Lifestyle Business or Startup?

So you have an idea for a business… or maybe you already have a “side hustle” that you’d like to turn into a full-time endeavor?

Are you thinking of growing a startup, or operating a solo lifestyle business? And what’s the difference… and why does it matter?

Keep reading about the pros and cons of each, and why it’s important to decide early in your business planning which route you want to take.

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What’s the Difference Between a Startup and a Solo Business?

There’s really just one difference between planning a startup and planning a solo lifestyle business: how big do you want it to grow?

A startup is a small, recently-founded business that has a vision to grow to something much larger. Ultimately, startup founders want to grow the business as quickly as possible. The goal of a startup is to maximize valuation in order to attract investors and have a lucrative “exit” (an “exit” means the original investors get their money plus profits back, via selling the company, having an IPO, etc).

On the other hand, a lifestyle business is just that: a small business that supports the lifestyle goals of the owner(s). Certainly a lifestyle business will have financial goals (we all have bills to pay, after all). But the owner of a lifestyle business has other goals as well: flexibility, enjoying the work they do, following a passion, spending more time with family, spending time on hobbies or traveling, etc. They have a certain financial goal, but above that target their other goals are more important than continuing to grow the business.

The goal of a startup is to grow as fast as possible and maximize valuation. The goal of a lifestyle business is to support the lifestyle needs of the owner(s).

Can’t a Business be Both a Startup and a Lifestyle Business?

Not really, unless the “lifestyle” you aspire to is to operate and run a large enterprise (lifestyle = work). That may be the case for some people (most self-made billionaires fall into this category, I think), but not for most of us.

This is why it’s so important to understand and acknowledge your personal needs before you start planning your business.

Deciding Between a Lifestyle Business or Startup

I often get asked “which one is better”? The answer is: Neither!

The type of business you start, and your personal goals, will determine whether you are running a startup or a solo/small lifestyle business.

Some types of business ideas can only be successful with the startup model: businesses that require large, ongoing investments in capital (beyond your personal means) and have a threshold before profitability, or businesses that depend on a network effect to succeed (eg, Facebook) are two types of business that cannot easily be run as small businesses that stay small.

Lifestyle businesses usually are built to serve a focused niche (a very targeted demographic with a specific need), have small up-front investments of time or money (such as a small e-commerce business), and/or are small, local businesses.

If a startup is your goal, it is important to know what you’re getting into: the excitement and opportunity for huge success, but also (more than likely) the possibility of a business that does not ultimately achieve your growth goals and either remains as a small business or fails. Founding a startup can be a fantastic learning experience, but you also need to be ready to put in the very long hours and hard work needed, possibly with little payoff.

There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to take on the stress of a startup, or grow your business into an enterprise with employees and investors. If you enjoy working on your business and just want to meet your financial needs doing something that you love, then a lifestyle business is probably your best choice.

You can learn more about how to plan and run a lifestyle business at SoloBizGuide here.


MVP Tree as a Critical Entrepreneur Starting Point — David Cummings on Startups

Shawn Carolan has a post up on Steve Blank’s blog titled A Path to a Minimum Viable Product and it is easily the most insightful piece for entrepreneurs starting out that I’ve read this year. With all the excellent literature out there about Customer Discovery and Minimum Viable Product (MVP), there’s not enough how-to around […]

MVP Tree as a Critical Entrepreneur Starting Point — David Cummings on Startups

COVID-19 and Solopreneurship

How Has COVID-19 Impacted You?

As a solopreneur, how has the COVID-19 business shutdown impacted you? I’m lucky that as a fully-online solo business I really haven’t seen any negative impact. In fact, there’s been increased demand for my services. It has got me thinking about other things I could be offering however… What about you?

Strengthen Your Business During a Crisis

I love this quote by Andy Grove, founder of Intel Corporation: “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, good companiesAndyGrove survive them, great companies are improved by them.”

The current COVID-19 pandemic is tough on many businesses, especially small businesses and solopreneurs.

Of course, you have to focus first and foremost on how NOT to let this crisis destroy your business, and how you can survive it.

But strong businesses will emerge from this crisis even stronger than they were before. So how can you build a GREAT company, and leverage this to improve your business?




Soulful Simplicity

Simplifying my life was the way I remembered who I was.

So true!  That quote is from “Soulful Simplicity” by Courtney Carver, subtitled “how living with less can lead to so much more.”

I’m just part way through the book, but there are a lot of things in her writing that read true to me, including the quote above.  Looking forward to the rest of the book.

Are you living a life that is true to who you are?

Do you remember who you were as a teenager or young adult? What was important to you? What gave you peace?




5 Reasons Why Every Business Needs a Custom Email Domain By Stephanie Hurd — Technopreneurph

business communication computer connection

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Do you have a custom email domain for your business?  Even as a solopreneur, looks so much better than And it is very easy to have your own email – you can even set it up inside gmail if you prefer using the gmail interface.  Keep reading Stephanie’s article below to learn more:


Think of your business’ domain name as your own, branded corner of the internet. It is the space you own for business-related web and email traffic. In today’s digital economy, most businesses own a custom domain for their website. However, it’s surprising how many aren’t using a custom domain for email and instead use generic […]

via 5 Reasons Why Every Business Needs a Custom Email Domain By Stephanie Hurd — Technopreneurph


Make Your Online Business Soar With These Tips — Marketing Secrets

TIP! Your customers will be happier if you excel at customer service. Give customers free stuff when they buy your products, and let them know that you appreciate their business by thanking them for their orders. A work from home business can allow you balance your life and have a balanced life. You need to […]

via Make Your Online Business Soar With These Tips — Marketing Secrets

What business should you start?

There are many opportunities for the solopreneur, from freelancing to ecommerce to writing. If your focus is to do it the frugal way by bootstrapping your business with no outside funds, then you have a lot of options available to you if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

photo of woman using her laptop

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Here are just a few possibilities to think about. But the final decision is yours alone: what do you enjoy doing? what specific skills or experience do you have?


Freelancing is a great option if you want the flexibility of working from anywhere, but like to be part of a virtual team or do work for other people. Specialties include graphic design, coding, web design, social media management, writing or editing. A good place to start is to take a look at a freelancing site such as Upwork to see what types of projects are available.

Selling on Amazon, eBay, etc

It is easy to set up a seller account on sites such as Amazon and eBay and list a few things for sale. All you need is a Paypal account and/or credit card to get paid. However, the challenge is in finding the right items to sell at the right price, taking great pictures, writing excellent descriptions, and getting traffic to your items.

Your Own eCommerce Store

Whether you sell your own products that you make, or resell items at a profit, you can quickly set up your own website to sell from using PayPal or Stripe. The biggest challenge will be to get visitor traffic to your store (assume conversion rates of only a few percent, so you need at least 100 visitors daily to make sales every day). This is where writing comes in (see below): even if your website is sales-focused, you need to be constantly adding new content via a blog or articles that will bring in search engine traffic.

Selling Digital Products

There are many things you can create and then sell that don’t involve having to send a package in the mail: create your own app or software, write an ebook, sell your photography or web templates – the list goes on.

Blogging or Writing Online

If you enjoy writing, then setting up a blog or informational website might be a good option for you. You need to make sure you’re adding new top-quality content regularly (at least weekly), posting it to social media, and participating in other online communities where your readers might hang out.

Where most bloggers and website owners fail is being able to bring in a large enough volume of visitor traffic to make any monetization option successful. Whether you sell your own informational products (eg, ebooks), link to affiliate products (eg, Amazon) or use PPC ads such as Google AdSense, you need a lot of traffic to earn a living from this option.

I highly recommend the SBI (Solo Build It!) platform to help you build an online business with traffic, and not just a blog which no one reads. I have a few SBI websites and I’m very happy with all the tools they provide – those sites get a lot more traffic than others I have hosted elsewhere!  You can check out SBI here.


Easy Advice For Starting A Home Business Enterprise — Marketing Secrets

Some good basic tips for running a successful home business:

This article will help you some good advice on that topic. TIP! It is important that you remain employed during the early stages of your new business. Chances are that your new business will not bring in a profit for quite a while, and it is best to have regular income from your current job […]

via Easy Advice For Starting A Home Business Enterprise — Marketing Secrets