How We Launched Our Startup with Just $340 in the Bank

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You don't need mega-bucks and there is no "perfect" time, so get going already! By Ashley G. Eaton (Co-Founder, Schlep & Fetch)

There are a lot of factors that could have stood in my way when my co-founder and I were deciding whether to start our company, Schlep & Fetch. The economy had just crashed, we had a newborn baby, and both my husband and I were independent contractors with very limited savings.

Not to mention, I didn't have a technical background and I had never started a company before. The odds really seemed stacked against us.

But, I believe that if you keep waiting for the “right time” to start a company, you’’ll be waiting a long time. The “perfect” time will never come. You have to make it the right time.

So, that’s just what we did. With an idea and $340 in the bank, we went for it. And I’m so glad we did.

The idea for Schlep & Fetch was born shortly after the birth of our daughter. We needed diapers for our baby daughter, Ise. My husband and co-founder, Bryson Strauss, was constantly running out at all hours to retrieve meals, or run errands, while I cared for Ise.

At the time, no real delivery or courier service existed in Los Angeles that could help us with these errands. That’s when we thought up an idea of an on-call delivery service for personal items and late night needs. Thus, the idea for “Schlep & Fetch” was born.

We created flyers and hit the ground running (literally) as we took to the streets of Los Angeles, with our daughter in tow. As I pushed her along in her stroller, we put the flyers on parked cars from Hollywood to Santa Monica. That stroller logged a lot of miles, but it’s paid off as we’ve gone from a few calls a day to completing thousands of orders a month!

There have been good times and there have been hard times, but the journey has been incredible and the tough days have been worth it. I’m excited to share some of the things that I’ve learned along the way in the hopes it will help inspire other women to “go for it” even when the odds seem stacked against you!

Forget the Way It's Been Done Before

Who cares how other people are doing it? Start from scratch.

Don’t try to improve on someone else’s foundation. Instead, knock it down and create an entirely new building with fresh ideas and your own perspective.

Be Decisive

Make a decision and act on it. It is better than getting stuck with no decision at all.

You can always adjust late. It's always easier to edit than it is to create. So think of everything as rough draft and the rest as a continued editing and refining process.

Don’t Get Hung up on or Deterred by Perfection

Start somewhere and build on what you've learned. If it's not perfect at first, keep working on it and don't become obsessed with its flaws or your lack of knowledge about an aspect of the business.

Love what is working about it and look at the learning process as an adventure. Just make sure it is an idea that you love, believe in and are willing to work hard to bring to fruition.

Don’t Let Money be a Deciding Factor

Money is helpful when starting a business, but if you don't have the money, it doesn't have to stop you. You may have to build slower but if you are passionate, work hard and focus, the money will come and probably at just the right time when you've worked out a lot of the kinks.

Choose a Business Partner Who Complements Your Talents

Bryson and I know that our strengths are different and that’s what makes it fun. As co-founders, we bring different things to the table, but overall, our end vision for the company and what we are trying to create is the same.

Don’t be an Island, Nobody Can Do it Alone

Build a team of energetic and creative people that believe in your idea and share your vision. When you have a small budget and immediate financial rewards are not the draw, having people working with you who believe that the idea can work and are willing to do what it takes to see it come to light, makes all the difference. Plus, celebrating a victory is more fun when you have people to celebrate with.

Believe in Yourself

Don't give up when it gets really hard. That's when to start digging to find the solution.

Identify the Problem You're Trying to Solve

Ask yourself whether others may be facing the same problem. The best companies are solutions to a commonly shared problem that no one has stepped up to solve… yet. Why shouldn't it be you?

Schlep & Fetch continues to evolve. What started simply as a personal delivery concept has morphed into a restaurant-and-retail delivery business, along with shopping and scheduled routes.

While starting a business and being a mom sounds daunting (and yes, at times, it is!) being a mom and being an entrepreneur have been the two most enriching endeavors of my life. The best part? When Ise, who is now four years old, excitedly points when she spots a Schlepper in the wild.

While the list of reasons in favor of launching a business may seem shorter than the list of logical reasons not to do it, they tend to be the BIG things that really count (getting to pursue your passion, maintaining your independence, and the reward of creating something special for yourself and your family.) So what are you waiting for?

How did you overcome your first-timer fears?


About the guest blogger: Ashley Eaton is the Co-Founder and COO of Schlep & Fetch, Inc., an on-demand delivery service whose highly anticipated iPhone app just launched! Her professional background includes corporate branding and design with a focus on (and passion for) entrepreneurship.