Is it affordable to live full-time in Airbnb’s?

After spending the past 14 months living in AirBnB’s up and down the east coast, I thought I’d share a few cost-saving tips for anybody crazy enough to try this.

Stay at least 28 days and look for places that offer sizeable monthly discounts.

The rate listed is often negotiable- it never hurts to ask politely.

Stick to cities that don’t enforce an occupancy tax on Airbnb’s. These taxes can be hefty.

Finding the best deal often takes a week or two of searching. Availability is constantly in flux- so keep digging.

Achievement vs. Recognition

Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire lifetime. It was only well after he died that he became recognized as one of the greatest painters of all time. Still, every day that he awoke and took to his canvas he was achieving greatness unbeknownst to the world.

Don’t confuse achievement with recognition. Achievement is earned, and it happens with the brush in your hand. Recognition is fickle- it may come before achievement (a tech startup raises a huge round of V.C. money), after the fact (in Van Gogh’s case), or never at all.

Yes, you can. But are you?

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you will.

Just because you can’t, doesn’t mean you won’t.

Just because you didn’t, doesn’t mean you couldn’t.

Pondering who can and who can’t is fruitless and irrelevant. History has proven that we’re terrible at judging ability in others, and especially in ourselves.

We brag about the things we can do, bemoan what we can’t, and make excuses for what we didn’t do. All that matters presently is what we are doing. Past results are not the best predictor of who will and who won’t- current actions are.

How to fail at achieving long-term goals

Don’t take the first step.

Say yes to every opportunity.

Keep it to yourself.

Fail to identify your “Why” (then, set the wrong goal)

Don’t take the second step.

Don’t establish daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly routines.

Heed the words of friends and family who love you dearly and don’t want to see you fail.

Ignore the words of uninvested people who have “been there, done that.”

Don’t take the twenty-seventh step. (you get the idea)

Don’t ask for favors.

Beat yourself up when you hit a slump.

Wait for the perfect time.

Your business is the product

I heard Michael Gerber, legendary business guru and author of The E-Myth, give a talk to a group of entrepreneurs. Many times during the presentation, he harkened back to one phrase: “Your business is a product for sale.”

Business owners often obsess over the daily “wins” of making the next sale and satisfying the customer at the expense of building a valuable business. Are the people, processes, and product strong enough to stand on their own, without you? Until the answer is a resounding yes, you don’t have a business (yet), you have a job.

Table stakes

You can’t launch a great pizzeria without decent crust. It doesn’t matter how amazingly creative your toppings are, how fast you deliver, or that your slices are only a dollar after 10 pm. It’s important to innovate, but it’s even more important to fulfill your customer’s most basic needs

There are certain “table stakes” that we all must abide by in our personal lives as well. It doesn’t matter if you are an actor, entrepreneur, a politician, or a plumber. If you don’t respect other human beings around you, the quality of your work doesn’t matter- you’ve failed.

Mo Money Mo Problems

The easiest time to fix issues in your business is when it’s still small. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that as your business grows and has more resources at its disposal, these problems will become easier to fix. They won’t because the demands on resources tend to keep pace.

There’s a lot of value in strategic procrastination. However, the reason to put off fixing a problem for later is that it’s not a significant enough priority to warrant time and attention yet- not because it is too hard or expensive to solve with today’s resources.

Photo: “Brooklyn – Clinton Hill – Notorious B.I.G.” (c) 2013 Wally Gobetz, from Flickr. See License.

When to quit

They say: “fail fast!”

They say: “failure is not an option!”

How do you know when it’s time to quit, and time to persevere through adversity?

The key is to know your Why– as in, why are you pursuing this endeavor? Not the “to make more money” kind of why. I mean the capital W, cellular-level kind of Why. The Why that’s worth fighting for.

When it comes to your Why, failure is not an option. When your current course is not serving your Why, failing fast is the only option. Quit the battle, win the war.

Default to Action

One of Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles, “Bias for Action” states “Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.”

When faced with an important decision, inaction is usually your worst option. There is little to gain if you don’t act. You only stand to lose out on an opportunity- either to succeed or to learn from your mistakes.

Note the difference between inaction and purposefully saying “no”. The latter permits you to opt for another course of action to pursue instead. The former leaves you unable to move forward.

No Difference

Growing up, I loved to read Shel Silverstein. His poem “No Difference” observes:

Small as a peanut,
Big as a giant,
We’re all the same size,
When we turn off the light

“But my business is different” is something I’ve heard many times from entrepreneurs. People who have experience building multiple companies across multiple industries will tell you that businesses are much more alike than they are different.

Once you “turn off the lights” (hint: focus on the numbers), there’s a lot to be learned from businesses that don’t look all that similar to yours on the surface.