I started my own medical practice for a host of reasons, one of which was that I wanted to be able to practice in a way that I felt good about, which meant a focus on delivering care to patients, not on “productivity” or meeting goals of the group or the practice or the corporation or the insurance companies. Naturally, I was hoping that it would pay me something, but getting rich wasn’t a goal.

The practice was rapidly and unexpectedly successful. Wildly successful. I soon started getting solicited by predatory lenders, venture capitalists, and organizations that seemed to be fronting for private equity firms, all offering me the world. “You can expand your practice! Start making real money!” Even my business partner wanted to hire more people and open additional locations.

Except for my business partner, I don’t think any of the offers were legitimate. They just saw a business, in the lucrative Healthcare Sector, that was popular and had a good reputation. They could just buy the name, enshittify, and reap the profits from the goodwill that we had created. In any case, they missed the point: I went through the considerable pain of creating my own practice to avoid a hierarchical enterprise with money focus at the top.

I never knew a shortcut for describing my business until today:

A single-location family-owned business that provides a living for a few people? With no plans to load up on debt or other financial engineering? Or for growth into unicorn status? No GenAI dimension? No marketing or public-relations people?

In conversation with venture capitalists, you hear the phrase “lifestyle business”, meaning one that is doing nicely and rewarding the people who run it and which isn’t planning for unbounded growth. The words “lifestyle business” are always, of course, uttered in a voice dripping with contempt.

So whether I had the label or not, I was definitely running a “lifestyle business.” I think the world needs more of them; it certainly worked for me.


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