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How to Build a Lifestyle Business You Will Love in 2020

If you’re interested in how to build a lifestyle business, you’ve come to the right blog! 

That’s what this website is all about. 

I’ve studied lifestyle businesses ever since I first learned about them in 2013. 

Through study, trial, and error, my wife and I have built a lifestyle business that makes us a modest living. 

We run a travel blog that allows us to get paid to travel the world! 

It hasn’t made us “rich,” but it does make us a living while allowing us to do what we love! 

In short, I don’t have lifestyle businesses all figured out.

But I’m happy to share what I’ve learned about them so far! 

Step 1: Understand what a lifestyle business is and whether it’s for you.

Before you learn how to build a lifestyle business, you should make sure you understand what it is. 

A lifestyle business is a business designed to prioritize your ideal lifestyle first, profits second. 

Check out my article here where I take a deep dive into lifestyle businesses. 

I also recommend reading my guide about lifestyle entrepreneurs to determine if this is a path you want to pursue. 

Step 2: Design your ideal lifestyle.

Learning how to build a lifestyle business doesn’t usually happen by accident. 

Instead, it typically requires intentional design. 

Many refer to this as lifestyle design.

Lifestyle design usually involves mapping out: 

  • what your ideal life looks like, 
  • how much your ideal life will cost, 
  • and what business will best provide for this lifestyle given your unique situation.

Once you design your ideal lifestyle you can work backward from it to know what sort of business to build and how much money it needs to make for you. 

In lifestyle design, you ask yourself questions like:

  • where you want to live, 
  • how frequently you want to travel and eat out at restaurants, 
  • what insurance policies you need, 
  • and how much this all costs. 

Lifestyle design is something many agree is wise, even outside of the lifestyle business community. 

But few people actually do it and come up with the cost of their ideal lifestyle.

When Jasmine and I did lifestyle design, we came up with two designs: 

  1. A frugal living budget that would be doable but not quite as fun as,
  2. A comfortable living budget with plenty of funds available for eating at restaurants, traveling, and more. 

We knew that when: 

  1. our lifestyle business was generating enough income to meet our frugal living budget and, 
  2. we had ample savings covering several months of frugal living, 

we could both leave our day jobs and work full-time on the lifestyle business. 

Then, hopefully our business income would grow to eventually support our comfortable living budget. 

I recommend doing the same and coming up with a frugal and a fun lifestyle design. 

Step 3: Use your unique skills, assets, interests, and situation to begin triangulating the lifestyle business model for you.

Now, that you’ve prepared a couple of lifestyle designs, it’s time to look inward. 

Evaluating these qualities of yourself and your life can point you in the direction of a good lifestyle business type for you.

In the following sections, I’ll provide some food for thought as you think through each of these things. 

I recommend taking notes to keep a personal inventory for yourself. 

Seeing these aspects of your life written out may give you insights you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.   

For the rest of the article, I’ll refer to these notes as your personal inventory. 

Let’s get started. 

What are your skills? 

Can you code? 

Are you a good writer? 

Do you take excellent photos? 

Are you a spreadsheet guru? 

Can you make small talk with strangers easily?

Are you a great baker? 

Answers to questions like these may reveal a critical piece of how to build a lifestyle business that’s perfect for you. 

As you brainstorm your skills, remember to include native speaker status of your first language, being able to drive, etc. 

In other words, think carefully about your life and all your skills, even if they are common in your social circles. 

In my post about brainstorming income opportunities for skills you already have, I recommend considering something a skill if you are in the top 50% globally. 

You can always rule out skills to use in your lifestyle business later. 

But at first, be generous with yourself and your list of skills (whether you think they are relevant or not).

What are your assets? 

Are you wealthy? 

Are you attractive? 

Do you have a nice sounding voice? 

Do you have connections? 

The benefits of assets like these and others are usually obvious. 

Wealth may enable you to buy an already profitable lifestyle business. 

Being attractive is a natural benefit for social media influencers. 

A nice voice could help you start a winning podcast.

Connections open doors in areas otherwise closed. 

However, what is less obvious is that you can sometimes use a lack of assets to your advantage. 

Some of the most popular stories online are those with a lack of assets or “underdogs.” 

People love stories of: 

  • Models or Youtubers who beat the odds and succeed without being beautiful in the conventional sense, 
  • or entrepreneurs who build a profitable business from nothing.  

Stories like these provide inspiration to the majority of people who don’t have many assets. 

And on the web, you can make money from any story people want to know about. 

Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t think of any assets to add to your personal inventory.

Remember that lacking conventional assets doesn’t doom you to failure. 

Instead, having no assets can sometimes create a compelling story or a drive to succeed that otherwise wouldn’t be there. 

I’m not trying the minimize the difficulty of lacking resources or assets. 

I only hope to inspire and empower those who may feel disadvantaged.

What are your interests?

Are you interested in sports, fashion, interior design, or travel? 

Of course, these are just a handful of the limitless niches available to pursue for your lifestyle business. 

But as you brainstorm a list of your interests, don’t limit yourself to interests you think you could monetize. 

List everything you can think of for now.

You can pare down your list later. 

If you’re struggling coming up with ideas, try thinking about it in these terms. 

  • During what activities do you lose a sense of time? 
  • What did you want to grow up to become as a kid?
  • What hobbies or interests do you spend money on? 

You can always learn new skills and hone them over time. 

But what really matters in designing your ideal business is a deep interest in your niche. 

Interest in your niche will enable you to learn the skills you need but don’t have as the business landscape evolves. 

It will also enable you to persevere over the typically long timeline that lifestyle businesses take to succeed. 

What is your unique situation?

Are you 60, 20, divorced, married, living in the US, or Bali? 

What are the life experiences you have had that give you unique insight and a common bond with others? 

Data points like these can help you brainstorm: 

  • the problem you are uniquely equipped to solve, 
  • the specific audience you can reach, 
  • or the content you are uniquely equipped to create. 

As you finish up your personal inventory, don’t worry if a lifestyle business idea still isn’t clear to you.  

You may require months of consideration to find the next step in the process of building a lifestyle business. 

However, don’t fool yourself into waiting for the “perfect” opportunity. 

Think carefully, then act decisively. 

Step 4: Learn how to stack the odds of lifestyle business success in your favor. 

With your lifestyle designs and personal inventory, you are hopefully getting a sense of how to build a lifestyle business that suits you well. 

However, you still need to use business sense to find a high leverage business idea given your personal inventory. 

Those who design their ideal lifestyles usually conclude that they want the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want. 

Because of this, most lifestyle entrepreneurs build web-based companies. 

Fully web-based companies typically offer greater flexibility, which is what most lifestyle entrepreneurs are after.

And the most flexible web-based businesses involve selling products, not services.

Why?

As I have mentioned elsewhere on the blog, products scale better than services. 

For instance, selling a fitness e-book (a product) requires a fixed amount of effort to create the book, whether you sell five or five million. 

However, selling fitness services (ie – as a personal trainer) doesn’t scale. 

You will either need to work more hours or charge more per hour to increase your income, each of which has a limit. 

In other words, the highest leverage lifestyle businesses sell products via the internet. 

And high-leverage web businesses tend to use either media or software to generate income. 

Some lifestyle business examples that leverage media include podcasts, blogs, vlogs or youtube channels, and influencer social media profiles. 

Other lifestyle businesses leverage software like Software As A Service (SAAS) or mobile apps. 

Let’s look at some examples to clarify these ideas. 

Leveraging Media to Generate Income with jasminealley.com

In my wife, Jasmine’s, personal inventory, she knew she had a serious interest in travel and realized her primary skills were writing and photography. 

She initially leveraged these interests and skills by starting an Instagram profile, posting a photo every day, whether her travels were local or global. 

She studied her craft and improved her photography skills and equipment; always pushing for more interesting photos in exotic locations taken with a quality camera. 

Her consistent posting and high-quality content started getting attention on Instagram.

As her Instagram presence grew, her followers began asking her if she had a blog.  

This interest from her followers prompted her to leverage her skills, interests, and my no-code web design skills, to build a travel-based blog. 

It took one year of posting high-quality content on Instagram every single day before Jasmine made a dime as in influencer. 

And it took her two years of working on the blog before she made any money from that platform. 

Finally, it took even more years after those milestones to generate a full-time income from her work. 

I have compacted the lessons I’ve learned from this and other content-leveraging lifestyle business endeavors into this sentence: 

Publish high-quality content, consistently, over a long period of time.

The level of quality will require research on your part. 

Also, of course the quality level depends on the platform you are using to publish content. 

The level of consistency also depends on the platform. 

However, I’ve found the most success stories of people who have a daily publishing schedule. 

Finally, the period of time you will need to maintain this publishing schedule will likely need to be long (think years) before earning an income from your work. 

That said, if you publish high-quality content consistently over a long period of time, you will stack the odds of lifestyle business success in your favor. 

How to Build a Lifestyle Business Leveraging Software to Generate Income  

I don’t have personal experience leveraging software to generate income. 

However, much of the same advice mentioned above applies to this lifestyle business path. 

In fact, many lifestyle business owners who leverage software to generate income also leverage media to drive sales of their SAAS. 

Here’s how Jordan O’Connor, founder of Closet Tools, describes how he uses media to create products and drive sales for software:

Pierre du Wolfe, founder of Scraping Bee, voices a similar opinion saying media, particularly the written word via SEO, can be the perfect lead gen tool for SAAS owners. 

However, software business owners don’t necessarily need to focus on media in the same way these lifestyle business owners do. 

Pieter Levels, founder of Nomad List and other SAAS businesses, doesn’t focus as much on SEO to drive sales for his businesses. 

That said, as someone who has seen the power of SEO first-hand, I think it’s a particularly effective strategy, especially if you aren’t sure what to build yet as a software creator. 

Conclusion

I hope this has helped you think about how to build a lifestyle business. 

It’s no easy task. 

But it can be very rewarding! 

What questions do you have about this process? 

Let me know in the comments.  

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