When researching for a story centered on entrepreneurs under 30, a friend connected me with Ryan Paugh. At the time, Ryan was at Brazen Careerist writing, speaking and preaching about career-management. He was big into entrepreneurship… still is.
Like all the others on the unlocking potential series, Ryan is a linchpin. He is the source, the center of many entrepreneurial circles, providing resources and connecting people just as my friend connected me with him.
Without further ado… welcome, Ryan.
Q: You’re known for building epic communities. What does an epic community look like to you?
Ryan: An epic community is one that can help you unlock any door in your industry or trade. For communities like YEC and FounderSociety, we aspire to help our members gain access to everything they need to grow successful businesses.
Q: How did you get to where you’re at now? What’s your story?
Ryan: This is very geeky, but blogging changed my life. After I graduated college I started a blog with one of my best friends about Gen Y entering the workforce. Through the blog came my first business, Brazen Careerist, which was a free community for Gen Y professionals seeking career happiness.
Q: What’s the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur?
Ryan: The best part about being an entrepreneur is having control over your own destiny. The worst part about being an entrepreneur is the toll it takes on your personal life and the lack of stability.
Q: What gets you filled up with passion and ready to take on the world, to go the distance, to be in it for the long haul?
Ryan: My family. Now that I’m a father especially, I find that I’m more motivated to be successful than I have ever been. I want my family to live the best life possible. I want them to see me as their hero.
Q: What do you see people regularly failing to do while starting a business? What would you suggest they do differently?
Ryan: Spending too much time on one idea is a common startup killer. Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they didn’t get it right on the first try. They had to iterate on their existing idea to make it work.
Q: What are four hacks you can share? They can be about life, relationships, getting a job, starting a business, whatever you would like.
Hack #1. Invest in a virtual assistant and outsource work that takes away from building your business. Challenge yourself to delegate at least one new thing per week to your assistant.
Hack #2. Perfect is stupid. Come up with an idea for a business. Build the minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as you can and get it to market. Iterate based on feedback from your early customers to get better.
Hack #3. Become an early riser or a night owl and you will get more accomplished than 99 percent of the population.
Hack #4. Take care of yourself. You physical and mental health are strongly linked to your success.
Q: Here’s an open-ended question for you: What are your thoughts on waiting?
Q: What about failure?
Ryan: Embrace it.
Q: Would you tell us about a truly challenging time and how you got through it (or didn’t!)?
Ryan: Without going into too much detail, I had a health scare a couple months ago that left me feeling mentally paralyzed. It took weeks for me to feel better and get back to my business. The reason I was able to take the time off that I needed to recover was my amazing team. At some point in the future, you’re going to need to take some time off too and it will go a lot smoother if your company can operate with you missing. Being a great leader means learning how to delegate to your team and trust that they can get the job done. You should spend time early on in your career getting comfortable with this. You’ll thank yourself later.
Q: What are three lessons people should know about building a community?
- Community businesses are are some of the most difficult businesses to run. I love what I do, but it’s not an easy road to riches. There are plenty of other avenues you could take to get rich quick
- Great customer service can keep a paying customer loyal even when the product still needs work.
- People will pay a premium for a concierge-level community experience.
Q: What makes an idea or a business or a person remarkable?
Ryan: Vulnerability. I’m drawn to people, ideas, and businesses that are not afraid to be what they are even if that might lead to them being criticized.
Q: Any last advice you want to give someone in marketing or someone who is thinking of starting a business?
Ryan: Share your ideas with as many people as possible.
Q: Lastly, where can people find you and the remarkable work you do? (Shamelessly self-promote here.)
Ryan: The communities I’m currently building are YEC and FounderSociety. We also run a great startup advice website for early-stage entrepreneurs. Follow me on Twitter. I try to blog semi frequently at ryanpaugh.com.
Stay Positive & Go Share Your Ideas, Be A Hero, Start Something