My guest today is the creator, publisher, and editor of Foundr Magazine, which launched in 2013 and has become a six-figure business.
Foundr is a monthly digital magazine, which has had over 100,000 downloads in its first fifteen months.
My guest also hosts a weekly podcast for Foundr where he interviews the greatest minds in business today, and has created a training platform that provides educational video courses for young entrepreneurs.
Now, let’s hack …
In this 39-minute episode Nathan Chan and I discuss:
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Voiceover: Welcome to Hack the Entrepreneur, the show which reveals the fears, habits, and inner battles behind big name entrepreneurs and those on their way to joining them. Now, here is your host, Jon Nastor.
Jonny Nastor: Welcome back to another episode of Hack the Entrepreneur. I am so glad you decided to join me today. I’m your host, Jon Nastor, but you can call me Jonny.
My guest today is a young entrepreneur from Australia. That being said, he uses a little bit colorful language sometimes. If you have children around, it doesn’t get really that bad, but he does say some words that I typically don’t say on my show. That being said, he’s awesome.
He’s a creator, publisher, and editor of Foundr Magazine, which launched in 2013, and it became a six-figure business. Foundr is a monthly digital magazine, which has had over 100,000 downloads in its first 15 months.
My guest also hosts a weekly podcast for Foundr, where he introduces the greatest minds in business today and has created a training platformthat provides educational video courses for young entrepreneurs.
Now, let’s hack Nathan Chan.
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Welcome back to another episode of Hack the Entrepreneur. I am very, very, very excited about today’s guest. Nathan, welcome to the show.
Nathan Chan: Thank you for having me, Jonny.
Jonny Nastor: It’s going to be a blast. I can just tell.
Nathan Chan: Yeah. Look, we connected over Facebook. We actually never have gotten online and chatted, but I’ve always been a big fan of your show. I’m really looking forward because you’ve got some really interesting questions. I probably should have prepped better.
Jonny Nastor: No, man. It’s just you, so that’s it. You know the answers. I need to get inside your brain.
Nathan Chan: Well, thank you. I’m honored, and my brain is yours.
Jonny Nastor: All right. Let’s jump into this. Nathan, as an entrepreneur, can you tell me what is the one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your successes so far?
Nathan Chan: I think it definitely has to do with connecting with people, finding out what they’re doing, and leveraging their knowledge. This is something I was thinking about when I was driving to start this interview. When me and you, when we got introduced from Maron and his podcasting family, I remember I actually contacted you because I saw when you started your podcast, you had a ton of reviews.
I was like, “Dude, how do you have so many reviews in the US?” You’re like, “Man, two things. I always leave my email at the end of the show, and I always write detailed answers when people write back to me and ask them to leave a review.”
You know what, Jonny? I do that, still, to this day when you told me this about eight to nine months ago. I do that with so many people. I want to learn SEO. I find an SEO expert, pick his brain, and work together. Serve first. Ask later. You might remember, also, that I gave you a ton of tips around Twitter, Instagram, and a few other things we’re doing.
I just find people that are killing it with certain things, and I help them. First things first, I always help. I don’t look to take. Then, I connect with them and find out how they’re doing it, and I just go out and take action. I think that little thing has led me down the road to do certain things very, very well.
Jonny Nastor: That’s awesome. I totally forgot about that conversation.
Nathan Chan: Yeah, it’s funny, right? Because I was thinking, “Are you going to ask this question?”
Jonny Nastor: I still do that, too.
Nathan Chan: Yeah, I knew you’re going to ask that question. I thought, “Well, that would be a great example because I actually did it to Jonny.”
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. You totally did that to me. Wow.
Nathan Chan: You know what? We actually have more reviews than you now in the US. You’ve got to keep pushing this harder.
Jonny Nastor: That’s awesome. I love that. That’s so cool. I know that you reached out to me. Well, we had been introduced sort of through Podcast Incubator with Maron. Then you literally just messaged me on Facebook and in a really cool way, which was awesome. If you don’t have somebody on Facebook, how would you decide to connect with people if that’s your thing?
Nathan Chan: Usually email. Usually email and trying to hit up a Skype call or something. That’s why I was thinking, also, me and you were having an awesome chat before we started, and I was thinking, “Geez, me and Jonny should have probably had a chat, as well, on Skype and just seeing how he’s rocking it.” Yeah, usually through email and trying to hit up a Skype interview. Then just take it from there.
Jonny Nastor: I love it. Yeah, I do at least, I think, still, do to this day. This week, I had five pretty much random Skype calls with people that have emailed me and just been like, “Hey, man. Can we just chat?” I’m like, “Sure, man. I got a link.” It’s like, “Here’s 15 minutes. Let’s do it.” I’ll just see where it goes. You just never know. You might learn something. You might be able to teach something. It’s awesome.
Nathan Chan: Yeah. That’s where it’s at. I think I’m pretty heavy on connecting, networking, and learning. That’s one thing that has really, really helped me is just connecting with people that are killing it. In terms of SEO, that’s a great example. I’m not going to sit there and try and become a god and read up about it, study it, and keep on top of the game.
I may as well just help my friend Peter, and then he helps me. Whether I pay him as a contractor or whatnot, it just works both ways. I do that with anything you can imagine — podcasting, the magazine, driving traffic, social media — you name it, apps, whatever.
Jonny Nastor: It’s very cool. Very cool. All right. Foundr Magazine, you created this wicked success. It looks like it’s kind of an overnight success, but it’s not. It’s been around for a couple of years now, right?
Nathan Chan: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: 2013, and it started as something slightly different. I want to go back because I know that’s not even the first thing you did. We don’t need to know, necessarily, what it is, but there seems to be this time in every entrepreneur’s life when they realize one of two things. Either they need to make this massive difference in the world or simply, they just can’t work for somebody else because they’re a terrible employee like myself. I would love, Nathan, to know which side of the fence you think you fall on, and when you sort of discovered this about yourself.
Nathan Chan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m a bit of both, to be honest, Jonny. The reason I started Foundr was I was in a job that I hated. I was living a life that wasn’t fulfilling, and I always felt deep down that there was something else out there for me, that I could be so much more. I really wanted to work. I thought I really wanted to work in marketing. I went back to university while I was doing my full-time job in IT, doing IT support, and I did a master’s in marketing, was trying to get a marketing job, couldn’t even get a marketing job, so I thought I’d try this online marketing stuff.
I always wanted to become an entrepreneur. I always heard these stories about people living the dream, doing cool stuff. I read the 4-Hour Workweek, but I still never did anything. I didn’t know where to start. I became frustrated with my job. I didn’t realize until time went on that I was a terrible employee, and I didn’t want to work for anyone else.
I just started Foundr on the side. I like helping people. I have a big sense of contribution and that part of me, that contribution of changing the world — and I don’t really like to say ‘changing the world,’ but it’s that contribution of helping people — triggered something inside of me, this burning fire, this hustle, this hungriness that has really kept me in good stead.
To answer your question, I’m probably a bit of both. One, out of frustration, two out of just contribution, and I like helping people. That’s what led me on this path. Once I started Foundr and fell in love with the process and fell in love with the work, the hustle, the things that I do, and the way that I help people and make an impact, that was kind of when everything changed. My life gradually, over time, changed. Now, the way it is now, I can see it being this way for a long time.
Jonny Nastor: Nice. How much do you think a master’s in marketing helps you?
Nathan Chan: Not at all.
Jonny Nastor: Really? You’re in the marketing business right now. You’ve nailed it in some stuff. I have no idea what’s involved in going to the school for marketing. Honestly, I have no idea, but I would think some part of it. No?
Nathan Chan: No, no. It’s an absolute waste of time. The marketing piece, you’re right, we are in the marketing business, and marketing is my passion project. That’s something that I really, really enjoy. Not just only the business building, but the marketing is the true passion piece.
What you described as nailing it, yeah, we’re doing a good job. It can always be done better, but that’s just purely coming from my passion of wanting to learn, understand how to be a great marketer, and how to communicate your product or service to someone that’s really exciting to me. Like driving traffic, I get excited over weird things, maybe, that other people might not get excited about.
Like I get excited now about funnels, a new branding piece, or some collateral that goes out. We’re just about to hit 300,000 Instagram followers. I’m going to spend probably, I think it’s like 500 euro on this countdown timer. It’s not a countdown timer. It’s a followers counter. Instead of a clock, it will be a six-figure clock that every time you get a new follower, it goes up, and I want to put it on my desk. Some people might find that weird, but that sh*t really excites me.
Jonny Nastor: It is weird, but it’s awesome. Seriously, that’s awesome, but it is weird.
Nathan Chan: It is, but this is what I’m passionate about. This is what drives me. This is what makes me really hungry, and that hunger is what enables me to do, I believe, pretty decent work, you know?
Jonny Nastor: Totally. That’s awesome.
Nathan Chan: But no, the marketing degree, I didn’t learn, really, anything at all. Everything that I’ve learned is either self-taught or learning from others or mentors.
Jonny Nastor: Very cool. All right, Nathan, we’re going to move on to work. Every blog post, every expert now talks about the 80/20 rule. I’m sure you’ve heard about this in Australia. You do 20 percent. You get 80 percent of the results. Do what you’re good at. Delegate the rest. Nathan, in your business, can you tell me something that you were absolutely not good at?
Nathan Chan: Yeah. I am terrible with accounting. That’s why I’ve actually just hired this, not really hired, but I’ve moved to this really boss, epic accountant. I know our numbers in the sense what our expenses are and how much we’re bringing in, but in terms of forecasting and really, really knowing your numbers — cost of customer acquisition, how much we should be paying for a customer, all that stuff. Forecasting, if we want to turn Foundr into a seven-figure business, this is how much we need to sell of product. This is what we need to do, that kind of stuff.
I’m terrible at math. I hate math, so I brought on a really, really good accountant that I catch up with at least, now, while we’re setting stuff up, at least once every couple of weeks. We’ll be catching up regularly forever, probably, at least once a month.
He can tell me how we’re tracking. He can just pull out the numbers from the business and say, “This is what we need to do,” and really, really help me. The numbers don’t lie, right? That’s probably something that I’m really, really terrible at is math and accounting. I really don’t enjoy that.
Jonny Nastor: Years into the business, and you’ve just recently hired this accountant? Until then, did you fumble through and think like, “Man, I’m good at this accounting. I know what the expenses are, and I know what we’re bringing in. I don’t need to know more?”
Nathan Chan: Yeah. Pretty much.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, lots of us make that mistake.
Nathan Chan: Yeah. Pretty much. We don’t have that many expenses. I don’t think digital businesses have that many expenses. It depends what you’re selling, really. It really depends what you’re selling. For us, Apple, which covers a big proportion of our income, they manage everything in terms of all that stuff. I just get paid once a month by Apple at the end of the month, and then that’s it.
Our expenses, we got a few SaaS expenses now and employee expenses, but apart from that, it’s pretty easy to just have a spreadsheet. I’ve got something in Evernote, that says these are our costs, and I know how much we’re bringing in. That’s always been pretty easy.
I did have an accountant, but he was a friend that I used to work with. He didn’t really know tax rules. We’re going to be doing some really savvy stuff. In Australia, you can get something called an EMDG grant. I don’t know what it stands for, but pretty much, if you’re from Australia creating Australian product —...