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Big Grit: Justin Wise

Justin Wise, founder of The Different Company, joins Small Bizz Buzz in our newest interview for the Big Grit docuseries to talk about his journey to entrepreneurship.

After teaching himself the basics of digital marketing while his family began to grow, Justin had a pivotal moment with a boss that changed everything. He ventured out on his own, built his first successful business, but found himself at another impasse.

Justin asked himself the question: "what makes me different?" The answer led to The Different Company, and the life as an entrepreneur that he never imaged.

Click play for more.


Ryan (00:09):

Hey everyone, this is your host Ryan Carrillo with the Small Biz Buzz. I'm here today with Justin Wise. Hey Justin, how's it going?

Justin (00:14):

What up?

Ryan (00:17):

Good to see you man. You and I had our little playbook session a few weeks ago and I got to know you a bit. I'm really looking forward to diving in a bit more today and giving our listeners an insight into the life and story behind Justin Wise and The Different Company. You have a successful exit under your belt now. You have so much going on. So like many entrepreneurs, you wear many hats, right?

Justin (00:41):


Ryan (00:44):

And when it comes to wearing many hats, at times, you end up juggling things. How do you balance all of the different balls that you have in the air at any given time?

Justin (00:56):

My first answer is probably the most... The unsexiest answer. But it's the truth. And the really the way that I've worked now for close to a decade is the start of every week, I plan out my three MITs. My most important tasks for each day. And then I work every day until those are done. So sometimes my workload takes me an hour, sometimes it takes 12 hours. And that ensures that the most important tasks or the most important things are getting done every day. Where the real maybe discipline is, is around picking the right things. Because, every MIT is attached to a 90 day sprint goal. Every 90 day sprint goal's attached to my year long goals. I really don't go much past a year. In fact anymore, I don't really even pay attention to my year goals. It's the 90 day sprints. So that along with a shared calendar with my wife, for family stuff, that's... That does it for me.

Ryan (02:20):

That is a little sexier than you let on. It incorporates some corporateness in the sprint and agile framework which is used worldwide by some of the largest corporations. And keep included we use that internally. And then of course, with your wife. And as an entrepreneur, I'm not sure exactly what motivated you down this path. But one thing that I think unites all entrepreneurs is that time thing. We want to own our time, we want to decide when and where and how we live our lives. And it sounds like you're doing that. For some entrepreneurs out there, though this may be a new concept. They may have been forced into entrepreneurship due to some unforeseen circumstances in their careers. Or they may just be diving in headfirst for the first time.

So when it comes down to time and how you choose to use it, it takes discipline. Not everyone can can really be told and be given this opportunity in hand of, "Hey, guess what? You own your time now for the first time in your life." What some good advice you want to give other entrepreneurs out there who may be learning about the value and use of their time and how it's tied to their revenue goals and their life goals?

Justin (03:34):

I would tell them the same thing that I tell myself every day, because every day it's a battle to learn this lesson. Which is now your income, your... The way you spend your day, the results that you produce is no longer attached solely to the amount of time that you work. And this has been one of the hardest and most rewarding lessons that I think I have. I want to say learned but I'm learning is that hey, listen. I had a sale come in this morning from a small little ad campaign I was doing. And it wasn't much, it was a $500 sale. But it just occurred to me I wasn't physically present to make that sale. I didn't have to talk to anybody. I did an ad campaign once, took me about two hours. Did a landing page for it. Took about an hour and a half. And built the program or the course that this person bought. And it took about 10 hours. And so 15 hours and now I can sell it from now until kingdom come.

That's a very different mentality than showing up to work 9:00 to 5:00 every day and getting paid every two weeks. And that's the world that I came from. I don't have any entrepreneurs in my family. I worked in a church for seven years before I went out on my own. And there you got paid by showing up. For entrepreneurs, we don't really live by that credo anymore. We get paid for the value and the results that we produce for either clients, customers or the broader marketplace. So, for me, that is the hardest lesson to learn, but it's the most freeing lesson to learn. And so you can really just boil it down to as long as you're providing value to somebody and they're willing to exchange that value that you're giving them for dollars and cents. You really can throw the clock out the window, in terms of thinking about it conventionally.

So, it's a tough lesson to learn. It's one that you have to just remind yourself of over and over again. Because, I always catch myself... I'll get my MITs done for the day and I'll feel guilty about it. "Oh, geez. That was too easy." But the reality is, I just produced maybe 10 days worth of value in an hour. So I'm not going to coast. Certainly not. I'm not talking about coasting. What I'm saying is knowing when enough is enough. And everybody's different.

Ryan (06:41):

What are your thoughts on the balance? There's a lot of entrepreneurs that I know personally, that are really all in. And so much so, that their personal life suffer. Their business may be thriving, but man, over the years you see what the stress and mileage does to them. And the person I'm thinking of, I knew in college and he's grown this absolute empire. But I've also seen how his personal life has not been the same. And though the bottom line may be improving and he's achieving all these business goals, there's a balance issue that I'm assuming is there. And personally in my life, I'm also an entrepreneur. My partner, Megan is also an entrepreneur. And balance is important to both of us. And so we approach entrepreneurship through that lens. What is your viewpoint on that balance and life? And is it something that you preach and practice? Is that something that you're still struggling to figure out? And maybe you could give some insight for our listeners who may be pondering or going through similar issues.

Justin (07:47):

It ultimately comes down to knowing what you want and then optimizing for that. So I'll give you a couple examples. When I first started, I would say on my own a real live business, not just contracting here and there. But a real business. I went into it just basically saying, "If I can just make some money and make more than 30 grand a year," which is what I was making when I worked at the church. "I'm in heaven. I'm great. It's perfect." And ended up doing that pretty quickly, within 90 days of first launching my business. And so then it was, well, crap. I don't really have a compass anymore because the thing that I got into this for, I've already done it. And that was... That set the stage for the next phase in my business, which was when I owned an agency.

And when I started doing agency work for people, I was, "Whoa. People will pay me $2500 a month to write their tweets? That's a thing? I could get paid to do that?" And so the clients just started stacking up and the money started stacking up, which was great. But there was no purpose beyond, at least for me anyway, beyond making money. And so that became the driver.

And if anyone's been in that position before, you know that making money as your main driver, can really put you in a place that you don't want to be and that's what happened. I ended up working 60, 70, 80 hour weeks. My vision was I'm going to grow our revenue to 10 million, get a management team in place. Lock our clients into 12 month contracts and then make an exit. But the wheels fell off because doing that's not exciting to employees. It's not exciting to team members. That vision isn't. That workload for me was not exciting.

And so then I had a really... So basically everything broke. So I was just a mess. At that point, we had just welcomed our second child into the world, my wife and I. We have three now, but it was a real gut check to state, "I don't think that this is what I want to do." And so really, it took an entire year of me just catching my breath and saying, "What do I want to be? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? What do I want my business to look like? What do I want my day to look like?" And really taking the time to answer those questions for real. And then building a business that allowed those goals, those values, to come to the surface and to be my motivation.

To fast forward now, well, that's exactly what I have. I don't work. I can't remember the last time I worked a 40 hour week. I get to spend as much time as I want with my wife and kids. I work with pretty much at this point, the people that I want to work with. But it wasn't always like that. And I don't know that ever would have been the case, if that ever would have happened, had I not taken that time to say, "Okay." With a lot of people around me who care about me and love me and all that good stuff. To say, "Dude, check yourself before you wreck yourself."

Ryan (11:27):

For sure.

Justin (11:28):

And so it's been... But I share that, they took me five minutes to share. But that's happened over the course of... Really the wheels came off, let's say May 2018. So it's been years to really go through that journey.

Ryan (11:46):

Yeah. I bet you're not alone. I bet there's lots of people who are halfway through that journey, or the wheels maybe are just starting to fall off. And lots that can say they feel similarly and went through a process about the same as you. And that's what I love about entrepreneurship is no matter what business you're in, if you're selling books, or if you're a consultant, there's some common traits that unite us all. And that was the purpose behind Big Grit. That is the purpose behind Big Grit and the campaign that you've been a part of here with Keap. And those moments you talk about, I'm sure memories come back to mind of how you felt, the struggles that you faced and fighting through that.

Our founders Scott and Clate, Big Grit story is very similar. Push starting a truck on the way to a business meeting is one of my favorite stories. Is there a story that comes to mind on your journey of entrepreneurship that you look back on now and smile? But maybe in the moment, it was a little rough and not as easy or sexy as entrepreneurship is always made out to be?

Justin (12:54):

Oh, there's lots of them. I've tried to think of one that is not... I'm all about being vulnerable. There's some things though, that you just have to keep close to your chest.

Ryan (13:06):

Yeah, for sure.

Justin (13:08):

There was one instance where I remember very clearly, we had at the time, I had five employees. And one of our team members, we just found out some stuff that was going on behind the scenes that wasn't super exciting. There was just some shady stuff going on with this particular person. And they were, let's just say building a business on the side with poaching our current client base. It just wasn't fun. It wasn't exciting. That was not something that they ever tell you, "Hey, you're going to have to deal with this." So I was dealing with that. And our lease for our office building just tripled. The rent tripled because they had new owners. And everyone had left for the day. And I'm sitting in my chair. And I'm just, "I don't want to do this anymore." I'm losing clients left, right and center. There were some intellectual property being swiped. Our rent... It was just all of this combination, this tidal wave of just misery. And I was, "I don't want to do this anymore." And for two seconds, I was, "I'm just going to go get a job."
But the thing about entrepreneurship, especially when you get bit by the bug, is that you know, number one, you are unemployable at that point. You can never go work for somebody else. At least I can't. So I was, "No, I can't go get a job anywhere." Number one, no one would hire me. Number two, I would last about two seconds. My business coach at the time, he's, "Dude, welcome to entrepreneurship number one." Number two, he said, "You will never have to work for anybody else in your entire life, because you know how to sell." And that was the kick in the backside that I needed to get going and to stop feeling sorry for myself.

And there's been dozens of moments just like that. Where you just question, "Do I really want to be doing this?" And the answer is resoundingly, yes. I can't imagine doing anything else. I can't imagine going and working for somebody else, at least at this point in my career. Now, 10 years, 20 years down the road, maybe that'll change. But for right now, that's where I'm at.
And those stories, they're so important to pay attention to. Because what I pulled from that was, number one, I should not be doing the hiring in my own company. I'm good at a lot of things. Or actually, I'm good at a few things, hiring is not one of them. I should not hire people. So my wife actually does our hiring now. She's much better at basically saying, "You, Justin will hate working with this person." Or, "You Justin will love working with this person." So that's what she does. It also taught me a ton about overhead. And the fancy office and all this kind of stuff, you just... At least for the work we did at the time, we just didn't need it. And it was more a boost to my ego than anything else. To be able to say, "Yes, see that top floor, penthouse office there, that's mine." So, the lessons are great only if I should say they're great if you can learn from them. So that's one thing I've really tried to pay attention to is when you go through those moments, to really sit down and reflect and say, "What's the verdict from this? Why did this happen? And what can I put in place? What guardrails can I put in place to prevent this from happening again?"

Ryan (17:15):

So I'm looking at your website for The Different Company. And I'm reminded of the fact that this is not your first venture, it is one of many. And also the great thought that this is likely not your last. But I want you to take me back to where the entrepreneurship started. You worked in the church for a very long time and then you decided to take the plunge. And I want you to take me back to that journey and tell me how you decided on entrepreneurship. And what was the final catalyst for you to leave the church and go all in with your business.

Justin (17:47):

Yeah, I'm sure like many entrepreneurs, you can trace the thread through the last... Maybe even your whole life. But for me, the thread of entrepreneurship started back in grade school. And doing side hustles at the end of my driveway selling baseball cards and lemonade. And then every time I got a job, it didn't matter what job it was, I was just completely miserable. Because it was me having to sacrifice what I now know I value a ton and what you alluded to earlier, which is my time and freedom. Capacity to go in and out with whom I want, where I want, when I want, for how long I went. And just being miserable in every job. Just completely miserable. Wouldn't matter if it was a fantastic boss, fantastic work environment. Just completely and totally miserable.

So in high school, a bunch of friends and I, we painted houses in the summer. We made more money than all of our friends combined in those summer months. So we didn't have to work during the school year. I carried that into college. Did that during the summers, graduated. And long story short, ended up going to work at the church but it just compounded. And the church was great. We still go there to this day. Love the people there. And there was a lot of freedom and flexibility timewise in the church. But there was still that component of somebody else could dictate what I did when I did it. And that came to ahead. I won't go into the full story here, but it was just made very clear to me that number one, your earning capacity as a church worker, as a pastor is never going to go past a certain amount. Ever.

And number two, you will always be working weekends, you will always be working holidays. You will be here at inconvenient times. You'll have to go visit hospitals in the middle of the night, all this kind of stuff. That was never going to change. That became abundantly clear. And so I said, "Okay, that's not going to change. I have two choices. One, I can just deal with it. Two, I can leave." I chose to leave with really no plan. Other than I want to make money. And that's where I was, "Well, what do I know?" At the church, what I did, we didn't call it this, but it was digital marketing. So I was, "How can I teach people how to do digital marketing?" And that's where my first... What we call today a membership course. A membership site. So I launched that. Worked. That's when the agency came into play. And we splintered off a side business that worked exclusively with churches. And helping them with their marketing. And then we had another agency that worked exclusively with small businesses.

So I stayed on board with the small business agency. Sold the church side of it to a great group of guys. And that was my first exit, I guess you could call it. And then did the agency for many years and just recently sold that to a great guy. And that has freed me up to work on Different Company. My business partner's a guy by the name of Mike Michalowicz. Some people would know him from his book, Profit First. And so his next book is about marketing and how to help small businesses get noticed. Because our motto is, if you don't get noticed, you won't get business. Sounds simple. But it's amazing as Mike and I have really gone down this road, to see just how hard marketing is for small business owners. I've always played in that world since I started. So it's second nature to me.

But seeing this through the lens of small business owners, you realize very quickly, small business owners do what they do. Whether they're a butcher, or a baker, or candlestick maker, they're experts at what they do. They're not experts necessarily on marketing. And so lots of times they'll go with the best practices of their specific niche or industry to their peril, to their detriment. Because everybody else is doing it. And so they don't get noticed. And when you can't get noticed, you won't get business. And so what we do is help people get noticed by being different through the different comes in for different company. So it's been really fun so far. I'm just so excited to to be able to do this and to help small business owners and entrepreneurs see, "Well, what I do has value and meaning. And I'm really good at it. But I have a responsibility to communicate that to my market in a way that's going to get their attention." So that's what we do now.

Ryan (23:09):

What a journey.

Justin (23:10):

Yeah. It's wild.

Ryan (23:13):

I just filled out the form on The Different Company. And I love your thumbs up picture for the thank you page. Are you using Keap for this website?

Justin (23:22):

You know it.

Ryan (23:23):All right, man. I love it. It's a good looking website.

Justin (23:29):

In fact, a little key plug, what I just saw today in fact, was it the checkout forms went live on my dashboard?

Ryan (23:37):


Justin (23:38):

So that will actually be when we get... Our accelerator program site isn't done yet but once it is, we'll have that sexy checkout form, front and center.

Ryan (23:49):

All right.

Justin (23:49):

So you're going to get paid y'all.

Ryan (23:51):

Shout out Keap. That's why we're here, right? That's the thing that unites us all.

Justin (23:56):


Ryan (23:56):

I love to see it in action. It's such a great way to make this user experience simple. I clicked the button, I entered my name, my email and now I'm connected to you. And best of all, you have my information, you can customize your automations now to the information I've given you and you get to upsell me, move me up the stack and maybe convert me down the road. Challenge accepted though, your marketing will have to be on point to get me. Let me tell you, I'm a hard sell.

Justin (24:23):

I believe it. I believe it.

Ryan (24:25):

So what's what's going on in your world right now? You talk about your 90 day sprints, what are some goals that are on the top of your mind in the next 90 days?

Justin (24:35):

My number one goal right now is to make our Different accelerator, the best possible program it can be. And to give business owners and entrepreneurs the tools that they need to get noticed. So we've been in beta really since the beginning of the year. We've been able to help close to 100 entrepreneurs through the process. I've learned a ton about our material. I have learned a ton about how to really give these entrepreneurs the tools, the easy to use tools that they need to not only get noticed, but to also convert that attention into dollars and cents. So my main goal right now is to... We're on our third round of beta. Is to really land that plane well. Mike's book launches later this year. And we'll have a big launch for the accelerator around that. So, that's one big goal.

The other goal, I don't know if it's a goal so much as it is just an intention or me being mindful, is getting back into content creation. And not just any content creation. But really listening to, as a content creator, listening to myself and my natural inclinations for content creation. So an example of that is... I don't know if anybody else listening to this can relate. But whether it's messenger bots or webinars or blog posts or TikTok or Reels or Twitter or whatever. You feel this pressure, at least I do, to be on the newest, latest and greatest platform. And I did that for a long time.

And I can never figure out why do I hate creating content so much? I know a lot of stuff about marketing people seem to resonate with that. But why do I personally just hate creating content? And it was because I was picking these mediums that I didn't enjoy. And so really taking the time to listen how do I enjoy creating content? Because I think that's an important piece of the puzzle that a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners forget. It's you have to to enjoy it, or you're not going to stick with it. And so really listening to how do I enjoy creating content?

So this podcast is a perfect example. I love talking. So, when I get a great invite from you Ryan, yeah, absolutely I'm going to do it. Because it's enjoyable for me. I like designing, so I'm experimenting with designing on Instagram. I'm experimenting with short video pieces. And venturing a little bit into illustration. And some of them are going to work, most of them won't. That's okay. But just releasing myself from the pressure of feeling I need to be on all these different platforms at all times doing content creation in ways and methods or modes that I don't enjoy. I like to write.

So a truce area of joy for me is writing an email three or four times a week. Short, punchy, brief emails. 100 to 200, sometimes 300 words. I can do that. And I enjoy it. So I don't know if that directly answers the question but that's where my head's at right now.

Ryan (28:25):

That's great. Goals are a really big part of my life. And they're a big part of what we do at Keap. And the work that I'm doing with Keap Academy is far and wide reaching. And recently, I've been working on this project and I'm getting to center goals for our customers at when we onboard them. And our expert coaches are helping them with their playbooks and their plays. And that's so important. Goals, not only in your business, but in your personal life, are how you get to achieve and how you could get to success. Now, one thing about goals that I believe is, if you set a goal and you fall short, that can still be a victory. How you define success is up to you. That is subjective. That is not objective. So when you're setting these 90 day goals, obviously there's some rigidity to them and some bare minimum expectations. But what do you do, say you set a revenue goal of 10,000 a month? If you hit 9200, is that really a loss?

Justin (29:28):

There's always parts of me that look at my 90 day sprints. And if I don't hit the precise number and I think this will always be true, there'll still be a part of me that's, "Yeah, but I didn't get it all. I didn't get all the way." So, I referenced this earlier, but this is where I've really gotten better at saying okay. More so than looking at specific numbers. The outcomes... What I'll look at is take a step even back and say, "Okay, this is the outcome that I think that I want." And it typically it's been a dollars and cents goal. What actually does that provide me?

So using your example, 10,000 a month in recurring revenue. What actually is it that, that number represents that it will allow me to have, to be, to do? And then again, this is just something that I've been doing recently is saying, "Okay, let's try and make that outcome, at least integrated somehow into the goal." So that 10,000 a month, let's say I hit it, but I still don't actually get the outcome. To me, that's a bigger failure than the scenario that you referenced, which is 9200 out of 10,000.

But if I can... Let's say 10,000 a month gives me the ability to hire a new team member to manage our members community. Well, then I can say, "Let's make the goal for this next 90 days hiring somebody to manage the member community." And then backing that up and saying, "Okay, now that, that's my goal, what do I need to accomplish? What needs to be in place for that to occur? For me to be comfortable making that hire?" And then that becomes your game plan.

So for me, that's been a real big shift. Because, back when the wheels came off of the agency, all my goals were number goals. So I don't know if it's once bitten twice shy type of thing. And I still have number goals. I'm not saying I don't have number goals. But for me, it's really been a discipline of saying, "Okay, this number goal..." That may be the goal. But let's think through this and say, let's say I have this. Say I fast forward in 90 days into the future and I have this, what is it that's actually giving me the ability to do? And if there's a good tangible answer to hold on to, then I might consider making that the goal instead.

Ryan (32:12):

Okay. That's well said and I'm glad we got that insight on how your mind works towards goals. Now, has it always been that way? Or is this...

Justin (32:20):


Ryan (32:21):

Yeah. This is the end. Early on, it was different. You went through a process. And I like the contrast between our different viewpoints, because this isn't how I always viewed my goals. I started setting goals back when I was 17. I'm turning 30 next week. So it's been a big part of my life. And I came to the conclusion that success is subjective, at least to me. And if I fall short even just a little bit number wise, there are goals, I have tied to numbers. It's still a victory when you look back at the journey. And to the listeners out there who if goal setting is new to you, or if you have your own framework for how you set your goals.

I think the difference in opinion here is really valuable. And it shows we're all different. Your goals are personal and they're important to you. But how you approach mentally the success or failure of them is really important. Because what's important is, if you fail you learn lessons, you move forward to knock out the next goal. And if you surpass your goal, you win with class and you let those successes turn into greater successes for you.

Justin (33:27):

One thing I'll say and I'll add to this discussion is that my very first goal probably ever was 90. I'm sorry. 100 members in my course, within the first 90 days of launch. That was my very first goal. It was $97 a month. And literally everything in the company revolved around that goal. And I hit it on day 90. Now...

Ryan (34:01):

Amazing. Sound effects.

Justin (34:03):

I know.

Ryan (34:04):

That's awesome, man.

Justin (34:06):

But it's important too, because that goal was so important for me at that time. And it was all numbers. And so there's going to be moments in time where you... I don't know where I would be today if I had not had that consuming, obsessive, focused on that one goal. Because I knew if I could... So, that averages out to about 10 grand a month. This is back in 2014. 10 grand a month. It's if I can get 10 grand a month in recurring revenue, I'm rich. I am a king. And that I think more than the money, the mentality and the boost, the confidence boost, that gave me to see holy crap, not only am I going to be okay, this is way beyond my wildest imagination. Because, I remember I was making 30k a year at the church. And to essentially quadruple your income, that didn't play out exactly like that. Because revenue is different than income and all that good stuff. But there's a time and a place to have those number goals. And to work like a dog to hit them.

And so I don't want people to feel, "Oh, hey, those are worthless." They're not. They're super valuable. I think there's just cycles and maybe rhythms is a good way of thinking about it. You have rhythms and cycles in business. And I think it's paying attention to... 60 degrees, at least here in Iowa feels different in the spring than it does in the winter. A 60 degree winter day is much different than a 60 degrees spring day.

Ryan (35:59):


Justin (36:00):

The seasons are different. So I think in business that's super important to pay attention to.

Ryan (36:07):

Definitely. So I want to bring us back to the subject at hand and that's Big Grit. So you got to work with some of my team members on your video. They got to interview you. You got a feel for what Big Grit is. What is Big Grit to you now that you've been able to process that? And you can take a retrospective look on that and also through our conversation.

Justin (36:32):

Big Grit is knowing that you have no other choice than to be successful at entrepreneurship. If you really get bit by the bug, that's what I call it. You're bit by the entrepreneurship bug. You owe it to yourself to push through anything. And I mean anything that stands in your way. Because, you don't have a choice. I can't explain it. It's hard to explain it in words, but you push through every single obstacle that comes your way, because you have to. Because you know that there's no other option for you. You are unemployable. And I would say to put it positively, your freedom and achieving freedom in all aspects of your life is the North Star. It's your guiding light. And so nothing's going to stand in your way to maximize your own personal freedom, your team members freedom, your family's freedom. And entrepreneurship is the best vehicle I have found to maximize freedom.

Ryan (37:59):

Absolutely. Big Grit is definitely all those things. And whenever I think of the campaign we're doing with you and your contemporaries who are a part of the bigger campaign. I can't help but think to my personal experiences with entrepreneurship. My father who supported an entire family on his entrepreneurship. My partner, Megan, who's launching her business and it is doing great on month two. She just had a local publication reach out, that's going to do a story on her. But behind the scenes, I also know what goes on in entrepreneurship. It's a struggle, man. It's you have these, like you said, these seasonalities. These ebbs and flows. And that is business. And the passion necessary to make it through that is Big Grit. Knowing you have no option. You've stormed the beach and you've burned the boats. And you're going to make it over that hill regardless. It's inspirational and not inspirational. Because failure is a part of this process and the ugly moments of life happen.

And entrepreneurship isn't all sunshine and rainbows. With social media, we tend to only see the certain type of entrepreneur who likes to go out and flaunt their wealth or flaunt their business in such a way that makes you think they are the epitome of what entrepreneurship is. But to me in reality, entrepreneurship in this country is supporting your family, supporting your community, empowering those around you and living the life that you want to live. How do you feel about that?

Justin (39:36):

I would say... I think that's such a great positioning. That's such a great frame. And the thought occurred to me as you were sharing. Big Grit, I think is the price to entry to entrepreneurship. It's the price that you must pay. Because I've worked with people and it's like they're not willing to pay that price. And that's okay. That's fine. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It isn't. And Big Grit is there to help test that. The best example I can give you is when I was getting ready to... I was going to be an ordained Lutheran pastor. And to do that, long story short, you got to jump through a bunch of hoops, you got to go through this special schooling.

And I was 95% of the way done. And literally the only thing left I had to do was go to one meeting and basically sign on the dotted line. And I just couldn't do it. I couldn't go to that meeting. I couldn't do it. And somebody on that committee, I'll never forget them, or what they said to me. They said, "Justin, this is the purpose of the call process. Is to help you discern what is for you and what is not for you. This is the process doing exactly what it's supposed to do."

I feel for entrepreneurship, Grit is that process. The sleepless nights, my wife calls it the basement years. Working 12, 13, 14 hour days. Not forever. The uncertainty, the doubt, the fear, frustration. Nobody can live under those conditions forever. But those components, I think are helpful in the sense that they cement the call, so to speak, of people who know that they're entrepreneurs. And they help folks who are not entrepreneurs, gracefully bow out. And that's okay. Not everybody should be an entrepreneur. There are some times I think there's something mentally wrong with us as entrepreneurs. Because we're just built in a different way. And that's okay. Not everybody is like that. Not everybody should be like that.

Ryan (42:14):

That's a great finish to our podcast today. I'm glad we got to hit on this at the end. Is there anything else you want to share with our listeners? To be inspired by? To be challenged by? To hear from you?

Justin (42:30):

Find a good lawyer.

Ryan (42:34):

Snaps to that. Lawyers are important.

Justin (42:37):

Find a good lawyer. That's one thing I wished someone would have told me when I started. My best friend's a lawyer. He said, "Listen dude, you're going to need it. Just trust me on this." I said, "No way." Sure enough, you need a good lawyer.

Ryan (42:52):

Very sage advice that. Hopefully everyone heeds because obviously, you're saying it for a reason. Anyway, thank you for joining me today on the Small Biz Buzz. We at Keap are so grateful to have you as part of our Big Grit campaign and share your story with the world. Justin, I hope our paths cross again. Maybe I'll see you at ICON. For now, it's goodbye and we wish you the best. It's been a pleasure.

To learn more about Justin, visit The Different Company.

To watch his full Big Grit story, visit

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