Nathan Chan, Foundr & CEO, Foundr Magazine
This is a short episode of around 20 minutes. In this episode I answer your top 5 most popular questions.
As I’m hearing from so many of you in our community, I’m finding a lot of commanlities in the questions that I’m being asked. Since I’m on this journey with you as an entrepreneur working towards building a successful business, I thought it would be fun to share with you what I’m learning and how I can further help you tackle these common problems and mix things up from our regular schedule.
Full Transcript of Podcast with Nathan Chan
Nathan: Hello, and welcome to “The Foundr Podcast.” My name is Nathan Chan, and I am your host speaking to you from Melbourne, Australia.
I thought I’d mix things up today, and just share with you guys a lot of questions that I’m getting at the moment. I know a lot of you out there are listening to this podcast because you either wanna start a business, or you’ve just started business and you’re on the journey of trying to grow that business. And after doing at least 150-plus interviews, I’d just like to share with you some of my findings and answer some of the consistent questions that seem to come up when I speak to you guys.
So this is me just mixing things up, just spitballing, and going through some frequently asked questions that I often get asked from our community. So our first question was from a reader that said, “Right now, I’ve set my goal to start my own business and leave full-time employment within 12 months, but I’m struggling to stay on track and on schedule with the various tasks I need to get done in order to reach my goal. What advice would you give me, Nathan?”
Well, first things first, I really like the way that you’re approaching how you’re gonna leave your job. You know, when I first started “Foundr,” I’m a very risk-averse entrepreneur. A risk-averse, not even an entrepreneur, just a risk-averse person, that I didn’t wanna leave my job without, you know, having a decent amount of income and replacing my income from my job because that would be extremely stressful. And for a long time, you know, it took me at least a year to build “Foundr,” the magazine, up to a point where I could leave my job and was making enough money.
So, first things first, that’s a brilliant question, Philip. I think setting yourself a goal is great within 12 months. And I think the next step is working out exactly the amount of money that you need to be earning within your business so you can leave your job. So once you’ve got that worked out, I think the next part is forming a habit, a habit that you work on your business every single day. This is something that Ed Dale taught me, actually, and it’s to dedicated 30 minutes every day on working on your business.
So everyone has 30 minutes in their day. And make it a habit like you brush your teeth. Every day, you spend 30 minutes working on your business. And when I say 30 minutes working on your business, that’s not researching stuff or, you know, changing your website or…it’s not doing a Facebook post. It’s literally doing things that will move the needle to get you forward to the goal that you’ve set yourself. So that could be working on your products. You know, one thing even Pagan taught me was you want to be spending as much time as you possibly can, like 80% of your time should be spent on marketing and products. And that’s the way you need to spend your time.
So that would be my advice. And one thing I’ve found is, from all the people that I speak to, you know, the best way to go about it, if you wanna leave your job, is to just form a consistent habit and show up every single day. It’s actually one of my favorite quotes by Woody Allen. I’ve mentioned this in the previous podcast episode. It’s, “80% of success is just showing up.” It takes time. So remember to be patient. It takes time, and you will get there. So I wish you all the best and, yeah, that’s how I would approach that one.
And next question is from a lady named Lisa. And she said, “What I’m struggling with is fear of failure. I make and sell fused glass jewelry, and I have my first trade show in two weeks, and I’m worried about failure.”
So, you know what, Lisa? I find that a lot of people who are actually telling me this exact question, that I actually even admit it either. But at the end of the day, they send me…people send me all sorts of ideas, business ideas, what do you think, and I think, deep down, that is what, as entrepreneurs, especially when you’re first starting out, is you’re afraid of. You’re afraid of what your friends and family will think of you. And you’re afraid that all this time that you’ve spent were being wasted, and you’re afraid that you’re gonna lose all this money. And, you know, worst-case scenario, you have to declare bankruptcy.
So my thoughts on this one is, everyone goes through this feeling. You know, I’ve been there. Pretty much all the entrepreneurs I go through, they feel it. It’s a human inclination to feel that fear. And what I suggest around tackling this is…there’s a few action items. So action item number one is just understand that the obstacle is the way. You know, from my journey as an entrepreneur these past…it’s coming close to two years I’ve been doing “Foundr” and all these stuff. You know, I’ve always had these roadblocks, and in the end, they’ve always worked out for the best. You know, a great example was when I was sued by one of the biggest business magazines in the States. I had to change the name to “Foundr.” You know, at the time, I was so distraught, and I thought that I was gonna lose the business and all my hard work would go to waste. But in the end, it ended up all working out. So just understand that whatever roadblocks that you have, and I don’t want to call it failures, I call them roadblocks.
And Ryan Holiday wrote a brilliant book called “The Obstacle Is the Way,” and it shows all these historical case studies of all these crazy, famous, historical people that have found success. But in order to find success, they had to have all these roadblocks and obstacles. So that’s action item number one, understanding that the obstacle is the way.
Action item number two is just take action. You know, you can’t just be paralyzed by fear. The more you think about, you know, worrying about this stuff, thinking, “Oh, what if it doesn’t work, I’m looking for this, you know, guaranteed win, you know, guaranteed way that this business is going to work,” it just doesn’t get you anywhere. So, my advice is just to take action. Just don’t worry about it, put your head down, and just keep hustling. Go to this trade show and rock it.
Action item number three is…this is one of the biggest success hacks I know, and that’s hanging out with extremely successful entrepreneurs, other entrepreneurs or people that have achieved the kind of things you wanna achieve in your business, and in your life. And I think you’ll find that once you start hanging out with these people, telling them about your problems and issues, you’ll see that they’ve been through it, too. And, you know, you are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. I truly do believe that. I’m very, very blessed to speak to the people that I do on a daily basis, and I have a ton of mentors that help me, and, you know, my life has been totally changed since I started this journey of “Foundr,” and your knowing nothing to knowing all the knowledge that I have acquired now. I rapidly accelerated my learning just from hanging out and speaking to so many game-changing entrepreneurs.
Action item number four. This one I stole from Noah Kagan, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. He’s from AppSumo. And it’s, go to a coffee store and ask for a discount. And the reason I think this is so brilliant is, as entrepreneurs just starting out or being afraid of failing, we have to prepared to…you know, when we put our business, our product or service, out at the marketplace, we have to be prepared to ask for money in return. And asking for a discount, it’s actually really tough, like, I get it. And I have no problem asking for a discount now because…you have this fear and it just…I don’t know how to describe, but just do me a favor and do it.
And the last one, action item number five is just be present and understand that, honestly, what do you have to lose? At the end of the day, if things don’t work out, think of all the, you know, skills and the lessons that you’ve learned, that you’ll apply to your next business or the next thing that you work on. You know, very single thing that you do is one step towards mastery. And that’s what I learned from Robert Greene. It takes time. It really, really does take time, and you just have to understand that, you know, life is too short. And me, personally, I don’t wanna live a life of regrets. So just go for it.
Okay, so the next question that I’ve constantly seem to see come up is getting more leads, this marketing piece. You know, one reader, Kenneth, he said, “My biggest problem right now is getting good leads for my business. I’ve tried many outfits and many ways, but with no success.” And this is something that comes up constantly, where people who have started something, but they’re not getting any traction. And this is something that I was experienced, actually, to be honest, when I left my job about six months ago. So I left my job and found it was…it was going okay. I was making enough money to survive, and pay the bills, and pay my rent and stuff, but I really needed to step things up. And what it came down to, honestly, with this whole marketing piece, is you wanna find a couple of really good…if not a couple, but at least one really, really good customer acquisition channel.
And how do you find this customer acquisition channel? It’s simple. Everything is a test. Good marketing, to do good marketing, it comes with two forms. You need to be able to track it and measure it, and then also, you need to approach it as a test. You use a small amount of money, whether that’s paid marketing, or use a small amount of your time to invest in trying a channel.
For example, Instagram has been a massive, massive channel for us in the past 10 weeks. It’s made our business explode. This is one of a few channels that we’re currently using. I only found this channel because I was testing, and I could track the performance of this channel. So when it comes to the marketing piece, getting leads, growing your business, trying to scale, it comes back to just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. I hope that answers your question, Kenneth. So just keep trying. Whether it’s social, whether it’s Facebook ads, whether it’s Google AdWords, whether it’s SEO, you know, there’s many different forms, paid or free marketing. You just got to keep looking for these channels.
So this one’s from Alex but comes up a lot as well. He’s a college student studying exercise and wellness, and he’s trying to start a supplement company, and he’s looking for a mentor, but he’s current one is so busy, as most successful people are, and it’s making it hard for him to start his own project as he can’t find anyone else that has experience like him. So he asked me, “What advice do you have on finding more mentors, someone that will spend the time with you.”
First thing’s first, you have to serve first and ask later. I know it might not seem that way, but you need to find a way that you can try and make it a mutually beneficial exchange. I know you probably don’t believe that to be true, but, like, when people come to me and they say, “Hey, Nathan, I’ve got these questions, this and that,” I always openly help because that’s just me. But at the same time, there’s only so much I can give before…I can’t spend so much time. So, you know, it’s all about the law of reciprocity. Brilliant, brilliant book called “Influence” by Robert Cialdini. But you have to remember, serve first, ask later. Use the law of reciprocity where…help that person first. You know, how could you help me? You could leave reviews for the magazine. You could leave reviews for our podcast. You could tell your friends about the magazine and cc me in on an email. You can offer to help me however you can around, you know, running a blog post for the site, doing some research on an article. There’s so many things that I need help with that you can help. Anyone can help.
So that’s the first piece in finding a mentor, just putting yourself out there. The second piece is just asking. Honestly, just ask and see what happens. You might be surprised the amount of people that have spent a lot of time with me because I simply just asked for help, and I made myself vulnerable. Vulnerability can be very, very powerful. And when I first started the magazine, when I first started “Foundr,” I went out and asked a lot of people for help. A lot of people didn’t want to speak to me. They weren’t interested. They didn’t write back to me. But a lot of people did, and to this day, they’re the same people who still help me because the entrepreneurial world is community that we’re a part of. It has a massive pay it forward model. Yeah, just ask. You would be surprised.
And then, I guess the last piece is, if you are really, really enthusiastic, and you want this bad enough to make it work, and I know I say that a lot, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t possess, but once you do possess this drive and determination that you want it bad enough, that level of enthusiasm that you have is extremely infectious. And if you can show that to this person that you want help from, that you want to be your mentor, and don’t even say, “Can you be my mentor,” just say you wanna catch up. Like, you have a few questions, you know, you wanna hang out and, you know, understand their story. And, you know, tell ’em where you’re at. Just understand that that level of enthusiasm that you have can be extremely infectious, and people will wanna help you will be more inclined to help you if you can display that. So I hope that helps answer your question, Alex.
And the last question, this one came from Paige, and she said, “You know, my biggest goal right now is figuring out how to know when it’s time to outsource, and how to be certain it’s the right move.” She knows sites like Elance will be super powerful, but I’m not sure when exactly I need to scale and maintain consistent quality of work because she’s a freelancer, and she builds websites, does digital storytelling, graphics, videos, etc., etc.
So when it comes to outsourcing, there’s a few things. I’m gonna break this down into a two-part question. One, and this comes up a lot, how do you get all your freelancers that you’re outsourcing to run the magazine? You know, we have a graphic designer in India. We have a audio/video guy in Hungary. We have, you know, writers all around the world. We have an editor in the U.S., and all of these people are absolutely brilliant. What I do, would it to be possible? These people are 10 times smarter than me, and, you know, I cannot say how grateful I am to be working with these A-players. These guys are absolutely brilliant. Tate’s our editor. He’s an A-player. Karan [SP], you know, he’s now my good friend, and he’s a brilliant graphic designer. He does everything for the magazine, and everything, all our graphic design. He’s brilliant. And then, Balas [SP] from Hungary, brilliant AV editor, love working with him. He will be editing this podcast right now.
So how did I find these people? You find them by just using a platform like Elance-oDesk. And then, I guess, there’s another one out there called Design Hue [SP], which is really good as well for logos. But, I guess, the next piece of the puzzle is you just put up a job ad and you literally interview. You know, I went through a lot of different interviews. A couple of tricks is, one, always get examples of their work. Two, you know, don’t be intimidated by just putting up a job ad. Put up a job ad and make sure at the end of the job ad or in between the job ad, you ask, what is your favorite movie and why? Because it helps you eliminate at least 90% of the people that apply that just do a copy and paste job. And then just do interviews, you know. Go for a process. Get on Skype with them, you know. Work with people that believe in your vision. Tell them where you’re going, and tell them you’re looking for any job ad. And when you speak to them, if you get them on Skype, tell them you’re looking for a long-term business relationship.
And then, lastly, you know, see their work, see the quality of their work, see if it’s a good fit. Try them out, you know, see how you go for the first, whatever. Do a test project. And then, lastly, is just, yeah, just give it a go. Like, you know, try it out. You can try, you know, a very, very small project and see if it works, and just get a feel for working with other people because as your business grows, you need to grow your team. I found that outsourcing and utilizing freelancers and contractors to be very, very useful and powerful for us to move quite fast. A lot of people say to me, “Nathan, how do you get all of this stuff done?” Well, it’s simple. I outsource a lot. And, you know, these guys are super talented, super A-players, and, you know, I paid to get them to do awesome work. And that’s how I’m doing all this. So I hope that answers your question, Paige.
So, yeah, look, that’s it for me, guys. I hope this has made for an interesting mashup of, you know, our show. You know, if you did like this little change, please let me know. Shoot me an email at [email protected], and I’d love to hear from you because I will keep doing this, you know. I’m just having fun. And, you know, this whole journey, I’m not a super successful entrepreneur yet, and I’m learning, just like you, try to learn as much as I can. And if you want me to keep sharing more of this gold, more of the things I’m finding, and more of the things that I’m finding other people are struggling with, I’m happy to keep doing these. So, yeah, I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email. You know, visit the contact form on our site. And, yeah, hope you have an awesome day, and thanks for taking the time to listen to this podcast.
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