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!).