Start-Up Sacrifices

Interested to hear from those who have started up their own business (successfully or otherwise).

What were the sacrifices that you / your partner made in order to make things work? Was it worth quitting your day job or high paying job for something unstable and risky?

Comments (19)

Most Helpful
Sep 13, 2018 - 12:24am

Countless failures for me.

Costs: 1) tangible financial costs; 2) harmed reputation caused by the actions that led to failure; and (here's the big one) 3) opportunity cost--going the full-time entrepreneurial route completely threw me off my career trajectory, leaving me years behind where I'd otherwise be.

Benefits: 1) I'm much more grateful for the really good job I have now at my obnoxiously corporatey "9-5." At least for me, I would have never forgiven myself had I not tried, and I would never have been content at my "9-5" even had I been far ahead of my present situation--some things can't be measured in dollars and cents or in job titles. 2) Some additional skills and real-world knowledge obtained. Ya never know when you'll call upon those past experiences to guide you toward success in a future endeavor.

Was it worth it? Yes, but only because I would have been miserable had I not tried. Ideally, I would have a time machine that I could use to tip off my younger self, at which point I would have been content with my decision to stay "9-5".

Array

  • 8
Sep 14, 2018 - 3:03pm

You gotta shoot your shot, I want to do the same as soon as I can.

Array

Sep 13, 2018 - 2:07am

1) Money, obviously. Let me tell you this, clients can be ruthless when it comes to money. You'd think that larger businesses with lots of cash = safe payers that pay on time - but no, it's not that way. There are regular F500 companies out there that will put the worst deadbeat tenants to shame, when it comes to late payment. Somewhere along the line, for the past 10-15 years, it became OK to fuck over your suppliers, and treat them as free credit.

So if you're going to start a business, DO NOT EXPECT good clients that will pay on time, expect the worst...though this is more a B2B issue if you're aiming for that market.

2) Time, obviously. You could invest so, so much time, only for nothing to come out of it. I know that a ton of people around here come from backgrounds (sports, jobs, etc.) where the more time and energy you put in, the better the outcome - but here's really no such linear relationship in the world of small business. You could work 18 hour days for months, only to get the rug pulled from under you.

At least if you work in Finance, MC, BigLaw, or whatever, there's a guaranteed carrot in front of you. Nice salary, excellent career opportunities, all are almost a guarantee, if you just put in the hours...in startups? No such thing. You can end up broke, and the experience you get is sadly not valued too much.

All in all, I think the startup experience is a good way of maturing. Some people that join startups have never faced hardships or lost anything in their lives, so it can be a sobering moment.

Sep 13, 2018 - 2:34am

Oh boy...the biggest one isnt really bad just something you should be prepared for that nobody talks about...

Literally can't relate to 99% of people because I've been working 80 to 110 hours a week since I was 18 or 19 and now that I'm 25 and making good money it's even worse because my problems are so different.

Just narrows down the pool of people you interact with by a huge amount.

Also everything gets really fucking boring once you risk everything a few times. I literally cut out most of my hobbies just because I lost interest and don't get the rush I do out of say...buying a distressed asset, assembling a new team and scaling the business. Was on a date the other day and left midway through because I decided I'd rather finish up running through a distressed play we are working on etc.

Again, not bad per se, just kind of weird side effects you don't expect going in. I love what I do and can't really stop because nothing else gives me a kick.

Here's a thread I made detailing some of the other things:
https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/bootstrapped-entrepreneur-nettin…

Sep 14, 2018 - 4:29pm

Yo man, I have a ton of respect for your posts and you seem like a super successful guy. That said, it's depressing to hear that your start-up/investing activities are the only source of meaning in your life... Maybe just get more intense/risk seeking hobbies? For example, the CIO at my old firm did these cross-country backpacking/skiing trips in the Alps where you could reasonably expect to die if you weren't VERY well prepared.

Don't let work be the only thing you value in life. It's gonna go against you at some point and you're asking to get smacked with serious depression if you don't have anything else to care about.

Life's is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
  • 4
Sep 14, 2018 - 2:40pm

I quit my lucrative job at DE Shaw to sell books online in Seattle. Turned out pretty well.

  • 1
Funniest
Sep 14, 2018 - 2:50pm

Bezos 1998 vs 2017

“Doesn't really mean shit plebby boi. LMK when you're pulling thiccboi cheques.“ — @m_1
  • 4
Sep 14, 2018 - 3:00pm

Echoing m_1 and tackytech, relatability to others especially regarding income. Your friend was publicly reamed by his boss? Hard to truly relate to his woes when the direct deposit still hits. You had a great day moving deals forward and building new relationships? Make sure you save the receipt…

“Doesn't really mean shit plebby boi. LMK when you're pulling thiccboi cheques.“ — @m_1
  • 1
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Sep 14, 2018 - 3:01pm

I wouldn't call it sacrifice per-se, just a non-conventional route taken.
Starting a hedge fund from home, in a small town, in developing country.
Dropping out of Senior High, although completing later.
Had to sell a 6 month old car, my parents had bought me new.
Could've gone to college and did, CAIA or CFA, lost all the money on the Hedge Fund costs and trading losses.
Parents essential wanted me to make something out of myself, as I was not suited to the regular 9-5. Falied their expectation that I would be successful in academics.
So yeah, my whole college, savings and a lot of other opportunities not taken.
But what I look back to see is -:
1. Lessons well learned.
2. Fond memories of small successes.
3. Depressing times.
4. Invaluable experiences.
5. Met great people.
6. Learned a lot about the field of finance.
7. Took control of personal finance.
8. Learned the function of money.
9. Analysing the markets - through both technical and fundamental perspective
10. Financial discipline. Spending only what you have to.
Lastly, Knowing thyself. I got to know myself a lot, and I mean a lot. It made a person filled with gratitude.
Even though I had officially failed.
Thanks

Sep 22, 2018 - 12:44am

Start up life (just reached beyond breakeven leveraged CF and waiting for first owner's draw, my equity got paid back within two years of starting, I'm in my 30's with kids):

  • having to explain to your wife that the value of your share of equity means you are better off today than working a corporate job and getting your income taxed and investing in a like kind asset.

  • being asked where is the cash flow even though revenue exceeded proforma by 20%; meaning, OPEX was also higher than expected. One time start up costs seem like an eternity to burn through. Patience Grasshopper (and Mrs Grasshopper).

  • the cool feeling of being a founder in something you've always wanted to do for years, but also lost some "change the world" passion after being beat down by everyone under the sun.

  • wife says she wants a normal life and didn't sign up for my dream, whereas what I'm creating is a potentially stabilized annuity that will normalize future cash flow. Compare this to the rat race of the senior/executive ranks of my industry (the air gets thin up there) and I'd say I feel like I have more control, which is ironic. I tell her I'm going to prove her wrong. Chasing "rainbows", "unicorns" and today she used another mystical creature, chasing "leprechauns".

  • starting your own business is hard. Best to work with someone with more money, someone older and wiser, and have complimentary personality traits than you.

  • never argue with your wife who has to work to bring cash flow to the family. She's right. She wears the pants now. She's the investment committee. But what if she stops believing in you (righty or prematurely). Can our relationship survive this? Having a working spouse and her income is the only way I could have done this.

  • I could get screwed over another few months if my investment partner makes the company pay the deferred pref before paying my draw. But he says he'd pay. Piece of advice to minority shareholders who earn some sweat equity.

Hope these thoughts bring some perspective. There are real sacrifices. I always felt like I could make back the money. I love to work and never cared about working for someone, so going entrepreneurial was really just an itch I had to scratch. The strain on my relationship with my wife would be the biggest casualty if I'm not successful, due to finances. I do believe what I'm doing is and will ultimately be the right choice. I also believe in YOLO. My wife might say she wants an average life "like our friends" but I say hell no to that. I need a higher purpose.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 8
Jan 6, 2019 - 12:03am

Thank you for this. No wife, but these are the same conversations I have with my long term gf.

I can see my vision, I can even feel and taste it at times. But that's me. It isn't something you can properly convey to someone with just words.

odog808:

Start up life (just reached beyond breakeven leveraged CF and waiting for first owner's draw, my equity got paid back within two years of starting, I'm in my 30's with kids):
  • having to explain to your wife that the value of your share of equity means you are better off today than working a corporate job and getting your income taxed and investing in a like kind asset.

  • being asked where is the cash flow even though revenue exceeded proforma by 20%; meaning, OPEX was also higher than expected. One time start up costs seem like an eternity to burn through. Patience Grasshopper (and Mrs Grasshopper).

  • the cool feeling of being a founder in something you've always wanted to do for years, but also lost some "change the world" passion after being beat down by everyone under the sun.

  • wife says she wants a normal life and didn't sign up for my dream, whereas what I'm creating is a potentially stabilized annuity that will normalize future cash flow. Compare this to the rat race of the senior/executive ranks of my industry (the air gets thin up there) and I'd say I feel like I have more control, which is ironic. I tell her I'm going to prove her wrong. Chasing "rainbows", "unicorns" and today she used another mystical creature, chasing "leprechauns".

  • starting your own business is hard. Best to work with someone with more money, someone older and wiser, and have complimentary personality traits than you.

  • never argue with your wife who has to work to bring cash flow to the family. She's right. She wears the pants now. She's the investment committee. But what if she stops believing in you (righty or prematurely). Can our relationship survive this? Having a working spouse and her income is the only way I could have done this.

  • I could get screwed over another few months if my investment partner makes the company pay the deferred pref before paying my draw. But he says he'd pay. Piece of advice to minority shareholders who earn some sweat equity.

Hope these thoughts bring some perspective. There are real sacrifices. I always felt like I could make back the money. I love to work and never cared about working for someone, so going entrepreneurial was really just an itch I had to scratch. The strain on my relationship with my wife would be the biggest casualty if I'm not successful, due to finances. I do believe what I'm doing is and will ultimately be the right choice. I also believe in YOLO. My wife might say she wants an average life "like our friends" but I say hell no to that. I need a higher purpose.

Jan 20, 2019 - 2:57am

The abyss is painful but if you can somehow support yourself and beyond, you might never want to go back.

That said having a great partner in the start up is really helpful, because there will be some rocky moments. Some holy shi.. moments that did we just do that. It's also good to be accountable to someone else.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 1
Dec 9, 2020 - 2:54am

You also sacrifice your mental health.  Everyone wants to be an owner until you start losing money.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
Dec 10, 2020 - 3:14pm

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