Have you ever been curious about your co-worker’s salary? Well, we have the perfect cure for that. Jason Nazar is the Founder and CEO of Comparably, an online source that provides accurate compensation and culture data. Nazar is a serial entrepreneur who previously founded Docstoc, the largest content site to help small businesses. The company was acquired by Intuit in 2013.
Earlier this year, Nazar successfully landed $6.5 million in funding for Comparably. MillionaireMatch was lucky to get a one-on-one with the busy entrepreneur. Here are some of his tips for getting your startup started.
MillionaireMatch: What influenced you to start Comparably?
Jason: I spent a decade of my life between starting and selling Docstoc. Helping entrepreneurs was something I was really passionate about. As I thought about what I wanted to do as my next professional part of my life, things like company culture became important to me. Also, how to help people in their careers if they are not going to be an entrepreneur. This company [Comparably] was all about trying to create a brand to model the job market for employees and help make workplace compensation more transparent. For me it was taking up a level from what I’ve been doing the last 10 years.
MM: What is the biggest lesson you have learned when starting a new company?
Jason: It’s about your team. How great of a team you recruit. How happy they are. How focus you are. How aligned everybody is on what goal you are trying to do. People often attribute business success to the Founder, great idea, luck, or timing. The vast majority of the time comes down to the group of people that are working together. How smart and resourceful they are, as well as how hard they work. How flexible they are and how well they work can work together. Can they handle and resolve conflict? If all those things are in place that’s what makes the vast majority of the difference. I probably didn’t spend enough of the time focused on that early on in my entrepreneurial career. I focus completely on that now as a leader and manager. That’s what our platform is meant to do. We are trying to help other companies build those cohesive teams.
MM: What can new leaders look out for who are putting their teams together?
Jason: There are a couple of things. I think you have to have really high standards of who you want to work with. You should define those standards for whatever is most important for you and the early team. What value do they find important? Make sure that each new addition meets those standards.
The other thing is people need to simultaneously be able to debate. They need to have conflict, energy, passion, but you also need a system for trusting each other. You need ease and flexibility. Those are the hard things to figure out, especially when things aren’t going well.
When a business is succeeding and it’s making money or getting lots of users, customers, it cures all of the other evils. Some of the most messed up businesses are the ones with the fastest growth curve. It’s growing so quickly that the winning and success washes over the sins in lieu of that you have to be extra on point. How bonded, focused and disciplined you are as a team is what leads to success.
MM: Entrepreneurs tend to have lots of ideas. How do you decide which idea to develop?
Jason: It’s a combination of whatever you are personally most passionate about. I think you have to check that box, especially if you are going to raise venture capital and if it has the potential to be a big idea or unique enough. Not just copycat. You should always start with something you are personally passionate about and it solves a problem for a lot of people.
MM: You are always on social media. Is it essential for entrepreneurs to build an audience?
Jason: Essential, no. Beneficial, yes. I’ve seen all sorts of entrepreneurs from the charismatic sales person to the quiet engineer to the social media promoter. There no one mold. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I know are never on social media at all. They have no presence whatsoever. If you have a following and you can leverage it to get early feedback on your product, build engagement and trust then you absolutely should.
MM: Could you give any advice to someone in the early stages of building their business and they feel like throwing in the towel and quitting?
Jason: We all face setbacks. A lot of us may feel alone and that they are failing. There’s no person, entrepreneur that hasn’t faced multiple setbacks. Those with the biggest success have faced multiple setbacks and what others may consider outright failure.
You are not alone. I think for the most part persistence is an important characteristic to being an entrepreneur. You are going to get lots of setbacks especially early on. I think you have to be able to persevere. If it’s not part of your DNA then you’re just gonna have a hard time cause being an entrepreneur is dealing with constant setbacks. If after a period of time you think, hey it’s better for me to yield here to fight a different battle to win the war somewhere else. I think there’s an important thing that people need to know when to not necessarily quit, but that my opportunity cost is best applied somewhere else.
To keep up with Jason Nazar, find him at www.jasonnazar.com.