How do you start an online business that gives your more freedom, time, and energy – instead of one that sucks up every waking minute?
That’s a question that has driven me for years.
I love to ski, travel, and have the flexibility to spend time with my kids when they need their dad around most – and I prioritize those things so much that I’m very intentional about building a business that allows for me to do them.
Now, before anybody accuses me of selling false dreams to naive newcomers, I want to make one thing really, really clear:
Building a business requires hard work, no matter what kind of business it is.
So please don’t confuse my excitement with lifestyle businesses with the foolish notion that it’s going to be easy at all times, or that you’ll be able automate every bit of work away – you won’t!
Every business will require hard work at one point or another. If you can’t accept that, don’t get into business.
But that being said, one of the most eye-opening things I’ve discovered in my entrepreneurial journey is that some business models are simply easier and more rewarding than others.
So don’t make this any harder than necessary – pick a business model that has as many advantages as possible to make starting your business a heck of a lot more fun!
We live in unprecedented times…
An entrepreneur today can develop or source products from one of thousands of manufacturers and suppliers, open an online store, and reach a global audience of buyers…all within a week!
Running your new business can be done primarily through software automation. Most remaining manual tasks can be done by specialized outsourcers you contract with from around the world.
And to top it off, you could do this from anywhere in the world, as long as you have access to the Internet.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?
It is…but it’s a dream come true.
More and more entrepreneurs are leveraging the power and reach of today’s amazing technologies to build businesses that allow them to live incredible lifestyles of freedom of time and location.
That’s what this business – LVRG – is all about.
We’ve spent the better part of the last decade learning the secrets to building businesses that give us maximum freedom and lifestyle benefits, and it’s our mission to help 1,000,000 entrepreneurs do the same.
Let’s get started! Here are the seven most important strategies we’ve learned about building an ideal lifestyle business:
1. Choose your business wisely
I’m surprised this one even needs to be said, but my experience tells me it does:
Certain business models allow for much more freedom than others, so you must choose a business model that matches your desired level of freedom!
I have worked with many entrepreneurs that started their business with freedom in mind, but then chose to build a business model that gives them anything but that.
After three years of hard work, they are miserable because they feel like they can’t step away from their work.
The easy-to-grasp example here is the person that opens a restaurant with the conflicting goal of being able to travel the world whenever they’d like.
Sure, there are globetrotting chefs that live a glamorous lifestyle of travel and celebrity parties, but that’s very rare. Most restaurant owners are there at 6am to receive the morning delivery of food, and there at midnight to finish cleaning and close the place down.
Hardly the lifestyle we’re after!
So what are the characteristics of businesses that actually can provide the B.O.L.D. Business™ lifestyle we are after?
Here’s a list of questions we use to evaluate new opportunities:
Does it require direct interaction with people?
Ideal answer: No. Interacting with people is time consuming and often very frustrating! Ideally we’d find a business where people just buy our stuff and go on their way.
Does it require me to be in a specific place?
Ideal answer: No. We love to travel and enjoy flexibility of location. Want to work from the mountains for a few months of the year, then from the beach the other months? It can be done…but not if you are running a restaurant!
Does it require me to work specific hours of the day?
Ideal answer: No. Ideally we can have the flexibility to choose our work hours. This is one of the big reasons why running a business that require direct interaction with people is difficult. Interaction with people usually requires coordinating schedules so meetings happen smack-dab in the middle of other stuff you’d like to be doing!
Do I have to personally fulfill the product?
Ideal answer: No. Ideally we are selling a product that can be put in a box and shipped, or delivered via email or website. Those things can be automated or easily done by someone else!
Can I automate and outsource the far majority of work?
Ideal answer: Yes. Some businesses have work processes that are very creative, customized, or just hard to turn into a process and hand off to someone else. We avoid those.
Can I reach large, proven markets of people online?
Ideal answer: Yes. Selling to a small market, or a local market, can make it harder for you get away. Big, easily reached markets have the power to bring you a steady flow of customers without a ton of personal effort.
That’s a very helpful list, isn’t it?
If you don’t think carefully before jumping into a business, you are likely to find that you have developed something that doesn’t meet the criteria you are looking for…after it’s too late!
2. Automate everything
The software that is available to help you run your business today is like magic.
Simple software systems have eliminated so much manual work and cost from building and running a business that it almost feels like cheating when you know how to use it to your advantage!
You should consciously work to find how you can automate every possible task you can at your business.
Here are some of the key processes that can be automated, and our favorite resources to get you started:
- Ring Central
Funnel Building/Shopping Cart/eCommerce
Pretty Much All of Your Business Processes!
3. Only use online systems
When it comes to creating a lifestyle business, nothing has done more to make it possible than the Internet.
We live in amazing times, when you can find, communicate with, and sell to just about anyone, anywhere!
We do business with people in almost every country around the world!
To completely leverage the potential of the Internet, you should only use business systems that LIVE on the Internet, and can be accessed anywhere in the world.
Not only does this allow you to operate from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, but it also makes it much easier to integrate your business systems together, and integrate with your various suppliers and vendors.
Doing so means less manual tasks and processes, faster communication, and increased flexibility.
We’d challenge you to find any business system that can’t be done online at this point!
So do yourself a favor and insist that every system in our business is online!
4. Outsource instead of employ
Not everything in every business can be automated (but wouldn’t that be nice?!).
For those things that still need to be done by a living, breathing human being, you should be aggressive about outsourcing everything that doesn’t absolutely, positively need to be done by you.
Ideally not. Employees are expensive, require a lot of hand-holding, and are hard to get rid of once you have them.
You can find outsourced help for every imaginable task, at prices that will shock you.
And more importantly, you can find really, really good talent at prices that will shock you.
We’ve had a team of people working for us in the Philippines for years – each at an average of $500/month – that are an incredibly loyal, hardworking, and talented group of people.
That same quality would cost us 10x or more if hired in the United States.
In addition, when we need specialized work done – videos created, websites built, software developed, t-shirts designed, etc. – we don’t hire employees to do the job!
No…we have a cadre of outsourced resources around the world that can do that kind of work fast, affordably, and at incredibly high quality.
Sometimes for as little as $5 per job!
Here are some of our favorite outsourcing resources. If you’ve never looked into these before to see the vast marketplace of outsourcing options, it will be a real eye-opener:
You can get just about anything done on Fiverr for $5!
5. Empower front-line decision making
If you want to truly have a sense of freedom from your business, you can’t be glued to your email and phone all day long answering basic questions for your team.
You must learn to delegate the “front-line” decision making as effectively as possible.
What do I mean by “front-line”?
I’m referring to all of the decisions that happen on a daily basis at your business that deal with things like customer support, refunds, minor operational changes, etc.
The perfectionist, type A personality in us wants to have input and control over all of those things.
But the freedom-loving, lifestyle entrepreneur wants to give up control of those things – in a smart way – so that we can enjoy our time and work on more valuable things!
So how do you empower your front-line decision makers to make good decisions for your business…especially when they are outsourcers?!
It’s not as hard as it seems.
First, we give everyone on our team three simple guidelines to work from when making a decision. We have them ask the following:
- Is it good for the company?
- Is it good for the customer?
- Are you willing to be held personally accountable for the decision you are about to make?
If they can answer ‘Yes’ to all three of these questions, then they should go ahead and make the decision!
That was pretty easy, wasn’t it?
Now, obviously we don’t give everyone that kind of decision-making capability immediately…they have to earn it over time.
So what do we do in the meantime?
We create rules and processes for almost every scenario that could come up. This requires you to have a good grasp on the processes and numbers of your business.
For example, if someone requests a refund for a product, and the cost of providing that refund is less than $X, we tell our team to immediately provide the refund, knowing that the cost of getting us involved in the decision is way more than the cost of the refund.
Giving your front-line team clear guidelines like this resolves 95% of issues before they ever reach you, freeing up time and energy to focus on other things.
It’s your job to determine the most common front-line issues in your business and create simple guidelines to eliminate them before they reach you.
6. Market & sell online
There is nothing cooler than the first time you wake up to a customer order from someplace on the other side of the world!
Marketing and selling online makes this possible!
By being able to market and sell online, you give yourself the gift of a much, much larger potential customer base, and the ability to reach them at a cost that is unheard of in history.
You can now reach a person on the other side of the planet and get them to raise their hand and say “I’m interested in what you have to offer”, for literally pennies.
That was impossible just ten years ago!
This creates more freedom for you.
If you master marketing and selling online, you’ll never has a shortage of qualified prospects and customers in your sales pipeline, which means more consistent revenue for you.
You also are no longer limited to the potential customers in your own backyard (hometown, city you live in, etc.).
Some businesses would be impossible to make viable if you only sell to the people immediately around you, but become incredibly opportunities when opened up to the entire global market.
This gives you the freedom to develop very focused, niche businesses designed around your passions, while still having a great income potential.
Finally, marketing and selling online can be put on auto-pilot. You don’t need to pick up the phone or meet with people all day long to prospect and sell.
Instead, you can fire up some ads and let them do the work for you, 24 hours a day.
It’s a beautiful thing!
7. Create recurring revenue
The ideal business doesn’t just sell something once to a customer and then say goodbye.
The ideal business creates revenue that comes in multiple times, and ideally very consistently.
There is nothing more liberating than knowing that you have predictable income coming in, month after month!
It takes a lot of hard work to find a new customer, so once you do, you want to make that relationship as lucrative as possible!
In some businesses, this is more difficult than others and you have to get a little creative to generate a recurring relationship, while others are naturally recurring in nature.
Examples of businesses that are naturally recurring:
- Subscriptions to newsletters
- Consumable products like vitamins, dietary supplements, etc.
- Software as a Service
- Fan clubs, membership sites, etc.
- Cell phone and cable subscriptions
These businesses have the benefit of products and services that a customer will naturally buy from over and over again.
But just about any business can be made to have a recurring revenue stream with a little creativity.
You’ve no doubt seen businesses that have taken normally one-off purchases and turned them into recurring revenue models. Here are some examples that we like and can generate some ideas for you:
ClubW.com sells wine on a subscription basis:
Dollar Shave Club sells razors and shaving cream on a subscription basis:
MeUndies.com sells underwear on a subscription basis!
So as you can see, just about any product can be sold in a way that generates recurring revenue – even underwear!
So get creative with your business model:
- Can you add a paid newsletter?
- Can you provide automatic, regular delivery of more of your product?
- Can you sell access to a paid training area?
- Can you offer paid “Members Only” club that provides premium benefits and discounts?
Recurring revenue is quite possibly the best thing you can do for your business, so make this a priority!
Use these 7 strategies to start an online business you love!
Building a business is full of challenges…you don’t need to make it any harder on yourself than necessary.
To build your ideal lifestyle business,you need to make smart decisions about your business model to be able to create the lifestyle you are looking for.
As we said earlier, some business models are just easier and more profitable than others – we suggest you go with those!
As Warren Buffett says,
“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars; I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”
If even Warren Buffett looks for the easy investment opportunities, don’t you think you should to?!
We hope this guide serves you in making good, profitable business decisions as you work to build your business.
Now go build something!