There’s a growing resistance to spending 9-to-5 at the office, embarking on long commutes that bookend each day, and living to work instead of working to live. From the great resignation to a rising anti-work movement, many are rethinking their jobs, reconsidering their careers, and reevaluating their relationships to their professions.
But one class of work innovators are abandoning offices forever by building companies that allow them to earn a living while still enjoying life: lifestyle business entrepreneurs.
What is a lifestyle business?
A lifestyle business is a passion-centered company that generates enough profit to allow an entrepreneur to work and live from anywhere, earning an income on their own terms.
The only criteria of a lifestyle business is forming a sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation that generates enough profit to support the lifestyle you want to live. Therefore, what a lifestyle company actually looks like differs for every entrepreneur.
Starting a lifestyle business could mean creating and selling digital courses on photo editing, freelancing as a product designer for various clients, becoming an online influencer in the productivity space, creating a niche app as an independent software developer, or starting an ecommerce dropshipping business that sells home goods. Any business that allows you the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime, while optimizing your lifestyle fits the description of a lifestyle business.
A lifestyle business conjures the image of running a company from the beach, a laptop in one hand and a margarita in the other. But what the growing category of lifestyle business truly offers entrepreneurs is the option to turn their skills and hobbies into businesses, while also designing the life they truly want. That can mean working from home in a small town close to family or globetrotting the world, taking business calls from an iPhone full of travel photos.
Startup vs. small business vs. lifestyle business
A lifestyle business is in a category of its own, unique from businesses like startups or small businesses.
A startup focuses on building a technological product or service that generates millions or billions in revenue, typically raising venture capital funding and growing a team to achieve this aim. Many startups take years to find profitability. Successful startups are generally acquired by a larger company or have an initial public offering (IPO). While startups are increasingly embracing remote or hybrid work, most startups are co-located with a central headquarters and satellite offices. Startups emphasize scale and impact. Examples of startups include a dating app, a media company, or a genetic testing service.
A small business generally focuses on providing a good or service. To fund a small business, business owners typically turn to their savings or a loan from the bank. Successful small businesses return their initial investment and eventually find profitability. Small businesses generally start as one person or a small team, growing in size as they scale. While small businesses increasingly embrace unlocking new customers by using the internet, many small businesses are location-dependent, serving a particular city, state, or country. Examples of small businesses include a vintage clothing store, a restaurant, or an artisan selling hand-dipped candles on Shopify.
A lifestyle business is generally internet-first, selling digital goods or software, providing a virtual service, or operating an ecommerce business remotely. Lifestyle businesses generally have a low upfront cost that does not require outside funding. Successful lifestyle business entrepreneurs have the flexibility to work from anywhere. Successful lifestyle businesses must become profitable quickly, allowing an entrepreneur to fund the lifestyle they want—this could mean earning $50,000 per year or $1 million per year. Lifestyle businesses operate flexibly, sometimes reducing their working hours below 40 hours per week, often turning to outsourcing and automation and emphasizing lifestyle over work. Examples of a lifestyle business include selling online templates, providing virtual consulting, or a clothing dropshipping business.
A Guide to the Good Life: How to Start a Lifestyle Business
Reconsidering your 9-to-5? Read our resource on how to start a lifestyle business in 10 steps—from defining your life and business goals to validating your idea.
What are the benefits of a lifestyle business?
A lifestyle business is a unique approach to work that first asks, “How do I want my life to look?” and then creates a business that enables this mode of living. Here are a few of the benefits.
Live and work from anywhere
Lifestyle businesses untether you from a specific desk, instead allowing you to embrace flexibility: working from anywhere, anytime. Many lifestyle entrepreneurs begin their business so they can travel as they work, bouncing from Airbnbs with stable Wi-Fi to rooftop lounges with a laptop plug-in.
Others take a different approach, using the “anywhere opportunity” to leave bustling city centers—like New York or Los Angeles—to move somewhere quaint and quiet, while still earning an income online. Regardless, starting a lifestyle business provides the unique opportunity to live and work where you want, not just where there’s a thriving job market.
Instead of taking a two-week vacation every 12 months, you can satisfy your wanderlust and be on the road 365 days of the year. Rather than “Work-from-home Wednesdays,” you can run your business from a home office while getting to spend more time with your children. In place of early morning meetings, you can embrace your inner night owl, working into the evening. A lifestyle business unlocks the opportunity to iterate on your lifestyle, experimenting with different modes of work and life.
Explore a passion project
Creating a lifestyle business can help you turn your hobbies into income and your side hustle into your main hustle. If you have a skill people will pay for, or a digital product someone will buy, it’s never been easier to make money online.
If your skills and passion lie in editing photography, create and sell Instagram photo presets. If you’re a talented writing coach, develop and sell a digital course on writing for results. If you’re a trained accountant, develop an online consultancy that makes accounting easy and paperless for your clients. By finding a lifestyle business idea at the intersection of skill, passion, and market demand, you can generate income while also funding the life you want.
Sell to anyone in the world
Lifestyle businesses are internet-first and location independent. Often, this means you can do business with nearly anyone in the world, broadening your potential market and giving you the opportunity to do business beyond borders.
If you’re a social media consultant, you can manage social media accounts for clients in different cities. As an ecommerce entrepreneur with a dropshipping business, customers across countries can place an order on your website. If you develop an online presence and become an internet influencer, companies from around the world can approach you about brand deals and partnerships. A lifestyle business broadens horizons, allowing you to earn an income beyond your city or state.
Diversify your income
Most people who work a full-time job or run a small business make 100% of their income from their role within the company. However, lifestyle entrepreneurs often diversify their earnings, opting for multiple income streams. For example, as a lifestyle business, you might earn 20% of your income from social media consulting, 30% from creator funds as an influencer, and 50% from freelance writing. This diversification allows for flexibility and also provides novelty and a way to monetize different skills and interests.
Diversifying your income can also be accomplished by exploring and developing passive income streams. While even “passive income” generally requires upfront time, work, and energy—plus, some maintenance—business ideas like ebooks, digital courses, or selling stock photos can bolster your income without much day-to-day work. With adequate demand and targeted advertising, passive income can make up a meaningful portion of your lifestyle business earnings.
Start a low cost business
Small businesses and startups often have a high initial cost—to start a bakery, you need a building and bakery supplies. To start a fertility app, you’ll need medical specialists and a few software developers. While a lifestyle business is not without its costs, they’re generally low. Here are a few examples of costs a lifestyle business might incur:
- Software subscriptions. As an internet-first business, many of your costs will include subscriptions for online services, hosting, invoicing, and more (e.g., Mailchimp, Shopify, WordPress, QuickBooks, Thinkific, etc.).
- Operation costs. Like any business, your lifestyle business will incur operating costs (e.g., incorporation, insurance, taxes, etc.).
- Outsourcing. For anything you can’t do yourself, you might hire outside help to enable your company to grow without eating into your time (e.g., freelance designer, virtual personal assistant, marketing consultant).
As a lifestyle entrepreneur, you can start your business with minimal upfront costs while keeping expenses low, creating a profitable business that supports your lifestyle.
Build a lifestyle business on your own terms
From the low cost to the location independence, a lifestyle business is one of the most flexible options for anyone looking to leave behind an office job and design their ideal life.
Whether you have a passion for software development or a knack for social media marketing, building a lifestyle business lets you turn your expertise into a product or service that generates enough income to live the life you want.