Getting laid off from PayPal was a blessing in disguise that enabled me to turn my online side hustle into a full-time business
- Cinneah El-Amin is the founder of Flynanced, a career-development and wealth-building platform.
- She started the business as a side hustle but took it full time when she was laid off in February.
Cinneah El-Amin was sitting on the beach in Turks and Caicos when she got the text from her manager.
She needed to attend a company update meeting, even though she was taking paid time off. "We never text, so I knew that I was clearly getting the boot," El-Amin said.
El-Amin was laid off in February from her role as a technical product manager at PayPal, alongside roughly 7% of the company's workforce. She was one of the tens of thousands of people who lost their jobs at tech firms including Meta and Amazon this year.
She said that while being laid off was stressful, it was what needed to happen — she was building a side-hustle business and needed some encouragement to give it her all. Her startup, called Flynanced, is a career-development and wealth-building platform for women who work 9-to-5 jobs.
"My initial reaction was relief more than anything because I felt like this was the push that I needed," she said, adding that the big job, the cushy salary, the unlimited PTO, and the fully remote schedule "were like golden handcuffs."
"I convinced myself that I had a good situation — what's the rush on becoming a full-time entrepreneur?" she said.
Making the leap has been worth the risk. In 2022 she booked five figures in net profits, and in the first quarter of 2023 she nearly surpassed that number, documents she shared with Insider showed. She's on track to book six figures in net profits this year.
This as-told-to story is based on an interview with El-Amin. It has been edited for length and clarity.
Finding product-market fit gave me options to grow
When I started Flynanced in 2020, I didn't think I was going to become an entrepreneur.
At the time I was paying off a lot of debt and wanted to create a platform about budgeting and finances that I felt didn't exist. I wanted to help young women prioritize financial goals while making time for things we care about, like travel.
While I started in the travel-budget niche, I spent a lot of time perfecting the product-market fit and finding what my community connected with. I gradually reshaped the company to focus on career development and wealth coaching.
@flynanced here’s where one of my last paychecks went as a laid-off 9-5 hottie… I’m still saving for travel + investing + keeping my money organized #howtobudgetbypaycheck #howibudgetmysalary #howibudget #paycheckbreakdown #layoffs2023 ♬ Chillout Lofi Hip Hop K(886124) - musicabeats
Initially I created content for Instagram and later expanded to courses, workshops, and small-group coaching. In 2022 the company became profitable, even though it was a side hustle.
The financial success showed me that I had a runway to grow this into something bigger. While I never expected to be laid off, I'm thankful that I had put in enough work over the last few years to establish my audience and have some early revenue to feel confident in pursuing it full time when I had to.
I pushed past the shame to create new opportunities
Prior to being laid off, I was always really transparent about my own career and income because that was the core of my brand. But when I was laid off, I was met with feelings of shame.
Ultimately I decided to post about the layoffs on social media. I'd encourage others to take this approach too because being open allowed me to find new opportunities.
For instance, many of the opportunities that have come since February were a result of me posting that I had more time to focus on new projects and speaking engagements, even if they're during the workday.
Having more flexibility made me an asset to other companies. Since being laid off, I've partnered with companies like Dove and LinkedIn to create Black History Month campaigns for their audiences and led a personal-finance workshop for Bumble employees.
I always try to approach difficult situations by spinning them into a positive. I don't want to add to the noise online. Instead, I want to use this experience to inspire others and help people realize that a layoff is a rebirth, not a death sentence.
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