I’m so grateful for sites like Money Crashers because, frankly, finances freak me out. I’m a bit too laissez-faire for my own good, trying to avoid scrutinizing every penny I spend, etc. However, there comes (many a) time when I can use some serious financial guidance. That’s why Andrew Schrage, co-founder of Money Crashers, has created a site dedicated to guiding poor financially inept souls like me. We caught up with Andrew to talk inspiration and the three characteristics that make a successful entrepreneur.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
The name of my company, Money Crashers Personal Finance, is a place for people to “crash,” so to speak, and talk about money, as well as ask and get answers to their financial-related questions from like-minded people. Far too many people think that personal finance is an overly complex topic. However, Money Crashers’ articles are easy to read, so anyone from a novice up to an expert can benefit.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
The first thing I do at work is plan out my day. I find that when I don’t have a schedule in place, then I don’t accomplish everything I need to. I write out the things that I must complete, tasks that I should get to, and some things that I can either complete or save for the next day. Any leftover items are transferred to the next day’s list.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started the company with one other person, Gyutae Park. We currently have roughly 25 members on our team.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describes the struggle you went through?
The biggest struggle I went through early on was understanding that my business was not going to succeed overnight. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that the success of a small business is a long-term project. It takes a ton of hard work, dedication, and passion. On the other hand, while the early days were certainly challenging, I didn’t struggle as much as other business owners. How? I consciously decided to keep my day job in the beginning, as I felt it was too risky to create a start-up without having a source of income. This made keeping my personal finances in order that much easier without the added pressure to build up a side business idea quickly.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
Several months ago, I learned that one of our best contributors had chosen a different career path and would no longer be writing for Money Crashers. His departure left a void in my organization that I’m still attempting to fill. I dealt with it by realizing that sometimes these things just happen, and you should never believe that every member of your staff will be around forever.
One thing I did do as a result was refocus my efforts on maintaining regular contact with my staff members, in the hopes I can see these things coming and be more prepared in the future.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
Interestingly, while we do have an office, most of our staff works remotely, which is one of the major perks of working for Money Crashers. I use Skype and Google Apps for Small Business to communicate with my employees, and I make sure during the hiring process that prospective employees are mature and trustworthy. That has been the biggest key to keeping our “virtual office” running smoothly and to ensure all of our team members get along well and fit into the company culture.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I hope that in five years, Money Crashers continues to be a top personal finance and lifestyle resource for readers of all backgrounds and demographics. We’ve strove to put forth extremely high quality and unique content, and it’s my goal to never stray from this since our content is ultimately what the website is centered around.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
My biggest inspiration is my father. Three important things he taught me are to always get the most out of every dollar you spend, set some money aside from each paycheck for savings, and always give to others, especially if you have the means to do so. I understood at a very young age the value of a dollar, and have lived a savings-oriented financial life as an adult.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
I bootstrapped my venture – most start-up funds came from personal savings. I just felt this was the best way to fund the business so I could always maintain full control, ownership, and direction of my company. And to date, I have yet to rely on any outside financing whatsoever, though we have considered and have been approached to raise venture capital funding for the website.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Pay down your debts as much as possible – eliminating them is ideal. Save as much money as you can in your personal life by doing things such as clipping coupons and reducing your home energy expenses. Also, stick with your day job in the beginning. Deciding when to make the jump into full-time entrepreneurship is difficult, but when your revenues reach a point where you can live off the profits and working your day job is hampering operations, this is when to make the leap.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
I would invest half in my retirement savings and donate 10% to charity. With the remaining $200,000, I would travel the world for a year.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it going take to make you feel successful?
I do consider myself successful in that I have made the leap into entrepreneurship and put everything into Money Crashers that I could. However, by no means am I content with my current situation. My ultimate goal is to continue to grow Money Crashers, our team, and the community.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
The one I couldn’t live without is Entrepreneur. I’ve been a subscriber to that website since my business started. It provided me with plenty of tips and strategies when I was first starting out, and I still find valuable information there today. One of my favorite features is the “Ask a Question” section. Readers can simply post a question about anything related to small business and entrepreneurship, and it’s answered by one of Entrepreneur’s experts. Almost every time I’ve asked a question, the response has been quite helpful.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
My favorite mobile app is RedLaser. It has revolutionized my shopping experience. I can instantly find the best price on just about any product that has a bar code just by scanning it with my iPhone. I’ve saved lots of money on products from groceries to small electronics.
iOS or Android?
I’ve always owned Apple products, so my choice here is iOS. The quality of the apps is better and there are more available. I also like the Apple calendar better than the one offered by Android, and I think Siri is far better than any other available virtual assistant.
What’s the greatest thing about Money Crashers?
The best thing about my personal finance website is that we have a commitment to quality and accurate information. The Internet is filled with misinformation, but one way that we’ve been able to build such a robust subscriber base is that our readers know they can trust the information found on our website.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
We are actively involved on Facebook, and our Twitter handle is @MoneyCrashers. Also, we recently completed a tool that took us over a year to put together: the Top Personal Finance Blogs list. It’s been a great resource for readers and bloggers alike to find out about other sites in our community.
Thanks, Andrew! I’ll definitely be spending a few hours on Money Crashers today to grab some tips, advice, and anything else that will help make my bank account grow. I suggest you all do too.