Joshua Kruer of Nature Was Here LLC officially formed his business with ZenBusiness in February of 2019. Nature Was Here began when Joshua started thinking about his relationship with nature, no longer in terms of ownership or nature as something to conquer, but how to be a better steward and in many ways a better listener. This approach of active listening has informed the core values of his organization:
1. Compassion : motivated to act from a place of love and kindness, because we are all connected here on Mother Earth
2. Honesty : dedicated to the truth and making the message accessible to all people, regardless of education level
3. Sustainability : focusing on stewardship, not ownership, applying permaculture to environmental and social systems
4. Reconciliation : advocating to restore natural cycles and landscapes while empowering people most affected by climate change
Join us for an interview as we learn more about him and his business journey.
Joshua Kruer of Nature Was Here LLC
Corie: Can you tell us a little bit about you?
Joshua: My name is Joshua and I have started a project called Nature Was Here. I have been working at this for about six or seven years. It’s been a platform for my photography and music primarily, but at this point I’m trying to take it in the direction of direct education aimed at primarily high school and university students.
Corie: Can you tell me more about your business? How did you get started?
Joshua: I first started by working with my photography, playing music, and using the talents that I have. At this juncture I think my message needs to be more direct, so I’m interested in audience participation. I want to get people involved in dialogue with the presentations and lesson plans that I’m working on.
Corie: That’s great! You also have an Etsy store, right?
Joshua: Yeah, I can’t seem to sit still.
Corie: What was the main concept behind your business? What is your big plan?
Joshua: I want to effect change, especially around the issue of climate change, and empower people to have a voice. Eventually, I want to be able to employ a lot of my friends. I have a friends around the country and around the world who are working in biology and other disciplines, and I want to empower them to be able to give presentations and such in their own capacity as is most appropriate to them. So, I design lesson plans that aren’t too rigid and are the sort of material they are able to personalize and feel really passionate about.
Corie: What would you say the main focus of your businesses is? Is it the creation of lesson plans or is it all of these pieces that come together to guide the bigger whole of the business?
Joshua: Primarily I’m focusing on the lesson plans and education materials. I will say that because I wear so many hats and am doing so many different things that it’s kind of like swimming in five directions at the same time.
Corie: I think a lot of business owners feel that way.
Joshua: I’ll inch one project forward with a book idea or something, and then I’ll be really motivated to work on another project when the time is right. It’s really nice for procrastination because I can procrastinate on one thing by being productive on another.
Corie: As a designer I do that, too. Tell me about what you were doing before you started your business.
Joshua: I went to university for Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University, and I was in the honors college with an international business group. I really cherished my experiences there, especially being able to travel internationally with the program. It really dawned on me how having debt would be prohibitive to starting a business, especially a non-bankruptable debt, so I eventually left. I decided that I could take charge of my own education through the library and other resources. Since then, I’ve done a lot of things to sustain myself, sales, customer service, driving for rideshares, walking dogs.
Corie: What was your main inspiration to get focused on your business?
Joshua: It was around 2012 when I watched a documentary called Samsara.
Corie: I love that movie!
Joshua: Oh, you’ve seen it?
Corie: Yes, meditative journey around the world, right?
Joshua: Yes! For the uninitiated, it’s a beautiful and honest look at the most stunning grandeur of nature, but it also contrasts that with our society’s relationship with nature. That inspired me to formally incorporate as an LLC so that I’m able to work at a larger scale. I like to work on a small-scale grassroots level, but I think it’s important to spread these messages in the most successful way possible and to reach as many people as I can.
Corie: That’s great. When you first started your business, what were the biggest challenges that you faced?
Joshua: Funding and not having enough time, but I think either of those can really be resolved. Anyone can make the time with a 30-minute window here and there. For me, it was staying focused with such a large and heavy topic. It’s hard to stay motivated and feel like I can effect change and empower other people to effect change. It is a challenge to focus on the truth but also focus on the solutions. I’m trying to be solution focused.
Corie: Do you have different challenges now while you are running the business?
Joshua: Yes. Delegation of tasks is really important, but I’m not really good at it. I’m quite meticulous, but also I’m also not good with money, which is obviously very important. So when seeking grants and other sorts of funding, being able to delegate and having the humility to ask for help. Too often I think my weakness is wanting to do it all myself.
Corie: I think a lot of entrepreneurs have that same feeling, because it all falls on you. If you want to do something, it’s all up to yourself. Do you feel that way as well?
Joshua: Yeah, trusting other people to carry on the mission. Once the core values are established, you can rally people around those values and trust that they will carry that on.
Corie: How did you find out about ZenBusiness?
Joshua: I was searching on Google. Just like any millennial, the Internet is one of my most precious resources, so I was researching on the Internet and it seemed like the best option of those available. So far it turns out that it is.
Corie: That’s great. Was there anything that you really loved about ZenBusiness when you used our platform?
Joshua: Yes. I really value genuine relationships when it comes to business, especially after my travels with the university, seeing the way people in Mexico do business. For example, talking over a meal. When I first researched ZenBusiness, I had inquired about using the website chat that was available, and, to my surprise, someone actually responded with a very informative response. That’s what really got me interested.
Corie: You liked our soft touch and the chat being available on the site? I’m glad to hear it! I know sometimes you go to a website, you click the chat button, and then no one ever responds. We try to be really good about that. We’ve been putting a lot of our time into keeping up with them. Do you have any advice you want to give other entrepreneurs, maybe people who are thinking of doing similar projects to yours?
Joshua: Sure. I really like the analogy to gardening. A lot of work goes into planting something. When you start growing a seed, it’s analogous to starting a project. Before it’s realized, it must be grown and cared for before the harvest. It is important to plant a lot of seeds, but also don’t spread yourself too thin. As a gardener you may only need one or two plants, but they begin by growing many seeds and choosing the most prominent ones to keep growing. I’ve had many ideas over the last six or seven years since leaving university, but this is the one that I’m most passionate about, and I find it easy to work with. There are other things that perhaps could have made money, but that’s not my primary motivator. Nature Was Here is what I’m focusing all my energy on.
Corie: Very pure, I like it. For your business, what’s next?
Joshua: Next is definitely some fundraising. I need to get a portable projector. I want to be able to bring all the materials I need to any location to give a presentation. I also need to start giving more presentations. It can be kind of difficult sometimes because with grant funding they want to see proof of concepts, but in order to get proof of concept, that requires funding.
Corie: And time, and energy!
Joshua: I need to start giving more presentations and get that proof of concept before seeking grants or fiscal sponsorship.
Corie: How can people get involved with your business and help you?
Joshua: You can find Nature Was Here on Instagram, Facebook, and also naturewashere.com. As the organization grows, we are looking for teachers around the country to help in this mission, to empower people who care, to have a choice, and to enact change in their community. We are looking for collaborators, and you can find Nature Was Here on the Internet.
Corie: Is there anything else you want to share with us?
Joshua: I encourage people to look at ways in which we can organize together. I think it’s really important that we talk to our neighbors in order to make this world a better place. It starts with a dialogue; a conversation over good food helps. So host a potluck, wave to your neighbors, start a garden, start a food share. These are simple and direct processes. Also, I would say call your mom. That’s important.
Corie: I love it. Thank you so much for joining me today. Once again, this was Joshua from Nature Was Here, and, as he said, you can hit him up on Instagram or on the Internet. Thank you so much for joining me today!
Joshua: All right, thank you.
This interview was edited for clarity, readability, and space. For complete content, please listen to the included podcast.
Find Nature Was Here