So here’s what I’ve been agonizing over for the past couple of days: how to generate income until we get funded. As you’ll note in my “About” section, I am currently living off the good graces of my sister (see her blog here) and my brother-in-law. While it’s wonderful living with them, at some point in the not-so-distant future, I need to find my own place and have my own life again. How does an entrepreneur do that if they are devoting 24/7 (practically) to their start-up and their start-up generates no revenue and isn’t yet funded? Something’s gotta give.
So…what gives? Do I give up my time or my lifestyle? Do I compromise on medical insurance to have flexibility or do I take a day job to maximize the paycheck and security (and have extra cash to put back into the business?) Do I give up income entirely for another couple months and move to Florida to live with my parents? Probably not. I have been agonizing over whether or not to apply to ‘real jobs,’ what kind of real jobs to apply to (such that they don’t demand all of my time and soul), and how to afford rent/living expenses for “just another couple months.” But there’s the rub (as wise dad pointed out) – “just another couple months” might not be good enough.
“Just another couple months” is based on the assumption that there is funding on the horizon. This is part I of the entrepreneur’s curse: optimism. I mean, I’m not stupid or egotistical (I try not to be, at least), and I therefore recognize that there is a chance (not that small either) that we may not get funded. But I certainly don’t make plans around that chance… I am the ever-optimist, ever-buoyant entrepreneur! Of course I will get funded within my expected timeline, of course myChef will be a huge success, and of course, it will all be worth it. Reality check scenario: we don’t get funded this year, we don’t get lots of traffic, December rolls around, and there I am without a steady paycheck, benefits or stability. I may be an MBA, but looking for jobs around Christmas when all the other MBAs are in high-gear recruiting mode just doesn’t seem like the best strategy (again, wise dad and wise boyfriend pointed this out to not-so-wise me).
So let’s discuss runway, briefly. How much money do you have to ‘stay in business?’ In my case, I was lucky enough (and , as mentioned in previous post), persistent enough, to receive enough capital from friends and family to see us through what we’ll call Phase I of our company. That phase I does not include supporting Katie and I – we’re each on our own for that. Now, in the absence of a sugar daddy, I turned to my family for yet additional support. So, I extended my personal runway and ability to dedicate time to myChef to: full-time for 3 months. The brilliant plan was that the consulting firm that had verbally given me an offer would staff me on a project by the fall (I’d get to work remotely from them, and therefore have flexibility), and I would be able to do both jobs as once without compromising on anything (except the amount of free time I have).
Ha. Who was I kidding? Dad (again…), knew and warned me that a verbal offer wasn’t good enough. So here I am, unstaffed, working full-time on myChef, eating up my (measly) savings, all without any better sense of when I’ll get funded. So far the projected timeline still seems realistic, but it’s still just a projected timeline. It all depends on the development schedule, the business plan, etc.
So, I explored other ways to extend my runway beyond August: applied for an entrepreneurial grant, sought out other remote consulting positions (totally took a shot in the dark and asked a firm if they are hiring even though they had nothing posted on their site…lo and behold, I have a second round interview on Friday – that is what I mean by persistence), and, now, (heavy sigh), for ‘real jobs.’ We’ll see what comes through, but if I’m going to stay sane through this start-up stuff, I’ve got to get back on my own two feet, with or without funding. And I’ll continue to work hard on myChef in any scenario – with personal finances of less concern, my free time will be guiltlessly devoted to myChef. The only people that will suffer are my friends, my boyfriend, and, well, maybe me! That’s part II of the entrepreneur’s curse: entrepreneurs don’t give up. This is good (for business) and sometimes bad (for personal life, health and sanity).
So here’s the moral of this really long post (and I hate to say it): it’s all about money. And you can’t have money without a product. And you can’t have a product without time. But you can’t have time without money. But lucky for you, you’re an entrepreneur, so you have part III of the entrepreneurial curse: creativity. Maybe there’s no curse on you, after all.