Abigail Mendoza: The Things I watched out for before deciding to become a full-time entrepreneur

The IdeaSpace Startup Competition Digest is a series that gives participants of the of the competition exclusive access to a wide variety of content to help them get inspired and finish their applications.

In this installment, we are hearing from StyleGenie Founder Abbie Victorino on the things she considered and watched out for before she decided to become an entrepreneur full-time.

Yes, I made the jump to full-time entrepreneurship!

It’s exciting and scary at the same time! I’ve had this similar feeling when I went cliff-diving in Boracay almost 5 years ago. I did it even if I don’t know how to swim. At that point, there were 2 things that I could try, a lower jump coming from a cliff 5 meters above the sea or a higher, more difficult jump at 10 meters above the sea. I really really want to do it but I was so scared that it took me more than five minutes to finally jump.

One of the people in line (yes, patiently waiting for me!) told me “Don’t think. Just jump!”

As it is with real life, making tough career decisions is easier said than done.

I came up with the idea of a styling subscription box when I was eating a meal from a diet delivery plan I was subscribed to back in 2016. Finally, there’s a solution for one of my 2 daily recurring problems; what to eat & what to wear. Just like the prepared and properly planned meals, I wished clothes were curated, styled, and delivered to me regularly. I had an idea on what to do and already planned on how to make it happen. But quitting my job was the last on the list.

StyleGenie founders (from left to right) CFO Stephanie Oller, CEO Abigail Victorino, CMO Rhij Sarenas

I started StyleGenie while I was working a full-time job at Voyager Innovations. I’ve put a lot of thought about leaving the corporate world and my stable job before I finally did. Mainly because of the different things that I fear. I came from a middle-class family. I work so I can look after my mom and niece which is why I can’t just make decisions for myself. I earn for the family, I work more hours, I sleep late and wake up early not because I want to but because I need to.

Being a startup founder has lots of highs and lows. There were times in my startup journey when I feel really really tired. But there were also these moments where I feel like a superhero who can do twenty things in a jiffy. And while running a startup is like traversing the ocean’s horizon that’s full of uncertainty, I just maintain my focus and think of the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing.

When the time came to make a decision, I wasn’t really sure what to do. But with a little time, I let it boil down by asking myself these three questions:

1. Can I afford it?

2. Can I and the people that I’m doing it with fit it in our schedules?

3. Can my health handle it?

I ask these questions because there are times when I equate being a startup founder to doing everything myself. Quite frankly, it feels like that most of the time. And as a result, I sacrifice my own personal money, time and health.

When thinking of money and finances, always consider scenarios where your personal needs and business needs will be met. What are the other sources of income that I can use to run the business? In my case, I deeply thought about the target sales I have to reach so I can pay myself and or our team and survive until a certain point. In effect, this move saved me from taking unnecessary loans or missing the due date of my bills.

Becoming a full-time entrepreneur also presented me the opportunity of becoming a part-time worker. The Philippines is becoming more welcoming to the gig economy and there are jobs that you can do part-time. I got a job as a part-time teacher for an elective in e-commerce at an all-girls college in Makati which helped me bridge some of my personal finances.

Since I cannot afford to put in a big starting capital, I asked for help from my friends and family for help in funding so I can kickstart the business. Thankfully, they trusted me and my vision so they were my first investors. And with a little luck and tons of hard work, I and my team were able to grow the business 3x in terms of operation since we started.

Know that you don’t have to do things alone. Think of the things you can delegate to your founding team. That way, we get to use our strengths to accomplish more work and provide more value to customers and make things worthwhile for the business.

Along the way, I also learned that hiring the right people will help time, money and effort. To survive the first 2 years with minimal manpower cost, we built an internship program where we put re-world work experience front and center. This program turned into an on-the-job training that students would want to be a part of and In turn, gave me and my co-founders more heads to delegate tasks to.

It might seem a bit of a cliche, but before jumping to become a full-time entrepreneur, one has to think about the habits they have to change and the sacrifices they need to make. In order to afford your basic needs, one has to reduce going out for leisure. And to ensure your health would not be compromised you have to make some choices to take some rest. I admit that this is where I failed early on my startup journey. I learned the importance of self-care the hard way. Since I work longer hours while juggling my day job and being an entrepreneur, my health suffered. My anemia worsened and along the way got diagnosed to have cysts in my ovaries.

And circling back to not doing it alone, I’d like to acknowledge the role played by many of my mentors and colleagues in the startup community, they remind me to get enough sleep, engage in relaxing activities such as yoga sessions, eat healthier, meditate at least 15 minutes a day, and drink lots of water. Now I’m all better and I make sure that I take care of myself first no matter how stressful #startuplife could be 🙂

If it’s time to jump, you’ll know for sure.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the jump anyway, it’s after you made the jump that matters. The complete experience of falling, failing, and then slowly rising up again from the deep waters of uncertainty.

Ready to continue working on your application? Simply click here to open your entry: http://platform.younoodle.com/client/entry-rounds/ideaspace_7th_startup_competition/entries/61413474775271437075537554774f32/checklist

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