This year, we chatted with creative small business owners and passionate entrepreneurs, as well as avid shoppers and personal finance experts. That’s part of what makes PayPal unique: we work with both merchant and customer during a transaction.
Throughout our conversations and interviews, they all shared with us valuable advice based on their wide-ranging experiences, on everything from the joy and passion we bring to our work, to the perils of “hustle culture,” to the importance of building and maintaining trust.
We've gathered some of the best of it here and hope it can inspire and drive your financial planning and business ventures in 2023.
1. Create a budget that works for you
Having a budget to keep track of your finances is essential, for either your personal finances or your business’. That’s not a particularly new insight—however, when we spoke with keen deal-finder Meriden Weems, she made a point to emphasize the importance of making a budget that works for your style.
Budgeting on a computer wasn’t working out for her, so instead, she started tracking her expenses in a more traditional way, by writing them down in a budget book. So, experiment with different methods—apps, spreadsheets, or pen-and-paper-- and find one that fits your style and helps you track your spending.
2. Normalize talking about money and financial expectations
For too many of us, there’s still a certain hesitancy to talk about our finances. “People are afraid they’re going to sound cheap or ungenerous when talking about splitting the bill, but talking about money can be a normal thing," etiquette expert Myka Meier told us.
When considering things like splitting bills, planning vacations, or other activities with friends and family, travel expert Oneika Raymond suggests having “an honest discussion from the jump about what your expectations are […] and what your budget is. It will help avoid a lot of friction along the way.”
3. Find and bring passion and love to what you do
We heard this from many small business owners—their love for what they do fuels them every day. For Pablo Murillo, co-founder of Aguas Locas, his passion comes from the fond and nostalgic memories of getting cool and refreshing agua frescas with his family growing up. Paul Ford, co-founder of Big Red’s Hot Sauce, was an avid gardener and started experimenting with making one-of-a-kind hot sauces to use up the peppers he’d harvest. These two entrepreneurs are now seeing their businesses thrive, in no small part due to the intimate connection they feel for what they do.
4. Take your businesses to the next level with a mentorship
Many start-up founders find that they’ll hit a wall after an initial burst of creativity and energy when starting a business. That’s what happened to Yanique Taylor, who started a writing and proofreading consulting business. The Cherie Blair Foundation’s “Mentoring Women in Business” program paired her with Ben Adams, a former vice president on PayPal’s legal team. His mentorship offered Yanique accountability and allowed her to “un-crowd” her brain and focus on what she needed to grow.
“Build your tribe,” advised Matt Miller, a senior director for PayPal who also mentors small business founders. “Share your dream and recruit your tribe and they will help you make that dream into a reality.”
5. Training or formal business education isn’t a prerequisite for success
D'Shawn Russell, founder and CEO of Southern Elegance Candle Company , was a math teacher who longed to do something different after 22 years. With no formal business training, she started making candles with two pots on her kitchen stove. Fast-forward, and today, her company generated more than $1 million in annual sales.
Similarly, Juan Carlos Leal started his barbershop Culture Cutz after a short run as a professional soccer player. For him, passion mixed with patience and determination to learn the business has helped drive his success.
6. “Hustle culture” is overrated
For several years, “rise and grind” was a mantra for many entrepreneurs. But attitudes are evolving, driven in part by new research on the harmful effects of burnout and lack of sleep, as well as success stories from entrepreneurs who managed to grow their businesses without sacrificing downtime.
Mark Zhang, founder of sleep-mask maker Manta Sleep, did not mince words: “It is so destructive to be pushing this narrative. It is misleading to trick people into thinking success is created by hustling, doing lots of work, and not resting.”
7. Trust is key to success
One seller we spoke with, Robert B., started an online dog supply shop after his beloved dog passed away. Selling dog beds, collars, and toys was one way to honor the fond memories he had shared with rescue, Sassy. But he quickly realized the importance of earning his would-be clients’ trust: “If they don’t trust you, they’ll scroll right past you,” he said.
Mark Van Vliet, vice-president at wholesale book seller Book Depot, made a similar point when sharing his experiences, saying, “We know that we need to instill buyer confidence because we’re unknown. We don’t have that same trust that a Fortune 500 company has.” For these two businesses, offering PayPal as a payment method has helped them bridge that gap and establish trust with potential customers.
Learning from other’s experiences going into the new year
Every new year brings with it the chance to review and reset how we do things. As we all reflect on our financial well-being—be it our own, our business’, or both—we hope that some of this advice is helpful and encouraging. Happy New Year!
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.