Heidi Jannenga is the Co-Founder and CCO of WebPT, the leading physical therapy EMR software, but she started as a physical therapist using pen and paper. Heidi needed EMR software specifically for rehab therapists, so she built one and shared it with the world. Now, Heidi’s software company has thousands of employees and serves tens of thousands of clinics. In this episode, Heidi shares how to take your idea and turn it into a booming business.
All right, welcome everyone to the Conquer the Chaos podcast. I'm Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Keap and your host of this podcast. And I am really excited to have a longtime friend and someone that I have great respect for as an entrepreneur here in Arizona, just been doing amazing things over the past decade plus for physical therapists and the work that she does. Let me just, with a warm welcome, welcome Heidi Jannenga to the Conquer the Chaos podcast. How are you doing, Heidi?
Heidi Jannenga (00:34.066)
I'm great, Clate. Thank you so much for having me. This is going to be fun.
Oh, you bet. This is going to be a blast. I love so much what you have accomplished with WebPT. Why don't you tell our listeners what WebPT is, and just maybe a quick overview of your business and where you started and where you are now.
Heidi Jannenga (00:56.926)
Yeah, so WebPT is an electronic medical record specifically designed for rehab therapists, which includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists. We launched the company back in 2008 based on a need I was having. I'm actually a physical therapist, so this was to solve a problem that I was having as a clinic director and spending a lot of money on documentation transcription services. And so, you know, we were clinic number one. Today we have, we serve, quite a few more, through our 15 year journey, we've, we've garnered just shy of 50% market share. So yeah, it's been, it's been a really amazing ride. And we've run the sort of entrepreneurial gamut of, you know, going from that startup phase, you know, bootstrapping for about four years and then having the opportunity to take an angel round from a group right here in Arizona. And then, you know, continue to grow and run with that until 2016 when we took a round of funding from Battery Ventures, a venture capital round, and then in 2019 actually sold to private equity. So it's been an amazing, amazing gauntlet and learned a ton along the way, as I know you understand, but still super fond of those really first years where you're grinding it out and really finding your way as an entrepreneur.
Yeah, that's amazing. I know you've got nearly a thousand employees now and I imagine tens of thousands of clinics that you work with. And so just an incredible journey that you've been on. Let's go to those early days. You know, most of our listeners are, you know, tend to be in that pre-million dollars in annual sales. You and I fondly remember those days. We know what that's like. There's a reason I talk about the chaos a lot because it's, you know, you're moving at a fast pace. The systems and processes are not always all put together yet. And there's so much imbalance with your personal life and your business life and trying to wear all the hats and do everything that you need to do to make the business successful. And so, that chaos is overwhelming for entrepreneurs and sometimes it leads to a lot of darkness and a lot of not pretty things that happen in entrepreneurship. Tell us about the early days, you’re clinic number one, as you said, so you saw a need and you created it for yourselves, and then you ended up creating it for others. But tell us kind of in those early stages when you started to think, hey, we may have a solution here that could be good for other customers, what did that look like as you got started?
Heidi Jannenga (03:48.682)
Well, I mean, first it was really, you know, getting the feedback and the subject matter expertise of not only just myself, but clinics or providers in my clinic, giving us that feedback. So super important, I guess, in terms of lessons of our secret sauce was really understanding the customer from the very beginning. We were building something specifically for a use case. And so getting that feedback early and continuing with that feedback loop as we iterated on the product was super key. And so, you know, we were clinical number one, but within six months of really getting that product up and running within my clinic and getting positive feedback, we then, you know, went out to some local practices here of some of my colleagues who said, hey, we'd want to try this, it seems like it's working. And before we knew it, in the next six months, we have 12 other clinics using the product and also giving us that positive feedback and continuing to iterate along the way, right?
Okay. Yeah, so let's talk about this. So what I'm hearing you say is in year one, the first six months, it was getting the product for your clinic. And then the next six months, you got, sounds like maybe half a dozen or so, did you say that you additional? So I think that's really, really interesting, because there's, there's probably a lot of businesses out there that are listening on the podcast who are wondering if they should take something that they've created to the market. They've created it for themselves, should they take it to the market. So I would love to know what did you learn with those half, your first half dozen clients, that they needed that was different than what you had created for yourselves because I imagine that's a really tricky thing because you think well we know the solution we created it for us so you know everybody else to just want exactly the same thing. I imagine there was some pretty tricky things that you had to navigate and decide, do we do this? Do we not do it? Is this right for us? Is it right for them? Is it right for all of us? What were some of the things you learned as you went to get that initial set of customers?
Heidi Jannenga (05:57.43)
So, Clate, you want to know the really interesting piece is the biggest thing I was worried about was that my workflow and the workflow that we had developed within our practice was not going to be repeatable in other people's practices, right, in other clinics, other ways that they run their businesses. And the biggest thing that we learned was that the intuitiveness of what we built because it came out of the mind of a therapist is that our training, even though the standardization across the profession is not that great, the workflow from start to finish is pretty repeatable. Right? And so it was actually this aha moment that even though this was just built for us, it actually was intuitive to others. Right? And so that was like the, oh my gosh, we stumbled onto something here moment because although it was solving my problem, this was a problem that was sort of ubiquitous within the entire profession. And that's when we did a little bit more market research and we found that 80% of therapists throughout the country were also documenting on pen and paper, spending this money on transcription and the workflow that we had sort of developed was something that they could actually latch onto. Now, you know, some of the, you know, functionality, and I wouldn't say functionality, it's more of the, you know, features and tests that we offered, you know, there were some things that we had to add, but the actual structure of our workflow from, you know, logging in to getting your documentation started to clicking finalize note was something that everybody could sort of follow. That was like our big light bulb moment.
I'll bet that was thrilling to realize that you're taking something to others and you're sort of casting your pearls out there wondering if you've created this great thing for you but not knowing if this was going to be well received by others. I bet it was thrilling when you started to see, oh my gosh, this actually fits really well with these other people. And probably what happened for you, I know this happens with many entrepreneurs, is you found that there were enough clinics that needed it just like you did, that you knew, okay, we've got something here. It doesn't have to be that it works for everybody. There's a segment of the market that we know it works for. And then probably you started to, in some ways, persuade people to do it the way that you had that you had laid out. And then the more customers that you get, the more clinics you get doing it, the more a new client says, well, we should probably just do it that way. And I imagine that starts to become really thrilling because as a tech entrepreneur, you're sort of blazing a trail for people to follow and get in line with. And you know, we had a similar version in our marketing automation that we did early on that we discovered when we felt like, I remember I went into my partners and I said, we've got magic in a bottle. Like this is amazing because it was just, and it was marketing automation and there was a very similar process that people needed to follow. So that's really cool. And then I also hear your point that while the core process and workflow was the same, there were features or different things that you needed to add. And so you probably at times had to make tricky trade-offs of is this going to be something that most people want or is this something that just, you know, this particular clinic wants or just a few might want.
Heidi Jannenga (09:26.998)
Well, and this really gets down to then sort of your core culture and what you're trying to accomplish as you start to grow, right? And sort of drawing some lines in the sand that were really important to us. So for example, I mentioned the lack of standardization across our entire profession, which is something that's talked about within the profession. It's sort of known elevating to use of software and having software that's used across multiple clinics was this moment in time in which we could help bring that more into a standard, right, which helps us as a profession in terms of payment and, you know, how we're accepted by other, you know, referring physicians, things like that. So it was this culture that we developed and how we did it was we were only going to take in evidence-based tests.
Heidi Jannenga (10:24.33)
that we would actually build into our system. So it had to be researched, it had to be documented that it wasn't just you and your unique way of doing things. We weren't gonna allow that into our system.
Heidi Jannenga (10:36.938)
Now, were some people not happy with that? Sure, but to your point, most people had learned about all of the tests that we had within our system, within your education and continuing education. They were completely well known within the industry. And so the tendency then is to default to what we have or spend the time doing extra work to actually put that in. And so to your point, over time, you kind of narrow the field in which people kind of say, okay, well, yes, I know this test, I should probably be doing this anyway. But I just want to underscore the importance of subject matter expertise when starting to build your software or your business. You know, there's obviously a lot of entrepreneurs that see problems in an industry that maybe they're not as familiar with and they are like, oh my gosh, like this, I totally understand. And I want to, I have a solution for this, but really understanding the unique workflows and, um, you know, I have to give credit to, to my co-founder who as a technologist had no idea what a physical therapist did, but came into our practice, spent time watching how we worked, um, to then match that software to our workflow, right? And then of course, you know, me adding to as a product owner, like, okay, well, this has to go here and this has to become first and second and whatever. But I just can't underscore that enough. You know, sometimes there's just not a fit. And you wonder why you're not getting traction when you know your solution is so great. But if you're not really connecting with the actual customer base and truly understanding how they work it can be a bigger hurdle to break through.
Yeah. Yeah, that subject matter expertise is critical. I mean, in the software world, you and I see this a lot. We see how important it is that those little nuances that if you've lived it, you understand it. And if you don't, it's like, oh, an engineer created this who doesn't actually use it, every day. And I've, you know, I've been on both sides of that here at Keap. There's some things where we like, hey, we really understand this and other things where we don't. And it's important to find that subject matter expertise. We rely on partners in many cases for that expertise. But I want to, there's, you said several things that I want to unpack because, and kind of drive home for our listeners, because some of what you're describing is specific to software entrepreneurs, you know, as in the SaaS industry there's this product market fit that we're trying to get to. But the point is actually more generalized for all entrepreneurs, and that is that as you start to take your product or service to the market, there's a combination of your way that you're bringing to the market and your customer's needs that you're listening for. And it's a really tricky balance. It's a delicate thing to handle. As you become more established and as you gain more traction, you can begin to create the standard that others will follow, which is, I hear what you did. You built it into your culture and you started to see, hey, we can create the standard for the physical therapy industry on how they do billing. That's a better way that as we show what we do and we start to learn from all of these others, we begin to create that standard. And so I hear a lot of times I'm talking to customers and they're like, hey, we've done this thing and now we wanna go take this out to the market. And it's a really tricky dance to say, well, how much of it do we go sort of foist upon the market as our way being the better way to do it? And how much do we listen to the customer and find out, kind of check our ego and say, well, maybe we don't know the best way. And the reason I really love what you described is it's a combination of both. You can't just say it's our way or the highway. And you also can't say, well, we don't know. We're just going to do what the market says. You know, this is this thing that I see in particular software entrepreneurs do, but all entrepreneurs will do this. It's like, well, how much do I just say I know the way and how much do I say that the customer knows the way? And I've just found that the extremes on both sides aren't great. There's a middle ground and I'd love to hear any ideas you have about how you found that middle ground.
Heidi Jannenga (15:06.094)
Heidi Jannenga (15:09.926)
Yeah, so I mean, I mentioned, you know, really listening to our customer base and the subject experts, subject matter experts from the beginning. We created this like idea portal in which, you know, our users at the time could put in ideas that they thought, you know, would be impactful to not only themselves, but for the industry, right, for the profession, for the users of our software. And we obviously love that because you're getting ideas that maybe you hadn't thought of. But also, I mean, that thing got unwieldy after a while, right, because everybody has an idea that you should be doing this thing or that thing, right? And so it's easy to get distracted. I know. Yeah.
Right, right. I can't be the only one who wants this. I like that line.That's probably my favorite line. Surely I can’t be the only one that wants this. Well true. We have hundreds of thousands of users and there's lots of really good things that people would like and you can't do everything.
Heidi Jannenga (16:05.022)
Yeah, but we did have a vote up or vote down option. So the ones that did get more votes are the ones that we really paid attention to. But as you can imagine, it becomes very distracting to be over here at one moment and over here at another moment. It's one of the hardest things as an early stage entrepreneur is to stay very focused on a roadmap and a path that you know allows you to continue to build on what you've created as your initial sort of product.
Heidi Jannenga (16:37.63)
You know, early on when we first started, you know, our subject matter expertise as a co-founder was the PT world. But as soon as we launched into the market and started getting some traction, we had physicians coming to us and said, oh my gosh, like, if anesthesiology had what you guys do, we would be awesome. Have you ever thought about building for this or building for that? Right? And so you look at that market size and you say, wow, that's interesting. Right? You know, but we always had the discipline at that point to say no, which I think is also one of our secrets of success is staying hyper-focused. And this was staying niche before niche was a thing.
Heidi Jannenga (17:23.51)
And that's another sort of, you know, although you get a lot of this input from your customers, you do have to say, okay, well, which one of these things or, you know, suggestions that might be coming in are really actually building on, how does that match up with what we're trying to accomplish and what's on our roadmap today?
Yeah, that's really good advice around the focus. And I wanna come back to the niche and how you stayed on that, because it's, this is one of the things that's really tricky for entrepreneurs when opportunities start to come forward and there's so many different things they could do. And you just gave a really great example. You're doing billing software for physical therapists and anesthesiologists come, deep pockets, big opportunity. Hey, why not take this and modify it a little bit? It would be very tempting to go into that. And I remember early on, Scott and I had a very similar situation where there was a new opportunity. It was like, gosh, of course we should go do this, but the discipline to say no. And there was a lesson that I learned early on, and it was, we could say yes to this, but could we accomplish the goals and objectives that we have if we say no to it? And almost always the answer is yes. If you just stay focused, you'll actually be able to, and so then it becomes, well then what power do we get by staying focused, by not diluting our efforts? What increase in profitability is there if you stay focused and you do one thing really well? And so I just commend you for the focus because I think it's one of the great, pitfalls for entrepreneurs that ends up creating more chaos because they go an inch deep and a mile wide, and so you end up sort of skipping on the surface of a lot of different solutions, none of which goes very deep, and the profit is in the depth, and the sustainability is in the depth. So I love that, I wanna come back around to the niche stuff in just a minute, but I….
Heidi Jannenga (19:34.922)
Clate, I just want to say something because it's always hard. We always hear from, you know, I always hear from other entrepreneurs, it's so hard to say no, right? And so we developed this mantra of it's not necessarily a no, it's just not right now, right? Not now. And so another example just in talking about, you know, looking at a market is, you know, there's many different size customers usually in a market. There's, you know, there's large...
Yes, not now, not now. That's right.
Heidi Jannenga (20:03.986)
even if you're talking about restaurants, right? You’ve got large chains that have multiple restaurants throughout the country, or you have the mom and pop that's in your local market.
Heidi Jannenga (20:14.354)
Same as for physical therapy. Like at the time when we started, 65% of the market was SMB, so small and medium-sized businesses. And so that was where we saw the biggest opportunity. But guess what? After we got traction, these larger organizations were like, hey, WebPT, what do you have for us? And we had to sort of say no and not right now for a while because we knew what we had built wasn’t going to be a match for those types of customers. And so I guess there's just, I want to say there's just a lot of areas to think about focus. It's not just, you know, adjacent industries that might come in, but it's also within your own market. There's areas sometimes to, you know, to your point of staying that hyper focused and knowing who your appropriate customer is for that product market fit.
Yeah, I love that. And not now, we say that all the time too. It's hard to say no, but not now is a lot easier for the mind to wrap your mind around. So I really appreciate that. It's great advice for people. And not now is actually going to create a lot more calm and reduce the chaos if you can just recognize that there's a time and a place and you know for small businesses you just can't take on everything and so you've got to narrow the focus in your industry, narrow the focus geographically, narrow the focus business size, target customer size, you know who's your ideal customer profile. There's lots of ways to narrow and narrowing you know we say all the time riches and niches, narrowing it down, saying no actually is the way that small businesses can grow and then there's a point where you actually can start to take on other things but it's, most of the time, it's not until you've got really solid traction, you're doing millions in annual revenue, you can start taking on something new. Many times it's because you decide to bring on an investor or a partner or a new set of resources that enable you to go after a market opportunity. I think that tendency to say yes is perhaps the greatest contributor to chaos that we have as entrepreneurs. I applaud you for what you did in those early stages. I wanna just, we talked about product market fit and how you got there, what it means for software companies to do that, what it means for entrepreneurs that are creating a product or service, particularly in the scenario where they're creating it for their own business and then wanting to take it out to a set of customers. And I love the way you did that, where you went and kind of found a beta set of customers, kind of a small subset, learned from them, gradually combined your expertise with their expertise to drive deeps.
Heidi Jannenga (23:03.766)
But Clate, one point on those 12, so we did not, it was in a beta for free. This was paying beta, which is also a really important part that we had to know that what we were creating was providing enough value for someone to wanna pay for it. I am not a fan of freemium.
Yes, okay, I am so glad you said that. Listen, this is so important for entrepreneurs when you're proving out your concept that you're charging for it. Because I was just talking to an entrepreneur yesterday who was considering buying a competitor that has not gotten great traction but has a bunch of free customers and has literally a half dozen paying customers after a couple of years of work. And the idea was that we would do this, they would do this freemium thing. But here was the entrepreneur that I was advising. And we both said, no, you don't wanna buy this because those customers have been ingrained to not pay for value. And the poor entrepreneur who created that other business went down a path of thinking they were providing lots of value and probably telling themselves how much value they're creating. And by the way, they probably did create value, but because they didn't charge for it, they could never actually build a business out of it. And so now this business is looking at pleading with a competitor to buy them or shutting down because they didn't from the beginning charge. And what I say all the time to entrepreneurs, if you are piloting something or beta testing something and you're not charging for it, you are completely kidding yourselves. And so I love that you did that. Thank you for bringing that point into play and for any of our listeners who are thinking, let's go test this, frickin charge for it. If you don't you're kidding yourselves and you're wasting everybody's time.
Heidi Jannenga (25:01.808)
Yeah. Well, and you're learning. You're learning what people are willing to pay. You're learning about what kind of, how it's gonna fit into their budget, right? And what they're willing to pay, what they have as far as, usually software or something is an additional expense that they hadn't necessarily thought about. And so it's what they can afford, right? So anyway, it's an important lesson and we can go down pricing. That's also always a good topic. I know people are always like, well, how do you figure out how much to charge? And so anyway.
Right, right, yes. Well, let's go to the personal side for a second. A lot of times the chaos that people experience in the early stages of business, when they're trying to get product market fit, when they're trying to get revenue traction, where they're just trying to get out of the survival mode. A lot of times the personal side is, they just can't overcome it. You know, and it ends up killing the business because personally, they couldn't get through the challenges. This is why in the keys to success, I talk so much about, you know, I actually have three keys that are dedicated to the personal side with mindset, life vision, and a rhythm of execution so that you don't just get completely out of balance. What did you learn in those early stages, you know, prior to, you know, maybe when you're in your first few hundred thousand in sales that and it might have even been before you started the software, you know, when you're just running when you're because you started a clinic and that had you know, you got that going. What did you learn in the early days of entrepreneurship that helped you be successful in the business, despite the personal challenges that just come along?
Heidi Jannenga (26:54.678)
Well, first and foremost, entrepreneurship is not for the weak or for anyone who's afraid of hard work because it is a grind and it is tough and there are definitely ups and downs and tough days and a lot of hard work, lack of sleep, all of the things that people say, it's all true. I think, you know, being very introspective of knowing what motivates you, yourself, what are your sort of important values. For me in the beginning, you know, it was, I personally was not, I'm not a fan of debt. So, I wasn't, I was not going to just quit my job when we first started as we were building. You know, I, I sort of believed in what we were doing. Like I thought it was going to work. It was solving my problem, right? And so I, but I didn't stop practicing as a physical therapist, you know, getting a salary, working. I mean, I had a co-founder who had just exited another company that he had built. And so, you know, he was able to work 100% of his time in the business building the software. I mean, it was, he was a software engineer, right? And so, you know, I essentially made the sacrifice of working full-time and then working full time, like having two full-time jobs essentially. And so with that, but that was important to me. So I was willing to sacrifice those hours in the day, you know, only doing these things. But the other keys were what was also, I had to get sleep. Sleep was really important to me. I know I don't function well without sleep. And then I had to get some workout time. Like I'm just, you know, I love to exercise. And so those two things were critically important to those early stages.
Okay, so a couple key points you're drawing out. I hear three significant things. One is that you generated revenue in the service business while you then worked a second job, so to speak, getting the software going. That's point number one is you kept the, you had a service business that kept money coming in. The second thing is you had a part, you had a business partner that was able to put additional time in. And so that accelerated the pace of progress on what you were taking to market with software because while you were bringing in income through the service business, you had someone that could put more time in that way. And then the third thing I'm hearing is you prioritize your health and fitness with sleep and exercise so that you are able to maintain some balance there. And what I, I love that because, you know, in our early days, the three of us as co-founders, we had a period of imbalance where we were burning the midnight oil like crazy in a very similar way. We were doing services charging by the hour, and then we were trying to productize the software we were building, you know, burning midnight oil. And our software, our lead software engineer, our co-founder was losing weight, hardly sleeping, dropped like 30 pounds and he didn't have 30 pounds to drop. I mean he was, you know, he was super skinny and I remember at one point while we were going through this just really intense crucible where we were all burning midnight oil and stressed out of our gourds. You know one of his friends was like hey like are you okay? Like what's going on because he could just see physically how this you know, our partner our software engineer was carrying the load He was really the only one that could really write the code and so he just, he felt that weight. And then, you know, in hindsight, I look back on that and it was unhealthy for sure. You know, we were able to ultimately work our way through it but I just think about how important the point you're drawing out is that you made sure you got your sleep, you made sure you exercise. And for me personally, I had an experience where during that time I was so stressed out, you know, we were just, it was really rough. And I went to my dad one day and I was like, I just got to talk to you. Like I went over to his house at lunchtime. I said, I got to talk to you. And the overwhelm of the pressure and the burden just started to pour out of me. I started crying. You know, I was just like, like I didn't expect to, all of a sudden I was just crying and my dad's probably like, whoa, what's going on here? And he listened to me and I finally kind of got it all out and told him how stressed and frustrating it was and we weren't making sales and all these things. And I listened, I said the whole thing and he said, it was probably 15 minutes of me just like blubbering and blabbering. And then I got done and he said, are you working out? And I remember when he said those words, I almost said to him, did you not hear anything I just said? It felt so, it felt like his question and where he was going with his advice was completely different from what I was feeling being completely consumed by the business. And yet I said, you know, I kind of answered like, no, I'm not. And he said, and I was kind of a little, a little bugged actually and he said he said well what are you doing tomorrow morning at five o'clock and I said sleeping or worrying I don't know which and he said I'll come pick you up we're going to the gym and we started going to the gym every morning and I cannot tell you I am positive I would not have made it through if I didn't work out early in the morning with my dad. It was one of the greatest gifts he could have given me and he was right. You know he was very wise so I think your sleeping and exercising principle is just so good for entrepreneurs that are out there right now feeling overwhelmed and stressed and pressured. You can get through it, but you have to get the positive energy going right. That comes through sleep and exercise.
Heidi Jannenga (33:00.554)
Well, it comes back to the discipline, Clate, of what's really important, right? So, we didn't do a lot with our friends during this time. It was work, work, sleep, workout. You know what I mean? And then you have to fit in somewhere. There's a lot of other things that weren't as important to me. Some people's most important things might be spending time with friends.
Heidi Jannenga (33:30.126)
Maybe you're going to work out with friends or maybe you're going to, I don't know, you're doing something like that social interaction is extremely important to you. Whatever that is, find a little bit of time to recharge your batteries, if you will. For me, it was like, and I'll just say, I need a lot more sleep now than I did back 15 years ago. So when I say I got sleep, it was like four or five hours, I had to be good. And so it's, yeah, but, it, the exercise and that's just, I don't know, innately as a physical therapist, I know how important that is to you, to everything. So I was lucky enough to be inside of a gym, like, you know, working out with my patients and finding time to do that really helped to recharge.
Well, amazing advice, you know, that getting that balance, just that little piece of exercise and sleep, you know, so that you can get some balance, I think is such great advice. And, you know, I also just listen to what you're describing, the discipline, and the work ethic and those things are so necessary for entrepreneurs. There's no smooth easy path in entrepreneurship. And I know that as a world-class athlete, you developed those things. And by the way, isn't it interesting how many great athletes become great entrepreneurs? And it's a common thing and you know you don't have to be a great athlete to be a great entrepreneur, but the discipline that you develop to become a great athlete is that same discipline that drives entrepreneurial success.
Heidi Jannenga (35:06.734)
Yeah, I talk a lot about that and how reflecting on, you know, athletics and how that sort of shaped me and it is a lot about hard work has to be done, practice, repeating, repeating, repeating, to get to be your optimal at a certain point in time. And then being willing to say, okay, I still need to work on these things, going back and doing that, and then launching something. I mean, it's very cyclical and very similar to how you think about building a company. It's this iteration on yourself and your work in your shooting ability, or whatever it is, whatever sport you're playing, there's a lot of alignment.
Right. Well, and losing, learning to lose, you know, you get so as entrepreneurs, we know we're a lot all of us are raised to think that practice makes perfect, which is a bunch of bullcrap. It's practice makes progress like that's the progress we're after. And a lot of times I think we as entrepreneurs, we get so infatuated with the win and the perfection that we cut our legs out from underneath ourselves. We don't, we don't do the practice. We don't make progress because we are, you know, we're high achievers, we're ambitious and we expect to win. But when you're an athlete, you miss shots. For those listeners, Heidi was a pro basketball player and a standout basketball player at UC Davis. And so you missed a lot of shots as an athlete. You lost a lot of games as an athlete. And you use that as fuel to learn and get better and improve. And that's the iterative process that we do as entrepreneurs. It's two steps forward, one step back.
Heidi Jannenga (36:46.342)
And you learn to believe the next shot is going in. Even if you miss one, the next one's going in, right? And so.
Heidi Jannenga (36:55.85)
That's right. And that optimism, that optimism, I think is really critical for, for success as well. Never losing sight of what your ultimate goal is, right? And pushing forward. And Clate, I just, I wanted to say just one more thing on our last topic. I had the luxury of, because you know, when you're in the grind and I mentioned, like we never did, we hardly did things with friends or, you know, our social life went to nothing. And that was partly because I was lucky enough to have my life partner alongside me building the software. So I was married during our, to my co-founder of WebPT. And so most people don't always have that luxury. And so, you know, that difficulty of, you're focusing so much on this startup and your significant other is like, hey, wait a minute, what about me? What about me? Right? And there's unfortunately time that is not there to maybe do what you were doing prior to the start of this new venture that you're on. And so…
Alright, you were talking about mindset and optimism which I think is critical, you know, obviously, as an athlete, you learned that you develop that it's served you well as an entrepreneur. You know, I always like to ask our podcast guests if they have any specific advice on how to cultivate that positive mindset that is going to serve them so well as an entrepreneur. Is there anything besides the kind of balance you talked about with health and sleep and exercise. Anything else that you found that helped to maybe turn around your mindset when it wasn't going so positively?
Heidi Jannenga (38:38)
Well, for me, it was always going to visit our customers. It was seeing what you're building in action and the impact that you're having. And so hearing all of the things that they could now do that they couldn't do, or you helped me stay in business, To your point earlier about budgeting and not having the revenue to pay, but now they weren't paying as much for this other service. So now they could actually help them to stay in business. You know, all of those things always fill my tank. We would go to, we would present at two or three conferences at least a year. We would host, you know, little small focus groups with our Members, things like that. So,that was, that was one, I think within the team, it was also remembering to celebrate the wins when, when you're in that chaos. You know, you're, you finish one thing and you're ready to go off to the other next thing, like, oh my God, we go, we got into the next thing is ready, right? And so taking just a moment to celebrate the wins with the team and reminding yourselves of why we're here and who we serve and what the problem is we're trying to solve and how well we're actually already starting to do that. I think it is also just something that was helpful to me in those early stages.
Love it. Celebrating the wins with the team and then I, I totally agree that filling your tank by hearing customers' stories and how you're making an impact. You know, impact ultimately is one of the main things we're after as entrepreneurs. And so when you hear the difference that you're making for customers, which is important, because a lot of times you're hearing the letdowns, the shortfalls, the mistakes that you're making, you know, that's just part of life as an entrepreneur, as we talked about. And so filling your tank with the customer stories and then celebrating with the team.
Heidi Jannenga (48:05.3)
Thank you for those great suggestions. Well, I have loved this conversation. It's been a ton of fun. I know our listeners are going to enjoy this as they think about how to, you know, you've touched on key things like product market fit and the early stages of how to actually make the business work, doing the midnight oil thing and doing the, you know, feeling like you're working two jobs, you've talked about the co-founder and how that role is so important and sometimes one person being able to put more into it, in terms of the hours, but then you basically created a service business, and then you had a service business, and then you built a product out of that service business. I know so many entrepreneurs that want to do something like that, and you've given a good template for how to do it. Then just great practical wisdom advice on balance. I appreciate that and know that that's always critical for our entrepreneurs as they're conquering the chaos. Anything else that you want to share with us that maybe we haven't touched on, That you feel passionate about?
Heidi Jannenga (49:13.106)
No, I think this was great. And I just want to say, Clate, thank you for all of your years of giving back to the small business community. You're an icon in the Phoenix area with regard to building an amazing business. So I'm just really excited and thankful that we were able to have this conversation and hopefully influence and inspire a few more entrepreneurs out there to get after it and build something great.
Well, you're kind. Thank you, Heidi. Congratulations on all of your success and thanks for sharing your wisdom and helping entrepreneurs conquer the chaos. Until the next episode, to all our listeners out there, keep growing and conquer the chaos.
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