[LR 4/6] The perfect lifestyle business (Part 2)
So I didn't scare you off yesterday. Good :)
Let's recap what we've done so far:
- We've established what your perfect day looks like
- We've established that you only need $3000/month from your own small business to be living that exact dream day right now.
- And we've established that building a "passive income niche site" is maybe the WORST way to do it (if you actually want to be able to break free and stay free).
So, uh, what ARE you supposed to do then? Glad you asked…
Because a number of years ago I had this exact problem.
I've already covered the details in the first email of this series but to summarize: I was desperate to quit my job and take back control of my life. And in doing so I tried EVERYTHING - building niche web sites, creating my own books/courses, studying ecommerce…the list goes on, and on, and on.
The problem was that I didn't have the skills, the knowledge, or the expertise to successfully get any of those off the ground. Not to mention I didn't have the time or energy to really build anything complex up in my hours outside of work.
I'd read about people building these businesses so easily, though, and feel like such a failure. Like there was something wrong with me.
But the long story short is: I stayed at my job.
It was draining me, and driving me crazy, and keeping me from my goals.
BUT…it was also paying my bills, with money coming in every week, that I couldn't really afford to just give up for an indefinite period of time.
So I just felt trapped…until something amazing happened:
I got let go at my job.
(It's a longer story than that. My boss asked for cost-cutting measures, I submitted a remote work proposal a la The Four Hour Work Week where I'd take a 50% pay cut for working remotely, didn't hear anything from him for a month, and then he called me to into his office to say that I could keep my job if I groveled for it - otherwise I clearly didn't want to be there and if so I should leave. That seemed ridiculous, and I was on the edge anyway, so that pushed me over - and I chose to leave.)
Most people would say that being let go is the WORST thing to happen to them, and yes I was freaked out about what to do next, but it was also liberating. The decision had been made FOR me. So now I had to make something else work.
And this is where things get really interesting - and we get to the good stuff.
A few months earlier I'd started my blog Location 180. It was basically an accountability tool for me to make sure I was living a life worth re-telling. (You can go back through the archives and watch my entire story unfold.)
And after my last day, I put up a blog post titled, well, My Last Day.
But I'd actually built up a few readers by that point…
And one of them, a guy named Dan, emailed me.
Dan had been running a few successful ecommerce stores while living in Southeast Asia. And he was piloting something he called a "Tropical MBA".
He was taking applications for an intern that would work with him and his team in Thailand, and in exchange, he'd teach that intern the basics of online business while paying them a stipend of $700/month.
Now that doesn't sound like much money, but as I showed you in email #2, it's enough to cover most expenses while living in Thailand…
Especially if you're living in one place and not traveling around.
At the time I had a tiny bit of savings to buffer me.
And I had no other real options.
And I did want to go to Thailand.
So I applied for the internship - and I got in!
Literally two months later I'd sold all my stuff, broken my apartment lease, and was on a plane to Thailand with no ticket home.
When I landed, I met up with Dan and he started showing me the ropes.
And while I consider Dan one of the most important mentors in my life, it's actually the other people I met up with that changed everything for me.
Because I started networking with other location independent entrepreneurs while I was there...usually at a little co-working space in Bangkok called Third Place.
The entrance to Third Place, in Bangkok's Thong Lor neighborhood
The people I was meeting there were people who were making their living online, and living the kind of life I wanted - where they could pack up and travel whenever they wanted to wherever they wanted to go because their businesses came with them.
Now here's the thing. Based on what I'd been reading online, I honestly expected them to be running massive online niche web site empires. Or to have some weird but strangely successful business like underwater oil portrait painting that they sold at huge mark-ups.
I'm sure you see that stuff online all the time like I did. "How I make $10k/month selling ebooks online!"…or "How I travel the world by selling toenail clippings in mason jars on eBay!".
But what I found surprised me.
I ended up meeting some of the smartest people I'd ever met in my life. I mentioned this yesterday but they were ex-lawyers, PhDs, doctors…
People who had "made it" back home and had healthy salaries to boot…
Yet who had become disenfranchised with that lifestyle and opted out.
(And, of course, there were tons of former 9-5ers like me in there too.)
And almost NONE of them were running the massive online businesses I'd read about. Or the obscure ones I'd seen all kinds of press coverage for. Some of them were working on building bigger businesses in their free time, sure, but that's not what they were doing to pay their bills.
You see, I'd meet up with these people almost every day at a little co-working space in Bangkok called Third Place. And I started noticing that generally most of them would show up, put in 3-5 hours of work to pay their bills, and then either head out - or spend the rest of the time working on side projects.
And more than that, I started noticing something else - they were just happy. They had tons of free time, they were exploring new countries, they were able to work on passion projects they'd had on hold for years…
So I started peeking over their shoulders to find out how they were doing it.
And I found out they were doing exactly what I'd come to Thailand to do.
They were working in other people's businesses.
In other words: they were freelancing.
But they were also making a lot more than the $700/month I was.
So I started reverse engineering how they were doing it. Which jobs paid the most with the least stress & time commitment? How much did I need to know to be able to do those jobs myself? How could I get work doing those jobs?
And that's when it all became clear to me.
You see, if you take an online business and deconstruct it down to its component parts, just about every business has the same core requirements:
These are the basic things almost every business REQUIRES to operate.
And smart business owners don't do these things themselves. They wouldn't have any time to do anything else. So they hire other people to do it for them.
And because online business will ALWAYS be a thing…
No matter the economy, this work ALWAYS exists.
And it ALWAYS pays well - if you take the right jobs.
But here's the part that surprised me. Within a month, Dan had taught me enough about search engine optimization (SEO) that I was able to get a web site ranked at #1 on Google for its search terms - with no prior experience doing that. In other words, with just one month of training & practice, I had a skill that most businesses would KILL for - and pay good money to achieve.
In fact, I started advertising myself as an SEO freelancer who could get people to #1 on Google for specific search terms (using methods we'll talk about later), and I started having work pour in. My income quickly rose beyond $700/month.
Then in my free time I started picking up other valuable skills…
Like copywriting, and basic web design, and pay per click advertising, and WordPress, and basic marketing. Stuff I saw other people making a killing with.
The more I learned, the more valuable my freelance services became - and the more businesses wanted to hire me over anyone else. Month by month my income kept ratcheting up higher and higher.
All while I spent basically 3-5 hours a day working - and the rest of the time exploring Thailand, hopping on planes to other countries in Southeast Asia, and living a life I couldn't even imagine living just 6 months earlier. It's funny because almost every blog post I put up at Location 180 at the time would eventually point out the same thing: I was just freakin HAPPY :)
Was the work I was doing very sexy? No. Not at all. But the life I was living because of it definitely was.
After about 7 months I was making more than enough to move back to the USA.
So I went back to Portland, moved in with my girlfriend, but because of my business I was still able to hop on planes at the last minute and visit people all over the country and network with other location independent entrepreneurs and spend time with family…
And just generally live what I would consider my perfect life. I'd wake up, put in 3-5 hours of work, and have the rest of the day to myself.
And that's great. But have you ever seen The Karate Kid?
Do you know the "wax on wax off" scene?
This is the scene where Daniel-San realizes that all the manual labor he's been performing for Mr. Miyagi was, in reality, training him to effortless perform karate moves he needed to win his big tournament.
After about a year of freelancing like this (and continuing to study other skills)…that's what happened to me with online business.
I realized - wait a minute.
I know everything I need to build my own business now.
This allowed me, in my free time, to start building businesses that operated on MY terms. Some were tiny niche sites, some were bigger businesses with bigger goals. But I'd spent so much time inside other businesses, and learning the fundamental skills for running those businesses, that I could now essentially create my own businesses that made money whether I worked in them or not.
And I could do it without worrying about how much money they made at first - because my bills were covered with just a few hours of freelancing every day.
So that way I built businesses that fit into my dream life…
And didn't feel pressured to do it the other way around.
And that brings us to today.
I now make most of my living off of those "wax on wax off" businesses…
And I make far more than I ever did at my job, while living what I would consider my perfect life (3-4 months a year traveling, 8-9 months at home with my wife)…
But I still freelance on the side. Why? Because my skills get me inside businesses I'd never have access to otherwise. In industries I absolutely love. Networking with BIG players in those industries I'd never otherwise have access to. That I would work for for free (but they want to PAY me to do it!).
The bottom line is if someone needs to quit their job, and they want to regain control of their life, and they want the ability to scale up month after month…
I always have the same suggestion:
1. Learn the basic fundamental skills of online business
2. Get paid to freelance those skills while you learn them
3. Apply those skills to your own projects on the side
Not only is this how I've done it, and not only is it how the most successful lifestyle entrepreneurs I've met have done it, but over the past few years I've taught others how to do it with incredible results.
I'm talking about people who were able to make the $3k/month they needed to break free in their first months - and scaled up from there month after month.
But wait. That's great and all, but it leaves a thousand questions. Like…
Where do you start - especially if you have zero tech/marketing skills now?
How do you actually get work once you have the basic skills you need?
Can you REALLY make enough to live off of right off the bat?
How complicated is it to run a business like this?
Here's the truth:
You actually DO have a skill that other businesses are desperate for that you can start making money with RIGHT NOW. I mean literally have well-paid work coming your way within 48 hours. And work that you can easily do.
And it's easy to strategically build on that skill to leverage it into much higher income month after month.
This is how I'd say 80%+ of the people I've taught have done this…
And how the most successful and happiest lifestyle entrepreneurs I've met got their start.
What is it? I'll show you tomorrow…
And how to get started (making "quit your job" money with it) immediately.