Kevin Barber’s Story
My professional life started when I went to college for computer engineering. I say that because I did not have a typical college experience. I was very serious about succeeding. I went to KU (home of the Jayhawks), but in my time at KU I never attended a single basketball game. Ya – very serious. But at the same time, throughout my time at KU I had Primestar satellite TV, and it came with a unique channel called “The Success Channel.” It had all the greats from Brian Tracy to Jim Rohn, Les Brown and Zig Ziglar (see all my mentors).
It challenged my paradigm at the time and was interesting, so I had it on all the time. I mean 24/7. I barely touched the remote for 2 years. During that 2 years, the Success Channel completely re-programmed my brain. When I left KU I didn’t want to be an engineer, I wanted to start my own business! So I did!
My first venture was as an independent rep selling a service. But I didn’t want to just sell it, I wanted to do it online. I had decent success but nothing special, until I decided I wanted to find a way to generate leads online. I ended up finding a way to generate so many leads online that my second business was born, selling excess leads to other reps. I was doing really well with that for a short while, to the extent that once I made $16,000 in a single day! But soon after that day I attended the company convention, where they unveiled a new corporate website. After the unveil, they said that effective immediately, all other websites had to be shut down. I returned home to a letter instructing me to shut down my sites, and I was thrown out of two businesses in a single day.
While looking for my next venture, the phone rang. Someone asked me for help with a website for which I did not have the skills nor the interest. I reluctantly said okay b/c they offered me a revenue split I could not ignore. Over a hundred customers the first month. Six figures within a year. Soon after that project launched, the phone rang again. And again. I never spent one single dollar and now I had one FT and one PT employee. So I named the business, opened the office, and officially started my new profession.
My favorite story was Profile Powerboats, who were on the ropes. The year prior the entire company had sold just three boats. Their current season was nearly over and again they had sold just three boats, even with a dealer network. Feeling they had little to lose, they fired their dealers and we launched a “factory direct online” approach. The results were amazing. The first year they sold 6 boats, direct, at a much higher profit margin. The next year, 13. The year after, 26! Then they sold the company, which I then found out was their dream all along.
Right after that I was introduced to Motorcycle Closeouts, whom I built an absolutely huge system from the ground up to replace their bottlenecks. They grew from 10k internet orders/yr to over 30k a year in just a few years, with the same staff size. But at the same time I was not proud of my work, because I had other clients that while they were happy with my work, I felt the results they experienced were just mediocre. I was turning 35 and I felt I had not yet built the proper reputation for myself in the industry. I had never been asked to speak or even write a guest blog. I knew I could continue down my current path but I also knew it was a path of being just average.
In late 2012 I moved to Costa Rica to simplify my life and focus on what was important. That’s where self reflection caused me decide a change was in order. No more mediocrity! Good enough is no longer good enough! I needed a new model, a new team, and new customers. I set my sights on becoming remarkable!
In mid 2013 I drew a line in the sand. I completely rebooted my agency, building on all the principles I had learned over the past decade. I knew that the key to success was continuous improvement. I knew how to help build a brand strategy, and I knew that the way people buy was radically shifting and every company would have to shift as well to compete in a new economy where the customer has all the power. One of my most valuable skills I had developed over the years was hiring great people, so I completely revamped my team (I kept myself, but it was a close call), and launched Lean Labs.
In 2014 I developed my first gang sign (Lean Labs), and we grew the company 33%. I’m extremely proud of the work we did this year. This was considered our year for taking the runway and building momentum, and we were able to produce a 300% increase in site traffic and over 1200 leads in just 12 months.
2015 is the year of “LiftOff” – the year I hope to make Lean Labs a Gold Tiered Inbound Marketing agency with our partner HubSpot, among other things.