How to Determine if Your Business Idea Sucks

My guest today is the founder and CEO of multiple successful businesses, including and Delinquent Distribution.

Most recently — and alongside Dan “Punkass” Caldwell (the founder of Tapout clothing) — she has created, which offers a 6-week course on how to run a successful t-shirt business.

My guest skipped college and started her first business, Rhythm Sticks, at age 18.

She also appeared in season 5 of The Apprentice and won two tasks as project manager, before being fired by Donald Trump in week 9.

Now, Let’s hack …

Andrea Lake.

In this 34-minute episode Andrea Lake and I discuss:

  • How she learned the power of delegation (and the $20 rule)
  • The simple process of determining whether or not an idea is good
  • What you need to know to get better at sales (even if you’re scared of selling)
  • Why today is the worst that your website will ever be
  • That you only fail when you don’t get back up

The Show Notes

How to Determine if Your Business Idea Sucks

Voiceover: Welcome to Hack the Entrepreneur, the show which reveals the fears, habits, and inner battles behind big-name entrepreneurs and those on their way to joining them. Now here is your host, Jon Nastor.

Jonny Nastor: Hey, hey, welcome to Hack the Entrepreneur. I’m so glad that you decided to join me today. I’m your host, Jon Nastor, but you can call me ‘Jonny.’

My guest today is the founder and CEO of multiple successful businesses, including and Delinquent Distribution. Most recently, though, and alongside her partner, Dan Caldwell, who’s the founder of TapouT Clothing, she’s also created, which offers a six-week course on how to run a successful t-shirt business.

My guest skipped college and started her first business, Rhythm Styx, which she is currently reviving, at age 23. She also appeared in season 5 of The Apprentice and won two tasks as project manager before being fired by the Donald Trump in week nine. Now, let’s hack Andrea Lake.

Today’s episode of the Hack the Entrepreneur is brought to you by The Showrunner Podcasting Course, your step-by-step guide for developing, launching, and running a remarkable show just like this one that builds an audience in the age of on-demand audio content. We are re-opening the course for one week only on June 25th. The only way to get in is to be on the list. Join today by going to Showrunner.FM. Drop your email into the sign-up box.

Welcome back to another episode of Hack the Entrepreneur. We have an extra, extra, extra-special guest today. Andrea, thank you so much for joining me.

Andrea Lake: Thanks so much Jon. I’m excited to be here.

Jonny Nastor: Oh, it’s going to be a lot of fun. Let’s jump straight into it, shall we?

Andrea Lake: Sounds like a plan.

How She Learned the Power of Delegation (and the $20 Rule)

Jonny Nastor: Awesome. Andrea, what is the one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your successes so far?

Andrea Lake: Wow. There are a couple of things that I do. On a personal note, I would say taking time for myself: yoga, meditation, and hiking. I get my best ideas there. In business, there is a couple of contributing factors, but when I really put a dollar value on my time, when I started to do that. At first, it was just $20 an hour and hiring out everything else that I could hire for less than $20 an hour. My business increased by 500 percent that year.

Jonny Nastor: Wow.

Andrea Lake: I very strongly recommend that every entrepreneur does that. Now it’s hundreds of dollars an hour. Anything that I can hire out, which is almost everything, I do. And learning the superpower of delegation — that’s been one of my biggest wins.

Jonny Nastor: Wow. I love that. I love that as the benchmark. Twenty dollars an hour — if it’s less than that, then yes, it’s gone.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: I guess because I’m going through that right now at the podcast, trying to push things off, and knowing that by spending that money, it’s going to grow it, obviously, because there’s only one of me.

Andrea Lake: Right. Actually, it was a mind shift that my mentor helped me get because I thought in my head — which I think most entrepreneurs do – “Oh, I’m saving money by doing all of this myself,” which is obviously completely inaccurate. But I was literally packing orders and stuff –it was like ’98, the early days of the Internet. He said, “Okay, this is exactly what I want you to do. I want you to hire someone to come and pack the orders, and every minute that she is there” — it was a girl I ended up hiring — “I want you to be making sales calls.” I was like, “Well, that’s brilliant.”

Then I very quickly realized that I was averaging $400 an hour in sales when I was doing sales calls for that company. It was my first clothing company. I was like, “Well, I think A) my dollar value should be higher than $20 an hour, and B) perhaps I should be doing nothing but making sales calls.”

Jonny Nastor: Nice.

Andrea Lake: Yeah.

Jonny Nastor: That’s a great mind-shift change, because it’s absolutely right. As long as you do something more valuable with that time, right?

Andrea Lake: Yes, exactly. That was why it was a comparative to me. Not only that, it was a really great company because it was a CPG, a consumer products good company. I had a really tangible amount that I could associate with that time. Not all companies work that way.

The Simple Process of Determining Whether or Not an Idea Is Good

Jonny Nastor: Exactly. Yeah. That’s a great way to start. When you said on the personal side, with the yoga, meditation, and hiking, your best ideas come from there.

Andrea Lake: Absolutely.

Jonny Nastor: How do you document those ideas while in the middle of an activity?

Andrea Lake: Oh, do you know what? Well, there were two things. First of all, I do use voice recordings, or I’ll text myself something.

Jonny Nastor: Ah, nice.

Andrea Lake: But in general, I know some people might not agree with me here, but if an idea doesn’t rise to the top and excite me to the point where I remember it, I don’t consider it all that valuable.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. “If an idea doesn’t rise to the top.” Yeah. That’s a great way to think of it, actually. You don’t need every idea, right? You just need ideas flowing more so than to remember every single idea.

Andrea Lake: Right. Yeah. People say like, “Oh, I had this great idea, and it was so great, and I forgot it.” I’m like, “No, you didn’t. It was fine. You’ll remember it. If it was really that great, you’re not going to forget.” Just the other day, I found out that I could apply one of my companies to vocational rehabilitation for military guys, which means the government actually will pay for them to take my course. I’m like, “There’s no way I’m forgetting that. I don’t even need to write that down.”

Jonny Nastor: So true.

Andrea Lake: That’s amazing. That’s going to mean like a million dollars over the course of the next two years, so I don’t have to write that down.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah, it doesn’t matter what notebook it was.

Andrea Lake: That’s right.

Jonny Nastor: That’s brilliant. That’s a great way to think about it, because I’ve actually been struggling with that myself. I got a notebook so I can write down things down, but wow. It’s true, you remember those good ones.

Andrea Lake: Yeah.

Jonny Nastor: All right. There’s this time in every entrepreneur’s life, Andrea, where they realize one of two things: that either they have this calling to make something big in the world, or what seems to mostly be the case, they find they simply cannot work for somebody else.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: Can you tell me which side of the fence you fall on and when you discovered this about yourself?

Andrea Lake: Well, actually, I’ve fallen on both sides of those fences, but the very first, which I think is the natural first one. It’s a slightly more immature thought, not in a bad way. But when I was really young, I knew that I couldn’t work for anybody else. That was the first thought.

Then for the first 15 years of being an entrepreneur, I just started companies, because I knew I wanted the freedom of owning my own business, even though there is a correlated risk with it. Then as I got older and I saw and I knew how to run businesses, and I cut my teeth on a couple of smaller companies, that’s when I saw the opportunity to do something that would have a massive worldwide effect.

Jonny Nastor: Nice.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: That’s very cool.

Andrea Lake: Yeah, so most of my earlier companies were clothing, and I own the sales rights on Minecraft and World of Warcraft and all these video games, which is awesome. I love that, but that’s not really changing the world, you know? I’ve started 14 companies since I was 18, so I scaled into larger and larger companies. Then I created something that could have a massive effect on entrepreneurship, which is my passion anyway, so I was very excited about that.

Jonny Nastor: Wow, 14 companies since you were 18.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: You started off early in clothing. Why did you pick clothing early on?

Andrea Lake: Well, I actually had a toy company. That was my first company when I was 18. Rhythm Styx, those sticks where you hold one in each hand and use the two you’re holding to throw a third stick around.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah.

Andrea Lake: Those are so fun. I made the best ones. Now I actually still have a little Etsy store that’s up. It really is a passion project because I literally do make the best, prettiest ones if you go on Rhythm Styx at Etsy. Well, we barely sell any of it because we won’t push it. We sell like a few hundred sets a year. But they are the best, most aerodynamic ones that have actual thought behind the physics of the whole thing while simultaneously looking really pretty. I’m super into design, but I never was making any money at it.

I was, because I was 18 when I started it. I was a baller for an 18-year-old, because I was probably making like 40 grand a year, which was all of the money in the world. Then, when I was 21, I heard that this guy was making $10,000 a month selling t-shirts, which was like all the money in the world. Profit! Ten thousand dollars a month profit! I’m like, “Holy moly, I am going to go do that immediately.” When I was 22, I started my first clothing company, Anti-Establishment Clothing. I saw a gap in the market in really offensive t-shirts.

My premise was that I could sell all these to head shops and tattoo shops and online and whatever. Most of the people that have most of these companies are probably really angry people that are not having excellent customer service and really good branding and all that stuff. That turned out to be accurate. I thought, “I could go totally, totally dominate this market.” I had an angsty, misspent youth. That came out in the t-shirts. It went really well, that company. That’s how I got into clothing.

Then it didn’t sell, though, that well in the chains. I was doing really well. I was doing almost maybe a million dollars a year in sales. Then I finally got into Hot, which is not that much profit, as any entrepreneur knows. It’s maybe 15 percent profit, which you’re reinvesting back into the company anyway.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah.

Andrea Lake: Then my big goal was to get into Hot Topic, and Blink-182 started wearing my stuff when they were a tiny band. Hot Topic kept saying, “We’ll buy from you, we’ll buy from you, we’ll buy from you,” and finally they went to a Blink-182 show and saw my merchandise on the band. They were like, “All right, we’ll buy it.”

Jonny Nastor: We’ll totally buy it all from you.

Andrea Lake: The next day, they actually placed their first order with me. True story. It’s actually even funnier than that, because they weren’t allowed to wear anything but Hurley on stage because they were under contract. They actually had like 1,000 of my stickers. They were throwing them out into the audience, and my Hot Topic buyer was in the audience and picked up one of the stickers and was like, “Whoa, if Blink-182 is throwing this girl’s stuff out, we’ve got to buy it.”

Jonny Nastor: Why were they throwing out your stickers?

Andrea Lake: Because I randomly had sent over … they broke so fast. They were a San Diego band. I grew up in San Diego. I used to always give them clothes. We were really good friends with the lead singer’s cousin. He came over before the show. We were supposed to go backstage to the show. I had the flu, so I sent over this huge grocery bag full of merchandise. We had ‘90s slogans — all offensive — like “I sell crack for the CIA” and stuff like that and other ones that I probably can’t say on the air.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah.

Andrea Lake: I grabbed like 10 of each slogan, which is like 900 stickers, which is a ridiculous amount of stickers to send to anyone. What else are they going to do with them? I had put no thought into it. I was delirious with the flu and packing merchandise for them to take with them on their tour. They ended up throwing out hundreds of stickers into the audience. Really cool stickers. We were advertising on the back cover of High Times back then and Alternative Press magazine and Revolver and all these magazines that were big back then. It was a cooler brand.

Jonny Nastor: Wow.

Andrea Lake: Yeah, but it didn’t sell when I got to Hot Topic. They called me up, and they were like, “We can’t buy from you anymore.” They had already bought way more than they were supposed to buy. They kept testing designs that weren’t selling, and more designs that weren’t selling, because I just was a good salesperson.

Jonny Nastor: That’s awesome.

Andrea Lake: The buyer made his assistant buyer call me to tell me that they weren’t going to buy from me anymore because the guy had no power to say ‘yes,’ and he knew he’d be talked into stuff.

Jonny Nastor: He knew he’d be talked into it.

Andrea Lake: I totally started crying. It was super-professional. I was like 24. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life if Hot Topic didn’t sell my stuff.

Jonny Nastor: Wow.

Andrea Lake: The kid was so nice. I didn’t pick up the equation back then, but like I was a smoking hot 24-year-old girl, and I’m crying on the phone with a 21-year-old guy. I didn’t understand the dynamic of any of that. He’s like, “Oh my God, Andrea. Andrea, don’t worry. We really like you. We really, really like you. You’ve crossed the biggest hurdle, and you just have to sell us stuff that’s going to sell. Just not Anti-Establishment. I will take your call.” I immediately, while I am still crying say, “Well, I came up with this new company. It’s called Delinquent Distribution, and I’m going to have 80 designs to you in six weeks.”

I had done no such thing. No such thing. I didn’t even put the receiver down onto the phone unit. Only our older listeners will even know what that means. I just pushed the ‘click’ button and immediately called my biggest competitor, which was Un-American Activities and said I wanted to license their stuff and I would give them 50 percent of the profit. They agreed. And then I called six other competitors, Seedless Clothing and Dub and a bunch of other clothing companies that were just teeny-tiny at that time. They all signed over their licensing rights to me. The rest did it for 25 percent of the profit, which is a really, really fair rate.

Then I took care of all of the factoring of the order, paying for it, getting it distributed. Then I also contracted with some graphic designers. 99designs did not exist. This is probably in 2000.

It was a crazy claim to say that I would have 80 designs, but I did. I ended up having hundreds within the next six weeks. Then 6 weeks after than when I was showing it to Mr. Rags and Miller’s Outpost and Hot Topic. Two of those don’t even exist anymore, I had done a million dollars in profit in the first three months after that phone call.

Jonny Nastor: Wow.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

What You Need to Know to Get Better at Sales (Even If You’re Scared of Selling)

Jonny Nastor: Where did you learn to sell like this?

Andrea Lake: Well, I think some of it was innate, but where I really busted my chops was I did fundraising door-to-door. It was for a pro-choice organization, a political action committee in California. When I went for the interview, I was so quiet back then that they didn’t think I would be able to do it, but they hire everyone because they pay on commission, you know?

Jonny Nastor: Yup.

Andrea Lake: Then I did door-to-door sales, and I was with them for two years. I was their number-one top-producing salesperson. There’s really nothing more that will prepare you to make a sale than going to somebody’s door with certainly one of the most controversial issues that exists and asking for money and being able to get somebody to write you check in like two minutes for an organization they probably have never heard of before.

Jonny Nastor: It’s a tough sell. It’s a tough sell.

Andrea Lake: It’s a tough sell! I was insanely good at it. I never even considered myself a good salesperson, but I was.

That taught me several things that are beneficial for your entrepreneurial listeners. Number one, sales is just a number’s game. It’s just truly no big deal. If you hit 100 people, you’re going to get a sale. You just will. Also, these people don’t know you, so you can’t anything personally. It’s a very charged issue, so people would be screaming obscenities in my face and calling me the worst names that you can call. I would just be like, “You don’t know me. It’s totally fine. This is not personal.”

Then when I translated that in the later years when I was talking to people on the phone, like from a tattoo shop and they were just having a bad day, and they’re like, “What makes you think you can call my shop?” I’m like, “You’re just on the no-call list now. No worries. You don’t know me. I don’t have anything to do with you and your bad day.”

Jonny Nastor: But being able to deal with it like that, I think, is somewhat innate because most people are probably listening to this right now and cringing at the thought of somebody like you calling them coldly and then them freaking out on you. That’s the fear that people have, right? You’re right, it’s not founded because they don’t know you, and you don’t know them. If you do call 100 of them, no matter what you’re selling, you will sell to one of those people.

Andrea Lake: Yes, yes.

Jonny Nastor: It’s the game.

Andrea Lake: It’s like that social experiment where the guy literally walks up to 1,000 women, and literally says, first thing, “Do you want to go have sex with me?” You can see those on YouTube, and literally two women say yes. He doesn’t say anything else to them first. They’re like, “Yeah, okay.”

Jonny Nastor: It never hurts to ask.

Andrea Lake: Apparently not.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah, exactly. All right.

You are really good at sales. At the beginning, you told us you’re really, really good at delegating and getting rid of things. Every blog post, every expert now talks the 80/20 rule, right? Do 20 percent, get 80 percent of the results. Do what you’re good at, and delegate the rest.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: Andrea, can you tell me something that you are absolutely not good at in your business?

Andrea Lake: Oh yeah. I’m actually good at it, but I hate it. Really detail-oriented follow-through, the nitty-gritty stuff, making sure every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘i’ is dotted, filling out tons of government-oriented paperwork. Katie, who’s my operations manager, does all of that.

Jonny Nastor: Wow.

Andrea Lake: Yeah. Then I just approve it.

Jonny Nastor: Did you say you’re good at it but you don’t like it?

Andrea Lake: I’m very competent at it. I just don’t like it. What I’m not great at … oh, new technologies. That’s just not my thing. My employees find them and bring them to me and teach me how to use them. It’s that serious.

Jonny Nastor: That works. That works.

Andrea Lake: I actually really like them. And if people are talking about really detail-oriented statistical type of analysis, it literally is like a kitten with a ball of yarn in my head playing. I go so completely blank. That’s not something I handle myself in my companies usually.

Jonny Nastor: If you were starting up a new company, that would be one of the first things that you would hire out, is the detail-oriented paperwork, like crossing the ‘t’s?

Andrea Lake: Yes, it would be. I think that if you are exactly on the right track, that you must figure out either what you don’t want to do, what doesn’t make the company money, or what you dislike doing, and have other people doing those things while you focus on your areas of genius.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah, well-said.

Andrea Lake: Thanks. Instead of 80/20, this is how I do it. I only do things within my company that I feel like I must personally do, like hiring or negotiating a really big deal or something like that. I only do things that I feel like I must do, things that I absolutely love to do, and things that generate the company money. Those are the three prongs that I take care of myself.

Jonny Nastor: Nice.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: You say you have to do the hiring. Do you also do the management of people once they’re hired?

Andrea Lake: No.

Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I find entrepreneurs a lot, we know we have to hire the right people, but then after that, we’re terrible at managing these people. It seems to be a really recurring theme throughout these conversations. That’s why I wanted to ask you.

Andrea Lake: I know. I do some of the managing, but I have just been so blessed and lucky with the employees I have in my companies. They really are co-workers and people that really facilitate the running of the companies.

One of my companies, StickerJunkie, I literally went into the offices twice last year for an hour each time. Tony manages the entire staff there and manages everything: cost of operations, the organization, the human resources. He manages every part of it brilliantly so that I don’t have to. It’s really lovely.

Jonny Nastor: Wow.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: Okay. There is a lot of companies you have started, a lot of companies you’re running now.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: Well, 18 I think you said. No, 14.

Andrea Lake: Fourteen.

Jonny Nastor: Fourteen since you were 18.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm, but currently five.

Jonny Nastor: Currently five?

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. Let’s talk projects. Projects can be something either you want within a company or an idea that comes across your desk to start a new company. I want to know do you have a process that you go through now that allows you to decide when a new company is ready to start or a new project is a new venture where you guys should focus a lot of your time, money, and energy.

Andrea Lake: Mm-hmm. Well, I do. My business partner, Travis Steffen, he’s exited six tech companies in the last five years. He’s amazing. You should have him on your show.

Jonny Nastor: I should.

Andrea Lake: He is really systematically organized. I, however, am almost completely intuitively focused. It really is when an idea just keeps rising to the top, and I cannot get it out of my head, and I feel like it must exist. And then I assume that there’s a market for it. Then I create an MVP, a minimum viable product, to see if that is actually true and accurate and see whether or not we can get sales on it.

Then assuming that we can get sales, we execute on it. I have a really interesting setup in my companies, which is that the companies have individual employees that manage the operations and the process type of stuff, and then I have an overarching team that stays with me and that tucks in and out of all of my companies in the same way that I do.

Jonny Nastor: Oh wow.

Andrea Lake:) It’s an operations manager and a designer, and we go and see what needs to be done, and then we work with strategic partners who are more of the growth hackers and marketers. But we thought we could go and assess what needs to be done in any company to make it more profitable or expand its growth.

That You Only Fail When You Don’t Get Back Up

Jonny Nastor: Wow. Okay. As entrepreneurs and as humans in general, one of our greatest struggles is the fear of being wrong, making mistakes, and failing. You’ve now decided on a new project apparently by following your gut and what you feel. You can’t get this idea out of your head, and it needs to go to market. You take it to market, and it completely flops. How do you continue to move ahead confidently and with your team around you? How do you pull through totally being wrong at something and not have it sideswipe you?

Andrea Lake: I’ve actually never been wrong. Oh wait.

Jonny Nastor: Wow. Okay. Next question.

Andrea Lake: I’m just kidding. Actually, something I talk about a lot is failure being not a big deal.

I had one company. We did subscription-based websites for bestselling spiritual authors. We were on Oprah. It was too early. It was 2005. It was such a massive fail. It was such a massive fail, and I had self-financed the company. I actually went hugely in debt. I had to liquidate everything and cash in my retirement savings. I was $1.2 million US dollars in debt. I never filed for bankruptcy. I knew that I knew how to make money.

The first thing is that you lose confidence, or at least I completely lost confidence in myself, like, “Who am I? I clearly don’t know what I’m doing.” I thought I knew way more than this.

And multiple other things happened at the same time. I had put together a $2 million deal with GameStop, and they returned most of the merchandise. That happened the same week. Yeah, it was a very sad week. Then the IRS called me and told me that I owed them deep six figures. That was the next week. I got completely wiped out. I spent like six months curled up on the floor in a ball as I was liquidating all of my assets, but you just have to get back up.

The only way that you actually can fail is not to get back up, and every entrepreneur that I know has experienced their version of something similar to that where it’s usually far less extreme. But it’s really not that big of a deal, because by the time you even have that much to lose, you know what you’re doing. If you can remember in the moment of it that it’s not that big of a deal, and that most companies like if you’re experiencing a failure, it’s going to be on a much, much, much smaller scale.

Also it’s probably one of two reasons: either you’re not getting enough traffic and people viewing your site, or you’re monetizing incorrectly. Or your idea is just bad. Those are much pretty the three options. You’re going to be able to find that out. If you read Eric Ries’ Lean Startup, if you are doing it with minimum viable product, you’re going to be able to find out pretty quickly whether or not your idea is any good.

Jonny Nastor: Totally. That’s a great way. Not enough traffic, not monetizing properly, or you have a terrible idea.

Andrea Lake: Yeah.

Jonny Nastor: It basically sums it up right there. It’s usually that you don’t have enough people seeing your offer yet.

Why Today Is the Worst That Your Website Will Ever Be

Andrea Lake: That’s correct. I was starting actually to feel like a failure on one of my newer ventures, and then I went into my analytics. I was like, “Oh, 1,000 people have seen the page and eight people bought. That’s good.”

Jonny Nastor: Yeah.

Andrea Lake: It was actually less. It was like 850 people have seen the page, and eight people bought. I’m like, “Oh 1 percent conversion on something that hasn’t been optimized. That’s not terrible.” I think also a lot of times we count stuff a little bit too soon. People think that the first day that they throw a website up, they’re just going to be rich.

A far better way to look at it is the first day that you throw the website up, that is the worst that your website is ever going to look. It’s the worst product offering you’re ever going to have, because you’re just going to keep improving it from there. If you have any traction at all, like even people joining your mailing list or clicking ‘like’ on Facebook or anything, I’m like, “That’s great, because it’s just going to increase from your smallest point of beginning.”

Jonny Nastor: I love it. “The worst it will ever be is that first day,” and that’s the day everybody thinks, “Yeah, here we go. I’m going to be rich.”

Andrea Lake: My business partner, Travis Steffen, had said that to me, and I laughed. It switched my whole perspective because I’ve fallen into that trap before. I’m like, “Why doesn’t everyone just love my stuff? It’s so good.”

Jonny Nastor: If they kind of like it now when it’s this bad, then think about when it’s good.

Andrea Lake: Right, exactly.

Jonny Nastor: That’s a brilliant mindset.

Andrea Lake: Yes.

Jonny Nastor: I love it.

Okay. We’re going to wrap up, Andrea, on something I’m calling ‘the entrepreneurial gap.’ As entrepreneurs, I feel that we are always looking forward, setting goals one month, three months, six months, a year, three years, five years, 10 years down the road. Right before we even hit those goals, we set five or 10 loftier ones into the future. It’s always, “In six months when my business is doing this, I’ll be happier. When it’s a year and my business is doing this, I will be successful.”

It’s always in the future. I feel that we oftentimes fail to stop and look at what we’ve come through, what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve done, and give ourselves credit for it. You’ve started 14 companies. You’ve had highs, and you’ve had lows that you just told us about. But I would love right now, Andrea, if you could stop, turn around, look at where you’ve come from in the past since you were 18 years old, and tell me how you feel about that.

Andrea Lake: My 18-year-old self would be insanely blown away by how much I’ve accomplished in business and by the lifestyle that I get to live as a result of it and by the community of business people that I’ve built around myself. There’s just not even any words.

Jonny Nastor: Awesome.

Andrea Lake: It’s been a really good journey. It’s been a lot.

Jonny Nastor: That’s awesome. That’s a good attitude.

Andrea Lake: Well, I just agree with you 100 percent that people are so up to speed with where they are that they don’t realize how extraordinary their journey has been.

Jonny Nastor: It is. There’s no way you can be where you are, doing stuff, without having come through so much and accomplished so much. Those are the things you have to remember when all of a sudden sh*t goes bad, and you’re on the floor again, like “Oh my God.” You’ve got to remember, “No, but I did this, this, this, this, this, and this right all along. I just did one thing wrong. It’s screwed up a lot, but it means I can do it again.”

Andrea Lake: I love that.

Jonny Nastor: All right, Andrea. This has been a lot of fun. We’ve got to talk about your businesses in passing. Could you specifically tell the listener where to go find more out about your businesses?

Andrea Lake: Sure, sure. The newest company is You can look up everything there. It’s actually a conglomeration. It’s a collection of all of the business knowledge that I gained in the apparel industry over the past 20 years. We are teaching really detail-oriented, specific lessons on exactly how to do what we have done, which is sell millions and millions of t-shirts. It’s myself and my business partner, Dan Caldwell. He started TapouT clothing, which of course does hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales.

I own the sales rights on Minecraft, so of course I’ve sold millions and millions and millions of t-shirts. We teach you exactly, start-to-finish, no-joke, legit, six weeks, down-and-dirty exactly how to do it roadmap style. The future of that company is that we’ll offer on multiple different entrepreneurial verticals how do to that in restaurants, with your own Amazon store, starting a yoga studio, a salon, a coffee stop, et cetera. I’m super excited about

Then is the other one, and it’s a more generalized version of the same thing. It’s a $27 a month subscription where you can learn from the founders of Hootsuite, or Jake Nickell from Threadless, or all of these amazing entrepreneurs who have done incredible things over the course of their careers, really showing detail-oriented knowledge on a lot of different verticals about how you can be successful as well.

Jonny Nastor: Nice. That’s

Andrea Lake: And

Jonny Nastor: And

Andrea Lake: Yeah. does six-week, very interactive courses that you’re interacting with myself and Dan from TapouT who also teaches the course. It pairs you with somebody that has really had massive success in the area that you want to have.

It’s just super detail-oriented content. Because a lot of the stuff out there is like “Come, make money right now.” It’s a lot of people who are making all of their money by selling you products on how to make money.

I thought, “What if instead, you had like a laser-focused roadmap where, if you want to start a t-shirt company, we tell you this is the blank t-shirt supplier you should be using. This is their address and phone number. This is how you vet your screen printer. Let’s just say you find a screen printer. This is how you present your website. This is how you increase sales on your website or to the mom-and-pop stores.”

It’s really action-oriented, detailed advice that you need if you want your clothing company to be successful. If you started a clothing company and you have somewhere under $100,000 a year in sales, there’s little adjustments that you can make that will bump you up to that next level.

Jonny Nastor: Excellent.,, Sticker Junkie, and Eric Ries’ Lean Startup. We’ll have links in the show notes so that they are super easy for everyone to find, and definitely check out

Andrea, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by today. I really, really appreciate it, and please keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s awesome and really inspiring to watch.

Andrea Lake: Thanks for having so much, Jon. I really appreciate it, and I love everything you’re doing for entrepreneurship.

Jonny Nastor: Thank you very much.

Andrea, thank you so much. That was a lot of fun, and that was a really cool conversation. You said some really cool stuff. I mean, I even responded to you right after we’ve recorded this, and I had to write a new article for If you haven’t read my articles on, go check them out. Go to and in the search box, type in ‘Nastor,’ I guess ‘Jon Nastor,’ and you’ll find them. But I was inspired by what she said. Just in this conversation, I had to write an article right after, and I was like, “Can I use that? Can I use your stuff?”

Andrea responded very nicely, like, “Yeah of course, that would be cool.” We did it. We got published, and it was great. I love the inspiration that I instantly took from the conversation. That was cool, but that’s not the hack. That should have probably been the hack, but I’ve already used it, right?

There was several other really, really smart things that Andrea said. There was, but she said this one thing. She had this one other thing that really, really stuck out to me. Did you get it? Did you hear it? Let’s do it. Let’s find the hack.

Andrea Lake: I think also, a lot of times, we count stuff a little bit too soon. People think the first day that they throw a website up, that like they’re going to be rich. A far better way to look at it is the first day that you throw the website up, that is the worst that your website is ever going to look. It’s the worst product offering you’re ever going to have because you’re just going to keep improving it from there.

Jonny Nastor: That’s the hack. Oh, Andrea, Andrea, Andrea — thank you. That is … wow. I mean I was taken aback by it when she said it during the conversation, and I am again, because it’s so true. We want things to be so perfect when they first get launched, whether it’s a product, it’s a podcast, or it’s our blog or our new service. We want it to be so perfect that it typically doesn’t even ever get launched to the world because it never becomes perfect. I love the idea of accepting that this is the worst it’s ever going to be, but only if you allow it. Only if you put it out there as such.

Even was hilarious. It cost me $125 for a design on 99designs, and I put it up with my friend Nick Davis, who you can find at if you’d like some WordPress work. He did it with me over a weekend. We just put it together, and it did exactly what it needed to do, and it looked pretty bad, but it worked. Now the site is a thousand times better, and it’s nine or 10 months later, but it had to be like that to start. Even my first episodes weren’t that good.

The first version of Velocity Page that we released was terrible. It’s just now getting quite good because we’re iterated and built off of those, just built off the product, and that’s how it has to be.

I love how you say, “Don’t make this decision.” Like, “Oh my God, it’s a failure.” It’s like, “No, it’s not. It just started.” You just got going. Be willing to suck at the beginning. Just know that that’s how it’s going to be, and that you have to progressively get better. But whatever you put out, whatever you put out today or publish today or do, just know that that is the worst it will be, and you will continue to grow it and make it better. But don’t try and make it better and perfect before putting it out, because you probably won’t.

You’ll get overwhelmed and you’ll get in this weird cycle of looking for a perfection that never comes and then you’ll fail to ever launch. Andrea, thank you so much. That was awesome.

All right. This has been a lot of fun, as always. Thank you so much for stopping by. If you haven’t, could you go to iTunes and leave Hack the Entrepreneur a review and a rating? That would mean so much. Just over 250 or 260, maybe, now. If you could also put your Twitter handle — @ your name on Twitter. I’d love to be able to come on Twitter and thank you for leaving that review, but it helps seriously a lot. It really, really does.

This has been fun. Until next time, please keep hacking the entrepreneur.