Are you trying to start a “Lifestyle” business or a “Real” business? Over the past few years, the talk of starting a “Lifestyle” business has been all the rage. Guys like Tim Ferris of the “4-Hour Workweek” have made it sound like 4 hours is all you need in a week to obtain your hopes and dreams. The rest of the time you can spend lounging on the beach or doing whatever you want! I have to admit that I have never read the book, but it sounds pretty nice right?!
And to be honest, what's not to like about the idea? Essentially, a lifestyle business is something that allows you the freedom to work when and where you want and leave you enough time to travel or enjoy the lifestyle that you want. On the other hand, a “real” business is one where you strategize for growth, work long hours, and make your business as successful as possible – even if sometimes you have to sacrifice some hours on the beach.
So, while I'm not going to discuss specific strategies for building a business, like I usually do, I DO think that having an end goal in mind for what you want your business to be like IS very important. So what kind of business do you want? A business that gives you the living standard you want (i.e. income) and also gives you time to spend with your family, vacation, etc?
Or do you want a business that could be grown into something viable, that perhaps could change your community, an industry, or provide employment for others? Perhaps you can do both!
The Hopes and Dreams of a Lifestyle Business
I have to be honest, that I have never looked fondly on books or people that sell the dream of doing very little work to get the life of your dreams. I think these types of salespeople feed off the hopes of innocent people that don't know any better. At the same time, I now look at my own business, and I literally could work much less than I do and could certainly enjoy more vacations if I wanted.
With my website portfolio, I've built up an income that is very comfortable for me and my family, and it does have a lot of passive benefits to it. I am essentially enjoying a “Lifestyle Business” right now, even though its not what I'm looking for.
I am looking for something more. I want to make an impact. I want to create products or services that change the world (even if only a small part of it). And I want to grow my business into something much more viable.
So, here's the reality check for those looking for “passive income” or just a “lifestyle business”. It doesn't come easy. And doesn't come at all for most people.
I started building websites in 2005 and didn't make enough money to quit my job until 2011. I spent at least a good portion of 2009 to 2011 working lots of late nights or early mornings before or after I got home from work to build up my internet business. And its certainly not like I stopped working once I quit my job.
I still easily put in more than 40 hours each week. Yes, I could put in less. But I am focused on growth at this point. In addition, I know that things change (particularly if you are reliant on Google), and if I were only working 4 hours a week – I'd never be able to position myself well for future expansion.
Living a Good Lifestyle AND Having a Real Business
Luckily for me, I am able to in a way have the lifestyle I want AND focus on growing my business. You see, I actually ENJOY what I do for my business, so it doesn't feel like work. And that perhaps is the key for some of you out there. Find a business that you are passionate about so that you can actually imagine yourself working in the same industry for 20 years.
So, if you are passionate about your business you can essentially have the lifestyle you want AND have a “real” business.
The second way to have both a great lifestyle and the big business that you want is through building a great business first, then developing systems so that others can run it later. I want to emphasize that you have to do the upfront work yourself (or with a team) to build that great business. This could take years (and likely will) to build a successful product or business.
However, once you establish yourself as a market leader, you can then hire others to manage and run your business if you have developed the proper operational systems. Think McDonald's here. The Franchise owner doesn't have to be present all the time for the business to function, because the McDonald's corporation has developed great systems that make it easy to manage and run.
However, the McDonald's brothers and Ray Kroc had to first develop the product and the systems. They worked very hard to get there, for many many years.
Avoid the Hype
So, if you have a successful business with lots of employees and you are making more money than you know what to do with, then yes perhaps you can take a look at what Tim Ferris has to say. However, if you are working a day job and just dreaming about snorkeling all day, DO NOT listen to lifestyle garbage! You first need to actually have a product or business before you can start dreaming of the good life.
And it will likely take many years of difficult work with many long hours. And even then, is there anything wrong with trying to build something that can impact many people through employment, a great product, or otherwise? Definitely not!
I've made it pretty clear where I stand. I think hard work is admirable and necessary for any successful business. However, where do you stand? Are my comments about having a “Lifestyle” business misplaced? Share you thoughts below, what you say could really help others get the right mindset!