The founder of Foundr Magazine, Nathan Chan has experienced his fair share of ups and downs in business. Here are his six steps to business success.
When Nathan Chan had difficulties getting work in his field of choice, he decided to create his own business rather than throw in the towel.
The end result is Foundr Magazine, a publication that has gone from strength to strength as it’s grown an international readership of entrepreneurs.
For Chan, the success of his business means he’s not only had first-hand experience in the game but owing to the subject of the magazine he’s had the opportunity to work with some of the most successful businesspeople from around the world.
For these reasons, we were keen to ask Chan what he considered to be the most important steps someone can take in creating their own business success.
Whether creating a product or offering reliable service, Chan recommends business owners focus on consistency in order to build trust with your clients or customers.
It’s consistency of approach that he believes is a foundational part of Foundr’s success.
“I started the magazine six years ago when we published one magazine edition at the middle of the month, and we have never missed a shipping day.
“Every single month, without a shadow of a doubt, we will publish that magazine edition.”
Chan’s subscribers can therefore rest assured they’ll receive the product they’ve paid for like clockwork.
“We take this same level of discipline for all other areas of the business, whether it’s blog posts, whether it’s podcasts…
“As time goes on, if you’re extremely consistent and make sure that you’re still putting out consistent content or consistent products or consistent marketing, then it builds and compounds over time.”
A point that many new business owners overlook in favour of profitability, creating a job that you’re interested in and can remain passionate about over time is integral to long-term success.
For Chan, that means creating a business where you can enjoy your work every day.
“I’ve met a lot of people who have built successful businesses, but I’ve never met one person that’s just doing it for the money,” said Chan.
This is an important point because every business comes with its share of challenges. For Chan, it’s the passion you feel for the work that will help get you through the hard times.
“Life is too short to just do things you hate, and you’re not going to be able to keep going if you’re just doing it for money.”
When developing new ideas for content or entire products, Chan likes to focus on creating solutions that are both truly in demand and that work to solve problems.
“We’re really, really passionate about creating what we call ‘painkiller products’.
“These are products that actually solve a real problem in the marketplace.”
Chan sees many entrepreneurs stray from this approach and he’s the first to admit that he’s also made the mistake of trying to convince the market to buy something that doesn’t solve anything.
“Every time we’ve faltered is where we think: ‘Oh yeah, I’ve got a great idea. I think we should launch t-shirts for the Foundr brand’ and we put it out to hundreds of thousands of people in our community, and if we get three people buying, well, maybe that’s not something people care about.
“I think that’s really, really important for anyone that’s starting or growing or even looking to scale a business.
“It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid.”
Looking back at his career, Chan firmly believes he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without having some great mentors and advisors along the way.
It’s fairly easy to rely on your own expertise, but the fact is there are always people with more wisdom on any given topic than you, so why not seek their input?
“Building a business is ridiculously hard, so if you can find people that have walked the path that you want to walk, it’s so much easier to miss those mistakes that you’re going to potentially make if you don’t constantly get advice.”
Equally important as seeking people who can offer you the right advice, Chan is also a big advocate for making sure you’re paying them for that advice and the time taken to offer it.
“At Foundr, we have mentors and advisors that we pay for their time because their time is important.
“Why would somebody want to help you if there’s nothing in it for them?”
Once you’ve surrounded yourself with the best experts in your field, then you’re ready for Step 5.
For any challenge you’re facing, keep in mind there’s always someone out there who has solved it before you.
So Chan sees the ability to request help as one of the best ways to increase the speed at which you overcome challenges and, ultimately, realise your success.
“The way that you’re going to accelerate the growth of your business is, for every single problem that you face, it’s actually finding somebody who’s experienced this problem and telling you the solution to it.”
The last point is very much tied up with the previous two. Not only will you want to seek the best advice from the most experienced mentors, you’ll also want to hire the best team available for the task.
“If you look at any successful founder, they’re only there because they’ve had an incredible team.
“From my experience, you want to find people that have done what you need them to do at a previous company.”
In saying that, Chan also highlighted some other traits he values in his staff.
“The best kind of people I’ve found are people that are really curious – they love to learn because, especially online businesses, things change so ridiculously fast.
“I think something else that’s really important is finding people that are extremely humble; we don’t want somebody that has an ego.”