No pain no gain?


With Easter on the horizon many of us are eating our fair share of Creme Eggs and other chocolatey treats! However, some people choose to give up some of their favourite foods (such as chocolate) for the 40 days before Easter - the period known as Lent. 

Sacrifice is a theme that occurs frequently in most of the major religions but regardless of whether you follow a religion, all of us at some point will have sacrificed something in order to better ourselves in the long run. Whether it be giving up nights out for a while to study for exams, missing out on that lie-in and heading for the gym instead or taking a job at the evenings or weekends instead of using the time to relax.

For people starting a business it could seem that the only way to succeed in the long run is to sacrifice other things in the short term. Is this always this case? When it comes to starting a business does it have to be a case of 'no pain no gain'? I asked a few entrepreneurs for their views.

Steve Aicheler, my colleague here at the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship set up a business straight after graduating from university and still owns a successful bike shop, Castle Bikes. He said:

'One of the biggest sacrifices I made was not taking a well-paid graduate job however 14years later I'm very happy with the way my career has panned out. Although financially I may not be as well-off I'm happy with the lifestyle that I've been able to achieve. I guess the second sacrifice is time but this didn't really feel like a sacrifice as I was so enthusiastic about starting my business I didn't really miss keeping up to date with the latest goings on in Albert Square or Coronation Street!'

Last year I read an article in the Guardian about a Danish entrepreneur who claims that he still achieves work-life balance and doesn't work need to work long hours in order to be successful. This was an interesting perspective but I couldn't help but wonder if he was in the minority. I asked Mark Hooper, owner of co-working community Indycube for his perspective, he had this to say:

'As an entrepreneur, with a family, I do my best to follow the advice in this article.... most of the time. Most weekdays I'm home for tea with the family; I try to take the girls to school at least once a week, and I do my best to be around for 'important' events (even a shopping day last week to Cribb's Causeway).

'One of the main sacrifices I see is accessibility. Whether on my phone or iPad, I can be tempted in to working very easily, at any time - evenings, weekends, 6am. There's very little brain escape. The other is money - having a vision for a successful business shouldn't (in my opinion) focus on making money. If you do what customers want and know how to manage cash, it will come, but there may well be a time for sacrifices in the meantime. But, I think these sacrifices are worth it. To have the choice to do what you think is right and to stay on your chosen course makes me feel like I want to do it again tomorrow.'

Finally I spoke to Josh Barnett a Sports Coaching student here at Cardiff Met who has set up a clothing brand, Treatment Clothing, he commented:

'As my business progressed, I quickly realised that in order to maintain the business there were certain things that needed to be changed. For example, I now sacrifice the majority of evenings and weekends towards Treatment Clothing as daytime is taken away by uni work and football. But that's what needs to be done to keep on track!" 

The main message from each of these entrepreneurs is that starting a business does require sacrifice whether it be time, money or not being able to switch off. However, the other thing which they all seem to agree on is that the sacrifices are worth it.

Coming back to my earlier point, anyone who wants to be successful will have to make sacrifices at some point whether it be for starting a business, their career, competing as an athlete or getting their degree. I read a post by someone on Twitter the other day which really sums up this whole blog, it said 'Good things don't come to those who wait, good things come to those who work hard!' If we achieve success and end up doing something that we really love then surely those sacrifices were well worth it? 

Blog post by Lauren Davies, Entrepreneurship Coordinator. 
February 2014