Barry Dunlop, Maverick Entrepreneur and Master Salesman
Barry Dunlop – Entrepreneur Interview
Today I would like to introduce you to the first entrepreneur I ever met – Barry Dunlop (my father)
Among the businesses that Barry has built up are:
1) A successful Home Improvement Contracting Business (remodeling, home extensions, replacement windows etc)
2) Created the largest Online Leads Generation business for the home improvement industry in the UK – A business that was responsible for generating $100’s of millions in sales value, yet only had 4 employees. (A business, Barry successfully exited in 2008 )
Barry has always been one for quotes and this is one I have heard him repeat many times:
Success Is A Trickster – It will Make A Fool Out Of You If You Let It
In other words don’t let success go to your head or inflate your EGO so big that you stop doing what made you successful in the first place.
Barry is also an occasional contributor at IncomeDiary and some of his posts include:
Enjoy the interview – as always I welcome your comments below.
Very best wishes
Barry Dunlop Interview
Barry can you describe your business history (how you made money) and what you are doing in business these days?
First of all, I describe myself as a salesman and serial entrepreneur. I’ve certainly been in business a long time. I was born in 1960. I went into business for myself at the age of 21 but really I’ve been an entrepreneur since way before this. (I grew up as a Farmers Son in the 1960’s in Ireland and you learn a lot about hard work and business in that environment)
Primarily I’ve been involved in sales related businesses. I was an exceptionally successful direct salesperson, selling home improvements in the UK and earning a substantial income in my early 20s doing that.
I’ve also had business failures, which means things like the bank comes and takes the house back. (It happens!)
I’ve also built up businesses again. (I believe it is especially important when you appear very successful to point out the failures and the the downs as well as the ups, because it is in my opinion how we handle the “downs” that eventually qualifies us to experience the “ups”.)
I have been down on the deck at least once and possibly two or three times. Every occasion I still get up and come back fighting. I don’t mean that in an aggressive way, I just mean that that’s what us entrepreneurs do.
And indeed I hope and believe that a lot of people listening to and reading this interview should be able to resonate with that, because that’s the one thing that I find runs through entrepreneurs. Whatever the world gives us, somehow we just take it – almost with a smirk on our face and we just get right back up.
These days I am primarily an Internet entrepreneur. In 1998 I set up a company in the UK which was the first lead generating company in the UK which specialized in generating leads for the home improvement industry.
For those of you in other parts of the world, that means leads or inquiries for things like replacement windows, sun rooms, kitchens, bathrooms. Fortunately I had clients who were desperate for leads – they had commission hungry sales people to keep busy.
One thing which I learned early on, especially in lead generation, only generate leads for people who really, really need them. And it sounds a bit corny to say that, but believe you me, I find people generating leads for people who don’t believe they need them, or don’t feel they need them.
I can assure you one thing, in a direct sales or any sales commission environment, they never have enough leads; they always want some more. And actually, that was why I had so much success with the website, the fact that so many people would need the leads. And if they didn’t need the leads, obviously I wouldn’t have had a business.
Yes, I did go on to make a substantial income with it, over a one million dollars a year income. I did this with actually just four employees.
But one point I always liked to make to people is that it’s not the fact that I only had four employees or I made this amount of money but more importantly it is the point that the business generated in excess of a 100 million dollars worth of sales (when you add up the sales volume of the sales from the leads). I am very proud of the ripple effect and how many people were employed as a result of the sales the leads generated.
What am I doing right now?
Well, as you know, I sold that particular business – and, yes, it did make me enough money, in fact, it probably made me enough money to retire.
But to be retired, not actually doing what I love which is being an entrepreneur would be a real struggle for me.
I have various real estate investments plus I am the lead investor in two renewable energy businesses – I would rather not disclose them here but one other business I will mention is that I am a pretty active domainer / domain name investor. I do invest in .com domains, but recently with a business partner, I’ve been investing in a lot of .co.uk domains.
In common with property prices and real estate prices across the world, there’s been a substantial drop, or a fairly significant drop, in the value of domain names recently and I believe right now is one of the best time to buy good quality Generic Domain names at good prices.
I’ll give you just a flavor of some of the domain names myself and my partner own. We own the domain name fit.co.uk – which is a pretty awesome domain name. First of all it’s three letters or three characters. Anybody who knows anything about domaining knows that’s a pretty awesome thing. And FIT and FITNESS is a huge MARKET.
It is a .co.uk, which is one the most popular country based domains in the world. It’s second in only, in my opinion, to having a .com. And it’s about fit or fitness, so it’s a phenomenal market. There’s about a million things we could actually do with that domain name.
Other domain names we own is ran.co.uk and also directsalesman.com
Also, I’m pretty passionate about public speaking. I don’t consider it my business. I do speak in public; I enjoy speaking in public. And I believe a lot of other people would enjoy speaking in public if they were given the right training, the right incentive, and the right help.
So that is possibly a website we will develop in the not too distant future. Next question?
As an experienced entrepreneur what are some tips you would give to startup entrepreneurs?
There’s lots and lots of things I could say but actually the TOP TIP is really a very simple one – and also it is a TIP that I know you have repeated over and over on your website. Quite simply – It is TAKE ACTION!
Sometimes the difference between success and failure is just the fact that somebody took action and the other person didn’t. I might have alluded earlier that there’s a lot of bright and clever people in the world. In fact, almost every day I’m just being blown away by the new intelligence, as I sometime refer to it.
It’s just the awareness, and the fact that there is indeed a world full of many very, very clever people. Now, I’m trying to be modest here, because I actually don’t particularly think, as I said earlier, I am one of life’s really clever people. But I am one of life’s really great action takers.
And sometimes I haven’t really worried too much about getting it perfected. In fact, if I have a second tip for entrepreneurs here it is this one: good enough is good enough.
I have a friend who just recently started helping me with video production. He said to me, “Barry, don’t worry about the video being 100% right. If you get it 70% right, that’s fair enough. Just get on with it.”
And that reminded me of a tip that I received from a friend very early on in my entrepreneurial career. Actually, I’m surprised more people don’t say this, because it’s actually fact. He said: “To be a millionaire, Barry, all you have to do is be right 51% of the time.”
As long as you’re right 51% of the time, you will be a winner. Put it this way, if you had 51% odds, you’d go to Vegas and bet all day long.
A lot of people are obsessed, if you like, with getting everything lined up 100% perfect and correct and spot on. And that actually is probably the thing that you shouldn’t do. OK, the website might not be the best, most attractive website in the world, but hey, get it started, get it out there. You can fix it later, you can improve it as your knowledge and skills improve.
Honestly, Michael, I could go on all day with further tips and further advice. But those are two that will really stand out. If you just follow those, you’ll be way ahead of the game anyway.
Actually there is a third tip. The third tip is sometimes less is more. So that’s why I’m not going to give loads of tips here. Just take action, get started, and don’t worry about perfection. 51% is great. I go in for a little higher some days myself, and hey, some days I actually do better than 51% [laughs] But frankly, 51% is fine. Get on there, get out there.
Barry – you have run both online and offline businesses – which do you prefer?
That is a funny but good question 😉 I actually say this to people, “Once you’ve had an Internet business it almost spoils you for any other kind of business.” Because you really can’t imagine any other business.
Now I am involved in some offline businesses. I’m a property investor, and I enjoy property investment. But that requires substantial amounts of cash to be a property investor. And I’m a domain investor, which is sort of an online business, but to some extent it’s also an investment business rather than an online business. Which obviously again requires a fair amount of cash.
So for me it’s an easy question to answer. Of course I prefer online businesses. I like online businesses because one, you can set up tons and tons of online businesses with little or no money.
But as a little aside I would just make this comment. I have noticed a few of my online business friends who are making good money online are then investing that money offline to make even more money. Possibly with property investment or domain name investment for example.
Barry – you now now travel the world a lot, you are a member of several mastermind groups, you have spoken at seminars etc – tell us what that is like?
Well, it’s wonderful, Michael. It’s really fantastic. It’s part of my dream, again. It’s part of what I’ve focused on. Some people wouldn’t like to travel so much. I’m not suggesting everybody will want to do that. But I personally always have been a traveler.
My first career was in fact all about traveling. I left home when I was just 17 to join the Merchant Navy. In some places in the world it’s called the Merchant Marine. I sailed around the world as a Marine Engineer.
So I’ve always had a passion for visiting new places and doing new things. Certainly I’ve been able to do that as a result of my online success. I now travel the world quite a lot and enjoy it a lot. Every month I’m going somewhere, and every month I’m meeting new friends and making new connections.
I actually find that it makes me more creative. The more I travel, the more I’m inspired by things I see in other places.
“The World Is A Swipe File!
I’m not sure that everybody knows what a swipe file is, but basically a swipe file is a file where you store ideas / inspiration that you “swiped” – perhaps from an advert in the newspaper, or something you’ve seen online, a magazine ad, something on the TV, in the cinema. Wherever.
So one day you’re looking for inspiration, you’re looking for a bit of creative juice, if you like, to help you with your business. So you go to your swipe file, you pull it out, and you see what other people have done – and see if there is an application for that in your business?
Now of course you’re not going to copy exactly what they’ve done, but you will hopefully get some idea or inspiration that you can use in your business.
I have swiped loads of ideas as I travel. As you travel you’ll see things that work in one city or country and take that idea to another city or country.
This is great for entrepreneurs. In fact, as an entrepreneur, if you see something that’s working particularly well in one country, you might say, “Hey, can I be your representative in my home country?” Or a licensee, or you take it over and you actually expand the same idea in another country.
That’s the one of the advantages of being an online entrepreneur and traveling the world, and it’s certainly one that I recommend to people.
Barry I have heard you say this “Winners are Givers” – can you explain this a bit more?
One of the other things that I’m passionate about is the fact that I like to give back. Actually I believe personally we can give back by giving back of ourselves to help other people – not just charity.
I certainly know as I go back over my life there’s been many times in my life when people have helped me out. Now that doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily helped me out financially. But they’ve helped me out with a kind word or a bit of inspiration or an idea.
So inspiration is giving back, in my opinion. I’ve been inspired by many people. I had a friend, a gentleman who is no longer with us, who I met in the early ’90s, who was a profound influence on my business career, and in fact, on my business ethics. A gentleman called David Mills.
Nobody’s every heard of him, but that man left an everlasting impact on my life. There are a number of people like that.
And, of course you have got the more famous names like Tony Robbins, or Zig Ziglar, or Tom Hopkins who were big influences on my life. Another phenomenal influence on my life, and I believe a great giver, is a gentleman called Stewart Wilde.
Stuart Wilde wrote a book, which I actually read in 1990, called “The Trick To Money Is Having Some,” which is a cute little title, “The Trick To Money Is Having Some.” It is an amazing book about the ENERGY of money and attracting it into your life.
If you get the opportunity I would recommend to anybody out there to go on Amazon and buy The Trick To Money Is Having Some. First of all it will make you chuckle, and two, it will give you some insights about money energy and will help a lot of people.
Anyway, I appreciate that I am getting slightly off track here with what the question is because I believe in giving and giving back.
When I first was in business, and first went down the personal development route, a lot of people would say, “Barry get around winners, associate with winners.”
And you know there is a lot of truth in that. In fact, actually I still would agree, associate with winners. But recently I have been thinking about this, and actually I have made a more important distinction.
These days I would say: Get around people who are givers.
What I mean by this is that I have actually discovered that Winners are Givers.
Givers are people who will give inspiration to other people, something that I passionately believe in. I certainly believe that I give inspiration to other people. And I am hoping that people who will be listening to this interview, or reading this interview are inspired by it. Because I believe we have an obligation to give back.
That is one of the reasons why I am doing this interview with you Michael.
It is to give back, because I am very passionate about what you are doing and I am very passionate about young entrepreneurs. I am very passionate about helping people break free from restriction – especially financial restriction.
I like to help people experience their dreams – the dreams that probably they give up on and decide they can never achieve.
Associate with givers, but can I just make one thing clear. It does not mean that in GIVING, you give of yourself all day long.
If I didn’t watch out, there are plenty of people who would take all my energy and try and have me spend all day long trying to sort them out. I call them energy vampires. (Actually most of these energy vampires are more in need of Therapy than coaching)
I give back in relatively small amounts of chunks of energy at a time, and I continue to give back in relation to how quickly and how significantly people take action. If somebody comes to me for help, especially about an entrepreneurial issue, or something like that, and they come back to me next week and I discover they hadn’t taken action last week, they will probably find very quickly that I will withdraw the help.
I might give you the second attempt, or even the third attempt to try and help you out of whatever place you are stuck in, but truthfully it comes back to where we started in the beginning, just take action, you must take action.
Finally Barry – you know some people say you have been a huge help to me (and of course you have been) – but also some people imply that my entrepreneurial success is more down to you than me. Can you put the record straight 😉
Good point Michael — especially these days because I am pretty sure Michael Dunlop is more famous online than Barry Dunlop.
That obviously is something that I am very proud of.
Michael – if I have given you a gift then I like to think that I have given you the gift to be yourself.
When I was at school / college and I wanted to be an entrepreneur and work for myself it really was frowned upon. You were going to get a career, you were going to go to university, pass all sort of exams and all that sort of thing and have things after your name. I just decided not to do it. I decided to be an entrepreneur.
I am not saying my parents actually discouraged me, I wouldn’t say they actively did that. But I don’t believe they were as enthusiastic about it as possibly, looking back on it now, as they should have been. I have always been enthusiastic about you being an entrepreneur, Michael. And possibly I have inspired you a little bit and maybe I have given you a little help along the way.
Michael – you amaze me with your ideas. I’d say 95 percent, maybe 99 percent of what you are doing is entirely of your own self, getting out there and doing it. You did what I mentioned earlier in this interview – You took ACTION — and you did not ask me or anyone else’s permission to do so! Well done.
Michael – I hope everybody is enjoying what I have had to say here. I know I like to talk and I imagine I have gone on for much longer than you needed me to go on for. 😉
If people want to know more about me they should check out:
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