I was feeling guilty about my lack of blog posts recently until I remembered one very key point. I am the boss of my own business and this is a ‘lifestyle business’.
WHAT IS THAT YOU ASK?
There are lots of ways to categorize businesses such as their industry sector, public vs private, product or service, management and ownership structure, etc. Another way is pretty much based on the purpose of the business with regards to why the founder set it up. A lifestyle business is one which is created to produce a set amount of income or to fit within a desired allotment of time. The opposite is generally called a growth or scalable business. This is one in which the founder intends to grow the business beyond themselves and get to the point where they are either managing a multi-million dollar generating machine, or they sell it to someone else who turns it into the money making machine.
When I started The Simple StartUp, I wanted a side business as opposed to something that was going to take up all my time. In the future, I may be interested in growing it into something bigger that could be my full-time role, but at the same time I don’t need to and that is what is key. I set up my lifestyle to allow me to dedicate enough time to my family, friends, job, and side businesses, in ratios that I want as opposed to what the job and business leave for everyone else.
As a teacher, I am a 10-month employee which means I have two months of the year (summer) where my time distributions can change, and I allow them to shift towards family and exciting projects such as starting The Simple StartUp Challenge last year, or publishing my children’s book M is for Money this year. I’m not looking to fill the time up with more work, and if anything want to scale back what I am doing even more. So that’s what I did this summer, and being regimented with weekly blog posts IS good for my business and helping it to grow, but at the same time I don’t have to do it and can choose to publish more sporadically over the summer. I may lose some followers or potential customers, but that is a choice each of us gets to make with our business!
HOW DO I START A LIFESTYLE BUSINESS?
When you are trying to come up with a business idea, you can use strategies like Mind Maps or Collect & Connect sessions to identify opportunities and problems you can solve. Once you narrow it down to the idea that you want to try first, think about what it will take to bring your vision of this business to life. In that vision, consider how much time you want to dedicate to your business each week and when those hours will happen each day. You might want to set up a tutoring business for example and work during the early part of the day when you are free, BUT all your potential clients are in school during that time. It would be difficult to make a tutoring business work that only operated during early hours on weekdays. You often need weekday evenings and weekends to be available since that is when your clients are looking for tutoring. So you might scrap that idea OR commit to only working one evening a week and doing your clients back-to-back. You get to decide!
If an idea looks like it will need more time than you are willing to commit to it, see if there is a different version of this business that will fit your desired lifestyle, or leave that idea in your idea notebook for another time. We all go through different seasons in our lives where free time is available in different quantities and at different parts of the day. Sometimes an idea will work in one season of your life but not another. I know before my son was born, the amount of time I had available for side businesses was higher than it is today because I choose to dedicate more of my time to him than to my work.
WHAT IF MY BUSINESS STARTED AS A LIFESTYLE BUSINESS BUT IS NOW TAKING UP TOO MUCH TIME?
If you notice your business is starting to take up too much of your time then you need to step back and do a quick check:
- How effective is the time you are currently putting in?
- Are you doing tasks that are not moving the business forward or producing revenue?
- Are there tasks that you could assign to someone else or pay for a piece of software that would speed things up?
- Do you need to grow any bigger?
Sometimes we just need to tone down what we are doing and recognize that we are happy with the level of income the business is currently producing. Sometimes you see that this is a season where your business needs more of your time now, but will allow you to step back a lot more in the near future. Sometimes you realize it’s time to make less profit and pay for people or software to reduce your workload and reclaim your time.
Whatever you choose, make sure it is the right thing for you first and foremost. Not your customers, not your big clients, not your bills or peer group. You.
Build the business you want to work in!