Startup Tip 53: How big does your business really need to be? Small may be big enough

How big does your business really need to be?

We hear stories all the time about startups that have raised millions or been sold for millions.  The media is currently obssessed with it. Our society tends to emphaise that bigger is better and that success in business is building something that is sold for millions of dollars making all the founders rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Is that what you really want to be doing with your life? Don’t buy that dream if it isn’t. Because at the end of the day, how you spend your time is how you live your life. And that life of intense stress and intense work is not the only way to build a business.

The good news is, your startup probably doesn’t need to be as big as you think for you to be able to live the life you want.

The Economics of Enough

David Bussau, serial entrepreneur and founder of the pioneering microfinance organisation Opportunity International,  talks about the economics of enough. He says that after building multiple successful businesses, he came to the point of thinking how much is enough? “When I’ve got all I ever need to live on, why am I spending so much time away from my family making more?” (Source)

Instead of focusing on spending years working hard building a mega business that leaves you with an overabundance of cash (& the odds of doing this aren’t great anyway – just ask the VCs), you can create a business that gives you the income and freedom to live the life you want sooner than you think.

It all depends on knowing what your goals are and choosing what is most important to you.


If you haven’t already, think about the life you want to live – this is different for everyone so make sure you focus on things that matter to you. What is it for you? Do you want to travel, build an eco house in the country, sail around the world, work on projects in developing countries, or go to Uni to study something that excites you? Think about the experiences you want to have, rather than about collecting stuff.

Once you have a picture, you can start to put some figures on this. How much will it cost you to live that way?  Work out a monthly figure. This is what your business needs to produce. (If you have a business partner you need to do the figures to include them too.) Then you can break that down into number of sales if you like.

Having a figure to aim for gives you a concrete goal that you can measure your efforts by. You are probably closer than you think.

And once you know what you really want, it will affect the kind of business you build.

Further Reading:

4 Hour Work Week* – Tim Ferriss is the master of designing businesses to live the life you want. His book has a whole section on how to articulate and cost your dreams. It’s well worth reading if you are interested in designing a business that fits your lifestyle.

To read more about David Bussau (which is certainly worth doing) you can pick up his biography* or this article from Anthill magazine is a good start.

And thanks to Darren Rowse of Problogger for the phrase which inspired this post “Small may be big enough” – which I stole from his inspirational keynote address at Problogger Event 2012*.

Join the conversation:

If you agree, disagree or have something to add please share with us in the comments. That way we all learn – and I can see that there are real people out there reading this! 🙂

And I would love you to join me on Twitter or Facebook.

 Image used courtesy of fd under Creative Commons license.

* = affiliate links


  1. […] Startup Tip 53: How big does your business really need to be? Small may be big enough […]

  2. […] In case you’ve been fearing all the advice out there lately about growing and expanding, Ready Set Startup shared their Startup Tip 53: How Big Does Your Business Really Need To Be?  Small May Be Big Enough. […]

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