Mind you, she could have. Easily. The one-time aspiring Chicago journalist and playwright earned millions shortly after first starting out, selling out one invention after another on QVC and constantly dreaming up new ones in between. Now she’s now up to more than 400 inventions, with 120 patents to her name to boot.
Greiner’s first big celebratory “I made it” purchase was a stainless steel Cartier watch she still adores today, she wrote in Invent It, Sell It, Bank It! (Ballantine Books, 2014), her new idea-to-pitch how-to guide for inventors. She didn’t buy herself another extravagant gift for a long time. Not because she didn’t want to, but because she diligently scrimped and saved wherever and whenever she could as a beginning entrepreneur. It proved to be a prudent choice that paid off more than just financially.
“In the beginning I was really, really lean,” she says. “For the longest time I did it all. I played every hat. I was in the factory, doing the graphic design, the photography, the selling -- literally everything. I saved money doing what I could myself. It was hard but I learned. I learned that nobody’s better than you to get your business off the ground. The experience you get is priceless.”
She says entrepreneurs can make “so much more money” -- and gain immeasurable business experience -- from remaining frugal early on, even as their products and services take off and pay off. “For now and for the near future, enjoy roughing it,” she writes in her book. “Take pride in the fact that you’re tough enough to run a business on a tight budget. There will be plenty of time later to indulge in luxuries, comforts, and labor-saving purchases, and you’ll appreciate them more.”
Here are four wise ways Greiner saved money (and sanity) when she first started out and how she says you can, too: