I sat there with my head in my hands, poring over the numbers. In a dream world, I could open this gym with a million dollars and it would be the best thing on the block. But, where in the world would seven digits fall from the sky and into my bank account?

I studied my options: venture capitalism required that I could persuade someone to fund my idea -- the easy part -- but fulfill high expectations of triple profit and growth in a year and be okay with someone else changing the vision -- the hard part. Alternatively, I could request an exorbitant bank loan, but any loan amount over half a million meant that I needed to sign over a large amount of collateral, have a percentage of liquid cash always in my bank account, and already have half of the asking amount to fund the business. If I had that much at my disposal, I wouldn't have been there asking for a bank loan.

So, where to next? Find out a way to open this thing in less than a million dollars. A lot less. Like, $800,000 less.

I mean, it wasn't impossible. Tons of entrepreneurs start their companies with just a laptop and a really good idea. But, getting into brick-and-mortar is a very different situation. No money, no rent, no place to sell your product. So when the going gets tough, it's important to create two dreams: the all-out, best-case profit scenario and the realistic, conservative scenario. Start with what is feasible and make every single day a step closer to the dream. Now, when it comes time to building the dream, how do you know where to make the cuts? Asking yourself these questions will help provide clarity:

What is the basis of my product?

You should be able to define this in one word or one simple sentence. What is the actual product or service you're providing? What parts are required to make this product work at its absolute most basic function? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you shake out the extra fluff that you don't need to work on - at least not yet.

What components would help my product stand out from the competition?

Standing out means that you are adding value to your product in the form of design, user experience, or functionality. Design is a tricky thing -- sometimes investing in several cool colors could help customers become attracted to the product, but it may not be the first thing that needs attention. Remember, your launch time is limited and you want to test the market before developing a feature that didn't matter in the first place.

What are things you can survive without in the initial stages, but can budget for later?

Create a list of immediate needs vs. future needs. There are some things you can survive without until you have more money. For example, when it comes to my gym, technically all I truly need is room, good flooring, some equipment and a bathroom. This could last me for a few months until I get a good customer base going. I should be laser focused on providing excellent classes, which is what will sell, not the number of succulents I have on the reception desk.

What are things you can barter for?

This can come in handy when you least expect it. Who do you know in certain industries that can trade time or product for your product services? This will help save tremendously for things you cannot afford now.

What financial possibilities do you want to be prepared for?

Knowing different financial forecast options could help you plan better. If you're eyeing certain purchases or expensive key hires down the line, knowing when that could happen will make you hustle harder towards that goal and help it feel attainable. This could help you create a smarter budget and celebrate when you hit goals.

Published on: Apr 21, 2017