I didn’t go into entrepreneurship to have a better lifestyle, I went into entrepreneurship because I had an idea for a business that I felt passionate about and thought could be something significant. I went into business to create jobs (I hope, right now I’d love it if I could live off what we’re doing let alone others). I went into business because I enjoy seeing things get built. That being said I don’t think we give enough credit to people who have gone into business and created a decent lifestyle for themselves.
I had a conversation with a friend a couple of months ago about how the term “Lifestyle business” get’s such a bad knock in business schools and in the investor/tech entrepreneur communities. The truth is lifestyle businesses should be admired not dissed. If someone can create enough wealth for him or herself and in the process create a few jobs, in this economy especially, we should celebrate their success rather than dismiss them for creating a lifestyle business.
I didn’t question it that much when I was in business school. I took entrepreneurship classes that focused on building big businesses, looking at scalability, looking at exits, and investment classes that looked at bottom lines and quickly showed which investments would have a trajectory that would land them into public markets or in a valuable trade sale, I can’t remember once ever looking at the amount of jobs created or the amount of wealth for an individual in a simple but effective business. Although my guess is that a significant portion of successful businesses are in fact lifestyle businesses.
I used to work for a lifestyle business and one of the reasons I left was that the business wasn’t scaling and wasn’t trying to be a really big business. In hindsight, so what? The company had created jobs for over 20 people and the founder was making a significant income for himself. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. In fact in this economy we need more people creating companies like this.
As the economy contracts, as getting listed on public markets is getting more difficult, maybe it’s the right time for business schools, investors, people and banks (I’m leaving the investment for smaller businesses rant for another day) to take another more favourable look at “lifestyle” businesses.