#ALB68 – The Ghost of Business Past
#ALB68 – The Ghost of Business Past
This summer special episode is going to take you all on a little trip down memory lane and look at not only what John has done over the last 20 years, but also and maybe most importantly what he has learned. Some of the mistakes that have been made and some of the key takeaways that you can benefit from.
Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast #68
This summer special episode is going to take you all on a little trip down memory lane and look at not only what John has done over the last 20 years, but also and maybe most importantly what he has learned. Some of the mistakes that have been made and some of the key takeaways that you can benefit from.
20 Years ago, John was working as a civil servant, he had just bought his first house, he was getting married the following year, life was all good. And then something happened. He was moved to a different department in the service and he absolutely hated his new job, he also suddenly found himself in a job where the average lifespan of an employee was two years. His previous role was within a section where literally nobody ever left.
John decided within the first two weeks of being there that this was not the job for him. So he started applying for other jobs, looking at leaving the civil service completely, whether he could work within the private sector, perhaps get another role within the civil service.
And one other thing he looked at was, well, could he start his own business?
Skip forward 3 years and Jason come along to form the dynamic but incredibly modest duo that is John and Jason.
Sit back, click play and enjoy listening to their business journey.
[00:00:00] John Lamerton: [00:00:00] Like, so you, you go into your little office, you fire up a computer and you earn a year’s salary in a month. How, how is that possible? Well, magic wizardry, CP was all the scabbing or stealing something. Hey everybody, it’s John Lamerton alongside my good friend and business partner, Mr Jason Brockman, we are here for another episode of the ambitious lifestyle business podcast as always.
[00:00:28] It is our job to help you get more customers and more money with just working harder. So without further ado, let’s dive straight into this one.
[00:00:43] Hey buddy. You’re welcome. To the summer special of the ALB podcast, very, very , very special summer special this year. It kind of dawned on me when we were planning this, that August, 2020 is exactly 20 years [00:01:00] since August, 2000 and August, 2000 is when I started my very first business. So 20 years.
[00:01:10] In business two decades. I thought what we do is, is have a little bit like, you know, in, in, Charles Dickens,
[00:01:19] Jason Brockman: [00:01:19] yo,
[00:01:22] John Lamerton: [00:01:22] well, I don’t think half of our audience, but no, this is your life. Would they? Hopefully, leave a comment below if you do and show us your age by saying Eamonn Andrews or Michael Aspel that all that, that will tell us everything we need to know about it.
[00:01:39] No, no, no. I’m thinking more Charles Dickens. This is more kind of like, you know, the ghost of business past. We’re going to take a little trip down memory lane and look at what we’ve done over the last 20 years, but also what we’ve learned. Some of the mistakes we’ve made and some of the key takeaways that you [00:02:00] can benefit from, from the stuff that I did 20 years ago.
[00:02:06] So let’s, let’s fire up. We really are mixing our metaphors tonight, aren’t we let’s get Charles Dickens back to the future and Eamonn Andrew in the same introduction. So let’s go right back. Shall we to, August August, 2000. It just, there seems weird to say 2000
[00:02:27] Jason Brockman: [00:02:27] August 20 year. Oh
[00:02:29] John Lamerton: [00:02:29] yeah. 20 . So we had survived.
[00:02:32] The millennium bug Y2K was not a problem. It turned out in the end, the planes didn’t fall out of the sky. The HTMS didn’t start spewing out free cash for everybody. And all of our computers still worked. I was happy in my comfort zone. I was working as a civil servant. Just bought my first house, getting married next year.
[00:02:51] It was all brilliant. And then something happened. I was moved to a different department in the service. [00:03:00] Absolutely hated my new job, my new row, and suddenly found myself in a job where the average lifespan of an employee was two years. previously I think I’d come from a. A section where the previous road’s lifetime was a lifetime, literally nobody ever left.
[00:03:21] And I decided within the first two weeks of being there. That this was not for me. So I started applying for other jobs, looking at, you know, were leaving the civil service completely, whether I could work private sector, with our, get another role within the civil service. And one other thing I looked at was, well, could I start my own business?
[00:03:47] And. Remember the press it’s almost full of, all these young 20 something.com millionaires. And the ones I really remember were, Brent Holtman and Martha Lee [00:04:00] Fox. They were the british.com millionaire host the child. it was last minute.com was there their website. And the press was just that the press loved them.
[00:04:12] They were like the little darlings, like, Oh yeah, there’s these British kids that are making millions by having a website on the internet. And I thought, gee, you know what? I could do that. I fancy everything. I’m I’m 20 something. you know, so I thought, well, you know what, I’m going to do this. So I’ve decided to launch.
[00:04:32] My internet marketing business. I’ve
[00:04:34] Jason Brockman: [00:04:34] heard the little story, but there were free
[00:04:36] John Lamerton: [00:04:36] little challenges you had come wasn’t it. There, there is a little story though. I might have told once or twice, the three problems to me, launching mindset, marketing business, number one, offs. I’d never run a business before.
[00:04:46] I mean, nothing but running a business. number two, I knew nothing about marketing. I was a civil servant. I knew absolutely nothing about marketing. number three, I didn’t even own a computer, let alone have access to the internet. So yeah, [00:05:00] we have a problem there, but I got over it.
[00:05:04] Your friend’s computer turned into my wife eventually. And. I just got on the dial up. Yes. Dial up internet kids that if you remember that we staff pay as you go dial up from free serve. And there are people listening to this podcast now who don’t understand the three things I just said in that sentence pay, as you go internet, dial up and free serve.
[00:05:29] What are these things? Tell me about a
[00:05:31] Jason Brockman: [00:05:31] CD, which most computers don’t even have a CD drive anymore.
[00:05:35] John Lamerton: [00:05:35] So I fired up out of Easter.
[00:05:40] On my low cost browser. Now I would have used internet Explorer back then because it was the only option. I ended up kind of teaching myself how to, how to get on the internet. How to learn about marketing and how to run a business. [00:06:00] I had to, I had to find that education and that’s where I think the, the five magic ingredients I’ve talked about in big ideas.
[00:06:08] That’s where that first came into play because I had this, I had to go, I truly, truly desired more than anything else in the world. I wanted to leave my job, you know, I had to get out of there. So the desire was very strong. The goal was very clear. I had the clarity there. I knew that I knew nothing. So I, I read, I learned, so I found, I got myself a mentor that was crucial.
[00:06:32] Sure. At the very, very start getting myself a mentor who was one step ahead of me. I created the right environment for success. So my spare bedroom became an office. I established my kind of working on the business routines around the day job and probably most crucially I took action. I took a lot of action.
[00:06:54]which you may describe as hustle.
[00:07:02] [00:07:00] Jason Brockman: [00:07:02] Yeah.
[00:07:03] John Lamerton: [00:07:03] Yeah. Well,
[00:07:03] Jason Brockman: [00:07:03] yes,
[00:07:05] John Lamerton: [00:07:05] maybe a little bit. I mean, let me put a little caveat on that. I did maybe hustle a little bit when I was young, when I was full of energy and when I had nothing else. To bring to the table, but hard work and graft and elbow grease, you know, I knew nothing. So all I could do was try harder than everyone else.
[00:07:28] That’s all I had to bring to the table. Well, I think that’d be really difficult as
[00:07:33] Jason Brockman: [00:07:33] well. Cause you’re talking about pre-Google
[00:07:34] John Lamerton: [00:07:34] so you couldn’t just Google how to do
[00:07:36] Jason Brockman: [00:07:36] what it is you wanted to do. You couldn’t go and watch YouTube because there were no YouTube videos about how you could put these things together.
[00:07:43] There was no YouTube. So yeah, that’s an incredibly hard barrier to kind of Ram your way through and to learn isn’t it. So I
[00:07:50] John Lamerton: [00:07:50] guess really for you more than,
[00:07:51] Jason Brockman: [00:07:51] more than anywhere else, the mentor who’s going to be in there and done that was
[00:07:55] John Lamerton: [00:07:55] particularly important because they
[00:07:57] Jason Brockman: [00:07:57] had some kind of blueprint, which you could kind of yeah,
[00:08:00] [00:08:00] John Lamerton: [00:08:00] it was, I mean, you know, learning for me was going to WH Smiths and buying internet marketing for dummies.
[00:08:08] That was kind of my learning, but actually the real. The real education came from the mentors. So it was Clarke. He obviously is now one of our one percenters and it was Jason, not, not yourself, but Jason Dale and these guys had been running online businesses for, I think three or five years before I’d even started.
[00:08:31] So these guys were up and running that, earning a, living that, doing what I want to do. So they are just a couple of years ahead of me. On the path. And I was able to tap into these guys’ knowledge and say, well, I’ve just read this on internet marketing for dummies. Apparently I need to do X, Y, and Zed. And they would just go now don’t waste your time with that.
[00:08:54] That’s that’s, you know, that’s a quick way. So what you do want to do is F P [00:09:00] and the, I even know what that stands for, but there it is. But, I think one of the key takeaways also from that period is that there’s no such thing as a safe, secure job for life. Cause that’s what I joined the civil service for was a safe, secure job for life.
[00:09:15] And then work within, you know, a week in 2000, the rug was whipped out from underneath me and the job I loved. And I was, I said, very happily sat in my comfort zone. And if that hadn’t have happened 20 years later, I would. Actually this week, we’ll be celebrating my 25th anniversary in that job.
[00:09:39] Jason Brockman: [00:09:39] Go and watch and everything.
[00:09:40] John Lamerton: [00:09:40] probably would’ve got a gold watch. Yeah. Might have even had a promotion or two. You never know. So let’s go forward a little bit to 2001. So just a year later. So I’m still in the day job here. And I wrote my first check. And again, I’ve talked [00:10:00] about this before 13 pounds and 51 Pence was that check, from affiliate window company, that’s still trading today.
[00:10:07] I don’t think they send checks out anymore. I’m
[00:10:13] Jason Brockman: [00:10:13] 51.
[00:10:14] John Lamerton: [00:10:14] I will apologize once again to all the millennia who are listening to this podcast and think of what are they talking about? This language of checks and dial up and free serve and Ulta Vista that we’re just making stuff up. Aren’t we? But that check 13 pound, 51 pence that was nine months work and nine months.
[00:10:36] Hustle that was nine months of working probably four hours a day on top of the day job plus all weekend. I went part time at day job. That was about five months after I had that check. So [00:11:00] I’ve got this check £13.51 for nine months work. Five months after that, I’m actually earning enough to drop a couple of days a day job.
[00:11:11] And then all of a sudden that compounded further. And that gave me more time to work on the business, which enabled me to earn more money, which never meets it four months later. Quit the day job.
[00:11:26] What that, what I think I did there was, or the key takeaway from that is I proved the model first. I see so many people now they come to me and they say, I’ve got this idea for a business. you know, I’m going to run this, I’m going to sell this product and like, okay, cool. So some first. Yeah, before you burn your bridges and, you know, quit your day job and, and spend
[00:11:49] Jason Brockman: [00:11:49] capitalize on your credit card
[00:11:53] John Lamerton: [00:11:53] before you spend five grand on Facebook ads.
[00:11:55] How about you spend five quid a day on Facebook ads and see if it sells. [00:12:00] Cause I’ll tell you what, if it doesn’t sell, then shut the thing down the business. I left the day job for at the end of 2001. Was not the same business I launched in August, 2000. It was a completely different business. It evolved over those kind of 15, 16, 17 months to become the business it needed to be.
[00:12:25] So it started off. and you said about your, obviously I couldn’t Google what I needed to learn. Well, I did. Also Vista it like cost. No, I’ll tell you what works. I asked Jeeves
[00:12:38] Jason Brockman: [00:12:38] Jeeves.
[00:12:41] John Lamerton: [00:12:41] So I asked Jeeves, how do you make money online? Yeah, you can imagine the results I got from that, which is why my first website was full of get paid, to serve, get paid, to read emails, get paid to click on adverts, get paid to do this.
[00:12:57] It was loads of crappy [00:13:00] spammy. MLM style stuff. It was horrible and it didn’t really work it. Okay. Made a little bit of money. I mean, a tiny, like a couple of dollars for weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks of work. But I had to do that. I had so do what didn’t work. In order to define the stuff that did work and then do more of it.
[00:13:27] Does that make sense?
[00:13:28] Jason Brockman: [00:13:28] Yeah, I’m sitting and I need to testing. Cause actually you could say, well, I tried this internet marketing thing and then nothing else. It I’ve put all these hours into it. I said it doesn’t work, but you kind of looked at actually why isn’t working and then test something else.
[00:13:40] And then that, that works a bit. Well, we’ll test a bit more of that and we can do this and then actually move that. And actually you end up with that different product because you kept. That’s right. And it does work because there’s lots of people out there doing it. I’ve got a couple of mentors. We proving that it does work.
[00:13:53] No, I know it’s not, what’s the thing I’m trying to do. It’s just how I’m doing it. So it was a case of actually [00:14:00] reiterating that and changing that into something different and actually found something it’s working. Now, I’m going to do a bit more of that.
[00:14:06] John Lamerton: [00:14:06] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I launched it and thought, well, it needs to be pet, get paid, to serve, get paid, to click on emails, get paid to do this.
[00:14:12] And it was only when I went to Clark and Jason said, this, that’s what I’m doing. Like, Oh God, no, don’t you want to do that? What you want to do is you want to do with this affiliate network here, what’s an affiliate network. Oh, let me explain. It’s one of these and you sign it. I’m like, this is forum here.
[00:14:25] There’s other people who can help you here. Oh my God, there’s a community. There’s a group of people who want to help me and want to help each other. And we all. Learn together. And it was just a real, we are a community of people who are all there to help each other and to all learn together. but yeah, I had to prove that model first, before.
[00:14:47] Scaling up burning the bridges, you know, I think what did I say in one of them, one of my books wheel spinning out of the civil service car park with, you’re not the boss of me now, but they might be giants blasting out of my [00:15:00] 1993 Vauxhall cavalier with my website plastered on the side of it. That’s what I didn’t say.
[00:15:06] So there’s this magnetic sign.
[00:15:08] Jason Brockman: [00:15:08] Was it that first King one?
[00:15:10] John Lamerton: [00:15:10] it was, no, no, I think, Oh, she wouldn’t. Yeah. King John was my first website King john.co.uk. Don’t own that anymore. had
[00:15:18] Jason Brockman: [00:15:18] that dinosaur
[00:15:22] John Lamerton: [00:15:22] bug ones. Okay. But it might be a freebie bug or something like that. Yeah. But yeah, I remember having these magnetic signs and if I think forward now, To what I know about marketing and market message media. Oh my God. That was awful having this crappy. I mean, who’s going to buy something from this crappy beaten up 1993, Vauxhall cavalier where they’ve, you know, the Wheelock busted away and it’s Oh, it’s just a horrible piece of marketing.
[00:15:50] I’m just going, it’s complete nobody. He did have to make sure that obviously I proved the model first. I kept the downside. [00:16:00] So I made sure that all my bills were covered. I wasn’t gonna lose the house. I was still going to pay the mortgage before quitting the day job. So I went part time first, you know, made sure that, okay.
[00:16:11] I only need to earn 300 pound a month as a result of dropping these couple of days. the business was earning 500 grand a month. Well, good. I’ve got a little buffer there then. Right. I finally quit completely. That’s a bit more final. But I need to earn, let’s say a thousand pound a month and the business has done 1500 good.
[00:16:32] Obviously what happened beyond that was that enabled me to work full time and actually focus on growing the business means that it wasn’t earning a thousand pound a month. It wasn’t only 1500 pound a month before you know, it let’s go forward to like 2003. I find myself earning more. In a month than I was yeah.
[00:16:57] Of working the civil servant are [00:17:00] doing a job. I hated. And I was doing that from my tiny little bedroom office, all on my own. Just sat there with a computer and an internet connection and people still didn’t understand probably still to this day, don’t understand how I did that. They’re like, so you, you go into your little office, you fire up a computer and you earn a year’s salary in a month.
[00:17:25] How, how is that possible? Well, magic wizardry. few people thought of scamming or stealing something.
[00:17:35] Jason Brockman: [00:17:35] Thanks
[00:17:39] John Lamerton: [00:17:39] the domains and the stuff like we could have controlled internet porn. If we know that’s it, hindsight’s a wonderful thing. The domains and stuff I would have bought back in 2003.
[00:17:48] Anyway. But 2003, that was the time that I actually had my first hire. So we’re already three years into running the business now, and it’s taken [00:18:00] three years to go from me doing nothing, but, you know, Get paid to click on spammy adverts up to leaving the day job up to making a shitload of money. And then I think, Oh right, well, now that I’m making all this money now it’s time.
[00:18:19] So I think, yeah, one of the things that it took me too long to actually make that fast hire and it does for everybody, we sit with a lot of people that are newish to business to everybody waits. Too long to get help. I did 2003, three years into my best. It’s I’ve been full time, I think because you weren’t my first hire.
[00:18:39] Weren’t you? I was April 1st, 2003, not an April fool’s joke, despite all the constant reminders,
[00:18:49] but I could have, I know I needed help probably a year earlier. Probably, you know, either Easter or summer [00:19:00] 2002 was when I needed help. I waited until I was already past that point of needing help. and I know thinking back now, even though it’s 17 years ago, I could tell you why I waited so long and I can tell you why everyone else waits too long.
[00:19:14] Cause they’re afraid. They’re afraid they’re going to get it wrong. They’re afraid that they’re gonna make a bad hire. They’re afraid that no one else can do it better than that. They’re afraid they can’t afford it.
[00:19:24] Jason Brockman: [00:19:24] I thought you were just waiting for me.
[00:19:27] John Lamerton: [00:19:27] No, but I think it’s, and again, I mean, I’ve said before that, the way, the way I hired you was completely wrong and I would never ever advise anybody to do that because the way I hired you was I think Emma ust said, Oh, Jason’s not very happy where he’s working.
[00:19:43] I went, Oh, does he want to come and work for me? That was my hiring process. I didn’t want, yeah, because we didn’t even know each other. I think we might have met once or twice, but we didn’t really know each other then. And I didn’t say to Emma [00:20:00] what’s Jason’s skills. What’s Jason. Good at? Whereas Jason worked at four, it just went, Oh, Jason’s a person.
[00:20:08] And he needs a job. I I’ve got a job, but I need a person.
[00:20:16] I see.
[00:20:17] Jason Brockman: [00:20:17] And magic happens.
[00:20:20] John Lamerton: [00:20:20] I used in the book. I got away with it. Because most people don’t get away with it. And when we did kind of continue that policy of, Oh, you’re a person and I’ve got to roll on you, you know, you’re a person looking for a role. I’ve got a role looking for person brilliant.
[00:20:35] And that didn’t work out for employees. Number two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine.
[00:20:43] Jason Brockman: [00:20:43] I should have been into internet dating, I think with match.com or something like that. And just to work out that actually that first person they need a date. Do you need a date? Oh, you’re all sorted that doesn’t.
[00:20:51] Always last happily ever after does it sometimes
[00:20:55] John Lamerton: [00:20:55] it’s what was missing. There was the knowledge of how to hire, you know, [00:21:00] again, there were, there were no online recruitment marketplaces back then. How did we hire when we first started hiring in, it was late to those three. We hired Ryan, wasn’t it. How do we hire him?
[00:21:12] the drop center. Wasn’t it.
[00:21:14] Jason Brockman: [00:21:14] But
[00:21:16] John Lamerton: [00:21:16] again, I’ve come from the civil service. I used to work at the job center. If you want the job, you go to the job center again, I’m very sorry, millennials, but there’s this place called the job center where you used to go to get jobs, not just to get your universal credit or whatever.
[00:21:31] And that was how you got a job. And it was, yeah, it was a very different place. And I didn’t know how to hire. I just needed someone to sit in that chair or not sit in that chair. Cause that’s my chair. Cause I worked for my little bedroom office. I need to sit on, I need someone to sit on their own chair at their own house and just do some of the stuff that I didn’t want to do.
[00:21:54] And that was my only thinking no point did I think strategically about. [00:22:00] You know, we’ve talked about, Michael Gerber’s book, the myth about having the organizational chart. I didn’t have an organizational chart. I just did everything and I needed somebody else to do some of the stuff. Cause I was a bit burnt out from doing everything.
[00:22:16] And I think a mindset block that people tend to have when making that first hire is they think that they don’t think that hiring someone to do. The the, the, the 10 pound an hour jobs. Can actually free you up as the business owner to do the kind of the hundred pound an hour jobs, the stuff that brings in all the money.
[00:22:40] And it’s like, cause when, obviously when I first hired you, I didn’t hire you to be my business partner and fellow director and all the business I hired you to do like customer support and update the listings on the freebie website. Yeah. Which meant great. I can launch this new Pay per click business and Google ads obviously [00:23:00] just launched in the UK and it’s like, well, you know, literally I’m making 10 grand a month.
[00:23:07] Yeah. 15 grand a month here. why am I updating this website myself and answering people’s emails? Oh, I can pay someone to do that. And therefore that’s an hour that I’m not answering someone’s emails. I can be putting pay-per-click campaigns up and earning thousands and it’s like, wow. Oh, that’s a bit of a no brainer.
[00:23:25] But I see it all the time with business owners where they think, yeah, I need to make this hire. I’m really busy. And I say, okay, hire a VA. You know, get someone in, get someone to do the admin, get someone to do. And is normally they call it a 10 pound an hour jobs, but it’s the stuff that you can pay someone.
[00:23:45] 10 20 pound an eye on it. You know, I’ve got to do my own books. No, you haven’t. I don’t care if it costs you 25 pound an hour, you can get a bookkeeper to do your books for you and crucially. [00:24:00] You then need to take that hour that you’ve employed someone to do it. And rather than say, sitting there on the sofa, going our grant and paying someone to do.
[00:24:09] My bookkeeping for me, take that hour and do the hundred pound an hour jobs that thousand an hour jobs rewrite the website pot up, you pay per click campaign. Do you know, go to sale, sell a consultancy service, do whatever you need to do to actually, and the money that you need to can I forward?
[00:24:32] Jason Brockman: [00:24:32] I think the other thing just while we’re talking about hires and stuff, is this that you don’t, you’re not hiring that person
[00:24:37] John Lamerton: [00:24:37] for the year, right?
[00:24:39] Jason Brockman: [00:24:39] You’re not will be as a, if you’re going to pay somebody 15, 20 grand a year, then actually not hire them. You’re not spending 20 grand a day. That’s not what you do. You’re spending 1500 pound a month each and every month. So you kind of like that risk that you kind of have that first take on it isn’t really that 20 grand it’s the 1500 pounds, isn’t it?
[00:24:58] Yeah. Those mass worked out, [00:25:00] but you know what I’m saying?
[00:25:02] John Lamerton: [00:25:02] I also think, again, one of the things I said, I waited too long and I think everybody waits too long. The longer you wait. The busier you become and the more you need. Someone and you then have the objection of, I haven’t got time to hire someone and train someone.
[00:25:22] And the reason you haven’t got time to hire someone and train somebody because you should have done that bloody six months ago. So yeah, absolutely. If you know, ghost of business past here, if I am finding the ghost walking 2003, John down the road, it’s like go back to 2002 and make a hire. Earlier, I don’t know if you were available then I know, you know,
[00:25:44] Jason Brockman: [00:25:44] he was, you know,
[00:25:47] John Lamerton: [00:25:47] we probably could have had, could have had a discussion.
[00:25:50] Well, you could have had a discussion here,
[00:25:52] Jason Brockman: [00:25:52] but you might have thought about it then, and then I might not about it. So actually, mate, you know, fate is a wonderful thing.
[00:25:58] John Lamerton: [00:25:58] Oh, I think where we could be now.
[00:26:02] [00:26:00] Yeah. So 2004, and this is really where things. Accelerated. So yeah, 2002, I should have hired my first employee and I didn’t 2003, I finally bit the bullet and I got my first employee. And I think my second, I think Ryan came in at the end of 2003 didn’t they did year 2004. We went to the job center and we went a bit crazy and we hired employee number three and four I’m five.
[00:26:34] And I think all the way up to 15. Oh, no, not in the
[00:26:37] Jason Brockman: [00:26:37] same four, four in the same morning.
[00:26:40] John Lamerton: [00:26:40] Yeah. How many rows did we have? One job. One. Yeah, we were hiring for one person and we walked away with,
[00:26:48] Jason Brockman: [00:26:48] we didn’t interview six though. So it could have been worse.
[00:26:53] John Lamerton: [00:26:53] The problem is we went there and they all had nice CVS and they were all qualified and they were all nice people. So we gave [00:27:00] them all a job. And we opened up two offices, not one, we wanted one, but we had to wait for that one to become available. So we ended up taking the temporary office in the meanwhile and then we somehow ended up, I think what happened here is I went a bit mad.
[00:27:19] And I got a bit carried away with my own hype. I think when we went,
[00:27:26] Jason Brockman: [00:27:26] that’s cool. That that’s how I am. We were, was the support was supporting everything that we did. All of the things we did was supported by the income. That was the thing that, like you said, the Google ads is working out really well, our search engine and stuff.
[00:27:37] So the sites were well ranked. And so we were getting lots of traffic, therefore, lots of money. And actually that side of things was working out well.
[00:27:45] John Lamerton: [00:27:45] I was just Google it really taken off at this point. And we, we, we knew, we knew how to work Google. we could pretty much choose whatever such time we wanted.
[00:27:55] No, nothing really competitor they’ve credit cards, loans, mortgages. No, no, but niche, [00:28:00] niche, niche, Americans, niche, terms. We could pretty much choose what we wanted to rank for on Monday. Create a crappy looking website and by Tuesday evening or Wednesday lunchtime at the latest, we’d be number one on Google earning.
[00:28:17] So that was the hype that I believe that the, what, what is now obviously the world’s largest search engine, which at the time was. Certainly getting a lot of traction. So what was becoming the world’s most popular search engine? We could pretty much choose how much traffic we got from that search engine, for what terms we got it for and sell that traffic for more than it costs us.
[00:28:41] And it was just easy. It was really easy. And we didn’t know at the time how easy it was. We just thought this isn’t easy. No, we don’t think about it.
[00:28:51] Jason Brockman: [00:28:51] I’ve read about a hundred staff doing it. We would never have easy it with us.
[00:28:54] John Lamerton: [00:28:54] I think that was the problem was my mentality was while I, if I can earn, let’s say 15 grand a [00:29:00] month by myself, sat in my bedroom office, having known nothing about marketing and not even owning a computer two years ago, then multiply that by 15 people and we should be earning six figures a month.
[00:29:15] And we, that would then fly up to London, which stay in five star hotels in London, and we’d jumping a limo. Remember the limo club and we’d traipse around London or traipse around which we’d be. We’d be driven in London in style. And I remember, go into this particular company. I think the company’s no longer trading, but remember going to this company’s offices near brick lane.
[00:29:43] And this guy called, let’s say red meat or something like that. and he, he was your typical Jack, the lad guy, very, very sharp suit. And I remember him sitting down with us saying if you’re not [00:30:00] making a hundred grand a month, you’re nothing to me.
[00:30:05] Coming out of that meeting, feeling that that’s what we should be doing. Not that that’s what I wanted, but I think that that’s what we should be doing because we are young 20 something year olds on the internet. We should be.com millionaires, just like Martha Lane, Fox and Brent Hoberman. And now this guy’s reaffirming that by saying that we should be earning a hundred grand a month.
[00:30:26] And if we’re not earning a hundred grand a month, we’re not trying because. He was pointing and saying, this guy’s owning it. This guy’s doing it. This guy’s doing it. And again, off our community was full of people who were earning six figures a month, quite easily, quite happily, but they were lucky they were in the right place at the right time.
[00:30:49] And very, a few of them. I still own them anywhere near that sort of money. Many, a couple of them no longer have a [00:31:00] business. They work for the work for other people. it was just of the moment. And I had this line years ago that your ego is your biggest overhead. And for us, it was because my ego of, well, I know I’m, I’m the next Alan sugar here.
[00:31:17] I’m I am Brent Hoberman, you know, I am this dotcom millionaire and I’m just going to jet all over the world. Understanding the best hotels in the world, and I’m going to have these lovely, amazing holidays, and we’re going to have cars and houses. And, you know, I remember on my desktop having this massive country house that I was going to buy, and that that’s what I wanted, but that ego led to.
[00:31:40] What else to do that? I need 15 members of staff. I need two offices. you know, I need this expensive consultant. I need, I need this contract over here. And when we started losing money, All of a sudden I realized that, well, I would actually still be earning pretty good money if it was just me sat in my bedroom, [00:32:00] but it’s not me sitting in my bedroom.
[00:32:01] It’s me sat in my bedroom with 30 grand a month of expenses going out before we’ve even opened the doors. I think another one of the takeaways going back to that time is you can’t immediately go from. Being a Jack of all trades master of none. Do everything yourself, one man band person to being a leader of 15 people without changing.
[00:32:34] That’s exactly what I tried to do. I just thought, well, I literally saw his reputation was like, I can do it. So if, if I can do it. May times 15. Let’s say they’re not as good as me, cause obviously no one’s as good as me, but let’s say, you know, me times 15 should equal seven or eight times the revenue and.
[00:32:57] You know, this have some expenses involved [00:33:00] there, but obviously it turned out that she, we were employing people who, you know, my output was I’d sit there and I’d probably pay per click campaign, gather over, let’s say half a day, half a day, I’d put together a paper debt campaign, which would deliver a 5,000 pound a month of profit.
[00:33:17] And then I’d, I’d employ someone and I’d employed them and I pay them for half a day to sit there and watch a bug’s life. And you know who I’m talking about that you want to say that cause why she gone? You, you can tell us the bug’s life story.
[00:33:33] Jason Brockman: [00:33:33] Well, we had one website didn’t we, it was a bug related website and it was about, was it price about, I think it was the
[00:33:39] John Lamerton: [00:33:39] price, but when you have
[00:33:40] Jason Brockman: [00:33:40] freebie bug was, I think was the original guide, I think.
[00:33:42] But prize bag is really kind of what we did. So it was a competition site, wasn’t it say? And we kind of figured that we could grow that brand of bug sites into different, different, different sizes as well as the, as the price one. Wasn’t it. And then, yeah, so she’d started
[00:33:54] John Lamerton: [00:33:54] to watch.
[00:33:56] Jason Brockman: [00:33:56] A bug’s life, that’s it, it get some feedback as to the kind of characters [00:34:00] that
[00:34:00] John Lamerton: [00:34:00] could come to life on our
[00:34:01] Jason Brockman: [00:34:01] website
[00:34:01] John Lamerton: [00:34:01] and stuff and all these design things, which yeah.
[00:34:06] Jason Brockman: [00:34:06] Characters and things, which we needed.
[00:34:08] John Lamerton: [00:34:08] Exactly. So days and days. And we’d have, yeah, they would just sit on messenger the whole day. And it was just very unproductive because we just hired people. Oh, you’re, you’re a person you could sit in the desk, you can do a job. Great. There’s a computer. There’s your desk off you.
[00:34:24] Go, go. Do what I do. You know, go no, not necessarily do what I do, but go build me websites. Okay. You want a website? Right? Okay. We need a logo. Okay. Let me get inspiration for this logo. And let me spend three days watching and watching and rewatching a bug’s life. So I can see what bugs look like to be inspired to come up with a logo rather than just going.
[00:34:46] Yeah, I’m going to go on fiverr.com and buy one to begin with. Well, I’m going to go on 99. designs.com and buy one to begin with. If we go forward now, kind of 2005, we [00:35:00] continue to lose money. And this, this was, a very tough time, certainly for me in general. Cause I got, I got very, very stressed into those and five and it got to my, where I hated, I hated the business.
[00:35:16] Almost as much as I hated my day job back in 2000, yet this was the business that I created. So it’s my fault, you know, it’s, the civil service, I can blame completely on the civil service and say, well, that was nothing to do with me. I was in the job I loved and they took it away from me and they put me in this job here that I didn’t like.
[00:35:41] But the business I created that, you know, after five years, you can’t really say it’s anybody’s fault, but mine, because I hired those 15 big flight, I signed the contracts on the offices. I signed all the contracts on all the deals. I bought all the domain names. I’m the person who said, yeah, I’m going to take this from being me and my [00:36:00] bedroom, earning really good money, doing something I love to me trying to be that he Richard Branson or Alan sugar or whatever.
[00:36:08] And it. It all got exploded in my face. And I just got, I can’t deal with this anymore. So I actually walked away, literally walked away and ain’t seeing my retirement I’m aged 27. I believe it was. and I actually handed over 49% of the business, to yourself and Mark, who was our business development manager at the time.
[00:36:33] And to go from. You know, being really fired up and this is fantastic too. I’m walking away. Here’s almost half the business again to 18 months. Probably two years. No, actually probably 18 months from when we hired the third employee to me walking away was about 18 months. Yeah. an 18 months of [00:37:00] choices made by me.
[00:37:02] Jason Brockman: [00:37:02] Every single
[00:37:03] John Lamerton: [00:37:03] one. It’s like an episode of breaking bad. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they make one more time. Okay. It was completely the
[00:37:13] Jason Brockman: [00:37:13] dice you’re going to get. He’s double six is right now, you’re going to get it.
[00:37:16] John Lamerton: [00:37:16] and it’s, it’s a line that I used, In the mass starts with different one percentage of now, which is good news.
[00:37:21] You are the boss. bad news is you’re the boss, you know, everything falls on your shoulders when things are going great. Fantastic. You know, you get to take all the credit, you get to jet all over the world. You get to stay in the five star hotels. You get to be wined and dined by, businesses. Who’s telling you how wonderful you are and how they think that you should be earning six figures a month and you believe your own hype, bad news when you own that.
[00:37:50] Money. And you’ve got a company that wants to charge you 57 or 59,000 pounds for repairs. [00:38:00] So the office that you’ve been in for six months, and you’ve done no damage to, well, bad news. You’re the boss. That’s you? That gets the phone call. Is you, that gets the letter when the. staff say that they’ve got a problem because so-and-so has been sleeping with their girlfriend and the fridge doesn’t work and the toilet needs cleaning.
[00:38:20] You get the phone call and it was just stuff like this. And it is stuff like that. That sticks with me. Now, 15 years later, I still remember the phone calls about blocked toilets and broken fridges and colleagues sleeping with colleagues. And it just. That’s why I hate it.
[00:38:41] Jason Brockman: [00:38:41] So serviced in there, that’s the chapel
[00:38:43] John Lamerton: [00:38:43] service we added, like HR what’s to deal with that stuff.
[00:38:47] Jason Brockman: [00:38:47] All
[00:38:47] John Lamerton: [00:38:47] of a sudden I’m the HR department. No, this isn’t what I’m I’m the, I’m the entrepreneur. I’m Richard Branson. I’m Alan sugar. I’m not the HR department. And it turns out. [00:39:00] Yeah. If I had my Michael Gerber organizational chart and I looked at HR, Oh, fucking Alex, my name there. there’s this, Felix, Dennis Dennis quote that I used, where I use that I used to inform synchrony.
[00:39:13] The other day, someone was asking about, shares in this quote. It says never having never here, never, never, never, never handover a single share of anything you have acquired or created. If you can help it, nothing. Just in case you didn’t get the never quote before nothing, not one share. So no one, no matter what, the reason, unless you genuinely have to.
[00:39:39] Where, where are you, Felix? When I needed you back into those and the five and I just went here you go. Half, half I, this, this I’m off. I can’t. You ever seen that? Mean where someone goes, it looks like it’s fuck this shit at rock. And they just throw all their papers in the air. That was me into those interviews.
[00:39:55] Just like you guys deal with this. I I’m I’m out of here. I was such an expensive [00:40:00] lesson in hindsight. Obviously Mark left. The business ended up having Mark as a silent partner for several years, negotiated the buy back the shares. We obviously. Without partners as well, but it’s such an expensive lesson to learn purely because of the, the stuff that I’d created over those previous 18 months, which for 2020 meter, look back at that and say, why didn’t you just sack everyone?
[00:40:36] Shut down the offices go back to working from your bedroom. Like you used to, why did you need, why did you need, you know, this isn’t working. So my answer was I’m going to walk away and you guys keep on doing what you’re doing. We’re going to keep the 30 grand a month overhead. I’m sure it’s going to come good.
[00:40:53] Cause my, my strategy can’t be wrong. So you keep on working the [00:41:00] Stratix. It used to work back when Google liked us and we knew how to rank for anything that works. And back when we could do pay-per-click for gambling stuff that works, but it didn’t.
[00:41:14] So 2006, I’m, I’m out of the business now I’ve walked away. and the business has continued to lose money. I wonder why that is maybe because we’ve still got two offices we’ve still got probably. Well, the number of staff dwindled, we didn’t sack anybody. I don’t think they just left because it was a horrible place to work.
[00:41:31] Can one by one, they all went. I can’t stick this anymore.
[00:41:35] Jason Brockman: [00:41:35] Well, not sleeping over there anymore. I’m not playing football. I’m not doing this. I’m not doing that. That’s it?
[00:41:41] John Lamerton: [00:41:41] Because the best people left first, we were left with the worst people. And of course, even though I’m not in the business, I’m still checking the bank account twice a day.
[00:41:53] I’m still getting updates. I’m still going into the office. Cause we used to meet up every Friday and go to the pub, but it was like, I’m still seeing what’s going [00:42:00] on and hearing what’s going on and looking at the numbers and thinking this isn’t working and I’m even on, not in the business, I’m still getting more stressed than I was when I was in the business.
[00:42:10] My, my health suffered so much at this time. I look back at photos of me from 2006 and. The ones I’ve used in the book. I think it’s just, just about 2006. And it’s me at my fattest. I piled on the weight. I remember I was. Under investigation, the hospital for some rashes that my body was just coming out and all the, all these rashes, what the hell was going on.
[00:42:36] And I remember having a hospital appointment, she’s got massive magnifying glasses. What on my chin? Right down here, she got a magnifying glass on my chin. I just feel a huge light shining at it and she’s looking at it and she says, Yeah. Are you under any stress or anything at work?
[00:42:56] And I, I started, like downloaded, like just a bit. Let [00:43:00] me tell you about it. So we’ve got this bill coming in. We’ve got that boom coming in and I don’t know how we’re going to do this. And she’s like, yeah, yeah. I just want it done the day would literally just stop it to me. It was like, yeah, I didn’t want to actually hear what your problems were.
[00:43:11] I just wanted simple. Yes or no would have done.
[00:43:17] Turned out. Yes, I was under a lot of stress. That was, that was it. Really. I was taking sleeping pills to get asleep every night. diet consisted of takeaways and ready meals and alcohol to also help me sleep. Oh, sleep. It was brilliant. Combination thoroughly recommend it to anybody looking to ruin their life and.
[00:43:39] Things come into our head. it was, well, again, this was August, wasn’t it? August, 2006. Mark came to me and said, we’ve got enough money to either pay the VAT bill or the, or the payroll, but not both. Which would you like me to pay? [00:44:00] And I thought, ah, okay, this it’d be the moment we actually need to do something here.
[00:44:07] So yeah, I ended up coming out of retirement and having to make half the team redundant in one day, which was a little bit tough, but didn’t have your family members,
[00:44:21] Jason Brockman: [00:44:21] which
[00:44:21] John Lamerton: [00:44:21] yeah, that was, I mean, that was tough. And I actually know that was more than tough because. There was a reason that between that day in 2006 and a spoiler alert, when we go forward to 2013, seven years later, there was a reason that we didn’t hire a single person between those periods.
[00:44:45] And it was because of what I had to do that day, because for the period from 2000 and. Well, late 2003 to mid 2005. My hiring [00:45:00] policy was personnel hire, hire, hire, hire, come on, come on in everybody. And as a result of my decisions there, I then had to tell like six people, you haven’t got a job. With immediate effect, you’ve gone.
[00:45:14] There’s no money. Remember the famous note that I can’t remember who it was never somebody in the treasury department left and now after 2008 saying, sorry, there’s no money left. That was it. It was literally, there has been money. We were out of money. There’s nothing we can do. You, you haven’t got a job and having to make that when I’m already.
[00:45:37] Kind of that my most stressed and my worst health to then go. Right. And now all you people who I really laugh on a financial work with, and let’s say half your family is like, yeah, I’m making sure taken away all your jobs and taken away your livelihood. Oh, great. Welcome back to work. Shut down. Both the offices.
[00:45:58] And [00:46:00] obviously we then had. I think we just had yourself and Stu wasn’t it. I don’t think we kept anyone else. Did we? And we settle up with just, everyone’s going to work from home. That’s it. We’re going back to, and it was back to what had worked four. And I know we mentioned Ryan earlier. We lost Ryan some point in 2005, when he suddenly realized that we weren’t going to pay his tax bill.
[00:46:27]that was an interesting learning curve as well. But. Back into that 2003, when it was me, you and Ryan things would go to, because she would work from, I think a dining room table or somewhere. I’d wait for my little bedroom. Ryan would work from his little bed set and we knocked stuff out and we had very low overheads.
[00:46:45] We’re very lean and we got stuff done at a time. Let’s just go back to that. Only about 18 months, two years too late. We should have actually done that when we noticed that what we were doing before wasn’t working, [00:47:00]
[00:47:00] Jason Brockman: [00:47:00] We didn’t have any review periods. We didn’t look at things. We didn’t look back on those things.
[00:47:04] So it was actually, here’s a plan. We’re going to follow that plan. We’re going to do it because it’s been working and it’s all, you know, and, and there was never a time of like, actually something’s not quite working now. Actually we need to look at what that, what that looks like and how we can make that.
[00:47:16] Right. And we just, just didn’t do those. We just got like head down and I wouldn’t say quite in the sand, but not too far off, just head down it and just keep plodding on and it will come good.
[00:47:25] John Lamerton: [00:47:25] And we always kind of felt, I think another crucial. period. I think crucial takeaway from this period, 2004 to kind of 2000, then certainly up to 2012, didn’t have a mentor.
[00:47:39] Didn’t have anybody there going, what the hell are you doing, John? Why are you making these decisions? You know, you’ve got, I mean, let’s face it. We had nothing. We had a team of 15, two offices and at one point we were going to, we were trying to get Scottish power. This just shows how ambitious we were to get their telesales stuff.
[00:47:58] Handled by us [00:48:00] little company down in Plymouth and we’ve, you know, Mark and I, we flew up to Glasgow and we met with them and Oh yeah, we’re all great. And we spent a load of money doing this, and then that fell through and they went, no, we’re not going to do it. And most people then would have gone. Oh, okay.
[00:48:14] Let’s shut down the telesales office. Let’s get rid of the telesales staff. No, no, we just went well, we’ve got an office. We’ve got staff. What can we find for them to do. And it was just, but that was the mentality we had at the time was we’ve we’ve got these people, let’s use them. We’ll find something because we know how to make money.
[00:48:33] We’ve got it all turns out. We didn’t have it stuff. We just tried stuff and it didn’t work. And we tried more stuff and that didn’t work. And we just kept on with the massive overheads for too long. So. Yeah, takeaways from that kind of, I mean, health is number one. That’s got to be the main takeaway from that period because without my house, I wasn’t functioning anywhere near effective in any of the decisions I was making that affected.
[00:49:00] [00:48:59] Everybody’s livelihoods. It all comes from me having bad. Yeah. If I’m, if I’m having a load of booze, Yeah. If I’m watching a takeaway, dine with booze and then taking sleeping pills to get to sleep. And then the next morning getting up and making a decision, which is going to impact your livelihood and whether you’ve got a job next year, that’s probably not the person you want making those decisions.
[00:49:26]Sometimes you have to make those difficult decisions. the sooner you can make them the better, because then you have. Short term pain as opposed to long term pain. And yeah, the reason I ended up getting sick and L and, you know, keeping all these far, too many people on far to long than we did, and far too many offices and overheads longer than dibs, because I didn’t want to admit defeat.
[00:49:52] Hmm, there was a little bit of Willy waving going on in the, in the community of, there were lots of people making very, very good money, lot, you know, [00:50:00] big, big million pound, a year businesses all showing off and everyone should be doing the same. And when we weren’t, it reflected badly. So it was like, well, we, yeah, we’ve got two offices.
[00:50:12] We’ve got 50 members of staff here. I’m not making any money, but you know, I’m not take takeaway when you need to cut. You need to cut deep. Nothing kills morale faster than a second wave of redundancies. I remember reading that at the time and I think that’s one thing we did well, well, it’s one thing we did right then.
[00:50:31] Cause we could, yeah, on that day in August, probably captain or the couple of people, but then if we done that. Then it’s possible that three months later I would have gone and had to go back to the staff and say, oops, sorry, actually they need to lose another one. And the minute you do that, even if everyone else’s job is safe, everyone else is going to think, well, he did it in the August.
[00:50:57] He did it again in December. There’s probably more coming. [00:51:00] I’m doing it once and doing it as a final one was I think. The right thing to do from your point of
[00:51:07] Jason Brockman: [00:51:07] view as well. That’s actually, that’s just one bit of badness that you have today. It was a issue, it was a big pain, but actually if you had to, if you put it off for another couple of months and then you did it and to do it again, there’s another bit of badness.
[00:51:16] And then there’s another bit of badness, you know, but actually just doing it, the ones, not the, not quite the few are talking about cutting feed bums, all about removing plasters. But it’s just saying is that once isn’t it with gem, which is much better for you.
[00:51:29] John Lamerton: [00:51:29] Yeah, it is again, because you haven’t got that.
[00:51:35]that stigma of, you know, if I do it once, then I say, look, this is what needs to happen. And for you and Stu, I can absolutely assure you, you’re going to have a job six months from now. We are going to have enough cash flow to get through this. It’s like, you know, what’s happened with Corona this year.
[00:51:57] One of the first things we needed to [00:52:00] do was. Reassure our staff that they weren’t going to have a job that they have got stability. They have got security there. If we needed to cut, if we needed to follow people, it’s best that we say, right? We are following this is happening. And when it’s done and that’s it guys, everyone else who’s still here.
[00:52:22] Everyone else. Who’s not been furloughed. You’ve got clarity. You have got a job. Your job is absolutely safe. Where I’ve seen a couple of businesses this year do this is very furloughed, not enough people. They’ve cut a little bit. They’ve furloughed a little bit, and then they’d come back a month later and followed some more people.
[00:52:43] Now, even if the remaining staff that haven’t been followed, even if their jobs are safe, they’re just in their mind, they’re going to be thinking well, they followed, you know, they followed Tracy and March and David in April. They’re probably gonna [00:53:00] do another round of fairness. I’m sure they will. And I’ve been a several seven.
[00:53:04] I know they’re in circle. The talk that they, so 2007. We sold our first business. Didn’t we.
[00:53:16] Jason Brockman: [00:53:16] We did. Oh, Ferris a little baby. the one that we’ve nurtured for such a long period of time, the one that I came to you to
[00:53:22] John Lamerton: [00:53:22] work on,
[00:53:23] Jason Brockman: [00:53:23] and it was quite sad.
[00:53:25] John Lamerton: [00:53:25] It was, it was a sad moment. and I think the key takeaway from that period was that there is a page.
[00:53:32] If you open up your accounts, there’s a page that says balance sheets and. You can make money from the value of your business, as well as the profits. It’s not all about the profit and loss. I am more of a P and L thing. Yeah. the fact that I’ve read rich dad, poor dad and cashflow quadrant so many times, it just leads to me being a P and L thinker, but.
[00:53:56] There is a value in your business as well. So you’ve got the [00:54:00] money your business makes, but there is a value. Are you there that when we’ll pay you money, if you are. Operate and set up your business correctly for it. now again, we talked a little bit already in this podcast about timing. We sowed far too late.
[00:54:15]Jason Brockman: [00:54:15] and because of,
[00:54:17] John Lamerton: [00:54:17] because of WhatsApp
[00:54:18] Jason Brockman: [00:54:18] and because of neat, we went, we went to in the selling market, we were in the, someone needs to take this off our hands kind of market. If that makes sense.
[00:54:27] John Lamerton: [00:54:27] It’s very similar to that. To me, walking away with the shares was. We had someone come to us and say, would you be interested in selling?
[00:54:35] We originally said, no. And I went, Oh, do you know what come up? We met up at the pub and it was like, now I’ve turned down the offer. And then we had a few pints and went, well, actually I’m a bit fed up of running as best. We could actually have a fresh start. What, what could we do? Or we could do this. Well, what if we had, if we had the money we could do X, Y, and Z.
[00:54:55] Oh yeah. And it ended up being. Wow. Do you know [00:55:00] what I’m fed up from this business? I’ve been running this business for seven years now. I fancy doing something else. I’ve fed up being pigeonholed. Cause we weren’t pigeonholed a little bit with that business. so we ended up taking the offer. We actually sold for less than half of an offer we had.
[00:55:17] So I had an offer in 2004 of 250,000 pounds and I turned that down. Because I thought you’re taking the mick. My business is going to be worth a million pounds in. You know, a year’s time or something like that. I think previously talks about ego being the biggest overhead and my ego. I could’ve walked away with quarter of a million pound cash into those in the four, and then reinvested that in the Pay per click business and gone mental.
[00:55:46] But then. You get, you give to those. And for me, quarter of a million pounds, what am I going to do? I’m not going to hire 15 people. I’m going to hire 150 people. I’m going to take on the lease from somewhere in [00:56:00] Canary Wharf, probably buy myself a private jet. You’re going to see me go bankrupt in 2005. So that was ultimately the right thing.
[00:56:10] So the next couple of years, We, we try to replace the income from Netflix stuff. We tried a lot of stuff that didn’t work. We, we started buying a lot of websites. We started developing sort of existing website businesses. We started doing stuff, private Villa rentals, mobile phone insurance, life football streaming breakdown, cover
[00:56:33] Jason Brockman: [00:56:33] of in the
[00:56:35] John Lamerton: [00:56:35] Yep, exactly. Holiday package holidays to the old Garcia. We were selling everything. Including this little horse racing tips website. I bought for 500 quid on eBay. just kind of a bit like a property developer. Would I fixed it up and like, you know, he’d fix them up and repaint them. Replaster them put new carpets, put new doors on and flip them for a profit.
[00:56:56] We we’d buy websites. We’d improve them. We’d [00:57:00] work on the conversion rates. We’d increase the lifetime value of any members. We do more marketing. Obviously we still thought we knew exactly how Google works so we can make the Google traffic higher and then we’d pretty much keep them forever. We just buy them for the increased cashflow.
[00:57:16] See previous comment about me being a P and L thing. I mean the average return on investment from one of these deals was 50%. So. You know, if we did nothing with these websites other than just buy and hold, we don’t our money back within two years and still have the asset fantastic investments. if we can improve things even better, the, the bathroom we have is life football, live football streaming website bought it for £10,000.
[00:57:46]so about six grand just over and that’s, I own half a million quid over the next. Three years. don’t get me wrong. We also had websites that we bought for 20 grand that we killed that nothing or next [00:58:00] to nothing. I’m not saying anything about budgerigars. That was probably the worst one we did, I think were
[00:58:07] Jason Brockman: [00:58:07] drunk and take away.
[00:58:12] John Lamerton: [00:58:12] I think it might well have been just the
[00:58:14] Jason Brockman: [00:58:14] interaction with the grapes,
[00:58:17] John Lamerton: [00:58:17] the buddy, I bought from a buddy and it’s like, yeah, it’s a great deal. Again. It was more, it was, it was intended to buy and hold bought it thought, well, actually I can improve things a little bit here. Introduce yourself, pissed off.
[00:58:27] All the members, found out there was actually two factions within the budget regards community. I thought it was like people like my nanny loved owning budgies and what it’s talk about it anyway. Completely killed it the other main thing that kind of happened here was Jack. My eldest son was born, and I had my famous Alan sugar moment where I’ve talked about in big ideas for small businesses, you know, reading Alan sugar’s book.
[00:58:54]and this comment about, I never really saw my kids when I, when they were growing up. And that was a [00:59:00] real hammer to my heart. Like, Oh my God, that’s not what I want. What, I’m sorry. Takeaways from kind of these, these periods post-sale compounding is the big one. Those are those investment deals. We did, you know, buying a website for 500 quid that we still own today.
[00:59:17] Millions since then, buying, yeah. Oh God Villa website that. Three times it’s money back in five years, you know, live football, but in $10,000, well, that $10,000 came from probably selling mobile phone insurance. And the mobile phone insurance came from selling football tips and it was just all compounded on, on each other.
[00:59:41] I mean, we’ve, we’ve done pretty far to get a decade into. Running the business without any reference to Warren Buffett and campaigning. So we have been snowballing. We’ve done really well. We have done very well. I’m sure there’ll be another one before the fourth. other thing I think learning the lesson [01:00:00] from this.
[01:00:00] Okay. Cause this was a good period where we aren’t a lot of money and learning the lines lessons of what to do during the good times. From last time I rather than investing in new cars, fancy holidays, five star hotels, an overheads galore, I reinvested or compounded those profits into more proven profitable vehicles and it just got better and better and better.
[01:00:28]this was also obviously the periods where the ambitious lifestyle business was born. That’s where. The light bulb moment happened with Jack and it suddenly became, yeah, I want a lifestyle business, but I still want the ambition. I still want to earn really good money. I still want to grow. I still want to develop as a person.
[01:00:44] That’s what I need to stop
[01:00:45] Jason Brockman: [01:00:45] listening to Peter James. Wasn’t it?
[01:00:47] John Lamerton: [01:00:47] It was lifestyle.
[01:00:51] Jason Brockman: [01:00:51] Yeah.
[01:00:52] John Lamerton: [01:00:52] So
[01:00:52] Jason Brockman: [01:00:52] everything was great. Wow.
[01:00:54] John Lamerton: [01:00:54] Rosie again? Yep. Nothing could possibly go wrong kind of 2012. [01:01:00] Not the film based on like the world collapsing, but the world did collapse for us in 2012 when Google rolled out there Panda and penguin updates.
[01:01:10] So it turns out all the success we’d had over the previous four years was not due to my genius, but it was actually due to me knowing how to game Google’s algorithm. I have to please Google. I have to give Google what Google wanted. And in 2012, I think it was April, 2012. They just moved, moved. The goalposts are mine now.
[01:01:36] Don’t think so. So all those websites that we were number one for suddenly on page. 1000 of the results we were just killed. Literally, we lost all of our revenue streams for almost all of our businesses, except one. And it was that little horse racing [01:02:00] tips website that we’d bought on eBay because we’d kind of created a little community around it.
[01:02:06] They went to the website every day, they typed in the domain name into their browser or into Google. We created a mailing list. We had maybe 14,000 people on that mailing list. So we were still getting some traffic there. And with this business we’d been quietly snowballing. Every penny that it made. For a couple of years.
[01:02:28] So first 18 months, we didn’t take any money out at all. Then as it, it got better. We invested in the logo. We didn’t invest in a logo where we paid someone for seven days to watch Disney films and then, you know, work on it from there, proper logo designer to design a logo. We got, that’s a theme we invested in PR.
[01:02:47] We invested in, proper copywriting. We invested in better CRM system. And that little 500 pound website was now earning about 75 grand a year. [01:03:00] So going forward, well, that’s our best chance of actually surviving this little wow. Catastrophe that Google put in our way. So I said, you know what, I’m going to focus on one thing.
[01:03:16]again, talked about this a lot in big ideas where prior to. Panda and penguin and everything. I was just doing everything for everything. So I’d be writing SEO content for the old guard website. Then I’d be doing PR for the mobile phone blog. then I’d be, I dunno, opening up the bottom of WordPress and started doing some coding for, the.
[01:03:45] A breakdown, cover website, then I’d be playing with logos for something else. Then I’d be doing Facebook ads for something else. I was doing everything, but all the brands proper again, look at the org chart. Well, look, there’s John’s name next [01:04:00] to everything. And I think it was 2012 when it said I’m going to focus on one thing for one business.
[01:04:08] And I’m going to do the marketing for the horse racing tips business. And that’s it. So key takeaways from that? Well, two quotes really. the first one is Tony Robbins, where your focus goes energy flows. And that was a game changer for me, focusing on the marketing for the horse racing tips business meant that I could devote the energy that, that needed.
[01:04:36] That was the one thing that was going to move the needle more than any of the other one things we were doing, but I didn’t have time to focus on it. Cause I was too busy playing with logos or writing press releases or, you know, dealing with customer services or whatever. second quote, when it comes to business, one is the worst number.
[01:04:55]that’s a Dan Kennedy quote and we, although we had [01:05:00] all these different businesses and you would say, Oh, we’re nicely diversified. All of those businesses had one revenue stream and one traffic source, which was Google SEO. And when that went away, so did our businesses so that our model, so did our profitability apart from the one business, which had more than one revenue stream, more than one route to market.
[01:05:25] We kind
[01:05:25] Jason Brockman: [01:05:25] of owned it didn’t we, which is the thing. Yeah. And our list, we had a, with our members where they were, we had the thing, it was our assets.
[01:05:32] John Lamerton: [01:05:32] Yeah. You kind of take away that, that football
[01:05:35] Jason Brockman: [01:05:35] that’s it that’s mine. Don’t touch it. I was gonna say it wasn’t. This was the time we also, you particularly started with mentors and things again,
[01:05:42] John Lamerton: [01:05:42] wasn’t it?
[01:05:43] Yeah. Again, I don’t think that’s a, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when you’re this time, when the shit hits the fan. I don’t immediately go, Oh, well, I’ve got the answer to this. I actually thought, do you know [01:06:00] what? I need to find someone who’s got the answer to this. So, yeah, I mean, 20 late, 2012, early 2013, I think I started working with a mentor late 2012, and really, really doubled down on it in 2013.
[01:06:16] And I remember thinking, yeah, I’m going to, this is the first time in 10 years that I’ve worked with a mentor. And I thought, Oh, I’ll give it a go. I’ll be honest with you at the time. I still thought I knew it all. I thought, well, do you know what I know all of this stuff, so I’m going to give it a go. I’ll give it a few months.
[01:06:36]hopefully we’ll get like 20% growth or something like that. We’ll get a bit better. I started learning again. I started reading, you know, I’ve read more books. I would say I’ve read more books between 2013 and 2020 than I have between 1977 when I was born and 2013, including all of those. it called John and Jill or John and [01:07:00] John and John awesome Muffy and chip and Biff books that I read when I was a child.
[01:07:07] I suddenly remembered that I knew nothing again. And I got that beginner’s mindset of, I wonder a bit of curiosity started learning again. we ended up in 2013 having our best year in 10 years. Yeah. So hang on. So I got a mentor for the first time in 10 years. And then we had our best year in 10 years.
[01:07:34] Yeah. That must be a coincidence anyway, proper like hockey stick growth. I think maiden less grew by tens of thousands, the revenue quadrupled in that year. doubled again, like the previous, the following year, rather. And as I alluded to earlier, we hired the first new employee we’d had. Since I think, well, the first, first new hire since [01:08:00] 2005, so that was like eight years without hiring anyone.
[01:08:04] And that was all down to having to make everybody redundant on that day. In 2006, we’d had several opportunities to employ people. But I just remember saying no, we don’t employ people. That, that was our, that was my answer. We don’t employ people. We worked with outsourced third parties. We, we had a few people, did some self employed stuff for us, but in terms of actually working for us, no, no, we don’t employ people.
[01:08:34] Jason Brockman: [01:08:34] an office and we don’t employ anyone and
[01:08:36] John Lamerton: [01:08:36] that’s it. Those are the rules. Those are the rules. And if you think about it at that point in 2013, That is now seven years after having to make everybody redundant and shut down the offices. And I’ve been proven, right? Haven’t I, cause it’s worked and we’re still in business and we’re doing it right.
[01:08:55] And we’re all happy. Why do we need to upset the Apple cart by hiring anybody? No, we don’t [01:09:00] hire people.
[01:09:01] Jason Brockman: [01:09:01] I didn’t really get to dig. Did become into that. I didn’t, it wasn’t quite the case actually. We don’t need to because we’ve not needed to that. We don’t need to. It’s just,
[01:09:07] John Lamerton: [01:09:07] we’re not
[01:09:08] Jason Brockman: [01:09:08] doing it. I’m not,
[01:09:11] John Lamerton: [01:09:11] no, I mean this, the guy Joe that we hired.
[01:09:16] He literally begged for the job. a job that didn’t exist. There was no job, you know, he just he’d started working with us as a, so on a self employed basis, doing a little bit of work for us. And he loved the role. He loved the business, he loved working with us. And I think what else he was doing within, within his brother’s business was kind of slipping away.
[01:09:40] And he said, Yeah, I need something a bit more full time. I really, really want to work with you guys. And my default answer was no, we don’t employ people. I’d love. I’d love to work with you. You’re a great guy. We don’t employ people. There is no job. It must be like several times he kept coming back [01:10:00] to me and eventually I set him like he was, he was
[01:10:04] I was obviously based in Plymouth and I said to him, right, this August. I’m traveling up to Birmingham, Plymouth, Argyle, playing Birmingham City in the, whatever it was, the CocaCola cup or something at the time. It’s three hours for me. It’s roughly three hours for you from Norwich. Let’s meet up in Birmingham.
[01:10:26] I’ll take you to the football. you go at your own costs. You pay for your own train. If you want to stay overnight, you pay for your own hotel. Whatever. I’ll buy you a meal, I’ll take it to the football. We’ll have a chat. And within an hour of us sitting down in the pizza express in the bullring, Birmingham we’d thrashed out how we were going to pay for his job.
[01:10:48] How were we going to cover his wages? And I said, very openly and very honest, liter him there. Isn’t a job here. You’re creating your own job. And if this doesn’t work out [01:11:00] in six months time, We might have to sack you. I might have to let you go or put you back to what you’re doing now or something, but it’s on that understanding.
[01:11:12] And it actually turned out he was a superstar and by the November of that year, so we had this conversation in the Bullring in August and by November. His wages were covered. He’d earned more than his wages were already. And he only started in September. He started on the day after my birthday, 25th of September six weeks.
[01:11:35] It took him to cover his wages. And beyond that, it was just more hockey stick growth and it was just, he was a true a player. And it’s suddenly, you know, one of the key takeaways I think from this period for me, was that not all employees are created equal. I think he was possibly the first A-player we’d hired.
[01:11:59] Certainly one, I think, to [01:12:00] most of the people we hired in 2004, 2005, they were certainly not A-players or we didn’t give them the opportunity to be players, whatever. Maybe they’re A-players elsewhere now, but they, for us. Joe was the first proper a player we’d had. And an a team player can have 10 times the impact of a B player at a hundred times, the impact of a C player get there might cost you like 20% more.
[01:12:34]it really did give us the leverage. That we had, I mean, we ended up over the a couple of years hiring another couple. Yeah. People, we, and made sure that they were also A-players there’s like, Oh, all of a sudden, this is sort of compounding again. but you can’t underestimate the power of a mentor.
[01:12:53] Would I have hired Joe? If I hadn’t. I’ve been mentored by someone who was telling [01:13:00] me that hiring a players is a very good way to grow your business and to leverage your business. Well, yeah, it probably is. You know, having someone who, again, someone who’s been there before trodden the path that outside perspective, giving you the honest feedback on your performance and someone to hold you accountable to obviously do what you say you’re going to do have that accountability.
[01:13:26] That’s what made all the difference. So let’s go, where are we now? 2016. And we designed the business to work without us. I think at this point, we’d explore the potential exit and we drove up to Newberry and we went with a lovely shop there. I spent several hours there and the minute he sat there and went yet, I reckon we can get you 2 million pounds for this business.
[01:13:52] That was it. I was on the golf course. I was spending the money. I was like, yeah, I’m done with this business.
[01:14:02] [01:14:00] Yeah. And then it didn’t happen. you then come back to us and said, well, yeah, I’m not convinced I can get all the buyers together. you know, I think it can be done, but it’s not what happened, but so he really got a hope. So we really thought we were going to do it. But what that did to, even though we didn’t kind of properly exit, then it did lead us, building the business to sell.
[01:14:24] Ie to kind of work without us. and I think we had this moment where we realized that the business, our baby was all grown up and didn’t maybe need us quite so much anymore. So. we kind of said, that’s great, fantastic. We’ve achieved our objective. We’ve we’ve built the business to work without us. We’re no longer required.
[01:14:45] Oh, we’re no longer required or what do we do now? and I thought, actually, you know what, by now I wanted to pay it forward a little bit because all the success that we’ve had has come from having those right mentors, [01:15:00] helping show us the way. Avoid the pitfalls, motivate us and hold us accountable.
[01:15:07] So. The 1% club was born, a ride my kitchen table back in 2016. we had, I think it was six local business owners, all fairly new to business. Right? Yeah. And we’d meet up once a month. We’d kind of, we’d educate them. We’d give them a book to read every month. we’d set them some homework. We’d act as the kind of virtual board of directors holding them accountable to actually do what they say they’re going to do, and to make sure that they stay on the right path to success, whatever, obviously success looks like for them.
[01:15:46] And then I think. Six people became 10 and then 10 became 12. And the eventually I think it was 13 before we ran out of chairs. I remember once we had the emergency stool out, we had the little fold up [01:16:00] in crappy little computer chaired in way we did here. And then I think was it, Andy came in at the end.
[01:16:05] He said, you’re just going to have to stand. There are no more chairs left
[01:16:08] Jason Brockman: [01:16:08] last week, last Thursday. Andy it has to stand. And
[01:16:12] John Lamerton: [01:16:12] it was so that, that was the moment that I think we realized. Yeah, this, this works, this, we are helping people here. We are making a difference. So we, we moved out my kitchen and we moved to a local pub and we had kind of, it became a proper thing.
[01:16:27] I think that that’s the key thing is it became, we did it as a little bit of let’s help people out. And then one of the people around the room said, you should write a book. Hmm. I wonder about that. Some of the takeaways from, from kind of 2016 there. So you can build to sell without actually selling.
[01:16:50]I quite often recommend built to sell by John Warrillow. great book, terrible narration. I don’t know what it is. It’s not like Michael McKayla, which I can’t [01:17:00] stand his narration either, but built to sell. It’s a fantastic book. That, the first time I listened to it on audible was brilliant. Second time I went to listen to it and I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the narrator has got a tick of some kind that the minute I heard that I can’t listen to this.
[01:17:16] So I ended up buying the physical book and reading it instead much, much better.
[01:17:23] Jason Brockman: [01:17:23] Whereabouts you’re on your journey? I know lots of people are
[01:17:25] [01:17:25] starting out in business and stuff.
[01:17:26] Jason Brockman: [01:17:26] This is a good place to go when you’re building your business. Always have that in mind, because whatever you doing, but your systems and your processes all into place and things that’s going to end up with, you’ll end up with a project that you could sell.
[01:17:38] He probably never will, but you could sell
[01:17:40] [01:17:40] it’s all packaged up.
[01:17:41] Jason Brockman: [01:17:41] And actually like John and I weren’t required in our business anymore because we got it all into a position where it could run itself. And it did, that’s the situation which you want to kind of do and run your business from because it makes life a lot easier.
[01:17:53] Doesn’t it?
[01:17:55] John Lamerton: [01:17:55] Yeah, definitely. It gives you the option to leave if you want to. And [01:18:00] it gives you the option to step away if you want to. So let’s say for example, you wanted to write a book, then you could step away and write a book, the other thing from this period of accountability, it really is key.
[01:18:11] Every business owner that I’ve ever met talks a good game. But if you chat to them like six months later, they’ve made no progress. they’ve just not done what they said they were gonna do. I mean, that’s obviously why we’ve made one, accountability, such a big part of One Percent club. it’s no accident if you listen to every single guest from the 1% club that we’ve had on this podcast, I think just about every single one of them mentions accountability.
[01:18:40] At some point that is no accident, is it?
[01:18:43] Jason Brockman: [01:18:43] No. No, totally. I mean, there are some that don’t know the direction they want to take and all of that kind of stuff, but actually once those that do know where they’re going to go, always say, I just need to be towed, how I’m making sure that I keep moving along that track and I need to keep going on that I don’t need to be kept, as you say, held accountable for that really [01:19:00] as the, the there’s elements that don’t know quite, which what’s the best thing to do, what’s the fit, you know, what’s
[01:19:04] [01:19:04] their one thing and all of that kind of stuff,
[01:19:06] Jason Brockman: [01:19:06] but.
[01:19:06] Yeah, generally speaking, it’s this, that accounts for the T, which is important for which every needs
[01:19:10] John Lamerton: [01:19:10] and it is definitely so 2017, we launched this podcast. I think we actually started recording it December, 2016, but you know, by the magic of podcast world, nobody else knew about it. And so January, 2017, we also had obviously the book launch big ideas for small businesses.
[01:19:30]so what a fantastic year It was apart from our sports betting business. I don’t know. but it was probably the worst last year we’ve had in the sports betting business.
[01:19:52] And this is, remember the year after we were told. Yeah, you can exit for 2 million pounds. We ended up like losing our website. We had a brand new website. Designed and delivered. [01:20:00] And then we were told where to throw it out. Cause there was new compliance rules and all sorts, we lost our A player.
[01:20:06]literally he left with like a day’s notice. and we lost, 100 grand a year revenue stream for one of our third party partners. Like they just let you go. That was 30 days. Notice. Dear partner, we’re taking a hundred grand a year off your bottom line.
[01:20:25]Jason Brockman: [01:20:25] well it wasn’t that also the era of the Facebook kind of binning us off as well. but then as well, didn’t it?
[01:20:32] John Lamerton: [01:20:32] No, I think, I think Facebook was a year before the Archie from forgotten about that.
[01:20:38] Jason Brockman: [01:20:38] Good. After Google hated it started hating us Facebook and hating us too. I’m
[01:20:42] John Lamerton: [01:20:42] going to think. That’s one of the things that is becoming a recurring theme here is, these black Swan events.
[01:20:49] And if you’re not familiar with the term, black Swan is kind of this very rare thing that could kill you but you can’t prepare for it. You can’t, there is no warning that it’s going to [01:21:00] happen coronavirus is probably a good example of that, where it just comes up out of nowhere and just shuts down everyday life.
[01:21:06] And there’s nothing, you know, if you were to go back to 2018, very few people who was saying, Oh, don’t forget to prepare for a possible global pandemic, which is going to shut the world down. Really. Whoa, you’d be conspiracy theorist. If you said that wouldn’t you. But what you can do, you can’t have these blacks, you can’t prepare for these black Swan events, but you can build a moat that protects you.
[01:21:32] And that’s again for those eagle eyed Warren Buffett references. There there’s another one for you. when Google kicked us off, we had the moat of. I made a mess. We had the modes of a community there and we had it where we might have lost a website, but we still had website visitors.
[01:21:51] We might have lost our A-player, but we still had a contact. We could go to, we might have lost a hundred grand a year off our revenue stream, but we also had [01:22:00] seven or nine or 20 other revenue streams all coming in. So we had the moat there. the other key takeaway from me from 2017 obviously is the year we launched the podcast.
[01:22:13One percent club launched properly as a thing, then big ideas launched. Then none of that stuff, none of this stuff is done for the money. And I think that’s possibly what sets us apart from many of the other kind of. Gurus that were not gurus. Trust me. I think if you’ve learned one thing from this podcast is, you know, we have made lots of mistakes.
[01:22:38] We’re not some, yeah. Perfect teethed guru in a sharp suit here. We’ve said from day one, that everything we’re doing with the podcast, with books, with the coaching club, everything we’re doing this to scratch an itch, we’re doing that to pay it forward. Like Clarke and Jason helped me in 2000. Like Nigel helped me in 2012 and [01:23:00] 2013 to genuinely help small business owners, just like my mentors helped me the day we stop enjoying doing this and this becomes a, a job.
[01:23:13] Well, we’ll just shut it down and we’ll go back to focusing on our main businesses. This that’s not why we’re doing it. We’re doing it because we love it. And that’s. Why we started it in 2017 was, Oh, this business doesn’t need it anymore. What do we want to do? We want to pay forward? We want to help small business owners.
[01:23:31] That’s why we do it. So 2018, we, we hired an MD in 2018. I know, two years ago. That’s yeah. Wow. we had another, black Swan event. In the sports Sportsbetting business, again, losing another hundred grand a year from the bottom line, which was a bit of a baptism of fire for our new MD, because I think she started in July and the black Swan thing happened in October.
[01:23:59] So it’s like [01:24:00] right. Welcome to you. And you’ve successfully passed her induction. Oh, by the way, can you find us an extra, a hundred grand a year, please? And we did, we did a few investments in 2018 as well. Again, looking to help small business owners. Now, the only one of those we’re still involved with is 360 mortgages.
[01:24:20] And I can’t remember the number, but you can listen to an episode of the podcast that we did with David and Tom from 360 mortgages. So it’s worthwhile having a listen to that. Takeaways from 2018. I’ve mentioned black swans again. And when you have as many black swans as I’ve gone through, I started this business in the height of the.com bubble crash in 2000.
[01:24:47] That 911, where Google is shutting down gambling. Pay-per-click in 2004 59,000 pound repair bill for my offices in 2007, we had the global financial crisis. Sorry. There’s no money left [01:25:00] into those and an eight, but Google’s whipping the rug underneath us again in 2012. Facebook I’d forgotten. We had.
[01:25:09] We’re spending 10 grand a month on Facebook ads and it was insanely profitable. And then they shut our account down. Dear advertiser
[01:25:16] Jason Brockman: [01:25:16] took away 120,000 of our fans that signed up to our page.
[01:25:21] John Lamerton: [01:25:21] When all, when you have as many black swans as that over a 20 year career, you soon learn two things. Number one, black Swan events will happen.
[01:25:36] You can’t say, well, it’s all going to be plain sailing all the way black Swan events are going to happen. And the second thing I think I’ve learned from there is I will adapt and evolve. I mean, I said very early in this podcast that the business I had. I started full time at the start of 2002 was not the same [01:26:00] business.
[01:26:00] I started in August, 2000. The business I’ve got in August, 2020. There’s absolutely no resemblance to the business. I had five years ago, let alone 20. so constant adaptation evolution. Again, it comes to working with mentors as well. People who’ve been there. You’ve got to change. The only constant is change.
[01:26:21] Isn’t it. Absolutely. the other takeaway from 2018 is we are no longer actively doing, investments at the moment. We, we, we keep our eye out, shall we say? if we do go back there, we’ve learned a lot from the investments we did in 2018. and if we do do more investments, they will. Be more like Dave and Tom from 360 mortgages.
[01:26:46] Those guys take all the boxes for us in terms of an investment now, it’s their main business. It’s their main focus and focus again, comes into it. You know, all the other ones we did were kind of, they were side [01:27:00] hustles or. Side projects. So we were there. We know more spinoffs. There’ll be no more joint ventures.
[01:27:06] There’ll be no more. Hey, well, we could do something then together alongside my existing business. Now we, we want people who are going to focus on their business and who we can help them to focus on their business. And we can just refine their focus. We can act as mentors. and that’s, if we go back to investments, we may do, we may not.
[01:27:28]but if we do, that’s certainly a big learn from that. There’s a lot more clarity in
[01:27:33] Jason Brockman: [01:27:33] what we’re looking for from our potential partners.
[01:27:37] John Lamerton: [01:27:37] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Go 2019. We are very nearly present. This is like, Oh my God. Look at the fashion we had then can you read the haircuts? No, actually the 2020 haircuts, it’s definitely worse.
[01:27:50] So 2019, we sacked our MD. So we hired our MD in 2018. We ended up losing her in 2019, [01:28:00] with a couple of other people as well. We, we ended up against scaling back. Getting a little bit lean again, and we kind of step back into the day to day operations. So we. Was it 2016. We identified that, yeah, we are not needed so much in the day to day 2018.
[01:28:17] We’ve very much walked away from the day to day operations. And then the very next year, like it was at the godfather coordinator, they just suck me back in. but it was getting lean again and started doing the things that. That we know work, you know, I think when you, when you hire other people, they’ve got their own ideas of what works and what doesn’t.
[01:28:37] Then I think we know, you know, 19 years experience at this point, we know what works and don’t really. Yeah. So
[01:28:46] Jason Brockman: [01:28:46] The ego got carried away with us?
[01:28:48] John Lamerton: [01:28:48] Sorry.
[01:28:49] Jason Brockman: [01:28:49] Are you going to get carried away with it?
[01:28:50] John Lamerton: [01:28:50] So is it the ego is the biggest OMAD isn’t it.
[01:28:57] So key takeaways from [01:29:00] 2019. I think it’s that even after 20 years or 19 years at this point, we are still making mistakes. We’re still getting stuff wrong. and we’re still failing, but crucially, we are learning from those mistakes and we’re learning a lot quicker from those mistakes. We’re no longer making the same mistake.
[01:29:18] For 18 months and then thinking, Oh shit, we better do something about this mistake. Now we let it ride. We, we monitor it. No, it’s not right. Rip it off. also before, before you go chasing shiny new objects, make sure that you’re doing the key things that, you know, work. Routinely thing first, we taught we’ve talked for anywhere, but a Heinz 57, 57 things in our business that need to happen in order for that business to thrive.
[01:29:49] And those things weren’t happening in 2018. So 2019, we came back in for us job. What I did was make sure that the Heinz 57 is being followed. Oh, look at that. The [01:30:00] numbers are going yeah. In the right direction. Or, you know, unfortunately we’re no longer able to chase the shiny new objects, but what we are doing is making money again.
[01:30:10] That’s what we’re here to do. again, why not get someone to actually hold you accountable to that? Create a checklist of the stuff that you need to do hold yourself accountable. If you’re that type of person and welcome in 2020. So what’s happened in 2020. There’s not really been anything notable to talk about in terms of global events or anything like that as though.
[01:30:36] Jason Brockman: [01:30:36] No, I mean, I remember sitting down with our accountant. And there’s like, Oh yeah, the numbers are going right. Everything’s fine a year like this. And this’ll be, you know, we’ll be in the position where we want it to be for the best, if
[01:30:50] John Lamerton: [01:30:50] we all plain sailing. Yup. I think plain sailing was the exact term we used.
[01:30:54]just a couple of, even a couple of months. Like we said, a couple of months of plain sailing and we are golden. we’re lucky, really [01:31:00] good. If I use that term with the sports a bit is I also use the exact same term with one of my property investments. Where we met up, I think it was in January and I said, you know, everything was looking all right.
[01:31:12] You know, I said, you know what? We just need a year of plain sailing. And we’re looking really, really good. and I was looking pretty plain sailing up until middle of March. something happened then. Yeah. But I mean, looking at where we are, obviously we’re recording this in July. It’s going out in August as our summer special, we have taken the opportunity of lockdown and everything like that to, to build the longterm assets that are going to serve us for years to come.
[01:31:41] So that’s kind of one of the takeaways I think for me is thinking long term and we’ve just whizzed back Wiz through over the last, nearly two hours over the last 20 years. But I mean, to be fair to two hours is not bad for 20 years worth ofinsights, [01:32:00] and, no planning for the next 20 years. I don’t think in 2000 I was planning for 20 years, which is just as well.
[01:32:08] Cause I would have been building everything on AltaVista for dial up internet, no videos or anything that you’re very text, heavy websites, no images. I mean, for me, I think 2020. Actually sums up the last 20 years. If you look at it at 2020 as a whole, not just what’s happened coronavirus cause everyone will think 2020 is the year of coronavirus.
[01:32:34] We’ve all forgotten the Bush fires in Australia that happened in January but for me yea, it does sum up the whole 20 years. They will be good times and there’ll be bad times. And often you can’t control what happens. All you can control is how you react and how you respond now over the last 20 years.
[01:33:00] [01:32:59] I’ve become better at marketing. I’ve become better at growing businesses. I’ve become a better coach, a better mentor, a better leader. But whilst I’ve got better, all those things, and it’s not difficult because 20 years ago, remember I knew nothing about marketing, nothing about growing businesses, nothing about coaching, mentoring, or leading people whatsoever.
[01:33:21] I knew absolutely nothing. So it’s not, not hard to me to say I’ve become better, but I have worked at becoming better, but I think what I’ve become expert at is adapting. Is just changing pivoting, if you want to use a buzzword from 2020, because yeah, the business I own today bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the one that I started in August, 2000.
[01:33:48] And will it look anything like this in August, 2040? I very much doubt it. It will be completely different. will it look [01:34:00] anything like this in two years time? I think it will look quite different. Yeah. Two years. I mean, it’s already going to look quite different now compared to 12 months ago, so many businesses watching all this, this will be exactly the same.
[01:34:15] That 2020 for you will be the year. Things changed. The year you changed your model considerably, but 2020 doesn’t need to be the year of the pivots every year can be the year of the adaptation. You should always adapt to what’s going on. What’s happening around you. Don’t wait for a global pandemic because it’s all going to look very, very different a year from now.
[01:34:46] Let alone kind of 20 years from now. who knows what we’re going to look like 20 years from now? We did drink a
[01:34:53] Jason Brockman: [01:34:53] couple of years. I don’t think I might look like this 20 years ago. I don’t think I’ve changed an awful lot.
[01:34:59] John Lamerton: [01:34:59] I think it be more [01:35:00] gray around the sides. No.
[01:35:01] Jason Brockman: [01:35:01] Okay, little bit gray here. That’s true.
[01:35:05]John Lamerton: [01:35:05] but we don’t really know what we looked like 20 years ago, because 20 years ago, photography was that bad that all we’ve got these little grainy, actual photos or stuff we took on a clamshell phone.
[01:35:20]but one thing’s for sure over the next 20 years, we are going to continue to grow can continue to learn. I’m still going to be the normal bloke from Plymouth who just learns stuff, tests it out in my own businesses and then shares it with you. I’ve no idea what that is going to look like in 2021, let alone 2040, but I thought about, yeah, I just can’t wait to find out.
[01:35:46] It is exciting.
[01:35:47] Jason Brockman: [01:35:47] It is all very exciting.
[01:35:49] John Lamerton: [01:35:49] It is. Yes. And I, I honestly can’t believe it’s been 20 years. It’s weird as well because your perception of time changes. I think because [01:36:00] if I think now 2020, and I think back to, for example, 2008, when we started free racing tips and we had the global financial crisis, that’s.
[01:36:10]that’s a couple of years ago. And then if I think from 2008, 2000, Oh, that was a huge, that was, that was a really long period of time. Yeah, that was cause that was like, you know, president Clinton was, was in charge of the white house then, and there was the.com bubble and then we have 911 and then all this stuff happened.
[01:36:30] And then Tony Blair came and went and Gordon Brown came in and then we had, Oh, yea, so much happened. You know, it was a really long period of time. That was eight years, 12 years since yeah. That that’s just flown by
[01:36:42] Jason Brockman: [01:36:42] its because you’re getting older mate,
[01:36:44] John Lamerton: [01:36:44] as you get older, isn’t it?
[01:36:47] Jason Brockman: [01:36:47] Oh, so you remember then we better wrap up. Yeah.
[01:36:54] John Lamerton: [01:36:54] Cause otherwise people will think we’ll still be talking in 20 years time.
[01:36:58] Jason Brockman: [01:36:58] Ken Dodds. That’s what I do
[01:37:01] [01:37:00] John Lamerton: [01:37:01] want fancy it Encore. No, no. We’ll. Got a taxi boat. You want to get out, gotta pay the babysitter and another 10 pound otherwise. Oh, hope that has found you useful. Hope that’s been useful for you and you found it useful.
[01:37:19]professional copywriter. bestselling author.
[01:37:25] That’s a highlight of my last 20 years. That is, we’ll see you next month, guys, for a rather more normal episode of the ALB podcast, have a great summer. Keep washing those hands happy birthday.
[01:37:40] So there we are another episode in the camp. How was it for you? Please let us know how you listened to these podcasts. Please leave a review on that platform. That’s now what we can do better. What you like, what you don’t like and how we can improve to make this show even better. We’ll see you next time. [01:38:00] .
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