Every small business owner needs to make some sacrifices to start the business of their dreams. Luckily, as most entrepreneurs will tell you, the things that you give up often have a way of finding their way back to you once your business finds its groove.
From time, to money, to missing their own wedding party, these 45 small business experts let us in on what they had to give up to get where they are today.
1. “Starting my online club required sacrifices from my entire family. We not only moved closer to wine country from Southern California, but my wife started working more than we planned when our son was little. I personally had to get accustomed to working a lot
after hours, as well as being flexible about child care and other responsibilities. There’s a lot of juggling going on to say the least, in effect, it’s changed the entire way that our life is set up…..we’d never want to go back though!” –Mark Aselstine, Proprietor, Uncorked Ventures
2. “I decided to get into a relationship the same month that I launched my education technology company called Tuva Labs. To make matters much worse, we were going to be in a long distance relationship, considering I was moving back to the US to launch the company and she was in India. Let’s just say that we went for our first movie together 2.5 years after we started dating, about a week before our engagement. People stay long distance relationships are hard. I decided to get into a long distance relationship and do a startup at the same time. That’s my story.” –Harshil Parikh, CEO, Tuva Labs Inc.
3. “I took a night job to be able to afford to pay my employees for the first 2years that I was in business. I would work at the company from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the head home to shower and then go to a night job (bartender) from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. I believed in the vision and did anything it took to get the company up and running.” –Donald Raleigh, President, Evolve Systems
4. “The sacrifices I made to start my business were plenty. Briefly, I had to sacrifice vacations and free time. Every waking moment is spent designing the business and then reaching out to potential clients. Gone were the mid-day breaks and seasonal outings or holiday trips.” –Robert Galinsky, Founder, Kuhoots Inc.
5. “When we first started the company we gave up our six figure incomes and invested the capital back into the company. The gamble paid off as we now operate a firm that generates $2.6 million in gross revenue and continues to grow. We still sacrifice a huge salary for the growth of the company, but it’s come a long way from our humble beginnings.” –Eric Patton, CFO & Founder, Avant-Garde Wealth Management, Inc.
6. “I had to give up my career as a franchisee in the packing/shipping industry in which I managed multiple locations. I gave up my career to begin my dream of starting my own business, which has grown into an elite moving, storage and delivery company.” –James Miri, CEO & Owner, WG Storage & Delivery
7. “Started my own business with $3k in the bank, a mortgage and my first child only a few months old. I sacrificed security but 15 years later I am still in business.” –Chuck McLaughlin, Owner, McLaughlin Investigative Group, Inc
8. “I’ve had to sacrifice my entire lifestyle since starting up my businsess mainly being financial. We’ve had to forgo many social outings with friends and families. My wife has had to work extra to help support us.” –Ryan Peck, President, Care Ultima
9. “The biggest thing I had to give up when I started The Content Factory in 2010 was financial security. Cubicles are horrible, but they often come with health insurance and a steady paycheck. When I started TCF, I knew I was leaving that behind – and it was terrifying. Fortunately, it worked out for me.” –Kari DePhillips, Owner, The Content Factory
10. “When I started my new business as a Career Management Coach, I had to give up many things: working with colleagues all the time, participating in group brainstorming sessions, attending professional membership meetings in my former profession (which was HR), and, of course, spending money 🙂
Everything worked out though!” –Bettina Seidman, President, SEIDBET Associates
11. “As much as it pains me to say it, I had to give up vacations for about 5 years. While I value nothing more than family time, the cost and the time were just too much in my start up years. Thankfully, everything has worked out well, and we are back to getting some time away as a family and it means more than ever.” –Jason Patterson, Owner, Best Life Plans
12. “The biggest thing I had to give up was a sense of security. Before starting my own company I worked at 3 Fortune 500 companies and always had a sense of security about the company I worked for and my personal job. When I left to create my own company I essentially had to live in fear every day and that fear didn’t really subside until year 2.” –Kevin Barnicle, CEO, Controle, LLC
13. “My co-founder and I were living in my parents’ house and working on an early version of LockerDome in late June 2008. Since my wedding was scheduled for July 5, I gave myself less than two weeks to move out and generate a real paycheck — all without a production-grade product and real credibility. 12 hours before the deadline hit, I skipped my own pre-wedding party to sit on our first investor’s couch and sign papers for a $50,000 check.” –Gabe Lozano, CEO & Co-Founder, LockerDome
14. “When I first began Weal Media in 2005, there were few websites, SEO was regarded as a scam and social media was seen as a passing fad. Each day my Wife and I would make our children’s meals and then wait patiently until they finished eating. Then, we would sit together and share whatever was leftover.” –Kristoffer Howes, Chief Executive Officer, Weal Media Corporation
15. “I’m starting my business right now, and I had to move back into my parents’ house in the USA after living in Argentina for three years.” –Sarah Athanas, Co-Founder, Groundwork Creative Space LLC
16. “When I started my children’s formal clothing business I had to sacrifice my paycheck and social life. There were months where I was barely able to feed myself because all of the revenue went back into the business. I also stop hanging around my friends because they did not support my entrepreneurial mindset, morale played a huge part in my success.” –Lisa Chu, CEO, Black N Bianco
17. “I left college to start my business a year and a half into my time there. While I love running my business, I’ll always look back and wonder what I missed, both socially and education wise by not spending the remaining 2.5 years away at college.” –Michael Pomposello, Managing Partner, Influencer Connect
18. “When I first began my business, I had to give up boundaries. I had worked 9-5 nearly all my life as a in-house web designer, and was used to turning off my brain at 5 with regards to work and client requests. The first few days of my business I quickly realized how that boundary was completely gone and clients would expect changes to be made at all hours of the day. As a startup I had to work hard to show that I cared and earn my first few clients, so fulfilling requests past 5pm was the new normal.” –Guillermo Ortiz, Founder, Geek Powered Studios
19. “While starting my business, I’ve had to sacrifice a lot! I’ve had to give up the security of a steady and reliable income, quality time spent with my small children, a spotless house, extracurricular activities for my kids, and my pride (in regards to receiving financial help from family members during lean times). My passion and helping others keeps me going In the end it will be worth it when I’m able to pay it forward!” –Jennifer Lugo, Founder & Formulator, Verefina
20. “When we started our business I had to give up all my spare time. We are still in start-up mode, so I have virtually no free time to do anything. I used to play rugby, but I even had to give that up.” –Brandon Howard, Co-Owner, Toner Emporium
21. “Since launching my business I have sacrificed my social life! I sleep, eat, breathe my business and work sometimes until 4-5am. I have sacrificed personal relationships and friendships because of this. Someone once told me I work like someone’s about to take my business away from me, and I think I would agree with that statement.” –Kelly Gaskins, Designer & Owner, Charleston Girl LLC
22. “I gave up wasting my time trying to please a boss and instead spent time and effort on what would make clients happy. I gave up paid vacations but gave myself wonderful business trips. I gave up job security for sanity security. I gave up cache of having a ‘real’ job for fun, excitement, control of owning my work. I gave up a boss so I could be the boss I wanted to have.” –Debra Benton, President, Benton Management Resources
23. “When I worked for someone else, stresses and burdens fell on other people and after 5 I’d forget about work. Now, my business is on my mind constantly. I had to sacrifice the ability to leave work behind and clock out.
As a voice over talent, sick days are really bad for business. In order to boost my immune system I made exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep priority. Giving up unhealthy habits has had a great impact on the bottom line.” –Jason McCoy, Voice Over Talent, McCoy Productions
24. “The number one thing I gave up was financial security. I had spent 10 years in financial services before being downsized and starting GlobaFone. My seed capital was my retirement plan which was considerable, not massive, but after paying taxes and penalties, close to $100K. It went into the bank and has grown into GlobaFone today. No safety net, no backstop. That made it do or die. Scary position but also quite an incentive.” –Lou Altman, CEO, GlobaFone
25. “One of my biggest sacrifices was graduate school. I was in the middle of pursuing my MBA (after already partly having worked on my PhD in Physics), when my business blew up. I had to leave grad school to focus 24/7 on the business – it worked out in my favor.” –John Monarch, CEO, Direct Outbound Services LLC
26. “I gave up so much, but specifically, and what I view as a treat now is: daily Starbucks runs, my Retail Therapy habit, and weekly Mani-Pedi sessions. I learned to stretch my dollar in every way and the simple things – haircuts and meals out – were put under a microscope. I had to ask myself, “Does this move my business forward?” Sometimes the haircut was a necessity (big client presentation) but if not, I went without.” –Julia Angelen Joy, Z Group PR, Inc
27. “The greatest sacrifice I made was time with my children. Before my business I had more time with them, but now my time is limited but still highly valued. What this sacrifice has given me however is a better chance to support and provide for them. The time I have may be limited; I just have to make the most of the time I have.” –David Lowbridge, Content Manager and Founder, TwoFeetMarketing
28. “My wife and I started a new company called Mighty Yeti and we’re making interactive storybook apps for kids. We just launched our first app Mr. Cupcake Has The Sprinkles on Tuesday, and we’re approaching the one year mark of doing it full time from our home. The biggest sacrifices I’ve had to make are giving up a steady paycheck in the entertainment industry, the never having down time due to working from home and there always being more work to do, and the challenges of working with the kids around (ages 7 and 5). Of course seeing the kids more is a big plus, but it makes it tough to focus for extended periods of time.” –Josh Book, Co-Founder & Creative Director, Mighty Yeti Studios
29. “I’ve given up sewing and crafting for a hobby. All my creativity goes into the business. Leisure sewing is a thing of the past. It’s like the plumber who doesn’t fix his own pipes. I have no time for craft projects outside the business.
I do most all the embellishing of my sweaters myself. I love doing it, and I’m good at it – but when I’m watching television and in the past would have been hand stitching a project, I’m now sewing funny Christmas decorations onto sweaters.” –Anne Maria Blackman, President, My Ugly Christmas Sweater, Inc.
30. “To start my business I had to give up having any sort of social/love life. Building a small fitness studio from one location to three required 24 hour attention (yes even in my sleep) and did not allow for such silly things as friends, boyfriends, weekends or vacations.” –Sarah Jacoby, Owner, Studio 9
31. “In addition to putting our life savings on the line, it was a commitment to give up most of our free time for the 1st 1-2yrs to get everything up and going at a sustainable level.” –Tom Nickell, Owner, Nickell Rental
32. “When I was first starting my business I couldn’t afford to pay my mortgage and my employees, so I chose my employees. I knew I had a great idea and that in the end it would pay off. I ended up losing my house, but today (four years later) ShortStack is still growing and successful and I own a new home, so it all worked out!” –Jim Belosic, CEO, ShortStack
33. “As a first time entrepreneur, it is a full lifestyle change and it’s simply what you sacrifice for your business. Dinners with friends were replaced with broccoli and budget food, socializing at bars was replaced with walking my dog. Everything flipped a 180 in a matter of weeks yet I don’t regret it. The only thing I’ve not given up is my Krav Maga, boxing and TRX training – I need this to maintain energy and focus.” –Heddi Cundle, Founder & Big Cheese CEO, myTab Inc
34. “There were many sacrifices overall, but starting out the most glaring one was having to give up weekends for ‘fun’ things and replace them with work. While we enjoy the work, it has made it difficult to visit and go out with friends and family who have normal jobs. Watching every nickel and dime in the beginning was very difficult as well; we often went without – and spent money on the business instead!” –Lisa Kerschner, Owner, North Star Orchard
35. “When working for Corporate America I had a lot of flexibility, free time and very generous vacation time which meant I could go to the gym every day, travel a lot and pursue various other interests. Now that I own my own business, I’ve had to give all that up since I work 10 to 12 hours a day, plus Saturdays. So the things that come immediately to mind are free time, weekends, working out, vacations, and a large part of my IRA (to fund the business!) but I wouldn’t change a thing.” –Sherri Cappabianca, President/CEO/Co Owner, Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health & Fitness Center
36. “When given the choice of either making car payments or a newswire subscription we got rid of our car and opted to take the bus. By freeing up almost $500 per month our little firm was able to land more media features. Not to mention never having to worry about parking.” –Christian B. Reed-Ogba, C.O.O., BethanyEast PR & Mgmt.
37. “My partner quit his job and broke his lease, in order for he and his wife to move in with me and my family, since money is so tight during a start-up. We started the business from my home, and generated enough funds to move into our first commercial space 7 months later. It was certainly worth it.” –Chris Groer, President, Essential Source, Inc
38. “The biggest sacrifice I have given up for my company is my condo. I let the condo go so I could use my money to invest in my company. It was a hard decision but I looked at the long term reward and not the temporary situation where I’m not a homeowner at the moment.” -Vernetta R. Freeney, Chairwoman and Editor in Chief, www.womenaregamechangers.com
39. “The biggest sacrifice I had to make was giving up time with my wife. I had just gotten married, and the work schedule I kept to launched the business did not allow me any meaningful time to spend with her for the first year and a half. Moreoever, we were not able to take vacations together in the initial year because I could not leave the business alone.” -Ian Aronovich, Co-founder and CEO, GovernmentAuctions.org
40. “I started my first company in college and I gave up social events, dinner with friends, and a lot of sleep. I would go to class, eat dinner, and then start working on the business. It was worth every bit of sacrifice.” -Jake Russel, Keller Williams
41. “Time, money, and personal relationships. But that’s typical of indie-film producing, Hollywood tech startups, and the entrepreneurial lifestyle. It helps knowing I’m not alone in creating reality out of dreams- I love what I do!” -Keely Grigel, Owner, www.techgroupmeetup.com
42. “What I Had to Give Up to Start my Business: My day job (thank God!) I’m now on pace to almost triple the salary I would have made at my previous job – and I’m working less hours. I also had to give up other things like videogames and pleasure reading (not as excited about giving those up). But, it’s been a much better change for my wife and I – no doubt about that.” -Dan Stelter, SEO Consultant & Digital Copywriter
43. “One of the first and major things that I had to sacrifice was free time. It was very difficult to miss certain holidays and celebrations due to the fact that I run a business that has most of its events in the evenings, on weekends and around holidays. My family, friends and I eventually adjusted but it was definitely one of the hardest transitions.” -Tiffany Gillespie, Event Coordinator,To the T Events & Catering
44. “As an entrepreneur, I had to juggle family commitments with the challenges that naturally come with starting a business. I had to give up on many things – family time, personal time, trips. And being a mother, I had to figure out a way to keep a healthy work/life balance, which is a monumental task when a day only holds 24 hours.” -Nazma Maknojia, PinkLion
45. “When I decided to launch my contractor referral business, not only did I give up a successful career in Corporate America, but I had to take a loan against our retirement savings account which was pretty risky. To compensate, we lived with one car, sacrificed all of the extras (i.e. eating out, babysitters, vacations, etc.) until my business was up and
running. The sacrifices paid off and I was able to repay our loan and turned a profit in my first 6 months in business!” -Debra M. Cohen, President, Home Remedies®