“It’s Never as Bad as It Seems” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Harris who is the Co-founder of Nickel & Dime Supplement Club. They are a workout supplement membership company, making supplements more convenient and affordable than ever before. They have been featured in the Huffington Post and Forbes, and are one of the fastest growing private supplement companies in the United States.

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

Thank you for having me! My backstory may be a little longer than others, but my entrepreneurial story began long ago.

As a young kid, I was always looking for ways to make money. My friends and I used to set up kool aid stands on the side of the road on the weekends. Making $20 a day was like being a millionaire as an 8 year old!

That had evolved into a lawn mowing/car washing business. Where I would print out flyers and ride my bike around and put them in mailboxes. It’s funny to look back because then I didn’t understand the concept of overhead. My parents had paid for the lawn mower, gas, blower, soap, water..all the money we made was all profit! I thought it was great!

Even in college, I always had a little side hustle going. I drove a truck, so I use to help kids in my fraternity move a couch or table for a little money.

In college was where I met my NDSC co-founder Mike. We would always talk about our dreams and how we wanted to build our empire together. It took a while for us to make the “jump” from the corporate world in to entrepreneurship. The real world is much scarier than the days of lemonade stands.

But for us, it’s always been about the idea of “making it”. It was always more than money. I want to represent the idea that you can be whoever you want to be. I want kids to look at me and think “Well if Ben Harris can accomplish it, then so can I”.

I firmly believe that you can get anything you want out of this life. You just must know deep down its what you want, and don’t quit until its yours. You know?

So, that’s what lead me to being a founder.

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Great question. I believe that success leaves clues, and the workout supplement industry always interested me. In college I started lifting weights to get chicks and to hold my own if I was ever in a bar fight haha. During that time, I started taking supplements, and realizing how pricy they were.

I’m always one that’s looking to make something easier, and that was my “ah ha” moment. I knew a change could be made in this industry.

That’s when the idea of Nickel & Dime was born. It took years of formulating, testing, and negotiating with manufacturers.

We figured out a way to make these great products more convenient and affordable directly to consumers. No more mark-ups or 3rd party vendors.

We are now able to cut out every middle man and go right to the source. Making these products this way, it makes it feasible for us to sell the way we do.

Having a business model like this is what give us our unique selling proposition. This makes us different than every other supplement company.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We are. We started NDSC with 4 core products (Whey protein, pre-workout, BCAA powder, and creatine).

Right now, we are working closely with out VP of product development to bring on more flavors and around 5 new products.

Very excited to offer more of a variety to our members that have been with us since the beginning.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Oh man..loaded question haha! I’m a big book worm. I love to read. I’m always reading something.

My grandpa gave me a book when I graduated high school called The Top 10 Distinctions Between Millionaires and The Middle Classand I remember on one of the points the author dove in to how much millionaires read.

At the point, I probably hadn’t read a book since the 2nd grade, not sure why I decided to read that book my grandpa bought me. I thought to myself “Well I want to be rich, I better start reading!”

Since then I have always been reading every day…literally!

I don’t think I can answer just one! 2 immediately come to mind. Unscripted by MJ Demarco and The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg. These 2 opened my ideas to so much. Made me realize what I was capable of.

I also LOVE TheEnergy Bus by Jon Gordon. Such a quick read when I need a pick-me-up. I’ve probably read it a dozen times.

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1 “Blinders on”-Just like a racing horse. You must force yourself to keep looking ahead. Don’t look left or right because you’ll trip and fall. You must keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t worry what others are doing.

2 “There is no room for ego in this game”-During this journey, I moved out of my awesome house in JacksonvilleBeach to move back in with my parents and became a waiter at Topgolf (stay awesome TG!!). It was the most humbling experience of my life. Here I was, an entitled 26-year-old who was making great money-quit my job, start a business, and go flat broke. If I want to get to the top, the sacrifice must be made. Kids from high school thought it was hilarious to see me bring them their 7th bud light, and I let it get to me at first. All of this brings me to my point, that the world doesn’t owe you a damn thing. You want something? You’ve got to go get it, and the price must be paid. If you not willing to get made fun of and go through that adversity, stay on the sidelines.

3 “Its never as bad as it seems”- This one is VERY true. There are countless times where I’ve been so frustrated I just scream at the top of my lungs. Looking back, it was never as bad as it seemed at the time. My business partner always reminds me “….but did you die?” haha, he always has a point. Even when nothing is going your way, you always must remind yourself that you have the power to change it and things are never as bad as you think they are in the present moment.

4 “Mentors are everything”- This one is simple. Find someone who went thought what you are going through. I do not throw around the word luck often, but I’m lucky in that regard. My own father helped start a successful restaurant franchise when I was very young. Being forced to move back in with my parents was a total blessing in disguise, because I had a free brain to pick who knew the pain. Him being there for me has done wonders with NDSC when it comes to contracts, taxes, negotiations, etc. Having mentors will help you keep your head and avoid making dumb mistakes.

5 “Take walks” — This may sound silly, but the shit works. I one time was listening to snoop dogg on a podcast (hahah) and he talked about how good walks are. He may have been super stoned, but he’s had me sold ever since. When you’refrustrated or been sitting down for hours, taking a walk can do wonders. It clears your mind and gives yourself a break. I’m a big golfer, so ill sometimes go chip around my backyard or walk down to the St. John River in my hometown. Little things like this will compound to make a big difference, I promise.

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I’m a HUGE Jacksonville Jaguars fan, if there are any jag players out there..give me a shout! That’s just the sports junkie in me.

I would love to show gratitude to the individuals that have changed my life without knowing it. Mostly authors and motivational speakers. Jon Gordon, Les Brown, MJ Demarco, Tony Dungy, Mark Manson, Ryan Holiday.

Lastly, in my dreams I’d love to have a drink with Howard Roark the fictional character from The Fountianhead. The one true guy who stuck to his guns and represents polarity like no other.

— Published on July 19, 2018