“My annual salary starting The Hustle”

January 2, 2019

Our founder shares how much he paid himself when he started The Hustle.
The Hustle Sponsored by Burrow
The Hustle Daily Email

Dear Hustle readers, 

Welcome to the new year!

’Tis the time for your 2019 planning. Your resolutions, the year’s financial goals, fitness commitments… those types of things. 

But inevitably, in about 60 days, many of you will have given up on the stuff you’re about to write out and commit to. Maybe things were too hard or unrealistic.

So, since The Hustle is all about giving you business news and highlighting entrepreneurship, I want to give the folks out there who want to start a business in 2019 some fuel. 

A look into my early journey.

Below is my annual company salary during the first two years of The Hustle’s existence:

Year 1: ~$20,000

Year 2: ~$33,000

We got lucky. Because we didn’t take funding early on, our business was (mildly) profitable right away. But still, my company salary was… lean.

Thankfully, I started working on the business when I was a single 24-year-old, so my expenses were super low. And while I lived in San Francisco I lived like a spartan, owning and spending very little.

But, based on hundreds of conversations I’ve had with other product-based (not consulting) entrepreneurs who didn’t take funding early on, those numbers are typical. Some of them had families, some were older, some were younger, whatever, but my story is common. 

In fact, many early-stage entrepreneurs I know paid themselves even less than what I paid myself. If you’re bootstrapping a business, $0 in salary in the first year isn’t uncommon. Other times, salaries can be a bit higher. $30,000 the first year, $60,000 the second. But still, nothing huge.

Maybe the low salaries are out of necessity because the revenue just isn’t there. It took 1-800-GOT-JUNK? 10 years until they hit $1m in revenue.

Or maybe because the owners want to reinvest as much as possible into hiring others, growing revenue, and creating a foundation to make more money later on (as we did with The Hustle).

My point in telling you these numbers isn’t to discourage you. I still think now’s the time to take a risk. But I want you to know what to expect. Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. Save your money and embrace the grind. It’s going to be a hard as hell 2019. If you’re in love with it, do it anyway.

Don’t expect results to come fast. Plan for the worst. In fact, don’t make 2019 resolutions. Make 2021 resolutions… but start working on them now.

Sam, CEO of The Hustle

PS: Have a story like mine? Tweet at me… will reshare.

Play the long game
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New year, new news

Here are the tech and business headlines you missed under the mistletoe.

Netflix Bird Boxes out theaters

If you stuffed your eyeholes with Netflix movies this holiday season, you’re not alone — Netflix reported that over 45m viewers (of its 130m accounts worldwide) tuned in to watch “Bird Box.” It’s tough to compare that to box office revenue, but it is clear that consumer behavior is changing.

Stocks tanked — but don’t freak

Headlines abound about the stock market ending 2018 with its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis: The S&P 500 and Dow Jones were down 6.2% and 5.6%, respectively. But, analysts are quick to point out that this does not a crisis make, and many are optimistic about 2019.

Billionaires win some and lose some

Bloomberg released its year-end billionaire rankings for 2018, along with the biggest “winners” and “losers” (of net worth). Coming out on top? Who else but Bezos, whose net worth grew $24B to $123B. Zuck, on the other hand, lost a whopping $20B, to settle at $53B. Cash for tears, anyone?

Canada Goose stock takes flight

Back in June, we reported on luxury outerwear-maker Canada Goose’s big push into China with a brick-and-mortar storefront. Now, after the store’s grand opening drew big crowds, the company’s stock surged another 6% (up 173% since it debuted on the NYSE in March 2017).

Deepfakes are out of control

Although AI-generated “deepfake” porn videos that swap in other people’s faces have been banned on Google, Reddit, and Pornhub, they’re still becoming more common. Scarlett Johansson summed it up pretty well: “The internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself.”

The war against Waymo

The people of Chandler, Arizona, (where Google began testing its driverless cars in 2017) are raging against the machine: Chandlerites have attacked or harassed Waymo cars at least 21 times with, among other things, rocks, knives, and PVC pipes. 

People are making fortunes on Fortnite

The professional gamer Ninja made $10m streaming Fortnite games on Youtube and Twitch last year. Fortnite’s parent company, Epic Games, turned a $3B profit last year — and bumped CEO Tim Sweeney’s personal fortune to $7.2B (the 194th-largest on Bloomberg’s list).

Smart speakers hit a ‘critical mass’

Just 2 years ago, only 21.5% of US consumers owned a smart speaker. Today, Alexa alone is in 31% of homes — and the overall market nearly doubled, hitting 41%.

» Canada Goose is down with the sickness

2018 was a looooong year

If you’re still alive after all that — whatever that even was — it’s probably time to do something nice for yourself. You know, ensure that your body and brain can properly recover.

Our suggestion? Get a new sofa. The kind that you can sink so deep into, you can’t hear what anybody is tweeting… but has a built-in USB charger so you can still get your Insta fix.

Something like Burrow — which is perfect, because right now they’re running a sale where you can get up to $500 off. 

Frankie Burrow says relax

And relax you will, because this ain’t your grandpa’s sofa. 

Unlike Ol’ Pappy Eldrich’s twelve-ton monstrosity that took a whole team of oxen just to nudge, Burrow couches set up, break down, and move with the utmost of ease — like a warm spoon through a soft pint of Ben & Jerry’s. 

Plus, their products feature US-made, sustainably-sourced, North American hardwood frames wrapped in Earth-friendly fabrics. 

Don’t think that means they’re not comfy, either. Our friend laid down on one and didn’t wake up for 20 years. That man’s name? Rip Van Winkle. 

Their $500 off sale ends on January 6th, so you better get your bum in a Burrow before it’s too late. Use code HELLO2019 to unlock your savings.

Up to $500 off →
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