The Sacrifice to Be an Entrepreneur


Starting your own business is a challenge.  Starting your own business when you have a full-time job brings in a pretty big obstacle.  Where are you going to find the time for your job AND your startup?  What do you have to sacrifice to make your startup happen?  I wish there was an easy answer to this.  There isn't.  In order to work your full time job and be an entrepreneur, there needs to be some serious sacrifice.  

Starting Sloane 7 years ago, I jumped in with no real road map and felt like I'd just figure it out.  I've learned a lot about time management and money management over the last 7 years.  The good news is that I still have had time and money to travel, workout, sleep, hangout with friends, spend quality time with my wife and have an actual life.  The bad news is that a lot of things I used to enjoy and might want to have had to be sacrificed.  

The picture above is of my 23 year old car that people always wonder when I'm replacing. To be an entrepreneur, a 23 year old car is just one of many, many sacrifices I've made. Here are the things I had to cut or pull back on considerably to make my business a reality.


Bye Bye TV

I moved from LA to Cincinnati for my job.  I wanted to challenge myself with TV.  I had a very bad habit of getting totally consumed with shows and staying up til 1am watching marathons of shows like First 48.  I had issues!  That had to end.  I could no longer waste that time watching shows or random NBA games of the Knicks and Bucks playing.  I would just get sucked in.  

I decided to not get a TV when I moved.  I would see how long I would last before I NEEDED one because I would miss out on too many things.  5 years later I finally got a TV and cable.  During that time, I free'd up hundreds and hundreds of hours of me just vegging in front of the TV watching something that really wasn't helping me in any way.  

By completely getting the TV out of the house I eliminated any weakness that I would have to turn it on.  There was no option.  You might think this is crazy, but to be an entrepreneur, you are going to cut what feels like many crazy things. 


It's Bootstrap Time 

Having a full time job is so critical to help pay bills and get things up and running.  Before you even get one sale you need develop the product, make the product, build the website, make a logo, do a photo shoot, incorporate, etc, etc, etc.  Guess where all of this cashflow is coming from?  Your salary.  

The good news is that you have a salary because you're working full time, but the bad news is that you will have to sacrifice on things in order to have the cash needed to get the business up and running.  I had to put less money into my 401K, rent versus buy a place to live, be content with my 1994 BMW (see pic) with 200,000 miles on it versus something newer, travel less with friends, spend less on clothing and not go out to eat as much.  

That sounds like a lot of sacrifice.  It is.  That's what needed to happen to get it going though.  It's a luxury to have a parent or family member give you some capital, but that just was never an option for Sloane.  The money came from us.  In the end, it makes it that much more rewarding knowing that YOU did this.  I won't lie though......if an Uncle wrote me a check for $100K with no strings attached I would've taken it.  Ha.  That's always helpful, but if you don't have the mentality of bootsrapping, you'll blow right through that cash and now have to deal with the debt!


Relaxing Night After Work

When you are starting up a business on the side you need to find hours.  If you are working 40 to 50 hours a week on your job you basically have nights and weekends to work on your startup.  I used to play basketball after work.  I used to hangout with friends after work.  I used to go to happy hour after work.  I used to watch TV after work.  All of that changed when I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

sacrifice to be an entrepreneur - goodbye beer and partying

I would still do those things SOMETIMES.  I was in a beach volleyball league once a week.  I'd go to happy hour maybe once a month.  You read earlier what happened to my TV watching.  Those "fun" evenings after work now involved me plugging away on my computer working on all the details to get Sloane going.  The weird thing was that once I fully committed to Sloane I really didn't miss all that other stuff.  I was dialed in.  

I think the hardest thing for me was not seeing my friends as much.  I am an extroverted person and love grabbing beers with my buddies.  I just had to shut that off.  I couldn't do the happy hours and then come back to work on Sloane buzzed.  It still hurts me today making the call that those times with my friends have to be limited.    


Weekends are Business Time

My weekends are really valuable.  I find that as critical time to put into the business.  You often have more energy because you're not doing it after work.  You also have more time to do things like go talk to a potential partner or go to a convention.  I used to try to find things to do every weekend.  Golf.  Vegas.  Concert.  Late night partying.  I haven't 100% cut those things off, but they have been lessened considerably.  

I can't wake up at noon hungover anymore.  That's a total waste of time that could've been used for my business.  Instead, I will go out until 11 and be in bed by midnight instead of 3am.  I can get up at 8 feeling good and ready to put in some time on Sloane.  It was also a bad habit staying out THAT late.  

Whatever you do on your weekends, it will have to be reallocated.  I don't spend all day everyday on the weekends banging away on Sloane, but hours need to be put in.  I still need to recharge going into the week and enjoy myself.  I absolutely do that, but I am much more calculated about where I spend the hours.  


The Kids Factor

I have been able to get Sloane up and running without kids.  Kids are a factor I did not have to manage.  You do not want to be the MIA dad that put everything into his company.  You will just need to make some different choices.  I listened to a How I Built This podcast recently where the founder had 2 kids and a job.  She said she spent the weekday evenings devoted to her kids and then worked on her business when they went to bed.  She stayed up until 3am!

The sacrifice of sleep might be more of a factor when you have kids.  You want to be present for them in the evenings.  That leaves you the late evenings to grind.  


What I Did Not Sacrifice

Having energy to make it through the grind is critical.  In order for me to feel healthy and happy I need a daily workout, healthy food and enough sleep.  I have been good about getting those through this journey.  If I gained a ton of weight and was just fatigued everyday, then Sloane would suffer.  I made sure to prioritize my health to have the energy to be an entrepreneur and work my daily 9-5. 

My family and close friends are everything to me.  I made sure I stayed in touch with them no matter what. Some of my trips to see everyone might have gotten cut to save money and have more time, but I absolutely made sure to stay in touch.  I don't want to look back with a successful company and then not have any friends and a pissed off family.  Make sure they get the time they deserve!


The Sacrifice 

A lot of people talk about their great ideas and what COULD BE.  That's all talk until you take the step to bring it to life.  What I just laid out talks about the sacrifices it takes to be an entrepreneur and make dreams a reality.  Many people just aren't willing to give up that much.  I totally respect that.  I probably would have had way more fun if I had more money and more time to enjoy myself.  

Sloane is a dream that I want to see through.  I don't want to look back 30 years from now and think that my need for a new car and watching TV was what prevented Sloane from making it!