Episode 32 - Entrepreneur Experience: Shoshanna French, Founder of Simple Spirit


Entrepreneur Experience: Shoshanna French, Founder of Simple Spirit

In this installment of our Entrepreneur Experience series, we are joined by Shoshanna French, intuitive coach and CEO of Simple Spirit. Shoshanna’s forte is helping entrepreneurs build businesses that are in alignment with their vision and passion and getting out of their heads into their knowing. Our conversation ranges from the three questions to ask yourself to find out if your idea is “good”, to the three traits that are essential for successful entrepreneurs. It’s a fun and engaging conversation you don’t want to miss!

In this episode, we are joined by intuitive coach and founder of Simple Spirit, Shoshanna French, who shares her story about how she started her business (“I was broke!”) and explains what intuition is and why it’s important when building a venture. Shoshanna’s goal is to cultivate wildly successful leaders through the practical power of intuition. She is a keynote speaker and coach to NFL leaders, Broadway and televsion stars, million and billion dollar companies, CEOs, and business professionals, and she generates unpredictable and profound results with leaders looking to develop a deeper connection to their purpose.

In our conversation, Shoshanna answers the question about whether entrepreneurship can (and should) be “easy”, talks about the key to unlocking the best experience when building a business, and reminds us what is important when creating something that didn’t exist before. She shares the importance of passion and inspiration in building a successful business and shares the three most important questions entrepreneurs need to ask themselves to uncover whether their idea is “good”. She also talks about whether there is such a thing as a “bad” idea, or if there’s something else behind what we typically call a “failed” company.

Shoshanna’s insights are incredibly valuable, and you’ll not only find yourself inspired, you’ll get some good belly laughs in too!

Follow Shoshanna French online at Simple Spirit, on Instagram (@shoshannafrench), or on Facebook.

Check out Shoshanna’s recommended resources here:
Black Girl Ventures
“Focus” by Daniel Goleman
“Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
“Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin
“Influence” by Robert Cialdini, PhD

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 (00:37):
Hello everybody. And welcome back. This is Precursa: The Startup Journey today. I’m so excited for today’s guest. She’s one of my favorite people on the planet, and she has been along for the ride for so many of my entrepreneurial journeys. So it’s really, really fun to have her here today. So today we’re joined by Shanna French CEO and founder of simple spirit. So Anna’s not only an entrepreneur herself, but she also works with entrepreneurs using their intuition to help guide their businesses in the right direction. Her goal is to cultivate wildly successful leaders. And she’s worked with NFL coaches, Broadway actresses, founders of million and billion dollar companies with clients in 26 countries. So without further ado, deeply welcome miss Oana to the show. <laugh>

Speaker 2 (01:27):
That was some great hype.

Speaker 1 (01:29):
Woo <laugh>. Why don’t you start by just telling us a little bit about yourself, how you became an entrepreneur and, uh, what you’re working on now. Hmm.

Speaker 2 (01:41):
So how I became an entre, newer was actually you and I were in a group together. It was a money group <laugh> and I was broke. And in that group, they said, if you wanna not be broke, you need multiple streams of income. And so the coach said, start a business. And the only point of reference I had for starting a business was my dad. He owned motorcycle a shop when I was growing up and brick and mortar businesses are hard for those people who listen to your podcast who are brick and mortar owners. That’s hard work, high overhead, and you work a lot of hours and yeah, for sure. Um, it was a service based brick and mortar. So I knew I didn’t want to do that, cuz that looked hard. My dad still now, even so many years later works for long hours.

Speaker 2 (02:24):
So that was the start. And there are lots of things that interest me. Cynthia knows this about me cuz we’ve known each other almost 20 years, uh, a long time, a long time, but there are a lot of things that interest me. There is very few things that I don’t find intriguing or worthy of some kind of conversation. So when I started a business, I just took the thing that was easiest <laugh> and decided to turn it into a business. So that’s kind of how it started. And then, you know, the last will be 17 years in January since I started the business and the last 17 years have been quite an interesting journey. What I’m working on now is really, um, working kind of honing on what kind of honing in on what kind of entrepreneurs I love working with. And what I find is that the entrepreneurs that I love working with are the ones who have a really big vision.

Speaker 2 (03:15):
And it’s not that they’re unskilled. They have, they tend to have a lot of different skills, but it’s, um, they lack trust in some way for how to either grow this thing that they’ve had for a while and, or get this new thing that they’re creating kind of off the ground. I really love helping entrepreneurs get reconnected to that inspiration that had them start the, the journey in the first place. And so I’m working on that right now. I’m working on a book right now. Ooh. Yeah. And that’s interesting. And as all entrepreneurs know, work, laugh balance all the time. <laugh> which I am not great at Cynthia. And I definitely have that in common <laugh>

Speaker 1 (03:57):
I don’t know what you’re talking about. <laugh>

Speaker 2 (03:59):
I love what I do. If I didn’t love what I would, what I did, I would probably whine a moan about it, but I mostly am like, oh, I should probably do something else. Then work. Although work is so fun. <laugh> cause my work is people and I love people. So what are you gonna do? Okay.

Speaker 1 (04:17):
So you said something that I think is really interesting what you said he didn’t wanna do it the hard way. And so you wanted to do the thing that felt easiest. I know I hear this all the time from people. Is there some magic or some secret to figuring out what is the easiest path for someone who wants to be an entrepreneur and can it be easy? Does it always have to be hard? I mean, we always hear, especially in the startup world, the trough of sorrows and it’s so hard and you have to, you know, like all the things and I just I’m exploring this topic and I’m curious what you would tell entrepreneurs about that. Should it be easy? Should it be hard? You, is there a right answer?

Speaker 2 (05:03):
Oh, this is like, we’re getting deep and philosophical up here. <laugh> for the, in a, in a morning, we’re talking in the morning right now. The thing I worked out this morning. So philosophically speaking hard as a judgment, hard and easy, both are a judgment. So in my experience, if you don’t love it, it will feel hard every day. So to me, especially with entrepreneurs, I work with it’s. How do you get reconnected to that initial inspiration about your business? I know this thing happens cause I’ve seen it. I mean, doing the work I’ve done for so many years, but meeting so many entrepreneurs who, I mean, in all kinds of industries, people who provide consulting between businesses, people who provide, you know, provide consulting to, uh, corporations and to education and then all the way to people who, you know, have a network marketing company that they’re growing.

Speaker 2 (06:00):
So I mean, broad, broad, broad, for sure. It is not, there’s not any one certain kind of entrepreneur, all entrepreneurs kind of have this wild idea, whatever that wild idea is. I mean, my wild idea was to not be broke <laugh> and I have been broke for a, a long time when I started my business. So whatever that wild idea is, I don’t wanna work for somebody else or I’m inspired by this product or whatever. But there’s this moment when you get really inspired by the idea that you have mm-hmm <affirmative> whatever that idea is. And then the moment following that you ask yourself how, and what I find is that when entrepreneurs go from the like, why the inspiration and the what? Yeah. To the, how that switch between those two things, they move from the creative part of their brain. What I call intuition.

Speaker 2 (06:48):
But some people call the creative part of their brain. They move from the creative part of their brain, into the part of their brain that now needs to comb through what have other people done in this industry. What are other people who’ve been successful, done? What are all the books I can read? Is there a class I can take? And when we stop trusting that kind of initial inspiration and we get into like how it gets hard, it’s always hard in the how, especially when you’re or trying to create the steps to how to do it. It, and that’s when it gets hard. So for my own journey, all the places where I went from inspired to how, like I have to figure this out, there’s something wrong, you know? Cause now you have this whole thing called, okay. So I have this idea, like I was talking to an entrepreneur and she, this was 25 years ago.

Speaker 2 (07:43):
She had an idea that no one was really selling high fashion clothing online. They weren’t 25 years ago. Yeah, sure. So she started a fashion line and they sold exclusively online. She was one of the first actually her business just went public, which is pretty amazing. That’s cool. Yeah. And so when she started it, that was the idea. And she went into the how, and every person she talked to were like, that’s, you’re crazy. That’s never gonna happen. Like no one buys clothing online. They can’t tell what size they need to buy. Yeah. And she just knew that wasn’t true. And so she stayed really inside of the inspired, how for a really long time. And then she said, this point came when she had 20 employees and yeah, some, some of whom were doing the online stuff and it was like, oh wow. Like our overhead now is kind of doubled.

Speaker 2 (08:32):
And, but our, but our sales haven’t what do we do? And she moved into the like, now I need to fix a problem. Instead of, I need to create something that’s never existed before and fixing the problem, put her into a different mindset. And it became like, now I have to climb up this big hill. Yeah. Huge mountain. And that made it hard. Yeah. And when things get hard, we, we move out of our creative brain and she said, I’m lucky that I had at the time a mentor who was telling me stop doing that, you know, kiss, keep it simple, stupid. Like she said, I had a mentor. It was like, Hey girl, kiss. Like, like stop making it so hard. Go back to the part where you have the clear vision in your mind. And you’re really inspired by that. And then ask yourself, how do I bring that vision into fruition?

Speaker 2 (09:24):
Let go of how do I fix that? My overhead has doubled, but my sales haven’t. Yeah. And when she moved out of the solving of the problem and back into her inspiration, she said, it came like she called a, she calls ’em lightning bolt. She like, it came like a lightning bolt and I knew exactly what I needed to do. And that’s how that goes. Yeah. That’s how it goes. I mean, we could talk about all arenas, whether it’s entrepreneur or science or people who are creatives, it doesn’t really matter. But in those inspired lightning bolt moments. Yeah. It’s Glenn and Doyle and her book and tame talks about it. She calls it when you have those kind of inner wisdom, knowings. Yeah. Whatever word you wanna use. When she moved back into that space, when entrepreneurs back move back into that curiosity space, they can literally create anything. So your initial question, which is like the, does it have to be hard? Well, it doesn’t have to be hard or easy. Yeah. It does take a lot of effort though. And there are times when business takes no effort. And there are times when business takes lots of effort, but whether or not it’s hard seems relative.

Speaker 1 (10:31):
Yeah. So you, you said something interesting with the example that you gave, you talked, talked about how she had this vision, this like wild, crazy idea. And she heard a lot of no and

Speaker 2 (10:46):
So much, no, so much. No, there’s this.

Speaker 1 (10:48):
Yeah. And, and my question has to do with, as somebody starting something is hearing no an indicator or is hearing no something for you to overcome. How do you know the difference between something that is a great idea, but is just so different that people can’t quite grasp it yet, versus when it’s a market telling you there’s nothing here, don’t spend your money in time. Like, is there a difference? I,

Speaker 2 (11:17):
Well, all I can think of is really, really big examples of how hearing no is not an indicator of a poor idea. <laugh> <laugh>, you know, I think of Walt Disney before he created Disney world in California, nothing like that existed, you know, uh, carnivals existed. Yeah. But a place that didn’t move every week did not exist. Like a solid place like that. I think of Elon Musk, he had that idea to create a, a need to be a luxury electric car. No one had that idea. I mean, Prius that’s what existed. Yeah. Right. And so those are all really, really big examples. But my client who owned the clothing line, that was an idea. It’s lots of people have ideas. So I would say that this for me is like that fine line between the moment when you, when you, you get, as far as you can get with the idea you have, and then you don’t know what to do next to me, it’s like, that’s when you ask yourself the question who around me is here in support of the idea, but has more knowledge of the, how than I do.

Speaker 2 (12:29):
And all the, I mean, almost every truly successful entrepreneur I’ve ever met. And that goes, like I said again, in a wide range of success brings to them brilliant people, brilliant people. I was in a room with John Mackey, the former owner of whole foods once. And he was talking about, you know, his idea. And he started to buy up all of these small health food stores in Texas. That’s where he is from. And, uh, people were saying to him like, there are not enough hippies in the world for you to make a go of this. Cuz people like thought of him as a hippies <laugh>. And uh, and what he said was healthy food is not just for hippies dumies and he was right. The market bearing the idea you have is not an indicator of a good idea. Sometimes what I’ve seen happen.

Speaker 2 (13:23):
I knew a woman who started a company in Switzerland and it was a concierge company. It was kind of like what we would think if you combine DoorDash, Uber and Instacart, right. Kind of that common. It was all three of those things. She started it as a student in Switzerland and people there were like, uh, we just walked down the stairs and there’s markets, why would we walk down? <laugh> and it wasn’t that the idea was bad. It was the market wasn’t right, right. So she ended up coming to the United States, got married, had kids. And then all of a sudden she looked around her and there were, you know, all of these services offer. Yeah. And she was like, oh God, it like, it was a good idea. It was the wrong place. It was the wrong place. And so I think sometimes if you are a, if you’re a startup and you have this wild, amazing idea and you just keep hitting the wall and all of us know as entrepreneurs, we know that dang wall, it states.

Speaker 2 (14:13):
But when you hit the wall, the question I think to ask yourself, is, am I doing this in the most complicated way possible? Or is there a simpler way I could do this? And I think sometimes what we find is, you know, do I have to do it all at once? No, probably not. I mean, to share a little more of my journey this year, I went from one to one to one in many I’ve been working on, you know, creating group per programs, which anybody who listens to your show that is a coach or a consultant gets this. And it was just like too many, 20, 20 brought 400 new clients. And I just couldn’t, couldn’t do more one-on-ones than I was doing. But I did this thing, which I, I just misread something, which is, I dropped a lot of my focus on one-on-one and really only focused on group.

Speaker 2 (14:58):
And it trunk, my, it just shrunk my business this year. Not intentionally the way that I wanted to, but, and so now I’m having to reevaluate, right? Like the market wants these group programs, however, don’t drop the, the part of your business. That’s really solid and grows and turned to something completely new. Right. Yeah. But I didn’t, I wasn’t asking that question when I was checking in about the, the inspired idea. I was only checking in on the inspired idea. I wasn’t looking at the whole business, the whole picture. Yeah. The whole, and that, that happens for a lot of us entrepreneurs. <laugh> we’re looking at the one thing. So that’s what, what I would say too, is if you’re finding yourself, uh, you know, as a startup or really any business and you just keep hearing a lot of nos you one, are you asking the wrong people?

Speaker 2 (15:47):
Mm-hmm <affirmative> cause again, you all, all entrepreneurs need support, whatever that looks like, whether it’s an mastermind, like other business owners to support you or other experts. Yeah. You know? Yeah. Experts in their unique positions that are not in competition with you. People who can help you figure it out. But the other reason that you might be hearing nos is sometimes there is a no inside and you, you just have to look at, you have to look for yourself. It does this feel like a no. And then sometimes there’s an adjustment. Right. I kept hearing no all year about something, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I thought it was contractors. And so we hired new ones and let them go. And like all of that, no, what I was getting the know about was removing my focus from the part of my business that has been successful for 16 years. Yeah. But that’s how that goes. Sometimes, you know, sometimes you’re like, oh, oops.

Speaker 1 (16:37):
<laugh> okay. Well, what you’re saying is interesting and I, I, I want to tell you a statistic and then in the context of what we’ve been talking about, I want you to tell me, what should we learn from this? Or what do you think about this? Okay. So crunch based did study a few years ago where they postmortem a thousand startups. And what they found was that money was not actually the biggest barrier to a startup, making it, what they found was that only 33% of startups failed because they ran outta money. 42% of startups fail because no one wants what they’re building.

Speaker 2 (17:14):
That’s super interesting. 42%,

Speaker 1 (17:17):
42%, no product market fit.

Speaker 2 (17:20):
Huh? Well, I will say this, which is, and you know me <laugh>, I’m like, I’m like, who did they? Who did they ask? Where does that statistic come from? Right. Were they talking to venture capitalists? Were they talking? You know what

Speaker 1 (17:35):
I’m saying? Like, were they talking? They were talking to founders and founders.

Speaker 2 (17:38):
Yeah. Mm-hmm <affirmative> okay. Got it. So this is

Speaker 1 (17:40):
Founders and looking at their books and all that kind of stuff. Okay. Got it.

Speaker 2 (17:43):
So they were looking at a, you know, a thousand founders and 40, you know, 420 of them said that the reason why it failed is because they couldn’t find a market fit. I, you know, the here’s one thing I will say, and this may sound like I’m going back on what I said a minute ago. However, what I’ve seen with founders sometimes it’s like the, the big, why, so the vision, right? Yeah. So the vision of the woman I was talking about earlier, the fashion line, Colleen, it wasn’t about the vision. Like her vision was not about looking online and seeing this fashion stuff. Right. That was not the vision. What her vision was, is a world where busy people could have beautiful clothing high-end fashion without having to cuz she’s in this little tiny town in Northern California. Right? Yeah. And it was people like that.

Speaker 2 (18:35):
Didn’t have to drive down into San Francisco in order to shop for beautiful things as an example. So her vision was kind of like John Mackey, his access was anybody could have access no matter where they live access to food that is sustainably grown and without chemicals, et cetera, et cetera. Right. Yeah. Yeah. All of those things being the happiest place on earth, I mean, you just think of all these different visions, right? So the vision is not this place in California. Like the happiest place on earth, the physical location, all the, the vision was a place where families could come together and have a place where even adults could slip into a fantasy world that reminds them of their childhood. Mm. So what I think about is the, what happens for founders is they get attached to the, wow. It becomes a, a sense of pride.

Speaker 2 (19:35):
Yeah. Right. They have the big, why the really clear vision. One of my friends, Shelly bell, she runs a nonprofit called black girl ventures. And how it started was in the living room with a bunch of women, put a hundred dollars in a jar, right. There was 10 of them. Yeah. And that was a thousand dollars and women in the group got up and pitched their business. And at the end, someone won the pot, the thousand dollars. That’s how it started. Oh, that’s cool. She closed in 2021. So this year, so far 3.5 million in partnerships with Nike Experian visa, right. She’s only been in existence since 2017. The vision she has is of women of color having access to capital. That’s her vision. That’s the vision. She was not what she said is she’s not attached to the, how that happens. Cause in the beginning, right.

Speaker 2 (20:30):
That she’s a perfect example in the beginning, what she is, I need to go to people who have money individuals. Yeah. And she did that for the first, almost three years. Yeah. And all of a sudden she had this inspired vision, right. That was aligned. I, I don’t wanna be attached to the how, which is to find wealthy individuals and get them to invest. Yeah. Instead what, what came to her was, well, you know, there are big corporations that are inspired by this vision, the vision of women of color, having access to capital and starting businesses, which of these corporations are inspired by that. And that’s where she went. She let go of the, the how, and I would guess that maybe it’s probably not a hundred percent of that 42%. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but my guess would be that quite a few of that 420 got attached to the, the form or the formulation of the product they were offering.

Speaker 2 (21:22):
And they forgot to innovate when they were not getting the response, the response. Yeah. Thank you. The response from the market that they wanted. Yeah. Um, and that’s, there’s this book called focus. It’s a book basically about how really big corporations get known for something. And then they have all this extra money and they get excited about another offering in the market. And so they switch. Right? Yeah. And one of the ones they talked about was what is that? I can’t even think of what the company name is now. Cuz they don’t even exist anymore. That was the whole point. Right. <laugh> it was like, if you need, if you needed long distance back in the day MCI, that’s what it was. All of a sudden came back in my brain. So MCI. Right. They offered long distance. That’s who you went to. Yeah. But then they switched to something else into something else.

Speaker 2 (22:08):
It, I think there’s a difference between diluting your brand and being willing to look again and go, oh, got it. Can we still fulfill the vision? Right. The vision is that people have access no matter where they live to beautiful high end fashionable clothes. Yeah. And yet change how we’re offering it. Like are we attached to the method in which we’re delivering the product, right. Yeah. So what, what she said is people had told her for years that she needed an app and she’s like, I don’t wanna do an app. Yeah. She’s like, I know that my people don’t want an app. So like that was what people in the market were telling her. Right. But she just, she just kept delivering and she would adjust based on what her customers told her. Yeah. But the, the vision stayed the same, the way in which she delivered new stuff all the time, doing it like fashion does where you change it by the season, she just kept playing with it. So that’s yeah. That makes me curious if I could go back and interview those 420 people you’d ask some, I would ask that question. I would say, did you get attached to the method in which you were delivering, you know, the product. Yeah. Were you present to the vision that you had? Yeah. And was there another way you could have delivered the vision?

Speaker 1 (23:27):
You said something interesting. And I just, I kind of wanna call out, which is, you said she listened to her customers. And the thing that I always find when I start working with people, especially when they’re having a product market fit problem is I always ask a question like, well, who are you talking to? If you’re talking to your investors, they are gonna tell you something very different. But have you asked customers, even if you don’t have any customers yet, cuz you have a brand new idea, which a lot of people who listen to the show are like, how do I take an idea and turn it into something, talk to people who would be ideal to buy what you’re trying to create. Right. And I guess I wonder from you, is there something else that people should be doing or does it come down to the customer? Like how does the vision and the customer come together? Seems like the big question, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (24:15):
What that makes me think of is there’s this I’m gonna call it the wrong title cuz I read it probably seven or eight years ago. Blue market space. Okay. I

Speaker 1 (24:24):
Heard it. That book, uh, uh,

Speaker 2 (24:25):
Basically the gist is that a lot of people operate in what he calls the red market space, which is where the sharks hang out. It’s red cuz it’s bloody. Right. Oh. And what you wanna do is you wanna find your blue market space. Like it’s not, you’re not the only, but it’s really clear what your market space is. So what comes to me when you say that is some of the best product ideas answer a problem that consumers don’t even know they had. Mm. So sometimes the inspired idea is you as an, as an idea person, as the entrepreneur see a problem, like you see a problem in the market. Yeah. And you know, if you have this thing and that answers that problem, that these consumers didn’t even know that they had, once they hear it, they go, oh my God. Yeah. Totally have that problem.

Speaker 2 (25:14):
Yes, duh. Yeah. We need that. Right? Yeah. That’s what you are saying. Like when you go talk to customers, what you wanna think about is who are the people who have that problem? Have you asked them how they would want to receive solution? Yeah. And if, and I think what you say is really valuable, which is I learned this statistic recently, which is people in either venture capital or investors. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> yep. They expect seven out of 10 companies. They invest in to fail. Like they anticipate that. And so they adjusted for it in their investment model. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so if they’re giving you advice, <laugh> Like, you might, you might just wanna take a pause and go.

Speaker 1 (25:58):
Hmm. It’s so funny. You said that because you, you know, we’ve been, we’ve been pitching to fundraise for Precursa and we’ve talked extensively about this. So just for context for, for my listeners. So Shauna is one of my business coaches, whenever I talk about some of the things that she enlightens me on you’ll know it because typically there’s something like a dumb moment or a, Hey, what was your intuition telling you? And I’m like, oh yeah, right. I forgot about that part. So when you just said that, what it reminded me of, it was probably like a month and a half ago. And I was pitching to a guy who’s who runs a venture fund in town. I mean the whole conversation was so great. And he was like, yeah, I totally get this. He’s like, we should be using this. Like, are you talking to investors to be potential customers?

Speaker 1 (26:41):
And I said, yeah, we will eventually. But right now we’re focusing on incubators and accelerators cuz that’s where most entrepreneurs go first. And you know, it’s just such a great conversation. And their whole premise of their fund was that they’re an early stage fund. So pre-product pre-revenue I was like, we’re perfect for you. We’re just about to launch, but we haven’t yet. So you’re still gonna get the best value and whatever. And he is like, yeah, yeah, I really love this. He’s like check back in with me at the end of the week. Cuz I wanna pitch this to my, you know, my, my other people in the fund and see if we can’t get you guys some help. I came back to him on Friday of that week. And he was like, yeah, you’re just too early for us. And I was like, what the ever loving.

Speaker 1 (27:19):
And so I, I got on the phone with Paige and Sarah, uh, who everybody knows is our co-founders. I got on the phone with them and I said, you know what? I realized, I realized that I’m talking to guys who have a nine outta 10 failure rate and I’m bummed that they don’t get it. I’m like upset that they don’t get it. But how much do we do that? We forget who we’re talking to or the context. Like I wanna draw that parallel to what you’re saying, which is the, and we talk about this all the time. So my audience is not, they have heard this from me a million times, the vision and the why. Yes, you have to have the execution. You have to be able to turn that into a thing. But getting attached to the execution is where we get in trouble. And that’s what you’re saying. People who

Speaker 2 (28:01):
You won’t, you can’t see this because it’s just audio. But I, I could not be more emphatically nodding my head <laugh> I’m like giving myself whiplash over here, nodding my head to every word you said. Yes. Yes, yes <laugh> yeah, no, exactly. That goes for, for everything in life. But especially for entrepreneurs. Yeah. One of my business coaches says the way she, he talks about it is like sunglasses, right? Like we put your, put these sunglasses on and the vision you see, she calls it your world, right? It’s the world that you see and entrepreneurs who have a big vision. It is like they see a different world. Yeah. Right. It’s they see a world in which this problem that plagues people they can see, but they can see it where it’s solved. Yeah. Because that’s what they get inspired by. And I’ve seen so many interesting ideas, so many interesting ideas with entrepreneurs I’ve worked with right now, I’m working one of the women in my intuitive entrepreneur program.

Speaker 2 (29:01):
She runs a lab in Germany of all things. Oh wow. They’re working on finding a solution to juvenile asthma. Oh wow. Specific. And so she has this idea, this vision in her mind of a collaborative model, you know, where scientists from all over the world can come. So she has this little lab right now with like five people. But the vision that’s in her mind is this really big lab. Yeah. With hundreds of, and she said, not academic so that it’s not about publishing, but more about hands on taking action and producing a result. And that’s the vision that she has. And so if she listened to academia, they would say, she’s crazy because in academia you have to be careful as a scientist cuz people snag stuff. Yeah. And so this model in her mind of this collaborative place where all of these scientists can come and share idea yeah.

Speaker 2 (30:01):
Is not a popular ID <laugh> but, but she’s unwilling to not like that’s the vision that she has. So I just think, I agree with you. You have to, you have to ask yourself, this person I’m talking to, they know what they know, but do they know what I know? Do they, do they identify, you know, the, the problem that, that I see in the market, in the world, these, in my core market group, do they see the same problem? I see. Yeah. And do they get the solution as a true solution to that problem? And if they don’t then tell them, thank you and move on to the next person. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (30:45):
Do you think there’s such thing as a bad idea?

Speaker 2 (30:48):
Of course. <laugh> okay. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (30:51):

Speaker 2 (30:52):
Yes. Have you ever heard, what was that thing called? The, oh my God. It was called the, it was like a vacuum cleaner for cutting hair. Do you remember that thing? Oh, the Floy. The

Speaker 1 (31:03):
Of course I know that that’s a

Speaker 2 (31:05):
Horrible idea. So many things could go wrong with

Speaker 1 (31:08):
That. I grew up in a trailer in Western, North Carolina. Those were like all the commercials, all the commercials. And it was named after the, after flow, the like, she was a massive running star, like oh yeah. Olympic runner. Yes. And I’m like named after her

Speaker 2 (31:23):
Up with for no <laugh> idea. That’s fricking ridiculous. I mean, yes, of course. There are, there are lots of terrible ideas. They now, oh, it’s so gross. I even think about it. Grosses me out. <laugh> there’s like my mom is somebody who likes to put ranch on a salad and then add salsa on top of that. You can buy salsa. That’s disgusting. <laugh> but clearly I’m not the target market, obviously. Hello? No, but are there bad ideas? No, I mean, I was joking. I don’t know. I don’t know that there are bad ideas. Right? I know that there are great ideas, bad execution. Yeah. Sometimes am some ideas are a little too early, you know, they’re not quite ready for the market or the technology is not up to snuff to deliver on the idea. Yeah. I don’t know. Ideas are a funny thing. Are there bad product ideas?

Speaker 2 (32:22):
I don’t know. I mean, in my, in my upbringing back in the day <laugh> there was this thing called, there was this thing called Olympics of the mind, O O M O M. And it was where I have no idea how I ended up in there, but it was like you had to come up with inventive ideas. I was some of the guys that I did om, with, they went on to MIT. Another one went to the school of mines in Colorado. These were like brainiac, super smart dudes. And they had wild ideas. I mean, we were in elementary school and middle school. Right. Their ideas were great ideas, but the technology wasn’t such, right. Like wasn’t quite to the place. There was this girl, one of my acquaintances, this guy Brahe Al husaini, he, he owns a venture capitalist firm. That’s specific for environmental projects that solved really big environmental issues.

Speaker 2 (33:13):
Okay. And they funded a girl recently who had discovered that there was a bacteria that could eat plastic in the ocean. Oh wow. But there was some additional, if you just hear that idea and you go, well, like, can it eat other things it shouldn’t or does it leave a, like a byproduct? And so they needed to do some additional research on that and you need funding to do additional research. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, is that, is that a bad idea? We don’t, you don’t know yet times you don’t know until you do sufficient in her case, it was in the lab research, right? Yeah. But for other cases, it’s sufficient market research. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (33:49):
How does the average entrepreneur, what would you tell them if they’re like, well, how do I know if this is a good idea or not? Like, how do I know if it’s worth continuing to pursue? And how do I know if it’s worth putting my time, time and energy into a thing. Right.

Speaker 2 (34:03):
I would say, ask yourself three questions. So the first one is who do I think this thing, whether it’s a service or a physical product, whatever the thing is, mm-hmm <affirmative> who do I think this would help mm-hmm <affirmative> and then go talk to those people. Yeah. Like actually ask them questions. Yeah. Cause this is what I see this all the time in entrepreneurs, they have a really cool idea. Yep. And the people they wanna serve, don’t have the time to use the product they’re creating. Yeah. Or they have a really good idea and the people they wanna serve don’t have the money. Yep. The purchase. Yep. Right. Or the people they wanna help don’t care. Like it’s the, not a problem that is a serious enough problem for them that they would be willing to spend the time or the money. But you don’t know that until you start talking to people. So that would be the first thing. Figure out who it is you wanna serve and go have a conversation with them. Yeah. Two, how big is your market? Is it big enough that you can actually make money? If you’re like, I wanted it sweaters of anti hypoallergenic wool for large and tall men. I don’t know. Are there a lot of large and tall men who are allergic to wool and they need sweaters <laugh> is not a big enough market that you can make money.

Speaker 1 (35:21):
I’m gonna solve the, this problem for snail farmers. <laugh> how many of those <laugh> and how

Speaker 2 (35:29):
Those are there. But if you’re listening to this and you’re like, well, I don’t know. I don’t know if my market’s big enough. That’s something to actually ask yourself. Like you can be too niche, honestly. Yeah. Yeah. So to me, it’s like a question of who do you wanna serve? Go talk to them, tell them about the thing that you’re offering and ask them, like, are they willing to spend the time to learn if it’s a new technology, are they willing to spend the time to learn the technology? Yeah, for example, I had a friend that it’s a mutual friend of ours, Michael, and he’s in web security, right? Yep. Yep. Big security guy. And he has this idea to serve, not the elderly, but people 65 and over how to protect themselves online on their computers and on their phone.

Speaker 1 (36:08):
Cause they didn’t grow up with the internet. They didn’t grow up with all this stuff.

Speaker 2 (36:11):
Right, right. So they don’t get how exposed they’re making themselves all the time. Yep. And so he talked to me about it. He was like, what do you think? And I said, well, first of all, I think you should probably talk to at least 10 people who are 65 to maybe 75 and find out if they’re willing to learn this new technology. Yeah. Cause he had this cool idea, but, and he, so we did guess what? They weren’t willing. They were not interested in learning something new. Yep. Yep. Like he had to think about it. Do I wanna create something that is a, do it for you kind of thing. Right, right. Or something, you know, that

Speaker 1 (36:46):
Is something change to your point, change the execution. Right. Cause that’s a huge problem for the market he’s going after. It’s huge, huge problem. It’s a, but it’s also a limited time business, right? Because in, within the next 10 years, all the people who are turning, you know, 60 and above, we’re getting closer to having grown up with the internet or having had it long enough in our lives that we know all, all the pitfalls. So to your point, it’s sort of like, are you trying to create a lasting business that 30 years from now will still be a business? Well then you have to keep listing to and finding the next biggest problem and solving it. Otherwise you become obsolete as a business as well. Right.

Speaker 2 (37:26):
Right. Well, and it’s the thing that him and I talked about was who would be willing to spend the time and the money are the people who have to pay for, if their parents are exposed and they get their identity stolen, which is their kids smart. So their kids are like that, you know, smart 30, eight to 50. Yeah. And that’s who your market would be. And he was like, oh, that’s interesting. Cause we just talked about right. That’s the vision. The vision was a world where people who are elderly are not getting their identity stolen. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And getting their, you know, life savings stolen, which is he had that. He had known some people that had happened to oh, but the market was wrong because those people aren’t, it’s actually a little beyond them for, like you said, people who did not grow up.

Speaker 2 (38:07):
Yeah. Using technology. And then there are people, even my age, I’m 45 who are technology adverse. Yeah. Right. So anyway, the point is one, talk to the people you wanna serve and find out if they’re willing to spend the time and the money, the energy to use this thing, you have, it will help you identify if the delivery way that you’re doing it, if they’re willing or not. Yeah. To figure out your niche, like, is it too niche <laugh> or is it too broad? That can be a problem too. Like this is for everybody. Well, that makes it harder to market. Yes. And then to me, the third one is, do you actually love it? Like, does it excite you? Are you excited about it? Are you excited about solving that problem? Because that excitement on the nights when you’re like, this is so annoying. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (38:52):
Why am I doing this again? Why don’t I just go get real job? Yeah. It would be so much

Speaker 2 (38:56):
Easier. Yeah. I’m certain that somebody else’s dream, I can just Monday through Friday, eight hours each day fulfill their gosh darn exciting dream for them and be like Lata going from a weekend. See ya. Yeah. Yeah. I would say if you, if you’re a listener and you have an idea, it like start there, identify one. If you’re just like actually excited about it. If, if that actually solved the problem and got fulfilled, does it excite you because that excitement or inspiration, you have to find it on the days when it feels challenging or hard to push through. Cause when you go from the inspired idea into the, the, like getting it done, that’s where a lot of that effort comes from to identify people that you wanna serve and go talk to them and see if they actually are interested in adopting either the new technology that you’re talking about or they’d be willing to learn something new.

Speaker 2 (39:50):
It’s kind of like my uncle Amazon, he was complaining about how he remembered back in the day, when, you know, there wasn’t like the little belts where you put stuff and it conveys belts. And he said, he remembered when that got created. He thought it was the coolest thing ever. And now we were talking about Amazon and he was like, you know, kind of shaking his head in disappointment about how it’s taking jobs away from checkers or something like that. Yeah. You, and then we were just kind of talking back and forth and he said, but when I was a kid, it was like pony express, ceased being a thing. Yeah. And you know, and like ups and FedEx were starting to become a thing, you know, in the anyway. So it’s like, are people willing to adopt whatever this new idea is and evolve and yeah. And evolve. And if not, is there people who serve those people that are actually your, your right audience? Yeah. And then are you too niche or not niche enough, so. Okay. So

Speaker 1 (40:46):
What do you think is the most important personality trait or characteristic that someone needs to have in order to be a successful entrepreneur?

Speaker 2 (40:58):
Oh, wow. Hmm. That’s a tough one. I don’t know if there is a single most important one. Mm it’d be easier. I think to say the three most common or four most common ones. I see. We have to put, go for it. Um, one is, uh, imagination. Mm. I for sure. See that. I see that with all the entrepreneurs, I think of David, your husband and mm-hmm <affirmative>, he’s got a really vivid imagination and it’s really served him in all the things he’s created to what people would call grit or perseverance. Mm-hmm <affirmative> creating a business and then taking and like being able to ride the rollercoaster of business. Yeah. Is nerve-wracking sometimes yeah. Economy changes and mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, markets change and you change and your desire, like all of that stuff that takes grit. I would say people who are the word I would use the really successful entrepreneurs I’ve met have been super passionate people.

Speaker 2 (41:57):
Yeah. And whatever that word brings up for your listeners, if they’re, you know, they have in their mind, like really charismatic out on the stage, people, that’s not actually what I mean. Yeah. My dad is not like that at all. That’s like, not him. He’s actually a little bit socially awkward. He, he would not say that, but I say that, um, but he’s really passionate about what he does. Yeah. He’s passionate. My dad’s a, you know, a biker and he learned a motorcycle shop. So he is passionate about vintage classic and antique bikes. He is passionate, not just about the business, but about what it is that he does. Yeah. Um, passion is huge when John Mac actually met him and a whole bunch of other, kind of big entrepreneurs, people who were big visionaries. And that was, I just felt like all of them were so passionate grit. Yeah. For sure. Passion and imagination. I would say those are the three big things. I love

Speaker 1 (42:50):
It. I love it. Yeah. Okay. So what is one question you wish I’d asked you that I didn’t? How would you have answered it? <laugh> <laugh>

Speaker 2 (43:03):
Well, that’s one question you would’ve asked me. I think probably the only question that we didn’t really talk about. You mentioned it a couple times, but people might have been like, did she say intuition <laugh>

Speaker 1 (43:13):
Yes. Yes. That one. That one <laugh>

Speaker 2 (43:19):
I think probably for your listeners question, I would’ve wanted you to ask is, well, how do you define intuition and why do you think it’s a useful skill in entrepreneurship? How would you have answered intuition is a direct way of knowing or under standing something without the need to process data. Mm. So you can think of really big enterprises or Sarah Blakely of spanks. Yeah. That was someone who had a completely clear knowing about something. Mm uh, Steve jobs about the I phone, right? Oprah about the need for women who were at home to feel like they were in group therapy. That was kind of talks about that a little bit. Yeah. Which I love. So that, that’s how I define intuition. And why is intuition useful in entrepreneurship? All entrepreneurs have that intuitive moment. You could call it that creative moment where they’re inspired by an idea.

Speaker 2 (44:26):
And all of those ideas are different. Right. My idea was not to be broke anymore. Yeah. And when I thought about that, I got inspired by the idea of having a business. Just the idea my dad was working for Harley Rocky mountain Harley Davidson. And he watched how the business operated and ran and he thought I can do this better. Like I can do this better. And he was right. I mean, 30, 30, 2 years, brick and mortar business. And so like, whatever that divine, that like moment of inspiration, like the lightning bolt, this guy chase, I know who runs a really large, what do you call like consultancy for energy companies. Okay. He had this idea that a person who had business ACU was not talking to the scientists and the engineers, and then the people who own the energy companies, like someone who could translate all three languages, science, engineering, and business.

Speaker 2 (45:23):
Yeah. And so that was like, he just had this moment of, yes, this is what there is to do. Yeah. And so every business owner has that moment. But then when we go from the creation of something, which feels very, very, very imagination oriented to the execution of something, we move away from intuition. And what I know from working with thousands of entrepreneurs is that when we move away from that inspired imagination, creative part of our brain and into the, how we start limiting what’s possible. And we only go by, what’s already been done. So if you have an idea as an entrepreneur, listening to the show, it’s likely that nobody else has done this already. Then why would you look outside of yourself to see how other people did something? Because they’ve never done what you’ve done. Why would you look to them? That’s not the expertise that you need to be looking for outside of yourself. It’s more in the world of maybe marketing, maybe manufacturing, how to become a better leader. Right, right. Leadership management, that kind of stuff, but not necessarily how to deliver the idea, cuz that cuz you are the wild, crazy entrepreneurial genius who has the idea in the first place. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (46:43):
All right. I love that answer. So are there any podcast books, resources, anything that you’d recommend to our audience? I know you’ve mentioned a couple and I’ll make sure those are in the show notes, but anything <affirmative> that you specifically say, you know, if you’re an entrepreneur, these resources, you, you really should be, should be listening to these things or reading these books or, or whatever that might be.

Speaker 2 (47:05):
These are gonna be strange books, uh, for people cuz they are not directly correlated to business, but sure. Um,

Speaker 1 (47:12):
We love those kind they’re

Speaker 2 (47:14):
Well, I’m a, I’m a big believer in habits. Ooh. I love that. And uh, one of my favorite books about habits is called the power of habit by Charles Doig. And mostly when we go from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur, we don’t recognize that all of a sudden it changes our whole world view and you have to change your habits in some really obvious ways, but in some so not obvious ways. So if you, if you have the habit way of looking at the world and the way of operating as an employee, it takes something to switch into that new mindset and new habits absolutely love. So that’s a great book. It talks about the personal level of habit, change the organizational level of habit change and then societal it’s really, really good. I really love that one. The other one that I’m thinking of in relationship to business is when you start a business, you really wanna true yourself up around money and recognize your, I would call ’em perhaps your limiting beliefs or even stuff that you don’t recognize.

Speaker 2 (48:18):
Stuff may be related to childhood stuff related to money. There are so many great books about money, but the one, a couple that come to me is rich dad, poor dad. That’s a great book. If you have not really dealt with your money stuff, you know, things like rich people are blank, you know, that kind of stuff. Yeah. <laugh> um, yeah, whatever, whatever that thing is. Let’s see. Yeah. So your money in your life. I also, so then the third book that came to me more specifically about business is that book, uh, I don’t know if anybody’s ever read at, in your audience. I’m sure someone will go oh, interesting. That she mentions that influence. Oh its a book by Robert Salini, he’s a social psychologist and in business, people are trying to influence you and you’re trying to influence people all the time. So being able to recognize the methods in which people are, are trying to influence you or you’re trying to influence people.

Speaker 2 (49:13):
The it’s almost like, like recognizing the language you’re using, but you may not, you may not have that distinction. So one of the things of, uh, call them weapons of influence, but one of the ways in which you can influence people is through liking. So you just think of every time you’ve gone to buy a car, car salesman is using liking as a way to get you to like invested with him yeah. Through this whole entire process. But at the end then when you have to sign the dotted line, it’s not the same guy. It’s the it’s finance finance guy, right? Yeah. Who uses authority? That’s another type of influence. So I think if I think all three of those things, one really recognizing the habits, two really being able to identify the places where you still have negative beliefs or limiting beliefs about money and then three recognizing how the language you use to influence people will help you be more to cuz once you become a business owner, once you’re an entrepreneur, you now join a huge group of people who are marketed to more than anybody else. Oh yeah. And so it’s helpful to know, right? Whether it’s coaches or coaching programs or whatever you wanna recognize how people are influencing you. Um, so those are the three books I would recommend. Really good. I

Speaker 1 (50:33):
Love that. I love that. Miss Oana. Thank you. So, so, so much for joining me today and for sharing your story and for being so vulnerable and so open and so trans parent and completely loving of my audience. I really appreciate that if listeners have questions or they wanna get in touch with you or maybe they want to be in your intuitive entrepreneur program, how do they get in touch with you and how would they start a conversation best

Speaker 2 (51:02):
Way is to go to simple spirit.com and click on, especially if you’re a business owner, you’ll see intuitive life, intuitive business, click on intuitive life and schedule a discovery call with me. That’s the best way. Um, you can also follow me on Instagram show, Shauna French. You can also follow me on Facebook, but that’s what I would recommend. If you wanted to just have like a discovery, speaking of a conversation to find out where you are and what support you need. I am filled up to the rim with resources. So if I’m not the right fit for you, I will find you someone who can support whatever you’re up to.

Speaker 1 (51:42):
I love that. I love that. Thank you so much for being here today. I really

Speaker 2 (51:46):
Appreciate it. Thank you. Great calm conversation. I appreciate you

Speaker 1 (51:49):
Too. All right. Y’all thank you so much for joining us for this episode. This is the, the next installment in our entrepreneur experience series. And uh, coming up, we’re gonna have both of our co-founders in Precursa, also going to share their journeys as entrepreneurs. So that’s gonna be really fun. So at 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 at precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe at this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

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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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  • Denver, Colorado

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

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