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How to embrace your 'lifestyle business'

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How to embrace your ‘lifestyle business’

‘Lifestyle business’ is a phrase that is applied to a lot of solo and micro businesses and is one that we bandy about liberally at Flying Solo. So let’s look at what it means.


Here’s what Wikipedia tells us:

“…a lifestyle business is run primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more … or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.”

And this definition from author, John Warrillow:

“A lifestyle business is where the owner’s motivations go beyond a strict definition of return on investment … a business owner makes decisions that include more factors than just what will increase shareholder value…”

While the goal is to make a profit, a lifestyle business is also designed to deliver non-financial benefits such as flexibility, balance, lower risk and lower stress. Money is the means to an end.

Compare this then to a non-lifestyle business, where money is made the king and at its extreme becomes the ruthless world of 80-hour weeks, taking big risks and making huge sacrifices to build an empire. While it may be the surest way to wealth, there’s a big price to pay in sacrificing other areas of life.

On the other hand, the term ‘lifestyle business’ can come pre-loaded with its own patronising connotations as successful tech business, 37 Signals blogged recently:

“When the lifestyle card is pulled from its tired deck, it’s usually meant as a pat on the top of the head. It’s the archetypical false dilemma: Either you (1) let your business devour your life and you’ll be incredibly successful or (2) you balance your life with other things than work but are relegated to paying-the-rent success.”


Does it have to be one of the other? I think not.

Why can’t we go for gold and create a business that provides the freedom to live the life you want and provide all the money you need to live it?

This may well take years of consistently hard work and call for strength and resilience, but isn’t that something worth betting your life on?


Choose your own adventure

Whether you love the adrenalin-charged 24/7 lifestyle or prefer the quieter existence of a part-time freelancer, if your current work-life is ticking the right lifestyle box for you then surely you’re living the dream. That to me is the true lifestyle business.

Successful soloism comes after making a conscious choice that matches your priorities around love AND money. As we witness every day within our community, a lifestyle business is not only feasible it’s starting to dominate the small business landscape.

After all if your business (or job) doesn’t empower you to live the life you want – or isn’t at least heading in that direction – then what’s the point of all the hard work?


Peter Crocker is a director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo Revisited: How to go it alone in business.