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How to Run A Start-Up on less than $200s/Month

 

It’s been a busy month and we’ve been careful at work, building strategies and work. To make ends meet and raise funds for the business I’ve become an active trader in altcoins and cryptocurrency. The very technology I would like to use with Zenratstudios. There are so many exciting developments and implementations for the technology, and as the line between reality and digital blend we start to pave a way for ARGs to actually be worth something.

There’s a lot of work to be done and not a lot of capital to play with starting out, so without further ado here is a breakdown of what we’ve been doing:

June 2016 Company Developments

Website

For the first week or two of June I’ve spent my time focusing on building a proper website that attempts to properly address the vision and mission of Zenratstudios. To date building on wordpress has been my first attempt at building a fully functioning website live. The lists for why this was hard:

  • The Code – PHP isn’t my strong-suit,
  • The Art – Designing artistic elements and UI isn’t my strength,
  • The Styling Sheets – Dealing with CSS div boxes is just as frustrating as building websites with tables (though a tad less frustrating)

I spent much of my time researching free templates, and then trying to figure out what I wanted and why it wasn’t flexible enough, and where to go from there. Then I installed some training wheels. Naked WordPress was the most helpful because it was the only free blank template that I could find on a limited budget that step by step walked me through the PHP code of wordpress. After that I installed foundation zurb 6, and had to research how to implement that into wordpress.

Needless to say just the website alone took 2-3 weeks and still has some flaws that will take some time to work out. The hardest part was switching out of code mode and getting into ‘writing content’ mode.

The Work

The work from this point entailed:

  • Migrating from Zenratstudios.com -> zenratstudios.org to reflect our hybrid not-for-profit (NPO) mission (redirecting)
  • Creating subdomains to manage and organize the different themes of the websites
  • Finding a basic theme/blank template (Naked WordPress) (main site is the only site with it’s own theme)
  • Finding a basic theme for all other subdomains
  • Learning to understand WordPress and PHP (and create my own templates or modify existing ones),
  • Researching & Deciding on a grid system for quick building of webpages (Foundation Zurb)
  • Installing Foundation Zurb into WordPress (because wanted something up to date)
  • Installing Foundation Navigation into WordPress
  • Researching CSS and HTML as I go
  • Finding alternative to javascript and CSS solutions that I can’t get to work with my template
  • Implementing/Converting features from themes I like into my own
  • Deleting those themes to build from scratch
  • Writing and adding content on the website
  • Adding a Blog Theme
  • Exporting & Importing blog from old site into new blog
  • Finding and adding basic themes for the two other subdomains (to be revealed later)/no content yet to be added.

The Flaws

The main flaws are:

  • Doesn’t scale well on mobile,
  • Content still needs to be edited & added,
  • Footer needs work,
  • Page structures need to be converted into wordpress templates (instead of repeating html patterns on each page) / Have to manually copy and paste and code repeatedable elements.

The Gameplan

At this point I’ve maxxed out how far I am willing to spend time learning to design this website while neglecting other stuff. The main goal now that I have is as followed:

  • Fixing the basic mobile version
  • Fixing footer navigation
  • Hiring a web developer to convert that into something functional (maybe from fivver)
  • Hiring Content Writers

Marketing & Social Presence

Though I know about marketing strategy I don’t know much about social media. For the most part I’m not a social person. My aspergers-social anxiety-bipolar/depression combo makes it hard to build long-term relationships but easy to see patterns and integrate them. Even with this site I’ve struggled with trying to figure out whether I speak with “You” talk about Zenratstudios and refer to my actions as “we” “us”, or simply use the word “I”. Pronouns are big especially when marketing.

I also have many interests when it comes to Zenratstudios. Some days I want to talk about finances (the budgeting, the growth, digital economies and alternatives) and other days I want to talk about game development (game projects, what we’re doing, long-term goals) and there are some days all I want to talk about is Love and the spiritual side of things (the pitfalls, struggles, ups and downs). It just depends what I am focused in on and can’t stop talking about. I thought about creating a separate identity and persona, but it just became more work and I felt like I was misrepresenting myself. So ultimately Zenratstudios is a site that caters towards different audiences and as such my marketing needs to tackle these audiences.

The Tasks

  • Creating Social Media Accounts (Twitter, Reddit, Facebook)
  • Posting Actively on Social Media Accounts (Twitter so far)
  • Creating an Online Presence
  • Following People of Interest and keeping up with all their stuff (in the midst of all my twitter feeds and lists (some people post over and over again repeatedly drowning out the people I want to hear, I have to mute them even when they have good content and tend to just subscribe to their newsletter)).
  • Managing how much time I allow myself to spend marketing
  • Honing down the message and mission of my company and the strategy we intend to implement it
  • Deciding what issues Zenratudios talks about
  • Finding solutions to our worlds problems and broadcasting that
  • Modifying solutions as we go along and mentioning that
  • Dealing with multiple audiences and different messages and vocabulary (outreach)

Personal Issues

  • How much do I ‘share’ about my personal life and journey on my blogs vs. how much I keep private (am I being too intimate and personal/sharing too much about my strengths and weaknesses)
  • How I present myself to people of Interest who I follow
  • Protecting my personal identity while also trying to create a brand of trust and respect
  • Trying to think of things to say unrelated to my own personal business (things that are directed at others that can help ‘them’)
  • Multi-tasking
  • Managing shyness, anxiety, and withdrawal (the fear of putting oneself out there esp. in infancy, the performance, all eyes on ‘me’ now make what you say good)
  • Worrying that the content I am writing isn’t good enough and wanting to hire an editor first
  • Adopting a persona or name (do I write as Zenratstudios or do I write with my user account, and what name represents it—and do I have to stick with the same username?)
  • Standing up for my decisions in face of criticisms

The Gameplan

Current strategy as followed:

  • One day at a time – I don’t always post on Twitter and haven’t yet posted on Facebook. But I am constantly honing my message, and at the moment commenting on things in existence.
  • Explore – I do try to explore different forums and communities like Reddit/bitcointalk if at least to get a feel for how my thoughts are perceived. The different communities and reactions to the same or different thing is interesting. For example in some communities people are zealous, lack knowledge, and care nothing for logical talk and hate spiritual talk. In other communities saying what people don’t want to hear but seems logical gets me quickly down-voted. There’s a very active mob mentality floating around, and so I withdraw.
  • Bootstrapping/Fundraising to Hire – at this point I’m not going to try to do everything on my own. My main goal is raising capital to hire or bring in a strong team who believes in the vision of Zenratstudios. Hiring a campaign or marketing manager or someone to focus on the content on this site, or even just the website would free up time for me to focus on marketing elsewhere.

 

Bootstrapping / Raising Capital

 

Fundraising Projects

There are many ways to Raise Capital. There are two Fundraising Projects we have on the books:

  • Project Graveyard and
  • Project Heart. Both of these projects implement a hybrid strategy of the 1 million dollar page by which a grid system was used for advertisements. We have a hybrid more targeted version that we’re looking at.

We aren’t yet at the stage where we can build this, because this would take either hiring someone or setting aside some time to build and test a functional website.

Trading by Day

The predominate method we have been using to Raise capital has been investing and trading as part of the digital economy: Bitcoin and altcoins. I’ve followed the cryptocommunity for some time but didn’t have the mentality to take part in it. I was very much lurking and following developments. Every month since March we’ve invested a little bit of money and built up. At first it was just $16.00 as on $100.00/month to spend isn’t a lot. The goal was to see if we could grow it. Our investments grew to $100.00 after 2 months. Sometime at the end of May we encountered “The DAO” and based on our research and knowledge we felt that it would be a pump n dump initially and that the money made from it could fund our company. All the signals were there. What was unexpected was people on the inside admitting hours before release that there was a problem, and not freezing the DAO until it got hacked with several million worth of funds stolen, and now more vulnerabilities reached.

In many ways this was a blessing because it forced me to get involved in the community, explore different presentation strategies (find my voice), as well as to realize that if I am going to explore using blockchain for my company there are certain securities that need to be done. Hiring experienced developers as well as White Hackers to make sure our security is well is a must.

Trading is very fun for me. I love trading. In many ways it’s like gambling but where losses can be mitigated or lessened and gains can be increased. There is strategy to it, and it is really something I seem to be good at. Finding undervalued penny stocks and so on. I have had some losses, but I have had more gains than losses. But I can do better than this.

From my study of the patterns and research I put together some strategies for myself, and have been testing them. What works, what doesn’t, and what are some ground rules to stick by. I research everything that I do, and there are good things in every bad. The highest minimum I was willing to put into the DAO was $80.00. In Bitcoin you can hold sometimes and it’ll swing back up eventually (depending on what’s going on) it’s very volatile), you can make big gains in a day and requires you to be active. But with altcoins, if you hold for too long you can lose your money over time, and have to plan your exits accordingly. I learned that I have to develop a different strategy for altcoins than what I use for Bitcoins. You also need more capital to make real gains with Bitcoin whereas altcoins you can start small over a longer period of time.

I integrate psychology and Zen into my strategies and make a rule to meditate before a trade. I lost ½ of my investments as a result of the DAO, but I gained:

  • The minimum threshold of $80.00, that is the most I am willing to wager or bet on an altcoin, the most I am willing to lose.
  • Tolerance for small Losses
  • Honing of marketing strategies and persona strategies
  • Embracing who I am flaws and all and ‘sticking’ to it
  • An understanding of Whitepapers (and trusting my guts)
  • An understanding of crowdsales, what they are (angel investments that pick an arbitrary number for price), and created new ground rules for them (I never invest in a crowdsale, I prefer to look at things already in existence). Crowdsales come with the biggest amount of risk and are akin to gambling. There are alternatives to put your money in with more certainty and gain.
  • Honing my Enter/Exit Strategies for altcoins
  • It forced me to look back into Bitcoin as part of diversification
  • It helped me merge my ‘Investment’ (logical) mind with my ‘Trader’ (emotional) mind, and to learn to look past the ‘noise’ of the market but rather use it to get a feel
  • It helped me to realize that being ‘part’ of a community can easily make me susceptible to absorbing the anxieties and hype rather than sitting back and observing with objective lens.
  • It helped me to realize that I am actually impatient. (something I didn’t know about myself).

For this reason I’ve decided that my social interactions will be limited to beyond the herd but with leaders and people who are also sitting apart from the herd. It helps. Another thing I have learned is that often times my impatience can get the best of me. Diversification is also hard. I get anxious and will leave one market to jump into the next to be part of the ‘rise’ there, but then miss out on the rise somewhere else. No worries because cycles repeat and I’m still learning and building a strategy that continues to give me gains. This is being integrated into my trading strategy and rules so that I can build better and stronger and faster.

Parenting

This month I’ve been focused not only on working, but also being a single parent. I practice martial arts, meditate daily, and set aside time to work and time to play. Trading is exhausting. It takes a lot of work, and requires your mind be active. There’s a lot of daily research, gathering tools, but there are ways and even rules that can be made to make it easier.

In short this month it was a constant balance and battle between active trading and trying to give my child attention. And it still didn’t feel like enough. There were times when she would turn my face to look at them, I’d smile, look back at my computer and my child would turn my face again. Sometimes I would put my work down and play, and other times I would draw a line and focus on work with the promise that soon it will be worth it, not just for my child and me but for everyone who takes part in the community.

There is some sadness that I work a lot and don’t play as much. I rationalize this by reminding myself what I do now prepares us for tomorrow, still I find myself stepping away from the computer to enjoy the fresh air, drink tea, remember to eat, and play with my child. What good is tomorrow if I can never stop to enjoy the day; and most importantly, if I miss out on my child’s entire childhood.

I remind myself everything that is meant to get done will get done, so I do everything one day at a time. I build one day at a time. Sometimes I get a lot done, and sometimes I don’t. Parenting is a Balance.

 

The Depression

At the beginning of June I was very depressed. I felt lonely, my visions and dreams were seldom understood or supported by the people I interact with daily. I was reaching out for help from the community and people would not help without money or had their own projects. Being an entrepreneur is tough especially when you have low starting capital and severe anxiety.

If I had more capital I would hire a team(s), build a strategy, discuss the strategy and then delegate people to focus on their tasks like marketing, content, design, and games. We would work together based on our strengths. But right now my capital is $100/month and sometimes not even that. Lately I’ve been dipping into rent using some of my rent money in an attempt to grow it.

Depression has come from trying to grow my initial starting capital from $100/month into $300, etc. It’s a lot of work. It’s time consuming, and I need to do better. It’s having to grow my initial capital in order to hire more people on the bootstrapping end, and then it’s working on the website, writing and adding content, marketing and doing all these things and still needing to be incorporated and the fees of incorporation, and so on. In many ways when you include overhead I am operating at a loss even though I am making small gains. I need to do better. Depression comes when I lack the right support or team to help drive it forward.

Needless to say I know that it will pass, and my solution has been to take it one day at a time. And that’s great because what is today is not what will tomorrow will be, and these earnings add up as you gain time and more experience.

Conclusion

There have been times when I have had only $4 – .40 cents in my bank account. This month I may even end up with less. But I am working on it, bit by bit. My goal is to have a functioning website, successfully market and build a fundraiser, continue raising capital and to be a good parent. Budgeting, research, etc. are one of my strengths and patience is a virtue I am learning.

Coming Soon: Trading by Day, Game Developing by Night, Parenting Always