You’ve got a great idea. You’ve decided you want to start a business around that idea. You’re not sure where to start. You could always seek funding from outside sources. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. With a proper strategy, you can succeed beyond your wildest dreams. It goes without saying that starting a business is risky AF.
It doesn’t matter if you are a 25-year-old bachelorette with two dogs or a 40-year-old with two degrees and a family to support. Most people have debt; they have living expenses. And the cost of things is only going up.
As a serial entrepreneur, I don’t blame you one bit. There are a few key things to consider before starting this journey. The first thing I would recommend is to take a long look at your budget. It doesn’t matter if your business begins as a side gig or you straight pop smoke at your job and walk off into the sunset.
You need to have a good understanding of yourself as a person. How long can you survive on what you have now? How will you make ends meet in the interim while you are starting your business? Do you have people that can help you along the way? How much debt do you have?
We have a mantra in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, “Position before submission.” This is a strategy that can be used in several aspects of life. The key here is to position yourself so you can assume the risks involved and go for the win. The lower the chances of catastrophic failure, the more risk you can take on.
This article isn’t to insult your intelligence. Some people will think this is common sense. However, I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs that end up putting things on hold for a while until they get their finances in order. I get it. You got this new baby, and you can’t wait to show it to the world. As much as I love the go-get-’em attitude of the “runs head first into traffic” types., you’re not doing anyone justice if you haven’t thought this through.
Alas, Gam-gam and pop-pop don’t have to go to their graves pennyless because you can actually pay back the money you borrowed to start your business. Congratulations! You get to keep both your kidneys.
Think about the level of focus you can have without the stress of losing everything. Now, don’t get me wrong, that can be a huge motivator, but I’m not the type that thrives on that kind of stress.
Every added stress impacts more than just the stressor itself. It impacts everything we do. Running a business takes on a life of its own. It can be one of the most stressful things you ever do. When we have compounded stress in our life. We tend to take it out on the people, or animals, we care about. And that isn’t fair to them at all. So, let’s dive right in with some mitigation techniques to help you get yourself going.
Take a good look at your bills. What can you get rid of? Where can you free up money to add to your business? So you drive a Lexus with a $1,000 per month car note. Guess what? You should probably look into getting into something with a lot less or no payment. If you drive a rusted-out shit box while you build your business, that’s okay. There will be plenty of time to be a baller when you build yourself a 7+ figure a year business. Do you like to Netflix and chill?
Even those streaming services can be cut for the time being. You’re going to be very busy anyway. Skip the Netflix, and go straight to the chill. Even lowering your phone bill can add value to your business. So what if you don’t have the new phone or the best data plan? Maybe you need to move in with ol’ Gam-gam and Pop-pop for a while. Anyone that has read the stories of Google, Microsoft, KFC, Mattel, etc., knows they all came from very humble beginnings. Every dollar counts.
This is by far my favorite method for eliminating debt. The idea behind debt stacking is to pay off an easily achievable debt. For example, you have a credit card that you’ve been making minimum payments on for months or even years. You’ve managed to rack up about $3,000 on it that never seems to go away. You start making extra payments to get it paid off. Let’s say the minimum payment is $200 a month.
After assessing your expenses and making some changes you’ve realized you can pay around $500 a month. Granted you don’t make any new purchases, and you’re out of that debt in around 6 months. Small wins mean a lot in this game. It’s not time to celebrate yet. Now that you’ve already gotten used to not having that $500 a month. Next, you have student loans. Because who doesn’t or hasn’t had those these days?
You have multiple unconsolidated loans ranging from $8,000 to $12,000. You're going to take that $500 and roll it into the next debt you plan to attack. Once that one is done you roll both payments into the next. This will create a snowball effect. I made an excel spreadsheet that mapped out how long it would take to get pay everything off.
I don’t recommend this to many people. The bigger picture is at hand here. And that is to free up your money so you can live out your dream of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes shifting money around is the best option If you have debts with high interest, see if you can get the interest rates lowered by going with a different company or possibly debt consolidation.
You have two credit cards at 14%-20% interest, with one having $1,500 on it and the other at around $2,000. You could look into getting a personal loan that will pay off both and lower your interest rate at the same time.
Paying off your debt will not only free up your money for you to use in your business, but it will also greatly reduce added stressors and allow you to assume risks elsewhere. It will impact your credit score as well. In the future, you may need to go in search of funding to get things off the ground. Just make sure you thought things through every angle before making any serious money moves.
Growing up no one ever taught me about money. I often jokingly tell people we had to save up to be poor. In my youth, I lived paycheck to paycheck. In 2005, I got out of the Army after seven years and one deployment with no debt. I never really had much debt until college. I finished my bachelor’s degree in 2008 in the worst economy since the Great Depression and swimming in debt.
Back then, I wanted to start a business, but I had mouths to feed and couldn’t take the risk. It took a lot of time and planning to get out from under all that debt. I lived to tell the story and pass on what I’ve learned to you. Sure, I wanted to invest. And in essence, I did. I invested in myself. I sincerely hope this helps you on your journey.