#ALB70 – The man who proves “You can have your cake and eat it”

This months guest is Steve West owner of The Pudding Compartment, (John’s perfect client).

Steve makes delicious handcrafted cakes, biscuits, flapjacks, Brownies, sticky, toffee, puddings cookies, scones, you name it, all white labelled for businesses such as Virgin trains and 2016 apprentice winner Alana Spencer.

Steve joined the One Percent Club 6 months ago with 3 clear goals, there have been many obstacles that many business owners have faced over the last few months, Steve included but despite this, those goals are still in place and Steve is well on track to achieving them all!!

Find out more by clicking play.


Ambitious Lifestyle Business Podcast #70

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This months guest is Steve West owner of The Pudding Compartment, (John’s perfect client).

Steve makes delicious handcrafted cakes, biscuits, flapjacks, Brownies, sticky, toffee, puddings cookies, scones, you name it, all white labelled for businesses such as Virgin trains and 2016 apprentice winner Alana Spencer.

Steve joined the One Percent Club 6 months ago with 3 clear goals, there have been many obstacles that many business owners have faced over the last few months, Steve included but despite this, those goals are still in place and Steve is well on track to achieving them all!!

Find out more by clicking play.


[00:00:00] John Lamerton: [00:00:00] Yeah, but I mean, there’s, there’s a real lesson there for any business owner listening to this is actually doing the unexpected and, you know, ultimately putting the potential client’s logo or an icon into one of your products that they haven’t asked for. And they’re not expecting, just creates that little bit of a wow factor that if they are taking.

[00:00:25] Bids or tenders from four or five, six companies. You’re top of the pile. You know, you, you it’s yours to lose isn’t it.

[00:00:33] Hey everybody. It’s John Lamerton here alongside my good friend and business partner, mr. Jason Brockman, we are here for another episode of the ambitious lifestyle business podcast, where as always it is our job to help you get more customers, more money without, just working harder.

[00:00:51] So without further ado, let’s dive straight into this months episode.

[00:00:59] Hey everybody, welcome to [00:01:00] today’s episode of the ALB podcast and today’s guest is just my perfect clients. We have Steve West from the pudding compartment. Yes. A cake company. Oh, no, I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I do enjoy a good cake. Or a good pudding or good crumble or a good tiramisu or, Oh, I am getting hungry now.

[00:01:24] I actually haven’t had lunch yet. Anyway, Steve runs the pudding department, making delicious handcrafted cakes, biscuits, flapjacks, Brownies, sticky, toffee, puddings cookies, scones, you name it, all white labeled for businesses such as Virgin trains and 2016 apprentice winner Alana Spencer. Welcome to the show, Steve.

[00:01:47] Steve West: [00:01:47] Thank you very much John, it’s pleasure to be here.

[00:01:50] John Lamerton: [00:01:50] Do you know I’m gutted that we’re recording this over zoom. Sorry Jace,

[00:01:55] Jason Brockman: [00:01:55] Its you just still drooling.

[00:01:57] John Lamerton: [00:01:57] No, I mean, think, I just think if we were doing [00:02:00] this face to face the samples that we could be enjoying right now,

[00:02:05] Steve West: [00:02:05] yes. Such a wasted opportunity. You were there, you get it.

[00:02:09] John Lamerton: [00:02:09] It is, but then again, who wants to hear me eat?

[00:02:11] So, you know, it’s not the best audio sound track for a podcast really? Is it? OK! So Steve 2016 apprentice winner, Allana Spencer. I think that might’ve been the last season of the apprentice. I actually watched. I remember, I remember watching that. I remember Allana winning. How on earth did that come about for you?

[00:02:31] Steve West: [00:02:31] Well, we actually got introduced to a lineup before the series actually aired. So I found out a little bit about how it worked, obviously. When i first met her, I have no ideawhich show, I got good feeling she’s gonna be on a show. But she said, yeah, that was kind of indicated through, through the conversation, but possibly confidentiality, uh, was such that we didn’t know exactly what she was going to be on.

[00:02:57] So I was kind of speculating, you know, the different shows that are on [00:03:00] TV. Um, and it certainly turned out to be more than they actually have to watching TV on the apprentice may run in a sort of long space on that. So that’s that side of things. So and by the first time i met her with what I’m asking the first time, I think they’ve gone through to something like the semifinal.

[00:03:18] I just found this out afterwards. I think they were at like semi-final sort of stage then. So, um, So, yeah, it was quite, yeah, that was quite an interesting customer to have if you like in terms of how well and how popular that programme obviously is in it’s really interest as well, because she was basically really changing her business as a result of being on the show as well.

[00:03:40] So, so yeah, that, um, it was interesting to see that happen and it would be part of it.

[00:03:45] Yeah

[00:03:46] John Lamerton: [00:03:46] so what

[00:03:47] I remember of that. I think

[00:03:49] Lord sugar was worried that she

[00:03:51] succeeded from her kitchen. But how does this scale? I think that was his main worry or objection, going into the [00:04:00] semifinal or the final wasn’t it?

[00:04:01] Steve West: [00:04:01] Yeah, I think it was, I think the, I think the decision to outsource the main factor was I think it might’ve been in the final presentation or very, very close to the end when you know, that strategy emerged, if you like. Um, and yeah, so I guess that’s kind of where we fit it in and not straight away. Um, cause we, when Allana came to see me the first time we were actually.

[00:04:27] really busy. We didn’t have a lot of capacity. And I actually said, well, I don’t think we can help and say she went off. And then I saw her

[00:04:35] on tv and then i thought hmmm perhaps i should of had a different response in that meeting particularly when she won. So as soon as she won, we basically got in touch with each other again, then. We took over the actual manufacturing floor for quite a while. And then not fairly recently, she’s actually set up her own baking. So I helped a little bit setting up her own place and we’re not making for [00:05:00] now.

[00:05:00] Um, but she’s got her own place in Aberistwith with near say but yeah, we’re still in, touch so are really quite good learning curve for, both of us I think.

[00:05:10] John Lamerton: [00:05:10] Did you, um, did you have to give Lord sugar tour the factory or anything like that?

[00:05:15] Steve West: [00:05:15] Uh, no, no, I didn’t see Lord sugar. And he got one email from him and that was when, um, deadlines needed to be met shall we say, encouraging us to help with some deadlines in the early stages.

[00:05:28] That’s my only concept.

[00:05:30] Jason Brockman: [00:05:30] He didn’t fire you then?

[00:05:32] Steve West: [00:05:32] Sorry?

[00:05:33]Jason Brockman: [00:05:33] He didn’t fire you then?

[00:05:35] Steve West: [00:05:35] No, he didn’t. No, he didn’t fire us no definitely not no , I think they’re doing still doing really well from what I understand. So. Um, but yeah, that was interesting because obviously Allana was really transitioning in her business and suddenly, I guess not many businesses out of a situation where they get that much exposure they’re on national TV and go from something that’s very small, that could [00:06:00] grow really quickly.

[00:06:01] Yeah. So that was really fascinating being part of that.

[00:06:04] John Lamerton: [00:06:04] Yeah cos it almost was kitchen table to factory line. Wasn’t it overnight?

[00:06:08] Steve West: [00:06:08] It was Pretty much. Yeah. So, um, I think a lot of is making, yeah, I’ve got a, like a smaller setup of the home that she was using. And she’s, I think prior to the show, she was making products obviously to make it all herself and selling yourself at events at the weekends and that kind of thing.

[00:06:23] And that was actually the models that she scaled up in. The first instance was to get a lot of other people. Selling their products at festivals and that kind of thing. So, um, then later on, uh, like a lot businesses, she then started looking at the wholesale reach and things like that. So I invited local convenience stores and that kind of thing, and you have most ready services and that kind of thing.

[00:06:45] But yeah, it was, it was quite a, it’s quite interesting story. I’m sure we interested in all the apprentice winners but yeah. It’s I suppose to be that close to it to, to understand what was going on was really fascinating from my point of view.

[00:06:57] John Lamerton: [00:06:57] Yeah, definitely. And the, the [00:07:00] media spotlight and the scrutiny that.

[00:07:02] She’d have been under, um, as a very, very small business to begin with. It’s inconceivable. I mean, um, I remember watching a couple of years ago now and it was towards the late latter end of the, of the show. And Lord sugar was grilling one of the, one of the candidates about, well, what are you going to do?

[00:07:18] How are you going to actually market this business? How are you going to get anybody. To be aware of this business. And I thought, well, the obvious answer is what I’m going to do, Lord Sugar I’m gonna go on a BBC mainstream prime time television show, I’m going to be on there for 12 weeks. And then I’m going to partner with a high profile businessman and I’m going to leverage his PR contacts and the BBCs PR contacts to be on every television station, every radio station and every newspaper for about three weeks after the event.

[00:07:47] Will that do.

[00:07:51] Steve West: [00:07:51] Yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a real good answer, sure that would have gone down well.

[00:08:00] [00:08:00] John Lamerton: [00:08:00] Yeah basically i’m gonna

[00:08:01] use you

[00:08:01] Steve West: [00:08:01] Exactly

[00:08:01] yeah

[00:08:01] and that’s, that’s the whole house, but it’s a bit like Dragon’s den and things like that. You know, a lot of the benefit for the business, I suppose, to get involved with this kind of things is. Is there a doors that are there, new partners can open for them otherwise it might take an awful long time.

[00:08:16] We’ll never actually be able to be opened on your own, I guess, you know, depending on how you, how you go about things

[00:08:21] John Lamerton: [00:08:21] It is, I’ve, I’ve chatted with lots of guys who’ve been on the den. And I would say that almost almost 50% of people that I know who’ve been on the den had no intention of taking any investment deals there.

[00:08:35] end goal was being on Dragon’s den as seen on Dragon’s den, as seen on the BBC, uh, the big spike in internet searches that happen when you’re actually on the TV, having that screenshot of you, you know, staring down and actually they quite liked the idea of, yeah, I turned down Debra Meadon’s offer. Did I did I mention the Jason’s met, Deborah meadon, by the way,

[00:08:58] Jason Brockman: [00:08:58] I [00:09:00] like to keep it quiet she doesnt like to talk about it too often.

[00:09:04] Steve West: [00:09:04] One of our other customers actually was on dragons den and they’ve got an offer, which they turned out then they, so we made quite a lot of products for them, uh, going into one of the big supermarkets as well. Up until fairly recently, it was about March, April this year. In fact

[00:09:22] John Lamerton: [00:09:22] what happend then?

[00:09:23] Steve West: [00:09:23] I’m not sure if something interrupted the supply chain or something or other there, but yeah, it’s a funny little journey we’ve had the last couple of years.

[00:09:32] Really? When you take that into acount,

[00:09:35] John Lamerton: [00:09:35] Definitely. Uh, let’s talk Virgin trains for a little bit, Steve. Um, cause that’s a huge, huge client to have. Isn’t it?

[00:09:44] Steve West: [00:09:44] It is. Yeah. And it’s been they have been a really good company to work with. And I have to say that what really impressed me was they, throughout the whole time we’ve worked with them.

[00:09:55] They obviously no longer Virgin trains. It’s a fancy [00:10:00] trains have now Avanti West coast. have taken over the West coast franchise. Um, and now we’re working with Avanti. Um, but Virgin obviously Virgin had a definite unique, I think sort of identity if you like as a business, but they really did walk the walk in my experience of working with SMEs.

[00:10:19] Uh, you hear a lot of big organizations say they want to work with SMEs, but. Virgin trains definitely did and Avanti. are still carrying that forward from our experience, which is fantastic because it does open doors for other customers or other prospects for us when we sort of have that on our CV, now that we supply them.

[00:10:41] Um, and we have supplied them for about six years now, as well as our sales with them have grown each year. Um, again, up until about last year, funnily enough. But, um, yeah. Well, I mean, that came out of the blue actually, because they outsourced their supply chain management. If you [00:11:00] like to, or the operational side of it to another fairly well, you to DHL. It was actually the time. So my initial concept was a phone call out of the blue yeah, I’m sitting here where I am now, actually. Um, you can’t see, but through, my window is the North Wales train line that goes from Holly head to Euston. And at the time Virgin trains, tasked, DHL with finding SME supplies that were close to the railway stations and the railway lines and their objective was to try and.

[00:11:31] Buy products off an SME for each of the areas that they’re trains pass through. Which i thought was fantastic, obviously. Um, and so this gentleman, the Scottish guy sort of from DHL says, so are you close to the railroad? Right. so i says put it this way the 13:17 from Holly Head is just gone past I can see the train.

[00:11:51] So,i’m definintely close enough to see. Um, literally like close, you know, so, um, So we’ve passed the first part of that. And [00:12:00] then, but the thing that was interesting is they rang us about desserts. Um, but we actually send them something they didn’t really ask us for, which was a little shortbread biscuit, but we indented the Virgin logo into the biscuit or the V.

[00:12:16] Um, and we just sent them that as a, by the way. And within about two weeks, we were supplying that short bread biscuit, and then all the other things there happened thereafter kind of thing. So it’s always worth. Now you’re going to tell me, I know you’re going to say now you say it’s not the best marketing you’ve ever done and why haven’t you done it for myself?

[00:12:41] John Lamerton: [00:12:41] There’s a, there’s a real lesson there for any business owner listening to this is actually doing the unexpected. And, you know, ultimately putting the potential client’s logo or an icon into one of your products that they haven’t asked for. They’re not [00:13:00] expecting, just creates that little bit of a wow factor, that if they are taking.

[00:13:06] Bids or tenders from four or five, six companies. You’re top of the pile. You know, you, you it’s yours to lose isn’t it,

[00:13:14] Steve West: [00:13:14] it definitely worked out that way. Cause, and, and what happened after that? Actually he was a, um, The, we just went from strength to strength to that. So our business sales are growth chartwas very impressive for the next few years, but it was built largely around growing with Virgin trains.

[00:13:35] So that then took us into a situation where we became very dependent on Virgin trains. Cause they were a really big percentage of our business. So that was kind of when I first met you guys earlier this year, because we were looking at ways to actually. Mitigate that risk by. Because by that time, we knew that the bidding process within the franchise had changed.

[00:13:55] And I think Virgin weren’t allowed to bid or got so far, and then we’re not [00:14:00] on the bidding pack bidding process. So, so we have this fantastic relationship with a really good customer that was buy lots of stuff from us, but we didn’t know how long it was going to last. And that was what most of our turnover was dependent upon.

[00:14:12] So, yeah, so that’s when I spent, I went in search of advice and help in order to try and. Yeah. Find a way out of that, hopefully to keep that going, but we needed to add more. So we need to really need to grow quite quickly and quite significantly in order to reduce them from being more than 50% of our business, that’s more like 20% of our business.

[00:14:33] So that’s kind of what I was looking for. Yeah. So that’s, that’s kind of where we were, we at the start of this year. And then, yeah.

[00:14:38] Jason Brockman: [00:14:38] So when your contracts moved from. Uh, from a Virgin to Avanti. So you actually won that and, uh, and you continue to supply it so that, that you might lose out in the rugby pole underneath.

[00:14:49] From underneath you kind of thing, didn’t actually materialize. Cause you weren’t, you were taken on by a Avanti. And then March happened, I guess.

[00:14:55] Steve West: [00:14:55] Exactly. Yeah. And the other thing with, um, the, with the Avanti as well [00:15:00] is that there is, yeah, they all change honestly, sort of the changes that come through, I think in about 20 year contracts or something like that since 20 or 30 years contract.

[00:15:07] So, um, so as you may expect, even without COVID some of those. Changes to the supply chain are probably going to happen in the first, say two years or whatever. Whereas as an SME supply in a big organization like that with a fantastic name, as soon as we heard what happened with the bid process there’s it’s like, Oh, crikey is how is our lights going to be turned off next month kind of thing.

[00:15:27] But, um, it did actually give us a little bit of time to sort of sort of ourselves out if you’d like, um, Under that bidding process is actually going through right now, which is quite an interesting. So we’re learning a bit more about, yeah. Again, how, what it’s like to work with organizations, you know, a lot bigger than yourself kind of thing.

[00:15:46] So, yeah. So we’re sort of waiting to hear how that goes as well.

[00:15:50] John Lamerton: [00:15:50] Yeah, it’s a fine balancing act. Isn’t it between hooray. We’ve got this fantastic client, huge order books. Nice security for the next [00:16:00] 12 months, 18 months, five years, whatever long the contract could be. And then that your back of your mind is yep.

[00:16:05] If we lose that one, I’ve got a sack half my work force. I can’t afford the rent on this building anymore.

[00:16:10] Oh my God. What

[00:16:11] do we do? We’re committed to overheads. Yeah, because we have one large corporate client.

[00:16:17] Steve West: [00:16:17] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean right from the beginning, they did say, whatever you do don’t build your business is around Virgin trains.

[00:16:22] Cause like we do like to change the price, quite regular but yeah. Um, and initially it was like a six month. Less than six months, basically, actually I suppose the business that were in cause we supply a lot of food service, like clubs, and coffee shops, that kind of thing. Yeah. I’m Scrabble obviously. Um, their menus tend to only run for if you’ve got six months menu you’re doing really well.

[00:16:44] Most of it’s three or four months off when it’s three months, because. Seasonality of things. Yeah. So very often when you’ve got three months, you were doing an awful lot of work to get onto the winter menu, and then you hand it, start the work immediately, the essence spring menu, and you kind of think [00:17:00] you’re going to win the next menu thing.

[00:17:02] So you’re always on dates and yeah, but we just found working within that period of time. And it’s still true today that, yeah, it’s all about relationships, I think, you know, so I suppose that’s really. If you do want to build a good relationship and you do need to do what you’re saying, then that goes a long way to helping you to.

[00:17:26] Yeah to build that trust you need, I suppose the answer, keep, keep going and then it is probably more yours to lose, but plenty people do do the losing. Of course. So, its not out the questions.

[00:17:36] Yeah. So I suppose you still got the challenge we had and we found really difficult is that we were spending so much time developing all these products for these menus change your months, that, even though that each subsequent menu we kind of got an extra line or an extra product or whatever.

[00:17:52] So we were getting the growth. But all of our efforts going into servicing our existing customers. And it’s really [00:18:00] difficult to find the time if you like to, um, work on other the other potential.customers, so,obviously like I say, If that rug get’s pulled from underneath you and you’re in that situation and you’re in trouble, you know, and it happens a lot in the feed business, you always hear of businesses going under because they lost their Tesco contract or their Asda contract, you know,

[00:18:23]John Lamerton: [00:18:23] I like that I’ll see Virgin trains did that.

[00:18:25] Well, two things, number one, they said, Having businesses that are located very close to the track is, is important to us. I love that because as a customer, you wouldn’t even consider it that, but the fact that it matters, to them that they use suppliers, that our local and our have an affinity with, with the company or with, with the product with the trains is, is phenomenon.

[00:18:50] And to actually say to you, look, Steve, we’re going to give you a huge contract here, but please don’t. Bet the farm on us. I love that they really looking out for SMEs. Aren’t they?

[00:19:00] [00:19:00] Steve West: [00:19:00] They are. Yeah. I really felt right for the whole time we been with them to be fair. So yeah. you vant ask for any more than that. And I think it tends to be, you know, when you of SME’s working with big companies, you often hear all of the best stories when it’s gone wrong.

[00:19:16] I remember when we first started out on that 13 years tago, we used to do farmer’s markets every weekend. Every weekend, 52 weeks of the year, food festivals farmers markets. And that’s funny. There’s somebody that I was in school with had the stall next to me selling, let me remember. I think it was Welsh rarebit in the jar. I think that’s what it was.

[00:19:37] And it was quite nice. They got a listing to Tesco’s really early doors. So took on some premises. They’re listing. I’m not sure about the timing, but I know it’s a minimum of six weeks. That’s that’s I think at the time that was what you got to prove your sales. I think it was longer than that, but I don’t know, at some point in that first six to 12 months, [00:20:00] They didn’t continue to have to afford them.

[00:20:03] You know, they pay, they put everything in to that. And I think they didn’t survive that, unfortunately. So I’m sure they’ve gone on to do with brilliant things now, you know, but that was quite an early lesson for me. And it kind of put me off trying to win contracts off the bigger companies a because. I didn’t think we were big enough to actually pull it off I suppose, or that they would be interested in us, but also if you did win it.

[00:20:23] What were you letting yourself in for down this rare walk. Yeah. My experience with the Virgin in particular was really positive. You know I’ve got a few other customers in the same sort of risk on the same way, but I suppose they are the biggest ones that we had at the time. So yeah,

[00:20:38] John Lamerton: [00:20:38] when we first spoke in February, you sent me a list of three goals.

[00:20:45] Remember this?

[00:20:46] Steve West: [00:20:46] Yes. Yeah. a

[00:20:47] long time ago now

[00:20:50] but Six months ago, eight months ago.

[00:20:53] John Lamerton: [00:20:53] Um, but I do, I mean, there was three goals. I’ve got them written down here.

[00:20:58] Steve West: [00:20:58] Yeah.

[00:20:59] John Lamerton: [00:20:59] Goal [00:21:00] number one was to lose weight and

[00:21:01] get fit.

[00:21:03] Goal number two, spend more time with my family and I’m quoting your words here. Not mine. Spend more time with my family rather than at work. Being a busy fool.

[00:21:16] Finally take action at the pudding compartment to significantly improve profitability to what could go wrong

[00:21:26] in early 2020, what could go wrong?

[00:21:30] Steve West: [00:21:30] Exactly. You know, I think it’s fair to say. A lot of my employees have spent an awful lot of time with that family over the last few months. If I rounded the goals to the team as a whole, I think we’ve done remarkably well, at least in that particular way.

[00:21:43] Um, but yeah, that’s I said what I really well, really, when we first, when I first heard it first found out about it. And Hey, ambitious lifestyle business. The first thing I really liked the word lifestyle, and as [00:22:00] indicated by those targets, I guess I didn’t feel like I had a fantastic lifestyle in the sense of, I put an awful lot into the business, which I love there are other aspects of my life that were not getting any attention at all.

[00:22:11] So. So, yeah, I still sort of stand by those goals as being things I want to achieve. I think we have, despite what’s happened this year and actually we were well on, I think it feels like I well on the way to achieving a lot of those. So we’ll make improvements in each of those areas, despite everything that’s happened.

[00:22:28] Yeah,

[00:22:28] John Lamerton: [00:22:28] because yours was an interesting journey because let’s say we, we,

[00:22:32] we chatted in February.

[00:22:33] There was obviously rumblings of things happening in February, but we, we talked as, as though, you know, we’re going to carry on and it’s going to be fairly normal. You then joined the 1% club in March. Yeah. And then almost immediately, um, well actually you sent me some updated targets in March and you think you got a bit more bullish once you joined the one percent club?

[00:22:54] Steve West: [00:22:54] Yeah. Here’s going to be easy. It wasn’t a battle I was going to get, it’s going to be, they [00:23:00] didn’t want to be too shy in putting forward some good goals.

[00:23:05] John Lamerton: [00:23:05] Yeah. So I think we went from significantly proving profitability to unbelievably improved profitability.

[00:23:13] Steve West: [00:23:13] Yes. But it it’s. I think part of being, being part of a group opens your mind to things that you might be able to achieve that I think sometimes when we’re not very good at, I think we’re ambitious enough to use you use the word ambitious because, um, I think it’s all too easy to say, Oh, if we get another 10% or if we get 20% of what we did last year.

[00:23:39] Wow. That’d be incredible. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Yeah. Well actually, when you’re in an SME situation, it is possible to do significantly more than that from a sales point of view. But, um, but we’re talking profitability rather than sales because. The busy element being is if I had, [00:24:00] if I was at an interview or, or even person, one of my friends or whatever was asking me about how the business was going.

[00:24:06] I don’t know if it’s a Brexit, but I wouldn’t say, Oh yeah, yeah. We made loads of cash. Yeah. Which wouldn’t have been true anyway, but we tend to say, Oh yeah, yeah. We’re employing 25 people now. Yeah. Around at today, we’ve gone up doubled with double that two and every three years. So we’re doing really well, you know, and, um, it’s funny being based in Wales as well, because we, a lot of the support we get is as well as government support in terms of helping businesses.

[00:24:32] But the measure is how many people we employ. It’s not, are we actually sustainable from a profit point of view so we can actually carry on employing those people for the next 20 years. It’s more like, how fast can you load your wage bill up? Um, And yeah, that’s not necessarily a good thing when you’re trying to become profitable or increase your profitability.

[00:24:59] Yeah. So [00:25:00] it’s interesting how, what you measured. Um, and I think I know when we first started talking, what I really liked, I did, I have read the books because we know you are and they are very good books folks, by the way. So you should be reading it. So I’m re reading them for about the third time now, but I was trying to put.

[00:25:20] I was trying to find a way of summarizing what I was trying to achieve. And then I think it was a bit when we talked about, will it make the boat go faster? Yeah. That really stuck with me about the British Olympic rarity. I thought I got it. I need one sentence that can help me. So every time I make a decision, I can compare it to that goal in one sentence and see if I’m on the right track or not.

[00:25:46] And I think that was kind of when. It clicked with me that I was kind of not necessarily measuring the right things or doing the right things. In the, yeah. In the early years of the business, if you like, you know, whereas, and that’s probably the thing that I’m trying to change the most [00:26:00] and that I’m, so I’m no longer just interested in sales.

[00:26:04] I’m actually quite interested in how much profit we’re making at the same time, rather than just how many people we are employinh, there were important. And that kind of thing, which is they’re all important measures, but obviously without the profit line and the rest of it’s going to sooner or later disappear anyway.

[00:26:18] And then on the personal front, obviously we have the personal aspect that we’ve talked about as well. So.

[00:26:24] John Lamerton: [00:26:24] So, what is your, what is your boat that you’re making go faster than what what’s the big overarching, obviously I know what it is, but I’m keen for our listeners to hear how it came about and why it matters to you.

[00:26:36] Steve West: [00:26:36] Okay. So basically like a lot of I’m sure every business owner watching this or listening to this will of been in this situation some point where they, they are busy fools, they may or may not realize said at the time, but he put in an awful lot of effort into your business and it really just take over your life and can say everything your life, [00:27:00] to the detriment of other things, including your family for that matter.

[00:27:03] Um, so I basically, I was encouraged to sort of sit back. Okay, what do we really want to do? And, and basically I forgot about a whole load of things I really enjoyed doing. When I had a bit of time, um, kind of, I thought, well, I’d actually quite like to do that again. Cause I, even though I haven’t let me for 20 years, doesn’t mean to say that I wouldn’t like to do again.

[00:27:26] So in my case, it was, um, skiing, snow skiing is my thing that I absolutely love doing. And I haven’t been skiing for about 12 years now. Um, and I used to, to do an awful lot of it and I actually met my wife. When we both worked in the skews or in France, 25 years ago, I was reminded this week that that’s when we met.

[00:27:49] So, um, yeah, but I haven’t done it for so long then. Yeah. I want to teach my kids how to ski and that kind of thing. So, um, the reasons for not [00:28:00] going skiing were partly fitness and weight. Partly not being prepared to take a week off work and go to a different country. In case I was needed because obviously I’m invaluable the business cant room without me, all that kind of thing.

[00:28:13] And then financially it’s take a family of four skiing. Yeah. That’s not. It’s not a trip to the weekend to real, you know, damn directly where we are now. It’s a little bit more pricey than that. We actually need to have a bit of cash a bit of time, you know, and, and be fit in. Yeah. Well enough to do I suppose so.

[00:28:29] Yeah. So my boats is actually a pair of skis and it’s, I want to say my family skiing in well, 2021 was what I said. Um, and that’s what I’m working towards. Yeah, you wouldn’t have, despite everything you think is the

[00:28:46] John Lamerton: [00:28:46] only thing that’s going to stop you in going in 2021, is COVID

[00:28:50] Steve West: [00:28:50] because

[00:28:50] John Lamerton: [00:28:50] you are going to be fit enough.

[00:28:51] You are going to be able to take a week off your business and you are going to have the financial means to do so.

[00:28:56] Steve West: [00:28:56] Exactly. Yeah. So I have booked the holiday. [00:29:00] I have paid the substantial deposit. I probably went to the wrong company there, but I think it was the right company. Cause I had to, I paid 50% deposit.

[00:29:08] Uh, which is refundable. If we cant go, we can transfer it to another holiday. I think, you know, last night ordered sort of skis and boots for myself on eBay and waiting for them to arrive. So I am committed and it’s going to happen, you know? Um, but you’re right. If you don’t take that decision, ain’t going to happen for sure.

[00:29:29] You know, you’ve got to make the decision and then you’ve got to follow through with the actions so that you can. Achieve what you’re trying to achieve.

[00:29:34] John Lamerton: [00:29:34] Yeah. I mean, for those who haven’t heard the, will it make the boat go faster story? Is this principle that the, I think it was the men’s eights used in the Sydney Olympics in 2000 to go from kind of perennial sixth or seventh place winners in every prior Olympics and every Commonwealth games to becoming gold medal winners for about two years, the entire team, all the coaching staff, everybody lived by this principle [00:30:00] of will it make the boat go faster?

[00:30:02] Will what I am doing today, make that boat go faster. In two years, time in 18 months time, these guys missed the opening ceremony of the Olympic games because it wouldn’t make their boat go faster. Being on their feet for 90 minutes in a stadium, being on a coach cramped for another 90 minutes, traveling to, and from there being late to bed, they missed out on beers with friends 18 months before.

[00:30:28] The Olympics, because it wouldn’t make that boat go faster. And Steve, you just turned it into, will it make the West family ski holiday happen?

[00:30:37] Steve West: [00:30:37] Exactly. Yeah. And that’s, it’s a relatively, you might say it might seem a really simple thing and yeah, but it’s a really good question to ask, you know, and it really does change the behavior and change the decisions you’re making.

[00:30:52] If you’ve got a goal, but. Yeah, for a long time, I sort of had goals of growing the business and that kind of thing, but [00:31:00] I haven’t really focused on any of the personal aspect of it. Um, yeah. Whereas now actually it doesn’t have to be exclusive, you know, you can do things which are good for yourself and your family that actually will make your business a lot healthier at the same time.

[00:31:13] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s what I’m working on now. Yeah.

[00:31:19] John Lamerton: [00:31:19] Talking about kind of before we jumped on the call was how this links to all three of your goals. So the goals you set back in February, lose weight, get fit, spend more time with the family and become more profitable. They all link back to that same overarching North star, call it what you like.

[00:31:34] It’s a big goal that you can just every single decision shall I go out for? Beers and a Curry tonight? Well, when they get the West family on the slopes,

[00:31:42] Steve West: [00:31:42] nah,

[00:31:42] John Lamerton: [00:31:42] probably not.

[00:31:47] this is not going to help.

[00:31:51] get a glass of water, whatever it might be. Have you got a photo

[00:31:55] of you on the slopes, on your fridge

[00:32:02] [00:32:00] to shop it? A friend of mine, he had to go, he wanted to go to Miami. He wants to take his shirt off on Miami beach, which required using about four stone.

[00:32:11] Right? He’s super,

[00:32:12] super imposed. I think it was Tom Selleck or whoever topless on the beach at Miami with his face, very crudely Photoshop. It’s on top, stuck on the fridge.

[00:32:22] And that was his overarching goal is that’s going to be me. On Miami beach.

[00:32:28] Steve West: [00:32:28] If I do that, I might prevent myself from opening the fridge a hundred times. I’m not taking anything out of it, so that, that could be an efficiency drive as well. So yeah, I’ll do that this evening.

[00:32:38] John Lamerton: [00:32:38] It’s worth it, but it’s, it’s worthwhile having that image is a very clear picture of this is what I’m working towards, because you’re going to have days where you really, really do want a nice cheese sandwich or you want whatever your weakness food is.

[00:32:53] Or even from business point of view, you know, you, you might learn and Google ads might [00:33:00] be. The way you can get the west family

[00:33:03] Steve West: [00:33:03] on the slopes quicker,

[00:33:04] John Lamerton: [00:33:04] but it’s hard to learn. I think they were, maybe you don’t feel like doing it, or maybe you don’t feel like writing that email or sending that pitch or. Maybe firing an employee and replacing them with someone who’s, who’s a better employee.

[00:33:19] Well, that’s, that’s hard things to do when you ask that question, will it get the West family on the slopes? And if the answer is yes, you do it. And if the answer’s no, you don’t, it’s black and white, isn’t it?

[00:33:30] Steve West: [00:33:30] Yeah. Um, and that’s a really good point because the, the other one of the other key points ar that I picked up working with you guys over the last six or eight months or so.

[00:33:41] Yes. And this is another thing I do remind myself every single day. It’s like the difference between success and failure is often doing the things you really don’t feel I’m doing the things you don’t want to do, or that you’re avoiding doing. And, but they’re the very things that are going to get you where you want to be.

[00:33:59] That’s [00:34:00] something that I’ve kind of realised fairly late on in the piece, but in the last few months, especially that, um, and exactly what you’re talking about, like the staff side of things in particular, um, You know, so, and if you have got people, if you got any aspect of your business is not performing in the way it should, then it’s gotta be dealt with, but it’s so easy just to kind of put those difficult things off.

[00:34:22] Yeah. Well, that’s the difference between scraping by and making enough money to go on ski holidays and other things, you know? So, yeah. So thanks for that. That is something. That’s what I

[00:34:37] John Lamerton: [00:34:37] in the office there. Steve, just remember if you look out your window, the trainer is allowed to carry passengers, but we’re not,

[00:34:45] Steve West: [00:34:45] not many on there at least not really. Yeah. Yeah. So I think, yeah, we’re always, you’ve got to learn, I suppose. Yeah. What we’re talking about is, [00:35:00] is learning as you go along, but actually learning and changing what you do.

[00:35:04] Um, it’s a bit like reading a book and then taking no notice of it and just think, Oh, that was a great book. You know, obviously one of the things that I’ve learned again, this year, it’s more about, well, at the end of reading a book, you’ve got to start taking any benefit from it. You’ve got to change something.

[00:35:17] Otherwise you may have arguably wasted your time. Read it in the first place. I’m going

[00:35:23] Jason Brockman: [00:35:23] to say reading a book is investing an awful lot of time. Isn’t it? And if

[00:35:25] you don’t take something from that investment, it’s a bit crazy. Yeah, exactly. We used to for a lot, for people to do that says immerse yourself in something.

[00:35:36] Yeah. But then if you don’t change anything, then. You’re not going to, you know, they become wise just by reading a load of books. If you don’t actually take any action afterwards. That’s true.

[00:35:47] John Lamerton: [00:35:47] And that’s the reason I put in routine machine, uh, that one of the habits that I’d love people to do is to read the book and follow the instructions.

[00:35:56] Do something afterwards. People told me that, you know, doing the book debrief [00:36:00] is the one routine that makes all the things when it’s, because whatever they’re learning, they could be learning from a textbook, from an inspirational autobiography, from a how to manual, whatever, but whatever they’re learning.

[00:36:11] Yeah. Take the, you know, write down what you remember, what you’ve just learned and then actually implement it.

[00:36:17] Steve West: [00:36:17] Yeah. Well, it’s interesting. We talked before about the, um, the four pillar plan, which is, what’s helping me with my weight loss and fitness, but, um, actually a lot of the things I’ve read recently have been about habit formation.

[00:36:33] Yeah. Um,yeah, it’s so powerful to do. I guess it’s what comes out of doing something, something that you change that you do every single day is going to make a much, even if it’s something apparently really small. Yeah. It does build up to make a huge difference. I think often we try and do something really big and it’s not sustainable.

[00:36:55] And then go to the gym five times a week or something like that. I love the [00:37:00] Jason’s one press up . I don’t know if you still do your doing that, but, um,

[00:37:04] Jason Brockman: [00:37:04] I’m still halfway there.

[00:37:06] Steve West: [00:37:06] My wife is quoted that back to me. As she said in a kind of context. Cause I shared that with her. So obviously she used it.

[00:37:16] And when I say I really go through the like walk in the dog tonight and she says, well, can you, can you walk for one minute, maybe just go for one minute walk. Then obviously you go out and half an hour later, you come back feeling much better kind of thing, you know? So, um, It’s getting out of the door. There’s often the hardest thing.

[00:37:31] Okay.

[00:37:33] John Lamerton: [00:37:33] The dog will do the rest.

[00:37:37] Jason Brockman: [00:37:37] Steve, I know we’ve heard a little bit about your ambition and your lifestyle and your business kind of thing. That’s the thing we put this together in the podcast. We also ask

[00:37:44] all of our guests, what does that ambitious lifestyle

[00:37:47] business look like for you?

[00:37:50] Steve West: [00:37:50] Um, my well, firstly, basically it’s, I’ve realized that.

[00:37:57] The purpose of having of running a business [00:38:00] and all the effort that that entails is it’s got to be, to provide you with something other than I feel great because I’ve started a business. You know, it’s, it’s about it is about, I can really sum it up in, in, in the goals that we talked about, because a lot of it is about freeing up time.

[00:38:16] To do things you want to do and sitting with the people that you want to do. Um, I think in summary, it’s kind of like, I feel like I’m in the process now of making the business work for me, rather than me working for the business. Um, That pretty much is everything else feeds from that really? You know? So, um, and yeah, don’t be embarrassed if you make a profit cause that is kind of the objective of having a business.

[00:38:43] Like, you know, um, I have to make an excuse if we’re making a profit. Well, actually you should be proud of that, you know? So, um, and don’t be ashamed to make decisions that will improve your profitability or will free you up to have more time. And they’re not personal. Perspective, obviously your health and that kind of thing.

[00:39:00] [00:38:59] So, yeah, the, I think I just love the words. I love the fact that we can be ambitious and it can provide us with a lifestyle whilst running a business. It’s like that. Yep. You can go into all sorts of detail on everything, but that’s really what it comes. Yeah. Be ambitious, but don’t lose your lifestyle, gain your lifestyle because when you think about getting a job, you think, Oh my God, what would my life be like if I had a job?

[00:39:27] Yeah. I really can’t see that. You know?

[00:39:29] Jason Brockman: [00:39:29] So without the lifestyle. You

[00:39:32] wouldn’t have a job, would you? I guess that’s that’s the bottom line.

[00:39:36] Steve West: [00:39:36] It’s really. Yeah, the name is on the tin. Just what it says. You know, it’s being ambitious, but getting the lifestyle you want from it. Um, you don’t need to be the neck.

[00:39:47] We’ve talked about Lord Sugar earlier. You don’t need to have goals to become the next Lord Sugar.

[00:39:53] Jason Brockman: [00:39:53] He never seems to happiest does he,

[00:39:57] Steve West: [00:39:57] he wasn’t happy when he emailed me.

[00:40:03] [00:40:00] Jason Brockman: [00:40:03] I was going to say, thank you ever so much for joining us on this episode of the ambitious lifestyle podcast. It was brilliant to have you on here. Um, you’ve been a fantastic one percenter and, uh, It may have only been six months. There’s been such a journey that you’ve kind of come on. And during that time with so many obstacles thrown at you, and , we haven’t even covered half of them.

[00:40:20] Um, but absolutely brilliant to have you on board.

[00:40:23] Steve West: [00:40:23] Thanks very much. So. Thanks for all you guys do to help.

[00:40:26] John Lamerton: [00:40:26] fantastic. How about, how could people get in touch with you and request free samples of cakes if they wanted to.

[00:40:32] Steve West: [00:40:32] Uh, the best way to get hold of me is by email. It’s the longest email in the world.

[00:40:37] It’s Stevewest@thepuddingcompartment.co.uk, not the pudding company. The pudding compartment. Or just go on the website and send us a message by the info app.

[00:40:47] John Lamerton: [00:40:47] Fantastic. We all have it pudding compartment. Don’t we.

[00:40:51] Steve West: [00:40:51] Yeah, we do. We all have a pudding compartment some people have beer compartments as well as pudding compartments.

[00:40:57] John Lamerton: [00:40:57] Not me,

[00:41:01] [00:41:00] not those who wants to be on the ski slope.

[00:41:03] Steve West: [00:41:03] It’s funny one.

[00:41:04] John Lamerton: [00:41:04] I said, I can’t wait to next year and seeing the photos of you and the family on the slope, Steve, looking forward

[00:41:10] Steve West: [00:41:10] I promise you it’s going to happen and I will send you the photos.

[00:41:13] John Lamerton: [00:41:13] Fantastic. All the best. Thank you.

[00:41:18] So there we are another episode in the can. Um, how was it for you? Please let us know. Um, how do you listen 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.

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“John and Jason have been there and done it and don’t have an ego about it like many others.I know I am better organised, better planned and prepared and more likely to succeed sooner, thanks to their wisdom and experience.”
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"Two normal blokes from Plymouth" John and Jason have been working together, building businesses for over two decades!

They're the anti-gurus with a strong dislike of pseudo business psycho-babble. Their no-nonsense, straightforward approach with relatable and valuable advice has won them followers from all over the world. They've helped hundreds of business owners improve their businesses and lives.

The King of Can-do and the 'Lazy' Entrepreneur have a mountain of knowledge they're happy to share.

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