Andrew McIntosh — First-Generation Entrepreneurs

Reading Time: 37 minutes

Arvid Kahl 0:00
Welcome to The Bootstrapped Founder. Today, I’m talking to Andrew McIntosh. He is a first generation entrepreneur. Andrew leads a community of people just like himself. And in fact, myself too. I’m also a first generation entrepreneur. And it’s very likely that you are one, too. Andrew and I talk about dealing with families that don’t understand why we do what we do, finding the people just like ourselves, and how we can build profitable communities to help our peers that really need help. And before we get to our conversation, let me introduce the sponsor of this episode. Now imagine this: you’re a founder who’s built a solid SaaS product, acquired customers and is generating consistent MRR. The problem is you’re not growing for whatever reason, lack of focus, lack of skill or just plain lack of interest and you feel stuck in your business. What should you do? Well, the story that I would love to hear right now is that you buckled down and somehow reignited the fire in yourself. You got past yourself and the cliches and you started working on the business rather than just in the business, you start building an audience and move out of your comfort zone, do sales and marketing and all this stuff we don’t like to do. In six months, you’ve tripled your revenue. Wouldn’t it be a cool story? But the reality is not that simple. Situations may be different for every founder facing this particular crossroad. But too many times the story ends up being one of inaction and stagnation until the business becomes less valuable or even worse, worthless. If you find yourself here or your story is likely headed down a similar road, I offer you a third option. Consider selling your business on acquire.com. Capitalizing on the value of your time is the smart move. Acquire.com is free to list and they’ve helped hundreds of foreigners already. Go to acquire.com and see for yourself if this is the right option for you. All right, here is Andrew McIntosh. So what’s the most common issue that first generation entrepreneurs run into that founders who come from entrepreneurial backgrounds, families that have an entrepreneurial background rarely ever experienced? What have you found? Andrew McIntosh 2:08
Well, for me, this all starts back in 2006 when I started my business. I got connected with this other guy who was a few years younger than me. And it turns out, he was a second gen entrepreneur. I’m a first gen. And it really kind of made it obvious the differences between all the things that he had. And let me preface this by saying I’m not going to mention this person by name. But he was undoubtedly a hard worker, he was undoubtedly smart. But he had all these advantages that I didn’t have. So what I mean by that is, every time I talk to this guy, I would see him probably every month or two. And in 2006, he was building websites for a living. And if you recall in 2007 is when the iPhone came out, right? So he pivots to I don’t do websites anymore. Now, I do apps. And every time I see him, he’s on to some other completely different, you know, wildly different app idea. And it would never, whatever he had would never last more than a month or two. And I was always like, man, you need to sit down and just focus, just stick with something, just stick with one thing and do it really well. Well, then one day, this guy he, like falls off the face of the earth, doesn’t respond to calls or texts or anything. I don’t know what’s happened to him. And then I find out through the grapevine. He’s already sold his business for seven figures. This is in 2008, probably. And I was like, what? What gives? How, you know, at this point, I’m three years into my bootstrapped business. I’m an IT guy by trade. So I’m just fixing people’s computers. But a few years into my business, I’m still doing this full time and then cleaning offices with my wife after hours, like we’re just barely scraping by. He’s already sold his business. He’s like 26 years old and early retirement. And I’m like what gives? So come to find out after the fact, his dad was the CEO of a pretty sizable company here in town. And his dad was floating him financially. He was covering his apartment and all of his personal expenses. So this guy actually had, it’s like, he had 50 darts in his hand and he could just keep throwing them until he hit a bull’s eye. Whereas I’m standing over here going, I got one dart, man. I got one shot at this, you know and so on reflecting on that now, just kind of looking back. It’s like, again, not trying to minimize what he’s doing because if he wasn’t smart and hardworking, like this never would have taken off, right? But he was able to get connections, his dad was able to pull some strings, help him find his first few clients. Here’s my accountant. Here’s my lawyer. Here’s how you set up an LLC. Here’s how you market yourself, here’s how you sell. Here’s the education you need to be able to develop apps. Here’s all these things none of which did I have when I started my business, right? So for me being the first in my family to start a business, my parents were like, super proud, like and supportive, which was awesome. I’m very, very grateful for that. But in terms of mentorship, support, advice, connections, financial backing, I had none of that whatsoever. So in the long term, I think it was actually a good thing for me because it’s kind of that bootstrapper mentality. You know, it’s not just the financial aspect of it, but it’s also learning by doing, by making a bunch of mistakes. You know, I kind of learned everything the hard way, it’s the school of hard knocks, right? But I couldn’t help but look back on it. Now that I’ve sold that business all these years later, which I know we’ll probably get into. But it’s like, man, if I had had access to some of those types of connections, my first few years in business probably would have gone a whole lot smoother and been a lot less painful and gotta change the trajectory even better than what it was. Arvid Kahl 6:04
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That really rings a bell like with me. That is my experience too. My family was they’re hard workers, right? Like, people work hard. They try to make a living but they did not have any knowledge outside of their domain of work that they were in. So when I tried to start things that were outside of that, I think I’m glad they were kind of supportive to begin with, right? Andrew McIntosh 6:32
Right Arvid Kahl 6:32
Because I want to talk about this too because that’s something a lot of people struggle with, like they have no support, in addition to having no mentorship, no guidance and no actually like actual help, actual, initial fundamental and foundational knowledge that might travel in there from from their family. They don’t have access to any of this. I, at least, had a supportive family in a way. And I kind of wanted to talk about this. I think mentorship and guidance, particularly, they are a must have for entrepreneurs, like they definitely need this. And at some point in our life, hopefully, we find that somewhere. A lot of people have the advantage of having it with their parents, which is great because it kind of permeates your whole education, right? It’s not just you turn, like 21 years old or something. And then somebody comes in and gives you kind of the pamphlets that you need to read. And now you know everything. It’s been instilled in you if you have parents and a family that has this kind of approach to life. But if you don’t, at least having alternative groups of people that can bring this into your life as early as possible, that would be great. At least, that’s what I want entrepreneurs to see. So I do want to talk about the actual support network too, right? Because that mentorship guidance, that’s kind of intellectual. But there is an underlying feeling for me that I have only recently in the last couple of years develop that I feel surrounded by supportive people. Because I didn’t really have that before. Short excursion into my family story, like I said, everybody is kind of hard working and working for the government or working for private enterprise somewhere but in a paid position just really as an employee. So when it came to just understanding risk, financial risk or even understanding money, understanding like how money has this cumulative effect, if you invest it, it becomes bigger instead of if you just save it and never touch it, right? There are these narratives, these stories that we have in our lives, where our families are kind of telling us a thing that worked for them. But in the end, we need a different story. So how does kind of support network? How can you build this if you don’t have that in your family? What are your suggestions when you need that support network, but you can’t really source it from your relatives? Andrew McIntosh 8:51
Well, it’s interesting, I’m finding that there’s kind of two camps when it comes to your family and your support network as a first gen entrepreneur. Either one, your parents are like mine or yours, where they’re supportive of what you do, but there’s a danger in that. Because in some cases, they think you hung the moon, they think you’re just fantastic, right? They love you. You’re their child and they think you can do anything, but then they fail to point out to you the pitfalls or the mistakes you’re about to make or the things that you’re doing wrong because they don’t know any better, right? So they give you this false sense of, you know, confidence, perhaps as you’re going into this or it’s the other camp where they’re overly critical of you. And they know what your shortcomings are and they think that you’re not cut out for this and they’ll make comments like you sure this is, you know, this business is really gonna work out for you? And like maybe should just go back to a day job and that is super discouraging for people. And so for me when I think about a support network, you know what I’m already witnessing happening in this community that I’ve started which is still in its infancy, frankly. But you know, a lot of people talk about imposter syndrome, right? And we see it openly discussed on social media and things like that. It’s super, super common thing. But once you kind of rub shoulders with your peers and you know that they have it too, but then you see what they’re able to accomplish in their business, there’s kind of this sense of like, okay, yes, maybe I’m the first in my family to start a business. I am the Trailblazer here, but what I’m doing isn’t actually all that different from what he’s doing or from what she’s doing. I’m also saying where, you know, I talked about this a lot. Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster, man. I mean, it has higher highs and lower lows than just working in a normal day job. And when you’re experiencing those lows, it’s like everything feels like it’s crashing down on you. You know, you start to question, it’s not just imposter syndrome. It goes way, way beyond that. You’re not even thinking, am I an imposter here? You’re thinking is this whole thing gonna come crashing down? Is it even going to be able to pay the bills by this time next month? And all that self doubt starts to creep in. And that can actually lead to depression, you know, where you find yourself struggling to get out of bed. So when you’re talking to people who aren’t entrepreneurs, then all they’re focused on is the fact that, yeah, you know, you’re depressed and here’s how we can, you know, try to fix that or whatever. But when you’re talking to people who’ve been there, done that, have experienced the same exact thing and have gotten through the other side of this thing, they can validate the way that you’re feeling. They can tell you that it’s going to be okay and you actually believe them because you know, they’ve experienced it for themselves. And it’s like that can make or break your mental and emotional, you know, outlook on whether your entrepreneurial journey here is actually going to, you know, fall off a cliff or if it’s actually got a happy ending on the other side. Arvid Kahl 12:07
That just speaks right from my heart, like I’ve experienced the exact same thing. It’s understandable that people who have a nine to five job cannot relate to this really, like they don’t have this fundamental risk in anything they do. That what they’ve been building for years, might just come crashing down on them, like immediately and forever. We had this with our business, too. It felt after a while, that we had something really valuable, that if we stopped working on it for a couple days, we just implode. And that is a risk that most people who have a job don’t have like they think about job security and how quickly can I find another job doing the thing that I’m already doing right today? But for a founder, the risk is so much more intense. And that is something people just really don’t relate to, right? Unless they have done this themselves, which as I said earlier, if you had that in your family, people will raise you with that understanding that certain things. You know, they will come they will go. That’s fine. You will find another way or invest your time wisely. And then kind of diversify because they understand the concepts underneath these. But if your family doesn’t have this and I come from a family like this, they looked at me like why would you do this? Why wouldn’t you just, right? That’s always the argument, the default path. And I’m thinking about like Paul Millerd spoke here, the Pathless Path. I read that recently. And he puts that so clearly, you have the default path that everybody takes where the outcome is guaranteed if you follow these steps and for most people, that’s their work life, that their whole work experience is that default thing. And for you to take another path, being kind of non compliant, that often creates some kind of emotional distress that most people deal with by just kind of isolating you to the side. Like I’ve seen this in families. You have a lot of when it’s Thanksgiving dinner and people ask you what you’re doing? And you tell them, oh, I’m building a business and they just look at you like, I don’t know, should you really let’s just talk about something else, right? That kind of sucks and not having this. That’s frustrating. And it’s good to have community for that. I think it’s necessary to even have the impetus and the motivation to keep working on your thing. And for that you need people around you. Andrew McIntosh 14:07
Yeah. So when people come into my community, I asked them to create an introductory post, you know, tell us a little bit about yourself. And I ask a series of questions, you know, to kind of help start the conversation as to what you do and why you do it, what industry you’re in, who you serve, all these things. But at the end, I asked this last question. So as a first gen entrepreneur, have you always been crazy? Or is this a new development, right? Because the truth is, you have to be a little bit crazy to take on a venture like this as if you’re the first one in your family to do it. Because you’re right, the safe option is just well, let me rephrase that the “safe option” is to just take a job, which this is a whole other conversation, I think is a totally false sense of security. I mean, just look at all the layoffs that are happening. You’ve got all your eggs in one basket. Things could be going great for 20 years and then you get a new boss. And now everything changes overnight, right? Arvid Kahl 15:09
Yeah, job security, this is really a mirage at this point, right? Andrew McIntosh 15:12
Yeah, exactly. Whereas if you’re an entrepreneur, you know, in my IT business before I sold it, I had 45 clients and my largest client represented 8% of my revenue. So on my worst day, I can lose 8%, like the chances of me losing 100% of my income overnight, were virtually none, right? That’s not true if you work a day job, end of tangent. But I think yet to be the first person in your family to go start a business, you’re a little bit crazy because this is totally uncharted territory. It’s scary, it’s stressful. It’s fraught with risk or at least perceived risk. And you don’t have a roadmap, you know. You don’t have this like clearly laid out path to get from point A to point B. You feel kind of blind as you’re going through doing this. And that to me is kind of where just having that network of fellow crazy people like, hey, you know, even if it’s the blind leading the blind, at least we’re all in this together. But that’s not the case. It’s, you know, you’ve got your peers, you can bounce ideas off each other, they can tell you if what you’re saying is a bad idea. And they’re not going to hold back the way that you know, someone who is a close family member might or they might be supportive in a way that a close family might. And just being a help you validate your ideas to know that you’re not alone. To help, you know, kind of decipher the crazy, I think is just a huge benefit. Arvid Kahl 16:55
I guess that’s very much true, like particularly from the perspective of somebody who’s not doing it. It definitely looks crazy. From the inside, it just looks ambitious. I think we just reframe it as something positive, right? Andrew McIntosh 17:07
Right! Yeah, these are people who get it, who get you, you know, because I do think that if you’re an entrepreneur, there are a pretty decent group of people who are what I call accidental entrepreneurs. You know, they were kind of had a change in circumstances, lost their jobs, whatever and sought out entrepreneurship as a backup plan. But then there are others who are kind of born this way. You know, they just, they enjoy building, they want to be able to build something for themselves. They don’t like making other people wealthy. They just want to build something that they own, right? And for those, I think it just it does wonders for your mental and emotional state to be able to rub shoulders with like minded individuals so that it just makes the whole thing a little easier. Arvid Kahl 17:57
I assume you were trying to look for these people and you couldn’t really find them. So you built your own community around that. Is that right? How did that come to be? Like what’s the spark that made you make that choice to build the 1st Gen Entrepreneurs Community? Andrew McIntosh 18:10
Yeah, so it’s interesting. So I started my business in 2006. I sold it 15 years later. So I’m jealous of guys like you, two years. That’s impressive. For me, I’m a slow learner. So 15 years was my journey. I actually hired a business coach, though, after I had been in business for about six or seven years is when I hired this guy. And it was awesome. Like, I finally had that he was like a father figure in a business sense. And it did wonders for my mental and emotional state like I could, I’d be freaking out about something. And he would help me understand like, this is not as big a deal as you think it is. And here’s why. And here’s what you need to do. He was like the psychiatrist. I could lay on the couch, so to speak and just, you know, pour my heart out. Because you can’t share these things with your employees, you’ll freak them out. You can’t share these things with your family because they won’t understand. And it was just like, it was phenomenal. I would absolutely recommend that someone get a business coach. But here’s the problem. I would have hired him much earlier in the process if I could have afforded it. He was like $1,000 a month. And that was a decade ago. And that was his discounted rate because I was still small potatoes and he was trying to help me out. And I couldn’t help but think what if I had had access to that type of mentorship and support from day one? Like my first five years would have been completely different. And so after I sold my business and I was thinking about what I want to do next, I kept kind of reflecting on that. And reflecting on that story I told you earlier about that second gen entrepreneur. I actually was describing myself as a first gen entrepreneur. I just kind of, after repeating the story of enough times, I kind of coined that term and immediately had people send me DMS, like, hey, I’ve never heard it put that way, but I’m a first gen entrepreneur. And then you instantly realize we all have the same emotions and the same struggles in common. And so my thought was, man, if I can do something that gets people that mentorship and advice and support to help you just keep your sanity the way I got with my coach, but do it in a way that’s accessible for people who, you know, inside their first five years, I would have jumped at that opportunity if I had had it. So that’s kind of how I came up with the idea. Arvid Kahl 20:41
That makes a lot of sense. That’s just yet another way of an entrepreneur finding a lack somewhere, just filling it with a product or with a thing, right? A solution to a problem. I love this. And I love, the coach thing always, it blows my mind to just only have learned about this over the last couple of years. Like I’m like, almost 40 now. And most of my life, I thought I could do it all or I had to do it all. I had to be able to do it all, deal with it all just all by myself and nobody should need to help me. Otherwise, it wasn’t my accomplishment, which is obviously bizarre. So thinking about coaching or therapy, I kind of feel that coach of yours is both therapist and coach at the same time. That should be way more normalized and there should be also more accessible ways like the one that you’re providing for people to get at least a glimpse of this. Just even the presence of it, knowing that it exists, probably changes your mind in a certain way. So I love this. How are you building this kind of coaching guiding or guidance mentorship into your community? How are people helping each other there? Andrew McIntosh 21:44
So that’s a great question. Because this thing, I like to tell people that I am very much building the airplane while flying the airplane here, which the irony is not lost on me. That, you know, here I am talking about entrepreneurship, the first in your family to do it. And I am once again figuring this out as I go. So I guess it is what it is. That’s just who I am. But this community is still like I said in its early stages, but what we’re doing right now primarily revolves around holding weekly events. And we just do it right there on Zoom. We’ve got people throughout the US, London, Israel, New Zealand, a person in the Philippines, it’s basically the English speaking world is kind of the limit right now. And so with these weekly events, what I’m doing is trying to figure out the needs of the members. So maybe you feel like what you need more than anything is accountability. Well, we’ve got a format just for that, where we can kind of check in weekly and keep each other held accountable in a way that our friends and family wouldn’t. Maybe what you need is to generate more business and to do leads, well, I’m working on a format for that to help you do that. Maybe it’s just strictly social hour and sometimes a place to just show up and just kind of vent and tell people what’s going on in your business a little bit. Every time you facilitate conversations like this, magic happens, it just kind of happens all on its own. And it’s really cool to see because as much as I would like to take credit for it, it’s really about getting people in a room, kind of setting the stage for here’s what we’re here to talk about. And then you watch as connections are made, as people unearth these new opportunities or share these tips and tricks they’ve picked up along the way. And we had one yesterday, that was just like, this thing that had been bothering one of the members of the community for months now. And we just teed it up and one of the fellow members like, have you ever thought about doing it this way? And he’s like, oh, my goodness! You know what I mean? And so it really revolves around those weekly kind of live events. I think that that’s where that sense of community really starts to, you know, get fostered, those connections are made. We also have some additional spaces where people can post questions, you know, so it’s more of like an asynchronous type of thing, you know, posts and comments and likes and that style of thing. So there’s that and there’s the live event. So those are the two main draws. Arvid Kahl 24:28
That is very interesting. Interesting that that’s exactly the last thing you were saying because I kind of wanted to ask you about that particular part because most communities like in the real world, as we have them are very synchronous, right? You show up. A community center is that, right? You go to the place, some thing is happening, a meet up or an event where people contribute to something and then you leave and the communities kind of paused until it meets again. But in digital communities, that’s different. You have the option to have a large synchronous part like what you’ve been doing and it kinda reminds me of a community center because people come to your community center in the virtual space. And then there’s these different rooms they can go into and do different things. But something is there for whatever they need. That’s really cool. And then you have the asynchronous part where I guess knowledge can be stored or made applicable when you need it, instead of having to be present for it. I’m saying this because I’m working through building a similar community centric thing with my friend, Tyler Tringas. We try to build something around Calm SaaS companies right now, like businesses that slowly build like sustainable business models and that stuff. And we want to build a community based approach as well. And we’ve been thinking about this a lot. We have this little podcast where we talk about this every week and just try to brainstorm a new thing in public into being because building in public, obviously, it’s the best thing you could possibly do. Andrew McIntosh 25:49
Right Arvid Kahl 25:49
The idea is that we want to get feedback from the community as much as we can before we start the community. And that is, one of the things that a lot of people have been reaching out to me about is like, hey, guys, if you want to build a community, make sure that it is both synchronous when we need it, like having the opportunity to talk to other people when we’d have this problem. And asynchronous for, you talked about this. You have a global community, people in New Zealand and people in the states try figuring out when like a good time is for them to meet, right? How are you dealing with that? Like the globalness of it all? Andrew McIntosh 26:23
Yeah, so that’s a great question. And it’s something that is an ongoing thing that I’m trying to tackle. Because I have these awesome ideas and plans on how exactly I’m going to fix that problem. But it’s dependent on me having like, 1000 members in the community, which I don’t as of this exact moment because once you have a large enough community, then what happens is, is people even at the small size that we are today, I’ve already had people raised their hands to basically, volunteers like ambassadors, essentially. You know, they love the mission of what we’re doing so much. They’re like, hey, how can I help? And so if you do that, I think what you can actually do is you can say, alright, well, here’s a format that we’ve designed for this. I’m going to host one of these at noon Eastern, but then this person is going to host it at 4pm. And this one’s going to host at 7pm. Arvid Kahl 27:17
Thats good! Andrew McIntosh 27:16
If you can build the structure and then kind of have these ambassadors, these volunteers, you know, who want to moderate these meetings and you give them a little, it wouldn’t take much, you know, to help kind of train them on what the format looks like. I feel like we could actually have a calendar full of events, you know. Every day of the week, you might have three different time slots and different formats. And you can now just kind of opt in to what suits your calendar, I think would be the best way to do it. Arvid Kahl 27:17
That was a great solution. And kind of an almost meta perspective, it’s yet another entrepreneurial thing that nobody teaches you, unless you have entrepreneurial your peers, like the idea that you can just kind of franchise out parts of your business, just by designing them in a process based structure, give that to other people and have them do an equally good job as you could. Because you know, in any business, you tend to delegate eventually. And this is just another smart way of delegating business work in your community to somebody who’s better at and better for that particular job. I love this. This is already super helpful. Like just to even talk about that kind of stuff among entrepreneurs, right? This community building right here. I love it. Andrew McIntosh 28:28
Yeah, that’s like meta twice there. But yeah, so and to your point, like, what I’m finding, too is the members of the community have come to me with their ideas on what we can put forth, even on the format. So take the accountability thing, had a member come to me and say, hey, I think we should start doing these weekly accountability meetings. I’m like, oh, that’s funny, you mentioned it. I was planning on doing one every month. And I was going to build this whole system where we can like track each other’s goals and do all this, you know, kind of cool stuff. And she’s like, that’s terrible idea. And I just love the brutal, most straightforward honesty, but she immediately you know, tore it to shreds. And I’m appreciative of it because she was able to like help me see instantly, like no, short, sweet bursts, you know, 30 minutes every week, just get to the point. And let’s just kind of keep the needle moving. So not only did she help refine something I was already working on but then she was one who raised her hands like, hey, I’ll run one of these. So now we’re doing two of them. And we’re taking two different time slots to help accommodate people. So even at a small size, we’re able to do that. And then the other thing that’s really cool and it excites me to think what this could become long term. I’ve had more than one member already come to me and say hey, you know, this could be more than just a community like this. One person is an attorney who was like we could provide like legal coaching services as part of this or financial advisors like I can help implement Profit First, if you’re familiar with that one. I’m a big believer in that system and we could actually help people with, like, the implementation of these fundamental things for their business. So it goes beyond just a community that’s about support, but it’s also about, we’ll give you the playbooks or we’ll even help you with implementation on things. So it’s like, as this thing, you know, kind of gets Frankenstein together, though, it’s exciting, you know, in a good way because you’re just seeing all these ways that we can help each other, collaborate, joint ventures, you know, and partnerships and all these types of things. It’s just, it’s a lot of fun if you’re into that kind of thing. Arvid Kahl 30:46
I really love this. I think that reminds me very strongly of how, like human settlements start to appear like somebody settled somewhere. And then people need different jobs solved differently. And people volunteer into those jobs, either by having the skill already bringing it like through the path of, you know, pioneering. You know, they came with you, they had their little wagon and they came with you on the trail or they just learned the thing that needs to be done and then become the local expert added. That feels like this community that you’re currently building is going from little village that just has a couple people living in farming there to a whole bigger like a town, a city, maybe even with specific people doing specific work, but all for the benefit of the local community. It’s so awesome to see this happening. Andrew McIntosh 31:30
So you just made me think of two things, which is awesome. I’m probably gonna hang on to this and reuse this at lunch. But so you said you’re almost 40, so we’re close to the same age. There were two video games that I played growing up. One was Oregon Trail. Did you ever play Oregon Trail? Arvid Kahl 31:46
I heard about that. I never played it. But everybody here in Canada talks about this game because apparently, it’s the only game people ever play. Andrew McIntosh 31:52
Oregon Trail was like every grade school kid ever who grew up you know, born in the 80s is going to identify with this. But basically, you know, you’re tasked with getting all the way to Oregon in the old wild west. And it’s fraught with like, risks and dangers and all these other things. You know, you can get attacked by wild animals or you can get dysentery and die from it and all these other kinds of things. And I think that that’s a great analogy for entrepreneurship when you’re by yourself. It’s just riddled with dangers and risks, right? But on the flip side, to your point about kind of the village, the community concept that’s more like SimCity. Did you play SimCity? Arvid Kahl 32:36
Oh, yeah. I sure did. Andrew McIntosh 32:37
Okay, I got you on this one. So how cool is that? That you can start with, you know, didn’t start with like one little square or whatever Arvid Kahl 32:46
Yeah, you had like the little the home, the houses zone, the industrial zone and the business zone. And that was it, right? Andrew McIntosh 32:52
Yeah, exactly. And it starts with this small thing. And then over time, it just sprawls into this big, thriving village or town or community or whatever. And that’s what I feel like entrepreneurship can be when you’re part of the community. It’s not just this thing, this path that you’re on your own, you don’t know what dangers you’re facing. It’s like, no, you’re part of this functioning thing where everybody’s helping each other out, which is really cool. So thank you for putting that idea in my head. That’s awesome. Arvid Kahl 33:21
Oh, you’re most welcome. I’m also very grateful for you just bringing up some city because I’m not thinking about it. In many ways. Entrepreneurship is just like architecture ng are being the architect of a complex system of individual things that all need an expert in them eventually, like when you start a little city, and on SimCity, you kind of figure out oh, yeah, I’m going to draw the power lines here. And all of that kind of stuff, you have these details, and you need to figure things out to understand each part of your city. But as you scale it, these things become more independent units that have their own purpose. So I’m just thinking of my own video game experience and how much that actually influenced. I think I learned that’s the thing I learned more from city about entrepreneurship than from my parents. That’s what I’m kind of figuring out just that. And that is both sad. And it’s both awesome that the game the video game can actually supply this. Now in retrospect, that was super helpful. Andrew McIntosh 34:13
Yes. My parents always gave me a hard time for my addiction to video games. But now I’m a grown man. And I want this me like, look, this was good. For me. This was good for me. Arvid Kahl 34:23
It probably was right. I think video games in particular as interactive problem solution scenarios, they do train you to just never give up like the amount of times that I played luthier to the wonderful Super Nintendo role playing game. And these puzzles in the game. They were so hard, but I would just sit there for four hours trying to figure it out and eventually did and I knew I knew that it was figured out double because the game was designed to be hard but not impossible. And I think most of entrepreneurship is really that it’s hard but not impossible. And if it looks impossible, and sounds and smells impossible, then maybe you just need to shift your perspective a little bit and look at a different angle, and then becomes possible again. So, again, videogames, probably a solution to all our problems. That’s what I’m saying. Andrew McIntosh 35:08
Yeah, well, and legitimately, I think you make a good point like there, there are real lessons to be learned from that. Because how many times did you you know, throw your hands up and throw the controller on the ground out of frustration, right? It happens. But then on the flip side of that, how many times do you actually finally solve that puzzle, or finally beat that boss or whatever, to feel the immense satisfaction that comes from that. And it’s like, that’s what entrepreneurship does, it is, it is way more challenging than just having a day job. But man, at some point, you stand and you look back on what what you’ve accomplished, and what you’ve built, and not just in a monetary way, but just the sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from building something that is truly yours. And it’s like that SimCity, it starts small. And then next thing, you know, you look back, and you’ve got this sprawling metropolis. It’s just, it’s so satisfying. And I think that, honestly, I think video games in some ways can can train a person to understand that it takes that persistency and that grit to kind of keep going until you, you get to the other end. Arvid Kahl 36:13
100% I think so. And one thing that I also remember, like, among my friends, I really enjoyed, like teaching them how to beat the level, I teaching them, how to beat the boss and how to play something. So that’s also something that comes to my mind, now that I do a lot of this. Like, as, as a person in our community, I feel a lot of entrepreneurs through having to deal with all of this themselves and having to figure it out, they still have the sense of I kind of want to contribute this back to people, so they don’t have it that hard. Do you feel that there’s a stronger sense of volunteering in your community than it normally is available to people? Andrew McIntosh 36:49
Yeah, I think that this is just one of the core traits of, of most decent human beings is like, once you’ve, once you’ve gone through something tough yourself, it genuinely feels good to help someone else. either avoid that pain entirely, or just help them to appreciate like you’ll you’ll get on the other side of this thing, you know, and that, that whole kind of pay it forward mentality. It doesn’t only apply to quote unquote, successful entrepreneurs, you don’t need to have been someone who’s who built the business and sold it for eight figures or something before you qualify to give advice to someone else. I mean, I’ve got a couple of people who have reached out to me who are in that category. And they’re like, Man, I love what you’re doing, I’d like to, you know, kind of be like a mentor in this community. That’s awesome. I’m all for it. But the reality is, is for the rest of us that are still kind of boots on the ground, you know, just grinding this out doing it one day at a time, there are small wins every single day, all these little things that you pick up here and there that I was able to do this quicker, or I was able to charge a little bit more for this, or I’ve used this tool, and it saved me some time. And sharing those wins is is super valuable to other people. And then it also brings you measure fulfillment to know that you’ve helped somebody else and you just being able to foster that is it’s really cool to see, Arvid Kahl 38:09
do you leverage that in your community do encourage people to share all these little things, Andrew McIntosh 38:13
I have a dedicated space called Share your wins. And it’s in there, there’s actually a little kind of guideline up at the top that says, share your wins for two reasons. Number one is it’s it’s spread some positivity, right. And it’s always nice for us to hear and we’re going to celebrate along with you. But more importantly, share what steps you took that led up to that win, right? Because now we all have something that we can we can learn from and maybe put into use and so it doesn’t even have to be something big. Right? There’s like I said small wins every day, little bits here and there. And now now that just kind of helps all of us, you know, pick up little pieces as we Arvid Kahl 38:50
go. How do you deal with the small losses? The little things that don’t work? How do you encourage people or do you encourage people to talk about this? And if so, how? Andrew McIntosh 39:00
So I have another space called Share your learns. And we don’t call it share your losses? That’s right, we call it share your learns. That’s interesting. So you know, I personally started the very first post inside that space where when I completed my first year in business I got a surprise tax bill that I wasn’t expecting it was $14,000 and I had exactly $0 set aside for taxes and it just like was a big deal right because I had I went into debt to cover this and put me in the hole and and all this other kind of stuff. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from all these years later. So that space isn’t to just share a story like a sob story. You know, boohoo Woe is me. You know, please feel sorry for me. But it’s more importantly, what did you learn from that experience? And how would you do it over again, if given the opportunity. And now there’s that Pitfall, there’s that, that thing that if you come from a family business, you know that’s been built in, it’s been handed to you, your family is going to have already avoided these pitfalls, and they’re going to educate you on what to look out for and how not to make costly mistakes. But if you’re the first in your family to do this, you’re gonna walk right into it, because you just didn’t see it coming. How could you you’ve never done this before, right? So sharing your learns, that’s another, you know, super valuable thing that is just like, here’s the things to look out for what to avoid. The mistake I made, I paid the price, but I’m sharing it so that you don’t have to, Arvid Kahl 40:39
that’s a good way to rephrase it, right? A loss is only a loss when you don’t learn from it. So just rephrasing it into learns immediately makes it useful. That’s awesome. I think I’m taking this away from that little part of a conversation. It’s just like to look at wins and losses as both like celebrate double celebratory write situations. That is really cool. Andrew McIntosh 41:00
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s a that’s a great way to put it. A loss is only a loss if you don’t learn from it. So yeah, we’ll put well let’s Arvid Kahl 41:07
let’s look at potential wins in the future. I kind of want to know where you want to take this community, like what’s your, your long term vision for this? Or if you if you even have one, because it might just be a community of practice, and you see where it goes. But I do wonder, like, where where do you want to see? Or what do you want to see first gen entrepreneurs in like five years from now? Andrew McIntosh 41:25
Yeah, that’s a fantastic question that I, you know, honestly, I am partially embarrassed to admit this, and partially proud to admit this, but like, I’m thinking about this community 24/7, like, when my head hits the pillow at night, I’m thinking about what I can, what I can do to make it better and where it’s headed. And then when I wake up in the morning, it’s clear, I’ve been processing it during my sleep, right? And so that’s a really good question, that I’m still trying to wrap my mind around, like what this could be because I come from an IT background, right? So at my previous company, we were fixing people’s computers, we’re fixing their printers. That’s not the most like fulfilling thing in the world. If I’m being honest with you, right? Nobody calls you up to say, Hey, I just wanted to say things are running great. I love what you guys do. It was it was a pretty thankless job. So now with this, it’s like the complete other end of the spectrum where it is so fulfilling, to think about the fact that you can make a meaningful impact on someone’s entrepreneurial journey. And not to get like too philosophical about it. But like entrepreneurship to me, you know, I come from a middle class, blue collar, Midwest upbringing, and with that came some limiting limiting beliefs, you know, what I what I thought was good money when I came out of college, you know, what, what it means to be wealthy terms, like building equity for yourself like this, none of that. That was all foreign to me, basically, right? And now that I’ve kind of gone through this whole process of starting a business as a one man show, growing it over a 15 year period, and then ultimately selling it, and, and rubbing shoulders with all these other people who who do this all the time. It’s like, I think entrepreneurship is a very valuable thing that can take you from a lower class to a middle class or middle class to an upper class. Or take whatever you define success as an help you get there, it’s a vehicle to help you to get there. So whether that’s freedom of time, freedom of money, freedom of choice as to who you want to work with, and what you want to do for a living, like, once you get a taste of these freedoms, you never, you never want to go back. Right? So to me, it like brings an immense amount of, you know, purpose and satisfaction to know that like this community, or zooming out a little bit, this organization can be something that helps people to achieve their their definition of success. And so the idea of being able to help say, 1000 people, you know, having a meaningful impact on their lives is like, super fulfilling. So that’s like my big, hairy, audacious goal as this awesome. Yeah. Now the how, you know what, what that actually looks like, is still like I said, building the airplane while flying the airplane. So I think it’s going to be a combination of obviously supporting people so that they’re not doing it alone is probably always going to be the the baseline, you know, kind of thing. But then to what extent can we not just give them support, but actually help them with the implementation of systems that really set them up for success, I think is, is what I’m still kind of charting out but that’s the part that excites me. Arvid Kahl 44:59
I bet has also like that feels like it’s both a community building and business building thing at the same time. So it has these these two connotations there. I do wonder about the business part of this because obviously, it’s a it’s a community of empowerment, which is awesome. I love that about it, because it talks, it talks my language, right, that’s kind of what it is. But it’s also a business. And that has to be sustainable. So I do want to know, if you can divulge it, obviously, like, how do you approach this to be a sustainable and growing potentially growing or hopefully very much potentially growing business? And what’s your business approach to this community? Andrew McIntosh 45:35
Yeah, so that’s an interesting one, too, because I kind of have these opposing forces happening right now. So on the one hand, I, I belonged to a, like a CEO roundtable kind of thing. I won’t name it by name, because I don’t know if I’m gonna get myself in trouble at some point, because I’m going to badmouth it a little bit here. So this unnamed executive roundtable thing that I belong to, for a couple of years around 2017 2018. And it was $1,500 a month to belong to this thing. So $18,000 a year. And they really leaned into this kind of exclusivity thing, right? So the idea basically, is that if you can afford to be in a room full of guys who can afford to be in that room? That they are all doing something? Right, right? These are all quote unquote, successful business owners. And so through osmosis through the connections that you’re going to get, you might wind up doing business with each other, it’ll pay for itself. And the truth is, it works like it does actually work that way. But they are leaning into this whole kind of exclusive thing. And to me, that’s like a boys club, like, it really goes against the grain of kind of who I am. I’m trying to swing the other way, I’m trying to be inclusive, I’m trying to help the underdog here, I’m not looking to take already successful people and just help them become even wealthier. I’m trying to take the people who are just trying to provide a comfortable lifestyle for their own family trying to build something for themselves, and help them out, right? So my business model is very different, like, at this point in time, it’s $75 a month to belong to this community. Wow. And so it’s very accessible, right? Like anybody who is an entrepreneur who’s who’s actually like, gotten started, you should have 75 bucks. And if you don’t, that’s kind of a whole different, you know, I’m not in a position to help you at that point. But for people who are established that’s accessible and I want to keep it accessible, long term. But then to your point, there becomes like the business model for this, like, how’s that going to work? Because you really need a lot of num, a lot of people at that price point before this becomes something that that you can make long term, you know, sustainability. So, I would like to always have that accessible entry point that makes valuable, useful, tactical, tangible resources available to first gen entrepreneurs, I always want that to be there. But then I think what will happen is, is as the community grows, and then as members start to mature in their own businesses, then we can start to offer additional services to help them with implementation of of systems and processes, or with you know, kind of those a miniature version of that, where it is like a CEO roundtable type of thing. But it’s still a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time commitment, with none of the highbrow exclusivity kind of vibe, because that’s just not not my people. And then if you recall, at the beginning, I said how much I enjoyed business coaching and think that it’s awesome, and everybody should do it. I’m just trying to build a bridge to get people to the point where they can afford that business coach, right? So that’s that space that I’m trying to fill. And it’s it’s always evolving and adapting. And so what it is today is maybe not what it’s going to be tomorrow, but that’s kind of my overall vision is to help people overcome the odds of failure, which we both know is statistically way too high, to not only survive, but then start to thrive and get to the point where they can they can get where they want to go. Arvid Kahl 49:35
That’s I think what’s what becomes very clear when you explain it like this, like the whole communities purpose is to get people from the point where they start at to the point where they can kind of graduate from the community, which is something interesting because most communities are trying to be like this all encompassing thing that just grabs you and holds you on forever. Doesn’t sound necessarily like that with yours like was, is it intentional that it’s kind of this transition there. Everything that you’re building, would you still want to build like a long term place for people to be, but just get them to the point and then stick around? What do you think about that? Andrew McIntosh 50:08
I think that it’s, it is intentional to do it that way. Because what I have in common with all of my members is we’re all first gen entrepreneurs. But we all come from different backgrounds and industries. And that’s on purpose, because now you can see one problem getting attacked 12 different ways, which is really cool, right? But then when you start to get up to this point, you know, I’m not going to be able to tell a trademark attorney how to handle trademarks, right, or I’m not gonna be able to tell a financial adviser how to how to build their business, I actually advocate for belonging to two communities, you know, mine as kind of like your general entrepreneurial support community, and then another one that’s really niche and specific to your industry, where you’re gonna have very different conversations there. So I think there’s space for both. But yes, if someone graduates from this community, because they’ve reached this point of success, man, I am just, I’m in your corner, I’m celebrating that for you, right? Like, that’s awesome. You beat the odds, you’re enjoying entrepreneurship, it’s had a meaningful impact on your life. And I think that’s awesome. That’s like my mission. I think what will happen is that if people get to that point, by that point, 75 bucks or whatever it is, is like no big deal. And they’re probably gonna stick around just now purely out of loyalty and wanting to pay it forward and help other people. And if they opt in to do that, then that’s great. Those are the kinds of people I want around. But it’s not some design where I want to just get my get my hooks into you and keep you around forever. Arvid Kahl 51:43
That’s, that’s nice to know, it does remind me of when we built feedback Panda, we had a couple of conversations with customers who cancelled the product, because they found an actual full time teaching job, because they now had the time to actually be using a product, they had the time to file logistics send out their their CVs to companies and stuff. So we enabled them to find a better job that made using our product not necessary anymore. This is the happiest kind of churn that I’ve ever seen in my life is people graduating beyond needing the product. So this sounds like you’re you have a different similar mindset here, too, as to if that is the success story, right? The success story is being at a point where you don’t need the community anymore, at least not in a sense that it’s like, necessary to your survival. You still need it for different things. It’s kind of the pyramids, right? The you know, the you know, which pyramid ticket escaping my mind right now. Andrew McIntosh 52:37
But well, yeah, that’s just called being a good person. Arvid Kahl 52:41
Yes, again, that is something that not everybody in business has, like, for some reason, people have been trained. And it kind of harkens back to what we initially talked about, like the default stories that we tell each other, like, I have heard so many stories about cutthroat competition, and about like never sharing your story with anybody, again, coming from a family where people protected what they had, because they needed to have control over the little things that they had control over, right? They had no expansive abundance mindset that just didn’t work for them. But in our world now in the digital economy, or even just our economy that we’re in an abundance mindset is extremely helpful, like sharing your knowledge, sharing your story, getting people involved getting their buy in, and then having them help you help them like that is that is the kind of a never ending cycle of growth, that people who don’t have that experience would never think about. It’s a concept that is just unimaginable to them. So it’s nice to have people in the community. And it’s nice that you are building this community for people, I’m really, really happy to hear of this to know that this is a concept, because I am a first gen entrepreneur, but I write, but I’ve never expressly seen myself as one. It’s nice to know that the concept exists. And now I have a phrase to describe it to people. That is That is really cool. And I think with this Where Where can people find this community? Where can people find more about you? Because I think you’re such a wonderful bridge into the community that is the bridge to their, their future capacity of paying somebody to help them with their business as a coach, like where can people go to find you? Andrew McIntosh 54:17
Alright, so I’m going to be very careful this time. I was on a podcast a few weeks ago that has a pretty sizable following. And he asked me that question. And I completely bungled it. I was just like, oh, just just get in touch with me on LinkedIn. And then I realized after the fact that like, that was the lamest call to action of all time, right? And I’m i I’m still beating myself up over it. So here’s what I’m gonna do. My website or the website for the first gen entrepreneurs community is first gen dot biz, and that’s the number one S T G n dot biz. I’m just going to leave it at that because that is a living, breathing website that’s going to change over time and you know, how we how we position the community and all that is going to change. But if you just come away with that one thing, then we’re going to continue to make more resources available with time, whether it’s courses and newsletters and community and all these, you know, kind of cool things that we’re building. Arvid Kahl 55:14
That’s a good call to action. I think that you didn’t watch this one, this, this one is perfect. And it’s also a great domain that is, as a spectacular, short and extremely clear domain name for a project like this. Andrew McIntosh 55:27
And I’ll be honest, I don’t know I just kind of stumbled on the term first gen entrepreneur and then people immediately started latching on to it. And then I stumbled on like that domain name was available. And it just really feels like I fell backwards into this thing. But I love it. I love the brand. I love how it’s self explanatory. And I love how it connects with people, they instantly go, that’s me. And we both know how we how we feel about our journeys, just just by a name. So I’m thrilled to have it. Yeah, Arvid Kahl 56:01
I’m so thrilled to have had you on the show. Because Thank you just so much for explaining all these things and letting me dive into your community and learning from you about building community, learning from you about being an entrepreneur and fostering community. That was wonderful. Thank you so much for being on the show. Andrew McIntosh 56:18
Well, thank you very much. And let me just toss it right back at you like the bootstrapped founder, you’ve got the same thing going there were like the instant I saw that and like, oh, that’s me, you know, and you know what, that you know, what that entails, you know, the emotions that come with it. And you know, that when you when you go to your website, or you listen to your podcast, you’re gonna get real meat on the bone in terms of the kind of content it’s this isn’t fluff. This isn’t Frou Frou stuff. It’s like, I want to help the Bootstrappers the underdogs, the people that are doing this the hard way to succeed. And so I think I think we’re both like, that’s why we’re hitting it off. So well. But thank you so much for having me on the show. An absolute Arvid Kahl 56:57
pleasure. Thanks for that, too. I’m glad that that resonates with you just as much. I should start a community probably right. What do you think? Andrew McIntosh 57:04
It’s a good idea? I’m here. Arvid Kahl 57:07
Oh, I’ll give it a go. Thanks so much for being on the show. Andrew McIntosh 57:11
Yeah, thank you. Arvid Kahl 57:12
And that’s it for today. Thank you for listening to The Bootstrapped Founder. You can find me on Twitter @arvidkahl. You’ll find my books and my Twitter course there as well. If you want to support me and the show, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, get to the podcast in your player of choice. And please, please, please leave a rating and a review, a good rating and a good review if you can, by going to (http://ratethispodcast.com/founder). It really makes a difference. Any of these things, will help the show in the end. Thank you so much for listening today and have a great day. Bye bye.

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