Budget Living: Inspiration From Successful Founders

Budget Living

Budget living can be hard. Recently I came across the story of Sophia Amoruso. She started a multi-million dollar business after dumpster diving for money. Inspired by her story I started researching other successful entrepreneur’s back stories. I found some amazing nuggets of resourcefulness.

The companies you’ve heard of. But you haven’t heard of these crazy experiences their founders went through while living on a tight budget.

Lesson 1: Frugality

Before starting one of the largest companies of all time, he was a 19 year old student at Reeds college.

He couldn’t justify the expensive tuition, so he only stayed a semester then dropped out.

He continued to audit courses though, and claims a calligraphy played a large influence on the designs of his future company.

While taking classes at Reeds College he maintained a habit of frugality. He deposited bottles to earn extra money. And more impressively, would walk 7 miles across town to get a good free meal from an Hare Krishna temple. The man continually sought spiritual enlightenment and traveled throughout India. Later becoming a serial entrepreneur.

Eventually he started a tech company selling computers, and later iPhones. And it would go on to be the most valuable company of all time.

But Steve Jobs was not always a successful founder. First he was a broke college student, who walked miles for free meal.

Think about that next time you complain about Chipotle raising their burrito prices.

Lesson 2: The power of persistence

In the late 1990s comfortable clothing was a growing trend. But the terms “leisurewear” or “athleisure” weren’t heard of let alone dominant fashion industries as they are today.

One 27 year old women noticed a gap in women’s undergarment. She had no background in fashion or retail, but worked in sales and marketing instead. Motivated by her own need, she came up with an idea for comfortable shapewear.

She saved up $5,000 and developer a product she wanted herself.

Through some effort she was finally able to get her product in stores. But she noticed that, being a non-recognizable brand, her product wasn’t getting a prominent display in the stores.

Her company was new so she didn’t have the marketing budget to get her company’s name out there by traditional means. She decided to take things into her own hands.

She bought clear plastic envelope dividers and placed her product inside of them. Then she placed them in high-traffic locations in stores, such as the cash register. Hoping customers would come across them and find her product instead.

Customers began to notice them, and sales went up. The traction gave her company the momentum it needed to take off. Sara Blakely’s company, Spanx, would go on to become one of the leaders in a new comfortable and fashionable line of fashion.

You don’t need a huge budget to accomplish your goals. Drive and resourcefulness go much further.

Lesson 3: Being Resourceful

In 2006 e-commerce was becoming popular. A hot new dot com company, eBay, gave a way for individuals to start businesses with minimal overhead.

All you had to do was set up an account and you now had a digital store.

At the same time, one girl decided a traditional career was not for her. She dropped out of community college and began living an unorthodox life to make money – dumpster diving and shoplifting. She worked other short term jobs as well like at Subway, dry cleaners, and mobile plant shops.

At the same time she realized she had an eye for under-priced clothing items. She opened up a store on eBay, and named it after a popular Betty Davis song.

She would find trendy clothing items in vintage stores aimed at young women. And then would list them on her site at a premium.

Soon her eBay store sales took off, and she launched her own website 2 years later.

Sophia Amoruso started Nasty Gal, and led a growing trend of digital retail. She also showed how businesses would begin marketing – using social media to reach customers.

Sophia’s story shows how being creative under a pinch can lead to some big rewards. What started as a side hustle ended up becoming a company worth hundreds of million dollars.

Lesson 4: Doesn’t Matter Where You Start

In 1981 a South Korean man left the comfort of home and moved to the US for a better life. Starting from scratch, he worked at whatever jobs he could find to provide for him and his wife.

He worked as a janitor, in a coffee shop, and as a gas station attendant. Living in LA wasn’t cheap, but he saw a growing trend in the fashion industry there.

At 33, while working multiple jobs, he opened a store with his wife. The store targeted Korean Americans. Remarkably, the 900-square-foot store did $700k in sales the first year.

He decided to target a wider demographic. And to target a younger, and fresh audience he names his store Forever 21.

Do Won Chang’s company would go on to open 500 stores globally, and up to $4 Billion in sales at its peak.

It doesn’t mater where you start. A janitor, gas station attendant, or whatever. If you understand a market and have the skills to deliver a product you can make something big.

What next?

A great way to handle a tight budget is to … increase it. A great way to do that is making money online. Check out our list of popular things to sell online.

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