Paul Graham, founder Y Combinator which funds startups, said entrepreneurs need to be “relentlessly resourceful,” which made me think of the story of how I got the money to launch my first company.

When I graduated from college I was hell bent on starting a business right away, but I was dirt poor.

One day, I looked at the flood of catalogs that J Crew sent me and was bummed out. I thought to myself, if I hadn’t spent money on clothes at J Crew in college, I might have enough cash to start a business.

But I wasn’t going to give up on my idea. School didn’t teach me much, but in my spare time I read enough biographies of successful entrepreneurs to realize that throughout history, the most successful entrepreneurs started out with nothing. If you’re determined, there’s always a way.

One time, when I looked at a J Crew catalog, I noticed their return policy on the back cover of their catalog. It boasted that their refund policy didn’t have an expiration. Out of curiosity, I called up their customer service number and asked, “would you give me a refund for clothes that I WORE.”

The customer service woman said, “Yes. That’s our policy.”

It seemed too good to be true, so I wanted to make sure. “I bought clothes from you throughout college. I wore them. They’re used. Are you telling me I can return them to you and get a refund check in the mail?”

She said, “Yes. That’s our policy.”

So I boxed up my clothes and sent them back. Within a few weeks, I got a check. I considered it my grubstake and used it to launch my business. There’s always a way.

I would never have come up with that idea, if I hadn’t spent years reading about the resourcefulness of other entrepreneurs. I’m telling you about my experience because I hope it’ll spark some creative idea in you. There’s always a way.

If you have any examples of relentless resourcefulness, share them so we can inspire others.

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