It’s A Lifestyle Business, and I Like It

It’s settled. I’m building a lifestyle business and I’m happy with that. After 2 years of working on it, I had to remind myself why I was doing this in the first place. Answer:

  1. To solve a problem.
  2. To contribute to the world on my terms.
  3. To have flexibility in work hours to be a wife and a mom.
  4. To use my skills and talents.
  5. To stretch and challenge myself.
  6. To grow professionally.
  7. To expand my network to others just as ambitious as myself.

I, like many other founders, got caught up in the desire to work at a speed and capacity to attract outside investment in order to grow the company quicker than I could alone, bootstrapping. Yes, I was focused on how to grow fast and earn impressive revenues (by investor standards) to attract the right investors whose investment would help me scale. Knowing how quickly investors get bored without constant updates of stellar progress and growth, I just about worked myself to death trying to do just that. Does that story sound familiar?

Well there’s a problem with that mindset. You can only grow fast if you have: the team (yes more than one person committed to the cause), capacity (there’s only 24 hours in a day), and cash to grow fast (bootstrapped is nice but gets old real fast). A solopreneur cannot achieve “investable” success in record time to qualify for the attention of most investors. I think most people have a false sense of what investors want. I also think people misunderstand the consequences of accepting investment. Yes, I used the term “consequences” because that’s what they are. There are tradeoffs and considerations (big ones) that most founders don’t think about as they’re chasing the “carrot.”

I achieved my chance to receive the “carrot” but instead I decided to walk away from not 1, but 3 different investment opportunities because they just weren’t a good fit. Although that may sound crazy to some, it comes with the territory of being a founder. There are tough decisions to be made at times. As a founder, I feel that I must do what’s in the best interest of me and the business at all times. Please notice that I’ve stated my best interests as part of the priority; most investors won’t see it that way. Once you accept funding from outside investors, you’re agreeing that you’ll put the business over your own best interests to assure a ROI for investors. I’ve decided that’s not for me. I started this business to financially benefit from it and if investors are involved, they must also realize that incentive must be there for everyone involved, not just them.

Although the term “lifestyle business” is downright scary in the startup and investor community, I embrace it. To me, it’s freedom.

Here’s a post from David Cummings on the topic. He calls it “Being Rich or Royal.” It’s a good read. David bootstrapped and sold one of Georgia’s best startups, Pardot.