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What Are You Willing to Give Up to Start Your Business? The harsh personal sacrifices demanded by the creative life litter the biographies of great artists. The startup founder is no different.

By Shaun Buck

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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I met my wife, Mariah, 15 years ago, and nearly that entire time, there has been just one thing she has wanted to do: be a stay at home mom. Fortunately, over the past 12 years, we have been in a position for her to do just that, the only exceptions being when I needed her help with one of the many businesses we have owned over the last decade.

When we first met, she thought the idea of being a business owner was strange. She didn't understand why I spent so much time reading and studying about business, and for the life of her couldn't figure out why in the world I was so interested in what a grumpy man named Dan Kennedy, who was sitting on a bull in his photograph, had to say.

Aspirations evolve.

Much has changed over the last 15 years. My wife no longer wonders why I read and study business so much, she understands why I cling to every word Dan Kennedy has to say, and she has even decided he is not all that grumpy. In fact, she now rather enjoys business, and a few weeks ago, she even came to me to talk about her starting her own.

Related: The 5 Commandments of Running a Successful Business With Your Spouse

I was a bit confused at first. After all, she said her dream was to be a stay at home mom, and she is. We don't "need" the extra money -- long gone are the days when we couldn't afford groceries toward the end of the month. My business, and in turn, her "business," is already successful, so my big question was, "Why do you want to start a business?"

She and I discussed the idea a few times over the following weeks: the pros and cons, how to market, and the time commitment that would be required. After a few days, we had an outline and a basic plan etched out. We wanted to make sure this decision was right for both her and our family.

As we went back and forth, I finally told her that there was only one question she needed to answer to make this decision: "What are you willing to give up in order to own this business?"

Related: 5 Sacrifices Every Entrepreneur Must Make

There is a cost to everything we do.

I have heard on more than one occasion how lucky I am that my business has grown so much and done so well in a relatively short period of time, but that statement discounts the fact that I have been self-employed full-time since 2001 -- not to mention the thousands of hours I've spent studying business and marketing, or the hundreds of thousands of dollars I've spent on my education. It would be like meeting a doctor and telling them they are so lucky to have become a doctor. To get to where I am today, I had to give up partying in my 20s, time with my family, the "security" provided by a 9-to-5 job, and a massive amount of treasure.

Right now I am making some of those same sacrifices to grow The Newsletter Pro. I have to travel ten-to-14 times per year, which is something I never thought I would have to do. We are exhibiting and I am speaking for at least one event each month. While this is exciting, it also means I am missing events like my son's football game and the men's retreat for my church.

It's not uncommon for me to be at work before my family even wakes up, and on many occasions I don't make it home until they've already gone to bed. In all honesty, many of those evenings it would be far easier (and far more enjoyable) to simply sit down with my kids and watch TV.

Related: The Truth About Work-Life Balance

I am not giving you these examples for any reason other than to prove my point; life and business are about choices. If you want to make $10,000 per month, what are you willing to give up to have that? If you want a multimillion dollar business, you will likely have to give up even more to get there. If you want to be an "overnight success," it is going to take a lot of study, hard work, and likely a number of years before you hit that mark.

Thinking it through.

In the end, Mariah decided that she wasn't willing to give up what was required of her to own this new business. Some of you might view that decision as a failure, or "quitting before you even start," but I disagree.

I have found time and time again that real happiness and long-term prosperity in life come from knowing which opportunities to chase after, and which to say "no" to.

To read more of Shaun's story, request a free copy of his book at

Shaun Buck

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, & CEO of The Newsletter Pro

Shaun Buck is the co-author of No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention (Entrepreneur Press, March 2016) as well as CEO of Boise, Idaho-based The Newsletter Pro, the largest custom print newsletter company in the world—printing and mailing millions of newsletters annually for diverse industries all over the globe.

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