Blogcast #25: Kallum with a K and Unpreneur

The Unpreneur Helping Businesses Unleash Their Potential

Rebecca: Hello and welcome to the Entrepreneurial Journey podcast. Today I have Kallum with a K. Now Kallum, I don’t actually know your surname all. I know you as is Kallum with a K.

Kallum: Nobody knows my surname including me. So it’s a mystery that will go on forever.

Rebecca: Perfect. Let’s keep it that way. So Kallum, you’re the CEO, founder, owner of Unpreneur, love the name. What does Unpreneur do?

Kallum: Interesting question in terms of the timing because if you asked me last year or even last month, you’d get a different answer to today we’re in a kind of really interesting, I hate the word pivot, but we are in a readjustment period where the last three years, so Unpreneur was born in 2020, we’re a Covid baby. We became the UK’s largest training company for universities around student enterprise. Cool. And that’s what we did for the last three years. However, now we are focusing on working directly with business owners to help them with their sales, marketing growth, and particularly those that are stuck at the 40, 70,000 revenue per year and want to get to that a hundred k and beyond. That’s what we can help with. So it’s really that person. So we’ve got the student enterprise part that’s still ongoing and we’re adding to that now. The small business growth part,

Rebecca: I love it when I interview entrepreneurs. That’s mainly why I do this podcast, Kallum, because I never quite know where they’re going to be up to or speak to them because from the time of booking, they may be in a completely different business by the time I speak to them. So you are a beautiful example of that. I didn’t ask you how you were right at the beginning. How are you with this change in development?

Kallum: I am rock and roll. Thank you for asking. I hope you’re too. In terms of the change, very excited. Very excited about it. The one word I’d use is excited. It’s coming at the right time and it’s something that you just feel not even in your gut, but your whole being is coming towards it. So yeah, I’m just excited. There you go. Five times Excited.

Rebecca: Excited is the theme that she’s brilliant. So we’ve kind of, our paths have crossed over a number of years because Scotland’s a village. The community is small in Scotland and tends to be generally pretty supportive of each other, which is great. And way, way back, I can’t remember when I first came across you, but you were doing something different. What were you doing? Way, way back?

Kallum: Way? Yeah. So I think we first met when the guys who now run Deana had a programme called Shaw or Crux.

Rebecca: That was it.

Kallum: You were one of the amazing facilitators there. That’s where we met, I think.

Rebecca: Yeah,

Kallum: Yeah. Which was many moons ago.

Rebecca: That was, it was a long, they’re all now mega stars.

Kallum: Yes, they’re great guys. So shout out to those two. And the team, they’re crushing it and quite so they deserve every success they have before Unpreneur that was pre Unpreneur, the business I had there was Acorn Enterprise. And there’s a parallel with Unpreneur given that for nine years, that was a not-for-profit that was founded in 2013, give or take. And we ran for nine years and we offered business accelerator programmes to startups and we helped 125 businesses during the nine years. It was five months per intake or per programme, I should say two intakes a year and another for profit. And one of the revenue streams for that was working with universities and colleges in Scotland to provide student enterprise training. And Unpreneur just turned up the dial on that and made the main focus. But yeah, there’s definitely parallels and I think the common thread throughout my whole journey has been one of helping others Unpreneurship or what we call Unpreneurship and making a positive impact. I think that’s what I’m all about. Really.

Rebecca: Cool. I’ve got two questions. One, where does that passion, that purpose, if we were a Hindu, we’d call it Dharma. Where does that come from?

Kallum: That is a great question. It’s something that, I dunno if it’s an age thing or a stage of that in life or, but maybe the pandemic forced it too. But certainly over the last few years, a lot of reflecting on stuff like that. If I really go deep into myself and do this introspection, I think a big part of it comes from my absolute hero in life, which is my mom. Oh wow. Yeah, I think really blessed to have the best mom on the planet. Sorry everyone else, but it’s true. And my mom’s person that

Rebecca: Kids tell me.

Kallum: Well, I’m telling you now. I mean, I appreciate, I could have given you a heads up, but I just dropped that one on you. How does it feel to find out your whole life’s life? I joke, I joke, I know,

Rebecca: I know. Built on sand and

Kallum: All of us, but no, my mom, she’s the most positive, kind, amazing woman. And when it’s really bad snow and ice, for example, she’s the first person to go out and check on all the neighbours back in the house when we were little. And just that sort of person, that upbringing really rubs off on you. I think I can trace it all back to my mom, and that’s really what gives me my positivity, my want to help others. And it just so happens that my way of doing that is Unpreneurship or Unpreneurship. If I say that enough, it might convert to Unpreneurship, but

Rebecca: Okay.

Kallum: Yeah.

Rebecca: Yeah, that’s lovely. I think that’s amazing. Oh, let’s hear it from the moms. It is nearly Mother’s Day here in the uk. It’s different in the us. I think they have theirs in May, and obviously it’s International Women’s Day on Friday. So well timed. Shout out for the mums. Definitely.

Kallum: Yeah, for sure.

Rebecca: So okay, I’ve got to ask Unpreneur, what does it mean? Where did that come from?

Kallum: This is like a cop out answer, but then I might give you the real answer, but

It’s a bit like a piece of art or a song. I have my own meaning for it, but it’s almost up to the listener or the viewer to interpret it in their own way. And I remember the very quick origin story is the brand has been around for longer than Unpreneur’s been accompanied. By that, I mean we always intended Unpreneur to be the next step of Acorn so that when people left the not-for-profit free programme, they would go into Unpreneur to level up and that would be a paid for service. And there was always that idea of having that be part of the journey. It didn’t work out for well life, but I always had the brand and always liked it. And the whole origin story is, my idea was to have this really fun skit acorn whereby completely dead pan, somebody would give really bad business advice and the sort of tag at the end would be don’t listen to them.

They’re an Unpreneur for the Real Advice come to Acorn Enterprise. So it was kind of meant to be a playful kind of vibe thing. But I also did the domain with a really strong brand. And then when it came to launching a new vehicle, which we took as far as we could, I was like, it’s got to be Unpreneurs. I was like, right, we’re onto something. Because Acorn was always, it was what it was really proud of it, but it was very vanilla and felt very dated and generic,

Rebecca: Very safe.

Kallum: Whereas Unpreneurs like, yes, exactly, safe is the word. You’re absolutely right. Whereas Unpreneurs is deliberately provocative and a bit rebellious and a bit, it’s a challenger brand really in its true sense. So I think, yeah, because people always say to me, it’s a negative prefix. I know English, why would you choose on anything? There’s a positive, but then you say, well by luck or by some sort of foresight, there are so many great words we can use in our marketing that are positive, like understand unique unquestionable. You can put a positive spin. So for us, it’s like in one sentence, which I realise I’m rambling now, which is what I always do, but Unpreneur, I know we’re just even to get started, Unpreneur is the business support I wish I had when I first launched my business as a graduate. And by that I mean no bs, no jargon, no fluff, just tells you what you need to know to start and grow a business. And that has not changed.

Rebecca: Yeah,

Kallum: Good. So that is Unpreneur.

Rebecca: Perfect. I love it. I love it. It’s no bs. You know what you’re going to get. It’s sound advice. I love that. I mean, our whole business is built on complete lack of BS and just simplicity. So our coaches are trained to work with bigger businesses. So our sweet spot is more like getting from the million to the two and a half million to the 5 million. But some of our coaches work with the micro businesses. We have one programme that’s really good for micro businesses called Cresco. And you’re right at that very, very early stage. There’s so much you don’t know that. You don’t know that it’s got to be. You can’t be doing fancy analysis and blah, blah. You’ve got to just get the basics in place, which I love. I think that’s great. Now tell me this, Kallum, we have a whole range of listeners for our podcast, our little analytics tellers. Our demographic is changing, it’s getting younger, so I’m very excited about that. I know it’s because we’re on YouTube. So yeah, the people at universities that you’ve been working with over the past three years, the sense of what they’re looking forward to and what’s their vibe, put us in touch, reconnect us with the late teens, early 20 somethings. Let’s hear what they’re about.

Kallum: Yeah, that is a really good question Again, and I’ve become that person that you don’t ever think you’ll turn into. And by that I mean when you had a teacher at school or a lecturer or just someone in a different profession where they make a reference from a TV show or a song that was big when you were a kid, but then the current generation just don’t get it. I’ve never become that person.

And I’m like, Oasis. They’re like, who? I’m just one of the biggest rock bands for Britain ever. That was the whole nineties. Apart from Spice Girls, of course shout to them as well. But yeah, just look at you. Yeah, so I become that person. So I’m trying very hard myself to get back in touch, but I think on a serious point, they are concerned about the environment as I think most of us are now, but particularly concerned about the environment, really concerned about purpose, which again, we hear a lot about, I know in the rhetoric, but they’re really concerned about it. One observation I’ve noticed that might get me into trouble or some pushback, which I kind of want, this is just first, it is a very small sample size and it’s not everyone. So there’s my massive caveat disclaimer. Cool,

Rebecca: I love it.

Kallum: I think what this generation needs to, I now become that person. I’m not just making the old man reference, but now telling the generation we need to do better, which is an absolute no go, but I’m going to say it anyway.

Rebecca: Listen, we can’t get cancelled. We’re not big enough.

Kallum: Well, challenge accepted. I think there is a bit of a lack of fire in certain parts of this population. And I think a part of that is, I don’t think it’s laziness. I think that’s an easy cop out. I don’t think it’s laziness. I’m not sure if it’s misguidedness or if it’s whatever else. I think the passion is latent. Whereas I think that’s the difference is when I was at university or wherever else, there was just that kind of fire. And I think naturally business owners have that anyway. I mean there’s obviously those that have got a business due to necessity, but I think for most people you have to have that. So I’ve been skewed perhaps in the last 10 years that everyone thinks that way. So when I’m taken out of that population, I’m like, oh, there’s a disconnect here. But what even I hear from staff at universities, there’s just not a fire.

They don’t ask questions as much, but they do ask a lot of the service. So they do question things, but not always in the most helpful way. So I think, and there’s that sense of entitlement a little bit as well. So there you go. I’ve asked a big question. So I think there’s a positive so that they care about the environment, they care purpose. There is the fire, but I think it’s very deep and in the right context. I mean, very quick example, I gave a workshop last week to one of our university customers. I was warned by the staff that they’re a very shy group. It was a virtual one, they’ll have their cameras off. It was a three hour session, which was a long time to speak at people with webcams off.

And I just said to them, look, no, no, it’s not. Sorry, I keep speaking over you because there’s a bit of a delay, not between my brain and my mouth. But yeah, the warn to me, and literally the first five minutes I was like, right, okay, Peter, your camera’s on please. Let’s have some fun. And I kind brought in the barriers where we were just like, and instantly within the first 10 minutes, everybody was engaged. So I think yes, it’s easy to write off the generations to be lazy or whatever else, but I think they have to be in the right context. And there is a definite hangover still from the pandemic in education and elsewhere that hasn’t been dealt with properly by the educators. I think it’s unfair to blame the students, but they have got a part to play in it. So that’s my rounded way of saying it all.

Rebecca: Yeah. Do you know, I agree with you. It’s almost as though they’re waiting for permission to do something.

Kallum: Yes, that’s it. That’s it, Rebecca.

Rebecca: That’s exactly it. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve observed. The minute you give them permission, they’re like, oh, can I do that? You’re like, yeah, of course you can. Oh, you go fill your boots. And they’re like, oh, okay. And then they suddenly come to life and it’s like, yeah, you are in there and you are absolutely right. In that two year period where everybody went inside, they’ve not come outside yet. They’ve not come out of their shells yet because you’re absolutely right. The educators or wherever they’re hanging out at the moment have not said it’s okay to ask, don’t you? It’s okay to do this, don’t you? And I think that’s because it was such a draconian period of time where we were told Christ, we were told we could only have an hour’s exercise a day that in those formative years that does something to your head. It’s like, I can’t move. I can’t even exercise until Big Brother tells me it cam. And we haven’t unpicked that. However, they’re young and their brains are elastic, so we can unpick it quickly.

Kallum: And I appreciate that being on brand for Unpreneur, another positive un word unpick. But I agree with you entirely. You’re absolutely right.

Rebecca: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Okay, so what was really interesting, I was, one of my hobbies is learning to read tarot. Okay. Because it’s very different to my day job. It’s fascinating. And I was next to, I’m old enough to be everybody’s mother slash grandma in the group. It’s hilarious. But I was sat next to a young woman who’s about to graduate, and she just fitted that description perfectly. She’s doing film and media. She said, well, I don’t know whether I’ll get a job in film and media. I went, you live in an age where you could just do it yourself. You don’t actually need to get a job because you are of the generation that if you want to create a film, you just create a film and put it out there. We’ve never had that ever in our entire lives. The media has always been a closely guarded and ring fence thing only available to the higher echelons of society, but it’s now available to absolutely everybody. And she went, oh yeah, it could. And it’s like, come on woman, get out there. Do it. Totally.

Kallum: It’s that permission thing. That is the word, that is the best word, Rebecca. Absolutely. Is that permission. And then as soon as you say that with floodgates are unlocked, you’re absolutely right. Yeah, I think that’s a really great way to put it. And that’s a great example,

Rebecca: Right? So we’re keeping the university stuff Kallum, which is awesome, really important, much needed. And then you’re adding to the, I guess we’d call them micro businesses that want to get them to small businesses. Sure. Global reach UK wide. What’s your plans?

Kallum: Yeah, I mean Unpreneur, when we first started in the university space in 2020, the plan was Scotland, but very quickly we ended up working with 31 universities across the UK in three years, which is mad. I mean, that’s almost a quarter of the universities in the country. Brilliant. That’s great. And thank you. Thank you. And weirdly, we do very little in Scotland. We do most of our work not in Scotland. We’ve worked with, I love this, a hundred percent of the universities in Northern Ireland, both of them, there’s two. And of course there are universities in most cities in the world. So there is aspirations there to take it beyond the UK for sure. There are definitely challenges in the UK market with finance, with attitude, with other things we could go into. But on the other side of the business, yes. Okay, we’ll part that, let’s not get cancelled on the other part of the business, the micro business, I think I really quickly want that to be international very quickly.

So it’s coaching that I offer there. So it is virtual and it can be virtual. So I think there’s no limit. And those people are everywhere. Those small businesses that are stuck where they’ve hit a ceiling and they just can’t get past it. And they’ve tried everything. They’ve tried different types of marketing, they’ve spent too much money, they’ve been ripped off, been scammed with fake advice. They go on the internet, one person says do that. The next podcast says Do the opposite. And it’s so overwhelming and frustrating. And in addition to that, the money’s not coming in as regularly. So they’re just in a place of panic, frustration, and that’s where I can help no matter where they are. So yes, global domination is next year’s plan or this year’s plan. Brilliant.

Rebecca: Yeah, no, I think that’s great. And coming back to the don’t do much in Scotland, we don’t either. I don’t think we have a single coach in Scotland. We had one lady way back, she’s gone off to do something else. But we positioned ourselves from day one for being global. Anyway, so we have a coach in Singapore signed up last week. Amazing. And we’ve got a couple in California, mainly UK. And then we’ve got various ones across the states. We had one in Columbia, but not down the road. It’s hilarious. And I think it’s because you’re too familiar in your home turf and particularly in Scotland, we may get cancelled for this Kallum, but hey, particularly in Scotland, there’s this whole, well, a Kenya father, I can’t say it properly because I’m English, but I know who you are, I know where you came from and I don’t know who you think you are, but we’re not entertaining you. There’s a little bit of that still here. Yeah, definitely. Dare I say it, definitely. Yeah. Okay, great. So listen, quite genuinely, Kallum, you’ve probably got it completely sourced, but obviously we’ve been doing this for two, three years now. If you need any help, advice, platforms to use, avoid whatever, give us a shout because we’ve made all the mistakes that it is possible to make.

Probably some extra ones as well. So if you want any, just pick my brains, just pick up the phone anytime and we’ll have a chat about that. I think it’s great. Thank you. The more people that can go out and do it for themselves. Thanks for listening, everybody did at Tri Cress, we’ve built a Kick-ass culture coach and consultant programme. So if you are a business coach or consultant and you’re looking for something new, add to your toolbox or even escape the nine to five. Join us at our next event, links in the information on the podcast. See you there. Early doors in the interview call, you pushed it too much. Talk to me about sharing this. You kept

Kallum: Say when it cancelled and it happens.

Rebecca: So

Kallum: You’re welcome for that,

Rebecca: Get beyond a certain stage, which is fantastic. For those people who are listening who are stuck in that micro business and are finding it hard to get to the hundred grand, what’s your top tip? Or maybe there’s a few top tips.

Kallum: There’s so many things, but I think the biggest thing is your mindset because that determines everything that is your foundation for everything you do in life. So you have to first of all get that. So whether it’s imposter syndrome, not feeling good enough, lacking confidence, whatever you want to dress it up as, you have to change that. But the difficulty or the challenge there is it’s not like you can just wake up the next day and switch a switch and it changes. It’s a gradual process, which starts with self-awareness of where you are, where you’d like to be, what’s stopping you from getting there, and then gradually overcoming it. And you’re building little daily habits. So for example, if right now you’re unfit and your goal is to be fit, whatever fit means, it’s a very vague goal. But bear with me. You don’t just start going to the gym seven days a week.

It’s a terrible way to approach it because your body will be in such shock, it hurting yourself. So it’s about just gradually one day a week, two days a week, getting better. But in addition to that, and the gym is a good analogy, doing the fitness stuff isn’t enough in itself. You’ve got to be able look at the health, what you’re eating as well. You’ve got to look at maybe geeking up on some of this stuff. And again, it’s a really good analogy. I’ve put this in the spot. I must remember this is what works for you will not work for me. We’re all unique, special, individual, awesome people. So it’s about understanding yourself, your own situation. And I think the biggest thing we’re all guilty of, no matter what stage you’re at in business, is comparison. And it’s the worst thing you can do, especially when you compare yourself with others that are further ahead and different industries. And also stuff that worked in the past because that might not work anymore. I mean, look at hospitality right now, it’s on its knees. And what might have been a great business 10 years ago is not now through no fault of their own. The owners have to evolve with the times. And that starts your mindset. I think the biggest thing is get clear who you are, what are your own barriers, and then just start to work on yourself gradually. Gradually. And I know that’s not the most practical answer.

Rebecca: Think it’s true. It’s absolutely true. Everything

Kallum: Stems from mindset, everything,

Rebecca: Over the years been a few game changes working for you as well. Game changer for me was learning NLP and then teaching other people NLP, because that creates change really quickly and it’s good fun. And the other one for me was a longer one, which speaks to that building habits. But I realised a few years ago I had to change my self-image. So the image I had of myself was not what other people saw. So the way I changed that was to actually create the self-image I wanted. Repeat it every day out loud, record it, play it to myself and write it out every day for six months until you kid your brain to go in. Well, that’s my new self-image. That’s it. And since I did that work, I think that was 20 17, 20 18, not look back, just not look back at all. And that whole thing, don’t compare yourself to others. Yoga has helped me with that, which is the yoga teacher always says, do your own practise, don’t do your neighbor’s practise. Brilliant. And it’s great, isn’t it? And so many people don’t think you have to be special or unique or have a special talent or have gone to a special school or a special university or done a special degree, or you’re like, no, no you don’t. Because like you said, Kallum, because you’ve started this business, you are unique enough yourself, you will bring something to whatever it is you’re doing that nobody else can possibly bring because it’s you doing it. And that’s the special bit. It’s packed inside you. It’s never in an external stuff.

Kallum: Absolutely. Nailed it. Yeah, that’s exactly. I think we really work with the business owners we work with to help them put themselves in their marketing more, which there’s a lot of resistance for the reasons we just mentioned and other stuff. But you’re right, it’s the only true differentiator in business really is to be yourself. And it is the best filter I’ve had in the past. Kallum, you’re too loud, you’re too much, you’re too annoying. And they’re absolutely right. I am. And for others, it’s the same reason why they would hire me. And you’ve got to be yourself and it’s the best filter. And I really learned that going from ACO enterprise to and how I changed from being, I was never a call with a C, but just Kallum to Kallum with a K, it’s a different, I think, yeah, it’s just that.

It’s called a u unique selling point for a reason. So you have to put your U into yourself into a lot more because there’s 1,000,001 graphic designers out there. People study graphics done, but there’s only one you. So again, with your passion, your knowledge, your personal story. And that’s why when we speak and coach people, we say in their marketing, we’re not saying expose everything about ’em to the whole world for judgement or whatever else, but we’re saying whatever you feel comfortable with to build a rapport with someone, whether it’s your adventure, your mistakes, your achievements, what you like doing outside of work. You mentioned yoga. I know you’re learning Spanish, Rebecca as well. I learn in German. So it’s just giving people,

Rebecca: I’m not fluent. Okay, I can order beer.

Kallum: I’m so confident.

Rebecca: People think I’m a mouthy Man and I’m really opinionated and I swear too much. And they would be right. And some people love that. All you need to do, and some people hate it, and that’s absolutely okay. Right. Kallum, I could talk to you for hours. There’s so much more we could cover, but we’ll do it offline. If your business had, I know, had a personality or, oh, I know what I was going to say before I asked that one. Daniel Priestly, I heard him interviewed on the diary of the CE. I don’t normally listen to that, but I listen to Daniel Priestley because I have a lot of time for him. He said, and this really helps my coaches, he said, it’s not about look at me, it’s about, look at this. And he talks about that when you building your personal brand. And I think that’s really useful anyway. If your business had a personality or a character, Kallum, how would you describe it? Or even who would it be?

Kallum: It’s such a good question. I have never been asked it before. I love that.

Rebecca: Yes.

Kallum: Right. If it was a person, it’s got to be Billy Idol, who’s apart from my mom, my other biggest hero in the seventies.

Kallum: His back story is so fascinating. If you’re familiar with his punk rock band, Generation X, which he had before he broke off, he took the biggest risk ever. He had a pretty good, amazing, I love that you know that. It is awesome. There were some people now that generation who I’m like, oh man, come on.

Rebecca: No, even

Kallum: You have, but if you’ve seen him back in the day, I’ll be very jealous, by the way, and this interview is over, I’ll just have to leave now. But he was in the punk rock band, Generation X. He had three albums. They achieved some good success. They were on Top of the Pops. They had a record deal. And then he just reached a point where he was like, I can’t see this band going anymore. I want to do my own things. I want my own freedom, my own autonomy. I’m going to do my own thing. And he literally didn’t just leave his band. He left his country, moved from London to New York and was absolutely skint and risked it all where no one knew who he was. And I just find that so inspiring that someone who bets on themselves so much when they had something pretty good. Like, do you know what? I really believe in myself enough that I don’t want to make Generation X music forever. I want to make Billy Idol music. And what I also love about Billy Idol is he takes inspiration from everywhere. He’s got country songs, blues, rock, punk.

Kallum: Thank you. Thank you, Rebecca. Great chat.