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Dean Roller, Owner of Bliss Bean Bags, Was Deeply Impacted by the Books He’s Read

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Thanks to the awesome Mike Benkovich, we were introduced to an Australian entrepreneur who “loves to read” and would make “a great interview candidate” – and he was right. That’s how we got in touch with Dean Roller, the owner of Bliss Bean Bags, a company that manufactures bean bags and soft furnishings for home use and the commercial sector. Yes, they’re those fluffy bags we just love to sit on.

What makes Bliss Bean Bags so special are both the values and the story behind the product. Dean, who proudly presents himself as being a “tech geek” (he has a Bachelor in Engineering [Mechanical] and Science [Physics] from The University of Sydney) has teamed up with a craftsman with over 30 years of experience to make products that are not only handmade, but also extremely durable.

The company’s portfolio is nothing short of amazing: they’ve created furniture for clients such as The Parliament house of Australia and The Versace hotel in Queensland (Australia’s only 6 star hotel).

Not only is Dean specialized in engineering and science, but he also knows his way around online marketing, as his experience gathers knowledge on online advertising, SEO, PPC and digital strategy.

Without further ado, scroll down to read about the books that inspired Dean, helped him grow both his business and himself, common mistakes made by solopreneurs – including one Dean personally made, and many more.

Estimated reading time for this interview is 8 minutes. If you'd rather listen to it, you can do it on iTunes, Google Play or Stitcher.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business: The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber. Just a simple read, straight forward advice about running a business. It helped clear up any overwhelm I was feeling when thinking about everything that needed to be done.

Non-Business: Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. Changed my perspective on what it means to be a human being through a detailed history of our human species. I felt it gave me a broader awareness of why I do what I do

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Reading Michael Thiel’s Zero to One, I am paraphrasing here, however when he mentioned make something 10 times better than you competitors products or don’t bother at all.

It shifted the end result I was looking for in the business I currently run. I changed the whole approach about what the business would offer and how products would be delivered.

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

This is probably cliche, however the Four Hour Work Week read many years ago had a huge impact on me. The insights and examples in that book made it easy for me to start a side business while still working a full time job.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Four Hour Work Week, The $100 startup and Jobs to be done. I like books that share examples of real world approaches to getting something off the ground.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I seem to get into cycles of reading more and then not much at all.

For instance, I will come across a few books I want to read, reading one after the other (if not a couple simultaneously) then might not pick up a book for another month or 2.

If something excites me to find out more about, I tend to plow through a book quickly. There is no real pattern to my reading habits. I prefer physical books to e-books as well.

How do you make time for reading?

During a food break from work commonly. And I like to read after my daughter has gone to sleep at night.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

I list notes in a notebook I have. My mind tends to focus on what I am currently working on when I read something. For instance If I am working on a redesign for something I tend to skew information I am reading towards helping me craft a better design for a web page or product.

So the notes I care about keeping are those focused towards the task at hand.

How do you choose what books to read next?

Recommendations, mainly from blog posts I am reading. Again, to tend to only care about what challenge I need to solve at the current time. If a book can help with that, I am excited to read it.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, has a broad knowledge base about many topics, I love his book recommendations since I appreciate his answers to interview questions. Otherwise my cousin and friends offer great suggestions about what to read next.

What book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Unshakeable by Tony Robbins, I am fascinated about investing and hope to gain insights on the best path to compound wealth for the long run.

There are always new tools and techniques trending in digital marketing – from growth hacking to influencer marketing and so on. However, principles remain the same. What skills would you recommend a young marketer to focus on? How to stay on top of their game?

Read a classic book like Claude Hopkins Scientific Advertising book and Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini. Understanding fundamental principles to how humans operate is always a great starting point to focus on.

It is easy to forge tried and test examples when the next “new thing” comes along.

Even though most people are aware that “overnight success usually takes 10 years”, they are still looking for shortcuts and “latest hacks”. What are three common mistakes made by solopreneurs?

1. Not testing an idea thoroughly to validate it and focusing all efforts on marketing and sales before making a single sale.
2. Not managing cash flow for the first 6 months when finally up and running
3. “Sweating the small stuff” Such as spending too much time deciding the colour of your business card and not on the best distribution channels for your product or service.

Do you have an example of a mistake you made while building your business? How did you change your mind, what was the thinking process behind it?

Initially, when I started selling online, my whole focus was on dropshipping products. When the market became saturated with a particular product I was selling, my online store looked just like everyone else’s and sales began to slide.

I didn’t carve out a unique selling point that made me stand out. That was a great experience to go through and it changed my mind to see past what everyone else was doing.

Links where you can follow Dean Roller or find out more about his projects:

All books mentioned by Dean Roller in this interview:

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