When Starting a Business Be Prepared to Do Worse – At First

working hard

The early stage of business ownership can be very difficult. Most people have heard that, yet many still have dreamy visions of overnight success. No matter how confident you are with your business idea and ability to make it work, be prepared for some hard times at first.

According to Dan Andrews of Tropical MBA, new business owners should prepare for a period of about 1,000 days of making less than they did while working for someone else. Andrews writes:

“I was chatting with my friend David from Greenback Tax Services the other day about these misconceptions. I said, ‘People don’t understand they need to be poor for 1,000 days.’

Our basic hypothesis: Uou’ll be doing worse than you were at your job for 1,000 days after you start your muse business.

I’ve seen it happen a bunch of times. For many of us it’s been almost exactly those 1,000 days it took for us to get back to the level of income we enjoyed in our corporate days.”

Andrews describes the typical process. It begins with the early days of calling new clients and wondering how you’ll ever make money. Then you progress to the later stages of having too much work to do and considering new hires. He also mentions that most entrepreneurs quit early on in the process.

While being poor for nearly three years doesn’t exactly sound like good news for new business owners, the idea can still offer some comfort. If you’re a new business owner struggling to make ends meet, it’s not necessarily because your idea is bad or because you don’t have the skills to succeed. It could very well just be part of the process. Very few businesses make a profit in the first year. And it can take even longer to get to the point where you can pay yourself as much as you made at your last job.

So before quitting your job to pursue your dream of business ownership, make sure you’ll be able to spend about 1,000 days working harder and making less money than you ever have before.

Working Hard Photo via Shutterstock

14 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles and feature stories. She is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, social media, and creative topics. When she’s not writing for her various freelance projects or her personal blog Wattlebird, she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

14 Reactions

  1. It’s really a situation that you cannot prevent. That’s because you need to do everything while you don’t have the money to hire employees. It may be difficult but that’s okay. That’s because you’ll eventually reap the results afterwards.

    • I think it might help to start saving about 6 months before leaving a job to start one’s business (if possible). It’s not something I was able to do myself because I left fairly soon after I decided I was leaving. But being able to put money aside in the months before leaving can help towards a smoother transition.

  2. Aira,
    Thanks for your comment. There’s an old saying. It takes money to make money. Most people interpret that saying (incorrectly, I think) to mean that it takes a large amount of money to invest in a business. But these days, many businesses can be started with very little in the way of upfront investment. The real cost comes when you need to live without a steady paycheck while you get that new business started and build it into a profitable venture.

  3. I’ve done it and it’s true.

  4. While it’s true that as CEO of my company, I did worse for the first year or so when we opened our business 20 years back, it’s also true that my husband was still able to work freelance as a consultant until we got a business firmly established so that 1000 day number is a a little too arbitrary. Some business owners may be able to make more within the first couple months while other new owners may take well over year before the people what they were making in their a salary job. Nonetheless, the point is that new business owners should expect to be taking home more money right off the bat, except in very rare instances.

    • Well said. It’s likely not going to be the same for everyone, but if you’re prepared to do worse for awhile, then at least you give yourself the time you need to get your business off the ground. And if it takes you less time to start making profits, that’s even better!

      • It’s true that it may take you a little while to get profits rolling in but you
        can turn it around with so good old hard work, sweat and a little time to it going.
        The most successfully companies started out slow but soon hit the
        right mark to “blow up”. You will need to hang in there and not give up.

  5. I first quit my job some years ago to go freelance. It was difficult. I was broke for a good while. And I had a limited amount of success. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  6. Starting a thing is one of the most difficult things to do. You can’t guarantee that it will result to a very sweet success. I suggest that if failure comes and mistakes happen, we should learn not to do it again and again and let it to be our guide upon achieving our success.

  7. This is really eye opening for me. quiet practical approach for one to prepare before jump in.
    Thank you!

  8. I liked this article. Brief but impactful. For those of us who start businesses (I’ve started and purchased companies), success rarely happens immediately. Most of the business press writes about the successes. Thinking you should have sales immediately or be profitable quickly can lead to bad decisions, frustration and even distress. Knowing that the opposite is much more likely reduces frustration and the pressure you put on yourself. And leads you to plan accordingly!

  9. Having the help of a Virtual Assistant during the start-up time can be very helpful because it can take some of the pressure off of doing the administrative tasks and lets you focus on the purpose of your business. Hiring a VA costs less than a full-time or part-time employee and therefore is an affordable option for start-ups.

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