Over the last 4 years I’ve had the privilege of getting to know, hundreds, if not thousands of budding lifestyle entrepreneurs.
In that time, I’ve seen an equal number of “lifestyle design” blogs that have come and gone (can we ditch that term yet?)
There’s a harsh reality with these type of blogs that’s kind of tough to ignore. Usually they start out because of a major shift in someone’s life; either they were laid off, or decided to quit and perhaps travel for a year. They read the 4 Hour Workweek and proceed to “design their life.”
Step one: start a blog! Woohoo!
Do they want to be a blogger? Probably not. Do they know what the long term goal of the site is? Nah. It’s just a good way of justifying taking time off and traveling, or in some cases, collecting unemployment and becoming disturbingly good at Call of Duty.
What happens then? Well, they finish their travels, run out of money, (or a combination of both) and eventually go back to getting a real job, letting the blog die a slow and unmemorable death.
Now, obviously not everyone can relate to this story, and there’s dozens of people in Location Rebel who have had huge success building a real lifestyle business.
BUT, most people don’t. Most people make some crucial mistakes early on, that are pretty much setting them up for failure over the long term.
Today I want to see that change. I’ve made all of these mistakes myself over the last 4 years in one form or another. What’s important is you recognize what’s happening, and change course as quickly as possible.
So based on years of research (ok I may be using that term a little loosely), and thousands of conversations (true), here are the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to starting a lifestyle business.
1) Don’t try and Recreate someone else’s lifestyle
Now that Tim’s book has been out for the better part of 7 years, there are thousands of examples of people building successful businesses and living happier, and potentially more profitable lives in the process.
The problem with this is I’ve seen a lot of people try and emulate the path of someone else. They haven’t figured out what their dream is, so they try and live out someone else’s.
There are all kinds of problems with this. For one, that’s someone else’s passion, not yours. If you aren’t totally into hang gliding, then how can you expect to make it through the long startup process to open up that kind of business in Brazil. Oh, you want to do SEO freelancing to free up some time so you can….oh wait, you don’t know what you want to do?
You’ll be even more miserable than you were before.
Before you make a leap, understand what you’re leaping towards, and why you’re leaping towards it. You’ll be more successful, happier, and you won’t piss off the dude whose business your copying.
Tweet this: Lifestyle Business Rule #1: Don’t try and recreate someone else’s lifestyle. It won’t work for you.
2) Start with the basics
That’s awesome you want to create a hundred niche sites, oh, and you’re going to do it all in the next 30 days? With no background in SEO or marketing?! Sweet, I’m sure you’ll make one miiiillliooon dollars off of that.
How many times have you seen that one work out? Very rarely.
What’s the problem here?
Often people who go this route, aren’t starting with the basics. Until you have the skills and confidence to be able to pull something like that off, you’re just going to be wasting your time. So how do you start with the basics?
Here’s the three step process we teach in Location Rebel:
Learning the basic skills, things like WordPress, copywriting, and SEO, will give you a solid base for whatever online or lifestyle venture you get involved with.
Then, by picking one skill and freelancing it, you’re building confidence and a base of income that will help ensure you’ve got some money coming in when you’re moving on to step 3.
Finally, once you’ve got some confidence, then you apply all of your skills to your own projects. Anything from e-commerce to membership sites, or niche sites. All are great business opportunities under the right circumstances.
And even once you’ve moved onto all of those ideas…100 niche sites, as great as it sounds, still probably a bad idea.
Tweet This: Lifestyle Business Rule #2: If you want to be successful, start with the basics.
3) You Can Have It All, But Not All at Once
These days I’m a pretty firm believer that you can have anything you want, if you want it bad enough. If my life goal was to own a Ferrari, I could make that happen – but I’d most likely be sacrificing a lot in order to achieve that.
This works on a much smaller scale as well.
All too often, I see people who want everything in their business when they are starting out. I received an email the other day from someone still in their day job that said something to the effect of:
Sean, really excited about getting my new business up and running. I’ve got all kinds of stuff in the works, including:
- A blog with 3 blog posts a week
- A new podcast
- 3 niche sites
- A free pdf product
- A membership site
- A you tube video blog
Oh and I’m getting ready to travel through SE Asia when I quit in a few months.
The guy had all of about 2 blog posts done and hadn’t done any work on his theme.
Classic example of trying to do too much, too quickly.
All of those things are great…but not when you’re starting out.
Focus on maybe two of those things. Figure out what your main goals are, and then work relentlessly on the things that will get you closer to those goals.
You can totally travel through SE Asia, work on a blog, and maybe one other thing, but if you’re going to attempt all of that at once, you’ll half-ass everything and never make any real progress towards the ultimate goal of making that your full time work.
Tweet This: Lifestyle Business Rule #3: You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Money
This one, I get. I can be a bit of a cheap ass at times, and I totally was early on. BUT, hindsight is 20/20 right? There are certain small investments that can pay off in spades, and are necessary.
A premium blog theme. I used the free version of Arthemia for two years before finally investing in a good looking custom site design (Props to Andrew and Andrew). But you don’t even have to take it that far.
Buy a premium theme from Woo Themes or Theme Forest. They have solid frameworks, and make it so easy to customize your site and make it look however you want. That’s all I did for my newest site, Breaking Eighty.
With free themes, nothing is ever easy, and if you do find a good one, you’ll probably find a thousand other blogs that look just like yours.
Afraid to spend $19/month for Aweber? Get over it. It’s the best $19 you’ll spend on your business.
The old addage “You’ve gotta spend money to make money” has a lot of truth in it. Sure, you can bootstrap the hell out of your business and spend very close to zero dollars, but you’re going to make your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be.
Stay in an extra night a week and take the money you saved and invest in yourself and your business – you won’t regret it.
Tweet This: Lifestyle Business Rule #4: You’ve gotta spend money to make money.
5) Building a Brand is More Important Than You Think
Often times when I see people skip mistake #2 above (start with the basics) they jump right into building an info product or niche site, and they skip one very, VERY important step: establishing a brand.
I used to call it having a “hub of location independence”. By having a website and building a brand online you’re opening up so many opportunities that simply wouldn’t be available to you otherwise. It establishes credibility, and makes it easier to get in touch with more influential people and businesses. It allows other like minded people to find you which in and of itself should be enough of a motivator for you.
Sure being a lone ranger can be fun, but having a brand will allow you to scale things infinitely faster.
How do you do this?
Many people view a brand as synonymous to having a blog. While I think a blog can be a valuable asset, it isn’t 100% necessary.
Simply having a basic WordPress site up, with some solid info on who you are, and what you’re all about can go a long ways. If I were you, at the very least I’d have a blog component in order to establish expertise. Even if you only right once or twice a month, it gives people a little more insight into who you are and exactly what you do.
Not sure how to do this? Don’t worry, this post has all you need.
Your brand and things associated with it, is also one of your biggest assets. If all you’re doing is creating niche websites, one Google algorithm change can wipe out your business.
Even if everything I have online was deleted and I had to start from scratch, there’s still value in the Location 180 name, my email list, my reputation etc. Bottom line, for me personally, without the brand, there is no business.
Tweet this: Lifestyle Business Rule #5: Without a brand, there’s no business.
6) Take Your Work Seriously
If you’ve recently quit or are traveling around the world, a new blog or business can seem like an awesome little side project. One of my best friends, Ryan, started an awesome blog that was quickly gaining traction and making him some money. But he never took it seriously as a business.
He let the site sit for a year, somewhere along the way, it got hacked, and then he didn’t want to pay the hefty fee to get it fixed once he finally noticed what happened.
By now he could have had a thriving business and community, but he never took it seriously. Caveat: He loves his life as a tour guide right now, but it’s still definitely a missed opportunity.
Sorry bud, but had to call you out on this one.
Moral of the story? If you’re serious about building a business, act like it.
Build routines around your work. If you’re working on your venture full time, figure out what hours you’re most productive, and sit your ass down in your chair and do the work.
If you’re doing it on the side, do the same thing. Figure out when you can work, and actually do it.
If you treat your business like a fun side-project, that’s exactly what it’ll be. If you take it seriously, and treat it as your new day job, in time, you’ll be right where you want to be.
Tweet This: Lifestyle Business Rule #6: If you’re serious about the lifestyle, be serious about the work.
7) Dont Work in a Vacuum
I’ve said repeatedly over the years that if you want to be successful doing this, you have to find a supportive community. For as many people as I know living out their perfect lifestyle, the concept still isn’t mainstream.
If you tell many of the people close to you that you want to start a business on your own, they’ll probably give you a myriad of reasons as to why that’s a bad idea.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a solid support system while you’re working through things.
This is one of the most common mistakes I see as well. People will hole up in front of their computers and treat the whole thing like they are in a vacuum. They won’t go out and meet other entrepreneurs, and often won’t even try and communicate with likeminded people online.
Not only are you doing your education a disservice, but it won’t be long before your sanity wears thin, and you scrap the whole thing.
This is probably the most important thing I’ll say in this post, if you’re serious about building a successful lifestyle business find a supportive, like minded community as soon as possible.
Here’s a great one if you need a push in the right direction.
Tweet This: Lifestyle Business Rule #7: You can’t work in a vacuum. Find a like-minded community for support.
Are you Making These Mistakes?
None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes no matter how hard we try not to. Consider this post a reminder. It’s easy to let things get in the way of our dream lifestyles, but focus on continually improving your business, and you’ll thank yourself later on when you have full freedom in your life. When you don’t have to miss things like your kid’s first steps because you were at work, or when you meet the person of your dreams while traveling through the French Riviera.
That’s why we’re doing all of this anyway, right? To live a life where we can do more of the stuff we like to do, on a daily basis.
Photo Credit: Opensourceway