Episode 31 - Entrepreneur Experience: Natalie Jark, UX and Empathy Expert

EPISODE 31

Entrepreneur Experience: Natalie Jark, UX and Empathy Expert

This episode of our Entrepreneur Experience series is very special because we are talking to Precursa’s very own User Experience engineer and designer, Natalie Jark. We talk about her transition from corporate to entrepreneurship, how to have a baby in a pandemic while building a business (without going crazy!), and find out what is the biggest indicator of success for early-stage startups. It’s a perspective you won’t get anywhere else, because only a true UX expert can bring empathy to ambition.

In today’s episode, we continue our Entrepreneur Experience series with very special guest User Experience and design expert, Natalie Jark, who is not only an entrepreneur in her own right, but who is also responsible for the gorgeous designs and workflows you’ll find in the Precursa platform. Natalie is an empathy-driven UX Designer, coach, and consultant who specializes in human-centered design and accessibility best practices on the web. She provides not only beautiful, detailed design work for her clients, but also the strategies necessary to create engaging platforms and applications that are optimized for success and that bridge both business and user goals. Our discussion with Natalie ranges from her story and how she got interested in user experience, to how to get into a user’s mindset (even if you can’t relate to the user), to how it’s possible to create an intuitive experience for diverse users with different emotional journeys. We also talk a lot about how important empathy is, not only for your users as you design and create products and services, but also for yourself as an entrepreneur. We also dive into the impact of a pandemic on freelancers and the gig economy, the difference between demographics and user personas (there is one and it’s a BIG factor in your startup success!), and we get Natalie’s insight on why most startups don’t go deep enough with understanding their user and how that can break their company. Natalie’s insight is unique, and her perspectives will help you think differently about what it really takes to create a successful startup from the very beginning. Find Natalie Jark online and on Instagram (@nataliejark), or get in touch with her via email. Check out Natalie’s recommended resources here: Nielsen Norman Group “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman Dribbble Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa: The Startup Journey on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode!  Email us with any questions or comments (startup@precursa.com). Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception to launch to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned and the unexpected twists and turns. Speaker 1 (00:36): Hey everybody. And welcome back to another episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey today. I’m continuing my entrepreneur experience series, but this is a very special episode because in addition to being an entrepreneur and we’re going to talk to her about being an entrepreneur, she is also lending her magnificent skills in user experience and user design, uh, and workflow to Precursa. So we’ve talked a little bit in the past about the importance of user experience. We are gonna talk more about this in the future. It’s in an upcoming episode, but today you get to meet the woman behind the magic is a woman who is incredibly empathetic. She gets users like to their core. It doesn’t matter what kind of application or what kind of user they are. She will get it. And she is always thinking about everything from their perspective and her, her point of view has been invaluable to us and invaluable to her other clients. No doubt without further ado, please welcome miss Natalie jar to the show. Speaker 2 (01:53): Hello? What an intro. Thank you. <laugh> Speaker 1 (01:56): Well, it’s all true. And yeah, I say it behind your back. I say it in front of your face and say it to anyone who will listen. So <laugh> well, Speaker 2 (02:02): I appreci, I love what I do. So <laugh> you, you nailed all the things that I love. Speaker 1 (02:07): <laugh> yeah. Well start, start by telling us a little bit about what you do and who you are and kind of, you know, your journey to being an entrepreneur, cuz you, you do run your own business doing UX and UI and, and everything that you’re doing for Precursa. So just tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got here. Speaker 2 (02:25): So I have always loved design and I specifically have always loved designing experiences and early on in my career, I didn’t really know exactly what that meant. I knew that I wanted to create long lasting impressions on people and help people make a difference with whatever business idea or dream that they had. But I didn’t know where that landed be. And so after I did some schooling, the wonderful world of UX design start started appearing to me and I, it was the perfect fit. So I love creating experiences, um, on digital formats. So anything from a SaaS platform to mobile apps, to websites, anything that will really create a unique experience that not only achieves business goals, but also achieves the user goals. And so my goal with every project that I work on is to be able to bridge the business goals, new user goals so that people can find success and happy customers because that’s all we really want is happy customers. Speaker 1 (03:26): Yeah. I love that. I love that. And you know, you are probably just as intimately familiar, if not more intimately familiar with Eva and Cody who we’ve talked about a lot mm-hmm <affirmative> on the podcast. How, how do you get in the mindset? I mean, even Cody are two very different people and motivated by very different things. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and you know, we talk a lot on the show and, and we encourage our users and you know, it’s a big piece of the, the initial Precursa platform and the MVP, which is doing customer validation and understand the, the perspective of a user. How, how do you do that? I mean, I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone. I’ve been doing this a long time. And so I have quite a bit of empathy for users and I can get in the mindset of just about any user mm-hmm. <affirmative> not like you, and I don’t know how you do that. And I’m, I’m curious, how do you do that? <laugh> Speaker 2 (04:19): I think a lot of people would say that you gotta just put yourself in their shoes and walk the walk that they’re doing, but you gotta take it a step further than that. You have to really think about the emotional journey. And I think that’s what a lot of people don’t, um, always consider is the emotional journey that they are on. I really take one problem at a time and look at one, one certain specific situation or scenario and say, okay, what kind of emotional response are they going to have to this based on the personality that I know. And that’s why the persona building step of the entrepreneurial journey is so critical because it really lays the groundwork in the foundation for of your future decisions. And I cannot emphasize that the most because that’s what I do. I go back to the persona and I think, okay, Eva is pretty risk adverse. Speaker 2 (05:11): Cody likes to work fast. Um, in this situation with that kind of a personality, how would this apply to them? What kind of emotional response are they going to have? And I really just dig deep into what the emotional responses are. And a lot of that comes from the empathy work that we’ve done. Empathy is the forefront. All of, all of my work. I like to say that I create empathy driven designs because all of our answers are from an empathy mindset. And it’s important that we continually revisit the personalities and just take one step at a time to be able to answer those questions. Speaker 1 (05:50): Love that. So we’ll come back to that in a little bit. You are an entrepreneur also, which is why you’re here on the entrepreneurial experience segment. So you are a little bit different than some of the people in our audience who are thinking about building a startup and, you know, have a product idea or whatever you are engaged primarily in a service business, correct? Speaker 2 (06:11): Yes, Speaker 1 (06:12): I am. Yeah. So talk a little bit about, you know, one of the things that I think is always such a great way to get into potentially building a startup is actually coming the service route, right. Which is, let me go do the work for a while. See what I learn, get, you know, make money by using my, my experience and my knowledge and my know how mm-hmm <affirmative> and then potentially turn that into a product later or maybe just build a really great consultancy, like, so just talk a little bit about, because you weren’t always a, a consultant and an entrepreneur, right. So talk a little bit about that transition and why make that transition and, and what have you learned through that process? Speaker 2 (06:56): Yeah, I mean, I, as every entrepreneurial on entrepreneur on here will probably suggest it’s hard taking that leap. It’s hard to take. I mean, even, even our potential startup owners here, it’s hard to take that leap and to say, I am going to do this and it is what I’m passionate about, but really what made me want to take the leap was that I really wanted to focus on a process and a UX, uh, specifically a UX process that I truly believed in. And I truly could execute on my own in my own way as an entrepreneur and being that I am very detail oriented and wanting, wanting to really cover all of my bases. I wanted to not be restricted by the corporate lifestyle that would restrict me in a very specific process. I wanted to be able to have a little bit of more fluidity and, um, the ability to customize things because every project is different. Every person is different, every persona is different and it’s gonna change. So I guess that’s what kind of pushed me into my own entrepreneurial journey. Speaker 1 (08:06): That was perfect. That was perfect. All right. So tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on. Like, you know, obviously we know you’re working on, so we talked about that a little bit, but like what kinds of projects are you working on or what are you working on that you’re really excited about right now? Speaker 2 (08:20): The one that I just finished that I really enjoyed, uh, was a mobile application for a healthcare startup. And the unique thing about them is that they were approaching the problem and doing product validation before even saying, we’re good to go, we’re ready to join the startup market. They were taking the right steps to actually investigate, I think is a good word, investigate if their product would actually solve a problem. And so what I did with them was look specifically at the customer journeys and we created two customer journey, examples of different emotional reactions to a specific situations, different actions that they might take within the application. And then we linked that to an interactive prototype, um, in a software called envision online, which allows us to actually go through and experience the app without having to build it out. It was awesome. And they really got a feel for what the mobile application was actually going to be. Speaker 2 (09:28): And therefore they were able to take that into product validation interviews, and actually ask specific targeted questions to potential users and get really great feedback that they can use to either say yes or no on their upcoming application of whether or not they’re gonna go for it. But also if they did decide to move forward, it was going to give them the information and data specifically that they knew need to be able to create an MVP offering that would be successful in the market for a phase one. So I loved doing all of that. Pre-work to prepare them for that step. It’s the UX research that I think a lot of people skip over right now and they don’t take the time or make the investment to actually really make sure or that their idea fits in the market, which obviously Precursa is helping people go through those steps. And it’s just, it’s so important, uh, that we don’t skip over those steps. So that’s been one of my big projects that I’ve been working on, but I’ve also been working on a lot of websites as well, and creating very specific targeted experiences through those as well, a landing page, doesn’t just have to look pretty. It can be very strategic and that’s what people don’t realize all the time. Speaker 1 (10:44): Hmm. I love that. I love that. So what would you say is the most important lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur Speaker 2 (10:52): From a personal perspective, it’s learning how to give yourself and understanding that things might not always go to plan and you might not be able to do it all and to be everything that you want to be, but you’re doing it and you are taking one step forward every single day and make creating, I should say, creating the life that you want and making a difference in other people’s lives. So if you give yourself that grace and understanding and know that it’s not always gonna be right, I think you’re, you’re gonna survive as an entrepreneur. <laugh> Speaker 1 (11:34): I Speaker 2 (11:34): Love it. Mostly at least <laugh> you might go crazy at times, Speaker 1 (11:38): But no, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I Speaker 2 (11:41): Dunno. Speaker 1 (11:43): All right. In, in your opinion, what do you think is the most important personality trait or characteristic that someone needs to have to be a successful entrepreneur? Speaker 2 (11:54): The first things that come to mind are perseverance and patience. I mean, I think you have to have a lot of patience because it doesn’t all just come at you at once. I’m three years into my business now, and I feel like I’m just now starting to pick up momentum, but there was a lot of low periods where I wondered to myself, what the heck am I doing? Why am I doing this? Like, I should just go back to corporate and make a steady paycheck and get healthcare. I mean, that was, that was very prevalent. When I was pregnant. Things just went crazy and haywire during that time during a pandemic. And I was like, what am I trying to do? Trying to hold my, my own, wait here and hold myself together and putting it all on myself when I could be having somebody else do it. So there’s a lot of patience. I think that you have to have knowing and trusting that it will come together. If you have enough courage to push forward. And if you believe enough in your idea and what you’re doing and that you want to help people, Speaker 1 (12:55): I love that answer. So tell us about a time when you faced a challenge as an entrepreneur and, you know, if it’s resolved, what did you, what did you do to deal with it? If it’s, if it’s still not resolved, what strategies are using to deal with it currently? Speaker 2 (13:12): I mean, I hate to come back to the, the answer that I’m sure a lot of people are giving, but the biggest challenge was COVID and the pandemic hitting us as hard as it did. I was involved in some contract deals at that point where I was working for other corporate, uh, places. And the first people to be laid off were the freelancers into the contract workers. And I totally understood that I had no bitterness against that because after me, they were furloughing people. So, you know, it, it was very unfortunate and I was like, yeah, I get it. This is the risk that I took as an entrepreneur, but it was a huge challenge just trying to figure out, okay, what do I do from here? And as a young entrepreneur, trying to figure out finances, trying to look at, you know, the overall picture of where can I cut things, will the PPP loan work for me? Speaker 2 (14:06): Can I, how can I get forgiveness later? Can I get forgiveness later? It was a huge obstacle that I had to navigate. Just trying to figure out will this work, but also kind of navigating the emotional side of that as well. I think that there’s a huge emotional piece that came with that challenge because you, you kind of feel like a failure to some extent you feel like you’ve spent all this time and money and energy into this very specific goal at you are really gun ho about, and now there’s nothing. And now literally people are not able to hire you or take you on. And so navigating that from an emotional perspective and saying, no, I am still worth something. And I am still worth everything that I give people. It still means something it’s just not right now. That’s again, where that patience comes in. Speaker 2 (15:00): It’s understanding that I might not be the right solution for people right now, but eventually I will be. And for now I have to do what I can to just hone my craft and help people understand better what I do so that they will be more likely to use me in the future and, and be very patient. So I think that there’s been a lot of challenges in, in the entrepreneurial journey for me, but that’s probably the biggest one that I’ve encountered in my three years so far, and to figure out how to be a mom at the same time of being an entrepreneur. <laugh>. Yeah. Speaker 1 (15:35): So it’s interesting because you, you know, you talked about how understanding the user’s emotional journey is really important and you probably understand and are more uniquely suited to the work that we’ve been to doing in Precursa simply because you have been there, you know, whether it’s COVID and understanding the emotional journey of, oh my gosh, am I gonna be okay and all that? Or, oh my gosh, I just had a baby. Like, how do you balance all of that? And you want to work, but you also wanna spend time with your baby cuz your baby’s gonna grow up so fast. Right. Speaker 2 (16:10): Exactly. Speaker 1 (16:11): And I guess, I guess my question is how has the last three years of building a business and all the challenges, you know, because those aren’t small things, right? I mean, we all went through COVID, but we didn’t do it pregnant and we didn’t all do it with a baby at the end. And you know, like for me, I mean most of, of time when I’m in my business, I’m just kind of going along, doing my thing and sometimes I’m selling and sometimes I’m working and the rest of the time I’m getting actual work done, you know? I mean, so how, how has that, how have those experiences given you more empathy for people who look like you? Speaker 2 (16:52): I am constantly allowing myself to relate to the other, the users that we’re creating for. I’m constantly looking at Eva and assessing the traits that she has and looking and seeing if I have similar traits. And if I do like I do in certain areas, I would say that I am, I am a bit risk adverse. I do not. I, I do a lot of research and um, look at data. And before I really take that leap, which is totally Eva. And I guess I look for specific traits within the users that I might be able to relate to because the more that I can connect to them, the more I can give a true response and I’m not going to be able to connect to every single person. I really don’t connect with Cody, but I know people who do, yeah, I know people who do. Speaker 2 (17:44): And so I think I relate them to somebody who maybe I know pretty well. And it gives me more insight to really dig deeper into that emotional journey and give them the empathy that they deserve, um, in this journey so that we can create something that literally fixes their problem. Cause all we wanna do is fix problems. Aren’t we all problem solvers and some way <laugh>, I mean, that’s all that I wanna do is be able to fix people’s problems. And that’s actually a pretty, pretty solid trait for, um, my own personality and life and business. But I think it’s just that it’s trying to find those, those points of relatability, whether it’s in myself or within somebody that I know personally or closely so that I can give them more empathy. Speaker 1 (18:33): Yeah. It’s funny. Cuz you said, you know, you know, somebody who, who is that person you try and you know, you sort of relate it back to them. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, that’s what we’re trying to get people to do with a user persona. Right? I mean, mm-hmm, <affirmative> the whole goal of a user persona is that it is a human, you know, I mean it’s, it’s a representation of, or maybe a, a conglomeration of different traits, but it is a person that could be a real person that has a background and experience and a life and a family and right. And so, I mean, Speaker 2 (19:03): This is why we give them a picture. It’s why we give them a name. It’s why I encourage every person to print out a picture of their persona and frame it on their desk. Like they would a family member or a child Speaker 1 (19:15): <laugh> oh, I love that. I’ve never encouraged anyone to do that, but I’m gonna start <laugh> Speaker 2 (19:20): Yes. Just print out that picture and just be like, oh Hey Cody and Eva, <laugh> all the time. Speaker 1 (19:26): That’s hilarious. So what do you think it is that it stops people from doing this process and how, how would you encourage other entrepreneurs that, you know, I, I see so many entrepreneurs who don’t do this process. Right. And that’s partially why we’re building Precursa because they get half a million dollars in or a million dollars in or several million dollars in and in and they go, I don’t understand. What’s not working. It’s like, well show me your ears or personas. Let’s start there. Show me the customer validation you did before you ever started what, right. Like exactly. That’s what we’re trying to solve for. But you know, a lot of people who I talk to are like, well, I don’t see anybody else doing that work. Is that really what it takes to be successful? So how would you, you know, how, what would you say to someone who’s asking that question and encouraging them that this is the process Speaker 2 (20:18): First off, I would say that it’s not that people aren’t doing this process. They just aren’t doing it fully. Mm-hmm <affirmative> they are used to the standard marketing techniques that are like, what’s your target demo? And a lot of people come to me and they say, oh well it’s males and females between 25 and 35 years old. And they probably are married, but maybe they’re not. And they give me those baseline demographic information and they think that they have their bases covered. They think that they’ve done the work or they think that they’ve come in and done a few questions or, you know, they’ve asked a few questions to their friends or their relatives or even somebody at work or somebody that might be using the app. And they think, oh, I’ve done. I’ve asked around they, they are confirming that I’m ready to go. Speaker 2 (21:12): The problem is, is that nobody’s taking it to the next level in terms of user personas. They’re not taking the target demographics and applying an empathetic mindset to it. And that’s really what I think separates our, the, you know, people who are really prepared for the startup journey and the people who are not the people who are not, are just doing that target demographic and saying, okay, here’s basics and let’s move forward. I know who my people are, but the people who are really investing into what are the motivations of my users, what are they discipline? What are they frustrated by? I’m not talking about, I have to apply a, a brand, a place that they shopped every single person. Yes, it helps. Right. Right. But like let’s dig deep and find out emotionally what frustrates them? Is it frustrating to them that they can’t spend enough time with their family because they do X. Speaker 2 (22:06): Yeah. Well, how can we solve for X so that they can spend more time with their family and be happier? Yeah. The ultimate goal here is to make them happy so that they will want to use your product to move things forward. And so they’re not taking that extra empathetic step to, and applying an empathetic mindset to deeply know their personas and know their people before they invest in their product. And then when it comes to the questions, they don’t have enough data and information from the right people. I think that when they ask those initial questions to the people, just kind of like getting a gut check basically for themselves, they’re coming at it from a very biased perspective. Mm-hmm <affirmative> <affirmative> and they are not, they’re getting a biased response. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and that biased responses are not going to get you the right answers that you need to be able to determine whether or not it’s going to be successful to a large group of people. Not just your close-knit people. Speaker 1 (23:05): Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s a great point. You bring up about bias. Can you, you help us understand, help the listen audience, understand what, what is it that creates bias and how can you start to notice it and remove it when you’re asking questions? Like, what is that sort of, is there magic about it or some tool or advice or, you Speaker 2 (23:28): Know, I mean, yeah, there’s a there’s ways that you can ask very specific questions that leave things open ended, and doesn’t relate it back to you. I like to guide my clients through a process where it’s, it’s not about you. It’s about them completely. I don’t want you to relate this to you very much. There are, there are instances and places where you can say, this is where I relate to it. But, um, not in the questions, not in, not in the way that you ask the questions you wanna ask, very open ended questions that say things like, how do you, you envision working with something like this, would you eventually use something like this? Or would you not, um, also not bring in your opinion during their answer, our job as stakeholders and as, as business owners, potential business owners and startup owners is to really be listeners and to be quiet, quiet listeners, to allow for them to speak, to allow for their, their opinion to come forward. Speaker 2 (24:39): And it’s, it’s a big thing of respect too, because you truly want their opinion. You respect their opinion because it’s going to, their opinion is holds a lot of weight to what you are about to do. It holds a lot of weight to the time, money and energy that you’re about to put into this entire solution. And so you really don’t want to sway them one way or another. So really crafting a strategic interview and not just asking questions as they come to you, as far as like on a whim that you think you’re really passionate about. Like, I really encourage people develop a script, develop those top three questions that you need to ask them to be able to get your data points answered and get some really quality answers. But you know, not as many people will wanna do that, but I, I really do think that it removes the bias out of the situation and helps you kind of get the data that you Speaker 1 (25:30): Mean. Yeah. So open-ended questions. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and its almost, you said, you said, you know, don’t bring your, don’t bring your passion. Like this is not the moment you’re not selling, right? Yes. You’re not. You are not getting them in enrolled in your solution right now. Mm-hmm <affirmative> what you’re doing is learning. Like you said about them, about the problem, about what challenges, frustrations, what their, you know, like you said earlier, their emotional journey. Yes. Because that’s, what’s going to inform what’s really part of your solution and what’s really not right. But hundred percent. It’s not about the solution when you’re learning about the user, right? Speaker 2 (26:10): Yes. There’s a time and place for you to be passionate about what you do and what you’re offering and why you’re doing what you’re doing. But user interviews are not the time and place. And the, it is the time and place for you to get the answers that you need to make your solution better. And people don’t always re realize that, yes, you’re getting validation out of this, but you’re also getting so many new ideas that is going to make things so much better as well. Speaker 1 (26:35): <laugh> this is totally from left field. How do you think being a user experience expert has changed how you are as a mom? Speaker 2 (26:46): Ooh. I have a lot more empathy for my son. <laugh> yeah. I have a lot more. I pay a lot more attention to his experience, how he experiences the world to some extent, like I have a lot more empathy for the way that he experience is the world. And I guess like it’s teaching me to pay a little bit more closer attention to how he is learning. And I don’t know, that’s a really great question, but I, I love that being a user experience designer, I’m able to really focus more into situations and experiences. Um, I feel like I’m not as passive in, you know, not only things that I experience online, but in the world, I’m not, um, I’m not letting things pass me by. I look at, I look at the way things are structured in the grocery store. I’m like, that’s a bad user experience. <laugh> um, I have better. I have better. And I, I mean, it has nothing to do with digital, but I’m you just, it forces you to pay more attention Speaker 1 (27:48): Yourselves. Speaker 2 (27:49): Yes <laugh> yes. You know, it, it forces you to pay attention to more things and to be more attentive and to just have this empathetic mindset always at the forefront. Speaker 1 (28:00): Have you ever thought about being like an organizer, an organization person, like cuz empathy and user experience apply there? Right. I mean, I’m thinking about my closet right now. Not my side of the closet, but David’s side of the closet. Speaker 2 (28:13): Yes, absolutely. I actually used to be a huge planner like riding in a planner. Yeah. I, I loved, I, I had everything, every tiny little thing and organized into its own little column with its own little task and due date and all, then that’s where the grace comes in because you know, you lose that. Eventually I did at least good on anybody who can keep a really strategic planner and you know, stick to it. Um, maybe that’s what motherhood has done to me though, too. I think that kind of went hand in hand, but yes, I, I think organization and creating a quality efficient, happy experience while, or being organized, um, is important. <laugh> Speaker 1 (28:57): I love that. How has it been? Cuz we do have a lot of our users are women, a lot of them are moms or thinking about being moms, new moms, how has being a mom changed your perspective on being an entrepreneur and vice versa? Speaker 2 (29:13): I think that overall speaking to women who are wanting to be entrepreneurs and startup owners and, or even, you know, grow their way up into a corporate position where they’ve hold some kind of leadership, I encourage people to know that you can’t, you don’t have to be just one or the other. You, you can be a mom and a business owner and each one kind of teaches you about the other, you know, like we were saying, me being a user experienced designer, um, gives me a different perspective on how I am a mom and being a mom, learning how to goodness, uh, organize myself enough to stay on top of meals and sleep times and wake windows and yeah. Sickness and all of the things that go along with keeping Cal, my son on a schedule goes right into the efficiencies and productivity levels that I need to have as a business owner. Speaker 2 (30:14): I think that when I became a mom, I transformed as a business owner as well. I had shift my processes. I had to shift my way of thinking about certain things in my business and really honestly look at prioritizing myself and my energy and my time. And I had to really take a look at myself and say, okay, well I’ve got so much work right now that which I’m very blessed to have, but I have so much work right now that I really need to have the time to focus on that work. Yeah. Even though I love having my son and being with my son and being a stay-at-home mom while I’m being a business owner, I had to say, I need help. I need help. I need to send Cal to an in-home daycare two days a week so that I can really focus on passion. And my passion is user experience and being able to deliver things to my clients that make a difference in the world. And that really helps me become a better mom at the end of the day, because I’m giving back to myself and allowing myself that creative space and energy. It’s Speaker 1 (31:19): Interesting because what I’m hearing is, is a message that I am always trying to convey to my entrepreneurs. Right. Which is when anything in your life changes, you, you go from full-time work to being an entrepreneur or you go from, you know, being an entrepreneur without a kid to being an entrepreneur with a baby, right? Like yeah, anytime you change a variable, your normal is now different mm-hmm <affirmative> and you have to find a normal inside of the new construct that exists in your world. Right. And yeah. So I love what you’re saying, which is you weren’t saying I had to get back to who I was before. It’s like, no, I have, I have to figure out who I am now and how to make all of that work. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and your priorities do change. Right. I mean that you have a baby, your priorities change. Speaker 1 (32:11): And so now it’s like, okay, baby is way up there at the top. Yeah. Self care and taking care of your self sort of floats back and forth between right above that and right below it to be it’s a, what you got going. Yeah. And then business or work or whatever. And I love that, you know, you are proof that this actually can work, but you do have to be, you have to be honest that it’s different. It’s not gonna look like it did before. You’re not ever probably for a while gonna get back to a pace or a volume that you were at before mm-hmm <affirmative> and when you do it will still look different. So I just, I, I love this conversation because your message of grace and patience and empathy mm-hmm <affirmative> is something that is almost easier to apply when talking about other people and very difficult to apply to our own lives. Speaker 1 (33:10): Yeah. And as much as we’ve talked about user personas and how you have to get into the world of your customer, empathy and grace and patience for sell first mm-hmm <affirmative> because this isn’t gonna go fast. Right. I mean, I don’t know, you, you know, you said you’ve been doing this for three years and you just started to feel like you found a momentum. Yeah. That that’s not uncommon even in the startup world. You know, I, I did a, we did an episode a few episodes ago where I spent 30 minutes basically venting and ranting about how the 10, the 10 X and five years expectation from VCs is what actually kills a lot of companies. Yeah. Because they aren’t ready for that level of growth. It’s taking gasoline and pouring it on dirt, you know, cuz they don’t even have a fire going yet and hundred percent. Yeah. And so I just, I appreciate that message. And I, I think, you know, anyone who is in our audience who, you know, whether you can relate to Natalie’s situation or not, where can you give yourself grace, right. Where can you be a little more patient with the process and how can you be present in the moment of that process, which is where patients and empathy and grace really come from? I think so Speaker 2 (34:29): Well, and I think when you’re present in, in the moment you are going to be the most productive, you are going to be getting the most important things done. And when you’re present, you know, everything kind of comes full circle for you. And yeah, you’re able to start gaining that momentum. But if you’re constantly looking too far forward, I think it’s a great thing to look forward, to plan and believe me, I’m a planner, but if you, if you look too far forward and you don’t recognizing, um, and give the present the respect it needs, uh, then you’re gonna miss all the, all the things that could be helping you move forward actually faster. Speaker 1 (35:10): It’s that paradox. Right. Which is, yeah, I’m going to focus for this period of time on only this mm-hmm <affirmative> and I’m going to do the at, at the, at the expense of everything else because I’ve planned that it almost seems like, well then if I’m not multitasking, I’m not getting as much done. But the reality is every time I do that and I give myself that room and that space where I, you know, I time block a lot. And so when I do that in my calendar and I say, this hour is for this task, it never takes me an hour to get that task done, which is so crazy because I’m like, oh, now I have an extra like ESP, I always do this for budgeting too. Right. Like I do a lot of fractional CFO work for people. And every time somebody says to me, okay, we need a budget or we need to a forecast or whatever, I’ll be like, okay, I’m gonna set this hour and we’ll see how far we get. And then I’ll know how much more time within 20 minutes the thing’s done. Cause I love doing budgets. Right. Yeah. And I am so relating to what you’re saying. And I, I just want our listeners to start to feel where could I apply that for myself and how could I, how could I bring that into my life? And what kind of a difference would that make? So if you could give entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would that piece of advice be? Speaker 2 (36:32): Take the time to do it right? Hmm. That’s probably, that’s, that’s definitely one of my biggest pet peeves of, um, trying to get people, um, set up the right way is that they don’t always wanna take time to do it. Right. Take time to create the personas, take time to ask the questions. It will save you so much time and money later because you will have, um, the answers that you need to feel confident because all we really want is confidence. And how do you build confidence without taking the time to, you know, really, really know what’s coming? Or what, what is, you know, this applies to planning too, like yeah. Plan out your budgets, plan out your, the future plan, do an activity where you think about everything that this product could be. Yeah. Because it could transform what you’re actually doing. Yeah. Don’t get stuck in your own ideas and not have the room and the full flexibility to change. Speaker 2 (37:41): Um, because you know, I guess that would be my second piece of advice. And because the more fluid you are and the, the more that you listen to others and listen to what the problem actually is and how you might be able to solve it with your idea, allow your idea to transform and change as your users change. And as you know, the market changes as the world changes, it can change on a flip of a switch. Like we’ve always all realized, but I swear it will save you time, money in sanity if you do that. But then also driving forward this idea of grace and patience and knowing that it is going to take some time, no matter how much of Cody you are, um, wanting to move fast and get her done. I respect that. I respect that in people who, who can really push forward and get things done, but don’t skip steps along the way. Yeah. I love that. And give yourself that grace to know that, you know, it’s not always gonna go to plan, but that you can still do it. It’s just gonna take some time and patient. Speaker 1 (38:42): I love that. That’s so great. Okay. I’m gonna switch gears a little bit. I’m gonna give you a statistic and then I want you to tell me what you think about it. Okay. Okay. Okay. 42% percent of startups fail because no one wants what they’re building Speaker 2 (39:00): A hundred percent. <laugh> <laugh> I mean, a hundred percent agree with that because like we said earlier, people aren’t asking the right questions to see if it’s something that they actually want or let’s go back to the biased questions that they’re, they’re asking the wrong people. And they’re asking family, friends, coworkers, people who will give them the answer they want to hear. And they’re moving forward with that gut reaction and spending way too much money, way too much time insanity on all of that. And only to end up in failure, which is, which just makes me sad. It makes me very sad for all. And I’ve experienced it firsthand with, you know, people who are close to me, they they’ve gone too fast or haven’t figured out the right solution to the problem and thought their solution was everything and invested in a lot of money and it’s, it’s not, and it’s it’s failed. Mm. So again, take the time to do it right. <laugh> Speaker 1 (40:02): I love that. All right. So we TA we talked a, we handed a little bit at this, but if you could do a job other than your own, what would you most like to try? Speaker 2 (40:15): The first thing that came to mind was an astronaut, but that’s oh, I love that. I mean, but Speaker 1 (40:21): I don’t, I’ve had, I’ve had people who are in tech be like, I’d love to be a Marine biologist. <laugh> yeah. Speaker 2 (40:26): I mean, I think, I think that’d be really cool. I also just watched the Martian last night though. So I’m, I’m all about, you know, space, race. Um, but no, I mean, I, I think, I, I think that that would be my kid answer. Like, I’m be an astronaut, but I think a teacher, a teacher, I don’t know if I would be able to handle all the tiny little youngins and, or the high school attitudes or whatever, but I have a passion for teaching and teaching people, the right things and how to do it the right way. Maybe it maybe going back and doing like a college level course on UX design or something along those lines and teaching people the right way to do it and involving that empathy side of things. So I love Speaker 1 (41:12): Teaching. I love that. I love that. And you would be a great teacher. You’d be fine about that. Thanks. Um, okay. What’s one question you wish I had asked you and how would you have answered it? Speaker 2 (41:24): The question would be from an administrative perspective as an entrepreneur, what do you struggle with? Speaker 1 (41:32): Mm, yeah, I like that Speaker 2 (41:33): Because sure. I’ve got a full workload of client work and everything that I have to do to be able to prepare for that. But we don’t really talk about the behind the scenes of actually being a business owner. <laugh> because it’s one of the 10 million hats you have to wear. Yeah. And actually, I I’ve talked about this before, but I think there is something very valuable about being able to wear a lot of hats as an entrepreneur. Mm. Um, I encourage people to wear the hats and to explore every corner of their business, but to also know when to ask for help. And I’m terrible at that. I, I told you I’m three years, my business, and I just now hired a bookkeeper because I’m like, I can’t keep track of my finances and I feel very lost in all of it. And so I finally hired a bookkeeper to help me stay on top of it. Speaker 2 (42:25): And I should have done it years ago. I should have made that investment years ago. But from an administrative perspective, like it is very hard to balance the inbox, the calendar, um, the finances, the project management system that you use to hold all of your tasks to create your contracts, to create your proposals, to wrap up a project. Yeah. There’s so much that goes on beyond just the project that people just don’t realize. And they’re all, it’s, it’s essential if you wanna be a good business owner and an ethical business owner in my perspective. So that would probably be the, the one question that we didn’t address yet. Speaker 1 (43:05): Okay. I love that. Yeah. How much time do you spend every month on QuickBooks? I mean, the, you know, these are the kind of things that like you have to, I think being an entre entrepreneur takes getting real honest with yourself who yeah. And, and knowing your strengths, knowing your weaknesses and being willing to say, do I recommend you outsource everything right away? No, because you need to understand all the different aspects of your business to know what success looks like. And to know, you know, if you can’t read a P L outsourcing your accounting, just as an opening for someone to scam money from you, you know what, what I mean? Speaker 2 (43:43): Yes. That’s why I encourage people to wear the hats. Yes. Be proud of the hats that you wear as an entrepreneur first, so that you fully understand and know what’s going on in your business and then know when to ask for help. Speaker 1 (43:57): Yeah. I love that. It’s, it’s perfect advice. I really, really love that. All right. Cool. So are there, are there any resources, like books, podcasts, anything like that, that you would recommend for people who are in our listening audience who are, you know, entrepreneurs and, and, you know, interested in user or interested in starting up or anything like that? Speaker 2 (44:19): You know, I wouldn’t say in terms of, um, user experience, there’s only a few, what I would consider are credible and quality resources out there right now. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, the one that I go back to in default to a lot is the Norman Nielsen, uh, group. Okay. And Norman Nielsen. So Norman, that’s his last name? <laugh> nor it’s Norman and Nielsen, but, uh, he wrote the book, the design of everyday things, and that was kind of the precursor of usability and UX. It was UX before UX was a thing, and it was talking about, you know, making things more usable in our everyday things. It’s a big yellow book and it’s got like a backwards teacup thing on it, or not teacup like tea craft on it. But, uh, it is a great book and, and they have developed it into a whole UX research, um, resource online. Speaker 2 (45:17): So if you go to Norman Nielsen, group.com, uh, they have ridiculous amounts of credible resources for you to learn from, and then a bunch of different certifications that you can also take to learn about, you know, how to do credibly, to do, how to run a user interview, how to do research. Um, oh, I love that. Yeah. So it, it’s a really, that’s one of my favorite resources, but, you know, I just, I would encourage people to be curious as much as possible go and find designs that you love. I have a, I have a book of things that I’ve found in print that I love from a graphic design perspective that kind of helped shaped my perspective on design and how I design and what things look like. I bookmark a bunch of different resources online. I, you know, look around at dribble and other design art graphic design resources that help develop my design perspective in the way that I do design. You find what you like. I highly suggest people to just go and be curious and find different designs that they like so that they can mold their own style and be their own be, be somebody different in the don’t. Don’t try to be like everybody else develop your own style and that’s, what’s gonna help you set yourself apart too. Speaker 1 (46:39): Oh, I love that. Okay. Good. All right. So we’ll make sure we list all of those resources. You just called out in the show notes. If listeners have questions or they wanna get in touch with you, or they’re like, Hey, work on my project with me. How, what is the best way for them to do that? Speaker 2 (46:53): I, yeah, I would email is probably the best right now. So it’s just Natalie Natalie jar.com. Uh, you can also go to my website, Natalie jar.com and learn a little bit about me or just reach out and I’m happy to, you know, give you an idea of what my, what kind of work I’ve done as well. Uh, also on Instagram at Natalie jar and yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at you, that’s where you can find me. Perfect. Speaker 1 (47:21): Well, thank you so much, Natalie, for joining us today for sharing your story and thank you for being someone who is so understanding and empathetic of users, because you have really been the difference in a lot of the decisions that have gotten made over the last six to nine months for Precursa and the, the, it will be better and it will work and it will, it will solve this album because of that influence. So thank you so much for who you are in the world. You Speaker 2 (47:53): Are so welcome. I am so happy to be a part of this amazing journey with you guys and you know, to be doing this work with you. So thank you. Speaker 1 (48:01): You’re welcome. All right. Y’all so that’s our show for today. Uh, as always, if you have questions and if you want to refute something or argue with me, or if you wanna be on the podcast, shoot me an email startup@precursa.com. As always happy entrepreneuring, and I will see y’all next time. Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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  • Denver, Colorado

  • startup@precursa.com

Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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