“You don’t necessarily know where your opportunities are going to come from, but you want to position yourself so that when an opportunity comes along, you can make the most of it.”
– Sam, on positioning yourself to capitalize on opportunities
It’s important to regularly look back and asses how your businesses are doing. So in this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast, Sam Priestley takes a look back at how his businesses have developed over the last year. An honest look at the successes and failures.
02:40 – How Sam was able to stay productive despite being sick for half the year
04:52 – Review of Pipehouse Gin
06:46 – What is it that made Pipehouse Gin take so long to bring to market?
09:33 – Being ready to capitalize on opportunities
10:47 – Diversified approaches to selling gin
16:49 – Marketing approach for Pipehouse Gin
21:55 – Other issues with Pipehouse Gin
25:22 – The blog review
29:02 – Synergy between the blog and the podcast
31:20 – Sam’s grant applications
32:31 – Table tennis business
37:42 – The problems of success
41:23 – Consulting and investing progress
46:46 – Protecting yourself by setting up multiple income streams
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the lazy entrepreneur I’m your host Sam Priestley and today you’ve got the pleasure of just listening to me. My wife Emma who normally co-hosts this podcast is away visiting family and I’m currently sat in a Premier Inn somewhere near Wales waiting for my family to finish breakfast. I thought it’d be a good time to get in the final end-of-year podcast where I talk about kind of how all the businesses have gone over the last year and hopefully take some inspiration from it. I’ll do this every year and one of the reasons is that I tend to be a bit pessimistic. My instant reaction looking back over the past is normally always well that went really quickly I thought I’d do a lot more, achieve a lot more whereas you know sitting now and taking time reviewing all the successes I’ve had all the failures I find makes a big impact and I get to be very excited for the year to come. It also helps to stimulate me and give me give me a lot of new ideas and helps me remember what did actually happen in 2018. We had the launch of Pipehouse Gin, my craft gin business. My table tennis businesses changed a bit we launched in India we had a new a new range of Eastfield bats we had a new range of bat cases but we also saw competition rising greatly and a lot of stock issues which sort of her our bottom line that meant we actually made less money this year than year before 2018 also saw my blog going down on its income it went down from about 62,000 pounds to about 48,000 pounds in profit for a bunch of reasons I’m sure I’ll go into also saw the launch this podcast saw me change my investing strategy a little bit sort of focus more on short term short term investments so that I’d have a lot of money free for opportunities that might occur in 2019 and with Brexit and the quite quickly changing world that we’re currently in it saw me almost completely stopped consulting I had only a couple of clients in the whole of 2018 and it’s all in the end grants for 12 months from mid 2017 to mid 2018 I’m giving away three thousand dollars every three months to support budding entrepreneurs people who had a business idea and didn’t have the funds to start it so yeah we’ve actually got quite a lot to talk about but I thought I wanted to talk first about something that really should have impacted my productivity this year that is that for a good half of 2018 I was really really sick for about six months probably from around February or March up until September I probably would have had to take that time off work if I’d had a regular job but I didn’t know I had a job that I could do a job where I was my own boss and where my effort put in didn’t have a direct impact on the profit and productivity that came out. You hear a lot about passive income and the idea of earning money while you sleep and while the business that I run don’t really fall into that category I wouldn’t call them passive income because they still require effort they don’t require effort for money it’s not every hour I put in I get out a certain amount of money it means I put in a load of effort which then pay off over the next year or two years to come that’s definitely what I’ve been seeing in the last few years 2017 was a year in which I made sort of record-breaking profits for kind of all my businesses really, the table tennis and and the blog but that was a lot to do with the effort that we put in in the years before which were only then paying dividends and actually 2017 I didn’t achieve as much as I had hoped and a few things changed which then kind of impacted the profits that we’re kind of seeing this year your advantage of being your own boss is that you can work when you are well enough if anyone’s being kind of chronically ill they know that it’s not always down it’s not always terrible you’ll have hours throughout the day where you where your mind is working well and where you have the energy and the kind of enthusiasm to do some work and when my work involves hopping on my computer or writing a few emails or you know organizing a last minute meeting with someone that suits quite well and I was able to still achieve quite a lot and produce quite a few things. Most notably the gin business which was largely launched and kind of perfected in that in that period where I was at my worst okay enough on the depressing subjects let’s dive in and talk about each of my businesses in a bit more detail and how they go on first up PIpehouse Gin. Pipehouse Gin is a craft gin business where we make flavored gins but flavored without the sweetness so they’re London Dry’s which is kind of the purest of gins means that everything needs to be put into distill so we put all the botanicals in there and then the juniper flavor that everyone knows and loves that gin is famous for and it’s a definition of gin but also with other flavors attached to it. Pipehouse Gin didn’t exist in 2017 we had kind of the idea to start a gin business business and started work in September but then it really launched and our first flavor came out in in June 2018 so it’s really quite a long business and I think one of the things looking back that it strikes me is that in the monthly report I wrote in February I wrote I can’t believe how long this business is taking to set up I think that we’re almost there and that it was still another five months or so before we actually launched which is interesting because you’d think that I would have a better idea that everything always takes longer than expected you know, I started quite a lot of businesses and they all run into this same problem when you get really excited and then things just always always run over I’ve but I also think that’s one of the reasons why I end up starting more businesses so I’m always kind of eternally optimistic and Pipehouse gin was no different I’ve started in September and I’d hoped we’d launch our first product before Christmas in 2017 obviously that didn’t happen and took another six seven months after that before we’d before we launched our first flavour was Earl Grey and cucumber and we actually were working on that flavour in 2017 towards the end of it we’d we’d pretty much perfected it we had a few more tweaks to do which we worked on it was kind of all the other stuff it was the the branding you know coming up with the name sorting out suppliers for bottles getting the labels produced finding boxes getting all the legal licenses and things like that but what was it that made Pipehouse Gin take so long because for most businesses there is a bottleneck and I think that with Pipehouse Gin it was the branding that took us a long time I normally have this idea of good enough and I think this is one of the first businesses where that got kind of pushed aside not kind of down to me but because of um so many other business partners I was doing the business with who really really cared about high quality we had a few brands I thought were good enough I thought they were really good but it wasn’t good enough for in particular Katie who was a art teacher before she started this business with us which was interesting because the thing we get complimented in most about the gin is the branding and the idea for the business was to create an alcohol brand that people would buy online without having tasted it so with the name of it, earl grey and cucubmber is the name of our first product the earl gray cucumber flavored gin you know what you’re getting before you buy and it’s interesting it’s a bit weird it’s a bit different and the branding stands out is very clean it’s very good and it looks very high-end it’s the sort of thing we hope that you would keep on your shelf because it looks good as opposed to just drinking it and so a lot of the beginning of 2018 was spent working on the branding trying different ideas doing some bit of product testing but more kind of testing the waters with different ideas for names and and what stuff looked like and then once we finally had the branding sorted it took us a long time to get our labels printed and really that was what held us up towards the end I’m not sure exactly how long it was but I have a feeling the last kind of couple of months were spent just waiting on all these things final things to come together to finish because we can’t sell our gin until we got the labels on that might have everything else ready if that’s not ready we can’t we can’t do anything Pipehouse Gin and then we launched yeah it really worked out it is not a business where I was a bit surprised with with how it did with how it got on, not that it did any better or worse than I expected but it did better in different areas one of the things we wanted when launching Pipehouse Gin was to was to position it so that we had as the maximum opportunities available the maximum possibility of one kind of marketing channel working out and earning us loads of money it’s if you listen to one of my other podcasts on serendipity it’s a topic I talk about a lot you don’t necessarily know where your opportunities are going to come from but you want to position yourself so when an opportunity comes along you can make the most of it and that was kind of the idea with Pipehouse Gin. My original plan and the thing the area I thought we had a bit of a unique selling point and an angle that other gin business wouldn’t have is focusing online and in particular with Amazon FBA where I already have some very profitable businesses and other alcohol companies weren’t doing very well at. I thought that other I was Amazon FBA experts weren’t going into it because gin is too complicated, there’s too much legislation and laws around it and people in alcohol didn’t figure the online was a market worth looking at but then I also wanted to be positioned so that we could if something else happened to be better we could do that to too so we signed up to local markets started promoting our brand there, and started going the classic route setting up a market stall and then selling our gin directly to customers we also did the classic door-knocking like you see in The Apprentice where you go to business owners and try and sell them your gin directly and then we also approached distributors to try and get them to stock us and push our gin for us and kind of in the back of my mind I thought none of those other routes would really work out off what they were overly saturated I thought in my head that we’d probably lose money on stuff like the market and selling to local businesses but that would have work as advertising to get our brand out there and – and to push to sales online now it’s kind of my whole my whole marketing strategy my whole launch strategy going forward we threw a launch event we kind of talked to a local gin bar and booked the place out and then we invited loads of press we invited local bloggers and hosted local business owners to come down and try all our gin for free we made up a few different cocktails we hired a professional photographer to take pictures of the event and the plan was that we would hand out to any members of the public who came in like a coupon voucher that they could use to go onto Amazon and get a discount off our gin and the thought was that we could leverage this local aspect to try and draw sales online and then the way Amazon really works and online works in general is that it’s all about momentum getting reviews, getting sales and if we could push a bunch of reviews and sales from kind of local people online then that would hopefully push us up the ranks stop making us appear in Amazon searches and Google searches and we then start getting national sales from people who we can approach directly that was kind of the thought, leverage local do all we can to make as big a splash as possible in Tunbridge Wells where we’re based in the hopes that when we’d actually make our money from the national sales send people all around the country unfortunately our timeline didn’t really work out on label printing was delayed and we didn’t and we didn’t actually have enough gin ready to be able to send some to the Amazon warehouses ready for those sales so when our launch event came we didn’t have anything for them to go and buy we didn’t have there was no plan given in coupons because there’s nothing for them to use to coupons on so we had to change our approach and actually we ended up not really having that much of a purpose for the launch event but what we did change it to was we used it as a to really push the pier and we thought that even if there aren’t that many places for people to buy it then and there we could we could launch with a splash and we then start promoting a bunch of markets that we had coming up so saying originally we wanted people to go to the events and then buy online reading about us in the local newspapers and then go online so we changed that to go to the event and then come along to the market and buy bottles from us the following few weekends so that June we had a week a market on the first weekend than a market on the second weekend then a market on the fourth weekend so we had three markets all based in Tunbridge Wells that people who come along meet us and buy our gin and actually it turned out the markets are the areas in which we made the most money that’s because I quite cheap to set up I think we paid if each market varies but generally you’ll pay somewhere between 60 pound to 600 pounds for the weekend depending on the type of market is when the cheaper ones we were generally only allowed to sell bottles with the more expensive ones we allowed to also basically run a bar where we could sell gin and tonics to people were drinking and both of those ended up to be really really profitable to us both from the point of view again our brand out there and building brand awareness in the local community but then also and actually just making money partly because with gin there is a real expense to shippings if you buy online it’s going to cost us around 8 pounds to get that bottle of gin to you you need to be packaged in conover a blow up plastic bag that means it won’t break then you gonna put it in another box you’re gonna pay a delivery company to deliver it to you it’s got to be tracked shipping because you’ve got to make sure that the delivery driver isn’t giving it to someone who’s under 18 which is the legal drinking age here in the UK there’s just kind of a bunch of other things around it and then of course amazon takes their commission as well whereas if for a market is literally we’re just taking it from from my garage to the market and people are and basically everything that everything above the cost of the the cost of we’re paying for it is profit now yes you know later on we started hiring other people to work the markets for us you have to pay for the market stall and there’s an investment in building the stall and doing all the branding around that but generally markets turned out to be a really good a really good investment for us and then markets you know they led on to business owners approaching us in that first month we got contacted by a lot of local bars and in particularly the cool bars the bars that are on Instagram and that kind of plugged into what’s new and cool were approaching us to ask if that we if they could a stock our gin and then we kept pushing that and then we kept pushing it you know appeared in a bunch of local newspapers and and it worked really well. have this idea that I I think I read somewhere I’m not sure where and I’m not sure even if it’s true but it’s kind of concept that I work off is that someone needs to see your brand seven times before they’ll recognize it before it looks familiar so our idea was to hit the local area so hard that people would see the brand seven times they might see it in their local bar on the shelf, they might walk down the market and see it there and then they might read about it at a local newspaper and they might hear about it on the local radio or whatever I’m just trying to hit hit the area as hard as possible and it worked out and we we had good sales we sold almost 500 bottles that first month which was pretty staggering really and sales continued you know as expected the second month had a big dip because we’d lost that initial excitement and a lot of places bars and so already had our bottles and so didn’t need anymore but then since then you know dipped quite a bit and since then has been slowly growing again and in fact are the biggest thing that’s been holding us back has been stock issues our supply chains as it turned out to be quite difficult to keep intact whether that’s creating new labels or whatever and it’s only just now that we’ve kind of got a handle on that and we only really had excess stock that allowed us to start doing marketing and really pushing sales at the beginning of december in fact in december we had four christmas markets booked in and we only did one because we didn’t have the stock to do the others that should all be changed in 2019 now should all be sorted Pipehouse Gin wasn’t all good news we did have a bunch of issues which cost us quite a bit of money and the first one one that I haven’t really talked about because it was such a big disaster at the time was we our first batch of labels our first 250 bottles we made the ink ran on maybe a third of the bottles which meant up and this only happened after they’d all been applied to the gin so we started unloading you know from cases of gin just to check and notice that some of the labels had water stains on them at marks to a point where you know we weren’t happy selling them and that was pretty devastating it was about a third of that first batch I think it was like 93 bottles were what we considered unsellable which was a disaster it was a disaster also because it meant that we had to go back to the drawing board and get all the other labels for the other batches reprinted because the way labels work is the more you buy the cheaper it is and we bought eight batches worth labels in one go so we had to go back and work with the printer companies to try and fix that the first thing they did they put it on a veneer over the labels so we’re able to get batches two three and four out quite quickly and then they you know went to a different printing method to to print the others and now that’s all sorted our labels that have any issues anymore but at the beginning I think I almost cried it was it was terrible because we had our launch event in like a few days when we we discovered this we had all these markets set up ready for us and we had all these products which before we can’t we can’t sell so what do we do well we still have one or two of those bottles left but for the most part we’ve we’ve got rid of them all now how do we get rid of him well when we were running markets where we could sell gin and tonics we’d use these bottles the gin still perfectly fine we don’t want it people having it on their shelf well they’re still perfectly fine for us to make gin and tonics and whenever we’re using a sample bottle we’d use one with a damaged label and slowly over the year we’ve used up pretty much all of those those 90-something bottles and everything ended up being fine. Another big issue one that we’re still trying to sort out at the moment and actually since I posted on my blog a lot of people have contact me with some with some good ideas of how to fix this so thank you very much if you’re one of them was that when we were shipping bottles of boxes are six bottles to people which would be bars and places like that we were getting quite a lot of breakages because you even know these boxes they’re got dividers in them they’re packaged safe and snug the bottles are really quality really thick. I’ve seen the delivery drivers were just chucking them all over the place and they were quite quite a lot when smash and if one bottle smashes then that’s kind of the whole box written off because all the other label to be soaked and covered in bits of glass and absolute nightmare so we were losing quite a lot of cases because of this so I’ve got some stuff to to kind of fix that now but you can imagine our margins especially – wholesale are very high when it comes to a bottle of gin so any any if we lose a case like six bottles we got to sell, I don’t know seven or eight cases or something in order to to make up for that loss and yes you know we did a lot of time end up still gaining some value out of the other bottles that weren’t broken they just had their you know bits of glass and the labels ruined on them but it was still a big issue and it meant you know we have made money out of our trade sales but not very much. What other issues do we have just a few little things one thing we forgot to do is our first lot of boxes didn’t fit the bottles in that we bought and we bought I don’t know six hundred boxes or something and works you know they’re quite cheap per box but once you have 600 of them they’re not not useful so we ended up with a lot of boxes we couldn’t use in on getting new boxes and that’s all kind of sorted but there’s all kind of teeny problems ended up sorting themselves out and it means that 2019 we should have a much better run of it. What else happened with Pipehouse Gin well one thing was do we we end up being in profit we had one point quite early on maybe coming was probably the third month where we had more money in the bank than we’d originally put in a business was in profit we since you know reinvested all our profits into growing and more stock and working on new flavors but still the business is profitable it doesn’t yeah I should point out that there’s a difference between profitable and taking money out this is a business that will probably take us a long time before we can take any money out of it but what we’re doing is were building value in the business something new entrepreneurs don’t really get and something that took me kind of a long time to really understand was that when you’re working on a business you’re not just it’s not just the profit of the business that matters it’s kind of the equity value that you’re building in it so all the work we put into the branding to building supply chain to building relationships with suppliers that has some sort of value that we can’t really put a number on it and it means that let’s say we were to sell the business the people are buying it they’re not just buying the stock we have left at whatever value that is they’re buying the value in the business the value in the brand and those relationships and come to work and momentum that we’ve done so far which is actually quite a lot and will probably be a lot more than whatever we put in and then on top of that you’ve also got the idea that even though the business is making profits to grow you’ve got to investor those profits. Gin is a very high cost product to make mainly because of the tax involved so for reference each bottle of gin we sell is including the there’s the alcohol duty the alcohol duty plus just a v80 on alcohol duty comes to about 10 pounds a bottle so already we have to pay ten pounds to the government every time we produce a bottle of gin which as you can imagine has a real impact and should make you think when you see a bottle of gin being sold in a supermarket for 15 pounds 10 pounds of that is going to straight straight in taxes so for the five pounds they’ve got to be doing everything else that goes into that gin and there’s why craft gin is quite expensive because you know good quality gin is is expensive and hard to make but yeah Pipehouse Gin that’s been that’s been a great a great business has also been a good business because it’s the first one I started with my wife Emma and it’s been you know it’s brought us closer it’s been it’s been really good there’s another podcast we did together on starting a business with a partner or on your own I recommend having a listen to because it’s quite a lot of nuances there and there’s pros and cons to both but for me definitely it was that was the best decision to go into it with her and with a couple of other friends as well. Pipehouse Gin that’s kind of a success of the year, let’s talk now about about the blog. My blog had a stellar year in 2017 it made 62,500 pounds and that was on really not much content I really I didn’t I was losing love for the blog in 2017 I was writing less posts the quality I think was going down a little bit and I was spending quite a bit of time marketing trying to get people onto it reading it which paid off because the readers is what led to the profit but you know I was actually thinking of stopping altogether I wasn’t really enjoying it so in December I made a very conscious decision to to stop doing any marketing at all I would just focus on writing good quality content and hope that people kind of find it naturally and share it or whatever. That didn’t really work and the trend for 2018 has been down forty eight and a half thousand pound is still really really good but the trend is down and you know the big profit months were early in the year and as the year has gone on it’s been dropping and dropping and dropping if it continues on the same trajectory next year it will make like twenty five thousand pounds or something it’s going down so it was like the correct decision I think so I think my my blog posts that I’ve been writing have been I’ve been better my series on the gin I think is particularly good I started doing monthly reports to regular readers have really enjoyed and find quite useful, also very useful for me to get me excited about the next month and look overall on what’s happened before I also think is not just down to the marketing there’s been a bit of a change in culture the people are reading less long-form blog posts on sort of third party blogs like mine you know someone’s got to come to my website click on an article and read it people are doing less of that now they’re getting stuff from their social media feeds that are already in and that’s willing to go to independent independent sites nothing particularly wrong with that it’s just a change the way people doing it and I also think there’s a change in how people like to consume the type of content I produced which is you know long-form kind of tutorials or like journaling style stuff and people are now rather it has been a big rise in podcasting and videos and it’s kind of one of the reasons I’m doing this I’m launching this podcasts half of the reason is because I want to get more content out there and producing a podcast is a lot easier at least for me anyways than writing a blog post blog post taking a very long time and I find it quite tiring and I need to kind of like pump myself up to do it whereas a podcast I can ramble on a little bit and tell you whatever is I I’ve got on my mind and as you can see I’m getting a lot more podcasts out than I am blog post basically in my draw folder on my site I have done 150 blog posts I started writing and never finished and they’re all ones that could be good podcasts so we’ll see what happens you know in 2019 I’m going to start marketing again doing a little bit I might hire someone to help me with that I’m also gonna push this podcast and hopefully combine those two as a single as a single thing you know drive people from the blog to the podcast from the podcast at a blog and see how that goes but we’ll see nothing else doing on the blog was mine with grants I was doing need entrepreneurship grants where over 12 month period I gave away twelve thousand dollars to different kind of budding entrepreneurs to to help them start a new business or grow a small business that needed a bit of a bit of money that was originally an experiment and one of the things I hoped to get out that was a lot of people would share the fact these grants were going on and they’d go viral and I’d end up getting a lot of a lot more traffic out of it that’s not what happened and in fact I think it probably did me more harm the good turned out that what I was trying to do was get people to write like a grant application and then I would review the application and choose kind of the top 12 or whatever all the top three so every three months I gave out three so every three months has to choose three and I did the first one and I got something like a hundred and fifty grant applications which took me a long time to read through and while three out those hundred and fifty are really happy the other 147 aren’t. I end up pissing off a lot of people basically because a lot of people don’t like being told no I said had didn’t really work out for me it turned out to be a lot of work and I think was partly the reason I started losing love for the blog cuz I spend a lot of work just sitting there reading these grant applications and I went for a phase of giving everyone feedback and you know the most common reaction to giving feedback on someone’s application about why I didn’t choose them was to argue with me and tell me that I was wrong which yeah you can imagine so I stopped them so I finished the first year and the twelve thousand pounds and I stopped doing that. I might do something again I might try and change the idea and do something else is I think it’s always worth just cuz experiments fail you know this probably lost me money and revenue basically it was a lot of time it was worth it because it was an experiment I think had a good concept I just badly executed and experimenting and you know failing is is a good thing that’s kind of the blog you know I didn’t rent up writing quite a bit more but you can see you can see you can look up you can look at my blog and there’s some really good posts but you can also see I’m probably getting a little bit more tired and the really in-depth posts can be fewer and further between so hopefully the blog will give the podcast a big push if you want check out the blog it’s Sam Priestley dot com then let’s move on to my biggest business my table-tennis business so I got two brands we got paleo by expert table tennis which is a entry level a series of table tennis bats we start the cheapest one is about thirty pounds and it goes up to 40 pounds we have a range of three that are very popular we’re currently on our second series so it’s the expert II – – the master II – and the legend II – and that is a very good business that has a bit you know we’ve been the best seller in the UK for table tennis bats for a very long time and we do well in all over the world in the USA Canada the rest of Europe in 2018 we launched in India which was quite a big step and was really difficult actually because it is the same bureaucracy in India we had to find a partner who would work with us who was a Indian resident because they don’t allow foreign businesses to operate now we had to do a load of things we had to get like stamps and get hundreds of different departments to give us random numbers and all this sort of stuff it was a nightmare and we eventually worked our way through it but it took us a year and a half or something since when we first started researching it before probably launch and that’s turned out to be quite a good market it’s something that was a risk because we’re selling it for the same we’re saying our products were more expensive than they are in the UK the 30 pound bat is about 32 pounds in India because they’ve got so much taxes and stuff around it and we’re up against table tennis bats that are being sold for like a pound or 50 P so how can we compete and it comes back to currently idea that we’re competing on quality not on price and just because the you know the entry level stuff is very very cheap doesn’t mean it isn’t a market for that more high-end and India has a hugely quickly growing middle class and it’s a huge country anyway so even if most of them can’t most people can’t afford the table tennis bat it’s got a billion people there so it’s still a very large chunk who can buy it and we’ve been selling you know doesn’t sound huge bit or maybe 70 bucks a month for them which of it made the experiment worthwhile and hopefully that is something we can grow going forward we’ve also got our next range coming out are expert free master free legend free which we literally two days ago we just we finally finished the final prototype for after probably a year and a half of making tweaks and doing research we finally got about that we think it’s going to be a huge step apart from the ones we currently sell and that we can sell at basically the same price so here’s all the positives and that will come out sometime in 2019 probably around April or May I would have thought that’s the positives the downside is that we saw Amazon is getting a little bit nastier a little bit like their customer service for sellers is very bad and there’s a lot of a a lot of fraud basically going on with people selling fake items that are very similar to yours and so we had a lot of that so we had to deal with a lot of people copying our brand and trying to sell it at one point we had to we had a big fight over our trademark yeah we had to it’s been quite a bit money on a lawyer to sort out for us the trademark office was disputing our trademark and so we had to had to appeal that and that cost us you know quite a few thousand pounds and who knows how much all this cost us all these copycats that are selling a a worse fake product of ours and tricking customers into buying it was also particularly true on eBay where it’s a bit it’s even more to Wild West there and it doesn’t matter about your trademarks they will change one letter of the word and that kind of gets them around them and the other problem we had was with stock issues most notably coming up to Christmas we are one of the levels in our supply chain so the people who make the cases that the bats go in so we sell them with a free bat case and the bat case is basically the packaging the company that makes the bat cases were about two months late with their delivery date and it meant that our Christmas order didn’t arrive in time for Christmas so we sold out before Christmas which is obviously our biggest time of year and cost us a small fortune basically in lost sales to make sure this never happens again as of about two days ago we’ve now we’re now renting a little warehouse a little lock up that we’re gonna basically build up a backlog a sort of reserve of stock that we can send immediately to wherever it is needed so – were not related we’re not relying on this supply chain to create everything from new for us which it can take months and as we saw it there’s a delay it really does hurt us but despite that it still is a good business it still made decent money that’s the one that pays us you know the salary that me and my business partner live on and yeah you know all the problems are the problems that come with success so just because I complain about Amazon or complain about you know suppliers it doesn’t mean you you should avoid the business all together I hear a lot of people talking about quitting Amazon altogether and starting their own websites and trying to drive customer I mean come on people use Amazon for a reason we have our own websites as well and we do drive customers there but the majority of people are buying on Amazon and that trend is only gonna continue people don’t want to go to a random website input their details and their email address and stuff into a website they don’t know anything about like they want that one-click ordering that was one product so the other brand is Eastfield is more high end you know cheapest back there is 50 pounds at the beginning of 2018 we only had one product but we’d be working on a new one for a while so we can launch that and beginning of in February in 2018 we launched our Eastfield professional bat which was a really high-end bat it’s it’s very good it what we tried to do here we’re pricing around 100 pounds and it it’s we want a bat that is good enough for any professional to use and is competitive with bats that will cost you 200 pounds so it’s half the price of pretty much everything else in its category and it’s just as good but to do that has taken a long time to produce it and there was a manufacturing error with some of our first products that arrived in February which took us a long time to sort out so we hope to have a big launch in February which meant that it didn’t happen and it’s only being in the last couple of months – we finally got everything sorted and the quality that we wanted as being good enough to where we’re starting to push it that’s something else that I’m quite excited for for 2019 see what we can do now and there’s lots of good stuff we could do with advertising and you know promoting to Instagram celebrities getting some top table tennis players on board sponsoring people things like that we haven’t really been doing with our lower end products because they’re not good enough for those professionals to use we also saw a new range of our bat cases come out they’ve been very popular in the past because there aren’t really any good quality cool looking bat cases on the market until we came along so we launched a new range of kind of double sized ones which hold two bats which hasn’t been going on long we launched in March sales of them have been slower than we hoped why is that I don’t know a good question I mean there’s probably a few reasons it’s something I need to look into more I think it might be something to do with the fact that people only need one bat case and kind of the market we kind of already saturated the group looking for those cool bat cases who are willing to pay 20 pounds for just a case well that might not be the case it might be a bit of an education thing it might be that we need to do some more marketing to get out there that’s really one of the problems because I’ve had so much other stuff going on and along with being ill we haven’t put anywhere near as much marketing help marketing that these businesses deserve really soon this is our biggest business this is the one that pays my bills I should be spending a lot more time on it than I am and that’s something that will probably change in 2019 especially once we get our new brand out there the the expert 3 master 3 and legend 3, that’s gonna be that’s gonna be big. 2019 will also see us launched in Australia should be good pushing India again and then maybe launch in Japan that’s what we’re thinking about what we’ll see. Consulting was quite a big part of 2017 I haven’t really done much of it I don’t really enjoy it but I’ll probably look into doing a bit more of that we’ll see we’ll see what’s gonna go on I don’t really want to talk about consulting but I’ll probably do a bit more in 2018. Finally let me talk a little bit about investing if you if you read some of my stuff before you know I’m not trying to become rich I’m not particularly motivated by money it’s more the free time and ability to do the stuff I want and the way to do that the best way to do that in my opinion is to is to build up enough investments that you’re financially free that even if you had no income from any business at all you be getting paid a salary that would be enough for you to live your life on so that’s kind of been my goal for quite a long time and although the amount you need for that is the common wisdom is that says you need about 25 times your annual your annual spend in investments I have a slightly different opinion I think that I don’t plan on ever retiring all the businesses I’m currently running they’re the ones that I’ll see the end a long time in the future you know the blog is all about the trend the way they’re moving so my opinion on financial freedom is as long as I got investments kind of covering the next ten years really or five or ten years then it’s all good and I could actually use some of that investment money for other things and that’s kind of what I thinking so I’ve put quite a bit of my money into short term investments particularly peer-to-peer lending I kind of go into my reasonings quite a bit more on the website Sam Priestley dot com there’s a quite a recent post about you know investing in the light of Brexit which is you know at the same time is that’s scary sides to it also has a great opportunity sides to it I’m sure that after all the turmoil starts happening I’ll see some opportunities I think will be really good investments and something I want to have my money available for to move into so that’s kind of what I’m thinking at the moment this was helped by 2018 I sold some some property I own I’ve had a business out in Malta I’ve been working on selling for about two years it’s kind of it’s been a bit of a mess just because of the structure which is set up but it kind of owns three properties and I share the business with a couple of other people and there’s some kind of other stuff in with the companies and things so it’s been a bit of a bit of a nightmare getting it all sorted quite stressful really but then in October that finally got sold so I received quite a large amount of money into my bank account and so there’s an idea of investing came up again and that’s when I kind of started thinking more about these short-term investments and the majority that has gone into a very term sort of 30-day accessible investments where they’re earning kind of between four and six percent and then I still slowly siphoning in into my kind of stocks and shares the rest i I believe in kind of passive index fund investing so in the UK here we get twenty five thousand pound a year of tax-free investments you’re allowed so what I do is I just every month i funnel one twelfth of that twenty thousand pounds into a Vanguard fund the stocks and shares index fund and I’ll do the same for my wife Emma and then the plan is that that will just sit there forever and keep growing and keep growing and then at some point you know that will be earning more money than we’re spending between us and it means that you know I’ve kind of protected in case things go wrong this is the lazy entrepreneur podcast one of the reasons it is the lazy entrepreneurs I have this idea that about finding the easy way to do things you know if you’ve been if you’re a lazy person you always want to get the quick way through which kind of sums me up a little bit but also because you know I’m motivated by having that free time and wanting to be lazy and not wanting to get a job or you know if you’re sick for six months like I was this year you can’t get a job you can’t work and so having that you know having as many backup plans as possible it’s quite important to me so and investing is one of them versus a back-up plan having multiple income streams in completely different businesses is another back-up plan so if say my table tennis business collapses I’ll still have income from the blog also having income from Pipehouse Gin if one of the other ones collapse then I still have that so at the moment I kind of have you know four or five income streams I wanna I’ve got a few you like I’ve got a book that I sell we got a couple of YouTube videos to make a bit of money every month. Here are the things that mean that I should be quite protected in case of stuff going wrong and that’s kind of it that’s kind of my year in review there’s been a lot of ups and downs stuff has been good stuff has been bad but I think only on average is 2018 I can chalk down has been a very good year the one thing I didn’t mention was that I got married in July in 2017 so 2018 was my first year of marriage and that has taken up quite a big time my time as you can imagine if you listen to mine the previous podcast is always talking about is talking about my personal development and stuff I can change my productivity and stuff in terms of the actual businesses and how they’ve done yeah 2018 good year let’s do the same in 2019 goodbye.