Let’s stop glorifying “Startups” and celebrate happy, successful businesses

I have post that’s been brewing for a long time about Startup culture and it’s a topic I seem to be having more and more conversations about.

Jason Fried – the founder of Basecamp, the project management software company – was quoted in the latest Smashing Magazine newsletter summed it up somewhat:

With a niche and a good customer base, you can build a successful product, without “angel” investors and exponential growth in hiring. Maybe sometimes it’s not necessary at all. We’ve all seen company owners rushing from one big idea to another, thinking of acquisition meetings and exit strategies too early. Instead, you should create, design, build and nourish the product you love (and stay with it!) — with or without venture capital. You might be happier this way.

I’m not anti-growth, but growth seems to be the measure by which all businesses are judged. However, definitions of success can vary.

“Startups” – defined, by me as companies intending to take on investment, grow fast, and head for exit or acquisition – seem to get all the news, either by failing tragically, or by – in very rare cases – succeeding.

And it bothers me that the many hundreds and thousands of happy and successful lifestyle businesses don’t get press. Businesses bootstrapped with the founders’ money and time; profitable businesses with no debt; businesses that have happy owners doing something they enjoy and are good at; businesses that make enough money for their owners to have a good living; businesses that pay taxes, and are often ethical and give back to society and local communities.

I’d love to hear more stories about these kind of businesses and less glorification of “Startups”.

If you have a successful, small scale lifestyle business, tell us what you make or do, and how you work in the comments.