A quick blurb about me, so you know where I'm coming from
Welcome to my first ever post on this newsletter!
What makes me an expert to tell you about lifestyle businesses? That would be a fair question, given all the fakeness and worse, fake authenticity out there. First of all, I'm not going to self label myself as a guru or an expert. All I'll tell you is that I have been running lifestyle businesses of various sizes for close to 20 years now.
My most recent business is EditionGuard which brought in just over $330,000 USD in 2020 (established 2012, fully bootstrapped). I have a bunch of other side projects too, like Zask, Raveback, SaasCake and this newsletter you're reading.
I also made a small exit of low six figures back in 2011 through a local e-commerce startup in Eastern Europe. If you'd like to read about my story a bit more, I was interviewed on IndieHackers a while back.
In case it's not clear already: I'm no Elon Musk or Warren Buffett. And while I admire both of those guys in different ways, I don't aspire to be like them. I don't want to talk report to investors or share holders. I don't want a board I need to play squash with to keep my business. (I tried it and I suck at squash anyway.)
Instead, I want to have a business that takes minimal effort and time from me to run efficiently and produce a very healthy income while building business equity I could potentially cash in down the road. If that vibes with you, you've come to the right place!
There are lots of great materials out there, like books, podcasts and videos where you could learn about lifestyle businesses. And you should consume as many of those as you can, if you're serious about the subject matter. As this newsletter progresses, I will be recommending many such resources to you alongside my newsletter. Because it's always good to have more perspectives. What I will also offer you is my unique perspective after doing this for two decades, being able to travel freely, work from anywhere, and keep running the business just a few hours a week.
Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about you now.
Why should you become a lifestyle business owner?
Specifically, let's talk about your desire to have more freedom, as I'm sure that's one of the main reasons you're here. I'm guessing creating financial freedom is part of your reasons, and maybe having more time for yourself, quitting your full time job, and similar.
I encourage you to really reflect on this and come up with a Lifestyle Vision. This will be your lighthouse, guiding you toward your goals when things get tough. And I will not lie, there will be tough times. But really, ask yourself; are 10 years of hardship worse than 40+ years of the rat race?
Your Lifestyle Vision
Sipping piña coladas on a beach wearing your flip-flops on Monday morning instead of the 1 hour commute to a job you hate?
Spending more time with your family, taking trips together when you want?
Moving to a different city, country or continent without having to look for a job each time because your work travels with you?
Being the head of a 100 person team, building something ambitious while making millions of dollars?
Your lifestyle vision will be specific to you. Don't let anyone else tell you how you should live your life or what you should value. We all have our own unique wants and desires. You don't have to sell everything you own and move to Bali, or walk across the Americas barefoot. But if that's what floats your boat, you could do that by leveraging a lifestyle business.
The reason I keep talking about this is because it really matters for long-term success. Find what it is for you. Draw a picture, write a few paragraphs on it, or simply speak it out loud to yourself and record it. It will be the fuel for your motivation. It may evolve over time, and that is fine, but it should be there at all times.
How do you start a successful lifestyle business?
Start by really trying to understand and know yourself. That is one of the two most important components to something I call the Founder-Product Fit. Yes, it's similar to the Product-Market Fit term you've probably heard a lot. But I would say Founder-Product Fit is equally important.
To start understanding yourself better, ask yourself some of these questions;
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you enjoy doing the most? What job would you do for free if you didn't need to make money?
- What is your personality type? (I recommend going down rabbitholes like MBTI and Big-5)
- What are your business skills? Software Development? Marketing? Managing humans? Predicting the future?
- What are your non-business skills? Athletics? Performing music? Balancing upside down on your nose?
- With all the above information, look at the Ikigai model.
Know Thy Product
Your product will be what you and your business sells. It can be any kind of product. I generally focus on software as a service, e-commerce and content products, so my topics will be focused more towards those.
In reality, almost any product can become the foundation of a lifestyle business these days. Thanks to advances in online business models such as dropshipping, fulfillment services and on-demand production, you have many choices.
However, before making a choice, it's really important to identify the right product.
- What problems do you experience you'd throw money at to make them go away?
- Do you have an itch you wish you could scratch with a product or service? Do your friends or family express such ideas?
- Are there trends you see within your industry towards a certain way of conducting business? Or is there a trend that really sucks and could be changed to yield much better efficiency?
- Would you like working on any of the answers to the above for the next decade?
Keep zooming into your vision
The above questions may draw blanks at times, and that's okay. Other times, it will feel like time is running out or competitors will take over your market if you don't act quickly. While some sense of urgency is good, approach this with diligence. It'll be the foundation upon which you will build your lifestyle business.
Some recommended reading to help out: