Ways to Start

Ways to Start

Two particular conversations and podcasts I keep thinking about revolve around starting things. Each one has a simple brilliance in them and both come from successful entrepreneurs: Nate Hybl of Gusto! and Nat Turner of Collectors.

Nate Hybl’s story is one of reinventing himself, following his heart, and having the fortitude to build around his passion. In the most recent Atlanta Story interview, the topic of how to reinvent yourself was brought up. Here, a former Rose Bowl winning MVP quarterback learned post-football career a desk job was not for him – he had to find something else. How did he do it? How did he find his passion? The answer was more simple then one would guess: he started with what consumed his mind. Where he spent time thinking was a leading indicator of his passion, which he ultimately obsessed over. In Nate’s case, that was food: healthy, life-giving food. Today Gusto! has twelve locations with the plan to open another 12 over the next 18 months. Nate is a rare entrepreneur who was cognizant of where and how he thinks but also contains the drive and ambition to be obsessive over a problem.

The next example of starting comes from Nat Turner. Listening to his podcast with David Novak, one can observe Nat thinks deeply about what and how to start. His career evolved from building websites to software to now transforming the antiquated collectibles industry. The energizer-bunny motor on Nat makes it clear he’s going to build and his cogent thinking identifies what he’s passionate about. The brilliance from the Novak interview is displayed in the next iteration of starting. Instead of hustling people down to pitch them on an idea, go one evolution further and build a deck or even one turn further and build mockups of the idea. This is specifically helpful in enterprise SaaS. By working towards the core of a product (no matter how nascent), an entrepreneur reframes the conversation around whether the idea is good or bad with the prospective customer and immediately gets both parties together on the same team solving a mutual problem. This is one of the most clever ways to start I've come across. First, it reduces valuable cycles and time with prospective customers, investors, advisors on whether the idea is good and instead focuses on the product that is solving a real problem, which in turn narrows in on who to hustle down for meetings. Quickly, the problem will be deciphered on whether it is large enough. If it is not, better to know before writing software and investing money. If it is, then a new believer and potential customers is added to the broader, overall cause and movement, and one step further is taken on the company journey.

These are two themes around starting that have percolated in conversations and their common sense resonates. Where is mental energy being spent? How can one reframe the conversation from “do you like this idea?” to “here is the start of a potential solution, poke holes in and let me know what else you’d like to see.”

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