Building a Business With a Family: The Family-Oriented Lifestyle Entrepreneur
Every year when winter time comes to Denmark my family and I pack up our things and go to Thailand for a couple of months.
And you know what the funny thing is?
People never ask me WHY! The first question I always get is HOW!
Because let’s face it, traveling with your family – in my case my girlfriend and two kids – for months each year is really not that normal in our otherwise normal society.
And from the amount of HOWs that I get, it’s clear that I’m not the only one wanting to do something like.
I could tell you a lot about the WHY, for instance that it’s cold and dark in the winter months in Denmark, and that all people tend to become a but more sour and depressed, or how much I enjoy most dishes with chicken and rice, but you are probably also more interested in the HOW :).
Now don’t get me wrong, you might not want to go to Thailand or Southeast Asia for that matter. Everyone’s dreams differ from each other.
For instance, I’m really not the backpacking type. I like playing with my kids by the pool of our house in Hua Hin while our maid buzzes around in the background cleaning and making sure we all got something to drink.
Our dreams and idea of an ideal life all differ.
So if we go back to the HOW.
You might think I work my ass of in order to be able to travel for months at a time. But the ugly truth is that I only worked four months last year. The rest of the time I could focus on the things that really matter to me, that’s one of the secrets to building a business with a family.
Things like my family, being there for my kids while they are growing up, have time to write a book, take a coaching course, do work in a nonprofit organization I’m a member of to name a few.
So clearly, working like a horse in order to be able to enjoy a fantastic lifestyle, is not really what I’m advocating.
I get my cash-flow from two different sources:
1) Doing consulting for clients here in Denmark (the 3-4 months of the year), and
2) From a couple of Lifestyle Businesses I’ve setup mainly targeting the Danish B2B market that are pretty hands off since the entire production backend is outsourced.
But what defines a lifestyle Business you might ask. There are several definitions out there, but mine is quite simple:
“A Lifestyle Business is a business supporting your desired lifestyle“.
And in my case my desired lifestyle is to be able to spend time with my kids and relaxing the winter months in our house in Thailand.
So if you have a family, a spouse and kids, how can you get to spend more time with them and travel more?
Before we move on to this, we first need to see how being an entrepreneur with a family differs from the usual image we have of lifestyle entrepreneurs.
1) You typically need more cash-flow than a guy in the beginning of his twenties backpacking through Southeast Asia.
While it is possible to live on a budget while traveling, a family typically more expenses than someone fresh out of college.
I know guys living off $1000 per month traveling around Southeast Asia and while they are having a blast seeing the world from the back of a scooter, you typically need a little cash coming in to pay for all your expenses back home.
2) Time is important to you as you probably want to spend time with your family and not work on that new project 80 hours a week from a beach in Bali.
It’s not like I’m saying “don’t work”. It takes time setting up a new business, but I am saying that you should focus on building a business that will support you in these goals.
So the goal is to create a business that will bring you a decent cash-flow, can be run without much hands on once it’s up and running and design it so you can run it on the road.
In my book the Lifestyle Business Rockstar I use the 4S Model of describing the traits of a Lifestyle Business
1) Simple to Setup – The business should not require years of work to setup, this goes against the whole idea. Also it shouldn’t require that you take out a loan in the bank or rough looking grunt on the street.
2) Small in Size – It’s easier to build a business that will generate you $50,000 per year than one that you can sell for $10,000,000 after 5-10 years
3) Scaling Built-In – Getting more customers or selling more products shouldn’t require you to work more. This is done by making sure that your business is automated as much as possible. In my businesses I typically use a combination of outsourcing and software solutions to be as hands off as possible.
4) Secondary to Your Life – This might be controversial but I really feel strongly about this. In the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware she writes that she gets the following regret from almost every man that she’s ever taken care of as a nurse in palliative care:
The Secrets of a Familypreneur
“I wish I didn’t work so hard…”
I don’t know about you – but I’m sure not gonna say that when I’m on my deathbed
So if you’re currently trapped in the corporate 9-5 grind, what can you do if you want to be able to spend more time with your family and travel more
There are several ways to this, but let me present you with three strategies:
1) Minimize Expenses (or the Sell Everything Strategy)
Well, you don’t have to sell everything to do this, but you do need to minimize your expenses in order to be able to travel on a budget. This will typically only work if you plan on spending a prolonged period traveling.
It won’t work if you’re like me and only spend a few months of the year traveling.
I also know a family consisting of dad, mom and four kids aged 1-12 who have rented out their house for two years and sold their car. Funny story actually. They are currently in Chiang Mai (Thailand) and make their money selling a particular powerful dildo online. You can’t make this shit up, can you…
2) Building a Lifestyle Business with a Family
This is always something that I would recommend as you can combine it with the other strategies. Now I can’t run you through my entire model for building a lifestyle business in this post, but I would like to say that you shouldn’t spend a lot of time finding the “right idea”. Instead I would recommend that you model what work and just twist it a bit. None of my businesses are revolutionary but they were built fast and got cash-flow in an existing market.
3) The 9-5 => Consultant Shift
If you want more time here and now and perhaps wants more time for building a lifestyle business while not having to live of pasta and ketchup, you could also consider becoming a consultant within the same field of work that you’re currently in.
As a consultant you’re your own boss, can select what jobs you want and typically paid more than a 9-5.
This is the strategy I have used to maintain my existing standard of living while building my lifestyle businesses. I have gradually cut back on the time I have to work as an consultant over the past couple of years.
So what are your dreams for the future of your family? Will you continue to work 40+ hours per week until your 70ish with two false hips trying to go down in style i Florida (hint: here in Denmark a lot of old people end up in Spain).
OR… Will you start to live your life outside the weekends and a few weeks of yearly vacation.
This is not some crazy and far fetched illusive dream that ordinary people can’t reach. This is not something reserved for the twenty-something straight out of school satisfied with the back pack life!
This is something you can do here and now and I truly believe that we in the coming years will see more and more families break the bonds what is socially “expected of us” and live their lives free.
Able to focus not on “work/life balance” but on “life/work balance”.
It might sound controversial to tell people that you’re not working so much and prefer to spend time and travel with your family, but remember… People won’t ask you WHY in the end! They will ask you HOW!