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Stake Your Claim Contrary to popular belief, there's no need to ante up a fortune when you're playing the startup game. Here's how 3 entrepreneurs launched high-cost businesses the low-cost way.

By Karen E. Spaeder

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

For most people, the idea of starting a business roughly equatesto the idea of emptying your bank account, thumbing it to Vegas,and betting every penny on one hand of blackjack. You might be ablackjack guru; you might have even won big in the past. But nomatter how carefully you plan, no matter what your cards lookedlike before, and no matter if the dealer tosses you an ace-youcould still go bust.

That alone is enough to halt many would-be entrepreneurs intheir tracks. Factor in the empty-bank-account factor, though, andmany startups don't even make it out of the gate.

Would it surprise you, then, to know that sometimes your carefulplanning, meticulous business plan and brilliant marketing ideasdon't have to go to waste-and don't have to cost afortune? "I know it can be done. And that's one of thefirst things people need to understand," says John P. Hayes,co-author with Fred DeLuca, Subway's co-founder, of Start Small, Finish Big: Fifteen Key Lessons toStart-and Run-Your Own Successful Business. "It'snot money that's in the way of you starting your business.It's a mind-set."

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