We Earned Our First $3 Dollars Yesterday (but wait – I thought you were doing so well!)

Yesterday was the very first time that two people transacted and spent money on our site without our direct involvement.  Making that first $3 dollars made me so excited that I shrieked and ran upstairs screaming the news to our au pair (and subsequently waking up my sleeping toddler).

But wait, you mean you haven’t been making money?  Bingo!

A friend called me the other day and I could tell she was going to ask me if she could borrow some money.  I had to sheepishly explain that only a few days prior, one of our bank accounts was overdrawn (thankfully, this is not the case anymore).  She replied, “but I thought you guys were doing so well!”

This is the problem with social media and with the startup ecosystem in general.  No one talks about the shitty times, the sleepless nights, the anxiety, the fear, the endless bleed of money and time.  Our society does not support airing one’s dirty laundry so we all go around thinking other people have it so easy or good because they “seem” to be doing so much better than us.

I can see how I have participated in this – posting exciting news, posting pictures of my two international trips in one month…Heck, we have almost 600 users on our site.  We must be rich!!  But no.  That is not how startups work.  See, the exciting news is exciting, but behind it is a whole lot of hustle and very little (or in my case – no) money.  The international trips were both paid for by my in-laws.  And though we do have 600 users on the site and people clearly appreciate my vision, I have yet to figure out how to get them to transact with one-another.

I had a woman from our site come over for some therapeutic organization yesterday (she talks people through letting things go and then helps them organize and get their space back).  At the end of our visit and after talking with her about our company, she said she had no idea that we were still so new (and not profitable). 

And as I walked her to the front door of my $2 million dollar house (that my in-laws own), I can totally see why that is.  On the surface, we look financially fit.  But really, we are financially bulimic.  A lot of money coming in and most all of it going back out.

I just had to share the bleak truth and remind everyone to not feel discouraged based on how you perceive others’ success.  I know plenty of people who project a wildly successful life to the outside world who then drown their sorrows in a bottle of booze or cry themselves to sleep.  The Hungarians have a saying to the effect that if we were all to hang up our problems on a clothing line, we would all ultimately take back our own bag of problems rather than preferring someone else’s.

Life is tough.  Startup life if tougher.  If we aren’t real with one another, someone somewhere is going to think that the reason they aren’t succeeding while everyone else is must be because they are the problem.  And then they’ll leave the game.  And the world’s innovation and the diversity in our startup ecosystem will suffer.

We made our first $3 dollars yesterday.  Not even enough to buy a soy latte.  But guess what?  If we were to double that week over week, we’d be making $200 million in 6 months.  I can be patient 🙂

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