Steve Matthews interviews Renegades Founder Dave Dean and gets to the bottom of the Renegade Story…

Hello everyone! You’re listening to Steve Matthews and I am pleased and honoured to welcome you to this month’s Up Close & Personal. As it’s our first one ever, I thought I’d explain what this is all about!

Every month I’ll be chatting to a group member or one of our Faculty team. It’s a great chance to hear from other entrepreneurs who walk in your shoes and run a business! Some will be at the same stage in their journey as you, others may be a little bit further down the road. Regardless of where they are, it’s a great chance to learn from others and I hope you enjoy listening.

So today for the first one, I have the Founder of Renegade Masterminds with me, Dave Dean… I thought, as it’s our first time, who better could we possibly start with.

I’ve personally known Dave for around 5 years. We started working together in a customer/supplier relationship and then we quickly realised that we were kindred spirits and passionate about self-development, entrepreneurship and helping others to learn from our experiences.

I was lucky enough to be in a Mastermind Group which Dave led and that cemented our relationship even further. I’m proud to say that Dave is my coach, my mentor, a customer, a colleague and most of all my friend! People say that you become the average of the people you spend most of your time with, I am lucky that I have Dave in my inner circle and because of that he elevates my average considerably, and I thank him for that. So, without further ado . . . Welcome Dave, how are you today?

Dave Dean: I’m very well thank you Steve and very honoured and flattered by your introduction. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Steve Matthews: It’s a pleasure and it’s all true Dave! So, Dave, I’m sure there are loads of people out there that are keen to know about Renegade Masterminds, so perhaps you can start by telling us, why you created the group?

DD: Interesting, to answer this Steve I really need to go back to the early days of my own entrepreneurial journey. It was a damn lonely place, becoming a business owner wasn’t the magic bullet that I thought it’d be. I had a vision of late starts, early finishes, long lunches, longer and more regular holidays and double the wages I’d earned in my previous job, but instead all I got was early starts, late finishes, no lunch breaks, less and shorter holidays and that was followed by cash ow problem, tax problems, staffing problems, legal issues, health & safety issues, not enough sales, too many sales. The list of challenges was endless and the trouble was I had nobody to turn to for help and I couldn’t get support. There were some official support programmes through various local government scheme and things like that, but nobody you could really talk to who’d gone through the same experiences that I had. I couldn’t talk to my wife, she was too emotionally involved. She’d only just had our twin sons, so she was already stressed out and working full time herself, and all I was doing was adding to the burden if I came home and shared those problems.

SM: Indeed, indeed!

DD: I didn’t have friends or family that I could call on because none of them were in business. Any advice they offered was either well-meaning but ill-informed at best or downright dangerous at worst. And if you shared those experiences over a pint one night, in naivety, you were in danger of coming away with making some decisions that were really, really poor in light of where the advice had come from. Of course, you couldn’t turn to your staff, hell, they were the ones looking to me for the answers! So, it was a very, very tough time in those early days.

Even when the business began to gain some success, all we got was the pain associated with the growth! There were just a different set of problems, but there were still problems. Suddenly we were having staffing issues, where could we find the right people. We needed more money, so where do we find the increased working capital we needed. We were suffering from product and service quality issues because we were growing faster than the capabilities than the team we had.

The sporting analogy is, the team that gets you to the top division isn’t the same team that you started out with in the second and third… But I am one of the lucky ones I guess because I had a great business partner in Darren and our skills were complementary. I’m a bit of a blue sky strategic thinker, who always thinks the glass is full, not just half full, full! Darren is more realistic, a detailed orientated guy who keeps my feet on the ground, you know, the glass is at best half full at worst, we may not have any water in there Dave!

SM: The Yin and the Yang.

DD: That’s right, the Yin and the Yang, we complement one and other very well. As my accountant once described it, Darren is the ballast to my air balloon and I’m the air balloon that takes Darren to places perhaps he wouldn’t go without me. But even with a great business partner, as we grew and launched new businesses, what we found was, we separated. Even though we worked 10 feet apart at times, we didn’t have the time to talk to one and other.

We couldn’t share those experiences that we were getting each day or the challenges we were facing, so what we ended up doing was holding board meetings in the car on the way home… Him in his car and me in mine, and because the journey was never that long, what we often found was that we would arrive home and we still having the meeting in the car.

So, we end up parking 500 yards from the house so that the wives wouldn’t see that we were still actually in a business meeting and I tended to piss my wife off even more with my phone stuck to my ear when I was already late anyway. We struggled, and if I’m honest it took 15 years really to find our way through the entrepreneurial maze you know, to find the right environment to grow and to surround ourselves with like-minded success-focused entrepreneurs that can share that journey with us. Show us the way so to speak.

Now I’ve read loads of books, I’ve read Gerber and Covey and Robbins and all sorts of authors but even though I read them, I wasn’t ready for the messages that were in them, if that makes sense. And because I wasn’t surrounding myself with the right kind of people, it was a challenge you know and I realise my experience isn’t unique and this goes on day in, day out for business owners the world over.

So, I want to help those business owners and entrepreneurs that might be experiencing the same things that Darren and I did, the same challenges, and want to help them navigate the maze faster than we did. Hence, setting up the Renegade Entrepreneurs!

SM: I think a lot of people can associate with some of the things, well nearly all the things that you talked about actually. It is a very lonely place and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that myself and Dave are from the deepest, darkest, Welsh valleys, and sharing feelings and fallibilities, you can’t really confess them to other people. We come from a mining background, which is heavy industry and to share some of your concerns and your inner feelings about your business and to seek out advice from people, even close family, is kind of still, maybe not so much now, but it’s still frowned upon in our community, don’t you think?

DD: It is and also perhaps a self-limiting belief, there’s almost an element of weakness, or perceived weakness, so if you start talking to people about the problems you’re facing you’re no longer the businessman they thought you were.

And so, rather than being confident to seek out people who could provide the help and support you need you tend to shy away… You say, I don’t want to admit that I’m wrong, I don’t want to admit that I’m not getting all my decisions right; and believe me, I’ve made a lot of bad decisions.

I tend to look at those things, some people call them failures, and I did for many years but now I look back and I’m more inclined to see those failure as learning opportunities.

As Edison said, I didn’t fail to make a light bulb, 999 thousand times or however many times it was, what he said was, “I learned not how to make it”, and that’s the attitude we have to have as business owners.

SM: I think for me, when you come to terms with that as a business owner, or just in life as general actually, I don’t call it failure, I call it the ‘f’ word. It’s probably the only ‘f’ word I don’t like saying actually.

We know John Maxwell, a good mentor of ours, calls it ‘failing forward’. I think that’s it and not worrying about what people think. It’s a genius bit of advice. We so often don’t make that decision that we should make because we’re worried about what’ll happen and what people will think if the ‘f’ word does happen.

It’s interesting that you mention Darren because I obviously know Darren from dealing with him as a customer and in the Mastermind Group. Can you imagine, a lot of people still start a business without a business partner?

Now you know I’ve had my fair share of business partners and I’ve told you before, I am to picking business partners as Hannibal Lecter is to family BBQ, so I’m not very good!

I have a fantastic one now, so I’m very lucky, but can you imagine not having that person to share those experiences with and to seek out some sort of advice and just someone to talk with, because there are a lot people out there like that.

Becoming a business owner wasn’t the magic bullet that I thought it’d be… I got early starts, late finishes, no lunch breaks, less and shorter holidays…

DD: Not only can I imagine it, I experienced it and there were times when I didn’t have partners. I have had other business partners, and like you, they didn’t completely work out. Luckily for me, I found Darren 20 odd years ago and it’s been a phenomenal relationship, it really has!

But those days when I had no one what so ever to share the challenges I faced, they were just absolutely horrendous, and Darren said this to me the other day and I reflected afterwards and thought, he’s absolutely right and I probably wouldn’t do it myself…

Darren said, “if I knew then what I know now, I’d never have started a business alone”.

I wouldn’t have started a business alone because no one can do this alone, you need support, you can’t be good at everything and so recognising you’re not good at everything is vitally important.

Then being able to collaborate with people, learning that rather than competing and fighting everyone and being protective of what you have, learning to find those that you can collaborate with is so important and is so powerful in terms of helping you on your journey to the success you aspire to.

SM: That’s a really interesting statement that you said about Darren, I would class yourself and Darren as successful entrepreneurs. Yes, you’ve had some failures but you’ve actually had some really good successes. You sit here as a successful businessman! But even he says, as a successful businessman, “if I know what I know now, I would never would have started in business”. Can you imagine what he would have been like if he’d failed all the way through, imagine how he’d be feeling then. It’s interesting!

DD: It is, and we all know the Gerber analogy of 80% of businesses fail within the first 5 years and 80% of those who survive will fail in the second 5 years, and 80% of those who survive the second will fail in the next 5 years. So, any one lasting 15 years or more is the 4% businesses who started 15 years before.

That’s an incredible statistic and when you realise that those who do survive, almost always do that because they’re working with others. They’re collaborating… they never, ever do it alone.

You rarely see a one-man band lasting more than 5, 10, 15 years, other than staying a one-man band of course!

SM: I think the Renegade Masterminds is a fantastic initiative that’s going to take off massively, so what are you going to achieve?

DD: Well, great question Steve, in simple terms, I just want to make a difference. It’s a cliché but I do. A great mentor of ours, as you mentioned earlier is John Maxwell and one of the lovely things that John says that I think is superb, it’s very powerful… “once you’ve tasted significance, success just doesn’t cut it anymore”.

So, after 27 years of launching more than 20 small business here in the UK and in the US, I’ve experienced both success and failure numerous times.

Although I’d prefer to call the failures ‘learning opportunities’, I’m fortunate enough today to be in a great place. I’ve got a fantastic team of people around me who are leaders themselves, and I think it was Ralph Nada who said, “the purpose of leadership is to create more leaders not create more followers”.

That was something I had to learn because I thought I had to be the leader, the one everybody else listened to. I consequently became the single point of failure and it’s an incredible thing when you look back, you think “how simple was that”, but you don’t because when you’re in the frame, you don’t see the picture.

It’s something that’s so blindingly obvious in hindsight, I just didn’t realise how much trouble I was putting myself in. But nowadays I’ve got some financial certainty from the income I get from the businesses I own with Darren and I’ve got a fantastic team that run those businesses day to day.

I literally now am able to do what Michael Gerber says… “hey, I’m off to Spain for a month, let me know if you’ve got any problems, I’m at the end of a telephone line but I’ll see you in a month”.

I attend some Board meetings and the guys tell me how the business is performing and genuinely, the businesses are doing better without me involved on a day to day basis, than they did when I was actually running the place.

It’s a phenomenal thing to achieve, so what I want to do is help others achieve similar levels of satisfaction… Am I a multi-millionaire Steve? No I’m not, but am I a comfortable, reasonably successful business owner?

I am, but it’s taken a long time to do that and I want to help people arrive at that point far, far quicker than I did. I’ve worked with numerous people in different businesses, in various countries across the world for a number of years now and I love watching the way they change, watching the way they grow, especially when they’re in environments like this, coaching, mentoring and Mastermind situations.

I’ve seen a difference that those situations can create for different people and that, to me, represents the significance that John Maxwell speaks of. So, I guess I have a craving for more of that and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see someone achieving something. That look on their face… it’s like the look I used to see when I first started in business when I offered them a job.

The look on their face when you’ve just massively changed their lives, you’ve created an income, you’ve enable them to mortgage a house or to buy a car or help them afford to have children… Whatever choice they make.

Consequently, the worst time ever is when you have to call that person back in the room to say that they’ve no longer got a job because you can’t afford to keep them.

They are those experiences, as business owners, that we don’t know how to handle, we don’t know how to cope with until we surround ourselves with those who’ve been there, done it, got the t shirt and all the rest of it.

So, I’ve been in Masterminds for many years now, and I’ve seen good ones and I’ve seen bad ones but I believe the Masterminding process, whether it’s in group format or small intimate groups that I prefer, they have the potential to make significant differences to business owners, massive differences!

I’ve seen phenomenal change and growth in people in this process…. Think about this Steve, you and I are products of this process, we are products of the product. Our own experience demonstrates how successful the process can be.

I just want to take the process and I want every business owner to share it. I’m going to find ways of doing that. I have a number of ideas of how that can happen and with the phenomenal team that I now have around me, and that includes yourself, I think we can make that happen… watch this space as they say…

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