Rob Cubbon | Personal Development for First-Time Entrepreneurs

Rob Cubbon used to work for other people – and hated it. Sound familiar?

These days, he teaches people to escape like he did – with online businesses that provide a passive income that have given him freedom and the chance to travel the world.

But you’ll discover that it wasn’t a straight line to success. Rob shares the struggles he went through – many that he says were self-inflicted – to get where he is today.

One thing is for sure… Rob believes anybody can make it work, with the right attitude.

We also talk about…

  • How changing his self-image and self-talk helped propel his business forward
  • The most dangerous mistake too many first-time entrepreneurs make
  • His #1 piece of advice for those transitioning from employee to business owner
  • A little-known haven for entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host, Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide, and today we have a very special guest. Today we have Rob Cubbon. Rob, right off his website, used to work for other people and just hated it. Now he’s an entrepreneur, gets to travel the world just the way he wants to. He is an Amazon best selling author, online teacher, graphic and web designer and entrepreneur and wants freedom for you and success in your business. Rob, welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast.

Rob Cubbon: Thank you so much, Giuseppe. It’s good to be here.

Giuseppe: Yeah, very excited. You know, we definitely say a lot of the same things and help people in career transition. Before I got into that, wanted to give the audience just a better idea. You could tell us a little bit about your background, and maybe a little bit of, you know, what the journey has looked like overall and you know how you got to where you are today.

A Rocky Road to Success

Rob: Okay, Giuseppe. Well, this is gonna take a while because it does go back a few years now because, as you say, I was working for other people ever since I left college, which would have been in the early 90s. And so for a long while, I was working for other people, but the way it transitioned was that I ended up becoming freelance. So I was doing graphic design as a freelance in London in the UK, as you can probably tell from my accent.

And yeah, so I didn’t enjoy that. But it did help me at least to pick up some skills. You know, I got to learn Photoshop and things like that and picked up some basic design skills. But it wasn’t until about 2014 where I started up a website and I started some, did I say 2014? 2004. Over 15 years, yeah, over 15 years ago. And then I got into web publishing and blogging, YouTube actually.

But that came a little bit later. And then I started to get work that I could do at home. And that was the turning point for me even though it was still active income, it wasn’t passive income. It meant I could make money sort of off my own back and I actually set up a, in the UK, it’s called a limited company. I think that LLCs in the US. At the same time, I set up my own company. So I saw myself as a company and that really just completely changed my mindset.

I thought, right, I’m on my own now. I’ve got to make my own money. It doesn’t matter if I make it all in the beginning of the month, or I make it continuously throughout the month, as long as I make the money, then, and I can stand on my own two feet. And that was an extremely invigorating, liberating experience. And, but then it didn’t stop there because I’m cutting a lot of corners and making this short here. As I mentioned, I’d been blogging and YouTubing. So I built up a small audience. I still have a very small audience. It’s not very big.

But it does mean that I get to market my own products to my own people every so often, as well as giving them good information for free as well. But I can live off the proceeds of my online digital products. And I have done now for many years. I don’t actually do so much work for clients these days. I don’t make websites and design things like I used to do. I actually just did for a friend, funnily enough, but I don’t do much of that now and I just make money from my books and my courses and various other online entrepreneurial activities that do, and I have done for the last 10 years or so.

Giuseppe: That’s great. So definitely a long career. And, you know, with, you know, the transition, you said that you enjoyed it. So what was the, I guess the true driving force? Was it just the freedom and flexibility? What was it? Because a lot of people listening in are looking at a career transition, you know, here.

Finding Success On Your Own Terms

Rob: Yeah. Yeah, it was basically the freedom, Giuseppe. It was a little bit easier for me because, as I mentioned, I was freelancing. So I didn’t actually have a proper job. What I was doing is I was temping. So I’d go into a design company, an advertising agency, and work for the week, you know, doing some Photoshop or some Illustrator work, and they’d tell me what to do, I’d do it.

And I’d go at the end of that week, and then try and get another job from the agencies for the next week. So I was quite flexible in a way, even though I didn’t like the work, it did, at least, you know, introduce me to the feast and famine routine of an entrepreneur. So I would have good months and bad months. And so I had to learn how to save my money and not spend my money and just hold it up during the good months So you’ve got something to live off on the bad months, or if the bad months come.

So I was doing that for a couple of years. Yes, it was a couple of years of transition, which made it really easy for me where I could work a bit of freelance during the week and then go home and do my own stuff. And that made it really easy. In fact, I put off the decision to give up on the freelance work for a year or so because it was naturally no effort to do it. But there came a time where I’ve thought, well, I’ve really got to do this seriously now. I’ve really got to concentrate 100% on my own company, but I was enjoying it so much, Giuseppe, because it was my thing, you know?

They were my clients, it was my designs. And I found the clients and I did the work for the clients and I got paid by the clients. I just, I guess I was an underachiever at school. I was never good at school, never good at sport, never good at much of anything. So it was great to see that I could be successful on my own terms. And I think it’s a certain characteristic of entrepreneurs that they like the freedom and they just like doing things their way without being difficult, you know? Because, yeah, I mean, I really think I’m big on freedom.

Giuseppe: Right. Yeah, absolutely. And that freedom, I mean, there’s only 24 hours in the day, so it’s nice to choose where you live, when you work, how many hours.

Rob: So yeah, I haven’t talked about traveling to Cebu. So that’s one thing I haven’t told you about in the story is that I was living in London. London is like New York. It’s incredibly expensive to live in. You don’t want to live there unless you absolutely have to and you’ve got a job there. And then so I was sitting in London, making money online passively from America, from India or wherever the people were. And I didn’t really need to be in London. So I went to Thailand, which is quite far away.

Giuseppe: Oh wow. Very nice.

Rob: Yeah, I’m speaking to you today from Chiang Mai in Thailand. It’s about 30 degrees outside even though it’s nine o’clock in the, very hot day today, I tell you. And it’s got good internet here. The people are lovely, the food’s great. And its cheaper than London, and there’s a great community of entrepreneurs here so that there was another bonus for doing your own thing if you like traveling.

Giuseppe: It’s funny. You mentioned that. This is the second interview back to back actually, person was in California and moved to Thailand and loves it. You know just loves the community, is able to work, you know, talked about freedom, same exact thing. So that’s, I don’t know that that may be assigned for me to move one of these days. It’s on the list. I’ve never, haven’t visited yet and it’s, well I can’t visit right now with everything going on. Hopefully next year. Would love to take a trip out there. That’s, great.

That’s awesome. So, you know, one thing I found interesting is, you know, with having conversations with people and career transitions, there’s no, in my opinion, no right or wrong. Some people like myself, I quit my job 100% and dove into my first business, but I always tell the story this way, as much as I want to say did it on my own, I, you know, I was married, and my wife was working. So if it wasn’t for that, that story may have been a little bit different.

And others have just said, You know what, I want to start my own business but I don’t want to give up my job. So we have a very popular type of ownership in franchising called semi-absentee ownership, so they may be put in an hour or two during the day, keep their job and then once the business is fully operational, they have the option to leave their job but they have, you know, it’s a slower transition. So instead of jumping in immediately, it’s a year or two. So there’s no, you know, for everyone, there’s no right or wrong. It’s what you are comfortable with.

Everyone’s financial situations are different. Which leads me to my question which I asked, you know, every guest is, you know, what top maybe either two or three or however much advice you want to give for anyone that is looking to make that career transition from an employee to business owner, whether it be a big corporation or just a single member, you know, LLC just kind of running your own show. What are the top two or three pieces of advice you would give to that person?

Entrepreneurs From All Walks of Life

Rob: Yeah, I really agree that it’s different for everyone because I have met a while, a huge number of people who’ve done it, and they’ve all done it in different ways. And the other interesting thing is it’s men, women, rich, poor, old, young, with families without families from America, Europe, Asia, Africa, it, they’re from everywhere. Everyone’s done it, you know? So there’s the one thing is that there’s no excuse.

You can do it. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got kids or you haven’t got kids or whatever. It just might take you longer, you know? But my advice is to look at your income, your finances, and ask yourself What do you want from life? You know, what do you really want? What do you really need? What is it that’s really driving you? And I tell you, what, I when I started doing this, I didn’t really have much of a clue.

And I was a bit shocked that I actually didn’t know what I want. I thought I wanted money and I wanted to be happy but that’s not, that’s too vague. You’ve got to be, you’ve got to have numbers, you know, you’ve got to know exactly what you want. And I just started cutting down my expenses. And I said, Well, I’m not going to spend any money unless I absolutely have to. Absolutely have to, like food and shelter, and cut that down to the minimum.

And then see if you can make that much money every month from your business and see if it’s growing. You know, that’s the way you do it. Clear your debt. Don’t borrow money. I mean, like, the last thing you want to be doing at the moment is borrowing money. You know, it’s just the worst thing in the world, especially when you’re moving into a recession. So, you know, you don’t need to spend money to start a business. I was also very lucky because I was starting in the mid-2000s when you could do some good stuff with Google.

You could get to be quite successful and finish, end up on the first page of Google. You didn’t have to be an SEO expert in order to do it and you didn’t need any money. You could just do it through your own ingenuity and effort. And so, but there always are opportunities. There are always opportunities where you can make money just with your ingenuity and with your effort. I really believe that. It was true then and it’s true now. I mean, I can see, I see people coming from poor backgrounds, Vietnamese, who come from a village where their parents are probably earning sort of less than $5 a day and they’re making money online.

They’re making huge amounts of money, comparative to the poverty they come from. And Indians as well. I know so many Indians from back in, I was gonna say bad backgrounds, from not wealthy, you know, underprivileged backgrounds, people that, you know, literally earn $5 a day, and that, you know, learn coding and then start their own coding school and absolutely make fortunes on the internet.

And so I would tell people first to look at their expenses and see if they can get them down and see if they really need to spend 40, $60 a month on entertainment or whatever they’re spending and clothes and cars and, you know, things that are luxuries. And then work out how much money you need to make a month and then try and make it off your own back instead of through a job.

Giuseppe: Right. Very good points. Something I, you know, we’ve kind of been doing and interviewing podcasting, started at the beginning of the year and just been moving the questions around because I always like to mix it up a little bit and just find some of these questions really interesting. But, you know, one question I was asked on a show not too long ago is, you know, what advice would you give your younger self?

I thought that was interesting. It threw me off for a little bit. So I’ll turn around and ask you that same question. I found that pretty interesting. Made me think a little bit, but what advice would you give your younger self? I have tons of advice I’d give myself, but this show is yours

The Importance of Healthy Self-Talk

Rob: I know. Because I actually wrote a blog post about this a few years ago, and it was what I’d say to my 30-year-old self. You see, the thing is, when I was in it, most people say, Oh, I wish I knew this when I was 20. But I was in a really bad situation when I was in my early 30s. It was probably the worst period of my life. I was just stagnating, doing those freelance jobs. I was very directionless. But I think the things I would say, I would, I’d be very actually, I would be very kind to myself and tell myself to be kinder to myself and not to have a go at myself.

And to watch to be very aware of your thoughts and observe your thoughts and what you’re thinking about and see if there’s anything you can improve there. Because I mean, I had sort of very bad habits in that I would be hard on myself, I would say, Oh, god, you’re not up to this. You can’t do this. You’re incapable, you’re just not talented enough. You just haven’t got it. And look, and surprise, surprise, you know, the evidence came back at me that agreed with that. And what I tried to do, I actually started reading a lot of personal development and books about Buddhism and stuff like that.

And I came to the conclusion that I was doing, I was probably being more responsible for my failures than my actual talents were. It was my own inner voice telling me that I wasn’t good enough. And so I observed my thoughts and whenever I could see myself going on a downward spiral of self-blame, I would take a step back and be kind to myself and just concentrate on whatever task I had to do at the moment in order to get me where I wanted to be. So actually, I took a real personal development sort of angle to that question. I hope that made sense.

Giuseppe: Yeah. No, it does. And it’s all related. And I know I can relate personally. So it’s, what’s the quote, those that think they can and those that think they can’t are both usually right. So yeah, I mean, we call it a, what is it, head trash, in a way. So if you start to doubt yourself and you start to focus on that, and yeah, I mean, it’s, you start focusing, I could fail I could fail I could fail, then that fear takes over and you stay at the job where you think there’s a safety net when in reality, it truly isn’t a safety net, you know? I

t’s a consistent, it’s a, I always tell people, you have a consistent salary or hourly wage, but you’re as good as your last hour that you put in there. There’s no wealth building, there’s no appreciation. And many times, there’s someone that we’ve interviewed that your as, your career is in the hands of your boss.

So if your boss, sometimes your boss is the one above you, you know, kind of holding you back. So you really need to take a step back, you know, and as you mentioned, just be aware of what you’re thinking and what you’re saying to yourself because typically, it’s yourself that’s getting in the way. No one else. I mean, someone may have said, ahh, you don’t want to do that. You’re going to lose your shirt. You know, you don’t want to start a business. You don’t want to quit your job. So yeah, just get out of your way and give it a go is what I tell everyone.

But obviously, an educated go because we get wrapped up in fear but, you know, a lot of times it’s fear of the unknown because you’re just not educated enough. And when I say educated you don’t know what the risks are, the investment or the time commitment. So the more information you get, you start the process a little bit at a time. So I’m not about jumping into it with your eyes closed, but just get educated. Talk to people, learn about the industry, about what you want to get into. I give the advice to franchise owners, talk to current franchise owners in your business, talk to other people that are doing what you do.

You know, get some feedback, and obviously, you know, maybe talk to one or more people. But yeah, I cannot agree with you more and it definitely ties into just about every conversation. So that’s some really, really good advice and the same advice I would give to myself and sometimes I need to remind myself of that. Yeah, so Rob, if someone wants to get in contact with you, you know, who should get in contact with you? How can you help them out? And what is the best way they can get in contact with you?

Rob: Okay, well, the best way to get in contact with me is to Google my name and that’s Rob Cubbon. I say Cubbon, but some people say Kuban. It is CUBBON. And so if you Google that you’ll find me. I’ve got a website because it’s, so very easy to remember. So I help entrepreneurs that are looking to start in online marketing, basically.

So people who want to sell courses, people who want to write books, I mean, nonfiction books, ideally are the people I help but I’ve done a lot of work in a lot of other businesses like so for example, graphic design and web design for clients, how to find clients, and that sort of thing. So the best thing to do is have a look at my website and see if that’s the sort of thing that floats your boat and get in touch with me that way.

Giuseppe: Sounds good. And we will put that, we’ll put everything in the show notes. Rob, anything else you’d like to mention to the audience today?

Rob: Well, no, not really. I’d just like so thank you very much for listening to me. I wish you the best in your entrepreneurial journey. I wouldn’t have swapped it for the world, that’s for sure. It’s definitely the best thing that ever happened to me. But I would also say, you know, of course, it’s not for everyone. And I appreciate that everyone’s backgrounds are different.

I didn’t have children, which maybe would have affected my decision, but we don’t know. And obviously, I know a lot of entrepreneurs that do have children and do have a lot of overheads that they’ve got to manage and they still are successful. So there’s always a way. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And if you are, you know, honest and you help people and you’re kind to yourself and kind to others and you do your best then I’m sure you can’t go wrong.

Giuseppe: Yes, I cannot agree with you more. Rob, thank you once again. This has been a pleasure, my friend, and hope to talk to you in the very near future.

Rob: Likewise, Giuseppe. Thank you so much for having me.