Want To Build a Lifestyle Business? Follow These 8 Lessons

Want To Build a Lifestyle Business? Follow These 8 Lessons post image

This is a post by David Hehenberger from the Tropical MBA Semester 2. Follow him on Twitter.

Time goes by fast. Exactly 10 months ago, I met Dan and Sean (from Badladz) for the first time. Naturally, our first meeting culminated in an epic night out in Manila.

On the next morning, we rose at 5am (a bit too early in my opinion) to avoid traffic-jam and made our way to Puerto Galera. From this day on, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Dan and Sean until I left 6 months later.

Puerto Galera

I learned a lot from these two successful businessmen (too much to cover in a single post). Today, I’m sharing 8 things they taught me.

1. Relationships Matter

Dan opened my eyes. Relationships may be the most important thing in life. Being friends with smart, successful and influential people is the biggest asset you can have.

Being a trusted friend of Dan made it a lot easier to become friends with many other smart people. I’d go so far and say that building the right relationships was the biggest thing that i got out of the Tropical MBA.

2. Seek out a Mentor

Having a mentor is not about having somebody constantly hold your hand and giving you step-by-step instructions – he won’t. It’s about having a trusted advisor that gives you constructive feedback. Not only that it’s also about having a friend who genuinely cares about you being successful.

Having Dan as a mentor is a very powerful thing that helps me a lot. I know that it’s easier said than done, but if I were you, I would try to reach out to some more experienced entrepreneurs who do something similar to what you would like to do.

For inspiration, check out how Charlie Hoehn reached out to Tim Ferriss.

3. Trust Your Team

Trust is an important part of every relationship. Dan trusted me from the get go. He told me things that he will never publish online.

Having no secrets and trusting everybody involved (instead of being paranoid) is a key element in making a business work.

4. Ship Something Every Day

Most people who want to “start their business” end up doing nothing but reading, reading and reading. The best way to get out of analysis paralysis is to ship something.

Shipping (or publishing) something every day is the only thing that will bring you closer to your goals. It’s better to ship something that is not perfect than not shipping at all.

Does your new website’s design really have to be 100% perfect? Your time could be better spent on creating content and building an audience. You can always go back and improve the design later.

5. Work Hard

Nobody I know who ”made it” built his business by working only 4 hours a week.

Building a business is hard work. Dan did nothing but work during the first year of his business.

6. Get Up Early

Sean gets up every morning at 5am. Dan is not that extreme, but he’s usually up and working at 8 or 9, even after a good night out.

**Note from Dan: In 2011 I’ve been waking up between 7-8AM. I really believe in this one and am taking it more seriously. @AnythingIan and I call going to bed before 12AM and waking up before 8AM “the General’s schedule.” I have no idea why…

They both swear that it makes them way more productive. Unfortunately, I suck at getting up early. That’s one thing I really need to work on.

7. Work On Stuff you Like

When discussing projects, Sean always used to say “I don’t care if this doesn’t make us a lot of money, what I really care about is if this will result in us having fun fun fun.”

Keep in mind that Sean is already well off and doesn’t need any extra cash to survive. Building your business will not always be fun – I think those “do your passion and the rest will follow”-guys’ voices are a bit too loud in the blogosphere.

However, working on something that you like and believe in will not only save your sanity, it will also increase your chances of success.

8. Join us at the TMBA if you can.

The Tropical MBA is a great win-win situation. Dan gets smart, talented people to work for way below market rate.

In exchange for that, he offers freedom, adventures, relationships and mentorship.

Dan is a genius for coming up with that. I hope to also hire young, motivated interns and help them to make the leap at some point in the future.

Dan, Sean, David

***Note from Dan: congrats to two of my favorite people, Jamie Marsden and David for getting together on V2 of MuseTraffic.com. I’m really looking forward to what they come up with.

Lots going on behind the scenes here at the TMBA (not much writing), however we’ve been working on a re-design, a few new internship opportunities, and a private mastermind group…. more on that soon.

SEMESTER V of the TropicalMBA LAUNCHES THIS WEEK. HIDE YOUR KIDS. HIDE YOUR WIFE. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtZfW2z9dw)

Cheers from Dumaguete,



Published on 04.11.11
  • brdtrpp

    Going for bonus Point here: 8 Interesting lessons learned from the two most interesting people I have ever met!

    Alright well that was a bit of a suck up, but hopefully got your attention. I just wanted to say that I have recently started listening to your podcasts very interesting stuff. I hope to apply for your opportunities soon.

  • Dan

    haha…. thanks for listening to the show :) Good to have you dropping by the blog….

  • Good stuff, they are all great lessons to learn. I’m especially happy to see the remark in #7 about “do your passion and the rest will follow” – it complements the other one “build it and they will come” – you hear ’em too often and too often you don’t hear about the preconditions. Of course it’s very important to work on what you’re passionate about, but in saying so we seem to forget that having cash in the bank or having been in business during the Internet boom created advantages that most people don’t have (this is the sort of point made in Outliers by Malcom Gladwell).
    That said, we should try more to do what we love, too frequently we give up in the face of adversities that aren’t even real and we built in our heads, so now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna try to ship something :).

  • Dan

    haha…. ya know I think it’s like a balance…. on the one hand you gotta do something the market wants… plain and simple… if your pet project just happens to be what the market wants you are a lucky SOB, on the other hand, you need to harness your best energy towards a project…. that’s a tricky balance to strike… part of the reason Ian and I brought the podcast in to our business is it allowed us to sustain our passion for the process of building our business by sharing it with others. Thanks for reading the blog :D

  • Yep. I agree with both of you. Blindly following your passion is not the way to go.

    But if you’re trying to build a business by doing something you hate, you have to be very, very disciplined if you want to succeed.

    Your business will probably not be fun 100% of the time, but don’t end up doing something you hate.

  • kudos for that, love the blog and the energy. If I knew anything about business I’d applied for the tropical MBA :D. Balance is hard yeah, I’m doing consulting to bootstrap and it’s a tough call to mix what makes me a buck with spending that buck on what I’m passionate about. But I’m trying to shift that balance and have my passion to make me a buck, soon my friend, sooooon! Keep up the great work. @spikelab

  • It seems that when I get up extra early; I really see some extra success that day.

  • Dan

     I still have a hard time buying when people disagree with this. I think almost universally getting up early is good for people.

  • I recently started looking into the science of the body clock, youtube has a nice intro video series here http://bit.ly/mRQxzB. Waking up early appears to be correlated with age, but there doesn’t seem to be any measurable implicit gain from doing it. It also seems that different people have different body clocks and there is such thing as “a morning person”.
    That said for the last year I’ve been waking up at 6 and I really enjoy it, the days feel longer and I get more done, but I think this is more due to perception and social factors (fewer interruptions at 6am) than me being more energetic or whatnot.

  • Dan

    interesting…. i see a lot of stuff like this in writing, but not in practice. not sure why…. agreed its probably societal in some way.  

  • I loved this post!  I must say my two favorite and I think most important lessons are numbers one and two.  However, I think number five comes in a close 3rd.  If you want this kind of lifestyle you must be able to handle delayed gratification.  On relationship building and seeking a mentor I tend to isolate myself an go solo, but there is only so much that I know and am capable of so I am starting to see the immense benefits of the first two lessons.  I also feel more productive when I go to sleep before or by 12pm and wake up between 6-8am.  In addition to going to sleep and waking up at those hours I tend to find myself more productive when I get out of bed quickly as opposed to laying there.

    @twitter-125055544:disqus David I’m glad you’re consider having interns in a similar way to Dan!  Perhaps when I begin teaching myself programming…

    Again great post!  Looking forward to more excellent content.

  • Dan

    Hey Alex… thanks for your feedback here and for digging into the archives :) Agreed re: #1 and #2… I should have mentioned to david #8 isn’t even a point, but ah… semantics :D

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