Entrepreneur by Day, Car Valet by Night

Several years ago I was talking to an entrepreneur about his startup. When we got to the part about funding, he said that it was all bootstrapped. Each day he would work full-time on his company and then at night, to pay the bills, he would valet cars. Valeting cars is hard – constantly running back and forth, hoping the customer didn’t wait too long and will give a nice tip, and loss of a social life. Also, it’s something many people, especially engineers with college degrees, see as being beneath them. Only, to me, it showed how serious he was about being a full-time entrepreneur and doing whatever it takes to succeed.

The next time an entrepreneur laments not being able to work full-time on their startup due to funding, ask a few questions:

  • What lifestyle sacrifices are you making to be an entrepreneur?
  • What can you change so that you can be a full-time entrepreneur?
  • What jobs can you do after hours to pay the bills (e.g. being an Uber driver or valeting cars)?
  • What percentage of your savings are you willing to invest in the startup?

The initial stages – going from idea to product/market fit – are terribly difficult, and practically impossible as a part-time entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs that focus full-time on their startup have a much greater chance of success.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea that entrepreneurs need to figure out how to go full-time on their startup?

9 thoughts on “Entrepreneur by Day, Car Valet by Night

  1. I recently left my job. I was used to working 60+ hours as an Operation’s Manager. I thought, “No way, I cannot quit my job and take a huge paycut.” And I did anyway, because the freedom to me was more important. I worked every holiday, night, and weekend and now, I make my own schedule. Our company, Serious Take Productions, is passionate about collaborating with other entrepreneurs on their promotional ideas. We help them with video production, SMM, and graphic design. We started marketing ourselves as a company instead of freelancers and that’s how we began to grow organically.

  2. The biggest question in my mind before I quit my job to work on my startup full-time was: “Is this a good idea?”

    I decided that I would only quit my day job after we got our first paying customer. That turned out to be a good litmus test because it focused me on getting the product to a place where a real customer would pay for it.

    Having a place like ATV to land when I decided to go full-time was nice 🙂 That definitely made the transition easier.

  3. Amen!

    Personally, I discuss business with many start-up entrepreneurs that want to have a “normal” life while building their companies. When you discuss how hard starting a business can be, the sacrifices the founders must make with their time, dollars and opportunity cost, then the wantapreneur quickly diverts to a strategy of raising investment dollars so they can use other people’s money. To me, it is like saying “Mr. Investor, I want you to risk your dollars (and time) on my dream because I am unwilling to.” One of the first things I look at in early stage companies is the amount of real investment dollars the founders have put into their business.

    It’s great to see the guy/gal that has sacrificed and ready to go to the next level with their business. Sacrificing your Friday nights out with your pals, working on holidays, thinking weekends are high production opportunity days, and not knowing what a vacation really is, builds entrepreneurial character. Of course, if you can find success without the sacrifice, then great. I was not so smart or lucky, but have no regrets.

    I encourage potential entrepreneurs to fully evaluate the sacrifices required of them, and their family, before starting the journey. For most, they should not be entrepreneurs, but find ways to be an important part of a company (either small or large). Many have found success (financial and schedule freedom) by being part of a great company instead of starting one.

    Thanks David for the great blog!!

  4. David,

    Have you given thought to offering a Village nights and/or weekends membership tier?

    I imagine that in addition to event space rentals, repeaters on the roof that you are thinking about other ways to add incremental recurring revenue. While not recurring revenue, movie/TV production does adds some dollars and marketing of the Village.

    I’d enjoy reading your blog post on this topic.

    Thanks,

    Dan Smigrod Founder, CEO & Chief Photographer We Get Around

    iPhone: 404.303.7311 Ext. 1 | Skype: dansmigrod Dan@We-Get-Around.com | We-Get-Around.com Get more listings by wowing your clients with WalkAround 3D Tours – powered by Matterport – of luxury residential real estate in the greater Atlanta area, and around the globe via our Referral Network .

    >

  5. My wife and I are going to start renting out our second bedroom thru AirBNB, are learning to live on her salary alone, and are going to rent a chuppah out that we built for our wedding. Going fulltime on a startup breeds creativity, plus having an amazing wife who is willing to make sacrifices helps 🙂

  6. This sounds just like me! I started valeting 5 years ago while I was still in college, and now I still valet 2-3 nights a week while working on my EdTech startup, WorkReadyGrad. Valeting has opened up so many doors for me and has allowed me to make several incredible connections that have catalysed my career! As long as you have an outgoing personality and a strong work ethic, valeting as a part time job is a great way to network and make money to pay the bills! (It’s great exercise too!)

  7. When I decided I wanted to be self employed, I was working three jobs and miserable. I had the money, but not the time, and if I had the time, I wouldn’t have the money. Sure, there are grants and loans, but being a young person working 3 minimum wage jobs, I wasn’t qualified, or couldn’t apply in time, or couldn’t follow up. There was always something preventing me.

    I quit one of the jobs. It made my life easier, one less thing to worry about. And I started using that time to research marketing. I knew I had quality services, but wasn’t sure how to introduce them to the world.

    I still had waitressing, and I was also a cashier at a grocery store. One of the jobs was more secure, and one of them was higher pay, so I was afraid to leave either to devote my time to my small business. However, I was able to “forget” pens at tables with my business information, and I was able to ask businessmen in line buying food how they succeeded, and practice pitching my company over and over.
    I have found as many shortcuts in marketing and advertising and getting as much done as I can for free, or low prices. Eventually, it took an injury for me to refocus.

    Since I’ve hurt my leg I’ve had literally nowhere to go and nothing to do except focus on improving content, putting out new material, and promoting myself. I’ve managed to build a following, and I’ve got a few more goals to reach.

    I’m basically hoping that eventually, the following will start hiring me for the services I was attempting to promote in the first place, generating an income. I’ve gotten inspired by blogging and sharing my expertise with everyone.

    Sometimes, choosing between your abilities and the dead-end secure job is a hard choice. Sometimes it’s made for you, and sometimes you need to make sure you’re turning a profit before you commit to a new idea.

    Either way, there is no shame in working your way through starting up.

  8. Just like all the VCs who work low-wage second jobs nights and weekends to help their portfolio companies succeed on behalf of their LPs! And risk all their personal savings on the success of those companies! Oh, the lifestyle sacrifices they make for their LPs! Truly admirable.

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