Bryson Leach used to be a creative designer on Dave Ramsey's team. Now he's a small-town entrepreneur with two brick-and-mortar businesses along with a branding & sign design business. In this interview, he shares how he adapted his retail strategy in response to COVID-19 and a local lockdown in Columbia, Tennessee.

John Meese 0:03
Bryson Good morning. How are you doing today?

Bryson Leech 0:05
I'm doing all right.

John Meese 0:06
Well, good. Well, thank you so much for joining me, I appreciate you taking the time to jump on here and share a little bit about your story. So, Bryce, you and I know each other pretty well. Literally, it's funny, you know, we just realized before we went live that we're both recording this from our offices, but our windows are across the street from each other. So like, I could probably open my window and holler and hear through your mic. I don't know. But so a small town in Columbia, Tennessee. And so I'd love obviously, I know a lot about your story, kind of what you guys have been up to, which is why I wanted to feature you here and you know, just hear your story on this podcast. But for those who don't have the pleasure of knowing you and your wife and all the lovely things you're up to, could you do your best to summarize what you know who aren't you Bryce and what are you up to?

Bryson Leech 0:55
Sure, well, I guess I could just tell like a small story. So I started working in the creative industry, especially digital marketing for Dave Ramsey. I did that for about six years, halfway through that my wife and I kind of hit like this point where probably many newlyweds or young adults kind of do or you get bored with watching Netflix or something after work every night. And so we got really into crafting so I got really into woodworking and because I was out in my backyard in the shed, trying to make silly things out of wood. My wife got bored being by herself. So she got into quilting. And she was a teacher. So in the summer she really got bored so she wants summer she made her first quilt and, and got really in and was able to like yeah, just kind of one of those things you hear a lot where you put it on Facebook and everybody's like make me one make me one. And so it just kind of snowballed from there. And we started with an Etsy page and then started and then moved it over to like a full ecommerce site within a couple of years. But at the same time, we were selling things in tents, like little booths and markets, sometimes in people's backyards and barns or in big, nice convention centers. So we started like, blending these two worlds of e commerce and marketing, and social media, and selling things online and meeting people in person and selling in person, and then those two things kind of blending together. And and that kind of like led us to get really into the idea of opening a retail store. Kind of like what if, what if we could make our own stuff and sell other people's stuff? So in 2016, we were able to kind of realize the dream of opening a retail store. And in Colombia, we opened needle and grain, which is the name of our business. We opened it as a retail store, kind of a modern crafty home goods store.

John Meese 2:53
Wait, I think I've seen this in your branding recently, but I think someone told me the other day that your original tagline was like "He Saw She Sews" or something like that.

Bryson Leech 3:01
Yeah .I've joked about how the fact that like our business, it's very much the cobbler son has no shoes for. So like I our branding, like our marketing messaging and stuff have always been like second thought as much as it should be. But like, yeah, that for instance, he that phrase was like I need something for Etsy and so like typed fast,

John Meese 3:24
Well it's memorable enough that somebody mentioned it the other day in passing

Bryson Leech 3:27
Yeah, well, it ends up being a great way to explain the name of the business.

John Meese 3:31
Right? Yeah. Do you still saw?

Bryson Leech 3:33
No, I really don't. Which is really funny because people like you still do woodworking like Well, unfortunately, the business has been so successful that I've had to kind of lay down my tools and pick up my digital marketing and, and e commerce stuff. And so I spent a lot of time on Shopify and social media.

John Meese 3:51
Well, yeah, I still have a wooden cutting board in our kitchen that you made. I don't know if your remember, But I was the first when you open the retail store,

Bryson Leech 3:59
That's right, you were the first one.

John Meese 4:00

Bryson Leech 4:00
that's Oh, that's so funny. I forgot. Yeah.

John Meese 4:02
So we still use that cutting board. So I thought it was good. Yeah, maybe this is one of the last Bryson cutting words I don't know.

Bryson Leech 4:08
It might be

John Meese 4:09
But okay, so you open needle and grain. You already had a needle in grain as a website as an e commerce store after it was first Facebook posts. And then it was an Etsy page and there was an e commerce store. And then it was a physical retail store on top of still being like e commerce. And then what happened next?

Bryson Leech 4:24
Well, so I started doing my wife was spending more time in retail and so I was still working at Ramsey and it just the more and more we got, like a following on social media in the more time we invested into our community to connect with people in the area. A lot of the same things kept coming up, like how can you help me do that? I want to do that for my business. And I got to a point where I was working late nights, helping people because I just love doing that. And I was like, Oh, I'm getting paid for this and so it kind of shifted into Okay, I think it's time for me to stepped down from driving to Franklin every day and fully invest into my community. And so I was able to kind of score some some consistent work with local businesses, that was enough for me to step down from working that job and move fully into Colombia and be here. And so since then, my personal business has turned into like, managing needle in grain. And then doing graphic work, creative work, social media consulting, in a weird niche that's kind of grown is a sign manufacturing, sign painting, and things like that. So I kind of just said, like, I take creative and I'm in a small town I've been basically saying, like, I bring your ideas to life and because in a small town, there's a lot of very busy business owners who want to do things or create they have things in their head, but they don't know the right person or how to get it out into the physical world. And so I being you know, we hit back to In my physical nature of making things out of wood, I was like, Well, I'm, let me help make these physical things, signs and banners physical stuff that I can spend time using my hands still.

John Meese 6:14
and that's kind of its own brand now. Right? Yeah. Yeah, that's a good sign, I think is what it's called.

Bryson Leech 6:20
That's a good sign company. Yeah. So in our taglines, "Hey, that's a good sign."

John Meese 6:25
Yeah, well, my sign accord Columbia is a good sign because it's one of the signs you created. And you helped come to life. I mean, something really, it may seem simple to you. But for me, I had this vision when we opened Cobra Columbia that we wanted this giant wall, this giant sign that just said entrepreneurs welcome. And but I was like, I don't actually know how to do that. I just wanted to exist, and you made it happen. So that's an example of what that looks like. Yeah, so and then that wasn't enough. Was it Bryson

Bryson Leech 6:52
Oh, and then we decided, after annealing grain started hitting kind of a, an even keel we were like, well, let's open a toy store. Which is where I'm sitting now in the back office of our toy store. And that was really again kind of hinting back to how can we serve our community. And we looked around and we saw that there was no toy store in our community, there was no place for adults, you know, grandparents parents to find the things that they need for their kids. And yes, there's toys that kids love, but it's also a focus on toys that kids need for Developmental focus. So we also have a section for mothers for you know, prenatal care, post, what's the word postpartum care, all that kind of stuff. And so the goal is our reach to both retail stores has always been like, you guys have the things we need, or you guys have the things that I've seen on the internet that I really want. And I've been wanting to try and so that's kind of like our two goals. Is is bringing those things closer to home. Especially when we have such a digital world like some people still are like, I just need to hold this In my hand before I decided to buy it and so, kind of bridging the gap

John Meese 8:03
so little neighbors across my window across the, across the street here in this way, which is great. So, so thank you for a little bit of context. Is there anything I'm missing or missing? I think we covered most of it.

Bryson Leech 8:16
No. That's about it

John Meese 8:17
Okay. Yeah. You're also the only guy I know who enjoys going to the like historic district in downtown Columbia, the historic district meetings and getting for all local business owners getting our signs approved by zoning.

Bryson Leech 8:30
Yeah, I don't know how this happened. But like I, I, I tell you, I so I grew up in this town, and in high school, I, I'm pretty sure I probably gave it the middle finger and said, I'm never coming back. And the irony of it all is like, here I am. And it really was like a calling of sorts of like, this is there's a lot of opportunity here. And and there's a way I think Malcolm Gladwell kind of talks about it being when you're A big fish in a little pond versus the opposite. You can you have such a great opportunity to make an impact. And so it was like, that's what I want to do. I want to move our family and be a big fish in a little pond so that we can help people make a difference. And so like I like I I'm friends with like half the city government like, yeah, they're one of my clients too. And so it's like, Yeah, I love going to city meetings and learning about civics and I've just become extremely civic minded from a city

John Meese 9:29
Oh that's right, you make like the brochures for the visitors.

Bryson Leech 9:32
Yeah. Yeah, I'm there like head design. Yeah. person so

John Meese 9:38
That's great. Well, okay, it's well, Bryson, thank you for humoring me and sharing a bit of your backstory. I think, you know, you and I, both people, anybody who's listened to this podcast or listen to anything I've read or said online, it's probably heard me talk about Columbia, because, you know, so just like you, I'm in love with this little small town and any way we can serve our community and these peoples is a great thing. I have heard It said about you by some of our more successful visitors in town that they really do hope that one day we erect a statue to you So yeah, I have heard that's it. So anyways, and that's, that's that's all through business, right like you don't run a nonprofit you actually like charge people money and so that's one way to talk about today is

Bryson Leech 10:21
I probably don't charge them enough money, but I charge money

John Meese 10:23
You don't but we can talk about that later. But okay, so I want to talk about our dear friend who hopefully is not in the room, the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. So specifically, I'd love to kind of, if you would go with me, way back to whatever month it was for you. But you know, for me, it was March 2020. But so we go way, way, way, way back there. I'd love to know. When did you first realize that COVID-19 was a real threat and Do you remember where you were what happened or what really triggered you to just kind of stand up and say, Wait a second. This is unusual.

Bryson Leech 11:03
I think it for for here. I don't mean to name drop, but I'm really good friends with the mayor. And so we were chatting.

John Meese 11:15
Well, which Mayor?

Bryson Leech 11:16
City Mayor? Yes, it was just kind of that thing where it was like, I think we're about to make a state of emergency declaration for Colombia. And that kind of had happened. Like, it was like a domino effect rose like it started at different levels, or everybody around us started doing it. And it just seemed like everybody was kind of falling in line to that. And then when the state slow I remember like reading, kind of checking news constantly. And we were kind of waiting, you know, like, I'm talking to our city mayor, and he's like, yeah, I think he's about to make a statement that close by closing certain things or restricting things and the whole flatten the curve, kind of wave started coming. And I think that's when we as a business, were like, Hey, we need ready to start thinking about what to do a little bit with that coming wave. However, to be completely honest, we didn't change anything other than we follow the rules and so they're like, hey, let's well I take that back. So we were hesitant. Some stores started kind of saying hey, we're closing for now. We're limiting their hour severely it kind of started with like, we're gonna sanitize everything and then for limited hours and then it was like, now we're gonna like close the store completely. So, we kind of like held on as much as we could and then I was like, Okay, let's just kind of lead the way a little bit and go ahead and close. And

John Meese 12:43
so we're, we're in Tennessee. So for those that are listening that may not know we had so we had a we did not have a stay at home executive order from our governor, but we had a safer at home executive order which did close non essential businesses. So were you in that list of non essential businessses?

Bryson Leech 13:00
We technically could have have been an essential business. So needle in grain does offer home cleaning products, skincare. I mean, I like soaps and sanitizers and cleaners, which we already had. And we sell in bulk, we have a refill station. And so that would have allowed us to do that. But we were not going to I was just like, I'm not gonna do that. Like, we're just gonna close, there's no, I'm not gonna like fight for that, because it really became a thing about like, if I'm open, I'm going to attract people in here. And if we're, the point is to try to keep people safe and healthy, like I don't need to be open to do that. So which you might be getting at is like what we essentially had the benefit of as a business was we have been e commerce since day one. And so we were basically a close and relied using social media and stuff saying, hey, everything we have is online, and we worked hard to make sure that like some of the Stuff that wasn't online was online. Or that we made sure that like our refill stations that we did have like those cleaners and stuff, originally weren't in e commerce, we figured out ways to like, bottle those and package those to ship if we needed to. So it was a complete, like immediate, like, Oh, fine, we'll close the front doors and open the e commerce stores wider. And we actually did not see much of a dip in sales really in the in the initial thing because it just was very much like, Hey, everybody, like our doors are closed, you understand that and most people at the time weren't losing their jobs. So what we found was an essential some one of our employees actually said that she said like, this is great right now, to be honest, because I don't have sports for my kids. And so I'm saving money. And so, some times you know, when this thing kind of thing happened, people's income needs were shifting, and so people were able to kind of want to support To us, and then we saw that happen, you know, nationwide, I think it happened. It was like support small. And so, that seemed to really work for us. And we were shipping, I don't know, hundreds of boxes a day or Oh, it was crazy, like,

Well you guys did local delivery, too, right?

Yeah, that was an immediate, like, what do we do? I think I can deliver stuff. So we figured out this like, ramshackle way to like, allowed deliveries, and we were spending two or three hours a day driving our car around. I got little magnets made on the car. It's a delivery vehicle. And they were like, because it's Tennessee. It's kind of so like, you need to stay home. And so I was like, well, what's going on there? So we don't look suspicious.

John Meese 15:41
so you don't look suspicious driving around.

Bryson Leech 15:43
Right. Right.

John Meese 15:45
That's great.

Bryson Leech 15:45
So yeah, that way as best as we could, and, and people really were thankful for delivery for sure.

John Meese 15:52
Well, and little neighbors, your toy shop that was actually supposed to openright when the crisis started, right?

Bryson Leech 15:57
Yeah, it was supposed to open April 1. And I think the week before, was when everything was like really clamped down. So we were like, Well great,

John Meese 16:09
Let's not open, Now is not the time to open a toy shop for grandparents,

Bryson Leech 16:12
right and we had a store at this point like fully stocked with about $40,000 in inventory and we're like which wasn't online yet. But again, went back to e commerce and saying, well, it's well it's like slowly release these products online and leverage our social media and again, you know, it was those products of like water stuff you can play with at home, which kind of led to the great puzzle sell off, which if many of your listeners may have, you're like, yeah, I bought a puzzle during the COVID-19 crisis. And

John Meese 16:48
didn't you guys create a sticker about that?

Bryson Leech 16:50
We did. We created a puzzle champion. Like award sticker

John Meese 16:54
Or like quarentine sticker.

Bryson Leech 16:55
Yeah, quarantine puzzle champion. Yeah. Well, we had sold in one month, we sold six Hundred puzzles when working

John Meese 17:01
in a town of wish you'd say like we live in a well, how much of that was local versus

Bryson Leech 17:08
maybe half?

John Meese 17:09
Wow, okay. Yeah, yeah. So our Yeah, so our county is 100,000 people just for context, you know? Yeah. Not not our city or county but Okay, cool. All right. So you guys push back and now since then now we're talking in it the end of June you have been able to open the labors. And you've been able to reopen needle in grain. What's that been like that process?

Bryson Leech 17:34
It's been okay. I think the nature of maybe Tennessee ins and the nature of things around here, people have been kind of like demanding to return to normal. And so in some ways that has been a benefit for us as a small business. I have been extremely cautious about it because I don't

John Meese 17:58
And vocally so

Bryson Leech 18:00
Say what?

John Meese 17:59
And vocally so I mean, you've been probably the most vocal cautious in our business community

Bryson Leech 18:05
Yeah. And that's mainly because I was like, I don't want the responsibility of if something were bad to happen and be I don't want to encourage people to make poor choices by coming into my store, you know, or whatever. And, and I personally like a sidestep is like are goat or state government asked our employees to wear masks and to take care of themselves and to take care of our store, but there wasn't regulations for the customers to do the same. So like, well, that's not very equal. And, and I want to do right by my, my employees, as well. And so, in the last couple of weeks, or the last week, we have really in the numbers have started to change a little bit in our county. And I've said it's time for us to kind of be salt like more equal about this and say, like, Hey, we can all do this together. Like I've been trying my best To make things safe, but now I'm counting on my customers to do the same. Again, not requiring it again saying like, Hey, this is your choice. But I also just want to remind you that that we're in this together. And so far, it's been pretty positive. So which is good. And I've, we've had a lot more people kind of maybe goes back to some integrity, but just people saying thank you so much for caring for us. And that's been a huge tenet of our business as a whole is like no matter what we we put people before profit, and we care about people, our employees and our customers, whatever however that may be. And so those these actions we've taken to be very vocal about patient I mean, patient, customer safety has been because we care about our customers and try to explain that which is oftentimes hard to argue.

John Meese 19:51
Yeah, right. Right. And you not see the way you the way you presented it, which is public on Instagram and other platforms. So anybody can look at this, but I will say I appreciate the way that you've presented, it has never been that there have been some people who've been very like picking fights, you know, by like posting online and being like, if you don't wear a mask, you hate humans, you know? Or Sir, you guys have not done that finding it's you've said, like, Hey, guys like this is challenging for all of us. Here's what we're doing. We're really because we want to we care about you. And it's really hard to argue with that. It's really commendable,

Bryson Leech 20:18
right? Yeah. Yeah, it's very much thing. This is a simple request. I think anything you can do that for us.

John Meese 20:25
Yeah. So while I do agree that we should definitely prioritize people over profit. Let's talk about profit for a second. Um, how specifically, I'd love to know how the economic crisis has impacted your business, financially so far. And by the way, I know that your business is kind of broad, like we talked about, you've got the e commerce store, you've got the needle in grain and now you've got a little neighbors which are both under the same umbrella, but they're separate physical retail stores. And then you've got your graphic design services, and then you've got your sign making services. So yeah, I mean, like, how is the economic crisis? How have you seen an impact different areas of your business differently.

Bryson Leech 21:01
Well, so far, we've kind of currently so our spoiler alert, both of our stores right now aren't very profitable. And we knew that going in, we knew it was going to take some time. So and that's essentially why I spend so much time doing the other things that I do. And so our family's fully funded by my ventures of design and signage and things like that. So profitability wise, like we could look at it and say like, well, I pay myself from my work because the profits are much more the margins are way better part of that. Yeah, insert and so in certain doing services, so that has been kind of our saving grace through all this, however, like the revenue of our stores have been so good. We had a dip in maybe April, April, or May

John Meese 21:54
it all blurs together.

Bryson Leech 21:55
Yeah, we had a dip one month and it was kind of frightening before we open little neighbors But we were able to still able to like pair employees and pay our rent, which was the two key things we never once were able to not pay rent and not pay our bills. And thankfully, we were able to get the EIDL grant.

John Meese 22:14

Bryson Leech 22:14
which was small because we had we only have four employees. So there's a small grant, but you know, it was enough for us to cover like a month or two of rent. So that was awesome.

John Meese 22:26
That's good. No, I don't I'm glad you got it. I did not get it. Instead, I got a letter that said we have determined that you experienced no economic damage.

Bryson Leech 22:35

John Meese 22:37
Well, I think because we'd only because Cobra Colombian only been open for 58 days before they kind of a crisis. Oh, yeah. And having a financial history to show like what normal looks like. Uh, so yeah,

Bryson Leech 22:48
that's interesting. Yeah

John Meese 22:50
they sent me that. But I told Rachel, my wife. I was like, Honey, don't worry. We got a letter saying we had no economic damage the government

Bryson Leech 22:59
the government said You're fine.

John Meese 23:03
So we did not get the EIDL grant

Bryson Leech 23:05
well, it didn't work out either because we couldn't get the PPP loan because the PVV loan will give you like what? above the EIDL grant like,

John Meese 23:14
Oh right.

Bryson Leech 23:14
So it kinda was like we could borrow some, but it was like a minimal amount and the bank was like, Yeah, don't mess with that. And I was like, dang. But anyway, we, as far as like, kind of with retail, some of the benefit is like, hey, if we need cash, we just sell off some stuff at a discount

John Meese 23:33
Right, becaue you've got inventory, you've got a ton of it

Bryson Leech 23:34
Yeah, so we have investments just laying around. It's all these assets we can liquidate if we need to. So opening little neighbors, while somewhat stressful, ended up freeing up a lot of liquidity for us. So that was really helpful. So I can't speak much to profitability right now because I haven't done the books in about three months.

John Meese 23:57
That's supposed to be that public. I think

Bryson Leech 24:00
I think many of your listeners may

John Meese 24:02
know I think everybody else is like, thank you. It's been a busy three months, the lowest thing on my to do list. It's been catch up in QuickBooks or whatever.

Bryson Leech 24:15
So that I think it's, we've been very blessed and looked around and be like, wow, we we had a little bit of a dip. But so like, for me, in my design world, I did lose a couple of clients or had some projects put on pause, or I had a client that was very consistent weekly, and they said, Hey, we're gonna pause this for now. And that was kind of scary. But again, we were kind of able to like shift some things. So we weren't in a huge amount of crisis.

John Meese 24:41

Bryson Leech 24:41
But it certainly has been an interesting wave. But now, I might have remarked to you this the other day, but like, I can't handle the amount of new business startup requests I'm getting and new rebranding opportunities that people are wanting. So it's kind of telling me at least in the local community, how people are getting Have a hitch into to invest and start again. And so that's been really cool.

John Meese 25:05
I didn't notice when we had our lockdown, which was about a month in Tennessee where there was like a non essential businesses closed. I did notice that there were quite a few businesses locally that use that as an opportunity to repaint, and furniture and like renovate like people, you could tell there were a few people that had been kind of waiting for the right moment to renovate and they're like, Oh, perfect,

Bryson Leech 25:27
which I personally jumped on that. And I was able to assist, like one restaurant here in town. They were like, please help. And so I was able to help renovate the interior and paint their exterior assign. And, the several other businesses were like, Hey, we're taking the time to do this. And so it was like me kind of trying to shift and again, pivot and figure out.

Well, let's talk about that for a minute from the perspective of Well, I think the story is fascinating. I hope everybody listening. I mean, I want to get into the meat of kind of what we can take away from this for any other entrepreneur that's trying to think like how do I adapt to pursue opportunity? What kind of Opportunities Have you seen in the midst of this crisis that you've been able to take advantage of? And is there been? And what really allowed you to take advantage of those? I mean, was there anything you did to kind of set yourself self up for success in the front end?

John Meese 26:35
So on that note of like, the opportunity, you mentioned with the restaurant, you're able to go in and help them renovate and all of that. How are you pivoting to pursue opportunity and thrive in the crisis? Has there been opportunities that, you know, have arisen that maybe wouldn't have otherwise? Is there anything you did, right in hindsight to kind of set yourself up for those two to take advantage of those opportunities?

Bryson Leech 26:57
I think most of them This for me has been the result of like, consistent bricklaying of relationships. So, every one of my clients has been I've had some new ones for sure. But most of the people, especially during the crisis, where were the people that were like, Hey, can you help me? And and so it wasn't there was a little bit of me saying hey, how can I help? And and I remember for a little bit i was i was popping onto my my, my brand's Facebook page saying like, I will donate an hour of my time to anybody who may need some help communicating about COVID stuff to your employer to your customers, you know, as a graphics or a poster or whatever, like I was donating some of my services. And so I kind of the first thing I did and I think you mentioned earlier you you talked to Rabbi Daniel Lapin and and one of the things he's really big on is like serving people And when you do they pay you certificates of congratulations with presidents faces on them. And so I've always kind of, yeah, I've always kind of thought about that. And so like, my mission has always been like, I will serve you first. And we'll worry about money later. And so this has been such a thing for me of like, you know, called up the dotted line, and they're like, Hey, we're renovating. Because we got some free time. And I was like, Hey, you know, you could put these lights in the ceiling. And they're, like, $20 apiece, and they will really enhance the space. And they're like, Can you do that? And I was like, I'll figure it out. And yeah, and so and, and it was very much like, you know, I just I did that for them. I did not charge them at all. I just, you know, I enjoyed the process. But at the same time, they turned around and said, Well, what else can you do? And so I was able to do some things that they did end up paying me to do. And so it was just those kind of situations especially just kind of approaching things and saying, like, how can I help you? Let's we'll talk about money later. And in it, it always ends up being when people want to take care of you for helping them. And so that's kind of what it ended up being for a couple of months. And then at the same time, I had people, you know, some I've had some clients say, I can't pay you money, but I can pay you in referrals. And so like, the next person that they referred to me paid me very well, you know. So it's just a lot of that kind of stuff, is what I really kind of leaned into. And that was

John Meese 29:28
well then you, also, I mean, I'm thinking like the project you and I are working on currently. I mean, you reach out to me proactively about a grant that I had no idea what's going on. He speaks out real quick of like, how you knew about that? And kind of,

Bryson Leech 29:40
Oh, yeah, so like, you know, going back to my love of civics. I actually sit on the board of Columbia Main Street and it's a group of people who it's a nationally accredited board that helps improve downtown main streets around the country. And so the Murray county want heard the Columbia one the state was given $100,000 To improve facades in the downtown area, and you had to apply and you get 75% of the whatever you paid to have something fixed. And so I was like, Oh, well, how can I mean, selfishly, I was like, how can I make money doing this?

John Meese 30:14
Yeah. Love it. Yeah.

Bryson Leech 30:16
And so I read through the whole grant. And I was like this,

John Meese 30:19
which I never would have done,

Bryson Leech 30:20
right. And so it was very much like, Oh, this is basically you can get a new sign and have have for 75% off and, and so as long as you do these steps, fill out this paperwork. And I was like, well, I already do all of that. So I essentially said, you know, hey, business person, I can get you 75% off a grant for your new sign. And there happened to be three businesses on the square that needed new signs. And so I made a website that detailed everything, I texted all of them because I knew them all and was like, here's the link. They read through and they're like, great, we went in, and then I, you know, and I took a commission, essentially to do it, and

John Meese 31:00
But I mean, I'll fix that process. I didn't even know what I was paying you. I was just yeah. Yeah, well, like halfway through, I was like, Wait, am I, what am I paying you? And you're like, yeah, it's a good question. Let's figure that out. And you told me, and then I just said, Sure, like, at this point, like, I felt like I owed you cuz you'd already done so much in the process, which I'm not saying, by the way, to anybody who's listening. I'm not saying that is always the best way to run up.

Bryson Leech 31:19
I would agree totally on that. But I it was such a new experience to me. I was like, I don't know how much to charge for this, like, yes, you know, I could, I could say by the hour, and then you would get a very large bill. And so it was just like, yeah, this is fun. I'll figure it out. I'll make it cheap. And so this is, you know, and of course, I get to see, you know, for me, I'm always thinking like, Okay, I have three brand new signs that I helped design and put in the square. That's a good sign that somebody asks that's, yeah, my name comes up. And I think the other day I counted and there's like seven businesses on the square. I've had something to do with and that's a huge like, marketing piece for me as a business. So you know, That's kind of how I see some of the things I do.

John Meese 32:02
I know when everybody sees our big new sign on the corner, a downtown people gonna be like, Man Who did that?

Bryson Leech 32:07
Yeah, I'm gonna put my signature on it.

John Meese 32:11
We got to look really close is there?

Bryson Leech 32:13

John Meese 32:15
Okay, so well, what advice do you have for other business owners or entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out right now how to build or rebuild a profitable business in this economy or any economy?

Bryson Leech 32:26
Hmm. I think what I know here in town, one of the things I told people was like, because we are in an unprecedent unprecedented time, it's okay to make unprecedented decisions about how you run your business, whether permanently or for a short period of time. So, for instance, there's a store downtown that sells antiques, and those aren't very easy. You know, you have all these booths and if your store gets shut down, it's not easy to sell stuff.

John Meese 32:58

Bryson Leech 32:58
And if you didn't have any comments, situation that's that's difficult. And I said, it's okay. If for whatever reason, you just figure out a way to make money and sell online, something, they ended up doing online auctions, which is pretty cool. You know, they found key items in their store, put them on kind of an eBay scenario and did auctions, but and that I think some people are afraid to do something today that would damage their brand, if that makes sense. So, but uh, you know, I'm just kind of like, it's okay, because we all are under some pressure to survive. And so if you got to do something to survive, and it's different from what you're typically doing, that's okay. People will understand. And or you may discover, oh, this is a different way that I need to be running my business, especially if it's, you know, so it's like, in some ways, it's an exciting time to try new things and totally get away with it.

John Meese 33:52
And totally get away with it.

Bryson Leech 33:53
Yeah, exactly.

John Meese 33:54
Well, great. Well, Bryson, thank you so much for your time and for sharing a little bit of your story and your experience where find you and learn more about you online.

Bryson Leech 34:02
Best place is probably That might be or that' dot co. I don't know joy is the best way to say that. Yeah, you can Google my name is only. I think like one of the only Bryson Leechs.

John Meese 34:22
Yeah. Well, you are anything but a leech on our local communities.

Bryson Leech 34:27
Oh, that cute.

John Meese 34:31
Well, Bryce, thank you so much for your time attention. I appreciate it. Keep up the good work.

Bryson Leech 34:34
Yeah, thanks.

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John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the CEO of Cowork.Inc, co-founder of Notable, and host of the Thrive School podcast.

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