Gavin Bell Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Gavin Bell
Gavin Bell is my guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview.
He is a a guy who it seems is a born entrepreneur with a fascinating story to boot.
Which makes him a perfect guest for a show like Join Up Dots.
Growing up on the Shetland Islands – the most northerly tip of the UK, his first taste of entrepreneurship was running a small Dropshipping business whilst still at school.
At 14, he used to buy electronics from China and sold them on eBay whilst building his first ever website at 14 years old, which still gets sales to this day!
How The Dots Joined Up For Gavin
Leaving the islands at aged 18, he knew University wasn’t for him and lucky enough to be accepted into the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in Manchester.
As he says “The academy was an incredible experience – one in which I was pushed out my comfort zone on a daily basis, whether that was pitching, networking or just having to work incredibly hard. Things that are now a normal every day thing for me now – but certainly weren’t back then!
It was in Manchester I launched a corporate well-being company called Alba Fitness, where he used to place personal trainers into corporate environments (such as call centres) to run corporate fitness programmes.
However it really started to come together for him, when he realised that the trainers were generally terrible at marketing themselves.
Secondly, he was reading a book called the 7 Day Startup – a book all about (you guessed it) launching a business in 7 days.
On June 21st 2015, he finished the book.
On June 29th 2015, Blue Cliff Media was born.
He offered social media and community management services at the beginning but eventually carved ourselves a nice wee niche in Facebook advertising.
The business continues to grow and have some amazing clients all over the world.
So looking back on his life on the Shetland Islands, was it a blessing or a hindrance to his entrepreneurial venture?
And is he where he wants to be in his life or simply on the first rung of what he can now see is possible for him?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Gavin Bell
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Gavin Bell such as:
How Gavin managed to get his business up and running as a small school boy even buying and selling belts on vacation
Why networking and pitching his business is such a huge part of his business strategy.
You have to get out from behind your pc!
Gavin recalls the moment when he decided to pivot from his business Alba Fitness, and learn from what it had given him (or more often that not didn’t give him)
Why FB ads are an amazing way to grow your business, but you have to let then run before seeing the results. Its all about data after all.
Why it is so powerful to show your successes and failures to the world. Reality is today’s marketing strategy that works.
How To Connect With Gavin Bell
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Gavin Bell 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 [0:24]
Yes, hello there. Good morning, everybody. Good morning mine listeners of Join Up Dots. Normally I do a little preamble at this point. But today’s guest has got so much I want to talk to him about I can’t do a preamble. Although I’ve just kind of done a preamble so you can’t talk about not doing a preamble and still do appear. I don’t understand it. Anyhow, let’s get him on to the show because he is a guy who it seems is a born entrepreneur with a fascinating story to boot which makes him a perfect guest for a show like Join Up Dots. Growing up on the Shetland Islands which is the most northerly tip of the UK. His first taste of entrepreneurship was running a small drop shipping business while still at school full time. They used to buy electronics from China and sold them on eBay was building his first ever website at 14 years old, which still get sales to this day passive income, leaving guidance at age 18. He knew University wasn’t for him and lucky enough to be accepted into the Peter Jones enterprise Academy in Manchester. As he says the Academy was an incredible experience, one in which I was pushed out of my comfort zone on a daily basis, whether that was pitching networking or just having to work incredibly hard. Things are now a normal everyday thing for me, but certainly weren’t back then. It was in Manchester but he launched a corporate well being company called Alba fitness, where he used to place personal trainers into corporate environments such as call centres to run corporate fitness programmes. However, it really started to come together for him when he realised that the trainers were generally terrible at marketing themselves. Secondly, he was reading a book called a seven day startup, a book all about you guessed it, launching a business in seven days, and June the 21st 2015. He finished the book On the 29th Blu Cliff media was born. He offered social media and community management services at the beginning but eventually carved out in a nice wee niche a knee, which is a say, in facebook, facebook advertising. Now the business continues to grow and have some amazing clients all over the world. So looking back on his life on the Shetland Islands was a blessing or a hindrance to his entrepreneurial venture? And is it where he wants to be in his life now or simply on the first rung of what he can now see is possible for him? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show, to start joining up dots with the one and only Gavin bell. Good morning, Gavin. How are you mate?
Gavin Bell [2:38]
I’m very well, thank you. How are you?
David Ralph [2:40]
I am extremely well, extremely well, you have got one of those careers and I have to thank you. I do a lot of introduction research. I do a lot of virtual stalking, and yours. I’ll be honest listeners, it was pretty much what Gavin gave me. It’s a good story. You have written a good story and if other podcasts that you Go on aren’t using bat as your introduction, you point them back to me, may you point them back to me so that I can get some listenership and downloads from other people’s shows. Because it is it’s like a little book in its own, isn’t it?
Gavin Bell [3:12]
I guess it is. Yes, it’s been a, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind journey over the last few years.
David Ralph [3:16]
And we were talking just before we press record, and I was saying, How are you feeling? Kevin? Are you feeling? Are you feeling tired? Because I find that more often than not, I dig down and people always go, Oh, I’m brilliant. Oh, I’m a business and everything’s thriving. And then you ask them about three or four questions, and they start sobbing uncontrollably before we record, but you’re saying that you feel great. You feel amazing?
Gavin Bell [3:39]
Absolutely. I mean, this year, this year has been crazy. So if you asked me that question a couple of weeks ago, probably would have said I was exhausted, but it’s just spent a couple of weeks up in the Shetland Islands taking a bit of a step back. So I’m feeling good feeling reenergized.
David Ralph [3:54]
And do you need that in your life because in sort of corporate life, you work, work, work, work, work? We can you work work work work, we can have two weeks off where you sort of go and the first five days is you trying to ease into it and then you’ve got about 15 minutes when you’re relaxed and then five days thinking, oh god, I’m going back to work. So do you need to have sort of mini retirements do you build that into your life?
Gavin Bell [4:17]
I guess I do in a to an extent I mean, when as often shirt on there still works and if I do take inverted commas holiday I’m still working on that holiday but I think change of scenery and maybe obviously when I’m up there there’s no face to face meeting so I try and reduce the number of phone calls I’m having and just gives me time to focus on things that maybe wouldn’t get done awesome don’t hear they’re kind of not high on the priority list. Tonight what so right now we’re going through a bit of a rebrand with with the business it’s still it’s still the same name, etc. There’s just a new website being built etc. And, and that has kind of been put down on the pecking order and priority list just with client work in other And other sorts of things. So going up Shetland kind of tried to focus my time on things like that kind of, I guess more strategic thinking then day to day, can I in the trenches?
David Ralph [5:11]
Now I’m gonna ask a question that I haven’t really been asking anyone but I, I feel it myself growing the show like Join Up Dots and all the different things I have spin offs. I get fed up with thinking, but I can’t stop thinking. And even when I’m walking along, hopefully enjoying the moment I actually have to force myself to stop thinking and then it comes back to me. Do you get tired of that? Do you get tired of the constant thinking dreaming of it and planning and then shifting it around? Would you like that kind of ability to go into a coma for six months and just come back?
Gavin Bell [5:44]
I guess I would. But at the same time, I think I love the thinking. I think I love the constant
constant ness of running a business whether it’s 20 473 65 I can thrive in love. I love that but at the same time Time I think you do need to take a step back every so often or you will just burn it.
David Ralph [6:05]
So let’s take you back a step because at 14 I was interested in the introduction when you bought electronics from China and sold them on eBay now.
Unknown Speaker [6:15]
David Ralph [6:16]
I’m okay, hands up. I’m a little bit older than you Gavin yesterday, just a couple of years maybe. But at 14 if I said to my mom and dad, oh, I’m gonna buy electronics from China. I would have stopped me that day there would have been absolutely no way but I would have got even through the first gate. Did you do it secretly? Were you so was saying to your parents now actually, it’s either that or I’m gonna get addicted to pornography. When are you gonna allow me to do How did you do that?
Gavin Bell [6:45]
They didn’t really, they didn’t really have too much of a impression on it. To be honest, it was kind of I just did it. And it wasn’t just electronics as well as the thing that always people keep buying right now is a giant glass chest set or something. So it was a mixer mixer of things I used to just buy and sell when I went on holiday with appearance and if I could find any cheap belts and stuff, I would buy them and take them home and then sell them as well. So it’s just a mix of everything that I sold but the guess the thing with a drop shipping business was I was never buying massive amounts of stock. So I guess for for me and for the parents there was never that much kind of risk involved.
David Ralph [7:26]
With it, you were 14 Gavin Yeah, at 14 you should be running around the Shetland Islands, pretending that you’re going to play for Scotland. And you know, that’s it. You shouldn’t be doing that kind of stuff was advocates looking at you at like some kind of Island freak boy.
Gavin Bell [7:45]
Whoever said that to me, but they probably were looking back. Yeah.
David Ralph [7:49]
I just think it amazes me because it’s such a world apart from where I was, but I actually grew up in a world but there was no internet. You know, I remember the very first game console that came across Switch was up in copom. And it was just one line going up the screen and the other one and you knocked a little white board across, you know, and it was it was amazing. Do you look at it now and think to yourself, wow, if I came along now, I would be really ahead of the game or do you think you came along at the right time for what you’re building? Did you wish that you were five years before or five years after?
Gavin Bell [8:23]
Part of me, part of me thinks Yes, I’m young. And I’ve kind of started very young. At the same time, part of me wishes I started even younger. I mean, there’s, I know people know that have nine year old kids that are making videos for for universities and things that it seems to be getting younger and younger and younger than the people that are going to start and these micro businesses if you want to call them that, which is pretty crazy.
David Ralph [8:49]
But what the good thing is that, you know, I would much rather have my son creating videos for university, men sitting on Xbox, playing FIFA 2007 Until that he does for 15 hours a day. You know, it’s I think it’s that dream building, isn’t it? It’s not even a dream building. It’s the possibilities if you start sort of making money, and I suppose when I was a kid, it was paper rounds, it was washing people’s cars, it was about kind of almost manual labour. But now there’s a whole generational, there’s multiple generations that can’t understand how kids are managing to do that. That is your business kids target the people that don’t understand it, and then you make a business. It’s all about finding a solution to people’s problems,
Gavin Bell [9:32]
isn’t it? 100% 100% and, I mean, I think it’s only going to get younger as well as technology develops and it becomes easier for for anyone to make money online. Now,
David Ralph [9:43]
I was doing a bit stalking as I say, and I was watching some of your videos this week. I like to do that. Number one. If they’re looking for a young Superman, you’re probably a shoo in. I think that you you look perfect for that and you know, I will be your agent and push you on. The way but I saw you flying into Phoenix making these like you’re all sort of adventure trips and you’re coming out of your hotel in the morning and you’re going off to do these conferences. Is that part of what Peter Jones Now Peter Jones is part of the Dragon’s Den in the United Kingdom, which is like Shark Tank in America. So in America, guys, you’ve got people like Mark Cuban. And we’ve got Peter Jones, who is a complete freak is about 25 feet tall with the whitest teeth you’ve ever seen, but hustled, and he hustled, and he has a story where he used to sleep under the desk in his office because he went bankrupt and all that kind of stuff. Is that kind of hassling networking, did that come from him? Because it seems to be a big part of his story. And I know from talking to people, a lot of entrepreneurs don’t want to get out from behind their computer. They don’t want to actually make the effort of getting into rooms and speaking to people.
Gavin Bell [10:53]
Yeah, I mean, I think for me, so I basically moved from Shetland 18 to the UK. To me, and I was I was pretty much of a shy Shetland schoolboy. And when I went to the Academy, they just started throwing you out to networking events making the pitch in front of people which, which was way out of my comfort zone. And so I guess that was kind of my first foray into the world of of actual business, I guess. Yeah, I guess that’s where my whole philosophy of working hard comes from. So add that onto the top of being from Shetland. A lot of the stuff that we get up to there is just jumping off cliffs and recording it and just having a laugh. So I guess I try and kind of combine the two when I’m when I’m making my my videos.
David Ralph [11:39]
But that’s got a kind of personal branding that works mode, doesn’t it? The fact that you are from the sort of Shetland Islands is it’s almost like you are Robinson Crusoe and you’ve come You know, I’ve never been to the Shetland Islands I’d love to, but my instant thought is do they have Wi Fi, you know that that’s one of the first things and so is that a kind of a personal branding breaks the ice when people find out about you. Are they interested in the island life?
Gavin Bell [12:06]
Yeah, hundred percent either get people that go. I know Shetland. Yeah, I’d love to go. I know someone from there and then we have that whole game of who’s that you know, it’s probably my cousin. Or you get people that just don’t have a clue where it is. And then you’ve got to do the explaining. But either way, people definitely love the story of coming from a small small island.
David Ralph [12:25]
I flew up to Edinburgh once and we had two big plane and we’d fly up to Edinburgh from the London City Airport on a Friday night, have one or two drinks and then hire a car the next morning and drive through open and up to Fort William and we had it all planned. It was all perfect. Except we didn’t realise about the drinking in Edinburgh on the first night. And we were so drunk that we didn’t actually leave Edinburgh we had higher cars booked we had BM B’s it was it was it was rubbish. It’s a place to go in. There is a place to go the web is so crappy it just makes you stay indoors with a pint in your hand.
Gavin Bell [13:04]
Yeah, I’ve fallen in love with it and brush since moving here a couple years ago, before I moved here, I’ve been here but the office I’ve got is right in the city centre it’s five minute walk away from Arthur C, which is an extinct volcano. It looks to the castle as you say that the nightlife and the the parties that go on up here in Scotland are great. It’s just a it’s a just a great city or owned in my opinion.
David Ralph [13:29]
So how do you keep focused then how do you keep focus when you’ve got because you’re still a young man, you’re still out and about grabbing older people drinking and being wild. That’s what we want. I’m just jealous caffeine. I’m just jealous. I’ve gone past that many, many years ago. And people I think in my days were more slippery. I couldn’t actually grab hold of as many as I wanted. They they seem to sort of get out of my hands very, very quickly. And how do you remain focused on your business when you are young man You’re doing well be yourself. You’ve got money coming in party time. How do you stay on track
Gavin Bell [14:00]
I think it’s just I think for me, it’s just a case of I understand the sacrifice I have to make right now in terms of a lot of people say you shouldn’t be sacrificing, you should be having fun in your 20s. But at the same time running the business and the amount of people that I meet through the businesses that are no good friends and going for a beer with people and instead of just having a boring coffee meeting, etc, kind of does it for me, I don’t I don’t really feel the need to go out and have a mad bender the weekend or anything. I play football, the weekends, etc. So that kind of keeps me on track too. So I guess I’ve kind of built my build my life and my lifestyle around being conducive to running the business, if that makes sense. So there’s not I don’t feel there’s actually that much distraction or anything that goes on keeping me and if it does, that’s, I guess that’s the kind of great thing about running your own businesses. Okay, if I went out on a Monday night, for example, I can just work Longer over the weekend and
David Ralph [15:01]
on a school night you go out on a school night on a Monday nights You call yourself a professional businessman you no one goes out on a Monday night that is that is a Netflix nightmare.
Gavin Bell [15:13]
But that’s for I mean to be honest I can remember last time I went out on a Monday night but
David Ralph [15:17]
say you’re picking yourself up Gavin you’re making yourself sound good to the list no and
Gavin Bell [15:24]
you got me You got me? He did I get the freedom of running your own businesses you can you can do what you want when you want.
David Ralph [15:31]
And do you have a partner in your life? Do you have a special person that reins you in? Are you free to run around making what you want when you want?
Unknown Speaker [15:39]
I’m 100% free 100% free to do what I want when I want
David Ralph [15:43]
Are you looking for someone because we’ve got a listenership here which is in its thousands I’ve already picked you up as a successful young man. Looks like Superman. What demographic Should I push your way gabbing I could change your life overnight. We can have ladies on your doorstep we could have men on your doorstep. We could go for both. What do you want Gavin? This is what Join Up Dots is all about. I’m pushing
Gavin Bell [16:05]
it a little. We need a little dating jingle there. But we if we got if we got a young young girl in Edinburgh send them my way, David.
David Ralph [16:13]
Yeah. Okay, and how young do you want? No, that’s better than a bad dad. Just a professional on this. So I’m while I’m fascinated about your story, it’s it doesn’t seem to be any sort of slump in it. The fact that you made this decision to leave the Shetland Islands which in some ways I can understand, because it must be quite restricted, but in other ways you think it must be when you go to sort of Manchester and then you do this and when you do that, it doesn’t seem to be a lot of thinking of this isn’t going to work. It’s it’s almost like you just do it and then see what happens. Would that be about like,
Gavin Bell [16:56]
that’d be right. I mean, there’s been a lot of, I guess, failure, if you will, in the way that The company elbow fitness didn’t really make any money and didn’t really go anywhere. But I just tried to turn that around and increase something to go learn from that and just blew up with video. So I guess there probably has been a lot of what some people might describe as failures along the way. But to be honest, it’s just part of life. For me. It’s just part of the journey.
David Ralph [17:21]
Yeah. And it’s Yes, it’s all part of the fun. And you look a bit now because I, people used to say to me, what’s your biggest failure when I got interviewed on other shows, and I used to say to him, you know, I had a fight here because everything I did was as good as I could do with my knowledge at that time. Now, I look back on it, and I think, Oh, I can see why that didn’t work. But at the time, I was convinced that it was gonna fly off the shelves and you know, be a global success and stuff. So I kind of go along with you, but there’s no failure. It’s just learning really, but there is that point when you’ve got to decide but Albert fitness is a bit of a dead duck. And you’ve got to move. How did you decide that actually, you know, I put all this effort into it, it’s not really going well I want to do is time to pivot.
Gavin Bell [18:09]
Yeah. So I actually I remember the moment really well I was when I was running that business, I had no income from the business. So I was actually working in a call centre at the time, and I was that the, I’d work on the business from the morning until about 4pm. And then I’d go to the call centre from 5pm to 9pm. And I do the call centre all weekend as well. And I remember I was sitting on the bus home about half past nine in the evening and I was thinking, What the hell’s going on? Like, what what do I do? I was reading that book at the time and it’s like, I’ve got to do something about it. So I’ve got I’ve got to either completely change the business or to to set up a new one and as I kind of just decided to set up a new one, and I don’t think I decided to scrap our fitness there. I think just decided to set up a new one and almost have it as a side hobby side hustle, if you will. And then that business slowly just took over, I say slowly took over, it took over almost instantly. And I think like, why
David Ralph [19:13]
did it take over? So, so quickly? What was it about that one?
Gavin Bell [19:17]
I think I think I was just so excited by the concept of running this business and I could see where it was going. And it was kind of all around the lifestyle I wanted to learn IE I could run it from my laptop or if I had Wi Fi whereas up fitness was very, or at least what I was doing with it was very kind of location based. So going and meeting people in Edinburgh and getting Personal Trainers in Edinburgh to go into businesses in Edinburgh. Whereas if I’m running, I’m doing work with a client with blue with media doesn’t matter whether they’re in Edinburgh or California I can do as long as I’ve got wide internet so it was just a case of blue with media got to a point where I was no longer passionate about it. Wasn’t really bringing in any income or any kind of value to my life. And I was reading that book. I was sat on a bus at half nine at night, not very happy about about things and just decided to, to do something about it.
David Ralph [20:16]
You know, I love buses. I don’t go on buses very often. But once again, it’s that kind of thinking thing that I like to get away from and we buses you just sit there. I’m not thinking about driving. I’m just looking at the weird people get on and off. And late night buses are really, really weird. So did you sit there thinking to yourself, oh my god, my life is rubbish. Or I’ll tell you a bad question is and I’m going to ask you about straight up to these words. Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [20:45]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family. had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [21:11]
Okay, so you’ve created the first business and it’s failed. Was it a business that you thought you were gonna love like Jim Carrey Did you then look back on anything? Oh god this is just boring is not what I wanted is is is the love element the right way to go or is that naive and simplistic?
Gavin Bell [21:29]
When am I first sell the business so I did I did think I was gonna love it was because it might one of my main passions is kind of keeping fit and healthy and I thought that was a good way for me to get into that world without having to go down the route of becoming a personal trainer etc myself. But as soon or quickly became a case where it wasn’t just about fitness it was becoming about general well being which obviously includes things like psychology and nutrition and lots of other different things. And then Then you start stepping on the toes of like the NHS that are doing occupational therapy and all that sort of stuff. So it did conceptually in my head. When I came up with the idea, it was something I’ve thought was really pretty cool. I think it was an idea that concept they can found in America and thought I’d try to get over here. And then when it came to actually trying to run it and speaking to people and seeing what they actually wanted, it just wasn’t really my street anymore.
David Ralph [22:29]
And well, one of the things that really winds me up big time I don’t know if the Americans have that word of wind wind me up, it annoys me It annoys me is the kind of online smoke and mirrors that we see where everybody’s life is amazing everybody and if you’ve listened to Join Up Dots, more than four episodes, you will know that quite often I get on a little rant about all this kind of stuff. But I also know that when we are growing businesses, like at the beginning with Join Up Dots, he went off like a rocket and it was really, really great and then it went to a plateau for a long time, and I couldn’t get to sort of move up, but the world was saying to me, oh, it’s a global success. It’s brilliant. And I’ll be honest, not very often did I go? Well, actually, it’s a bit crap. He’s not going anywhere. I kind of played along with this. Oh, yeah, it’s going really well kind of stuff. Did you do the same thing? We’d go out for a drink with people and I go, how’s Albert fitness going? And you go is brilliant. Or did you say, Oh, actually is a big pile of poo? And I can’t wait to get away. Did you? Did you do the smoke and mirrors? You know, I probably did.
Gavin Bell [23:31]
Looking back at both, if that happened to book with media, no, I think I’d be a lot more transparent and and how it’s actually going.
I think when I first started, there was a
there was a there was a tendency of me to pretend that things were going well, because as you say, similarly, people think that you’re doing amazing just from what they see online, but they don’t actually know that there’s no money coming in the bank. So I think it would definitely be a different story if that was to happen. No Because I think I’ve learned a lot. And there’s no point in doing this all smoke and mirrors rubbish, as you say, like everywhere online, everyone’s going to Instagram feed, for example, it’s just their highlight reel. There’s no real, you don’t really see the bad days as much. I think it’s I think it’s something I’ve something I’ve actually thought about a lot recently, especially when it comes to the space. I’m in the kind of social media Facebook advertising world where it’s not uncommon for people to share their amazing results that they’ve had for clients, which is, which is cool. But I think one of the things I would like to do is to start sharing stories of the campaigns that we’ve run for clients that have just been absolutely terrible, and start showing that we don’t get it right every time and anyone that claims to that they’re going to get it right every time. It’s just lying. Obviously, we’ll share the good results, but I want to start sharing the bad results and I want to start doing a lot more writing as well but the kind of negative side of running a business etc. Thanks, everyone. I wrote one article, kind of right right back at the start, which was called the harsh realities of running a business. And to this day, that’s the one that most people will reply to or talk to me about, because I think it just resonates with them speak about kind of potential loneliness, anxiety, etc. And people, people engage with that a lot more than they engage with an average. I don’t know, a generic Facebook advertising blog, for example.
David Ralph [25:27]
I think you’re absolutely right. I think that would speak to me, that would be real that would be honest, and I would look at it and go, Okay, yeah, okay. 50% success rate, but he’s learned from those things failed. That’s the key thing that annoys me. It’s like, Join Up Dots when I launched Join Up Dots. pretty much always in a bubble of people going, Oh, you’ve only got to release X amount of shows and you’ll get X amount of thousand people come in and blah, blah, blah. You’re gonna be earning a squilliam pound you’d be up to your neck and supermodels roaming around the Shetland Islands. With these beautiful ladies winding up Gavin Bell, because he’s on his own in front of his computer in his special Superman pants, it would, it would be amazing. And it didn’t transpire that. So after about a year of running, Join Up Dots, I was making quite a bit of money on it. And I was talking to people and other people weren’t making any money at all. So I started looking at it thinking, Well, why am I making money and why as other people know, and I started deconstructing my my business. And I started turning off the tap. And for about one month, I was earning money, and then I’d do something and I wasn’t earning any money. And I think, Oh, this is interesting. And all it came down to was the ability to actually go, I’m willing to break something that I’ve already got to actually find the strength and the value to take it forward. And so when I used to train on podcasting, I used to literally just train how to record a podcast, but now we’ve got a new product coming out which is based around how to actually smash it in business, we’ve a podcast due to the ability of turning it off and turning on and deconstructing. Do you think actually, with your ability, as I say, to be self aware enough to go forward and say, I’m willing to run Facebook ads that say this was rubbish? And that was rubbish? Do you think that the ability to actually take a business and almost smash it to pieces to see if you can make it become more successful is the true benchmark for the the Uber entrepreneurs Now I’m not saying I’m any anywhere near the Uber ones, but when you see Branson’s and Peter Jones, they’re all willing to take that business and almost smash it up to look at the pieces to see if they can make it bigger.
Gavin Bell [27:43]
Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s definitely a
it’s probably something I’ve not done with with media, but I think, too, if you’re willing to smash it up and willing to take a potential p a hit on the patriarchy, then for the greater good and the greater game long term then I think that speaks words about somebody’s attitude and also like confidence, I guess in what they’re doing is the right thing that they’re doing. And I mean, I think it’s somewhat like it’s almost like a building a Lego house or something. Yeah, you build something you smash up to see if you can build a bear. I think it’s quite a good analogy for for running a business because it’s so easy to get caught in the day to day you forget you forget or don’t have the time or pretend you don’t have the time to, as you say smash it up and start looking at it from a kind of strategic standpoint.
David Ralph [28:41]
It’s not even strategic in a way it’s, it’s playful, isn’t it when when you’re doing something and you really love it, you like to know more about it, it becomes like an obsession. I am really focused in trying to find better ways to make the audio as good as possible, but cheaper ways of doing it as well. Instead of just throwing a load of equipment on and using the sort of clever stuff, and it’s become almost obsession or to try to get the best results, but the that the minimum income into it. How have you managed to do that? Because we’ve Facebook advertising, there is a lot of wastage, when you are trying things and you’re doing different pictures, and I have done Facebook advertising and to be honest, it’s a nightmare. It is a nightmare. And I’ve even bought Rick more readies course and gone through it. And it’s still a no, this is too difficult. Isn’t it too difficult. So how have you been willing enough to throw money at it? Knowing that actually, you’re not going to get any results? You’re just going to lose that money?
Gavin Bell [29:42]
Yeah, so I mean, I say to any client, you’re going to lose money at the beginning, Unless Unless you’ve been running ads before and you’ve got kind of data points. But when you first start to run the campaigns, what you’re trying to do is basically learn what’s working and what’s not working. And any any company that we run it I’ve done what clients always call me that kind of scientific process where we’ll be, we’ll be taking one offer. And we’ll be testing a tonne of different audiences against a tonne of different ad creatives to see which ad creatives perform best, which audience and then we start to reallocate the budget to the ones that work and switch off the ones that don’t work. And we’re constantly looking at the data to see to kind of suggest what’s working and what’s not working for us. And so I guess it’s, it’s a, if as long as you’re invested in the process of, okay, we might not actually see any monetary return right now, like straight away, but we’re going to get a lot of data which will help us in the long run,
Unknown Speaker [30:42]
then then you’re good. And also
Gavin Bell [30:45]
one of the one of the things I always like to say is if we can break even on a funnel, if we can create a an ad campaign and break even on that on our first first hit, then there’s no reason that we can’t turn that into a really profitable campaign in the long term because we’ve if we can hit that that breakeven point, then it’s just a case of optimising that campaign to get it to a point where it’s actually making us money.
David Ralph [31:13]
And and what screams out at me from listening to you talk where he is. You are also obsessed about the, the the Lego bricks of this, it’s the data isn’t it? It’s like me with the audio, it’s you with the data. And it’s it’s play time for you, isn’t it? It’s become your business, but you actually like looking at the spreadsheets and you’re fascinated with the demographics and the different ways of targeting on Facebook is ultimately playful.
Gavin Bell [31:39]
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think there’s there’s, it’s always surprised. There’s never a day or never a campaign doesn’t surprise me with Why the hell has that picture of performed better than this really well designed one for example. So the things that you learn about even just human behaviour is really interesting I find and then when you when you get to The company into a point where you start to see the results, then it’s then it’s just cool. And it’s your it’s kind of like work. We’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying to we’re trying, we’re trying to try and try and try and and then eventually it starts to work. And you see that your work up to that point has actually been worth it is really satisfying.
David Ralph [32:19]
Now, for a lot of people starting a business, they are bootstrapping it, they’re either using their savings or as a side hustle. Is it prohibitively expensive listening from what you’re saying? And I understand it totally. But there’s going to be a certain amount of leakage is going to be wasted if you can break even. But is it the kind of thing that frightens the the new entrepreneurs where people have been in the game for a few years or actually understand? Well, this is part of the game. Is it a frightening process to go through?
Gavin Bell [32:49]
I think it can be I think it can be especially, well, let’s take a step further. But if to start on Facebook, you only need to really be spending $1 a day. That’s you. That’s your kind of minimum there and but to take it a step further, if you’re if you’re building a big kind of complex funnel, for example, it can be frightening to be spending money on something where you’re not seeing the results and having to trust the fact that maybe in a month’s time, you’ll start to see the results, but you never know that. So you, you have to really trust in the process. And that can be a scary thought for some people when they’ve maybe run a campaign for a week or two. And they’ve seen no return whatsoever. It’s just kind of money being burnt. But I think at the same time, that’s one of the biggest downfalls of people is they’ll they’ll emotionally react to to their campaigns because they’re not seeing the the return they want. But it could just be a couple of days away before that kind of flood start, the floodgates open, you’ll find that there’ll be campaigns that you’re spending, spending money on every day, you’re seeing nothing and then a week will pass maybe seven eight days into and then the leads will start coming in. So it’s very hard to get people to understand that process. But it’s all about managing expectations at the end of the day.
David Ralph [34:07]
And bear is a sort of a an analogy as opposed by people using entrepreneurial land of focus, follow one course until success. But as we’ve already heard with your fitness industry, your empire, there was a point when you actually thought now Hang on, I’m not going to follow this one course because it’s a dead duck is not going to go anywhere. How do people make that decision? I find it fascinating listening to you. But yes, you’re throwing money at it. It’s running. It could be the next day, but it could be the next week. It could be the next month. Is that why people should hire you? Because you’ve seen it you see what data analysis? Is it better to hire somebody, like even do it themselves? That’s what I’m saying.
Gavin Bell [34:47]
Yeah, I think I think I always say it’s important for if you’re going to hire someone, I think it’s important for you to maybe run a few ads yourself just to get an idea of how the platform works. So you can get an understanding different data points, just just just a general overview of how Facebook advertising works. And it means if you do hire someone, and I probably I would recommend if you’re going to be spending a lot, probably best to hire someone, even if it’s just a consultant to make sure what you’re doing is the right thing. But it means if you’ve if you’ve run some campaigns yourself, you know that you should know what sort of questions to ask if you’ve hired a big agency, and they’re giving you certain metrics and things you know whether they’re the right metrics that you should be looking at or not. So I think it’s important for everyone to have a general understanding of how it works and the capabilities around Facebook advertising, but if you’re going to be spending a lot and you don’t really know what you’re doing, I think it makes sense to hire out just because it’s a massively time consuming thing to do. It’s, there’s there’s a lot of complexities, you need to be able to understand the data etc. So either do it yourself and have a consultant to basically say you’re doing the right thing you’re doing the wrong thing, or just completely outsource it.
David Ralph [36:03]
Now somebody’s hiring you. They’re listening to this conversation. And of course, we know that they won’t hire you on a Tuesday because you’ve been out drinking in them on a Monday evening. So we’re right off the bat day. But will they get just you or is it a team? How does this operate?
Gavin Bell [36:19]
Yeah, so so right now there’s going to two main ways there’s working with me as a consultant, one on one, which is strongly jumping on a Skype call and just going over your campaigns, having a look at them. And then on the management side of things. At the moment, you’ll get me in the past, you would have got a contractor, and the business they said, that kind of business model for me was, I was doing all the work. Then I decided to contract all the work out not just to random people, people that actually know Facebook ads, and then I decided to put my prices up and do the work myself again, and work I guess we’ve kind of worked into a point now to, to hire somebody to to actually run the campaigns which will hopefully be this year.
So currently you’ll get me
David Ralph [37:11]
and do you like vow? Or is there a bit of you that could because I’m a bit anal, I’ll be honest, I’m a bit anal and there’s a lot of my business I could hand over to somebody but I cannot be Oh, just doing this. I just do it myself. I can do it within seconds. And there’s certain bits but don’t actually take any time but actually, I do with gritted teeth now so I should just hand it off. And are you like that? Is this your baby? Will you trust somebody to run with it? Or will you be constantly looking over their shoulder?
Gavin Bell [37:42]
I think it’ll take me a bit of time to get used to it but I do want to outsource it not not just because I don’t like doing it or anything. But for me to really scale the business. I guess I need to step out from the day to day, client delivery side of things. Hello. We always have a hand in it. But yeah, I mean, I do want as soon as I, as soon as I can, I’ll be looking to hire somebody properly to do that.
David Ralph [38:08]
As I’m working towards one month on one month off, I’ve decided that every month or every other month, I want to not turn on my computer and just totally disconnect so that I can, as I was saying, at the beginning, hopefully recharge myself have those non thinking times walk along, look at clouds and not be thinking, I’ve got to be doing this, I gotta be doing that. And it’s taken me quite a long time to get to that point. Where am I thinking? Yeah, maybe, you know, August time, I might be able to kick that off, where actually the structure of everything is why it’s finished. Now. That’s me for another month. And it was a guy who sort of got me thinking about that where a guy called Tim Connolly who was on the show, and it’s a fascinating episode, where he started consulting and coaching people as most people do over Skype, and then fought himself. I’m in the same room all the time. I need to have some freedom. So he started taking his laptop across the world, and he said that he spent half his time trying to find dodgy WiFi in Shanghai kebab shops. I don’t know if they have collapse shops in in Shanghai. And he said it became a bit problematic. Yes, you could do it. So then he set it up to say to people, right, I will work with you. But you can’t get me from June to September, you know, and actually saying, all the works got to be done by this time. And then off he goes. And he’s business has actually increased because of that, because he set these kinds of requirements is almost like that. That online structure that we see you’ve only got three days until the sale finishes because he sets up the structure. People are sort of jumping on board of him big time. And it’s a win win. That’s that’s, I think, the right way, but I want to operate I want to be able to just go right back to a close up shop. I’ll be back in three months.
Gavin Bell [39:50]
I love that, I think. Yeah. I mean, I think that’s one of the things that I’ve probably been guilty of and a lot of us as entrepreneurs are guilty of is is Working to what the norm of working is. Whereas in reality, we can do what we want. If that means shutting up shop and going travelling for three months a year, or as you say, taking a month off one month on month off. So be it, I think we should we should design our, our business around what we actually want to do in life.
David Ralph [40:20]
So just before we play the words of Steve Jobs that set up the whole theme of Join Up Dots, what would be your big learn your big learn, but you can hand out to the listeners as as your gift to them. They’re sitting in their cubicle, they’re on that night bus listening to this thinking, I want to start my own business. What would be your big gift to them?
Gavin Bell [40:40]
Yeah. One of the things I always had an issue with at the beginning was Pete, a lot of people would just say, you just have to go and do it. Just go and do it. And I always I always said, I’ve got the energy. I want to go do it. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Yeah. So I would say probably, I mean, I never did this. I kind of just do evasive going and doing learning myself and making a tonne of mistakes on the way but find someone or find some sort of process or programme I guess the 70 startup is a good example of that but claiming some sort of process of how to go and set up a business and then then you’ve got the the framework and it’s just a case of go and do that. So I think that would be my my one bit of advice for someone who wants to start a business.
David Ralph [41:25]
So basically look for the knowledge that’s already out there and use by instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Yeah. I said that Well, did I add the Do I sound like a professional podcaster the way I summarised that so professionally, damn it.
Gavin Bell [41:39]
It was beautiful, dude. It was better than that.
David Ralph [41:42]
It was Batman and Gavin. I think it’s even better than the words that we’re going to hear now. Now, maybe not. But these are words that Steve Jobs said back in 2005 to a game again, or heard of Stanford University graduates and it’s always worth listening to again, he is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [41:58]
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.
David Ralph [42:33]
So the question is, do they make all the difference?
Gavin Bell [42:37]
I think so. I mean, I love that those words from from Steve Jobs think I think the I think for me I get from that just trust in the process of continuously improving yourself working working hard and everything will work out in the end.
David Ralph [42:56]
How do you find buy inside you because it is one of these beings that Now I’m where I am. I can go Oh, yeah, they’re spot on their spot on what Mr. Jobs was saying there is absolutely true. But when you’re going through it and you’re pulling your hair out and you’re laying there in your Scooby Doo pyjamas thinking, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do. It’s difficult to have that kind of trust it is going to work out, isn’t it?
Gavin Bell [43:19]
I think I think so. And I think that’s why it’s important to
look at people that have already done it. So I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk. But he’s one person, I look at people that have already been there and done that. And if they’re seeing you’ve got to do X, Y Zed, or they got there by doing x, y, Zed, and a lot of them aren’t. Some of them will be truth, truthful and say, yeah, it’s hard and you’re going to go through some of the worst days of your life. He also goes through some of the best days and you just have to trust in them and trust in the process that what you’re doing will work whether it’s getting you to the next point that allows you to get to where you want to be or business This will actually get you to where you want to be in the end.
David Ralph [44:02]
I think what Gary Vee has done very well where he has kind of created. And there’s not many entrepreneurs out there that have done this they he’s created. And not just the show highlights, you can troll back, and you can see the journey because most of it was on video. And when he was doing the early wine cellar videos, he was rubbish, it was pretty good. And as you sort of move through, and he becomes more, he’s Gary Vaynerchuk kind of big, old kind of character and stuff. You can see it’s a journey that he’s gone on. But the world doesn’t want that journey. Really do they they want to go, Oh, I can press this button. I can do that. And bank. That’s it. Coming back to Facebook ads and stuff. It annoys me when all these people are saying, Oh, I’m getting these results. And these results jump on for this free training and stuff and Oh, really, really? I don’t want to see that. I want to see you just crying in the corner because in a bad day. That’s what I want to see. And Gary Vaynerchuk done. They’re very wealthy.
Gavin Bell [44:58]
Yeah, and I think I think everyone wants to see that. Because it if you’re if you’re doing that how I spent one pound and made $3 million in Facebook ads in one day, no one relates to it at all is, it’s kind of cool. If I go way back to the personal trainer thing. The reason I saw that they were terrible marketing is let’s just say there’s a passionate trainer targeting 50 year old woman, then you look at their Instagram feed and it’s just pictures of broccoli and chicken and and their six pack. So there’s no, there’s no, people aren’t going to resonate with that whatsoever. It’s just where it’s just not what they want to see. They don’t they don’t engage with it. So I think the more that you share your personal story and the hardships and the bad things, the more people relate to you. And that’s a gift. That’s what marketing is all about getting people to relate to you and buy into you.
David Ralph [45:50]
And so what would be your big door when you look back on everything that’s led you to this point, and I would have to say Gavin This is probably the highlight. This is the highlight of you Your journey so far Join Up Dots. But leading up to this point when when do you think it really started to come together for you? And you thought, yeah, I can actually see, my last three years was kind of bulging around or messing around. But now I can see what I need to do.
Gavin Bell [46:14]
Yeah, I think at the end of last year, we won, or the business won an award here called the New START Business of the Year award in Scotland. And I think that was probably the first time that I’d been able to kind of take a step back or to look at the business as a whole and go, actually, maybe what I am doing is working if other people are taking notice that. So I think that was probably the highlight of my, of my career today. It was just the, it was probably the first time that I’d actually looked at it and been like, Okay, what we’re doing is actually working or what I’m doing is actually working as opposed to, I have no idea if this is working, or no, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if the business is working. If I’m doing well, if I’m not doing well. I think that was the first time that I’ve been able to say Okay, things are actually going pretty well.
David Ralph [47:02]
And just before we get on to the Sermon on the mic, which is the part of the show that we’ve been leading up to listeners that rewind that bit, because Gavin was totally transparent. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was just doing stuff, no matter who is out there today, and I put my hands up, when I started recording a show. I didn’t know how to do it. I literally was hoping that my voice was gonna come out at the upper end. But anybody that makes out that they have got the blueprint of success that was just in bone. It’s not true. It’s not true. You’ve got to listen to that. None of us know what we’re doing. And even the people that have success, still don’t know what they’re doing, because they’re going to the next level of success. It’s all new to them. And if you’re willing to tackle that head on, you have got a good chance, but if you’re waiting to get all the answers, all the dots lined up, it’s never gonna happen. I’m in India, I’ve got a successful show. Gavin’s a sexy young Scot and a He’s doing well for himself. But ultimately, we don’t know what we’re doing. We just build up our knowledge until we know what we’re doing in that area, but it doesn’t mean that we know what we’re doing next week,
Gavin Bell [48:10]
does it Gavin? No. We just did the brilliant podcasting somebody again.
David Ralph [48:16]
Yes. Say you say Gary Vaynerchuk got nothing on me. I’m going to start swearing on every other word and bring it all to a whole. Well, how we do bring it all to a halt is a nice part of the show that we call it a sermon on the mic when we’re going to 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 Gavin, what age would you choose and what advice would you give? Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the theme. And when it fades, you’re up. This is the Sermon on the mic
Unknown Speaker [48:52]
with the best bit of this show,
Gavin Bell [49:09]
So I’d go to myself when I was probably at the age of 1415. Again, at the very start of the journey, and I say, Gov. I know you’ve got this incredible belief in yourself and you’re always constantly dying to move forward. But just relax a little you can’t get there overnight. You maybe look at people that are already there. But just know you. Don’t compare yourself to others look at others for your own inspiration but, but never fall into the trap of trying to get what they have today or tomorrow or next week. You’ve got all the time in the world to do what you want. You could do nothing for the next 20 years and still have all the time in the world. So just enjoy the rate compete against nobody apart from yourself or, or you’re going to feel the risk of feeling disheartened. So just compete against yourself and realise that you’ve got all the time in the world. Do what you want.
David Ralph [50:01]
Perfect advice perfect advice in every way. Gavin for the listeners out there and what’s the number one best way that they can connect with you?
Gavin Bell [50:09]
The number one best way to get in connect with me would either be through my website which is Mr. Gavin bell.com or facebook youtube Twitter, probably Facebook which is facebook.com forward slash Mr. Gavin Bell I’m basically Mr. Gavin Bell everywhere.
David Ralph [50:24]
Okay, and but all the young ladies out there that are gonna Did you need photos as well? Or can I just turn up on your doorstep?
Gavin Bell [50:34]
Add me on Facebook.
David Ralph [50:36]
Oh, he’s playing kg is he’s gonna filter you out it so just put somebody else’s Katy Perry’s on and you’re being you’re being there straight away. Well, Gavin, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again when you have 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. Gavin Bell, thank you so much,
Gavin Bell [50:58]
man. Thank you very much for have me do it.
David Ralph [51:02]
Yeah, bin Bell was a really open transparent conversation. Hopefully that’s what you get from Join Up Dots. It is not just about business advice. It’s not just about the journey is a bit of everything. But the fact that Gavin literally said, you know, and there was there was times that I don’t I didn’t know what I was doing. And as I said, there’s times that I don’t know what I’m doing, but that’s how it operates. And every single one of you out there sitting in your cubicle on the bus, or whatever you’re doing listening to this show, it’s all about upskilling. That’s all it is. You realise how much you don’t know and then you work really hard to find that out. And then once you do that you provide that information to people as a solution to their problems. Most people out there I have customers, they don’t want to go for the two years of upskilling and they want to pay for that corner to be cut or a to be to be shortened for them. That is your business. So if you’re doing something out there and you think to yourself, oh god this this, this is really boring there must be an easier way of doing this. Other people are no doubt thinking the same and that is your business. That is your business. Now if you can find something you love doing as well, you really cooking on gas, but please don’t sit there thinking that you need to know everything. Because you don’t. Until next time my listeners on Join Up Dots. This was David Ralph. That was Gavin Bell and I will be back again soon. I can’t promise Gavin will but maybe maybe I’ll bring him on as a kind of a judo Judo from from going on. Thank you so much for listening, and I’ll see you again soon. Cheers. Yeah.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you were once 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.