You’re visiting this blog because you want something more – more money, more time, more freedom.
If you don’t already know, I’m a big fan of starting and scaling a lifestyle business to get you just that – more money, more time, and more freedom.
But coming up with an idea of what kind of business to start can be challenging.
In this post, I’m going to explain:
- What is a lifestyle business?
- What key components are a must for any lifestyle business
- 70 lifestyle business ideas you can start right away
WHAT IS A LIFESTYLE BUSINESS?
I’ve talked A LOT about a lifestyle business on this blog for a long time. But what the heck is a lifestyle business anyway?
Some people call them micro-businesses. Others call them side businesses.
My buddy Nick over at Side Hustle Nation calls them side hustles. I like that because it indicates that it’s something you can start on the side but quickly have it replace your full time income. And, it indicates work – it’s gonna take work!
There are a lot of definitions floating around online but here’s my personal favorite:
It’s a touch long I know but I like it. I should, I’m the one that wrote it! 🙂
Or how about this one:
“A business you start to fund your desired lifestyle”
Quickly, it’s a real business, one that you get a business checking account for and have to pay taxes on – not just a hobby.
Your product or service must satisfy a real demand in the market. If you want to sell homemade garden gnomes but nobody’s buying garden gnomes, sorry, it doesn’t count.
You need to be able to make money from this. Real money. Like at least $5,000/month. Why $5,000? Because that’s life-changing for most people. It allows *most* people to be able to leave their jobs and go full-time on their business.
Also, it must be able to scale up. Making $60K/year is great, but what about $100K? Or more? It’s up to you. How much you make is your own personal decision.
BUT, you need to find a business model that allows for scalability. In other words, you must be able to get on top of your business and not in the day-to-day.
KEY COMPONENTS TO YOUR LIFESTYLE BUSINESS
When thinking about what lifestyle business you can start, you need to keep a few things in mind.
- It does NOT have to be your career. This is a business that you get started, work hard at, then scale it up. By scaling up, I mean getting out of doing most, if not all, of the work that goes into your business. You’ll have systems and a team for that. This allows you to do whatever you want.
- It CAN be your career! If you stumble across something you love, by all means, spend your time doing it. Many people love their businesses and spend a good chunk of time in them. The HUGE advantage of a lifestyle business though is that at any time, the owner can remove herself/himself from the daily work and the business goes on.
- It can be whatever you want it to be. That’s the beauty of this kind of business model. It allows for huge flexibility.
In my own case, I started a digital marketing agency, scaled it up, then removed myself from the day-to-day for most of the work.
It’s allowed me to do a lot of cool stuff. That includes a lot of travel and even living in of cool places together with my family.
I feel like I have to emphasize something here though – your business may or may not be “sexy”. I’m going to list a few businesses below that are not very sexy at all. But that’s not the point! They’re proven money-makers.
After all, you’re not reading this post to learn about how to have a “cool business”. You’re reading this so you can set up a business that makes money.
Also, not all lifestyle businesses start out with you sitting on a beach checking your sales. They can build to that, but they don’t usually start out like that.
I should know. I literally lived on an island in the Caribbean for over 4 years of my life. BUT, I put in two solid years of working 80-hour weeks to get there.
Once your business is making money, and you’ve scaled it up and removed yourself from the day-to-day, then yeah, by all means, go do whatever “cool & sexy” things you want!
I just hope you’re seeing the pattern – Work hard now, to be able to play later. Nothing that is worth it is ever easy. Just remember that.
SOME KEY COMPONENTS LISTED OUT
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some key components of a lifestyle business. Ideally, it has all of the following:
- Something you can start quickly, like today
- Something you can start with little to no startup capital (you know, like for $100 or less!)
- Is profitable quickly – making money within 30 days or less
- Infinitely scalable – it doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 1000 clients/customers, the work to you is the same
- High profit margin
- Very little risk or downside
- Is easily outsourced – you get a team to do the actual work for you (domestic or abroad)
- Little to no overhead
- The business can be as big or as small as you want it
- Bonus points if it’s internet friendly – meaning, you can run everything from an internet connection
I actually go deeper into 10 of these businesses in my free ebook 10 Done-for-You Business Plans You Can Start Today for Under $100. Just enter your email there to get your copy.
If you want to go deeper and get all the tools you need to start your own lifestyle business, consider taking the course which is your step-by-step guide to creating a profitable lifestyle business fast.
70 LIFESTYLE IDEAS TO GET YOU BRAINSTORMING
With that foundation laid, let me get to the point of why you even opened this post – the list! You can use this list to kick-start your own brainstorming or you can use one of these ideas and run with it.
Keep in mind, to make these a true lifestyle business, you need to think not only of the idea, but who also you can get to do the work. At the beginning, it may be all you. But your primary job will be to drive sales, set up a duplicatable process (a system), and then get others to do the work for you.
Understand that? Good! On we go!
Side Note – I know 70 is a random number but it’s what I came up with. I personally know people who’ve done (or are doing) ALL of the businesses I mention below.
So I know that they work! They’re not just ideas that sound nice but don’t really work in real life.
#1 – App Development: Create and sell apps for businesses or for public use. This can be huge (like Instagram or Angry Birds). But even having a small army of good apps can bring in some great income.
#2 – SaaS (software as a service) Development: Just like with apps, you can develop for companies or make your product available to the general public. The key to growth is getting a lot of users paying monthly. Think Netflix.
#3 – IT Agency: As long as we have technology, there will always be people that need help with it. You can offer in-person help or over the phone support.
#4 – Flip Websites: Identify good websites you could buy, spruce up, and then sell for a profit. It’s just like flipping houses, except your properties are entirely digital.
#5 – Virtual Assistant Agency: There are so many entrepreneurs and small business owners who need good help. You can start an agency where you provide those in need with quality virtual assistants.
#6 – Call Center: You can offer customer service or sales (or both) with your own team of virtual phone specialists. A hot niche is native English speakers. Like Uber, put together a bunch of people that want to make some extra cash in their off hours by hopping on the phone.
#7 – Computer, Tablet, Phone Repair: Breaking a screen on your phone or dropping your laptop sucks. And people do it all the time. You can help them by getting a team together who specialize it making used devices work like new again. Bonus points if you do it all online (with easy shipping).
#8 – Online Marketing Agency: Help business owners market their companies online via website design, SEO, social media, content, reputation management, etc. There’s no limit to the amount of clients you take on so there’s really no limit to the amount of revenue you can make.
Side Note – I’m biased to this one because it’s what I did! Still do, actually. I even have a course which breaks down exactly how I did it, step-by-step. Check it out here: Clone My Online Marketing Business
#9 – Online Advertising Agency: Just like the marketing agency but with a focus on Facebook ads, Google ads, YouTube ads, and so on. You could offer this together with marketing to be a complete online agency.
#10 – Social Media Influencer: Basically, you’re building a huge platform of eyeballs all following your brand and then you make money when companies pay you to pitch their various products or services to those eyeballs.
#11 – Podcaster: Pretty much the same as a Social Media Influencer but entirely audio. Podcasting has exploded in the last few years but there’s still plenty of room for a great show.
#12 – YouTuber: Pretty much the same as a social media influencer but visual. It’s no secret that top YouTubers can make a hefty income from their partnership with YouTube alone – not to mention other opportunities it opens up. Create a great channel and work on driving those subscribers.
#13 – Graphic Design: There will always be a need for graphic designers. With all of the free online tools, it’s never been easier to get started. Recruit some great talent and get busy selling gigs.
#14 – Voiceovers: With the rise in digital media (videos, audiobooks, etc), the need for quality audio talent has never been greater. The key here is to niche down into a category (like British accent storytelling for example) and dominate.
#15 – Video Editing: It doesn’t just have to be some 19 year old on a college campus doing all of the video editing in the world. Work with content creators to produce high quality video content.
#16 – Proofreading: Love marking stuff up with a red pen? Great! Because most people don’t. Get a team of editors and proofreaders together and work with content creators in need of some correction.
#17 – Writing Fiction: If you’ve always wanted to write a book (or a lot of them), there’s never been a better time in history to do so. You can get started on Amazon alone. To scale up, pick a niche and get a team of ghostwriters to pump out books for you.
#18 – Ghostwriting: Not interested in the work of being an author? Try ghostwriting instead by getting paid to write for others. This can be fiction but also writing non-fiction books, technical writing, and so on.
#19 – Copywriting: Put your writing skills to work for website designers, marketers, advertisers, and so on. Refine your process and build a team of others to do the work.
*Side note – I feel like I need to mention that some of the ideas I’ve mentioned so far can be treated like freelancing gigs. It’s true that you can make some extra dinero if you do everything yourself.
But to make your business a true lifestyle business, you need to be able to scale up. Remember, put systems in place and get other people to do the work for you as fast as possible.
Example – You could get started with copywriting and land some gigs yourself. But then if you actually do everything yourself, you’re trading time for money.
Instead, get the gigs and then turn around and see who you can get to do the actual work for you. Build a team of copywriters and feed them new work. Keep scaling up until you reach whatever income level you want.
See how that works? Cool? Let’s keep going!
#20 – Writers Marketing Agency: Most authors know how to write a book but no clue on how to actually SELL a book. This is a service-based business that provides marketing for authors – usually self-published authors. Make sure they have an audio version of their book, if not, see next idea…
#21 – Audio Book Agency: Offer to create audio versions of books on behalf of the authors (you could also share your book marketing as well).
#22 – Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon): You send products to Amazon, drive traffic to sell those products, and they do the rest (like all shipping, customer service, etc). They can be products you manufacture or that you source elsewhere.
#23 – Dropshipping: Pretty much like Amazon FBA but without Amazon – find some products and sell them online while the manufacturer (or someone else) ships them.
#24 – Retail/Online Retail Arbitrage: You can find products on sites like Craigslist and in physical stores like Target and Wal-mart and sell them online for a profit.
*Side Note – depending on the products you focus on, this may not be super scalable and you don’t have full control of what inventory you sell
#25 – Etsy/Handmade Products: Jump into the trend of people wanting hand-crafted goods (leather, jewelry, clothing, etc) and sell on Etsy. To make this scalable, be sure to recruit people who can do all of the work for you.
TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION
#26 – Flight Hacker: Start a newsletter and send out daily, customized airline deals to your subscribers. You can niche down by region. Hold contests to grow your email list.
#27 – Travel Planner: Go beyond the agency and offer customized tours for people wanting to have everything planned for them. Most people want to travel but many get overwhelmed with knowing where to stay, how to get around, where to eat, etc. You do that for them.
#28 – Vacation Rental Agency: Network with a number of property owners and list their property on your website. AirBnB is the giant in the industry but you can compete on a local level.
#29 – Food Tours: Create a custom experience by taking small groups of people on walking (or driving) food tours. You can niche-down by the type of cuisine, neighborhood, and so on.
#30 – Jogging Tours: For the more active people out there, you can organize jogging tours. You can focus on distance, athletic ability, sites, etc. Bonus points if you organize jogging tours for Singles.
#31 – Personal Driver: Uber and Lyft are obviously the big players in this space but you can carve out a niche offering super fast response time, a certain destination (like an airport), a certain demographic, and so on. The key to growth is repeat business. Find clients who need drivers at certain times on a recurring basis.
#32 – Car Wash & Detailing: Offer car wash & detailing services to people in corporate office parks. At the last job I ever had (back in 2009), I used to pay a guy $20 a week to wash & detail my car while I worked. It was a HUGE time saver and my car looked great.
TEACHING & TUTORING
#33 – Digital Course Agency: Create a service-based business that creates digital courses on behalf of business owners that want to take their expertise online (this works really well for non-fiction author also).
#34 – Create a Course: If you’ve already built a business or have expertise in something, you can share that knowledge with a well-organized online course
#35 – Language Tutor: Get a number of language experts together and bring them students to teach (popular languages include English, Spanish, Chinese, & French).
#36 – Math Tutor: Same as the language tutor, except with numbers, formulas, equations and all that kind of stuff.
#37 – SAT/ACT Tutor: You can gather experts to tutor students for their high school exams.
#38 – Music Teacher: You can teach (& get others to teach) voice, piano, guitar, ukulele, bagpipes and more!
#39 – Translation: Google Translate is great but sometimes people still need a real human that’s fluent in another language. Organize a team (start with one person) who can fluently speak the language you want to offer your clients.
#40 – Organizer: Help all the hoarders out there by organizing their homes for them. Create a system for how you do it and then get others to be your organizers. This can include office spaces as well!
#41 – Carpet Cleaning: It’s not a glamorous business but it’s needed by everyone who has carpet – residential and commercial. You can compete with the big companies on price, customer service, and location.
#42 – Pet Sitting/Walking/Grooming/Poop Cleaning: More and more people have pets yet less and less time to give them the care they need. You can do that. Get a team of people (even teenagers) who love animals. Get started locally and grow from referrals. Make the local pet store your friend.
#43 – Dog training: Many dogs need to be trained. You can work with local clients until you have a system in place. This will require more instruction on your part at first, but you can get a team in place to do all of the actual training as you focus on scaling up. For scalability, take your proven system online and show dog owners how they can do it themselves.
#44 – Junk Removal: Everyone needs it. You can even work with organizational/decluttering companies for referrals. You can get started with rented equipment and then move up as you grow.
#45 – Pool Cleaning: With a quick stop at a pool supply store and some basic tools, you’re ready to start knocking doors. This is highly scalable as you get more and more clients on a monthly recurring basis. Customer service and quality work is key.
#46 – Babysitting/Nanny Agency: Start small and local. You can quickly become a go-to agency in the area. Keep your focus on getting repeat clients and referrals as much as possible.
#47- House Staging: Work with realtors in the area to help them prepare a house to look its best.
#48 – Window Cleaning: This works for both commercial and residential. The key, as with many of these businesses, is to get recurring clients. This works especially well for businesses. Get them on a rotation and add new crews as you grow.
#49 – House sitting Agency: People go on vacations and your crew can look after their house. Show that you have a vetted, trustworthy team and grow through awesome customer service.
#50 – Maid Agency: Offer your cleaning services via a network of maids all looking to work. Like the house sitting agency, show how your maids are vetted and proven to be good at their jobs.
#51 – Landscaping: What can start as a lawn-mowing route can quickly turn into much more. You can choose to buy the equipment of have your crews provide their own while you provide the jobs.
#52 – Rodent Removal & Proofing: Nobody likes having rodents inside their house. It’s unsanitary and potentially a health risk. You can have your team clean out the pests, replace anything that needs replacing (like insulation in attic spaces), and then ensure they can’t get in again.
#53 – Electronic Waste Recycling: We all know we’re not supposed to throw away our old phones, computers, TV’s, etc in the garbage so they pile up in our house. You can organize neighborhood e-waste clean-ups. Bonus points if you make it available online (with free collection of stuff).
#54 – Laundry & Drycleaning Service & Delivery: This works much better in a city where many people don’t have the time or actual washing machines. Fast turnaround and customer service along with a route will be key to your growth.
#55 – Tax Expert: Everyone who makes money has to pay taxes. If you’re in the U.S., understanding the most recent tax laws are crazy. You can do that for people and help them when they file.
#56 – Bookkeeper: Every business needs a bookkeeper to keep all the numbers straight. You can get a few team members that love spreadsheets and making sure all numbers square up. Network with small business owners to get started.
#57 – Financial Advisor: Helping people grow their money is rewarding. You can do this online or in person. As you grow, you can tap into the many services out there that your team can promote as an affiliate.
#58 – Cryptocurrency Trader: You know, buy low – sell high but this time, it’s all digital (& exciting). This one isn’t scalable if you’re doing it all for yourself (besides your gains I mean). But you can be a trader for investors looking to get into the crypto space.
#59 – Real Estate Investor: No, you don’t have to have millions to get started and yes, it can provide a nice monthly income. You can focus on buying distressed properties and flipping them or renting them for recurring income.
#60 – Real Estate Educator: If you’ve had success already in the real estate space (which is huge), you can educate others on your particular methods. You can create a course even to sell online.
#61- Event Planner: Businesses, non-profits, and other organizations are busy and don’t always have the know-how or resources to plan successful events. Your team can help them with details like location, catering, themes, and more.
#62 – Wedding Planner: Wedding planners exist to help the couple (& their families) have a great experience with their wedding. Like the event planner, your team helps with choosing locations, food, cake, themes & decor, and so on. Make it special and grow fast via referrals.
#63 – Custom Tailor: It may sound old-school but there are a lot of people who want or need custom clothing. This isn’t just altering the length of some pants, it can get into big costume production. I have a friend who’s entire business is making princess dresses for Disneyland.
#64 – Photographer/Videographer: Everyone wants a good family portrait but your business can go beyond that to include industrial photography, real estate, and more. For videography, the same rules apply. Look past the obvious wedding gigs to the industrial gigs and scale from there.
*Side Note: this isn’t always super scalable but the if you build up a brand, you can easily hire young photographers to work for you.
Also, you can sell your work to stock photo sites as some side money.
#65 – Drone Videography: The need for drone pilots is growing exponentially. You can work with developers and realtors. But you can also contract with local and state governments and big organizations like oil companies. Getting recurring clients via inspections can be huge.
#66 – Personal Shopper: This works especially well in cities where people don’t have the time or inclination to do their own shopping. You can purchase groceries, fashion items (including clothing), gifts, and run general errands for clients. Start with a few clients yourself, get the system down, and then hire your own network of shoppers.
#67 – Scavenger Hunt/Amazing Race Organizer: Work with local businesses in your city to sponsor fun races (bonus points if you organize it as a Singles event). This one can be really fun and highly scalable as you bring your event to new cities around the country.
HEALTH & BEAUTY
#68 – Personal Chef: This field is getting big as people have less time but an increased desire to eat well. You can provide meal plans via a membership site to reach a lot of people. Or you can customize plans for specific clients. The key to growth is to build a solid brand.
#69 – Nutritionist: In addition to personal trainers, people are also working with nutritionists to boost their health. You could even have a complete “wellness agency” and recruit trainers, nutritionists, and personal chefs. This saves you from having to know everything about health & nutrition yourself.
#70 – In-Home Hair Stylist: You can save the hassle of going to the salon by bringing the salon home! Recruit a number of hair stylists that want to make money in off hours (like that Uber model again) and set regular appointments for your stylists. Obviously, the key to growth is recurring visits scheduled in advance.
TWO MORE THINGS:
#1 – More Inspiration
If you need some other places to brainstorm, check out the following:
- Side Hustle Nation Podcast – Check out the interviews that Nick Loper has done over on his podcast – Check out my own interview about Building a Location Independent Business of Freedom and Travel – even with a Family
- Indie Hackers – full of interviews and info about people who’ve launched amazing, profitable businesses
- *Fiverr – a place to see what others are offering for gigs and get inspired about what you could do but a bigger, more leveraged version
- *Upwork – similar to Fiverr with gigs from people all over the world
*Bonus Hack – look on Fiverr and Upwork for ideas. You can get started selling there. Once you make a sale, you can turn around and use other people on the platform to do the work for you!
#2 – This Stuff Works!
I know that all of these businesses work. I know you can make a lot of money with any one of them.
My hope is that you saw at least 1 or 2 ideas that stand out to you. Now you need to get started!
As you do so, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You have to work – nobody else will build your business, it’s all up to you
- Get really good at marketing – you’ve got to make people aware of your business
- Get really good at selling – you don’t have a business unless you sell
- Always think about how you can create more leverage in your business – create a membership program, monthly recurring sales, etc
- Create a system – even if it’s just a checklist of what needs to get done
- Build a team – think about who you can get to do the work for you
- Work hard, build your business
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with all of the information that’s freely available, it’s no longer a world of the have’s and the have-not’s. It’s a world of the do’s and the do-not’s.
I hope you recognize that. And more importantly, I hope you DO something. It’s your life. What KIND of life you have is 100% up to you.
Use the above list as a tool to start your business to make the money you need to live your ideal lifestyle.
OK, stop reading now. Get busy.
Like I said before, I break down 10 Done-For-You Business Plans featuring some of the businesses I mentioned above. Be sure to check it out.
10 Done-for-You Business Plans You Can Start Today for Under $100
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