Can You Say "Lifestyle Business" Without Sneering

Take a good healthy business, with good growth potential, defensible, funding itself from initial sales, or consulting, or maybe just squeezing founders’ assets and combining that with hard work.

Let’s just say this business doesn’t need outside investment to grow. Or maybe its owners don’t want more owners (as in bosses, because investors are, one way or another, bosses).

"But that’s just a lifestyle business," the professor — or consultant, or business journalist — says, often with a slight hint of a sneer. It happens a lot. Business schools teach entrepreneurship as new business, high growth, professional investment (aka venture capital) and exit strategies. Many opinion leaders, consultants, and journalists associate entrepreneurship with the process of developing a business plan, pitching to investors, and working with the investment  offering. 

My problem with that bias is that the healthy successful bootstrapped business is one of the best options there is, when it works. Don’t sneer at it. Let’s give this option its due.


  • Dina Lynch Eisenberg says:

    Small is the new rich!

    I launched Yoomer Media and it's first property, this February as a lifestyle business with no regrets, even though I'm ending a lucrative consultiing career to do it.

    Why? Because the business should fit my life, not the other way around. It provides me with cash and options to do the things I love. That, my friends, is the true definition of success- doing what you're passionate about.

    Of course, I have an exit strategy, but who's to say leaving one LB won't lead to creating another? So I say more hype please. That wayy folks may not notice while I build my empire on a niche market that I'm proud to be a part of.

  • Darlene Ziebell says:

    Exit strategies aren't for everybody. However, you must have a plan for when someone offers you a boat load of money for your business. How will you know at what price you would walk away? I've been an entrepreneur for over 20 years owning several companies and always focused on the passion and growth. When someone phoned me with a buy out deal,I thought "now what do I do?". Since I didn't have a plan, I let it pass by; big mistake on my part. I now have a plan.

  • Dallon Christensen says:

    Since when is it a bad thing to own a business that provides a good (but not extravagant) living or allows someone to meet other life goals?

    Too many media people and university professors only focus on the companies like Google and Microsoft while forgetting the thousands of businesses that provide their owners with a comfortable lifestyle and the chance to do something truly loved.

    Perhaps these consultants and professors should read a book like "Small Giants" by Bo Burlingham to understand that bigger isn't necessarily better.

  • Jonathan Fields says:

    Love it, Tim!

    I am a huge believer in creating businesses built out of (a) a passion with a market, and (b) the desire the craft your living around the life you want to live.

    As Mark Cuban said in a recent post, to truly succeed, you need to be following an obsession and if you have an exit strategy, it isn't an obsession.

    Fund, built and exit is one approach, but it's not the only one, nor is it the best option for many people.

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