Despite many setbacks, Mattress Mick says he never thought of giving up. He spoke to Stephen Larkin about his highs and lows in business.
Michael Flynn, aka Mattress Mick, has become a household name in Ireland thanks to his unique marketing style. However, despite his bubbly character, his career has been a constant battle which resulted in some “serious failures” along the way.
Having started out in banking, Mick opted to take over the family business in Pearse Street, Dublin, following the death of his father. He made the premises a place of “real wheeling and dealing” as he sold everything from furniture, to clothes, and even curtains.
With money coming in from the success of his business, Mick decided to expand and at one point owned eight premises, which he feels led to his downfall. “I was young and I started spending my money very stupidly. I really took my eye off the ball. I knew I needed to make a change and I held on to them for far too long when I look back on it now. Eventually, I made the decision to close up and I sold those properties to clear my debts, but I still kept the original furniture business in Pearse Street.”
This recession in 2008 led to the birth of Mattress Mick. “When I looked at my businesses, I noticed bedroom furniture were the best selling products, so with very little money left, I decided on using a guerrilla marketing strategy to get me going again. I was out on the streets doing the gorilla marketing and putting up signs everywhere without any permission, which resulted in things beginning to blossom again.”
“Not once. I had some bad days alright, but I never thought of giving up. I think it’s part of who I am to not give up.”
Famous for his quirky YouTube videos, Mattress Mick saw his popularity rise to the point where he was getting asked for photos on the street, doing meet and greet events, and even receiving wedding invitations. Mick puts his likeability down to his failure in the past. “The fact I’m just an ordinary guy, and I’m not afraid to admit that I have made mistakes, I think people can relate to that. I think it gives people motivation because failure is normal and to be successful you must overcome some sort of failure along the way.”
When asked was giving up ever an option, Mick’s entrepreneurial spirit awakes. “Not once! I had some bad days alright, but I never thought of giving up. I think it’s part of who I am to not give up.”
“Failure is normal and to be successful you must overcome some sort of failure along the way.”
Mick says this to be the most important characteristic for any aspiring entrepreneur to possess. “You need to believe in yourself above all else. Believe in the plan you set out and go execute it. Don’t get distracted by anything. It’s so important to do everything honestly because you’ll get far by being honest with people.”
Mick looks back on his career in business, which started in the 1960s with great fondness. However, he has one or two minor regrets about his adventures. “I think if I could go back I’d adopt technology earlier because back then I didn’t realise the power it would have on business. I also got ahead of myself and had too many shops at the one time. I should’ve just had two or three and really concentrated on them, definitely not eight.”
Despite having no plans to retire anytime soon, Mick wishes he was, “20 years younger to further develop the brand”, and so he “plans to establish an exit strategy because I have to be realistic with my age”.