You’ve been given a chance to make a difference in the world, a unique opportunity to see through your God-given purpose. Where will you begin? Whether your dream is to own a global enterprise or launch the next neighborhood brand, you face the same obstacles and feel the same apprehensions as other new business owners. You’re stuck, you’re overwhelmed, perhaps you’re not even convinced you can make this dream a reality. But you can. You just need the right framework to launch a profitable business that matters. In Launch With God, Zach is sharing his story of success and giving you the tools that you need to partner with God, launch your product, and live out your purpose with meaning and intention.
Welcome to Author Hour listeners, Benji Block here, and I’m thrilled to be joined today by Zach Windahl. He is the author of a new book just released called Launch with God: How to Build a Business That Matters and Live Out Your God-Given Purpose. Zach, welcome to Author Hour.
Zach Windahl: Benji, thank you so much man, I’m so happy to be here.
Benji Block: Zach and I were kind of laughing before we hit record on this because several years back, I interviewed Zach for my own project. Stayed connected on social media and fast-forward a few years and small world, but we’re here on Author Hour to discuss your new book.
Zach Windahl: I couldn’t even believe it, man, what a small world! That was the craziest email to get from you when I found out that it was going to be you on this. I’m super excited for today, I’m super excited to be here, chatting with you, and catching up a little bit. I feel like we’re old-time friends here.
Benji Block: That’s awesome. For those who are unfamiliar with you, Zach, and with your work, just give a little bio. Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are these days?
Zach Windahl: Totally. I run a company called The Brand Sunday. We create resources to help Christians grow in their faith to connect with God and to really understand the Bible better. Most of our tools aren’t extremely in-depth, they’re more holding your hand to help you create habits to journey on in your faith. I live down in Miami, Florida with my wife, we have a little mini Bernedoodle called Nyla. Life is good, man, absolutely.
Super excited to get this project released. I’ve had so many people for years and years asking me to help them create their businesses, so this project was a culmination of all my thoughts that I’m able to share with others to help them launch a business that’s going to impact the world in some way.
Benji Block: That’s incredible. Clearly, the book [talks about] building business, bringing faith, and this idea of purpose into that. Where does that mix of business and faith come from for you? And then the second part to that question, who are you hoping picks up this book?
Zach Windahl: Yeah, totally. It’s funny because I’ve always been an entrepreneur, ever since I was actually a little kid. It really wasn’t until I aligned my purpose with a product that I was able to build a successful business for myself that’s reached hundreds of thousands of people. I was writing my first book—[the first book] that we created was called The Bible Study. It sold over a quarter-million copies all independently.
Really wild actually because I wrote this in my parent’s basement and I have just had to figure things out as I’ve gone. It wasn’t done through a major publisher, it wasn’t done the typical process at all. We’ve learned how to build a business, build a team, kind of be a little scrappy with it because we didn’t have a budget that a normal large organization would have.
For us, it was like, “Okay, we have this product that we know is going to help so many people’s lives. Now, we’ve got to figure out how to get into their hands actually.” We’ve developed a machine over the last three years. Now we have five people, full-time staff and about 25 people that are freelancers. It’s just grown and it continues to scale year after year. That alone is insane to me, just to see how many people it’s been affecting.
When it comes to this project, man! We really feel like Christians are called to impact the world in a positive way, whether that’s at their job, whether that’s with their friend group. Or maybe it is starting their own business. Maybe it’s a side hustle to start and then it turns into something that they live off in the future. With this book precisely, a lot of people don’t know where to go. They don’t know how to start a business. They have this dream in their heart, they have this idea that they feel like God has given them. We created a framework to help them launch a profitable business that actually impacts the world in a positive way and helps them no longer be stuck trying to figure it out. We walk them through the whole process; to go from your big idea to actually getting it launched and then living out your God-given purpose. Whether that’s through a clothing line, or a coffee shop, or a global enterprise, it’s really up to the reader.
Benji Block: It’s a big goal to walk people through that process but you’ve done a great job. I want to take the next few minutes and just cover some of the main themes of the book and let’s start here. You talk about God being creative. You say, “God is creative, there is nothing more God-like than trying to put order and design into chaos.”
For entrepreneurs and dreamers— we do similarly— we’re looking to make and design and develop where there’s some problem or chaos or lack. Talk to me about the correlation you see and how your Christian faith has infused into your entrepreneurial dreams and visions and creative pursuits How does that work together?
Zach Windahl: All throughout the Bible, we see God speaking things into existence, creating order from that chaos. As an entrepreneur, we have all these ideas running through our minds and so I put together a framework to help you throw all your ideas out onto a board. We call it the shotgun approach. Throwing out all your ideas, all your thoughts and really organizing them in a way that’s going to be successful for a business.
I mean, with any business we find a problem and then we solve that problem by creating some sort of solution that’s actually going to help people. That’s really a huge part of the process that we walk people through. Looking for something, looking for that chaos, looking for that problem in the world, and then helping them develop a solution that is going to turn into something that’s profitable.
Confused About Where to Start? Look To Your Passions
Benji Block: If we think about God’s story as existing between book covers— as I saw you wrote— we think about the Bible and we think, “Man, God did these things back then, back there. It was for a long time ago.” You can kind of get the sense that we’re just going to hang out, right? Instead of saying, “I’m going to partner with God. You point out, God partners with creative, entrepreneurial individuals to guide humanity back to Him. That’s how you put it. How do you see that playing itself out here and now and not just back there, back then, in between the book covers?
Zach Windahl: For sure. A big part of my faith is that I believe that God still does speak to us today. He’s not a silent, distant God but he actually wants to have a relationship with all of us. So, the fact that we can have that, the fact that He does still speak to us today, learning to hear His voice, learning to hear what He has to say, and knowing His heart towards humanity, towards culture, I really think that we can grasp that and create something that will impact the world for the greater good, for His kingdom.
Benji Block: You talk a lot about purpose and let’s say, someone’s listening and they’re going, “Hey, super awesome, Zach. You have this purpose that you feel. That you started these brands, you have these missions, this idea. I don’t sense that divine purpose.” Where would you invite people to start? What might finding divine purpose look like and how do you start to develop your big idea?
Zach Windahl: Yeah, I think for a lot of people, it may not be a voice from heaven. I don’t hear God’s audible voice personally— it’s amazing if somebody does but most of us do not. The fact that God has put different talents in our lives, he’s put different passions in our lives, I think that’s definitely the place to start. To look at those, to see, What are you good at? What do people consistently encourage you in? What are you passionate about? What is something that God has put in your heart that makes you want to change the world and create a whole new place? Starting there is the number one step for me, I think.
Benji Block: One of the things that I thought was interesting reading was [the story about] you and your friend Tiago, that actually it was his dream but you kind of jumped in. Tell that story because I think it’s important and maybe people don’t know where to start. Other people have dreams that we could jump in and be a part of. I loved that you just were like, “Hey, that’s a cool idea, I’m going to jump into this.” Tell the story of Tiago and maybe some of the main takeaways from that experience.
Zach Windahl: Yeah. Often, I have friends that have some incredible ideas that may be way cooler than something that I would ever do and so if you’re in that spot today, jump in and help your friends out. They can’t do everything alone, they need a number two at the company. They need somebody to help them make their dream a reality. From that experience, you’re going to also learn more than you would any other way just by having that firsthand experience.
What Benji is talking about is, my friend Tiago, he’s an artist. He’s an incredible street artist and fine artist from Brazil and he was commissioned to go out and transform an old abandoned church into an art installation that would be revitalized to actually be a church in the area.
One day, we were sitting at lunch and you started telling me about this project that he had coming up and I immediately told him, “I don’t care if I’m paying for my plane ticket and my housing and everything that goes into this, I am joining you. I’m helping you. I want to be a part of this. I want to see your dreams coming to fruition because from that experience, it’s obviously going to change my life too.”
We have friends in our lives for a reason to help support each other’s dreams, to help support each other’s purpose and so why not chase after it together? There is no competition with friendships, it is all about helping each other push forward and grow into the best version of ourselves.
Benji Block: You know, entrepreneurship, starting businesses is a pretty hot topic right now. I think a lot of people have this idea of starting something, being in charge—so this book hits at a good time, right? Where people are like, “Man, it would be so cool to start something, grow something.” I heard someone say one time it took him 17 years to become an overnight success.
Zach Windahl: Yes, I love that.
Benji Block: The truth is that there are so many setbacks and obstacles that people just don’t see. What are the common setbacks that you see and people maybe come to you with like, “Hey, I have this big idea but here is this big obstacle in my way”? And then what are the ones that have sort of been in your way? What are some of those big sort of hurdles that you’ve had to overcome in your journey?
Zach Windahl: One of the biggest things is people get so overwhelmed just thinking about it. They’re like, “Man, I have this huge goal and I don’t know where to start.” One of the greatest life lessons that I was ever taught was how to reverse engineer my goals. If I want to finish something in six months, okay, what do I need to do every single month to get there? Then when you have each month laid out, what do you have to do every week to get there? Then break that down into days. As you’re slowly chipping away day by day over time, every week, every month, you’re eventually going to hit your goal. So, that’s almost one of the biggest things that I am asked from people that are starting a business, “Where do I start?” And it really is just that one step at a time. One thing every single day and overtime is going to culminate into something so much bigger.
Benji Block: What have been some of the obstacles as you’ve gotten your projects off the ground that you find? Are they mental issues? Is it fear? What are some of the things that you’ve seen?
Zach Windahl: I think most of it has actually been physical things. For instance— which is an amazing thing— we would end up selling out. We would order a thousand copies of my first book, we would sell out and then we would be stuck having to essentially presale for the next order because it might take three months to get the next order in stock. Really, at the end of the day, it was all a liquid cash issue, not being able to afford 10,000 or 20,000 or 100,000 copies of my books at once.
As I was saying, we were so scrappy out of the get-go, we started with just a Kickstarter campaign in July of 2017. We ended up raising $24,000 in pre-orders in 30 days and that was enough to help us get the first thousand orders printed. But from there, it was figuring it out on our own, whether it was putting orders on a credit card and then paying it off when the books came in… It’s always been a cash issue but the nicest thing about it is we have maintained ownership of that company. We were able to get by pretty lean because of it.
There are so many little things like that that you may not expect out of the gate but you’re going to learn from it, you’re going to grow from it, it’s going to keep you rugged and help your personal machine grow into something that you wouldn’t be able to get if you were just given a bunch of money out of the gate.
Turning Failure Into Lessons
Benji Block: What do you think are some of the common characteristics that you see in successful entrepreneurs, business leaders? You are in that Christian space as well, if you want to speak to that but, what are some of those common characteristics you see?
Zach Windahl: For sure. Definitely just a drive. So, if you get knocked down seven times, you are going to continue to get back up. Often people will get really frustrated if they fail right away and you need to know that you’re probably going to fail a lot right away and that’s okay because, from every single failure, you’re going to learn from it. I was working on four or five businesses— actually even more than that in my early 20s— and they all failed to what I expected them to be but from every single one of them, I learned from it. From the first successful people, I really see a drive to continue going even if you do fail and hit a bunch of roadblocks.
Another thing is to be organized with your schedule and dedicated every single day. Like I was saying with doing one small thing a day is going to add up so much over time. Maybe that means that you need to say no to some stuff. One thing that I learned over the last few years was to really say no to things that weren’t in line with my goals and my dreams and things that were important to me. If something doesn’t have to do with my family or my business or impacting others in a positive way then it’s okay to say no to that. I think a lot of us, at least younger people, really experience a lot of FOMO or fear of missing out on things that are happening, especially living in a bigger city. Knowing that it’s okay to say no, saying yes to the right things and being dedicated to where you actually want to be is huge. That may mean you don’t watch the Netflix show that everybody is talking about or maybe you aren’t out for every single game with people.
For me, I actually spent six years where I didn’t go on vacation. I didn’t take one day off because I was working a full-time job as I was trying to create a business and that alone was huge for me but it also meant that the only time that I hung out with people was during meals because I have to eat and they have to eat, so that was the only time that I would see people but other than that I was working. We have so much more time than a lot of us like to realize. Even if you are working a full-time job, you’re working 60 hours a week, y most people still have time every night to do at least one thing towards their goal that will add up something so much greater later on.
Benji Block: Well, for those that are hearing this and maybe they are several steps down the path let’s say. They own their own business, they are processing, growing their team— you spend some of the later chapters in the book talking about that: staying the course and growth— you’ve seen some level of success, Zach. What has been vital to your continued expansion? What would you say to those [that are] kind of in that similar space?
Zach Windahl: Definitely hiring the right people. Hiring people that are going to bring money into the business. I think one of the biggest things for us was really getting alongside a team that knew social media ads more than your nephew might, but a team that is actually dedicated to knowing and understanding and AB testing your website and creating ads.
For me, personally, we run a direct-to-consumer brand so we don’t really do much wholesale or anything like that. That is really where our space has been in; creating ads, creating content that is going to help people, and then from there, be able to sell a product to them, which ends up being any of our products of the brand Sunday. Yeah man, one of the biggest things is knowing who to hire and when to hire them so that you aren’t wasting your money on things that aren’t going to be bringing in revenue right away. And then, later on, you can add in other people.
Benji Block: Yeah, what is the hardest part to manage as it grows? There is obviously a lot of things that happen in startup culture and you have to be so fast-paced to move quick. A lot of times, you then hear stories where you get years down the road and the culture that got you there won’t take you to the next space you want to go. What’s that been like for you, that journey?
Zach Windahl: That’s been huge. We hired a COO to take over all of our day-to-day operations and to really build our culture. We hired them last year because we did hit a spot where if I wanted to spend my time figuring out what our next projects are going to be and really focus on product development, then I wasn’t going to be able to run the day-to-day operations of the company and so that alone has changed.
We have people all over the country right now for our business. We’re in California, Minnesota, Miami, and actually in Canada as well. So, just making sure that you’re on top of everybody that you’re continually checking in, focusing on that, building that culture but then also allowing people free reign to chase after what they believe is best, what they can do, and really trusting those employees. That’s where we’ve been at this year is hiring the right people and allowing them to do their job instead of telling them how to do their job better. Trusting them because they’re probably experts in that field—and that also goes back to hiring the right people. So, it all comes together there.
Benji Block: If readers of Launch With God take away one or two things from the book— kind of high-level concepts. When they think of the book this is what they think of— what do you hope those things are, Zach?
Zach Windahl: Yeah, I would hope that as a Christian, you don’t have to be a pastor. That’s not the ultimate goal for a Christian. You can impact the world in incredible ways by creating your own business. It’s okay to chase after your business ideas. For some reason, a lot of people don’t think it is, which is wild to me. It’s okay to chase after your business ideas and that you are here to impact the world in a positive way so you might as well live out that purpose alongside God.
Benji Block: That’s great. So, besides checking out this book, where can people find you online and the products we’ve talked about?
Zach Windahl: Absolutely. You’ll be able to go to my website, zachwindahl.com. You can go to The Brand Sunday’s website at thebrandsunday.com, and then you can follow us on Instagram @zachwindahl and @thebrandsunday.
Benji Block: Incredible. Well, Zach, it’s been an honor to reconnect, to discuss the book. Thanks for taking some time to speak with us today and best of wishes as this resource gets out into the world.
Zach Windahl: Thank you so much man, I really appreciate you.
Benji Block: Awesome, man. That was great.