I first met Nathan back when we were studying at the University of Otago. Like myself, he was involved in lots of student groups and events happening around campus such as OCOM and Case Competitions. We both agree that these extra activities on top of our degrees helped pave the way for our future entrepreneurial paths.
After Uni we lost contact for a few years until we reconnected in Wellington via a Social Group on Meetup.com and started bumping into each other at various events and adventures. Meetup is another great tool for meeting people and networking - both personally and professionally. Nathan was in a 'stable' work hard finance job at a big reputable firm getting paid well. Then one day he told me 'I am currently saving up money so I can quit and go travel and go do something else'. Sure enough a few months later he quit! I couldn't believe it, I have seen how hard it is for people to quit something stable and try something new.
I remember bumping into Nathan in a cafe one day in Wellington - he was reading lots of books, checking out a new cafe every day and he said to me "I have figured out the key to my happiness, now I just need to work out how to make some money!". He seemed so happy and relaxed. As planned he then used his savings to Motorbike across Vietnam with his Dad. When his trip in Vietnam ended, he just kept going and motorbiked across multiple countries in Asia. After that he was back in NZ briefly before heading to travel Europe.
The best part of his story is that during his travels he started his own incredible company called 'Assemble Advisory' that he can run from anywhere and provide his clients incredible value, utilising his wealth of expertise and skills in finance. I still remember the day he emailed me after only a couple of months in business saying "this month I will earn more than I did in my 9-5 job and I am travelling whilst doing it!'.
Nathan also did a guest post for Entrepreneurs Adventures a while ago about 'equity crowdfunding' that you should check out. During his interview he has offered some great tips and ideas around how to start a business and some great tools and resources you can use. I really enjoyed the story how how he found the idea for the business he wanted to build. I had an absolute blast interviewing Nathan over coffee in Wellington between our travels and hope you enjoy the read!
1) WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Nathan Rose, I studied finance at the University of Otago and got into investment banking, which is a competitive job to get into. It was always my dream to get into this field. After a few years though, it just wasn't what I wanted to do. Climbing the career ladder and being stuck in one place was not what it was all cracked up to be really. I took six months to backpack through southeast Asian, had a bit of a chance to think and reflect. Like many people I read The Four Hour Work Week and it inspired me to get started on my own business called Assemble Advisory, which is helping growing companies to raise money through crowdfunding.
2) WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHY?
I've become really passionate about lifestyle design. Working out what the things that are important to you and then actually going out there and doing it. I think a lot of people listen to a lot of nice sounding slogans and a lot of nice sounding quotes, but then they don't take action. For me, lifestyle design is all about figuring out what you want and then going and doing it. I'm also very passionate about world history and world trends. I read a lot and I've got pretty strong views about where the world's heading with these sorts of entrepreneurial trends. I like engaging my mind and chatting to other people.
3) WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST BARRIERS TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
I think the biggest barrier (and it sounds cliché), is the psychological barrier of 'getting started'. When I got started, what I initially started offering into the market was a lot different than what it ended up being.
The biggest thing I would say was to put it out there, let people know that you're doing it and start getting feedback from people. The market will tell you whether there's a demand for what you're offering and people will give you advice about it.
Once you've put it out there and you've actually taken some steps to action, people will help you.
4) how did you actually go from NOTHING to 'I'm going to start this sort of business?'
I worked out what was important to me. I think the type of business you go into is largely determined by what's important to you. If you want to make $10 million, or own a really big business, maybe you've got to slug away with not making so much at first and making something from the ground up in which you go through many stages.
For me, I decided pretty early on that the most important thing was that I could make cash from it at an early stage. Not having to go through developing an app for years and years, or developing a product, which takes months and months. I wanted a business which fit my lifestyle. Once I decided that, then I narrowed the choices down.
I think a lot of determining what sort of business to go into is actually about determining what you don't want to do. One of my favourite sayings is that "if you want to be happy, work out all the things that make you unhappy and then don't do those things".
I also looked at the sorts of skills that I've got. What is naturally going to be easy for you and what is naturally going to be difficult for you? A lot of people in this entrepreneurial world, they either do programming and website stuff, and it's great but it's not me. But I wouldn't feel held back by your skills, but just find a way of using your skills to do something that's already in keeping with what you want to do.
5) WHAT ARE THE MOST EXCITING THINGS ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS?
It's got to be the travel, to be honest. The idea now of only having four weeks a year to travel and go see the world, it's just laughable to me that you'd actually sign up for that. It's like being in kindergarten again. You've always got somebody who's going to tell you where to be and what to do at a certain place at a certain time.
Again, cliché but it's got to be the freedom to be where you want, do what you want on your own terms. To be an adult basically. To live your life and not someone else's or the life that society tells you you should be living.
6) Where will you be in five years?
My life now isn't too different to what I want to be doing in five years time, to be honest. I'd want to be spending time In a variety of different cities.
It would probably be nice to have a little bit more money so you can live a little bit more comfortably, but I think people get hung up on the idea of you need to build a huge business to live this lifestyle. Even beyond living in places like Thailand or Bali where the cost of living is low, once you actually reset your expectations of materialism, you can live in some pretty great places for not too much money.
The biggest thing for me in five years time is to still have that freedom of how I spend my time and where my location will be. I have that now so I guess that just about maintaining it and not going down rabbit holes chasing shiny objects. It's about knowing what happiness is and following that.
7) RESOURCES YOU RECOMMEND?
The Tropical MBA is one that you recommended to me Logan. It's good whatever level you're at. They've got over 300 episodes now so if you just search through their library, you can find something that's related to what you want to do. I've joined the Tropical MBA's Dynamite Circle, they've got a society for digital nomads. It's got great advice for all aspects of entrepreneurship. Building businesses, lifestyle design, locations to visit, all that great stuff.
I'd say that for somebody just getting into business for the first time, The End of Jobs, is a very good introduction to it. The title itself is pretty epic. It makes some pretty bold claims, but what I like about it is he backs it up with the data that supports it.
One of the things I found was really great was Fiverr.com. You can get a logo for five bucks, you can get heater for five bucks, a pamphlet for five bucks. By the end you might have spent $20 in total, once you also used a free website builder. You've spent less than $100 and you're in business.
For building a website I used Weebly at first. I'm moving away from that now because it's just not as professional, but when you're just getting started it's fine.
8) Bonus Question. Tell me about your favourite place you've been in the last year.
You know, it's probably a place that not many people have heard of, but I really liked the town of Utrecht in the Netherlands. This is a town that is about 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. What I liked about it is it's a University town.
It's actually become a bit of a theme from the places that I've visited. University towns. They seem to have a lot of young people around. They seem to have a lot of cafes and bars, a lot happening. They often have beautiful old buildings there and not too many other tourists around so you get to experience the town like a local without the sorts of things that often come with the big tourist destinations. I love towns like Utrecht, and Münster, Tübingen in Germany. Uppsala in Sweden. The places which people might not have heard of but are University towns. That's my new thing.
- Nathan Rose, Assemble Advisory