As we move into the new year I wanted to kick it off with the idea of doing everything with intention. I’ve been involved with startups and entrepreneurship for nearly a decade. Over the years, I have tried to start more companies that I can count and have had a variety of intentions behind why I wanted to start a particular company. I hate to admit that more times than not I was just trying to start a company to start a company, without really validating the longer-term business opportunity or even how passionate I was about the idea. Often times I found myself racing into a new venture after a failure just eager to prove to the world and myself that I could indeed be successful at starting my own company.
I always knew that building a startup was an incredibly hard task, however it wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly understood the power of having passion and real intention behind your startup.
A wise person learns from their mistakes, however the wiser person learns from the mistakes of others.
Ingrid Sanders, Founder and CEO of PopExpert, an online service that allows anyone to learn anything from curated experts. Ingrid has a really inspiring story in that after spending 13 years in the business world, she embarked on a year sabbatical, only to return with the passion and intention of changing the world through education.
Ingrid and I spoke briefly recently regarding entrepreneurship and having a balanced life. She believes that there are 2 very different types of entrepreneurs, and I couldn’t agree with her more. The first type is the entrepreneur who just wanted to do a business and be a founder. They may not be as passionate about the problem that they are solving and either identify a problem to solve or stumble upon a business that just works. I’ve seen this type of entrepreneur a lot within accelerators/incubators. Many of these founders literally sit around in a room trying to figure out a business that seems “fundable”.
The second type of entrepreneur is someone who stumbles upon something that they are really passionate about. Ingrid is this type. She is determined to make an impact on society by making it easier to find experts around topics of all kinds. The business model came after. It’s not a secret that building a startup is a very challenging task. It is this passion for her ultimate goal of spreading education that keeps her going each and every day.
Ingrid also believes in having intention around life, work, and play. One must understand how to prioritize in life. As hard as an entrepreneur focuses on work-related tasks, they should also enjoy life and play. Physical and mental health are incredibly important and can take a very hard hit while doing a startup. Between the sleepless nights, compounding stress, and tight budgets, an entrepreneur can become very unhealthy, very quickly. I have personally experienced this and know many others who have as well. What you realize over time is it is very difficult to sustain poor physical and mental health during your startup experience. There will always be another issue or problem, the product is never done, and you’ll never solve all your problems by not sleeping for a week; in fact, you will cause yourself more harm than anything else. There is no doubt that a strong work ethic is very important when building a startup, however you will not be able to make good decisions when sleep deprived and/or having a nervous breakdown.
Another great point that Ingrid brought up was making sure that you clearly communicate with your family and friends what you are going through. This will allow them to understand if you are not acting like your normal self, seem disconnected, or perhaps unresponsive. This is particularly an issue I have seen a lot within relationships. One of the parties is doing a startup and it begins to affect the relationship, because communication is poor, and resentment starts to build.
Startup Tips for Success
Ingrid also shared how powerful she found it was to establish routines that minimize small decision-making. For example, eating same food. Perhaps have a set menu or pre-select venue for your meals. This will allow you to create space and focus on tasks that are more important.
Particularly in the early stage of the business, company culture is incredibly important. This is a period in which you are trying to get stuff done, move at a very fast pace, and trying to survive another day. You can’t under estimate how valuable individual employees are to an early stage business. Its like planting seeds that will one day grow and become the foundation upon which the company is built upon. You must hire and manage with this in mind. Your future leaders should be coming from that early group and either way that early group will set the cultural tone for the company moving forward.
About Ingrid’s Company, PopExpert:
PopExpert is creating an online destination that makes it really easy to find talented experts to help people with their life, work, and play. For example, if you want to learn how to meditate from a top expert, you can book, pay, and experience the session all from your PopExpert account.
Take a look at the screenshots below. It’s really an attractive product.
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Here are a few experts that you can connect with on PopExpert to improve your sales and leadership skills: