Find The Right Mindset

Find The Right Mindset

Daren Smith

Devin Miller

The Inventive Journey

Podcast for Entrepreneurs


Find The Right Mindset

I truly believe that success in creative business comes down to the mindset and the skill set of the leader. And honestly 80% mindset. And so what I have really been focused on is not just tactically what does a business look like, and how you do sales, and marketing, and finances. What's the mindset that helps somebody be good at those things so that they have the desire to go learn how to improve and grow their business. So that they can get better at their craft or skill set.


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The Inventive Journey

Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.

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i truly believe that success in creative business comes down to the mindset and the skill set of the leader and honestly it's 80 mindset and so what i've really been focused on is not just tactically what does a business look like and how do you do sales and marketing and finances and all that stuff it's like what's the mindset that helps somebody be good at those things so that they have the desire to go learn how to improve and grow their business so that they can get better at their craft their skill set right [Music] hey everyone this is devon miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devon miller the serial entrepreneur that has grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo of miller i p law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours feel free to go to and we're always here to help so today we've got another great guest on the episode darren smith and uh darren this is a little bit of an introduction so he's uh been in the creative or in the creative industry for a lot of his career for 15 years started out in the music industry i think he said he out you toured with some bands including imagine dragons right so which is a cool bad to see anyway i think you apache dragons has their their utah origins or or or whatnot um but uh so did that for a while got into film production and then from film production is that kind of wound down you then started your own creative end or creative agency um and have been doing that and had to make some adjustments some pivots due to covid as you're doing or as everybody's having to and that kind of gives you a brief introduction with that welcome on to the podcast darren hey thanks so much it's really great to be here appreciate the time oh it's a pleasure to have you on so i gave a very brief introduction i'm sure didn't do anywhere near justice so let's take you back let's go back to when you started uh starting out your career and you're graduating and doing all the cool things that sound fun with music and bands and college and all that so tell us a little bit about your journey yeah you know i've been a creative in the music and film industries for as long as i can remember i was in in bands that i helped start in high school and we toured and we played professionally and we were in jazz festivals and stuff like that and then played and did a lot of that stuff in college and really college was the the pivot point because i really realized that playing saxophone for a profession was not going to really give me the kind of lifestyle that i wanted i saw the trajectory with my instructors was like that's not what i want to do so i pivoted there and got into doing live sound and you know doing music for bands and doing live events and stuff really loved it got into a venue here in provo and started running sound and that's where i met bands like imagine dragons and neon trees they all got their start here in provo utah at velour live so i was a sound guy there for like 10 years and during that time really pivoted from doing touring and live sound and doing into doing post-production sound for film and it was around 2006 2007 that i was like okay i'm all in on the film thing it's super fun i was doing sound design for film so i was like making things blow up and making people crunch when they hit the ground and like it was just so cool that i could not um turn it down and like the hours were so much better i was working a nine to five instead of like a five to two a.m or a 24 7 when i was touring with neon trees so it just really fixed around that time i was getting married i had my first son and it was just such a better lifestyle so from doing sound for film i got into writing and producing and that's really where i spend most of my time now i'm a film and tv producer so i do a lot of jump too far just a couple questions so you i'm gonna jump back so you did first of all you start out with bands right and did music for a while yeah was what is that as cool as it sounds to work with the fun bads or is it a lot more boring once you do it enough times just was curious you know when when you hear all the fun names like oh that's that's got to be a fun job or it is cool to see all the concerts or i can see it's like i've heard this music i've heard a concert i've seen this so many times it loses some of its savorness you know having my start as a performer it was it felt like being a fifth or sixth member of the band for me i i could tell when a crowd was responding to a certain push of a certain fader or a tweak of eq or reverb or whatever it was i was doing and it really felt just fully amazing every hour every minute of the day i loved it it was really hard to say no i was invited to go out on tour for an entire year with me on trees but it was right as my son was being born it's like i'm not going to be gone 10 months out of 12 in his first year life it's just not the kind of data i want to be so i turned it down and then i did a little a couple of one-off shows for them and imagine dragons and people like that but it's a blast it's a ton of fun but it's also a lot of work it's tiring you're on the road it's long days long nights late hours it's a lot so and sleeping on a tour bus not my favorite but it did teach me how to sleep through literally anything and that served me well when i was having we were having kids and i had to figure out how to sleep in a hospital with delivery room right so that's that's fair so now you see you know so that first of all that sounds interesting it just sounds like it'd be a ton of fun to be able to go and talk but to your point it is a lot of work and on the road and other drawbacks to it so you say okay we're going to make the transition from music industry or at least touring over to now sound design from films and that how did you make you know how did you make that leap for that jump did you how did you put out your shingle put out your resume and just happen to find one or did you start on your own or kind of how did you say okay i can't be on the road all the time i've got my kid coming i still want to be in the creative space so how did you make that jump you know the short story was just uh networking and being open to opportunities and so i was already kind of getting into post-production sound but i had this new resume line item of like i toured with neon trees nationally like shows that were 15 000 people right so like i was at a certain level that people could go oh he knows what he's doing behind a sound board and so i got into doing post-production sound while in school that's where i did like my internship and i started pivoting into film even in college college um so it was kind of a dual thing that i was doing my the job that paid me the most was doing post-production sound but i loved doing the live sound and then i would i ended up going on a tour so it was just kind of a natural progression of things and i i think the big takeaway for me was i knew what i wanted my life to look like i knew how much time i wanted to be home and be present with my wife and kids i knew how much money i wanted to make i knew how much i wanted to travel or not travel and it was just a progression of like four to five years of strategically going you know if i take this gig and start doing post-production sound at this place or with this client that's going to lead me in this way whereas if i take this 10-month tour with me on trees it's going to take me this way and it was just there were a couple of moments in in a five or six year period i was just like systematically just kind of going this way this way this way this way no it makes that makes perfect sense so so now you did that you made the transition you said okay gonna go from touring to the film industry did sound production for a period of time and you got more into the actual film producing and some of that was it a worthwhile transition did you love it as much as touring and you know how did that go for making that transition it was definitely worthwhile because i went from being a vendor so to speak to being a business owner and that is a huge lesson in my life to where i i wasn't dependent on a single source of income anymore i wasn't just a vendor i wasn't a contractor for neon trees and if they decided to cancel a tour or postpone a tour or something happen i'd be out of a job it's the same way i didn't i didn't ever go and try to join corporate america because i'd never wanted a single point of failure which is another term for a boss i just didn't want somebody to have that much control over the trajectory of my life to where they could decide what i got paid what hours i got i worked and whether or not i had a job tomorrow and it was it just felt too risky for me so i really enjoyed the pivot to owning and running a video production company because i was in control and i could affect if we wanted to get more clients and make more money i could do that i could turn that knob or put some pressure on that lever and we could have more clients and if i wanted to scale it back or if i wanted to only focus on high quality clients i could fire people i could say you're not a good client you don't pay on time we don't work together anymore and so i really really enjoyed it that was a probably the pivotal moment was deciding i want to be a business owner i want to have complete control and freedom and yeah there's other risks involved but i'll take those over the risk of being able to get fired or get let go or any of those kind of things no and i'm i'm a big proponent of it and i've done my own startups i've started my own firm but you know it's interesting you always hear well you know it's more riskier it's less secure and i always look at and says yeah but big businesses lay people off all the time you know you work for somebody else they may not manage it any better than you could and so there's you know you look at their risk but i like kind of what you said it's it's a nice you're saying i just don't like working with this client anymore they're not fun they're they're they don't pay their bills on time they're paying they always work with they always want changes they always want this they're always running us over costs we're writing things off he's saying i'm just not going to work with them anymore and when you're in the driver's seat when you're no longer or somebody else is you know in control but you control it yourself it makes it a lot easier to actually have that you know captain your own destiny so so you went from doing you know pl touring and bands when worked for the film production then did your own creative and or creative development company and been doing that and you're still doing that is that right well it's uh i'll reframe that a little bit because i i think we we're losing the the context or the the accuracy with the terminology but that's probably my fault correct me where i'm wrong you're not going to hurt my feelings so in 2017 the end of 2017 i left that business i i had a business partner the business wasn't doing well the partnership wasn't working out we're still like best friends but the partnership was not healthy so we stopped i left um and in 2018 i realized that as much as i enjoyed the control and freedom of owning my own business i wasn't doing a very good job running a good business so i took a very conscious effort and made some goals and said i'm gonna figure this out because i want to get to the point where i know how to start businesses i know how to run businesses i know how to grow businesses and it was a two or two and a half year period of just really focusing my effort on what's the thing that's holding me back now and then fixing it and if i didn't know how to fix it then i went and figured it out and so over this period of time so much research and seminars and courses and coaching and all this stuff that i went through i realized how important it was for people like me in my situation to understand all these basics that a lot of people go to mba and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for well i did it in two years with like youtube and courses and maybe 10 grand worth of expense so when cobit happened this year the tv show i'm a senior producer on got you know got postponed so i was furloughed over the summer and i found myself in a good situation where i was like okay i've got money because i figured out my business over the last two years we've got a little bit of time and i don't have any pressure to like go and find clients right now so i can i could do this like i could i've i had this idea where i wanted to help other creatives and freelancers and small business owners figure out all the stuff that i figured out because i like teaching i like writing i like sharing all that stuff so i'm like i'm gonna do it so i built a online course platform slash coaching platform called craftsmancreative and basically started putting out content that helps people like me who want to figure out how to build like a resilient profitable business to support the creative work they're doing like here's how to do that i'm just going to teach it to you and i just put out courses and then i started producing courses for other people and putting them on the platform then i built an app to support people who are doing it because they need a tool to be able to track this stuff and focus their efforts and that's kind of been what this year has been about i've still done film and tv production i've still been producing courses i still do a lot of that work but it's now in a kind of new and expanded context so it's really focused on how can i contribute the most to these people that i really care about and really want to serve because as we've talked about all of my friends are musicians and filmmakers and writers and photographers and and they're the ones who got hit really really hard this year the gig economy is still not recovered so a lot of my friends are just like sitting and waiting and they're on unemployment and they're taking jobs but there's no jobs and like it's been a hard year and so i found myself in this situation where i could legitimately sorry i've got my phone call coming in my phone because i'm using my phone as my camera so that's the downside there um but i don't even know how to turn off because it's in like a camera mount or whatever but that's what this year has been and it's been really really really fulfilling because i've got a business that's growing because of all this work and i'm able to focus on external things and not so much my own life my own income my own business it's really been able i've been able to focus on all the people i care about and serving them and helping them but the money is kind of secondary like they pay me but it's not about making money it's about serving and helping and that's been the really great part about it all no and i think it's interesting is you you know as you go through your journey but as you also said hey these are the skills that i need to do let's figure out business development that's part of running a business let's figure these things out how to help others and then you just say okay now that first of all there's a business here and helping other people to learn the same things i did because you know it seems like not always and you get that good mixture and it sounds like you've reached it a lot of times if you're on the creative side you're awesome at creative but terrible the business side or you can be great at the business side but it's hard to be creative because really you know kind of takes both you know two different mindsets almost and be able to switch between them can be a difficult thing and i think it can be learned but it's certainly not that natural or intuitive a lot of times you can be naturally a business or naturally creative but to learn that other side of it can i think is a great endeavor and it sounds like you know it's one that is bridging you're helping to bridge that gap so it's now you take so you figure this out you're taking covid you kind of step back said okay i've learned these things now how am i going to create a platform share it to others help others to kind of learn the same things i did and be that good business person not just a great creative so now you take that we're you know looking at the knicks and i know it's hard with the everything going on but six to 12 months kind of where do you see things going next for you yeah um i want to quickly touch on what you just said though because it's been top of mind for me trying to analyze and figure out what what is it that's keeping the creative and and artistic people from building these kind of businesses and what i realize is that when when creative people are stressed and they their business isn't working or they're not getting enough clients or enough work their answer is well i just need to do more work i need to get better at my work and they focus on the thing that they know which is their art and their craft and their their work and the reality that i'm sure you know and a lot of people listen to this know is that the the execution the craft the work is only going to get you so far and there's a there's a cap to that and it's i found that it's about 150 000 after talking to hundreds of creatives this year even ones that are doing really well from the outside looking in you talk to them about well how's your business going they're like dude i've been stuck at 140 150k for three years i don't know how to get past it it's because they are approaching their business as a creative person they're thinking well i just need to get better and that's not necessarily the case we need to get better at something else which is the business and so i try i've been really focusing on helping them understand how businesses work that there's systems at play and they're interactive and you do something over here and effects over here and so i wanted to touch on that because it's super important especially if there are creatives and artists listening that like doing more work doing more art is not the answer when all of the stuff that happened this year took your business out for money it's figuring out how to actually approach the business in a systematic way so to answer your question what's this next six to 12 months look like you know i am so excited about the next six to 12 months because i had the blessing and i know that it's like a privileged situation to be in where like i had time from march to now of this year where i could put in time and effort on this thing i didn't have to make 10 or 15 grand a month with my business in order to support my lifestyle right so i was able to just kind of get by and we were able to do ppp loans and we were able to do sba loans and we got grants and like we were strategic about the way that we my wife and i who are both creatives and own our own businesses we're able to fund them through these kind of uh programs and opportunities and it's kept it's given us all this time to build and so this year has really felt like an upward uphill climb with like a 50 pound backpack on and it's been hard there's just been so much building and effort and execution but i knew that like at some point i'm gonna have to go back to work and i'm gonna have to go make money again right and so i'm like i'm just gonna go all in on this because i had a couple of signals that like this is gonna work there's enough signal from enough uh sample size of people that like if i build this it could get big so i kept going and going and going and building a building building and it's really just been in the last like two to three weeks so after eight months of building where it feels like okay i've been going uphill for eight months but it just kind of flattened out so it got a little bit easier and now it almost feels like we're rounding a corner and it's a downhill slope and i'm gonna have a little bit of momentum and wind at my back or it's just going to be easier to keep making progress so what it looks like technically is that i'm producing more content for craftsman creative i've got bigger partners that i'm partnering with to produce courses for them so people with followings in the 50 to 200 000 followings instead of the 10 to 15 000 followings so that just that's leverage that's just even the next step of like you execute well and then you start implementing some systems but then you start putting some leverage at play and the same amount of work gets you 10 times the results so that's what the next six months looks like and then with this app that we built it's called benchmark and that's something where you know we built the infrastructure we built the app we built the website we have a marketing channel that's starting to generate leads at a pretty profitable amount so that's a matter of scale and then doing version two and then turning it into a sas app and all those kind of things happens in the next six months as well and so i'm feeling the momentum and like the all the energy that's going forward now which is very exciting and i'm i'm super excited and curious to see what six to 12 months looks like because i know i can kind of see zero to six but six to twelve i have no idea it could be a nice lifestyle business or it could be like man we we can scale this thing we could grow it we could sell it we could reach tens of thousands of people like i i just don't know hey that that's one of the part of the fun of the journey is figuring you're seeing where it goes and what the opportunities lie and then pivoting and adjusting accordingly yeah well as we start to wrap up towards the end of the podcast i always have two and there's always more things i want to talk and go through and there's never enough time but someday i'll i'll have more time but we could we'll have to circle back but as we wrap up i always ask two questions i ask in towards the end of podcast so why don't we jump to those now so the first question i always ask is within your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it you know you gave me the heads up on this one and i didn't spend enough time thinking about it so now i have to kind of think back the the worst decision i made was actually um postponing a decision or abdicating a decision i think the the thing that held me back the most in the last decade or 15 years of doing this stuff owning my own business was sticking with a partnership longer than i should have because writing was kind of on the wall around 2014 2015. but we stuck with it and we kept going and that business never did more than like 165 grand in a year but there's two partners who are 50 50 partners who need to provide for families of five each right so i should have made a choice earlier two three four years earlier to leave that business strike out on my own and really go because what happened after leaving that business and by no means am i saying my business partner was at fault no absolutely making that i think that on that there are times that you can be great friends both people can be talented and you just don't mesh well so absolutely i agree with you yeah the business just wasn't working and so had i you know what happened after 2017 is i went and doubled my revenue in 2018 and then doubled it again in 2019. and had i done that in four years five years earlier three three or four years or whatever it was i could have been even closer to the goals and the things that i wanted to achieve for myself and my family instead of having to go through the worst financial year of my life in 2017 because of that business i was trying to keep it afloat through loans and debt and it just yeah really kicked me in the butt so that was the the worst decision was just postponing a decision that was really important to i should have made it two three years earlier no i think that there's a lot of wisdom and learning from that because oftentimes you're saying ah i don't want to have to deal with it or i don't want to make the decision i'll just do you know we can figure it out and work through it and sometimes those hardest decisions need to be made and the longer you propose ponem the worse it gets so you know and i also agree with you know to your point it's not bashing on a business partner you have some partners that they're talented they want to do their way and the way they want to do it is just simply not the same way that works for you and so both of the ways are good just not combining them are not always good yeah so now the second question which is talking to someone's just getting into a startup or a small business what would be the one piece of advice you'd give them i mean selfless plug i would say go check out craftsman because that's exactly who we're targeting it's really the all the work i've been doing this year is to help people like that who are just getting started or honestly who have been doing it for three five ten years and they're still not happy with the results they're getting and the here's the the podcast version of the the answer which is i truly believe that success in creative business comes down to the mindset and the skill set of the leader and honestly it's 80 mindset and so what i've really been focused on is not just tactically what does a business look like and how do you do sales and marketing and finances and all that stuff it's like what's the mindset that helps somebody be good at those things so that they have the desire to go learn how to improve and grow their business so that they can get better at their craft their skill set right because the tactics yes they matter the systems the tools all of that is important but if you don't approach it with the right mindset and my mindset i mean like global belief system are people good or bad am i inherently valuable to the marketplace do i have something to offer people like all this goes into mindset and if if you don't have a mindset that allows you to show up every single day and [Music] have fun doing the work that you claim to love then you're gonna you just struggle all the time and that's no fun i was there in 2017 i was showing up to work every day and it sucked because my mindset was wrong and so that's the big thing it's like focusing on the mindset being able to understand that you can get better it's a muscle it's a decision there's all this stuff that plays in the mindset that if you get that right all the other stuff is actually pretty easy and so that's where we're focusing a lot of my time and my team's time and the businesses focus is on helping artists creatives freelancers small business owners with their mindset and their skill set to help them grow their businesses and get the results they want for them and their families no i think that that i think i certainly agree with that so now that makes a perfect transition to from the shameless plug-in to if people want to reach out to you they want to connect up to you they want to use your product they want to be your next employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to connect up with your learn more um best way honestly is on twitter so at darren t smith is my twitter handle and i'm very accessible there um my twitter handle is at guaranty smith but the name on there is my email address which is darren so i'm open and available i don't get 1000 emails a day and so i'm still in the place where like you can email me and i'll talk to you and it's fine but if you're at all intrigued at anything i talked about today check out and that's where all the courses and stuff lie but the thing i'm really excited about and i think is going to be beneficial for the audience is if people go check out i put together a amazing coaching platform or program for next year which really just systematically covers everything i talked about today everything i've learned over the last 15 years of running and owning a creative business and helping people do the same next year so craftsman created is really the thing that i'm building and then you know reach out to me if you want to learn about the app i'll tell you about all that stuff just all right i love chocolate hey i appreciate that and i certainly encourage everybody to reach out find out more about craftsman creative reach out to you on twitter and any other avenue that they can find well darren it's been a fun to have you on at the show and it's been a pleasure now if you're a listener if you're a listener and make sure to um if you have your own journey to tell we love to tell it so feel free to go to apply to be on the show if you're a listener also make sure to click subscribe on any wherever you listen to the podcast so you get notifications as all the awesome episodes come out last but not least make sure that uh if you ever need help with the patents or trademarks go to uh miller ip law you can sign up at and we're always here to help thank you again darren it's been a pleasure and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you so much it's been a pleasure hey if you enjoyed this episode of the inventive journey make sure to go and check out startups magazine they're an awesome magazine and podcast centered over in the uk and if the magazine is a digital and print magazine where they focus on tech startups and entrepreneurs and they also have a focus on female founders and women in tech so if you want to check out their magazine neither digital or print it's startups magazine startups with an s and you can also look up their podcast which is called the serial entrepreneur so go check them out they're awesome and definitely if you like this episode you'll like them English (auto-generated) All Recently uploaded

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