The thing I do over and over is reassess my goals, recommit, and make new goals.
Cody Burdett grew up learning at the foot of his father, a 30 year professional in building with a degree in Construction Management. Wherever his father went, Cody was not far behind.
Cody has always been an idea-man. Always looking at the future of what could be. Every building technique he knows, he learned from his father. Cody grew up building sheds as wrestling fundraisers and helping his dad build homes and renovate all different types of buildings.
He always knew he wanted to work with his dad but wanted to have a better business and financial education. So he went to college and earned his bachelor’s degree in Business management in 2010 from Utah Valley University. Like his father, he went directly into teaching wood shop due to the economic downturn. His goal has always been to create a successful business that satisfied a niche in the construction market. Thus, DIY-Plans.com was born.
Mr. Burdett is married with three little children. Besides building, he loves marketing, finance, and design. He is the yang to his father’s ying. Together they create a powerful business partnership.
Where did the idea for DIY-Plans come from?
As a wood shop teacher, my dad and I sat down in my school wood shop the week after school ended in 2012 and started brainstorming. We were both wood shop teachers and wrestling coaches. We loved it but wanted more. He started talking about each of our skills.
I had been playing around with websites for a few years making websites for my wife’s photography business and for friends and family. My father was a great builder and designer. He loved to build new things and search for ways to do things better. We researched online, and bounced ideas off each other.
Our initial idea was to design house plans and sell them online. He would be the house plan designer and I would be the business/marketing guy. What we found though was disheartening. We looked across the web at the competition and found there were a lot of companies that had thousands of house plans that they sold on their website. We felt like it was a hard market to enter because of the high level of competition.
After researching further, we found that shed plans had a lot fewer companies selling plans online. We also felt that the plans were terrible. They were low quality, very little detail, and most had poor customer support. Besides that, there just wasn’t that many types of plan available. We felt like we could design more diversified storage shed plans, make them better than our competition, and provide great customer service.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The key to a productive day is consistency. I have a passion for teaching the youth of the world, so I frequently teach wood shop on top of successfully running DIY-Plans.com. So it can be a juggling act to say the least.
The best way I have found to keep things productive are to 1) make little goals and 2) keep notes. Without daily or weekly goals, time just passes so quickly and before you know it, the day, the week, the month is gone. Goals keep me motivated to keep working on the business. Note keeping for someone forgetful like me is essential. I’ll have an idea in the shower and if I don’t note it down on my phone right then, I’ll forget it 30 minutes later. I’ll make to-do lists, write my goals and ideas on my phone wherever I’m at. It keeps me sane.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I like to bounce ideas off my father. Things we see online, in the media, and through simple observation. His years of expertise beyond my own are invaluable. We talk about how I could apply it to DIY-Plans.coms. And pretty quickly, we’ll realize if our idea is workable or not. If I like the idea, we do more research and look at it from different angles. Then I put the work in and find the right people to help implement the concept.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The Do-It-Yourself trends seems to be on the rise. Based on Google trends, interest in the “DIY” industry has more than doubled since 2011. People love learning and doing things themselves. Businesses that harness that concept have thrived. There are TV networks, Youtube Channels, blogs, and forums dedicated to teaching others how to do things at home.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Life can be so busy that it’s hard to take time to find a quiet place to critically think. One habit I’ve used to help me solve problems is, believe it or not, the shower. It’s a daily meditation session for me. I’ll stick myself in a little room with running water and detach. I’ll think about all sorts of things. How to solve my daily problems, get ideas, and basically rejuvenate myself for the day. I come out with hope, resolve, and ideas to overcome the challenges at hand.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked at a large big box retail chain as a stocker in my early 20’s. The work was monotonous and boring. The work in and of itself wasn’t hard, but I couldn’t stand a minute of it. I felt like I didn’t have a purpose. I wasn’t being stretched and it was fingernails on a chalkboard. Needless to say, I only lasted 3 months. It was a good lesson in how I perceive myself and what my purpose is. After that, I looked for opportunities where I could use my skills and relationships to make the world a better place.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have started a lot sooner! I wish I could have had the foresight to start this online business in college. I would have been so much further ahead. It’s never too soon to go after your dream.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The thing I do over and over is reassess my goals, recommit, and make new goals. I feel like a fish out of water without a destination in site. Those destinations are my goals. I need them to help direct me and the company down the right path.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Trust others. As a do-it-yourselfer, many times I feel like I can do it myself, and cheaper, than others. The problem with that is many times I can’t. And I need to find the right person to assist me or take over duties for me.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My dad and I used to remodel homes and business never really took off. We learned that it doesn’t matter how much work you put into something if you don’t manage your resources properly. If those resources aren’t well organized and executed it’s won’t be successful. Worker smarter… and harder.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
One idea that I have always had was to develop a sports video site where athletes and coaches upload videos and highlights. Kind of like Youtube but a sports-specific niche. As a wrestling coach, I would love to have a huge online database of wrestling videos. You could eventually monetize it by using a typical subscription-based model.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
Paypal Pro. Instead of kicking our customers over to the Paypal website for payment, we spend a little extra each month to keep them on our site. I feel like it’s a small price to pay to help increase trust and conversions.
What software and web services do you use?
The online services I use the most are all within Google’s apps suite. I love that my email (Gmail) is connected to all my files (Google Drive), and I can edit documents and spreadsheets seamlessly (Docs & Sheets).
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph Hardcover by Ryan Holiday
It’s a great book that helps you understand how pain and adversity are all in the eye of the beholder. It helped me understand that challenges are opportunities that should be embraced instead of feared.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
One person that has recently influenced me is Ana White. She is a blogger turned reality TV personality that has used the DIY industry to her advantage. She makes tons of cool furniture and outdoor projects and shares them with fans.
DIY Plans on Facebook:
DIY Plans on Twitter: @diy_plans
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.