by John Rubino
For most small business people, the ideal life goes pretty much like this: a few years of all-consuming obsession to get set up, followed by a few decades of 12-hour days to build a reputation and client base sufficient to make the business valuable. Then sell out for enough to retire comfortably.
This is easier said than done, of course, since most small businesses fail pretty quickly. But over the past half-century it was common enough to be a realistic goal for generations of American entrepreneurs.
Today, not so much. When the pie is shrinking, as it has been since 2008, small businesses begin to cannibalize each others’ customers and niches, making each business less viable. Entrepreneurs find themselves on a treadmill where ever more work produces ever less reward, and the prospect of selling out for enough to retire recedes ever further into the future. Last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal published two long articles illustrating this process. Here’s an excerpt from one of them: