At the beginning of any entrepreneur's journey are countless questions. Will I bootstrap or pursue funding? Will I hire staff or remain a solopreneur? Will I work from home or invest in office space? There is another question many entrepreneurs forget to ask: how big of a business do I want to run?
Society assumes all entrepreneurs want to be Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Sara Blakely -- to conceive of a revolutionary idea in garages or dorm rooms and grow that idea to billion dollar status. The truth is, most successful entrepreneurs never reach Apple or Facebook or Spanx status, and most don't want to!
Many entrepreneurs want to build what is commonly called a "lifestyle business," a business that does exactly what it implies. It allows the entrepreneur to maintain the lifestyle they desire. For some, that means replacing a corporate salary, for others making enough money to put kids through college. While these kinds of businesses aren't always lauded in the same manner as public companies or overnight successes, they are equally as important in the entrepreneurship
Recently in Chicago, it seems we've lost touch with the importance and even the legitimacy of a lifestyle entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, at any networking event or gathering or entrepreneurs, you're asked first about your business and second about your plan to scale, assuming that will be accompanied with millions in venture capital.
What I'm asking you to consider today is both a new line of questioning for entrepreneurs and a return to that initial question you may not have answered at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey.
In conversations with entrepreneurs, start asking questions like these: What impact do you want your work to have? What are your personal goals for your business? And most importantly, this: How can we help each other?
The world of startups, small businesses, and even big businesses does not need to center around bigger equals better. Entrepreneurs, return to the important question you forgot to answer. How big of a business do you want to run? And why? Your answer, though it might be immediately rejected by conventional big business wisdom, can make all the difference in setting you and your business on a successful course.
Marcy Twete is the founder/CEO of Career Girl Network and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works," to be released in summer 2013.