Have an Idea or a Dream You Want to Pursue? Kara Goldin’s “Undaunted” Will Inspire You to Stop Doubting & Start Doing Entrepreneurs Become the Fire Career Books
Kara Goldin often calls herself an “accidental entrepreneur.” That’s because the founder of Hint, Inc. (yes, that yummy fruit-infused water) never dreamed of launching her own company. Her refreshing beverage business was born from a need in her own life, as she tried to find a healthier source of hydration than diet soda.
That personal passion for healthy refreshment turned into a booming business – despite the naysayers who tried to dissuade her from launching it because she was an outsider with no industry experience. From experiments in her kitchen to following her intuition, Kara chronicles the entire journey in her bestselling book Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts & Doubters.
Kara has been named one of InStyle’s Badass 50, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Northern California. She is an active speaker and writer who hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show, where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs and other disruptors across various industries.
If you have an idea, a solution for a problem you see in your own life, or a dream you want to pursue, Kara’s book will inspire you to stop doubting and start doing. We chatted with Kara about her inspiring journey.
Welcome, Kara! Your story is so inspiring. The way you identified a need in your own life and created a solution to a problem – a true visionary leader and entrepreneur. Tell us about the moment you had that entrepreneurial vision and why you decided to act on it.
"As a mother of three (at the time, now four!) I had gained a bit of weight over the years, was feeling a lack of energy and was experiencing other health-related issues like adult acne. I spoke with several doctors and none of them seemed to have the answer to 'cure' me. But one day, I looked at the diet soda in my hand and realized that every time I had a diet soda, I felt hungry for something sweet. Little candies or gum here and there. I tried switching to plain water for three weeks and lost a ton of weight, had more energy and even saw my skin starting to clear up.
"I was amazed at the transformation I saw from drinking water, but still found plain water boring. I had to find a way to make myself stick with being OK with drinking water. I certainly didn’t want to go back to my diet soda regime. I started slicing fruit into the water and letting it sit overnight, and that helped a lot. But I felt that I needed something a bit better tasting that I could just grab and go. I looked at all the flavored waters available in stores and realized they were all just diet drinks loaded with diet sweeteners, just like the diet soda I was trying to give up. Eventually, I created a whole line of waters infused with fruit essences – and that helped me (and millions of other people) fall in love with water. Today, Hint water is available nationwide in most major retailers and online."
That’s amazing! Entrepreneurs face challenges, obstacles and chaos – I call that "fire." Can you describe an unexpected fire you fought along your journey and how you overcame it?
"When we first started making Hint water way back in 2005, we got traction early. It was a big hit, but we quickly realized that the process our bottler used to make it allowed the product to spoil within a few months (at most). We realized that our product wasn’t 'shelf-stable' and we weren’t sure how to fix it. I didn’t want to use preservatives in Hint, but sadly, I was about to have to shut the company down if I couldn’t figure out a way to create the product without it going bad. We were never going to be able to grow the business without a much longer shelf-life, but none of the industry experts knew how to fix my issue either. None were able to offer a solution without preservatives.
"So, what did I do? I realized that the problem seemed like a showstopper, but truly it was not something that required a solution immediately – as urgent as I felt it was. It was more important to focus on learning the retail and distribution landscape, improving the taste of the product and understanding the consumer better. We could keep the business small for a couple years and distribute only to places that would turn the product quickly enough, and hopefully we could solve the shelf-life issue while we learned everything else that we needed to know. While it was a pain to do so, I also tested the product daily. Made sure that consumers would be safe. We kept searching for a way to achieve what we wanted. And eventually we did, by using heat. Never preservatives.
"It turned out that in our quest for the best tasting flavored water possible, we also figured out what is now used as an industry standard: using heat instead of preservatives. Being outsiders in an industry helped us to think differently for the entire industry to benefit from and allow Hint to extend shelf-life and start expanding into a broader market."
I love that an “outsider” to the industry ended up moving the industry forward! We know building a business from the ground up isn't easy. Were there times you wanted to give up? What kept you going?
"I never wanted to give up because every time I got frustrated with some challenge, I heard from a consumer who had discovered Hint and was excited about how much it helped them get started on living a healthier life. Doing something that matters to other people gave me and the rest of the team the energy it took to get past all those early challenges. And that is what made it successful."
Your grit is legendary. In fact, you wrote the book on overcoming doubts and doubters, Undaunted. Tell us why you wrote the book.
"I’ve met so many people who focus on the obstacles, and even create obstacles for themselves. I wanted to share my story in building Hint because I did it to help people overcome hard challenges. Health. But in many ways, overcoming hard obstacles and overcoming poor health can be one in the same. It takes focus, grit and determination. And I wanted to show people that if I can do it, so can they. If you focus on your goals and how you can achieve them instead of wasting energy telling yourself why you can’t do something, success is possible. Every time."
Couldn’t agree more. The book is a must-read for anyone wanting to start a business or grow their dream. What do you hope readers take away from your story?
"I want readers to realize that if they’re willing to work hard, they can achieve difficult things. When they encounter an obstacle, I want them to think about how to get around it but also to think 'what can I do?' instead of thinking about what they can't do."
Yes, the abundance mindset at work! Our confidence can be shaken by those who doubt us, and even our own self-doubt. What is the top thing to always keep in mind when trying to overcome doubts and doubters?
"Sometimes the doubters raise real issues that you should consider – not as reasons to abandon your goals, but to prepare for challenges you might actually run into."
Excellent point. It's easy to be daunted when trying to solve a problem or start something new. What are your top three tips for those who want to follow in your entrepreneurial footsteps?
"You need to know that being an entrepreneur is hard work and involves real risk, but if what you want to achieve is going to have a real positive impact, it can be the most rewarding path you take.
"When you encounter an obstacle, first figure out whether it needs to be solved right now or is something that can wait while you focus on more urgent or important issues.
"When you solve problems, remember to check in with yourself about whether the changes you are making stay true to your original vision. Sometimes an easier path is not going to get you where you wanted to go.
"Remember that challenges and failures are part of the process. Everyone gets knocked down, but successful entrepreneurs learn from their mistakes and get back up."
Resilience is key! What are you up to these days, and how can readers stay in touch with you and follow your journey?
"I’ve been spending a lot of time continuing to help people. I have been spending time sharing other founders’ stories on my podcast, The Kara Goldin Show. I have also been doing a ton of public speaking in hopes of inspiring others to build and create. And to get back up! You can follow me on all social channels at @KaraGoldin."
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