Scalable lifestyle business: What it means at Corevist
Today’s post is inspired by the fact that today is Labor Day in the US and we’re encouraged to contemplate and celebrate work.
On the day that Corevist was founded in 2008 I proclaimed my intention to create a scalable lifestyle business. That simply meant that I wanted to continue to live the lifestyle that I’d been enjoying for the previous 8 years and to scale it up so that it wasn’t so dependent upon me alone. I was excited about the prospect that in so doing I would be privileged to share the joy of “the lifestyle” with a larger circle of people.
So what exactly was that lifestyle like?
First and foremost I felt accomplished at work. I was creating and delivering real value to paying customers and doing what I really enjoyed…most of the time :-).
I was making a decent living while having the freedom to work when and where I wanted. There was no office to have to fight traffic to get to everyday. I could take holidays whenever I wanted, had unlimited sick days that I could use when needed and worked whatever hours suited me best (for the most part). I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to take my afternoon naps and whenever I felt like riding my bike, or taking the dog for a walk, I could and I did.
I had a variety of different clients and was doing work that I really enjoyed and that kept me stimulated and challenged. As a small business owner there was never a dull moment nor a shortage of things to do.
My only obligation was to honor my commitments and to get my work done.
Life was good. But not scalable. Unless of course, cloning soon became a viable option.
What became painfully evident to me was that if I wasn’t available to work I couldn’t generate any income. That is the classic definition of a lifestyle business: it provides a comfortable wage for, but is dependent on, the founder(s).
Outside investors hate lifestyle businesses because they can’t make any money on them. Lifestyle businesses typically can’t grow beyond the capabilities, or the modest desires, of their founder(s). That means investors will never be able to cash out of their investments with any reasonable gain.
But investors love scalable businesses.
A scalable business, according to investopedia, “is one that can maintain or improve profit margins while sales volume increases”.
Based on that definition, and the fact that:
- all of our employees have the opportunity to enjoy the “lifestyle” and,
- we’ve been growing at greater than 50% per year for a few years now (see our Inc. 5000 recognition) while maintaining a 20% EBITDA,
we can unequivocally conclude that a “scalable lifestyle” business is not only not an oxymoron, but is a very real and attainable concept. We did it and without the help of any outside investments along the way.
The big question now is can we sustain the growth of our scalable lifestyle company? My answer is that as long as there is a market for us to play in (SAP integrated B2B eCommerce is going to be with us for quite awhile) and we attract people who value the lifestyle, I have no doubt that we can.
However, as we grow, it’s critical that everyone at Corevist recognizes that the benefits of the lifestyle don’t come for free. We have to keep on executing and here are a few things to remember while we do:
- Love Corevist. If we take care of her, she will take care of us. Recognize that her well being isn’t a given. She’s still like a little kid. She requires our constant attention. Don’t take her for granted. Teach her what you want her to know and what you want her to be able to do.
- Connect with our clients and their customers. We’re here to serve human beings and to add quality to their lives at work. Add meaning to your work by understanding who they are and what they do.
- Respect your teammates. Feel awful if you let them down. Be honest and have enough trust in your relationships to let your teammates know when they’ve let you down. We’re here to get better. We’re not here to be perfect.
- Find joy in your work. It’s good for your health and your productivity. It’s also contagious.
- Always be learning. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” said Gandhi.
Continuous learning, by the way, will help you find joy in your work. Which is contagious and in turn will help you get closer to your teammates. Who are all focused on delivering value to our clients, which is the lifeblood of Corevist.
See how that all worked out? :-)
On this Labor Day 2016, I am very grateful for the opportunities that Corevist has provided for me and my colleagues. I look forward to many more years of contributing to the growth of this wonderful scalable lifestyle company that we’ve all worked so hard to create.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even get to the point where we’ll entertain some outside investments, on our terms and when we’re ready, that can help us take this scalable lifestyle business to new heights.
Happy Labor Day.