Entrepreneur or Squatter? My Story of Early-stage Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur or squatter with a laptop and a proclaimed monetizable vision?

I call myself the former, yet the latter can easily be found to be more accurate over the last three months.

I’m now trekking into the 10th month of my journey as a full-time entrepreneur, and nothing has gone how I’ve planned it to. Three months ago I ended my lease and now I live out of a suitcase hopping between dad’s, grandma’s, and the couches of any friend that will tolerate me (and I them).

Nine months ago I began my life as a full-time entrepreneur, managing a grassroots non-profit. I’ve been in the fold of things for the last three years of this six year old organization’s lifespan. But the past nine months alone feel as though a decade has passed. Just a year ago we were simply hosting a direct mentoring program on a single high school campus in the Inland Empire of Southern California. Over the past nine months our platform has been so fortunate as to reach a national stage and even more recently we’ve become a partner of MENTOR who has recognized us as mentor training and programming leader for the state of California. The ceiling of opportunity continues to rise. Yet the pathway towards financial stability lingers unstable still, and the anxiety and pressure to reach said stability grow more and more daily.

At April’s end I parted ways with my beloved West Los Angeles apartment. I’d spent my earlier young professional years busting ass to live comfortably – a short bike ride’s distance from Venice Beach – and I traded all of it in to live the life of a squatter. Having my own space meant everything to me! But this was a revelation in it of itself. Being willing to leave such a luxury showed me that I had a new ‘everything’ and that for me, chasing my entrepreneurial dream meant everything to me now.

Nonetheless, I’ve made some life altering sacrifices. To put things into context a bit, I’ve slept on a couch or twin bed for the last 3 months all except 4 times (business trip hotel bed lol), when the prior 4 years I’d become so accustomed to my own queen. First world problem, yes… but my first world problem. And not the only one I’m facing.

How do I build enough of a budget to also pay myself a [SoCal] livable salary?

This is how I answer the question in my head on a day to day basis:

“Just don’t look down.

Just don’t look down.

Just don’t look…”

Even the momentary gaze downward is enough to send you spiraling into a state of depression! I know what demise awaits, but obsessing over it will achieve nothing. My financial life lines of pre-built up savings, severance check from being laid-off, and unemployment have a lifespan of their own, and their end is nearing with each passing day. Like reaching enlightenment, there is definitely a mental state I had to push myself to grow into; while needing to act quickly and proactively, I could not fall into a state of rushing nor worry.

See, it is all too easy to get myself trapped within the mental whirlwind of concerns and doubts as an entrepreneur. But at that point you’re taking away all the energy that you need to enjoy the process and make the most of each opportunity.

Being a full-time dream chasing entrepreneur has been hands down one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life! There’s the utmost liberty in waking up to fulfill my passion on a daily basis and work with others who truly care about strategically making the world a better place. I foresaw my learning growth as a businessman and leader, but I’m learning more about myself along this journey than I ever would have imagined. The amount I am learning alone is payment, and the direct impact I’m able to have, plenty reward.

But I’ll be damned if I’m not strategic enough to leverage my social impact endeavors for a little bit of financial success 😉

And that chapter is soon to come!


The Candid Professional

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