A focus on startups and sustainability with Sara Andrews

Many startups are so focused on survival that sustainability is not a priority. But not so for Sara Andrews of Bumbleroot, who shares how she’s growing a successful startup with sustainability at its heart. Our conversation focused on the things that matter most to her – “top-notch nutrition, sustainable agriculture, fair prices for farmers, and, of course, scrumptious snacks and beverages.” The granddaughter of ranchers and farmers, she served as an advisor in the U.S. Senate on agriculture and international trade issues and served as a strategy consultant to a Fortune 250 company. She also worked for a Non-Governmental Organization in Zimbabwe. There, she saw the damage that big farming practices from the U.S. did to the environment and the farmers. So she decided to change it.

Being a female founder, changing an industry, regenerative biodiversity

We talk about

  • her time working in Zimbabwe, witnessing the negative impacts of U.S. agricultural practices on local farmers and the land
  • how that experience shaped her philosophy on supporting farmers to work with nature instead of against it
  • her experience as a woman founding a company that runs totally counter to the current food industry
  • the importance of supporting regenerative biodiversity in every environment
  • how to find the right talent for the job – even when you can’t afford to pay top dollar
  • the highs and lows of fundraising – and how to use crowd funding to make things go better

Create relationships with other entrepreneurs at your stage and your industry. I think a lot of times, at networking events or conferences, you’re trying to go see the panelist, you’re trying to meet that person like at a couple stages beyond where you are. There’s so much power in creating friendships and relationships with the people who are right where you are as you all start growing. You’ve been in it together and that ability to share information can just be so powerful, to share connections, and to be there to talk through the hard times. I think that can just be so powerful.

Connect with Sara

Accelerate lasting success through harmony of mind, body, soul, and business

Transcript

JM: Hi, Sara. How are you?

SA: I’m doing well, thanks. How are you, Jenn? Thanks for having me today.

JM: I’m good. Thanks for making time. I love your website. You have a company called Bumbleroot. Tell us a little bit about the products that you guys sell from your website.

SA: Sure. Our overall mission is around creating food products that contribute to a regenerative agriculture system and more biodiversity. Our first main product that we have right now is the hydration drink mix that features Baobab, a super fruit from Africa that we started from Zimbabwe. The Baobab tree grows in really dark areas and create a really biodiversity ecosystem around it and a tree doesn’t actually fruit for about 80 years, it usually takes hundreds to thousands of years old.

JM: Wow.

SA: By utilizing the fruit, we’re actually protecting the trees from being cut down or damaged and protecting the whole ecosystem, not just the tree. Then it’s also creating livelihoods for the harvesters in the areas. We have a pipeline of some exciting products. I’m originally from Montana and recently moved back. There are just some amazing things going on with organic and regenerative agriculture here.

Upcoming, we have a sourdough bread kit using some amazing organic meat and ancient grain called ‘kamut’ and then we’re going to be having a meat snack that’s using a holistically raised cattle along with another ingredients. Then we have a mushroom lentil jerky that will be coming out.

JM: That is so cool.

SA: Oh, thanks. Yeah. They’re delicious. I’m so excited about it.

JM: I love that you say regenerative. The concepts that sustainability means that you do no harm. You leave it no worse than you found it. But you believe in the concept of making it better than you found something and I love that. I think that’s awesome.

SA: Oh, thank you. Yes, for so long we talked about organic agriculture, sustainability, both within agriculture, consumption, and lots of different areas. Right now the real trend toward like what would it mean to be regenerative to how instead of just keeping the land as it is, how do we actually increase the real health and biodiversity, how do we make things better and let them grow naturally and that can be applied in all sorts of things that’s being used in agriculture.

But I’ve heard of teams using the idea of regenerative for communicating with each other, how do you build upon each other and allow each other to grow. It’s something to think about everyday with what we’re both developing, what our suppliers are doing for the land, and how we want our customers to feel in our products to impact them. It’s just an interesting concept of how you can help everything grow for the better rather than just keeping things the same – or in a worse case, depleting something.

JM: Which I think is great too because for a long time, I think the philosophy has just been to use something up. I think it’s just interesting to see how the evolution is evolving even beyond that.

Looking at your site, bumblerootfoods.com is where we can go learn more about your business. How did you get started? It wasn’t an overnight success, I mean, you go to your website and it’s a beautiful website. You have these great products, this incredible mission, and this great story. You didn’t just start yesterday. It’s not an overnight success. Talk a little bit about the process of starting the business, why you wanted to start it, and how you got to where you are today.

SA: Sure. I spent a bit of a meandering path. I grew up in Montana which is a very agriculture. My grandparents were farmers and renters but I didn’t grew up day-to-day around it. But it’s always there and it forms so much for the economy and it’s around but I didn’t actually grow up on a farm.

Then after college, I moved to D.C. and ended up working on agriculture, on international trade issues for our senator from Montana. That was just an amazing experience to learn from a high level, how the food system works, and how foods fit into that real global economy.

Something like 80% of the world is employed in agriculture in some way because if you look at developing countries, most people are working in agriculture and a lot of those are women. So agriculture ends up being so important to the quality of life of people around the world. How that agriculture is practiced impacts the land, the water, the air, the soil, and the health of the people. It impacts so many different areas and that just became really fascinating to me and torn how our current systems, any of those things, are not serving our health, the land, and the ability for many farmers to actually make a good income.

I just got really interested in how could that be changed. I actually went to business school, did strategy consulting for a while and then I wanted to get on the ground and really learn what it was like for those people that are making only a few dollars a day, are employed in agriculture, or have an acre or two. It wasn’t enough to read about them anymore. I wanted to learn more up close. I moved to Zimbabwe and worked with an NGO there working with small farmers.

JM: What is an NGO?

SA: A non-governmental organization. It’s a type of non-profit.

JM: Ah, okay.

SA: Yeah. It was really fascinating work and this is changing, thankfully. But at that time, the US was really exporting its chemical intensive agriculture practices abroad thinking that would be good for development. It was meaning but it was trying to export a system and the US takes thousands of acres to be profitable to people who have one or two acres which end up being really risky for them to have extensive inputs in synthetic fertilizers and chemicals.

They’re growing commodity products like corn, soy, wheat, and sugar that the prices are really volatile and it was just like, “This doesn’t make sense, there has to be a better system.”

JM: A solution doesn’t scale.

SA: Yeah. Meanwhile, there are all these amazing wild harvested fruit, foods around where they could be promoted to really protect the biodiversity around them. There are some amazing crops that weren’t quite commodity crops that farmers were having to practice really interesting soil techniques and more sustainable or regenerative practices. What I realized is there are just weren’t markets for those so our global food system has really been built around markets for commodities like I mentioned before, wheat, soy, sugar, and corn.

I knew it would be the easiest path but I really felt like the way that I could start to have impact was by changing things around product side if we could create products that used the lesser used ingredients and start promoting them more so that more people knew about them and use them, that we could start changing the way food was sourced, made, and eaten. The development of it has really been sort of wanting to change the system but starting with really small steps.

JM: How did you start? That’s a great point because – I won’t say you stumbled into it – you did some incredible work over a long period of time but you were able to really see first hand that there was this issue, this problem that really didn’t have a great solution. Then you became very passionate about this potential solution. What was your next step? I would look at that and – I guess, it’s an outsider’s perspective – I would be overwhelmed. How do you fix that problem or that broken system? What was your next step?

SA: Yeah. I started looking around and I didn’t know anyone who worked in food products. I knew a lot of people who worked in food policies and for non-profits in fruit but I didn’t know anyone who actually created food products. I started asking around and kind of telling everyone my idea. One person would lead to another. I knew at that time that Boulder, Colorado was the Silicon Valley of natural organic food products.

One of my really good friends had just moved to Denver so I got an apartment in Denver. I was going back and forth to Zimbabwe. While I was in Denver, I’d go in the Boulder for any food event I could and just started meeting with many people as I could and met a formulator who helped us create the first drink mix. She was great. She connected me to other people and started meeting people at stores and other people who created companies and it was just kind of a real learning process of asking lots of questions.

The Boulder community is just wonderful in terms of creating an amazing entrepreneurial community around food. You can reach out to a CEO of a big company and they get back and have lunch with you or invest in food so that they’ve seen lots of different products and kind of seeing what works and doesn’t work. They meet for lunch or coffee. I have to give that community a lot of credit because I learned so much there.

JM: That’s awesome.

SA: After we kind of had a product idea, one of my best friends, an amazing designer, mocked up a design. We did an Indiegogo campaign to fund the first round and I also used a lot of my own savings to do that one. We did Indiegogo to get that idea out there and see if people would resonate – and they did.

Based off that campaign,  we raised investment funds for our first big production run and then from there we just kept going. It’s been just a process of gaining traction and showing that people like the products, that there’s a need there, and that we have repeat customers. Then from that, getting more investment because food is very capital intensive business.

JM: Let’s talk about that for just a minute. That is interesting because I think that you are in one of those industries where it is very expensive, it’s just an expensive undertaking. One of the things that you and I, when we were exchanging some emails ahead of the interview, was talking about how you get those financial resources. What was that process like? I know you did your Indiegogo, what has that process been like? Has that been a difficult process or do you find that there is that kind of buy-in for what you’re doing? Did it come down to you demonstrating your passion for it?

SA: All of the above. It hasn’t always been easy. For me personally, just with my personality, asking for money is hard. I remember having a conversation with a friend who worked in fundraising before for a non-profit and he said, “Look, it’s not about asking for money, it’s about providing someone with an opportunity. You’re providing someone some opportunity to buy into your mission, to buy into this investment.”

JM: That’s awesome.

SA: It’s been a really interesting process. I read a quote the other day that if you want to feel the best and the worst about yourself, fundraise. And that’s kind of very true. The beginning of our fundraising, we had a few angel investors we didn’t know very well but that were early believers and adopters that invested.

But then a lot were friends that I’d worked with that first round for people I knew so the first amount of money we raised, we’re leaving some people kind of offering like I’d say, “Oh, we’re fundraising,” and people would offer it and have to actually make an act. So now we’re transitioning into this place on having to ask and it’s an interesting transition to make.

I’ve had to adopt a mindset of creating it to be a numbers game, a really organized process and looking at it as an opportunity to get to have conversations with a lot of really interesting people who care about the space and are going to have interesting insight to my business. If I keep in that mindset, it makes it a lot more fun than, “Oh, no, we need this money, what happens if we don’t get this money?”

JM: And having to deal with that.

SA: Yeah.

JM: How do you stay resilient to that? Because I think it’s so difficult to even ask but I think dealing with that sense of rejection, the highs and lows of when you have somebody say yes versus somebody say no, how do you deal with the emotion that is involved?

SA: I think resilience for me has been borne out of experience. There is some truth to gaining a little bit of a thick skin – not thick skin in that you pulled yourself off – but thick skin that’s like, “Oh, I have lots of opportunities, there’s a lot of more people to talk to.” It’s just like not taking it personally but this wasn’t the right fit for this person and letting it kind of slide off and go to the next opportunity. Find that for both investment but also for sale.

Right now, there are a lot of opportunities to involve with and some hit in our ideas and some we get really excited for and end up not coming through. If there’s always kind of a mix of opportunities out there, there’s enough seeds that have been planted, then it’s okay if a few of them don’t work out.

On the investment side, it’s more on the sales, sometimes it’s like 80% of things might be investments coming through and sometimes it’s 50% and sometimes 25%.  I think it’s just, I don’t know if there’s a way to learn resilience other than always trying to experience from other experiences.

JM: Yeah, absolutely. How did you know when it was time? I think for a lot of people who are going through the whole startup thing, you are tempted to just try to do it all to save a buck and you have done all of this to this point to now you’ve got this successful business. When was the time for you to start to bring on some help? Did you struggle?

I know for me, I have this hard time where I’m like, “Well, by the time we tell somebody how to do something, I could have just done it myself,” and I have this tendency to be a control freak because I really want something done in a particular way. But then I realized that it robs other people of the ability to learn and grow if I do that. It’s also just not possible to do it all yourself. Was that ever an issue for you? When did you start to bring on some help?

SA: I think it’s always an ongoing issue because we’re always growing with people and our companies are always growing and changing. I was really lucky at the beginning that I had a core set of people that were just around me that happen to have the skills we need. I have one friend that has done our legal work on delayed payments which is, a part of its equity, part of it will be delayed payment for a long, long time. She hasn’t been paid yet.

Then I have another friend who did a bunch of design work for free in equity. Equity isn’t free but it requires them believing that this is going to work out because it’s their time and resources being put in. To that, a roommate, who is a chef, did our formulation, just great people end up being around. That was a really fun time in the business and yet there was always a resistance from me because I felt bad asking but we kind of all have this excitement around it so it made it really fun.

Other than going, I realized it’s bringing people in to help, it’s not just employee are things doing the day-to-day work and thinking through the business, it’s thinking, I guess involving people in every area and letting it become, for me, not that it’s not my company anymore, people always ask like, I say “we” a lot and they’re like, “Who’s we?” I’m like, “What we have, all these investors, and we have all these people who help out. We have a producer, a producer advisory board of our farmers and renters that are contributing to what we are doing next and what we need to be focusing on, and what story need to be told.”

It really doesn’t feel light to me. I think it’s my responsibility but it’s not just my company. It feels a lot more freeing knowing that it has a life of its own and it’s not just mine which can be a little overwhelming. But it’s taken a while to get there. Also, like I mentioned on the investment side, part of that getting financially resourced to be able to do what you need to do to implement your vision, that requires bringing people in as well.

One thing, looking back in hindsight is I wanted to go from zero to a hundred right away and so you have X amount of financial resources, help resources, and it can get frustrating when you’re only getting just five or ten instead of to a hundred, like a miles for an hour, you want to make things happen and back like things that happen when they should and like, from a financial perspective, the amount coming in keep getting bigger and allowing us to do bigger and better things, the sale keeps getting bigger and letting us move forward in a different way.

But as long as there’s momentum, it keeps happening and a big part of that is letting people in because I can’t make resources just like a magic reappear but when people are around me and have this belief in what we’re doing, then they do. I tell someone about some opportunity, that have no like, “Oh, you need to talk to this person.” or “Oh, I know someone I think who can fund that part of this or I know someone who can introduce you to that person,” so by bringing more people into the vision, it just really creates the fun.

JM: Something more magical that happens, yeah, when there’s kind of that team of people that is behind you.

SA: Yeah, definitely.

JM: I hate to ask you this but have you ever had the opposite happen? I think that there have been times that I have had this amazing team but once in a while you may be have the wrong person. I think it’s so easy early on especially when you’re leaning on friends or the kindness of strangers, how do you discern when somebody is the right person to be working with or somebody’s giving you the wrong advice for what you’re trying to do?

SA: I’ll start with the advice piece. I can get always really good to be open to advice and yet like let it come in and you don’t have to hold on to every piece because at least I’ve received so much conflicting advices. One day I can get five people saying one thing and five people saying the exact opposite or some people saying ten different things.

I’m also very weary anytime anyone says, “You should do this.” I think business right now is socio individual world. It’s changing so fast, it really takes a really selectable mindset and a curiosity in sort of an inability to constantly be experimenting to be successful. I think once we get stuck in this is the way something should be done, it just creates a really restrictive environment.

JM: That’s a great point.

SA: Yeah. For the advice, I used to try to take everything really literally and incorporate every piece of advice. it’s not possible and yet everything’s so much great advice that’s really helpful to our company too. A part of it is looking at the source too like do you know them? Do you trust them? Like where someone provided advice, like do they take their own advice? There’s looking at who the source is too.

JM: I think that’s a really good point there. A lot of times, people would give advice without the context for your situation. It’s great to hear from people’s own experience. I think it’s better than conjecture, just trying to figure out what to tell you but sometimes too I think that you best know your situation. I totally agree that when somebody is telling you that you should do something and start to get pushy, you do have to really consider the source.

SA: I think so. Yeah, and then people that you hire, people like actually contributing to the current team perspective. We are hiring our first full-time employees and we really created a system like we use a fulfillment center to send out our packages, we use a commercial kitchen to do production for some of our products, we use a co-packer. A lot of things are kind of sourced-out but as far as full-time employees, we haven’t done that yet. But one thing I have learned even from contract employees, and we’ve had some great ones and some that weren’t the right fit, it’s something that I had not done well and to a lot of people, It’s something that I’ve struggled with and I think because there is such a need for being able to do lots of things that I have tried to just hire people who can do that and what I’ve realized is most people do want some structure and that creating a job description and like a container for their responsibilities can be really powerful for both people because it helps manage expectations. Most people I think want to meet or exceed expectations but if you don’t have those written down, it can be hard for them to do that so I’m trying to do that myself.

JM: How do you hold them accountable to it?

SA: I’m trying to hold myself accountable for that. I don’t know if I’ve always done that very well. It’s something I’m working on, I’m really thinking about it as we grow our team.

JM: One of those things that you learned from experience.

SA: Yeah. I’ve managed a lot of people in the corporate world but it’s very different than managing them from startup world. Then the types of] people you need are sometimes different so it’s been an interesting transition, but we’ll get there. What about you, Jenn? Good advice on that? I love to hear any advice from you.

JM: Yeah. I think you bring up a good point though. When you’re in startup versus corporate world – and a lot of people have experience with the corporate world before they go out on their own – it’s tough because when you’re starting up and you are bootstrapping or you don’t have a lot of money, you have to find that sweet spot of somebody who you can offer them a lot and they either really buy into your mission or you provide a fantastic culture where they understand that there’s a growth opportunity available.

You know you’re providing something that’s helpful, you’re either providing a learning experience for somebody who’s young and it’s worth it for them because their compensation includes that experience and the upcoming opportunities or maybe we’ve had incredible, incredible employees who are in older generation that are looking to either go into like retirement or they want to do something part time.

It’s interesting because being in branding, business consulting, and social media, we tend to attract younger generations because they’ve grown up with it, they’re super comfortable with it, they are freelance, they are familiar with social media, and they are amazing. But what we get from the older generation is so priceless because there is this incredible work ethic. It’s just a different time that everybody wants to work from home, everybody thinks it’s not a big deal to be an hourly or not work today and you try to explain like, “Yes, yes, we can work remote,” “Yes, we can use technology,” but yes, sometimes, it feels like the wheels are falling off when everybody today wanted to stay home and have an extra cup of coffee before coming in.

Then you have somebody who comes in who is maybe a baby boomer, who they have that day job and really took pride in showing up on time. They were there everyday. Having those folks work together I think is invaluable for all of us. It’s incredible but it is finding that sweet spot in the beginning where it’s not, you haven’t built up to that level where we’ve got this beautiful office and here’s your corner office and your benefits package, it took us a long time to get to that point.

I think it is tough and I think that old adage of hire slow fire fast, we don’t always have that luxury because sometimes you’re like I need somebody to get in here right now. But when you have the luxury to take your time, and do multiple interviews and have different people within your current team talk to these folks, I think that’s probably my biggest takeaway, meeting with people and seeing how consistent they are across meetings.

One other little piece of advice before we bounce this back to you – because I have more questions for you, one piece of advice that I got that I have lived by this and it makes so much sense, somebody once told me that when you’re interviewing somebody, especially for a key position, if it’s something important and you have to hire a great person, take them out to lunch or dinner. The way that they interact with servers and other customers, and the people around them will tell you volumes about the kind of person that they are.

I can teach so much, so much of our jobs and the skills that are required. I can teach, but just being like a decent human being and an amazing team player and just a great person, those are really tough things to teach so I totally live by that. Anytime I can take somebody out and have some experience with them in the real world and really get to know them I think is really valuable.

SA: Oh, I love that.

JM: Yeah. It’s good advice. You will pick up on such interesting things if you take somebody out for lunch before you hire them. With that, before we wrap up, our audience is women entrepreneurs, what advice would you give them? Either from your area of expertise or just from your own experience is what you provide.

SA: I have two things. I kind of have written down but I think about and then I wish I would have known. Some of them, I did accidentally but had been really powerful. One is to create relationships with other entrepreneurs at your stage and your industry. I think a lot of times, at networking events or conferences, you’re trying to go see the panelist, you’re trying to meet that person like at a couple stages beyond where you are. There’s so much power in creating friendships and relationships with the people who are right where you are as you all start growing. You’ve been in it together and that ability to share information can just be so powerful, to share connections, and to be there to talk through the hard times. I think that can just be so powerful.

I think the most things I’ve learned have been from other founders in food and the best introductions I’ve received have been from other founders and different investors, the best introduction they can get us from another founder because we know who’s got and who’s not even when you know who’s in it, who’s just trying to see if this can maybe work. You want to help each other like if you can help make a connection or introduce someone to a store, whatever it is for your industry, you want to do it with the people that you grew up within these both stages. To have the mentorship of people who are a little bit further of you, ahead to, but I’d say, just don’t, I think sometimes, people ignore then the importance of the people at your stage, if you’re going to a pitch event, just trying to meet the investors, like meet that other people. That, in the long run, is going to be really powerful. Then one thing I find, especially women entrepreneurs getting into a lot with me and my friend is overwhelmed about one friend, we call it “the under the cover Netflix feeling” where you just want to stay under the covers and watch Netflix and don’t want to deal with the world.

JM: Netflix and anxiety.

SA: Yeah, Netflix and anxiety. You’re not enjoying that. You’re not enjoying the show because they’re doing that out of anxiety, guilt, and shame. It’s a horrible feeling. What I’ve learned there is just like what is the one thing you can do, and usually for me, if I can do one thing, it’s just build up that self-confidence for that day to be, “Okay, I can be that second thing, I can be that third thing.” If that first thing is just making a cup of coffee like make that cup of coffee like it’s just like I think just that when in overwhelm, just finding that first thing you can do, it just leads to other things.

A lot of people talk about making the bed in the morning, you’ll accomplish one thing and just finding whatever that one thing is like create that momentum for your day, it can be so powerful and then actually four, three is look at the numbers because entrepreneurs, a lot of us are vicious like we like to look at the dream and you have to go back and forth between dreaming and doing. But one thing I found with people at the beginning is ignoring the numbers but it’s one thing that can create such space and such a container for your creativity if you know your numbers and you know what you have to work with.

I think one of the places both myself and other entrepreneurs who are friends, and I, both feelings that you get a feeling stuck a lot of times are financially induced like, “Oh, I don’t have money for gas today to even get to the office, I don’t have money for this subscription.”

JM: Let alone hiring people.

SA: Yeah, this thing like you’re always kind of pushing it to the edge. I think having an understanding around numbers give us freedom like there will always going to be those moments I think in the startup stage. But I think you can lower them and reduce the stress around them and that feeling of getting stuck if you create a weekly money day or have a friend that you can be accountable with to go through your numbers every week. I have a friend that we do that every Tuesday morning, we go through our numbers together, both personal and business. It’s just so powerful to have that accountability.

JM: Is that tough? That seems like it would be kind of a tough thing to find somebody that you can open up and talk numbers with, is that difficult?

SA: It probably does take the right person. At some point, you just kind of have to get over it. I think we even train society like not to talk about numbers, the money, and probably especially women. It haven’t done us any good.

As women, we don’t negotiate high enough in the corporate world for salaries. I was told once that a guy who worked under me made more money than me because he negotiated better and that can only increase my salary by X% every year. It’s because we weren’t talking, I wasn’t talking about it. I didn’t ask the questions. I don’t blame them, I blame myself. Although I think companies should have policies to prevent that from happening, I think talking about it takes away some of the shame and secrecy, and  it just blows that light open. But the money to be a tool, to achieve your visions both in your personal life and your business without it having like kind of just like secrecy or shame attached. I guess we can find someone to do it with, it’s just a really great practice. Maybe you found a friend, maybe there are lots of fractional CFOs out there and bookkeepers. Bookkeepers are really inexpensive. My bookkeeper is somewhere like $35 an hour. It’s so quick.

JM: And well worth it.

SA: It’s well worth it, for a month it might be a couple of hours but just have that accountability session, I could have that accountability session with her and she’s used to that all the time, like setting up quickbooks right away, everything around numbers like getting quickbooks are the alternative setup. Getting a bookkeeper, getting some metrics that you want to follow like from the very, very beginning and before your first customer like I think is so powerful.

JM: Make it a priority.

SA: Yeah. Then the other piece I think is to make everything experiment like if you do something that doesn’t work, then you don’t have any shame around it. It’s not like, “Oh, I predict that this wouldn’t work, in entrepreneurship, there’s no way to predict what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.

I think looking at different things as an experiment, right now I have lots different systems and I’m doing different measurements around, fundraising like reaching out to different people and kind of what’s happening and so I’m kind of looking as I experiment like which method just aren’t resonating, which method just resonating on marketing, we just switched one of the platforms on Amazon or it’s just getting started testing different things and testing different things with our customer journey through our emails and how people receive their packages. I think just viewing everything as an experiment makes you really a lot more curious about things and takes away that feeling sometimes of getting stuck if you feel like you didn’t do something right. It makes it non-personal it’s like, “Oh, it was an experiment.”

JM: It’s funny, you read my mind when you said test. But I love saying that it’s an experiment or a test instead of a failure. I think one of those mindsets that we’re kind of conditioned into in society especially with social media because it’s so public like everybody sees it and something doesn’t work out and it’s like it’s okay, it was an experiment or a test, it’s not a failure. In fact, a lot of the clients that we worked with, I try to hold on to this for myself but one of the things that we talk about is trying different things until you find the thing that succeeds so it’s failing as quickly as possible or testing as quickly as possible, you know like a lot of things are probably really not going to work out in business, so it’s a matter of, “Okay, so we have these four options, let’s try the thing that we think is most likely to work and just be okay with, if it doesn’t, great, let’s figure out very early on that it’s not a sustainable idea, it’s not working, what’s the next thing, what’s the next thing until you hit upon the thing that does work. That actually happens all the time in business, all the time, but again, it’s kind of like that overnight success mindset where we think just because we discovered it today that we think that person started and it’s not the case and we think, “Oh, just because this person succeeded at this, they didn’t just try forty-seven different things that didn’t work out and we’re so hard on ourselves.”

SA: Right. I love that reflection on it and I think it’s one of the big differences between entrepreneurship and working for someone else is that mindset and I think for a lot of us it can be difficult because, I think especially for women entrepreneurs like a lot of us like we are students, we were used to acing tests, so even sometimes, the terminology of a test like when we think we should get an A on that test.

JM: Right, so true. It’s so true.

SA: Right. As an experiment, it’s like, “Oh, an experiment just means seeing what happens or observing or like making a hypothesis, you’re thinking you know what might happen, you’re creating some scenarios to see what kind of results you’re following it, you’re recording the metrics, and it started to but it’s not as personal, it’s not even that it’s a failure, it’s just looking at it, like, oh, this is what we’re looking at. I think maybe if we switch this,it might work, or something valuable.

JM: And not taking it personally. I think that is probably a great parting shot. Because in business, so rarely is that personal and I don’t know if it’s a gender thing, maybe it’s the type of person that is so attracted to entrepreneurship.

I know for me it’s like I take things so personally. My mom is an entrepreneur and I have these conversations with her. It’s hard to see for yourself when you take it personally. Sometimes you need somebody to say, “This isn’t personal, you’re taking it personally and it’s not business.”