I had dinner with friends tonight that got tired of working for other people, and the lifestyle that often imposes, and started their own small consultancy doing marketing and Web-based work, focusing on a particular vertical niche. I think a lot of people in technology circles would find this wholly unremarkable, but therein lies the source of what makes it interesting: What doesn't seem sexy is where all the opportunity is.
I've expressed my displeasure over the fact that the Silicon Valley culture isn't about making an enduring business anymore. It's all about funding events and exits. I'm sure that's good for VC's who are getting rich, but it kind of sucks for company founders and their employees who just burn cash and then burn out, no richer for the effort.
There are certainly a great many mega-success stories, but they're the exceptions, not the rule. The reality is that there are a million small businesses that can do something inexpensively, using the Internet, to support a family or two. That seems like the promise of the Internet and business to me, not the potential to cash out on some irrational billion-dollar valuation. Call it a lifestyle business if you want, but the long-tail view of this is a whole lot of economic opportunity.
To an extent, that's what I'm enjoying right now. Slinging code and process advice as a hired gun isn't very glamorous, but it sure can pay the bills. Heck, even the really small business of my little hobby sites pays for my health insurance. I'm not opposed to working full-time for a company, but I also see what having a little company can do to create a tiny dent of a rounding error in the GDP. I wish more people would think about that. There is money to be had there.