For the longest time now I’ve been fond of micro businesses.
Most of my friends don’t even know this, but the first real company that I ever started on my own was called SimpleStartup.
It was a web app written in PHP that helped single person companies create a website, charge money for their services, and track finances:
It took me about a decade to realize that I don’t really want to be a start up founder. Up until that point, quitting my job, and launching a startup had always been in the back of my mind. It was an obsession that plagued me.
I find myself in a unique position now, where:
- I have a job that I love. It’s my dream job really.
- I have no desire to leave my job any time soon.
- I have no desire to ever launch my own startup again, but…
- I do still feel a strong pull to build, and launch micro businesses on the side.
I’ve spent a bunch of time trying to define exactly what I want in a micro business. I figured I’d share that list here.
What I’m looking for:
- Something I can do while employed (I love my job, I don’t want to quit, I don’t want a startup)
- To stay independent – never raise money – always own 100%
- No employees – ever – I don’t want this to ever scale to the point that I’d have to hire anyone
- No partners – I prefer to work solo on side projects
- Something I can be excited to wake every single day at 5:00am to work on
- Where I embrace constraints (out of necessity)
- A service I wish existed
- Something around helping designers
- Simple compelling story
- Time commitment is no more than 2 hours per day
- Viral component baked in (preferably)
- Focused on businesses (not consumers)
- Strong brand – fun, sticks in your head
- Strong on the design side
- Unique business model
- Long-term play (I’m not worried about making money – especially in the short-term)
- Super niche
- Solves a real pain
- Low maintenance users
- Low overhead
- Requires least amount of work per week as possible, with the biggest chance for eventual upside
- Something I can put on auto-pilot for 2 weeks, or even 2 months (if need be)
- Minimal feature-set
- Simple tech
- To stay forever frugal
- Authentic (product, and story)
- My little Utopia
- Create more value than I capture
- Where I can stay balanced – Spiritually, Physically, and with Family/Work
- Principles, People, Product, Profits – always in that order – revenue is just a by product of building something great, never the primary focus
It’s a big list, but I’ve found that it helps me focus my attention. I’m currently using this list to help define what my next micro business will look like.
If you have similar aspirations, I’d love to hear your thoughts.