What I Sacrificed To Start A Business

Starting a business isn’t easy. After I’d made an offering to Odin I realised this wasn’t the kind of sacrifice that was going to get results. There were a lot of things in my life that I gave up, in order to create a successful business. It wasn’t like on day one I vowed to get rid of these things, it just, kinda, fell that way. Nine years in I’m trying to balance it all a bit better. While work is still the major, driving force in my life, it’s not like when we were starting out and work life consumed *everything* (it had to, or our business wouldn’t be here today). I wouldn’t change a thing even though some of the sacrifices on the list do sting a little…

My Sneaker Collection

Let’s start with the most painful sacrifice (I’m joking, obviously). I know, collecting shoes is totally silly but I really debated whether or not I should do it. I’ve collected shoes since 1999, back then it wasn’t really a ‘thing’ like it is today. By 2010 I had a lot of pairs and I was attached to them. Growing up I was bullied at school for not having cool shoes and with my first ever paycheque I went and bought a pair of Nikes. I loved everything about collecting; finding a rare pair, opening the box for the first time, the tissue paper, the smell, lacing up for the first time, the whole experience.

But I only have two feet and my business was more important. I sold the bulk of my collection in the first few months of the company and kept a few pairs back. When funds were low I’d fling a pair on eBay and that £50 or £100 would see me through the rest of the month. I justified the sales with the thought that one day I’d buy them all back and, dear reader, I did just that!

Independence

I decided to move back in with my mum and dad. All the statistics show that we’re leaving home later and later but still at 27 this was not the look. It might have been fine if I’d never left home, but going back is hard. I love my folks, they’re brilliant, but when you live in a family you have to follow the rules. If you’re up late you need to be quiet. Dishes need to be washed in a timely manner. You can’t hang out with mates (or romantic interests) at all hours. You’re not your own boss because you need to consider others.

Moving home felt in some ways like a step backwards, I couldn’t help but compare myself to friends who were moving into swanky new pads. I tried not to let it bother me and focused on the long term goal. After around a year and a half, I was earning just about enough to scrape some rent together and bid farewell to mumsie and pops. Too many people are scared to take a step backwards but if they do, their future could be so much brighter. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who will let you live rent free while you set your business up then I strongly recommend you do it, no matter how uncool it makes you look.

Going out

Going out is expensive. Fun, but expensive. Partying, cinema, holidays, anything costing money that involved me leaving the house (which I really wanted to do – see above point) had to go, or at least be cut back to the bare minimum. I gave up alcohol, which helped massively, honestly; you won’t believe how much money you will save just by cutting this out. People talk about having a work/ life balance and there’s recently been a bit of a backlash towards ‘hustle porn’; the Instagram quoteables that advocate ‘sleep when you’re dead’ and other such sentiments. I get it, and you do need to keep your mental health in check, but in the beginning, you really do need to put in the work; you can probably work much harder than you expect.

Days of the week were invented by humans, there’s nothing sacred about them and if you want to win you’re going to have to give up the concept of a ‘weekend’. If you’re regularly out on a Friday night, you sleep in on a Saturday and then you’re hungover and do no work for the rest of the day, I’m sorry, you’re probably not going to make it.

My friends and family

I barely saw my niece until she was two years old. I mean it’s fine because babies are boring until then anyway, but I still feel bad. I was living with my parents but I was up at 6 and in our studio (I say studio, it was a shed) until midnight most nights, so I never saw them. Because I’d sacked off going out I rarely saw my friends, the ones I did see are the ones who made an effort to keep up our relationship; knowing that I was rubbish, they’d make sure they called, texted or popped in to see me at work. I’m so grateful to those people because they’re the ones that are still around today. Any relationship needs care and attention, and I neglected many of mine because I didn’t have time for their upkeep. That being said, the ones who really love you will forgive you and they’ll always be there. When someone ‘supports’ you, part of that is understanding that you might not be there all the time like you used to be.

What I’ve learnt

Having a business has taught me to not take any of these things for granted. We all know people that have everything on the above list and more, and they’re not happy with their lives

Based on talking to hundreds of creatives, it seems that it takes around three years to get a business ‘off the ground’. Things start clicking into place at around this time if you’ve been putting the work in and you’ll then get to relax a little bit. If you do your own thing you’ll never be able to take your foot off the gas completely and you’ll never have as much ‘spare time’ as your friends with ‘real’ jobs but I think it’s worth it. Three years seems long, but it’s a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of our lives. If you can go without luxury, spend less time with those you love, give up Netflix or Xbox for three short years you’ll be golden. Most people can’t. It’s hard and that’s why they give up. The people who keep going are the ones who will win.

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