Creating Your First Business Isn't Easy
Today I made a pack of ramen noodles for lunch. The $0.50 packaged kind. While staring at that bowl in my microwave I had this vivid flashback to my teenage years. I remember how I used to make a huge mess in the microwave every time. I’d set it to heat for 3 minutes like the packaging said in a plastic cup that was a little too small and it would boil over. I was too busy and too focused on other things to take the time to heat it one minute at a time.
That reminded me of the raw enthusiasm and grit I had at 18. I knew I didn’t know everything, but I knew one thing: I could do anything I put my mind to. Around that time, the sun was setting on my first business. I was at University and didn’t have time to build enough jewelry. I also knew the business was great while I lived at home, but it couldn’t pay my rent in the real world.
It’s been years since I finished school and my raw enthusiasm went through the high spin cycle a few times in my first few jobs. The work was challenging and I learned so much, but I learned more than anything that I didn’t know half as much as I thought I did.
It took me years to build back up the kind of courage I had when I was 18 years old. I think that is one of the reasons the average age of an entrepreneur is 45 years old. The real world isn’t simple and it can challenge even the most optimistic souls. At the end of the day we all have to pay rent, right?
I had to take baby steps to rebuild my daring. I took several full-time jobs over several years and socked money away, hoping someday I’d find the passion and the courage to try again.
Building A Business One Day at a Time
I started one business that was very safe and kept my day job to test the waters. Slowly but surely, with a lot of support from mentors, friends and family I finally find myself building my dreams.
AutoCFO is a dream business for me. We are bootstrapped (this was always a goal of mine), venture backing can be a wonderful thing, but for me with what I wanted to build in AutoCFO, bootstrapping was the only option.
I wanted to build a company with compassion, with accessible pricing, with a passion for functioning products, products whose quality and customer support sell themselves.
The dollars we earn at AutoCFO go into improved customer tools, customer support time and new amazing features. We don’t have big ad dollars to spend so we rely on word of mouth, on loyal users.
Every person on our team pitches in everywhere. I respond to customer support emails at all hours of the day and night (if I’m awake—I do try to sleep sometimes!). I drag everyone on our team (even part-time contractors) through our new feature and app designs asking for feedback, and they are so wonderfully patient with me. They always say, “but I’m not a finance person,” and to be honest, that makes them more qualified!
Pulling Inspiration From Fellow Business Owners
I still don’t have the daring I had when I was 18 (does anyone actually want that?), but I’ve earned just enough of it back to try again. I’ve also earned the little bit of skepticism that comes with a few grey hairs, which it turns out isn’t the horrible thing I’d thought it would be at 18.
I’m finally ready to challenge the status quo. I think even my 18-year-old self would be proud of me for pushing the envelope on the much-ingrained finance industry.
Through our tool, I’ve met business owners of all ages and every one of them inspires me. The courage to build something from nothing. To brave the tax laws and legal incorporation challenges that come with building something unique in the world. Because some of us just can’t NOT.
Here is to all the brave and daring entrepreneurs out there who have the courage to put themselves and their newborn businesses out there into the world!