Can’t wait ? Above is the full interview. Click Play Arrow.
You Can also read Part of the Interview BELOW
I’m really excited to speak with today’s guest because he really is one of the U.K.’s most successful entrepreneurs. Simon Coulson climbed the corporate ladder with BT, formerly known as British Telecom, for 14 years before quitting the city life. He then started a series of internet businesses and has now built five separate seven figure online businesses. In that time he’s generated over £30 million or $38 million in sales, from his combined businesses, the first £2 million of which was from his spare room in his house. So I think this is going to be an interesting conversation.
Simon, it’s great to connect.
Great to be here.
Well, I mentioned in the introduction about you stepping away from the corporate ladder. That must have been a scary thing to do.
Yeah, it was. But everybody at the time thought I was a bit mad, but the background to it was I’d been working in Central London. I lived in Kent, and I’d been working there for 14 years, as you said, and it was a two-hour commute, door to door, just to get to work, and a two-hour commute home. So I was travelling for four hours a day, and there was overtime available, so I’d been working extra hours. Things came to a head one day when I was actually travelling home from work at King’s Cross Station. I remember getting on the escalator, and then the next thing I remember I was standing on the escalator, then I remember just waking up and I was lying on the floor at the bottom of the escalator with what felt like 100s people stepping over me.
And eventually, one of them was kind enough to lean down and say, “You all right, mate?” I just about managed to go, “No.”
I was just trying to work out what the hell I was doing, how I was there. I was thinking, have I had a heart attack? Have I been mugged? Have I had a stroke? What’s happening? So it was all very dramatic. They called me an ambulance, they put an ECG on me, and everything, and found everything was fine.
No one had mugged me. They just concluded that I was suffering from exhaustion, and my body had just shut down, you’ve just been doing too much.
So, the diagnosis was go see your doctor tomorrow, in the days when you could still see a doctor and get signed off for a week. Basically just do a week of complete rest and let your body recharge, because it’s just telling me you’re overdoing it.
And that was a massive turning point for me because it just meant, I thought, hold on a minute. I’m 32 years old and I’m burnt out effectively. Retirement age is 67, so I’ve got 35 years to go, and I’m burnt out after 14. This isn’t for me. This clearly is not going to last. So I started weighing up my options and thinking about what else I could do. And a couple of fortuitous things happened really around the same time as well. Ironically, one was BT announced a redundancy scheme and said they were looking for volunteers to go. So I’d get a few months’ money if I volunteered to go, which I thought would give me a buffer to find my way doing something else.
And the other thing that happened was I’d been playing in a pub covers band for years, and we’d recently just changed that band to be a Coldplay tribute band, because Coldplay were just coming to the fore and being very popular. We were doing a couple of Coldplay songs in a set and I just had this crazy idea on the way back from a Coldplay gig at Brighton Centre. I said, “Why don’t we just become a Coldplay tribute band rather than just being another pub covers function band?” And the guys went with the idea. So it was really the first listening business of rebranding, which was change the name of the band to something close to Coldplay, which we settled on Coolplay.
And basically, we’d started doing gigs as a Coldplay tribute band and found that just that rebranded exercise had actually given us a 20 fold increase in income, because we used to go out for 100 quid a gig, and suddenly we could earn £2,000 a gig. So all these things happened at once. It’s like, well, hold on. I’ve got this other little job here on a Friday and Saturday night with a band where I can get 500 quid each, a gig, so do that two nights a week, that’s a grand a week. That’s more than BT are paying me anyway. And if I volunteer to go from BT now they’re going to give me a few grand to leave, and I can’t keep doing this BT thing anyway because it’s killing me, so let’s just take this leap of faith.
So, I literally left, didn’t have a clue what I was going to do. I actually remember on my last day of employment, on the way home I popped into a news agents and they had a book on one of those little revolving things by the checkout, and it was called The Beermat Entrepreneur.
I thought, I better buy this. I better start figuring out what I’m going to do, because I had this vague idea that I might start my own business. So the plan was look for a local job, start my own business, and in the meantime the music will keep me going. So that was how it all started really.
Nice. I mean, the most important question, I think, that I’m going to ask in this entire interview is in Coolplay, what do you play? Is it drums? Is it guitar? Is it vocals? What’s your role?
I am Chris Martin, so I did the piano and all the singing.
That doesn’t surprise me. You do have a look of Chris Martin about you.
Slightly larger. In fact, when we started the band, because we were a little bit older than them, we were bouncing around ideas and my original suggestion was Old Play, but we thought that that’d be selling ourselves short and probably wouldn’t get many gigs booked, so we settled for Coolplay.
I love it. Now, obviously, you’ve stepped away at this point from the 9:00 to 5:00, or the usual 9:00 to 5:00. How quickly did you read The Beermat Entrepreneur?
Oh, very quickly. Within a couple of days I’d read that, and that got me thinking a little bit. Then what happened next was I saw an advert for a seminar which claimed to teach you, in one day, how to become a millionaire. And the thing that caught my eye was there was a guarantee, and it said, “If by lunchtime you don’t believe that you can become a millionaire by completing this training, you can leave for a full refund.”
So, I thought, well, it’s a pretty bold guarantee. So, I must admit, I booked a ticket to this one day workshop, and when I went in with the mindset of, I am going home at lunchtime. I’ve just come here to see what’s going on, but I’m sure you can’t become a millionaire, and you can’t learn how to do it in a day, so I will be going home at lunchtime…
Note from the editor:
Above is the full interview. Click Play Arrow. Enjoy!
To return to Making Web Money Click Here