EP27 – The Great Lifestyle Business Debate

To watch the video recording of this episode, click here

In episode 27 of The Coders’ Startup, Carter (now formally known as, Carter the Marketer), and I go head-to-head in a heated debate. The question we dig into — to lifestyle business or not to lifestyle business? This is one rare topic on which Carter and I are split down the middle. While our opinions dramatically differ, we came to what I think you’ll see as an enlightening agreement on the topic towards the end of our conversation.

What is a Lifestyle Business?

lifestyle businessBefore we can debate this topic too intensely, we need to define what exactly is a lifestyle business. There’s really no hard, fast definition for this concept, but essentially, a lifestyle business is one you start and run solely for the purpose of catering to the day-to-day life you want to live.

We could define it a bit further and say that revenue from this business would be about two to three times what you might be making now, as far as salary (although Carter may have proved me wrong on this … we’ll see). Many lifestyle businesses rely on passive income, and not only that, but a passive income that exceeds your expenses so that you don’t have to worry about finances.

The Case for Lifestyle Businesses

For me, the answer here is easy. Creating a successful and thriving lifestyle business is the key to happiness. Why? Because to me, creating a life in which my salary exceeds my expenses on a recurring and predictable basis so that I don’t have to work for someone else, ever again, is pretty much the gold standard.

Realistically, I probably only have to put in about four hours of work per week into my business to keep it going. But the thing is, I’m putting the work in now, so that I can reap the benefits later. The “later” that will eventually come, will allow me to stay at home and start a family, raise my own children, take my wife and I on mini-retirements (as Tim Ferriss refers to those long, extended trips), and I’ll be able to wake up and ask myself, “What do I want to do today?” and will be able to do it.

Whether what you want to do is travel the world, spend more time with your family, or automate your income so that you can focus instead on surfing, writing a book, or knitting — a lifestyle business allows you to do these things in a very real way.

The whole premise of a lifestyle business, is that it’s not the money that brings you happiness. That’s not the point. It’s how can you use money and income to help you live the life you want for you and your family and that ultimately makes you happy.

Carter’s Rebuttal

In the time that I took to make my pro-lifestyle business statement, Carter worked on putting together a pretty hardcore rebuttal as to why non-lifestyle businesses are still worth pursuing.

He used examples of great, well-known entrepreneurs like Tony Hsieh, Warren Buffet, Tony Robbins, Richard Branson, and Mark Cuban. He explained that even though it might seem like these guys are workaholics and maybe only in it for the profits, what they’re doing really, truly fulfills them and makes them happy.Lifestyle Business

At first, I found this hard to believe. Aside from these billionaires, I don’t typically put the term happiness and CEOs of large corporations in the same category. To me, it just seems like there’s a sacrifice that has to be made in those types of business.

There has to come a point in time when the mission of the business has to come before your personal life in order to get to that next level. And to me, that’s just not what I’m aiming for.

But Carter kept bringing up examples of how this was false — that CEOs of these major corporations were actually motivated by missions greater than themselves, and did actually use their businesses to leverage their personal goals in life (i.e. more time with their families, more money to travel, etc.).

Personally, for Carter, he finds happiness in the day-to-day grind of working to build something. He said that he’s never looked at building a business as a means of subsidizing his income in order to live the lifestyle he wants. Instead, he wants to move the ball forward each day on creating something meaningful.

The Verdict

This is where Carter and I managed to find some common ground. We ultimately decided that no matter what type of business you want to build, or are currently building, all that matters is you aim for doing something great. Strive to achieve something bigger than yourself. Work something that you care about, that adds value to the world around you, and chances are, happiness will find you there.



I’m Fine, Thanks — Documentary

Delivering Happiness — Tony Hseih’s book

Made in America — Sam Walton’s book


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