The internet has changed business forever. Just 8 or 10 years ago, there would be no way in the world that Schedulefly would have people from Europe and Australia and New Zealand trying our software – or even NYC, or LA or Miami. Yet they all do now. How would they know about it without us hiring a bunch of sales people to fly around the planet with their laptops and show it to people? Short of a happy customer, in my backyard here in North Carolina, moving to Australia and then installing Schedulefly there, it would not happen without sales people and overhead and complexity. And I say “installing”, because just a few years ago software was all premise based – shrink wrapped in a box with training documentation and physically installed on-site. Not anymore. Some bar owner in Vietnam can do a Google search for restaurant staff scheduling, click through to us, sign up to check it out and start communicating with her staff online before her restaurant opens for dinner. No direct mail landing on her desk from us. No annoying phone calls or visits from us. No CD-ROM to stick in her Mac to load up Schedulefly. No hardware or software at all. We are confident when she is ready, she will find us (and others too) and make the call if we are the right tool. If we are – she will like it and likely tell someone else in Vietnam about us…she and all her staff too.
I bring this up because, recently, the topic of a lifestyle business vs. a growth business came up. A lifestyle business (which is how some view Schedulefly…me included) is traditionally one where the owners have created a business that supports the things they enjoy doing in life and if faced with a decision to hire and bring on more complexity (that might wreck their enjoyable lifestyle) in order to grow and meet the demands of new business and new revenue – they would pass. They have designed the business to bring a nice income and flexibility in their schedule and would focus on keeping that in tact. So a growth business, traditionally, would hire and scale and become more complex in order to grow and meet the demands of new business and hopefully create value and a nice exit for the shareholders at some point down the road. The latter sounds great and terrible….I bet there is an in between.
Well, the internet is enabling an in between – especially for those who provide a simple service (that requires little to no training or help to use and does not require something to be made or manufactured for each sale) to a large market. I am not arguing that Schedulefly is not a lifestyle company – in fact I like to think of it that way since I (and my partners) do enjoy my (our) life because of it – but I am arguing that growth will not require many of the traditional things that it has in the past like more production, capital investment, hundreds of employees and offices with managers and executives. Growth will only require patience, focus, time, and a continued steady drum beat of awareness that we are here. It will of course also require a scalable software and hardware platform and a product and service that makes people happy when they use it. Happy enough to talk about it to others….maybe even when they are not asked about it. So yeah, we are going to hire a few more people as we grow – but not enough where we need managers or executives or offices filled with people who are creating an atmosphere that makes us all want to do what we “used” to do years ago.
So I think we are a hybrid of a Lifestyle business and a Growth business – let’s call it a Growstyle business. Nah, let’s call it a Lifegrowth business. A business that can keep growing as long as the market is there and the team that runs it and the people who use it enjoy what they do and enjoy their life.
Like Charles Barkley’s memoir was titled…I may be wrong, but I doubt it.
p.s I used the overseas examples to add distance for effect – we focus on the US and Canada but occasionally have interest from other countries. If we are what they need, we are happy to serve them!