For a long time people made as much money as they possibly could and then bought the lifestyle to match that income. This lead to a bunch of unhappy and unfulfilled people, and a lot of fancy cars and big houses that don’t actually fill a person’s life with joy (I have a lot of experience with this!).
Trends have moved away from this larger than life idea of the American Dream, as more people pursue what we like to call “lifestyle businesses”.
Yeah, I don’t love the term itself, but I sure do agree with the perspective behind it. The basic idea here is that you should design your income, work, and career around what you actually want to have and do, and not the other way around. Lifestyle businesses allow the owner to pursue his or her interests, whether that’s travel, meeting new people, learning new languages, or helping people become great at what they are great at.
Lifestyle businesses are NOT no-work, sip-martinis-on-the-beach bullshit (though some people go that route). It’s still hard work, but it’s hard work that fits in with the values and desired lifestyle of the owner.
For example, someone who decides they want to travel for work might become a photographer that sells her photos to magazines or on her own website. Someone who finds great joy in gardening and cooking might write books about organic gardening, and monetize a food blog. I like to be able to travel occasionally, and I like working on my own schedule. I also like talking to like minded people, so I run my blog, my courses, and my online businesses to be able to do those things.
With a lifestyle business, having your ideal day every day is more important than making more money than your neighbor. You design your lifestyle and desires before designing your income streams and business model.
A lot of people read the 4 Hour Work Week and took it really literally, then thought that they had to start a business that was totally hands-off, impersonal, and completely automated so they could just spend that money all day. That isn’t my idea of a lifestyle business though.
My perspective is that you can do what you love and make it work for you. Passive income is a keystone concept in the Lifestyle Business concept. I don’t think many people have 100% truly passive income, but I do know that semi-passive, evergreen income is definitely possible (because I have a few income streams like that myself!).
1. Passive Income
Passive income is anything that continually generates revenue for a long time. This could be royalties from a book, AdSense on an established website, or sales from your own self-published fan fiction on Amazon Kindle Publishing. Passive income is rarely truly passive. Blogging is certainly not passive (blogger babes you know what I’m talking about) but maybe some of your blog-related products are. Active income is coaching, consulting, and anything that is “high touch” or requires your attention and engagement. I like to combine both approaches in my lifestyle business.
2. Sell your Knowledge
One of the best ways to begin your lifestyle business is to sell your knowledge. Of course, selling physical items is enjoyable for a lot of people, so this doesn’t fit into everyone’s idea of an ideal lifestyle business. However, selling your knowledge is the least expensive way to get started. You don’t need to buy inventory, get a warehouse, or ship goods. Instead, selling your unique knowledge takes an up-front effort of time and energy, but very little monetary investment and overhead. Your knowledge can be packaged as a book, a class or course, a how-to video series, or even personalized coaching. Many successful lifestyle business owners have some sort of knowledge for sale as one of their income streams. What unique skill do you have or know how to do that others would like to learn?
3. Layered Income Streams
Another cornerstone concept of the lifestyle business is multiple income streams. As a creative business owner, you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Having multiple income streams allows you to fall back on the others if one isn’t doing too well or has a slow month. For a blogger, multiple income streams are usually imperative to making a living. Revenue from advertising, affiliate sales, and selling your own products or books all come together to create a full income.
For example, I hold an e-course about once every 2 months. For the week leading up to the course, while I am getting sign-ups, my income is looking pretty good. But then for 2 months I know I won’t be making any money from that offering because registration is closed and class is in session. So during those in-between periods, I want to be selling my books, guides, and services to make up for it.
You can have as many income streams as you want. At the moment I’ve got a combination of consulting services (I’m picky about clients, so I don’t get overwhelmed and take on too much), e-courses, and an online store. I personally like working with multiple income streams. It keeps me engaged when I have something different to do each day. And I like the financial security it provides more than anything.
4. Mobility and Freedom > $$$
Lifestyle businesses generally value time and freedom over income. Your free time and mobility/flexibility is more valuable than more money. Mobility, like being able to travel, move when opportunity calls, or explore the world is one benefit of lifestyle businesses that are online-based. Having the freedom to run your own home-based business means you can spend more time with your kids, in your garden, preparing healthier meals at home, etc. Lifestyle business owners make sure that their businesses support their priorities. Some people argue that mobility, freedom, and time are the new currencies and indicators of wealth. A lifestyle business focuses on those goals.
The First Steps Towards Your Own Lifestyle Business:
Identify what YOU WANT out of life.
What do you want to do? What do you need to own and pay for? What tools do you need to get there? A house? A vintage trailer? Do you want to Travel? Garden? Shop for vintage clothes? Mix fancy drinks? Seriously, what would you do if your business was aligned perfectly with your lifestyle goals? Do you see yourself living the simple life, like myself and many of my clients, or living it up on a private island?
One is not more “lifestyle” than the other, the point is to figure out what makes you happy and fulfilled. If you’re planning on quitting your day job, think about what you’ll have to do to make that happen. Will you have to save up a year's worth of expenses? Will you have to put aside something for a safety net? How much money per month or per year would you have to earn to live your ideal lifestyle?
Make some estimates and begin to see just how feasible those ideas are. If you left the house and the cars, could you pursue a business that brought value to your life and your customer’s and client’s lives too? Brainstorm for a while and diagram if that helps you. Mind-mapping is a good way to get your ideas on paper.
Identify what you like to do, and how those skills and passions could fit into your lifestyle business. Are you a good writer? Do you love helping people organize their closets? Do you get giddy thinking about designing beautiful new websites? What work would make you happy and allow you to focus on what’s really important in your life?
Could any of your skills be transferable into a passive income stream? What multiple layers of income streams can you think of? Could you write a how to guide, teach workshops, or tutor people in a special skill?
If you are interested in pursuing this lifestyle business idea, the next step is determining your unique niche. I’ve written a guide just for you if you’d like to take this further and see how to align your business with your lifestyle values and bigger goals. Check out the Find Your Niche Guide right here, or sign up for a one-on-one session with me and get the guide for FREE when you do!
What would you be doing if your work was aligned with your ideal lifestyle?
What is your perfect business/lifestyle balance?
If you’re currently neck-deep in your own lifestyle business, let me know how it’s going in the comments!