Creating a business is an exciting project. All those dreams about leaving your job and telling your boss where he can shove it, while you embark on your destiny might sound perfect, but first you have to figure out how you’re going to fund it. If you’re anything like me, when I started my business I could barely pay for my rent each month; funding a new venture with personal funds wasn’t an option.

Start by identifying your value. Honestly assess yourself and understand your strengths. The good news is that skills are much harder to acquire than funding. In the startup phase of your adventure, you need to convince investors that you have a specific set of skills that will net them a return on their investment.

No, you don’t need to solely rely on the three F’s (Friends, Family and Fools) for startup capital. I know from personal experience that the Venture Capital path can be challenging and unaffordable, so let’s look at some accessible funding solutions that will allow you to dream with your eyes open.

1. Use Strategic Partnerships to Create Value in the Eyes of an Investor

A big factor in the equation of startup success is value. For investors, the value of your organization lies primarily in their analysis of the start-up team. Just look at the words of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary:

“You know, when I was in the basement back in the late ’80s starting The Learning Company, after I’d get a $12 million order for “Reader Rabbit,” it would blow up behind me, the logistics. I couldn’t deliver.

I met a guy named Mike Perik. I gave him half my equity to solve my problem. We sold the company for $4.2 billion five years later. Best investment I ever made.”

Finding a strategic partner is about more than creating value to outside investors; the right partner can save you time and money as you navigate the choppy waters of business.

2. Earn Your Start-Up Capital with a J.O.B.

I know, every entrepreneur’s least favorite word is JOB. It signals that you’re simply trading time for money; adding little to no value in your long-term success. But I can tell you, as someone that has self-funded multiple startups, generating revenue to launch a business isn’t a bad idea. Sure, you might have to temporarily go to work for someone else, helping them build their dream; but you’re positioning yourself to own a larger share of your future by self-funding your entrepreneurial adventure.

You can’t just sit around and wait for someone to hand you an investment. You have to take action. One of my favorite startup authors, Miranda Marquit, once wrote: “No matter what you hope to accomplish with your business, don’t get bogged down in perfection or trying to make everything just right. Instead, consider how you can move forward.”

Moving forward with a self-funding strategy is a great way to maintain momentum. If you’re ready to take on a temporary job, consider ways to maximize your efforts. Earning a steady income is a great start, but how are you investing that income to create more money and reduce the amount of time required in your pre-startup job? Position your money to take advantage of the rising tide of growth and expansion on Wall Street.

According to anyoption, a tool like “…an economic calendar will indicate the time an event will happen, where it will happen, the likely impact it will have on the market, the previous level, and what is expected.” If you can learn how to use current events to your advantage, you can seriously streamline your self-funding efforts. While many investors will advise diversification and minimization of risk, the relatively short savings timeline you experience in this stage of growth means you need to be aggressive in your asset allocation. Earn money, invest aggressively and cash out as soon as possible so you can start dreaming with your eyes open.

3. Generate Revenue and Minimize Costs

Going from zero to hero is nearly impossible in the start-up space; especially if you’re pinched for funds. Abandon the idea that you need to do everything perfectly the first time. To launch your company sooner, rather than later, rely on low overheads to give you the freedom to chase lower-revenue, short-term goals in the beginning.

For example, the Founders of Pebble Watch launched a KickStarter campaign to raise capital. They promised a production run, but before embarking on production, they generated pre-orders. This provided them with capital, and allowed them to work out the kinks in their business model while burning through consumer money, instead of precious investor capital. They relied on the power of the internet, with low-cost pitch videos and product mock-ups to get them over the hurdle of initial production costs.

4. Apply for Grants and Endowments

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of finding out you could have qualified for a government grant, shortly after signing the deal on an investment round. The Federal Government provides a database of business and educational grants available to organizations of all shapes and sizes. Take some time to research the opportunities out there. Even if you can’t find a perfect fit, restructuring the scope of your business to meet different Grant requirements is always an option if you start seeking public support early enough.

Just make sure you understand the limits and requirements placed on your organization by accepting public funds. The time involved in applying for Grant money can be exhaustive; especially considering that according to the Society for Non-Profits, “…roughly 2,700 grant proposals are submitted [daily]; fewer than 200 will receive funding.”

Do Your Research, Find Excellent Partners and Hold On to Your Dream

You’re passionate about your future, and your very own startup could be your ticket to the life you’ve always dreamed of. Focus on surrounding yourself with winners that add value to your life. Work hard and create an income that will allow you to self-fund a large portion of your business; maximizing your reward when it comes time to start selling equity in your successful business. And finally, don’t forget to exhaust all available funding options, especially if you can avoid trading equity for funding.