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Building a Lean Business With (Almost) No Capital

The BiggerPockets Money Podcast
48 min read
Building a Lean Business With (Almost) No Capital

On this week’s episode of the Biggerpockets Money Podcast, we chat with Alan Donegan.

Alan Donegan watched and helped his father run a super successful sportswear company—until the economy shifted and they lost everything.

Determined to not follow this path, Alan got a job. Then another and another and another. He couldn’t find anything he wanted to do, so he created his own job, teaching people how to create theirs.

Taking lessons from his father’s experiences, Alan teaches entrepreneurs how to start really small and test the idea before jumping in with both feet. If you have an entrepreneurial itch, this is a can’t-miss episode.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Scott: Welcome to BiggerPockets Money. Show 17

Alan: Do a mini experiment. Literally do a mini experiment. Let’s try and sell it. If it sells, you’ve got the start of a business. If it doesn’t sell, we haven’t lost anything. Build a free website. Get a free pitch. Borrow some space. Do a free version of it, and try and sell it. If it sells, you’ve got a business. If it doesn’t, you haven’t lost anything and you’ve learnt a lot. If there’s one concept I’d love to leave with your audience, it’s the concept of the mini business experiment.


It’s time for a new American dream. One that doesn’t involve working in a cubicle for 40 years, barely scraping by. Whether you’re looking to get your financial house in order, invest the money you already have or discovered new paths for wealth creation, you’re in the right place. This show is for anyone who has money or wants more. This is the BiggerPockets Money podcast.


Scott: How’s it going everybody? I’m Scott Trench. I’m here with my co-host, Miss Mindy Jensen. How’re you doing today, Mindy?


Mindy: I am doing fantastic, Scott. I just got back from Portland. I just flew in last night and boy, are my arms tired.


Scott: Oh jeez. Yup. That makes sense, because I was flying with your arms.


Mindy: Oh my goodness. That’s like the one bad joke that I know. I know a lot of bad jokes but they’re just usually not funny. That’s one really bad. Okay.


Scott: We got a great show today. We got Alan Donegan from PopUp Business School here to talk about how to start a business. I’m looking forward to that.


Mindy: Yes. You know, Alan has a really great back story in that, he saw his father be extremely successful, and then lose everything. That really affected him, similar to last week’s episode with Joel Larsgaard. Similar to that, except Alan was in college or out of college after that happened. It affected him in a slightly different way. Yeah, it’s a great show today. Alan just can’t stop giving out great information.


Scott: The way I like to think about the show is, we at BiggerPockets Money in general, our job is to encourage you the listener, to adopt good financial habits, that you can save a greater percentage of your income, hopefully improve at your career, and go on to earn greater income actively, and then of course, invest that in an intelligent path, whether that’s through stock investing with the index funds, or real estate, or one of the multiple other ways you can invest your money.


At the same time, if you’ve got a passive approach, if you’ve got a strong savings rate, and you’ve got a good job, there’s this other option that you can pursue with your free time, which is side hustles or starting small businesses. I think what Alan really brings to this discussion is the ability to do this at such low risk and with so little money in. This definitely jives with my philosophy of just, ‘Hey, I’m going to try a bunch of things, and hopefully one of them will work out over a long period of time.’


Again, none of these things have significant risk. I’ll actually talk a little bit about some of the things that I’ve tried personally over the years later on the show as well. This is an approach that I think is a really good additional piece for those of you who are trying to pursue financial freedom, and already have the other three things, earning, saving and consistent investing, on lockdown.


Mindy: This is such a great show because of all the information that Alan shares with you. In America, ‘Go big or go home,’ is our national motto. That’s not actually, necessarily the best way to start a business. He said don’t start it big. Start it small and see what happens. Start things for free. Borrow things instead of buying them right out, because if you borrow something and it fails, you just give it back. If you buy something, now you own it and maybe you don’t have the money for it to cover those costs. That can be a huge detriment to you ever starting another business.


Scott: Yeah. You can prove the business model before you spend several hundred thousand dollars investing in a physical space, and decking it out and all that money. You can discover if your business model’s going to work before you spend all that money. Did I say that backwards?


Mindy: No. You said that correct. That’s figure it out. Figure out if it’s going to work before you invest a ton of money. A lot of times, it’s really difficult to to do that. How do you, using one of the examples from the show, how do you start a restaurant without investing in all, buy a space, get all the kitchen equipment, do all of that? Alan has a great story about somebody who was able to start a restaurant without doing any of that. That’s awesome. It’s just thinking slightly outside the box.


Scott: Yep. I think that’s exact. That works. We’ve heard real life examples from Alan. We’ll hear him, in a little bit about how that works at the individual level. Guess what? We, here at BiggerPockets run our business basically the same way. We try ideas out and then scale them, and then invest in them once that they’ve proven that they have all that potential to grow and serve you guys, the listeners and the users effectively.


Mindy: Yeah. That’s how this show started out. We just tried it out, and it worked. Okay, before we bring Alan in, Scott, I want to continue on with what we started last week, which is asking a question of our community. I’m going to ask you to start off. What is your top, easily implementable, money tip to help people get started on the path to financial independence?


Scott: I think you and I shared one last week where it was start tracking your savings. After that, my quick tip would be, listen to this episode. Then go out and find someone who started a side hustle that’s been successful, or a small business. Take him out to lunch, or coffee, or a beer, and just hear their story. I think there’s something about hearing it on the podcast here, but there’s another side of this about hearing from a live, flesh and blood person, face to face, and hearing their story. That makes it all that much more attainable for you.


Mindy: Yes. I’ve listened to podcasts where I’m listening to them ask the question, here’s the answer and I’m like, ‘Well, the most obvious follow up question is this.’ The host doesn’t ask it. I’m sure we’ve done that too. When you’re in that conversation with the person, you can ask the most obvious follow up question. You can ask and keep drilling down. Sometimes questions just get asked at the top level, and you don’t really drill down into it. Absolutely. Take somebody out to lunch. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be in your field. Just an entrepreneur who has done, is doing it well that you want to mimic.


Scott: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that’s perfect. That’s exactly right. We cannot ask all the questions that you would want to hear on this podcast, even though we try, but that’s perfect. Before we bring Alan in, let’s hear a quick word from today’s sponsor.


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Scott: Alright. Thank you very much today’s sponsor. Mindy, should we go ahead and bring Alan in now?


Mindy: We should.


Scott: Alan, welcome to the BiggerPockets Money show. How’s it going?


Alan: I’m excited to be here on bank holiday, Monday. Easter Monday.


Scott: Ah! There you go. I didn’t realize it’s a holiday.


Mindy: Bank holiday, Monday.


Alan: Yeah. We get a day off in England. We actually get Easter Friday and Easter Monday off. I’ve had a four day weekend this weekend.


Mindy: Oh, wow. We could learn a thing or two from you guys, because we only got Friday’s off.


Alan: We have a lot of holidays.


Mindy: I think I want to move to England, Scott.


Scott: Fair enough. Yeah, we work both Friday and Monday here.


Mindy: Yes.


Scott: Maybe we can start from the beginning here. What was your introduction to money, and how did you become this business school guru guy? How did that come about?


Alan: Interesting. My dad was an entrepreneur. He definitely influenced the way I went. Even at school, if you look way back to when I was eight or nine, my mom had the recipe for Mars Bar Cake. One of the school projects was to make food, so I made Mars Bar Cake, which is Rice Krispies and melted Mars Bars all made into it like a cake thing, and then took it into school and sold. It was the best business model ever because my mom paid for the ingredients. It was all profit.


Mindy: First of all, I need some of this Mar Bar Cake because that sounds delicious. Is the Mar Bar in America the same as the Mars Bar in England?


Alan: Exactly, you melt it with butter and pour it over Rice Krispies, and then you have an incredibly fattening dessert.


Mindy: Oh, that sounds fantastic. Those are my favorite desserts.


Scott: That’s fantastic. Were you making these or was your mom making these?


Alan: Well, she taught me how. Obviously, she was a big influence, but I was actually doing the labor and making them, and then taking trays into school and selling them, I think for five or ten pence. Like five cents a time, ten cents a time for a little square of them to the other kids in school.


Scott: It’s funny how you hear about a lot of entrepreneurs, how they got started at these very early ages with these business ventures. That’s when I think about, ‘Oh, that’s when the bug got started,’ and all that. I find it fascinating. I didn’t have that entrepreneurial bug myself.


If that’s your first million, how did you make your second million at business?


Alan: They were definitely not a million pounds in Mars Bar Cake. Definitely not. I went and worked in my dad’s business Saturday mornings. He used to pay me like six bucks for an entire mornings work. He got slave labor out of me. I think he was having hard times, and he said instead of having pocket money- in England, it’s traditional to get pocket money each week if you were a young kid. He said, ‘Instead of having pocket money, you have access to the products from our shop and sell them. Anything you sell over X price, you keep.’


He probably didn’t have enough, or didn’t want to give me pocket money, but he gave me an opportunity to earn, which definitely influenced what I did. I went out and sold shirts, and sold sportswear at school and college. Yeah, in some months in college, I made more than my first full-time job.


Mindy: Oh. What was your dad’s business?


Alan: Sportswear. He was a bit of a Del boy, a bit of a dealer and a trader. He started buying sportswear from Europe that was left over at the end of the season, and then selling it on. He was one of the first people ever in reselling sportswear. The shop would get the first season to sell it, and then you sell the end of the season stuff off. He would go over to Europe and buy up all the stocks from the shops, bring it to the UK and sell it off.


Mindy: Okay. That’s funny that you call it Europe. I call the whole thing Europe.


Alan: Continental Europe.


Mindy: I’m American. I’m like, ‘What you mean he went to Europe? Did you live in America when you were a kid?’ Sorry. Okay. Sportswear like regular clothes or sports jerseys, like sports team wear? Just so that we’re on the same page.


Alan: Adidas. Nike. Football shirts. Puma. All sorts of branded sportswear. He would buy it, from sneakers, to shirts, to jog pants. In the 80s, you’d have shell suits. They were very fashionable back then.


Mindy: Okay. Athletic wear.


Alan: Yeah. Athletic wear.


Mindy: Last season’s athletic wear. He would sell it. Did he have an actual storefront?


Alan: He actually did really well in the 80s, and he built up. He had 20 sportswear stores, actual shops, plus three warehouses across England. In the 80s, he was turning over 20 million pounds plus, a year.


Mindy: Oh, this wasn’t just small beans. This wasn’t just one little shop.


Alan: No, he was quite good at it.


Mindy: Wow.


Alan: He was very good at it.


Mindy: That’s how you’re a millionaire then. You inherited the sportswear shop.


Alan: Unfortunately, not. Actually Katie, my wife and I were discussing this today. What could we learn from what my dad did? He went bankrupt in the 90s, in the first recession of the 90s. He signed up for a lot of high value leases on these stores. In the boom of the 80s, everything was going well.


He signed up for a lot of high value leases. He had incredibly high fixed costs that he couldn’t alter. When the crash of the 90s happened, people stopped buying sportswear overnight. He was left with all these fixed costs and hundreds of staff. He very quickly went bankrupt, for a large amount of money.


Scott: That’s terrible. That’s fascinating concept though. Business is booming. Things are going well. You assume a lot of these fixed costs. These leases or mortgages if you’re real estate investor. Then suddenly the sun stopped shining and you’re left holding the bag with all of these expenses. how would you say that that lesson maybe, has shaped the way you approach business nowadays?


Alan: It’s very much shaped the way I do business. If things are going well, you can’t assume they are going to continue to go well. They could change at any time. Interest rates are historically low. They could go through the ceiling. Who knows what’s going to happen next? You can’t predict that. You go to be flexible enough to change.


My business today, I have a team of 10 that help me run the PopUp Business School around the world. We’ve never had an office. Seven years of running this, we’ve always met in a cafe, at Starbucks. We’ve never had fixed costs. My only fixed costs are people. That has definitely affected the way I run a business.


Mindy: That’s really interesting. With your business though, you don’t need location. You could have everybody over at your house. That’s interesting.


Alan: This PopUp Business School, we travel around the world teaching people to build businesses. It basically was born out of the- several reasons. One of them was, we didn’t feel education actually taught people what they needed to be successful in life. It doesn’t teach you finance. It doesn’t teach you sales. It doesn’t teach you networking. It doesn’t teach you investing. None of these stuff is actually taught in school.


My original plan was to set up a business school but when I looked at it, at a minimum we needed quarter of million pounds. $350,000 to get a building, to get people, to set up this place, to sell spaces on the course. A massive amount of investment. Instead of looking to do a permanent location that would cost a fortune to invest, we chose to do a pop-up version. We borrowed other people’s spaces and did two week pop-up versions. That was our way of starting without investing a fortune and having high fixed overheads.


Scott: I really want to get into this and learn more about your business, and specifically hear about how our listeners can go about building pop-up businesses, start up businesses on the side. Before we get to that, could we go back one step here and talk about your journey to starting that business? It sounds like you had this entrepreneurial streak as a child. You were selling this sports apparel in college and maybe a little bit thereafter. What was your journey like out of your college or university, to the point at which you began this business school?


Alan: It was a whole mix of tough times, with my father’s business going bankrupt. He went bankrupt for 3.6 million pounds, so $4 and a half, $5 million dollars, which is a significant amount of money to lose. Unfortunately, that debt was tied to the family home. I had a dark time after college with that particular bit. We had to do car boot sales. I don’t know what the equivalent term is in America.


Mindy: Garage sales, where you’re selling off your things.


Alan: Yeah. You kind of turn up in a big field. Everyone turns up in their cars. They open the trunk and you start selling out of them. We used to go and sell off stuff to earn enough money to be able to buy food each week. That was a challenging time. Then the bank started to close in, and try and take the family home that I lived in. I actually spent about 10 years with my mom and my brother, fighting with the bank to try and keep our family home.


That debt was secured against the home, so they trying to take it away from us to sell to cover some of the debt. I spent about 10 years doing that, and that definitely affected the way I run business. I’ve seen so many people who’ve started businesses, borrowed a lot of money, and that money, the business fails, you still owe it. You still have to pay it back and I’ve seen what that can do to a family, and how it rips it to pieces. That has absolutely affected my philosophy. I’ve wanted everyone to be able to start for free, without ever having to experience going through that debt.


Scott: That’s an incredible story. There’s a lot of tragedy there, and a lot of lessons to be learned. Moving from there, what kind of businesses did you start, maybe prior to or in conjunction with this PopUp Business School? Did you have any other experiences?


Mindy: To tag on to that, did you ever consider traditional employment, like getting a real job?


Alan: Yeah. Absolutely. My dream when I was at school, I saw how successful my dad was. I’d always wanted to work with him. I worked with him for a few days, but then he went through his second bankruptcy. He was getting divorced from my mom. Being in the family business when people are getting divorced is not a good time. Avoid that at all costs. I left. I did the traditional employment thing.


I did telesales for about a year-and-a-half. I did field sales, not selling fields, but like going out and seeing people, and selling photocopiers. I ran a pub for a little bit. I did after school clubs for kids. I did recruitment for six months. I ran a landscape firm, was a general manager for a landscape firm. I had 30 men in white van that I told which grass to mow each day. I tried lots of jobs. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I just kept trying things.


I think one of the biggest things for me is that if you don’t try it, you’ll never know if it’s any good. I just went out and tried lots of jobs. Eventually I got fired from my last job, which turned out to be an absolute blessing because that firing made me look at the industry, look at the market and go, ‘I don’t want to do any of that. I want to start my own thing.’ That’s when I started the first business which was in training, which eventually led to PopUp Business School.


Mindy: What is your degree in? You went to college. I know college and university is different in England. Isn’t college like junior college, and university is like college?


Alan: College for us is 16 to 18. Then university is 18 plus. Yeah, college. I never went to college. I barely made it through 16 to 18 year old. Barely made it through, and just left. A lot of people think you need a great education, you need lots of education to be able to go and do things. That’s not been my experience. I have no degree, or have none of those qualifications, and yet, I’ve run training courses to some of the biggest companies in the world. That has never stopped me. Never stopped me.


Mindy: Yeah. I think it’s all mindset. It’s not all mindset. You can’t just be like, ‘Oh I’m going to be a physician, so I just know I can do it.’ You have to go to school for that. When you’re running your own business, when you’re doing these non-traditional jobs, I really think you need more hustle than formal education.


I went through the formal education system all the way, through a Bachelor’s degree, which is a four year degree here. I don’t use any of it currently. I studied Fashion Design, which is what all good podcast hosts did. Yeah. Scott uses his degree. What is your degree, Scott?


Scott: I have two majors, two minors. I have a majors in Economics and History, and then, Corporate Strategy in Finance. I use those a little bit.


Mindy: Oh, that explains a lot. Wow, okay. Wow.


Scott: I actually do use a little bit of what did, but I went into Finance after graduating college and all that.


Mindy: Okay, so we have listeners who want to be on the path to FI, to financial independence. How can they start a business? It sounds like you are preaching this, don’t go out and buy three million pounds of inventory, right before a crash, which is great advice, but nobody can predict the crash. Tell me a little bit about how somebody can start a business? What kind of businesses are being started at this PopUp Business School?


Alan: Just before I say what businesses to start, there’s many different ways to financial independence. You can invest in property. You can start your own business. You can get well-paying job, and save it. You can even get it a bad paying job, and save a massive percentage of your income. There’s no right way to do it.


Just the way we help people getting going is starting businesses. We do it on the, let’s start for free. Let’s get you going without spending any money. We’ve helped people start food businesses, cleaning businesses, escape rooms and drone flying schools. You name it, we’ve helped people start it.


One of the foundational bits is there is always a way to start without spending any money. That for me, is one of the key bits. If you are going to test running a business, test it without quitting your job. Test it without spending a lot of money. Test it quickly, and see if it works. If it doesn’t, kill it dead. There’s always a way to put it out there, and try quickly.


Mindy: I really like that test it without quitting your job. 90% of all small businesses fail within the first two years or something like that. I think that some of that is really poor planning, or a monumentally bad idea. Typewriter repair, in this day and age, is not going to make you a millionaire. Even TV repair. We’re a disposable country. We’re disposable society. Some ideas are just past their prime. There are other ideas could work really well but don’t quit your job to go run, Alan’s Typewriter Repair in the middle of downtown New York. You’ll get the Hipster crowd, so there’s two right there. You need to branch out a little bit more. Scott?


Scott: Yeah. The 90% of businesses fail thing, what Alan is saying here is, fail fast and fail for free, so that you can learn from that experience and you can try again, and again, and again, at extremely low risk, as a nice addition to your otherwise quality financial plan. Is that a somewhat accurate statement, Alan?


Alan: Absolutely. If we were to summarize our entire strategy, it’s fast fast and fail cheap. If it’s going to go wrong, get it done quickly and inexpensively. The opposite of that is the traditional business model. If you were to write a business plan, and spend several months writing a business plan, how much money you need to borrow, go into debt and borrow a significant amount of money, invest it in stock and premises, and the typewriter example, buy a load of typewriters, buy a shop, invest all the money. Then open the doors, and try and sell. Where is everyone?


That’s slow and expensive. If that goes wrong, you’re failing slow and expensive, and that’s when people get into trouble. If you do it a different way, and just to take the typewriter example, I’ve never started a typewriter business, but if I was, I would not open a shop. There’s so many different ways to do it. You could do it with a website online. You could do a pop-up version in a bookstore, and borrow a little bit of space. That’ll be where your customers go anyway, I’m sure.


There’s so many ways to start and test without spending any money. With five, six, seven weekends of time, you could see if it actually works or not. The typewriter idea does have one thing going for it. It’s a niche market. You could find typewriter lovers quite quickly and easily. I bet you they talk about it online.


Mindy: You had me until online. There are people. Did JK Rowling type out all of her Harry Potter, or did she hand write it? Either way, there are people like you said. That’s really interesting. There are people who want typewriters, and you could probably have an entire typewriter repair company covering all of America, but you don’t want to be in New York City in the super high rent. You could do it from your house just as easily. You’re going to get just as many walk-in customers to your house as you will, walking past the store. I think a couple more people just coming in thinking it was an ironic name.


Scott: Could we walkthrough an example? Say that I’m a student and I want to learn how to start a business. What’s an example of a path that someone’s gone through where they maybe failed a couple of times, and then hit on one after multiple attempts, using this model?


Alan: Let me give you a real life example. Feel free to look them up online. They’re called TimeTrap Escape Rooms in Reading. Incredible what they have achieved. They came to our Reading PopUp Business School. The lady’s name was Andrew. Andrew and Katie. Andrew at the time was doing lampshades, that she hand-painted. She launched that business. She did reasonably well at it, but not particularly scalable. She actually went to one of her other passions, which was escape rooms and designing games.


I’ve actually got a friend who launched an escape room in the traditional way of doing it. What he did, he wrote a business plan. He borrowed a lot of money. He spent all the money on a big building and a big launch, then didn’t get enough customers. They couldn’t pay back the loans. They went bankrupt. They closed the business.


Katie did it the complete opposite after working with us. She wanted to do a pop-up version. She went around the entire of the town, in this country, the city called Reading. She knocked on all the doors, met the restaurants, went traveling around trying to find space to do a pop-up version. Got rejected all day long, until she was just walking back to the car with Andrew. There was one last hotel called Great Expectations, in Reading.


She went in. She told the manager what they wanted to do. The manager actually said, ‘Well, we have a room that we’re not using at the front. You could do it there.’ They did a deal for a six week pop-up version of the escape room. They did spend a little bit of money decking out the room, but it wasn’t a significant amount. They got the space for free. What the hotel got out of it was that the hotel, after the escape room, people need drinks and they need food. It brought a whole host to customers into that hotel, that wouldn’t have been there without the escape room.


They did the six week pop-up. It sold out. Went brilliantly well. From that version, they earned enough money to put down the deposit on their own building in Reading town center. They got their own building now. They’re looking at another building, about six or seven staff running escape room games. They’re a phenomenal business, but they started for free, well for virtually nothing. They did it with a pop-up version. They did not start with heavy debt and risk.


Mindy: That is such an awesome story.


Scott: I think that’s fantastic. Exactly what you just said, you just try it with very little risk. It’s something that sounds like a fun side project. This does not sound like it was started out as a full-time business. It has the potential to grow into one. Can we just fire through like three or four more examples of success stories like this?


Alan: Yeah. It depends what industry you’re in. Whether you’re selling food, what you’re doing. One of the most successful guys on the business was in retail consultancy. If you’re being a consultant, you literally need nothing other than a laptop. He built himself a website. He worked on the search engine optimization through our course. He got himself to the top of the Google rankings for the term, retail consultant. He landed two big retail chains in his first year, and made a hundred grand in his first year.


Equally, you do see people who do it and they fail. I’m really happy about that because they haven’t lost anything. They’ve got a learning and they can move on to the next thing. All sorts of different soap businesses and different things, some work really well, and they sell lots. Some don’t sell anything.They haven’t lost particularly much, but they’ve learned what doesn’t work.


I think if I could give anything to your audience, it would be do a mini experiment. Literally do a mini experiment. Let’s try and sell it. If it sells, you’ve got the start of a business. If it doesn’t sell, we haven’t lost anything. Build a free website. Get a free pitch. Borrow some space. Do a free version of it, and try and sell it. If it sells, you’ve got a business. If it doesn’t, you haven’t lost anything and you’ve learnt a lot. If there’s one concept I’d love to leave with your audience, it’s the concept of the mini business experiment.


Mindy: What’s a mini business experiment? Walk me through. Something that’s a success and then you turn it into something else. Was it like the escape room? It seems like she would have had to deck out any escape room, even if she had rented the space, put down a deposit, and all of that versus getting the space for free. It really seems like all of her costs were costs that would have been either way.


Alan: She got a free space. Actually, we talk about five different ways to get stuff to be able to start. One of them would be get free stuff. You can build a website for free. There’s plenty of them out there, like Wix, and Weebly. There’s all sorts of different ones that will get going for free. You can do promotions for free on Twitter, and you can share it with friends on Facebook. There’s always a way to do all that stuff for free.


You can borrow stuff. If you were decking out an escape room, then why not borrow the curtains from your parents house? Borrow the bookcase. Borrow the different stuff. You don’t have to buy new. You can borrow. To give you another example of a business that borrowed, there was a guy that wanted to start a restaurant. He didn’t want to do it the traditional way. What he did was he looked to borrow a restaurant, to start his own. You’re probably thinking how do you borrow restaurant?


He found a cafe that was open from seven in the morning till 4 p.m. in the afternoon. The owners didn’t want to open in the evening. They had earned their money. They had worked really hard, and it was shut at 4 p.m. He actually went in and did a deal to do a week long pop-up version of his restaurant. He borrowed the whole restaurant. He borrowed the plates. He borrowed the cutlery. He borrowed the kitchen. Even more importantly, he borrowed the food hygiene certificate. It was already certified.


Mindy: I like that .


Alan: Yeah. Don’t bother doing paperwork unless you need to. He borrowed everything. He started. Did a week’s test to see how it would go. It went so well. He made money. The week turned into a month. Month turned into actually, a couple of years. Within that time, he earned enough money to be able to get his own restaurant. He started with a pop-up version, borrowing everything.


There is always a way to start for free if you’re creative enough. Get free stuff. Borrow stuff. You can barter for things. Bartering is swapping a skill you have for something else. Every single one of you have a skill that is incredibly valuable to other people. You just got to exchange it.


Scott: These businesses, these guys- we have an escape room, we have consulting gig, we’ve got a restaurant, do these people that are starting these businesses have any prior experience in these fields, or any related interests? Do these businesses at all synergize with what they were doing before, the ones that are successful?


Alan: Actually, we have three main groups of people who come along to our courses. We have the group of people that have no idea what they want to do. They just know they need to do something other than traditional employment. They just want to do anything. We have the people who had an idea for 20 years, but they always thought they needed money and they didn’t know how to start. Then we have the people who’ve been doing it for a while and they’ve traded a bit, but they’ve not really gone big. They’ve not made much money.


The people who are successful, if you’re looking for traits of what makes the ones actually succeed, it’s the people who take action. I’ve met so many dreamers. I’ve had so many talkers. It is actually a rare skill to be able to take an idea, even a simple one and put it into practice. If you were looking for one difference is the people who take big action.


Scott: How much time do these take? Is this a second to full time job, that I’m going to be working for the first couple of months to get it off the ground, or what’s that investment of time look like?


Alan: Well I guess it depends what you want to earn, which I think is always one of the questions, and going into it with your eyes open. If you’re selling soaps that you make at home, you can do okay, but you’re probably not going to become a millionaire unless you launch a massive brand. If you’re doing art, and selling pictures and selling paintings, some people do really well in that, but the average person doesn’t.


Equally, some people just don’t need to earn that much money depending on their lifestyle. One example of that, we had a lady with fibromyalgia, which is a condition that stopped her from getting a traditional job. She didn’t know always have energy. She started a social media business from home. She can do other people’s social media from bed, if she wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t need to earn that much, but she was just happy earning a few thousand pounds. I guess the question is, how much do you want to earn? That will definitely affect your choice of business.


Mindy: What is the difference between a pop-up business and more of a side hustle?


Alan: We use the term pop-up to mean physically popping up in a space. For me, a side hustle is just something you’re running on the side of your full-time job. That side hustle has the chance of turning into a full-time business. A pop-up version that you do at the weekends has a chance of turning into a full-time business. Actually, a lot of these depends on the term business as well.


Business is such a nebulous, broad term that could mean, one man band. It could mean Microsoft. It could mean anything. I think going into it knowing, and this is probably one of the mistakes I made, I didn’t really know what I wanted to create. Do I want to create a lifestyle business that makes enough money that I can live happily? Do I want to create something that makes millions? Do I want to create a giant business?


Going into it knowing what you’re trying to create helps, but I would still, no matter what you’re trying to create, do a test version. Do a mini experiment and see how it goes.


Scott: Over the years, I’ve adopted- I want to hear your feedback on my approach because I’ve got a lot of these, I think it’s a similar mindset, but I want to understand. I started my first job at a Fortune 500 company. On the side, I would try little things like tutoring. I’ll try to start a little tutoring business and tutor high school kids. It proved to be very low dollar per hour, and not as rewarding as I hoped.


I moved on to driving for Uber, which was a little part time job. Not certainly a start up business. It’s considered a contracting business.


Alan: Good learning. Yeah.


Scott: Then I started a t-shirt company, which I think still exists, but I haven’t sold a t-shirt in years- with some little jokes on it. I would cost me 800 bucks to start- print all that stuff, and store it in my garage. I tried to sell winter attire for driving. It was ridiculous business model. I tried to re-market it online, and it was unsuccessful. Spent a couple hundred bucks on advertising and didn’t sell anything. Then got my agent’s license. Then I’ve written a book. That’s the story of the last five years, my little ventures there.


A couple of these, my agent and it seems like people are enjoying the book, have worked out. Those other failures are in the line of what you’re talking about, where they didn’t really cost me anything, except for maybe a couple dozen to a couple hundred hours, over the years and maybe like, a total of two or three thousand dollars invested. Is that the approach that you’re talking about here? It’s not all pop-up businesses, but they’re side hustles.


Alan: Yes. That small business is where you’re learning. I love that. In everyone, you’ve learned something. I think there is an important bit that people forget to do after they do something like this, is to sit down with a blank piece of paper, or notebook. or whatever, and go, what did I learn? What went wrong? What went well? What did I take out of this way?


I think, where this gets really exciting news is, if you can apply that not only to your own side hustles and businesses, but look at other people’s and learn from them. I’d take what my dad did and go, okay. He was an amazing salesperson. He was charismatic. He was full of energy. He networked, phenomenal skills I can learn from.


Equally, he had no idea how much money he was making at times. He never planned the full costs. He never saved and invested. There’s a whole host of stuff that I could learn. I’ve taken time to sit down and take my learnings out of that. You’re exactly right. They’re small bits of, ‘Let’s have a go. Let’s see if it works.’ The really important step is what have I learned and can I apply that to the next version to make it better. If you do that, you’ll always close in on where you want to get to.


Mindy: Is there a theme for a successful business idea? You said take action is a successful personal trait. Is there a successful idea or a successful genre? I’ve had a lot of really awesome ideas. I am currently am pursuing zero of them. They didn’t pan out. Let’s be honest. I wasn’t as excited about them. It was more like, oh, I could do this. I could do that. Is there a successful business idea that you’ve seen over and over, like take the money and run?


Alan: We did a study recently of businesses we helped start in a town in England. We started a 122 different businesses over three courses. I thought they would be theme, like there’s 10 of these or five of these. Actually, every single business was different. Every single one. I really do believe that’s because one of the foundational questions we ask is, what excites you? Not what do you love. Not what’s your passion. What excites you? If you can build a business doing something that excites you, when you get out of bed on Monday, you want to do it.


I’ve had jobs, plenty of them, where Sunday night comes and I’m thinking, ‘I really don’t want to get up on Monday morning. Please don’t let the weekend end.’ Just anything to avoid Monday, but there’s this amazing thing that happens that reverses, that you want get out of bed on Monday, that when you’re falling asleep at the end of the day, you actually like, ‘I don’t want to fall asleep. Please don’t let me go to sleep. I’m enjoying this.’


If you can start business doing something you enjoy, and I don’t care what it is. To give you an example, we asked one lady. We were in Kent. I said, ‘So, what excites you?’


She went, ‘Not sure if I should say this. Cleaning.’


Scott: We can start a business around that.


Alan: I know plenty people that hate cleaning. We can do that. Her name’s Cherise. She runs a cleaning business called, Cherise Sparkles, in Kent. She’s doing really well, cleaning. It does not have to be a game-changing idea. It’s just has to be something that you gets out of bed, you want to do, and you enjoy.


Scott: That’s fantastic. We have actually a study of that here in Denver. I worked at a charity called Upstream Impact. One of the clients of this charity went on to start her own cleaning business, and now has a small little fleet of cars, and a couple of employees. They’re like, ‘Yeah, what do you like to do?’


She’s like, ‘I don’t like to do anything that makes money. All I like to do is clean.’ Light bulb. Alright. There’s people who will pay. She’s been very successful at that. I think that that is an awesome point. There’s things that if you like doing them, and you follow them, there can be odds of success. I also wonder if there’s this- I want to get your opinion on this, if you begin to enjoy doing whatever it is you’re good at, is it chicken or egg? Do you get good at something because you enjoy it, or do you like something because you’ve been doing it for awhile?


My example for this is in high school I was a wrestler. I hated wrestling. I hated it freshmen year. I hated it sophomore year. I hated it junior year. Then senior year, I got really good at it and started winning all my matches, and I loved wrestling at end of high school. I want to know. Do you find that is the case at all, where some of these folks, they want to do a business because they think it’ll be a good idea, don’t like it, work at it, work at it, work at it, work at it and one day find themselves in love with what they’re doing, and actually get very successful at it?


Alan: I do think that it’s worth looking for the intersection of does it excite you and are you any good at it? If you’re not any good at it, but you’re very, very excited about it, you’re going to have to go through a long, learning curve to get good at it, to be able do it. You went through a long learning curve to get good at wrestling. You got good at it. You started to enjoy it. Then you achieved some success. If it truly is your passion, and you love it, and you’re engaged in it, and you’re excited about it, and you’re willing to put in the hours anyway, then go for it. You can build a business for it, but it might take awhile to get going. You might take awhile to get good at it.


Equally, it is strange what you learn to enjoy. My example of that, I read a book actually by Tim Ferriss, the 4-Hour Body. It was about losing weight. One of the things he said to do was to give up dairy during the week. I always used to drink giant, great big lattes, filled with milk. That’s how I loved my coffee, milky. He said give up diary. I’m like, ‘I don’t even know if I like black coffee. It’s a bit weird. I want milky coffee.’ I tried black, which I didn’t really like for the first week, but I forced myself to drink it. Then I just got into it. Now, if you hand me a latte, I’m like, ‘I don’t want that. Get rid of it. I love black coffee.’


I think it really is interesting what you train yourself to enjoy, and how you do it. If you’re starting a business, and you start something you’ve already got an enjoyment around it- I always find this an interesting debate. Some people say, ‘Well, don’t follow your passion. You should follow the cash or follow this or follow that?’ The last thing I want for anyone is for them to build a business that they don’t enjoy. That seems to me the most stupid decision ever. ‘I know what. I’m going to build a business doing cleaning, and I hate cleaning. I just think I can make money out of it.’


You can make money at anything, literally anything. I have seen it. I don’t care what it is. Why pick something you hate? Pick something you enjoy and actually, [inaudible][00:46:10] you feel good about it in the mornings. I don’t care what it is. One of my passions is Lego. I like Lego. I’m building some Lego at the moment. I have so many ideas for Lego businesses. When I’m done with PopUp Business School, I might go and do that. Literally, I don’t care whether it’s pizza, barbecue food, Lego, cleaning.


Incredible young guy who came on our course in Glasgow, He runs a blog reviewing mattresses. That’s what he does. He runs a blog reviewing mattresses, and makes his money on affiliate fees. You make money doing anything.


Scott: Sounds like he’s sleeping on the job.


Alan: And getting paid for it, and why wouldn’t you?


Scott: That’s awesome.


Mindy: Yeah. I do agree with what you’re saying. I hate cleaning. I want Cherise to come over to my house, and she can go crazy cleaning. My sister loves cleaning. She can’t go to sleep without all the dishes being done, and everything picked up. I have no problem going to sleep without all that stuff being done. For me, I couldn’t imagine starting a cleaning company, because yes, I can make money- well, I probably couldn’t make money out of it. I’m the first cleaning company go out of business. I can make money at it, but I would hate getting up in the morning. I would hate going to the job. I would hate every bit of it because I hate to clean.


Yeah, I think that the following your passion is a really, really strong point. Like you said, the whole point of your PopUp Business School thing is to try it out. Try it quickly. Fail fast, if we’re going to fail. Figure out what you learned. Move on to the next point. Move on to the next idea. Your new idea doesn’t have to be a complete 180. It can be like a slight pivot. Let’s go over here. This didn’t work, but what if I did this? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.


Before we get to our Famous Four questions, do you have any other high level pointers you want to share with our audience today?


Alan: I would add one other thing to that last point, which is there are some people that just love running businesses. It doesn’t matter what the business is. They love getting the deal, running the businesses, organizing the stuff, and if that’s you, go find someone who’s passionate about something and run a business with them, because it doesn’t matter. The do what you love bit, do what excites you, can be, you might be excited about selling. You might be excited about marketing. It doesn’t really matter which bit.


I think some people go, ‘Well, I’m not excited about Lego. I’m not excited about pizza.’ Well, that’s fine. What are you excited about? They might be excited about running businesses or hiring people, or firing people or whatever it is. There is always a way to make money doing it. Always. There are many, many different routes.


My closing thoughts, there are so many different routes to financial independence, so many different routes. Just pick one that excites you. If real estate floats your boat, then throw yourself into it. If business floats your boat, throw yourself into it. If none of that excites you, then get a job, and go and make money doing that. There’s so many different routes to the same outcome. Be flexible. Stay focused, and you can make it anyway if you give the energy, time and commitment.


Mindy: Perfect.


Scott: Love it. I always wonder if that big soap company, just followed this advice directly and just dove right in, and that’s how they got as big as they are.


Alan: It’s a dirty business.


Mindy: I quit. I quit. Moving on.


Scott: Alright. Let’s move on.


Mindy: Okay. It is time for our Famous Four questions. These are the four questions that we ask everybody. We don’t know how to count, so there are actually five, but we call them the Famous Four anyway. What is your favorite finance book?


Alan: This is finance as in cash, and investing, and stuff like that?


Mindy: Like money, general money topic.


Alan: Cool. One that’s had a big impact on my life would be Jim Collins, The Simple Path To Wealth, that changed the way I looked as stocks and shares. Actually, I’m a heavy investor in Vanguard now, based on his advice. He is definitely changed my investing future with that business with that book.


Mindy: I love Jim and that’s an excellent book. I believe in a diversified portfolio. Picking stocks is a gamble. It’s like the roulette wheel. He gives you ideas for investing in stocks without having to pick individual ones.


Scott: I love that you mentioned that book as well, because that book speaks to a solid financial foundation. It really speaks more to the traditionally employed person. What we just talked about today, is something that that person can- hey, you can go, and do, and follow the simple path to wealth, that Jim Collins talks about, and then also, be trying your hand at this time, after time, after time, as a passion product, as your life and lifestyle allow, to just to increase your odds of success, with a very low amount of risk. I think it’s a fantastic- I think it’s great that you mentioned that book in particular.


Alright. Moving on to the second question. What was your biggest money mistake?


Alan: Number one was actually being persuaded in the early days to invest in a high cost fund of funds, a high-tech high cost fund. I put about a lot of money at the time, enough for a house deposit, in there just before the market crashed. The money vanished. It never returned. Having read Jim’s book about low-cost investing, I never would have done that if I was introduced to his material before then. That cost me a lot of money. I should have invested in a house or something else.


Mindy: Okay. Can you share what high cost and low cost mean? What cost are you talking about?


Alan: There is an annual management charge, normally on stocks and share funds. A fund like Vanguard, just mirrors the market, and they have a very low cost, like a .05% cost for owning the fund. That’s what you pay each year to manage the fund. A high-cost one, is where you get an individual dude that you’re paying for, that picks stocks and shares, and they’re meant to outperform the market. That can cost you 1.5 to 3%. That’s an incredible difference.


I picked one of those, invested and he chose high tech, high growth stocks, and as Mindy just said, that strategy is like gambling. He lost the gamble, which meant I lost the gamble, and my money vanished and never recovered.


Mindy: The house always wins.


Alan: The house always wins.


Scott: He got paid, right?


Alan: He got paid.


Mindy: He gets paid whether he performs or not. He gets paid whether that fund goes crazy or it goes bankrupt. That’s the job to be in. Teach me how to be that job. I just pick stocks all day. Throw a dart at a board. Okay.


Alan: The second one right, I was thinking about this the other day. It keeps heading in my head, was actually a missed opportunity that I didn’t take. In my hometown, I spotted a block of flats, a block of apartments that was undervalued, significantly undervalued like 30 or 40 grand. There was lots of them on the market, and I was reading a lot of property stuff at the moment, at the time, talking about getting below market value houses, and how you have to get a deal if you’re going to do it.


I was desperately trying to negotiate them down even further. By doing that, I missed the opportunity and they all sold to other people. Actually what I should have realized was, they were already below market value, by what they were selling them at. I completely missed that opportunity out of an obsession to get the lowest amount. I just think, talking to real estate, if you know it’s a good deal, take the deal. Don’t try and squeeze the last cent out of it. That was a mistake I made. I lost a lot of money by doing that.


Mindy: That’s a really excellent point.


Scott: I love that you mentioned opportunity cost in this. I’ll say it for our listeners. A lot of our listeners come from the BiggerPockets World, and they’re interested in real estate investing. Know your market because this data is public. You can tell if you’re getting a way above average deal. If you try to get the best deal that sells all year in your market, that’s going to be a crapshoot. You may lose out on big opportunities like this.


If you know you’re getting a great deal, it can be time to move. The only way you could do that is by knowing your numbers ahead of time, and being ready to act when you’re in position, and then learn Alan from here.


Mindy: Well, I hear this a lot. Liz from FrugalWoods was telling the same story. She did end up taking action and she did, by the luck of the draw, get the lowest priced house in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area in like three years or something like that. That’s because she knew the market. They went to open houses. That was their Sunday. We go to open houses, every single one. As soon as we see something that we want, we snatch it up. That was a huge benefit for her, but yeah. Now you know. The next time you see a really awesome deal, Alan, jump on it. Buy them all.


Alan: Go for it. Yes.


Mindy: Okay. What is your best piece of advice for people who are just starting out?


Alan: For people who are just starting out, don’t be impatient like me. Start where you are. Start small, and give it your all. If you’ve only got 10 bucks to invest, invest in a Vanguard fund, and get on with it. If you start a business, start it very small, and just start. Start where you. I think people are so desperate to get to the end goal and to get there, and this was me as well, that they forget they’re aiming huge and they’re not starting where they are.


If you’re just starting out, invest 10 bucks. Go to meetings, and talk to people. Try and sell some books. Try and sell whatever. Just start small, and start where you are. If you take action, you’ll get there. If you constantly try and jump to the big bit, it’ll go wrong. Start small. Start where you are and have fun along the way.


Mindy: That is some of the best advice that I have- that’s one of the best answers that we’ve gotten for that question.


Scott: The problem is, you’ve got this great British accent, and you’re able to get start where you are, start small and give it your all, all to rhyme in a way that I can’t. I can’t. I want to coach you on this. I’ll figure it. I’ll figure it.


Alan: We’ll sound bite it afterwards for you.


Scott: No, that’s awesome. I love it. Add on to that, when you start small and give it your all like that, you have this ability to see compounding results that- yeah, people always want the big, multi million dollar portfolio, and all the superstar success. You get there by getting to that first small, milestone. Then doubling over a year or two from there, and then doubling again after a year or two. The growth really does go a lot faster, I think, than people realize, but you have to start somewhere, and give it your all. Do exactly what you just said. Start where you are. Start small and give it your all.


Alan: It’s exponential. It really is. If you tracked my net worth, it would bubble along the bottom in twenties, and then it would bubble along a bit in the thirties, and then it will start going up, and then it will start going up, and then in the last three or four years, it’s done that. It’s definitely been a nothing happened, nothing happened, nothing happened, and then all of a sudden- I think the frustration when nothing’s happened, is what drives people insane. Start small. Stick with it. Keep working and the magic does happen, if you keep throwing energy into it.


Scott: Yeah, and it’s tuition cost to financial freedom. Sorry. Moving on to the last question here, and the most difficult. What is your favorite joke to tell at parties?


Alan: I have two. I have a clean version-.


Scott: Yes.


Alan: In case you want use it. I have a dirty version, in case you want to use that.


Mindy: Give us both.


Alan: The clean version for those of you in the audience would be, what do you call a fish with no eyes?


Mindy: I don’t know.


Alan: Fsh.


Scott: I love it.


Mindy: Of course, you would love that, Scott.


Scott: What did that fish say when he ran into the wall under water?


Alan: I don’t know. What did the fish say when he ran into the wall underwater?


Scott: Dam.


Mindy: Hahaha


Scott: Alright, What’s your second one?


Alan: Okay. This is the slightly ruder one, which is a set of three jokes. What do you call a deer with no eyes?


Mindy: I don’t know.


Alan: No idea. What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?


Mindy: I don’t know.


Alan: Still no idea.


Mindy: What do you call a deer with no eyes, no legs, having sex?


Alan: Still no * idea.


Scott: That was fantastic. That was the best.


Alan: I don’t know if you can broadcast that, but it’s my favorite joke for parties.


Scott: We’ll broadcast it. We’ll give a little disclaimer ahead of time that hey, there is a joke at the very end that contains some language. If you have any kids, turn it off at the end of the Famous Four here.


Mindy: Yes. Get the two and then watch out for the third. We can just bleep the U out of that.


Okay, Alan, it was lovely to have you here. Thank you so much for your time. Where can people find out more about you?


Alan: Actually, if people need help starting an online business, we’ve been writing a course. We’ve stuck it all up online for free. Just go to PopUpBusinessSchool.co.uk or just Google PopUp Business. You can find us there. Basically the model of the PopUp Business School is we find people with money to pay for our services, and then we give it away for free. No one has ever paid to come on a PopUp Business School ever.


I love that idea of giving it away for free. That’s where people can find me if they want help. If any of your listeners actually want to bring a PopUp Business School to their area, one thing I would love to ask of the audience is if you know someone that would like to sponsor a PopUp Business School to come to a certain area, that enables us to then give it away for free, so if anyone would like to help with that, I really would love that, but just find us on PopUpBusinessSchool.co.uk and all our details are there.


Mindy: I’d like to point out that, you’re not just a UK company. You will go to other places such as, the US.


Alan: We ran the first one ever in Longmont, in Colorado last year. It’s looking like this year we’ll have one in Florida, one in Texas, and one in Colorado again. There are actually events in the States. They are completely free if anyone would like to come.


Mindy: Ooh. That’s really interesting. Okay. That’s really awesome. My husband actually went to the one in Longmont, and had a fantastic time. He didn’t actually start a business, but that wasn’t his goal. He just said that the amount of information flowing through that was amazing.


Alan: Yeah. He’s an absolute legend. He was great fun for two weeks. I promise not to sell anyone anything if they come along.


Mindy: I think that’s really important. You go to these free events, and it’s just sale, sale, sale, sale. You leave and you’re like, ‘Well, I didn’t get anything out of that.’ That’s not the case with the PopUp Business School. You really get a lot of information out of it, without the huge sales pitch. That’s what I wanted to say.


Alan: Yes. There’s no sales pitch at the end. Actually I don’t have anything to sell anyone at the moment. I might write a book at some stage, but I have nothing to sell. I get people like councils, governments, housing authorities, corporate sponsors to pay for the courses and then we give them away for free. We literally have nothing to sell to the people who come on the courses.


Mindy: Nice. That’s awesome.


Scott: I love it. We’ll put a link to all that in the show notes, so you guys can find that, listeners, if you’re interesting learning more about starting a pop-up business.


Alan: Thank you, sir.


Mindy: Yes. The show notes are found at BiggerPockets.com/moneyShow17.


Okay. Alan. Thank you so much for your time. I don’t know how timezones work. I know you’re in London right now, or England, some part of England. I’m American, so I don’t know anything about there. It’s like midnight or something, right?


Alan: I’m in Basingstoke, in Hampshire. The current time is 5 o’clock on bank holiday weekend. I’m actually going to wrap up now and go for dinner with my wife, and just chill out for the evening. I’m quite excited.


Mindy: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for your time. I hope you have a lovely dinner.


Alan: It was lovely to speak to you, Scott. Lovely to speak to you, Mindy. Thank you for today.


Mindy: Thank you so much.


Scott: Thank you for coming on. Learned a ton.


Mindy: We’ll talk to you later.


Alan: Bye.


Mindy: Bye.


Scott: Alright. That was Alan Donegan from PopUp Business School. What you think of that episode, Mindy?


Mindy: Every time I talk to Alan, my heart just sings. He’s got so much information. He’s such a giving person. He started this whole PopUp Business School to help people reach their dreams, to help people fix their finances, and start the business that they want to start. I love the cleaning business idea. I don’t love it. I don’t want to do a cleaning business. I want to hire a cleaning person, but I’d love that idea. I just love to clean. Great. You can make money doing what you love, if you do it in a smart fashion. She loves to clean, well go crazy.


Scott: No, I loved it. I also love the fact that he was very well prepared with jokes.


Mindy: Well, yes.


Scott: Got a couple of new good ones there.


Mindy: A couple of good ones, and there’s the one, not so family friendly joke, but there were three good ones before that. I would like to thank the listeners for making all the way to the end. I really appreciate that. Also, I would like you to think. Who do you know that could benefit from listening to this show?


I know six people that I am going to send a link to as soon as the show comes out, to tell them this show can help you start your own business. It can help you make your business better. It can help you better your financial life. The show notes are BiggerPockets.com/moneyShow17. Money. Show. One. Seven. Send people there. You can listen right from the show. You can download it to your favorite podcast app. You can leave us a note at the end of the show.


Scott: Awesome. I’d like to throw a pitch here for some guests. We are looking for a couple of specific situations that we got requests from, that we really haven’t been able to find a good guest for yet. For example, one of those is, can we find someone who’s got a family, maybe a family of four or even more children, that has gone from earning a median or upper, 50 to $100,000 a year salary range, and has been able to go from zero to hero, make this journey to financial independence, with those children in place, make those choices that moved them towards financial freedom from that position. If you know anybody that’s like that, please send them along. We’d love to interview them.


Similarly, I got an interesting request from a divorcee. This fellow would love to hear from someone who’s in his situation, where he is divorced, can’t move to lower his cost to housing because he wants to be near his kids, and earns that median income. How can we get a guest on the show that has gone with those sets of tough circumstances, and still found a way to make things work, by embodying sound financial choices in and making those decisions?


Mindy: That’s awesome, Scott. I am working on a couple of specific guests that’ll help answer these questions. It’s been a little tough finding people, who are willing to share their story, who feel like their story is worth sharing. A couple more things, we’re looking for somebody who’s really excited to tell their story. ‘Oh, my life is horrible, and this is the worst thing ever.’ Nobody wants to listen to that. If you got an exciting demeanor, or you can just tell it in an enthusiastic way that’ll make for a really, great show, and that’ll make for a very listenable show.


Scott: Absolutely. Yeah. If you know somebody who’s charismatic, loves life, and yet has still overcome these challenges to move towards FI, from a position of disadvantage, whatever that is, please send them along to us. That’s who we want to hear from you, and that’s who we think you guys want to hear from to help inspire you.


Mindy: Yes. One last thing. If you have a suggestion for childcare, this is something that I see a lot in the forums, and I get a lot of messages, [email protected] I get a lot emails from people asking me, how do I pay for childcare? How do I afford childcare? How can I work that into my FI path, because it’s so expensive to care for children, from birth until school age? If you’ve got a really great way to pay for childcare, hit me up, [email protected]


Scott: Yeah. Please send along any guests recommendations to either [email protected], or [email protected], or ideally both.


Mindy: If you have a terrible joke, those go to [email protected] Please let us know if we can attribute you or if you want to remain anonymous. We will read them. Alan was very well prepared for his jokes, but not everybody is. Sometimes people just don’t have a joke to tell. Scott won’t let the episode go without a joke. Alright, should we get out of here, Scott?


Scott: Let’s get out of here, Mindy.


Mindy: Okay. Thank you so much for listening to BiggerPockets Money show. For BiggerPockets Money, episode 17, this is Mindy Jensen. Over and out.

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Alan’s introduction to money
  • How his experiences has shaped the way he approaches business
  • What prompted him to create the pop-up business school
  • Why you shouldn’t quit your job just yet
  • His “fail fast and fail cheap” business strategy
  • A real-life example of a pop-up business
  • The difference between a pop-up business and a side hustle
  • Scott’s previous business experiences
  • The difference between low cost and high cost
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “If things are going well, you can’t assume that they can continue to go well. It could change any time.” (Tweet This!)
  • “There is always a way to start a business without spending any money.” (Tweet This!)
  • “One of the foundation questions we ask is what excites you.” (Tweet This!)
  • “Start where you are. Start small. And give it your all.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Alan

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.