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Ep. 130 A Chance to Do It Right: New Business, New Opportunities

by | Smart AF Show

starting a new business

A Chance to Do It Right: New Business, New Opportunities

Starting a business is an opportunity to set things up the way you want them to be. With Miles Through Time there have always been parts of it out of their control. Until now.

In this episode, Torie Mathis and her cohost Sean, talk about how starting a new business will give them newfound control over all aspects of their business, but this doesn’t come without its own unique challenges. Follow along on their journey with this new venture.

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SAF 130

[00:00:00] Torie: Really, we just want it to be like a cool place that people are like, oh my gosh, you’ve got to go check it out. Like, that’s kind of the goal. Like we want to make it cool.

Hey, what’s up. It’s Torie Mathis your host and I am here with the one and only Sean Mathis, founder of Miles Through Time Automotive Museum. 

[00:00:20] Sean: What’s going on. 

[00:00:21] Torie: So recently, Sean and I have started a brand new business. We have not done that for quite a long time. It’s been a little while, Sean. No. Sean sided at the last business in 2017 Miles Through Time, which has since then changed into, from a regular corporation and business into a nonprofit, which you kind of did have to start over some stuff, but pretty much like the business, part of it has stayed the same.

[00:00:49] Sean: That one,  I mean the business just kept trucking along, so it was kind of just that. Filing and handling of paperwork that, that changed, which wasn’t too. 

[00:01:00] Torie: Nope, but this one is actually brand new business from scratch. That has kind of come up. That is an opportunity for us and kind of a little bit of a necessity with the space that Miles Through Time is in the person that was leasing the space has decided they did not want to lease it anymore. So. We have kind of taken up the reins of the little business that was there. And we now lease a commercial building, which we’ve never done before. 

[00:01:29] Sean: The whole brick and mortar aspect of that that is completely new because even from the beginning, since 2017 Miles Through Time has no had the handle, any, any, it have anything in conjunction with actually leasing. 

[00:01:42] Torie: But most of the time still doesn’t because we had to start a new business to do it because because as the nonprofit, we did not want to kind of burden the business with that. And so we started this new business to be the leaseholder and we are actually going to be running it has like booths. Currently there’s like some flea marketing stuff in there and a lot of empty space that’s not being used really well. So it’s going to be pretty exciting that we can maybe get some really cool vendors in there that are doing maybe some automotive things, some really neat older stuff that would tie in really well with the museum.

I think it’d be awesome to have some local vendors in there that just have some neat stuff that would kind of compliment the entire experience. And really, we just want it to be like a cool place. Oh, my gosh. You’ve got to go check it out. Like that’s kind of the goal. Like we want to make it cool. 

[00:02:31] Sean: And the path, you know, for this last. Just over a year since we’ve been in the old Clarksville mill and the current location we’ve really only ever had control over the museum itself. So the moment you pull up to the building and go into the building, it was all flea market. Like we didn’t actually have any control over that until you went through the red doors, when you became you know when you were actually in the museum.

So the most exciting part about all this is we actually can control the entire experience from the time you first set eyes on the building, which we have major plans to really set the tone, right from the beginning. When you pull up all the way through the entire process, all the, all the antiques and everything that’s through the whole museum and the museum is actually going to become larger because of the.

[00:03:17] Torie: Yeah, it was a really nice opportunity to be able to move into that building. Cause part of the problem we had at the first space was that there was nobody else to take the money at the door. And so Sean was required to be there all the time because the museum really wasn’t making enough money in the first week, you know, a few years in order to have staff there to, you know, be there full time. So Sean was the one that was there. Full-time so when we moved into this new space, it was really nice that the people that were already running the antique store there would just check, would just take the money, and then let people into the museum. And then Sean was able and truant were able to be there when they were able to, and they didn’t have to be there all the time.

Now that was a good thing. But at the same time, as Sean said, we didn’t really have any control over what that kind of experience was. So when somebody came in and bought tickets for the museum, We didn’t really have control over what was being said or how they’re being treated or how long they had to wait.

If other things were going on. There was a couple of times that people called in sick and it wasn’t available for us to even be, I think that we were at the airport or somewhere where we, oh, we were at the hot, I had a doctor’s appointment. I had surgery. And like they called and said that somebody called and said, it’s not open.

And it turned out that whoever was supposed to be there that day didn’t show up like Sean was ever in out of surgery. Yeah, there was nothing you could do about that. Or that, 

[00:04:36] Sean: that is the only time that I know that it happened. And we don’t know if that’s happened before in the past, which is frustrating to say the least. 

[00:04:44] Torie: Taking on this new venture is pretty exciting that we’re, you know, we’re going to have a lot more control over just how everything operates and like how the whole feeling of the entire thing is. It’s going to be pretty exciting. 

[00:04:54] Sean: Plus it’s pretty neat that you know, from the beginning an antique mall, Never a part of the plan when it came to miles to time, it didn’t even enter in my mind. But since, you know, since we were, you know, this, this arrangement we had that put us inside of an antique mall, flea market kind of thing. 

[00:05:14] Torie: When we were in Idaho. We used to go to this little resale shop, this little antique store. And we said so many times like, man, this would be cool to do something like this. So I think it’s just one of those things that it’s just the right time. 

[00:05:27] Sean: Like it feels like it’s something that, yeah. Cause at that place in Idaho, it was, I mean, it was cool. We actually bought a little Ottoman that we still have in our living room right now. Cause it was what it was, was it was all. Very unique pieces. Like if you just wanted your generic off the shelf, put together type thing from whether it’s from Ikea or target or any really just regular furniture stores, you can go and do that. But if you went into this place, chances are, that was the only piece of furniture that looked like that. And it was neat. 

[00:05:58] Torie: Yeah, it was cool. Cause it was a consignment store. It wasn’t actual booths. So they actually had full control over. Setting up all these really neat little spaces, kind of like Ikea, like all these little rooms that they set up with all these different people saying. So our thing is going to be a little bit different than that. But when we move to the side of the country, went to North Carolina first, there was an amazing antique shop that we used to go to, that was in an old mill. And that was the first time I’d ever been in an antique store like that. I mean, those types of buildings don’t even exist on the west coast.

So no, so super neat that we’ve been around some of these for a while. And so Sean has been in this one for the last year, so definitely a lot of opportunities. For some really cool stuff to happen, but, you know, we have not opened a new business in a really long time. So it’s kind of interesting that we were going through all the process of what lots of people would do when they actually start a new business.

And so one thing that we did, in the beginning, was thinking of a name. And so once we kind of came across a couple of names and stuff, Sean did a little bit of research just to see if anybody else had that name or what was being used. And we were totally able to, to really run with the name that we wanted. And so I scooped up a couple of domains. 

[00:07:07] Sean: Yeah. And really like you don’t have to, especially if the name of your business is going to be really long, you may not necessarily even want. Your website domain to be your business name if it’s that long. But in our case, we were able to find that the exact name of our business, the domain was available, which worked out perfectly for us.

 Name on it

we haven’t, we haven’t even told anybody with the name is going to be. 

[00:07:30] Torie: Yeah. So there’s nothing on the going to be. So yeah, it but we have it now. You know, so once that was out of the way, okay, we’ve got a name we’ve chosen, then it was registering the business with the state. And that was super simple, just going online and registering the business and within a week or so got an email and they mailed a copy saying that we were good to go. 

And we decided not to do a corporation this time. We did an LLC. So we’re doing a partnership between the two of us, which is something new that we haven’t done. We’ve done some escorts and we have a non-profit. And so this is our first LLC, and this was at the advice of our accountant, who we spoke with quite a bit and kind of told them what our financial plans were and kind of how we wanted things to work.

And then he gave us some advice on structure and kind of, because we’re going to actually have employees that we’re going to have to bring on and. And things like that, which we haven’t done too much previously. So having like another full-time employee is something that’s different in this business.

And so figuring out how to structure that, that was kind of a little bit of a challenge, but our accountant is pretty awesome and helped us out there. So we have our LLC, which Sean, like I said, he said did online super easy, no problem at all. Forgotten the blanks you called and you said, I forgot to do the tax ID, but that was like, you did it.

[00:08:48] Sean: Like I actually, you know, I got so many things going on, so I forgot. Right. I’m not super versed in everything I needed to do. Yeah. What I did was I actually, I knew I needed to open up a bank account for the business side, go in there and open up a bank account, exact same spot. We have Miles Through Times account and tells me, she needs a air, you know, our tax ID number.

And I’m like, ah, man, I forgot to do that part. And I’m all the way up in Clarksville where the museum is. So I was like, all right, I go outside and I’m on my phone, on my iPhone. And I was able to go in there and just check all the boxes and fill out all the information and just like that, I got the EIN number and I was able to turn around and walk right back in, give that to her.

She printed it off and opened up the account. 

[00:09:34] Torie: Super simple. Okay. That’s awesome. 

[00:09:37] Sean: Yeah, really? I mean, really up to that point, there’s really nothing. Complicated about it. And then I was able to walk over and walk, but drive over just a short ways and into the city hall and get the business license for the city. And I mean, again, it was just filling out a form and paying a fee for it. And we’re done right. The businesses there now, all that we have to do is make money. 

[00:10:03] Torie: Well, so we just have some other things though that needs to be done on my side for marketing. I am going to be building a website that is probably going to be shit at first, because there’s not a lot of information to put. And I was going to be pretty simple to start off with that probably in the next year, we’ll kind of morph into what it’s going to be because we don’t really don’t know right now. We don’t know what vendors are going to be there. We don’t know who’s going to come in. So we have an idea, but we’re not married to it.

Oh, we’re kind of like, we always try to be a little bit flexible on like, exactly how is this going to work out? And so I think that for the design of the website, I’m gonna start super simple and just be a couple of pages with some contact information. And as we kind of start to dial things in, and as we start to make some changes to the building and we start to have some really cool pictures and things like that, then the, then it’ll start to take shape.

But I think for, to start, it’s going to be for contact a little bit for SEO. And mostly just to kind of have something up there. I have to finish the logo. I’ve done a lot of research. I have lots of ideas. So what I go do is I research logos that are going to be similar, like antique logos. And then I did a lot of old like automotive signage and then 50 signs and so fifties fonts. And then I discovered that if I search. What was it? If I searched vintage, it took me kind of like seven days almost. But if I searched retro. That was giving me the right era. So I found that I had to search retro type things, and then it was like hamburger stand. You know what I mean? Like that kind of roller rink, like there was some really cool signage and colors done in that era.

So I have a folder with all kinds of stuff in there. I have vectors that I’ve grabbed, I’ve grabbed some fonts. I’ve grabbed all kinds of things that like, I like this this curve, I like this lettering. And so I have it all mashed together and then I’ll probably open up illustrator and just start like laying stuff in there and start kind of working on that.

So that’s a big thing that I have going on and I have to really be like super creative juices on for that one. Like the website. I can get that no problem, but the logo is going to take me some, I need use for that. So I gotta be feeling creative and I’ll be able to get that done. So those are like some of the big things I need to do.

[00:12:17] Sean: So on the website, we can kind of. Borrow a little bit of the feel from Miles Through Time. 

[00:12:22] Torie: Cause our colors are going to be similar. We’re going to stick with a, like a dark blue and a turquoise black blue, and then Sean picked out some paint colors for the building that are kind of going to go that same kind of color scheme. And then I will be able to wrap that up in the logo as well. 

[00:12:41] Sean: Yeah, we’re actually, we’re going to change the entire look of the building from the outside in. Which I, I can’t wait until it’s done because not only is it cosmetically going to be better, but I mean, there’s things like the restrooms in general are going to work properly.

Not only look better. 

[00:12:57] Torie: Things that we did not have control over.

[00:12:59] Sean: The functionality of, of how we can move vehicles in and out of the museum is going to completely change. Which then opens up a ton more opportunities for us to do various things with the museum. Like for example if say Truett and I were there and we wanted to do an event and pull a model A out and let people have rides in the parking lot that is something we’d love to do, but at the moment, completely impractical, like it’s so much work to get these cars in and out of the building.

It’s pretty much not worth doing. We could do. But again, it’s a lot of work, so we just, haven’t where once we make the adjustments we need to in you know, when we expand, we could easily pull up in the morning, pull the car out and just shuttle people all day long. And then when we’re done, pull it back in, like it’s nothing and go home for the day.

Not at that’s awesome. I think that’s a benefit for everybody to be able to do stuff like that. So, you know, creating this antique store is, is a means of bringing the museum just that, you know, farther up the ladder of, you know, what its full potential is, which is. 

[00:14:08] Torie: And again, it gives us, like Sean said, you know, so much more control over things that we just didn’t have control over before. So if you’ve been there and complained about something, that’s probably why. 

[00:14:20] Sean: And again, I mean, this is nothing that we, we actually, I mean, this, this isn’t anything that we were trying to go for. This wasn’t like, you know, one day I hope we can take over the antique store and run the museum. You know, I was perfectly content with the exception of, you know, obviously things that are out of my control, but as far as the arrangement goes, like I had no interest in, you know, doing the antique store.

I was like, I just want to focus on the museum and do that. But, you know, and everything we’ve just said about the antique store, you know, we’re still not going to run this brick and mortar business on a daily basis, you know? So it’s kinda neat that not only are we doing this and making it better for the museum, but this is also giving us an opportunity to provide a livelihood for, you know, another person to, to bring them on board and actually be able to pay them a livable salary to manage the whole thing. And. Hopefully get another, at least one or two other people on board, you know, part-time maybe retirement age to give them something to do and make a little extra cash as well. McDonald’s and you know. 

[00:15:22] Torie: We, so one of the things that we’ve tried to do, like we went over all the numbers of the antique store as it is right now. And so trying to go through and figure out, like, what can we do to improve that? And then what can we do? Because if we’re going to bring somebody on, like, I really would like to pay them we can. And so I, anybody living in poverty, but you know, that’s something that we’ve built in to our plan. We ran lots of numbers. We ran lots of scenarios on what we need to do to get to where we need to be. And part of that whole entire plan is to be able to pay people well. And so I’m really excited that we can do that.

I think that’s good. 

[00:15:58] Sean: Yeah. 

[00:15:59] Torie: That’s pretty awesome. So you have a lot of stuff to do though. Have you started any of the social media? No, because you need a logo. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:16:07] Sean: In fact, the only people that know what, actually, I didn’t say the name. Huh. So nobody knows unless I’ve specifically told them. So, and that was kind of by design because. I’m putting it on Torie’s shoulders to get an, a logo in the website. So at least if I tell them I then sending them somewhere. So I don’t want to, I don’t want to waste the announcement without getting the traffic from the announcement because in building the website, there may not be a whole lot there, but I promise you what there will be there. Absolutely know. So that kind of just goes into a little bit of pre-planning like, I know it’s all I can do to not announced it to the masses. 

[00:16:49] Torie: You know what I was thinking. Okay. So we had a meeting with the previous owner of the antique store and working on the internet there and just kind of getting the details of what the internet and the telephone is there and what we’re going to put it in cause Sean went and priced it out and that kind of stuff. So when we were Riley and I at the Atlanta bread company, their internet, it had like a little pop-up and it was gated. And you had to put in your email address, can you do that? Sure you can use our, our free internet. All we do is require you to sign up for our email list.

[00:17:25] Sean: That would be the, the internet provider. I, yeah, I’ll find out. 

[00:17:28] Torie: I think that that’s a really good thing, because I think it’s super important that you need to provide internet for people, but at the same time, like have them sign up and I think it would be a good list builder. 

[00:17:37] Sean: For sure. 

[00:17:37] Torie: So I think that’s something that we should look into because I think that’d be super cool to add to the email sign up form of course, on the website. So, what else do you have to do? You got to set up a Google, my business page and all the social media. Are you going to start a YouTube channel or are you going to wait on that one? 

[00:17:56] Sean: Oh, wait on that one. 

[00:17:57] Torie: Are you going to do an Instagram? Yes. 

[00:18:00] Sean: And I will probably have at least the manager that we hire, give her complete access to all that and encourage posting to that kind of stuff. So not only will I be doing it while I’m there, but I’m also going to. Somebody that’s there more often and frequently than I am. 

[00:18:16] Torie: I think that building that in right from the start to say, Hey, take three pictures a day, post them on instant. 

[00:18:22] Sean: Yeah. Especially because of the museum and like there’s been, I know for a fact there’s been groups and cars that have shown up that are worthy of capturing photos of that haven’t been because I wasn’t there, you know, so if she sees that holy cow, this group came up and they’re in some awesome rides, pop out there, take some pictures of them and share them as, as people were there. I mean, it’s, it’s cool. Like. I don’t know, we went we went tubing a couple of years ago now and they was cool, but what set it apart was we wound up getting captured on their social media and it was kind of a, yeah. And it was, it was nothing really, but it was kind of neat to, to go, okay, well we gave them money to experience this and it seemed like that.

Appreciated us doing that, you know, so to take that same concept to this bit, like, I want people to know that we appreciate them coming there. You know? So if, if taking photos of them doing whatever their cars, whatever the case may be and letting them know they’re going to be like, oh yeah. You know, especially if it pops up on their Facebook memories, Hey, I got to go there.

[00:19:34] Torie: See, so you were talking about four miles through time for posting. So I was thinking of the booths and stuff. If you go through and take a few pictures of that too. 

[00:19:43] Sean: Yeah. Not so much. Would she be doing that for the museum, but you know, people that, that come, I mean, I’m assuming they’re going to both in most cases, but she would do it, be doing it from the antique aspect of it. I think because at this point too, is, you know, we’ve kept the antiques. Completely separate from the museum. Yes, it’s there, we describe it as being inside with the antique store. But that was pretty much the extent of what we did. So now it’s going to be more all encompassing and integrated with each other. I think it’ll make sense. 

[00:20:17] Torie: Yeah, for sure. Especially since if we stick with the automotive theme and kind of that early 19 hundreds ish, you know, kind of theme around it. I think it is going to feel like it feel like it belongs and not that it’s just inside of an antique store, so it’s going to be fun to kind of bridge that gap a little bit more.

[00:20:36] Sean: You know, we, we mark it for miles for your time. We spend $5 a day on Facebook ads, and that pretty much does all of our, our paid marketing. If we can apply that in a antique aspect of that’s a completely different demographic that obviously may overlap, but it is a different demographic that we can then target and get that many more people in there.

That may not necessarily be, you know we’re we’re Facebook might not know their classic car enthusiasts, but Facebook might have a better understanding if they’re into antiques. And so it, it should compound everything and be able to reach that many more people. 

[00:21:13] Torie: Well, that was one of the nice things about coming to the antique mall because there. It’s not just like the small antique part that we are going to be taking over, but it’s also, there’s a whole nother, very large antique mall and there’s some other businesses as well inside of the old Clarksville mill. But in bringing Miles Through Time, There, it really helped everybody that was there. And so it’s really nice to make it more of a trip for people to come out.

And so, whereas, you know, what we can do for the antique shop is going to help the traffic for Miles Through Time. It’s going to help everybody in that whole entire area as well, because I don’t know what kind of marketing they’re doing, but I can guarantee you that. For sure. Going to be marketing and doing more events, which we have found as a really great way. People like to come out. People like to go to car shows or cruises or different things. And so this will give us an opportunity that we can maybe do a couple more a year. Though they are a lot of work for Sean. It definitely is a big, big payoff. 

[00:22:10] Sean: We could do a lot more small, smaller ones or themed ones. Themed is probably the better way to do it. Cause we tried the whole cars and coffee and it just cars and coffee every month. 

[00:22:22] Torie: That’s local People people that would like to get a job people from somewhere else. 

[00:22:25] Sean: You got to have something specific and special that they want to go specifically to that one, like Jeeps or four by four or electric, you know, Japanese cars are Mopar only, you know, that kind of a thing that makes it where people want to go to you.

[00:22:41] Torie: Think of bring your dog, like raising money for the humane society chili cook-off. I think those are things too, like things to play. 

[00:22:51] Sean: Yeah, it’d be awesome. If we could get food truck Fridays. I mean, there’s, there’s no shortage of things we can do now that we have complete control over everything. 

[00:22:59] Torie: It’s going to be exciting.

[00:23:01] Sean: Yep. 

[00:23:01] Torie: Yep. So do you have what is your like big picture here? What are you, what’s your one like big picture wish for this? 

[00:23:10] Sean: You know, it would be, it would be really nice. Yeah. We could get everything done. Completely museum opened back up with the additional space, all that by the first of the year and have everything completely transformed, you know, from the outside all the way in and be done with it.

And that way we can just w then instead of like being in this shift mentality of like, changing all these things now, then it would just become. How can we optimize what we’ve got instead of having to think of construction and all that, which is what we have to start with? I mean, that, that’s the mentality is we can’t just go in there and say, well, now we’ve got this right now.

It’s like, we’ve got to get all of this ready. Then once it’s ready, then we got to optimize the space and make it as profitable as possible, which means that we can keep making it better and better. And so to get that done by the first of the year would be my huge goal. 

[00:24:06] Torie: That’s a good one.

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