Hannah Wright is a startup enthusiast living in Alaska. Her business is teaching people how to find remote jobs and live location independent lives at howtofindaremotejob.com. Over the past 5 years, she has worked remotely for awesome tech companies (mainly e-commerce and SaaS) and has also founded a few projects of her own.
In this Startup Savant interview, she shares her advice on tackling problems as an entrepreneur, how she organizes her day, and her favorite resources for starting a business in Alaska. After getting to know Hannah and how she makes moves, be sure to follow her on Twitter!
What do you typically tell people when they ask you what you do?
I say that I teach an online course dedicated to helping people find remote jobs so that they can escape the 9-5 grind and live location-independent lives.
Independent course creation is still a pretty new thing, and there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation, so after that we usually have a discussion about eCourses.
Have you encountered troubles or mishaps when starting “How to find a remote job”? How did you fix them?
You know, the biggest challenge so far has been trying to distance myself from people who come to my site looking for remote jobs simply because they want something easy. Those aren’t the types of people who will benefit from my course.
I’ve had to be really upfront with the fact that good telecommuting jobs require a lot of hard work, like any other job.
I’ve had remote jobs for the past 5 years and have worked for a handful of awesome organizations, from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Each and every telecommuting job was hard work.
If you really crave a location-independent lifestyle and are willing to put in the work, it’s worth it. If you’re looking for an easy way to make money from home, my course isn’t for you.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? Is there something you are most proud of?
What I love most about being an entrepreneur is the thrill of creating something that’s useful to others. It also forces you to get out of your comfort zone and try new things — especially when you’re bootstrapping.
You have to pick up new skills and master them. You have to validate your idea and scale — there is no alternative. The pressure is on. I like that.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved creating businesses. I have a really hard time not creating things. I think entrepreneurship is in my blood.
What is the most exciting moment of your entrepreneurial journey?
To be honest, the most exciting moment was when the first student who completed my course said they loved it and actually found it useful. I was so worried about the quality, so when I heard that they benefited from it, it made my day.
The other exciting part was validating the idea. Over the years I’ve tried a lot of little projects here and there, but none of them ran as smoothly as this one.
I think it’s because I set strict rules.
The first step was to create something that people had asked me for help with in the past.
The second step was to create a survey gauging people’s interest to see how many people would even be interested in a course.
After getting positive feedback, the next step was to see if people would actually buy it. Plenty of people will say they would buy something, but taking action is a completely different thing. After the first few sales from strangers came in (family and friends don’t count), the idea had been validated and I knew it was time to scale up.
What is the toughest decision you’ve ever made when starting a business? How did it make you better at the end of the day?
The toughest decision I’ve made so far has been launching the business as a solopreneur without seeking out a business partner. It’s been positive, though. Staying the sole founder has made me more resourceful and adaptable.
What does your day-in, day-out look like? Is there any specific habit that has helped you become a better person?
I’m all about checklists and use Trello to organize my tasks. Also, limiting my time on social media has been a huge help. I don’t let myself get distracted with other things (at least most of the time).
If I can sense I’m becoming distracted, I ride it out by completely disengaging and doing something else like going outside, then signing on to work again after it’s out of my system.
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape “How to find a remote job”?
It might sound kind of funny, but I’ve never actually met the majority of people who have influenced me in business. Lately I’ve been really motivated by the writings of Tobias van Schneider and Jason Zook. While I don’t personally know them, I’ve been reading their newsletters for a while now.
One of my passions aside from entrepreneurship is design, and Tobias’s emails always seem to blend these things together in a unique way.
Jason’s newsletter is great because he’s a serial entrepreneur who is resourceful and hustles like hell. All of the emails are very authentic and real.
I’m also part of an awesome mastermind group of online course creators. They’re great people. It’s been extremely helpful being able to bounce ideas off each other, especially since I live in an unconventional place like Alaska where it can be tough to make connections.
I really respect people who are action-takers, introspective, and never lose their sense of realness.
How do you balance life and work to remain connected and available for your loved ones? Any advice for me?
I know I’ll probably get a lot of eye rolls on this one, but my husband has always been my #1 priority and always will be. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who put their business above all else, but I could never do that (and would never want to).
I’m not perfect. I’ve pulled plenty of 12-hour days, but lately I’ve been a lot better about balancing it out. That might mean working a very long day and then disconnecting the next day to make up for it, you know?
As far as work/life balance, it’s very important to me to live an inspiring, comfortable life. When I’m not inspired, I don’t put out my best work. It’s as simple as that. Even though I do love to work, if other areas in life are out of sync, work will suffer.
If you think about your priorities in life and remind yourself of the things that matter to you on a regular basis, things will naturally fall into place. If things don’t feel right or balanced, you’ll find a way to change them.
Do you think being an entrepreneur has turned you into a better person? If so, how?
Whenever I’m running my own business, I feel much more balanced. I’m not sure if that has made me a better person, but it certainly makes me feel more satisfied.
Also, it makes you own up to things and take responsibility. If things aren’t going well with my business, I have to hold myself accountable and figure out what needs to be improved or the business will suffer.
I think it encourages a lot of brutally honest self reflection which is a positive thing.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to start a business in Alaska today? Where should they start?
My advice would be to start validating immediately. Don’t get wrapped up in arbitrary details. It’s easy to psych yourself out and waste months planning, but don’t do it.
Identify a real problem, find a way to solve it, and see if people are willing to pay for it. If they aren’t, go back to the drawing board. If they are, scale up, launch, and don’t look back! You’d be surprised how much you can do on your own in the early stages.
I know it might sound crazy, but I think Anchorage is going to be the next Boulder. I think Alaska is up-and-coming in the startup scene. There’s been a lot of growth in recent years.
There’s a new startup accelerator in Alaska that’s run by some really great people called Launch: Alaska. If you’re interested in starting a business in Alaska, I’d highly recommend checking out their site for updates and submitting an application.
On top of that, if you’re looking for a place to work on your startup and collaborate, The Boardroom offers coworking spaces in both Anchorage and Juneau.