An Entrepreneur’s Life with Student Loan Debt

There is an article on the satirical news site (The Onion) about 1993 Toyota Camry Owners. The article states “Toyota recalls 1993 Camry due to fact that owners really should have bought something new by now.” My girlfriends car is a 1991 Camry. The article was written 15 months ago. (Found here: http://www.theonion.com/article/toyota-recalls-1993-camry-due-fact-owners-really-s-50480). This is just one example of the sacrifice my family makes everyday to allow me to pursue my start up that I believe will help grads live the life they deserve.

I founded Nibble because I didn’t think being in debt the rest of my working life was a viable option. I wanted to be debt free. But making the extra payments on my loan (and credit card) were not easy. So, I set out to make a difference. To do this, our family, my girlfriend, my daughter, my friends and myself have been sacrificing ever since. This is a reality faced by young entrepreneurs every day. The incredibly risky leap to start a business, takes on a sober understanding when there is an extra $300.00 due at the end of the month. Even with jobs, student loan holders are living with their parents more, buying cars less, and putting off any major purchases. Add company expenses, working for free, and starting a company goes from being a tough thing to do to being an irresponsible one. This is the decision I made. To help start Nibble, we are driving a 1991 Toyota Camry, living in a 1 bedroom apartment and our date nights consist of take out and monopoly.

Money isn’t the only sacrifice entrepreneurs with student loan debt are faced with. I can’t count how many times I have turned down drinks with friends in return for a late night of working. Social interactions that are not networking events are hard to come by. Vegas? Pass. Europe? Not this year. Vacations for focused entrepreneurs are few and far between, but, with student loan debt, they are more of a mere dream.

Vacations and social life is one thing to pass on. The sacrifices an entrepreneur and especially one with student loan debt has to make can be much more difficult. Day job company doing poorly? Good luck looking for another job while meeting the needs of your start up. Staying late to advance your career? Sorry, you are already working 100 hours a week. MBA? Only, if you want to end up as another start up failure statistic. These sacrifices of always putting your company ahead of your career are not easy. Especially, when you have a negative net worth. But, I truly believe the vision put forth is worth any advancement I may have made in my career or education.

Sometimes, the sacrifices that are always being made, make you question if what you are doing is worth it. If the hours you put in will truly make a difference. If maybe, you should have finished your MBA, gone to Europe, or found that better job. But the next night, you will be in front of that computer screen hacking away at a vision that you think will make the world a better place. All those sacrifices and all those times you made your company priority number #1, will be worth it. Entrepreneurs don’t just dream about changing the world, they just do it. Just because you have student loan debt doesn’t mean you should miss out on all the fun.