Choosing a Lifestyle Business

For quite a while, my business has been in a good position. It’s continued to grow over the years, mostly with a great group of long-term clients and continual referrals from those clients. The thing about a website is that it’s always changing and growing. Once I launch a website, I almost always continue to work with that client. And, fortunately for me, that relationship continues to provide work for me to grow as my client’s businesses grow. I’ve become good friends with many of my clients and have built a solid base of work for myself.

But the flip side to this is: I rarely launch a website and then wash my hands of it. I’ll support that website, running backups and updating software and content as my clients need it. As I’ve written in the past, I’m always approaching new forks in the road. Do I continue to take on new work and grow? How will I find the time to both support all of the websites I’ve built and still take on new work? Do I hire more people to support this growth? The answers to these questions are not easy and they’ve also changed as my life has changed. Both of my kids started school full-time this year. I now have more time than ever to work, which is awesome for the workload that’s been piling up all summer! (I do miss the kids, though. Summer was wonderful in so many ways and I’m already feeling sad with the chill that’s been in the air on these fall mornings).

Yesterday, I had lunch with a colleague who’s become a good friend. She runs an awesome business called The Purpose Lab. They’re a marketing communications firm built specifically to work with disability service providers. Over lunch, she mentioned that she runs a “lifestyle business”. I hadn’t heard that exact term before, but once she explained what it is, I knew that’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve.

From Wikipedia:

A lifestyle business is a business 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.

My goal is not to have a web development firm that has 50 employees. My goal is really to enjoy developing websites, keep my mind challenged, and make an income that supports our lifestyle. I still want to volunteer in my kids’ classrooms. I still want to take the afternoon off and do a hike if they have early dismissal. And I still want to enjoy the fulfillment of helping other small businesses build a presence on the web. So… lifestyle business is it is for me. That’s not to say there aren’t inherit challenges in this choice. If you read my blog, I am pretty much always talking about productivity and work-life balance. Summer will be a challenge when the kids are home more with me. The more websites I launch, the more there is to support. These are all good “problems” to have. The longer I run this business, the more clear I am on where I’m going as I approach each fork in the road. In the end, though, I feel incredibly fortunate to have built this business that allows me to do what I love and still be available for my family.

P.S. I usually choose a photo that is representative of the post I’m writing. It may not be clear as to how the train photo at the top of this post is representative of a lifestyle business. I took this photo after a productive meeting with a great client up in Scranton. Then, my family and I spent the rest of the afternoon in Steamtown at the train museum and enjoying a train ride.

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