How do you manage life as an entrepreneur? In part 2 of this blog series, we’re talking to Ben Attal, Co-founder of Nimbus Learning, about coming back from burn out and developing a business that’s more than just an app.

Read part 1 here.

When you’re feeling burnt out, how do you stay focused on moving forward?

What I found most effective is focusing on getting my personal life and personal routine together. In the past, when I burnt out it was because outside of work my life was disorganized. I was working so much and still trying to fit in a social life and just wouldn’t be sleeping enough. My stuff would be super disorganized, my house was just a bit of a mess, I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t eating healthy. Those were the periods where I burnt out.

It was this chase for work life balance that led me to a burnout. I thought I had to do all these things; see friends as much as possible, watch movies, all those things. But there’s some stuff underneath that needs to be settled first. What has prevented burnout, and how I recovered when I did burnout, was just going okay, let’s take it a little bit chill on work. Let’s also take a little bit of a chill on the social or entertainment stuff that is secondary and just recenter: make sure I’m sleeping enough, make sure I’m eating healthy, make sure my place is clean so it doesn’t just feel like mayhem. Just focusing on that stuff for one week was generally enough to recenter.

It was almost this chase for work life balance that that led me to a burnout.

Ben AttalCo-founder of Nimbus Learning

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m definitely an extrovert, but I found that one thing that I really did like during lock down was some of the more introverted activities. Obviously, that’s a little bit too black and white, but I realized that since high school I’d completely neglected some things that I enjoy, like reading, journaling, working out at home, or just spending time alone. It was always just work and see friends. The pandemic made me realize, holy shit, it’s actually nice to do these quieter things once in a while. I rediscovered the introverted side of myself and I have appreciated that quite a bit.

What advice do you have for students who are considering entrepreneurship or who are considering getting involved in the startup world?

I would say two things. If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, map out what you think the steps are. Then, once you have that map, talk to people who are in the space and just get them to rip it apart. Do that before getting started because it’s good to have a sense of whether your plan is completely unrealistic. Then, once you’ve had some feedback, some criticism, go and get started.

If you’re not the ideas person, apply for a job in an earlier stage startup. You might not get paid, it might not be a stable job from the beginning, and if that’s something that you can’t afford to do that completely makes sense and maybe it’s something you have to come back to. But going to the early stage of a startup also gives you the opportunity of becoming the founder or an entrepreneur, in whatever sense you define it. If you don’t have an idea, don’t just sit and try to find an idea forever. Honestly, you have your whole life to come up with the brilliant idea, but if you don’t have the idea right now, don’t let that stop you. Find a project that you’re passionate about, an idea that you think you’d like to make work, and join the team.

Map out what you think the steps are. Then, once you have that map, talk to people who are in the space and just get them to rip it apart.

Ben AttalCo-founder of Nimbus Learning

A lot of startups are an app, or they’re a website, or there’s some type of platform that at first doesn’t have inherent value. You make it have value over time by learning about your customers. Often, I think, the most common mistake, and one that we made if we’re going to be completely honest, was focusing on having some semblance of a finished product before trying to get customers and feedback. It’s better to just have something like an Excel spreadsheet or a landline phone and just do the work yourself to start. If you’re a company based on connecting people, just do it until you can no longer and then build a platform that facilitates it. At that point you’ll have learned where the pain points are, you’ll have learned who your customers are, who the suppliers are, those kinds of things. Don’t rush into building a product or thinking that your startup is the product. Our company, our website, was called Nimbus App for a long time, because I think that at the time we just thought of Nimbus as an app. Fuck starting an app, starting an app is the wrong call. You want to start a service that helps people or a business that has a specific type of impact. The app is the tool that facilitates that.

So really, the research stage is super important.

Research and making it a functioning service or a functioning company first. Airbnb is a good example. They just had a landing page for a while and they were calling all these people, trying to set up bed and breakfasts at conferences and stuff like that. To me, that’s the kind of perfect example of how you can start a business before the platform, with no funding. Just do the work yourself, and then figure out afterwards how to scale it using technology.

That’s kind of what we sometimes ignore, that the point of apps and the reason why they’re so effective is that they scale much larger. But there needs to be some depth to it.

You want to start a service that helps people or a business that has a specific type of impact. The app is the tool that facilitates that.

Ben AttalCo-founder of Nimbus Learning

Nimbus Learning now offers an online tutoring platform which allows students virtual access to academic support and mentorship. Click here to find out more.

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