As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter Julia is a millennial bootstrapping entrepreneur. When I spoke to her this week, she told me that she is moving forward with one of the scariest parts of being an entrepreneur: walking away from her regular salary and depending on her new business to pay the rent. I call that “Jumping Off The Cliff.”
I’ve done it twice in my life, but in neither case was it as scary as what she’s going through. I had the good fortune of a venture capital windfall as a giant cushion below my leap. Still, the leap into the financial unknown creates an adrenaline rush no matter what your financial situation is.
That emotional sensation is actually an important benefit of bootstrapping. If you can channel the fear component, Jumping Off The Cliff creates great focus on what is really important.
Cash, soon, coming in from customers rather than going out all the time to pay expenses.
The big leap into financial uncertainty can stir creativity. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” but Jumping Off The Cliff is a parent to Necessity.
Sometimes the invention is a Big Idea, but businesses need a lot of little creative insights too.
In Julia’s case, she is providing education consulting for Chinese students who want to attend US schools. That means a lot of flying back and forth to China. Which can be very expensive if you aren’t creative.
Here’s one of her little creative things inspired by the Great Leap Off The Cliff (pun intended). At the end of December she is losing the free housing that came with her job. And she lives in greater New York City, which is pretty expensive.
Inspired by the Big Leap, she’ll spend three weeks in January in Vietnam, flying on a $440 round trip ticket (!) and staying for free with a Fullbright Scholar friend who has a three-bedroom apartment in Ho Chi Minh City. And of course food costs are very low in Vietnam. So it’s much less expensive than staying stateside! Warmer, too.
And that super-cheap flight happens to go through Shanghai, so she’ll be able to take a little time and do some business. In other words, find customers who will pay her cash, soon. And since she’s already mastered international communications with clients on the cheap, she can move the business forward from Vietnam while keeping expenses low.
February? Still tbd. Like lots of other things with an early stage business, 3+ months from now is a long time, and she will figure it out. She’s figured out a lot of things so far in her 31 years, so she’s confident that the housing situation, too, will be figured out.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. Jumping Off The Cliff didn’t just happen – she’s been working towards this moment for well over a year. Like lots of entrepreneurs, she’s had the salary job and a side project. And like lots of entrepreneurs, she’s reached that moment when she had to make a choice because the status quo was not sustainable.
So she’s Jumping.
What’s your Jumping Off The Cliff story? Please share it to help inspire others who are coming close to that edge.