Building a Business that Reflects Your Lifestyle
I’m starting to think that I need a therapist.
There is a predominant idea that there are two kinds of companies, lifestyle and growth businesses.
The lifestyle business is a business that is focused on supporting the owner’s lifestyle. Wikipedia has a good definition: "A lifestyle business is a business that is set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle."
The corresponding name, a growth business, (and I’ve seen "equity business" as well) focuses on building a business. This almost implies everything else that isn’t a lifestyle business is a growth business. Most business owners talk about growth businesses as something that you build equity, build an asset, and often focus on selling that asset.
What is it when neither label fits?
What is a business that isn’t setup just to sustain a certain lifestyle, but also isn’t being built as an asset to sell? What if the goal of the business is to grow the owner's lifestyle, to expand their capabilities and allow them to achieve more?
My friend Sean Fullerton with eMonarch just sold his business. He writes about it here, and he makes the statement that "If you are not growing, you are dying."
I don’t disagree with this statement. Growth is an important aspect of a business in order to continue to survive. Without growth, a business is not continuing forward. But growth comes in many forms, from explosive growth to very slow growth and all the shades in between.
I’m proposing the concept of a "life growth" business. The business is designed as an expression of the owner(s) desires to do more, both personally and professionally. The owner wants to do more, be more, achieve more, but only as a combined with their life goals. The business helps drive life growth.
This model requires elements of both a lifestyle business and a growth one. The owner’s lifestyle must be supported; the business provides the foundation to enjoy a changing lifestyle. The intention is not the status quo, but instead to change and become more than it is now. A well-constructed business in this model would have a growth strategy – it would have to in order to achieve more for the team.
This model reduces the resale value, for sure. This business is designed more for ongoing sustainability than resale. Growth is required for sustainability in this model as well, as Sean’s comment about death is related to the need to continue growth to ensure long term viability.
This is something I want to hear from other business owners on. What’s your model?
Dave Sobel is CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Virginia-based solution provider, and is regular contributor to Channel Insider.