Once you decide to embrace the idea of doing work you love, it’s important to think about your overall goal for doing this work.
Like many people, when I first contemplated the idea of working for myself, I thought that choosing this path was the key to personal freedom.
As it turns out, I began to recognize that how you go about it can mean the difference between creating your freedom and creating something even more demanding than working at a job.
If you are thinking about test driving new business ideas that may lead to leaving your job, there are some very important considerations to make.
Lifestyle Business or Startup Company?
Many people make the leap to working for themselves without a clear picture of what they want their business to do for them. Some people will begin with a traditional startup where they will add employees, secure funding, and grow their business. This is a proven model for success but may not offer you the lifestyle that you originally envisioned when you got excited about working for yourself.
There is another option. Advances in technology, communications and social media have made it possible to start and run certain types of businesses in a much different way. Instead of hiring employees, a company can now rely almost solely on contractors and service providers. Instead of renting physical office space, people can communicate over Skype, through email, or via social networks.
A newish term for this kind of company is “microbusiness” and the people who start them are classified as “solopreneurs.” I fondly refer to this type of company as an Unconventional Startup. These types of companies are leaner, smaller, and more able to adapt, easier to run and grow, and most of all, more supportive of the owner’s lifestyle goals.
A microbusiness is loosely defined as a company with five or fewer employees. A better definition would be around the intent of the company. The intent of a microbusiness would be a company that is designed to run and grow with five or fewer employees.
After doing a lot of research and having had personal experience with traditional startups, I’m going the Unconventional Startup route and I’m already seeing the benefits.
As I began testing my idea to launch a web based interview show and educational site, I wanted to make sure that I could run my business from anywhere with a decent internet connection. This way I’m not attached to anyone else’s timeline or expectations and I can hire other small business experts to assist me with video editing, site design, scheduling my interviews, etc.
I was also able to easily start my business on a part-time basis while I still had my demanding corporate job.
Things may change slightly as I move forward with my business, but I’m very intent on keeping my business lifestyle friendly.
This will be very important as I move towards my goal of living in different locations during the wet winter months that we experience here in Portland. Part of my criteria is to engineer my business so that I can operate from pretty much any location worldwide. This gives my wife and I the flexibility to travel and conduct business from where-ever we like.
As an example, I am writing and posting this blog (joyfully) from Hawaii. And most of my early blog posts have been written on an airplane while traveling for work. My web show will also have the ability to operate from virtually anywhere. All I will need is my laptop, a high speed internet connection, my portable HD web cam, and my video editing software.
Can Any Business Be Lifestyle-Friendly?
Let’s take a look at how a traditional business can be designed to operate as a lifestyle business. While not every business can be designed to support your ideal lifestyle, I do think that many can be creatively designed (or re-designed) to support the way you want to work and live.
Example: Yoga Business
Let’s say that your dream is to start a yoga business. Most people might tell you that you need to invest in the physical space to open a studio and hire employees to help manage and run the business.
But wait! Let’s first consider your lifestyle goals.
If you love yoga and your goal is to launch a yoga business, lets also take your lifestyle goals into consideration and design a business around those. Let’s say that your lifestyle goals are to travel more, not have employees, and not have to deal with the overhead of renting or buying a yoga studio space.
Based on your lifestyle goals, you may have some options that you likely haven't considered. For example, you could create income and travel by learning how to plan and lead successful yoga retreats. You could also launch your own yoga training program by finding and leasing a temporary studio space or creating a program to be delivered online. You could embrace your travel bug by offering to lead yoga workshops in other cities or yoga retreat centers around the world.
There is no limit to the number of ways that we can be creative with our businesses. And I believe that the first step should be factoring in our lifestyle goals so that our business can support them.
If you currently have a business, or are planning to start one, ask yourself “how can I make this business more lifestyle-friendly for myself and everyone involved?” You’ll be much happier for it!