The Great Lifestyle Business Debate

lifestyle-businessIn a tribe, not everyone can be a chief. In a big corporation not everyone can be a manager. And in business it is not possible for every entrepreneur to become a millionaire. And not everyone with their own business wants to be the next Richard Branson or Anita Roddick. For many they just want to earn a decent income, on their own terms. However more and more I am seeing this ‘working to live’ philosophy referred to condescendingly as a ‘lifestyle’ business. And quite frankly it’s getting on my nerves.

It particularly riles me when this ‘lifestyle’ label is given to a mum, who is running a business selling a product or service. Just because she is happy at a modest level of income doesn’t mean she isn’t running a ‘proper’ business. Quite simply, no-one else has the right to judge. Not all self-employed men want to be the next Duncan Bannatyne either – there are millions of self-employed men who work to put food on the table and not to change the world. I don’t see people criticising them for their lack of ambition?

Mums may start a home business for all sorts of reasons – so they can spend more time with their children, to avoid paying expensive childcare, because they can’t drive, to make sure they are always around for the school run and important occasions at school, because they have elderly relatives or sick children to care for, or simply as a lifestyle choice. They are no less committed or driven than their more ambitious peers.

Businesses exist on so many levels and turnover is not the be all and end all.  It is widely accepted that most businesses won’t see a profit in the first 1-2 years of trading, particularly when bringing a product to market. This is not to say though, that when they hit years 3, 4 or 5 that their income won’t soar! Which is why awards like the MumpreneurUK Awards and the mumandworking awards, which reward great ideas, personal achievement and growth, are so refreshing and provide such a boost to the confidence and commitment of businessmums at all levels.

What are your views on ‘lifestyle’ businesses? Do you work to live or live to work? Leave a comment and join the debate.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Eilidh Milnes says:

    Started my first home-based business in 1992 and never considered myself – what it the odd term – a mumpreneur – don’t think I have ever typed this word before.
    It’s as much how you see yourself and how others see you. Our home hosts multiple income streams and has benefited from many extensions and developments as a result. What a bonus!
    Focus on your clients and your services and don’t get hung up on the terminology, although I doubt mumpreneur has ever been used to describe me; yet I do fit in with the definition.
    Interestingly, our son started his business from home at the age of 17 and has gone on to earn a 6-figure income. He has a job which he runs alongside his own company.
    What term should we apply to him – a son-preneur :)
    Ever Positive,
    Eilidh

  2. Erica says:

    Work to live! To be honest I don’t care what they call it, it works and that’s all that matters to me. Someone called my business a ‘lifestyle’ business last week and I was fine about it, it supports my lifestyle without taking over my life. Sounds ok to me :)

  3. Susie says:

    I have always worked to live. In my last job before having children, nearly everyone in my office lived to work. They arrived at 8am & often didn’t leave until gone 8pm. I was often made to feel guilty, starting at 8.30 and going home by 6pm to spend time with my husband & enjoying my life. I never worked at the weekend. Now I have far more passion for my job than I did then, but I still want to work to live. My business gives me the opportunity to be someone other than “Amy & Adam’s mum” or “Ryan’s wife”, whilst still relishing those roles and having plenty of time for them.

  4. Helen says:

    I’m with Erica, if I can find a way of earning an income, doing interesting work, spending time with my children and not spending everything I earn on crazy childcare fees then it’s fine by me. I’m not sure any of us define ourselves as mumpreneurs or wake up one day thinking ‘OK, today I’m starting a lifestyle business’. I think these names are useful because they give journalists and PRs something to talk about, bloggers something to debate and people with websites a keyword to be Googled by. That’s (almost) all good because it raises the profile of all of us juggling business and family.

    My only real concern is the flip side of the argument “we can’t all be Richard Branson, nor would we want to be”. Of course that’s true, but I wonder how many people (women in particular) aren’t earning what they should. Hardly any of us were taught entrepreneurship in school, there’s a lot to learn and many of us have issues with self-confidence and money.

    I believe you can earn what you’re worth AND still have time to spend with your family. But I wonder if deep down many of us are telling ourselves ‘it’s OK if I don’t earn much, after all, I’m not Richard Branson and my family comes first’. Could that be why so many women go back to employment once their children are older instead of carrying on in self employment?

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