25 important things successful people sacrifice to achieve greatness

August 19, 2020

25 things successful people sacrifice to achieve greatness

Many successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Marc Zuckenberg achieve greatness at a relatively younger age. Although you may think they were given some secret formula for success, the truth is they made a sacrifice for success. In fact, a lot of sacrifices for success.

That greatness requires sacrifice is nothing new. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that achieving greatness isn’t a smooth road driven in a comfy Porsche. Instead, there are things you must sacrifice to have a better future, and that often includes losing your BMW or girlfriend. (Yep, true story, you can read below.)

What is the price for greatness?

Truth is, the sacrifices for success can’t be measured with any amount of money. More often than not, to achieve greatness you have to pay emotionally or socially. Don’t believe us? Read the testimonials of these twenty seven accomplished entrepreneurs.

Family

When I started Cirkled In, just like any other entrepreneur, I was very optimistic and thought we’ll be successful very quickly since our idea was so awesome. 

However, it always takes more time, more money and more resources. I have been doing Cirkled In for 5 years and the biggest cost I have paid and still paying is not being involved in my kids’ lives. They have grown from 12 years old to 17 years old and younger one from 9 years old to 14 years old. 

I have barely been part of their lives as I’m working non-stop for my company. Consistently 80-100 hour workweek is normal. In fact, I have used them to do tasks as well. We did not celebrate 13th birthday or even 16th birthday. Now the older one is applying to colleges but I have no time to spend with her. 

As an entrepreneur, I think, feel, sleep, eat, breathe my company. Everything else has gone on the back burner. Just recently we started taking one vacation as a family, driving to a beach after no vacation for years. Right now I’m on vacation with my family but still answering my emails and phone calls etc.

Was it worth it? I don’t know but I hope it was. When I’m on a deathbed, I didn’t want to say – I wish I had tried. So I’ll have that satisfaction. But I may have traded that with another regret – I wish I was there more for my daughters.

Reetu Gupta, Co-Founder and CEO of Cirkled In

Sleep

Along with my partner, we created our first e-commerce store 3 years ago. At the time we both were working full time at Deloitte as tech consultants and would work 6 hours a night after our day jobs on our site. We both sacrificed sleep to get the site off the ground running and making sure it was successful. Barely sleeping 3 hours a night and doing nothing but working (either on our day job or on our side project). We needed to do it to make sure that our side project succeeded. 

We realized we never looked forward to our day jobs anymore and was only doing it for the security of the paycheck. It was all worth it because after 6 months our site was consistently making more than our day job and we quit. Within the first year, we had made over $1million in revenue and was able to travel the world while we worked. 

Since then we’ve been able to use that money to start other sites, buy an investment property, start a new branded store Kimonol.com and created a personal brand for ourselves called Commerce Chicks with nearly 50k followers on TikTok.

Carmen Huang, Co-founder of Commerce Chicks

Health

The biggest sacrifice for success I had to make? I would have to go with health, hands-down, as the effort and time I dedicated to running my business was ruining my work-life balance. Some things I could deal with such as lack of sleep and having to be constantly alert, as I consider myself a high-energy person. What was affecting me the most was what I ate though, as I was overeating from staying up late and eating junk food to make the situation worse.

So finding myself with increasingly high fat and cholesterol levels after a checkup, I decided to flip the switch and go vegan a few years ago.

Stefan Smulders, CEO of Expandi.io 

I sacrificed my health in order to find business success. After setting up my website, my first few years were spent breaking even until several things happened in quick succession. I landed a book deal, scored a lucrative freelance contract, and wrote an article that went viral. Suddenly, I had more work offers than I knew what to do with, and I was too afraid to turn any of them down. I was afraid that as soon as I said no, the opportunities would dry up. Instead, I began to work 18 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to midnight, for weeks on end, writing until I could barely function. I didn’t leave my house for three months.

Obviously, it was an unsustainable way to live and my prolonged stress levels unfortunately led to me developing an auto-immune disorder and suffering a breakdown

Was it really worth the sacrifice? No, it wasn’t. But it taught me an important lesson on prioritising your health above all else — I’ll never make that mistake again.

Lauren Juliff, Founder of Never Ending Footsteps 

To achieve greatness I sacrificed my health for many years when I first started out. I wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating right, wasn’t exercising. My life was wall-to-wall stress, with my entire self-worth hinging on how my business did. It wasn’t until I ended up in the hospital after a stress-related cardiac event that I realized the gravity of what I was doing. I was barely over 30 at the time and to have something like that happen was incredibly sobering. I cut back my hours and asked my wife to help me stay accountable for my own health. Sometimes there are still periods of crunch, but I almost always know when to quit for the sake of my health now.

Dan Bailey, President of WikiLawn 

Sanity

Entrepreneurship is a brutal road that has been much more stressful than when I worked for other companies as an employee. As an entrepreneur, all responsibilities, decisions, and stresses fall on you. And usually, failure has enormous consequences, such as financial peril for you or your family.

I was much more relaxed and less stressed as an employee of someone else’s company, but I don’t regret becoming an entrepreneur. It was absolutely worth it because of the benefits of successful entrepreneurship, such as financial freedom and unmatched autonomy and flexibility. I’ve learned to cope with the stress and how to manage my mental health.

Jayson DeMers, CEO at EmailAnalytics

Freedom

In the early stages of a startup, as a business owner, you tend to sacrifice your own freedom for longer-term success. Initially, you are unlikely to have a large or established team and as such, you have full accountability and responsibility. In turn, this can often mean that you are always on call to an extent. Taking days off or going on holiday is

problematic due to the lack of someone to replace you during this period.

As the business grows and the team becomes more established, you can then start to transfer some of this accountability and responsibility on to relevant managers when required. You get your freedom back! That initial sacrifice is necessary though. Tight margins and a sink or swim situation can be a monthly occurrence. As such, you sacrifice your freedom (and time and sleep) in order to transition out of your self made captivity. It’s worth it in the end!

Simon Ensor, Founder & Managing Director at Catch Works 

Games

My biggest sacrifice was certain hobbies that I’ve had for years – mainly playing video games. It’s very easy to lose track of time when video games are in the picture, and I think that in the long run it definitely helped increase my productivity as I have more time to get work done, as well as maintaining a schedule for other important activities such as exercise.

Itamar Blauer, Founder of Itamar Blauer

Social life

One thing I sacrificed while growing my business was my social life. I believe you need uplifting and ambitious people around you to be a successful person, but it’s easy to become distracted by social events. I limited how often and what I did with friends. This allowed me to grow my business faster with the saved time and focus on doing only meaningful activities socially. In the end, I’m happy I did it and now that my business is thriving I can use the freedom to spend more time with friends and family.

Carmine Mastropierro, Founder of Mastro Commerce

Fun

The one thing I sacrificed was my time for everything that you considered fun. Growing a business, especially a successful one requires your full attention and focus especially during the stages of growth. Most of my time is reinvested into spending on marketing, budgeting, and creating processes for hiring and training employees.

The business requires most of my time and to be there when things don’t go right. If my time was spent elsewhere besides my business, I would get lost and will have to try and catch up and fix a lot more problems.

Over the years and the time sacrificed to making the business work has paid off. We have systems in place for the business to run smoothly and adapt to recurring problems. We want to continue expanding and growing and sacrificing time is always a must.

Benjamin N., Founder of Full Color Cleaners 

Love

I think the most painful or symbolic sacrifice I made to become a successful entrepreneur was selling the Xbox my first love saved (for 3 years and 4 months) to buy for me. I sold it to get the SEO course that transformed my career. Most of my friends tried to discourage me from taking that step, specifically advising me that there was an endless pool of SEO tutorials for free on YouTube. But I knew that unlike the popular saying, the best things in life were no longer free. I knew that the key to having lucrative information was having rare information. My girlfriend was hurt, she felt I disrespected her, leaving me for my friend.

You won’t see Tim Cook coming to YouTube to teach you how to create an iPhone 11. I was very sure that vital content is never viral content! Turns out I got 204x value my investment – and still counting!

Lotus Felix, Founder of Flawless Content Shop

Vacation

The one thing I sacrificed to succeed was personal vacation. When I worked my full-time job, I sacrificed my personal vacation for two years to grow my accounting firm and write a tax book.

It paid off greatly. After releasing my book in 2016. I was able to leave full-time employment in 2018, tripling my yearly salary. I am a full-time Small Business Tax Accountant and Business Strategist and help other employees become bosses.

Yvette D. Best, Founder of Best Services Unlimited 

Time

The biggest sacrifice for greatness for me was time. Before I started BroutonLab, I had to work a full-time job to have the finances to build my business. It took almost three years to pay myself my first salary. I had no time to watch TV, hang out with friends and family, do sports, or pursue my hobbies. I gave all my available time to my business.

I audited every hour of my day and how I spent it. I became super productive and efficient but lost some good friendships and relationships along the way.

I worked non-stop for several years, and it took its physical toll. My full-time job had me working during the day and my business at nights, so I was averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a day.

Now I regret nothing. I learned a lot from this experience, even when I was working long hours for no pay. Today I have more than 10 top data scientists working with me, and the business runs like clockwork. We carry out exciting projects for clients worldwide and can see how our technology can transform businesses and the lives of people. What can be more satisfying?

Michael Yurushkin, Ph.D. in Physics and Mathematics, CTO & Founder of Broutonlab

Colleagues

I left a great career in product management in Silicon Valley to start the company, and while leaving the paycheck was certainly a sacrifice, the biggest sacrifice was the camaraderie of my colleagues at work. I’m entirely on my own now – I have some freelancers helping me with a few things, but it’s just not the same as being part of a

team. I’ve been lucky enough to always work with people who I really liked and respected, and I miss that both from a social perspective and just a shared responsibility perspective. The entrepreneurial life can be lonely!

Alex Willen, Founder of Cooper’s Treats

Travel

The one thing that I sacrificed for success when I first became an entrepreneur was my travel hobby. For the first several years after I launched my business all of my travel was business related, with no time for sightseeing or taking in the local culture. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur I would take several trips a year to new destinations. This was something that I highly valued, as it helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the world and it developed my global perspective. 

Looking back it was certainly worth it, as I view this sacrifice as temporary in my life. Now that my business is more established my personal travels have come back to an extent, although not to the same level as before.

Stefan Chekanov, Co-founder and CEO of Brosix Instant Messenger

Lavish lifestyle

The biggest sacrifices we had to make as a family was taking a step back and downsizing our lifestyle. Gone was the BMW and we went from a 2 bedroom luxury apartment to a 1 bedroom. We sold extra furniture, artwork, clothes, and anything else of value. Best decision we ever made.

Dan Alexander, Founder of UptownShowroom

Drinking

I was, what you might call, ‘a functioning alcoholic’ during the earlier years of my life. As I recall, I believe that it would have been best if I was nonfunctioning. At least that way, I would have been forced to make different choices sooner.

Today, I consider the most critical success sacrifice that I ever made was to stop drinking. I cherish my sobriety more than any other asset that I have. I place it in front of all else. Because I realize that if I ever drink again, I will lose every other gift I possess. That decision led my emotional growth to accelerate. I learned that self-actualization is the basis for success in any area of life. I understood that personal development is the foundation of success.

For you to achieve success as a real estate agent, you will have to grow. Now, I can proudly say that I’m an associate broker in Virginia, and a full-fledged broker in Maryland, and my team also serves Washington DC. I have spent my entire real estate career helping sellers and buyers and assisting agents to be successful. For the past 129 consecutive months as a real estate agent, I have had at least one closing (and as many as 15 in a month). My business has been consistent and predictable.

Dan Rochon, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Realty

Work-life balance

The lines between my work and personal life blurred. I always think about work even when away from the office – day and night. Responding to emails and calls from clients that urgently need attention has been the priority. At the end of the day, it’s been always important to balance work priorities, personal life and make time for my family and mental health; however, making sacrifices for my business and providing the best customer service to our clients have been the main reason for our company’s rapid growth throughout the years and has absolutely been worth it.

Arash Fayz, Co-Founder and Executive Director of LA Tutors 123

Gym

Sadly to say, before starting my business I was an avid gym-goer, and there were weeks when I would go up to 5 times for at least an hour. When my business took off I found I had less and less time for going to the gym, so I gradually reduced the time in there. It took a few years, but I found myself not going to the gym at all anymore.

Fortunately, I’ve since realized that it’s not very healthy to go without any exercise for long periods of time and I have again started exercising, but this time by doing calisthenic exercises at home.

Mike Sheety, Founder of That Shirt

9-5 safety

One thing I have sacrificed to succeed as an entrepreneur is the mental safety net you get from having a real 9 to 5 job. In a real 9 to 5 job, you simply focus only on your tasks and you don’t worry about how to pay your taxes, how to structure your company, what happens if someone threatens to sue your company, what happens if you lose customers or search traffic, how to outsource work or hire others, how to strategize or take your company to the next level and then execute on it, or any of the other hard realities and tasks you have as a business owner. 

When you work for yourself you give up the mental safety net and security of having a job and take a lot more onto your own shoulders. It is 100% worth it for me even though it can be much more stressful at times, because of the unlimited upside and the freedom.

Stacy Caprio, Founder of Growth Marketing

Financial security

I sacrificed the ease of financial security. If you want freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to… you are likely your own boss…a business owner. An entrepreneur understands that no business has assured success tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. 

Was it worth it? Is it still worth it? Yes. I do not have the luxury of an assured paycheck, but I have discovered that as an entrepreneur and business owner I can identify opportunities and decide for myself how much I would like to make, how much freedom I want and what I will enjoy doing today and tomorrow. That will always be worth it.

Lissa Speer, Co-founder of Gigi Raffe

Preconceived notion of success

The one thing I’ve sacrificed in order to succeed was any preconceived notion I had that success, or even progress, would come quickly. I originally had a 5-year plan for the business – but I quickly realized that timeline was foolish and was based on nothing other than me succumbing to media clickbait headlines that tout speed, rocketship trajectories, hockey stick growth curves, blitz-scaling, etc. Those might work for some businesses, but it wasn’t going to work for ours. 

It’s now been 11 years since we started Fracture, and we’ve come such a long way since the beginning, but at least in my mind, we’re nowhere close to achieving true success. I’m confident that we’ll get there, but first I had to sacrifice this superficial need for speed that was more harmful than anything else.

Abhi Lokesh, CEO & Co-founder of Fracture

Oneself

One thing that I have sacrificed as an entrepreneur is me. Focusing on building my business with long hours, growing teams (the good and bad with that), accepting all the responsibility when things go wrong and the stress of being a leader is taxing but it’s worth it to be able to do what I love, creating generational wealth, building up my teameducation/learning, taking care of my family and the flexibility/freedom that it provides is worth it.

Melissa Wyatt, Owner of MW Enterprises

Personal relationships

In order to succeed in business, the number one thing that I’ve had to sacrifice is relationships. It’s a hard reality to know that as you go up the ladder of success, your circle and friends and relationships get smaller and smaller. 

My life has changed so dramatically over the last year and I see time and time again why someone had to be removed from my sphere of influence because they did not belong. You can’t mix fear and failure. Your circle has to be one of a fearless pursuit for excellence which eliminates many people. 

All in all, it has been worth it because the people that I am aligned with are properly aligned with the vision and mission for my life and for that I am grateful because it allows me to grow into the person I desire to be so I am able to help others on their path to success.

Kristen Fenrick, Founder of Klearly Kristen

Professional relationships

When I decided to branch out and open my own boutique real estate firm, I had to sacrifice some professional relationships. As a Realtor most of us work under a brokerage umbrella and there is a familiar relationship that exists there. 

Once I decided to create my own brokerage for the betterment of my family and creating a legacy for them I realized that the relationships I had didn’t extend beyond the geographical boundaries of being in the same office. It was a hard thing to accept. Prior to opening my own brokerage I had a small team of Realtors and only one joined on this new adventure. 

Ultimately, it was the best decision for me and my family which allows me to be at peace with the decision. I’m able to create the environment and standards of operation that go with my values and beliefs. Plus I now have a business that can extend beyond me to my children and children’s children if they so desire.

Crystal Swearingen, Owner of Crystal Clear Realty

Conclusion

Nothing worth comes the easy way, least of all success in business. Making a sacrifice for success is inevitable. However, be careful not to lose the things that matter and make you happy along the way. You don’t want to wake up one day and realise that the sacrifices for greatness you made cost you happiness, health and peace. Yes, it’s better to cry in a Lamborghini, but make sure you don’t cry too often. Otherwise, go and sell it.

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