Escape corporate culture by starting a lifestyle business
Imagine walking up to your boss one day and handing them a letter with these three magical words at the top…
[Notice of resignation]
How would you feel? Pretty damn satisfying, right?
Now here’s the thing…
Whilst quitting your day job and starting a new business often go hand in hand, it’s actually NOT required.
Whilst there is no detailed research or relevant, accurate data for this, an estimated 100 million new businesses open up each year.
How crazy is that?
This gargantuan number represents the Internet economy that allows various ways of establishing yourself as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur.
Having a job doesn’t mean you have to show up for the same 9 – 5 routine, five days a week (or is it 8 to 6 now?).
There still is the opportunity to take advantage of a gig economy. You could offer collaborative freelance services, become an influencer on social media, or open your Shopify store.
In the day and age, many are feeling unfulfilled at their day jobs. Being a lifestyle entrepreneur opens up new fronts.
Furthermore, you will be able to put some meaning into what you do at work. And at the same time, you’ll discover new and exciting creative opportunities.
Table of Contents
- Escape corporate culture by starting a lifestyle business
- CHAPTER 1: Escape Your Day Job… Before It Escapes you
- Best time to Be Your Own Boss? NOW.
- CHAPTER 2: Top 11 Challenges for New Lifestyle Entrepreneurs (and What You Can Do To Address Each One)
- 1. Fear of losing financial security & not being able to support the family and/or lifestyle needs.
- 2. Fear of falling short in the eyes of former colleagues and being criticized.
- 4. Fear of failure and self-doubt.
- 5. High Competition in a chosen industry/market
- 6. Unable to attract enough customers to be profitable
- 7. Finding, recruiting, and retaining great team members
- 8. Balancing work and family time.
- 9. Underestimating the amount of work, time, and support required to be successful.
- 10. Getting trapped in the “employee” mindset and failing to shift into “entrepreneur” mindset
- 11. Choosing the wrong business model
Short on time? Download our FREE Corporate Escape Plan Checklist, which includes a summary of the Top 11 Challenges for New Lifestyle Entrepreneurs (and How To Overcome Them).Ready to escape your day job? Read this FREE Guide: Top 11 Challenges for New Lifestyle Entrepreneurs (and What To Do To Overcome Them) Click To Tweet
CHAPTER 1: Escape Your Day Job… Before It Escapes you
Technology is changing our lives faster than ever before.
Say hello to automatization, robotics, and artificial intelligence. All of these technologies are changing the face of what the future of work will look like.
Before we worry about the future and if AI will ultimately replace us all (we’ll discuss this further below), just a quick look back. The past would suggest that jobs would always open somewhere.
This is while some roles were rendered obsolete, in line with technological advancements.
In this video, economists and futurists predict the future of the labor market. This being with some introspection about the not-so-distant past, in which, automation had superseded manpower in specific fronts.
But these predictions might be valid only for the next week or so. The tech revolution has given us the opportunity of digital transformation.
Alongside this, the ability to transition into being a Lifestyle Entrepreneur with minimal investment. You can do business online, without an obligatory physical location.
New Lifestyle Entrepreneurs use digital tools and services and become relevant market players, without leaving their home.
There are four key trends that are changing the hows and whys behind the concept of work.There are four key trends that are changing the hows and whys behind the concept of work. Learn more. Click To Tweet
Trend #1: Expansion of the freelance gig economy
The freelancer (or “gig”) economy has expanded greatly in the past few decades. It is now representative of a substantial slice of the market. There are a few key factors that power the growth of this new, freelance gig economy.
Depending on how you look at the gig economy, it can vary in size. The following infographic shows the current state in the US gig economy.
image credit: nation1099.com
According to EY Global research, more than 58% of mid-market companies and 66% of large companies choose to hire freelancers to lower labor costs.
The number of people that work full-time in such gig economies is much lower than participants and occasional freelancers. In the US, this number is about 11%.
There is an estimation that nearly half of the entire workforce will be related to the gig economy. And, this is just by next year (2020).
In the following video, professor Paul Oyer from Stanford Graduate School of Business talks about the technology that disrupted the labor market, economic advantages in flexible work systems.
It also includes how should employers react to the changing labor market.
Thus, moving your talent online and participating in this booming industry is a good move.
Freelance marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, Guru or Freelancer can be a good place to start. Offering your services online can give you an additional income on top of your regular job. It can also open up a career opportunity in Freelancing.Moving your talent online and participating in this booming industry is a good move. Click To Tweet
Trend #2: Better digital collaboration tools
Just like the gig economy and freelancing, digital collaboration tools connects two sides of the coin. On one side tools like Asana and Skype saves costs and enables more natural collaboration across the cloud. On the other, they fuel the chances for independent workers to earn better gigs.
So why are these tools so important?
A McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that workers spend more than 61% of the workweek on repetitive tasks. Some of them included handling emails, gathering information and internal communication and collaboration.
The main benefits of digital collaboration tools include:
- More transparent exchange of information
- Having all your files, correspondence and progress update in one centralized place that can be accessed from anywhere at any time
- Increased efficiency with immediate feedback, and better tracking of progress
- Increase collaboration across time zones and physical locations
- Major cost-savings
Some of the most basic online collaborative tools include Google Docs, Drive, Evernote, Zoom, Dropbox, Slack, and many others. These have somewhat fewer, less-complicated options than more advanced solutions.
(Image credit: The Digital Project Manager)
More complex tools combine project management, resource scheduling, file sharing, status updates, and pretty much everything that a project needs.
All of these are focused in one place. Some of the most popular are Teamwork, Podio, Notion, Basecamp, and Asana. (We use Clickup for our own business project management)
Digital collaboration tools help to effectively save cost. This is by providing you with the ability to have a virtual office environment. A virtual setting allows remote teams to collaborate with ease.
This would give you the option to hire a freelancer and incorporate them into your workflow for a specific project. Not only does this save project costs, but it also makes working on the project easier and more manageable.Workers spend more than 61% of the workweek on repetitive tasks. Are you one of them? Here's your escape plan. Click To Tweet
Trend #3: The rise of conscious capitalism and purpose-driven organizations
The face of classical capitalism is that of a profit driven organization. It grows and attracts investment.
This, in turn, leads to new hires in order to provide the shareholders with a return on their investment. This method of running a business has been successful in reducing world poverty.
On the downside, however, it has caused both physical and mental health problems. It’s also contributed to climate change and essentially ruined the environment.
(Image credit: Conscious Capitalism)
There is always a discrepancy in what an organization needs from its employees, and what it actually gets.
A Harvard Business Review study showed 71 percent of executives find engagement within a workplace important factor. Unfortunately, only 24 percent actually saw their workers as highly engaged. One way of handling this engagement gap is to have a purpose-driven organization.
Linda Rottenberg, CEO of Endeavor and one of “America’s Best Leaders” according to U.S. News explains in this video how companies of the future need to allow people to have meaning and purpose.
The HBR study shows 71% of millennials feel disengaged at work. The ideal cure is to this is to create a curated workplace and business. This is where employees feel a sense of meaning what they do. That will, according to the study, lead to almost twice the job satisfaction.
The image below is that of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle for Purpose-driven organizations. Why the companies do what they do is in the center of the circle. It represents the very purpose of the organization’s existence, while money is the result.
(Image credit: Simon Sinek)
Here’s a video of Simon Sinek explaining his golden circle theory:
Related reading: The importance of being Purpose Driven
Conscious capitalism started with the idea of distancing itself from classic profit-driven corporations. But somewhere along the way, it began to outperform it businesswise.
In their book Corporate Culture and Performance, HBS professors John Kotter and James Heskett made a discovery. They found that value-driven companies had a better stock price by the factor of twelve over their counterparts. The research lasted for over a decade.
In the following video, Simon Sinek explains the importance of purpose-driven organizations.
Trend #4: Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Two buzzwords that raise eyebrows about the future of jobs are Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. AI is the result of human attempts to build intelligent machinery that have a near-human capacity.
In reality, this machinery is actually just a complex combination of various algorithms. These algorithms solve speech recognition, enhance photo options on smartphones. Or power special computers that play Go against a human opponent.
Artificial intelligence has made substantial progress, but it’s still a long way from creating real super intelligence.
Machine Learning, on the other hand, is a branch of computer science and commercial IT solutions. Here, computers learn on their own or act without exact order. They have to be initially programmed but can produce a self-initiated reaction to certain situations.
In the world of IT today, AI is a fancy word for Machine Learning. Even if they are not actually synonymous with each other. But, it’s what they bring to the job market that matters. This includes the ability to solve many practical tasks faster, more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Yes, way better than us humans.
By now there, are a couple of alarming research papers that have been published on machine learning and AI. Oxford University predicted 47% of US workforce could lose their job due to automatization. McKinsey Global Institute provided similar numbers.
(Image source: McKinsey&Company)
Almost 45% of all tasks can be automated. Nearly 30 percent of workers could have at least 60% of their workload done by machines.
This isn’t a new trend. We have, throughout history, seen that machines made jobs obsolete. With the development of machine learning and AI, computers can replace cognitive tasks and execute them more efficiently. Works that include creativity are not yet on the hit list.
Maybe participating in gig online digital economy with creative skills could be a way out of job automation? Just make sure you choose a gig that’s unlikely to be automated.
Best time to Be Your Own Boss? NOW.
Due to the above-mentioned trends, it has never been easier to start a new business.
You can become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur in no time at all. And, you don’t even have to leave home to do it.
Warning: Being your own boss is not easy, and there are many, very real concerns.
Statistics show that 20% of small businesses tend to fail in the first year. About 30% fail by the second year. This number increases to over 50% within five years of establishment.
If these numbers did not deter you and you’re still enthusiastic about opening your own business, hop on board. Here are eleven of the biggest challenges that lie ahead of your journey into entrepreneurship.
CHAPTER 2: Top 11 Challenges for New Lifestyle Entrepreneurs (and What You Can Do To Address Each One)
When it comes to starting and growing a new business, there are a bunch of challenges that we see entrepreneurs face time and time again.
We outline the top 11 challenges below, along with specific action steps you can take to overcome them.
Short on time? Download our FREE Corporate Escape Plan Checklist, which includes a summary of the Top 11 Challenges for New Lifestyle Entrepreneurs (and How To Overcome Them).
1. Fear of losing financial security & not being able to support the family and/or lifestyle needs.
The fear of losing financial security is probably the biggest amongst new and would-be entrepreneurs. For many, this fear stops them in their tracks, and they never end up acting on their idea.
When you’ve got to choose between building a business and making sure that you and your loved ones have a roof over your heads, clothes to wear, and food to eat, then the reality can be tough.
Potential risks are everywhere. You could lose a big client, get a couple of bad reviews. Or even have a big order canceled and find yourself in a financial slump. The big question is, how will you cope with such scenarios?
For some, such a situation can force them to get creative and, if they want it bad enough, they’ll find a way to make it work.
For others, the financial stress will be too much and they’ll most likely go back to getting a job that pays the bill.
The good thing about being a Lifestyle Entrepreneur is that you can be a part of this new digital economy, and take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.
achieve financial freedom through business.
However, let’s keep it real. You will need money to:
a) Get started – and that can come from your savings, investors or via a bank loan.
b) Keep the business going. You’ll need to be able to pay yourself a monthly salary if you ever hope to replace the income from your job.
Fear doesn’t necessarily have to be bad for business either. A recent Harvard Business Review research showed that anxiety about personal financial security and venture funding actually helps with an entrepreneur’s persistence.
TAKE ACTION: Answer these 8 questions to make sure you have an “employee to entrepreneur” transition plan, and take into account your savings and financial plan.
2. Fear of falling short in the eyes of former colleagues and being criticized.
This fear aside, it is still not an easy feat to embark on the entrepreneurial journey. We are human after all and the worrisome thought of not being able to make it is very, very real. At this stage, you’re vulnerable to being the subject criticism and may even the laughingstock for your former colleagues.
If that happens, there are two things you need to keep in mind:
- You tried, and they didn’t, and you should worry about falling short, but not because of someone else. It’s your life.
- To ensure this scrutiny doesn’t come to life, choose your community wisely.
TAKE ACTION: Surround yourself with supportive and proactive people. These could be meetup groups in your local neighborhood or an online community for entrepreneurs.
3. Fear of not knowing enough or being skilled enough to be successful in business.
This is a consternation which has implications in actual, everyday work. The truth is that you probably don’t know enough. And, you will have to learn things, bit by bit, moving forward.
When choosing your online entrepreneurship career, take your skills and interests in considerations. With things you don’t know enough about, have set plans on how you’d like to better yourself in that front.
TAKE ACTION: Identify your strengths and weaknesses (we recommend taking the Wealth Dynamics profile test). Then, map out learning, training, and hiring plans to close any skill or knowledge gaps.
4. Fear of failure and self-doubt.
By becoming an Entrepreneur, you will naturally be only one step away from failure. This will then inspire self-doubt thoughts and perturbations.
Being the owner of your own business, you will often be faced with many crucial yet complex decisions. We can connect many, if not all, of these decision-making activities to a feeling of apprehension and uncertainty. (Arnaut & Ergun, 2015; Damasio 1994; Kilmann et al. 2010).
When you don’t have a steady paycheck, monthly things can become extremely stressful. This can lead to changes in your personality and identity. (Hessels et al., 2011)
What you need to do is surround yourself with a supportive group of people.
For starters, invest in family relations and explain the possible issues. When you come to terms with loved ones, try to seek out the people that inspire you.
Include yourself in relevant communities. And don’t be afraid to look for mentors. Building a supportive network who have the advice you need, at hand, will help with the conflicts of self-doubt.
TAKE ACTION: Watch Tim Ferris’ TED talk on Fear-Setting, then use his process to identify your own fears and come up with a plan to overcome them.
5. High Competition in a chosen industry/market
Trying to give your idea validity within the market can be challenging. When you go into something new and different from what you did for a living, the rules are different.
Competition is harsh and you might feel discouraged. When you let these get to you, it will be difficult to pitch your idea to potential investors (including partners and clients). And, this is where your vision is one of your critical assets.
Fear of competition is maybe a good thing. The proper way to handle competition and search for funding is to have a business plan.
Your idea may be excellent, but it is not a business plan. And, realizing all your potential and weaknesses will help in creating a perfect business model.
Before you jump in, do your market research and identify problems. Those that can be tackled by your business (Johnson & Scholes, 2005; Porter, 2004).
Other questions you need address include:
- Whose problem is it that you are trying to solve?
- Why is your solution different or unique?
In the end, the idea is to create measurable value. It is the tangible factors that investors can relate to when they search for potential investments.
- Learn the Lean Startup principles.
- Use a Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas to get clear on your value proposition and your business model.
- Read Dan Norris’ 7 Day Startup book (and follow his process if you prefer it).
6. Unable to attract enough customers to be profitable
You’ve made a leap of faith and opened a business, but there are still some issues. Where do you find enough clients or any for that matter?
The fear that customers might not like your business idea is universal. But, the question that you should actually ask yourself is whether your business is attracting the right clients.
As a Lifestyle Entrepreneur, you can access a whole range of marketing tools, but tools alone without a solid understanding of marketing and branding principles won’t work. A firm grasp of digital marketing can also help with the vital issue of learning who your ideal client is. (Harter et al., 2002).
You need to know how they live, and what they want or need. With online research, you can get the necessary details on the demographics of your potential customers. Then you can go on to collect information directly from your client.
This is to find out where they live, how they communicate, their fears, interests, and education. (Galbreath & Rogers, 1999).
Once you have a good buyer input, you have everything you need for a successful marketing and sales strategy. (Anderson et al., 1994).
- Read this article and learn why all you need is 1,000 true fans in order to be successful – you don’t need to have tens of thousands or millions of followers. to develop a strong brand with clear differentiation. Then create and implement a marketing and sales strategy.
- Use this free brand strategy audit to develop a strong brand with clear differentiation. Then create and implement a marketing and sales strategy.
- Take the free Fascination Advantage test to understand how others might perceive you, and how best to communicate your strengths to them.
7. Finding, recruiting, and retaining great team members
Your team is as important as your clients. Finding the right team members is a tedious, time-consuming process, but this is necessary.
As an entrepreneur, you will need to spend the time to build your ideal team. This is regardless of the pressures that come with being an entrepreneur.
Selection is one of the most important things. The right employee will reflect the brand value and enhance it. Bad hires can lead to misunderstandings, needs for replacement and even legal implications. (Anderson et al., 2008)
Don’t hire your staff to quickly, take your time and try to find perfect person-job fit. When you look for team members, try to identify who you need to be on your team.
The proper question here is… why would someone work for you or your company?
Think of what will make joining your business attractive to them.
Another thing to think about is what will make them stick around for the long run. One major indicator would be for them to have similar values as you and your business.
Below is a 5-min video that gives you a simple yet powerful process that you can take potential hires through.
TAKE ACTION: Write a job description for the role(s) you are looking to fill. You can use this template, or this one, or this one as a guide.
8. Balancing work and family time.
According to research (Kirkwood & Tootell, 2008; Parasuraman & Simmers, 2001), self-employed professionals have higher levels of conflict in work and family relations.
Trying to create a new and successful business and not to skip important family obligations is a balancing act. Both need your attention, effort and time.
- Read The Art of Couples Communication: How to Communicate Better With Your Partner and use the accompanying 10 Exercises For Better Couples Communication Workbook to improve communication with your loved ones.
- Listen to: Love languages: Is Your Spouse’s Love Tank Full?
- Watch the following video and make a list of your “big rocks”.
This illustrative video shows how to treat your “big rocks”. And, it’s on you to decide what are your most important things.
Set up clear rules when you’re with loved ones. Ask for regular feedback from them.Entrepreneur relationship tip: Set up clear rules when you’re with loved ones. Like no checking work emails or social media. Click To Tweet
9. Underestimating the amount of work, time, and support required to be successful.
There is a gap between expectations and reality in almost everything we do. Such a divide is dangerous for new entrepreneurs. Especially when they did not expect to put in as much hard work. And, not as much as their business requires.
In our experience, as well as with many others who have been through this journey, it typically takes about 1,000 days to build a sustainable business. (We highly recommend that you read this awesome breakdown of what the first 1,000 days typically looks like from the guys at Tropical MBA).
Here’s what Marilyn Wo, founder of design agency MeetAnders, shared in her insightful post You Think Freelancing Means Freedom? Think Again:
“I used to think being a freelancer is the same from being an entrepreneur. Well, both look the same on the surface. Both have their own business, not having to face one boss and have a minimum control of their own time.
Not only until I suffered from a massive burn out in 2014, doing everything from designing client work to preparing invoices, chasing for payment and promoting my own business that I asked myself: “Is this the life of an entrepreneur?”
Marilyn’s experience is not uncommon for unprepared individuals taking the leap into running their own business. For those who are not determined and focused, the amount of never-ending issues could be overwhelming. Have a strong relationship with your family and have their support. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a mental rut of problems.
This challenge reflects many of the previous issues. First of all, you can’t avoid spending time and effort. That’s how you become an entrepreneur. This is where support from family and friends come in. Choose your team members correctly. And, they will help you manage your workload efficiently.
Follow your business plan and educate yourself so you can work smart. All that will help you stay successful, and maintain work-family balance. But, there will definitely be a need for extra hours. Primarily, this is when starting with your project.
Write down how long you think it’ll take to replacing the income you got from your full-time job with your business income. Next, triple that number and write it down. That’s a more realistic idea of how long it might take for you to hit your goal.
Listen to: How to Plan a Successful Year
10. Getting trapped in the “employee” mindset and failing to shift into “entrepreneur” mindset
You changed your career and became an Entrepreneur, so you are probably in the right mindset. But, there are still some unhealthy habits. Those that you can drag into your new life.
Employees often try to be perfectionists, because mistakes look bad on your resume.
They want to do it all and have a hard time delegating tasks. If you work for someone, smarter people might frighten you. And, you might see them as a potential danger.
The same is with the risks. Employees don’t want to take too many chances.
- Use Toggl (it’s free) to track all the tasks that you are doing over the next 7 days. (Toggl even sends you a handly weekly report straight to your inbox like the one below!)
- Use the delegation worksheet here to make a list of tasks that you can delegate, automate, and delete. Delegate tasks which you have already documented procedures on to virtual assistants, freelancers and/or your employees.
- Listen to 20 Marketing Tasks That You Can Outsource to a Virtual Assistant and download the free checklist. Then fill it out.
11. Choosing the wrong business model
There are many business models for Lifestyle Entrepreneurs. When choosing the right one for you, don’t just judge it by popularity and appeal. Try to figure out how would your specific skills and interests fit in.
There are seven common online business models to choose from:
PRO: Online courses are easy to get started, scalable and can be highly profitable.
CON: However, you must know that there is significant competition. Customer support can be challenging, you’ll need to create and update courses and sell them.
Many freelance platforms give you an opportunity to make money. That is if you have a skill set that people are willing to pay for within the market.
PRO: You can start making money immediately, set your own hours and get clients through referrals
CON: You still work for someone else, clients can be hard to cope with, and it is tough to scale.
3. Become a Coach/Consultant
You need to have great skill, for instance, experience as a recruiter. With that know-how, you can offer coaching services to companies.
PRO: You can earn a lot of money for less work than providing a service. And, you can scale with group coaching and create and sell online courses.
CON: This is again a competitive area. You will need to market yourself. And, you’ll need to know how to sell. Some clients require more effort than others.
4. Grow a Membership Community
Here, you build up your community and deliver your know-how for free. After a while, you can offer a paid subscription version with additional value. One good example is to grow your audience through quality blogging.
PRO: It brings recurring revenue. You can sell more offers to your members. You don’t have to start from scratch every month (as far as your revenue). This creates more stability in your business.
CON: People expect you to show up. You will have to deal with failed payments. There can be a lot of ongoing work, and some members are needier than others.
Related: How Building a Community Can Supercharge Your Business with Tara McMullin
5. Start a SAAS Business
Software as a service has become a standard model for most IT companies. If you are a software developer that has a deep understanding of software, this can turn lucrative.
PRO: Recurring revenue. This can be hugely profitable when you get it right. It may become a sellable asset and usually have a more stable income
CON: Higher startup costs. High ongoing costs. Always have to fix bugs and update software. A lot of customer support.
Related: How to Start A Successful Online Business Like A Boss
6. Physical Products
There are two viable solutions for this model, selling products on Amazon or in your own store.
PRO: It’s easy to get started, Amazon gives you immediate access to customers, can become a sellable asset.
CON: Smaller profit margins. Reliant on distributors (unless you produce your own products). Can have high start-up costs, you could lose money. And you’d constantly have to stock inventory.
7. Make Money Through Affiliate Marketing
In affiliate marketing, you are the middle-person between the customer and the store. And, you take a commission for anyone you refer to the store. For instance, Matthew has an IT YouTube channel with 150k subscribers. And underneath every video, he has affiliate links which people can click on to make him money for every click.
PRO: No customer support, no fulfillment, no setup or ongoing costs, easy to get started, is a saleable revenue model.
CON: You don’t own the products. You have no control over the affiliate program.
- Take a good look at the following business models (read this if you’re not clear on what they all are). Pick the one that best fits the life and business you want to create.
- Sell online courses/training
- Provide a freelance service
- Become a Coach/Consultant
- Grow a Membership Community
- Sell Software As A Service (SaaS)
- Sell Physical Products
- Affiliate Marketing
- Use a Business Model Canvas or Lean Canvas to get clear on your value proposition and your business model.
All over the world, millions of new enterprises pop-up yearly. With the digital economy and the rise of Lifestyle Entrepreneurship, it is now easier than ever before to start your business.
Freelance and gig economy explosion is definitely in your favor. This would be coupled with digital collaboration tools that reduce costs and make working in teams so much easier.
Maybe you’re left with a void from your regular, boring, corporate job. Then it’s probably the right time to find purpose in your new enterprise. Although the failure rate is high for new businesses, there’s a good chance you can make it. That is if you manage to tackle, head-on, all the fundamental problems of a new enterprise.
The crucial step is forming an escape plan. Download our free checklist to fast track your journey.
Hello there! This post couldn’t be written any better!
Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
He constantly kept preaching about this. I will forward this article to him.
Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!
That is great to hear Judi.
Hi, I’ve started blogging recently and its SaaS. I’m happy that I came across this article, you have written this so well. Thanks!
Thanks Dan. It does take time. 🙂