Dec 23

Overcome self-doubt and build your dream life by cutting through the lifestyle business bullsh*t!

Jo and I have found we increasingly use the term 'lifestyle business' to describe what we do. To my surprise I found quite a bit of debate and emotion about this term when I googled it  (see 'Is Paul Down's Business a Real Business?')  so I thought it was time to cut through the controversy (to use a more polite word) and create a definition of the term 'lifestyle business' that fits for the likes of us and our tribe. 

As Babara Taylor points out in 'Is the term 'lifestyle business' an insult?' definitions of the lifestyle business abound and range from the dismissive 'any entrepreneur who isn’t thinking in terms of a big enough exit strategy to warrant investment' to the more generous free spirited entrepreneur, 'where business is an expression of the owner’s skills, knowledge or passion: 'I do what I love and/or what I am good at.”

We have decided to plant ourselves firmly in the latter camp (of course!) and would like to share our  own definition, which we wholeheartedly embrace.

A new definition of the 'lifestyle business' cuts to the chase delivering work/life balance AND a hefty profit (not simply a nice little bit on the side)

Let's embrace the lifestyle business as a distinct subset of the small business sector that describes a highflying, visionary entrepreneur who thinks big and is committed to a earning lots of dosh for less of their time in return.   As Iain Dooley says in 'The  lifestyle business bullshit'

"It’s been a long time since there was a direct correlation with the number of hours you work and the success you enjoy. It’s an antiquated notion from the days of manual labour that has no bearing on the world today. When you’re building products or services, there’s a nonlinear connection between input and output. You can put in just a little and still get out a spectacular lot".

This describes our approach to a tea – we are highly committed to our business and we believe that it is possible to work less, earn more and free yourself up to do the things you love (to have a life, in other words). In our case this also goes hand in hand with having enough time and energy to focus on giving something back, though obviously this is not necessarily a focus for every lifestyle business entrepreneur (we're working to change that of course!)

It seems strikingly obvious that this approach takes just as much guts and creativity to achieve, if not more, than someone who works their butt off 60 hours a week to attract venture funding and earn big bucks using a more traditional (and some would argue, outdated) model.

It takes a clever business strategy to achieve a lifestyle business – something made increasingly possible via the power of the internet and new technologies – and it's all about working SMARTER not HARDER! 

So why is it that this concept seems so hard to grasp and why are there so many doubters? Iain Dooley puts it so well…

 …it’s very hard for some people to come to grips with this new reality. It’s a lot easier to deal with your lack of success when you can rationalize it by saying other people just work harder. That leaves the door open to think, “I could have that too, if I was just willing to give more. But since I’m not, I’ll be content with what I have.” That’s a comforting, ego-protecting notion.It also works if you’re already having reasonable success and you want a life distraction. You can assign your success to the insane hours you put in and then not feel so bad about giving up everything else. If you convince yourself that the only way that you can have success is through total immersion, you don’t have to make excuses to yourself or your surroundings. The sacrifice is justified".

So if you are ready to subscribe to a new way of thinking about the 'lifestyle business' and you want to acquire one for yourself, an important question remains to be asked. Is it really possible?

I researched the term lifestyle business because I wanted to discover if it is really possible and if so, who is doing it and what could we learn from them.

The results I found were inspiring to say the least! There are an increasing no.'s of entrepreneurs making 6 figure incomes and more from lifestyle businesses (we're not in this category yet but plan to be!). Women everywhere are reclaiming the term and creating businesses that leverage their time and create multiple income streams using the internet and online technologies. There is no doubt that the internet has bought about a brave new world for the lifestyle entrepreneur and it's time to embrace the amazing business opportunities it presents. If you're still not sure what we're trying to say here, let me recap.

1. It is possible to work a shorter week and earn GREAT money

2. More and more women are doing it

3. If you re-define the way you think about your 'lifestyle business', you can do it to!

And if you still suspect that a lifestyle business is simply Jane Doe sitting at home making a bit of extra spending money from her favourite hobby, then we have some news for you. We are going to prove it can be done and we are writing a blog series featuring a bunch of fantastic, inspirational women who are out there DOING IT!!!

Don't miss out on hearing about these amazing women. Not only are they successful lifestyle entrepreneurs, but they have a strong focus on making a difference too. Sign up to our newsletter to get updates on the series (there may even be some exciting free stuff coming your way if you do!).

Image courtesy of Graur Codrin

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  • Justine Parsons

    Another great post and as someone also falling into the second category, a subject I would love to hear more about. For me it’s about working as an owner, not as an employer of my business … and easier said than done.


  • Great analysis, Janine and Jo! While I am just starting out, I definitely find myself agreeing with your perspectives..we can work hard, earn more and not have to be over-doing it. I think balance is key and knowing how much you need to be happy. If we can’t enjoy our short time here then really..what’s the point of it all!

  • I think it’s really empowering that so many of us are taking charge of our lives and creating businesses that work for us!

    The question I have is, how do we really know if people are telling the truth about how much they’re making? We’ve heard the stories about the scammers selling “How to make money online” info products, and frankly anyone can say anything about their numbers. Additionally, I often hear people talking about revenue numbers, but without knowing their expenses I don’t consider their revenue numbers relevant.

    I know there are a lot of us who have integrity and are committed to making a contribution with our passion driven businesses – I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

    • Janine Ogg

      Hi Julia, love your honesty. It feels like you have spoken exactly what a lot of people think when they hear about these concepts. I too have wondered whether it is really possible, which is why I am writing the blog series. The woman we will be featuring are women of integrity who will give an honest account of where their businesses are at.I will certainly shoot for getting as much revealing info as I can without impinging on their privacy too much! The more we can find out, the more we can learn from, of course. I am inspired by the what I have discovered so far in my research for the series, so watch this space!

  • Anonymous

    This is great. I think it’s about time that someone demystify the term “lifestyle business” and prove that putting up a business need not be something boring, or takes so much of your time. Why can’t we have profit and enjoy doing it? Why do we always equate work with sadness or boredom ?

    • Janine Ogg

      exactly, time for a change in the way we think! Thanks Prime.

  • Katie Jeanes

    So looking forward to following your success! Doing what you love and banking 6 figures. Go for it ladies!

    • Hi Katie, thanks for the encouragement and for taking the time to stop by!

  • It may just be a matter of semantics, but I really dislike the term ‘Lifestyle Business’. On the one hand it feels kind of flippant & shallow, and on the other it feels like a smug dig at the poor bastards out there working for the man.

    Personally I feel that whether you run your business from home, out of a suitcase, or from an office in the centre of town, or whether you work 4 hours a day or 24 … you are running a lifestyle business! Admittedly some of those options are a little more appealing than others 😉

    I believe that it is of paramount importance when you choose to start your own business, as with any other big life decisions, to make every effort to be intentional about it. You need to create your business with deep roots in your values and a clear understanding of exactly what you want to achieve, or the lifestyle you will create may well not be the one you were chasing.

    I see no reason why we cannot indeed create profitable businesses that resonate with our values, and allow us time to spend doing (other) things that are important to us! I just would really like to call it something different 😉

    • Hi Meg, great post thanks for encouraging some debate.

      Interesting point about the ‘smug dig’ it certainly made me think! I’m not sure if I agree though…to read this into the term ‘lifestyle business assumes that those 9-5 folks out there see themselves as poor bastards who don’t enjoy their jobs. While I admit it seems there are lots of folk who are unhappy in their day jobs (which is often why they choose to try running their own biz of course), there must also be plenty who enjoy the sense of freedom they get from NOT having the responsibilites of being in a business of their own and love the lifestyle that working for someone else provides them? As you say, semantics but interesting nonetheless.

      I love your values-based approach to business and endorse it wholeheartedly. Perhaps we do need to call it something different. Does anyone have any ideas? have heard the terms social entrepreneur and ethical business about the place, but neither seem to quite fit what we are talking about here…..

  • I love that you included ” a hefty profit” on your definition of lifestyle business. Why? Because I have this crazy mindset that just as long as I earn enough to live comfortably. The problem with this mindset is I end up wondering when the next paycheck will come in and it is very challenging to build my savings. In fact, I haven’t been able to save money in the last 8 years and ended up with quite a sizeable amount of debt, which I’m proud to say that I paid off all this year!

    • Thanks for the comment Nica – I have also suffered from this mindset and since I have shifted my money ‘goalposts’ I have had a big shift. Congrats on paying off that debt, a great first step! We’d love to hear your new income goals sometime on the MAD biz school forum!

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