Some people are content to live a humdrum existence, oftentimes feeling trapped in their lives. They do things because they have to, even if those things don’t give them joy.
However, some people are taking a hold of their lives and are deciding that enough is enough. Instead, they are pursuing their passions. What’s more, many of these folks are actually making a living out of what they love most. These are the lifestyle entrepreneurs.
A lifestyle entrepreneur is somebody who:
- Goes into business not primarily for financial rewards but for lifestyle reasons
- Has fierce desire for independence: desire to work for themselves and run a business that would fit their lifestyle and ages
- Wants flexibility – are able to choose how much and when to work
- Wants to be the boss
- Has special lifestyle needs
- They are looking for doing work that matters
It all boils down to doing what you are passionate about – and making a living out of it!
One entrepreneur who is a perfect example of a lifestyle entrepreneur is Richard Busch . After a 30-year career as a highly successful magazine editor (he worked for National Geographic), Richard made a 180-degrees turn and quit the job in 1997 at the age of 56 to pursue his passion for pottery. When he was in his early 50s, Richard started asking himself what his life would be when the magazine career ends and what it is that he really wants to do in the years to come. Richard described that stage in his life, “The more I thought about it the more I felt like I’d really like to be a potter.” He sold his house in the Northern Virginia suburbs and moved to a farm where he has more room and space to set up a good-sized studio. Now, he has been featured in various magazines such as Entrepreneur and Costco’s Costco Connection, where I learned about him.
Some lifestyle entrepreneurs ease into their ventures so slowly that they hardly realize that they are in business until it is already a fact. Maybe someone who loves baking cookies and giving them to friends, only to soon receive orders – which are paid! – to bake more of her delicious cookies.
One example is Nicole Simons, owner of the successful gourmet nuts business Fortunuts. She created her gourmet nuts only as holiday gifts to friends, who convinced her that she ought to sell her delectable nuts.
Others waffle for years or decades before suddenly they decide to change the course of their lives and become lifestyle entrepreneurs.
So how do you actually start? How do you make a decision from an ordinary employee to become an entrepreneur making a living out of your passions?
The Intuitive Approach
One way is to listen to your gut feeling that this is what you want and should be doing, and then make a go for it.
When I was in my early 20s, I opened a video shop. I was addicted to movies and I watch every film shown in town. I was in a video store renting a VHS tape (it was a few decades ago), when it hit me that since film is my passion, I might as well open my own video store. I make decisions fast – so in a week’s time, I was already applying for licenses, checking out locations and buying inventory. In less than a month, my video shop was up and running.
The Intellectual Approach
And of course, there’s the more cerebral approach where you take time to think what you want to do. Basically, you:
- Ask yourself what skills you possess
- Match the skills with the industry or business
- Research specific opportunities
- Research the market
- Ease of entry: how much will it cost to start the business
Michael Reagan , Winner of SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year award for Arizona, made a drastic change in his life in the early 1990s. He quit his well paying sales & marketing job in Chicago to start a FastSigns franchise (makers of quality business signs) in Phoenix, AZ. He spent six months researching what it is that he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He followed what he calls a 3-step process to deciding what business to start. First made a list of the characteristics of what he wants in a business: he does not want inventory but wants something that will be purchased by other businesses. He had a list of 103 characteristics when he finished. Then he matched the characteristics he identified with existing business opportunities and ideas. The last process was finding out how he could get into the industry. It’s a time consuming process, but something that worked really well for Michael.
As Sigmund Freud said when asked what makes a happy life, he responded, “To love and to work.” How great could life be then, if you combined what you love with what you did for work? You can turn your hobby into a pastime, or start a business from what you love to do best.