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Thinking of Starting a Business?  Here are the 8 sacrifices you will have to make in order to be successful:

According to the United States Small Business Association, there were 30.2 million small businesses in the United States in 2018 employing 58.9 people .  While starting a business can seem glamorous and many choose to embrace the entrepreneurial dream citing a desire for freedom however the reality is that according to a survey from the New York Enterprise Report found that small business owners work double the amount of time that employees do.  According to Gallup, 39% of business owners work over 60 hours per week.

Aside from the hours, there are numerous rewards for being a business owner.  These include:

  • Creating something for yourself.
  • Being your own boss.
  • Building a business that you can sell after a period of time for a healthy profit.
  • Tax advantages.

After having grown several types of businesses, I will be the first one to tell you that not one of them came without hard work.  Several have consumed my time, my resources, and my efforts and although those have allowed me to travel to incredible places for work such as Australia, Bali, London, Maui, and more, and afforded me the ability to send my children to excellent schools, they have not come without sacrifice.  From not being fully present at times to dashing from the dinner table to finish a proposal, being a business owner comes with a cost and if one is willing to pay that price, it can both be richly rewarding and at times – exhausting.


The 8 Sacrifices Required to Building a Successful Business

The Sacrifice of Your Time

As mentioned, with 39% of small business owners working over 60 hours per week, time must be dedicated.  It may look glamorous from the outside – the business dinners, travel, networking, and so forth, however behind the scenes, there is a sacrifice of time.

Last Labor Day, for example, we had rented a cottage with friends, and were scheduled to leave on Friday afternoon.  One of our strategic partners, a multi-billion-dollar company, had requested an updated technical pricing proposal.  Instead of heading to the cottage, my Co-CEO in RadiusAI, and myself, worked until seven o’clock at night on the proposal.  The next morning, my family, and I, headed to the cottage.  That afternoon, I went into a bedroom to present the proposal to the vendor.

At the end of the day, we still had family time, laughter, and created fond memories.  The proposal was also accepted and we are in the next round of presentations to score this deal.  Building a business is going to require extra time and that is why those with an employee mindset – the work day ends at five o’clock as an example, usually aren’t cutout for the sacrifices demanded while building a company.

The Sacrifice of Your Ego

As you grow your business you will have critics and some of them are right.  In business, we must have a thick skin.  We will receive criticism and some of it can be quite healthy.  There are times, for example, when I sit in meetings and know that it is not my role to lead the conversation but to instead, ask the right questions.  Additionally, I also am acutely aware that if I go into a meeting without adequate preparation, it can be a disaster.

Some of the criticism I have received is quite constructive and that includes knowing when to allow another to lead.  Other criticism I have received is quite unfounded and I have been forced to defend a position to earn trust.  Regardless of the business you are in, you will have critics.  In the face of criticism, you can give up or get better.  I suggest the latter.

Use criticism to ask yourself how you can improve.  Choose to look at the source, breathe, and contemplate whether or not this critic might have something useful in their opinion.  Our critics can always help us grow.

The Sacrifice of Your Distractions

In business, we must get myopic.  There are no end of distractions and frankly, our distractions rarely move us forward.  I once mentored a couple who started a business and immediately cancelled their cable.  They said that they would take the time they had spent watching television and put it into their business.  She was an attorney and he was a high-ranking police officer.  They were already working over sixty hours per week and had a young son.  They had to find time and cable was a distraction.

What distractions do you have?  Is it social media?  Netflix?  Is it gossip?  Some distractions may come in the form of something that appears healthy such as trying to build a business, raise a family, and training for an Ironman Triathlon.  In my experience, and as someone who formerly tried to attempt that triad, it doesn’t work.  I ended up getting quite sick.

A mentor once said, ‘Susan, all distractions are equal.’  It is very hard to build multiple businesses at one time.  It is very challenging to raise your family and do a start-up.  I am not saying that it is impossible however you will have to be highly organized and eliminate any frivolous distractions.

The Sacrifice of Your Doubters

You will have doubters.  Doubters are different than critics.  Doubters truly do not believe you will be successful.  They are likely to openly tell you so and candidly, might live with you.  When you are building a business, you cannot share air with any doubters.  They will destroy your drive and dominate your energy.

The people who create incredible companies, are very clear about who they surround themselves with and who they do not.  At this stage in my life, I have eliminated any relationships with doubters.  I do not have time for it and the reality is that their doubt in me doesn’t pay my bills.

The Sacrifice of Your Procrastination

Success in business and procrastination do not make a powerful combination.  In business, there is no room for procrastination.  Documents must get sent, registrations need to happen, sales calls cannot wait, and list goes on.  Your success is contingent on your ability to sacrifice your tendencies for procrastination as these will only serve to sabotage your gains.

The Sacrifice of Your Money

Business takes money.  Yes, there are businesses that can be launched for just a few hundred dollars however the bigger the goal outcome, the bigger the upfront investment.  Many of my friends, sacrificed getting paid to launch their startups.  To build Radius, I have invested my own money and resources.  There are always unexpected fees that come up whether these are legal, accounting, marketing, or hiring staff to support your growth, my personal rule is that if you are going to start a business, other than direct sales or an online education program, make sure you have at least one year of living expenses and an emergency fund.

The Sacrifice of Your Comfort

One friend downsized their home to build their business.  Dave Ramsey, the noted financial guru, shares that he and his wife lived in a dilapitated home for two years after a business collapsed and they were starting a new one.  Other friends drove old cars and paired down luxury expenses such as dining out and travel to start their businesses.  If you are truly ‘all in’ there might be a sacrifice of your comfort while you are building your business.  Know that if you are successful, this sacrifice will provide you with valuable lessons and undoubtedly be temporary.

The Sacrifice of Your Resentment

Giving up time, money, comfort, and getting humbled may sound like something you are willing to do however after a period of time, people tend to become resentful.  In order to be successful, you will have to sacrifice your resentment.  Resentment is like a cancer of the soul and once it begins, it is very difficult to stop.  The business you dreamed about becomes the thing you resent the most.  Once this happens, much like in a marriage where you married your great love and now look at them with resentment, collapse is very likely to ensue.

Everyone I know who has built a successful business, sacrifices their resentment and seeks to find the good in all things.  This is incredibly difficult however it is necessary if you are going to build your business long enough to reap the rewards.


Lastly, a mentor of mine said this, ‘to be successful you have to do today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t.’  I encourage you to remember these words and hold them in your heart.  While others look at your life and say that they couldn’t do what you do, remember that success ultimately comes to those who are willing, patient, and dare to defy the norm.


Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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