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.

Don’t get me wrong, I love GaryVee. I just don’t want to be like him or do what he does on a daily basis.

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.

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, though. You can build a brick and mortar lifestyle business, it’s just going to come with more risk and less independence.

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

Don’t lose site of the flexibility within this model. Building a six-figure lifestyle business could mean building a business that grosses $100,000 a year or one that grosses $999,000 a year. Hell, there are lifestyle businesses doing $500k/mo!

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.

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 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. 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 its popularity 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.

You’re fucking with other people’s money and there’s a lot of pressure in that situation.

If you’d rather take things slow, bootstrap, and build a solid business where you only really 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?

I’m not trying to pretend that there are only two options. I just wanted to cover the two less obvious options first.

There’s always the traditional model, which usually looks like this:

  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, in my opinion, 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.

It’s hard enough to make a traditional business work. Trying to turn a traditional business into a true lifestyle business is even harder.

Why should I build a lifestyle business? Convince me, Kevin!

To be clear, I’m talking mainly about building an *online* lifestyle business. So, everything I’m going to tell you is directly tied back to the concept of doing this on the internet.

A quick word about that, before we continue. 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 (because they had no idea it would ever even be a possibility).

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. You don’t need 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. You can keep your steady paycheck while you test the waters and build your online lifestyle business on the side.
  3. It’s 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. It’s 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. 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 drop shippers so you never have to give a single thought (or dollar) to inventory and warehouse space.
  7. There are tons of automation opportunities. 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. The entire globe is your market. 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. The marketing 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% (minus your time).
  10. You don’t even need a product. All you need is people’s attention. You can sell other people’s products. Or just sell the attention to other companies.

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

Doesn’t that sound like something you want to take advantage of? I would think so.

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