Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey, thank you so much for reading my interview on Starter Story! My name is Isaac Mashman. I’m a podcast host, speaker, and the founder of Mashman Ventures, a public relations firm. Unlike many other PR firms that offer press features and company-related work, we specialize in helping people who want to be followed, in-demand, and respected create unrivaled personal brands. More on that later.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about my past, but I didn’t come from money or a “white-picket-fence” home. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, I remember seeing my mom slave for a paycheck, working at fast-food restaurants that had obnoxious shifts. Although she was way overqualified, she did her best to raise me as a single parent. My grandparents played a large role in my early years, but even then nobody was entrepreneurial. I actually remember waking up early in the mornings with my grandmother to take my grandpa to work at the cabinet shop. After school, we would go pick him up.
As I grew older, my mom eventually remarried, but with good times, came bad ones too. Throughout my teenage years, looking back I now realize that the seed of entrepreneurship was sowed in various business ideas. In middle school, I went as far as wanting to sell modified pens to other students and I even had a full catalog. It sounds goofy, but as I got older that dumb idea turned into my own lawn business over the summer, where I did work for my scoutmasters from Boy Scouts, and people around the surrounding neighborhoods. I went to every door with fliers and had a trailer large enough for a mower that gets this, I hooked up to my bike.
It wasn’t until the senior year that I got into business somewhat seriously. Remember those bad times I mentioned? This was during one of them. I started to look for role models, and sick of not having money I knew I had to start following the people who had some. That’s when I stumbled across some large-name internet entrepreneurs, and at the time, a young kid who was slightly older than me who had businesses of his own.
Being both an ambitious and impressionable kid, I decided to start an Instagram account with hopes of eventually monetizing it, and began a business-centered clothing line. I eventually sold a few pieces of merchandise online making somewhere around $50, but this was a breaking point for me. I could make money online! Over the span of a few more months, I got involved with, networking marketing, and a variety of other businesses. It was during these times I took my first business trip to Minneapolis.
Fast forward three years, a lot of risks, and crazy experiences, I dipped my toes into half a dozen different businesses and industries, all whilst building my personal brand. As I was figuring out what I wanted to do, I was gathering a social audience, establishing credibility, and learning about branding, marketing, social media, and a whole bunch of other things.
During one of my adventures in Bakersfield, California (I wish I had the time) I became the go-to brand guy within my friend group. Understanding that I had a knack for it, the idea of focusing on personal branding began to grow in my mind, and in April 2020 I decided to actually make it a full-time thing.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Being a primarily service-based business, I didn’t have to worry about prototypes, or dealing with manufacturers for my product. The thing is, it is up to you to increase the value of your services, make them more efficient, and demonstrate your ability to deliver.
Don’t devote too much time to the competition. Be aware of them, learn from them, and not much else.
My early days consisted of logging into a person’s social media accounts, optimizing them, and creating profiles for them on high-profile sites that are important in their field. With this method, came drawbacks. One, the client didn’t know how to do the work for themselves after our agreement ended. Two, it was TIME-CONSUMING! Three, there were concerns of confidentiality. After handling this kind of work with several clients, I soon realized I despised what I was doing. At that point, I knew I had to figure something else out.
Knowing I didn’t want to be called some “coach” or “guru” (no offense) definitely drew this process out because I was brainstorming the perfect approach. I finally had a eureka moment, and started to train other people on what to do to grow and strengthen their personal brands, and strategize a step-by-step process catered to their own ambitions.
Aside from that, I recently expanded into organization-based services, where I will go into a company and train their team on how to leverage their personal brands to drive revenue and increase the company’s brand and culture.
This is my current model.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I launched Mashman Ventures right in the heat of the pandemic on April 17th, 2020. I will say, this is an instance where you should learn what not to do from me. I didn’t define my company as a public relations firm until October of 2020. During that 6-month period I was marketing it as a “multi-purpose” company (I know right, what the heck was I thinking?). My thought process behind this was to not let myself be put into a box.
I knew I wanted an LLC for the tax benefits and the protection, but I also wanted to have something to cover things about my personal brands such as books and events. I eventually came to the recognition that it is best to be defined and the only “box” that exists is the one I created for myself. In terms of financing the company, I spent several hundred dollars and went through a “done by you” service that streamlined the process. A few weeks later, bam, I had an LLC. From there it was about expanding the brand, growing, and figuring the details out.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
PERSONAL BRANDING! If you don’t get anything else from this interview, please get that two-word phrase. I named Mashman Ventures after myself, so that I am directly tied to it, and it to me. There are some drawbacks to this such as making it more difficult to sell it in the future, but I have no plans to do so. Since the launch and I am nearly a year in, I have spent $0 on advertisements, and $0 on press releases. All of my clientele has come from word-of-mouth and organic traffic.
Although I have a social media presence across nearly every platform, the ones I am bullish on right now are Twitter, Facebook, and Clubhouse. If you build genuine relationships with other people, you are bound to make a client sale out of every 10 in somewhat shape or form. Yes, this takes more time to do, but it saves money and ensures a long-lasting working relationship versus some one-night stand client. I want to be there for my customer throughout their journey.
If you go into conversations thinking “what problem can I solve for this person” you are going to not only impact their lives but also cement yourself as someone worth working with. Now I am not saying give away all of the trade secrets, but have a mindset of abundance, and servanthood. Without others, your business would cease to exist. Given, personal branding can only go so far as to establish a brand of a business, it can get you to extremely high levels. Think about Elon Musk and Tesla, or Grant Cardone and Cardone Capital. Prime examples of brand culture.
Doing things to add to your credibility, and lower the action threshold a prospect has to work with you is important as well. What website can you get on that your competitors aren’t, how can I market myself for free, etc? Hint: look at the Better Business Bureau.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My current focus is on working with more people, marketing my personal and business brands, and doing things that add to the empire if you want to call it that. Mashman Ventures is my vehicle for real estate and other investments, as well as a way to get a team going.
Goals of which are crucial to have. Big ones too. Chances are you were always told to set realistic goals so if you fall short of achieving them you will feel good. Scratch that way of thinking entirely.
Over the next several months, and going into 2022, I want to have multiple pieces of training recorded, and begin getting results for more prominent figures. This is one of those examples of a question I could go on for literally hours discussing.
Growth and momentum.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I am a huge believer in personal development and in avoiding mistakes when I can, but through my process, I have definitely dropped the ball a couple of times. Here are some things you can take.
- Think outside of the box. Business should be fun and enjoyable. There is no set way of doing things.
- Understand business taxes or have an accountant. Filing taxes under an LLC, S-corp or even C-corp are entirely different. Study write-offs too.
- Be careful of who you let work with you, and of whom you associate with. Your reputation is everything.
- Don’t think you have to give away your services or products for free. There is a very fine line between charity and running a business.
- Opinions don’t matter unless they’re from a customer or from someone who’s 10 times as successful as you.
- Do what you can to be different and stand out.
- Don’t devote too much time to the competition. Be aware of them, learn from them, and not much else.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
All of these tools serve their purpose, and make my life so much easier as a founder!
A good example of this is Zoom Pro. I am now able to record my client training and include lifetime access to the audio and video recordings for them to go back through, rewatch and take notes from. Something so simple can greatly add to your value proposition.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am a huge believer in learning from people who have the results that you want in life. As an indicator of who I listen to, I always ask “would I feel comfortable trading places with them right now?” This ensures I am getting the best and most recent information, with less fluff.
Here are my top books:
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill - Without the proper mindset, you will not get very far, especially if you come from an upbringing similar to my own.
- Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort - Although I may not agree with the Wolf of Wall Street's lifestyle, The Straight Line Selling System has completely changed the way I handle my sales calls.
- Made In America by Sam Walton - Probably the least known of the three, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart highlights his entire life and takes the reader through starting Wal-Mart and scaling it up until the time he stepped down.
Here are my top audios:
- The Ed Mylett Show - Ed Mylett is arguably one of the most successful entrepreneurs online, and he interviews other high-caliber guests.
- Outwitting The Devil Audiobook - Originally a book by Napoleon Hill it was taken off-market due to being too progressive. You can find the audio by doing a simple search.
- The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale - Listen to it. I won’t say anything more on the subject.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
If you have the desire to start your own business or have already started, I’d advise you to GO ALL IN! I’m not telling you to quit your job, but having a fire under your butt can keep you running. The world of business is by no means easy, and it takes time to become successful but with enough consistent effort, study and growth there is absolutely no doubt that you will achieve your goals.
Goals of which are crucial to have. Big ones too. Chances are you were always told to set realistic goals so if you fall short of achieving them you will feel good. Scratch that way of thinking entirely. Goals are like the mile markers of your journey. They themselves don’t move, but you do. Once you reach one, you aim for the next. A mistake that many people have is when they fail to meet the quota, they make it smaller to be more achievable. That my friend is a recipe for straight mediocrity.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m not quite to where I am looking to hire anyone new. I actually brought on a sales guy a few weeks ago, and have some other people in my direct network to fill any open spots moving forward. If you are however interested in being an intern, or marketing rep and want to learn a thing or two about personal branding, I’m sure I may be able to help you out.
Where can we go to learn more?
You can find me literally everywhere @isaacmashman and by going to my website. If you listen to podcasts, feel free to check out my podcast, Chase the Vision with Isaac Mashman on all listening platforms!
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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