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What are the sacrifices of a start-up?

What are the sacrifices of a start-up?

If you want to go it alone, you’ll need to make these tough choices. Getting enough money together to start a business – and to survive until it starts turning a profit – isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If it was, everyone would be doing it.

However, those with an entrepreneurial streak and determination to match will usually find a way.

We spoke to three enterprising business owners about the sacrifices they’ve made to bootstrap their dream business.

Janelle Castle, a naturopath by trade, has just returned to Australia after two years in Thailand working in health retreats and resorts.

“From doing that I’ve been consulting with guests from every corner of the globe and seeing all different kinds of health problems,” says the 36-year-old.

She’s become fascinated with the factors that make a person unhealthy or more susceptible to disease, and plans to use her findings to start her own complementary health business in Melbourne.

But the costs in getting her business ready to launch – including trademarking her brand and setting up a website – mean that Castle has had to find a creative way to save. Cue: housesitting.

Since March, Castle has been minding pets at homes around Melbourne through website Mindahome, which she believes has so far saved her about $3000 in rent and bills. Most of her sits have lasted around a month.

So far, she says the experience has been “fantastic – I’ve met the loveliest people”.

It’s also allowed her to afford business coaching and consider renting a clinic which she plans to operate from.

“If I was to start up my clinic here, and if I was paying rent I would be paying two lots of rent – that’s a huge drain,” says Castle.

While living out of a suitcase is proving worthwhile for now, Castle suspects it won’t be an indefinite lifestyle.

“It’s quite a gypsy lifestyle that I’m living, going from one house to another,” she says. “I’ll probably just do it until it’s served its main purpose.”

Up all hours

The four young guys behind school leaver’s website Year 13 are putting in the hard yards to grow their online business – working nine to five at their own office, before fronting up to bar jobs up to four nights a week.

Sydney brothers Saxon Phipps, 24, and Jordan, 22, came up with the idea for a “one-stop shop” for school leavers in 2010. The site offers information on areas including jobs, study options, gap years, travel, apprenticeships and money advice.

They have since been joined by another set of brothers, William Stubley, 22, and Lachlan, 26.

All four directors are now living with their parents to save cash, and pouring everything they earn into building Year 13, which has cost at least $50,000 to set up.

“We really wanted to make sure we had a professional site,” says Saxon.

He says the energy and time required in setting up their business has taken its toll on social lives and relationships. Their age has meant that at times, particularly in the early days, they’ve also had to battle to be taken seriously.

“It’s tremendously hard. All of us work minimum 70 to 80 hour weeks. We’re all continually putting money into the business to be able to float ourselves, it’s a never-ending quest,” says Saxon.

Having now attracted other investors, they hope to cut down their bar shifts in the next three to six months.

While they have made plenty of sacrifices already, Saxon says it’s all starting to pay off. Year 13 has already received corporate support from organisations such as Virgin Money, Student Flights and Open Universities Australia. The site is also pulling in about 20,000 unique browsers a month.

“A lot of our stats are mind-blowing compared to what we thought we’d be able to achieve,” says Saxon.

I don’t – for now

The big day was temporarily put on hold when enterprising couple Jacqui Jones and Dan Sargeant decided to use their $30,000 wedding budget to start their second business, Way We Do.

“I guess personally I felt that looking after our financial future was more important than spending $20,000 or $30,000 on a one-day event, says Jones. “Of course getting married is important to me, and to Dan, but we really wanted to make sure we’re creating a stable financial future for ourselves.”

The couple, who now live in Brisbane, got a taste for working together in another business launched on the back of a $24,000 lotto win in New Zealand.

Their latest business is a cloud-based start-up that helps small business systemise the way they do things through an operations manual. It was launched in May last year.

While they’re building the business, Jones says they are also living frugally, cutting down on meals out and other luxuries such as beauty treatments and clothes.

The pair, both 40, have been engaged for about five years and are now planning to tie the knot in the next 12 months. However Jones suspects it will be a more low-key affair than originally planned.

In the meantime, it has to be asked: is getting married or starting a business the bigger commitment?

“Being in business with anyone is like being married to them. You get to know all about the pluses and minuses,” says Jones.

“You really get to understand how the person works and their personality when you work really closely.”


*Original Article by Larissa Ham: