Robin Aldrich Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots
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Introducing Robin Aldrich
Robin Aldrich is our guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview is a lady who has been on one hell of a journey to where she is today
Back in 2003, along with her husband she sat and signed a legal purchase agreement, becoming the new owner of a cash register company.
After working for years as its lead technician, the owner was retiring, and she wanted her husband to buy the company.
Red flags flying, they didn’t see the danger signs.
The company was behind technologically, employed one overpaid, underachieving sales person, and had one main product offering.
It was propped up by a large service contract it would be losing a year after the business was purchased.
How The Dots Joined Up For Robin
Within three years, the company was bankrupt, with a few straggling customers and several years left on our lease.
They sat down to look at their options, took stock of mistakes made, and found a path forward.
What did they learn from the mistakes they made running their first company?
How could they change their course, so future ventures wouldn’t come to the same end?
And why would they choose, in the face of dismal failure, to try entrepreneurship again?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Robin Aldrich
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Robin Aldrich such as:
Robin tells how she wanted to start a business based on what she wasn’t seeing from other companies in her area as her starting point and
Why do so many people think that overnight success is a possibility in life? There is always a back story of hardship, achievement, struggle and disappointment.
We discuss the mindset that is needed to allow the past to be left behind but the learnings brought with you…which is so hard to achieve
How To Connect With Robin Aldrich
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Robin Aldrich Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes, hello. Good morning, everybody and welcome to Join Up Dots, the motivational show which literally is about entrepreneurs, but it can go in any way we have the successes, we have the failures, we have the stumbles, the trials and tribulations. And ultimately we get to a point of, hey, life’s pretty good. I deserve this. And that is certainly the case with today’s guest. She’s been on one hell of a journey to where she is today. Back in 2003. Along with her husband, she sat and signed a legal purchase agreement, becoming a new owner of a cash register company. Now after working for years as its lead technician, the owner was retiring and she wanted her husband to buy the company. Go on Happy gone hobby give us the cash. Now red flags flying by didn’t see the danger signs and the company was behind technologically employed one overpaid, underachieving salesperson, and had one main product offering it was propped up by a large service contract it would be losing a year after the business was purchased. Now within three years, the company was bankrupt with a few struggling customers. And several years left on the lease, I sat down to look at options took stock of mistakes made and found a path forward. So what did they learn from the mistakes they made running their first company? How could they change their course? So future ventures wouldn’t come to the same end? And why would they choose in the face of dismal failure to try entrepreneurship again? Are they mad? Are they mad? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show, to start joining up dots with the one and only Robin Aldrich. Good morning. How are you?
Robin Aldrich [2:00]
I’m Bustin. How are you?
David Ralph [2:01]
Alright, to do my sound awesome. Because I feel I feel pretty damn good at the moment. It must be you you must have sparked me up to build good.
Robin Aldrich [2:09]
Well, if I can do that. That’s awesome. That’s what I’m here for.
David Ralph [2:12]
That’s and you aren’t going to deliver. It’s been a hell of a journey and that you’ve been on I look at it. And I think I think why don’t you just lay on dia do have a and just just watch Netflix and eat Oreos and pretend the world doesn’t exist. Why? What made you get back onto the horse again?
Robin Aldrich [2:30]
Well, when my husband bought the company he worked for we had big plans. We wrote a software programme developed that for the cash register industry. And he went to trade shows and we really got into all that. But we had no, we had no idea how to market it. We had no idea how to sell. And we weren’t very good at maintaining relationships with our existing customers because neither one of us were salespeople. And we were both so fearful we couldn’t get past that. So a couple of years into it. We had moved locations from the city and Kentucky the business was started in at two Evansville, Indiana, which is where we lived at the time. And we signed a go through this in my book, we signed a 10 year lease, which I don’t recommend anyone ever do to get this space that we wanted in Evansville. And within three years that business was failing. So we went to the landlord and asked him for some relief. And we were told that he would sue us into bankruptcy if we tried to get out of the lease. So at that point, we had seven years we had 2000 square feet and no business and two children. So we kind of took a step back, we’re peripheral people. So we just started praying for God to open a door and we came up with this idea the way this space was set up. There are 700 square feet in the front end of the space that was our office lobby area and then everything in the back was works, workbenches workspaces and offices, that kind of thing. So we came up with an idea to open a little retail store in the front end of the the space where we had the lobby and we had about $15,000 left in cash and that’s all we had. So with that money we took we took that and we we did as much as we could we ordered all of our inventory with that. We bought slatwall it at Lowe’s and set up this whole store and it was a natural pet food store is what we ended up with. When I guess I should back up a little bit when we decided to do that when we decided to do a business. I got online and started researching because I was very much into health food and thought that would be a great business to go into. But every time I did a web search, all that came up was was pet nutrition. And I’d had a dog boxer named Quigley who developed cancer when he was five, back in the 90s. And they told us that he would have a year to live and they wanted to cut off his leg. And so that was kind of a journey. And in the process of all of that, I got into natural pet foods and supplements, and Quigley lived six years past his cancer diagnosis. And I think a lot of that was due to nutrition. So when I began to do this web search for healthy stores, and kept getting all this pet information, that was just kind of my aha moment,
David Ralph [5:44]
by that slowing down there, because there was, I didn’t want to stop you. But there were so many gold bits of gold in there that I thought to myself, as a business advice show, we’d be prudent not to jump back and sort of summarise for people. Okay, so most people nowadays, I think they’re very focused on the online world. They think that that’s the only way but of course, there’s two ways to it. And there’s a lot of business, that you probably majority of business still operates in offline stores, people go down to the high street, they go down to the shops, and they buy the thing, now would be the first mistake that you made, not actually understanding the business that you was buying well enough, other than being an employee, because just from what I’m seeing there, the big red flag would be that you had one main product offering that is eggs in one basket. Would people need to look at that? And go, No, hang on? If this goes down, we’re going down, we need to diversify before we even start our business.
Robin Aldrich [6:47]
Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And even if you even, you know, for us that business had a, we had a product line. And then we also had a support side. And so the way the company ran, we had this, this this one product, and then we had the service contracts. And you for companies that have that you have to find a balance between those two sides. And if one of them goes sideways, you have to be able we had to be able to recover with the other one. Well, when your sales go sideways, at the same time you lose a large contract. And that’s what you’re relying on. And you don’t have you know, we didn’t have a lot of money in the bank, because we invested at all and buying a business. So you know, you can find yourself in a real tough spot quickly.
David Ralph [7:37]
So would you look back at that moment before you even sign the contract? With the hindsight, of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing. But would you have gone? Hang on? Hang on Hubby, put your check away? Pete? Yeah, let’s go. Let’s go and buy some shoes. Instead, we need to think this through.
Robin Aldrich [7:57]
Certainly difficult question. I would not want to make that choice again. But at the same time, if we hadn’t made that decision, and we hadn’t, it hadn’t experienced that failure, it wouldn’t have led us to the success we had with our next business. Oh, nice.
David Ralph [8:14]
I like that. So right. You put it in a right positive spin there, then. So you look at it now as not a mistake, but just a massive learning curve. Yeah.
Robin Aldrich [8:27]
Yes, absolutely. And is that one of the problems you
David Ralph [8:30]
think, Robin that people have, but they, they look at it as a game stopper, where actually everything that comes your way is actually an opportunity to either learn? Or dive under your due by you never come out?
Robin Aldrich [8:44]
Yes. And I’ve done both. I understand those feelings. And, you know, I think when people from what I’ve seen in as an entrepreneur in business, I think when people run up against that wall of fear, when everything seems like it’s falling apart, they seem to do one or two things, they either get stronger and more dedicated and pushing harder, or they give up and hit the duvet in the Oreos, and you know, call it a day. For for us, for me particularly, I was I was smitten with the idea of being an entrepreneur. I didn’t. The cash registers weren’t really my thing. But I worked in that business to support my husband and what he wanted to do. But when that company began to go south, and we had to look at our other options, there wasn’t for me, there wasn’t an option of I’m going to go out and get another job and working for somebody else. Because by that time, I knew that I wanted to know when to have my own business and I wanted to do that myself not to be my own boss, necessarily, but to be able to set up a business model Oh, that I had in my head that I wanted to see, you know, this was kind of experiment to see if it would work to see if what I thought was possible would would actually happen in the real world.
David Ralph [10:12]
So where did you get this business model in your head from? Was it just something that you’d been thinking about? Or had you seen other entrepreneurs and businesses and for okay, I could duplicate that,
Robin Aldrich [10:23]
quite, quite honestly, it came more from seeing what people were not doing that, that I would have liked as a customer. And of course, drawing on the failure from our previous company. You know, there were a lot of lessons that came out of that, that that are kind of plugged in, when we opened this new store, but I wanted to, I really wanted to provide the kind of service and built relationships with employees and customers that I had not experienced, at least to my satisfaction in other businesses,
David Ralph [11:01]
oh, with that, because what you’re saying, at its core is, you so many people think a business is getting new customers in getting new customers in getting new customers in. But that’s the expensive way of doing it. Literally, you know, 70% of your business should be retaining recurring income, people coming back to you because they’ve either liked what you’ve offered, they like your prices, or they just, they’re loyal to you. And they’ve been with you for so many, many years. And we see that time and time again, where people have bank accounts, that they just don’t change, they just stay with those people over time. Is that a big part of your business now then that loyalty that recurring business does that? Is that the game changer that people need to be focused on?
Robin Aldrich [11:46]
Well, I think so. What I focused on was, when I was putting my business, let me back up a minute, just so I can kind of give a little backstory, when, when we decided to open the natural pet food store, we went from concept to opening day and about 30 days, it was very fast. And so as I didn’t have a big advertising budget, but I had positioned myself between two restaurants, so I had a lot of foot traffic. And as people came in, and as my reps came in, prior to opening, even, I learned so much i They taught me what I didn’t know, I guess that’s what I’m trying to say when my when the reps would come in the sales reps from my distributors, and they, you know, carried the dog, the lines and the toys and the treats and all the different things. They knew so much more than idea that that was a very humbling experience. So, but at the same time, it really my growth was just off the charts. Because I had an aptitude for that. And so when I opened the store, my ego had kind of already been right size, to a large extent by those between the failure of the previous business and then thinking I knew what I was doing, as I’m opening this pet store and have these distributors come in and tell me, Well, you know, you really don’t understand these products. And let us explain it. And they were very helpful. And I learned a lot. So when customers came in, I looked at my role in the business as being kind of a servant leader. I let them ask questions, I kind of I introduced a store and told them what I was about and what we’re doing. And then I you know, let them go. And as they asked questions, you know, we all began to grow together. And the thing that helped me the most in the beginning for any entrepreneur that is starting a brick and mortar business, not a service business, but like a retail or a grocery or you know, something like that is having a part of your product line or part of what your offerings be. Your customers will come in and buy those regularly. I’m sure there’s a term for that. And I’m just not finding it at the moment in my head. But for me, it was dog food and cat food. So my customers would come in, you know, weekly, monthly, every you know and would see me and they would buy the dog food and of course they would see all the new things in store and acute did toys and the clothes in the bakery and you know and I specialised in nutrition and supplements and spent a lot of time researching and my off hours. So when they you know when I kind of started to develop a store started to develop a reputation it was a reputation for being knowledgeable about the products we sold and being able to help people who had been looking for help for a while and couldn’t Find it.
David Ralph [15:00]
And so you didn’t go for the sound as Gary Vaynerchuk always says Jab, Jab, Jab hook, you don’t go for the sale straightaway, you just keep on providing service, you can provide information until that person is ready to buy. And then once they do that, there’s a bit of a dance you’ve got to go through and what you were saying about the product, we call it a lost leader over here, where we have a kind of established product that people want, and you do it as a lower price, like milk and bread, I suppose. And then, of course, people come in buy their milk and bread, but then they look around and they buy other stuff. So you keep your loss leader products at a low price to get them in, which ultimately has the upsells behind it.
Robin Aldrich [15:42]
Right. Right now, I don’t think I had lost leaders in a sense of prices, but I had, you know, lots of coupons and things and different ways to get to get them into the food. And, you know, when I opened that store, when the natural food, pet food industry in the United States was just just coming up, and was still more of a fad than it was, you know, now it’s everywhere. So, I have a very unique product offering. And I think that was part of the rather than just being a loss leader, it was getting people in and introducing them to all of these, you know, pet foods that they weren’t even aware existed.
David Ralph [16:29]
But you still had it to make it a success, you could have the best positioning, you could have the best products, there is still an X factor quality that makes a business successful or not. So was it just your personal attention to the customers, your your information, your, your desire to upskill yourself and become an expert on the things but they didn’t even know what they wanted themselves.
Robin Aldrich [16:54]
You know, I honestly believe that the key to my, my personal success was my, I guess my guiding principle behind my store from the beginning was to educate people. So many, so many people have pets with things like, you know, Yeastie, and urine infections, and, you know, or licking their feet from allergies and things that that I could help them with, with food. But I always took the approach of education, you know, when people came in to see me, I considered it an honour and I spent time with them educating asking questions and a lot of active listening, not talking over people, you know, just kind of stepping back like, like you do with your podcasts and just listening to them, then offering them some solutions and some ideas, giving them some free samples, and letting them go and try those. And if they came back to me, that was great if they weren’t someplace else, but it helped their pet. I was good with that, too. And so I so we grew, we grew slowly that first year. But the customers we we developed the relationships, we developed those people, the majority of them stayed with me until I sold the store in 2015.
David Ralph [18:24]
Oh good on them good on them. Because I’ve actually bought a business myself. I’m actually a an owner of a motor parts car spares accessory business, which was going the wrong way. So it’s been in my family for about 40 years. And it always used to thrive based on established customer base. But it didn’t change with the changing times. And so the profits were going the wrong way. And they didn’t have an offline presence as an online presence to match the offline presence. So the profits was just dwindling, dwindling dwindling. And literally, I jumped in there at Christmas. And the first three months was a struggle. But then we’ve turned it and it’s going up and up and up. And all I’ve done on that Robin is I focused in on local with an offline business. You don’t think about global, you think about local. And so I focused in what the local people needed, and how to find more of those people that would be willing to travel. And it’s a great win, isn’t it local businesses, I would open I’d open a local business a week if I could find one that has a need for that community. You know, if it’s just another restaurant or something that’s gonna be quite difficult, but if it’s something that people actually need, and like you say, pet food, great one, car parks great one. You could list them time and time again. Do you think local is a forgotten gem in the business world?
Robin Aldrich [19:56]
I think it’s an overlooked gem. I don’t think it can be we’d forgotten it. But I think that, you know, after just to jump to where I am now, and I’m now building a consulting, speaking business with a side interest of helping small business entrepreneurs get started. But I think that in today’s world, especially with all the online, you know, social media promotion, and that kind of thing, I think the brick and mortar stores kind of get left behind in that, and, and congratulations on what you’ve been able to do that is phenomenal. To take a business like that and turn it around in that short period of time. That takes a lot.
David Ralph [20:40]
It was a hard work, I tell you, Robin, it was bloody hard work. He really was.
Robin Aldrich [20:44]
At that. You probably learned a tremendous amount, though, that you’ll be able to share with people as you continue on with your podcast, too, though, that’s it. That’s the nice thing about it is, you know, if we if we take the time to learn from those challenges that we face, getting started, you were so much stronger our foundation, you know, that was the thing that in my first year in business was all about, I didn’t realise it at the time. But it was all about building that foundation. And putting the pieces in place, getting my knowledge where it needed to be connecting with my customers, like I needed to finding marketing that I could afford, because I couldn’t, I couldn’t afford too much, man and plugging in with, you know, networking groups and mine, my neighbours and my little my area of town. Those were all great foundational pieces that I had the time to do, because there wasn’t a whole lot going on. business wise. So sounds like you took the same set of challenges, turned it around, built your foundation, and now you’re off and running. And I just, that was very exciting. For me looking back, when I could see that I had accomplished that. That was I was really, I was proud of that.
David Ralph [22:00]
I realised to give sort of business advice to the listeners out there. Every single business, whether it’s established or a new one is a leaky business, there is a money going out of it before it’s coming in. And if you can stem that flow, first of all, and if you can look at the return on investment. And if you’re paying for a marketing company, but it’s not actually doing anything to your over your T to profits, and get rid of it, just get rid of it, it doesn’t matter, you’ve always had it, it doesn’t matter if they’re a longtime friend of the family or wherever you get rid of it. And I realised actually how hated I could be by people. And I didn’t care. I didn’t care, Robin, you know, I went in there. And I made decisions about the staff who’ve been there for years, they didn’t like, and at the end of the day, I didn’t care because I knew that it was the right decision to make. And I found it fascinating how everything that I’ve developed through Join Up Dots was just like a global version of local. And as I say it just ties in is like a funnel that ties in from across the world to one single point and that is your retail. And if you can stop it being leaky as a starting point, then you can start bringing in more and more profits. It’s I think it’s quite easy to turn a cuss a company around as long as you stop the outgoings too much. And you focus in on the customers that you still have, and then try to develop from that point.
Robin Aldrich [23:27]
I think that’s absolutely true. And that’s what happened when my husband bought the cash register company, and especially because he had been an employee, and was all the sudden the owner when I got there. We had a lot of staff problems. But you know, we he wasn’t at the point, we weren’t at the point where we were strong enough to let people go, because we had too much compassion. And that in the long run is what killed that company as much as anything else. If we had done what you’re talking about and gone in and really evaluated everyone made some tough decisions about who stays and who goes and get the right people, you know, in the right places. We probably would have been successful with that business. So that’s a very hard thing to do is to go in and kind of kind of clean house like that. But it’s necessary sometimes because people get complacent.
David Ralph [24:21]
Well they do as you had with your underachieving salesperson, one overpaid, underachieving salesperson, and I could hear the groan in your voice, as I mentioned. So tell us why is on the same subject about looking at the bush and pruning the dead parts. How did you how did you get rid of him or her?
Robin Aldrich [24:43]
Well, you know what he went mainly because we couldn’t afford to pay he was a salaried employee. And, and we didn’t get rid of him until the business is already nosediving. So it was more of a you really need to go Find another place to work, or you’re not going to have a job because we’re closing. So we waited much too long to take any action on that.
David Ralph [25:08]
So is compassion when you said the word compassion, I agreed with you, but then I also felt, you have to have compassion in your business, because ultimately a business is just providing a service to people, that you have to have that love for the person that you are supporting. So is compassion. I don’t know how to describe it, is should you have it? Or should you not have it in a business?
Robin Aldrich [25:35]
Well, compassion in in business has served me well. But I’ve also had times where I’ve had to put on the boss pants, you know, and, and go in and make some real hard choices I’ve had, you know, in, in my business. I had, I dealt with employee theft, you know, as much as I hated it, and people who the people who were doing it were people I trusted completely. And that happened in the first year, year and a half of my business when all that stuff started. So I, I learned early that yes, I had to have compassion, but I also had to have boundaries. And they had to be solid boundaries that you know, this is line if you cross this line. And, and that’s the way I operated from that point. So you people be friends
David Ralph [26:30]
with them, you had to say, we might have been drinking together last Friday, but now I’m the boss. And that’s got to stop.
Robin Aldrich [26:38]
Yes. And oh my gosh, that was a painful lesson for me to learn because I, I wanted to be friends with my employees and I and we were friendly, we all had. After that first blip, I built an incredible team of people. And we were all very close. And they were very close. And we hugged, you know, we come in and out each other and said, Good morning, and that whole kind of thing and have the customers and we just had a fabulous work environment. But at the same time, I was never, I was never, I was never able to develop a friendship with any of them. They hung out with each other after work, and I went home and I was you know, I wasn’t usually invited. And it hurt my feelings at first, but then I begin to understand it, you know that there’s always going to be that separation. And it gets very lonely for entrepreneurs who don’t understand that. It can be a lonely, lonely place, even if you’re successful,
David Ralph [27:39]
is when I started Join Up Dots. If you listened to Episode One of Join Up Dots. And I remember this distinctly I said to the guy, do you ever get lonely sitting behind the computer because I’ve literally just left an office and powered up my microphone, and I was creating this. And in an office environment, you say good morning to people and his people at the coffee machine and the photocopier. And you know, he’s just social all the time, really. And I said to him, you know, you’re on your own all the time, do you? Do you ever get lonely? He said, No, I never do. And I said, Why is bad. He said, Two reasons. You can never be lonely when you’re creating something because people will always come in and out of your life. And secondly, when it’s your own thing, you haven’t got time to think about loneliness. You know, I used to work in an office. And a lot of the time I worked in a room on my own, I was the financial trainer, people would come into the room, I would speak to them, I would train them then they would leave and the next group. And some weeks, I didn’t see anyone, I would just sit in the room on my own. And I think I was lonely when there was a social environment to be had. But in entrepreneurial world. No, not at all. Not at all.
Robin Aldrich [28:48]
Well, I think that, you know, for me that loneliness came from, you know, I was sometimes I would be listening to my employees, you know, talk amongst themselves and they’d have this great camaraderie. And it’s not that it’s not that they just stopped talking when I walk into the room or anything, but I was always on the periphery of the conversation. So I guess it’s the sense of loneliness kind of came in when I was around other people and I was part of the yet apart from and, you know, I learned to live with that. And I learned to do other things like, you know, go out and find other entrepreneurs who were doing, you know, the same kind of thing I was doing had the same mindset, you know, and I kind of went out and made my own little support group of other entrepreneurs, which was great.
David Ralph [29:34]
And how did you because that’s a big stumbling block for people. Robin, I know that they they, they think that they can’t network in their own town. They’ve got to go further afield. So you found local people but supported you.
Robin Aldrich [29:49]
Did I did and I will say that, in my experience. Entrepreneurs are some of the most secretive, you know can be some of the most secretive you know, and we want to keep everything close and don’t you You know, we don’t quite trust, somebody just comes in and says, Hey, you know, I own this store, and I’m just, you know, wanting to get to know people. And, you know, so I started with customers who I knew had their own business. And so I began to develop relationships with entrepreneurs, I knew. And then through them, of course, then you start kind of networking and meeting other people. And, and we ended up having a group that was, you know, we would call or text and talk to one another, and kind of share ideas and, you know, problems when they came up and challenges and that kind of thing.
David Ralph [30:35]
But how do you how did you find this? Is somebody’s out there in a in an office at the moment? And they’re looking around? And they want to start? Do they, you know, is it their chamber of commerce that they should go to is, do they look in newspapers? You know, I think I would struggle to be honest, most of the connections that I’ve got through Join Up Dots are global. You know, I have virtual masterminds with people across the world, but actually locally, I don’t know, how would they find them?
Robin Aldrich [31:05]
Well, pretty sharp with locally, no, I think that’s a, that’s kind of a place to start, whether it’s a big store, like Target or it’s a small, independently owned, shoe store, or simply Apple Store with that, simply Mac, you know, the smaller little outlet stores, outlet stores, licence stores that open to support Mac products, and that kind of thing. You know, I would just encourage someone to go in and introduce themselves to the owner and say, hey, I’m interested in starting a business, it wouldn’t be any competition of yours, but I’m looking for entrepreneurs I can bounce ideas off of, and I was wondering if I might be able to, you know, sit down with you and have a meeting, maybe grab some coffee at Starbucks and talk about my what I want to do, and, you know, that kind of thing. And surprisingly, entrepreneurs will do it because at heart, we want to help other people achieve what we’ve achieved.
David Ralph [32:11]
Did you know your next door neighbor’s name?
Robin Aldrich [32:14]
My next door neighbours live? Well, no, because my next door neighbour is relatively new. But I know that she has two beautiful little children. And we talk all the time.
David Ralph [32:27]
Because the way he was saying that, I was wondering whether it’s a different environment in the United States than it is in the United Kingdom, because I couldn’t imagine anyone going into his shop here and saying that to anyone in there. As I it made me reflect that I don’t even know I’ve been living in the same house for 17 years. I don’t even know. I know, the next door neighbour, but the next house along no idea, no idea. I couldn’t tell you what they look like or, and that’s 17 years. And I wondered whether it’s more social in America, do you sort of connect more on a personal level? Well, when I
Robin Aldrich [33:01]
had my own my store in Indiana, I, you know, I was, that was a town I grew up in. So I knew lots of people. And I tried to I was thinking back to the house we had before we you know, move with the army. And I knew everybody on my street. We had a big horseshoe kind of thing when you come in the neighbourhood. And I knew everybody I knew them. I knew their kids, I knew what they did for a living, you know, that kind of thing. So I have spent some time in England, but not enough to know the kind of the how the society morphs and shifts. So maybe so yeah, that might might be Yeah, I
David Ralph [33:51]
think it is, I think is we just kind of, we protect our own castle. I don’t think there’s a community in the United Kingdom, like there might have been, you know, years ago, it’s the classic thing. But when a war occurs, whatever, that’s when your neighbours come out of our house. You know, that’s when you suddenly you’re supportive. Up to that point, you don’t see each other at all just makes me think in a different way. So when When did you find the realise that you had shook off the knot, the stigma of failure, because as you said, you saw it as a learning curve. But certainly from my experience doing this show, people drag it around with them. They drag it around, like a sort of heavy bag on their shoulders. When did you sort of throw off that first one and go no, that was it. That was Ben. That’s nothing to do with now on three of it.
Robin Aldrich [34:42]
I think that happened. We were open for a year in that little small space. I told you we renovated and we outgrew that space in a year and thankfully the neighbour our next door neighbour was A gentleman who owned a Mexican restaurant and he wanted to take our space to enlarge his restaurant. So we were able to get out of that 10 year lease, and moved into an area of town that was more prosperous and coming up, and we tripled the size of the store. And I think that’s when it happened for me. That just that idea of, you know, when we moved out of that space where the last business failed, you know, it’s kind of weird when you are still in the same space in your old businesses. You know, my husband had a few customers he kept in did support for and worked for, but you know, to open a new business in the same location where your last business failed, can play some mind games with you, even when you view it as a learning experience. So I think, like I said, when we shifted over to this new space, and it was a brand new space, too, so we got it built out, like we wanted in that kind of thing. And I I remember sitting back in that, you know, the first night, we had, like, everything put together and we were opening the next day. And I just, I sat there and looked around in the silence and realised that that that failure, that sense of failure was gone.
David Ralph [36:16]
And did you drive past the landlord wind down the window, and then and then
Robin Aldrich [36:24]
Oh, you don’t know how bad I wanted to do that I really did. The funny thing was, they became customers of mine. After I moved into the new location, the landlord’s wife found my store. And when she once she found the food she liked, she would send her husband and all the time to buy it. So him all the time.
David Ralph [36:44]
And once it just business. Now you look at it the fact that he said, because I’m not, you know, I’m being a bit flippant by it, but he’s running his own business or businesses or businesses business. And across the world. There’s businesses that are flourishing, there’s businesses, but aren’t there’s businesses that own other businesses, so I suppose it’s gonna be pretty tough nosed.
Robin Aldrich [37:06]
Yeah, I think so. I think absolutely. He, you know, they came from the community I grew up in was broken down into kind of the west side and the east side, and, you know, and they’re very different. The west side of town, and that’s where the the landlord lived in, that’s where I grew up to, very staunchly German kind of people. Because it was pop, you know, Germans emigrated, and, you know, built that area up. And so the progressive kind of mindset that goes with entrepreneurship. I think when you know, when you’ve got an established, they had an established company for a long time. And they did not have a lot of compassion. But I’m sure they’ve been through a lot of situations like ours, where people walked away from their lease, and they got stuck. So I, I treated him like I treated every other customer with respect and understanding. And if he had questions, I answered them, and I never once brought up what happened because it just wasn’t the way I did business.
David Ralph [38:14]
Now Good on you, I think I would have put something nasty in his dog food myself, but you are a bigger person than me, Robin, as is the guy who I’m going to play some words. Now he left a whole legacy for Join Up Dots. And he created this little thing called Apple that still doing quite well, is deep jobs.
Unknown Speaker [38:33]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards. 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference. The powerful
David Ralph [39:07]
words, aren’t they Robin Berry?
Robin Aldrich [39:09]
I’ve never heard that before. That was beautiful. And can you true?
David Ralph [39:13]
Well, it is true. And I was gonna say, you know, as I asked most people do you look at your own life now and see a linear path or is it a squiggly path, but do the dots generally sign on join up?
Robin Aldrich [39:27]
You know, that’s an interesting question. And I you know, as I look back now, I I started my company in 2005. I sold it in 2015 to my manager and her husband who have since doubled the size and they’re still it’s very successful. They’re doing really well and I’m incredibly happy for them. And after I sold the business, you know, I wanted to write a book about know how I did it. So I wrote the book. publish it on Amazon And then I expected to go from that into, you know, consulting and training and, you know, doing these other things on my own and nothing happened. I mean, it, I guess I expected because I had this, you know, I had all of this great experience from, you know, the jobs in the building the business, and you know, all that kind of thing. The employee training, relationship building, I’ve got all of these skills, but I’ve had to go back to square one. And, you know, I had all my dots were connected, my path looked really clear. And I didn’t see the STOP sign that said, you know, Robin, it’s gonna take you probably another five years to build this consulting thing up to where you need it to be. And that was the point when I realised that after I published my book, and I sold my business. That was when I realised that it was going to take some time, and I dove under the duvet cover with my Oreos, and I stayed there, for a little while.
David Ralph [41:06]
We’ll see the extra fat Oreos, the ones with the more feeling because they’re the good ones.
Robin Aldrich [41:10]
Of course, the devil says got to go. But, but there was there was a period, you know, for somebody who might be listening, that is getting ready to transition out of a business they own or are moving into another area. You know, for me, I didn’t realise there was going to be such a tremendous grief process that I would go through after selling this store. You know, because I sold it to people I trusted, I sold it to people who had the same mission and the same ideas as I had. But it was still such a part of my life, that when I sold it, I didn’t expect the nosedive I went through while I was grieving it. And I had to do that before I could do this consulting work because I was too scattered for a while to be able to do any of that. So
David Ralph [42:04]
everything needs a closure, doesn’t it, you have to define the new EU to become totally ready for the new EU.
Robin Aldrich [42:13]
Yes, and when your definition has been wrapped up for so many years, and in one thing, and then, you know, like I said, I expected to smoothly transition from that one thing into this next thing. And the next thing is coming along beautifully. It’s just taken a lot of time and a lot more work than I expected. But it you just have to mentally I wasn’t prepared for that. And I think people have to understand, you know, when you go through those changes, there’s going to be a downtime, there’s going to be some lag, there’s going to be some time where you have to figure out, I spent a year figuring out who I am and what my you know what my what I want to train on what I want to share with people, that all gets wrapped up in that new identity. It takes some time,
David Ralph [43:03]
when I was back in corporate land, I used to be a manager of a team. And some people wanted promotions. And once I got promotions, they were quite happy to sit in the same seat that they were sitting in before. And I always used to force them to move, I used to say you’ve got to redefine yourself, people will bring the same old rubbish to you that they were giving you before because they don’t see you as a different person, you’ve got to operate in a different way. And I didn’t take that lesson into my own life. So when I created Join Up Dots, I moved in, I kind of as you say, I thought it was just gonna be a natural progression. I really did. But I think for maybe a year and a half, I was talking about entrepreneurial world. But I was still corporate, I think I was still very much corporate, I had an embrace the fact that there’s a hustle that’s involved. There’s a networking that’s involved, you have to ask for money, which was a big thing, you know, because when you’re in corporate land, you don’t, it just turns up and you just do for hours. I think there was a big journey about a year and a half or two years before I finally went, I’m never going back. It’s only one way forward. And from then on, things moved on quite quickly. Really. I think I was dragging the anchor around with me if that makes sense. Robin,
Robin Aldrich [44:19]
it makes perfect sense. It’s exactly I think that’s exactly what happened for me. And I got into, you know, the fad the last few years online several years really is everybody’s got a training course everybody’s got their six ways for you to make a million dollars in 30 days. And you know, and so I’ve gone through in this process of trying to figure out who I am gone through several of these online training courses and spent way too much money and didn’t learn as much as I expected to. But now that I’m a little farther out from it, and I’ve found a mentor and I’m getting the information I need to take the next steps to really get where I want Go, I can look back over the past couple of years of kind of dragging that anchor. And I can see the dots joining up. Now, as I’m, as I’m starting moving into this consulting area, and writing and getting published, and you know, that kind of thing, and it’s really exciting, because I’ve just started getting published in some magazines and online publications, and so that that excitement that comes with a new project, a new venture is, you know, alive and well again, and I had lost all of that. So that’s pretty cool.
David Ralph [45:39]
Yeah, it’s cool and good on you, you have gone through the ride. And the thing that keeps on coming back to me through this whole conversation was that willingness to accept what has happened, and not really beat yourself up about it just sort of allow it to be what it was, because likely what it was because life is always going to be crap in life, he’s going to have great moment, you know, if life was great, every single day, it would just be normal. And then we wouldn’t be happy with that either. So it’s got to have its ups and downs, it’s got to have its low points, it’s got to have the bits that just don’t seem to be going anywhere. But they are, as long as you’re doing something every single day they are going. And I keep on saying that to people. I keep on saying to them, you may not be seeing anything happening at the moment. But it is because every action you take is building something in your business. Yeah, it may not shoot up 60 feet into the air overnight like a beanstalk. But under the ground, it might be going 60 feet down, getting ready for the big growth, you just can’t see happen.
Robin Aldrich [46:44]
Absolutely, that that is absolutely true. And that’s how I’ve seen it happen. You know, time and time again, when, when I was telling my story about moving my store from its smaller location to its bigger location. One of the things that happened, we moved the store in February. And afterward, my husband and I took a little vacation went to Florida where my folks live to visit them. And while I was gone, I don’t know if you remember the big there was a big pet food recall, that took place in 2000. This would have been 2006. And it was tainted food coming in from overseas and it was killing dogs. And it was just it was a big to do in the pet food world. And, of course, my staff on the phone with me immediately telling me what’s going on and worried about, you know, the products that we carried. But when I set up the store, I’ve set it up in such a way our product standards were so high that we didn’t get hit with we didn’t have any foods that were affected by that because none of them were sourced that way. However, we doubled our sales in a month, our sales, and they just kept growing after that. So we went through this period, like you’re talking about where we built the foundation, and we put down the roots and we did everything we were supposed to do. And then we moved in this new location. And one thing happened in the world that completely changed my small business sitting in Evansville, Indiana. And it was never the same. I mean, we grew because people were so scared. And they came in and and they learned to trust us. And, you know, one thing I would say is Don’t ever lie to your customers, like ever. If you don’t know something, just tell them that you don’t know something, you’ll research it, you’ll get back with them and then make sure that you follow through on that. Because people came to us after this pet food recall and some of them had dogs that were affected and were sick or had died. And so it was really our opportunity to be of service to those people and to educate them on what we had and what had happened to their pet from you know, from the industry standpoint, in the pet food industry standpoint, not as a vet. But in that process, we learned, I learned my staff learned we learned how to develop relationships with our customers deep relationships, because it’s losing it. You know, for a lot of people losing a pet it is almost like losing a child. You know, there’s there’s so much emotion that goes on with that and being able to have someplace to go to process that emotion in a positive way with people who understand and can relate. You don’t find that every day and that’s the kind of business we built.
David Ralph [49:40]
I love that story because it shows that within all dark times there is an opportunity and the people that actually make the most of anything other ones that are willing to look at stuff with just not judging eyes. They just look at it as it is. And I think all the people that run couldn’t roll in the world today are the ones that can see it as might be a dark time for you. But it’s a good time for me. Let’s get into the good time,
Robin Aldrich [50:09]
right? Absolutely. And we all share those times together, whether we’re in business or personal life.
David Ralph [50:14]
It’s lovely to have you here. And it’s a shame that we are now at the end of the show where we have to send you on one more journey. And this is the bit of the show that we called a sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Robin, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give? Well, we’re gonna play the theme. And when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [50:43]
Here we go. With the best bit of the show the Sermon on the mind, the sermon on.
Robin Aldrich [51:04]
Well, if I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, it would probably be my 14 year old self, because that’s when I began to develop all my insecurities and my, my, I’m not good enough, and I won’t be anybody. And I’m not smart enough, I’m not pretty enough. I’m not strong enough, just not enough. I would go back and let that girl know how powerful she, how powerful she was at that age, and how powerful she was going to be in life, and what she was going to discover. Now, I wouldn’t tell her to change anything. Now I’ve been through a lot of stuff in life. But every single thing that I’ve gone through has led me to where I am right now. But I would tell her, to have faith and to be strong because there are going to be some dark times she’s going to walk through. But if she’ll just stay on the path and stick with the journey, she will have a life beyond her wildest dreams.
David Ralph [52:08]
Lovely advice. Lovely advice for the little Robin. So Robin, for all our audience out there that have been listening to such brilliant business advice. What’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
Robin Aldrich [52:20]
Probably they can email me or they can visit my website. My email address is Robyn Aldrich. ROBINAL d r i c firstname.lastname@example.org. and my website is simply Robin alerts.com.
David Ralph [52:43]
Reading, we’ll have all the links on the show notes to make it as easy as possible. But Robin, thank you so much for spending time with us today joining up those dots. And please come back again when you got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our paths is the best way to build our futures. Robin Aldrich, thank you so much.
Robin Aldrich [53:02]
Thank you, David. It’s been a pleasure.
David Ralph [53:06]
Robin Aldrich. So I deliberately wanted Robin on the show because I get so many online business folk coming through the show that somebody that was running an offline store, they’re quite difficult to find people don’t generally want to come on when they’re doing something offline. But Robin had great business advice all the way through. And literally anything that applies to business, it doesn’t matter online or offline. It’s the same. It’s just who you’re targeting how you’re getting your people from leads into shoppers into customers. And there’s gold through that episode really good stuff. So if you didn’t understand it at the time, I tell you once you get your own business up and running your listen back to that and you’ll go I know exactly what they were talking about because she delivered. Until next time, thank you so much. Thank you so much for everybody who has been listening to Join Up Dots appreciate one and all.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you or wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to join up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.