Sick of the 9-to-5 grind? You don’t have to default to the startup world. Instead, consider creating a business of one.

I still remember my first morning living in Bangkok back in 2010. It was 50 degrees warmer than it was back in my hometown of Portland, and when I walked outside, I saw an elephant walking down the street.

An elephant.

On the street.

When was the last time you experienced something as unexpected as an elephant on the street?

I bet it’s been awhile.

Some 9 to 5 jobs are fulfilling, but all too often, we find ourselves looking for other options that allow us to experience more freedom in our lives.

I quit my job as a financial analyst three years ago for this very reason. But instead of switching careers, I decided to build a lifestyle business.

During the past few years of working for myself, one question that seems to come up repeatedly is “Are you like a startup?”

The answer? No, not like a startup.

Lifestyle Business vs. Startup

The primary purpose of a lifestyle business is to make a certain level of income that will allow you to live the lifestyle you desire. Lifestyle businesses vary in size, and they’re often run by only one person. Since that person’s main goal is to create a lifestyle, most of these entrepreneurs aren’t looking to scale the business quickly.

In contrast, startup entrepreneurs usually take a new idea, or a unique spin on an existing idea, and try to scale the business as quickly as possible. This often means searching for funding and eventually looking to sell for a big payday.

If you’ve been considering an alternative to your employment situation, don’t assume the startup route is your only choice. Lifestyle entrepreneurship, which could allow you to leverage your current skills while being in full control of how the business operates, might be a smarter option.

The Entrepreneurial Clash

Startup entrepreneurs and lifestyle entrepreneurs share many of the same fundamental goals:

  • Quest for freedom
  • Working to make a difference in the world
  • Wanting to make money

Yet for some reasons, these two worlds don’t tend to get along. I can’t tell you how often I go to an event or cocktail party where I’ll meet someone in the startup world, tell them what I do, watch them roll their eyes and then look for the most convenient exit out of the conversation.

The fact is, however, for most people, a lifestyle business is not only more feasible, but also a better fit.

So, why is a lifestyle business likely a better fit for you than a startup or traditional job? Let’s take a look:

Actual Freedom—Not Just Perceived Freedom

One common trait every single entrepreneur has is the quest for freedom and autonomy. We want to be our own boss, jet off in the middle of a Tuesday if we feel like it and have full control over the trajectory of our lives.

What often happens in the startup world is that founders unknowingly create a bonafide 9 to 5 for themselves—although it’s usually more like a 6:30 to 9:00.

The quest for autonomy becomes overshadowed by a burning goal to become the next Instagram—which, let’s face it, probably won’t happen.

Jun Loayza, who has successfully raised more than a million dollars for various startups, recognized this and left his current company to enter the lifestyle world.

When you’re the only employee, it’s much easier to do what you want. If a friend invites you out to the golf course on a Wednesday morning, you can go, because you dictate when you work and when you play.

Ability to Make a Difference in the World

Everyone wants to believe they will change the world. Every other startup these days has that in their mission statement.

This declaration can mean any number of things. Some startups, like Facebook for instance, have legitimately changed the way the world operates. But you don’t have to be Facebook to do that. Perhaps your version of changing the world involves a much smaller group of people.

If I reach my goal of helping 50 people get out of their day jobs this year, that’s 50 worlds changed—which is significant in my mind.

Regardless of the size of your business, I’ll take a change with depth over breadth any day.

Making Money

What entrepreneur doesn’t want to sell their company and make millions? The problem with this traditional startup path is that the deck is stacked against you. According to the Small Business Administration, only about one-third of businesses make it to the 10-year mark.

I’m willing to bet the majority of those that don’t meet the following criteria:

  • They make their founders a decent salary.
  • They’re tough to sell.

Yes, you can make money with a startup; we all know people who have. But how many times have they failed on the way to getting there? And how many months of ridiculous hours have their founders had to put in to get there?

More importantly, how many got the big payday they were searching for? Not many.

With a lifestyle business like freelancing, information product creation or software development, you can be profitable right from the beginning. You get to decide how much overhead you want to take on, and best of all, you can do it from anywhere.

Dane Maxwell has made more with his software and information services than most startups could ever hope to make in their lifetimes.

I’ve done SEO consulting, built an HDR photography business and created a community of entrepreneurs that I’ve managed from everywhere from China to Bali and even Jordan.

In a startup capacity, I’d be lucky to visit any of those places for a week before I’d need to be back in the office.

Which Path is Right for You?

Is there a right or wrong choice between a startup or lifestyle business? Absolutely not. You have to decide what’s right for you.

But while your friends are slaving away at their exhausting startup jobs, you could be traveling and enjoying your life right now.

Have you considered starting a lifestyle business? Tell us about your experience or plans!

Sean Ogle is the founder of Location 180, a community for those looking to build a lifestyle business. Sean has created a special package for Brazen Careerist readers: The Step by Step Guide to Quitting Your Job PDF and Location Rebel Arsenal—Everything You Need to Work from Anywhere.


  1. Teala Miller

    It’s something I’ve considered before, but I always push the thought away because “I can’t do that,” “I have a degree in literature and will have one in library and information science. I have nothing valuable to offer,” and “Who if their right mind would purchase anything from ME? No one because I have no skills to sell like this.” Now, you’ve got me thinking about what I could really get going with. I used to do tutoring and writing/editing services…I could do that again and/or organize people’s information – whatever that may be…

    • Scott Fox

      Hi Teala,

      I believe everybody has something valuable to share – you often don’t realize it because you take your own skills, life experience, and industry expertise for granted.

      Developing a personalized action plan around your own lifestyle goals is a good first step. Products and marketing strategies come later.

  2. RL Foster

    Ditto Teala! Clicking the “a special package” now, Sean. Thanks!

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  4. Sonji Jones

    I’ve considered this option, but I’ve only read about success form those with knowledge or skill in the technology industry. This makes me wonder if this concept might be industry specific. How would someone from the social service, or non-profit industry leverage their skills into a profitable lifestyle business–is it even reasonable to believe that they could, especially since these industries aren’t very profitable to begin with?

  5. Rhonda Joy

    YES! This is the article that I needed to read. I’ve got a career, a second job and started a small business, but what I desire is a Lifestyle business. Now it’s time to set some goals and put in some work — in that direction.

  6. Scott Fox

    Hi Sean,

    Helpful post. I hope that it helps more people tilt their careers toward lifestyle entrepreneurship like you and I both have.

    It’s great to see more people recognizing that living life how we want to live it is more important than and an exciting alternative to a traditional “job” working for someone else.

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