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Lean startup means lean personal living

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When I started Bearded Brothers 2.5 years ago I expected to be drawing a salary six months into the business. I didn’t expect it to be a lot, but I thought it would at least be something to contribute to the household income, but as most business planning goes everything is just a guess.

They key to a healthy startup is living lean. If you aren’t a tech company with a big VC behind you, expect to be eating rice and beans for at least two years, if not more. Businesses without huge amounts of startup capital are forced to be profitable from the start, which may mean forgoing a salary for a considerable amount of time.

When I got married three years ago my wife made less money than I did, and I thought I barely made anything at the time. Despite the decrease in income (less than $40K a year) we managed to survive for over two years, save money, pay for an unexpected birth, and pay off a car in the process.

Although we didn’t have to literally live on rice and beans we decided to give up many luxuries we were used to, such as buying all organic food and eating out several times a week. I was used to spending $600 a month in groceries for myself when I was single, we reduced our budget down to $400 a month to feed the both of us.

As long as you are living a lean personal life you will have more funding to fuel the business. It’s definitely a sacrifice and huge risk to start your own business. But as long as you go into it with the right mindset you will set yourself up for faster success. It also helps if you have a spouse that is 110% behind your dream, this way one of you can bring in an income, while the other one focuses on the new business.

I do realize that not everybody has the luxury of having a separate household income during the startup process. For those of you that don’t, it’s still possible to make your dreams a reality. I recommend the following books to get you started.

Quitter by Jon Acuff and No More Dreaded Mondays by Dan Miller. Both books will provide you with motivation to make your dreams a reality. While working on a business full time right from the start is nice, it’s not absolutely necessary. One of my biggest competitors started off about the same time we did, and their founders maintained full or part time jobs for at least the first year.

With a little bit of planning and a disciplined personal budget, anybody can startup a business!

About Caleb

I'm the co-owner/founder of Bearded Brothers, an organic snackfood company. I love ultra running, rock climbing and cycling. I'm also a vegetarian, passionate about health and well-being.