From Politics to Candles: An Entrepreneur’s Inspired Journey, with Steve Weaver

How can pursuing passions, calculated risks, and supportive partners set you on the path to entrepreneurial success?

 

In this episode, we speak with Steve Weaver, co-founder of The Candle Lab, a successful chain of candle making stores. Steve shares his inspiring journey from politics to entrepreneurship, starting The Candle Lab with his wife and growing it through a licensing model.

 

Steve offers insights into calculated risks that paid off, the importance of systems and good people, and how supportive partners like his wife have been instrumental to the success. Listen as he reflects on key lessons learned from mistakes, stresses the value of coaching and therapy, and ponders what might be next for him and his wife.

 

Steve Weaver enjoyed an eclectic 15-year entrepreneurial journey that took him from political consulting to launching and growing The Candle Lab into a chain of artisanal candle stores. After exiting the business, Steve now focuses on life and business coaching for couples with his wife, Katesha.

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE HERE

Transcript

Anthony (host): 

Welcome to another edition of the Inspired Stories podcast where leaders share their experiences. So we can learn from their successes, how they’ve overcome adversity, and explore current challenges they’re facing. My name is Anthony Codespoti, and today’s guest is Steve Weaver, co-founder of The Candle Lab with his wife Katesha. There’s a chain of retail candle stores that they exited a few years ago. 

 

Anthony (host):

And while their stores were amazing themselves, I’m also excited to dive into some details about a different business model that they used there at The Candle Lab that allowed them to leverage their expertise in a different way. And after successfully exiting The Candle Lab, they are now coaching other couples on how to run a business together.

 

Anthony (host):

Today’s episode is brought to you by my company, AddBack Benefits Agency, where we offer very specific and unique employee benefits that are both great for your team and fiscally optimized for your bottom line.  One recent client was able to save over $900 per employee per year by implementing one of our programs. Another client is going to save over $1,200 per employee per year by implementing a different program, a patented construct that we offer. Results vary for each company, and some organizations may not be eligible. To find out if your company qualifies, contact us today at addbackbenefitsagency.com. 

 

Anthony (host):

Now onto our guest, Steve Weaver, co-founder of The Candle Lab. I appreciate you making your time to share your story today.

 

Steven (guest): 

Thank you for having me. I’m excited about this conversation.

 

Anthony (host): 

So tell me, how was it that you and your wife came to be the proud owners of a chain of candle stores? How did that come about?

 

Steven (guest): 

Well, I had been an entrepreneur my whole life. At that point I had had several companies of kind of mixed success. And my, the latest one that I was working on was a political consulting company, where I was running campaigns for people. And I really loved politics. That was my, that was my first love. But the longer I was in politics the more I just realized it was going to be. That was not a place where I could stay. There are a lot of people of ill repute, and there it’s hard, hard to stay clean in the business of politics, and I was getting harder and harder to do so. I shut down my political company, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. And I had just started dating my wife at the time. And she was really into scented candles. I don’t think I’d even purchased a scented candle up to that point. But she would always buy Yankee Candles. They were burning in every room for apartment all the time. And I couldn’t believe how much money she was spending on these candles.   

 

Steven (guest): 

And what a part of her life experience this was! And so when I was trying to figure out what we were going to do next. We just started to talk about like just her love of candles and about the candle market, and like, if you know, these were the these are the candles she was spending so much money on. They never seemed true to scent to me. They never seemed to burn all the way down.  

 

Steven (guest): 

And so, just slowly, by watching her consume these candles. This idea kind of bubbled up that we could find a different way, give people a chance to blend scents together and create their own candles. Their own scented candles that match their nose perfectly.   

 

Steven (guest): 

And then, as people as people learned to make candles that way, that they wanted more product. So then we would slowly expand the bath and body products and room sprays and reed diffusers and body scrubs and body mists. And so it eventually became pretty much any scented thing in your house. You could come and blend those things together. But it created this really hands-on high customer engagement experience was like a Spa experience. You’d walk in. We’d walk you through this process of finding your favorite scents, helping come up with a blend, mix them a drop at a time to get exactly the way you want it. And then you’re leaving with a product that is uniquely yours.

 

Anthony (host): 

It seems like you stumbled upon a way that you had sort of this built-in viral component to it, right? Because everybody’s got a candle in their house somewhere, right? But who has a candle in their house that they’ve made? That’s something that when you’ve got a guest over, that’s something that you talk about. Oh, look at this thing that I did! I put together. Yes.

 

Steven (guest): 

And not only do they talk about it, but they it’s such an experience. The candles take about an hour to set up, so you’d come into our store, you’d sit down at the bar, you’d blend scents together, stir the candle together, and then you’d have to wait an hour for that product to set up. So, and you go out. We would put our stores in the middle of very dense neighborhoods, with lots of shopping and dining options, so that you could pour a candle. Then go grab some dinner, and just as your meal is ending you can either come back and pick up your candle, or we’ll even deliver it to your table. So, just as your meal is ending, we’d start arriving. You bring your bag to your table, and so it creates this really beautiful night out. So it became like a great date night. It became a girls’ night out. Kids’ birthday parties, like anytime people were gathering was just a unique way of spending the evening.   

 

Steven (guest): 

And so it did take on this very viral aspect of once people did it. They would start texting friends, “Hey, next time you come into town and I’ll bring you here, we’re gonna make a candle together,” because I’m really excited about the one I just made.

 

Anthony (host): 

And I think this really neat hands-on experience is probably what opened the door to something. I’m also very interested to talk about – the licensing model that you guys stumbled upon. Tell me more about that.

 

Steven (guest): 

Yeah, we realized early on that our business was well set up to franchise, that it had a lot of the key elements that a franchisable business will have. It’s fairly easy to learn how to make the product, good margins and systems that you could train fairly easily and get somebody to do. So we went through the process of franchising the company. We did all of the the Federal documents and the disclosure documents, all of the the legal agreements. And we sold our first franchise, and it just went so poorly. We had the the people who bought it really battled us on every single detail as we were getting that first store open, and it just became clear that they just wanted to do it their way, and they did not want to be told how to do it. Which is the key hallmark of a franchise. You’ve got it. You’ve got. These have to be executed consistently.   

 

Steven (guest): 

So we ended up giving them back their money, buying them out of their lease, and just basically giving up on that and saying I did not want, as an owner, to spend my time flying around the country, spying on people and saying like, “Oh, you’re using the wrong shade of orange here on the sign,” or, “Oh no, you used. It’s not this price, it’s a different price.” I didn’t want to be micromanaging people that way, and I from a from an entrepreneur standpoint. If I open a business, I don’t want to be told what I can and can’t do. I want to be able to bring my own spin to it.   

 

Steven (guest): 

So we’ve we’ve kind of abandoned it and given up on it, and then we were lucky to to run into the folks from Crimson Cup Coffee, which is a local coffee roasting company here in town. They have a couple of their own coffee shops, but they’re mostly a coffee roaster, and so if you want to open up your own coffee shop. You can come here to Coffee College. You spend 3 or 4 days at their training facility, and you’re learning how to make the drinks, how to set up the kitchen, negotiate a lease, everything you need to know to open up your own business. Then you go back and you open up your own independently owned, independently branded coffee shop. But you’re using Crimson Cup’s coffee, and their model.

 

Steven (guest): 

There were at the at the time that we met with them, there was 400-some coffee shops around the country that are all independently owned, independently branded. But Crimson Cup is supplying the coffee and the other supplies and coaching, mentoring them from behind the scenes.  

 

Steven (guest): 

And what was beautiful about this model is you don’t have to be enforcing consistency. You’re coaching the best practices, and then those businesses can choose to follow them, or they can choose to make their own mistakes. And so you don’t have any of these kind of control and quality standards concerns that you get with a with a typical franchise model.   

 

Steven (guest): 

So we adopted a version of this, and if anybody wanted to open up a version of our store, they would come. They would spend some time with our staff, we would go and train them at their place, help them set up their store, and find the right retail location.

 

Steven (guest): 

And then hire the initial staff, train them. We’d work their grand opening for them, then they off and running. So we had 38 of these license stores around the country that if you’re if you’re a customer of ours, and you traveled to, let’s say St. Louis and you visited the Candle Fusion studio like “Boy. This feels a lot like a Candlelab.” Because we’ve trained them in the system and given them the business plan, the marketing plan.

 

Steven (guest): 

But because they’re independently owned, that person can charge what they want. They could be open whatever hours they want. And if they get a bad review it doesn’t blow back on the corporate brand. It’s just their concern. So I’m insulated from some of the mistakes they’re making, but able to be coaching and mentoring them from from a distance, and this was, “I have always considered myself a coach. I love to coach, and so this was. I much preferred being in this coach, cheerleader role versus like micromanaging every detail that you have to be if you want to be a good franchisor.”

 

Anthony (host): 

Now, in a traditional franchise model, you get the advantage of charging a fee upfront, and then you get traditionally some percentage of sales on an ongoing basis.

 

Steven (guest): 

In a licensing model, how did that revenue work for you? Is it the same kind of structure? “No, so we didn’t charge. We didn’t charge royalties. Most of what we got paid on was, there’s a training fee upfront where we’re walking you through the process of ‘I’d like to open up my own store to open for business.’ So there was a training fee to get all of that process, and then they were. They were permitted to order supplies from us, but they weren’t required. You can’t force control, and you can’t require somebody to buy something from you if you don’t have a franchise. So if they wanted, they got to choose if they wanted to purchase our supplies from us.”

 

Steven (guest): 

And what that allowed us to do, most of them ended up doing that. It basically created a buying co-op, where, instead of buying a pallet of wax, I could buy a truckload of wax because I had my 6 stores plus the 38 partner stores, all pulling from this same truckload, so I could cycle through better. So by buying in bigger bulk it allowed everybody’s margin on all their candles, both for our stores and for the partner stores.

 

Steven (guest): 

The margins just kept getting better as we added more stores, and were able to buy in bigger bulk. As soon as we went from buying our fragrance oil in one gallon size up to a 55 gallon drum, the price dropped significantly. So because of that, as the network grew our margins got better, and it was easier for everybody to make money, so it was kind of a rising tide, lifting all boats.

 

Steven (guest): 

And we could pull the best practices when somebody would try something that worked in one of the stores. We would capture that and spread it out to all the stores. So everybody was innovating around the business and then sharing information back, because the more candles that everybody sells, the more supplies we can buy in bigger bulk and the better everybody’s margins get to create this really beautiful tribe that was sharing information and helping one another, sharing supplies, sharing ideas.

 

Steven (guest): 

And it was just, it was, it was just a beautiful way that matched the way we wanted to allocate our time. There’s no question we made less money by not franchising because we didn’t get the royalties. We didn’t get all the revenue streams you normally get, but it was significantly less hassle, and we just enjoyed, it was how we wanted to spend our day, helping these people not make the same mistakes we’ve made.

 

Steven (guest): 

But then, if they wanted to do something that we didn’t agree with, they were free to do that, which is, you know, that’s how I’d want to be treated as a business owner. And it was, it was fun to be able to do that for them.

 

Anthony (host): 

Let’s talk about some of the mistakes that you made along the way. I mean the way that we’ve talked so far, it just sounds like this up and to the right kind of journey – we started with one store, went to 6, then everybody loved the concept, and we had these 38 partner stores. But clearly there’s a lot of junk in between there.

 

Steven (guest): Yeah, I mean, most of the pitch when we were talking to those, you know, to a potential partner store owner is you are paying us so that we can stop you from making all the dumb mistakes that we have made up to this point. You’re welcome to make new ones. You can invent new ways to screw this up. But you’re gonna learn from our experience, you know. We ended up with 6 of our own stores. But I actually opened up 9 stores. I closed 3 of them, and so along the way.

You know, the first couple of ones we opened were very successful. Then we opened up a couple that just we were not as thoughtful about where to put them.

 

Steven (guest): 

And so every time we’d open up a store, run it for a year and a half, and then close it.

 

Steven (guest): 

We were getting smarter. What does a neighborhood look like that can support this concept? What do we need to have around us? What are the pieces to have in place? What are the demographics of the people that we’re looking to serve?

 

Steven (guest): 

And so every one of those store closings made us smarter, so that we could then fly to one of the cities where one of these has been open. We could walk a neighborhood with them and say, “You don’t want to put it right here. You want to put it right here, and here’s why,” like we used to have a store in a similar spot like this. Nobody goes down the alley to find it. We need the frontage on the main drag. And so we were just sharing all of those experiences.

 

Steven (guest): 

And so a lot of it was around real estate, like picking, you know, picking the best neighborhoods, picking the best flow.

 

Steven (guest): 

And then just a lot of marketing mistakes. You know, we did a big Mother’s Day sale, and well, Mother’s Day is one of our biggest days anyway. So we just buried our staff in this Mother’s Day sale.

 

Steven (guest): 

And so then we learned, like our sales and promotions need to happen on our slow times and our biggest days. We need to just be open for business. People will come anyway.

 

Steven (guest): 

And so that way when somebody calls and says, “Hey, I’m thinking about running…” I can say, “Well, we ran one. We stressed our staff and overwhelmed our stores. Here’s why we don’t do Mother’s Day sales, but you’re welcome to try whatever you want.”

 

Steven (guest): 

So it just gave us a chance to say, you know, just check with us before you launch a new thing, because chances are we’ve done some bad version of that in the past. Learn from it and now we’re doing something a little bit better. So everything from employee hiring and benefits packages to customer attention, customer appreciation, in-store experience, parties, getting referrals, getting reviews, all of those things – we tried a lot of different things that didn’t always work.

 

Steven (guest): 

And then we’d eventually settle on a winning thing, so that when you were a partner store owner, you would just say, “Here’s the marketing plan and the business plan that has been hard won with a lot of mistakes and a lot of waste of money to get to this. So you don’t have to do that.”

 

Anthony (host): I imagine, with a business like yours, with multiple locations, that you and your wife can’t be at all the time. Every day that personnel issues have gotta come to the forefront in a pretty big way, hiring good people, finding good people keeping good people, keeping an eye on the people who are maybe a little bit, you know, on on the edge of being good. Talk to me about some of the challenges that you face there and how you overcame them.

 

Steven (guest): 

Yeah, that was would say, when we first started. It was trying to hire people on the cheap and then realizing. you know, when you hire minimum wage workers, you’re going to get minimum wage results. And when we look at the successful business or around, as it seem to be thriving. The thing that seemed to separate, that more than anything else was just the people just can. Can your staff deliver consistently remarkable experiences to customers in order to do that that costs money?

 

Steven (guest): 

And so we set about trying to find the best customer service people. We we could train anybody to make a candle. but that like desire to be the best part of somebody’s day. That is a thing that is innate in somebody. And so, you know we would. We hire a lot of servers from restaurants when we were eating out at a nice restaurant and server would deliver an over-the-top experience. We would go back a second time, request that same server. If we got the same level experience. then time number 3 would go and say, “Hey, if you’re ready to, if you’re ready for a different career, a different way of doing this, we would love to have you come and and work on our staff?”

 

Steven (guest): 

And so you could see these people delivering over the top customer service. and it was just innately wired, and and so so we once we started to retain those people, we had to pay them at the very top end of of the of the pay scale. but that meant that we could step out of the stores and grow the other parts of the business. We could be working in these partner stores, and some of these other big corporate contracts we got. and we never had to worry about the stores. It was just consistent. 5 star reviews because we had hired a staff that we knew could take care of our customers when we weren’t there, and that was probably the biggest you know, talking about up and to the right. That was probably the biggest shift, was as soon as we started to hire a higher quality person and deliver higher quality experience. That’s when the business really scaled up. Up to that point we were kind of working out the kinks, but that was that was the key that made everything else possible. was just fantastic people that really cared, and the customers felt that. And that was part of the experience. So you know that if there’s if there’s any piece of business advice I have to do about any business that’s like dealing with customers, front-facing. you know, retail restaurant, any kind of in person customer experience. It’s pay a little bit more. for your staff and get people who just get it. You can train customer service to a certain degree. but I’d much rather get somebody. I’d much rather find somebody that innately has that appetite in them, and then train them about all the other parts of the job. I think they’re already friendly, enthusiastic. They love engaging with people and helping people and going out of their way. Yeah, those are things that can be a little bit more difficult to train up.

 

 

Anthony (host): 

Yes, exactly. So you started this business with your wife. You guys were co-founders of the business. You built this together. Talk to me a little bit about that experience. How did you guys decide who was gonna do what? How did the dynamics of that work? Is it always rainbows and sunshine? Are there days with some storm clouds? How do you guys paint a picture for me?

 

Steven (guest): 

Yeah, I mean, I will say that I love the experience. My wife would give you a different answer. She would probably not recommend doing it with your spouse. You know, the hardest part is also the best part, which is on the days when you get a big win. You are both celebrating. You both can take ownership of that. You both can really feel like you had a great day. But then the inverse is true, like when things go in the ditch and you’re having a bad day, and things are getting rough. Normally, you can just come home and share about what happened at work today with your partner, and they can hold space for that and listen to you vent. But there’s nobody to vent to, because she’s also in the same spot. She’s in the same situation that I am in, so that’s probably the hardest thing – when it gets tough, it’s tough for both of you, and you’re both stressed and in the grind. Certainly, in the beginning we did not work it out very well.

 

Steven (guest): 

She and I are wired very differently, which is one of our strengths. I am always into expansion and growth and taking on new things, and everything seems like a million dollar opportunity to me. And Katesha is very conservative, and she is engineered for safety and slowness and stillness. Let’s make sure we get this perfect before we do the next thing – that’s her perspective. We anchor the two ends of that spectrum. And so, we say all the time that if I had been running that company alone without Katesha, I would have had 100 locations and we would have been bankrupt. And if she was running the company without me, she would have one perfectly executed store that never went beyond that.

 

Steven (guest): 

So we really needed each other – for me to be nudging us down the path of growth, and her to be slowing me down so that I wasn’t reckless with our growth. In many ways it was super important to our success that we care about different things and see with different perspectives. That really helped us. But unfortunately, you just don’t have training in how to manage all the stress of both a marriage and running a growing business with kids.

 

Steven (guest): 

So we’re trying to balance being parents and keeping our relationship connected while also giving the business what it needs – and those were some stressful years, I would say. We made a lot of mistakes there. And when we finally implemented EOS as an operating system, that really saved our company and our marriage because it gave us structure and roles. I now had things I could do, and parts of the business I had to stay out of, and she had parts she was responsible for. We had a way of working together, a language we could use, a system – and our whole team was involved in it with our weekly meetings. I would say that was the piece where once it clicked into place, everything got much easier. And that was a lesson that every problem can be solved with good people and a good system. If you have those two things, you can overcome anything. If you have bad systems or people, nothing else you invent matters – how great your product or service is – you’re likely set up for failure there.

 

Steven (guest): 

So making that switch and getting that new way of working together really saved us and allowed us to scale and work together in a good way. And so now, a lot of what we’re doing after exiting the company is turning around and coaching couples on the same thing. It’s a little bit of life coaching, relationship coaching, and business coaching, because those three things get blurred together when you’re a couple that owns a business together.

 

Anthony (host): 

So talk a little bit about that decision to exit the Candle Lab and start on something completely new. What was the driving force behind that?

 

Steven (guest): 

Yeah, we had been doing it, we had owned the business for 15 years, and up to that point, like 6 or 7 years was about the longest any of the companies I’d had. So there was partly just an intention span thing of like, okay, we’ve done all we can do here.

 

Steven (guest): 

We had a very successful one of our licensees that had been growing quickly, and they were looking to expand. It was just perfect timing – they were looking to expand to a new city just at the time we were starting to consider getting out. So we sold our stores to them. They rebranded under their branding. So the stores kept going, and it was a perfect alignment because we didn’t have to stick around and train them – they’d already been doing this business for years.

 

Steven (guest): 

But also, our kids were getting a little older, and we wanted to be more present with them. They’re preteens, and we’ve got two preteen daughters that we’re trying to spend as much time with as we can, and be as present as we can to play sports, be really active in school and school plays and things like that. So partly it was that these are the most important years – soon they’ll be teenagers and off doing their own thing, and then they’ll be off to college and on their own. So this was the last window we have to really spend quality time with them.

 

Steven (guest): 

And it had been 15 years of pretty hard work – a lot of grinding, making things happen. We’re a seasonal business, so November and December were really busy. So right when everybody’s having holiday parties, we were at our busiest time. So we were just ready for it to slow down a bit and be more connected to family. But also, we both love coaching, so the chance to spend so much money trying to figure our own company out and our relationship out – we spent a lot on therapy, business coaching, relationship coaching to get the skills we needed so the business was successful as long as we didn’t get in the way.

 

Steven (guest): 

We had to do a lot of healing and work on our relationship so that dynamic did not get in the way of the business. And so now to be able to turn around and work with couples, helping them chart that path, feels like okay, we went through all that for a reason – we made the mistakes so we could help others. We invested all that growth and learning, and it would be a waste to just die with us. So turning around and letting those teachings get more mileage by helping couples has been fun.

 

Anthony (guest):

You mentioned that finding Gino Wickman’s EOS Traction and implementing that in your business was key to righting the ship and allowing you to scale and work together more cohesively. Did you find that you drew a lot from the EOS Traction framework as you started to build your coaching business and help couples find their way?

 

Steven (guest): 

Yeah, it’s one of the first recommendations we make. If you’re not working with either, I mean, there’s a couple systems that work here. But if you don’t have some kind of structure in place, then you’re just at the whims of whatever your personality is. I like to control everything, so I wanted to be in every corner of the business. But that just meant my inbox was where all good ideas went to die. I was the bottleneck, and nothing ever got going because I felt I had to control everything.

 

Steven (guest): 

To come in and put a structure in place that meant everybody’s got a role and knows what they’re doing – then I am not required to make everything happen. That just freed me up because we’d hired a fantastic team. But then I handicapped that team by making them keep roping me into every decision and having me in every meeting.

 

Steven (guest): 

So the switch to say this business can run, whether I am in it or not, was such a weight lifted for me and for them. Now I could get out of the way and let our good people do it. That made such a big difference. And you know, my wife Katesha is probably at the top of that list – she’s incredibly competent at doing the things for the business as long as I stayed out of her way and didn’t go micromanage stuff that didn’t need it.

 

Steven (guest): 

I’ll forever be grateful that just gave us a system to have those conversations, figure out top priorities and allocate time rather than get distracted. So when we’re working with a couple, that’s the first thing we’ll say – do you have EOS or something similar where everyone knows their role and the systems work? If you get in an accident and are in a body cast for a month where you can’t go in the office, can your business still operate? Are your customers taken care of? Do your systems work if you’re not there? The moment that was our metric made such a big difference in the business.

 

Anthony (host): 

Are there any other resources like that, whether books, training, mentors, that you’ve found particularly helpful not only in navigating your working relationship with your wife, but taking into your coaching business as you help other folks?

 

Steven (guest):

Yeah, I mean, I’m a big proponent in therapy and personal growth, professional growth. Like we all have a lot of things that we have picked up over the years of patterns and habits, and you know, things from our childhood, and some of those things are not ideal in being in a relationship, or running a business, or being a father, or any one of these other things. So, the kind of the relentless commitment to seeing where my blind spots are, where my failings are. What? Where am I holding up the process? Where am I sabotaging myself?

 

Steven (guest):

All of those pieces, I think, were essential in kind of getting the worst, getting the worst parts of ourselves out of the way to allow the successful business to grow and allow these people that we hired to help us to create it. So you know, we worked with a psychiatrist for 7 years. That was he was one part marriage counselor, one part business coach, and so he could. He could really understand how to translate Katesha’s need for safety and security and my need for expansion and growth. These things we were constantly banging heads on this like I just wanted to open up. I knew this concept was successful, and I wanted to open up 50 of these stores. I wanted to go out and raise money and just start to sign leases. And Katie is like we have such a successful thing happening here.

 

 

Steven (guest):

We don’t know what’s gonna happen if you make all those moves. And so we were just stuck in this battle of like I wanted to grow and she wanted to protect the success we are having. And we just really had no ability to have that conversation in a productive way until we got somebody that could help us translate that and say, here is what Katesha needs in order to feel safe moving forward. Here’s what Steve needs in order to feel like there’s a thing to get up in the morning and show up to the office. I don’t love, I can’t work in stagnation to feel like we are accomplishing and growing and achieving.

 

Steven (guest):

But I have to do that at a pace that my wife’s central nervous system can handle, and that my employees’ central nervous system can handle. And I was so focused on growth and achievement that I wasn’t tuned into. How are the people around me? How is their mental health? How is their stress level because they’re on. They’re on the Steve Weaver roller coaster of big ideas and new launches and new stores. And once I could recognize that and slow down and bring them along with me, then everything got a little bit easier. Everybody got a little bit happier, a little bit more grounded.

 

Steven (guest):

So, and I would say, in investing in your own growth, in your own healing and in your relationships, growth and healing helps to make sure that those shortcomings don’t undermine what’s an otherwise very successful business.

 

Steven (guest):

Sounds like this particular therapist that you mentioned played a pretty big role in all of that, is it somebody’s name that you are comfortable mentioning.

 

Steven (guest):

I will Doug Bracken, Dr. Doug Bracken. I will forever be grateful for his help. In this space, he wrote a book called Driven. That really does like. If you’ve got this. you’ve got that entrepreneur mindset where nothing’s ever good enough. You always have to be growing and creating and scaling. I cannot recommend that book more completely because it just gives you a picture of why you’re wired that way, and what to do about it, and also how to protect those around you and your business from those you know those feelings like I. Just.

 

Steven (guest):

We had a very successful business, and it was very hard for me to just leave it alone and let it just be successful. I wanted to keep tinkering with it. I wanted to keep iterating and inventing and spinning off new things. And my whole team was saying, hey, we’ve got a winning formula here, if you would just for 2 months, not change anything. We’d have a chance to make some money and do good things here, and so I didn’t think of that as fiddling I thought of as just. You know. I’m just helping the business grow and create them to think there’s next.

 

Steven (guest):

And so you really needed somebody to go in and help you unpack. What part of that is helpful in adding to the process? And what part is just? It’s just reliably sabotaging the success that you’re having in all these other parts of your business.

 

Anthony (host):

Yeah, I’ve had the chance to meet Doug Bracken, and I read his book driven as well, and I would recommend both resources to people you it also, we’ve talked about traction for a bit. We implemented that in one of my businesses, and I’ll I’ll give 2 thumbs up to that experience as well. I think those are some really great resources that you shared.

 

Anthony (host):

Curious to hear from you, Steve? Where do you kind of see your professional path going in the next few years? Is it whatever comes my way? Kind of a thing, is there. You know a goal in mind. What? Where do you see yourself heading? 

 

Steven (guest):

Yeah, that’s a great question, and very timely. It’s it’s the one I’m wrestling with right now, you know we’ve we’ve we’ve enjoyed the couples coaching because these are people who are on who are on the same journey. We’re on just a few steps behind us, and so the chance to kind of reach back and help them learn from some of the mistakes we made, and bring some of the resources that we learned to bear on what they’re doing. So I you know, I really enjoy this couple’s coaching. We’re gonna keep doing it for a while, cause it allows us to just take a look at the the whole thing. It’s not just. It’s not just business coaching like you know what? What are the problems that you’re having in your relationship that make running this business together more challenging? Right? You can’t import all of your problems from home into the business. but those come along for the ride every morning.

 

Steven (guest):

And so the coaching is going is going well, like advising these businesses and and these couples. So I think we’re gonna do that for a little while. But I you know I am feeling the itch to create something. It’s been it’s been a nice 3 year break, but and the coaching is fun. But there’s there’s nothing like you know, creating on your own and just and building something. And so I’m I’m starting to get that itch. But I’m there’s things are happening so fast right now with AI changing just about every possible industry that it’s really hard to like. Find a spot where you can land and be like. All right, I think I’m going to make this move here in this space, because II have a good sense of where this is going. So this is just kind of a very interesting time. I’m really enjoying just kind of watching everything unfold. digesting a lot of books, a lot of podcasts talking to a lot of smart friends about what they’re excited about and where they think things are going. And you know all the businesses are that we’ve done are largely the same. They kind of bubble up out of a. out of a need and out of a passion out of seeing a space in the market. There’s never a time. We just like created something from scratch and just willed it. It was usually just listening was kind of the main skill there. And so we’re very much in that mode right now, waiting for something to to pop up that says, Okay, this is this is where I’m gonna take the next 10 years of our life is going to be this project. And so we’re trying not to rush into that. But we’re also trying to to be as curious as we can, so that we, when when something does present, that we can put all of our resources behind that.

 

Anthony (host):

And I do hear you keep using the word. We is the intent that you and Katesha, your wife, would do this together, and and maybe I’d get a different answer if I asked her.

 

Steven (guest):

Yeah, I mean, we are. We’re a team in every way that we can be a team. I think things would go much better this time around, now that we’ve done all of this work, and we’ve had all these resources and work with Doug and all these other professionals to help when you’re like if I if you hire just me as a business coach, I’m gonna be pushing you to grow and expand, and I love having Katesha’s voice there of saying. Hey. 3 more locations may not be in the best interest of your of the lifestyle you’re trying to create. That might be the best for your top-line revenue. It might be the best, for you know, moving your company into positioning for private equity buyout or something. There’s a lot of good reasons why growth might be. But is it getting you closer to life? You want to live. And that’s something I really love about Katesha in her perspective. She really does think of work as something that serves and allows you to create the life you want to do outside of work? and so I’m hoping that whatever we do next we do together because we’re just we’re much better team than we are separate, and I am much more likely to be successful. So I’ve got her by my side. helping to just helping to slow me down and get me to even you out a little bit. Yeah, just take a deep breath. And is this is this really what we need to be doing right now. so I’m hoping it’s together. We’ll we’ll have to wait and see what the ideas are fully settled on that yet.

 

Anthony (host):

Alright to be determined. Well, Steve, I want to thank you again for taking the time to share your story with us today. Can you tell us anybody who’s interested? How can they get in touch with you?

 

Steven (guest):

Yeah, that’s a great question. So we don’t. We don’t really even have like a website or a, you know, a social media presence for the coaching, a lot of the coaching that really comes to us just by friends and referrals. But I will. I’ll give. Maybe we can give my email in the show notes. And if anybody has any questions about anything that we talked about today, or, you know, wants to go deeper on the licensing business model. or, you know, talk about coaching anything like that. Just send me an email. But happy to reply, and you know, we can hop on a call and just talk about where you are and what you’re seeking. I I love doing this. I love having talking to people who are on this on to entrepreneurial journey. It’s such a unique. such a unique journey, and can be very lonely if you’re not consciously trying to connect with other people and learn from their experiences. And so I’m happy to connect with anybody and chat about this stuff it’s been a it’s been a ride that I am grateful for, and I’m grateful for being able to help anybody that’s that’s on it as well.

 

Anthony (host):

That’s terrific. Thank you, Steve. Well, that’s a wrap on another episode of inspired stories. Thanks for learning with me today.