Ja-Naé Duane is the Author of the recently published Startup Equation: A Visual Guide to Growing Your Business. She, along with her Co-author, are on a mission to help 1 Million entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses by 2020.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- It’s one thing to fail in a product launch on how to become better at Instagram… but to abandon your peeps? It CRUSHED Ja Nae. Fire Nation, we need to stick to our core and be better at the basics!
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- What matters is, ‘Am I OK with what I am doing today?‘ Also, what is the legacy you are leaving in this world, Fire Nation?
What has you FIRED up?
- Startup Equation by Ja Nae Duane
Small Business Resource
- The Email Game: The fastest, most fun way to manage your email. … Works with Gmail and Google Apps.
Best Business Book
- The Go-Giver by Bob Burg
Ja Nae: I am always prepared to ignite.
John: Ja Nae is the author of the recently published Startup Equation, A Visual Guide to Growing Your Business. She, along with her co-author are on a mission to help one million entrepreneurs starting to grow their business by 2020. All right, Ja Nae, take a minute and fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Ja Nae: Yeah, no, for sure. So I spend a lot of my time almost as a social architect if you will, so whether I’m helping governments to redesign their cities or companies find the way in which they’re gonna help change the world, I’m constantly thinking about how can we create a powerful impactful change that really makes this world a better place. And when you think about it, one in six people by 2020 are going to be entrepreneurs.
John: Oh, yeah.
Ja Nae: So many of you listeners we have a lot of work to do.
John: Just out of curiosity what’s the city that you’ve helped redesign?
Ja Nae: That’s a great question. So I spent a lot of my time down in Savannah, Georgia.
Ja Nae: Yeah, working with Worcester, Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts where my home base is so –
John: Give me your best Adam Sandler welcome to Worcester impression.
Ja Nae: No.
John: Dollar 25 please. Welcome to Worcester.
Ja Nae: You know, he lives in New Hampshire. He’s from Manch Vegas. He has no right. But listen I can park the car in the Harvard yard.
Ja Nae: Any time of day.
John: Love it. I’m from Maine so I resonate with New Hampshire. I resonate with Worcester, I went to Providence College, so we’re all speaking – I still own a place in Selfie actually in South Mass.
Ja Nae: Do you really?
John: Yeah, love it, right on East Broadway.
Ja Nae: I used to live down in the Four Point Channel District.
John: A killer spot.
Ja Nae: Yeah.
John: I want to say 94 percent of Fire Nation is scratching their heads right now, but guess what, guys, we know you’re listening, we love you. Ja Nae, you’re at a networking party. Someone walks up to you and they say what exactly do you do? How do you respond to in ten seconds?
Ja Nae: That’s a good question. I just tell them that I help people change the world by telling their story better, and whether or not that’s a startup or that’s a global company, it’s all about how you tell the story that you have but also how are you creating that impact, and it’s all about the impact for me.
John: It’s all about the impact and we don’t do a great job as entrepreneurs telling our own stories, and –
Ja Nae: For sure.
John: That’s a shame because we all have great stories, but Fire Nation how are you communicating that story like that takes work. It takes skills. It takes people like Ja Nae to get you there, so I’m loving where this interview is going. Question Ja Nae, how are you currently today generating revenue?
Ja Nae: So much like many of your listeners, I have a portfolio career, and it’s not necessarily out of necessity, but it’s out of choice, because how I live my life is how I want to live my life. And that’s something that I decided long ago that a 9:00 to 5:00 job wasn’t necessarily the right path for me. And so I spent a lot of my time and most of my revenue comes from advising startups, investing, writing teaching speaking, and then consulting by helping companies create that social impact.
John: Diversified is a word that I would use there, which is critical, because we never know, Fire Nation, when one area is gonna dry up and another area is gonna open up. Be flexible.
Ja Nae: You have to test as well, right?
Ja Nae: I mean one’s gonna work for a few years, but then you’ll start to notice a change, and how can you allow yourself to pivot.
John: You don’t know what kind of technology is gonna come up too that’s gonna help one area that might be kind of one of your lower performing metrics explode. I mean like I’ve seen Periscope and Mirror Cat come onboard, and that’s opened up awesome channels in areas of my business that didn’t even exist or were just kind of just puttering along for awhile. So always be open, Fire Nation, always keep those doors open to see where it’s going. Now Ja Nae I want to talk about you and specifically a personal story because that’s what we’re all about here at Entrepreneur on Fire is the personal story.
So you’ve had some great stories, you’ve had some not so great stories throughout your life, and I want you to take us to the worst entrepreneurial moment that you’ve thus far experienced and really tell us that story Ja Nae? Take it away.
Ja Nae: Okay. Well, I would have to say that it was when I was running Wild Women Entrepreneurs. So this was the business that I didn’t even mean to start it. I started with $100.00 back in 2005. I quickly grew this global entrepreneurial community for women to 55 chapters in seven countries in less than nine months. I had no idea Johnny what I was doing.
John: Sounds about right.
Ja Nae: Yeah. Because for most entrepreneurs when they first get started that’s usually what happens. You don’t actually know that you’re getting into. But the reason why I started the organization was because I had noticed this need for these women entrepreneurs to find the resources that they needed to be successful whether that be VC or babysitting. What I didn’t realize as I grew that business was how different the needs were of these women entrepreneurs in various questions. So like my women in France at the time couldn’t actually get a loan without a male cosigner where my women in Jordan couldn’t even be the face of their business without potentially being killed.
So I had this huge organization of a few hundred thousand people that I wasn’t really helping the root of their problems in the way that I had set out to do. I just felt like I really failed them, and at that same time I was making a lot of mistakes. We were diversifying too quickly as far as the offerings that we were providing and not sticking to our core, which was our education and our networking. And I found that I was treading water, and the water kept rising, and so between both of those huge obstacles, what ended up happening was I said you know what I’m spending 90-nour weeks and I’m not really creating that impact that I had set out to create.
So I told the entire community look I love you guys, but I’m not solving your problems or helping you solve your problems in the way that I wanted to, so I’m gonna shut the doors. And I’ll continue to connect you guys with individuals whenever and wherever I can and continue to stay in touch with me. But I felt like a failure when I did that, and particularly here in the U.S. We say it’s okay to failure but we don’t necessarily accept failure as something that is crucial and a pivotal point of who we are not only as entrepreneurs but also as people.
So many people and everyone fails at something at some point in their lives, and we need to do a better job of allowing that to be an opportunity to learn, and then to pivot onto the next thing. So that was really painful and really took me a long time to learn that failure was okay, and it still is okay, and I fail every day, and you know what I love it because I learn, I get up quickly, and then I move on.
John: I get it though because it’s one thing to fail like a product launch and how to become better at Instagram, you know. Nobody’s really hurt when you fail there. It’s just you. You didn’t make the money you wanted to. You got your ego hurt a little bit there or whatever, but it’s another thing, Ja Nae, when you in the sense have felt like you abandoned these women that you were there for, that you felt like you were creating something for them, and then you were just like hey I can’t be there for you anymore. I can’t keep helping you in the way that I wanted to help you it’s just a reality.
So there’s different kinds of failures, and I get why that was so tough for you, and Fire Nation, sometimes it’s great to have that massive painful type of failure that Ja Nae had. Because now when she goes forward in other areas it’s not that scary anymore because she sees what happens when you really fail on that level, and she still made it, and she still helped women as much as she could at that time. And she went for it, and she’s now doing bigger and better things, and it’s huge. One thing that you really said, Ja Nae, that jumped out to me was not sticking to our core, and that really jumped out to me because I see so many entrepreneurs drift and that’s such a problem. You drift from your core.
Things start working or things start getting busy and crazy and you drift from that core. That’s why I continue to pound the table. Like people always come to me and say John what’s next for Entrepreneur Fire? I say what’s next is for me to be better at the basics, to realize what got me here, delivering free, valuable, and consistent content, and to continue to amplify that and to be better at the basics. So what are you doing, Fire Nation, what are you doing, Ja Nae, right now that is keeping you to your core this time that’s keeping you at the basics, you know, just something to think about. That’s my big takeaway, Ja Nae, what do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from that story?
Ja Nae: Yeah, no, I love that that’s what you picked up on. I would have to say, and this is something that really hit home, I just came back from Israel and Palestine. And the entrepreneurs there actually taught me a huge lesson and you just hit right upon it and it’s on focus. Every single one of the entrepreneurs that I met there were focused on how they were moving their business forward, and they weren’t allowing for the bright shiny objects to sort of deter them. And it happens, you know –
John: Oh look it’s a bird.
Ja Nae: Right, exactly, squirrel. So how can you allow yourself to realize what is actually bringing your customers, bringing your people and keeping them with you, and how do you stay true to that. You touched upon it, and I would have to say that that’s making sure you don’t actually lose sight of that and don’t take your hands off of the steering wheel is really key.
John: Don’t drift, Fire Nation, have those accountability partners that are making sure that you are keeping those hands on the wheel, and Ja Nae, you said that word focus. Fire Nation knows it is literally my favorite word the acronym being follow one course until success, focus, love it. So let’s shift to another story. This one is gonna be an epiphany, an ah-ha moment, and Ja Nae you’ve had a ton of these, but you know my lessons. You know Fire Nation we are entrepreneurs, side-preneurs, small business owners, what’s the ah-ha moment that you want to share with us. Tell us that story. Take us to that moment.
Ja Nae: Yeah, no, and actually you segwayed really nicely into it. It actually has to do with the focus piece of it. For a long time, and I think it’s because I grew up really poor, like I grew up raising my siblings. I’ve been starting businesses since I was a teenager, but I also financially supported my siblings from the age of 13 until I went onto college. So growing up really poor I always felt like an imposter or I didn’t fit in or I didn’t belong. So for a long time I really cared what people thought about me, and though I knew that I wanted to change the world and create some type of impact, I found that I was more focused on the opinions of others than on what I was actually doing.
I think that social media actually plays a large part in this. I think it’s a huge contributor, and we are constantly looking for affirmation to know that either someone is listening to us, or more important that they’re “approving” of what we’re doing or saying or thinking. So there wasn’t any specific moment but just sort of this gradual realization over the past few years that none of that matters. Really what matters is am I okay for today with what I am doing and what I am leaving, the legacy that I’m leaving, with the world, because when all is said and done, no one else is going to be there but me and those memories of actually how I created change in the world.
Just realizing that no one else’s opinion matters besides my own opinion of myself and my path and the choices that I make that was huge for me and liberating in so many ways. So if I can tell your community let go of all the garbage. Just allow yourself to truly know that you are creating change in not only other people’s lives but in your own life and focus in on that I mean it’s gonna make a world of a difference.
John: I want to zoom in on one phrase you said.
Ja Nae: Please.
John: What matters is am I okay with what I’m doing today, and Fire Nation, I want you to ask yourself that question. Ja Nae, there’s a great, great book, The Ten Biggest Regrets of the Dying where they went through and they talked to people who were in the last days of their lives, thousands, and by far the biggest thing that came up over and over again was I wish I lived my life the way that I was okay with, the way that I wanted to, not outside influences, not caring what other people think because I missed out. Like I had this one chance in life to live my life for what I was meant to and I missed it and I regret it more than anything else.
And I don’t want you listening right now to be part of that majority, Fire Nation, so think about that. Ja Nae, what’s your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Ja Nae: My biggest weakness I would have to say that that’s hard because every strength in my mind can be viewed as a weakness, right, depending on context and timing. I would have to say, John, that really people don’t like my honesty because a lot of the time the truth hurts, and we don’t want to hear it. But it’s something that is necessary for us to hear in order for us to grow. So I’d say that that’s my biggest weakness, and I need to try to find ways to soften up a little bit about how I deliver the honesty. But I just can’t lie, so I’ll say that’s probably my biggest weakness.
John: What’s your biggest strength?
Ja Nae: You know, I’m an interdisciplinary explorer, so what I do really well is I make connections that no one else can make, or I don’t find that people normally make. So that sort of puts me ahead of the curve when it comes to ideas and sort of puts me on the fringes when it comes to thinking of what the trends will be coming up.
John: You have a lot, Ja Nae, that you should be excited about right now, and I know that you are, but what’s the one thing that you are most fired up about right now?
Ja Nae: John, it’s Startup Equation.
Ja Nae: I’m fired up. No, it’s true. My coauthor and I have spent a lot of time – we’re both serial entrepreneurs. We both have had – I’ve had three companies, he’s had two companies, and neither one of us were the same entrepreneur starting each of those companies just like no two businesses are alike. And with all the paradigm shifts that are occurring in the way that not only that were working but were also living, we wanted to put together a book that’s not only focused on if you’re building a SASS platform, but who are you as an entrepreneur. What are you trying to create as far as that entrepreneurial experience? Are you a franchisee? Are you a life stylist?
Are you someone who wants to build and sell? What does that startup have, and then how can you take that and then build something and have essentially an equation that will organically grow with you and help you pull all the pieces together? So the startup equation is sort of that visual guide I like to call it the choose your own adventure visual guide to starting and growing your business. There are so many great books out there. We took Lean Principles, and all of Steve Blank’s great knowledge, and pulled everything together into one cohesive visual guide to starting and growing your business. So we’re super excited about that, and it’s where I’m spending all of my time this fall.
John: I miss the choose your own adventure books by the way. I really think –
Ja Nae: They’re so good, right?
John: Those are gonna make a comeback they can’t not. They are that good. I mean, oh, god, I used to love those.
Ja Nae: I know, I’m with you.
John: Oh so good. So Fire Nation, it would be good to check out Startup Equation. We’ll link it up on the show us page, of course Amazon, of course you can Google it, but this is something you don’t want to miss. And Ja Nae, don’t go anywhere because we’re about to enter the lightning round, and before we do, let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors. Ja Nae, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Ja Nae: Oh, I’m prepared.
John: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Ja Nae: John, nothing. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life, so I don’t – I can’t, yeah, no, nothing.
John: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Ja Nae: Focus on the long game.
John: Focus on the long game, Fire Nation. This is a marathon not a sprint. What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Ja Nae: When I look at obstacles, I look for five different ways around them because I know that there’s always a way. I’m just looking for the best one.
John: Do you have an Internet resource like Evernotes that you can share with our listeners?
Ja Nae: I have so many. Okay, let’s see. The email game to get through your inbox, Trello if you’re a visual learner and you have stuff that you’re working on with your team, What’s App or Slack for team communication are probably my top ones.
John: All right. We’ll have those listed on the show notes page. If you could recommend just one book for our listeners to join Startup Equation on the bookshelf, what would it be and why?
Ja Nae: You know, honestly one of my most favorite books, but also one that I think is underrated is called The Go Giver and it’s by Bob Berg and John David Mann. So it’s a story about a guy who is desperate to change his stars, and all the lessons that he learns throughout this book are lessons that I’ve learned, and I see people learning all the time. So it’s a quick read, and it will help you pivot your strategy of not only starting but growing your business and living your life.
John: Yeah, and Bob Berg is one of only 37 repeat guests on Entrepreneur on Fire, and that’s over 1,000 episodes and you know we think highly of him here, so The Go Giver. And Fire Nation I know you love audio, so I teamed up with Audio Books, and if you haven’t already you can get an amazing audio book for free at eofirebook.com. Ja Nae, this is the last question of the lightning round but it is a doozey. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Ja Nae: Okay. So let’s see, so I would immediately go to probably Twitter and Google Maps to truly see whether or not this is an identical earth and see whether or not this is what I’m used to, or if there are things that have changed. I would then probably because I don’t know if I have a car, so if I don’t –
John: No car.
Ja Nae: I do?
John: No car.
Ja Nae: No car, okay. So then I would go and try to find –
John: But you’ve got Uber.
Ja Nae: I have Uber, okay, great.
John: And a $20.00 credit with Uber.
Ja Nae: So I don’t have to buy a bike, so I’ll go and get Uber. So what I would probably do is then head into the local community, and I’d probably head to the church, a coffee shop, and a local pup because those are three major intersections where people normally congregate.
John: You should probably go first to the pub, then to the church.
Ja Nae: Or they’re probably at the same place depending on the community so. Based on the people that I meet, I would probably come up with about three to four revenue streams that I could test within that community just because if I only have $500.00 I need to start making some cash and make it quickly. So from those revenue streams I would then probably put together a goal testing plan and benchmarks to measure against within say a month, month-and-a-half time. So that’s probably how I would start it out if I had Uber and maybe some technology including my computer.
John: Ja Nae goes to church drunk. Ja Nae, let’s end today on Fire with you sharing one parting piece of guidance the best way that we can connect with you and then we’ll say good-bye.
Ja Nae: Okay. So you can connect with me @theSunQueen on Twitter or really on Instagram those are probably my two biggest and also Facebook, but also come on over to the Startup Equation or excuse me startupequation.com and feel free to connect with me via email over there. Happy to help any of you guys move your businesses forward because that’s what we do. We help one another, right, John?
John: That’s what we do, Fire Nation, and guess what, you’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with Ja Nae D. and JLD today. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com. Just type Ja Nae that’s J-A space N-A-E in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop right up and you’ll see links to the Startup Equation, to her contact information, to everything that we talked about today, and of course check her out on Twitter @theSunQueen or just go directly to startupequation.com. And Ja Nae I just want to say thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flipside.
Ja Nae: Thank you, sir.
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