[quote style=”boxed”]Try out several different ways to achieve your goals. Stick with what works, and eliminate the strategies that do not. Mistakes are going to happen, so you just need to learn from them and move on.[/quote]
Andrew Schrage was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts and was educated at Brown University, where he graduated with a degree in economics. Shortly after taking a position at an investment fund in Chicago shortly after graduation, he became frustrated with the corporate work environment. In 2008, he decided to branch out on his own and launched the personal finance and lifestyle website Money Crashers.
The goal of Money Crashers is to provide its readers and subscribers with actionable tips they can put to use in their everyday lives on ways to improve their finances. The topics covered include saving more money, personal budgeting, retirement investing, maintaining an emergency fund, and avoiding credit card debt. The website also has a robust lifestyle section, including tips on health and fitness, travel, and shopping, and features resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Schrage enjoys playing ice hockey and spending time with friends and family in his spare time.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on the continuing expansion of our social media presence and our overall marketing strategy. We’ve enjoyed great success with our presence on both Facebook and Twitter, and we’re currently investigating other social media platforms.
Where did the idea for Money Crashers come from?
I connected with a mutual friend of an acquaintance at a networking event in 2008. We were both rather frustrated with our careers and were looking for a more rewarding work experience. The country was mired in a recession at the time, and that was the main impetus behind starting a personal finance website that could help people out in their daily lives.
How do you make money?
The majority of our revenue comes from paid advertising.
What does your typical day look like?
I spend a lot of time overseeing our social media efforts. We also have a robust and ongoing guest posting campaign, so I spend a lot of time reaching out to other websites and inquiring about posting opportunities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We try to tie in the topics we cover to current events. Those articles have generally seen the most success. We also try not to over-think things – people want quick and easy ways to improve their lives, and we do our best to provide that information concisely.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that’s really exciting is the explosive growth of mobile. We are taking a serious look at developing our own mobile app, and we have high hopes for it once it’s up and running.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in the food industry for a short time during college, and I really disliked the monotony of that position. However, I did learn the importance of organization and time management.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I had to do it all over again, I would have gotten involved in social media much earlier on. Social media truly is the “go to” marketing strategy for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and anyone who ignores that fact is simply missing out.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always look for better ways to manage my time. This is key for any entrepreneur’s success, especially when they do not have the available funds to hire staff. Even now that my business has reached some great success, I still look for ways to squeeze more out of each day. I know that the more productive I am, the better our bottom line will be.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Several years ago, we made the mistake of thinking that our readers wanted more content. We started posting multiple articles per day, hoping to expand our reach. But we found that it overwhelmed our readers and we lost some subscribers as a result. How we overcame that (as well as what we learned from it) is that our readers wanted smaller doses. Therefore, we resumed our previous strategy of posting one well-written, high-quality article per day. We may still increase that amount at some point if we can figure out a good way to implement that while not overwhelming our readers.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a mobile healthcare app around the Affordable Care Act as it reaches full implementation. There is already plenty of confusion about how the system will actually work, and an entrepreneur who plays off of that opportunity in some way will surely be successful.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would eliminate credit card debt for every person on Earth. Credit card debt drags people down financially, but after a few months (or years) of prudent spending, balances can be paid off. That would open up worlds of opportunity for people to live better lives, start more small businesses, and make the world more prosperous.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I’m an ice hockey fanatic. Whenever I can free up a few hours for some ice time, I head to the local rink.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I like the Entrepreneur.com website because it gives me the information I need to stay relevant and competitive in the world of small business. Google Analytics is also a must-have tool for any business that wants to track its website performance and results. I also recommend the outsourcing website Elance, which is perfect for small business owners who want to bring on staff members but can’t afford to hire full-time help.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss. It’s a great resource for entrepreneurs looking to change their lifestyle and manage their time more efficiently.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
You should follow Barack Obama to learn more about ways you can get involved with the decisions our government makes. I say this because a lot of those decisions have a direct effect on small businesses and entrepreneurs. Follow Richard Branson because he’s a highly successful entrepreneur and he tweets often about fun and interesting ideas. Follow Guy Kawasaki to learn more about marketing and small business.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
The last time I laughed out loud was a few days ago when I was watching the Anthony Weiner press conference.
Who is your hero?
My hero is my dad. He’s always been there to support me as I launched my business, and he never discouraged me from pursuing my dreams.
What is the best way for an entrepreneur to be successful in the beginning?
Save money in every way you can. Resist the urge to hire staff, and do the majority of the work yourself. You can do it if you manage your time better. Use social media to market your business, rather than paying for expensive advertising. Check out the websites Freecycle and Craigslist and look for free or cheap office needs (printers, furniture, other office supplies). Every penny you save gets you closer to being in the black on a consistent basis.
How do you balance running a small business with your personal life?
Take breaks and don’t let your personal relationships suffer by working too much. Hard work is important, but smart work is more efficient. Remember, one of the main reasons you probably launched your business is to get more out of life. You won’t be achieving that goal by working 100 hours per week. Know when to step away and enjoy your free time with your friends and family.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.