In a previous post I talked about the importance and problems of money when you want to leave your job and get started as an entrepreneur. In that post I mentioned the “Nuclear Option” of budgeting. In short, the Nuclear Option is cutting your budget to the bare bones to survive. It’s the equivalent of the old Saturday Night Live joke of living in a van down by the river.
If you’ve never seen the full version of this sketch, it’s worth finding and watching. Chris Farley plays, Matt Foley, a “motivational speaker” hired by a couple of parents to get through to their kids after discovering marijuana in their room. In the course of the sketch, the son says he hopes to be a writer. Matt Foley jumps on his dream and predicts the young man will end up living in a van down by the river, using his rejected manuscripts to “roll doobies.”
This sketch is funny because it plays on your fear of losing everything if you take a risk and pursue your dream. You’ve probably experienced this kind of “support” from friends and family. You get fed the conventional wisdom that taking risks in life is a sure way to find yourself living in a van down by the river. And if you’ve been working in one of those “safe” careers and now want to become an entrepreneur, you may be thinking the same thing. Do you really want to risk living in a van down by the river to pursue your dream of starting your own small business? What if your goal of being an entrepreneur is just a pipe dream?
But if you read stories of successful entrepreneurs many of them have stories that are much like living in a van down by the river. Robert Kyosaki writes about living in his car back when he was getting started. Another example is Chris Gardner, whose story is the basis for the movie Pursuit of Happyness. Chris was living on the streets with his son and yet pursued his dream.
The thing is, you may look at the Nuclear Option as something terrible–something you’d never really consider. Who would live in a van down by the river by choice? Well, if you do some looking, you’ll find quite a few people who are already doing it.
For example, Thomas Backlund ditched his apartment and his job to go live in the forest outside of Stockholm and write code for his software project. If you read his blog you’ll find other people have commented and shared how they are choosing similar lifestyles to pursue their dreams.
The question I want to leave you with is this: what are you willing to give up in order to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true? You may think the Nuclear Option is the worst-case-scenario, but it may truly be your best strategy to get your business going. You’d be surprised what kind of places you can live in if you decide the goal is worth the sacrifice. One of my classmates in college lived in a teepee down by the river with his wife.
One last word of advice: don’t push the Nuclear Option button without a plan. Living in a van down by the river isn’t a permanent arrangement. You should only make sacrifices to get to a better life. So make a plan for how to make your dreams a reality. And then go for it.