Helping Founders Have an Impact

Today I listened to a successful founder share his vision for doing good through entrepreneurship. He’s been an entrepreneur for almost twenty years and has exited his company. Now he wants to help early founders make a positive impact on society through their companies. His strategy for doing this is great, and I think it will be valuable to early founders.

Purpose matters a lot to this founder. It’s a big part of what made him successful. I can’t wait to see the positive impact he has on other founders and, in turn, the impact they have on society!

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You Have to Lose to Win

I listened to an early-stage founder, John, describe how he wanted to emulate a successful founder, Bob. John excitedly recapped Bob’s journey. John was planning to follow a similar path to success with his young company. But I noticed that John’s recap began where things had begun to go well for Bob. I know Bob’s story well. He endured years of painful failure. As I listened to John, I realized he didn’t know the full story. He’d only heard the happy parts.

I told John about Bob’s failures. He was surprised. He’d thought that an entrepreneurial journey that was only up and to the right—a string of successes—was conceivable.

Most successful people have failed miserably, but they kept at it. Failure is usually an important part of accomplishing anything great. What you learn from failure often creates the foundation needed for success. Put another way, you often must lose to win.

If you’re looking to do something great, prepare yourself for failure. Instead of letting it get you down, look at it as an education that took you one step closer to success.

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An Atlanta Real Estate Agent’s Perspective

I caught up with a friend who’s been a real estate agent in Atlanta for over fifteen years. She shared some of the things she’s seeing.

  • A steady flow of out-of-state buyers are visiting Atlanta on weekends specifically to look for homes.
  • A large percentage of the offers she receives for her listings are from out-of-state buyers.
  • She sold a house within the last twelve months to an out-of-state buyer who paid all cash.
  • Single-family homes priced below $450,000 are generating multiple offers and regularly selling for over ask with extremely seller-friendly terms.
  • Demand for entry-level housing is massive, but there’s very little supply. This problem is likely to persist.

It was interesting to hear my friend’s firsthand perspective. Atlanta is an amazing city, and lots of people are moving here from other states. As it continues to attract more people, my friend will continue to observe the same things.

Affordability and quality of life are big parts of what makes Atlanta a desirable place—a place that people want to put down roots in and call home. Housing is key to both. I’ll continue to keep a pulse on the Atlanta market.

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Weekly Reflection: Week Seventy-Nine

Today marks the end of my seventy-ninth week of working from home (mostly). Here are my takeaways from week seventy-nine:

  • Inbox zero – Another successful inbox-zero week with my main inbox. Still working on getting there with my secondary one. The goal is both inboxes at zero at the end of every day.  
  • Third quarter – Q3 was pretty busy. I noticed things picked up significantly in September. Overall, the quarter was productive. I think the beginning of Q4 will be a mad dash to get things done before the holidays.
  • Talking – Had some conversations with people close to me that were great in ways that I’d aimed for. I get a lot out of seeing things I’m thinking about through the eyes of people with different perspectives.

Week seventy-nine was very busy. So glad it’s over, and looking forward to unwinding this weekend.

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Which Is Better, Many Specialized Tools or a Few That Multitask?

I use many digital tools every day. There’s a specific tool for everything I need to do. I don’t complain because it’s better than doing tasks manually.

I had a chat with a founder that got me thinking about something. Is it better to create solutions that help people use a variety of tools effectively or to help them consolidate by using one tool that does the job of many tools? This founder thinks it’s not a good idea to ask people to change tools: the friction would be too high because people don’t like change. It’s better, in his opinion, to help them make the most of their current tools.

As I’ve thought about this more, I’ve decided that the right answer for me boils down to time. What will allow me to do more with the time I have? Most things I do daily don’t need to be perfect; I just need to complete them. The path that leads to more productivity is the one I’ll go down.  

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Entrepreneurial Itch

It’s a great time to be an entrepreneur. We’re in a period of change when people are looking for new solutions to old problems. A lot of capital is being deployed to early-stage companies. Over the last few weeks, I’ve discussed this dynamic with founder friends. I’ve been asked if I have an itch to get back in the game. Translation: am I itching to start another company?

Reflecting on this a bit, I recognized that I’m an entrepreneur at heart. As a kid I mowed lawns, sold bales of hay (another story for another day), and sold mix CDs. In college, I sold automotive parts to friends. Post-college, I grew an e-commerce automotive parts company (after a stint in corporate America).

Entrepreneurship changed my life trajectory. It allowed me to met amazing people, changed how I think about the world, and helped me become more self-aware. Without it, I’m not sure where I’d be. After experiencing this incredible journey, I find myself in a different place. I want to help others interested in entrepreneurship change their life trajectory. I want to help other people reach their full potential through entrepreneurship.

I’ll always be in the entrepreneurial game. What that looks like will continue to evolve over time, but I plan on staying in the game as long as it will have me!

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What Keeps You Up at Night?

When I meet founders, I like to know their background. It helps me understand how they arrived at the problem they’re solving. In a recent conversation, a founder told me he’d turned down an opportunity to be one of the first hires at another company. That opportunity was valued at over $1 billion a few years later. When I asked why he’d turned it down, he said he wanted to work on something that keeps him up thinking about it all night. He has no regrets because he isn’t passionate about the problem the other company is solving.

I immediately got what this founder was saying. Starting a company isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a multiyear journey full of extreme highs and lows. Having passion about what you’re doing is essential. It helps you push through the exhaustion after years of grinding and low points when nothing is going right. Passion is a main ingredient of entrepreneurial success (and of success in life, for that matter).

So, what keeps you up at night?

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A Space Ripe for Disruption

For the past few weeks, I’ve been putting off finding a service provider to transport something a long distance. I need a specialty transport company. When I started looking, I remembered why I put this off. I’ve been looking at providers online, and all of them have outdated websites and require a phone call to get a quote. I have a short list of companies now, but I still need to carve out time to call each one and then schedule the job. The customer experience hasn’t been great so far, and I expect this to continue until the task has been completed.

This industry is an entrepreneur’s dream. It hasn’t embraced technology although it has a huge market and many customers are companies who will do repeat business. They’re looking for a better alternative.

This industry isn’t cool or attractive from the outside looking in, but I think a savvy founder could build a massive business disrupting this space.

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More on the Rise of the Individual Investor

A friend read my post about individual investors becoming more of a force. We had a good chat about it today. Here’s my takeaway:

Investor knowledge gap – Just as early-stage founders have gaps in their knowledge about raising capital, lots of investors have gaps in their knowledge about deploying capital into early-stage tech companies. They see what’s happening, want to participate, and have the capital, but they don’t know where to start. This is beginning to change. Information is more readily available. More platforms are making it easier for would-be investors to find and participate in tech deals and connect with and learn from other investors. As more individual investors learn about and gain access to investment opportunities and find their community, they’ll start deploying capital.

Great chat today with my buddy. We’re both looking forward to the rise of the individual investor.

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The Rise of the Individual Investor

I’ve been interested in personal finance and investing since adolescence. I’ve always read about them as much as possible, and I even crowdsourced financial advice when I got my first job offer. Usually, I was in the minority in my circle of friends. Finance and investing just weren’t things that many were interested in or cared to talk about. Over the past eighteen months, that has changed drastically. Investing and finances are regular topics in my various friend groups.

Consumer interest in investing and personal finance will continue to expand. Information is more readily available, fees have been virtually eliminated, and access to platforms is easier. This is leading more people to take a hands-on approach. They’re learning and applying their knowledge. I think this will be a positive trend in the long term, but there may be a period of adjustment in the short term.

Public investments like the stock market are most accessible, and that’s where many consumers have recently gotten their feet wet. As they get more comfortable investing, I suspect interest in investing in private companies will grow. If that happens, entrepreneurs will likely see more willingness among their friends and family to invest in their early ventures. This will have pros and cons but, I think, net out as positive. Founders will have access to more capital to build businesses. Consumers will be able to invest in private companies that serve their communities and hopefully see financial gains that they can reinvest in more founders.

I think the next decade or so will be one of change and disruption like nothing we’ve ever seen. Investing will look radically different in the future. I’m excited to watch the rise of the individual investor and how their capital will change the entrepreneurial landscape.

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