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your turn by Emmeline de Pillis In Defense of the Lifestyle Business THE FIRST TIME I heard the term "lifestyle business," I had just started in my current position, teaching management and entrepreneurship at the University of Hawaii. An entrepreneurship expert was speaking to our undergraduates about starting their own businesses, and he asked them for their startup ideas. A young student described a combination coffee house/art gallery/hostel that would support local musicians and artists while giving visitors an authentic island experience. The expert's response was scathing: "What you're describing is a lifestyle business," he shot back. "You'll make, what, thirty-five or forty thousand a year?" He made it excruciatingly clear to my crestfallen student that his idea was an embarrassment to the very idea of entrepreneurship. It's true that a lifestyle business, such as the one my student was hoping to start, typically does not enrich its investors, nor does it create many jobs. However, I believe that lifestyle entrepreneurs offer important opportunities for business students, the communities they live in—and the schools they attend. Defining the Term Owners of lifestyle businesses are not focused on growth or profitable exit strategies. According to entrepreneurship scholar Carol Dalglish, they are motivated by "sustaining a particular lifestyle in a particular environment." Unfortunately, when venture capitalists use the term "lifestyle business," they generally intend it as an insult. These investors want to harvest value from their investments, so they don't get excited about a no-growth coffee shop/art space. Business school administrators and other stakeholders generally have followed the lead of venture capitalists, paying little atten- tion to lifestyle businesses. But I think that's a mistake, for two compelling reasons: I They benefit communities. While growth-oriented businesses create jobs and wealth, small lifestyle businesses can have direct positive effects on their neighborhoods. Unlike chain stores or factories, they are embedded in the community and their well-being depends on it. In fact, lifestyle entrepreneurs will stick with a community even if it's not prospering. This can be especially beneficial in declining rural areas. Lifestyle businesses may even contribute to the physical health of nearby residents, because the presence of small shops and local retailers is associated with significantly increased rates of walking. Sociologists at Louisiana State University and Baylor found that counties and parishes with a greater proportion of small businesses—four or fewer employees—have lower levels of obesity and mortality. They concluded that "a place with a greater proportion of small businesses will have a healthier population." I They represent the majority of small businesses. A University of Chicago study found that most small businesses "do not grow, do not want to grow, do not innovate and do not want to innovate." As Inc.'s Daniel McGinn laments, these ubiquitous lifestyle entrepreneurs work "just enough to buy a second home and a boat and to send their kids to school." Here in Hawaii, many of our lifestyle entrepreneurs moved to the state to reinvent themselves and get away from the mainland rat race; others grew up here and want to stay where they have strong family and community connections. And yet, many of these businesses could become more successful if they took classes targeted to their needs. Because lifestyle entrepreneurs are attracted to the community or the particular business first, and to growth and profit second, they may lack business basics—but they can Small lifestyle businesses can have direct positive effects on their neighborhoods. 66 November/December 2013 BizEd

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