Monday Motivation from Nan Harris, Founder at WaterStop Carts
Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.
We sat down with Nan Harris, Founder at WaterStop Carts, a socially responsible, for-profit company based on the simple proposition that people around the world need safe, accessible and affordable water sources. Nan discusses the worldwide water crisis, the current water industry, and her motivation to make water available to the public through their mobile water-carts.
What inspired you to start your business?
The plastic waste of bottled water in our oceans and waterways has always bothered me and the impossibility of refilling a reusable water bottle in cities has always been an irritant. One day I was sitting in Harold Square waiting for a friend to go to a movie. I had purchased a bottle of water from one of the food trucks. I finished the bottle and started thinking I should buy another one because it would be cheaper at the truck then in the movie theater. It occurred to me that the food trucks should have a mobile water refill station. It would bring people back to them possibly for another purchase, create customer loyalty and generate the best kind of word of mouth advertising for them. My immediate thought was that it was such an obvious idea that it must have been done! But the idea stayed with me and after an extensive search, I was stunned that it hadn’t been done yet. I started doing some research and became aware of the worldwide crisis of clean water availability. But what do I know about water was the thought that kept running through my mind.
I was on a flight to the west coast and was chatting with a man seated next to me, a lawyer from LA. He asked what I did and I explained I was thinking about starting a company that produced mobile water carts, but that I didn’t know anything about water. He offered an introduction to a friend and client that had designed the water for both Starbucks and Pete’s Coffee. My first lesson was that water is designed to have a consistent taste! One introduction led to another introduction and before I knew it, I had a water engineer who had designed water systems around the world, designing a mobile cart for me. It was as if it was meant to be!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
So many challenges! But I would say that because “business” is not my background it takes me twice as long to realize the next step. But because I’ve been an independent contractor developing projects in the Entertainment Industry for over 30 years, I had developed 3 working aphorisms:
1) It takes twice as much money as you think,
2) it takes 3 times as long as you think, and
3) it’s never easy!
What’s been the greatest reward?
Absolutely it’s been the response of people to the idea and their willingness to help with any introductions they may have. Hopefully, it will also be financial soon.
What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
Water is essential to life – we can live longer without food than we can without water! I believe the distribution of water has been taken over by bottling corporations and they are making major dollars on selling this essential to life. I understand the need to make water available when you don’t have access to clean water when not by a municipal supply in cities (tap water). But because the taste and quality of water vary greatly around the country and the world, bottled water has filled this void by creating a consistent taste and quality. My intent is to take back our water from corporate distribution and start a new distribution system, owned by small business people, mobile water carts that filter for contaminants and provide the same consistent taste and quality as bottled water. Using sponsorships and digital advertising to generate income instead of “selling” the water will change the equation and put the essential of life back in the hands of people. Our collapsible, reusable water bottle will be sold on the carts, cutting down on plastic pollution.
Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
No doubt about it, it takes belief in what I am doing to get over tough times.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
Patience, tenacity and a sense of humor; be careful of those who offer up help at an extravagant price to the company and your ownership. There are people who talk a good game but can’t come through.
What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
Besides making notes on what I want to accomplish on Sunday night, you may laugh, but I’ve learned that if I wash my hair every Monday morning, I feel refreshed and ready to face the challenges of the week.
For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Lisa Janvrin, Founder and Lead Designer at YouthfulNest, affordable and convenient interior design services that focus on designing nurseries and children’s rooms with your style in mind. Lisa discusses the mompreneur life, designing a flexible career, and loving what she does every step of the way.