How much of a runway do you need to start a business?

Chris Esh

How much of a runway do you need to start a business? It would be ideal to do so when:

  1. You’re sitting on enough cash to carry you through 6 months
  2. You have a long list of customers demanding your services
  3. In the middle of a booming economy

Well that’s the ideal, but welcome to the real world, where things rarely look that great. Sometimes it’s actually hardship that provides the spark needed to move from idea to reality.

I opened my business 4 years ago while my partner was in grad school and we had not quite 2-year-old at home. We had a mortgage and I was making $35k a year. And I had just started learning web dev the year before.

I didn’t have six months of savings nor a line of clients. But the truth is, we weren’t economically sustainable, which in retrospect was a blessing. I would have never left that job if I was making $70k a year. Nope. It would have been too much of a risk, too much of a certain pay cut to seriously consider. Especially as a parent.

As it turns out, a week after I put in my resignation letter, we found out we were expecting baby #2. It got real fast.

It took time, lots of highs and lows, but it worked and I love what I do. At this point would be happy to never be employed again.

No time like the present

On the front end of a horrific economic collapse seems like a really non-ideal time to start a business.

Here’s the thing though—there is rarely a “good” time to open a business. And sometimes hardship is the only thing that pushes you over the edge to take the big risk.

If you’re out of work, or have a lot more free time for a side hustle, there’s no time like the present.

We’re in the middle of a massive disruption in every aspect of life. But there are 300 million people in this country alone needing to shift to a new way of life. Which is going to provide tons of new opportunities.

No matter how awful things are on average, that doesn’t mean every single business and industry are going downwards. If you have an idea that helps meet a need, I say go for it.


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