8 ways to pay the bills and save money when you’re starting up

Creating a start-up is no simple task.

If you’ve braved the waters and taken on this challenge yourself, you’ll know that resources are scarce. Forget about being paid, there are more essential costs to bear to make sure your new business doesn’t go down the drain.


I began helping out at Sciago in April of 2017, almost 2 years after the business idea came to be. When I first came to speak with the co-founders, one of which I met at a babysitting agency where we both worked at the time, I found out that the company was comprised of a small team of 3 – the CEO, the COO and the CTO – all of whom were working almost full-time for free to make sure Sciago succeeded.

Brand new to the start-up world, I remember being incredibly inspired by their dedication; three people who were simultaneously working full-time at two different occupations! How could they do it?

As I participated more and more, it soon became clear to me that this was a common theme in the Parisian start-up world: get by with the fewest resources possible and work your ass off in order to be successful.


But, how exactly can you pull that off? And what are the best ways to go about it…?

Since I’ve been at Sciago, I’ve observed many different ways in which entrepreneurs survive the initial stages of building this business from the ground up. Here are 8 that stood out to me:

  1. Work part- or full-time

Costs are tight and money is low, but you still need to eat and pay the rent. What do you do? Babysitting, serving, freelancing, consulting – do whatever odd-job you can manage alongside your business operations. You won’t get anywhere without a roof over your head and enough food to keep you energized. 

  1. Use your nights and weekends

Chances are that you don’t have much savings to break into while you’re starting your business. With that said, you’ll probably find yourself having to work elsewhere, either part-time or full-time, in order to sustain your living costs. If this is the case, dedicate nights and weekends to your company – keeping in mind that, someday, you will regain your sanity and your social life while (ideally) running your booming business.


  1. Dig into your savings

I’ve read that some people suggest working for a few years to build your savings before launching a business endeavor. But by the time that comes around, your ideas from 3 years ago will most likely have become obsolete or, better yet, someone else may have come up with the idea too. While having a savings to live off of is the most ideal of scenarios, it isn’t always the case. But, if you’re coming from an already established career or are just the financial planner who has been saving every last cent since you understood the concept of money, invest in yourself. That way, you’ll have the time and the resources you personally need to stay afloat while starting your own company.

  1. Enter competitions

Cut business costs where you can by devoting a sufficient amount of time to entering competitions. Not only do these events often come with a pay check, but they are also free publicity and look good for your reputation! Not to mention they can come with perks like free mentoring from well-known business people, potential investors, and so on.

Sciago co-founders, Claire Doussard and April Lipatan, accepting the award for the Pépite Student Entrepreneur Competition in Paris, France.
  1. Use your network

In today’s day and age, networks are everything. At every opportunity, talk to your connections – friends, relatives, acquaintances – to see if they have any advice, know of any business or lawyer friends who can give you free consulting, etc. Chances are that you have a ton of free resources and advice at your fingertips, all you have to do is seize them.

  1. Apply for grants

Governments and institutions support a wide-range of initiatives. A good example of this is what Macron is doing for climate focused research and organizations. Check out your government’s website to see if your business meets the criteria for small business grants, social initiatives, etc. You never know what you’ll find!

  1. Be a student

Being a student comes with lots of access to free resources (such as free work space) as well as brilliant minds from whom you can potentially seek guidance or opportunities for collaboration. Talk to your classmates and teachers to see if your idea interests them, go to free workshops offered by your university, get guidance from your teachers, seek out potential interns. Take advantage of the easy access opportunities before they’re gone!


  1. Get incubated

Having a good work environment is extremely important for your mind and your productivity. I know you may think you’re doing yourself a favor and saving money by working from your kitchen table, but we all know that crumb on the floor is taking your attention away from your work. Take the time to look for incubators who are searching for business ideas like yours! Not only will it provide you with free office space, but it will also come along with contacts and other operational practicalities that your home space doesn’t allow for.

While this list could be filled with lots of other life-hacks for starting a business, the main thing to remember is that to be an entrepreneur means that you work hard and diligently, and then reap benefits from your work when you start to grow.

So don’t give up just yet…


Article by Danya Kiernan

Have any more suggestions that you think should be on the list? Post them in the comments!

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