I have seen two or three online posts in the past few days containing the phrase “Lifestyle Business.” A lifestyle business (supposedly) is one where there isn’t a tremendous amount of upside regarding growing the business, but at the size it does exist provides a great living for the equity holders (usually a sole owner, president, stakeholder).
I have seen this phrase before in the past, notably when describing Thomas Power of Ecademy, and it was used pejoratively to imply that Ecademy wasn’t a real business. One’s feelings pro or con Thomas Power and Ecademy aside, a company that grows and thrives in the course of a 10 year history is a real company.
The most recent example is an article over the weekend on Michael Arrington, with one paragraph dismissing TechCrunch as a “Lifestyle Business” – albeit one with 3 million dollars a year in revenues.
In all cases where I have seen “Lifestyle Business” used in the online press, it is a knock. As if it were a bad thing that someone was keeping an enterprise at a manageable and small size in order to insure profitability.
At the end of the day, these “lifestyle business” entrepreneurs hold all the equity in their venture, reap all the benefits or calumnies that their efforts bring, and generally walk around with FU money.
So tell me – who’s smarter? The W-2 Business Week writer knocking the “Lifestyle Business” owner, or the “Lifestyle Business” owner with a handful of W-2s on staff to cut the grass, pick up the laundry, and keep Jolt in the fridge?
I admit, I have a personal bias in this regard. I never considered myself to be a “Lifestyle Business” owner – just a guy who worked my ass off in order to do what I thought was interesting. When I wanted to. Where I wanted to. And with whom I wanted to.
My wife told me this afternoon that I take these things all too seriously and way too personally. Maybe I do.