39 minutes | Jun 3, 2020

Episode 62: The Biggest Risk in Life — Mike Watts

This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes interviews Mike Watts, a serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and guest professor who is currently the Founder and CEO of LoveHandle and the President of Tree Stake Solutions. In total, Mike has six startup companies under his belt, including three consecutive multi-million dollar companies within the last decade, and has successfully exited three of those six, including one for over $6 million. Mike is also a dear friend and mentee of Shark Tank star Daymond John, is a 2-time winner of the Aggie 100 Award for fastest growing companies, and has been listed on the Fortune 5000. According to Mike, the biggest risk you could ever take in life is not taking any risks at all because that’s what it takes to pursue your dreams. On the podcast, Mike tells us about his own journey — one filled with risks that paid off, with risks that nearly folded because his ego got in the way, with risks that gave him the fulfillment that a corporate job couldn’t. Along the way, he shares some advice on how we can all take smart risks — how we can identify those ventures that are worth pursuing, even when it means putting it all on the line.   The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway: “The biggest risk in life is to not take any. Because that’s the only way you’re going to see your dreams come true — if you push towards things where you don’t know the outcome." [On starting his own business] “At the end of the day, my wife and I decided that, if we don’t take the risk now, we never will. We’re always going to wonder what would have happened. And, man, I’m so glad we made that decision." “[When looking for products to invest in,] you’re looking for something that is relevant today and, more importantly, is going to be relevant in 5 years. Because that’s about how long it takes to really ramp a company up." “Just because a product worked well in a certain way at a certain time doesn’t mean you’re just going to be able to repeat that." “You sell a business — it’s a lot like selling a child. You’ve spent so much time and effort in nurturing this idea, then it’s accepted by the world, grows up, and creates a life of its own… Then you sell it, and a little part of your identity is gone." “We’ve never raised any money, and we keep having to put some of our personal money into it. But I love the ability to say, ’This is ours.’ There’s not another investor out there that’s looking over our shoulders." [On exiting] “It’s funny. You think, ‘Oh, I have all of this money.’ But if you don’t take it and redeploy it in intelligent ways, then what good is it for you?” Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed: 3:24: Mike speaks to the origins of his entrepreneurial spirit and why he decided to take a corporate job right out of college. 8:04: Mike describes his first gig as an entrepreneur and how that experience taught him many lessons that would carry over to his other ventures. 9:59: Mike talks about his first big gamble that turned into his first big exit — PivoTrim — and why he is thankful that he pulled the trigger on that risk, as opposed to the “safer” option. 16:11: Watts discusses the circumstances that led him to ultimately sell PivoTrim and how he used the money from the exit to reinvest in his future. 19:11: Mike explains how, post-exit, he dealt with feelings of despair and boredom and how selling a business is, in many ways, similar to selling one of your very own children. 21:09: Watts describes his two current companies — Tree Stake Solutions and the LoveHandle — and what to look for when making a decision to invest in a product. 26:45: Watts discusses how his employees stay motivated when their closest competitor is a powerhouse — ranked #2 on the Fortune 5000 with $50M in sales. 28:21: Mike explains how shoddy production and a wrong assumption about marketing the LoveHandle nearly tanked his business from the get-go. 32:21: Mike speaks to his partnership and friendship with Shark Tank star Daymond John. 34:43: Watts forecasts the future for his business and shares a piece of advice that he wishes he would have known from the start. Bulleted List of Resources — Mike Watts -     Instagram -     LinkedIn   The Love Handle -      Company Website   Tree Stake Solutions -      Company Website
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