Quitting your job is scary. Quitting your job after you just spent your savings buying an apt in NYC is another level of scary. That is exactly what I did when I left my banking job to start my own company. It’s a familiar story. Like most entrepreneurs who leave their day jobs, I encountered the usual criticism. My friends thought I was crazy. I was no longer going to be a good Asian daughter by pursuing an MBA at an Ivy League school. Looking back, that was probably the easiest thing I could have done compared to the day-to-day tasks as an entrepreneur.
After putting in my two-week’s notice, I came up with a game plan on how to bootstrap while building my startup. I knew that I couldn’t take a second job since I needed to focus completely on my company. I have been doing the following things for the past year and, not only have I saved money, but I have also learned how to live the lean way, something any start-up founder should know. Caution: The advice below is not for the weak.
Airbnb is my favorite startup. Their platform allows you to rent out your entire apt, room, sofa, floor, or anything for a guest to crash on. Your guest has a profile with their phone number, social network verifications, brief information, and ratings and reviews so that you know that it is safe. Trust me, it is not as sketchy as it seems. I learned this after watching Mark Suster interview Tracy DiNunzio of Recycled Bride. In that video I learned she made $100K renting her room out. Since I happened to have just bought an apartment, I decided to keep the one I was previously renting and put it up on Airbnb. After a while it turned out to not only be a way to save money, but was also a chance to meet people from all over the world, including from other start-ups entrepreneurs, investors, and partners at top companies.
Time to manage: 3 hours a week
Why it rocks: Living rent free
Skillshare allows you to learn or teach classes. It isn’t as profitable as Airbnb, but doesn’t require much time or skill. I taught a Persian cooking class, and I’m not even Persian! But I know some amazing recipes and made it work. I made new friends that I am still friends with today and are users of my company.
Time to manage: 3 hours a week
Why it rocks: Pays for your meals and networking opportunities
3.) Get groceries and cook
There are so many horror stories of entrepreneurs suffering through a daily dose of ramen or fast food. It’s not good to survive only on ramen and chicken nuggets. Staying healthy helps keep your mind balanced and sharp, and it starts with the food you eat. But being healthy doesn’t mean going to Whole Foods and buying Kale chips and Kombucha. You can be healthy for cheap. Shopping for groceries in Chinatown and Trader Joe’s is the half price compared to going to Whole Foods or other groceries stores. It really doesn’t take that much time to make a sandwich, pasta, salad, or veggie fried rice. All you need to do is plan ahead. Say no to ramen!
Time to manage: 6 hours a week for 3 meals a day
Why it rocks: Less chance of getting sick & eat more for less
4.) Cutback on shit you don’t need
If you were working a 9 to 5 job, chances are you were living a comfortable life with some discretionary income. Get ready for a bumpy ride ahead! Eliminate the luxury items. Do you really need to pay $10 a month on a premium version of anything? Keep it simple, but don’t be afraid to keep at least one luxury for you sanity’s sake. Go ahead and renew that gym membership. To keep costs low, try to negotiate a discount or move to a new lower-priced gym. I managed to get my gym membership without an enrollment fee and student discount. It’s a great way to practice your negotiation skills as an entrepreneur. Also, avoid $30 yoga classes; there are donation based studios like Yoga to the People.
Time to manage: Zero
Why it rocks: Pays for more healthy food
5.) Take a break from shopping
Final note to the weak: Don’t go shopping. For anything. Resist the urge to go to sites like Fab, Gilt, or The Fancy (I’m not linking you for a reason). If you need a new shirt or dress for an occasion; buy it, keep the tag, and return it. Times are rough. This was really hard for me. I was so used to getting a steady paycheck for the past 4 years that I would buy things without thinking. I knew I had to be strong. Do I really need another straight cut jean in light purple? No. Unless you are in a fashion startup I think you can suffer for the next year or two with some basic clothing. Sacrifice. It’s part of being an entrepreneur.
Time to manage: None
Why it rocks: Saves time and money for the essentials
Nurul Yahya is one of the Co-Founders at Fiestah. Fiestah is an event planning marketplace that helps everyday people easily get the things for their events. From birthday parties to hackathons, people simply post what they need and local food trucks, chefs, DJs, photographers and more start bidding to work at the event.
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