Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the most rewarding career paths someone can take. Not necessarily because it brings them vast wealth and riches, but rather because it teaches a person to grow in many ways while accomplishing incremental success, as such successes tend to lead to personal happiness. We see entrepreneurs on social media, television, and in the movies, but these depictions often miss its true meaning.
Quite frankly, you will also find conflicting definitions of what it means to be an entrepreneur because of the deeper philosophical differences in perspectives. For the sake of brevity, the simple definition of an “entrepreneur” is a person who finds a need in a market, via their market alertness, and helps to fulfill that need.
Getting started and staying consistent seems to be what most people struggle with as it concerns becoming an entrepreneur. According to marketing consultant and Entrepreneur.com contributor, Dennis Consorte, “One challenge with entrepreneurship is staying motivated after the initial excitement about an idea wears off. Some things that help include periodically setting and adjusting goals, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, and a great morning routine that keeps you grounded."
To better understand the ins and outs of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, we decided to interview one! In a cozy hometown coffee shop, I sat down to interview entrepreneur Nicholas Quintero over a cup of coffee to find out what it means to be an entrepreneur in this digital era. Nick is an entrepreneur in the food prepping industry and has around 700,000+ active followers on social media. His main company is Meal Prep on Fleek (MPOF), a leading company in a unique industry that teaches people how to save time, money, and stress while improving their overall health through meal prepping.
Joshua Glawson: What is ‘entrepreneurship’ to you? What got you started?
Nick Quintero: I think entrepreneurship is a combination between self-direction, value creation, and repeatability. Entrepreneurship is a speculative risk not meant for everyone the same way personal accountability differs in people. While building real relationships is essential to success, entrepreneurship requires quick execution, active and reflexive learning, and surrounding yourself with smarter people.
Growing up in the Anaheim, California, area, I first began practicing this understanding of entrepreneurship when I was just a kid. I collected and sold baseball cards by listening to what cards other kids were asking for and being able to find it in my local shop. I did not grow up in a wealthy family. My dad was an electrician and property manager, and my mom was a bookkeeper. There were times in my life that I regularly slept on the floor because my family could not afford a bed for me. I recognized that I wanted a better life for myself and my future family.
JG: What was your first experience as an entrepreneur?
Nick: While I was attending college in the early 2000s, I started a business selling LED and HID headlights for American muscle cars (Chargers, Challengers, Camaros). I was studying marketing and sales in school, so I was able to use these skills to help my new business. I was more or less in college just to check off the box, but I did learn some applicable knowledge there about “how to learn” as well as networking.
As the internet age was catching on, I was selling mainly through car forums, auto chat rooms, and Facebook as it was picking up popularity by around 2008. The business did really well for one person, but as life changes so did my business pursuits. I got married. My wife and I had kids, yet the business was better income for one or two people as opposed to an entire family. In 2012, I sold the business and worked for various companies doing online marketing as part of an in-house team. That entrepreneurial spark was still there, but in the meantime I had to offset my risk while attending to more important responsibilities as a husband and father.
JG: For many people they may perceive leaving their entrepreneurial path for a 9-to-5 as a loss, what were your thoughts and feelings in that transition period?
Nick: I actually sold the headlight business, which is good. Since it was my first real business and first in-depth entrepreneur experience, I remember having a sense of failure. Looking back, I learned a ton from that experience and have used my learnings to build this business. At that time, I had the motivation to own and run a business, but didn’t yet have the knowledge and wisdom.
JG: How’d you discover a market need and fulfill that need as an entrepreneur?
Nick: As I was building a family, I was also gaining some unwanted weight. I made a goal to lose some pounds, but I was not sure what to do. I knew I needed to eat better, but didn’t quite know what that meant. While chatting with one of my fitness coach friends, she mentioned a method for weight loss that would be helpful for someone as busy as I was. Meal prepping was her solution! And, this is an important point to make: I did not discover meal prepping, others did before me, but I loved what I saw and wanted to help the world the way it helped me! I saw demand, and I now had a great way to fill that need as a forerunner of meal prepping.
I realized all the benefits of meal prepping and felt it was an underutilized tool. There were a lot of people like me who work out regularly but couldn’t lose weight. The saying that “Abs are made in the kitchen” made more sense than ever; you can’t out-work a bad diet.
After only 3.5 months, I successfully lost 2.5 pant sizes around my waist and lost thirteen percent overall body fat. I had to share this with the world, if it could work this well for me it certainly could work for others. I decided to start an Instagram page documenting what I was eating and sharing the results I was getting.
Being alert to pop-culture trends in 2015, the word “fleek” became popular slang for “really good looking.” I used that in the main company name Meal Prep On Fleek (MPOF), or in layman’s terms, “Really Good Looking Meal Prep Recipes.” Keeping up with market demands is important, and the name may eventually change along with the company, but the ideas remain the same—I don’t let that kind of thing stop me from making progress.
By 2016, within my first year of having the online meal prep recipe business, I already had over 100,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram. In 2017, I dedicated my website to building the business and promoting free meal prepping recipes for the world. This business model also kept me from having to have large inventory, storage, or dealing with lots of deliverables.
JG: Were you intimidated to start your business? What was your thought process?
Nick: No, you just have to go for it and do it. Learn along the way and get it done; by waiting you already lose opportunity. I let my previous experiences as an entrepreneur and as a standard employee help me. I was on a dedicated mission to walk people through the meal prepping cycle, because if they don’t first realize the problem they won’t accept the solution.
With apps and websites today like QuickBooks and LegalZoom, it’s easier to get started with far less intimidation because they essentially handle most of the tax and legal work for you. I just wish the thirty-plus percent taxes could be avoided so I could grow my business faster! Businesses of all sorts have to deal with these things, though; don’t let it stop you from starting your entrepreneurial ventures.
JG: If you were to give advice to people who want to start a career as an entrepreneur, what would be your advice?
Nick: Don’t be scared, just go for it, even if it starts out as a side project to become something full-time later. Keep learning because you might be able to use that or it may directly lead to an entrepreneurial path. Don’t let your minor losses mean your ultimate defeat. If you have a personal brand in the media space, you are the product, meaning your branding and marketing is important. Find unique solutions to unique problems and know who you are serving. The ultimate value of your business is contingent on the size of the problems you are able to solve. A successful entrepreneur solves problems over and over. As you gain traction, ensure that you are constantly building influence through connections as the expert you are, and make dedicated time every day specifically for your business. Remember: failure has many open loose paths, but the path to success requires self-discipline, diligence, and objective measures.