[quote style=”boxed”]You can quickly get left behind with the slow-moving education system, so find current and up-to-date experts in your field and get the training you need from them.[/quote]
Jordan Garn is a web developer turned entrepreneur who is currently hard at work on CartNinja.com, an easy-to-use shopping cart system that allows people to sell whatever they want, quickly and easily. Quickly gaining in popularity with more than 100 signups in under a month, Cart Ninja appeals to a wide range of small businesses with its hassle-free signup that has no setup or monthly fees and allows you to professionally and securely offer credit card payment methods that users know and trust.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on Cart Ninja, which is hosted shopping cart software that helps small businesses start selling their products with as little hassle as possible. It has no setup or monthly fees, so it allows people to start selling at no risk to them. Cart Ninja can work with any website setup and is particularly suited to WordPress users with its WordPress Plugin.
Where did the idea for Cart Ninja come from?
I’ve worked with several companies that have needed an online shopping cart solution. It was a major hassle for them to get everything going, and with the various credit card processing companies, there is a huge amount of paperwork and hidden fees involved. Cart Ninja was made to address the issues I saw with shopping carts and was made to allow business owners to offer their customers a quick and easy way to buy products.
What does your typical day look like?
Currently I manage a lot of customer service, which involves training customers on how to use the Cart. I also take feedback and actively work on improving the cart to make it even more useful based on customer feedback.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Through creativity and hard work. I think strategically planning and thinking through everything you want to accomplish is vital to any entrepreneurship project. Without a whiteboard, pen and paper, or tablet PC to write on, I would be lost in all the crazy directions in which an idea pulls me. Writing out your ideas is how you plan and strategize your next steps while helping to stave off the overwhelming feelings that are bound to arise.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Getting away from the office setting with projects like Google Glass and Mobile Phones. I’m hoping these types of tools will allow programmers and other computer-types to be more mobile and engaged in the world around them, rather than being stuck at desks all day.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was a drive-through operator at a fast food restaurant. I learned that I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible to become a well-balanced person. I also learned that I really needed to improve my tech skills in the rapidly evolving industry.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would invest in knowledge and training by paying money for knowledge or guidance from a mentor or tutor. Reading random, disjointed web articles—while sometimes effective—is really the long way of doing things. Quickly finding people who have done it before and then buying their trainings is a very powerful shortcut, and psychologically, it’s extremely motivating. And I don’t necessarily mean school, especially in the tech field with things changing so fast. You can quickly get left behind with the slow-moving education system, so find current and up-to-date experts in your field and get the training you need from them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Find a task/to-do list system that works for you. I use a combination of Trello and a tablet PC to collect all of my thoughts, emails and tasks. When you are stuck on a task, mind-mapping and uninhibited brainstorming are the most amazing motivational tools to help get you out of an emotional slump (and these slumps happen a lot when you’re an entrepreneur).
Spend time thinking about what makes you tick and what makes you excited. Surround yourself with those things that keep you energetic and alive; if you don’t, you will quickly lose steam. Also, always remember to get enough sleep, as your brain solves problems while it’s dreaming.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I invested thousands of dollars into a product idea I was sure would work but failed miserably. Failure is the one path to success; you have to put your ideas out there to know for yourself what works and what doesn’t. There comes a point where planning and preparation get in the way of you actually starting. Implement your idea, take strategic risks, put your skin in the game and lose. It lights a fire in you that is almost impossible to snuff out. You have to be a failure multiple times to be a winner.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Conversion-tracking services have a wide array of price ranges and are fairly disjointed. They’re also something that many businesses are—or should be—craving.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would give people the ability to fly. I suppose the only thing I can do about it is invest in people who are building jetpacks.
Tell us a secret.
I still watch cartoons.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- TutsPlus.com provides excellent training from people with mad skills.
- TeamTreehouse.com offers more excellent training.
- Trello.com, along with a pen and paper, allows for brainstorming and idea-generation, as well as keeping track of what I want to accomplish in unhindered way.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend The Now Habit by Neil A. Fiore. It gives you practical advice on how to get off your butt and accomplish something, and also goes into the psychology of how to motivate yourself to do just that.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Personally, I don’t use Twitter. In my opinion, I think it’s a waste of time, but I do occasionally check it. Here are some businesses and people who say interesting stuff:
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Yesterday, when I was talking about childhood memories and mistakes with a friend.
Who is your hero?
Overall I’d have to say my parents are my heroes, for raising me and teaching me. In the tech world, my heroes would have to be Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Technology would probably not be advancing as fast as it is today without innovations they created.
What is one skill entrepreneurs should learn?
The days of the non-technical entrepreneur are dwindling. As a programmer and entrepreneur, I get business idea pitches about twice a day. If you plan on starting a software tech company, you should at least learn the basics of programming languages so that you can empathize with programmers with whom you work. Many of the pitches I get involve somebody coming up to me and saying something like, “Let’s build a jetpack and sell that.” In that scenario, the person has no idea about the laws of physics and the engineering hurdles needed to be able to accomplish that type of endeavor. The same goes for programming, so you need to know the type of challenges the core of your business will face before you start spouting off ideas and demands.
How do you stay motivated?
Motivation and energy levels are key for any entrepreneur. It’s really easy to burn yourself out being swamped with the billion different facets of any business you want to start. My advice is to break things down into bite-size pieces and to plan two or three things you can do right now, in the next five seconds, that will move your business forward. Getting started on small steps will build momentum, which will keep you going through the rough parts.
- Set large goals.
- Set small, actionable goals—that can be started on in the next five seconds—to work toward your large goals.
- Use techniques like the Pomodoro technique to prevent burnout.
- Exercise, meditate, and get adequate rest.
Jordan Garn on LinkedIn:
Cart Ninja’s website:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.