Kai Lovel

In Bending the Future, the new podcast from Future Anything, our team chat to epic entrepreneurs that started their enterprises whilst still in school. In our second episode, Future Anything’s Nicole Dyson meets Kai Lovel, digital disruptor, Gen Z expert & TEDx Speaker.

Kai talks about his entrepreneurial journey, and discusses e-commerce, the importance of curiosity, and counting down to getting his ‘L’s.

Kai Lovel Digital Disruptor

About the podcasters:

Nicole Dyson is Founder & Director of Programs at Future Anything and Founder of YouthX, Australia’s only start-up accelerator specifically designed to support young entrepreneurs who are still at school. Connect with Nic on LinkedIn here or Twitter here

Kai Lovel is a Perth-based digital disruptor, Gen Z expert & TEDx Speaker. He is a big believer in curiosity. He launched my first business at 12, and since then, he’s developed and collaborated on enterprises in various fields, including media, education and eCommerce.

The common thread was always digital. Growing up “online” and knowing how to use it to his advantage, he has a deep understanding of what the next generation are using, as well as how (& why) they are using it.

Today he consults with companies, startups & organisations to amplify their business missions through digital strategies and solutions. Think websites, systems, automation. He also shares his journey & approach to entrepreneurship and this digital world on stage, in schools & online. 

You can connect with Kai Lovel on LinkedIn here or check out his website here.

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to Future Anything’s regular e-newsletter for more. You can sign up here!

Nicole Dyson meets Kai Lovel – Full transcript:

Nicole Dyson: Welcome to another amazing conversation with an entrepreneur who started, I guess, in high school and actually, in this case, is still in high school. Kai, thank you so much for jumping in and having a chat to us today.

Kai Lovel: No worries. Thank you so much for having me, Nicole. It’s great to be part of the project.

Nicole: Look, it feels like the question needs to be asked. How has the last couple of months shifted for you off the back of, I guess, COVID-19 and how life is very different. What has the, I guess, the last week of school holidays looked like for you and how might that be different to typical? 

Kai: Yeah, well look, you know, I think everyone is affected in their own way and it’s a great question to ask because everyone has, you know, their own answer at the moment. For me, I’ve been in Year 11 up until this point, and fortunate that I’m not in Year 12, I really feel for the Year 12’s at the moment, because they’ve got a whole, sort of, other layer of complexity out of all of this; not being able to be at school as much. But I’ve just tried to make it an opportunity to sort of go look, these are sometimes that are, I guess, more, you know, similar to uni down the track, and having, sort of, work tasks in the future. So, while we don’t have the structure of school I sort of, you know, treated it as a bit of an experiment to see how well I could cope in those, sort of, future environments, so to speak. But, yeah, I don’t know. Lately, this week, I’ve just been cranking some ideas that I’ve got going with sort of the extra time, and yeah, ready to go back to school whenever we get the word from the state government. But, yeah, it’s a weird time, but I think, to be honest, sort of, you know, thinking positively, it’s actually a really interesting time to be alive also, to sort of observe what’s happening and what will sort of go on to happen but nevertheless, challenging time, yep.

Nicole: Yeah, totally. I’m sure we’re going to dig into some of these ideas that have been tossed around in the last couple of weeks now that you’ve had a little bit more creativity, I guess, or space for creativity. But you’re in Grade 11 now, I want to go back to the beginning a little bit. Where did Kai’s entrepreneurial journey start? Were you that kid out the front of your house with the lemonade stand like pitching to the neighbours, or was it completely different? What was younger Kai up to, and where did I guess this entrepreneurial journey kick off for you?

Kai: Yeah, look, there’s so many stories. The interesting thing is, it sort of started off with a bit of a curiosity for radio, actually, of all things. We had a community radio station up here in the hills, it was right in the main street and I’d always drive past it when I was a young bloke and we would drive past, and I would see the aerials, and I’d see all the signs, and one day I just said to Mum “look, can I actually, you know, just go up and knock on the door and just chat?” and we went up, and we had a chat and they gave me a bit of a tour, and that started this, sort of, five year journey with the station where I actually ended up presenting with them down the track. But it started with this sort of interest in radio and broadcasting, and like I was the type of kid that would always do the magic shows for my parents in the front living room, every moment I could on the weekends, you know, I’d have the lights, I’d have the, so, there was this sort of element of production and I guess just putting my work and myself out there. It was funny, the other day I was just going through some old papers, and I actually found this poster, I think I did it up in Canva when I was like 11, and it was dog walking, and I was charging like 10 cents a dog walk, I was, it was pretty fair off

Nicole: That’s amazing, you can definitely come to Brisbane and walk my dogs for 10 cents a dog walk, that’s incredible. 

Kai: Well, yeah, that’s the response I was expecting to get. But I think I only printed one or two off and I didn’t get any responses, but that was something to remember. But, I guess formally, my entrepreneurship journey started when I was going into Year 7, and it was over the summer holidays between primary school and high school, where I sort of followed that curiosity into e-commerce. I’m sure I was probably delivered one of those ads that sort of the gurus try and push you on Instagram, and YouTube, or whatever it was, just talking about e-commerce and drop-shipping. It was a lot less saturated back in, you know, what was it, it was something like 2016/17. So, the world of e-commerce was definitely there, but it was certainly less popular than it is now. I guess I just got really interested in it very quickly, and I think one day I just went to Mum and Dad and I said, “can I get an ABN?” and they were like “you know what that stands for, right?”, and I was like “yeah, Australian Business Number”, and they were like “uh, sure?”. So, we go through that process, and the next day I was like “hey Mum and Dad, can I get a TFN?”, and they were like “you know what that stands for, right?” and I was like “yeah, Tax File Number”. So, we went to the post office, and they looked very strangely at me when I walked in, but that all happened and ultimately within this few month period towards the start of Year 7,  I was starting this e-commerce business and I was designing these really nerdy t-shirts, stuff like, I’m just trying to think, “don’t trust atoms, they make up everything”, that was one of the designs. It was that type of thing, and looking back it was just, yeah, it was a time, look, I sold six t-shirts in six months, it was far from any business form of success. But what I learnt from it,

Nicole: But level up on the dog walking though, to be fair. You definitely moved up in the world from two posters and no sales, to six sales in six months, so there’s progress that’s been made here.

Kai: That’s right. It’s true, yeah. So, sort of relatively speaking, I guess, improvement. But no that just got me so excited and honestly gave me great value for things like websites, marketing, customer service, leading with value, those types of things were sort of starting to bubble under at that point. I think, ultimately, I still see it as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, to just start and not really be too fussed if it goes over down the track, and just sort of go through those feelings and that adventure because, you know, you actually get so much more out of it than just what those, you know, six sales might have given you on paper, you know what I mean?

Nicole: Yeah, totally. Look, as I listen to you, you’re 15, right?

Kai: Yeah, 16 in about ten days. But yeah, 15 for the moment.

Nicole: Excellent, great. Happy Birthday for in ten days-time

Kai: Thank you. I’m only counting down just so I can go and get my L’s.

Nicole: Excellent. So, I guess, what I’m interested in is, between that transition from going into Grade 7 to now, and some of the language you just used in that conversation is quite ‘startup-y’ language, right? So, you’ve mentioned e-commerce, you’re talking about marketing, leading with value, like these sorts of phrases that are very, you know, in inverted commas business-y, that’s a technical term. How did you pick up that language? Because I feel like there could be young people listening that are like what is e-commerce? I don’t even understand what that is. How did you sort of, I guess, start to wrap your head around some of these terms or some of these areas of expertise?

Kai: Yeah, so, my dad has started more businesses than you could probably count on your hand in the past. He has always shared those stories with me with, you know, great excitement, and great detail, and I’ve loved hearing the processes involved. You know, he had no idea how to bake a cake, but he started delivering cakes and baking cakes for restaurants all over Perth, because at that time, that’s what he needed to do to feed a family. So, I’ve heard these stories from him, and I understood how much investment, and this is very much, you know, monetary, at that point, a lot of investment and also so much time he had to spend to get those businesses off the ground. I guess I just found myself being immersed in the YouTube videos, the free online resources, the courses, you know, the opportunities that kids 50 years ago never had, you know, and I think that just gave me a really great appreciation for those opportunities, those opportunities around us, you know, in 2020, but even back then, you know. I think it was just by really immersing myself in that whole area and learning as much as I could. You know, it was not what everyone was doing, but I just found so much joy in it. It was like my sport that I played after school or, you know, something like that, it was just something that I could really get my teeth into. I remember in that first business, I call it the Tech Thread Co., I found the logo the other week, it was shocking, anyway, 

Nicole: I really want you to share it now.

Kai: Yeah yeah yeah, I’ll send it through. I did some research, because I was like, I’ve sort of got the products nailed and the shop was all there, and I was just really focussed on marketing at that point, mainly because Shopify was taking $40 a month out of my bank account and not a lot was coming in yet. So, I thought okay that’s probably what I need to prioritise. What I did is I searched up marketing agency or sort of anything like that and this agency popped up, Draw History, and they’re based in, they used to be based in Subiaco in the city, and I just jumped on their website, sent them a message, and just said “look, can I come in and just, sort of, shadow you or just like sit and listen and just sort of absorb some of those things”, and they said “yeah, come on in”. So, Mum drove me in, we came in and they ended up giving me about an hour and a half of their time, and they just sat down and we brainstormed the business, went through some of these concepts, and I’ve stayed in contact with them and I’ve done work on their internal projects with them down the track, and that was a really great relationship that I still have so much value for today. But it was, I guess, for me, just taking those little leaps and actually sort of going what’s the worst that could happen if I reach out to these guys, right, if it’s going to be no, well I’m in the same position if it’s a no if I hadn’t have asked at all. So, I sent them this message and I got such a great depth of value, and that relationship from it. So, it was things like that that I just really jumped head-first into, and absolutely loved. 

Nicole: That’s so interesting. It is something that’s come up a few times when I speak to young entrepreneurs is just that willingness to ask the question when the question arises, you know? And that phrase that you just used there is the worst that could happen is I could be told no, and having confidence in the fact that, you know, you’re not going to be worse off for asking the question, but you could be in a markedly different space if you do ask the question which is something that seems to be resonating, I think, for quite a few people. I love, I know your values are definitely around curiosity and kindness, which I think are probably the top two that I feel great alignment to that as well. You talk about, I guess, following those curiosities into different projects. What sort of rabbit holes, like you’ve talked about the failed dog-walking business, the mildly successful t-shirt business, what other rabbit holes have you followed these curiosities into?

Kai: Look, it’s one of those things, I almost imagine it as a bit of a map, sort of like a neuron map, right? Because you have this one curiosity, and at that point, you know, when I was 12, that was t-shirts and sort of e-commerce. Because I followed that, because I allowed myself and said, you know, it’s okay if I follow this and it fails in six months-time, I’m just going to follow it. You know, you work out the things you’re passionate about, the skills that you’ve developed, the values, where it sits with your values; you work out these things in that curiosity, and I guess they determine whether you continue on with that or not. But when you follow one, you discover five more, you know? So, in that business, I got really excited about website design, and definitely a rabbit hole that I’ve taken that down for the past few years has sort of been freelance web-design. So, that’s something that I love getting my teeth into, because it sort of combines this, I guess, very technical side of my brain, and also sort of the creative process going through layout and sort of user experience and all those things, the design aspect as well. So, I’ve loved doing that, and it wouldn’t have been, you know, if I hadn’t have done that sort of rabbit hole exploration with another curiosity altogether. So, I think that’s one example of where it’s sort of gone from one to another, but I’ve definitely, I’ve taken it down in some big projects that have taken up a lot of my time. I’ve always sort of done, I’ve always had a great value for education, and something that I’ve picked up in the past sort of two years or so has been private tutoring, and it’s just a job that I can sort of maintain to fund some of these rabbit holes, but tutoring, I’ve really loved and I’ve just been able to build those relationships with students, and doing it while I’m in high school as well, which I’ve realised is actually a little bit less common than I thought. It’s usually uni students and above that do the tutoring, but a mate of mine, we’re actually doing the same thing and we decided one day, well why don’t we create an agency to sort of systemise and scale this? So, this was again that curiosity that he and I followed, and we ended up building what we called Students Tutors United into this, sorry, this peer to peer tutoring agency. Ultimately, we had about 20-30 tutors around Perth, and we’d train them up in our sort of proprietary training system, we’d have systems, we’d be doing invoicing and you know, all of it. I even found myself doing payroll in math class, which was quite funny. But that is just one example. 

Nicole: I don’t even know how to do payroll for my business. So, I’m like shaking my head here going look, this is, I mean, this is definitely a level up from doing six sales in six months with your t-shirt business

Kai: Yeah, and you know what, all it is is just, you know, the more I guess you sort of invest into a new idea, a new idea, you just bring all of those mistakes and failures, and some mini successes along with you, and just put that into practice into this sort of new context, which was at the time, tutoring. So, I mean, I could go on, but those were really some of the main ones for me and sort of one of those ideas that I go back to as examples for how curiosity has really led me to some wonderful rabbit holes. 

Nicole: I love, as you were speaking, I was thinking that often young people get asked to, actually and old people to be fair, get asked to identify what you’re passionate about and follow that, and there’s a lot of emphasis on the word passion. What are you passionate about, and that’s often linked to this horrific question that I dislike which is what do you want to be when you grow up? To which, can I clarify, I still don’t know the answer to. But I think this passion word is really loaded, whereas curiosity creates a bit of play and experimentation around trying new things. Yeah, and I wondered whether, like as well, we often chase this passion thing, in order to identify this true love that we have for our life work. Whereas sometimes chasing curiosities or passions can be about identifying what we don’t like just as much as what we do like in order to provide greater clarity about where we’re moving next. I’d be curious in these curiosities that you followed, have they given you opportunities to tap into things that you didn’t like that you’ve then steered away from just as much as opportunities to steer into things that you did enjoy?

Kai: 100%. 100%. I think curiosity, and I try and reframe I guess purpose and passion and all of that type of thing, as much as I can, into curiosity, because, especially at this age, a lot of kids are posed that question, you know, what’s your purpose, what do you want to do when you’re older, and there’s no conceivable way to know what you’re going to be doing in five years-time, let alone tomorrow. So, I think, I just try and reframe it into curiosity because it brings it back into the moment, it brings it back into today; what am I curious about today? It. sort of, I guess, removes the forwardness of purpose and future. As I said, that’s not really something we can hold and understand, and it brings it back to exploring today, and maybe down the track, through those explorations, you might find some clarity in that area. But as you said, those curiosities, whether it sparked, that little spark of interest, whether it’s sparked by you know reading a magazine article, hearing a podcast, watching a tv show, just having a conversation. Someone can mention something, or you can read something that you can take down your own rabbit hole. It might be a YouTube spiral, it might be, you know, copious amounts of Google searches, whatever it is, you know, it just sort of shows you the finer details to whatever that is, and they might be ticking all your boxes, or leaving more boxes unticked. It’s through that process that you figure out, you know, look, even within curiosities, what are the parts I love, what are the parts I don’t. Obviously, my curiosities have taken me into sort of formal businesses, ones that have grown quite quickly and, sort of, I think had the potential if I wanted to take it even further. For me, I realised pretty quickly that that was actually not going to work for me at the time. You know, as I said, I was being distracted by work tasks during school, I was thinking about marketing campaigns while I was at the beach with friends. Maybe if I was to do it again, I would’ve managed that a little bit better, but at the time I was so curious about it, and so excited about it from the start, but I could feel it working away at, sort of, my time management, even my mental health to be honest, at times. Again, that was sort of one aspect of discovering curiosities and within that, working at parts that didn’t really align with your values as much as you’d first thought, which is why now I sort of do a lot more project-based stuff. I can still kind of jump into the web design, you know, the management of systems, all that type of thing, but within the context of projects; they’re time bound, they’re manageable, that works better for me at the moment, as a school student. I wouldn’t have discovered any of that, if I hadn’t have allowed myself to go down that original rabbit hole, and sort of go look, this actually might not be something that I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, or that I really love, or end up loving, but that’s okay. It’s all an exploration. I think bringing purpose and passion and all these big words, bringing it back into today, the curiosity, has been really powerful for me.

Nicole: Yeah, that’s great. Look, all I could think about in my head is that, you know, Alice in Wonderland and following the White Rabbit and just that notion of the White Rabbit being, you know, curiosity. I love bringing it back to today, you know, what am I curious about today? I think you’ve mentioned technology and the role that tech has played in, I guess, a couple of the rabbit holes you’ve fallen into. Not only have you, I guess, embraced it, but you’ve harnessed it with your business ventures. I think, even for young people, tech can feel a bit overwhelming, like the thought of building a website if you’re not immersed in that from a young age can feel inaccessible or, you know, you might get to 15 or 16 and you think well if I’m not coding games now, then I never will, and certainly, you know, you have to be a child genius that’s like rolling out code at 4 in order to really make tech your bag. What advice do you have for young people, or maybe old people like me, that believe that tech isn’t their thing but would like to dip their toe into it a little bit more?

Kai: I mean, as I sort of said earlier, it’s a wonderful time to be alive, believe it or not, and it’s actually so full of opportunity, especially in the tech world. You know, if you want to create a website, you can do it for nothing, you know, and you can do it with a drag and drop editor that means that it’s accessible to anyone that can, sort of, move their hand with a mouse. What’s so amazing about that is, it’s a stepping-stone, you know, I started designing websites in Wix, and that worked really well for me for some of my earlier projects. Then I moved into a platform called Webflow more recently, which is sort of visually editing code. So, you can’t just drag anything anywhere, it’s the box model, it’s all that type of thing. For me, that is sort of the next progression, sort of moving towards what I’m learning as we speak, one of the things I’m doing during this quarantine is going through some of the free courses on Code Academy, for example, looking at JavaScript and HTML and CSS in greater detail. That’s what I think I would suggest, treat it as a progression. You don’t have to jump into the deep end of the most complex coding languages and servers in the world. Just start with what’s free and out there at the moment, and you can actually create some really amazing product for your business or project for free and with these free platforms; Wix, SquareSpace, whatever it is. But if it isn’t, if it’s truly not your thing, especially for older people running businesses, if you know that it’s just not how your brain works, I don’t think you should be forcing yourself to try and make it work for your brain. But it’s probably time to also accept that it’s really important, during this sort of area of our societal development, to have those aspects to your business. So, bring someone on board who’s thing is tech, you know, who gets really curious and excited about tech, every time someone mentions, you know, JavaScript or server protocols, they just light up. That might not be you but, because you really need it for most enterprises at the moment, just have someone come on board that lives and breathes it, it’s their bread and butter, because it’s really going to uplift and amplify what you’re already doing with your business. 

Nicole: Yeah, amazing. So, I mean, apart from Wix and sort of SquareSpace and I know you mentioned Canva before for creating digital imagery and things like that, are there any other tools that you’ve tapped into, you mentioned Code Academy and some of the learning that you can gain from that. Is there anywhere else you’d direct young people to head to in order to learn more about this space?

Kai: So, you mentioned Canva. Absolutely fantastic for starting to understand design principles. You know, as I said, now I’m doing more of it in Photoshop, but I started in Canva and there’s no reason why you can’t stay in Canva as well. Something that I do a lot of work in is the No Code Space. Now, for some people that may have never heard of this, but like Webflow, for example, it’s these tools that have certainly been created using code, but that put in the hands, of people all over the world, services and products that don’t require you to be doing any coding to create a marketplace, or an app, or a system. I think there are whole stacks of apps that are just being pushed out and fully accessible to people with zero understanding of code. The beautiful thing about them is they sort of start to help you almost naturally understand what goes behind it anyway. Some tools that I’ve used recently which I absolutely love, one of which is Air Table. Now, Air Table is sort of a spreadsheet or like an Excel whatever, it’s numbers on steroids basically, you can connect it with everything else on the web, and it’s great for managing data. Another one, which is really interesting in this space is Zapier. Now, Zapier is hard to explain, but basically connects different systems and apps together. What’s really cool about that for someone that is just running a business from the start or someone that’s really interested in this sort of area, is it gives you a user interface, really simple, to be able to connect Twitter to your spreadsheet, or to connect the light in your house to your printer, like you know, you can basically expand and expand and create multilevel, sort of, Zaps. One project that I have taken curiosity and that rabbit hole and explored all that recently was a website called Perth to Perth, which was sort of a bit of an initiative surrounding this Coronavirus Pandemic, and looking at how I can support local businesses by creating this marketplace that advertises the businesses that are still doing take away in Perth. So, I created that with no code at all, but I used Webflow to design it all, no code, Air Table to manage all the data and submissions, no code, Zapier to connect it all, and a bunch of other apps that I won’t get into, that are all based around this idea of no code. I also designed the graphics for it in Canva, no code, and I could go on. A lot of my projects are based on these tools, and it takes one search, no code tools to find the whole list that are going to work for your next business or project. So, I think also understanding that tech for your business doesn’t have to look like dots and dashes, and ones and zeros. It can be a really easy to understand, easy to implement software as well.

Nicole: Yeah, that’s awesome. Some really really tangible tools that people can tap into there. I think, you know, we’ve talked a lot about, I guess, the juggle between being a Year 11 student and also managing this love of tech and also different curiosities that have come your way and have taken you into businesses. I feel like, in this space particularly as a young entrepreneur, there can be advantages and disadvantages. What’s the peak or the best part about being a young person and in your opinion, what’s maybe the pit or the worst part of that? 

Kai: I’ve thought about this for quite some time now, I’m actually going to answer both of them with the same thing. There are so many opportunities available to you, because of your age. Asking the question, and that business or agency or mentor, that successful person wanting to get behind you and really support you, sometimes the publicity, sometimes the free software. Whatever it is, there are so many opportunities and even more reasons to get started as a young person, it makes it more accessible, it makes it more sustainable, and it makes it more enjoyable. But at the same time, you’re sort of sometimes left feeling that while you’re grateful for having them, it sort of makes you feel like you’re almost using your age and not actually personally or, I guess, professionally worthy of those things, just your age is. Whether that is true or not, it’s sometimes what plays around your head. You’re sort of like, well if I was 25 and doing the exact same work, would I be getting the same treatment and the same opportunities? Sometimes it actually affects how you perceive the work that you’re doing, it’s sort of saying look, this is great and all, but it’s actually only because I’m 13 or 15, that I’m getting X, Y, Z, and almost, sometimes, it sort of makes you feel like you’re not really worthy of any of those opportunities at all. It’s interesting because as I said, whether you are or not, those are the thoughts that sometimes you can fall into, those thought patterns. It doesn’t disqualify how amazing those opportunities that are presented are, but there’s also sometimes this feeling that is this just because of my age? It’s something that I’ve sort of had to play with in the past, and maybe sometimes embrace it at times, and other times I’ll just do a project, won’t even mention my age, and get similar results. So, it’s finding that balance, and especially as I grow up, I obviously can use the age card less and less. I think it’s going to be interesting for me to find that balance between the opportunities that I was so grateful for being presented with and feeling like the reasons for having those are authentic to me as a person and the work that I’m doing. 

Nicole: Yeah, that’s really interesting. I guess it buys into the story in your head, right? So, the story in your head is like am I good enough to be getting these opportunities, and questioning the value add that you’re offering the world, and then at the same time, I guess it’s also taking advantage of what platform you might have as a young person to demonstrate capacity at that age. But, yeah, I can imagine it’s a bit of a tussle between those two things. 

Kai: Absolutely, and it’s something that I’ve explored in lots of different areas but it’s just one to be aware of and to have in the back of your head as I guess a thought process that you could fall into.

Nicole: I’d love to dig into that narrative of being a young person, as well. Often, in the work that I do in schools and with young people around start-ups and enterprises and problem solving, there’s this, whether it’s spoken or unspoken, there’s sometimes this doubt that creeps into young people’s minds where they believe that they’re too young to really do things, or make a difference. I know before we clicked record on this, I talked about how, you know, in start-up land where we’re sort of putting people forward as the pinnacles of enterprise, you’ve got your people like Richard Branson and Elon Musk and they’re all these multi-billionaire white guys that are killing it in their 40s or 50s or later. So, I think that breeds that sense of fear and doubt around what you can actually accomplish whilst you’re still at school. I think that also combined with the narrative that around you know you need to finish school and go to university and follow this traditional pathway, I feel like sometimes that can also stay rooted in this headspace as well. You’re out there proving that it doesn’t matter, you know, you can be 11 and selling t-shirts or you can be 15 and developing web platforms for other organisations. What are three simple, tangible and clear steps that a young person listening to this could take tomorrow to start their own business? Whether that’s dog walking or otherwise, yeah, what are those clear things that they could literally jump off this podcast and do right now?

Kai: So, the first thing that I would do, and I feel like you sort of have to start, as much as there is so much info online and so many ways to sign up and get started, I think you have to start with, I guess, the reason behind whatever you’re doing. If you have that curiosity, you know, there is no reason why you shouldn’t follow that, and I’ll get into that in a bit. But firstly, I think I really encourage young people to start with why, now this is referencing Simon Sinek, he’s a really great thought leader in this sort of area of entrepreneurship with a reason. Start with why is basically talking about having a cause, a reason, behind what you’re doing. Tutoring, you know, for me that tutoring agency, the why was to empower other young people my age, high school students, to actually get into tutoring and to really get lots of value from that peer to peer mentoring as well as the tutoring that they were doing. You know, the why for that first t-shirt business, although it may have been a lot of exploration and learning, was also because I felt that I really wanted to embrace my nerd and get that out there in some sort of form. So, whatever it may be, I think it’s great to start with why it might be an initiative, it might be a really powerful back story, it might be a cause that your business is donating to. Starting with why not only helps you with more clarity as you go through that business process, but ultimately it helps the bottom line if that’s how your mind works because a lot of businesses, you know, their customers actually resonate with that why, they understand it, they can relate to it, and that is a powerful move, not only for your business values and for yourself, but also for your marketing and your sales. So, starting with why, definitely the first step, having those, sort of, internal conversations with yourself or with your team. I think the next one is to think about how badly you want it. This is in reference to a really powerful motivational speech done many years ago by a motivational speaker by the name of Eric Thomas, he’s American, he used this metaphor and I’ll sort of paraphrase it very quickly but he sort of talks about this guru one day, and this student comes to the guru and he says “I want to learn business, I want to be successful”, and the guru says “okay, meet me at the beach tomorrow morning at 4am”. So, he rocks up in a suit, and he actually sees the guru in the water and the guru says “come into the water” and the guru keeps asking him to come out further and further until he’s under water, and the guru grabs his head and pushes him under, and he’s scratching around and he’s struggling to breathe and finally the guru lets him go, and he comes up and he breathes, and the guru says this to him, he says “when you want success as badly as you just wanted to breathe, you will find it”. When I heard that speech, that really clicked for me because sure, it’s a really wonderful experience and I really encourage you to follow those curiosities we have, whatever that looks like. If you’re really passionate and really excited about entrepreneurships or putting yourself out there on a YouTube channel, whatever it is, and you really want to be successful in that area, ask yourself, again this internal monologue, how bad do you want it? I think that’s just a really important question to have, you don’t want to just kind of want it, you really want to be invested in it. So, and again, starting tomorrow, I guess a third tip for me is to just start doing some research, and that sounds really boring. What I suggest that research could look like is starting free trials and actually jumping into platforms, playing around, uploading things, seeing how they work, reaching out to support teams and asking them questions, you know, is this how this works and start documenting that process, start writing down what you’re discovering because what you thought might be a great solution to achieve that business idea, through that process, could be achieved in a much simpler, much more effective way. It also gives you that sort of exposure to some of these tools. So, start googling, start watching YouTube videos, start signing up for free trials, and actually learn what those platforms require you to do, and how they can work for you and, as I said, the amount of no code tools, that barrier to entry is so low now that I just suggest jumping in to the free trials and the accounts that you can set up, and just start playing because you’ll find something in there that really clicks for your why and your idea. Something, a bonus, that I want to throw in because it’s been so pivotal to me, and it sort of leads on from that, but it’s actually being not only okay with failure, because that’s easy enough to say but it’s always something we feel, but actually being okay with moving on. This is interesting for me because I’ve obviously, I’ve started three businesses actually, and I don’t run any of them anymore. So, at different times, I’ve had to decide for the betterment of myself or the customers or my team or my partner, that we needed to actually move on. I wasn’t feeling as excited or curious and this doesn’t mean that when you first hit that first road bump in business that you just drop everything and move on, that’s not what I’m saying. But when it’s getting to the point where you’re not feeling it at all anymore, you’ve tried everything, you’re disengaged, you’re unmotivated in that area, be okay with moving on. That is swallowing your pride, managing that ego about what does it look like if I’ve stopped a business, you know? It might be a few months of awkward conversations with a friend or family member, you know, “how’s the business going?” “I actually decided to move on from it”, being vulnerable in that moment and actually being really in touch with yourself and what you need in that moment, if it’s not that business at that time, if it’s not that curiosity, as we evolve, so do our curiosities and our ideas, and that is okay. So, I would suggest to start with why, really consider how badly you want it, to jump into those free trials and to actually just start exploring what’s out there and you can do that from tomorrow. But most importantly, think really deep about being okay with not only failure but if necessary, moving on. Those are my bits of advice for starting tomorrow.

Nicole: Kai, it has been such a pleasure to chat all things your journey today. If people want to get in touch with you, where can they find you?

Kai: It’s been an absolute pleasure, Nicole. Thank you so much for having me. I love hearing about your next project or about how I can help in any way. I’m really active on Instagram, @kai.lovel, and you can also send me an email [email protected] and just shoot through any ideas or questions you have because I know sometimes there are those things that there’s no forum or support site can answer for you but maybe I’ve had those headaches myself and spent weeks trying to wrap my brain about it and I’d be happy to help.

Nicole: Fantastic. Kai, thank you for your time. 

Kai: It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks, Nicole.

Mailing List

Sign up with the promise we'll send great content and not spam your inbox.