The Norstar Group was founded by Jason Nordlund who started his first company while in college. He went on to cut his teeth as a real estate investor before losing everything by his 30th birthday. The pain of this brought him back to the drawing board and led him to a multi-year in-depth study of macroeconomics, investment theory, and venture capital. He often says that his business failure became the greatest advantage of his life. Mr. Nordlund is self-taught and believes strongly in the purest form of capitalism and liberty. In this blog article, Jason Nordlund answers commonly asked questions and gives advice about what he has learned in business and entrepreneurship.
Q & A with Jason Nordlund
Q: Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
A: We are located in Minneapolis, and we connect sophisticated investors to sophisticated opportunities. Typically opportunities that most don’t have access to or recognize that they have access to. We do this through education, networking events, and deal flow.
Q: Give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
A: I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Pastor Studies. Soon after I enrolled at the School of Hard Knocks when I entered the business world, my first business being a high-end painting company that I started while still in school, that led to flipping homes and acquiring rentals around the country, to learning about the stock market and how the macro picture all worked together. I’m quite proud that I’m mostly self-taught in business and investing. I’ve studied a lot of subjects, learned a lot of things the hard way, but acquired a lot of skill sets along the way that have carved out who I am today.
Q: What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
A: I recognize that there’s a good size gap between those in the know and those who don’t. Our globe is flooded with people called Investment Advisors who are supposed “experts” and few of them know much at all about actual investing. We’re passionate about teaching people how to access risk and reward and make better decisions with their investments.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
1.Understand it’s always going to cost more and take longer than you budget for. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but far and few between.
2. Don’t plan out your 1-3 year goals until you’ve first taken the time to create your 20-30 year plan. 20 -30 years should be the appropriate time frame for any budding entrepreneur to plan for and execute on.
3. Don’t burn bridges in business. Make the most of every relationship within reason, and make it a big priority to help others achieve their goals at the same time you’re working towards yours.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
A: Tenacity, communication & humility
Q: How many hours do you work a day on average?
A: 8-10 hours; I’m working less now than I ever have before however.
Q: To what do you most attribute your success?
A: Persistence; I’ve never been willing to settle or accept less than what I’ve set out for.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
A: Mostly just word of mouth and referrals. I don’t look for customers or investors in the same sense that most businesses need to. For me, a new customer probably means a new lifelong friend. Those relationships take time to develop and I only have capacity for so many.
Q: Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
A: When I first started making real money in my 20’s flipping homes, investment dollars came to me. It was never something I was ever intentional about. Certain people seemed drawn to me, had questions about what I did and most of them ended up investing. As it turned out, I had a knack for raising capital, which I didn’t recognize right away. Good projects and good leadership will attract capital period.
Q: What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
A: Pace yourself and begin with the end in mind. Know at least your 20-year vision and get to work. Also, never forget you can always accomplish more than you think you can in the long run. Few of us can accomplish all that we think we can in the short run.
Q: Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
A: I see myself operating more as a family office within 10 years, managing 9 to 10 figures.
Q: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A: Oh boy, so many to pick from. One person I’m absolutely enamored with is John Carter of Simpler Trading. This guy has a license to print money as a trader. It’s as if the market almost just does whatever he tells it to. He’s absolutely brilliant, however and disciplined – wow!
Q: How important have good employees been to your success?
A: I’ve always enjoyed operating as a team. It’s fun to have people around, it’s fun to give them opportunity, to watch them develop, and it’s an absolute must if you wanna learn how to be in two different places at once. It’s impossible to build something substantial and meaningful as a one-man show.
Q: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
A: Don’t ever be involved in a deal just because you’re stubborn and don’t want a big F (failure) on your record. Pursue and spend time on projects and ideas that provide the most of what you want, regardless of how much you have vested into it. If you have a better opportunity somewhere else, move on and don’t delay.
Q: What motivates you?
A: I love being profitable while creating win-wins. I love believing in young companies and opportunities. I love writing that first check that most wouldn’t.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
A: I like that as an entrepreneur, everything rises and falls on my own decisions. I can’t look back after a failure and blame it on anyone else. Nor do I have to pretend that I was lucky when I succeed.
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
A: I’m proud that I’m still in business. That I’ve prevailed through some very tough situations and businesses, that I’ve done what I needed to do to learn new skill sets and hopefully that I’ve helped plenty of others along the way.
Q: What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
A: Ultimately, it’s responsibility in my view. Nothing wrong at all with working for someone else or in having a job, but it’s a much different animal, and unless you’ve been there, it’s easy to miss the skill sets that are required on the road to success that simply just aren’t necessary when you work for someone else.
Q: What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone, and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
A: It’s important to me that no one views me as their “end all, be all” boss. I like working with self-motivated people that don’t require hand-holding and, like me, just wanna collaborate with others they connect with. The importance of culture and a team mentality can not be overstated.
Q: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.