The Truth About Lifestyle Design and Making Money

You need money. Plain and simple.

To do anything, you need money. There’s just no getting around that.

How much is up to you and based on your desires and goals. Each person has a different idea of how much they need.

In my experience, how much you actually need to do the things that bring happiness is much lower than you think – especially once you get rid of stuff

The whole lifestyle design thing and making money actually go hand in hand. But, this is a topic that I don’t think is covered nearly enough.

In fact, I usually see stuff like, “go live your dreams and be a yoga instructor in Bali! Money? Oh yeah, work on that too. How? Umm…start a blog or sell some ClickBank stuff”.

People get caught up in the thrill of doing what they want to do and they don’t think about how to pay for it all. So it doesn’t happen.

Or the opposite – people don’t see HOW they could go live their dream life because they don’t see how they could pay for it.

I hope to remedy that now.

Quick NoteI took the image above with my iPhone about 15 minutes from my house. If you would have shown a 2006 Sean this image and said this was his home, he would have choked on his churro. Especially because that Sean sucked when it came to achieving a profitable lifestyle business.

First Things First

Like anything, you’ve got to first identify your goals. What would make you really happy? What have you always wanted to do? What’s on your bucket list?

Backpacking in Nepal? Awesome.

Scuba diving in Cozumel? Sweet!

Playing frisbee with your kids on a Tuesday morning? Fantastico!

Whatever it is, figure it out first. Then you can figure out how much money you really need. Make sure this lines up with your long term goals like retirement and all that.

It’s important at this point to make sure what you want to do lines up with your core values and even morals.

As a father of three kids, partying in Ibiza doesn’t exactly get me going.

Identify how you actually want to spend each day. Doing what? With who? Where? How long?

Figure that out first, then you can come up with a number.

How to Plan Your Money

Now that you know what you want to do and how much it’s going to cost, you’ve got to figure out how to actually pay for it.

You have a choice here. Will you be able to make money on your own or not? Will you be an employee or entrepreneur?

Basically, there are two roads.

The first includes having a good job that you really enjoy. If spending less time at the office and traveling more are part of your new goals, then you should consider arranging a flexible work schedule. This could even include a remote working agreement.

When I was in college, I had a job that allowed me to work all my hours for the week in a couple of days and then take the rest of the week off. I did this all the time and turned into a road-tripping freak.

The other road is to be an entrepreneur. This road is NOT for everybody.

Everybody thinks they would love to be their own boss but the reality is that not everybody can be their own boss. Social conditioning, limiting beliefs, lack of experience, and a bunch of other reasons keep people from making it.

Plus, it just takes a lot of discipline that most people don’t have because of years of being institutionalized in the corporate culture.

Before you think about leaving your job, you have to prove to yourself that you can make money on your own.

This is important for you and your belief system. It’s a chance to really prove to yourself that you can make the leap.

Almost more importantly, it proves to others (like your spouse, kids, friends, parents, etc) that you can do it. Once they see you can do it, they’ll turn into your biggest supporters and advocates. But you must prove it first.

To Be Truly Free, You Can’t Have a Boss

In my experience, no matter how much you love your job, as long as you have a boss, you’ll be limited.

Even if you set up the best remote work agreement, you’re still limited. You still have to answer to somebody.

The step up from that is to be self employed operating as a freelancer. You could start working at places like Elance or Odesk. Or you could even post ads in Craigslist and get your own clients.

The next step is to be a real business owner. This means starting a real legitimate business and getting a team do to the work for you. Ideally, you set up the business quickly, start selling, and get on top of it as quickly as possible.

Then, once you have a system in place (and a steady stream of income), you’re able to do whatever you like.

My favorite is to have your own business. And that’s what I’m going to talk about now.

How to Create a Fully Functioning Business in 10 Steps

Here’s the juice that everyone seems to overlook when they tell you to go live your dreams – the basic outline of a real business.

I’m talking about a REAL business. Not a business you pay someone to join. Not affiliate marketing. Not blogging and trying to sell ad space.

A real, fully functional business that has real paying clients or customers.

A real business that generates cash on a consistent basis.

A real business that allows you to build a team to do the work while you start on your dream life.

This is real. I’m living proof. And I’m pretty average. In other words, you can probably do it too.

Here are the steps…

#1 – Identify How Much You Need To Make

Don’t shoot for a million dollars. Just figure out how much you need to make to reach the first step of your dream life comfortably.

For example, let’s say you want to move to Bali and go kitesurfing every day for 3 months. Easy! Add up your plane ticket, travel, rent, food, etc for that time. Add at least 30% to this number and this becomes your first goal. Once you hit this goal, you can make the leap!

Make benchmarks to track your business growth.

 #2 – Take an Inventory of What You Already Know That Is “Sellable”

It’s cool to want to run your own scuba shop or ice cream parlor. Have you ever done that before?

No? But let’s say you’re really good at accounting. Think about starting a bookkeeping business instead.

Identify what you’re good at and have some expertise in already. It may not be sexy but I promise money coming into your bank account (regardless of the business) is sexy. Even your dog poop cleaning business will be sexy to you when you’re collecting 100 dollar bills!

#3 – Ask Yourself If It’s Marketable

Will someone out there pay you money for making “it” to happen? If it’s bookkeeping, do you know people already who could use your services?

Or maybe you have a product that could change someone’s life. Maybe it’s an app. Maybe it’s a new nozzle for a garden hose. Whatever. Do you know people who would buy “it”? Right now? If not, then keep it as a hobby.

It’s one thing to have a passion. It’s another thing to have a paying business that lets you live your passion.

If it’s marketable, then this leads to the next step…

#4 – Get Your First Sale

Make the first sale.

Think about that person or company who could use what you know or have. Go talk to them! Offer to do the service for a deep discount so you can use them as a case study to help you sell more.

If it’s a product, give away a bunch for cheap and get word-of-mouth working for you.

The first sale means everything. It proves your idea works. It proves you can sell. It proves you might actually have a viable business on your hands.

I believe as the owner of a company, your biggest and most important job is to sell. Make sure revenue is coming in! If you have no revenue, you have nothing.

Make the first sale!

#5 – Set Up Your Business

Setting up your business means stuff like your website, email, and any business related tools you might need.

Don’t waste money on printed stuff. Maybe business cards. Maybe. But certainly not any fancy brochures or door magnets.

Setting up your business also includes setting it up as a legal entity. Get a business license. Set up your bank account. Make yourself legit.

#6 – Sell

Yeah, I put it in here again. After your first sale, keep selling. Keep hustling. Your dream life is on the line.

#7 – Fulfill the Sale

At the beginning, it’s ok to do the work yourself. You should. And track everything you do. This will become your system for when you hire your first employee (or contractor).

Track your time. Track the tools you use. Set up spreadsheets or checklists all while actually doing the work.

Only do the work yourself once or twice (or for like one or two clients).

If you’re selling a product, only make it and distribute it a few times. You’ll quickly learn the fastest and best ways to get it to market.

Start thinking about who could replace you as fast as possible. Maybe it’s a co-worker that needs some extra cash. Maybe it’s someone answering your Craigslist ad. Maybe it’s someone on Odesk or Elance.

Get this person and plug them right into your system. Work with them at first. Train them your philosophy and vision. Then let them run.

#8 – Sell More

Yes, I’m beating this to death. You don’t have a business unless you’re making sales. It’s only talk. Money is better than talk. I promise.

#9 – Scale

With your first services or products being sold and then being fulfilled by your first team member, it’s time to scale.

Maybe it’s time to hire a sales person to replace you. Or maybe a sales company.

Get more production people as soon as you can. Then more sales people. Then a manager. And so forth.

Just make sure your revenue is justifying your scaling. Only hire as needed. Make sure your current team is busy enough to keep them happy but still able to produce quality work.

#10 – Reach Your First Milestone and Take Off!

Remember step #1? When you’ve hit your first financial target, it’s time to take off!

Make the leap! Just do it! The business should be running well and should be able to run almost without you. Almost.

In fact, taking off is a good way to make sure you’ve set up a good system.

It’s now time to go to Bali. Or New York City. Or wherever your dream life takes you! Maybe it’s just having the freedom to eat Cheetos and play Xbox (not my dream for sure, but I know it’s someone’s!)

Too High Level?

Is this all too high level? Does it sound too easy?

I think so. But I’ll spend more time on this site diving deeper into the steps above. And there are plenty of good resources out there already. But these are the basics.

Too many people get bogged down on designing brochures and “networking” and never make any money. They never come up with a real product or service that solves a real need.

And they never sell it.

By following the above, you’ll avoid that. You can make your own money to determine your own life.

If you have more specific questions, be sure to reach out to me. Leave a comment below.

I love this stuff because it really works. I’m living it. I’ve been to the dark side commuting to a cubicle every day and asking a boss for permission to play with my family.

I followed the above recipe. It works.

What ideas do you have? What do you want to do? Let me know in the comments!