The Indicator from Planet Money - Downturn Start-Ups: A Conversation With Guy Raz

Since the pandemic started, nearly 100,000 businesses have closed permanently. Opening a business now might seem crazy. But downturn start-ups have some advantages.

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the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Stacey Vanek Smith. The last 6 months have been incredibly hard on businesses nearly a hundred thousand businesses in the US have closed their doors since March actually starting a business right now seems kind of crazy. But some people save this could actually be a good time to start a business today in the show. We talked with guy Roz. He's hosted the podcast how I built this and he has a new book out called how I built this after the break. We talked with guy about entrepreneurship resilience and wine now might actually be a good time to start something new.

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Gyros welcome. Thank you for talking with me today. Thank you. So this book is really interesting because in a lot of ways it is like a how-to guide for people who are wanting to start businesses or to grow the business. They have started exactly. You know, I have never been in the business book in part because they were impenetrable to me either they were full of way to the ideas which are really powerful but didn't always speak to me. And so I really wanted to create a business book that was told through stories. For example, how do you come up with an idea where did good ideas come from a kind of starts with the story of Lisa Price and her product which became Carol's Daughter which went on to sell to a large cosmetics and beauty company for many millions of dollars years later bro. The idea came to her because she had a problem and her problem was was that as a as a black woman. She didn't feel like skin care products were made for her. She felt like they were made for whiter.

Can and lighter shades of skin and she wanted products that really spoke to her and her community of women. And so that's how she started to mix shea butter and jojoba oils and and and essential oils in her kitchen and package them in baby food jars and start to hand them out to friends who would then save this stuff is amazing. You should sell at the church flea market and then eventually she became this huge branwell, but the way she got that idea was very simple. She had a problem and she wanted to solve it and that is the essence of a business. There's a problem. Can I solve it and does this solve a problem for other people too? And if the answer is yes, you got a business you talk in the book about how you see

Personally the Journey of an entrepreneur as as something that is known as the hero's journey. Yeah, it really came out of my love for Joseph Campbell. I think a lot of people especially in college get into him because you take a Humanities course and you really take a deep dive until like The Iliad or the Odyssey or you just love Star Wars or you love Star Wars, right? And you learn about this guy Joseph Campbell who essentially showed how all Epix follow similar similar narrative Arc, you know, there's a hero she has to leave the village to fulfill her dream and and you know, she'll run into a dragon and she'll find a mentor in the mentor will die and she will be lost and then she will slay the dragon in fulfill her dream and then return to the village and triumphs and that is metaphorically speaking what virtually every founder I have had on the show has gone through

Really different from starting like an HVAC company. I have to say it doesn't it doesn't because look even starting an HVAC company is is about taking a risk, you know, it's about putting yourself out there and having no real safety-net. Maybe you're borrowing money from friends or family or the bank. You know, you've got sleepless nights. You got to make payroll dragons to slay and either you think about a story of the story of Stacy Brown Stacy Brown started a company called Chicken Salad Chick. It's one of the fastest growing fast casual food restaurants in the South and not surprisingly. They sell chicken salad. Well her husband left. She was a single mom with three children six-year-old a four year old and a two year old with no money.

And she had not worked after college because she was raising the children. So to make extra money. She started to make chicken salad and sell it at her church and door-to-door until a friend said to her. Hey, you should sell this at a restaurant. I'll give you a little bit of seed money in get a brick-and-mortar place and she found a place they launch the business and we're shut down. They got some more investors involve to try to take the business away from them. There's Triumph. There's incredible loss and credible sorrow but also an incredible

Wins and victories all in that single story the life story of Stacy Brown who founded this incredible business. That's now, you know Valley to do over a hundred million dollars. Nobody who knows that story would doubt that. That's not a hero's journey. Your book is coming out into the world at time of incredible hardship. I mean, it seems like a really hard climate but it seems totally nuts. Right? I mean you're so sure of counterintuitive and very interesting idea. If you look at some of the most successful and now resilient companies slack betterment Investment Company Microsoft FedEx. These are all businesses that were founded either in the middle of financial crises or depressions. Hewlett-Packard was founded in 1936. I mean, that's the business that invented Silicon Valley who would have thought that 1936 was a good time to start a business right when you're starting a business in

midst of a pandemic it forces you to be efficient with your money really focused if forces you to be radical and how you put your ID out into the world because this isn't this isn't a moment of Crisis actually believe that if you start a business when we emerge From This Moment, which we will

you will be in a much stronger position to build a resilient business for the future because if you can withstand this you'll be able to withstand anything.

Guy you talked to some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world and wondering for people who might be starting businesses or trying to or have a new business. That's may be struggling right now. What advice would you offer people? I would say that the most ambitious. So I Believe in Us so firmly and it's so

it's going to sound like a new age message. Like I'm trying to channel Tony Robbins, but I really believe in the spring at the most valuable asset you have is you it is Hugh like imagine if you actually had a bunch of assets a bunch of passive income from properties and one day you look up at the sky and is a firestorm and all of your assets are about to burn. Are you going to stay there with your assets? Are you going to run and protect the most important asset which is you going to run and protect yourself and it's not easy to remember that. I have many days where I feel

Like what are you doing? What are you thinking like you can't do this and I I work really hard to remind myself that I am my most important. The most important asset I have is me obviously my my family to my wife and my children but in in terms of being able to do what I want to do and it takes a lot of work to remind myself of that anybody who wants to start something you have to begin by really believing in yourself and it's not easy. It's not magic. It doesn't come from nowhere. It comes from hard work. You have to start to get comfortable with rejection. You have to start to get comfortable with with fear and even some risk. It doesn't mean you jump out of an airplane with no parachute, but it means that maybe

You can hear somebody say no or that's a dumb idea and you can keep going and keep pushing for it hard work. It's really hard, but it's a choice you can make and with practice. You can actually get pretty good at it with me. It's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. It's always a pleasure talking with you.

Gyros is the author of the new book how I built this this episode of the indicator was produced by Darren woods and Jamila Huxtable the indicators edited by Patty Hirsch and is the production of NPR
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