it's not not digging in enough before creating a partnership well i think that's fair enough and i think that it's one where a lot of times it's a lesson you simply have to learn in this because you a lot of times you go and all these the partnerships are great we're friends or we work or we get along well together and then you get into a business and you know businesses put different restrains on the relationship and you know everybody has different expectations as far as how much they're going to work and what they're going to contribute and kind of going down that line to where you know the best laid plans maybe don't work out quite like you er expected when you get into that so you're saying okay try to you know have the funding but couldn't quite work parameters didn't quite work the partner uh you know bottom out kept doing that for a period of time and i think it kind of throughout that transitional period you also got into doing a kind of a real you're doing a real estate boot camp and you saw a guy that was you know had a high level results and that kind of changed a bit of your trajectory yeah so around this time i yeah like you said i i took a a boot camp that i signed up for with a guy named joshua smith if you google joshua smith real estate or podcast he'll probably pop up and and he's big muscle-bound guy bald tattoos cuss is like a sailor but in him i saw someone who was consistently getting a high level result with his real estate teams as well as he was taking that same knowledge and building businesses and totally unrelated fields like he had at least two other businesses that that had to do with with fitness and nutrition and so i i knew he had something that that that i was missing and i signed up for that boot camp and during that boot camp he really hit home for me the importance of systematic systemization and and identifying systems and processes to have consistency with within your business and that was that was mind-blowing to me in a really big watershed moment that led me to start reading you know the e-myth and traction and all these other books which which bring up and say hey you need to systematize your business so that was yeah so so now you say and i think that you know i think that systems getting systems in place can have a big impact and you have often times overlooked in the sense that you're just trying to run so hey if i work hard or not you know more organized or smarter type of a thing and i think there's a cliche because you can only work so smart and you do still have to work very hard but there is a portion of it where you do have to have some systems and processes in place and it certainly increases the odds of having a successful business so now he's saying okay got that insight got you know or got they had initial mentorship dug into a lot of books and got a lot of that information and as you're doing all of that creating the systems you know to just continue to implement those in what you're doing with real estate or did that pivot your business or kind of where did that lead to lead to where you're now at today yeah i i did i i implemented that within my my real estate business so i identified what those key systems were i was creating the documentation granted it took me a lot of time to to do that and figure out what worked and what didn't work well but i i saw an improvement within within my own business and and eventually i i started my own brokerage and and was able to build up a small team to to utilize those and and then about a year or two ago i was running a mastermind and some of the guys who were in that that mastermind you were also business owners entrepreneurs were having the problems of not having systems within their business so i was helping them kind of as one-offs just doing some consulting and helping them and i realized that i enjoyed that more than way more than the real estate and at the beginning of of this year i decided to to make that into a business and i found out about the systemology framework which is basically a system for systemizing your small business and and that's what i've been focusing on full-time now is is helping business owners get out of the day-to-day operations so they can focus on what they do best through that no and i think that that's great you know and the better the better you get the systems in place i think more consistent product you have and you also are getting a much more likely to success because now if you know if you get something done it's done on in a timely manner it's done right and it's otherwise i'm not you know always behind the eight ball or apologizing for people being late one it makes your business better into it also as you grow and expand makes it easier to scale so now in addition to doing that system so do you go out and do kind of as a gun for hire so to speak and you go work for other businesses or do you have an exclusive clientele or do or how do you kind of offer that as as a service and turn that into a business yeah so i work one-on-one with with a lot of small businesses my meat and potatoes if you will who i'm able to serve best are those business owners who have hired their two to three employees all the way up to businesses that have around 50 employees and they're getting to that that place where they've kind of hit that that ceiling and they're realizing that they are are really the bottleneck within their their company that things continue to come back to them or they're really key person dependent uh maybe they have an amazing sales person but if they lost that sales person you know they would lose their sales department and and i come in usually for about three months at a time is the initial engagement and i help them identify what those mission critical systems are we extract those from their key knowledge workers and we organize them in a way that people can easily access and use take away the friction so that their team will actually want to use the the systems and reference them and then i try to train someone in their organization up to be a systems champion to be someone who knows how to identify create and update systems so that it can start to become a cultural aspect of the company and and not have to be something that they continually have to bring someone else in to to do so no and i think that's definitely i'm sure that it takes a bit of convincing for people to uh acknowledge and make sure that it is worthwhile investment because it is an investment time and money to be able to get those systems in place but definitely once you get those figured out and it's interesting you know i work in the legal industry and help a lot of clients and i look at everything from other small law firms large law firms i worked with and the level of systems they have in places oftentimes next to nothing and yet it's an area that you could definitely have a lot of systems in place and so one of the things that as we as i started my law firm and did that a few years ago we are continually both getting initial systems in place to automate offload and otherwise get a more consistent product and what we found is one as it frees up more of our time we can actually have more hands-on or you know more interaction and human interaction with the client because we're not doing monotonous work but two it also allows us to scale and so we're not having to bring on as many people to get the same amount of work done because we have those systems otherwise in place that allows us to accomplish the same thing with a a smaller amount of workforce and so i think definitely would be a a you know a cheerleader in your camp so to speak well as we were to wrap up and uh but we're we have the two questions i always ask the end of the podcast we'll do those in just a second as a reminder to the audience we'll also do the um the bonus question we're talking a little bit about intellectual property um and have a conversation there but before we dive to that doing the normal questions on the beach podcast we'll jump to those now so the first question i always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it [Laughter] you know this is i'm sure with a lot of your guests there there's an overabundance of options for the answer to this i would say probably the the worst decision that that i made was thinking that i had to have a partner and i made that over and over again thinking that i i wasn't capable enough capable of creating and operating a business by myself simply because i hadn't done it before and as i shared earlier you saw with the flipping company and then i had another partner that i brought in to try to build a real estate team um who that that went very similarly be because of that lack of confidence and so that's that's that's the biggest thing i wish i had had the confidence to think you know what i i can do this myself and if i'm lacking here and there i can go find the answer but i i don't need someone to hold my hand to to do it no and it isn't just because i had laughing a bit of the parallels because when i got into the doing my own law firm and i brought on the first few attorneys you know the typical law firm model is you know you work for them for a long enough period of time and you make partner and you know i went through that with some of the attorneys i had and i just kind of after kind of wrestling with it and thinking about and how i wanted to do it and what that would look like i just came to conclusion you know what i i don't want a partner i want some great employees i want people that are on the team that were looking the same direction well compensate them take their you know their input into account and everything of that nature one of the sounding boards and a lot of that but i just said you know one of the things i really enjoy about the what my business at least the way i run it is i don't have to go and i can make the decisions i can pivot we can adjust we can implement yeah write things out and anytime you bring in a partner it just for me for my personality i said hey it just it's going to turn the business that i love into something i don't want to or a place i don't want to work for so i think that there is a lot of times that inherent feel or pressure that you need to have a partner and yet a lot of times just saying hey i'm happy to do it on my own i can have mentors i can have employees i can have sounding boards but at the end i just want to do my own thing yeah so okay second question 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 invest in yourself invest in yourself whether that's reading a stupid amount of books or hiring a coach bringing in someone to to help and encourage you and this can kind of go along with with that last one knowing that you you are worth it you have the ability to do this but it it does there are so many things that you probably don't know so take some of your funds or set aside some of your funds and and invest in yourself because you're gonna need help but you need to invest in yourself to to to build this this business don't give up but invest in yourself no and i think that's a great piece of advice and oftentimes it's one where you hear it and you say yeah i should invest myself and say well i don't i've got too busy i don't have time and you know that's where i think that finding the ways that you can invest yourself one of the things i often do is in addition to having this podcast i also love listening to podcasts and that's the way you garner a lot of knowledge and get you know and be able to invest at that time and then getting ideas and all this new you know law firm marketing podcast i also listen to real estate marketing podcast because they're really great you get a good one they're really great in sales and then looking at what other ways to build a business and you know listening of those i think in that investment can reap a lot of rewards and you know it sounds easy on the front end yeah i should definitely invest myself but when you're in the trenches of building a business oftentimes it gets pushed aside so i think it's a great piece of advice well before we jump to the bonus question as we wrap up the normal portion of the episode 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 employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out to you to contact you or find out more yeah so i i was going to create a link specifically for your audience if if they go to eij systems.com inventive journey i'll put a link up there you can schedule a time we can grab a virtual coffee if you will i'm more than happy to answer any questions you have or if your best friend worthy you know um ask you some questions and uh i'll also throw a link on there to my system for creating systems and and for those of you who are uh at the point where you're beginning to thinking about systematizing your business or even if you're in the early stages take a look at that it's an example of how a good system is organized as well as it'll walk you through the steps it's it's not rocket science so i'll throw that up if that's helpful as well awesome well i definitely encourage people to to check out the link and make those connections whether it's a next best friend or the next best client you think of it's definitely worthwhile to make those connections either way well thank you 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 we'd love to have you just go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the show make also make sure to uh subscribe and share the podcast so everybody can find out about our awesome episodes and hear everybody else's journeys and last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else with your business just go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat so now as we transition then we jump from the your journey to you know shifting gears a little bit and talking about a little bit of a subject that's always near and dear to my heart which is intellectual property i turn the microphone over to you for a bit to ask your number one intellectual property question yeah and this would be a a two-parter if you will maybe get some some bonus question here i'm curious one is there when it comes to like a trademark or you're starting a new business a new brand when is the time to start thinking about the the trademarking and that sort of area and along with that so that you you don't waste someone like years time is there a place to where you can easily search and say hey does someone already have my brand is this already trademarked should i you know do i need to shift gears even before i try to engage someone like devin yeah no i think that's a great uh two-parter question and happy answer so i mean on the on the first point you know it is always a balance in in the sense that you know the very easiest answer is the earlier the better as far as when you start strengthening about trademarks because you're going to invest time money and effort you build a business and the last thing you want to do is come to find out that either one you know your the trademark's taken and you're infringing someone else's or two you built a business and now somebody else comes along and trademarked it afterwards and they're boxing you out or you're gonna have to rebrand all of which are not you know or desirable outcomes and so you know earlier the better now within that i also get that startups and small businesses you always have more things to spend money on than money to spend and so you're always you know saying hey do i make you know do i do marketing and sales do i do uh seo do i do google adwords do i do new employees do i do pay rent do i make payroll or do i pay legal fees and legal fees or you know legal services are oftentimes moved down the list because it doesn't feel like it's quite as urgent so my general rule of thumb is is you know if you're just getting a business up and going first of all make sure you get the business up and going because great if you get a trademark or the business never makes it it doesn't matter for business is dead but if you're getting to the point of the same as you're getting up and going for you're investing you know quite a bit of either time money and effort um any or all the above to building that brand you're saying hey we're going to do a a big push we're going to do a big marketing spend we're going to do a gorilla marketing or any of those and you're saying it's going to be a work a big investment by the company and such that this brand is starting to get value and you know people are actually going to associate the service with us you're getting to the point we're going to want to get a trademark for it and you know really the rule of thumb i give is if you're getting the point that if you had the outs factor if you had to rebrand if you had to change the branding or the trademark you had to change the name of the company if you're saying hey yeah take a little bit of money and effort but it's really not that big of a deal you probably haven't reached that you know that level that the trademark is important enough for you but on the other hand you're saying no if we had to rebrand man that would be a pain we've done all these efforts we've spent all this time money and effort and everything else if we had to rebrand that would be a big deal the company really wouldn't want to do that well but if you're reaching that point it doesn't even have to be at that point but if you're starting to reach that point that's when you should consider getting a trademark now if you're starting out to your the second part of your question saying hey i'm just getting going want to see is this trademark available definitely can hire a trademark attorney and if you have the funds i would you know whether it's us or somebody else i would definitely encourage that because there's a lot of experience of things that you don't know as to whether or not this would be a stopping factor or not that you may say hey somebody else has taken the same work but it could be for completely different services or products are unrelated and it would be a non-issue and yet it scares people off but if i also as i mentioned get you don't always have those funds at the beginning so you can go to the uspto website um if you just were to search uspto trademark search he'll pop up you can go uh go and they'll have just a database so you can start to search and you can at least get a general understanding of what is what other trademarks have already been filed which ones are out there and whether or how crowded or how clear of a field it is to use the name of your business so that's where i would start and then as you were to get you know the funds or the budget in place i would definitely open an attorney because there's a lot more it's a lot more nuance than you might think but it's better to get something or get an initial understanding and take a bit of time on your own before you go into an attorney so with that hopefully it answers your question it was it was a fun bonus question to to go through um and we'll go ahead and wrap up the podcast again thank you for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure and wish the next delivery journey even better than the last [Music]