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INTRO Rob – Pro poker – Business Bust – Employment - Fast-lane?

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Robert Hall

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Hi guys,

I'm Rob and based out of the UK.

I have recently read both Fastlane and Unscripted which brought me here. Wow did both of those books resonate with me massively.

So, my history is quite varied, but I have always wanted to make my own money and be in control of my life.

Between 2006 and 2016 I was a professional poker player online. Starting with $500 I was able to build up my 'bankroll' and consistently make decent enough money to support myself and my family (I have a son who was born 2007). During this time, I completed my education as well, gaining A Levels and a degree in History from University of Leeds. Looking back, I failed to see what an opportunity online poker was at this time and I should have dedicated myself to it much more than I did. I was happy to make circa £40k per year and be able to support my family, whilst some other people I know pushed themselves much harder at it, (one in particular) and have now achieved financial freedom to a certain extent. By 2016 my interest, ability and commitment to online poker was very much on the wane and the market conditions within the industry had also significantly declined causing my earn rate to drop and drop. Thus, I decided to look at other paths.

Cashing out a large amount of the money I had built up, but knowing that I wanted to be in business I launched myself stupidly headfirst into a business and industry I knew very little about and which crucially failed to obey what I now know as CENTS. I launched a catering trailer business called Tastywrap. We sold different types of food wraps from a catering trailer in Leeds City Centre and at various events and festivals. My execution of the task was poor and although the learning experience was significant it was financially costly. Over the course of the next 18 months I lost all the money I had invested in starting the business (which I now know was way too much) and basically ended up broke and with no income. Below is a picture of me serving customers from the trailer.
Trailer2.JPG

Thus, for the first time in my life I couldn't make my own money and had to move into the job market. After a couple of sales and recruitment type positions that lasted only a few months each I thought I had found a longer-term career when I was accepted into West Yorkshire Police. I successfully completed the basic training program and began the role. Despite liking some aspects of the job, especially compared to previous employment, I had extreme difficulty accepting that this was it for me. That for the next 25-30 years this would be my life. This nagging doubt was compounded by listening to people who had been in the job a long time. They seemed discontent and unhappy about the job but had become prisoners to the pension etc or so they thought. I decided that I just couldn't do this way of living and left after less than a year.

During this time of employment, I set-up my second business which still exists to this day and still provides a level of income monthly (although not significant). This is a tutoring agency. From looking at my first business I realised that I needed a way to earn whilst not actually working in the business. Thus, I set-up a tutoring agency to provide private tuition to school students from ages 5-18. This business has worked better than my catering trailer in some respects. Firstly, I invested only a couple of hundred pounds to get the business up and running. Secondly, I was earning whilst not necessarily working as I got other tutors to carry out the tuitions and I simply took the commission for arranging it. However, it remained flawed in other areas. It is difficult to scale up because commission rates and actual hours of tuition arranged are low. There is a further scale problem in that in order to send tutors to homes to carry out tuition we need to have a tutor on our books that is local to the customer. This makes it a very local based business and we often have the problem of not having a tutor for a certain subject in a certain geographical area. This means that there are many occasions when I have a customer wanting to pay for the service, but we can’t fulfil the service.

To bring my story up to date then. As my current tuition business hasn’t been able to support me financially, especially following the pandemic I have taken further employment working in a supermarket. This is the first time I have found a position of employment that is tolerable, and I have recently been promoted to a shift manager position. I mainly work night times starting between 12pm-2pm and finishing between 8pm-10pm. The job is okay and between this and my tutoring agency I can financially survive month to month.

However, as this is the Fastlane then I’m sure people will know that this is far from enough for me. In August 2020 I began working on my third business which is a digital course business to help people gain A Level (university entrance level) qualifications in the UK. This is where I hope to be able to build a business that makes a lasting financial change in my life. The links to my process thread are below and here you will find links to my current business.

I thought it would be a good idea to document my journey here so that it can provide potential value to you guys in terms of the process I am going through and also I will be able to learn from the community myself. This is my thread here – Building Digital Education Business

Cliff Notes –

Pro poker player for 10 years

Went broke trying to start a catering business

Tried many jobs and couldn’t settle in any of them

Have a small-scale private tuition business that is limited by scale and other problems – currently work as a supermarket shift manager to supplement income from this and survive financially month to month.

Recently began to launch a digital course business which I wanted to document the journey of here.

Link to that thread is here - Building Digital Education Business
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Welcome, great introduction. Why did you think the catering business failed? Looks like a nice little booth you had.
 

Robert Hall

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Welcome, great introduction. Why did you think the catering business failed? Looks like a nice little booth you had.
Thank you M J.

The catering business failed for a number of reasons. I made poor business decisions myself and this combined with some longer term fixed problems that we couldn't get over.

1. I invested way too heavily in the initial stages to make sure that I got a really good looking and well branded, custom built brand new trailer (thanks for noticing!) from which to trade from and also invested too heavily in marketing materials and staff early on. Essentially, at this stage of the business I was unsure about what income could be generated but outlayed a lot of unnecessary capital anyway. This put the business under financial pressure from early on.

2. There were certain fixed problems with income that I couldn't overcome. We tended to do well on hot, sunny days when more potential customers would be out and about. When the weather was poor we struggled and there are quite a lot of bad weather days in the North of the UK. However, on the good days we couldn't make enough to see us through the bad days because of limitations to income. Roughly the maximum amount of people we could serve per hour would be 20-30. Then people generally only wanted the product at certain times. This meant it was important to get large numbers of people through in a 2-3 hour lunch timescale. Even when we did this on good sunny days it was not enough to make up for the lack of trade on poor weather days.

3. This income problem returned when I moved the business from a fixed location to trading at events and festivals. When the events and festivals were on in the summer months we did okay but then had a large shortfall during the quieter months of the year.

4. I personally became convinced that this was a limited business and I would always be struggling to make any sort of impact with it. After trading for a while I started to doubt the business a lot myself and became convinced that I wouldn't be able to achieve much with it ( I am not certain if this was a mistake on my part or whether it was a good idea to cut my losses.) This meant that my enthusiasm and energy drained from the business and this would have had a negative impact.
 

KAIZOS

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Also just want to comment that the booth looks good and inviting. Would defenitely have bought a wrap from you.
 

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