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Is it Time to Burn The Boat? (Vs. Doing Nothing, or Creating a Side Hustle)

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Is it time to burn the boat?

In this fascinating episode, Nick looks at the different strategies and approaches you can use to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

Find out now if you’re building a high-value, exitable business (even if you have no immediate plans to sell it). You’ll get an instant PDF report with powerful insights specifically tailored to your business in just 4 minutes.


  • What does burning the boat mean?

A well-known fable has a saying ‘if you are going to take the island you need to burn the boat’

It’s a paradigm around how committed you are to the decisions you take. This works really well for some people because you are leveraging yourself so much that you have to make it work.

When you become an entrepreneur, you have to take the decision to go all in at some point

It’s something every entrepreneur must face, the reason most don’t do it early on is fear.

  • Start-up mode

You are at the start of your entrepreneurial journey but have other responsibilities such as a family to support. In this situation, you have 3 options;

Do nothing and put the idea on hold until it is the perfect time

Go for it, quit your day job and burn the boat  

Build your business as a side hustle whilst still potentially having a day job

  • Hold off from your dream until the perfect time

There is no such thing as the perfect time. Don t ever give up on your dream as there is nothing worse than a life of fear and regret, culminating in a feeling that time is running out.

  • Burn your boat

Quitting your main source of income in pursuit of your dream can be a romantic ideal, in reality, it is not always the best option.

Entrepreneurial success is underpinned by focus and meaning and if there are too many challenges  you will not be in the right head space to make your business a success

This is not true for everyone, some people work best under pressure and seeing a dwindling bank account is the right motivator for them to make it work

Being strategic and planning out the best time to burn the boat ensures it is on your terms. It is about giving yourself the best opportunity for success.

There are many examples of people burning the boat and even through perceived failures getting there and realising their dream in the end

  • Begin your business as a side hustle

Depending on what your idea is you can begin your business as a side hustle until you are more certain about your position. You can get investment and funding whilst still being employed

You are building around the edges, creating the opportunity to be able to go for it when the time is right for you.

It takes focus and discipline, but it is possible to build a business of your own whilst being employed.

  • When do you know it’s time to ‘burn the boat?’

There are 5 questions you should ask yourself, if the answers provide you with clarity and certainty then it’s the right time.

If I burn the boat now what’s my economic runway?

How much capital do I have access to?, how much cash do I have in the bank?, do I have any third-party funding that means I can concentrate on building the business without compromising my other priorities.

Do I have any life distractions that are about to hit either now or in the near future?

A life distraction is something such as marriage or children need to be built into the plan.

Do I have a strong business plan?

Do you have a clear business proposition?  Are you clear about the problem your business is going to solve? You need to have a pathway to how you are going to generate income, how you are going to get your product out there? You have a key plan that increases your chances of success.

How will I respond to challenges and what’s my attitude to failure?

Ultimately there is no failure only learning. You have seen what has happened and taken action and you get results. It is an opportunity to adapt and change. If you remain persistent you will get there in the end.

Am I absolutely clear about my vision and my why?

This is the driving force, having that belief aligned with the other questions is what brings you to the best position to act.


‘It’s essentially about cutting ties’

‘Where this is a smart approach and when it is not’

‘Making sure there are leverage and certainty’

‘90% of people who have the vision to do something entrepreneurial are waiting for the perfect time’

‘Never build a business that is competing with your current employer. This is a moral issue, to be successful you need live to your own values and standards’

‘One of the first goals should be for your side hustle to equal your current monthly income. When you reach this point ‘burning the boat’ becomes a much easier proposition and less stressful’

‘You have to think about it in the context of what you are doing’

‘If you really want to do something you have to plan it out and take action, then it becomes a reality’

‘You spend time putting some substance around the idea before you burn the boat’



Nick Bradley is a renowned entrepreneur, investor, speaker, and business growth expert.

His background is growing and scaling Venture Capital and Private Equity backed businesses globally. Over the last decade, he has completed 117 acquisitions and 25 business exits with a combined valuation of over $5bn dollars.

His mission is to help business founders build valuable businesses and create life-changing exits so they can realise freedom, wealth, and impact. 


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