Lifestyle Business – a Different Take on Work/Life Balance

Lifestyle Business - a Different Take on Work/Life Balance | Jenn Wells Design

Work to live or live to work?

How would you answer that question?

Most work to live proponents ignore career pursuits in favor of a fulfilling personal life. They may dislike or even hate their job, but it pays the bills and allows them to pursue their personal goals, so it doesn’t matter.

Those who live to work love their jobs. They may have fallen into their dream job, found their passion, or have a case of workaholism. Whatever the case, works takes total precedent and personal life happens when there’s extra time for it.

I’ve never really known my own answer. There’s been a time or two in the past that I’d have said “work to live” but in reality I was just in a toxic work environment. When I started working for myself, I would drop everything the moment I received a client email. It was like a rebound relationship where I went to the extreme opposite of what I’d had before, in this case “live to work.”

Lately I’ve been finding more balance between the two. I told a friend of mine it was “live to live and work to work.” Because I enjoyed each of them in equal measure, it wasn’t a case of one making way for the other.

The problem with that philosophy is that no matter how much you compartmentalize work and home life, you only have one pool of energy. As The Accidental Creative points out, when we deplete that pool of energy, it doesn’t matter what kind of tasks we were doing. There’s no energy left for home OR work.

Then I discovered one amazing, clarity-inducing phrase.

Lifestyle Business

Cleverism defines a lifestyle business as one that prioritizes goals related to the owner’s desired lifestyle rather than profit. This differs from a startup, whose goal is to maximize profit as quickly as possible in order to sell off the business or regular self-employment, which often follows traditional working hours from home rather than an office.

A lifestyle business is all about you. Do you want flexibility? Choose the clients with unrushed deadlines. Do you want to travel? Buy a laptop and work from any location with a good Internet connection. Do you want time for creative pursuits or collaborations? Pick a few higher-paying clients to cover your bills or live more simply and then do what you want!

Without even knowing it, I’ve set my business up as a lifestyle business. I touched on this topic when I wrote about setting business goals for the year. Increasingly, I’ve been setting business goals to support personal goals.

How much money do I need to make in order to meet my goals? How often do I want to travel? How many hours do I want to work? Does this client seem like someone who will enjoy working with me and I with them? And so on.

By prioritizing life goals and career satisfaction over profit, a lifestyle business opens up the door to saying “no.” Being able to say no to things is incredibly liberating.

And while saying “no” sounds like a huge negative, it’s actually a positive. You won’t resent your clients if you didn’t reduce your rates to the point of not getting a return on your time investment. You won’t feel rushed and stressed if you’re able to say no to unreasonable deadlines. You won’t need to bend over backwards trying to make someone happy who was really never a good candidate for your services in the first place.

Instead, you can simply refer those people to businesses who may be a better fit for their needs and only take the work that is the best fit for yours. You’ll build stronger relationships with your clients and you’ll build a more sustainable business, without the looming threat of burnout.

So I guess the real question is not, “Can I afford to run a lifestyle business?” but “Can I afford not to?”

Font Psychology – Reading Between the Lines

Font Psychology - Reading Between the Lines | Jenn Wells Design

Confession: I’m not a huge typography nerd. A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with some friends about the fonts used in an ultra hipster café we brunched in. I was happily going on about the quirkiness of fat-face fonts when they started naming their favorite sans serif fonts and I realized I was in over my head.

I can’t tell the difference between Helvetica and Ariel. If you put them side by side on the page, sure, I’ll see that there’s a difference. But I don’t see one or the other and instantly know what it is. To me it just looks like a general, nondescript font that isn’t going to piss anyone off too badly or draw an excessive amount of attention. Perfect for body copy where you want the focus on the meaning rather than the appearance.

Which is not to say typography doesn’t matter. Don’t believe me? Check out the the previous paragraph in PT Sans and Papyrus.

Paragraph comparison in PT Sans and Papyrus fonts | Jenn Wells Design

See some readability issues with the paragraph on the right? I mean, not only is it Papyrus, which is a font that bothers me even more than Comic Sans, but Papyrus is terrible for body copy. The letter spacing isn’t optimal, and that ragged “distressed” edge takes away the contrast we need to be able to scan text quickly.

The Psychology

Beyond the obvious legibility issues, fonts are a huge part of what sets the tone of a particular design. For example, a study on font legibility compared people’s expectations when given a set of instructions that was easy or hard to read. The people given instructions that were more difficult to read also estimated that the task described would take longer!

Similarly, a follow up study showed that when a product is described with a harder-to-read font, we assume that more effort went into it. So using “fancy” fonts comes with a trade-off. People are less likely to read your materials BUT the ones who do will be willing to pay more for what they assume are higher quality products.

In addition to “quality” or “time consuming,” fonts can convey other feelings and emotions. An article by YouTheDesigner breaks down a few global brands to show how each conveys a particular feel. Disney aims for magic and family fun while FedEx portrays a feeling of tight reliability.

I won’t do an overview of sans vs serif fonts, because it’s been done in much greater detail than I would ever care to. Suffice it to say that fonts DO matter, and they can give your brand any kind of feel you want, from friendly to businesslike, mystical to pragmatic, and so much more.

Rather than try to teach you everything I know about typography, I’ve put together a font style guide with 10 of my favorite fonts in categories like elegant, quirky, and sports. All fonts can be found online at one of my 3 favorite font websites:, FontSquirrel, or Google Fonts. Sign up to receive the cheat sheet here!

Client Spotlight – Aurora Estella Doula Services Logo

Aurora Estella Design Process | Jenn Wells Design

The Client

Rachel came to me wanting to brand her new doula business entirely from scratch. We discussed her mission statement and target market – to make doula services available to everyone, including younger moms-to-be and those with a lower income. And then we talked visuals – what fonts and colors she likes, hates, or thinks would best represent her business, and what kind of feel she wanted the business to have. We decided to aim for something a little warmer and more comfortable to reinforce her goal of accessibility.


What Does a VA Actually DO? Expert Guest Post

What Does a VA Actually DO? Expert Guest Post by Kelli from 3K VA Services | Jenn Wells Design

Virtual assistant is a job title I’ve run into several times on the Internet, but I had no clue what they actually did. Until I became friends with one, that is. Kelli, from 3K VA Services, runs her VA business entirely online and provides helpful tips for business management in her blog. I have learned so much from following along with Kelli’s posts, from using Wave for accounting, to Trello for project organization.