The Lifestyle Business Paradox: The Challenge of Sustaining Small-Scale Success – #0017

A few years ago, I went on a group holiday. In our party was a friend who had a lifestyle business. He had always been vocal about keeping it on the smaller side. Understandably not wanting the stress and time toll a larger operation always seems to have on the founder. At the time the business I co-founded had 60 employees and a £70m turnover. For the 6 days we were away, he received 3 or 4 calls a day, often into the evening from the small team he had left behind to allow him to take a short break in Europe. In comparison, I didn’t receive a single call. Not one.

96% of UK Businesses….

From 5.5m private businesses in the UK, only 4% will ever hit the £1m mark. So, that tells me, 96% of business that don’t hit this milestone fall into 2 camps. Those that strive for years to get there and don’t (and I’m hoping all my free content can help with this). And those where the conscious decision of the founder / operator is to create an intentionally smaller operation or a lifestyle business. A lifestyle business is primarily set up with the intention of maintaining a certain lifestyle for the founder, its existence is one of a supporting role to the owner, rather than having growth ambitions of its own.
Now, that’s fine…but I have another way of looking at this. Hear me out.

Creating a Smaller Business For “Balance”

In terms of the strain on your life and often your sanity over the long term, I personally think it’s harder to maintain a lifestyle business at sub 7 figures for 20+ years than it is to grow something way into the millions and beyond before the decade is up. At that level, you have choices and a management team hungry to learn and take things on. Lots of people talk about balance, and maybe they create intentionally smaller business to ensure a work / life balance? This is ironic, because I see far less balance for my friends that run an intentionally smaller business.
I don’t see work life balance in terms of my day, week or even year, I see that balance will occur at some point over a lifetime. Put it in now and later things will ease…maybe when the business gets far larger.
If you hire ambitious people to drive your business forward then they will also want to feel part of a growing, winning team. Constantly replacing people that outgrow what your business can offer them for their career and their life also takes a huge amount of time and resources.

Life Style Businesses Are Great…Until

It could be that you are about to embark on your entrepreneurial journey or maybe you are years in. You may have wrestled with this conundrum before. But…if not…it’s something worth thinking about. In my experience, lifestyle businesses are great, until they continue interfere with your lifestyle!

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