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RapidBlog: A lifestyle business is good business

Linda Otterbridge

Local entrepreneur and mentor Linda Otterbridge is often asked whether 'lifestyle businesses' are legitimate businesses. She ponders the question, then shares her answer with readers in this week's RapidBlog.
A lifestyle business is good business!Are you familiar with the term “lifestyle business”? It’s an older term that has been around for a few years and has found its way back from the dead. The term has been the focus of conversation of late and now seems to carry a negative connotation but it relates to doing business as a lifestyle entrepreneur.

Can you believe some individuals and funders actually believe that if you are a lifestyle business this means you are not a real company or entrepreneur? Can someone please help me with the distinction of what is considered a real company or real entrepreneur?

A lifestyle business is one that promotes the lifestyle an entrepreneur wants to live by giving them more freedom to do the things they want to do as an entrepreneur. Sounds ideal, right? It is, if this is the type of entrepreneur you want to become.

If you are Mark Cuban of Shark Tank you would probably not understand the purpose of a lifestyle business. In watching numerous episodes of Shark Tank, I watch Mark time after time ask entrepreneurs if they are in the business fulltime. This tells him how committed the person is to the business by the amount of time they put into the business. He basically wants to partner with entrepreneurs who eat, sleep and breathe the business. 

I talked with Jennifer Feuerstein, Associate State Director of Outreach at AARP Grand Rapids, and asked her for her take on lifestyle businesses. Here is what she had to say:

“Business is business. There are no degrees as to whether one kind is more valid than another. If you have a product or service that someone needs from you, your business is essential.”

Is a successful business based on how much money they get, or is the success of a business based on what type of impact the business is making to fulfill a need in community and contributing to the society as a whole? 

So with this in mind, I began to ask myself a series of questions and gauge what type of entrepreneur I am. I also began to wonder if this “lifestyle business” thing was friend or foe. And should I be concerned about whether I am fundable?

Here's what I decided: It doesn’t matter what type of entrepreneur you chose to be, it’s the impact that counts. The beauty of lifestyle businesses is that they offer the built-in flexibility to make an impact by helping others while allowing the entrepreneur control, freedom, and most importantly the opportunity to have a business which supports their lifestyle and ability to do more than work in the business.

Who wouldn’t want that?

So, to those who still question the legitimacy, I would venture to say that a “Lifestyle Business” is good business. As we close out Women’s History Month, let us acknowledge all the great works and accomplishments of women -- including the lifestyle businesses they lead. And remember that women are to be acknowledged all year long for all that we bring to every aspect of life.

Linda Otterbridge, MA is the founder/owner of Hook a Sista Up, a mentoring platform for women entrepreneurs. She also provides business consulting and accountability coaching for individuals who are interested in starting a new business. 
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