life style businesses

Images More and more people are starting businesses.  Entrepreneurship is in the air.  For our economy that is great news.  For investors, it can be good news and it can be bad news. 

Everyone has an idea but executing on an idea is a completely different thing.  I have met with a variety of people over the past six months.  Some have killer ideas that could possibly scale while others have solid ideas that have the potential to be great life style businesses. 

What do I mean by life style businesses?  A life style business is a business that generates enough money to sustain a life style for yourself and perhaps your partners, that's it.  Many of these businesses start with seed money from family and friends that over time are paid back.  There is something to be said for these type of businesses.  You run them and nobody else has a say in the decisions that you make.  Being your own boss is a beautiful thing.  Once you begin taking angel or VC money, your business needs to grow to a completely different level.  Perhaps it will, perhaps it won't.  All new businesses are risky no matter what they are.  The question is always scalability.  VC's like to see businesses that have potential to be worth millions of dollars and hopefully at least many times their original investment. 

There are always problems that can arise with life style businesses particularly when you have a partnership.  Sometimes the partnership doesn't work out.  When you have a board, they not only give advice but are responsible for the governance of the organization.  They can make decisions about partnerships that aren't working like getting rid of both of you, bringing someone else in to run the business or choosing one to stay and another to go.  Sometimes it is a wonderful thing to have a board because they generally provide a support system based on their experience.  They are in essence mentors.  When you have a life style business there isn't anybody to come to for advice and help dissolving a messy partnership. 

There are certainly pros and cons to both but as more and more people jump into the game of new businesses, there should be some thoughts about life style businesses.  There are many businesses in the tech world through blogging or apps that provide enough income for one person or maybe two.  Sometimes taking money on a business that might not have the potential to truly scale is best making it your own and enjoying the fruits of your labor. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. fredwilson

    marco arment, CTO of Tumblr, built instapaper in his spare time (nights and weekends) and recently left Tumblr to focus 100& on instapaper. he has yet to take investment and owns instapaper 100%. it could be an awesome lifestyle business for him if he continues to go it alone.

    1. Gotham Gal

      good for him!

  2. kenberger

    Great post topic. We’d love to see a follow-up including examples of such folks, assuming they don’t mind being outed. I’ll kick it off with 3 (all friends of mine):1. Anthony of Hype Machine. His life sure seems fun!2. Markus Frind of Plenty of Fish: started the site to teach himself a programming language. Kept it a 1-man show for a long time. Still runs it from his apartment.3. Mark Brooks, became *the* online dating guru and built a fantastic consulting business and very international lifestyle.

    1. Gotham Gal

      great list. I believe cool hunting is also a biz that josh kept to himself.

  3. Banet

    Great post and I hear ya — my partner and I run Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations as a lifestyle business. Of course we’d like to be bigger — but just a little bit bigger. Not so big that we need employees and payroll and such. Is that so wrong?Peterhttp://www.flashlightworthy…Recommending books so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime. 😉

    1. Gotham Gal

      It is [email protected]

    2. Sharon Lew

      i love FWB it’s a great idea -i follow you on twitter and refer to it all the time, thx!