“Lifestyle” and “Business” Are Not Mutually Exclusive Terms

The View from Samovar Tea, Yerba Buena in San FranciscoSome readers misunderstood my recent post comparing startups to lifestyle businesses.

I had a feeling that might happen.

It’s too bad that people still assume that an entrepreneur focused on building a great lifestyle can’t also build a great business.

Common wisdom is that the only way to build a really profitable and important business is by working like an indentured servant to your business.

And yet I meet new people every week who prove that “lifestyle” and “business” aren’t mutually exclusive terms.

Last week I had lunch with two entrepreneurs, each with well respected, very profitable and growing businesses.

Noah Kagan runs App Sumo, which provides “daily deals for web geeks” and has bootstrapped his business to impressive milestones in just over a year without giving up control or lifestyle freedom. App Sumo is growing at a ridiculous rate that would make any entrepreneur jealous, lifestyle-focused or not.

Chuck Longanecker bootstrapped Digital Telepathy, one of the most respected design firms in the business, with an impressive client list including Tim Ferriss, Joie de Vivre and Crazy Egg. They’ve also built two very popular applications in Hello Bar and SlideDeck. Chuck’s Twitter handle is @BareFootCEO if that gives you an indication of his business philosophy.

Shouldn’t every business be a “lifestyle business?”

Actually, there’s a different category of entrepreneur altogether. There are those people who start a business 100% for the challenge of it, and the competition. Building a great lifestyle isn’t part of the equation because total business domination takes precedence, no matter what.

If business domination on a Microsoft, Apple or Facebook scale is your goal, you might really need to forgo the lifestyle now, and perhaps until you retire.

But I don’t think that’s what most people are after, and that’s why this insistence that a great lifestyle and great business can’t be built at the same time is so ridiculous.

There’s no reason why you can’t do both, and building a really fantastic lifestyle business is only getting easier and easier with modern communications, social media and crowdsourcing.

This coming weekend I’ll be joining over 500 creative and adventurous people in Portland at Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. There isn’t one particular focus for the conference (besides general awesomeness), but the one thing attendees are most likely to have in common is the desire to build a successful lifestyle business.

The 20+ fabulous speakers (including Leo Babauta, Jonathan Fields, Danielle LaPorte and others) are almost all examples of how building a lifestyle business doesn’t mean you have to compromise on impact, dedication or even revenue.

So don’t make your decision about how to run your business based on whether you want to build a great business OR live a great lifestyle. Building a great business doesn’t mean you have to compromise on everything else in your life.

I’m beginning to think the confusion lies in the term “lifestyle business” itself. Negative connotations are hard to overcome.

Maybe it’s time for a new term altogether.

Any suggestions? What do you call someone who wants both a great lifestyle and a great business?

I'm Corbett Barr, co-founder of Fizzle and entrepreneur for a decade. Get my weekly curated email of useful things for independent entrepreneurs »

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