I don’t remember when I first learned about the concept of being an entrepreneur. I certainly don’t remember learning about it in school and I’ve talked to many other people who have confirmed that school didn’t teach them about entrepreneurship either.

In fact, all I remember learning during most of my childhood is that I need to get good grades so I can get into a good college and get a good job. Any talk of living outside of that model was always described as some sort of tremendous risk.

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to own a business, though. It was in my blood.

That’s why I sold candy out of my backpack in elementary and middle school (even though teachers considered it contraband). It’s why I sold video games on my street corner. It’s why I bought Pizzas and then went door-to-door selling by the slice. It’s why I mowed lawns.

At 18, right after completing bartending school, I started my first “official” company. It was a mobile bartending service for weddings and special events. I filed the paperwork myself to start a C-Corporation. I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, the IRS is probably still trying to track me down for that one.

15,000 hours of public school “education” did nothing to prepare me for being an entrepreneur. I didn’t know anything about running a business, managing money, selling, writing copy, building a product, or anything else.

I buried myself in books and blogs. I learned through trial and error in the school of hard knocks. The “hustle, fail, and hustle again” method taught me everything I know. But I was still confused.

I thought that being a legitimate entrepreneur meant building a big company with a big team and big revenues (in the millions). Entrepreneurship meant taking huge risks, grinding 24/7, and building something that changes the world.

In fact, that’s still a very prevalent view. Gary Vaynerchuck preaches 24/7 hustle and posts a daily VLOG where tens of thousands of people watch him grow a 150 million dollar business. One day, he says, he’s going to leverage that business to buy the New York Jets.

That’s exactly the definition of entrepreneur I had in my head for the longest time. And there’s a good chance that you have the same “understanding” of entrepreneurship. That changes today.

What is a lifestyle business?

A lifestyle business is a business that serves you just as much as you serve it. It’s big enough to support your needs (and your family’s needs if you have one), but it’s not so big that it creates a ton of stress and risk (don’t be fooled, though, there are some people running 7-figure lifestyle businesses and even 8-figure lifestyle businesses).

Lifestyle businesses don’t need a lot of startup capital. You can bootstrap them and they don’t require significant overhead. Because of this, there are no investors, shareholders, or bankers to answer to (or landlords in most cases).

One of the best and most popular places to build a lifestyle business is online – on the internet. This provides for schedule independence and location independence as well as all the other benefits. It’s not required, of course, but it certainly makes things easier.

See, the entire goal of a lifestyle business is to do something you love while serving people and serving yourself. I’m not talking about serving yourself with money only, either. I’m talking about serving yourself with flexibility, autonomy, balance, and manageable stress levels.

What a lifestyle business isn’t.

There’s a lot of popularity surrounding the term “passive income” right now. Everyone wants to build a “passive income business.”

Let me tell you something about being an entrepreneur from scratch: there’s no such thing as passive income. Sorry Pat Flynn!

No business is passive, lifestyle or otherwise. It takes work. You have to hustle and grind. There’s nothing easy about it.

The only difference between a traditional entrepreneur and a lifestyle entrepreneur is the end game. The former’s objective is scale. The latter’s objective is freedom (through security and balance).

In other words, being a lifestyle entrepreneur and building a lifestyle business is all about quality of life.

What is a startup? What’s the difference between a startup and a lifestyle business?

Startups are big right now, too. There’s an entire culture built around them.

Most startups work like this:

  1. You take on a lot of venture capital.
  2. You try to achieve big growth in a short amount of time.
  3. You sell or IPO (go public) and try to make millions of dollars.

Personally, I think the popularity of startups mostly comes from business stupidity and ignorance.

Convincing a lot of strangers to give you money in exchange for a wild new idea is not just bad business, it’s cheating.

Too many people see startup culture as a “get rich quick” opportunity. And like most “get rich quick” opportunities, startups has a massively high failure rate.

The physical and emotional consequences are huge as well. Startup founders work themselves and their team like dogs around the clock. And with so much on the line, the failure rate has also driven the suicide rate through the roof.

If you’re a huge risk taker, a good talker, and a great leader, startup life might be for you. Keep in mind, though, that it won’t just be about you. When you take VC money, you have to answer to other people.

Every decision you make will be questioned endlessly. After all, you’re fucking with other people’s money. There’s a lot of pressure in that situation.

Don’t let the sexiness of the culture lead you into a trap. If you’d rather take things slow, bootstrap, and build a solid business where you only have to worry about yourself, I’d recommend going the lifestyle business route.

What’s between a startup and a lifestyle business? Can’t I just start a traditional business?

Ah, yeah, the ol’ “traditional business” model. If it’s “traditional,” then why isn’t it a good option?

Here’s what the traditional business model looks like…

  1. Borrow a reasonable sum of money (or use your own).
  2. Start a traditional business with a relatively proven model.
  3. Grow slowly but consistently.

Sounds great, right?

To most people, it does sound great. It sounds relatively safe and it’s what most business owners do, so it must work, right?

Not so fast. While the traditional business model is much safer and saner than startup life, it’s still rife with risk.

Most traditional businesses are brick and mortar. That means borrowing for buildout (tens of thousands of dollars in most cases), signing leases (usually 5 year agreements), and competing with a lot of people for a limited local market.

It’s not super safe. The majority of traditional businesses fail. They’re also nearly impossible to start on a part-time basis. In other words, you can’t really “test the waters.”

And what do you win if you make it work? You’re still tied to a location. In most cases, you’re tied to a schedule (until you can build a team to run the place for you). It’s very easy to create a job for yourself in this situation and that’s exactly what happens for so many traditional entrepreneurs.

By the way, being rich doesn’t mean you have FU money.

There’s plenty of rich people who can’t say “fuck you,” ever. They’re slaves to what made them rich.

Maybe one day, when they officially retire, they’ll have FU money left over. But by that point there’s nobody left to say “fuck you” to, is there?

This is such an important point. Don’t get it twisted. Winning isn’t about being rich, it’s about being free.

Here’s why a lifestyle business is the real – and new – FU money.

We’re one of the first generations to have the opportunity to leverage the internet to create a real business that’s truly location independent and schedule independent.

That’s HUGE. The ability to work from anywhere in the world at any time and move about freely is something people couldn’t even dream of just a few decades ago.

Hell, we had famous “economists” like Paul Krugman saying the internet would be a nothingburger as recently as 1998…

“The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in ‘Metcalfe’s law’—which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants—becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.”

Yeah, that quote didn’t age well, did it?

To have this opportunity available to you and not take advantage of it is crazy to me, especially when you consider the fact that you can easily do it part-time.

You know what? Let’s just get to it. Here’s my list of reasons you should start an online lifestyle business if you have entrepreneurial blood in your veins…

  1. An online lifestyle business doesn’t require a lot of startup capital (risk). If you have $100 in your bank account, you can start an online lifestyle business.
  2. You don’t need to take a “sink or swim” approach with an online lifestyle business. You can keep your steady paycheck while you test the waters and build your online lifestyle business on the side.
  3. An online lifestyle business is truly location independent. You can work on your business from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. I go on multiple vacations per year with my family and don’t have to ask anyone’s permission and don’t have to worry about leaving my business behind.
  4. An online lifestyle business is truly schedule independent. Pick your hours. As long as you get done what you need to get done, you’re good.
  5. The world’s employment economy is at your fingertips. Need help? Want to delegate tasks you don’t enjoy? Want to free up even more of your time? You can hire people from all over the world (relatively cheaply) to help you – your staff can be location independent, too.
  6. There’s almost no overhead with an online lifestyle business. You need website hosting (a few bucks a month) and maybe some low monthly payments for some key apps and you’re in business. Even if you want to start an e-commerce shop selling physical goods, it’s easy to hook up with online dropshippers so you never have to give a single thought (or dollar) to inventory and warehouse space.
  7. There are tons of automation opportunities to help you run your online lifestyle business. Automating things in brick and mortar land are often very expensive. It would require bigger, more efficient machines. Or signing on with a co-packer or local drop-shipper, etc. Automating things online is as simple as signing up for pretty cheap software and clicking some buttons.
  8. You can sell to people all over the world with an online lifestyle business. Instead of competing for a limited local market like most businesses do, running an online lifestyle business opens you up to the global market. Everyone who speaks your language in your niche is a potential source of revenue. Hell, they don’t even need to speak your language – you can easily have your site translated to any language you want to target.
  9. Marketing an online lifestyle business is inexpensive. Offline marketing is definitely more expensive in comparison. Online marketing is fairly cheap, often more targeted and effective, and can even be 100% free (minus your time).
  10. You don’t even need a product to build an online lifestyle business. All you need is people’s attention. You can sell other people’s products (aka affiliate marketing). Or just sell the attention to other companies.

There are more benefits, but I think those are the top 10.

And the result is that you get to say “fuck you” to everything you don’t want to do in life.

Don’t want to sit in rush hour traffic? Say “Fuck you.”

Don’t want a micromanager boss breathing down your neck? Say “Fuck you.”

Tired of living in the same tiny little area when the entire globe is at your fingertips? Say “Fuck you.”

Tired of asking someone else for permission to go on vacation? Say “Fuck you.”

Feel like you’re done doing work that has no purpose? Say “Fuck you.”

Sure, it’s crass. But boy it sounds good, right?

Okay, I’m sold. What are some lifestyle business ideas or examples to help me get my wheels turning?

Okay, keep in mind that I’m talking exclusively online business here. And really, any online business can potentially be a lifestyle business if you set it up that way.

I think the original online lifestyle business concept was born from blogging. When people started blogging and making money – and then making their entire living from it – that’s when it clicked in people’s heads.

To say, “I make a living from blogging,” which only required a laptop, an internet connection, and a few bucks a month for web hosting – that was an incredible thing.

Then it branched out from there as people started to figure out that more traditional jobs could be taken online to achieve location independence and schedule independence.

Things like…

  • Writers & authors
  • Public speakers
  • Accountants
  • Bookkeepers
  • Coaches
  • Consultants
  • Personal Trainers
  • Teachers
  • Assistants & secretaries (turned into virtual assistants)
  • Freelancers (especially with freelance digital marketing)
  • Etc.

There are countless service businesses that can be transformed into online lifestyle businesses. Just keep in mind that if you don’t price your services properly, you can easily create a job for yourself and not a lifestyle business.

It’s easier to create a lifestyle business by selling products, both digital products and physical products. This scales really well and allows you to add more customers without adding more work for yourself.

There are also tons of non-traditional opportunities online…

  • Podcaster
  • Social media influencer
  • Online course creator
  • Affiliate marketer
  • Vlogger
  • Thought leader

The internet removed all the gatekeepers and dropped a global audience in your lap. You jus have to figure out what you’re going to do with it.

How to start an online lifestyle business

If you want to build a six-figure online lifestyle business, your next step is to join our tribe by tossing your email into the box below. I’ll teach you everything you need to know about building a successful online lifestyle business so you can escape the rat race and live your life without limitations.

Kevin Michael Geary is the founder of Six-Figure Grind and host of the Six-Figure Grind Podcast. After building three successful online businesses in three separate niches in less than five years, he turned his attention toward helping other people start an online lifestyle business so they can escape the rat race, make an impact, and live life without limitations.

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