Tackling the Myths of Entrepreneurship: Luc Bohunicky

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Entrepreneurship is sexy and compelling.

You call your own shots. You're the master/mistress of your own domain.

It's an ideal way to make a living.

Well, that's the perception.

The reality is that entrepreneurship is stressful. It's a 24/7 activity that takes blood, sweat, and tears.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Luc Bohunicky and I explore the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, and what entrepreneurs must do to develop products and attract an audience.

My name is Mark Evans and I'd like to welcome you to marketing spark, the podcast that delivers small doses of insight, tools and tips from marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches in twenty minutes or less. On today's show I'm talking with Luke a Hanikey, a podcaster Linkedin efficionado and senior growth manager at deep dive technology group. Welcome to market he sparkler. Thanks a lot for having me. It's a nice to get one on the books here. Gone back and forth a lot on Linkedin, like I have a lot of people over the last six months, and really enjoyed our conversation, so it's really excited to have you on on the podcast today. One of the things that you talked about a lot is entrepreneurship, and I think what we've both seen so far this year is a lot of people, unfortunately, have lost their jobs and are exploring the idea of doing their own thing, of being the master or mistress of their own domain. But there's a lot of myths around entrepreneurship. From the outside looking in, it appears to be a very sexy, very glamorous, very exciting activity, but maybe you can provide some insight into what it's really like to be an entrepreneur and what it takes to to enjoy that that lifestyle. Yeah, that's that's a juicy one right there, mark, and I know that you and I have had these conversations on Linkedin and that's one of the beauties that I love about Linkedin. It gives you a chance to that your own thoughts and and understand if you're crazy to you where if other people's are people are crazy just like you. So yeah, I definitely think there's a lot of misconceptions about entrepreneurship. Maybe we'll get into a couple of those today. I definitely got into entrepreneurship for the wrong reasons. So I think I would have gone into it anyways. I'm thirty years old now. I got in, I guess, right out of university, technically before that happened, but yeah, I got sucked into the Glamor side, man, I have to say. You know, like I said, I think I'm a born entrepreneur and I would have done it anyways. But you get this idea that it's a good way to make money, you get this...

...idea that it's a good way to have this lifestyle. But you know, I guess you get caught up in that and you start, you know, believing that that that's it. You start you stop thinking that you know you actually need to work hard to do it. You stopped thinking about what lifestyle you need to have. You stop thinking about do I even like this business? Do I even like working nine to nine? Do I even like sacrificing my weekends? So I think a lot of people get into it for the wrong reasons and that's probably why lots of people get out. I think that, you know, a true entrepreneur is somebody that's tried multiple times and is still sticking to it. I don't think we should have an ego about what is defined as an entrepreneur. I think it's a verb and not a noun. And Yeah, I just think that we need to break some of these social stigmas, because it's a lot of work, it's not for everybody, it's not sexy. It can be, but, holy smokes, you learn a lot by doing it. Yeah, you do learn a lot and it is very exciting. I mean, while you kind of got into entrepreneurship for all, maybe the wrong reasons, I consider myself to be an accidental entrepreneur because two thousand and eight I got laid off by a start up. There is this thing called the global credit crunch and they didn't need marketers anymore and I didn't know what I was going to do. I three kids at a mortgage and I was I going to get a full time job and I fell into consulting. I got a consulting Gig and then I got another consulting gig and all of a sudden I was an entrepreneur. So I think one of the things that people need to keep in mind is that entrepreneurship happens for lots of different reasons. Sometimes it's by designs, sometimes you're hip with a brainstorm that you just you can't ignore, on Itch, you can't stop from scratching, and sometimes it's just, you know, right place, right time. So I think that's one of the things about entrepreneurship we need to we need to think about maybe pinpoint one or two entrepreneurial myths that you wanted to dispel to highlight your point. There's no one way, shape or form of entrepreneurship and I think that's the beauty of it and that's why we need to kind...

...of get rid of these stigmas. I personally think that one of the biggest myths is that you need to know something. So of course you know something, but the idea that you need to be the master of a particular domain in order to go into a business and start to start up. I think it definitely helps to have domain knowledge. It definitely helps to know the customers that you want to sell to before you even start selling to them. But I think there's also a disadvantage if you think that you know too much, if you think that you already know the problem that you're solving, if you think that you already know who your ideal customer profile is, what keeps them up at night, if you think you already know everything that has to do with your business, your product and your customer, I think it kind of puts you at a disadvantage, and I've worked with a lot of really smart technical cofounders, so of course I'm biased in that direction, which is good to just be selfaware, but when you have people, whether their technology people or business people, that think that they know too much, you lose the whole site of experimentation, which is what I think entrepreneurship is really all about. But I would also argue that creativity and the ability to do things out of the box are also important. Recently I read an article about Ben and Jerry who, as we all know, created this amazing iconic ice cream brand and and the story was really about their thirty of your relationship and how they've remained good friends even to this day. But when you think about Ben and Jerry, they didn't know ice cream in inside out. I mean all they knew was they like the idea of selling ice cream and they like the idea of doing it in a place like Vermont. So it was more of a feel kind of feel good kind of enterprise for them. But where they ice cream experts going in? Absolutely not. So I think you make a good point about the fact that maybe some of the most successful entrepreneurs are people who...

...are simply passionate about idea or realize that they've got to do something because something's got to be done. Yeah, that's the magic of entrepreneurship sometimes. Yeah, and if I can play off the word creativity that you used, mark, I think that in many cases you do know something from somewhere in your life, but you apply it in a unique way so that's what I love to see, is when you have a person that does something in their career, whether it's a job, a start up, whatever, and then they quit that thing and they feel like they don't have anything, they feel like they didn't take anything away because their career path isn't linear anymore. Well, guess what, entrepreneurship definitely isn't linear. So I think it's beautiful when you do something really random in life that might not be related to something you do next, but you can apply the skills, the knowledge, the unique vantage point from what you did and apply it to what you do next, and I think that's where a lot of entrepreneurial disruption actually originates from. So let's sift gears a little bit. So you decided to become an entrepreneur and you've got a target market that you're focused on and you've got an idle customer who you think would be amazing to serve. How do you go about building your product? You can be both from a either a building a technology product or you're building maybe a piece of hardware. So what are some of the things that you need to think about, because obviously it looks as though it's not looks as though you obviously you spend a lot of time focused on this particular aspect. Yeah, absolutely, I think. I think if you get this aspect wrong, this first customers, first product, kind of dilemma. If you get this wrong, you almost a hundred percent of the time fail and if you get it right, you have at least a platform to attempt to succeed. So I think it's extremely important and I feel that you you can't...

...build everything and then go and find your customers. You absolutely can't do that. You also can't, on the other hand, just go to a potential customer and say hey, I have an idea. So I think that's where it's an iterative process of don't spend a month to build something, but produce something. If it's a physical product, produce a D rendering. If it's a digital product, produce some wire frames, produce some type of prototype or really, really rough and dirty proof of concept just to help the people that you're talking to wrap their head around your idea and it will provide more feedback during that customer discovery customer development process anyways. So I think that those early stages really really don't build a lot or build nothing. And then go and talk to lots of the right people. Lots of people, meaning don't just talk to one, two or three, talk to US statistically significant number of people. And relevant, I mean you don't need to talk to everybody that's an exact customer. Talk to relevant stakeholders, but don't talk to your mom and paw and expect to get good product feedback. Right. So those are a few things that I would think about when I go out. I personally like to think about three particular types of customer profiles, because if you choose one and you're wrong, like it's you got nothing to compare it to. If you choose ten, you're spreading yourself too thin. So I like imagining, HMM, there are three different types of people that might like this. I'm going to go talk to a few of all three and then I'll refine my search later. So a couple things a bounce off you in terms of that show them something concept. So it's a couple of concept a couple of things people talk about. One is minimum viable product and the other one is the lean startup, which was popularized by Eric Grease. What are your takes...

...on both of those approaches and how does it Aligne with your idea of showing potential customers something? I read the books, love them, embrace them. Everything are a crease has put out, everything Steve Blank has put out. I think it's phenomenal and I know there's a bunch of other names out there that deserve a lot of credit to I think the idea of a minimum viable product the idea of a lean start up, from my vantage point, go very hand in hand. I feel like it's, you know, it's up the same tree and I feel the whole idea is, you know, don't build something and expect somebody to come at you. It's this idea of you're working with very limited resources. It's this idea that you need to be in a place where you're willing to rapidly experiment and really produce, really find a way to test your riskiest assumption before you move on. So at any particular point where you're an early stage start up, you're doing some kind of activity that's both building a product and building a customer base, some combination of the two, and there's always some kind of assumption that you should be testing and you shouldn't look at it as how quickly can I finish building my product? How quickly CAN IRAS venture capital? But how do you get to that next point of learning, that next point of experimenting? What's that biggest assumption that you're making? That, if it's true, you have a business, but if it's false, you don't, and you go out and you test that, and sometimes that's by talking to people, sometimes that's by building something and showing it off, sometimes that's by a be testing something. But I think it's the idea of this philosophy is to go step by step and figure out how to break your startup into bite size pieces that are digestible, let's say,...

...within a week's period of time, as opposed to a month or a year, so you can ultimately learn as fast as you can and eat up the least amount of resources while doing it. Is that in line with what you think? Yeah, I agree with you that minimum viable product makes sense. One of the things I do worry about, or one of the things that concerns me with the middle of vile product is if you come out with a product and it's buggy and it's far from perfect and it doesn't delight in a certain way, then in many cases you don't get a second chance. The brand perception has been established. Your one shot at impressing that person or impressing the market overall has disappeared, and so I do have some misgivings about the lean start up and approach. Do you worry about that at all? Is that you think that's a legitimate concern? I don't want to play devil's advocate, but I will because I hear a lot of people talking about this and I totally agree. It's possible that you can burn a bridge if you release a shitty product and your first customer champion or champions realize it. But I think it's a greater risk if you don't just get something out there asap. I think if you find the right customer champion Mark, they want to be with you because you're casting a vision, you're casting an idea that you're out there to solve the particular problem and it's more than just a feature or two features, but it's a vision of doing something that's going to redefine and reshape your customers experience, your customers day to day, whether it's be to be your BTC. So I think if you're doing something cool enough and valuable enough and you cast a really big vision and you're building a relationship with your customer champion. I think you're going into it saying, Hey, this might not work perfect, this might have a few bugs, that's why we're discounting it, that's why blah, Blah Blah, but you make sure that you...

...over service the heck out of that customer. When it goes wrong, you rectify it and I think in many situations, if you find the right persona of customer champion, they are in it because they want to be the first ones there, in it because they know that they're getting a competitive advantage, that they're they're innovating. So I think if they if you burn a bridge with your customer champion because your product wasn't good enough day one, I think it was the wrong expectation or the wrong customer. That's a great advice and I think I remember someone talking at about a conferences about how to love your first one ever customers. Is that those are the people that really matter to you, because if you can delight them, if you can educate them and get their feedback, then your product is going to evolve, it's going to improve, and then you'll be able to attract more customers. So let's let shift gears a little bit. You've built your product, you've identified your customers and now you got to do what many entrepreneurs consider to be a necessary evil. You got US focus on marketing. How do you start with marketing as a start up, particularly when you may not have a budget for marketing? That's a loaded question, but you know, you talked to entrepreneurs all the time and a lot of them have good products, but you got to do marketing to attract by audience to actually make the product work. Yeah, you know, honestly, I've never really thought about it as marketing. That's just that's just my personal thought as an entrepreneur. When I've had to go out there and, you know, and build a strategy around which traction channels I want to pray or to guys what tactics I'm going to leverage within those channels, it's never been like, Oh, this is a marketing activity. It's always been centered around the idea of how do you how do you get your first few? Like it starts with how do you get one, and then, after you get one, you build it up into a juicy case study...

...and you get you know, and you do your pr or whatever traction channel you want, which is a whole separate chat, and then you find customers two through ten and kind of I don't think you're in this mass market like it's a fullblown marketing strategy until you perhaps have dozens of customers. So in that those really early stages. I really like the book called Traction by Gabriel Weinberg, who is the founder of Duck Duco, and he kind of says I can't remember, but he says like there's nineteen different traction channels, nineteen different ways you can find or nineteen different places you can find your customers, and he provides a framework. And again it's very much like, okay, well, I think that these three channels out of the nineteen might work, so I'm going to run some tests, some experiments. Hopefully one of them will work out for me. So I've just looked at it as where can you you know, don't look at it as such a big audacious task. Where can you find your first customer? Work can you find your next customer after that? And then once you get into a groove and it's like holy smokes, we took a guess that linkedin would be a good traction channel and it's working, then you can figure out about doubling down and defining a clear strategy. But yeah, I think it's a daunting thing when you think about marketing, but when it's I need to find my next customer in the early stages, it seems more palatable for me. That's great advice and I think it's good, particularly good advice for entrepreneurs who are intimidated about marketing because it's usually something they don't know. Most entrepreneurs have a particular domain expertise or they've got their engineers and you and our world, so I can see how that might be something that's a little more digestible and a little more approachable. Final question for you, and I think it's a bit of a load of question and I'm surprising you in some respects, what's the biggest mistake made by marketer...

...something that you find hard to believe these days? I would say that the thing I find hardest to believe this is with marketers, and I think it also applies to almost every single other department inside of a business, perhaps except for sales, and it's that mark some marketers believe that they don't need to be directly talking the customers all the time, and I think that's wrong. I feel that the closer a marketer is with the customer actually the more value they can add. And you maybe some people would argue against this, but like in two thousand and twenty, I would much rather be a marketer than a salesperson. Like with the way of the world's shifting, with covid all these crazy things, like, I think there's so much opportunity for marketing and I think a lot of sales people will shift their role to become marketers, or they'll at least start thinking more as marketers then just pure I'm going to call the next phone number on this list and try to sell something. So I think that, in light of the opportunity in the broad world of marketing in this digital era, I think these marketers need to get close and front and center with customers because if they can carry the voice of the customer, it's going to help with everything like content, like website copy, like you know what, what is that? What is that thumbnail going to look like? How are you going to write your headline? How are you going to write that Google ad. I think it all spills out from just taking the easy approach, which is just figure out what the customers are saying, figure out what they're wanting and do it. And too many marketers, I think, play the telephone game, expecting sales to relay this info. They should do it themselves. That's great advice, Luke. So if people are looking to connect with you or to consume your content, where do they find you? Well, I apparently I'm hanging out with a lot with Mark Evans.

So if you hang out with mark you might get close to Luke. But just in case that falls through, search for me, Luke Behoni key, on Linkedin. I love talking about early stage startups, marketing challenges and early stage startups and sort of how to build a personal brand in light of being a in entrepreneur in two thousand and twenty. I have a podcast called First Customer Club, wwwclubcom, where I chat with people like Mark Evans, entrepreneurs, founders, marketing leaders, on these same kind of topics. So really grateful that you had me on today, mark. Well, thanks for listening for another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review and subscribe by Itunes or your favorite podcast APP. If you like what your heard, please rate it. For show notes of today's conversation and information about Luke, visit marketing spark dotcom slash blog. If you have questions, feedback, would like to suggest a guest or want to learn about how I help bb companies as a fractional CMO consultant adviser. Send an email to mark and marketing SPARKCOM cauty next time I.

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