We are back at it; getting to know a millennial who has decided to go against the grain and pursue entrepreneurship. In our series, The Millennial Entrepreneur, I’ve taken you on several rides, learning the mindset of those who have started their businesses and made it happen successfully. Entrepreneurship is certainly not common, it is not naturally thought in our education system although many establishments are now including it in their curriculum. Ironically, many of those teaching those courses have never run a business.
The objective of my book Money-Smart Millennials is to give you the tools necessary to be confident managing your money. Moreover, it is to encourage you to think outside the box. We are part of a unique generation at unique times and the simple path of the 9 to 5 for forty years does not work as profitably as it did for most of our parents and grandparents. Is entrepreneurship for you? It may be. Keep in mind that a 2018 study found that the number of self-employed individuals in the United States could triple by 2020. It is becoming a trend, from the freelance side hustle to the full time, invested start up. So, what is your plan?
I’ve had the utmost honor and privilege of interviewing, Andrew Schrage, CEO and co-founder of moneycrashers.com, a millennial who is not taking no for an answer. When the United States experienced one of the worse seasons of its economy in 2008, Andrew saw out of the adversity an opportunity to educate, help and at the same time, establish his business. Over the past 10 years, he has grown Money Crashers from a small side project to one of the most popular personal finance communities with over 2.5 million visitors to the website each month. Here is an excerpt of our conversation. Find in this interview the subtle tips he shares on entrepreneurship, courage, determination, consistency and money management.
- Who is Andrew Schrage? (You started your career working for a hedge fund company in Chicago. Today you are the CEO of a successful company. Tell me about your journey)
I graduated from Brown University with an Economics degree and took a position at an investment fund based in Chicago shortly thereafter. After a bit of time there, I began to realize that the corporate world just wasn’t for me, as I had gotten pretty restless and didn’t feel I was adding enough value to society. So, I decided to branch out on my own in the form of Money Crashers, a personal finance website. I worked on it a lot during my free time in the beginning while still working my day job, but after a lot of hard work, I realized that I could leave that career behind and make Money Crashers my sole focus. It’s been quite a journey and there has been a lot of hard work and ups and downs along the way, but today I would consider myself a successful entrepreneur and small business owner.
- Why financial education?
My economics degree played a role in choosing financial education, but also, when we started with Money Crashers, the country was mired in a recession. So, my business partner and I figured that financial education would be a great industry to get into, considering that there was a great need for it at the time.
- When you decided to build your business and launch moneycrashers.com as a millennial, did you experience any rejection because of your age? If so, how did you handle those?
I wouldn’t say that I experienced rejection because of my age, but there may have been some hesitancy on the part of some folks as far as building partnerships and relationships. Millennials at times get a bad rap however, and that can be hard to overcome. The best way to do that would be to exude confidence, point out past successes, and make sure you have a plan in place for what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. That will usually do the trick to get past the doubters.
- What are two or three lessons that you’ve learned in the process? What mistakes would you avoid today if you had to start all over again?
One lesson that I learned is that being an entrepreneur or running your own small business is a lot of hard work. It also takes patience and resiliency, as most new businesses do not experience success overnight. On the flip side, I learned that your hard work will typically pay off, and then you can really begin to enjoy the benefits of such a career, like working your own hours, controlling your own business, and more. As far as mistakes, I would mention that attempting to grow in an expansive fashion too soon can be problematic and that not focusing on costs, in the beginning, can certainly grow into a major issue. Also, take the time and do the research to only hire the best folks for your company. Settling for less rarely works out.
- What keeps you going? Would you recommend entrepreneurship to other millennials?
What keeps me going is that in addition to the fact that I can support myself through my small business venture, I’m actually helping people. Our website provides accurate and factual advice with real-world tips for how people can improve their financial lives. That’s pretty gratifying when you think about it. I would absolutely recommend entrepreneurship to other millennials as long as they know full well what they’re getting into. Among the traits you’ll need to succeed are work ethic, time management, leadership, creative problem solving, cost management, and several others.
- Your website follows very closely banking and credit cards? what advice would you give millennials who are trying to pay off debt or learning to manage their money better?
Millennials trying to pay off debt or manage money better should follow a rather simple path. Get yourself on a budget, and then use the Internet to find ways to reduce all monthly expenses as much as possible including utilities, smartphone, groceries, gas for your car, and anything else involved in your personal financial picture. Once that’s done you should find yourself with a surplus in your bank account, which should be directed towards your debts. Cutting back on entertainment will help as well. With that game plan, reducing debt and better money management should be right around the corner.
- (Last thoughts)
I’m not sure if I should be considered an absolute “success” story or not, but I along with my team have done pretty well for ourselves over the years. Don’t shy away from being an entrepreneur. If you have the drive and the passion to succeed, that will often be enough to give you the boost and drive that you need to sustain long-term success.