Why I Hate the Term “Lifestyle Business” & Why It Should Die

by / ⠀Startup Advice / January 17, 2013

Richard Branson
I’m sick of it.  The term “Lifestyle Business”.

From Wikipedia: A lifestyle business is a business that is set up and run by its founders primarily with the aim of sustaining a particular level of income and no more; or to provide a foundation from which to enjoy a particular lifestyle.

Right, I get it, most people who live on the beach and teach surf lessons have a “lifestyle business”.  They have an awesome, simple life, and don’t desire any more income than they need to sustain their lifestyle.

Then came Tim Ferriss.  The Four Hour Work Week introduced the concept of “lifestyle design”, and said that we should build a business that gives us what we want out of life.  Tim said that everyone should take the time to consider why they do what they do, and find out a way to support those dreams.

Tim never said there was a limit!

Want a private jet? Okay, cool, build a business that provides you that particular level of income.  But why does the definition of “lifestyle business” say you can’t make any more?!  Shouldn’t everyone have a business that provides them what they want out of life?!

The real problem I have with this definition can be summed up in one word:


I’d like this article to prove that having a business that supports your lifestyle and making a sh*tload of cash don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Why do people think that just because your business is built around your life, and not the other way around, that you are some broke hippie?!

Everyone should consider their lifestyle when building a business!

Let’s take a super down to earth guy like Joe from Witch’s Rock Surf Camp who we visited on our Under30Experience: GREEN Business Tour Costa Rica.  He drove a school bus from San Diego to Costa Rica, landed on the beach and called it a surf camp.  (Hippie).  But wait, now he has two hotels, three restaurants, a surf shop, a clothing line, makes surf boards with world famous Robert August, and started a micro-brewery.  Men’s Journal said he has the second coolest job in the world next to Tom Brady.

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Joe will be the first one to tell you he isn’t in it for the money.  He simply likes doing cool sh*t.  Joe literally told us, “Man, what would make this place awesome right now?  A micro-brew.” So, he started a micro-brewery.  Pretty nice “foundation to enjoy a particular lifestyle”.  But, nope, I can’t call it a lifestyle business.

Make That Money

Of course Joe wants his businesses income to grow.  It means he can do more cool sh*t.  You think Mark Zuckerberg wants more money in the bank?  Last I heard he drives a crappy Acura TL because it was safe.  Zucks wants more income so that he can build a better Facebook and change the way that the world interacts with each other.  That’s what he wants out of life.

The point here is that the lines between “lifestyle businesses”, “startups”, and “small to medium sized enterprises” are bluring.  Our generation demands more out of our lives than your typical 9 to 5 job can provide.  The rules are changing.  Because of technology I can be sitting here in Costa Rica, work remotely, living an awesome lifestyle, and still strive to build a business that makes millions and makes the world a better place.

Just because you are working on a “startup” that could get sold to Google, doesn’t mean you can’t live how you want.  Be innovative, find a way to lead your team, and execute.  Why sacrafice your lifestyle?

The world would be a better place if we would simply consider ourselves, our situation, and what we want out life, and build our business around that.

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I want to be remembered for living on my own terms, having a ton of fun, and making a positive impact on people.  Hopefully, our Under30Experiences events like the Microfinance Surf Camp to Nicaragua will do just that.  But please, don’t call it a lifestyle business.  We’re more ambitious than that.

If you’re interested in meeting people with this type of mindset, gaining a new perspective on life, and living different, join us on our Microfinance Surf Camp to Nicaragua.  Join the list for the trip April 17-21, 2013.

Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30Media.

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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