You’ve heard the hype about starting a lifestyle business but you haven’t made the leap yet. Maybe you think it sounds too good to be true or that only a lucky few are born with some kind of mythical entrepreneurial genetic code.
Maybe you’re worried that you don’t have the requisite string of childhood successes on your resume, such as selling rare Star Wars figures at overinflated prices to your gulllible classmates or inventing a killer iPhone app that sold for half a billion dollars to Yahoo! before you were old enough to legally buy yourself a beer.
Okay, so perhaps starting a lifestyle business isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for everyone. The fact is that lifestyle entrepreneurism is a real opportunity that’s open to everyone who is willing to take it, and it’s not just for a special breed of superhumans with dollar signs for eyes.
Even if it’s just something you do on the side whilst working full-time, there are a multitude of reasons why starting a lifestyle business is a no-brainer for anyone who genuinely desires more freedom in their life.
1. You’ve got nothing to lose
Let’s be clear from the outset that I’m not advocating you quit your job and invest all your life savings or remortgage the family home in order to finance a risky business that may or may not turn a profit in the future.
The whole point of a lifestyle business is that it fits with your life, so if you need a job to keep a roof over your head and food in the fridge, don’t ditch it yet. Whatever situation you’re in though, there’s very little to lose by starting something.
2. You’ll grow a thicker skin
If what’s holding you back is the risk of embarrassing yourself in front of all your friends, you’re worrying about something that might not ever happen. Equally, it could happen for a variety of other reasons unrelated to starting a lifestyle business, so you might as well get it over with now.
Yes, you will fail, but no, it won’t be as bad as you thought it would be. Your friends will be supportive, or at least the ones that are worth keeping will be. So fail quickly and fail often now, and you’ll soon get over your fears of failing!
3. You’ll gain a free education
Even if your initial attempt at a business fails, just by taking a few steps you’ll have learnt tons that you can apply to your next venture. You’ll also learn loads about yourself and what aspects of your work does and doesn’t inspire and excite you.
Once you understand this, you can always outsource those things you really don’t enjoy or which aren’t a good use of your time, for example a good dropshipping system can save a ton of time and effort when running an ecommerce store.
You’ll also learn a lot about your own working habits and ways to save time and energy. There’s a lot of great free information online that you can use to start your business (for example on this very blog!) and though there are costs to setting up a website this is increasingly affordable.
Free isn’t always the way to go, of course. You may wish to invest in a few good quality online courses or information products to supercharge your knowledge, save time and give your business a boost, but that’s small change compared to an expensive MBA and thousands of dollars of debt.
4. You can grow your business at your own pace
There’s no need to bet everything on your first forays into business, and if you’re already earning a regular wage, you don’t have to turn a profit in your first month of trading. Start with small, manageable experiments and if something you’re doing begins to get results, you can expand on it gradually.
5. You can build a network of like-minded people
Lifestyle businesses are about finding a way to work that fits your personal values and life choices. Your business, if you have got your branding right, will clearly demonstrate your values to the world. Like tends to attract like, and through your efforts to promote your business you’ll start to attract like-minded businesses and customers.
The quieter, early days of your lifestyle business before you become known by a larger customer-base, provide the perfect opportunity to build solid relationships with those people. Few businesses succeed long-term without a network to support them, so make sure you get this foundation in place. Do this right, and whatever you do in the future will already have a support network built-in.
6. You can pivot easily
In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries encourages founders to start with a minimum viable product and test the market to see if there’s a demand for it. The idea is to keep your costs low so that if your initial idea doesn’t work out, you are agile enough to pivot, or change course – without having to necessarily start from scratch with your branding etc.
This agility is key to a lifestyle business, especially if your ideal way of life is jetting off to exotic locations around the world and working on your MacBook Air from a deckchair beside the hotel pool. But it’s equally important if you only have limited time to work on your business due to other responsibillties such as children.
Ultimately, it’s always good to have a long-term perspective and build flexibility into your business model – after all, your current lifestyle is probably different from what it was a few years ago, and will probably evolve again in the future.
7. You can have fun
If you’re starting your own business, you don’t want to create a job for yourself that makes you just as miserable as the one you’re currently desperate to leave. Your current employment as a cubicle-monkey might be less fun than repeatedly sticking a fork in your eye, but if you know that the work you’re doing is moving you towards your own personal goals, it changes everything.
Again, it might take some experimentation to find that thing that really makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning, but once you start earning enough money to take an extra vacation, once you realize you can work with people you actually like, and choose to spend time with rather than the tedious idiots your current boss decided to hire, and once you realize that you can make empowered choices every day that lead to a future with more freedom than you ever imagined, you’re going to start enjoying your work a whole lot more.
8. You might just make some money
If you view your first attempt at building a lifestyle business as a grand experiment, then if you do start to make some money on the side it will only be a bonus and y0u can invest it back into your business so that it grows even more (or spend it on shiny gadgets).
After all, if you’re not in it, you can’t win it – and there is far more chance of a well thought-out and well executed business being a runaway success than there is you will win the lottery or leave Vegas with more in the bank than you arrived with.
If you’ve been on the fence about starting your own lifestyle business I hope this article has helped edge you in the direction of taking action and getting started.
By starting small, having a long-term perspective, looking for ways to make your business fun and having a flexible approach, you’ll find that your lifestyle business really does enhance your life rather than being just another weight on your shoulders.
Are you considering taking the plunge or is your lifestyle business already established? Share your experiences in the comments.