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Kim & Lance Burney_The Long Journey to Overnight Success

The Long Journey to Overnight Success with Kim and Lance Burney of Mighty Carver

January 24, 2024

The challenges of entrepreneurship are sometimes hidden behind those “instant” success stories, which are actually built on loads of hard work, smart planning, and detailed execution. Today, A.J. welcomes Kim and Lance Burney of Mighty Carver, who know quite well what it takes to overcome these entrepreneurial hurdles. In this episode, they share their journey from starting in 1999 to an overnight boost after their appearance on Shark Tank.

About Kim and Lance Burney:

Kim and Lance Burney are a powerhouse duo famous for their creation, the Mighty Carver, an innovative company born out of a family tradition. Their story is one of perseverance and dynamic adaptation in entrepreneurship. They have been leading innovators in manufacturing since 2000 with their primary venture, Sigalarm. They revolutionized the power-line warning system industry, growing from being the only players to standing out among ten competitors globally. 

Branching out, they grabbed an opportunity on a Thanksgiving dinner when a quirky idea sparked – manufacture an electric carving knife that looks like a chainsaw. Leveraging their expertise in manufacturing, Kim came up with the idea out of a playful thought that if the knife were a chainsaw, every member of their family would be excited to cut the turkey. So, the Mighty Carver was born, a testament to their creativity, wit, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Overcome the challenges of entrepreneurship for long-term success

We live in a world that glorifies “overnight success” and the instant rise to wealth and fame. However, this narrative often distracts entrepreneurs from the true nature of building a business from the ground up and hides the challenges of entrepreneurship that all business owners face.

In reality, overcoming these hurdles to reach that desired “instant” success takes years. It demands resilience, a clear vision, and an unwavering commitment to your goals. When you learn to transform challenges into stepping stones, you will turn today’s struggles into tomorrow’s strengths. This means continually taking calculated risks, embracing failures, learning, and adjusting the course as necessary. 

Persistence is the true key to success, and it is what will keep you going even during the hardest times. So, instead of chasing that overnight success, rely more on strategic planning, adaptability, and incremental growth.

Key Insights:

  • Take a leap of faith. Success often starts with taking a calculated risk. You need to rely on due diligence and informed judgment, but be ready to dive deep when you sense an opportunity. This leap of faith, combined with resilience and hard work, lays a strong foundation for your business. This approach inspires forward-thinking strategies, innovation, and sustainable growth, which are key elements in achieving long-term success. (07:55)
  • Embrace the good side of competition. Competition can give you a necessary push towards innovation and excellence. It keeps you on your toes and encourages you to improve your products, services, and processes continuously. Taking cues from your competitors can lead to new ideas and underline areas of growth in your business. (10:15)
  • Believe in what you’re doing. Passion and belief in your cause will help you go far. They not only fuel motivation but also encourage others to support your vision. Your employees, partners, and customers can all sense true passion, motivating them to invest their time, effort, or loyalty into helping bring your vision to life. So, stand behind your product or service and ensure your actions and strategies align with this belief. (17:48)
  • Define success on your own terms. Success is subjective – it doesn’t have to align with societal expectations or norms. Define what success means to you, whether it’s gaining financial independence, making a difference, or achieving a healthy work-life balance. Follow this personal metric instead of comparing yourself with others because that’s the only way to achieve the goals that truly matter to you. (33:25)
  • Maintain a good work-life balance. While it’s important to be dedicated to your business, setting aside time for relaxation and relationships is equally important. Striking a balance between professional goals and personal time isn’t just crucial for well-being—it can actually boost productivity at work. When you return to work recharged, you can focus more, creatively solve problems, and stay motivated for longer periods. (34:56)

Kim and Lance’s best advice for entrepreneurs:

“You can’t focus on the failures. […] Yes, you have to learn from it, but you cannot dwell on it and let it consume you and your drive for whatever it is you’re doing.” (31:07)

Connect with Kim and Lance:

Resources Mentioned:

Follow Beyond 8 Figures:

Transcript

I knew there was a term electric knife that looks like a yes, thank you. It’s a chainsaw. But their story is so much cooler and so much deeper. So what they were sharing with me earlier is they bought a company back in 99. As we kind of talk about their path of acquisition entrepreneurship, what they did to transition and grow it, to get to the Mighty Carver and to be able to use their platform to do this, I think it’s really cool just to see the things we do build up over entrepreneurial journey. So, Kim and Lance, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really am happy you’re here today.

Kim Burney:
Thank you for having us.

Lance Burney:
Thank you for having us.

Kim Burney:
We like to share with other entrepreneurs of how our story went, and hopefully it’ll help someone out there if they’re listening or needing to know some advice, or maybe there’s one little thing that we do that will help them.

A.J. Lawrence:
Part of what I got excited about doing this podcast is when, after I sold my agency about ten years ago, I was looking back at the times I most got insight and value to figure out what I need to do. And I realized it was always from other entrepreneurs. And it wasn’t always like they were dealing with things. I had had to deal with where I was facing. It was just the way they talked about how they thought about a problem, and it would be like, oh, okay, so you’re dealing with that, but you looked at it. Oh, you know, I never thought of that. But first, where are you as an entrepreneur? Plural?

Kim Burney:
Yeah. So we do run two companies right now.

Lance Burney:
More than two, probably.

Kim Burney:
Yeah, more than two. But the two primary companies we have are Sigalarm. We have a proximity warning device. It’s a very serious product. Let Lance explain more of that. And then we have Mighty Carver. So you want to talk about Sigalarm?

Lance Burney:
Yeah. So my personal journey has been, there’s nothing that’s been connected. I’ve been involved with maybe five or six different companies, from starting as a dishwasher to spraying aquatic weeds, to selling chlorine, real estate, life insurance, and then finally getting an opportunity to buy an existing company in 1999, which Kim was talking about, which is called Sigalarm. It keeps people from getting electrocuted by hitting overhead power lines with equipment. So it’s a warning device. We sell those around the world. That was our main primary bread and butter. There’s other companies involved that I had started with my dad that are still ongoing.

Lance Burney:
With 120 employees right now, full time.

Kim Burney:
It’s an aquatic spray business.

Lance Burney:
Yeah.

A.J. Lawrence:
Okay.

Lance Burney:
We’ve had experience before. Mighty Carver. Mighty Carver just came to be after. I don’t know, it was a crazy conversation. Not like we needed to start another company, but it happened, and it’s gotten fairly successful.

Kim Burney:
And the equipment that we use for Sigalarm would be anything like fire

Lance Burney:
trucks, tv trucks, fire trucks, trains, excavators, anything that can touch a power line.

Kim Burney:
Correct.

Kim Burney:
So if you’re trying to picture in your mind, if it goes up into the air, our product will shut you down. And there was only one of us in the whole world at the time that we bought that company. Right at this moment, there is probably ten in the world. So it’s a very niche product. So as far as Mighty Carver is concerned, it’s also a niche product. So that didn’t scare us when we thought about, oh, we’re going to invent an electric carving knife that looks like a chainsaw. We were just like, this might be something. And they’re totally different genres. One is a safety product and one is not so safe.

Lance Burney:
Not connected at all.

A.J. Lawrence:
Well, you have that big plastic I’m looking, I don’t know the material, but the guard on the knife, which I thought was very, very cute, and that’s kind of a neat little safety feature. And then I saw that with the pumpkin carving you guys did in some of the Instagram reels.

Kim Burney:
Yeah. And it’s essentially the same electric carving knife that’s been around from the very beginning in the early ’60s. It just has a costume. It just has a plastic housing on the outside, but it helps.

Lance Burney:
It’s functional.

Kim Burney:
A lot of people have gripping problems, so it is easier to grip. You don’t have to use both your hands. People say it’s big, but it is very light. People are surprised by how light it is. So that’s good. We were happy with the design for it, for sure.

A.J. Lawrence:
Before we get too serious on this, is this like this outlet, this product that kind of came out of your experience, is this sort of like this fun- you now have a platform you trust because you did mention earlier how much effort you put into when we were chatting ahead of the show into it. Now that you’ve created and you have the other business with your father, this platform where things are working, or more directionally working, is this something where you get to have a little fun and it just happened to work? Or is this a new line where you’re just going to come up with new fun things?

Kim Burney:
I think it was totally accidental, in all honesty. I think, you know, when you put our experience in the mix, I think in a lot of businesses, luck has a lot to do with what happens to you. We made the first thousand and we put it on Amazon. The Wall Street Journal did a huge article about us. Boom, we sold out the first week. So we were like, wow, we didn’t know what to expect. And then it just snowballed from there as we went along. I don’t know how far you want me to go into detail, but it just seemed like every step that we took when we decided, okay, we made the first thousand, now we’ll double that.

We’ll make 2500 and then we’ll make a container and then we’ll make three containers and five containers. So it just kept snowballing at that point and with minimal effort. But not all things in our life, in our business life have been that way. I think for us, experience, luck-

Lance Burney:
Not that there weren’t hurdles along the way. There’s been plenty of hurdles if we get into the whole nuts and bolts of you know, nothing comes easy, as all entrepreneurs know. So we got lucky. We got the Wall Street Journal. We’ll talk about Shark Tank, how that evolved. We didn’t even apply for Shark Tank. So there’s lots of interesting stories. But having some percentage of luck into your hard work is definitely needed and part of almost every entrepreneur’s success story.

Kim Burney:
Correct.

A.J. Lawrence:
Let’s talk about some of the things you had to deal with in growing the first acquisition or the first business or the foundational business. I’m going to keep trying different words until they sound right. And how you think maybe later on that helped set you up for this and just for continuous growth. So you bought the business in 99. Back then, I don’t think-

Kim Burney:
It was a gamble.

Lance Burney:
There’s so many stories we can talk about that. It’s so interesting. I’m not electrical engineering. I know nothing about electrical engineering. This is totally electrical engineering gold mine. But I’m a salesperson, marketing person. I saw the product, and the funny story is, it’s from a relative of Kim’s that we bought the company from. And I’ll let her maybe go in or not go into all that, but I saw the opportunity to where the product was being sold in Miami, in Germany, San Francisco.

But it was body. So everybody that had owned this particular product before were all electrical engineers. They weren’t salespeople or marketing people. They didn’t even hire marketing people. But I saw the opportunity, and so we went ahead and committed to buying Sigalarm. Like Kim said, there was only four main customers at that time. There was no market. There was no pie.

Lance Burney:
There wasn’t other competitors. We had to create the market.

Kim Burney:
It was a big leap of faith for us, and we were a young couple with young children, and it was the do or die at that point situation.

Lance Burney:
So obstacle number one was the company that I was working for. I had just started bringing in around $12,000 a month commissions in 99.

Kim Burney:
That was a lot for us, our small family. We really depended on that.

Lance Burney:
But the writing on the wall was, the person I worked for was a small company. He was bringing in his son, his son-in-law. There was going to be no need for this person that had helped build this. I had no contract. I had nothing in writing. It’s just he was my dad’s best friend at Georgia Tech. That was it. And so I saw the Sigalarm opportunity, I wanted a backup plan because I could kind of see some writing on the wall that he could just easily get rid of me at any moment. And so when I did the right thing, I think, and I told my employer at the time that I had bought this company and he looked at me and he said, well, I guess you won’t have time for me, and fired me.

Kim Burney:
Yep.

Lance Burney:
So my instinct was true that he was going to be looking for a way to get rid of me, but I had no idea. My intention was to hire somebody to run Sigalarm and keep my job. So talk about being thrown into the fire of something that I didn’t know anything about except an opportunity. That’s how we started. We’ve grown the market, we’ve grown the need for it. There’s worldwide companies that are contacting us to put them on and it’s spurred competition, which to me competition is good because they’re out there marketing and building the pie for everybody. So if you have 100% of nothing is nothing, but if you have 10% of a billion dollar market, then you have something.

A.J. Lawrence:
You do quite well.

Lance Burney:
There’s more interesting stories, but that’s one of the major ones of getting us. So being thrown into the fire and then growing and being forced to make that company work for 20 years and getting us to the point of Mighty Carver and then that idea coming to play. We didn’t really need another company. But when we did Mighty Carver, it was great, I’m glad we did it.

Kim Burney:
And we understood risk from the very beginning. We took some big risks with our other company and we overcame them. And we knew a lot of the problems that could arise. And we were like, we’ve been there, done that before. I think it’s not going to be a problem for us now. And the problems that we did incur with Mighty Carver were totally different. In that first product, it’s not retail. We are an OEM so we sell to end users. With Mighty Carver, it’s a retail product. And retail is brutal and still is brutal. So we are learning so much from that. Going into it, we didn’t know how it was going to happen and it’s been going ever since really quick fast. Probably with the retail issues that we’ve had, the best way that we’ve approached them is with networking people that are in the same boat as us, the other shark tank entrepreneurs. That’s really the only thing that’s got us through the retail side of our business.

A.J. Lawrence:
I just want to come back and just ask about sort of that back in 99. From what little I know of sort of the acquisition space or entrepreneur, this self funded search, the acquiring, it was very small. I know, just even in looking, I think I saw something six years ago at a business school and they were talking about minimum, the smallest you would go is looking at something that was 2 million EBITDA. All these like, you just don’t do small acquisitions. And yet now we’re sort of in this boom time of acquiring. I’ve seen people acquire newsletters for a couple of k. The world of acquisition and how to do it and what to do it is evolving and growing. How was that experience of just trying to explain that you were buying a company?

Kim Burney:
We bought the assets of the company.

A.J. Lawrence:
So what was that like back then? And then, how do you see it now with everyone going, how do you do?

Kim Burney:
I thought he was crazy. What did you do? You lost your job and you bought this company? I really thought he was crazy. No doubt.

Lance Burney:
And she’s still thinking I’m crazy, by the way.

Kim Burney:
But it worked out for us. And we’ve been working side by side together since 99, by the way, and in all of our businesses. We have a tree farm, we have a couple of other things going on. But, yeah, it was not easy. It was not easy.

Lance Burney:
Well, I’ll say this, I didn’t just jump into it either. I did my research for a year or so before I made the commitment, and there’s so many backstories of why that person wanted to sell and why it was sold to me. But beyond all that, I saw an opportunity, and I was helping them with sales. I was double dipping for a while, trying to feel the market out, learning about this new, unknown product to me, this unknown industry to me, cranes and construction and safety products. But at some point, I realized that, again, it was timing and luck that it was even offered to me to take advantage of that opportunity to buy that company, and that I believed in the product and that it saves lives. Like I truly believe it does save people’s lives. So that’s one thing that I thought, and that it was under marketed, undersold, and just not had nowhere touched its potential of a worldwide acceptance.

Kim Burney:
And we’ve really done a lot to grow that company. You can tell them about the

Lance Burney:
Just R&D, never ending R&D. Like, we’re still selling the original product that we bought in 99. One of them. We’ve obviously grown and technology has grown, and we have wireless and microprocessors and softwares now, when it was all solid state, but the original product, people are still wanting it.

Kim Burney:
And to give you an idea of what it was, when we bought the company, it still had tubes, like from television tubes as part of the engineering. So we’ve taken it this far with all the new electronics and the boards and everything. So we had a lot to overcome in that time.

Lance Burney:
We had good electrical engineers and good mechanical engineers. And that’s one of the things we’ll come back to, is those contacts that we had through the years. We have a wonderful mechanical engineer that we gave him the idea for Mighty Carver. He literally drew it overnight. He produced a 3d mold. He gave it to us, and it worked right out the gate. That was one of our best, I think, is just having the contacts from our other company that helped us get into the Mighty Carver, make that smooth as it could be.

But, yeah, so the R&D, the building that company, seeing the potential, doing my research, and then just your normal growth problems, people stealing from you, distributors going out and building their own product. Everything that could happen happened managing cash flow.

Kim Burney:
And I think one of the things that we did, our daughter worked for us for a while, our adult daughter. We were always up against manufacturers that didn’t like us because we were a safety product and we wanted them to incorporate it into their product. They didn’t like us at the time, because if they put it on one, if they didn’t put it on all of their equipment, they’re liable. So they fought us tooth and nail, tooth and nail all throughout since we started. Still fight us until recently.

Lance Burney:
Definitely not an easy industry that we jumped into because of a safety product. And it’s like seatbelts, the automobile industry fought that forever. And to spend $5 on every car, we all know that story. Well, the same thing with proximity alarms. It was just the manufacturers kind of knew that if one broke, they would all have to break, and so they didn’t do it, if that makes sense. Without saying too much. Yeah, they just circled the bandwagons, and it was really, I almost say we were blackballed, but it was very hard to break into that industry.

Kim Burney:
And now we’ve just recently been able to do that, so we’re really pleased. But it took 23 years to do that.

A.J. Lawrence:
Yeah. And then kind of looking at that and how you adapt, I’m going to make an assumption that early on, it was more of an add on to aftermarket. Yes, aftermarket. Thank you. What did you call it with cars? Aftermarket. And that’s a difficult market, but it’s a directed market versus a manufacturer led product inclusion into their processes, which is better in the long run, obviously, for you. But how did you kind of adapt, besides the collusion aspects? But was this something right from the beginning, the relationships, did you have to change the product, all of that?

Lance Burney:
Right. And believe it or not, some of the manufacturers would interfere with the sale to an end user, which they had no right to do, because if more, and we were building up big end users, but then that would put more back pressure on them. Why aren’t you doing this? That was a tough battle, but we believe that it was a good. Like Lance Burney and Kim Burney can be doing lots of other we own other companies. We didn’t have to be doing Sigalarm or selling proximity alarm safety devices. But I truly believed, and I still believe to this day, we’re saving people’s lives, no matter what the opposition. Good versus wrong, good versus evil, whatever you want to call it. I believe in what we’re doing 100%, I think is what pushed me through and how we survived.

Kim Burney:
And I was mentioning earlier, our daughter worked for us. They went to Washington, DC, and they fought for a new standard for the ASDM standards that include proximity warning devices as one of the OSHA standards. And we got that. So that was very exciting.

Lance Burney:
Let me make sure we say that right. We created an international manufacturing standard for proximity alarms, is what we did. So hopefully that will help. OSHA decision to OSHA has always been neutral on the issue because all of the vested parties that were involved were all the big money, and they’re just lancing Kim out here waving the safety flag. It was an uphill battle that most people wouldn’t be able to survive. I’m just going to be honest with you.

A.J. Lawrence:
It was tough just for the phrase and not having faced anything that, but having faced tough times once again, my assumption is many different things adding up over long period of time. Was it being able to adapt your cash flow? Was it the consistency of being able to present a message that would actually resonate with your, at the time, existing clients so you can continue marching forward? I like to say sometimes it doesn’t matter really what you’re doing, as long as you stay alive, as long as you’re able to move forward in a business, you get more opportunities. You have a higher possible outcome the longer you stay in business. What were some of those things that you had to face down and maybe how did you deal with them?

Kim Burney:
So our biggest obstacle during those years was definitely cash flow because our r and D was so high. We were in a place that we had to develop a product that nobody had ever developed before. And it took a long time. It took a long time to get it where we wanted it.

Lance Burney:
I think the answer to your question, too, is the accidents in the people that were dying kept happening and more of that kept happening. So on the parallel side, they couldn’t ignore the issue. The issue is it’s the top three reasons people are dying in the construction world. It’s a known problem that nobody’s addressing except for us, right? They can sit there and say, we don’t want to do it, or this is a good bad, whether you believe it or not believe it. But the problem was still growing percentage wise across the country, across different industries, with nobody having an answer except for us. And so they couldn’t ignore us. We just had to keep going forward, believing in the right thing, and then slowly picking up customers, slowly picking up advocates, slowly picking up allies, slowly picking up believers, slowly people saying, we’re tired of people dying. It took a little bit of all that effort together.

Kim Burney:
And by the way, our product has never failed. So if that gives you an idea, we stood firm with our product really works.

A.J. Lawrence:
No device or no vehicle. Once again, my terminology in this space is incredibly limited that utilizes your product has had an electrocution.

Lance Burney:
No, not on a properly installed and working unit. Correct.

A.J. Lawrence:
That’s an amazing thing just to kind of, because this is one thing I talk a lot about, having a mission driven business. It’s this weird thing where companies that really bring it to bear and have it as a core feature do. Have not guaranteed success, but do have a greater success than a normal, than a business that does not. But I think in the industry so much, or just in business at large, so much of the concept around being mission driven is woo woo. It’s the very technical term, woo woo. But just like, here’s a form you fill out, or here’s the thing you do. You sit there with a coach or consultant and you write down some things and you add your kumbala and you go off and you do good, but that’s not how it works. It sounds like this was something you learned as part of doing this side job, and you really brought to bear and really resonated with you, and you kept consistently as you brought in partners and advocates and other people to help grow it.

A.J. Lawrence:
What are some things you did over time that helped you dive, move deeper, grow deeper into that mission again?

Lance Burney:
I just don’t think we ever wavered from. I never stopped believing in the need for there to be this out there. So I think that’s what just kept me going. I mean, we looked at each other several times over the years, know, are we going to keep doing this? And I remember telling Kim a couple of times, there’s only one choice you have is you can’t stop. I know I’ve said that a couple of times. Of all the options, you just have to push through whatever that was, that bump was. That’s the only thing that I know for 100% that we can’t stop going.

Kim Burney:
I think we’ve always felt that way. I don’t think we’ve ever felt like giving up. I don’t remember a time ever that we thought of giving up?

Lance Burney:
I mean, there’s been reasons to, for sure over the years, but we knew that we had to keep going.

A.J. Lawrence:
There’s always reasons. You said a couple years ago it became like when it became part of OSHA, where it kind of moved forward. In a sense, that’s a really cool overnight success moment years in the making. What did you do to kind of adapt the messaging of the importance of this mission? You can talk about to get it sort of more broadly expanded.

Kim Burney:
So we’ve had a recent breakthrough that’s been really amazing. And actually, manufacturers are actually on board with us right now. This year alone, it took that long. So, Lance, you can tell you more.

Lance Burney:
About them going back to the, I was around, I don’t know, seven, eight years ago, OSHA was going to create a new standard for construction in general, a whole brand new standard. And part of that little blip was power line safety. So I made it a choice, no matter how difficult or costly. I flew around the country each month as they were holding those meetings and participated in those meetings. So again, nothing happened overnight. It was just building up. Building up. And then finally, for OSHA to change their stance from, if you use them, just be leery of their limitations, to now, you should use it under these circumstances as part of other options.

It’s now listed as an option. So that’s where the moment came in. I mean, that’s partially helping us. Have I said that that’s actually changed our world? No, but again, it’s another feather in the cap. Just recently, the aerial manlifts, the rental market for the manlift industry, they’ve sent out a publication, safety publication, that all manlifts, again, should use this new, innovative technology. And I’m thinking to myself, it’s not new innovative, but I’m going with it, if that’s what you want to call it. I don’t care what you call it. But to me, that was a humongous change, because there’s more manlifts in the world than there is cranes.

So just for that industry to now accept that these things are even acknowledge that they’re in existence, because again, it’s a third party product that they don’t want to take liability for. And I understand that. I understand that 100%. Those are just some of just being at all those meetings and gaining people as accidents kept happening and the issue never went away.

Kim Burney:
And he’s on the main board for that. So I think that made a big difference.

A.J. Lawrence:
Don’t be afraid that also help out Thor, you were talking about. And this is something I’ve become fascinated with a little bit about the other companies. You have a tree farm you mentioned. One of the things that I think entrepreneurs don’t have a good understanding of is we get so focused on our own business and look at it as an exit or bust type of approach, where it’s like, oh, I’ll sell it, and that’s how I’m going to make my money. And when selling, while becoming more common, is very difficult and very rare for the vast majority of businesses. Success in businesses, very rare anyway, also, but profitable ongoing businesses are more likely than the exit. So when people look at how they can use their resources that they have. You’ve talked about using the platform.

Yes. It was kind of a bolt of lightning. That mighty Carver came around just, oh, hey, that’d be fun. And then you just have those resources. Can you kind of talk about these other companies? Did they come out of the capabilities or just, you had the money because of the first company? How did that happen?

Kim Burney:
Well, I think with Lance, the very first company, he started with his dad when he was in high school, and that company is alive today and doing it’s a aquatic business, and I’ll let him tell you more about it. But I think that was the very start of how that started.

Lance Burney:
I was very fortunate. My father was an entrepreneur by heart. He had started many different companies, and in the end, his last company became very successful, which is the ABC, the one we’re talking about. And like I said, we started it with some high school budies out of a spray boat and a little bit of chemical in South Florida. And now it’s 120 full time, 200 part time employees up and down east coast. That was a foundation number one for my father, who spent time with me, teaching me about the stock market and teach me about business, telling me about percentages of cost of goods versus your sales and things that you need to keep it in percentages no matter what you do. There’s a chart that you need to follow as far as the percentages of running your company. So that set the foundation for me.

And then again, the real estate was an entrepreneurial thing. I was going to be a commercial real estate agent in South Carolina, and then I became a. That didn’t work out really well, because I sound like a Yankee, so that’s just.

A.J. Lawrence:
I’m a gamecock.

Lance Burney:
So, yeah, I know the only piece of property ever sold was to my brother. So that’ll just tell you that. And then my dad’s college roommate was working with PPG Industries on a specialty chemical and a specialty application for all the food processing plants tysons and produced. And he didn’t even have a fax machine when we started talking with this gentleman. And we bought him a fax machine to help him get his business going. But we ended up growing that into the, again, $12,000 a month commission chemical sales rep back in 99 because we sold a system that they could only get the chemical from us. So it was a residual income. That’s the key to life. Residual income right there, if we don’t learn anything else from this meeting, is residual income.

Kim Burney:
And he also sold life insurance, which is another residual income as well.

Lance Burney:
And so much life insurance. I sold Kim A. Paulson. We weren’t even married, but that’s another whole story.

Kim Burney:
And he was the beneficiary.

A.J. Lawrence:
Well done.

Lance Burney:
Then we went into.

Kim Burney:
I had to marry him then, right?

A.J. Lawrence:
Romantic. It’s romance. Pure romance.

Lance Burney:
The aquatic company ended up buying a couple of commercial buildings in south Florida inside of 95, near the forest. So we got into the commercial real estate aspect of it.

Kim Burney:
We bought the tree farm.

Lance Burney:
We were hunters. We had some extra money, some extra income, so we bought a few hundred acres of timber, which became a nice little nice income income. We’ve cut the trees a couple of times. We’ve got good growth already coming back on.

Kim Burney:
They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but, yeah, it does.

Lance Burney:
So, I mean, all those things just cumulatively gave us a base. You get a little check from here, a little check. I mean, there was just security there. There was a foundation, was the entrepreneurship was always been there with Kim. And Kim, when I met Kim, she was an entrepreneur as well, before we got together. So I just think that it was just our certain situation, accumulation and combination of things just happened to fit and work for us, and it doesn’t always happen. And yes, we’ve had luck, we’ve had failures, but we bought a real estate photography company. I bought the whole franchise for the state of Florida before the.

Kim Burney:
Was without.

Lance Burney:
My blessing, without my know, it’s not always fun and games and easy, but you get rid of the white noise. You just focus and you do what you have to do in whatever venture you’re doing. If you believe in it, get rid of the white noise and just make it happen.

Kim Burney:
Yeah, we’ve lost not all of our. We haven’t been successful in everything, but.

Lance Burney:
For the majority, we have.

Kim Burney:
Accumulatively, yes, but as far as we’ve had our share of mistakes as well.

A.J. Lawrence:
The entrepreneur thing is always to look at the mistakes and the misses as a much larger portion than the ongoing successes that we may or may not have. But reality is, it’s hard doing what you’ve done and to even have what you are is a great success.

Lance Burney:
It’s just you can’t focus on the failures.

Kim Burney:
Honestly, I kind of jokingly, I never think about them.

Lance Burney:
I’ve made more money than a lot, and I’ve lost more money than a lot. But if I were to sit there and I know there are certain people that will dwell on the failures and let that consume them, and I can’t because that just already happens, it’s a negative. You go, it’s history, right? So, yes, you have to learn from it, but you cannot dwell on it and let it consume you and your drive for whatever it is you’re doing.

Kim Burney:
And also for me, I love that our children are watching how we deal with failures and successes. Like, to me, that’s the biggest takeaway from all of it, is now they are successful in their businesses and they’ve watched us and they watched us grow, and they’ve been part of our business. Now they have their own businesses and they also come to us for advice at times. Not all the time, but that, for me, is the biggest success that you can pass that on to them, and they’re enjoying that.

A.J. Lawrence:
That is a good feeling when all of a sudden, because I have three teenagers right now, and my son went off to university for his first year, but it was like the first time he actually asked for it, I was like, wait. I’ve been trying to tell you stuff forever, and this actually matters to me. I’m like, okay.

Kim Burney:
When they get there, it’s a great feeling. Yeah. Because our oldest is 40, so it takes some time. And our youngest is 26. We have four children and they’re all the oldest. He does even better than us, I would say. And then our next one is, she’s going to be a lawyer in four months, and the next one works for JetBlue. The other one’s a planner for the city. So we’re really happy and blessed.

A.J. Lawrence:
Congratulations. Yeah, that does sound. Well, that kind of brings up the question, because you’ve had some interesting pathways to now. You’ve had some minor brush as celebrities, as entrepreneurial celebrities, but it sounds like most importantly, you’re still working with your father. You have your children off and doing things that are creating value in the world. How do you look at what your success is as an entrepreneur? Not the businesses, all that. How do you go about defining entrepreneurial success?

Kim Burney:
So we always say, how do you measure success? Right? That’s the question, number one. And what will it look like and when will we know it? That’s kind of our motto, and that’s what we stick with. So each step by step process, that’s what I look for. I say, okay, this is where I want to be in five years. And he taught me that from day one when he first met me. He asked me, what are your goals?

A.J. Lawrence:
Great dating technique. Your dates must have been like you just moved in.

Lance Burney:
We have a whole segment on those. So you want to know how I would define success a little bit differently. And honestly, that is doing the right thing, believing in what you do. And then on the personal side, obviously, we’re most proud of our children being successful, producing, healthy to the world. That, to me, is, forget about all the business successes. I’m going to pull it back to, we’re most proud of our children and that they’re productive in society.

Kim Burney:
And then we’re not materialistic people. We’re very simple people. We live in a very simple house. So I think for us, we feel like the quality of life is the most important for us. I know that we’ve got a plan to retire. We’ve got our five year plan out, and that’s important to us because his father passed away at 62. That was very young. So we want to make sure that we’re doing the best we can to live our best life as much as possible before we can’t.

Lance Burney:
So hinting on something we definitely did not do, there was nothing traditional about what Kim and I have done or created. Nothing is by any book. There’s no book on what we just. It just all happened. And then something else that Kim and I really forced ourselves to do is we took time off for ourselves early. We’ve always been on vacation. We’ve traveled the world. We’ve taken our kids around the world. Whether it was a good time, bad time, whatever one of my philosophies is, we wanted to not go to 65, retire, and then some, healthy, and then go see the world. We took the time out for ourselves while we were young, healthy. Our children could see the world was way more important than a week at school, an elementary school, or something like that, to go see Rome or Australia or wherever we went in those times. So I would recommend taking that. Don’t work yourself sick and take the time for yourself. It’s what we did. And I know a lot of people don’t do that.

Kim Burney:
We were happy that we did that, made that decision.

A.J. Lawrence:
It may have been a lot of untraditional pathways, but you really have built an amazing entrepreneurial journey. The two of you. I mean, fascinating. And so much stuff can be pulled out of what you’ve shared today. And I know just going deeper into your experiences. Love to continue. I’m already like, all right, I want to start writing some things down, which I need to actually finish the interview before I do that. What’s the best way besides going in to Amazon or directly to MightyCarver.com or Amazon? Mighty Carver, what’s the best way for people to learn about what you’re doing, to learn about the two of you?

Kim Burney:
As far as mighty Carver goes, I mean, we’re on Instagram. We have our Instagram account on Mighty Carver. And as far as anything else, we do a lot of things on LinkedIn, especially Lance. He does a lot on LinkedIn. So you will find out about our business on there. Lance, Bernie or Sigalarm. Mighty Carver is on there. I don’t use it as much, but mighty Carver would be more on Instagram. But, yeah, find out what we’re doing. We’re always doing something over there on LinkedIn.

Lance Burney:
And I’m open for anybody. Any questions? I mean, there’s so much that we didn’t touch on like you said in this interview.

Kim Burney:
Ww went in a lot of different directions. Honestly, I feel like I need to write a book because we’ve had quite a life.

A.J. Lawrence:
But I think this is why entrepreneurialism is such a great journey to take, because it is harder. The risks, the figuring out how to get from zero to one or how to acquire and then survive and grow, they’re not straightforward things. And I know schools are starting to finally teach entrepreneurs. I remember taking a business strategy class a gazillion years ago in the early ninety s and like the professor raising who of you wants to be an entrepreneur? And I put my hand up and whatever kid was sort of had his hand kind of like this, and it was like, well, okay, you two really should be paying attention to the rest. The rest of you, you got to figure out how your bosses want you to say this stuff. And it was the funniest. I was like, oh, good. I don’t like having bosses, so therefore I’m going to pay attention to this class.

Kim Burney:
Sold boats. I mean, we’ve done everything in that direction, sold properties. So that was always a struggle for us, but we managed to do that, too. And we’re still together.

A.J. Lawrence:
Yes. You’re actually talking or at least making fun of each other, which is usually a good indication.

Kim Burney:
We like each other.

Lance Burney:
We like each other. That’s way more important.

A.J. Lawrence:
Yeah, it’s like, okay. That part you can tell. It’s like, they’re making fun of each other. Okay. They’re okay.

Kim Burney:
And it hasn’t always been easy, I mean, for sure, especially when our daughter was working and had any major upsets. So we’re doing okay so far.

A.J. Lawrence:
When this episode comes out, we’ll make sure that the show notes, the email that goes out for the episode, and our socials will have the link to Mighty Carver, but also your Linkedins and the other companies. Because I do think it’s really fascinating if you are listening to this episode, just exploring a little bit around what Kim and Lance have created together on their journey. Being together can just go to show what the entrepreneurial life is like. It’s such a cool journey. There are no set destinations. It’s a create your own adventure and you really have an adventure that they went on. So, no, thank you so much for coming today. I really appreciate it.

Kim Burney:
Thank you too. Thank you for having us. I’m sorry if we were all over.

A.J. Lawrence:
That was me. This was fun.

Kim Burney:
No, it’s okay.

A.J. Lawrence:
This was a lot of fun. And I think that’s what myself and the audience really like, because it’s like there are better places. If you want XYZ tactic or how do you do this? Or why should you? This is about entrepreneurs and the journeys we take. I’m just going to keep saying it. You have such a great journey that you guys have done. That’s a real inspiration. So thank you.

Kim Burney:
Thank you so much.

Lance Burney:
Thank you very much. Thank you for having us.

A.J. Lawrence:
Cool. Well, hey, everyone, if you like today’s episode and you believe that someone else, you know, can actually learn from what Kim and Lance shared about their own journey, know, thinking about going on their own entrepreneurial journey, please share it with them and convince them to subscribe to the show on their podcast listening platform of choice. But otherwise, thank you so much for listening today. I greatly appreciate it. I hope you have a great day and I’ll talk with you soon. Goodbye.

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