By Matt Badcock
BEN NUNN is more likely to be found speaking to suppliers in China than sitting on his sofa watching TV after he’s finished training with Dagenham & Redbridge.
Or working on his property business rather than catching up with the latest boxset.
In fact, the 27-year-old says he hasn’t watched telly properly for two years as he pours his passion into the businesses he owns with partner Samantha.
It all started when they returned from travelling across Asia, Australia and New Zealand – a trip that saw Nunn take a break during Boreham Wood’s Conference South promotion season before returning to help them over the line – and read a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Within an hour they’d signed up to a seminar about property investment and development. A week later, their second business was born – a men’s grooming company called Benny’s of London – after attending a course on how to sell on Amazon.
They source the products from China, work with packaging and design companies, import the goods and sell across Europe and to the US market.
“We sort of fell into it all,” Nunn tells The NLP. “The thing that started it off was reading a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. That literally led us to the property course and changed the mindset of working for yourself rather than for someone else.
“The biggest thing is, everything is going to be a risk. The idea of the book is that you want to create a freedom. You want to become wealthy but you want to become wealthy in time, so you can do what you want, when you want.
“I read a book a month and listen to two or three audiobooks a month, all on mindset, time management – everything.
“I get up early and work before I go to football. I work as soon as I leave football. I don’t really watch telly. I just think if I watch two hours of a programme, it’s two hours I could be working. That’s the mindset I’ve got. I’m lucky I’ve got Sam, who is on the same page as me otherwise it could be difficult.
“She’s got another business herself, which is a clothing brand called ‘Pretty Lavish’ and is doing ridiculously well. So it’s crazy at the moment.”
With a promotion push with John Still’s Daggers also a big priority, Nunn knows he has to get the balance right.
On days off from football he is often checking on the properties they have, mainly, in the north-west.
Nunn began his career at Boston United and played for the first team before their double relegation out of the Football League.
He moved onto Garry Hill’s Rushden & Diamonds, had a season at both Cambridge City and Bishop’s Stortford before joining Chelmsford City for just over two seasons.
Five years at Boreham Wood followed, including two in the National League before joining Still’s side in the summer.
“I was completely honest with John and said what I’ve got going on and how much time it takes up,” he says. “He’s been good with me. I’ve had to miss one or two days training since I’ve started and, as long as it doesn’t affect games, he’s been fine with that.
“I respect that when I’m at football, I’m not working. It’s probably why the balance is working because of John – with his discipline I can do both.”
Nunn believes other footballers can do both too. In the volatile football industry, where a full-time career can be ended by injury or even a manager’s decision, Nunn says it’s vital players think about life after the game.
And he wants his story to encourage other players to give it a go themselves.
“A lot of players who have played at a good level have got savings,” he says. “They’ve probably got enough money to do it themselves but they don’t know where to start. I’ve been working with a few players in property development.
“Say they have £10,000. We give them ten per cent return a year and that way they can follow us for the first couple, get interest on their money and once they’ve got an idea of what they’re doing they can go off and do it themselves.
“Because we’ve got so much knowledge under our belt now, I really want to help players who have got money but don’t know what to do. They leave football and they’re trying to replace the income they’ve lost. They start from scratch with a coaching job or go into trades and labour.
“If they’d been clever with their money when they had the money, say they’d picked up a couple of houses a year for the last five years of their career, they probably would have replaced their football income. Then when they come to retire they’ve got the same income for the rest of their lives.
“Being completely honest, I don’t know what help the PFA give players at higher levels as far as managing their money and knowledge of investments. I’ve not played at that level so I don’t know what help they get.
“But I do know there’s a lot of players who have come down from that level who are on their last couple of years playing and they don’t know what to do. They’re starting their coaching badges and trying to stay in that way because football is all they know.
“Whereas if they’d been clever five or six years before, they could have gone onto so many other things without having to stress because of mortgages and kids. It becomes a lot more difficult to do anything like this when you have those commitments.”
Nunn’s aim is to grow his and Sam’s businesses so they become self-sufficient and he can retire by the time he is 30.
But on the pitch there are big goals too, none smaller than the Football League place Dagenham are chasing.
Last Tuesday’s draw with Aldershot saw them slip to fourth in the National League table. But in a tight division that is crying out for someone to take command of it, Nunn is convinced they have the talent to achieve their goal.
“We have got everything we need – manager and squad – to win this league,” he says. “And win it early. We’ve only lost two games so far. But we need to convert the draws into wins and get consistency.
“If we can get a good run under our belt, it’s for us to win. But we can’t just talk and nothing happen. We’ve got to actually do it on the pitch. John is saying every game, it’s our time to grab it by the scruff of the neck and really kick on.”
Travelling, changing his mindset and working for himself has impacted Nunn on the pitch too.
“It’s all helped me as a person, knowing what I want and being more focused,” he says. “Mentally you’re clearer with what you want to do and you become more focused and to the point.
“When you go to training, you’re there to train and work as hard as you can. When you leave, you work on the business and work as hard as you can – rather than drifting into football, going home and sitting on the sofa.”
Check out Benny’s of London at www.bennysoflondon.com or to speak to Nunn about property and development, email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday.