This episode is sponsored by Bookkeep. Learn more at https://www.bookkeep.com/
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Matthew Cohen, Founder of Nine Toe Five, joins Dawn! In this episode, Matthew shares his difficult beginnings as an entrepreneur, how he built his sock business to inspire others, and how he plans to use this success to build a platform that motivates his community.
Listen now to learn how Matthew plans to grow his business, and what advice he would give to prospective entrepreneurs!
Matthew starts his conversation with Dawn by sharing how he got his start in business. Matt says that he began in college as an engineering major, but quickly learned it wasn’t for him. He graduated in 2017 with a business degree, and knew he wanted to start his own business, but wasn’t quite sure how to start. Having started a few businesses prior, Matt knew the basics of what he needed to get started but wanted to create something that would inspire people and help them achieve things they thought were impossible.
How Matthew Got His Start
Matthew talks about a few of his other businesses and how he worked in software engineering and real estate before he started Nine Toe Five. He says he began to read books that helped influence his career path and started to make a change in his life after reading the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. He was fascinated by the idea of being able to work from anywhere, and he said he did not want to follow the traditional 40-hour workweek.
What’s in Store for Nine Toe Five
Matthew says that all of the designs for the socks are drawn by his friend from junior high school. Matthew says that they plan on scaling the retail side of their business, but also shares that he wants to take his business in a different direction. He would like also to become a motivational speaker to help people achieve their dreams. He also would like to develop a community where people can connect and receive help from one another.
Matthew also shared that he would like to expand his business to offer custom jackets, t-shirts, and more additional apparel.
How Matthew Finds His Motivation
Matthew shares that he has an amazing group of friends and family who encourage and support him. He says he does not find motivation in one person, but rather in everyone around him. He also highlights how his wife, Sara, is a huge supporter of his business and has helped him achieve great success.
Matthew also adds that new business owners should seek out a mentor. This can be a tremendous help to your business and can save you from making small mistakes that could cost you time and money in the long run.
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Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a certified public accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, the President of Powerful Accounting, Inc, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals. And I’m here to tell you, if you are not searching for applications that eliminate data entry, you are missing the mark. Now I found an app, it is called Bookkeep. Bookkeep solves for integrations between apps such as PayPal, or actually, really payment methods or ordering systems like GrubHub, things like that Shopify WooCommerce, the list is never ending, and they’re always adding on more applications. what is awesome about bookkeeping is that you simply connect your data file, whatever it may be, to bookkeeping, and it syncs just use GrubHub, for instance, it puts in GrubHub income at the gross amount, then it has expense accounts for GrubHub fees, and so on. And so it allows you to not be data entering or hand keying journal entries for these types of systems. And it doesn’t correct every single time when I found that application. This is a conversation that I’ve had with my, with my staff for years and years, we don’t want to enter data. When I found bookkeeper, we implemented it immediately for every client who has either PayPal, or Shopify, or GrubHub, or whatever it may be, so that those transactions can go in on a daily basis, magically while you’re sleeping. And you have accounting that is accurate, so you can make decisions. Are you selling enough GrubHuh? How are the fees worth it? How much are you paying? And so many people were using these applications have no idea what it really costs them to run through those systems. And so bookkeepers solve for that as accounting as an accounting professional, I always tell my staff, I want books to be correct. And I don’t do not want you handke a journal entry. If you find yourself hand keying and transaction, then you need to stop and find the solution. And I can tell you right now, bookkeepers, solving that for all of our GrubHub Pay Pal, again, Shopify, there’s many different apps that they sync with. It’s awesome. I recommend that you go take a demo today, because it’s so easy, and it’s super affordable. So go get him your designated motivator here. Go check out Bookkeep, thank you so much for listening.
Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the the designated motivator, the DM disruption podcast. And this is I think, going to be the best episode of the year personally, and we’re wrapping up 2023. And I had an wonderful experience actually wore my ADP jacket today because I am speaking with Matthew Cowen today who is the founder of nine to five, get it, socks! It took me a minute. And it’s just a wild story, how I met you and I met you through your wife. And so Matt’s wife Sarah works for ADP. She works with accountants and works, works to you know, get take care of the accountants and all the rest of this stuff. And I met her at ADP. I think it’s been about three weeks now three or four weeks, and I went to speak to about 130 of their sales associates. All young, I was wild. I’m like, Wow, I’m gonna be all of these people’s mother. Like it was just so great. I could be their mom. And so I got to speak with them. I’m so honored that ADP had me go in there, but I met Sarah and Sarah was like, Brolin that was so fun. That was great. I’m so motivated, I’m ready to go out there and kick butt and sell stuff and do the best I can do. And she goes you know what, my husband has a small business and he manufactures I’ll say manufacture for like, you’ll get a better description Matt, when it’s your turn. But it was it was just as funny thing and I’m like, oh, okay, well let me let me take your cell phone anyway let’s you know if you ever need to be fired up, let me know. And she sent me they sent me two pairs of nine to five socks this pair which I think is amazing. The other pair went to Nicole she stole them she took the Halloween ones she loved them and so this pair of socks is here for a reason because the back of this socks as conquer your world. And the reason why I wanted to have Matt on was not just because of Sox are freaking awesome. But he sent me this text that said to me, I want to build this business. I want to help people learn that they can conquer their fears and dreams and conquer their fears and have their dreams and go for it. And that blew me away, Matt. So I want you to just introduce yourself, tell us about yourself. Like, because this is this is a story for the books, man. So talk to me, tell me what’s up.
Thank you, Dawn, for having me. First of all, first podcast. So definitely getting comfortable getting uncomfortable going through this right now. But yeah, so. So I graduated college in 2017. I originally went to school for electrical engineering, and I was like, I failed out, I couldn’t do it. I was like, I’m never gonna go anywhere. I graduated a business degree. And I was like that, what am I gonna do with the rest of my life. So I always knew I wanted to have my own business. So this is actually my third business. So I wanted to, after all the failures, I needed something to kind of bring myself up, and then eventually want to bring others up, I want to essentially help people achieve what they would deem impossible. So that’s why I created Nine Toe Five. The vison is, as you’re getting ready in the morning, and you read our stuff, you go from looking down to looking up.
Wow, that’s awesome. Okay, I like that. Yup. Nine to five we I like that. And so, so you’re so what were the fear? What was the fear factor? You were you mentioned what you said you had three you’ve had this is your third business. What were the first two.
So first two, I was. So I have a background in software engineering. I’m self taught. I started with as like an intern with no experience and then gradually over time to classes. So the first business we were developing an app, it was me and three other co founders. After a year, it wasn’t really working. I ended up leaving before I left actually quit my full time job. So I was part time. So I was like, Alright, so now I have a part time job and no business. So what am I gonna do? So I took that time to really like, hunker down and like focus on just like me and my skills. It’s kinda nice not to worry about, like having to work for somebody else’s goals. I was like, Alright, I have this time. I’m young. Still under my parents health insurance, I was like, What am I gonna do? I took a lot of different classes. And like Udemy, I watched a ton of YouTube videos, I started reading like a lot of books by like Robert Kiyosaki, Grant Cardone, and a lot of people that influenced me and like my, my business career. So and from that I wanted to invest in real estate. So right before COVID, hit, interest rates are super low, there was a lot of supply of houses. So my business partner and I, we both lived on Long Island. So we started looking for homes. There, we were strictly looking for houses on market because we didn’t have the time to do it ourselves. But looking for an on market home, you’re getting beat up by 50 100k over asking. So it just wasn’t working out for us. And we just have didn’t have the time. So we took a step back from that. And now I have my sauce business. So this one actually got inspired by Tim Ferriss Four Hour Workweek, being able to work from anywhere while just meeting your computer, and how to build systems and properties to be able to achieve what you want without having to work 4080 hours a week.
That is awesome. And yes. And so that you’re right, why No, first of all, whoever created the 40 hour workweek used to get their butt kicked. That’s, you know, you’re gonna do the Monday through Friday, who said that that had to be a thing, right? So yeah, you know, your vision of what you want for your life. And I love what you said about not wanting to work for someone else. I want to have my why am I building wealth for someone else when I could build it for myself? Exactly. And that’s a big boy statement right there. Right? So fresh out of college five years ago, right? And, you know, taking a look at that. And, you know, I’m sure that there’s visions that you have, and, and so with, and I love this conquer your mountain because that’s really, and it does say on here for those I put it here because the only way a camera’s gonna pick it up as I my background blurred. But if you look at this nine to five, and it says on here, Mo Toe Vational socks so mo T O E like I like I feel like you’ve got this thing figured out, man and it’s fun because we found in the accounting industry, our vendors seem to be bringing socks into the play. Jirav being one of them T shirts had them at one point. I’m not sure who else out there is giving away socks, but I will say Matt so once I met Matt and he sent me these socks, and I’m like, these are phenomenal socks. I said, You know what? We need the designated motivator socks. We need those. And so Matt and I were texting back and forth and and so his team designed the designated motivator socks and those socks will be present at QuickBooks connect with and I forget what you call this the band. What is this thing called?
The belly band?
The belly band? Like I probably need one of those but not for my sock. And I was like of course you would ask me You said do you want me to put the belly band on or not? And I’m like, I want 100% want to promote your company. I want people Well who want good socks, good quality and fun socks to reach out to you. And I was I was stunned by how affordable they were. So we’ll have to talk about pricing at another time. We won’t talk about that today. But I was like, That’s it. Okay, order me some socks. And, and for me, it’s like, we always talk about like, this weekend coming up, as you know, Thanksgiving this week, and this weekend is all about the Small Business Saturday, and things like that. So we want to certainly promote that and promote nine to five with socks and bring you more business than you ever imagined you were gonna get. That’s my goal, right Christmas. And now that it’s perfect timing, man, I still believe all things happen for a reason. And the fact that I met your wife, and that your wife had the, I don’t know, awareness to be like, Hey, I just want to send you some socks. And I’m like, okay, and well, my husband owns this business. Well, this is getting more interesting. And then just how it all evolved was so awesome. And for you, because you’ve texted me that and you said, you know, it’s about overcoming your fears and so on. It was just immediately inspirational to me. And I think, you know, your goal. You’re right. So tell me, tell me what that vision looks like for you. Like, what is what does Matt and nine toe five one a dude, we want to take over the market? Like, what are we looking for here?
Yeah, so right now, because every business you need to figure out you have to it has to be funded by something, right. So right now we have like, the socks portion of it, where they’re actually hand drawn. So one of my boys from a junior high, he draws all the designs on an iPad. And then we have a team that takes the drawings and creates the socks for us. So it was him. And then we had an intern who helped draw the the motivational socks that are on Amazon and the gift box that comes with. So they both actually like hand you everything. So the vision is where we were going to use like the retail side of it to kind of build the brand, kind of get our name out there. And the kind of while we’re not in like everyone’s like, we don’t have a Facebook group, we don’t have a community yet like that people are gonna read our socks, they’re gonna think about it. So that’s like our first like way to like penetrate the market. In the long run, like the overall vision is I want to be able to like, be like a motivational speaker, like yourself, go to conferences, have a community where people can like, talk to each other, like, hey, like I’m having this problem, how did you solve it? Or like, it’s everyone has loads in there, like I want, everyone has a business, like not everything is going to be like, super sunny day, when you get up every day and work. So like you just want me to talk to you like, hey, like, this is what I’m going through, I need help a like, I’m having issues like what what works for you like that. And so like the overall vision is just to like, kind of build a strong community where like we can achieve, essentially the impossible together. You don’t need to necessarily go to school to do what, what you like what you went to school for, right? I think there’s a big misconception, like, Hey, I went to school for engineering, I have to be an engineer. But like, if you don’t enjoy doing that, then don’t do that. Just because someone’s telling you to do it doesn’t mean you need to do it. And I think that that was one of the biggest takeaways that I got from doing this business. I quit my job, I went part time, I had bosses tell me that like, Hey, you weren’t good enough to be on my team. And I didn’t let them get in my way. I didn’t let anyone tell me like, Hey, you’re wasting my money, like you didn’t do this. Like, I knew what I wanted, like, I want to go grab it. So like that’s the message I’m trying to give to my audience and give to my community in the long run.
That is awesome, Matt. And that’s, you know, I always I still always also believe that, to whom much is given much as expected. And I also believe that people come paths in your life for reasons that were the weirdest time that you’d never imagine. And so, you know, like you were so that was really inspirational to me, what when you had text me that and I thought like, Matt, we need to get Matt’s voice out there. And we need we need for other people to see that. Yeah, this life that we have, is can be determined by the way we want it to go. Right. So thinking about the four day work week, and those kinds of things, and setting our own parameters. And being more present, I feel like part of it, too, is having the ability in the time to be present with each other. And it isn’t about how much money you make at the end of the day. It’s about the lives that you can affect and so that’s something that you’re doing. And yeah, we all hate man, we got to feed we got to we got to eat right, we got to put a roof over our head and for our family and whatever that may look like, right? So I just look at it that what you’re doing and the community you want to build is literally waiting for you and they need to hear from you. And I think that that’s awesome. And so, so right now let’s talk about so you got these socks, right? And so you’re on Amazon, which is super cool. And we’ll put all the links to everything in the show notes so people can click and and come by from your company and make their own custom socks and or just order socks. They don’t even have to make custom ones. They can just order the one the cool ones you have online, right? Is that part? Is that what it is?
Yeah. So I have the retail side where you buy individual pairs of socks. I’d like some bundles. Or if you’re looking to do like a custom order I work with you. We’d be over minimums be do the designs for you. We can ship it to you or whoever wherever you need them to go.
Okay, yeah, and you guys seem to have a pretty decent turnaround. Yeah. For custom work, man, that’s, that’s awesome. And we had talked a little bit about how you said, Hey, I was I like to get into maybe T shirts and maybe jet maybe jackets or sweatshirts or whatever it may be. Is that something that’s in your vision?
Absolutely. So right now, my team can handle all that. I did socks just because basing based with like, my background, and like date algorithms and stuff, like I know that I have a better chance of selling socks in my niche. I didn’t want to go too broad. And then I’m competing, competing with all the different brands out there. So I started with socks, because I know I can make the impact the fastest without dumping a lot of money into it. But I absolutely can do like hats, T shirts, and all that.
Awesome. So that’s, that’s important to know. So we sell on Amazon, do you have you also have a website? Right? Is it nine to five.com? Correct. Okay, so people could go there, can they buy right from your website? Or is it only through Amazon that you that you sell?
Yeah, so you can buy through my website, I’m on Etsy. Amazon right now only has one listing. Eventually, I’m trying to move everything to Amazon. Because right now Amazon handles all my shipping for me. So it started in my basement. So everything I was like, I was packaging, I was printing out the thank you notes. I was doing that all myself for like six months. And I was like, I gotta pull myself out of the day to day, I need to focus on like, the greater vision. So I had to, I worked with Amazon to to now I’m in 11 different warehouses across the United States. And I’m currently now kind of shipping from ideation, but not as much as I was before. So we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
That’s awesome. And so are you imagining that at some point? Well, first of all, like you said, you want to be a motivational speaker, you want to be able to encourage other people it sounds like you have a lot to give and your heart and your soul to give to other people. Who is a person is there someone in your life I’m gonna, I’m gonna say talk a little bit. So you can think about it. Is there someone in your life that was like this, this is a person who always was there for me, picked me up, when I was down or, you know, encouraged you to have this feeling of I can do whatever I want to do is there anyone in particular that that you could call out?
It’s really hard to like single out one person because I think everyone that like I’m closely related to, they all have like their own, like extra teeth. And like, there’s different topics that we talked to one person forward, there’s another person, I got to talk to another one. I have a lot of my friends locally, have their own businesses. So like it was just nice to be able to connect with them. We support each other when we do like sponsor sponsorships, you would help each other out. Definitely, Sara Sara has been a huge influence. She’s the one who brought me in New together. And so I’m incredibly grateful for her. Definitely my number one supporter, and just all my all my close friends that have businesses that have like seen me grow for the last five years. So it’s really hard just to say one person,
Yeah, sometimes it may not be maybe it’s just a community, like you said, the people around you, which I tried. So I have two daughters, and I try to tell them, you become who you hang out with. So it sounds to me like you have a great support group of other business owners that are like minded, and you know, have that ability to pick each other up. And I I was trying to tell like my especially my kids, it’s like, if you’re if you’re hanging out with people who are negative knocking you down, or you know, and that and that, unfortunately, there’s a couple of reasons I think people do what I’d love to hear what you think about it is sometimes I feel like they’re knocking you down to pick themselves up that there are definitely people like that. So they want to be they don’t want, they want to keep you down. They don’t want you rising up because then you know what if you’re better than them, which is not a thing, but that’s what they think. So you have that group of people who are doing that. And then you have these, this group of people who are like, lifting you up and supporting you, and whatever you’re doing. And it sounds like you have a really great group of people like that. And I always tell it, listen, if you have those negative Nellies those in your life, you got to get them out of there because that all they’re doing is bringing you down, they’re sucking out your positive energy and replacing it with negative energy. And I think it’s awesome that you have this group of friends and mean, is that what you’re experiencing with them? Because it sounds like you’re all like minded?
Yeah, absolutely. And I do think one of the things about when people will think about motivation, they always think there has to be like business related educational tool related. You can you can get motivation for anything to pick up a book and read like, it could be a fiction book, to play sports to, like pick up a new hobby. So motivation can be very broad. So I think when people hear like motivation, because like I’ve had people events they are what do I need motivation for and I just looked at them like, like, there has to be something you enjoy in life, like whether it’s just like going on a hike, like, make, like set a goal to go on a hike, like once a week, I think like motivation is it’s very important. And I think it covers like all aspects of life. I know like we’re talking here from like a business sense, but like it doesn’t have to be business related. I think that’s like what a lot of people need to realize because they hear motivation. I think it stresses them out. But like, it doesn’t mean like making more money or it doesn’t mean like starting a business. It doesn’t have to be like complicated.
Absolutely. And that’s you know, a lot of my audience knows this but from, you know, my ability to to focus my business in a way that I can be out of the office and go coach softball, college softball, which is my passion, and I volunteer for that has nothing to do with any kind of financial, anything. It’s what I love to do to infuse that positive energy into these young ladies who are gonna go out into the world and hopefully help them with their experiences helpful. Some might not be, but that’s, I always say, Listen, it’s up to you to buy in, like you’re either in or you’re not. But that’s not up to me. I’m here to try to help you motivate you create a positive experience with as much as I can. But if you don’t, if you don’t grab a hold of that and take it, then that’s, you got to look at yourself in the mirror and say that’s on you. You can’t you can’t put that on someone else. If, if you’re not buying into the philosophy, or into that motivation, that positive experience. So I’m gonna ask you this. If you could do something outside of your work today, let’s say I said to you, okay, as of next week, you can carve out two hours a day to do this that you love to do. Do you know what that is? You got three hours to do whatever you want to do, and you were passionate about outside of work.
I think right now just like getting outside more, I go to the gym. But I think I’m in such a tight deadline, I do my nine to five jobs, I get out of work, I have dinner, I rushed the gym and get a 30 to one hour workout in and then I say I eat another dinner. And then I just work on my business. So like, if I just have like two hours free time, like I would just spend it outside enjoy life. So like I just am on the computer way too much. And I just need to take a step back sometimes. So just like going and getting out of like Long Island go travel, just to see something like there’s so much more to see. But like I think sometimes when you’re building something, and you know, like you’re seeing your vision, you’re like, I have a goal and like ahead of me that I need to achieve. You kind of forget to like, take a step back and really like be aware of what else is out there to offer.
Yeah, absolutely. And so if you were so let’s just think about whoever may be listening to the podcast, and they’ve like, you know, they love it. That’s great. We love it. What would you what was something that you would want a message you would want them to hear? As your last thought? Not like last thought like you’re dying? That’s not what I mean, just on this podcast?
Yeah. Um, so last fall would be look for a mentor. Um, you mentioned in the near second podcast episode, that everyone needs a designated motivator. I think that everyone needs that because they can kind of like pave the way for you. I know, when I did my third business, the first two businesses, I didn’t have any mentors, I didn’t have anyone kind of like paving the way telling me what to do. We spent a lot of money making bad decisions we spent wasted a lot of time making bad decisions. But those decisions definitely helped me learn and grow. But with my Amazon business, I said, All right, I went on Etsy, I was doing all right. But I couldn’t be doing better. My Shopify website could be doing better. I was like, Alright, now I need to like focus. So I actually hired a mentor for my Amazon business. So what would have taken me years to learn and perfect, they were able to shrink it down into three months. So that was a It allowed me to scale my business. So I think the biggest takeaway is, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And make sure you’re getting advice from the right people. There’s people that take advice from like, their friends and family that may have not necessarily done what you’re looking to do. So like they may have like, just heard it, but they never actually practiced it. So like, I usually take advice with a grain of salt. But like, if I hear it coming from someone that is like a professional and like that field, then I would absolutely, like lean more towards accepting their advice, versus someone that may have just heard it through like hearsay.
Yeah, I love that. That’s a, that’s a great last thought. Because at the end of the day, which is part of what the whole resume motivator for accounting professional theory is, is I’ve been in the dark, no lights on stubbing my toes all over the place, I know, I now I now know where the ends of the beds are the bed is I know not to kick that one anymore. And I know, don’t go over here because you’re gonna kick the fan, or you’re gonna kick the end table or whatever it may be. And so let other people help you see that before. You mean, there’s so many resources out there. And I love what you said, Be careful on whoever you’re listening to, like, make sure you’re vetting them that you’re getting good advice. And yeah, everybody needs a designated motivator in their life. And that and there’s so so much to be thankful for if you find one, because those are the people that are gonna help lift you up. And it sounds like between the mentor you hired for Amazon to get you information that you needed to help you with that. But you also have your designated motivator, fellow colleague, friends, business owners that are keeping you motivated every day. And I think that that support in and of itself is really, really critical. And it doesn’t matter like you said whether its business, its family, its friends. Like I think there’s enough negative in the world that to seek out the positive people that the people that like when they call you, you’re like, oh, it’s mad, or you know, are they going oh, it’s Matt, like, you know who those people are in your life and you’re just like, oh, man, maybe that’s not the best person to help you move forward. But I really appreciate that comment because I think that that’s really really key. As we all move forward and I want you just for me personally, I wish you the absolute best we will stay in touch, there’s no doubt about it, because I want to see you skyrocket and we’re going to promote nine to five to anyone and everyone who will listen to get these socks. Go ahead and purchase the ones that are already made but if you have a company or you have a sports team or you have it doesn’t matter imagine family to put get family socks for Christmas, right? And so um, but checkout nine toe to e five.com. Check out nine to five on Amazon and get out there order small businesses let’s support them let’s help Matt get to his goal to help enough people in his life that he feels satisfied as motivated and and Matt were this community of accountants are gonna back you up in whatever way we can and do it and I want to thank ADP for the connection that I was able to meet Sarah and I think, like I said things happen for a reason. And you did great. I know you were a little nervous. So you conquered another fear today because you got on a podcast which their hearts. Just we’re just chatting, man. It’s all good. So thank you for your time. I’m so glad that I got to I got to finally see you. I know who you are. And thank you to ADP for that connection with Sarah and everybody who listens. Thank you so much to come to the DM disruption podcast that isn’t a motivator here to hopefully help you even just one person feel better about themselves and what they’re doing and trying to accomplish. So Matt, thank you for coming on. And we’ll see you see everybody next time, everybody take care.
Thanks for having me.