By Fatmanur Erdogan, Hurriyet Daily News
Richard Branson, the chairman of the Virgin Group, is known not only for the companies he has started, but also for the active and exciting life he leads. Martha Stewart is not just the founder of the Living Omnimedia Group, she also bakes in the kitchen and decorates her beautiful home. Both of these hugely successful entrepreneurs have followed their passions and become rich because of it. As leaders of large, global corporations, their responsibilities are huge, but they get to live the colorful and interesting life they set out to create for themselves.
Branson and Stewart are high-profile evidence that not all entrepreneurs start businesses just because they want to get rich and famous. Sure, these two are rich and famous, but they are driven by lifestyle flexibility and intrinsic enjoyment of what they do, not by a single-minded pursuit of money and recognition. These days, more and more professionals are starting companies so they can create the lifestyles they desire. They might not be rich or famous like Branson or Stewart, but they are following a similar path.
These “lifestyle entrepreneurs” are often former corporate professionals who were unhappy with the life they had created for themselves. For example, one lifestyle entrepreneur I know was a successful marketing manager for a well-known cosmetics company, but she didn’t particularly care for the products she was working with. Eventually she decided that if she didn’t believe in the value of what she was selling, she didn’t want to spend her life selling it. So now she is putting her skills to work as a coach for other women who want to leave corporate life, too.
Another lifestyle entrepreneur I know was a very successful operations director in the tourism industry. For years he worked for a large hotel chain, but he felt unfulfilled forming loose relationships with such large numbers of customers. Now he operates a boutique hotel that allows him to establish a personal bond with each guest.
These people prefer to let their lifestyle choices drive their professional choices, instead of the other way around. They enjoy what they do, but their bank accounts are a little smaller because of it. How much you are willing to pay for your lifestyle choices becomes a crucial question when you head down this path. Sure, some lifestyle entrepreneurs will turn their coaching practices or boutique hotels into riches and fame. But that’s not what motivates this particular breed of entrepreneurs.
Most people decide they don’t want to make this trade of money for flexibility. This is a perfectly understandable sentiment, and it generally becomes stronger as you rise through the ranks of your profession. After all, your earning power as a corporate professional is often higher, and certainly more stable, than that of a lifestyle entrepreneur. Plus, you might feel that the adrenalin rush you get working for a company, managing large amounts of money and spending your day in a social, team-oriented atmosphere, makes the corporate world the right place for you.
Many lifestyle entrepreneurs enjoy those things, too, but corporate life wasn’t fulfilling some other need they had. That need had a stronger pull on them, and they set out to create a business that would satisfy it. For every entrepreneur, that particular need is different. For some it is to live outside the capitals of commerce, but take advantage of their opportunities. Many e-commerce businesses have sprung up for just this reason. Their owners don’t work less, but they can sell their products from Bodrum or Maldives while enjoying the scenery and sipping their favorite blends. For others, that need is to help parents raise their children, so they start a company that educates young mothers about raising a baby.
Lifestyle entrepreneurship is not for everyone. It often involves a pay cut and less social recognition. But for every business owner dreaming of making millions and appearing on the cover of Forbes, there are hundreds who have absolutely no interest in any of that, and are simply happy to have found something the rest of the business world couldn’t offer them.