How to Build a Lifestyle Business

Happy Smiling Athletic Woman With Arms Outstretched

There are so many entrepreneurs starting businesses now and many of them won’t make it. I call them wannabepreneurs because they don’t have any personal interest in what they are proposing. They have no knowledge or personal work in that area. They’re driven by dollar signs.

With the right passion, you have the long-term determination to get the lifestyle you want and make the business last. But the passion needs to be for what you do and how you serve, not just for making money or gaining status.

The ultimate level of this kind of business is a lifestyle business. This is when you build something you love up to make enough money to give you the lifestyle you want.

It gets you out of the 9-5 grind and has you working every day on something that gives you incredible enjoyment or freedom – or both! The business you build might not be your exact passion, but you might get incredible enjoyment out of helping your clients, working hours you love or jetting off on holiday every three months. It comes down to you and where your heart is.

As long as you can sustain the level of income you need for your family or living needs, you have it made. That is the success of a Lifestyle Business and once reached, you don’t need to push yourself any harder than that.

Overall the long-term vision or goal is not to make insane amounts of money but to maintain a certain lifestyle that brings flexibility and enjoyment.

When you know your worth, you’re more likely to find a business that aligns with your values and that you’re excited to work on. You’re also more likely to be successful in your business, because you’ll be more motivated and committed to your work.

What is a lifestyle business?

A lifestyle business is usually based around a personal interest. This might be general, like helping people, teaching or writing, or it might be specific to a skill or hobby that’s existed only outside of office hours…until now.

Building a lifestyle business not only gives you the control and balance of working for yourself, but it also means you love going to work and are excited about what you’ll achieve each day.

You just need to do your research and make sure that people will pay for the skills and expertise you possess. That might mean getting a little flexible about how you package it to be a service or product that people will pay for.

Like all businesses, this isn’t going to be an overnight success. Expect some learning curves, false starts, things going not-to-plan and even periods without pay. When you love what you do it becomes easy to put in the effort to think of new solutions, apply different techniques and get into the growth mindset you need to continue.

What is an example of a lifestyle business?

In most cases, a lifestyle business is a hobby that allows you to gain income. Basically anyone who has something they can excel in can make money from it, no matter what it is.

Some examples of lifestyle businesses include:

  • Photography
  • Travel writing
  • Blogging
  • Teaching
  • Cooking
  • Training
  • App development
  • Jewellery making

These are usually small-scale businesses that work from home (or work from anywhere), don’t require funding and have small upfront costs.

How to start a lifestyle business?

Get to know business. Talk to a business coach or someone who has successfully achieved the results you want to see. Start some really big conversations about how they got started. They can help you validate your idea and work around some tough problems before you get started.

Getting ideas out of your head and into writing will help you know:

  • What you know well – Look at what skills and talents you have or areas where you really excel at something. How can you offer this to others? While it might seem like well-trodden ground to you, someone out there is starting out and needs you to complete their journey.
  • Your personal goals and values – this needs to be the backbone of everything you do. If one of your top values is spending time with family you’ll need to make sure you build family time into your business structure. Without this, you will fall out of love with your business and it will not only become a job, but it will also be a chore.
  • The lifestyle you want – This will help set your parameters for where and when you work as well as how much income you need.

This isn’t just how many hours you want to work, it’s also understanding if you are going to:

  • Travel, either domestically or internationally
  • Entertain friends frequently
  • Live on a hobby farm
  • Start have a family
  • Get your kids into private school
  • Live off the grid through 100% sustainable living

The choices are endless and pretty much anything is possible with passion, a vision and a well-defined goal.

  • Cost increases and decreases – Think about the changes to come. Some of your living expenses may come down when you are out of your 9-5 (goodbye corporate wardrobe!) but there may be other areas where your spending will increase. Getting a baseline on financial changes will help you understand how realistic your goals are and where you can adjust.
  • Your weaknesses – There may be necessary jobs that you can’t do yourself, for example, building and maintaining a website or running marketing campaigns. Think about who you can outsource tasks to and what you can automate as well as the costs involved. You can consider getting training in these areas to do it yourself, just take into account how much you will enjoy the added task and the time it will take from the work you love.
  • The marketability of your idea – Ask potential clients what they think of your idea or look at competitors to see if there is a ready market or how you can stand out from the pack. Also look at your own use, knowledge and buying habits in this area.
  • Where to join a community – being able to discuss your business with others has a lot of benefits, including increasing your learning, growth and problem-solving. It’s also healthy to be able to express your ideas, concerns and doubts with someone who understands what you are experiencing.

Staying motivated on your own can be hard. The help of a trusted business coach and a community of like-minded people will give you a much-needed sense of belonging and help you power through challenges.

How to build a lifestyle business?

Exactly how you get there will be different for everyone, some people have a plan from the outset, some find themselves embedded in it by accident.

There are some important steps you’ll need to consider to give your lifestyle business a direction rather than let it grow wild.

1. Establish your business – on paper

Your business will need to be registered and you’ll need an ABN in most cases. This won’t take much time or money as a sole trader and you can complete the form online in minutes.

2. Draw up a business plan

You’ll need a business plan that outlines your job roles and tasks as well as all the logistical steps for getting from A to B. Your plan will include an estimate of expenses and how much time you need to put in to get a certain output. This will help you determine your finances and time budgets. It doesn’t need to be long – less than a page will be fine.

3. Consider any training or certificates you need

Is there any formal training needed to increase your skills or be compliant with government regulations? This might not be needed until later but looking ahead will help plan your budget and set aside the time.

4. Know where your income will come from

Determine how to supplement your income as you get started. You might stay at work for now and transition to part-time as things get busier. You’ll also need to consider how you can build revenue from your business, what circles you need to be visiting or activities you need to be doing to get more people interested.

5. Decide if you can do it all yourself

Is your lifestyle business something you can run as a one-person show or do you need help in certain areas? Keep an eye on your ability to keep up with demand as well as your health, and revisit the need for assistance if things get too much.

6. Keep track of your income and expenses

You’ll need to monitor your incoming and outgoing expenses so you can control your spending and make sure you have enough to meet your lifestyle needs. An app or spreadsheet will be more than adequate.

7. Love what you do

Lifestyle businesses have a limit so that the business owner can continue to enjoy it, so you need to make sure it doesn’t cross that line to getting too big, too serious or stop feeling like the hobby it started out to be. Check in with how you feel and stick to your work-life boundaries so you can be sure to stay in love with your business.

Let’s look at a fictional example of Mary. Mary works in a financial planning office and that’s her total income. At home in her spare time, she loves tending her garden and cross-pollinating plants. She comes up with her very own variety of tomato that neighbours love. Soon she is selling tomato seeds, plants and tomatoes to her local community.

Making this a business is an easy step because Mary is a sole trader. She cuts her work in the office to part-time to give her more time in the garden. She adores having a stall at the farmer’s market to talk to people about gardening and help provide garden solutions when they are having problems. She starts selling her own homemade relish at the market, using her tomatoes.

Mary has done the right thing as her business took off to get personal indemnity insurance and covered the requirements for safe food handling certificates and hygiene. She has spoken to her tax accountant on how to get these expenses covered in her tax return.

Her business expands to include gardening workshops, creating online gardening videos and cooking classes for relishes. She brings in an apprentice to help with heavy lifting and plant cultivation. At this point, she is able to earn a little more money than her job had provided in the office now so she quits her job and gardens, talks to gardeners and sells her own products every day.

While a number of people have suggested Mary buy a vacant block of land and expand, Mary knows this amount of work will be exhausting and stressful. She is happy being able to nurture what she has and bring in a better income than from her office job, all while doing what she loves. She can easily afford her bills, her mortgage is almost completely paid and she looks forward to getting up every day and pottering about in her garden.

Knowing your business intimately is the key to being a successful business owner. Not all successful businesses are about making money, for many entrepreneurs, it’s about living a life of passion and absolute choice over how to spend your day and time.

If you love loving what you do, a lifestyle business can be rewarding, flexible enough to fit around other responsibilities and give you the freedom to live the life of your dreams.

Talk to a business coach at Evolve to Grow to get started on the right foot, or get unstuck if you hit a roadblock. All our business sherpas are experienced in the field and have the support and guidance you need to reach incredible success.