Entrepreneurship

A Founder's Journey Includes Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First With Collin Plume

A Founder's Journey Includes Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First With Collin Plume

MP recently chatted with Collin Plume, CEO at Noble Gold Investments, a precious metals IRA broker he founded in 2016. Plume has over seventeen years of experience building and managing his clients' wealth, drawing upon decades of expertise in property insurance, commercial real estate, cryptocurrency investment, and entrepreneurship. He is passionate about speaking and educating the public on investing wisely and sets the example for businesses adapting to post-pandemic restructuring and DEI standards. 

The Journey

The entrepreneurial journey is one of self-discovery. What have you learned about yourself while building your business?

I’ve discovered that I do my best work when I ask for input from a range of perspectives first. I'm humble enough to know that I don’t know everything, and I’ve actively put together teams who can help point out my blind spots. Not enough business leaders do that; they assume their expertise is universal and final when it’s just the viewpoint of a single person. Businesses benefit from including diverse perspectives, and I’m proud of how I’ve developed that skill over the years.

The entrepreneurial journey is often lonely. Have you experienced loneliness as an entrepreneur? If yes, what was that experience like, and how did you overcome it?

I haven’t experienced too much loneliness because one important thing I learned early in my career is the importance of networking and seeking out collaborators. Even if you’re not able to formally hire a team, you should connect with mentors, people with different skill sets from you, and colleagues in your industry. The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t the ones who try to do everything alone – they’re the ones who get clear about what they know and don’t know, and they’re always looking around for people to connect with.

The Psychological Warfare 

Entrepreneurs generally sleep less, work more, and let their health slip. This combination, combined with loneliness, often results in insecurity, self-esteem issues, and low self-worth. Have you experienced any of these issues as an entrepreneur?

I used to have health problems. In fact, I had to undergo major surgery at one point. I knew I had to do it because I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur, and it would only be possible if I were healthy physically and mentally. The odds are always stacked against new ventures, so the least you can do is make sure you are personally at your best. 

That doesn't mean I never struggle to get enough exercise or sleep. Sometimes, things just have to be dealt with, and something's got to give, but I have the consciousness and the discipline to ensure that doesn't happen often.

I also have a family, three kids, all under age 5. They keep me in check. I can't be "too tired" or "feeling down" when they get home from school. I have to be present. I have to be fully there with them because if I'm not, they will feel it. Kids are receptive to their environments.

Some new entrepreneurs buy into "sacrificing everything," including their sleep, health, and personal lives for 15 years to prosper. Is that living, though? I believe that every day is a goal worth accomplishing, both for the business and ourselves.

Newer entrepreneurs often equate their success with the success and value of their business. If their business fails, they are a failure. If their business succeeds, they are a success. Have you experienced this warped perception of reality?

Maybe in my youth, I thought that way sometimes, but I’m much more grounded in perspective these days. The pandemic and becoming a father probably contributed to that shift. I just know what’s important to me now: that my family is taken care of, that my employees are well, and that I’m doing something good for the world with my resources and knowledge. 

Businesses are important to me too, but they’re not curing cancer. 

I serve on the board of a nonprofit organization called Unsilenced Voices, and that’s been a meaningful use of my time, energy, and money. 

Perspective comes with age.

What are your biggest fears as an entrepreneur, and how do you manage those fears?

I don't know if I'd call them fears; more like barriers:

1. Any Event That Could Affect My Business Is Beyond My Control

For example, if the government slaps small- and medium-sized companies with a 50% tax, that would affect my company heavily, but aside from possibly taking legal actions, there's not much I can do. Social instability, war, and crime rates are other things beyond my control.

2. The Fear That We’d Run Out of Gold

My company sells gold, and we do not have much of it, contrary to belief. I am also competing with the phone industry, data servers, cars, any type of machine with a central processing unit, medical industry, aerospace... all these industries need gold. Those are bigger companies and industries.

I manage those fears or barriers by diversifying in every aspect.

I diversify my sources of income. 

I diversify my suppliers. 

I spread the risk.

 That way if one fails, I have others to fall back on.  

MP frequently interviews entrepreneurs on what life is truly like as a founder. Visit MP's founders' journeys to access all of their experiences - ranging from ugly to great.

The Mistakes

What are three mistakes you made early on as an entrepreneur, what did you learn from them, and how can these mistakes be avoided by others?

  1. Starting a business I had no control over.
  2. Not hiring the right people.
  3. Not being able to measure results.

If you find the right people and can clearly measure results, you no longer have to micromanage the company. 

That's why hiring the right people is essential -- because ultimately, I'd prefer to hand over the reins of day-to-day operations and focus my energy on growing the company. If I need someone, I have my team sift through every resume to consider the right candidate. 

Every new hire we select must have both the right qualifications and fit with the company culture.

With every new marketing tactic or process in place, measuring the results is crucial because the only thing worse than doing something ineffective is to keep on doing it and expect a different result.

What are three things you see that are often overlooked by entrepreneurs you encounter, and how can other entrepreneurs be aware of these things from the beginning? 

1. Waiting Too Long To Launch

You’ll never “feel” ready. You just have to leap. 

2. Having Tunnel Vision

Surround yourself with people whose judgment you trust, and listen when they tell you you’re missing something.

3. Undervaluing Communications

Have some way to communicate to the public and to the rest of your industry what you’re doing. Establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche and build awareness about your brand, so there’s a community before you look for clients. PR agencies can be really helpful with this. 

Collin Plume and Sharon Plume at Unsilenced Voices Fundraiser in LA
Collin Plume and Sharon Plume at Unsilenced Voices Fundraiser in LA / Photo courtesy of Collin Plume

The Successes

What are three seemingly insurmountable obstacles you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how have you overcome them? 

1. The Financial Crash of 2008

I worked in commercial real estate then, and I learned a lot from my colleagues about building and maintaining client relationships through tough times. 

2. The Coronavirus Pandemic

We had to restructure the way we worked physically and interpersonally completely. 

It’s been good for us in the long run; our employees can work in ways that suit their lives better now. 

3. Economic Instability

We’re an investment broker, and when inflation is high as it is now, people don’t have as much disposable income to invest in things they’re not 100% sure about. 

This is where communication and education come in handy. 

What are three ways you have managed to boost your productivity without causing burnout? 

There aren’t secrets here; it’s the same things you hear from others:

1. Downtime

Getting enough rest (I’m not the kind of entrepreneur who glorifies not sleeping or taking breaks). 

2. Time With Family

Nothing refreshes my joy and energy more than spending time with my kids.

3. Hobbies on Weekends

You must redirect your attention to nonwork-related things so your brain can reset. I like reading, hiking, and traveling. 

The Advice

How can newer entrepreneurs develop a healthy work-life balance even when it seems like an impossible task?

Just keep checking in with yourself to ensure you’re following your own goals and not someone else’s. 

The whole point of entrepreneurship is to gain the independence and self-direction that comes with ownership. 

If you find that you’re running into the ground and missing out on relationships, fun, or things that bring you real joy, you might want to reconsider why you’re doing it. 

What three key pieces of advice would have made your entrepreneurial journey easier, and why? 

1. Continuing Education

Tech industries are constantly changing, so keeping yourself up to date with classes, new software training, or workshops will help you stay worthy of promotions in your current company or unilaterally effective to other companies.

2. Adaptability

Again, the industry and the technologies that power it are always changing, so it’s survival of the most adaptable. 

3. Avoid “Bright Shiny Object” Syndrome

Not all new technological advances are the best way to do things. For some functions, for example, customer service, nothing can replace a human. 

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