Don't Wait For Perfection

The Inventive Journey
Episode #354
Don't Wait For Perfection
w/ Justin Leonard

What This Episode Talks About:

How To Manage Business & Self

"Never launch your perfect product, always launch the imperfect product. If you think back to the iPad 1 it only became the product that it is after several iterations. In my personal experience when I wrote the book "abominable secrets revealed" It was only a year since I learned how to type. Prior to joining the Air Force I did not know how to type. I had to figure out how to type 30 words per minute to get through training. The book was published without a ISBN number, I didn't hire a proof reader. And what I did is I published it and then over time I perfected it. Don't launch a perfect product, always go ahead and launch the imperfect product and then improve it as you go."


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What Is 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.

ai generated transcription

never launch your perfect product always launch the imperfect product if you think back to the ipad one it only became the product that it is after several iterations in my personal experience when i wrote the book abdominal secrets revealed uh i would say only a year did i even learn how to type so prior to joining the air force i didn't even know how to type i had to figure out how to type 30 words per minute to get through training the book was published without an isbn number i didn't hire a proofreader and what i did is i published it and then over time i perfected it so don't launch a perfect product always go ahead and launch that imperfect product and then improve it as you go [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host evan miller the serial entrepreneur has grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the founder and ceo miller ip law where i help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to grab some time with us to chat and we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast justin leonard and uh justin back in 1997 was a junior mr american in bodybuilding so that's always an interesting bag he won it and went on into the air force um at the time i didn't intend to build a business but spent a bit of time in the air force when then during that period of time was looking at a way to communicate to those who were looking uh for bodybuilding advice so we built a website and and turned it into multiple websites um as a communication platform to answer questions provide a guidance and advice um also did a couple websites for uh that were for infomercial products and doing a bit of products and supplements there also started a supplements uh critics website sold off a couple of the websites and exited those um started workouts with the i did a youtube workout video sell some products videos there initially the internet wasn't fast enough to stream um so i had to wait as that caught up for a bit and then also was getting into teaching entrepreneurship um and uh became an actor in the in looking at accident they're becoming an accidental inventor so with that much is a introduction welcome on the podcast justin thank you it's a pleasure to be on your show absolutely so i'm excited to have you here and i kind of gave the quick quick or condensed version to a much longer uh journey um so with that maybe you take us a bit back in time to when you uh initially were doing the uh the bodybuilding competitions and took mr america and how your journey got started there yeah so it was kind of interesting how i started i started working with weights at age 12 and i was introduced to weight training through wrestling and you know when you're 12 you're not really thinking like your heroes aren't bodybuilders like you're looking at uh baseball players basketball players football players things like that now what happened is i believe it was my freshman year in high school there was uh someone promoting a team an all-city teen bodybuilding competition which would pit the different high schools or high school athletes together to see who was the best bodybuilder and i ended up winning my weight division in that show so all of a sudden people know who i am i've got girlfriends i'm popular and that started a whole revolution so that culminated in a significant win in 1997 when i won the teen mr america so that's basically how everything started about you say okay you know you get into that and it wasn't there you win some competitions have some success and then you continue to build on that success until the point where you get to team mr america and so you won that and then you know what was the plan from there i think you mentioned you went into the air force for a bit of time and you also didn't necessarily plan or intend on starting a business but it kind of evolved from there so kind of how did that or where did you go from there after winning the competition so after on the competition i was already a member of the united states air force now i i knew i would be successful at something and i figured it would be in athletics however at the pro level in bodybuilding you basically have to be on steroids and because of my affiliation with the air force i didn't want to risk my career and try to take steroids so i opted not to go that route now around this same time i'm learning computers and and the internet's really taking off so we're hearing about amazon and ebay uh and the media and i started going okay this is really popular and i'm getting all these questions uh being asked of me from around the world hey what is your diet what is your workout and i said okay let me learn about this internet thing that way i can figure out a way to communicate easier with you know people who are interested in getting advice from me so i ended up launching a website now that was only by virtue of my proximity to uh other i.t type people so i had a guy that one guy was a microsoft beta tester this was in the squadron that i was in so i just lucked out so he would provide free computer software and then another guy knew the network administration side he actually taught me how to uh essentially build my first website they say okay gonna build a website i'm gonna provide a bit of information the internet's on the rise now did that was when he originally built the website was it with the intent of building a platform or was it just more of hey i'm going to provide some information kind of help out the bodybuilding community and you know just kind of interact with them or kind of what was the intent as you start got that startup and going yeah the original intent was just to provide advice on what worked for me because that's all that people were asking for there was no plan to build a for-profit business if you will um now once i built this thing i essentially created what would now be considered a blog but back then we didn't have the term for it so there was a popular question and answer section on the website which overwhelmingly featured three topics so those topics were abdominal training bodybuilding supplements and infomercial products so those three are going to be critical because ultimately they're going to birth additional websites being created so the first thing i did was i wrote an ebook on abdominal training so abdominal secrets revealed which was essentially at the time the largest book on abs ever assembled and it was also the first e-book see there were already print books but the internet was so new at that time this is 1998-99 that there was no ebook so i was the first to create an ebook and at its peak you know i'm doing about 300 a day now this is in a dish excuse me in addition to my air force job so it like like any money in addition to that was like huge for me so that's successful the other big topic was the infomercial products i said okay let me create a website that would allow consumers who purport to have tried these products to write reviews initially i didn't feel it was fair for me to comment on a product that i hadn't actually tried myself so i said let's let the consumers tell you what they think and then you can decide uh that was successful and by the way that website was uh that morphed into so what you have is i'm going okay the fitness portion of the infomercial is successful why not just do it for all infomercial products hence so it took the get rich quick the household the fitness anything that you've ever seen on an infomercial the george foreman grill it was on there and you could find like ratings and reviews of virtually any product from that around the same time i also mentioned bodybuilding supplements were huge and they still are of course but it was more or less hey what justin what were you uh taking and it was like okay you know i'm just doing the the basic stuff but they wanted to know about new trending type uh bodybuilding supplements including those that might have been featured on infomercial products and thus was born and the same business model so basically consumer reports if you will for bodybuilding supplements now all sites were hugely popular and so much in the case of the infomercial sites i was actually approached by several existing business owners to sell and ultimately the infomercial sites were sold to dean graziosi the self-help guru for several hundred thousand and then the supplements uh website was sold for about four hundred thousand and this was all within a span of about oh uh maybe a year and a half so that was an amazing accomplishment because i was able to ultimately uh create the website that i really wanted in which is spelled with the z and was basically um you know we demonstrate the products i'm sorry we demonstrate exercises but we feature and sell the products featured in the videos so this was pretty much the first website of its kind because previously the internet wasn't fast enough and what you had was like the like youtube when it came out it it wasn't powerful enough so we actually had to design our own media player if you recall when youtube first came out their longest video the longest video you can upload was about a minute and 30 seconds uh we were able to top that uh fairly easy now this was before google acquired uh youtube for a large sum and you know we kind of knew that it was gonna turn into something a lot bigger but at the time just an interesting tidbit their media player was not powerful enough for what we were able to create so yeah now you say okay you know a lot of opportunity things are you know coming to um you know coming coming together and you're able to do the reviews and the critiques of these type of products you're building a bit of you know following and present and now as you're doing all these things and kind of going through all those other options and those possibilities kind of where what was the planner kind of what did you do next was it was continuing to bifurcate the different type of websites or was it continuing to build on the videos or shifting over to youtube at some point or kind of where did you continue to build out what happened was the project was very successful and it had a lot of traction and it had a lot of media exposure so there was really no and really nothing i've ever created um i did with the intent to sell uh the the possibility was always there but i never actually looked to sell it i just always just wanted to provide something that people needed but with the project what started to happen was you know we're getting amazon as customers and cirque du soleil and exxon mobil just random people that you wouldn't expect and a lot of these guys have on-site wellness facilities so that's why you might have a random company like say wells fargo saying well what nexus do they have to justin and his stuff well it's because they have on-site wellness facilities so they need equipment for these gyms and that's where we come in so we're uh you know a global retailer of exercise equipment but that was so successful that i stayed in that lane for several years in fact that's still one of the primary ways i'm making money today they're saying okay you know no it wasn't uh intent to sell wasn't intend to exit you're having you know what are some interesting ones and you agreed i wouldn't have thought on some of those that they would have had the interest or the background but did you explain that it makes sense as to why they're doing that um so now it's here to say okay that's been a bit of the journey up until to you know today and kind of how you got to where you're at and what you're doing and where the success lies here now kind of extrapolate out or look up into the future as to what are the next steps or kind of what does the next six to 12 months look like for you and i know you also mentioned you're getting into not only just the what you mentioned now but also teaching a bit of entrepreneurship so kind of how does that all or come together or what is the next next phase of your journey or kind of what do you think that will be the next steps over the coming months so the success of uh and workouts are spelled with the z if i haven't mentioned that that kind of took me down a lot of different paths that initially i didn't think were possible so for example in 2008 under armour actually approached us through the course of buying equipment for the under armour combine uh needing a wingspan tester and all wingspan is is the measurement uh from fingertip to fingertip with the arms outstretched and they use that in sport as a predictor of athletic success uh because essentially if we know what your vertical leap is you may not be you may not out jump someone for a ball just because your vertical leap was higher we actually need to know other factors such as your height and your wingspan because if you have longer arms the shorter person might actually out jump you for a ball uh but anyways i searched for this thing and worldwide it didn't exist anywhere in the world again i never saw myself you know going down some of these paths but before you know it i'm suddenly an engineer i'm an inventor so uh patent pending the i would describe it as the only reliable portable stadiometer that has a wingspan tester attached which is specifically designed for athletes because most stadiometers a stadiometer is just the technical term for a height rod uh they don't they only go up to about six feet five and we know we've got these new freaks of nature being burst that are consistently over that height so this device can measure up to eight feet tall and then wingspan upwards of nine feet wide so but another path the success of the business took me down was getting invited to speak at things like colleges and almost every time i spoke it was about you know the success of the business and uh you know fitness entrepreneurship but i never actually commercialized if you will that uh those experiences and that's pretty much what i'm doing now with the leonard school of business innovation essentially i'm focused on entrepreneurs who don't come from wealth but have the potential to be great and essentially it's things like you know if i was starting a business in the next 90 days online what would i do so i'm providing information and shortcuts on exactly what i would do i'm telling people hey this is these are some ideas of things you can sell this is how to set up your payments uh you know how do you build an audience you know where do you find your customers so i'm you know it's rudimentary all the way up to advanced uh information so well it sounds like a lot of uh fun and interesting endeavors and certainly a fun journey uh yet to come and ahead of you so that that sounds like uh a lot of great opportunities so with that now as we've kind of reached a bit of the journeys as to where you're at today and even looking a bit into the future always a great time to transition to the two questions i always ask the end of each uh their journey so the first question i always ask is longer journey what was the worst business decision you ever made what'd you learn from it the worst uh business decision and a lot of this you don't know it's the worst you know because when you're when you're operating a business you're kind of doing what you think is best in the moment but because of the business that i'm in i would say the worst business decision i ever made was not hiring a salesperson which unfortunately created an over dependence on like advertising and that's not a good long-term strategy in a perfect world you know you would have a salesperson that kind of offsets any uh underperforming advertising spin but what we were doing was just kind of over relying on you know google ads for example i think i was spending about 70 000 a year now the only reason that didn't hurt us is because the core business revenues always kept going up you know the industry that i'm in the likelihood or the probability of somebody ordering multiple times is very high you know if you're a personal trainer if you're a physical therapist if you're a sports team uh you're probably gonna be buying from us again so there were certain things uh you know that were in in effect that essentially saved the business because otherwise when your ad spend stops converting or doesn't convert as it once did you can find yourself a statistic so that's probably the worst business decision i made now it definitely makes sense and i think a lot of people find themselves in the the similar you know type of uh situation and it's it's always a drawback or the the plus and the minus of doing the ad spend and some of the channels that you choose um you can become dependent on them depending on them you can also weigh over span you can i'm not understanding i think and it can be beneficial to business but understanding what that is and what you're spending on and whether or not you're getting their return is also is all uh great things to learn and easy mistakes to make right second question i always ask if you're talking to someone that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you'd give them i would say never launch your perfect product always launch the imperfect product if you think back to the ipad one it only became the product that it is after several iterations in my personal experience when i wrote the book abdominal secrets revealed uh i would say only a year did i even learn how to type so prior to joining the air force i didn't even know how to type i had to figure out how to type 30 words per minute to get through training the book was published without an isbn number i didn't hire a proofreader and what i did is i published it and then over time i perfected it so don't launch a perfect product always go ahead and launch that imperfect product and then improve it as you go and i think that that's that's always a great piece of advice because first of all i don't know that you ever reach the perfect product and there's always things that you learn is that you introduce in the marketplace and you're doing other things and you're getting client feedback and customer feedback and adjusting and tweaking and doing the next generation so if you're always trying to perfect it to the point that you're never launching it then you're never going to be able to have or get the traction get the success or get the feedback vice versa you don't want to put out an unfinished half done product it's not that it's unfinished it just means it doesn't have to be perfect or it doesn't have to be exactly how you have envisioned in order for it to be worthwhile and useful for the customer so i think that's a bingo a great piece of advice thank you as we wrap up if people want to reach out to you they want to be a customer they want to be a client they want to be a 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 reach out to you contact you or find out more at leonard innovation everywhere or either one of those is fine well i definitely encourage people to reach out to you connect up um and find out more and uh definitely a great resource and and a fun journey that you shared so with that thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast we'd love to have you just go to and apply to be on the show a couple more things as listeners make sure to click subscribe share leave us a review because we want to make sure that everyone finds out about all these awesome episodes and last but not least if you ever need help with your patents your trademarks or anything else with your business just go to grab some time with us to chat and we're always here to help thank you again justin and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last devon likewise thank you

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