When I first made the jump to entrepreneurship, I was 30 years old and had found some success as a Vice President with a large corporation. I had grown pretty used to a certain way of living; I seldom felt the need to pinch pennies. I was always able to tip well. In my professional life, I had access to unparalleled resources. I’m not saying I was extravagantly wealthy, but I wasn’t chintzy, and didn’t need to be.

Once I went into business for myself, though, I quickly had to reckon with a whole new mindset. Suddenly, I had a fairly small pool of resources to work with, and a budget with real limitations. Everything I bought for the business, I had to get for a pretty reasonable, competitive rate—or else, I just couldn’t afford to get it, plain and simple.

Far from being a bad thing, though, this taught me an important lesson about entrepreneurship.

What it taught me is that, when working with vendors and suppliers, it’s imperative to find someone who is ready to invest in your business and your vision for the future… someone who is willing to make money off you down the road, not necessarily up front.

What you need is a partner who is willing to invest in a long-term relationship with you, even if that means reducing margins there at the beginning; someone who doesn’t need to make a big profit off you on the first go-around, but can wait to make a profit on the second or third time you do business together.

To make this happen, you’ve got to learn to be frugal and disciplined—which is, for those of us coming from relative affluence and ease, a hard mindset to adopt.

But adopt it you must, learning to say directly to your vendors: “Look, I’ve got a brand new business, and this is how much money I can pay. There’s just no wiggle room here.”

You may run into some rejection this way, but that’s okay—because ultimately, this is how you find the people who are willing to build a long-term relationship with you. And that benefits both parties.

It’s okay to be protective of your company’s resources—and in fact, you’ve got to be. A good way to do that: Look for the right people to partner with.