The term “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” was first coined in 2013 by ex American footballer, Lewis Howes, to describe an individual that creates a business with the purpose of altering their personal lifestyle and not for the sole purpose of making profits – focusing more on the rewards that enhance enjoyment and passion. To find out more, I caught up with the talented composer and lifestyle entrepreneur, Cato Hoeben, who has recently co written with his mother a book entitled The Lifestyle Entrepreneur… Hi Cato!
Hi! My name is Cato Hoeben and I am a composer who writes music for film, adverts, games and documentaries and I have also released a number albums that you can find on my website. In addition to composing, I also do voice over work and have a varied history of working in science journalism-related work as well as working as a web developer. I live in London, but spend a number of months in Seville where my wife is from. Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve become what’s known as a ‘lifestyle entrepreneur’ which, in a nutshell, is an approach to making a living that allows you to shape a lifestyle the way you want by earning through multiple revenue streams.
Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur, you are co-author of the book “The Lifestyle Entrepreneur” – a step by step guide for people of all ages looking in depth at what is actually entailed in becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur. Having worked in London at a media production company where you created online GCSE science modules, what made you give up your belief that the key to financial security & future happiness was stable employment?
When you look at the ‘single job’ approach objectively, it’s pretty illogical. While it’s true that there is a hierarchy in place in many organisations that you can wrestle your way through, today’s work environment is much more hostile and less stable than it was a few decades ago. Once you lose that line of income, you’re back in line to find a replacement, and usually you’ll need to do it fast if you have a mortgage, family and bills. So, in my opinion, there is no ‘job for life’. You can easily be dropped by your boss, replaced by someone (locally or even remotely now) or the company just goes bust and in fact I have seen this happen a couple of times in previous jobs. When that happens, you suddenly have no income which blows the ‘financial security’ argument out of the water. Obviously, if you’re happy in your job and have the free time to do all the things you want to do, then that’s fantastic. But I’ve come across many instances with friends, colleagues and other contacts saying they are tired of the often tense employer-employee relationship in their jobs, the lack of time for family, friends and the limited salaries they receive to believe that the antiquated work model we’re told we have to follow is the path to happiness. Being more entrepreneurial seems to me a much more exciting, empowering (although I hate that word) and potential lucrative way of bringing in an income and shaping how you live your life.
What are the differences between being a lifestyle entrepreneur and being a freelancer?
Good question and one I’m asked a lot. One of the principle aims of being a lifestyle entrepreneur is that you build a ‘buffer’ for your earnings so that you don’t fall into the typical employer-employee model. As a freelancer, you work to commission i.e. you are employed to do a specific job for a client and then it’s usually over. I call that type of income ‘active earning’ as you dedicate time to actively doing the work on a contractual basis. In contrast, ‘passive earning’ would be the equivalent of setting up an investment of some kind and is often much slower to build up but can turn into a regular income stream. In my case, my albums and the royalties I get from licensing my music for film, adverts and other productions are ‘passive’ income streams. I put the work into creating the product and then it continues to earn me an income stream in the future. Freelance work is almost always purely an ‘active’ income stream as you will usually earn no more in the future from that work. It’s essential to have both of these types of income when becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur as it will allow you some important benefits like having income streams you can fall back and shape the day as you want. I discuss both of these approaches to earning in The Lifestyle Entrepreneur and how you can approach a healthy balance between the two.
What do you love most about being a lifestyle entrepreneur? Is there a downside?
It has to be the flexibility of how, when and where I work. Those three things hold so much value when I realise the extent to which I can move work around to fit my needs or simply free time up to work on the things that require intense periods of attention (like a feature film…or my wife!). Even though it’s totally possible to earn a lot of money working this way, for me, it’s much more important to build a lifestyle that makes you happy. Once you realise you’re covering your basic costs like a mortgage, bills and supporting your family, there’s not much more that I find I want in life. In terms of the downsides, getting going as a lifestyle entrepreneur can be difficult and frustrating like in any entrepreneurial endeavour. There are ups and downs based on how your income streams / businesses fare, but a lot of the downsides can be flipped on their head by looking at the negatives or lack of interest in what you’re offering as something you can improve upon. The Americans are great at this and use something like a drop in sales as an opportunity to analyse what is ‘going wrong’ with their business. It can lead to all sorts of things to try out like advertising to a different demographic, modifying your product or service or even realising you’re offering something that has no demand so you either need to create that demand or try something different. Do I get tired sometimes with the workload? Yes, absolutely. But the energy I get from doing things I’m passionate about helps enormously as the division between work and play is thoroughly blurred for me.
Your book goes into depth about lifestyle entrepreneurism – but what is your main piece of advice to anybody who may be unhappy with their work/life balance at the moment? What should their first steps be?
As I’ve been in the same place, I know very well what it is like to feel trapped in a job you’re unhappy in and all the doubts that go through your mind as to whether you’ll be able to make ends meet if you give that job up. And it’s unrealistic to expect someone to drop everything at once if you’re dependant on that income. So, my approach to making the transition was a gradual one and is primarily what I recommend to those who are more risk-averse. I began experimenting with things I wanted to sell online and built up some income streams related to music (my passion) all while I worked as a web editor at a mental health charity. As these passive income streams grew, I started taking on the occasional freelance commission outside of my primary job to help bolster my income. Time is always an issue when you’re in a full-time job, but these mini ‘businesses’ can take as little as a few hours a week to maintain depending on what you choose to do. Once I knew I could pay my basic living costs, I decided to take the plunge on a more permanent basis which freed up my time to find new clients and develop my income streams further. And don’t be misled by the fact some income streams bring in small amounts, $80 a month from various streams can build up fast.
Is your book available to purchase outside the UK?
Absolutely. It’s available as a physical book in stores like Waterstones and online via Amazon as a physical book and an ebook. There’s a link on our website too.
Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?
Yes, although I’m still exploring those ideas. Something I think would be useful would be looking in depth at how the Lifestyle Entrepreneur approach can be employed in specific industries as it can be daunting trying to figure out how to make money from multiple strands in certain sectors. Some initial topics I’m considering are science journalism and music as I have experience in those areas. But any area that is that competitive and difficult to work in would make good topics to investigate as if you can make a living in a tough niche, you should be able to do it in any industry.
What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?
As the son of a journalist, I’m a poor example of a bookworm! As dry as it sounds, I tend to read more for ‘function’ than ‘fun’ as it feels like wasted time otherwise, so you’ll find lots of self-development and practical books on my shelf rather than Nietzsche and Goethe. Feel free to label me a philistine. That said, I am a fan of great stories and my childhood was full of Greek Legends, books like Moby Dick and Robin Hood. I particularly enjoyed A Portrait of Dorian Gray and science-fiction books like Brave New World. In all honesty though, I get much more out of film than I do books because of the interplay between music and picture.
Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur and author, you are also a talented composer, composing music for films etc. Growing up, did you aspire to have a musical career or were your aspirations quite different?
Since the age of seven I’ve been playing piano, so I’ve always had an interest in music. But I was firmly en route to becoming a science journalist having studied chemistry and biology at A-level, biology at Sussex University and then doing a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial. However, as any composer will tell you, there are a lot of parallels between maths and music so in a funny way I guess all those years molecular biology calculations and breaking my brain over molar masses was actually feeding my inner musician!
When you’re not writing, web designing or composing what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?
I love travelling abroad, exploring new places to eat in and play basketball regularly. Both Seville and London are fantastic places for food, the former being considerably cheaper of course, but some of the most amazing places I’ve eaten in have been in Japan. I’m also interested in sampling unusual sounds that I can transform into virtual instruments for use in my music, so you’ll often find me recording things like pots and pans, bowing strange objects with a violin bow, etc.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I’m a fan of Aldo shoes which is a chain that can be found throughout London, but also Grenson’s do some great shoes that I’m always drooling over when I pass by their shop. In terms of fashion, if you ask my brother, I’m the anthesis of stylish and he accuses me of wearing Cornish pasty-style shoes, but I like to think that hidden underneath my inner science geek there is someone incredibly stylish who is ahead of his time. My outfits are usually smart casual.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
I spend quite a lot of time on the sites where I offer my services and products to gauge how I’m doing and seeing what other opportunities are out there, but in terms of keeping up with news, I tend to follow the BBC website, Guardian, Lifehacker and TechCrunch. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do have an unhealthy tendency to spend lots on virtual instruments to use in my music that often needs taming.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I want to replace my pseudo-leather jacket that is starting to peel and show me up in public. But that could take some time as I need to find something that has a cut I like and long enough arms (the bane of my life).
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes as I find them more comfortable and less cowboy-ish. That said, I’m starting to try the boot look since a friend of mine convinced me to get some leather boots from Valverde de Camino – a small village in the province of Huelva, Spain that is renowned for having some of the best leather products in Europe. Since I bought them, I’ve worn them twice, so the adjustment is taking its time.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.
The site for The Lifestyle Entrepreneur is http://bit.ly/lifestyle-entrepreneur you can also buy the book and read more about it at http://www.lifestyle-entrepreneur.net. We also have a FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/lifestyleentrepreneurnet/ and our Twitter page to follow is https://twitter.com/TheLifestyleEnt. For music-related stuff and info about my composing work, visit http://www.catohoeben.com.
Music from my album Vulnerable Beauty, here’s a soundcloud link:
Or there’s my new album Flaming Flamenco:
Thank you Cato for enlightening me, and hopefully my readers too, as to what being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about. I also loved knowing about your music too – the idea of recording virtual instruments sounds fun to me! Pots & pans make great drums, and I made a virtual guitar once using a shoebox and elastic bands…. Dear readers, have you any virtual musical instrument stories to tell? Does being a lifestyle entrepreneur appeal to you? Like always, I love to know so don’t be shy, drop me a line….
All photos have been published with kind permission of Cato Hoeben.