Erin Chase is the founder of $5 Dinners and FreezEasy. She started $5 Dinners after challenging herself to make a great meal that costs $5 or less. What an eye opener!
Because of the experience Erin is now on a mission to help people spend a whole lot less of their hard earned money on groceries so they can use those dollars to pay off debt, save for vacations, pay for something special, or whatever their financial goals or dreams may be!
In this interview with Startup Savant, Erin shares some of her hard-won insight and lessons she learned after hitting the biggest milestone so far, as well as her struggle as a business owner and how being an entrepreneur impacts her family.
Her advice to entrepreneurs who want to start a business:
Before you ever move a dollar, set up your business accounts. Don’t use personal money to fund your business regularly. Set up the LLC with the SoS, get your EIN/TIN from the IRS, set up your separate business accounts with the bank and start working and growing your revenue!To learn more on how to spend less on your groceries, follow Erin on Twitter!
What motivated you to start $5 Dinners? Did you see a way to serve customers better than your competitors?I started $5 Dinners in the summer of 2008 when gas prices started to skyrocket and I needed to cut our grocery spending. Groceries were the only line item left in our personal budget that I had complete control over and could reduce drastically. I didn’t start out with a business mindset, but quickly learned that the site and concept was a differentiator from what others were doing.
Most businesses evolve over time. Is there a way that you slowly evolved the mission of $5 Dinners to serve your customers better?The mission of $5 Dinners has always been the same - the tools and resources to accomplish that mission are what have evolved.
What do you consider the biggest milestone that you have hit with your business? What was the biggest thing you did you get there?Biggest milestone for $5 Dinners has been the development of meal plan builder web-app (soon to be mobile/tablet app) to allow members to create and customize their own meal plans.
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape $5 Dinners?The greatest influencers for $5 Dinners have been my business partners, as they understand the customer and they understand their needs and have helped push me to continue to create great products and resources for them.
Do you feel like writing a business plan or having some sort of plan in place when starting a business?I’ve not once written a business plan. I’ve sorta written one in my head. I’m just a doer, so I try it and if it doesn’t work, I pivot!
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as a business owner? Do you have any advice for how future entrepreneurs can overcome it?My biggest struggle has been balancing personal privacy with being the face and brand-personality behind my work online. I’m constantly shifting the balance.
What is the strangest marketing experiment you ever did?I can’t say I’ve done anything strange, but oddly enough my assistant won’t let me call our upcoming “Make One, Freeze One” campaign the “MOFO challenge” ;) Because #mofochallenge would be perfect, although it doesn’t exactly match my clean image and brand persona. LOL
How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?I prefer to keep my personal friendships separate from my entrepreneurial friendships. Of course, there is crossover but I learned early on that if I start to talk about entrepreneurial challenges, struggles or ideas with non-entrepreneur friends, their eyes quickly start to glaze over. As a result, I try to steer conversations about life vs. work depending on the friend/relationship!
We’re huge believers of every entrepreneur keeping their business’ finances under control. How do you keep $5 Dinners books in check?My husband is a numbers nerd and he manages our books. We set aside tax money and profit, before we run payroll to myself and the team. That strategy has been hugely helpful in keeping our businesses healthy!