First off, with a little help from friends, let’s define some key terms that will serve us later in this post:
The Classic Entrepreneur
“Classic entrepreneurs are people who – starting with nothing more than an idea for a new venture – have the ability to take it to the point at which the business can sustain itself on its own internally-generated cash flow.” -Norm Brodsky, veteran entreprener
Now, classic entrepreneurs do what they do, in large part, because they don’t want to slave away as an employee in other people’s businesses that sucked the life out of them and which left them little time to live the joyous life that they want to live right now.
They don’t buy the retirement payoff story. The story goes that they work their arse off for 30 – 40 years and when they retire they’ll finally have the time to pursue their real dreams. But, they see too many cases where people who retire find themselves with financial conditions, health, and miscellaneous family obligations that still prevent them from living the lifestyle that they wanted to live. And could have lived from the outset if they had known how.
But if you study the fabulous business book “E-Myth Revisited” [affiliate link], the truth is that the vast majority of US entrepreneurs don’t actually build “businesses”. Rather, most people who are called entrepreneurs are people with some kind of technical expertise who felt they can do “it” better than their prior employers and their competitors.
But since they don’t have any experience in running a business, they don’t know they should build business systems that are run by other people – to create passivie income for themselves. What they build for themselves is a job, not a business. And they end up working harder and enjoying it even less than when they were an employee doing the same kind of work for someone else!
Traditionally, true entrepreneurial enterprises required capital for office/equipment/inventory/etc., partners and/or employees to help share the costs and do the work. They typically took several years to become cashflow positive to the point that allowed the founder to take out a reasonable salary. And they typically required that entrepreneur to sacrifice many aspects of quality of life for years (if ever) before they could afford to live the lifestyle that they wished they could have lived all along. Bottom line: the traditional entrepreneur was required to serve the business, as opposed to vice versa.
Introducing the “Lifestyle Entrepreneur”
“Lifestyle entrepreneurs” on the other hand, are a special breed of entrepreneurs. They are people who develop an idea for a new venture specifically designed to allow them to live the lifestyle they desire right now. Contrary to classic entrepreneurs, lifestyle entrepreneurs design a business that serves them, not vice versa! In other words, the prime directive is to enjoy a happy, balanced and fulfilling life today. That means doing work that s/he loves, to the extent that s/he chooses, when s/he chooses, from wherever s/he chooses, and with whomever s/he chooses.
But it gets even better.
Revealing the “Lifestyle InfoPreneur” – A Very Special Kind of “Lifestyle Entrepreneur”
Now I’d like to introduce you to a term you may not have ever heard before: “lifestyle infopreneur.” An infopreneur is someone who designs and creates a lifestyle business that sells digital information or services. Online.
That defines a very, very special niche. Because such an information business avoids all the pitfalls and takes advantages of all the best opportunities that I’ve talked about in my blog posts listed below, including providing you passive income, if you do it right:
The Profit Power of an “InfoPreneuring” Business
Below is a overview of the top-level advantages of the “InfoPreneuring” Model. Yes, it leaves out a lot of details for simplicity’s sake, but it still validly illustrates the basic point – that even a modest digital information businesses can provide you a living because there are so few operating costs associated with them. The illustration shows the same $1000 gross income from a sale for:
- A brick and mortar physical product business vs.
- An online physical product business vs.
- An online information product/service.
Because of the zero or near-zero cost of goods of digital information, not having to pay for a physical presence and all its associated costs, and no cost for shipping (as with physical products sold either offline or online), only the online information business results in a net profit.
It Doesn’t Take Much
Below is another way – again very simplied yet realistic – to illustrate the profit potential of infopreneuring. The table shows an illustration of four kinds of information products/services:
- A single ebook
- A monthly-subscription podcast series
- A monthly recorded video Webinar series
- A monthly digital newsletter
The modest sales-per-month of the eBook, Podcast, and Webinar examples is to illustrate that it doesn’t take many subscribers to make a nice income when your costs are so low. And to illustrate how a modest number of paid newsletter followers, combined with zero product creation and delivery costs (after the modest cost of its initial creation, of course), take a look at the fourth line, the monthly Digital Newsetter: almost $8000 in monthly income! And there is a multitude of newsletters out there with tens of thousands of paid subscribers.
Could you manage a pretty enviable lifestyle on $8000 per month? Especially since the low level of business expenses of infopreneuring means that you get to keep most of that income in your pocket?
The Post-Tax Advantage
Here’s one last perspective to consider: the tax advantages of your own business vs. working “for the man” for a W-2 salary. If you were in the 25% Federal income tax bracket, you would have to earn $9412 gross per month pre-tax (or about $113,000 per year) in W-2 income to put that same $8000 per month in your pocket as in the newsletter example above!
Putting It All Together: Below is a List of Many Benefits of a “Lifestyle” Digital Information Business Model
(Note: For the added benefits of running a “lifestyle” digital information business while living outside the US, see my post by that name.)
- Living the lifestyle you want right now by designing your information business around it, so that the business serves you instead of vice versa
- Doing something you thoroughly enjoy. . .that energizes you
- Doing away with having a boss; being free to do things your way at last without someone looking over your shoulder and judging you all day
- Avoiding employees and the many accompanying headaches; using independent contractors from around the world to perform specialized work inexpensively on a contracted fee basis; at one point, your author was using – all for the same, ambitious project – a team of independent contractors comprised of:
-A Web designer in New York
-A data entry specialist in India
-A voiceover announcer in Las Vegas
-A video editor in Austrialia
-A “whiteboard” video producer in the Phillipines
-A project manager/personal administrative assistant in India
-An celebrity interview scheduler in Newfoundland
-An ecommerce specialist in Pakistan
You don’t have to go that crazy with outsourcing; I provide it just to illustrate that whatever help you need is out there if you know how to find it and manage it smartly
- Eliminating the commute and its associated costs (parking costs…yikes!)
- Avoiding a business wardrobe and its associated costs
- Working from wherever you choose, only requiring a laptop or such and decent internet service
- Unlimited earning potential unfettered by artificial barriers imposed by “the system”
- Starting up your business quickly and inexpensively without significant capital expenditures; many information businesses are started on $500 or less, all-in
- Generating passive income; creating content once, automating the administrative and sales processes, selling the information many times even while you sleep, waking up to new deposits in your bank account
- Easily creating information products/services; example—you can “talk” an ebook, send the audio file to a transcriber to create a Word document, and have others edit, proofread, and format it into an ebook for Amazon Kindle and the like
- Working on the business on your own schedule
- Enjoying the highest net profit margins known to business; many information products have 95 percent gross product margins (once you’ve created the content, there is zero “cost of goods”- only small processing fees and marketing costs that are subject to your discretion)
- Easily creating multiple streams of income; (creating multiple information products/services, if only a simple series of ebooklets; this gives you a great deal of adaptability to changing conditions, challenges and opportunities
- Automating time-consuming administrative, content development and marketing processes so you can focus on your core competencies and the things that you love to do and be earning passive income while you do it
- Enjoying valuable US tax advantages for businesses as opposed to personal income taxes on W-2 income; tax rates on a businesses are applied to the net income *after* allowable business expenses are deducted (in this author’s case, about 50 percent of my living expenses in Ecuador are legitimate business deductions)
- Getting tax-advantaged help for the business from family members or friends — as independent contractors—and not only providing them income but deducting the cost of same as legitimate business expenses
- In many cases, deducting unreimbursed (not covered by insurance) healthcare expenses as a business expense, thus lowering your taxable business income (this isn’t legal advice – ask your tax advisor)
- Avoiding the need for an expensive physical presence and all the other trappings of traditional business (store, office, inventory, factory, etc.)
- The ability to easily, quickly, and inexpensively research business and content ideas using online resources
- Gearing your business either as your only source of income or for supplemental income
- Knowing that everything that you need for your business can be bought, rented, borrowed or bartered for (See Jay Abraham’s book, “How to Get Everything You Can Out of Everything You’ve Got”) [affiliate link]
- Giving back by providing information the improves peoples’ lives
- Building a satisfying personal following
- When asked by others “What do you do?”, you can answer, “I am a Lifestyle Infopreneur”; when their faces wrinkle-up in puzzlement, you can show them how smart you are by enlightening them with all the above benefits that you are enjoying
And now for the mind-bender: You can do an online information business even if you aren’t an expert or a particular success at anything!
What? Wait. What?
That is absolutly true: You don’t even have to be expert to make it big in the information business. Here are three distinct ways how that’s true:
a. You can be an information aggregator like the Founders of the “Chicken Soup” series of books – that have set all-time sales records. Its Founders have not written a single book in that series; they simply pull together other peoples’ experiences into book form (think of it this way: historians aren’t history, and they don’t make history; their expertise is writing about history, and that’s based on reading a bunch of other people’s stuff and interviewing a bunch of other people)
b) You can be a connector of subject matter experts, just like Larry King is famous for interviewing accomplished people, not for accomplishing any of the things that his guests have done. Or, like the Founder of the famous Ted’s Talks series isn’t a subject matter expert: His speciality is simply pulling together public speeches by subject matter experts and providing a forum for other people to watch them!
c) You can be someone who is really good at sharing mistakes that you’ve made – or failures that you have experienced – and helping others avoid same; some of the biggest money-makers in the information business have built their fortunes by sharing with people their personal challenges, mistakes, defeats and failures, and how to not make the same mistakes that they did (the epitome of being authentic)
And Now, A Message for That Little, Whiny Voice in Your Head
About now, that little voice in your head may be gnawing at you with an irritating commentary something like this:
“Who do you think you are, thinking that anybody should listen to you?”
“You’re just average. Only experts can sell information.”
And your little voice would be dead wrong and totally out of line.
Everybody has valuable information and skills to share about their careers and life experiences. As mentioned above, that’s true even if the information is about defeats or making mistakes. Here are some examples of this principle at work:
- Have you dealt with an especially difficult family issue? Share that experience with others who encounter the same difficulty and help them deal with it more effectively based on what you learned.
- Did you grow up in a poor family. Share with people what it was like and the key turning points in your life that got you where you are now.
- Have you owned a successful automated car wash? Teach other owners your secrets for improving their bottom line.
- Are you socially challenged? Do you know how many people crave to connect with other people who are also challenged…to learn that they aren’t the only one, to be assured that they aren’t “broken”, to learn what you’ve learned about coping with the condition?
- Have you faced the challenges of teaching music to children? Create information systems that teach music to children online.
- Are you an attorney who’s running yourself ragged and wondering if it all matters? Educate the public about how to get the best possible results from using an attorney.
- And here’s my favorite: Do you have experience in an industry where company and job security is threatened by all the dramatic changes happening in the world? For example, like automated lending systems (read Quicken Loans) putting loan brokers out of business?
You could be the first to help people in that industry adapt their careers and lives to those changes. Aren’t an expert on that? Find the experts who are, interview them, and put them in front of your audience via information products and services! The experts may even want to co-market with you…to drive traffic to your service for a revenue-sharing arrangement. The first person to do this well will be hard to catch up to by those who start later.
Here’s the reality: If you are further along the road to solving any problem or capitalizing on any opportunity, you are a *worthy* advisor to help those coming up behind you on that same path who have yet to learn what you have already learned.
No one is going to challenge the value of your information if you honor the following important advice. The key to not worrying about being “called out” is being authentic. That is…
You do not present yourself like this: “I’m an expert on this subject and I know it all. Gather around, poor urchins, and I will share my flawless wisdom with you.”
No. Instead, you present yourself this way: “I don’t have all the answers yet, but here’s what I’ve experienced on this path so far. I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned to help you avoid some of the mistakes or mis-steps that I’ve made. If it is of help to you, I invite to use it as you will.”
Position yourself in that forthright, authentic way, and you are worthy of helping others!