Running a business by yourself has its own set of unique challenges that can sneak up on you if you’re not ready. How do you prepare your mindset to become a resilient solopreneur? Joshua Schachnow deals with this subject with each episode of the Solopreneur Grind Podcast, a show that helps people start or grow their own business Josh has several years of experience in running a business by himself as an immigration lawyer. He is now the CEO of Visto.ai, a free immigration platform that helps automate and simplify the Canadian immigration process. In this episode, Josh joins Rodney Flowers to share why he decided to help people start and grow their businesses. He also talks about the immigration process in Canada and how he was able to streamline this laborious process through technology.
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The Resilient Solopreneur: The Keys To A Successful Solo Business With Joshua Schachnow
I have Joshua Schachnow with me. He is a Toronto–based lawyer who has spent the last few years specializing in immigration law. More specifically, he has helped dozens of Canadian companies hire and sponsor tech workers as well as more than 100 skilled workers from around the world navigate Canadian immigration. He is also the Co-Founder and CEO of Visto.ai, a free immigration platform that helps automate and simplify the Canadian immigration process in his spare time. He’s also the host of a podcast that helps people start or grow their own business called the Solopreneur Grind Podcast. He also enjoys playing sports, reading fiction and nonfiction and cooking. Let’s welcome Joshua Schachnow to the show.
Thanks for having me on, Rodney. I could not have done that intro better myself.
I’m glad you’re here. As we were talking, Solopreneur Grind has come up several times in my email. We’ve been trying to connect, at a minimum, get me on your show. It’s funny that you end up on my show before I get on your show. I’m excited and delighted to have you here and a little bit of a shame at the same time because we haven’t been able to get me on your show.
I’m sure we’ll get you on sooner rather than later.
With 2020 being an election year, we talk about immigration, you’ve been fairly busy with things going on in the US and how that plays out in Canada. I’m assuming that’s been interesting for you.
There was a notable uptick in June 2020 around when Trump made some changes to the H1B process. I forget the specifics because I don’t follow American Immigration as close as the actual laws and regulations of Canadian Immigration, but there were a couple of big changes in June 2020. I’ve spoken to more people in the US, some even US citizens. This is something that a few years ago, I didn’t speak to US citizens. Most people in the US, they like living in the US, and rightfully so it is a good country. Noticeably, there’s been an uptick in the, firstly, number of immigrants in the US who want to move to Canada, not as many, but more so than ever before. The number of US citizens who say, “Josh, I’m weighing other options because there’s so much craziness.” It goes beyond immigration regulations, Rodney. You couldn’t write a script what’s going on in the US, throwing in COVID on top of all of it. It’s an opportune time to be working in Canadian Immigration.When you're taking action and trying to move, shake, and get stuff done, things tend to fall into place. Click To Tweet
I can attest to what you’re saying because I have some friends that have jumped ship. They’ve left for various reasons that we’re not going to get into on this particular show. That has hit home for me because I know people that have left. I can imagine what it’s like for you. Let’s talk about your business, Visto.ai. You’ve went and started a company for immigrations. I would like to hear why you started it, what’s that all about and how can people benefit from that?
I’ve been specializing in immigration law for a few years. Most of that has been operating my own practice. There’s no better way to describe it other than I got bored of filling out paperwork. For those who are professionals themselves in the space or individuals who have gone through the immigration process, if you’ve gone through it once or twice, you’ve seen what it’s like in the sense of, it’s a process of gathering documents, filling out forms, preparing everything properly. Don’t get me wrong, they are important steps, you want to do it properly, hence why immigration lawyers exist because it’s not a process you want to go through twice. It’s not fun to get a rejection and have to go through it again.
That being said, once you’ve done it a few dozen times, in my case, probably over 100 times in the span of a few years, it starts to get a little repetitive. At the same time, we see all of these tech innovations in every industry you can imagine. When I took a step back and thought to myself, number one, why is there no technology for this stuff? Number two, if there was, what would it look like? Could it be feasible? What would an immigration tech company look like? I thought about that for months until several years ago, I finally decided to pull the trigger. It was opportune where I was introduced to some people around that time as well who were thinking about the same thing. It’s funny how the world works right sometimes, but when you’re taking action, when you’re thinking about things, when you’re trying to move and shake and get stuff done, things tend to fall into place. I met the right people at the right time. A few years ago, we co-founded Visto. We’re launching our next tech product, which I’m excited about. We’re trying to leverage technology to make immigration easier and more affordable for people.
Congratulations to you. How long has the company been up and running now?
We co-founded it last August 2020. You can go online, Visto.ai. We’re a free immigration platform. You can log in and learn about all the most common ways to immigrate to Canada. We have trusted service providers and legal partners in there. If you need that extra help, you can get it all right there. What we’ll be launching is an immigration calculator. I mentioned going through the application process, filling out forms, documents. That stuff can be relatively easy once you navigate the front end, which is where do I start? If someone says, “I want to immigrate to X country.” The hardest part and the part I spent most of my time is in consultations, helping people decide what is the best route, study permit, work permit, permanent residency. Something like permanent residency in Canada, there are 70+ programs to get permanent residency. Most people, the hardest part, the biggest hurdle is figuring out which program they’re eligible to go through. We’ve created a calculator that will determine your eligibility for over 65 Canadian immigration programs in one shot, in one form fill. We’ll be launching that. I’m excited about that.
As a business owner and CEO of a business that’s doing well, it sounds like you still have boots on the ground trying to get things where you want them to be and rightfully so being so young. What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face to get this business where it is right now?
I don’t know how you want me to take it in the sense that I can speak from two angles. I could start and grow my own immigration practice over the last few years. I’ve since moved on from it as I focus more on Visto, which is essentially a professional services business, brought on some challenges. Starting and trying to continue to grow a tech company, which to my surprise, which maybe shouldn’t have been my surprise, had different challenges. I can talk about the tech company. If you want, we can always talk about more of the professional services side. The big difference I found between a tech company and creating and selling a tech product is you have to take a little bit more of a trailblazing/product–market fit perspective in the sense that you have to figure out what people want. You then teach them and make them realize that they need it so that they will use it.
I’ll give you an example. When you start any professional services company, immigration lawyer, accountant, doctor, it’s clear what you’re doing. You’re providing a certain service. You throw up your website. You write a little about me. You come up with your prices and then you go to sell. There are many forms that you can try to sell and market. You do that. When you’re starting a tech company, especially when you’re creating something brand new or you’re working in a space that doesn’t exist, not only do you have to market and sell a thing. You also first have to make people realize what the heck it is that you’ve built and are trying to sell and that they need it.
For our situation, we built a free immigration tech platform. That doesn’t exist. Lawyers don’t give stuff away for free. There was no immigration tech in Canada. There’s a little bit more in the US. I’ve kept a closer eye there. There’s a little bit more innovation. There’s more dollars moving around in the US so they tend to be a little bit ahead of us, but people are like, “What the heck is that immigration platform?” Even though in my head, those first few months, I was like, “This is going to be the best free platform. All these people want to move to Canada. They’re all confused. They’re getting scammed by lawyers or pretend lawyers or getting overcharged. This is going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.” You realize that people don’t know what the heck it is.
They’ve never used a free immigration platform before, so you have to do that much more educating, marketing, content creation and earning the trust and educating the people of what it is. That’s a long-winded answer, but that’s the biggest difference and struggle that I faced. Now that I’ve been through that on the front end, it’s made it a little bit easier since then as you release more stuff and new products, you know how you need to approach it. That’s the biggest struggle, especially as comparing tech to any types of services.
How did you overcome that?
The key, in my opinion, is market research/user feedback. The way I found out about it the most was I sent an email to all of our users or some people that were on our email list, it was like, “I need to start interviewing.” One of my advisors recommended this, he’s like, “You’ve got to talk to them and figure out what’s going on.” The first few months were obviously slower. I got on the phone with 10, 20 people. When you do 10, 20, even more, 30, 40 calls with people in your target audience or users, you’re going to learn a lot and you’re going to notice some themes. I don’t know about you, Rodney, but it’s the same thing with my podcast.
After I passed episode 20, 30, 40, I started noticing these themes, most of the successful solopreneurs, they’re hard workers or they’re doing this, or A, B and C. When you do market research, you’ll notice some themes. One of the major themes I noticed was people kept asking, “Why is this free?” They were almost hesitant to sign up or use it more often because in the immigration space, especially if you go to certain countries, we’ll call them non–first world countries, there are a lot of issues with scammers, people overcharging, promising these crazy immigration expectations and not delivering on them. All of a sudden, there’s a free immigration platform.
For a lot of people, in their heads, we just look like another scammer disguised as something else. That was eye–opening. I went into it thinking, “We’re going to have to turn people away. Everybody’s going to love this.” Meanwhile, most of our users are not even giving it a try because they didn’t trust it. We had to come up with strategies to earn their trust, educate them better on what they were getting to overcome the hurdle of, “This is why we’re free.” One of the ways we did was being straight up honest. Even to this day, if you sign up for Visto for free on our website, my first email at the end of it is why is Visto free? I go on a blurb saying why it’s free because I’ve got to nip this right at the source.Trust is big in any line of business. Click To Tweet
What did you do to convince people that they needed this? How did you cross that hurdle?
There’s no shortage of people who want to move to Canada. The key is making them trust you. Trust is big in almost any line of business, whether it be B2B, B2C, whatever you’re selling, especially if it’s a service though, trust is extremely important. A combination of trust and education. Number one, they need to trust my company. Number two, we need to make them realize that the answers to their questions can be found by working with us. I mentioned addressing it in that first email. The other big shift we made is a lot more video content in the form of social media, how we run ads, and because it goes hand in hand with those two things I talked about. Number one, trust. It’s much easier to trust someone when you see them on camera, when you hear their voice, when you see their face. You get an understanding of the type of person they are.
Number two, a lot of immigration, understandably as with many other areas, especially when you’re talking about the law, can be confusing. It can be difficult to explain difficult stuff in text. Getting someone to read a 1,500-word blog post on the core requirements of permanent residency, if you need some reading to put you to bed, that might be great. We started putting in more YouTube content. I started going live on Instagram more. My TikTok account is my most prized possession because we have more followers on TikTok than any other platform. The reality is, and I continue to learn this every day, especially in law and probably similar areas, people want to learn plain English. They want to hear it in plain English, succinct. A big skill that any entrepreneur can learn is being able to describe things simply, plain English. Keep it short, keep it simple. If you’re in the industry where a lot of education is needed, it’s a valuable skill.
What made you start your podcast? A podcast is about helping people start and grow their business. I didn’t realize you had your own practice as a lawyer for three years, so that’s a noted point for me, but what made you want to go off and start a podcast to help people grow their business?
The podcast was pre–Visto. The way that it happened is I started my law practice. The first year was a struggle as with many first-time business owners. After about a year, I got into a groove, monthly revenue starts going up. After 1.5, 2 years, things were going well. That’s when I started thinking about, “This is going well, but do I want to be an immigration lawyer for the rest of my life?” What I had alluded to on it got boring was it started getting boring and I had this itch. I didn’t know what I was going to do about it. I knew things are going well from a financial standpoint, but I don’t think I want to do this forever. I love business. I like talking about business. I started thinking about, “What if I started sharing things about my journey?” I started thinking again, “What do I want to do? What would make sense?”
The brand of Solopreneur Grind started building itself in my head. I was like, “I love podcasts. I listen to a ton of podcasts.” The motivation for that podcast specifically came from I loved listening to podcasts where people were interviewing other successful businesspeople. What I was seeing was a lot of successful, rich people interviewing other successful, rich people, the 0.01%, the Tim Ferriss Podcast, which I love and still listen to this day. In my head, almost selfishly was like, “I bet I could be a pretty good podcast guest, but I’m never going to make it on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. Maybe if Visto gets big, but not anytime soon.”
I was like, “I bet you there are a lot of other people like me who have their own businesses, they’re not going to make a $100 million, but they do well for themselves. They support their own life. They support their family. They’re happy. They have interesting stories and insights to share. I’m going to start a podcast. I’m going to start interviewing people.” I thought I would be a good host. That was a few years and several episodes ago, and we’re still going strong. I’ve interviewed 82 other successful solopreneurs. I’ve learned a ton. That’s the other thing, it’s free education and you’re building your own brand. You and I could have a whole episode on the benefits of starting a podcast, but I’d looked at it as a lose–lose. It would take some time, but it’s cheap. You’re learning, you’re networking, you’re meeting new people and it would scratch an itch. I said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen with that podcast. I don’t have any grand plans, but I’m going to start it and we’ll see what happens.” I still love doing it, so I still do it.
What are some of the things you’ve learned from having your podcast?
It’s a tough question to answer because I’ve learned a lot. I’ve picked out some key themes too. Things that come up every at least 3 or 4 episodes. I still haven’t had a podcast guest on who found it easy to build a successful company. The one thing that’s consistent across every guest is they took a chance and they worked hard for a long amount of time. There’s no overnight success. There are no quick wins. It takes work and sacrifice either in the form of quitting your job, financial sacrifice or big-time sacrifice. There’s a mix. It’s almost like 50/50 where half my guests rip the cord, quit their job, went full–time and started their business. The other half kept their job. They were moonlighting until they could afford to quit their job. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong. You should do what makes the most sense for you and your situation. All of those people worked hard.
Another theme that I’ve noticed is most successful entrepreneurs have some inclination or a strength with sales because it’s so important. A lot of solopreneurs have some VA’s or maybe they do hire some people full-time, but you start up by yourself. If you can’t sell, you’re going to have a hard time getting off the ground and growing. Those are two big ones. I’m trying to think of a third because I like answering in threes. Another key takeaway is that most people focused hard on just providing value. Don’t overthink too much else, find a problem that you know enough people have and focus on creating an exceptional solution to it. If you do that, and you do it a couple of times, maybe you don’t charge that much at the beginning, maybe you do for free, maybe you do it for a discount, but if you make enough clients happy, that’s a great catalyst to starting and growing a business.
Did you find a theme with the challenges that most solopreneurs faced? What was the remedy for getting over that challenge?
They faced a lot of challenges as I’m sure you’ve been through yourself and I have as well. The first sale was a big challenge, not everybody, but for a lot of people, especially when you’re branching outside of where your previous work experience was, for example. The first sale can be hard. The adjusting to working alone can be hard. People leave corporate jobs and all of a sudden, they’re working by themselves for months and months until you can afford staff. Especially now, COVID, even if we’re working on teams, we’re working alone because it’s out of our control. The biggest and probably most common challenges that people faced and broke through, there was no easy answer to. This might be not the perfect answer, but it’s a lesson in and of itself for people who are in the grind right now or considering starting a business. It won’t be easy.There are no quick wins. Success takes work and sacrifice. Click To Tweet
This is another key theme, is that if it were easy, many other people would do it. There’s a reason why some crazy percentage of businesses fail. There’s a reason why most people are employees and work for other companies. One of those reasons is that it’s hard to succeed. That’s the other biggest challenge, you’re going to face challenges. The question is when and how hard is it going to be and how hard are you willing to push through it. It’s the solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, whatever you want to call them, is the ones that can push the hardest and fight through those challenges that come out on the other end.
There was a great quote one of my guests had, and I posted it on our Instagram. He was describing entrepreneurs as those that started a forest, you’re at the entrance into a forest, also known as the business world, and there’s no pathway through. It’s the successful entrepreneurs that look at that forest and it’s scary and daunting and you have no guidance. You have some guidance, we should all use some guidance, but it’s the successful entrepreneurs that say, “I’m going to have to suck it up and find a way.” They find their way through. I thought that was such a great quote.
As you were saying that right before you started out, I was envisioning what it’s like for me. It’s like a big 737, you know it will fly, but it’s sitting on the ground and it needs air underneath of it a lot. You’ve got to get it going at a certain speed before that air will hold it up. She’s heavy. That’s where you come in and you’ve got to get her going to the point where that air can get underneath those wings and provide the lift. Once you get it up, you’ve got to keep her going. She has air up underneath her and she will fly, but you’ve got to get it going.
Another reason for the podcast is some form of motivation for myself, selfishly, and for other people, because sometimes it’s nice to hear stories. Remember, remind yourself, “I’m not the only one going through this, or I’m not the only one who had to go through that. There are other people that are grinding and working hard and struggling just like I am.” It can be tough, especially with COVID, probably more than solopreneurs are going through this right now where it can be tough. The mental side is harder than the business side. We talk about strategy and tactics, but the mental side is probably twice as hard. You can read books and blog posts. You could watch YouTube videos. You could find out the best social media strategy for that. That’s the relatively easy part. It’s still not always easy, but it’s getting through the mental side day in and day out, waking up day after day, week after week, month after month, especially if things then start to get difficult or if they’re not going well from the beginning as harder than any part of it.
For me, Josh, I do this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I want to be an example to people of what’s possible. I feel like I have value to give them and teach them in that process of them finding what’s possible for them in that quest. That’s one reason. The second reason is because I learned a lot from my accident about challenge and about opposition, but more so about myself and my ability to learn, my ability to adapt. I learned that through climbing a mountain, once you get to the top, you recognize all the benefits of climbing that mountain. There are a ton of benefits, but you would not get if you didn’t climb the mountain. The people that are at the top, a lot of the value that they got was in the climb, it’s not being on the mountain. It’s being on the side of the mountain is where a lot of what they need was gained.
For me, business is the same thing. Overcoming the injury, dealing with the injury, thriving with the injury, there’s a lot that I’ve learned about myself, a lot that I was able to gain from the experience. Business is the same thing. You develop as an individual as a result of the pursuit. For me, that’s fascinating because it’s not just the money. The money is great. You get to do a lot of things with the money, but it’s the person that you become, it’s the overcoming of the challenge, that’s a reward in and of itself. It’s necessary because it’s not just for you, it’s for other people that benefit as a result of you overcoming.
If you quit, there are a lot of people that will not get the benefit of you succeeding. That, more than anything, pushes me. Even with my accident, it took eighteen years to walk again. I could have given up at year 10, year 15, and people would have been, “It was a good fight. It’s okay. We understand.” I didn’t. To be in a space where you can give back so much and then show people, “Don’t give up.” That means so much more. If you’re at year seventeen, don’t give up because your breakthrough could be another twelve months away. That’s the reality of it.
People need that because most people give up, stop, won’t continue the pursuit. When they don’t, we all suffer from that. There’s so much to gain by continuing on. It’s almost a gain from all that you are doing. It’s not just about us. That gives me drive to move on. When the challenges come, I know that it’s an opportunity for growth. It’s going to be something different, something new. Even more importantly, we’re going to maybe keep someone’s hope or dream alive or allow them to reach to and experience that dream.
If I could almost put a twist on it, is that a lot of people think of entrepreneurship as some greedy search to become rich. Some people probably do go after it for those reasons. A business won’t be successful unless it’s providing a lot of value to a lot of people, because if you’re not doing that, you’re not going to make money. No one’s going to give you money unless they think you’re providing value to them. To people who might think that way, probably people who are reading don’t think that way, but the reality is you’re creating this asset that is so much more valuable than the dollar bills that are coming back into your own pocket. You’re most likely helping a lot of people and making your community or your country or the world a better place.
I’ve learned through my experience that whenever you identify your contribution to the world, the thing that you have to offer, it doesn’t mean that that’s going to be easy for you to offer it and give it. There are things that you have to do in order to put it out there. I know how to grow oranges, but it doesn’t mean it’s not challenging to go plant the seeds and nurture the garden and do all the things you need to do to bring forth oranges. There’s work involved with that but it’s good work. It’s a different type of work. It’s not work that is dreadful.
Sometimes you do have those moments where you don’t feel like working, or you’re on your fourth podcast and you’re like, “I’m getting a little tired now.” That’s the reality of it because you’re human, but you have more of a sense of purpose, a sense of why you do the work that you do, the importance of your work, the meaning of your work. When you have meaning in life, meaning in what you do, it makes you more willing to do the work because of the meaning. Taking care of your kids, I don’t care who you are, sometimes taking care of kids, you get tired, it’s like, “I’ve got to buy this. I’ve got to do this.” You do it because they’re your kids.
It doesn’t always feel comfortable, but they’re your kids. That’s what my business is to me, it’s my baby. It’s one of those things that I can look back and say, “I did that. I created that.” That’s a wonderful feeling, but not everyone can say they created something. A lot of times we were followers or we’re doing something for the people, we’re supporting their goal and their dream. That’s what a lot of jobs are. I know there are a lot of people out there that have ideas that they want to bring forward. They want to manifest certain things in their life.A business won't be successful unless it provides a lot of value to a lot of people. Click To Tweet
I would encourage you to figure out how you can pursue that. That’s one of the most beautiful things in life, is to be able to have an idea and bring that idea forward and create it with your own two hands. That goes back to the contribution that you’re bringing, it’s satisfying, rewarding. At the end of your life, you look back and see something that you’ve created that not only was good to you, it helped you whether it be financially or what have you, but it supported and benefited, and many other people valued from what you’ve created. I don’t know of anything greater in life than that.
I don’t know if you can top that in terms of fulfillment from a business when you can look back and say, “This didn’t exist. This was an entity that I created from the ground up. Without me taking that step, not just creating it, but then putting in the months, years of work to grow it, it never would have happened. It’s got my blood in it.” It’s incredible. I learned the hard way that we should take more time to appreciate that. It takes some time. What I started doing with my firm when it started getting even more boring but it was going well, was I would make sure every month to review the numbers and the successes of the company.
Especially when things are going well and you get super busy, it can be easy to get lost in the day to day. It’s boring. If it gets boring or maybe you have a crappy client that’s dragging on and it’s bringing you down and it seeps into your personal life and your behavior. If every couple of weeks, maybe it’s every two weeks, maybe it’s every four, you sit down, you take a look at the numbers or you even take a few minutes and look at your website and be like, “I remember when I first started, I didn’t have this website. My website was crap. I didn’t have any clients. I didn’t have any money, now look at my monthly revenue.” It’s important to keep that stuff in perspective.
Quick story, this is where this came from. It was a little bit over a year in, I had a month that was tough. Things were going well, I had clients, some of them were difficult, spending a lot of time working, and then at the end of the month, I had to do my bookkeeping. I did my bookkeeping, and I had my best month ever. It might’ve been the first time I broke five figures in a month. Instantly I was like, “That’s incredible.” I was so happy. I was like, “It’s such a shame, I spent the last two weeks almost dreading getting up in the morning. I didn’t take the time or I wasn’t aware enough to realize how good things were going.” Take some time to track the good stuff even if things are feeling they’re not going well or be aware of and appreciative of what you’re doing.
Life is like a coin. There are two sides to a coin. One, we feel has a negative connotation, and the other, more of a positive, but you have to experience both sides of that coin. You can’t get one side of the coin. It’s like asking for day and no night. That’s the balance of it. Negativity, challenge, resistance, opposition, it can serve you if you look at it through the right lens. It’s when you look at it through a lens that’s disserving. You have to look for ways for it to serve you. That’s a great takeaway. Even with COVID and everything that’s going on, as devastating as it is, there’s some benefit to that, there’s some benefit in our growth, to our evolution and to a lot of business because of it.
There are some people who had to close their doors. I got it. What’s their benefit? I can’t tell you that because it’s different for everyone, but then there are some people who were going to close their doors, but all of a sudden, they’re thriving. That’s the point in this. You have to look at both sides of the coin. Wherever you are, it’s your responsibility to take a look at the side that is going to serve you the most right now and be willing to accept, “This is not so good, but what can we get out of it?”
A lot of people close their doors, but they’re pivoted into something that may take them a lot further than where they were. Some people may never go back, but you don’t know what else is going to happen for them. You don’t know what the universe has set up for them. We can’t judge it because we don’t know. We know a small little piece. It’s not fair to add judgment to that. We have to take a look at life at business and realizing that there are hills and valleys, and sometimes mountains that we have to climb.
We have to be willing to accept, “This is what it is for me right now.” When we get that windfall, we love that. That’s all gravy. You can’t have the windfall. If you’re not up, you can’t go down. You can’t enjoy the windfall if you’re not at some level in life where that’s possible. That’s what makes the reward so great is because you are able to go up so high. That’s being able to push past that resistance and that opposition. As entrepreneurs, that’s how we have to think.
That’s life even if you’re not an entrepreneur. No one’s going to have a beautiful life from start to finish. There are so many of these analogies that you and I have already made between different things in business. Business is a great analogy for life. Nobody has a perfect childhood, adulthood. Even if you did, that wouldn’t be good, because then, any great accomplishments wouldn’t even feel that good because it’s a relative to a perfect life anyways.
One of the things I like to say to my clients, Josh, when I’m coaching is, as tough as opposition can be, when you wake up in the morning and that opposition is looking at you in your face, one thing you have to remember is that you are a breathing, creative human being. It may look at you as if it’s going to defeat you, but you have the choice on how you’re going to respond to that. That’s not the reality. It’s an opportunity for you to become a better version of you even if it means to get beyond this opposition. Without that, you don’t get that opportunity for growth. That’s what I mean by when you look at these situations as opportunities to serve you. You don’t have to tell anyone that. You can tell yourself that could be a little pep talk, “I can do this. I can overcome this.” It may require some changes in you and maybe require different thoughts and maybe some networking support systems, but you can figure that out.
The beauty of it is being able to figure things out. We were talking about our creative side, the ability to create. You and I were talking about creativity as well. You get to initiate that part of you. It’s not our fault that we’re not prolific in exercising that part of it. The world is waking up now. You’re going to find more about self-awareness, creativity and how to exercise that in schools now, especially up in the future because people are starting to wake up. We’re not comfortable when it comes to those types of challenges because it requires us to go in here. We’re used to rely on things out here. Technology has some role to play in that.
As we move forward, we have to realize when it comes to overcoming challenges that we have to go here. We have to be able to look deep down inside and be willing to figure things out from our heart. Grow and become individuals that are bigger versions than the opposition that we’re facing, than the resistance that we’re facing. Entrepreneurs wake up and we face that every day. A lot of it is we have to because our livelihood is based upon our ability to do so. For a lot of people, it is because, “If I go show up to work and I do my job and the check’s going to come, I’ll just keep doing that.”
It takes on a different connotation when you’re a business owner because of the doors closed. You may have a wife and children that are dependent on you. It takes on a different meaning, but it doesn’t have to be the only scenario that get you to the point where you’re willing to go here, you’re willing to look inside. Unfortunately, a lot of times in life, it takes extenuating circumstances for people to get to that space. It’s a beautiful space to be in. It’s uncomfortable at times, but it’s getting to the other side of it that makes it so beautiful.
What I’m talking about, Josh, is the process of development, achievement, success and growth. That’s what the climb is. When you talk about Solopreneur Grind, that’s what that grind is. It’s figuring it out. It’s being able to overcome the challenge and the role that you play in overcoming the challenge. That’s the most inspirational part about business and life. We talk to the most successful people, you say, “Give us your experience about business.” They’re going to tell you about some story where there was a challenge, there was a difficulty, there was something they had overcome. You’ve got to talk to someone who’s maybe not as successful, but they’re doing well for themselves. They talk about, “This is what we had to do. These are some of the things that we experienced.” As much as we don’t want to go through that, it’s the most inspirational part of life and business.
We have to embrace those things. You can’t escape it. In whatever field you’re in, whatever you decide to do in life or in business, there’s going to be some level of adversity to it. When we shy away from it, what we’re saying is we don’t feel we have what it takes down in here to overcome that. That’s essentially what we’re saying. We feel it’s bigger than us. One of the things that I want to do in life is change the tone of how we feel about us as it relates to the opposition and the resistance that shows up because we’re bigger than that. Even though that may not be showing up right now, it’s the going through it and figuring it out that expresses and demonstrates that we are, but we have to be willing to go through that process to get to that space.
If you’re going down a path that is too easy, you might want to take a second look and make sure that you’re going down the right path or that you’re pushing yourself hard enough. It’s all about the journey.
I’m not saying that it has to be so stressful that it’s unbearable. What I’m saying is don’t make a decision not to get in business or bring forth your contribution for the sake of avoiding a challenge. Step up to it.No one's going to have a beautiful life from start to finish. It's just life. Click To Tweet
That’s the essence of business and the cross–section of how it relates to life. Into the future, we love the hero’s journey. That’s what makes Hollywood great. We as humans love to see a story where people take on a huge challenge, it gets hard and then they overcome it and we all cheer at the end. Our day to day will not be quite as exciting as a Hollywood movie, but if you’re realistic, you will point out that, “Yes, it’s difficult. Maybe now is not fun. Maybe the next month won’t be fun.” It’s the other side of that pain and fear that you’re going to find the good stuff. Don’t shy away from it.
Which is one of the reasons why people don’t start a business. It seems daunting. It’s a scary thing. You have stats out there like, “This level of percentages of businesses fail.” You can’t pay attention to that.
If you do your homework, if you’re in for the right reasons, if you have the right motivation, if you’re a hard worker, then ignore those numbers.
Let’s flip it around. What do you think are the keys to starting a successful business?
There are a few. What we talked about, understand and appreciate that it will be difficult. That’s not to say it’s going to be the hardest thing in the world, every day is not going to suck, it’s not some unsolvable mystery, but understand, if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to commit to it, appreciate it. It will be tough. There will be good days and bad days. That’s okay because if you want to build something great, you’re going to have to go through some struggles, but it’s going to be worth it. That would be number one.
Number two would be, do some homework. Entrepreneur and solopreneur, they can be romanticized. It’s almost the in thing to do these days, or be a freelancer, be a nomad. You can, but do some homework, don’t forget the business side of things wherein find something that you’re good at and/or find something that you can get good at. Find a need and/or a problem and make sure that either you can solve it, or you can find the right people to solve it. Another way of saying that is don’t jump into the deep end without doing any semblance of research and figuring out whether you’re solving a problem or not, because you can be the hardest worker on the planet if you’re not solving a real problem that people are willing to pay money for. That’s a key differentiator there. The real problem that people are willing to pay money for it, it might not matter how hard you work. There is some work that you should do upfront. That would be my number two.
Number three would probably be, take care of yourself. It doesn’t matter what type of business and how well you do recommendation 1 and 2 that I gave you. If you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t do at least a little bit of exercise, a little bit of self-care, take a break once in a while, some people can work harder than others and longer than others, but take care of yourself. The better conditioned your body and mind are in, the better your business will do overall. This is something that I struggled too with the first couple of years until I learned the hard way, is taking time off doesn’t necessarily mean your business is going to lose money. The time off that you take to reset your perspective to get a few sleep ins, rest your mind, rest your body, your business might have a week when you’re not working on it. Maybe you are the only solopreneur so you do see a pause, that number goes to that line or it goes flat, but if you want to find a way to shoot it up quickly, sometimes taking a step back ironically can be a good way to do that.
Josh, how can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you, check out your podcast or work with you?
If you’re interested in the podcast or any of this solopreneur stuff, check out SolopreneurGrind.com, you can find the podcast easily there, it’s on the top menu. We also have a small Slack community, other solopreneurs where we bounce ideas off one another. It’s all there. If you’re interested in immigrating to Canada, check Visto.ai. It’s a great free resource. We’re continuing to build even more helpful tools. If you want to connect directly or hear more of my personal updates, add me on LinkedIn or follow me on LinkedIn. I’m the only Josh Schachnow on LinkedIn so I’ll be hard to miss.
Josh, thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for being open, sharing your experience with us, sharing your knowledge, giving us those tips, practical advice from you. It’s been a great conversation. I enjoyed this. I appreciate you.
Thank you for having me, Rodney. It makes me more excited to have you on my show because I want to dig into your story, your background and the challenges you’ve been through. I’m looking forward to that.
I’m looking forward to it as well. As we bring the show to an end, I like to ask all of our guests the game-changer mentality question of the day, how can we continuously bounce back from adversity, dominate our challenges and win at the game of life?
I’ll almost go back to the third point about starting a business successfully. It starts with you from a mental and physical perspective. There are some external circumstances and situations that might be out of your control, but for us, especially in the Western world, in North America, we’re all capable of overcoming almost any adversity if you take care of yourself. We talked about the benefits of business and adding value to others and giving back. If you don’t take care of yourself and you’re not in a good position to help others or create a business to help others, it’s going to be a non-starter.
Number one, treat your body well, eat healthy. You don’t have to be a crazy, vegan health nut, but eat healthy. Eat more fruits and vegetables than you’re eating right now and exercise. You don’t have to workout for three hours a day, but be active for 30, 45 minutes, at least 3, 4 times a week. Number one, that’s the physical, eat well, exercise, drink water. The second thing is look after yourself mentally. There’s no one way to do this. I’m by no means a professional. Find what works for you, maybe it’s meditation, doing yoga, talking to a therapist, having a phone call with your close friend group or someone from your close friend group.
For me, it’s reading in a sense. There are a few ways that I like to take care of myself, but I usually read for at least twenty minutes before bed every night. It’s my alone time. I calm down. There are no screens. The phone is on airplane mode for the last 20, 30 minutes. That’s the selfish taking care of me. I do the other stuff too, make sure to exercise, eat well, etc. Take care of yourself, your body and your mind, even if it means being a little bit selfish for an hour a day, will benefit you and it will benefit everybody around you in the long run.
Josh Schachnow, thank you so much for that tip and for stopping by and hanging out with me. I appreciate you.
Thanks for having me, Rodney. I appreciate you having me. Hopefully, our readers got some value from it.
There you have it, another successful episode. Out of all that we talked about which is a lot and all of your contribution, all of your getting over your challenges and starting your business and being the best version of yourself in life and in business, none of that matters if you’re not taking care of yourself. That is sage advice from Josh because we get caught up in the day to day, in the goals, in the challenges and the obstacles that we’re facing. We get caught up in decline and the process, all of those things, and we forget to take care of ourselves. What I found is that when you do that, you can perform at a higher level that’s game changing in and of itself. Until next time, peace and love.
About Josh Schachnow
Joshua Schachnow, B. Com., J.D. (Western), is a Toronto-based lawyer who has spent the last 3+ years specializing in immigration law. More specifically, he has helped dozens of Canadian companies hire and sponsor tech workers as well as more than 100 skilled workers from around the world navigate Canadian immigration.
Due to his interest in business and tech, Josh co-founded and is the CEO of Visto.ai – a free immigration platform that helps automate and simplify the Canadian immigration process In his spare time, Joshua hosts a podcast that helps people start or grow their own business, called the Solopreneur Grind Podcast, and enjoys playing sports, reading (fiction and non-fiction) and cooking.
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