If You have a Services Firm, You’ll Relate
Read this post on FounderDating and it resonates with anyone who owns a services firm, or a firm that starts out by bootstrapping with services work – when “Lifestyle” becomes a bad word:
We had become experts in the then-burgeoning field of Social Marketing, and our services were highly sought after. Looking at our new revenue stream compared to their offer, we turned them down.
Prominent Startup Guy then proceeded to trash our business for its initial focus on revenue instead of building a product. The ultimate insult was thrown down. We had a nice “lifestyle business” but it would never be interesting to VCs. He told me that if I didn’t join a well-known startup by the time I was 30, I would never be successful. I was 31 at the time. Ouch.
A few days later, I had coffee with a friend – at the time, an up-and-coming VC. “That guy’s a jerk.” he said, “So what if you have a lifestyle business? That’s not a bad thing.” Now even my friends were trashing my business!
This whole story made me laugh in sympathy, because I can relate to so much of it. You have a growing business, that isn’t VC-funded, and people call it a lifestyle business. And that wouldn’t be so bad, if it was intended as a compliment, instead of an insult. And as he wrote, “lifestyle” sounds so much like the kind of business where you spend your mornings playing golf and evenings going to out on the town and hardly have to put in an honest day’s work, when nothing could be further from the truth.
These people forget that your mortgage your house to create a lifestyle business. That you borrow from friends and family to start your business. That you gave up nights and weekends and time with family. The truth is, all startups are hard work, and a lot of risk to get them off the ground. And these bootstrapped businesses can grow.
The most important thing to keep in mind if you start a business? Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks about your business, or about you. Do it for your own reasons, to prove things to yourself. If you’re trying to prove things to other people, you’re bound to be affected by the noise out there, and miss the real signals from your customers.