Startup vs. Lifestyle Business — What’s The Difference

Toni Koraza

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My lifestyle business is slowly becoming a startup.

I’m avoiding the word “evolving” because I don’t really know how I’d feel this time next year. Lifestyle businesses are all about happiness, freedom, and personal growth while running a self-satisfying company. Startups, on the other hand, are fast-paced, high-growth, and moon-shot ventures.

Lifestyle business focuses on healthy work culture, and meaningful life, while startups tend to change the world and challenge the status quo. If you’re starting a digital business, you may consider which path you’re willing to take.

Entrepreneurs are usually at the helm of both lifestyle businesses and startups.

Entrepreneurs are misunderstood bunch.

Entrepreneurship is one of the oldest professions, probably older than prostitution itself. Entrepreneurs find themselves with a door-knob in their throat when someone asks over a casual dinner, what do they do for a living.

“I’m kinda reverse-engineer Saas tools from user experience. I also write, film, run a marketing agency, help people with disabilities find better products on Amazon, then I‘m also investing, kind of, but not that much.”

Oh my god, that’s embarrassing.

Entrepreneurs often have their fingers in a lot of pies and work in high-frequency environments. Imagine asking Elon Musk what does he do for a living. You’d have more luck with a question, “dude, what’s not your job?”

And Musk would be like, “I don’t play professional football.”

Touche.

What’s the deal with Lifestyle businesses?

Lifestyle businesses are often misunderstood too. Venture investors often refer to lifestyle businesses as dipshit companies, and Startup founders may regard you as a lower-class business maker.

I have to disagree with all of the above. Many writers have set up a lifestyle business and live on their terms. Tom Kuegler, Tim Denning, Sinem Günel, and Niklas Göke are among the people I highly regard as successful lifestyle business owners.

They’re making more money from Medium than most startup founders have left in their bank account after the first company goes bust. Nicolas Cole is a perfect example of someone who has scaled down his agency to resemble a lifestyle venture that lets its founders write more, and invest time with activities that make them happy.

Then, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss, and Alexis Ren are among the lifestyle superstars. These business & life-savvy personalities have the time, recognition, and money to live on their terms.

Lifestyle business creates value for others, but not at such a scale that it completely devours the life of its founders. However, most lifestyle business owners almost never become Billionaires, unlike successful startup founders.

Startups are rocket ships awaiting takeoff

Melanie Perkins shared her design journals online when she was only 19 years old.

Her sense of esthetics and simplicity took the world by storm. Melanie soon rose as the youngest female billionaire in Australia, amassing $1.3Bn in personal fortune, and disrupting the global design industry.

Melanie has successfully launched her rocketship into the stratosphere, where she explores new ways to change the world through design.

“Our goal was to take the entire design ecosystem, integrate it into one page, and then make it accessible to the whole world,” said Perkins.

Startup missions, unlike the goals of lifestyle businesses, are grandiose and tend to take on the whole industry. Instead of creating a meaningful life for a founder, startups help other people at scale.

Radically changing the world is not easy, or simple, and definitely not for most entrepreneurs. Take Elon Musk, he’s building landable rockets to commercialize space travel and colonialize Mars, potentially saving humanity from itself. He sold his estates, and he’s the first billionaire to rent a home because he needs to commit more time to his mission.

Would most people have the guts to do it? I don’t think so. Startups are not rational, nor smart. Startups are passionate and emotional, even if most people don’t see them as such. Hustlin’ 80hr/weeks, and sacrificing sleep, health, and social life for an idea that has 91% to fail is everything but rational.

You can become a rich entrepreneur without starting up a business

Both startups and lifestyle businesses have more in common than not, especially during the early stages.

Two founders can start a car-sharing app, helping locals find alternative means of transportation. Both apps look and feel the same at first. Users can hail a car, rate the driver, and follow their route from their smartphone screens. The first founder decides to keep the business as it is, satisfied with the growth and revenue, while the other founder raises venture capital to disrupt the global taxi business. Now, we’re talking about a difference between London’s Taxiapp, and Uber. One founder builds a totally new culture of using transportation, while the other lives comfortably and pursues other interests in life.

Lifestyle business owners run a micro organization that is comfortable with the status quo. Owners seek more freedom, focus on personal income, and rarely raise outside funds.

Lifestyle business can still make millions, and create a meaningful life for its owners. The top tech billionaires have most of their assets in stock and other non-liquid forms. Being a billionaire on paper may sometimes mean owning an idea, but not much cash.

Lifestyle owners earning higher-revenue with low overhead can sometimes enjoy more money than someone who’s valued 100x them.

Startups are all about innovation, disrupting the status quo, and fast growth. Startups change the world. You can become a startup owner and go down in history, as a man who built the first cars, sold the first computers, or colonialized Mars.

Photo by DocuSign on Unsplash

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Curious Fellow | Founder at Mad Company, and MadX.Digital | Writes about Current Events, Lifestyle, and Money |

Miami, FL
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