No matter how good your business idea, no matter how passionate you are about your new idea, no matter how thorough your marketing plan, there is one factor that can completely put a halt to you starting a business.

That something is your finances.

If you don’t have the funds to start a business, you shouldn’t do so. Trying to start a business with less than you’ll need for the first year or so could end up a disaster, and have you wasting time and money on an idea that wasn’t set up for success to begin with.

How Much You Need

You’d be surprised how much money you need to start a business. Not only do you need enough to cover your startup expenses and money to keep you afloat until you start turning a profit, but you also need to be able to cover your personal expenses until you can take a salary from your company.

Numbers vary, but most say you need enough to cover 6-24 months’ worth of expenses, both business and personal.

Consider Your Expenses

Each person’s financial situation is different. You might have a spouse who makes enough to support you in the early months of your business, in which case, there’s less pressure on you to have as much up front.

On the other hand, you may have hefty student loans or medical expenses (especially if you will be losing the health insurance benefits once you quit your current job) that weigh you down. You may not be able to minimize these, so consider whether adding another large expense is the best decision for you right now.

Options for Financing

If saving a year or two’s worth of living expenses isn’t in the cards, you do have other options. Small business loans, venture capital, and crowdfunding are all viable options to help you get your business off the ground. You can also consider taking out a home equity loan or using credit cards to get started, but be aware that these are volatile forms of financing, since you put your personal assets at risk, should you not be able to pay the loan or card back promptly.

Start Saving Now

If starting your business is a few months or years away, get a plan together. Start by building out a budget of those personal and business expenses to see how much you’ll need. You can work to reduce your personal expenses now so that you hit your target sooner. Many people are cutting the cord on their cable or dropping landline phone service and saving hundreds of dollars each month.

Divide the total amount you’ll need by the months you have to save. Set this number as part of your budget, and put it in savings each month. Don’t cheat! Remember: this money is funding your dream, and the sooner you save it, the sooner you can quit your job and start living that dream.