Does starting a business or making a success of anything in life mean making a sacrifice?
And is it really worth it?
I’ll just take a moment here to clarify what exactly I mean by sacrifice. I am not saying you need to go and find an unfortunate animal to offer up, while you stamp around chanting to the Gods of Success.
The definition of sacrifice (aside from slaughtering a goat) is:
“………..to give up (something valued) for the sake of other considerations.”
So, when you start a business, what exactly should you be giving up?
This blog post came about from a podcast interview I did with Helen Zec from Paysapp (episode coming soon, you can check out my other podcast episodes here).
Helen made a very interesting point, that when you start a business, there is always a price to pay. Particularly when you first start.
The question is, are you willing to pay it?
There are a million and one things you might be giving up to achieve success in your business or life in general.
You’ve probably seen articles saying, “you need to HUSTLE, you should be giving up EVERYTHING including SLEEP or you will never be SUCCESSFUL.” (Gary Vaynerchuk is terrible for this, that man is heading for a breakdown).
But, I think it’s a really personal thing that very much depends on what success means to you.
You could, for instance, sacrifice money but keep your ‘me-time’.
This is exactly what I do.
I have a portfolio career that allows me to juggle earning money, working on the blog and still having time to see family and friends. (I work part-time as a freelancer, work on building this blog and manage my rental properties).
I’ve sacrificed money (I don’t earn what I did in my very well-paid corporate career) because I value my time more highly.
Success to me is hitting the sweet spot between money and time.
That doesn’t mean that decision is right for everyone though, and it may not be right for you.
Below we’ll go through the sorts of sacrifices you could make and you can weigh up whether that feels like the right thing for you or not.
You could decide to do what I did and leave your full-time job completely to concentrate on your business or getting a better work-life balance (please make sure you have the funds to do this!).
Loads of time to work on your business
Save money and time on your commute
Save money on buying lunch out or after work drinks
Save money on not having to buy clothes for work
Get your time back
Do something you really enjoy
Feel like you have a purpose
No steady income!!
Taking a big pay cut
Take a long time to make money – 6 months to 3 years with low to no income
No guarantee your business will work out
Emotional fall out from leaving your job – re-thinking your identity when you have a been an *insert job role here* for so long.
Take a sabbatical (unpaid leave) from your job to explore your business ideas. If you spend 6-12 months working on a business that you ultimately decide isn’t for you, you can always go back to your job and steady salary once again.
It may be that you don’t need to jack in your job completely to get your life back. Perhaps all you just need a bit of time back to get the work-life balance you so desperately crave.
You’ll take a salary drop but it won’t be as drastic as having no income at all.
This could be the perfect solution if you want to start a business but want more financial stability while you do so.
Not every company allows this, but some do so could be worth an ask. Compressed hours basically means you work your contracted hours over a shorter amount of days.
So you could do 10 hour days Mon-Thurs and have the Friday off without taking a pay cut.
This isn’t for everyone and you would need to make sure you didn’t get totally burned out if you were starting a business too.
If your corporate skills lend themselves to doing contract or freelance work, this could be a great solution. You could pick up shorter projects or work 3 days a week while setting up a business.
I have found this to be the best solution for me. I freelance 3 days per week (recently increased from 2 days) as I enjoy the balance of spending some of my time in an office (I need human interaction) and the rest of the time at home.
There is no ‘right way’ to earn money. It could be that a portfolio career is a good idea for you (it works perfectly for me).
The idea is that you get your income from a number of different sources. For example, you could do a bit of freelancing, have your business income and rent out a spare room in your house.
A portfolio career spreads the risk rather than just having one income stream. This can be great while starting a business or you may actually find you love the variety and want to carry on with it even when your business is profitable.
While you are starting your business, you are going to have to make a decision about what is and isn’t important to you.
It’s not only about saving money to fund your business but also the time that could be spent growing your business rather than spending 4 hours in the hairdressers (I’m being flippant here but you know what I mean).
Again, this is a very personal thing. I’m not here to judge. What I consider a ‘nice-to-have’ may be an ‘over my dead body’ to you.
The best thing you can do is go through your bank statements for the past month and categorise everything (I teach this in my Corporate Escape Fund Course which is coming soon).
You can then go through and decide what is essential and what isn’t.
Cutting out the non-essentials means you will save both time and money. Hopefully, this will feel more like a logical exercise rather than a horrendous sacrifice.
By going through everything you spend money and/or time on will really help you declutter your calendar, your mind and your home.
À la Marie Kondo, by only keeping or doing the things you really love, you will feel so much freer.
Not only will this help you in building your business but it will also help you reset any bad habits you’ve built up over the years (like joining the gym and never going *ahem*).
I’m not sure there is a downside to this as long as you don’t go too extreme with it.
If you are completely miserable as you have stripped out everything you enjoy then you have gone too far.
The point is to cut out the things that don’t matter so much and keep the things that do.
This was an unexpected side effect of leaving my full-time job.
As I get a lot more relaxation time in normal life, I don’t feel the need to lie on a sunlounger desperately trying to cram in some downtime before heading back to the work treadmill again.
This may sound like a weird one, but if you have spent years building up your reputation in one particular field, it can take a while to detach yourself from this once you leave.
Climbing the corporate ladder (even one that doesn’t feel right anymore) does give you a sense of pride. You probably identify yourself by what you do. It’s the first thing most people ask when they meet you after all!
To go from being a ‘Manager’, ‘Director’, ‘Head of’ or any other title, to well, erm, freelancer? business owner? person taking a break? can feel like a bit of a comedown.
By detaching yourself from your job role, you get to just be you again, and re-learn what that actually means!
This sounds a bit emosh but is actually quite freeing.
Yes, you worked your ass off in your corporate job and achieved a hell of a lot. But that was one chapter, and now it’s time for a new one.
You might stumble a bit when people ask you what you do. But hey, who cares. When most people find out you have quit your job to follow a new path they are actually really envious 😉
Start re-learning who you are and what you like to do.
If you’ve been working 50/60 hours weeks for the past eleventy million years you’ll probably have forgotten what you actually enjoy doing, you know, like, for fun.
Ah, now onto the controversial list!
This is my personal opinion on what you shouldn’t sacrifice. Read other blogs or article and they may completely contradict this. That’s fine, each to their own.
But for me, these are too important to be sacrificed for a business (or anything else)
Lack of sleep is probably one of the things that gave you a one-way ticket to Burnout Town.
We are designed to sleep, we need it. Do not try and sleep less in order to start your business as you will just burn out again.
I love Arianna Huffington’s stance on this, here is her 4 minute Ted Talk on it. (If you love a Ted Talk, here are some others from successful women on starting a business).
I also wrote another post related to this about why most self-care tips are missing the point if you are interested!
Decide what your priorities are in life. If you value your relationship with your significant other, don’t be tempted to take them for granted while you set up your business.
It isn’t worth creating the life you want if you don’t have your loved one to share it with.
Sure, you can have the conversation about how you will need to spend time on your business, but agree on some ground rules up front.
If you don’t value your relationship then that’s another conversation entirely!!
Don’t drive yourself insane with unrealistic expectations or unnecessary pressure.
Decide what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on your business, and then make sure you balance it with some me-time and things that you enjoy.
Clearly still having some kind of income – freelance work for example – or a good financial cash cushion is essential for this (knowing your net worth is a great first step to take when building up your savings).
And, make sure you are living in the moment – don’t defer your happiness until some point in the future. I did this when I was saving for financial independence and I ended up making myself (and my partner) really unhappy.
When you want to achieve something, there is always a price to pay, that doesn’t need to be a negative thing though.
Reducing a salary is not always a bad thing if you get some time back. A lot of women I have interviewed on the podcast do not earn what they used to, but they are so much happier with their lives now.
Just be clear on what success means to you and what your price is. Don’t be swayed by what other’s tell you to do (sleep less! never see your friends! dump your partner!) just do what is right for you.
Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)