How to choose a business model that fits your lifestyle

I launched Ways & Meaning as a solution to my biggest problem in life: finding a career that I was passionate about, where I felt empowered to run and grow in the direction I wanted, while still meeting my (perhaps ridiculous, but totally honest) lifestyle needs.

The truth is…I don’t like working. Most people meet that comment with ‘who does?’ But what I really mean is that I’m very content doing nothing. I am NOT a busy bee. Of course I enjoy intellectual stimulation and a sense of accomplishment (as all humans need to thrive). But I can accomplish this by reading a good book in a hammock and parenting my kids. Just being my best self is enough.

I don’t have to have a wildly successful career to feel successful. I don’t need the external praise, the job title, the massive salary. It’s simply not a priority in my life.

Then again, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I always wanted to have my own business. I may have had grand ambitions of being wildly successful when I was younger,  when I knew less about what sort of sacrifices that would mean.

But as I grew up and discovered what matters most in my life, as I clarified my values, I learned that what I really wanted was ‘just enough.’ Too much, meant too many sacrifices I wasn’t willing to accept. I just wanted to be happy. And working long hours, time away from the people I loved most, and less time to enjoy my passions wasn’t going to provide that for me.

I’m not interested in the hustle culture most entrepreneurs buy in to. I want to be a more mindful entrepreneur.

But first, I needed a business model to fit my lifestyle needs. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today.



WHAT IS A BUSINESS MODEL

 

TRADITIONAL BUSINESS MODELS

Basically a business model is how a business makes money. With traditional businesses, there wasn’t a lot to discuss here. You had a product or service which you sold to customers to make money. That’s it.

Barbers cut hair in exchange for money. Restaurants sold food in exchange for money. Shops sold things in exchange for money. Media companies produced content and then sold ads and/or subscriptions to make money. Basic. Simple. Easy.

 

INNOVATIVE  BUSINESS MODELS

But then technology came along and started to disrupt things. They started to innovate with business models. Airbnb disrupted how we book accommodation when we travel. Uber and Lyft disrupted how we get around without our own vehicle. 

With these companies, the business model is  based on a service fee and volume. We don’t pay Airbnb or Uber for the service of accommodating or transporting us. We pay the hosts and drivers that have partnered with them. And the technology companies simply get a small percentage of that. 

At scale, that is a shit ton of money for them.

Most technology companies rely on scale, on being humongous to be profitable. This is why the ‘growth mindset’ has become the standard for success amongst modern entrepreneurs.

But growth at all costs is expensive. It’s one of the main drivers behind our culture of burnout and stress. Nothing is ever enough. Bigger, faster, stronger, more is always better. Satisfaction, gratitude for what we’ve accomplished doesn’t exist. It’s been replaced by an insatiable appetite for more.

 

LIFESTYLE BUSINESS MODELS

And then along came the lifestyle entrepreneur. Lifestyle entrepreneurs build their business around their personal lifestyle needs, not endless growth or unsustainable desire for profit.

Typically, lifestyle entrepreneurs are interested in:

  • More time away from their desk
  • A flexible schedule, often with the ability to work from anywhere (with WiFi)
  • The opportunity to combine their skills AND their passions
  • The freedom to be their own boss and follow their dreams

 

This is what I was after. This is what I wanted.  But how could I achieve that?



STEP 1: FIGURE OUT YOUR LIFESTYLE NEEDS

The first step to determining the best lifestyle business model for you is to better understand your lifestyle needs, including:

  • How much money is ‘enough’ to support your lifestyle
  • What are your values or priorities in life
  • How much time do you want to invest in your business
  • What activities or skills do you want to rely on to make this work
  • What other factors or constraints should be considered

 

HOW MUCH MONEY IS ‘ENOUGH’

This is not a popular way to think about running a business. Most people would reply with ‘as much as possible!’ but the truth is, there are costs to earning more money, and most of those  costs directly impact your lifestyle.

If you were already a successful influencer, you could make more money traveling around to conferences and speaking at events. But that would mean more time away from home.

If you ran a successful online shop that made custom jewelry and realized quickly you could easily grow your business 10x, that would mean hiring a bigger team, renting out more space for inventory and becoming a bigger brand. You would suddenly become a manager spending most of your time on admin instead of spending time making and creating.

There are costs to growth. Some you might be okay with, others you might not. The key is to

prioritize your lifestyle first, then figure out what your ‘enough’ number truly is.

If you have a partner, or are lucky enough to have another source of income to rely on, your  ‘enough’ number is likely to be lower than if you have to support yourself, and your family, all on your own.

Here’s how to calculate it:

 

STEP 1: Determine your personal finance needs

Start with a list of all your known monthly, quarterly and annual bills. This list gets more complex with life, home ownership and kids, but should include things like:

  • Child care
  • Donations to charitable causes
  • Fees from banks or credit cards (including interest payments, late fees, monthly account fees, etc.)
  • Digital subscriptions (i.e. Google Drive, iCloud, Adobe subscriptions, Microsoft office, etc.)
  • Groceries and food subscription services (i.e. Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot, etc.)
  • Gym, yoga or other exercise expenses
  • Health insurance (if you’re employer currently pays this but you know you’re quitting to run this business, figure out how much it will be to pay on your own…it will be a LOT more expensive without an employer)
  • Health-related expenses (co-pays, deductibles, medicines, etc.)
  • Home repairs or enhancements
  • Home security system
  • Life insurance
  • Internet, TV and subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.
  • Major annual passes (i.e. ski pass, museum pass, Sirius radio, etc.)
  • Mortgage and/or rent
  • Phone service
  • Student loan
  • Taxes (federal, state and local income tax)
  • Travel budget (i.e. how  much do you spend on flights, rental cars and accommodation for personal reasons to visit friends/family, weddings and/or vacations)
  • Transportation (i.e. public transit passes, Lyft/Uber usage, car insurance, car payments, car registration and annual cost of repairing and/or maintaining your car)
  • Utility bills (energy, trash/sewage, water, etc.)

 

I recommend you download at least three months of transactions from your bank and/or credit cards to determine what these actual expenses are (especially for things like groceries). You can take the average of 3 months and then multiply by 12 to figure out the annual expense.

While you have your transaction downloads out, the next step is to look at the biggest category of all: MISC. SPENDING. This is basically the difference between all of your bills (above) and your total expenses for the month. Ideally, you’ll break this down into misc. spending categories such as:

  • Clothes / shopping
  • Coffee
  • Eating out
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Gifts
  • Hair cuts
  • Other

 

Once you have all your annual expenses listed out, be realistic about where you think you can cut back, and what is an actual, legitimate expense. Can you eat out one day less a week? Do you want to get rid of your car and just take public transport and Uber? Can you reduce how much you spend on new clothes or reduce the number of times per year you get your hair cut? Every penny counts, so add it all up.

Now add 10-20% back for savings and unexpected expenses. This is serious. If you ever want  to get ahead in life, YOU HAVE TO SAVE. And I can nearly guarantee that you’ve left out one or two major expenses that didn’t come up in the last 3 months (i.e. holiday gifts, major vacations, that designer handbag, etc.)

Okay, now on to personal income. List all your income sources for the year based on the NET that hits your bank account (look at your actual bank statements if you’re not sure what this is). 

If you or your partner are currently employed and your health insurance and 401K come out of your paycheck (in addition to taxes), only include your NET INCOME as income here. Don’t forget to count in any other sources of income you may have such as:

  • Paycheck from a job
  • Side hustle
  • Money from family  (i.e. inheritance, help from mom and dad, etc.)
  • Lottery winnings (!) or cash gifts
  • Cash rebates or ‘redemption points’ from your credit card (this adds up, if you’re not already enrolled in a credit card that pays you back, get on it!)
  • Interest or dividends from investments
  • Owners distribution from your business (this is the ‘enough’ number we’re trying to figure out)

 

Now you just add up your income, subtract your expenses and savings, and that is you’re ‘enough’ number. But we’re not done yet…

 

STEP 2: Determine your business expenses

You’re ‘enough’ number is not how much REVENUE you need to earn in your business, it’s how much remaining PROFIT you need to earn, after reinvesting back into your business. 

Expenses for an online business that sells digital products or services are going to be much lower than if you’re selling physical goods and products. I developed this budget tracker for digital businesses that can help you sort out what expenses and income you might expect if you’re just creating content or selling digital products or services. 

For businesses intending to sell physical goods and products, you can more easily just work backwards by learning what your expected profit margin should be (just ask another entrepreneur who is already doing what you want to do), and adding that percent back on to your ‘enough’ number. 

For example: if you want to sell vintage clothes online, and you’ve discovered that average profit margins for that type of business is about 20%, and you’re ‘enough’ number is $50,000 / year, than you need to calculate R (total revenue) x 20% = $50,0000 or R = $250,000 / year in revenue is needed to profit $50k/year (see, basic algebra can be useful after all!)

I think it’s important to say at this point that it’s fine to have more than one level of ‘enough.’ For example, my 0-5 year ‘enough’ goal is to earn anywhere between $50-75k/year. If, when I get to that point, I determine that I can find a way to grow my business without a significant investment in my time (or that I’m at a point in my life where I WANT to spend more time on my business), I think it would be lovely to earn $125-250k / year from my business, but not more.

More than $250,000 / year would mean I’d be managing a staff, which I don’t want to do. I know of plenty of entrepreneurs who can make that kind of money on their own, but only because they’ve built systems in place and outsourced key time consuming things to contractors or other service providers. It takes time. And I don’t want to even think about going there till I’m comfortable with my first stage enough number: $50-75 k / year.



WHAT VALUES WILL DRIVE MY BUSINESS

Next you want to be clear about WHY you want to start this business and hold tight to those values. In other words, what is the PURPOSE of your business to your overall life plan?

I’m actually in the process of building an online course to help you answer this very question. It’s called Purpose for Obsessive Planners and was created explicitly for my fellow Type A control freaks who are eager to leave their demanding desk jobs to build a lifestyle business and become a mindful entrepreneur. 

If this sounds like something you might be interested in, I encourage you to sign up here to be the first to learn about deals, discounts and promotions in advance of the launch. 

Using the process I share in Purpose for Obsessive Planners I came up with my own personal purpose statement: 

I will protect and grow the wellbeing of myself, my family and my community so that we may all thrive as our best selves.

And from that, developed a purpose for my business:

To support mindful entrepreneurs in finding themselves, their superpowers, and their ability to create the greatest positive impact they can imagine in the world.

This is the ‘why’ behind launching Ways & Meaning. You can think of your purpose as the ultimate destination on your life’s map. Your values then become the guidelines, the boundaries, the road signs along the way that remind you to ‘slow down’ or ‘avoid highways’ or ‘don’t litter.’ 

For me, the ‘how’ I will do this is driven by my values:

  • Quality content backed by science, evidence-based practice, and mindful philosophies
  • Dedication to building long-term relationships with my people (as opposed to sleazy or salesy tactics that bring in profit now but have the potential to tarnish relationships in the long term)
  • Focus on my particular strengths, skills and interests to ensure that joy is translated through my work

 

That’s it. If I can work within those 3 simple boundaries, I should set myself up for success. I say boundaries because more than acting as a list of rules or commandments for what I should be doing, these values help me to determine what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to:

  • Produce content ONLY for SEO-sake, to drive traffic, if I don’t think it’s high quality and will benefit my people
  • Build a business around social media, because I hate social media, it’s not one of my strengths, and rather than bring me joy, it depresses me
  • Spam my email list with sales promotion after promotion. I’d rather focus on building our relationship by sending real value in each and every email so that when I am ready to pitch something, they’re interested and not over it
  • Write about things I don’t know or care about, because passion comes through in our work

 

OK, now it’s your turn. Ultimately you need to decide why you’re starting this business, and then figure out your boundaries of what you are and aren’t willing to sacrifice. 

 

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU WANT TO INVEST

Reflecting on why you’re starting this business in the first place, now you can consider how much time, and what type of schedule you want for your lifestyle business.  

The ideal is different for everyone, and is likely to change if you add or loose a partner or start a family or move or decide to take your business on the road. 

Do you want to work 6am – 11am every morning (20 hrs / week), or 2 days / week, or every other week, or 4 weeks on 4 weeks off or just traditional full time work hours? There are lots of options so think about what’s best for you and your needs.

For me, the ideal is 2-3 days (in particular Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) for a total of 20-30 WORK hours per week. I’m also the house manager for my family so I have to fit in things like doing the laundry, meal prep, preparing the monthly budget, planning and booking trips, house cleaning and maintenance, etc. into this time. 

My family has agreed that it’s better that I do these things as part of my ‘work’ day so that we don’t have to waste valuable mornings, nights and weekends on the mundane tasks of managing a household. I fit these tasks in as the ‘breaks’ throughout my day. If I’m working on something challenging and my brain needs a break, I fold some laundry and listen to a podcast. If I were in an office, this is probably when I’d go for a walk around the block.

When my kids go to school (they’re still young), I’d be happy to have my ‘work’ hours expand to school hours which will give me more time to invest in my business, but still have the opportunity to be there for my family after school. 

In addition to my normal work week, I also need the ability to take off 4-6 weeks per year. That might sound like a lot, but we don’t live near most of our friends and family so a lot of that is just visiting them. Plus of course regular vacations. And we do a LOT of long weekends. So it all adds up. Don’t forget to account for this and the duration you plan to have off at once. Because my husband still has a ‘traditional’ job we rarely go anywhere longer than a week at a time.



WHAT ACTIVITIES DO YOU WANT TO FILL YOUR DAY

This is a really important question that I think few people consider when starting a lifestyle business. How do you actually want to spend your day? This should be  based on both your skills and interests. 

If you really HATE admin (invoicing, paying bills, applying for and renewing licenses, etc.), can you afford to hire someone to do this for you? If not, consider a business model without a lot of admin required.

If you are passionate about writing, researching, discovering and sharing, make sure that content creation is at the core of what you want to do.

Taking pictures and creating beautiful photos is not the same as writing about how to do it or selling prints online. Carefully consider the tasks and activities that you want to prioritize in your new lifestyle business.

For me this meant that I wanted to spend a majority of my time (65%+) researching, reading, writing, planning and creating. In particular on the subject areas of 

  • brain and behavior science (decision making, positive psychology and child development), 
  • business and life purpose, strategy and planning
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Travel and other interests I develop

 

I actually don’t mind admin, but technology and web development are weaknesses compared to my peers. I outsource a lot of that, but also understand that some skills I just need learn so that I feel more empowered to make certain decisions. 

Science shows that we perform our best when we focus on and build our natural strengths. However, somewhere along the line our culture and society developed a preference for understanding and improving our weaknesses. When you think about it, that just doesn’t make sense.

If there is something you suck at, that you hate doing, don’t build a business that requires it. Or just build into your business model that you plan on hiring someone else to do it. 

If there is something you’re awesome at, that you thoroughly enjoy, build your business around that. You will be more successful in the long term. The joy you experience will show up in your work.



WHAT OTHER FACTORS NEED TO BE CONSIDERED

Finally you want to think about all the other factors that might affect what business model you choose for your lifestyle business. For me, the most important things were:

  • Location independence: my husband’s job is very location dependent and I needed a career that could go where he found the best opportunity. This eliminated many client-based business models and anything ‘brick and mortar’ with a physical location
  • Limited availability (on my side): before Ways & Meaning I had my own consulting practice where I coached other entrepreneurs and it was great. But then I had kids, my priorities changed, and it suddenly became a burden to have to be available for client emails, calls and meetings during non-work hours (i.e. my parenting time), whereas before I became a parent, it didn’t really matter. And it wasn’t fair to expect my clients to only be able to get a hold of me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It just didn’t work. I knew my next business couldn’t rely on anyone needed me anytime, anywhere.

 

  • Low up front investment: my husband was gracious enough for me to build this business without having to have a REAL job as well. This was necessary so I could still be there for my kids, but it also meant sacrificing a REAL salary. Because of that, I didn’t want to start anything that required a large upfront investment, like buying inventory, paying rent, or hiring employees. 

 



Other things that might be important to you, but weren’t to me, are things like:

  • Big life changes: know where you are in your life plan. Are you planning on having kids soon? Are you single and want to go all in on your business right now? Are you almost at retirement with no savings? Think about where you are now, but if you’re near a major life transition, also think about how things will change in the very near future. You don’t want to build a business around a model that works today that won’t work in 2-3 years from now.
  • Lumpy or consistent income: does it matter if you get one large deposit of income every 3-6 months, or do you need a regular deposit every month? Different business models come with different cash flows and you need to know what you can and can not tolerate

 

  • Risk tolerance: how comfortable are you with taking on risk? Are you ready to jump in and wing it without a plan B? Will this be your side hustle? For how long? At what point are you comfortable going all in? Is there anyone else supporting you or there to help you if you simply fail?

 

 

Ok, that’s it for understanding the parameters that will define what business model you choose. Now on to actually choosing a business model. Let’s dig in!



STEP 2: CHOOSE THE BEST BUSINESS MODEL OPTION FOR LIFESTYLE ENTREPRENEURS

There are five basic models that most lifestyle entrepreneurs choose from. You can stick with just one, or combine a couple, but keep in mind, the more models you use, the more complicated your business will be so the best advice is to start simple and grow from there. Your options include:

  1. Hourly or project based (most client-based service providers)
  2. Content based (bloggers, social media influencers, podcasters, etc.)
  3. Product sales (physical products, digital products, or experiential products)
  4. Membership models (anything with a monthly or annual fee in exchange for access to content or products)
  5. Investments (real estate, stocks, business equity, etc.) 

 

HOURLY OR PROJECT BASED BUSINESS MODELS

Most people who work directly with clients choose this model. Think of consultants, coaches, web developers, designers, photographers, stylists, fitness trainers, etc. It’s a simple model:

  • Find clients
  • Pitch them work
  • Do the work
  • Charge them either by the hour or by the project

 

Before becoming an entrepreneur I worked as a strategy consultant, so when I first went off on my own, this was the natural first step. I always charged hourly, not by the project, but I did offer ‘packages’ that bundled different services together to better illustrate to future clients what to expect in terms of total costs. 

 

PROS

The benefit of this approach is the low barrier to entry. If you’re already doing service work at your day job, you can likely easily pick up a few clients and start extra projects on nights and weekends. 

Depending on your existing network, you may not have to do much networking or business development or even need a website to start. You can just start.

 

CONS

Your time is tied to your income. This model doesn’t scale very easily without a big investment in growing a team and renting out office space.

It can force you to be tied down to a specific location (if the services you offer require face-to-face interaction).

You may end up spending a LOT of time doing business development and finding new clients. 



CONTENT BASED BUSINESS MODELS

This is when you spend the majority of your time developing content (i.e. blogs, social media posts, podcasts, videos etc.) that attract a large following, and then monetize those eyeballs. This is basically the modern day version of being a media company (i.e. newspaper, TV station or radio network).

Bloggers, social media influencers YouTubers and podcasters all run content based business models. They make their money from advertisements, paid sponsorships and affiliate links. They also might sell physical or digital products, but we’ll get to that next.

Advertisements are typically managed through a platform like Google AdSense, not directly through the brands that are advertising. You basically just create an account, add some coding to your website (or click a box on a plugin), and then Google places ads relevant to the people who visit your site, and you earn a bit of money whenever someone clicks on an ad. You need to have high traffic volume (i.e. a lot of people visiting your website) for this to work.

Paid sponsorships on the other hand are when you work directly with a brand (i.e. Target or FabFitFun subscription boxes) to promote their product to your readers/followers. These are often big deals (i.e. tens of thousands of dollars or more) but require a TON of work and effort communicating with that brand and getting them the content they want and are paying for. This is ONLY an option once you are an established influencer with a minimum of 10k followers, more often with excess of 100k or more.

Affiliate links are links that you embed in your website when talking about products or services you like that when clicked on by your readers, earn you a commission on the sale of whatever it was you were promoting. So let’s say I’m telling you guys how influential Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art has been in my life. And you click through to that link and buy the book (or sometimes buy anything at all on that website), then I would get a commission on that sale. 

I don’t currently have any affiliate links on my website, but that is a major part of my plan once I establish a bit of regular traffic to my website. My job will be to curate the best resources I can find to help entrepreneurs like yourself build your own business, and then when you click through and purchase those resources directly from the affiliates, I’ll earn a small commission. 

 

PROS

If you really enjoy just creating content or there is a topic you happen to be truly passionate about and also highly knowledgeable in, this is where you should focus your energy.

If other people really enjoy consuming the content you create, you could make a ton of money without a ton of time and effort. Once you build your audience your income is no longer tied to the amount of time you invest in it (to a point). For example, you can have a blog post that ranks #1 for a key google search word in 2015, and still be profiting from it today without having to invest a lot of time improving it.

 

CONS

It can take a long time to build an audience that’s large enough to make any real money with this model.

You have to be consistent about creating great, quality content. There is a common myth that it is either easy to create content, or that you only have to create one thing once and then sit back and relax. Neither of these are true. To be really successful with this model you need to consistently create at the highest quality standard (and know what you’re doing).

 

PRODUCT SALES BUSINESS MODELS

This is simply selling stuff online. You can sell physical goods like clothing, accessories, dog toys or art. You can sell digital goods like courses, templates, graphic images, or other digital downloads. Or you can sell experiences like renting out your home on Airbnb, guided tours or cooking classes (either online or in person).

I plan on selling both courses, templates and other digital downloads on my website through my resource library. For now, everything I offer is free, but once I figure out what you guys like, and what things could be worth, I’ll start selling certain premium products. 

As you should know by now, I’m also working on building a course, Purpose for Obsessive Planners and will build more over time.

I was very against selling any sort of physical products due to my desire to be location independent (you need a physical space to store your goods), and low upfront investment (you need a bit of capital to purchase or create your first round of products). I also wasn’t interested in the time-bound urgency of shipping, dealing with customer service requests, etc.

 

PROS

You don’t need a huge audience to make good money selling things online. You can always pay to promote your products if your audience is small. And just by selling a couple of things, you can feel that immediate sense of gratification that you’re business is REAL (as in real money is coming in).

It’s relatively easy (these days) to set up an online shop. With companies like Squarespace, and WordPress templates with Woo Commerce, it’s pretty easy to get going, there is a low barrier to entry. Now you might find these out-of-the-box platforms don’t fit your needs as you grow, but investing in a custom website with lots of bells and whistles isn’t necessary from the start.

 

CONS

As mentioned above, if selling physical goods there are some drawbacks to considers.

If selling digital content that you’ve created online, you have to be aware of how easy it is for others to steal your work and pass it on without compensating you. This is a risk I’m personally willing to live with. But if you are sensitive to others stealing your work or passing it off as their own, be aware of how easy this can be with digital products.

 

MEMBERSHIP BASED BUSINESS MODELS

Membership based business models can replace all of the other models I’ve described above. The idea being that instead of a customer paying per service or product, they pay a flat fee for unlimited (or restricted) access to whatever it is you’re selling. 

For hourly or project based models this could mean offering clients 5 hours of your time for a flat fee of $500 / month. Or joining a group coaching program for $250 / month. This is what Denver-based coaches Kite + Dart Group have done.

For content based models this could be offering a members-only section to your website where members gain access to all of the content you’ve created for $100 / month. This is what Wandering Aimfully has done with all of their courses, workshops, templates and articles. Included in the fee is often access to a private forum or community where members can chat privately with each other and with you.

For product sales models this could be setting up a monthly subscription service like what FabFitFun has done. Even if you don’t want to get into the subscription box model, you could establish a VIP club and offer 10% discount if your customers commit to $100 worth of product per month or quarter.

 

PROS

The major benefit of membership models is having regular, consistent income. If you offer a course that is only open to the public 3 times per year, you are going to end up with some very lumpy cash flows…a ton of money all at once, then nothing for a while. If you’re good at managing your money or have other income sources, this might not be a problem. But for many solopreneurs, this is a major problem.

With consistent income comes better planning as well. You know how much you’re earning each month (more or less) and won’t be surprised if one month Pinterest or Facebook changes their  algorithms regarding how they send you traffic and you end up without any traffic overnight. Basically, you have more control.

 

CONS

You’re probably going to spend a lot of time chasing down bad or missed payments. There are technology solutions to help with this, but it can become a major hassle for many membership based business models.

You need to ensure you have enough members to meet your ‘enough’ number, which isn’t always easy.

 

INVESTMENT BASED BUSINESS MODELS

Finally we have investment based business models which involve using money to make money–the most traditional model of them all. This includes things like investing in real estate to either flip houses or purchase rental properties that provide monthly revenue, investing in the stock or bond markets, or purchasing private equity shares in a new business or start up.

Many of these options are out of reach for many people thinking of starting their first business, but they should be an alternative way to consider growing your wealth other than re-investing in your own business. 

If you don’t want to grow a giant business or a huge brand with tons of staff, consider putting the profits you earn from your lifestyle business into investments that will yield a higher return for you.

 

PROS

This is often the ultimate ‘hands off’ way to make money. You simply invest your money somewhere, and money comes back to you with very little effort.

This is the only way to really growth WEALTH. Unless you’re building the next Facebook or Amazon, it’s unlikely you’re business will ever return you with the type of equity you would see if you invested your money in real estate or other high yield assets.

 

CONS

You need to have money to make money. This option can be cost-prohibitive for many people just starting off on their own.

 

HOW TO DECIDE WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU

OK…now we’re getting somewhere. Once you’ve determined you’re lifestyle needs, including:

  • You’re ‘enough’ number or your financial needs
  • You’re purpose and guiding values
  • How much time you have available to dedicate to your business
  • What you’re good at and enjoy and how you want to spend your day
  • And all the other factors you need to consider

 

You need to compare that to the available business model options that exist. Consider the pros and cons of each option and think about whether you want to focus on just one model or a combination of models, keeping in mind that more models you choose, the more complex your business will be.

 

WHAT I DECIDED IS BEST FOR ME

In the end I switched from an hourly model to a focus on creating content and monetizing it through both affiliate links (which I’ll focus on once I build more of an audience), and digital product sales. 

We are currently living off of my husband’s income entirely, so every penny that I make allows our family to invest and save that money so that we can retire sooner. The goal is to take my business income and buy investment properties that will provide us with both passive monthly income from renters, and equity from the increase in home values over time so that when we’re ready to build our dream home over the ocean, we’ll have the cash to do so.

My main driver through this whole process was a desire for more passive income, or income that came in without a lot of effort on our part. Basically, we wanted to sit back, relax, and watch our bank accounts grow 🙂 Sounds dreamy, right?! Let’s talk more about that…

 

LET’S TALK ABOUT PASSIVE INCOME

Passive income is like the magical unicorn for many lifestyle entrepreneurs. It’s the idea that money will come in without much work on your part. In particular, that you’re opportunity to earn is not directly correlated to the amount of time and effort you put in.

So even if you only ever work 20 hours per week, you could earn $10,000 / year or $100,000 / year, depending on how well you’ve set up your business (or how lucky you’ve been).

The idea is that you can put in the effort once to write a killer blog article or create an amazing course, and that it will provide you with income forever. 

The good news is that can happen. The bad news is that it is very rare.

Most ‘passive income’ businesses require a TON of effort. Oftentimes more effort than selling your time for money (client-based work) or selling products online. This is because most passive business models require that you have a high volume of consistent traffic, and doing this requires consistent effort. 

An influencer can’t just reach 100k followers and then decide to stop sharing things on social media…they’ll lose their followers.

Articles online that generate page one search results will only be relevant for a few years at most, but eventually they need to be updated or new ones created to replace them.

Even managing a portfolio of income properties can be a full time job, or you can hire someone to do it for you which will of course cost you some profit. 

So what I’m trying to say is…like everything in life, some things are too good to be true.

But fear not. Just because it might not be possible to have a fully hands-off business, over time, you can create a sustainable business that provides you with the income you need or want with less time invested than any traditional job could ever provide. It’s all about understanding what matters most to you, and building your lifestyle business around a model that works for you.

Hopefully this article helped to clarify a few things for you and will help you make a better decision about what sort of business model will best fit your lifestyle needs. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to reply as soon as I can (Monday, Tuesdays, Thursdays and nap times that is!). 

As for me, I’m thrilled with my decision to pursue a lifestyle business that fits my needs, that allows me more access to opportunities for passive income, and that satisfies my needs to work ‘enough’ to earn ‘enough’ to help ‘enough’ people and be mindful of my ultimate purpose and what matters most to me. 

I love being a mindful entrepreneur. What do you want to do with your life?

 

If you’d like to read more about this topic I encourage you to visit these links:

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