I’ve recently met a young man with a young family who’s got so much fire in his belly you just got the sense that nothing, absolutely nothing will ever stop him.

Here’s his story…

Throughout my childhood I had never been encouraged to do anything, I was always told that “you can’t do that” or “stop dreaming”. All I ever knew as a child was negatives, my mother refused to take us on that dream trip to Disneyland because she was scared of flying, she stopped driving because she had a minor car accident and was scared to get behind the wheel again, the list goes on and on and this fear was imprinted on me.

those who discourage

At school I had problems with reading, so I was branded “thick”.  I was never encouraged or told to follow my dreams, I had been given a label and was just being told by everyone to accept it! Between me and you I was not that interested in half the subjects they were trying to teach me, so had the ability to be able to switch off as and when required again proving the label they gave as “thick” was true.

I left school at 16 and started my career as match print operator in the printing industry, I had no real goals, ambitions or early life guidance and just accepted this was my life now. I was doing well in all my positions and was head hunted a few times and was stuck in the rat race – earning more money but living up to it and beyond it sometimes.

 

One of my employers was concerned that I was becoming too powerful in my position as I started to socialise with the company’s clients. That same employer was trying to force me to sign an agreement that I was uncomfortable with as it was to ensure that I could never set up my own business. At the same time my granddad, whom I was very close was on his death bed. So I decided I had to take some time off so that I could spend it with him and my family. My boss thought this would be a perfect time to make me redundant, what a nice guy hey….?

My world had just fallen apart my granddad died and I had lost my job, so to say my head was a mess was an under statement. My mother was telling me to go and get a job, but I was telling her I could set up my own business. She outright refused to get behind me and encourage me, instead she filled my head with negative information. But I had made my mind up and I just wanted to do my own thing. I had no business experience, no business plan and no support around me, I must have been mental right??????

I was lucky that I had inherited some money from my granddad that allowed me to rent a small business unit and buy a printing press. I was up and running and had my own business. Doing what my old boss had feared as he saw something that scared him. And I proved him right! The only problem was I was still young and very naive, I had no business experience, no business plan and very little knowledge in how to run a business. It was flipping hard working too – I would leave my house 5.30am and not return until gone midnight most nights. I was hardly making any money as the margins were very small. But I built it up and I did manage to build a nice little company and at one point had plenty of staff and was turning over good money. Then another body blow – I received a bad debt in the region of £55,000 and overnight I had nothing again! Everything I’d built was in tatters because of one trusted customer. It was a hard lesson to learn.

I had £2.50 in my pocket, no staff, was starting to suffer from depression and anxiety. My £2.50 would have not even been enough for petrol to get me home. My back was to the wall and I had to do something. Within my factory there was an old central heating system that was no longer used, so I walked across to road to a DIY shop, bought a pipe cutter with my £2.50 and ripped out the central heating system. I called up the local scrap merchant  and he came to my factory, put the scrap on this scales and gave me £260.00 in cash! The first £10.00 of that went in my petrol tank, the rest was spent on Google Pay Per Click, The phone started ringing again and I started to get more clients. I’d lost the printer and staff so I had no other option but to find other local printers who needed work and then added a percentage to the job, I was making more money and it was less hassle. I remember thinking then “if only someone would have told me this years ago it would have saved me a lot of sleepless nights and pain” but that’s all in the learning curve hey?

I carried on farming out print work to other companies and this worked for a while. The only problem is printing is a not the best industry and orders started to decline. So I decided I need to create another income. I was working late into the night with a client designing a magazine, we had pretty much finished it but there were problems with the quality of the images for the editorial staff and we had no way of getting good enough quality images. I came up with an idea that we can just produce caricatures for the staff and put them on the bodies of their favourite football team. I searched Facebook and found a caricature artist called Bill. He was amazing and produced all the caricatures that evening and got us out out trouble… everyone was happy!

The reason I was working late into the evening on this magazine was that I really liked the guy I was working for. In the opening page of his magazine there was a photo of his grandmother who had just passed away and he was doing this for her. So I could relate to what he was doing and I wanted it to be a success for him. The magazine actually didn’t work out for him, but we are still good friends to this day.

I showed the magazine to a few different people and everyone loved the caricatures and started to ask for a caricature of themselves. So I did it for a few friends. If my friends liked it then maybe I could set this up as a business … and guess what, I did! I set up my first e-commerce www.myfootballtoon.com and put all my profit from my printing business into setting up my new caricature business. I got super excited and launched the business. I can’t put into words to describe the buzz I got when I got my first order. I had problems form day 1, and at first the glass frames smashed in the post and the item arrived damaged but these were all small problems to overcome. I just made a few changes and before I knew it the product was spot on and the orders were flying out the door, so much so that people started asking for other types of non-football caricatures so again I was using all of my money from my printing company to set up another website www.billandbenthecartoonmen.com. Business was good, I started to get other retail outlets selling my products and I was loving the products that I was creating. The comments from clients really did make me feel I was doing a worth while and rewarding job. My artist partner Bill then become ill and could no longer produce the caricatures for me, so I found a team in India who could produce them at a fraction of the cost, I just adapted my systems and the company pretty much ran itself.

SONY DSCWhilst the above was going on, I had separated from my long-time girlfriend. She was into the idea of having a huge mortgage, expensive holidays and cars, all of which I could not afford and I did not want to put myself under added pressure. It was a very stressful time for me, so much so that I started to suffer from stress and anxiety again and was having panic attacks on a daily basis. I became a hermit who was scared to leave the house from the fear of having a panic attack. This served me well in some sense as I did spend a lot of time on my computer and learnt all accepts of affiliate marketing, PPC and search engine optimization, it was also pretty rubbish for my social life.

In addition to the above I met the mother of my first child and she became pregnant within the first few months of meeting her – the pressure was really on now, the money was drying up and my mental health was not in a very good place. We split up and life was very hard adapting to life as a single dad. I had done the right thing and had my daughter everything weekend but found I was just working all the time. This is not why I wanted to start my own business, I had mental health issues and was a workaholic, how on earth had this happened again… grrrrrr!

A chance! I was contacted out of the blue by a company in London to set up a print management company for them, so jumped at the chance to get back involved in something I loved and with a 9-5 world, I could spend more time with my family. My new girlfriend was also pregnant and we had just bought a house (that we were planning to develop in the future).

Miracles in Life are Possible by Law of Attraction

I had really got into the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction (this really helped me overcome my mental health problems) so I was drawing up vision boards and was pretty much saying yes to everything and trying to get my life back into shape and where I wanted it to be.

I decided to submit the plans for our house extension to the council, in the hope this would add some value to our house. We received planning permission and it was my plan to try to get myself in the position to be able build the extension within the next 3 years.

Once the planning was approved we started to receive a lot of junk mail from people offering their services and among those letters was one from a production company asking if we would like to appear on a TV show. I decided to call them up and see what this was about, in a nut shell I was told that if we were selected we would received huge discounts from suppliers. I decided to test the water and called up a few people and pretended I was on a TV show and was shocked to see that people would give me products for FREE or massively discounted, that was it sold to me. So, I applied! My girlfriend thought I had lost the plot. We had zero money, a baby on the way and was punching above our weight in the house we had just bought. But I chased up the production company and was told we had been declined.. I was gutted! But never one to let something go I went to my local kitchen show room and asked them to produce some amazing 3d images of a kitchen with the WOW factor.

I told them we were going to be on TV and it would be great for their business. They didn’t normally let you have the plans but agreed if it would help me get on the show. I bombarded the production company with calls and emails with my grand plans and was completely shocked when they agreed to come and film us for the day to see if we would be any good. They came and they loved us! We got a call a week later saying we had been accepted for the show and could Sarah Beeny come and film with us the following week, me being me said “of course why not”.

The TV Production crew and Sarah Beanny turned up and the filming started. On camera I was asked how I was going to build this house and how much money I had to complete this project, to which I replied “I will do it no problem and I have £30,000”. What Sarah didn’t know was that I didn’t have a clue how I was going to do it and I had no money whatsoever… I told a little white lie”.

I had no money, no plan and a huge amount of pressure on me as well as baby due any day, this was on top of working full time in London and running a successful online business. Yep… I was mental in every sense.

How did I manage my way out of that? Well that’s another story for another day, but you will like it. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/double-your-house-for-half-the-money/on-demand/56496-001

help-people-even-when-they-cant-help-you-backWhat am I doing now:  I’ve just got married to my best friend. I have 3 amazing children, my mental health problems are now in the past and I’m looking to going to change the world for the better. I’m not quite sure how it’s going to work out and working with people like Nev I know it’s my destiny to help people. That is my promise and that is where I get my satisfaction.

Who is this guy? Ben Barratt.

I know we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.