Owner of the internationally successful hat manufacturing company, Acme Hat Co, Mark Harsley joins us today.

He talks about:

  • going from zero to entrepreneur
  • being a nocturnal business owner
  • and creating hats for
    • the Eminem tour
    • an Ice Cube movie
    • Sons of Anarchy crew
    • and famous startups like Tumblr and Trello

Please welcome Mark Harsley.

Episode highlights:

  • 0:34 – Business Background
  • 2:11 – Time Balancing
  • 6:20 – Biggest Customer
  • 9:09 – Fatherhood Experience
  • 10:59 – Producing large Quantity

Learn more about this guest:

Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.

Thanks for joining and learning from other stock. Come Mark Harsley is joining us today from Australia. Super cool to have another international guest. He is the proprietor at the helm of Acme hat co, which is a custom hat company, delivering quality custom snapbacks, beanies, and dad hats. My favorite dad hats, two businesses, both large and small.

Thanks for joining us, Mark. Next time I’m going to be here. So acne hat co you know, from the intro, obviously you sell hats, but I envisioned that it goes more than just straight up Pat. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about acne? Yeah, sure. Um, we’ve, we’ve been around since 2011. Um, started off as a company called custom snapbacks and it was actually.

Born through the frustration of getting custom hats made back then. Yeah. Entire landscape was a little bit different, you know, to get hats made for your sports team, small fashion label. Um, you’d have to kind of order in the, the 24 doesn’t range to 88 hats, something like that. It takes six months to get them.

So, um, so yeah, the business started off super small with one embroidery machine done, uh, hats slow as 12 hats. And, um, and I kind of just snowballed from there. Uh, we rebranded from custom snapbacks to Acme co late last year. With your help, of course. And, um, and yeah, we’re just trying to grow as much as possible.

So it’s been interesting as, as you mentioned, we’ve worked together and, and it’s been a pleasure learning more about this industry. So I’ve worked with a lot of clients in retail spaces and apparel. Um, but what’s cool about acne is that. You, uh, are, are international. Um, but you have a large audience in the U S and so I’ve been really impressed with the logistics and how you manage that and are able to, um, you know, deliver hats, uh, from a us based business, even though you’re not in the U S and so that’s very cool.

Um, so why don’t we kind of talk about. You know, for our entre, our audience is largely entrepreneurs. How do you balance that time? And give us a little insight into what your day is like, where, you know, you’re in one side of the world and a lot of your customers are in another side. Yeah, sure. Um, w we’ve got a small print auction facility.

That’s run by, um, a good friend of mine in New Jersey. Uh, that’s essentially our fulfillment center, uh, embroidery shop. Um, and, uh, and yeah, I essentially worked nights I’m I guess I’m lucky in the sense that. Uh, I’m nocturnal. Um, my, my, my most productive hours are at night. So, uh, for this particular business, it works fantastic because, um, I’m on the West coast of Australia, which is, uh, during daylight savings.

Exactly 12 hours. Uh, ahead of New York city, so Eastern standard time. So I essentially, I start my day at about eight 30, 9:00 PM and wrap up about 4:00 AM, something like that. Um, and, uh, and that was works really well for me. I can’t really think of any other business that I’m. Uh, would allow somebody to kind of be, uh, awake at these hours apart from having customers in the United States and being in Australia.

So, um, but yeah, that’s how, that’s how I, I run it. I just work at night and it works well for me. W was that an acquired skill set to be nocturnal or have you always been that way? I’ve always been like that. Um, my, all of my previous businesses have been, um, actually, either with customers in the United States or, um, that businesses that don’t require me to be awake during the Australian daylight hours.

Um, I don’t know what it is. I’ve just. I’ve just always been a night owl. Some people are night owls. Some people are morning people. Um, yeah, I’m definitely my best at I’m in the middle of the night. I think, I think it has something to do with, um, uh, everything just being quiet. Uh, there’s no distractions.

There’s no, um, you know, there’s no, there’s no kids. There’s no, there’s no wife, especially working from home this and there’s constant distractions and, um, Um, I’m sure any home-based entrepreneur will, um, we’ll get random visitors during the day, you know, parents and, you know, because you work from home somehow that that gives them a free invitation to, uh, to come and disturb you at all hours during the day.

So for me working at nighttime, it’s absolutely perfect because nobody’s knocking on my door at 2:00 AM. Now, did you pursue a career that allowed you to work in nights or did you just kind of fall into it over time? I just fell into it. Um, I originally started off, uh, as a systems administrator, um, Cisco nerd way back in a previous life.

Um, I’m that old, um, and, uh, yeah, bang and it was brutal because, um, you’re viewed as a cost center. Um, and. If you’re doing your job well, it means that, um, you’re invisible to people. So essentially you’d only get hassled when there was bad years and then people were, you know, uh, I guess thinking that you’re not doing your job properly, so.

Oh, I randomly fell into a sales job and, um, kind of picked up some, some sales techniques and I kind of eventually kind of moved on to affiliate marketing online. And, um, yeah, I kind of really got, kind of fell into that and did did that for quite a long time. And, uh, but I just got really bored with it.

Um, I’m not a huge fan of marketing per se. I’m not, um, a marketer, but, um, but yeah, I just learning internet business, you know, it’s, there’s, there’s always something different, something new that is fun and exciting. So that really appealed to me now. I, I, I, I glanced over the opportunity to, to really justify how big of an operation acne had is and what type of big clients.

That you work with. Why don’t you tell us about some of those bigger accounts that you’re able to talk about? I don’t know if you can talk about them all, but at any, any bigger names that you can talk about? Well, let’s let the listeners now, you know, the typical, big, large businesses that you do produce hats for.

Yeah, sure. Um, my kind of the, my, my biggest customer is, is, uh, somebody I’m probably not going to disclose, but, um, But there are there, they’re a big liquor company. Um, and, um, we’ve been doing business with them for about four years and they’re by far. Yeah, my biggest account and I’m most loyal customer.

They’re amazing. Um, but some of, some of the other kind of, um, I guess, uh, famous people that we’ve worked with is universal music. We did hats for an M and M tour. Um, and, uh, Uh, what’s the name of that movie with ice cube in it? Um, Compton something around, Oh my God. There’s probably a dozen ice cube movies with the name of competence.

Uh, we, we did have some movie. Um, uh, we worked with a, uh, movie studio camera company called amendments. And. They wanted hats they supply or the cameras to, um, to the sons of anarchy sheriff. So we kitted it out, all their crew and the actors with, with our hats, which was fantastic. Um, and, uh, we’ve also done business with, uh, kind of a large number of startups, Trello, tumbler.

Um, companies like that, but, um, but yeah, it’s been fun. We’ve, we’ve had a few customers that have given us a lot of social proof, which always, um, you know, gives us, uh, uh, definitely a selling point. Yeah. That’s really cool now. And, and I, I think, um, You had some sort of a model or Instagram model or some sort of model and you have, um, you have for those, or I’ve seen, I’ve seen a hat, you have it on your website of, of a, a woman tipping the hat down.

Is that anybody recognizable? Uh, no, that’s actually what, just one of our customers. Uh, I think it’s one of her, one of her models. Um, it’s um, yeah, I don’t think there’s anyone famous. I don’t think so. Anyway, I’m not really. I looked at the name and I looked it up and it’s somebody famous. You need to add that to your familiar.

Yeah. Oh, wow. I’ll have to look it up later.

You’re so big. You don’t even realize how big you are. Kind of more and more. I’m just so out of touch. I’ve got a floor in front of my eyes. Well, You know, you talked about the opportunity to work at night and being quieter and you know, kids and so on. Take an opportunity to say, congratulations, you’re a relatively new father, so that’s exciting.

Um, you know, maybe you don’t need to go into, into too detail on this topic, but maybe talk about balancing family and work life. And, um, have you figured out a rhythm yet is, you know, what have you learned from going through that new fatherhood experience? Uh, yeah. Um, and I had twins almost a year ago.

They’re, uh, they’re one this weekend, this Saturday, so that this year has been, Oh, what’s the word I’m looking for? Just. Brutal. Um, it is, it really, really, um, put a spanner in the works in terms of my productivity and, um, just everything got, got turned on its head. Um, having two little, little screaming kids, uh, is, yeah, it’s, it’s definitely been a challenge, but it’s been amazing at the same time.

Um, I’m very, very fortunate to have a superstar rockstar wise, but, um, she looks, she basically looks off to them in the mornings when I’m asleep. I get up out of bed, um, at about 11:00 AM. And then I give, try and give her a bit of a rest. But, um, but there’s what I usually do is what I used to do was work from.

Kind of 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM. Um, when, uh, when the USA is in bed, because that again gives me some distraction free time in terms of my customers to, um, to get some of the tasks done the money to do it, but that’s gone out the window now. Cause there’s just, yeah, it’s all hands on deck. There are that. Are they mobile now?

Then mobile now. So, um, yeah, well, I’m, I’m constantly chasing out to them and of course they always go in separate directions, but it’s, that’s funny. Well, you know, um, Acme does, uh, you talked about some of your bigger clients and, uh, offline, you had mentioned that one of your larger transactions, you know, you’ll get orders that are six figures.

And what type of, um, and what type of process is it to produce that large of a quantity of hats? Sure. Yeah. Um, that’s, that’s the, the liquor company that we work with. Um, they, um, they order quite, quite large amounts every quarter. And, um, and yeah, the, the main, the main difficulty and fulfilling these orders is just the logistics of shipping everything on time, because these, these hats have a deadline.

So the management, it’s, it’s one big puzzle that you have to put together because, um, You know, if, if one thing in the chains fails, you, you end up with a, with a file deadline and, um, and, and essentially an angry customer. So, um, it’s, uh, in, in the beginning, I mean, there’s not a hell of a lot, not a hell of a lot of work to do this artwork.

Um, getting samples approved and, and liaising with, with my account manager there. Making sure she’s happy with the samples and everything. And, and then it’s just a case of just managing the process. And I’ve got a virtual assistant that is, is, um, helps me do that. She’s, um, she’s amazing. Um, her name’s Natalie and, um, and essentially she makes sure that every little task that I might, I might kind of miss gets picked up on and, and, uh, and we go from there.

But, um, but yeah, it’s a, it’s a fun business to be in because, um, I love puzzles and it should one big puzzle, especially dealing with freight forwarders. It’s it’s freight in general is one of those dinosaur industries that, um, is antiquated. They’ve got old systems and, um, you know, a bill of lading is actually, uh, a bit of paper that.

Whoever, whoever actually has that physical piece of paper in their hands who owns the goods. It’s, it’s just a, such a strange system and I’m just managing the whole processes is fun, but stressful. I can’t remember who it was, but I heard a quote once, and it was something about, um, you know, the freight industry.

And if you, it was basically, if you ever wanted to be an overnight. You know, billionaire figure out how to reinvent that industry. Yeah, because it’s just whether it’s whether it’s trucks or trains, just all of it. It just, just like you said, it’s antiquated. That’s interesting. Yeah. It’s antiquated and it’s just a nightmare to deal with.

Um, freight forwarders are just, um, they’re not very nice people to deal with. So a lot of, a lot of, a lot of my, um, a lot of sales that I miss out on, um, are generally people that want to kind of go on. Do a DIY job. They want to source the hats and sorts the embroidery, do everything separate ship and all the rest of it.

And they invariably ended up coming back and just going, yeah, look up. I’ve spent hours and hours and hours and hours. I understand why I’m paying you to do it for me. So I think that’s an important part. Yeah. That you not, not only do you offer a product, but you offer a convenience. It’s service. Yeah, definitely.

Um, time, you know, your time is worth something. So would you rather be working on your business or dealing with shipping logistics? You know, that’s going to take you away from marketing your own business. So, um, we kind of offer like a, you know, an end to end solution, send me the artwork and we send you the hat.

That’s just as simple as that. Yeah. You know, I got a funny story. I don’t want to deviate too much, but I’m a long time ago. I worked in retail and I was, um, I opened up a new store. Um, it was an arts and crafts store and they opened up a new location and we had the freight delivery guy, you know, they, sometimes they would get there at three o’clock in the morning and nobody gets there until five or six or whatever.

And so they just sit there parked, you know, I’m catching this person. Yeah. And so one time me and one of the other managers came walking outside and, um, the truck driver and his partner. We’re getting in some alone time in the front seat. Oh my God. Oh dear. Yeah. Tracking lifestyle. That’s a whole other story.

That’s a, yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, when you, when you got into Acme, um, originally custom snapbacks, uh, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he told me, I’ll find that you, you bought into it now, when you, when you bought into it is, you know, where did the, where did the have finances come from? Did you save up?

Did you take out a loan? Like how did you actually fund. Getting into this business. Yeah. Um, it was the majority of my own funds. Um, I actually borrowed a $50,000 off mine. Um, and, and, um, uh, rest in peace. He passed away a couple of years ago and I really miss him because he was kind of. Uh, super proud of, of what we had achieved over the years.

Um, he owns 10% of the business and, um, but I I’ll never forget the time that I approached him with this and said, look, I’ve, I’ve got all of the, uh, the purchase. Can you help me out with 50 grand? And, um, he came back and said, you’re a sure. Yeah, absolutely. You know, I looked at the perspectives and looked at everything and he goes, Oh yeah, look, I’ll give you the $50,000, but I want 9% interest.

And I said, 9% dad, but the banks are at six and a half. Well go to a bank then. And he knowing full well knowing full well, no bank was ever going to give me a line. I had no collateral. I mean, you know, I let everything, not everything, but I learned a lot from my dad in terms of business, he was a sexy, successful businessman himself.

So he kind of taught me that there’s no such thing as a free lunch that’s for sure. Did, did he get the opportunity before he passed to see the growth and to see the success starting to take off? Yeah, definitely. He was, he was also amazed it’s um, at the fact that, you know, essentially my equipment was, was a laptop, you know, a $1,500 laptop.

That was my business that I ran from this, from this tiny little that, um, and he was just amazed by that, that, that, you know, the, in the modern day you can run a business with, with this, with and earn as much as I am from. Just sitting in front of a laptop. So he would, he was amazing and a superstar. That was really cool.

Yeah, that is cool. You know, um, I probably mentioned this more than once on the show, but I think that at the time we, I don’t know how old you are, but I’ve assumed we’re in kind of a general similar arrange, but I think what’s nice about being born at the time in, you know, modern technology that we were born is that we are.

Old enough to know life before the internet kind of prep and appreciate it as a technology and not a necessity. Um, but Oh, we’re young enough to know how to use it. It’s like that. Perfect. You know, I contribute generation X, generation X, I think. Um, uh, I was born in 76, so that makes me 42. And, um, and yeah, you’re right.

You know, look, I didn’t grow up having a, having a cell phone when I grow up, um, you know, skateboarding and getting into trouble and stuff like that. So, um, but yeah, I kind of look at kids these days, even, um, you know, Even post midlife crisis, still riding a skateboard at the skateboard park, all that, and saying know, saying all the kids sitting around on their mobiles instead of, instead of actually interacting.

And I’m kind of looking at them going, Oh, I don’t know. I just don’t. I love to think that I’m the cantankerous old man on the porch saying get off my lawn, but I’m slowly becoming that guy. Yeah. Yeah. But you’re right. It’s um, technology is, is, uh, I’m stuck that I can use it and make a living with it, but I’m glad that I didn’t grow up visual.

Yeah. Now, with the success that Acme Hakko has had, you had mentioned that customer service, you would largely attribute that to its success. Um, and, and you talked about the Jeff Bezos ethos. Why don’t you talk about. What you take away from Jeff Bezos and give more insights into how customer service plays a role in acne success.

Yeah, sure. Um, it it’s interesting. Like I never, I never set out following, um, Jeff Bezos or, you know, kind of any, any real kind of guru or, or massive, you know, um, CEO of any company. It was just my own, I guess, um, outlook on how I think a business should be run and it should always be centered around the customer and not worrying what everyone else is doing in your industry.

So I kind of, you know, um, uh, the business was started by, um, uh, this guy called Greg who’s a fantastic bloke. Um, we still keep in touch and, um, you know, he, it was all due to solving frustrations. Right. You know, solving, solving for solving the customer’s frustrations is, is my kind of, um, most important thing to do.

So. Uh, we use, um, or I get back to people just quickly. You know, if somebody emails me, you’ll get a response in generally five, 10 minutes. If I’m at my desk, um, you know, emails don’t go unanswered for days. Um, there, there has to be a certain level of trust with custom products because. You’re sending someone money before you’ve actually seen the final product.

There has to be some kind of trust. And if you don’t, if you don’t get back to people on time and you, you know, um, treat customers like, like just another number. Um, I think, um, I think that’s the wrong way to go about it, especially in my, my niche niche. Um, so I just put the customer first and everything else has followed and, um, you know, we’ve got some really.

Loyal customers that have been around for years. And, you know, I know all of their orders. I know all of their designs. I know they can email me and say, I need two dozen of this particular design and that’s all I need to send me. And I send, you know, they send me a purchase order and away we go. It’s like as simple as that.

So that, that kind of relationship building, um, rather than for example, outsourcing the customer service to somebody in the Philippines. Nope. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at the end of the day, but that’s just not how I’m going to operate my business. Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s good that you’ve kind of tapped into what works for you and what helps that attract that loyalty.

I think that’s a big part of a successful business is having reoccurring repeating. Clients that have that trust. So we’ve talked about sales side. It’s not necessarily on the operation side, on the operations side, I’ve got, you know, virtual assistants helping me and everything else. But I think the relationship building is, is something that is, is paramount to a, to an online business because you’re not dealing face-to-face, you’re dealing through a computer screen.

So, you know, being able to jump on the phone and, and, and do all of that, I think being the first point of contact with your customers is extremely important. Yeah, I agree. You know, I take a similar approach in my business. We have, you know, a dozen employees or so, but. I’m generally, always the point of contact.

And I think that’s important to build that relationship and, and to, and to be a face to, you know, people want to buy from people they don’t want to buy from, from faceless companies. And I like to buying from people, they like. So, you know, being likable is, is kind of another sense of, and just being genuine and honest.

And I think that’s a whole rabbit hole that we could discuss for hours is it’s kind of basic, you know, I I’m really are really kind of placed at above everything and you know, it, it kind of pains me to, um, you know, uh, humans make mistakes and we’re not perfect. And. You know, if an order goes out that isn’t a hundred percent, right.

Um, you know, I, I really feel for the customer and, um, you know, I apologize profusely and, uh, I’ll do anything I can in my power to kind of make, make it right. Whether it’s replaced to hat, so refund, whatever the customer wants we’ll do. Even if that means losing that customer. Um, and losing margin and losing the order.

It doesn’t matter because it variably that will come back after we fix that problem. And, um, Just to, just to touch on that, actually, it’s a fascinating, um, now I can’t remember off the top of my head, what it’s called there’s there’s, but it’s, it’s a thing where a customer is more likely to trust you and, and be a loyal customer.

If you mess something up and fix it, rather than just. Being a hundred percent grid all the time. It’s like a really weird paradox. Like it’s, um, if you mess something up and fix it, you’re going to have a loyal customer for, for a long time. So, um, yeah. Uh, I didn’t set out, you know, I didn’t read that and go, Oh, I better do that.

It was just something that we’ve always done. Um, and it was like, I found that later, I’m like, Oh, that’s why we put local customers. It’s because, you know, whatever happens, we’re going to make it right. So, yeah, I know, I know what you’re talking about. I don’t know the name of it either. And it also goes, um, you know, where I’ve heard it is in relationships, you know, w whether it’s friendship or, you know, uh, an intimate relationship, like when you go through a trouble, then you have that.

Opportunity to bond. And once you’ve shared a troublesome experience together, you have a more in depth relationship. And I think that applies to both the business and the personal world. Definitely. So we’ve talked about a lot of the successes of acne. Um, let’s talk about some failures, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s where our audience learns a lot.

And, um, so before acne, you had invested, um, of your life savings into another business and it, it just had unfortunate timing. So it wasn’t necessarily anything that you did. Um, But, you know, just boil down to timing. Why don’t you tell us what that business was and what happened? Yeah. Um, so after affiliate marketing, um, I kinda saved up all my cash and was looking at, you know, I was a bit bored of it.

I didn’t like, um, marketing per se. So, um, I was, I’m always looking around at businesses to buy. Um, I think buying into a business is, um, For, for me, at least a lot easier than starting from scratch, starting something from scratch is way harder than, than people think. And if people have the money to invest in a business, I think that’s kind of the easiest way to, you know, zero to entrepreneur.

But, um, but this particular business was for sale. Uh, it was in the iPhone unlocking niche. Um, so just briefly iPhone unlocking is for when you, uh, your phone is on 80 and T for example, and you want to go to T-Mobile. Previously, and this is 2012, 2011, something like that previously. Um, even after you had finished your two year contract with at, and T ACNC would refuse to unlock that phone.

I mean, that’s just an example of a big corporation being, uh, excuse my French, but a bit of a Dick. Um, like that’s just, it’s unnecessary. Are you stopping that person from using a person that they bought? How are they Charles? So, um, there were these solutions that, um, that you could resell, uh, for iPhone unlocking.

So this particular website, I bought it and it cost me $110,000. Something like that. I was making about 15 grand a month. You know, the return on investment was fantastic. It was a risky purchase, but I kind of just threw, threw my money into it, you know, nervously. But three weeks later, the, uh, the U S government made iPhone unlocking illegal.

So. Overnight overnight. I lost my credit card processing, which was an absolute nightmare. Um, you know, I essentially lost the business overnight. Um, I couldn’t, I couldn’t bill for anything. Uh, and it’s yeah, about a month and a half. Okay. To get something in place where I could start billing people again.

And by then, you know, just traffic decreased. Um, There was a, you know, there was a kind of an ominous, uh, you know, vibe around iPhone, unlocking people for that. It was hacking stolen phones. And it just wasn’t about that. It was just so that you could use your purchase on it. How would you want it to use it?

And, um, yeah, it took me a very long time to claw my way back. Um, it was, I think, you know, after. 18 months, 24 months, two years, something like that. I had finally made my money back. Um, and by then I was so disillusioned with it. I just let it fizzle out. I just, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I, you know, I worked incredibly hard to get that money back and, um, okay.

Yeah, it was an absolute nightmare. So yeah. Do you think, do you think the seller knew that change in law was coming. I don’t think so. No. Um, no, nobody kind of saw it coming. It was one of those things where maybe he did actually it’s it’s, it’s all got everything to do with the DMC, um, system and every, I think it’s every three years, uh, something that I can’t remember what it was, something has to be applied for with the government and, and the government just decided, no, no, no, we’re not gonna, we’re not gonna renew that, that portion of it.

And the ironic thing was, is when I left this business fizzle out the U S government made it. So if I want to, it’s ridiculous. Right? If I wanted to, I could have got my old credit card processor back, which, which wasn’t a high risk offshore credit card processor. Um, sometimes yeah, it was just an absolute, it was a bit of a nightmare.

So I guess my advice for anyone that’s out there, that’s kind of looking to buy a business is, you know sure. High risk, high return, but maybe. You know, unless you’re rolling in cash, maybe goes to something that has a higher, multiple something that’s gone kind of going for three times. Earnings generally means that, you know, the businesses is a bit safer that’s then, you know, something that’s going for like one times earnings, um, things like that, but do do your due diligence and, uh, yeah, just be careful.

So having gone through that. Did that create any hesitation in, in starting and buying into Acme, which was previously custom snapbacks. Yeah, definitely. Um, I definitely did my due diligence on that one. Um, that was, uh, you know, I jumped on a plane and, and, um, went to New Jersey and, you know, visited the production facility.

Uh, you know, all of that stuff before buying the business meeting, the person that I was buying potentially buying from in-person, uh, was, was important. You know, you kinda. Buying a business over the internet is one thing, but actually rocking up and shaking. Someone’s hand looking them in the eye and getting a feel for that person.

I think, um, you know, a human intuition, is it not infallible, but it’s, it’s pretty reliable. I think for the most part, if something, if something doesn’t feel right or your gut is telling you that something’s not quite right, I think you should generally listen to it. Um, and. You know, if, um, if you, if it turns out to be wrong, then you can always learn from that and kind of hone those, those intuitions further down the track.

You know, I think that’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom is wisdom is just knowledge with experience, right? So you’ve, you kind of get, you kind of get, why is that when you get older, because you’ve been through this experience, you can kind of tell who’s on a full of bullshit and it was not.

Um, you get a better feel for it anyway. Yeah. So out of all the good and all the, all the, the learning experiences you’ve been through, um, what, is there anything that you would tell your younger self or maybe something that our listeners could learn from, from your experiences? Yeah. I mean, I wish I wish I could, uh, go back to the future and, and basically, um, get a time machine, tell myself to invest in index funds when I was 20 years old, because that’d be a hell of a lot richer than I am now.

Um, but, uh, but aside from that, yeah, it’s a tough one. Just, I don’t think I would change anything to be honest. I don’t think I would be able to advise a 20 year old me of anything because I probably wouldn’t listen. It’s uh, yeah. I, I don’t know. It’s a tricky question. Just work hard. That’s it? One thing you had mentioned was that you had learned yourself was to not try to do everything yourself.

So how, how have you surrounded yourself with, you know, is it, you talked about intuition and you know, how do you find those good people to trust and delegate to. I think you learned from bad experiences, to be honest. Um, so say for example, um, uh, marketing custom snapbacks, um, like I said, I’m not a marketer.

I really it’s one of the things that I least enjoy, you know, I’d rather eat my own leg and send an email newsletter to be fair, but, um, but you know, it needs Moss, right? So, um, yeah, it’s, it’s a tricky one. I went through, um, I actually went through a, uh, a very famous marketing company after a few bad experiences with some freelances, uh, that didn’t really provide me with any kind of return on investment.

Uh, and this particular company was, I thought, no. Okay. Maybe I’m just being cheap. So I kind of splashed the cash and. Was paying his marketing company, thousands of dollars a month to some market custom snapbacks for me. And I didn’t really see anything happen. It was, it was bizarre. I thought, okay, maybe.

Maybe I’m wrong here. Maybe they’re doing things in the background that I have no idea what they’re doing. I’m going to put my trust in them. And it just got like six months down the track. And I wasn’t really saying anything at all. If I had done, you know, two blog posts, um, that sent one email, it was, it was just really weird.

And I ended up jumping up and down and getting half of my money back for that. But that was a learning experience, you know, it was like, you can’t really even trust some of the big names in the business to, to just do the job that they’ve been paid to do. So you kinda got to, again, trust that, that instinct you’ve got when something’s not quite right question.

And, um, and then just go and keep trying and try someone else and, you know, uh, kudos to you. Daymond. You’ve been fantastic to work with. So. You’re going to continue to get my money. So it’s, it really is. As simple as that, when you find good people, hang on to them to sign with the virtual assistant, you know, there was a couple of, couple of virtual assistants that I went through that, that didn’t have the attention to detail that I needed.

Um, because I’m, I’m, uh, uh, I’m not sure a little bit of a scattered person when it comes to the finer details and I really need help with, with kind of the scheduling and stuff like that. So, Um, there were things that were falling through the cracks with the previous virtual assistants that, that don’t with Natalie, Natalie is amazing.

So, um, it, it comes down to finding people that you can work with people that you like and, um, and then taking it from there. And really, yeah, I agree with that, you know, sometimes, um, well, first of all, thanks, thanks for the kind words. Um, but yeah, you know, working with, with VA’s, uh, or just anybody in general, you know, what one person says versus what they do.

It is not it’s. It’s usually different, not sometimes different. It’s usually more often than not. It is not the same. Definitely. And as you, as you go through your business career, you’ll find that, um, yeah, there’s a lot of people with a, there’s a saying in Australia and there. They’re all sausage. You’ve noticed, Oh, there’s a little sizzle and no sausage.

There’s no meat on the bones and there’s no, um, you know, it’s all talk, it’s all hot air. So, um, to find people that actually back up what they say they’re going to do is you need to hang on to those people and pay them appropriately now. Well, you know, we talked about a lot of good business stories as we start to wrap up, uh, outside of work.

What do you do in your downtime? You know, you got kids, what’s the daily routine with kids look like, what do you, you know, do you do any sports? How do you kind of unwind. Yeah, I used to do things. Um, okay. No. Yeah. Uh it’s uh, that’s that story, if you look, I mean, everything is about the kids these days, you know, having, having twins is, uh, it’s definitely add for, and it’s, it’s definitely fun seeing, seeing them, um, seeing them grow up so quick and, you know, uh, saying.

Uh, but yeah, look, I still skateboard. It’s the one hobby exercise that I get, um, you know, going to a gym is, Oh my God. Like watching poses, look at themselves in the mirror and flex and yeah, it’s just not me. You know, I’m, I’m a crusty skateboarder at the end of the day. So I like row. I like rolling around on a useless wouldn’t die.

Uh, even though I look ridiculous. Um, but, um, but yeah, apart from that, I like the odd video game. I still, I still play video games from time to time when I can. And, um, and yeah, just hanging out with the kids, man. That’s my life. These days on a scale of one to professional skateboarder, 10, where are you at?

I’m still at about a seven and a half. I still Slater teenagers at the park. So you know what, it’s, I’ve been skateboarding since I was 11 years old. So, um, I can still move about, so it’s, it’s definitely, um, it’s definitely a it’s I love shocking the teenagers at the park when they, they, they look at me and they look, look at this dude with his gray beard, like that’s ridiculous.

Uh, look at this old guy. And then of course I’m better than them and they just sit and shut up and watch. So that’s always cool. That’s funny. Good story. Well, Mark Harsley acne Hakko um, you can check out more at acme hat, co that’s, a C M E H a T C o.com. We also got instagram.com/acme hat co um, any other contact information or any other message you want to throw out there before we let you go, Mark?

Yeah, just emails is high@Acmehattco.com hit me up. You’ll get you’ll get me if you need hats. And, um, yeah, it was a pleasure doing this. Thanks then. Thanks Mark. So last thing is we surprise our guests with a random question generator. So I’ve already hit the button on yours and yours is what is the last thing you do before going to sleep?

Oh, wow. Browse. Read it on my mobile.

Seriously read it. I read it. Read it is a gold mine. Honestly, it is a gold mine for information. Um, there’s the entrepreneur subreddit. There’s the marketing subreddit. There’s the. Oh, my God lean manufacturing, subreddit. Uh, I’m obsessed with it. It has. Yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s an absolute gold mine. Uh, there’s a lot of jams.

There’s a lot of helpful people on there. So definitely, definitely create an account specific for work, remove all of the, all of the junk and all of the, all of the, you know, the memes and everything. Focus on the business stuff and you you’ll actually you’ll actually learn a thing also. So that’s the last thing I do before going to sleep.

I think that’s a good tip because in addition to it being gold mine, it is also a black hole that will in,

yeah. It’s definitely removed the standard ones that you get given with an account and just focus on the business stuff. Yeah. Good advice. Acmehatco.com. Thanks for joining us. Thank you, Damon. Appreciate it.


What did you think of this podcast?

Owner of the internationally successful hat manufacturing company, Acme Hat Co, Mark Harsley joins us today.

He talks about:

going from zero to entrepreneur
being a nocturnal business owner
and creating hats for
the Eminem tour
an Ice Cube movie
Sons of Anarchy crew
and famous startups like Tumblr and Trello

Please welcome Mark Harsley.


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