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As promised, this week we’re back to finish our interview with MMA athlete and Entrepreneur, Simon Chang.

In this episode, Simon talks about the real struggles of entrepreneurship, working in a relationship as a couple – and making it work, plus a bunch of tried and true social media tips to market your business better.

Tune in and enjoy the show!

Show Highlights:

  • The real day-to-day struggles of Entrepreneurship nobody likes to talk about (2:00)
  • How to make working with your partner work (2:30)
  • Tried and tested tips for using social media effectively for your business (5:20)
  • What it really means to work ON, not IN your business (8:45)
  • How to build the right team for your business (10:30)
  • Light up your life: An Alternative attitude towards life that’ll make your path brighter (16:15)
  • Stress-relieving strategies for entrepreneurs (19:20)
  • Tips for starting a new business today that you haven’t heard a thousand times already (20:20)

Find out more about Simon’s work here:

If you want to recession-proof your business and thrive in any area of life, go to www.uncommonlifepodcast.com and grab your free report today. I share with you the 5 key principles that have transformed and elevated my life – and they can do the same for you too if consistently applied.

Read Full Transcript

You're listening to the Uncommon Life Podcast. Whether you're a startup or you've been in business for 10 years, this show is for you.
Each week, you'll get mentored by business leaders who deliver valuable strategies, tactics and tips on how you can pursue your passion without compromise. We’ll show you how to achieve balance while sticking to your core values, so you can have an uncommon life.
Now, here's your host, Jimmy Fullerton.

Jimmy Fullerton: Okay, so this is Part 2 of my interview with Simon Chang and I want to tell you—I didn't mention this on my initial podcast with Simon, but Imet Simon initially when I was…I have some rental property and he was renting a house out from me.

He had just started his business, hadn’t been doing it very long, Columbus Mixed Martial Arts, and I remember after I interviewed him, I came away very impressed and I knew that this guy was going somewhere, so I’m glad I stayed in touch with him.
I’ve seen him grow his business and I know that you can apply these same strategies to your own business. They're very tried and true. So, anyway, enough said. Here is Part 2 of my interview with Simon Chang. Enjoy.

Jimmy: So, with you and your wife, y'all working in the same business—I ask this because me and my wife also have a similar situation—how do y’all work that out? Be brutal.

Simon: I actually talked about this with Madeline yesterday, last night, and we both, our first answer was we want to wring each other's necks.

Jimmy: My wife would say the same exact thing.

Simon: Yeah. But I think it makes our relationship just closer, a lot closer. It really tests your relationship. I don't think if it was anyone else, they would have lasted with me, just because of the difficulties and the struggles you go through as an entrepreneur on a day-to-day basis, and adding your wife on top of that is, a lot of times, the lines get blurred. Sometimes you say things to your wife that you wouldn't say to an employee, but she's your wife, so you think she's going to take whatever type of abuse that you send her, send that way.

Jimmy: It’s got something to do with expectations.

Simon: Yeah.

Jimmy: Yeah. What have you learned with working with your wife?

Simon: It's definitely made our relationship a lot closer. We've gone through a lot together, and now we're kind of focused on... I realized that my issues a lot of the time is with our communication, with my communication, specifically. I tend to be closed off and kind of think things [03:00] through in my head, but I don't communicate that to my wife, and so that's one thing I'm working on definitely, right now. In general, I think, over the years, we’ve learned that we kind of have to stay in our lane, basically.

Jimmy: Yeah, stay in your lane. That's exactly [right.] There’s a lot of truth in that, because that's the exact same thing that I learned with my wife in doing Launch, to let her do what she’s good at. And she was really the main person that handled this buildout. I initially was going to do it, but because I had some family issues with aging parents, the one that died, I was kind of having to go back and forth to LaGrange, so I wasn't able to be as involved in that.
My level of involvement changed quite a bit once we...I did all the interviewing and hiring for the staff, and my background really is that. So, for me, sometimes she'd want to get involved in that and I wanted some involvement, but we learned over time that we have to let each person be in their area of strength.

So, that was really important for me to learn and for her to learn because it's really easy to step on each other's toes and do double the work, and it confuses the whole thing and you don't identify your roles as early as possible, and sometimes you can't necessarily identify them until you get going. Unfortunately, it would be ideal if you could do it before, but sometimes she didn't know she'd be good at project management and then doing a buildout. I didn't know she had a photographic memory.

Simon: Did she? Does she?

Jimmy: Sort of when it comes to construction, then, yes.

Simon: Nice.

Jimmy: She can notice things that blow your mind, remember things about the building, yeah. But, yes, staying in your lane, that's going to be a podcast talking about all that, staying in your lane, letting each person that you're associated with be in their area of strength.
So, that was a big key for you and it’s helped y'all keep in your basic roles better, not so much overlap.

Simon: Yeah, absolutely.

Jimmy: Communication, yeah. Communication is always a big deal in marriage, learning how to not talk to your wife like she’s an employee and vice versa. What else have you taken away from that?

Simon: I think that's it. Those two things are...

Jimmy: Those are big. Those are big.

Simon: Yeah.

Jimmy: They're simple. There's a lot of truth in those, those two things, so that's good. I appreciate you sharing that.
Social media. This is your baby here. Not social media, but marketing, the whole combination of social media and how you use it. What have you learned about marketing?

Simon: I guess that's where I focus my attention on a lot of these days, marketing.

Jimmy: Yeah, let's back up for a second. I want to ask you this now. I forgot earlier. Earlier on, in the early stages of your business, how would you say you allocated your time between marketing [06:00] through operational stuff, administrative stuff? How would you say you’ve spent your time?

Simon: In the beginning, there was no allocation of time. It was just 24/7.

Jimmy: Putting out fires?

Simon: Yeah, putting out fires, putting out fires all day, every day. And when I could get to it, I would get to it. I definitely spent the majority of late nights learning about marketing, about SEO, about Google, about different analytics, and just trial and error, basically. And I would stay up. When I came back from that conference, that first conference, I stayed up, I think, three days straight just trying to do everything as much as I could about what I learned at that time, which was something as basic as a Google listing. I didn't even have a listing on Google.

Jimmy: Yeah, business listing.

Simon: Yeah, business listing on Yahoo, on Bing, on all the different search engines, a YouTube channel, things of that nature. I didn't know anything about that.

Jimmy: So, you got in and you learned it yourself. And then, do you farm that out now or do you still do it?

Simon: Yeah, for the most part, the legwork is all contracted out through different companies I use, through just different contractors I use.

Jimmy: Is it virtual assistants or is it just...?

Simon: Yeah, a lot of it is. Part of the mastermind that I'm in right now, they actually take care of most of the marketing; I just have to give them content. They kind of tell me what they need from me and I just provide that to them.

Jimmy: Who provides? Do you personally provide the content or do you have somebody-

Simon: Yeah, absolutely.

Jimmy: -to combine minds at your work to provide content? Is that you?

Simon: Yeah, most of the content is actually scripted from the mastermind group. They even provide all the scripts and, basically, I have to just have someone learn the script and someone to shoot it afterwards. And then, after that's done, we just send it back to them and they launch it through different campaigns.

Jimmy: Yeah, so you kind of get on autopilot pretty much.

Simon: Yeah, at this point, it’s just about checking, checking up on everything.

Jimmy: Follow-up.

Simon: Follow-up, exactly, making sure that everybody is kind of doing what they're supposed to be doing.

Jimmy: How much time would you say you spend? How would you say you allocate your time now? I mean, earlier, it was putting out fires, mostly. But now what do you do?

Simon: Yeah, there's definitely fires still, but it's…

Jimmy: There always will be, too.

Simon: It's definitely not as serious as it was before. Our systems and processes have tightened up. We've kind of minimized a lot of [09:00] areas where there used to be huge fires, but I think that happens over time just through experience in business. But I wouldn’t say I spend too much time on putting out fires these days. It's more preemptive and kind of looking at the numbers, and realizing that there are certain metrics that you need to look at and, if it starts dipping, that's when you start digging more into that area.

Jimmy: And so, you're able to work—this is a catch phrase now, but—you're able to work on the business and not necessarily in the business so much.

Simon: A hundred percent. Starting this year, the beginning of this year was actually when I came to the realization, wow, all these years I've been working in the business. And I kept on hearing that in the mastermind group, “Work on your business, not in your business.” Pretty much everyone I know in the business world has said that to me.

Jimmy: It's true.

Simon: And I didn't realize how truthful it was until this year, and then I started kind of looking back and looking at the bigger picture, and I could strategize better. I could work in the areas that need work whereas before I was doing sales, marketing, teaching, and I couldn’t see what was going on in the entire business.

Jimmy: Yeah, you couldn't get the bird's eye overview of your entire business, so you were too busy. How did you find the right people to put in place? I'm sure that was some trial and error as well.

Simon: Yeah. I think most entrepreneurs I talked to would agree that staffing is probably one of the most difficult areas.

Jimmy: And if you can't staff and don't learn how to identify the right people to put in place, then it makes it very hard to scale and grow your business if you don't have the right people around you, so, yeah, it's a big deal. Have you addressed that in your life and business?

Simon: I think we realized that people are going to be people no matter what, how big their company is, how small their company is. What we can focus on is the systems and processes. We can't necessarily [know]. I think it's a guessing game, honestly. I mean, there are things to minimize a bad hiring, but I think, overall, you don't know how a hiree is going to perform until it's--

Jimmy: That's a good point. There are all kinds of checks and balances, and systems you can put in place. You can screen people. I'm a good interviewer. I mean, I've been doing that for a long time. I know how to identify people. But, even so, with all that experience, I still mess up. There’s never going to be a foolproof way to do that thing. I think what I've learned is you make the decision [12:00] the best you can with the information you have; you bring them on board, and you hire slowly, but you fire quickly. I've learned some lessons that way as well where I’m not firing quick enough.

Simon: Yes.

Jimmy: Because I used to look at it like I wanted to bend over backwards to make sure-

Simon: A hundred percent.

Jimmy: -that they didn't fail because of me or my staff, or because they weren't trained adequately. There’s some legitimacy to that, but sometimes in your gut, you just know, Okay, they're not what I thought they were, or their attitude is not what it was in the interview, or they did not work well with others, didn't play well.

And it's more of those types of things, the emotional IQ that I look for now, because a lot of the skills, like for Launch, a lot of skills we can train, but the emotional stuff, being able to handle criticism, being able to have a positive attitude and handle customer complaints, and just deal with supervisors, deal with staff, it's hard to train in those things.

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Jimmy: So, what's your primary focus right now in your business or in your life?

Simon: In my life right now is creating another stream of income. I've definitely spent the last 10 years being an operator, a business owner and an operator. I think I'm trying to shift that more into becoming an investor. There are actually a few different opportunities I'm working on right now. One is real estate, as I've told you before. My wife is actually looking into a lot of rentals, producing cash flow that way, passive income.

Jimmy: So-called passive income.

Simon: So-called passive...

Jimmy: Yeah, but the point of it being that you don't have to be there to be getting income, which is the goal. So, the other opportunities you're looking into right now, is it a separate business or…?

Simon: Yeah, so I told you earlier that when I started Columbus Martial Arts, I had started a lifestyle and apparel brand. At that time, the martial arts studio was taking, consuming so [15:00] much of my time that I had actually opted out of that company, and my good buddy to this day is the CEO.

Jimmy: Does he live in Chicago?

Simon: No, he lives in San Antonio, TX, now. The company, I believe they just reached over 200 million in revenue this past year. I believe they have 400 employees now. And I had sold 30 percent of my shares for, I think, $6,000 at the time. So bad.

Jimmy: Wow. Dang, Simon. You’re going to be beating yourself up about that.

Simon: Yeah, that was definitely one of my biggest...

Jimmy: Regrets? Learning experiences?

Simon: Not regrets, because if that didn't happen, I don't think that company would be where it is today and I wouldn't be where I am today. So, it's not necessarily regrets, but I would definitely say the greatest, one of the greatest learning experiences that I had.

Jimmy: That's a good attitude to have. I mean, I agree. Yeah, the way you're looking at it is you're looking at the big picture and, yeah, that's a good way to look at life because a lot of people will be looking at that and they would be bitter about that. But, see, your attitude is, when you're reflective like that, it helps you to see things in a positive light and makes you a different man.

Simon: Yeah, and I think I could either waste time sitting and pouting about it or I can...it actually it has motivated me to drive even harder, because if my buddy at the time could do this, I thought to myself, Well, there's no reason why I can't do it. But we're still very good friends to this day, and he actually introduced me to an opportunity in the last couple months and we've been working on that, and it should launch anywhere in the next 6 to 12 months.

Jimmy: Cool, sounds exciting.

Simon: Yeah, absolutely. So, did you want to know more about it?

Jimmy: Only what you want to share, man. I mean, I don't want you to reveal stuff.

Simon: It’s nothing secretive or anything like that. But, basically, my buddy, Dan—Dan Alarik from Grunt Style—approached me with an opportunity and he thought I would fit in this particular opportunity. What it is is basically a personal security certificate, so we're partnering up with a university to create not only a certificate program, but an associate, bachelor's and master's degree program for PSD, personal security detail, and it's really orientated towards veterans.

A lot of vets get out of service and they have the GI Bill, and they're not necessarily sure what they're going to do. For example, my barber just got out of Marine Corps [18:00] two or three years ago and he was a coffee barista for a year because he just didn't know what to do. And so, that's common. I myself, once I got out of the military, the first time, I didn't know what to do, so I just attended college and used my GI Bill not knowing what I really wanted to do. But this is very specific to security details.

Once you achieve these certificates or these programs, it qualifies you to work for these major government contracting companies and, basically, they're making anywhere between $80,000 to $250,000, depending on the contract. So, we're basically trying to help veterans kind of transition out. A lot of it is what they've known and done before, and some of it might not be, but the point is to get them to go through this program to be proficient in security details.

Jimmy: That's cool. That's a really noble pursuit.

Simon: Yeah. Of course, there's finances involved as well and we're not just doing it for the vets, but we're also on the business aspect. As entrepreneurs, we see a big opportunity here as well.

Jimmy: With all that you've got going on, how do you unwind and relax, and kind of recharge your batteries?

Simon: Honestly, there's not something specific I do. I would say, I tend to relieve some of my stress through sparring in martial arts.

Jimmy: Thought you were going to say drinking.

Simon: No, I'm actually not a big drinker.

Jimmy: Do you still spar?

Simon: Yeah, we roll, what we call rolling, kind of like grappling, Jiu-Jitsu grappling, and that relieves some, definitely relieves some stress. But I think because Ultimate Youth Sports and Columbus Martial Arts is on autopilot, now more than ever, I have time to spend with my family, my four-year-old and my one-year-old, and actually enjoy seeing them grow up.

Jimmy: That's what life is about. Yeah, what's the point in having a business if you miss out on the important stuff?
Let me ask you this. If you were doing it all over again—I know that when you're an entrepreneur, you're going to have seasons where you're out of balance, but you can always get back in balance when you get to a certain level of calmness where you can...I won't call it calmness, but you can always get back in balance. There are some times where you're just going to be, you’ve got to go balls to the wall. But earlier on, it was clear that you just didn't know what you were doing. That's when you were trying to do everything yourself—so, if you were starting this business today, knowing what you know now, how would you do it differently, so you don't have to miss three years of seeing your kids, or not take care of yourself or your wife? How would you do it differently? To [21:00] anybody right now, this thing about starting a business, what are some things you could tell them that would help them?

Simon: That's a great question.

Jimmy: Give me a great answer.

Simon: I don't know if I have a great answer, honestly. I don't know necessarily know if I would do anything different, because the things that I went through caused me...it really lit a fire under my ass.

Jimmy: No, you're good. This is an adult podcast.

Simon: So, it definitely lit a fire under my ass, and caused me to go out and seek information, seek mentors and actually do what I needed to do. I don't necessarily know if researching more and prepping more would have been beneficial to me.

Jimmy: Your personal journey, I mean, you had these. It's all about taking action and your personal journey brought you to where you are. But do you think you could have avoided some of the stuff you went through if you had learned about masterminds earlier or the whole thing about collaborating? Would that have helped the learning curve a little bit?

Simon: I'm not sure. My personality is I'm pretty hardheaded, so I learned...

Jimmy: You can say that about you.

Simon: I learned through my own mistakes the best. Even in these mastermind groups, they tell you so much information of how to do things better and what you need to do, but it might not hit me until I actually go through what they're talking about, and then I realized, Okay, this is what they were talking about.

They say that the smartest people learn from other people's mistakes. I don't think I'm that smart person that learns from other people's mistakes. I think I'm one of those people that typically will have to make the mistake on my own and then I come to that realization that I should have done it a certain way, but the next time I make those adjustments and I don't make that same mistake again.

Jimmy: Would you recommend collaboration and masterminds, I mean, because it has elevated your game to a different level that you would never have been able to get to on your own? But, yeah, everybody has to get to that conclusion in their brain, their own way. I mean, yeah, just it's not always the same for everybody.

Simon: Yeah, absolutely.

Jimmy: One more quick thing I want to ask. Basically, I want to get back to unwinding and relaxing. You said you still do some grappling. Is there anything else you do? Do you have a morning routine or anything that kind of gets you in the right frame of mind to get started with your day?

Simon: Yeah, I've actually been off-routine for the last couple months, actually.

Jimmy: You've been what?

Simon: I've been off-routine-

Jimmy: Off-routine, okay.

Simon: -yeah, for the last couple of months and it's kind of been… I feel it. I definitely feel it.

Jimmy: So, yeah, exercise is definitely a good way to start the day, for sure. Is there anything else you do together?

Simon: We exercise. We come back. We get our kids ready for school, or Abel [24:00] ready for school. And I typically listen to a podcast on the way to school and that's really, I think, if I have any time, I'm either listening to a podcast or audiobooks, so I do that during the ride, dropping off my Abel to school. And then, I go straight to work and it's about 45 minutes. I'm able to listen to a book or…

Jimmy: It's good to make use of that time. I know I hate to feel like I'm being unproductive. But one thing I've learned, and it depends on what I have going on, but if I have a lot going on and I need-- Sometimes it helps me just to have time to think and not--

Yeah, I used to be one of those that I felt like every time I was in a car, I had to be doing something like listening to a podcast or listening to an audio book, but I have found that I can put something on the background maybe. I don't normally listen to classical or stuff like that. But that helps me think. Sometimes it kind of takes me into a different place. So, I call that white space. It kind of helps me to figure things out or make connections, or stuff like that, so it's good for me. But, yeah, I like to be productive in my time because you can use your car like a university.

Simon: Yeah.

Jimmy: Tell everybody how they can find you.

Simon: Absolutely. Our website is www. MMAColumbusGA.com or also Ultimate Youth Sports is at www.UYSColumbus.com. And you could also find me on social media on my Facebook or Instagram, Simon Chang.

Jimmy: Man, I appreciate you coming on today, Simon. It's a lot of good info.

Simon: It was a pleasure.

Jimmy: Yeah. And thank you all for tuning in to the Uncommon Life Podcast. I'll see you next week.

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