Founder’s dilemma: Lifestyle Business path vs Startup path
Where lifestyle business means doing something in a similar, twisted, or better way than it’s done everywhere else off- or online (like a shared hosting provider); and startup means disrupting how an industry has been known to operate or creating an entire market altogether.
With all the songs of (deserved) praise to the likes of Jeff Bezos, Jack Dorsey, Aaron Levie, Drew Houston and David Karp many entrepreneurs are now convinced that to be worthy of a National ID document they need to disrupt something otherwise they cannot “change the world” or “live a legacy”. What you will notice is that these ambitions just in themselves are focused on the exterior person and the fictitious “end” person (because it’s the journey), not the interior. The big names we fame are people who in the process of working on their interior self arrived to where they are and the “exterior” person that we on-lookers see. The “exterior” mindset that the wider media has imposed on us has made us to, at a subconscious level, define technology entrepreneurship as being only about disrupting and we have overlooked the other equally important kind of entrepreneurship which is just as rewarding if it meets your interior self’s goals and its name is lifestyle entrepreneurship.
To say lifestyle entrepreneurship is easier than startup entrepreneurship i’d be lying. It may actually be more difficult in that there are chances you have small differentiating factors from competitors but like most other markets it is always too wide and large to have a monopoly. To take a recent example, the NY Times published an article on Brian Lam’s journey as a media entrepreneur. Having taken the lifestyle route he can now focus on his own inner goals and interests which are in this case outside of his profession. If his figures aren’t big enough then you can take Noah Kagan’s businesses AppSumo & Gambit that he grew into multi-million dollar establishments (he teaches how too). There’s also the likes of TechCrunch, Neil Patel and HubSpot. The list goes on and on.
Interior and exterior interests aside, there actually really is an opportunity for business on the lifestyle side of business but be warned the work to be input is no different but usually the legal and logistic challenges you face aren’t the “world is recoiling to change” kind. The key here is to not ignore this other side of business when you are looking at the world through the glass of opportunity.
But no one explains the two better than Corbett Barr who’s founded both kind of businesses in his post here, Startup vs. Lifestyle Business.
So yes, i am asking you to be very selfish. Look to what makes you happy as a person inside and then go the path you need to: startups, lifestyle businesses, heck both. Metro Man found his calling as Music-man, it’s time you find yours.