Bootstrapping Your Startup

When I first began talking about my startup, I didn’t think that bootstrapping was the answer. I had always been used to making a salary, getting my health insurance covered, having an office, basically buying anything I wanted whenever I wanted because I worked hard for it and deserved it. Well, once I made the leap from full time employment into a full time startup, things dramatically changed. I couldn’t spend time supplementing income because I had to give my undivided attention to my new project. With that, came a lot of stress and financial budgeting.

In a world of sixteen-hour days on your laptop fixing bugs and setting meetings, it’s nice to earn a little extra cash without putting too much of your time into doing so. Here are some of the best ways to make money while you’re building your startup.


1. Become a Zirtual Assistant.

Zirtual is a company based out of San Francisco that provides personal and executive assistance to busy people. If you become a zirtual assistant, you can set your own hours and choose only which jobs fit your schedule.

2. Fulfill requests on Zaarly.

Zaarly allows people to post what they will pay for a task or an item. Sometimes it’s as simple as a ride to the airport for $50. Other times, people are asking for help moving for $500 or a full day wedding photographer for $1,500. Sift through the requests to see which tasks your are able to fulfill.

3. Board a dog. Become a Rover sitter.

Rover was created at Startup Weekend and is a community for dog lovers to connect owners with sitters for home dog stays. So if you love dogs and work from home, you can apply to be a dog sitter in your area.

4. Rent a room out of your house or condo on Airbnb.

If you have a spare room in your place or will be away on vacation for a period of time, consider listing your space on Airbnb.

5. Become a TaskRabbit.

TaskRabbit is similar to Zaarly and Zirtual. People post errands and chores that they want to have done, like buying groceries or moving/packing and the average cost they would pay to have that task accomplished and then certified TaskRabbits will come over and fulfill those requests.

6. Teach a class on Dabble.

Dabble lets you learn, teach and host a one-time affordable class. You can teach what you know and love to a group full of interested students.

7. Become a Ninja or get paid giving advice on Clarity.

LiveNinja is a way to talk with live highly skilled experts via video chat. Clarity is similar but allows business experts to give valuable advice over the phone.

8. Freelance your skills on FreelanceSwitch.

Take a look through the job board on FreelanceSwitch to see if there are any jobs that you could help with. Sometimes it’s a quick blog post that needs written while other times, companies are looking for a freelancer on a major project.

1. Be smart about accounting.

Keeping your financial records maintained from the very start will ensure that you are on track when you start making money. Also make sure that you have a good accountant/CPA to handle your taxes. One of the best ways to reduce costs and expenses in the beginning is by being on top of your taxes and maintaining control. Upsourced Accounting is a firm in Columbus geared specifically to the freelance/startup group.

2. Understaff and consider interns.

There are many students looking for a job in a startup and you might just be the best resource for them to learn and grow.

3. Keep overhead low and outsource.

In the beginning, it is very important to keep the overhead low. You don’t need office space; work from home or coffee shops. When you’re thinking about hiring, first consider outsourcing and then check sites like Elance or oDesk for qualified candidates to do the project virtually.  If you have any quick jobs or surveys to test, give Fivver a try.

4. Negotiate.

Don’t underestimate the power of negotiation. Try asking for discounts on products if you feel that you may not use all of the features. Or perhaps explain that you are just a startup and unable to make those larger payments but will work out an arrangement to refer more clients.

5. Use free web tools.

There are many free tools out there to help you start a company. Take advantage of them. I highlight a few of them in this post: Startup Tools and Must Haves. 

Happy bootstrapping!

Juice Awareness

Ever since my juice cleanse last summer, I’ve made juicing a big part of my life. I try to replace one meal per day with juice and sometimes even two. This is quite difficult when traveling because most cities don’t have juice bars but locally, there are a few different options to get juice.

  1. Grocery Store – In Columbus, Market District and EarthFare will juice your ingredients for you while you shop. You will most likely have to freeze this juice when you get home to make sure it stays fresh but it is nice because you don’t have to clean up after.
  2. Farmers’ Markets + Home Juicer – This is the best choice, in my opinion  You can purchase a juicer (ranging in price from $100-500) but then you have it when you want it! I juice in the morning before the gym, sometimes at lunch or even the night before. Having juice on hand is the easiest way to make it a lifestyle.
  3. Juice Cleanses to Order – This is the most expensive route but you don’t have a mess to clean and the recipes are already determined for you. In this previous juice post, I link to several online juicing options.

The benefits of juicing are out of this world! Just to name a few…

  • promotes weight loss
  • energizes mind and body
  • appetite and portion control
  • helps lower blood pressure
  • strengthens the immune system
  • eliminates lead in the body
  • helps prevent cancer
  • promotes strong bones
  • cleanses and purifies the blood
  • reduces risk of heart disease or stroke
  • detoxifies the entire body
  • promote brain health in older adults

I will be posting photos and recipes to help create awareness in hopes that others will join me on my juice journey. If you have any questions about juicing or would like me to make you a glass to try it out, just write me a message. I’d love to hear from you.

Make Life More Valuable: Part II

My first post, Make Life More Valuable: Part I was such a hit that I decided to make it a quarterly feature.


Last summer when I was in Seattle, I decided on a whim, to climb Mount Si and ever since, I can’t stop thinking about the feeling I had when summiting the mountain. When everything was different. When I reached the peak and felt rocks crumbling down below my feet as I climbed higher and higher through the haystack. When I watched the clouds circle the mountain and was left with a view of the world five-thousand feet below me. That moment when I remembered what I was climbing for. Without challenge, life would feel like every other day on the ground.


Have you ever been upset in a moment or stuck on a problem that you just can’t seem to find a way to look at it on the outside, no matter what you do? You keep digging yourself deeper and deeper into the situation in your mind that you have now let this one little worry control your entire world. Well, the only way to really gain control of your emotions is to change the pattern. When you get upset, if you always go to the same place, listen to the same music, think the same thoughts, just stop! Get up, go for a run, act goofy, shake it off, (seriously). No one is watching but you. Get yourself out of the funk and change the pattern. I’m telling you, it’ll help you snap back into reality and let you see the problem from another point of view to find a meaningful solution.


I love this tweet I saw last week “Stop the Glorification of Busy”. The thing is, we can all be busy… drowning in work… so overwhelmed with things to do… etc. But by working SMARTER you can accomplish much more on that to-do list. You just need to be disciplined and set realistic goals. Being an entrepreneur definitely isn’t for everyone. Some people need structure set by someone else. And that’s fine. But if you are willing to make the jump, be sure you know how to manage your time efficiently to get the most out of your work days. Working hard isn’t hard enough if you aren’t working smart.


We spend so much time working to become “successful” “wealthy” or “rich”. We spend even more time trying to figure out what those terms mean to us and how to get there. But what about all of the time in-between? Just be. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life and just simply be. A cup of hot coffee on a rainy day, a walk around the park with my happy Golden, a phone call with my dad for no reason… these are the type of simple pleasures that makes my life more valuable.


The key to a rich life is to invest in yourself. By eating well, sleeping well and exercising often you will be much more productive with work and have a stronger sense of balance. Another important step to investing in yourself is to continue learning and building your knowledge base. I consume tons of information every day by reading books, articles and blog posts or listening to podcasts and TED talks from powerful thought leaders. I find that spending my time and money on growing my personal skills will always be beneficial.


We get so caught up in working out and being hard on ourselves that we deserve to indulgence every now and again. My secret indulgence is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams on a hot summer night. Who am I kidding? Jeni’s at any time is delicious.  I even had a little yesterday! [double-toasted coconut + banana cajeta…mmmm].

What are some of your personal tips or tricks on how to make life more valuable?

Playlist: Back to the Grind

Whether you’re sitting in a coffeeshop working on your startup or down at the gym working on your #bikinibody, this playlist is sure to pump you up and get you motivated just like a big cup of hot French pressed coffee.

Listen to it on Songza here.



Comfortable with Uncertainty

Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty

It was five months ago exactly when I showed up in Chicago for my first real business meeting about my new startup idea. The weekend prior was rainy, so naturally, I spent 28 hours creating my initial business plan and pitch deck in my own little startup-weekend bedroom. I felt prepared, excited and nervous as I presented to a friend of a friend in hopes of getting honest feedback and gaining valuable connections.

As soon as I was finished, he gave me his thoughts and I couldn’t have been more appreciative and willing to listen. “This timeline is incredibly optimistic. You should consider another logo. A board of advisors would be a good idea. You need to bootstrap your costs. Investors what to see a credible team.”

But the thing that really hit home was when he said that he had interviewed hundreds of startup founders and the one thing that all of the successful founders had in common was their comfort level with ambiguity. As he analyzed my perfectly prepared binder with labeled tabs and spreadsheets of optimistic sales, he asked how I felt about ambiguity. At the time, I wasn’t really sure. All of my decisions up until that point, were made because I wanted them that way, not because something hadn’t worked out as planned.

As time has gone by, I’ve discovered that I will never be completely prepared for this lifestyle. I will never know exactly what to do or have the answers to every question. Each person I meet with will always give mixed advice and opinions that I have to take with a grain of salt and ultimately make the right (and sometimes wrong) decisions in an effort to keep pushing forward. I will always have to carve out a percentage of my day to learn, read, listen and grow.

But now, at least I know that my level of comfort with uncertainty is much higher than when I started. I jumped. Three short months ago. I jumped with complete passion and ambition to make this idea a reality.

This roller coaster is just getting started but it’s all about that moment at the top when you can see above everything else, feel the cool breeze on your face with a knot in your stomach and excitement for the next wave of momentum to keep you going.

Let’s Take Notes

Blogs and books from experienced entrepreneurs are really the best way to start learning. So, if you have the desire to pursue a startup idea but don’t know where to begin, here are a few resources to help.

  • Both Sides of the Table – Startup Advice – Mark Suster is a two time entrepreneur that turned VC. He blogs about being both the entrepreneur and the VC and provides very valuable information.
  • Venture Hacks – Although it hasn’t had much progress lately, this blog is full of amazing advice from seasoned founders and investors.
  • On Startups – This blog provides insightful information for entrepreneurs from “14 Ways to be a Great Startup CEO” to “How to Get Media Coverage for Your Startup”
  • Technori – Based out of Chicago, this blog features interviews with startup founders as well as advice and tips relating to technology, business and entrepreneurship in general.
  • Steve Blank Startup Tools – This is an absolute list of every resource for you to use at any stage of your startup journey. Seriously, this could take you months to get through but it would be well worth the time.

And lastly, I’ve provided a few prior blog posts with great value:

As always, keep moving forward but don’t forget to enjoy the ride.