A lot of people ask me about starting a non-profit. They often inquire about the early days at Row New York http://rownewyork.org. What was it like? How did you get started? Was it fun? The answers: Hard. Slowly. And No.
The next question people generally ask is, "What would you have done differently if you were to do it again?" That answer is easy. I would have had money. I don't think I would ever take on an endeavor like Row New York again without having startup funds in place. For anyone who hasn't had money at some point in their lives, I am here to tell you that it makes everything you're trying to do much, much harder, if not impossible.
I've decided to share some of the challenges we faced during our startup phase here on this blog. Notice that I used the word "we"? There was technically no "we" involved but it always made me feel better to say "we" as in, "Yes, once we get some funding, we will buy some boats." The word "I" only added to my mounting feelings of career isolation and impending startup failure, so "we" it was.
We quit our job and spent the first day in the tiny east village apartment I shared with my boyfriend and two cats writing an enormous to-do list. The list encompassed everything from very small and manageable tasks such as Buy Printer Paper to daunting and seemingly impossible tasks such as Find Body of Water to Row on in New York City and Buy Boats (remember, no money!).
Check back next week to read about Finding a Body of Water to Row on in New York City...