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Create a Business and Design Your Life

One of the questions I get asked the most is about how to create a business and on the topic of lifestyle design. I don’t have a fool-proof system or a guaranteed business creation plan to offer. The same goes with offering tips on designing one’s life. But I can definitely offer the right books to read if having a business is something you aspire to.

It is normal to be afraid when starting something new. Hence, I don’t recommend diving headfirst into business creation. It is important to take calculative steps and it is best to test the waters while you have a fulltime 9-5 job. The books I recommend in this blog and video are appropriate for those who are still employed as these are the books that I read and referenced when I started my business 2 years ago.

The #fiftybooksayear hashtag began in 2015 when I decided to track my reading on Instagram. Who knew it led me to reading plenty of business books. And eventually set me off on my own entrepreneurial journey formally in 2018. Do note though that this blog and video is not a quick-rich guide. But rather it is about the books I read that guided my belief in living, money and, work. Which helped me create my business and design my lifestyle.

As a famous quote goes, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.”

What is lifestyle design?

From the books I read through #fiftybooksayer, the kind of life you want to live clings on your most prized values. There is a long list of values you can choose from. It could be success, courage, health, family, fitness, serenity, resourcefulness – plenty! Basing on your most important values, lifestyle design allows you to live with the values you choose to identify with.

And more often than not, lifestyle design requires a person to have autonomy on the work that they do, By doing work that you love, once can design his/her lifestyle in accordance to a Japanese term called ‘Ikigai’.

What is ‘Ikigai’?

‘Ikigai’ is when passion, vocation, and mission meets profession. The book ‘Ikigai’ confronts the high stress, high fat, high sugar, high cholesterol, high salt that most of us live nowadays. The book provides technical insight from a study conducted on how the Japanese are known to live long lives. Besides eating well, moderate exercise, and healthy relationships, there is another factor that influences wellness. And that is ‘growth’ they experience from the work that they do.

It is a good idea to start a business about things that you care about so that you experience growth in the direction that you desire. Come to think of it, this is the most natural, hence logical way to sustain your motivation to work. Day in, day out, for many years to come.

In order to find your ‘Ikigai’, you need to know these four things:
1. What you love doing.
2. What you are good at.
3. What the world needs.
4. What you can be paid for.

How to Find Something You Can Be Paid For?

Finding something that we can be paid for is tricky. That is why I recommend reading Side Hustle by Chriss Guillebeau. The book curates the steps that you need to take that can be rolled out in five weeks. You can even sparse out the timeline if you’re working on a really intense fulltime job. Do note that these steps would take years to learn by trial and error.

You may find my full review on Side Hustle which I wrote in two parts for Marketing In Asia in 2018. Here are the links for your further reading:

Part 1 (Week 1 – Week 3)

Part 2 (Week 4 – Week 5)

There is another book by the same author, $100 Startup that I also recommend. This book would open up your mind on the possible business ideas that require little to very minimal capital to start.

The 4-Hour Work Week

This is a definitive book written twelve years ago and how I wish I had read this sooner. This book changed my mindset about work, money, and living.

First and foremost is to rest your mentality about work and money. We need to disconnect from the belief that we need to trade time for money. The idea is to do minimum work for the maximum payment that you can get. This is contrary to the conventional method of taking on a huge workload in exchange for payment.

By putting all your tasks under a microscope to look deeply into everything that you do, you would see that only 20% of the tasks are crucial. That is a fact. According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of impact came from 20% effort. Use this principle as a lense to eliminate 80% of your tasks that don’t create any significant impact in your life.

You have a proofreading service charging at RM12 per page. You charge a premium because you are good at what you do, and your clients love you.
An average paper has 10 pages and you get about five clients a week.
You earn RM600 a week from this income stream.

And because you are smart and looked into the Pareto Principle, proofreading takes really little of your time.
You work an average of two hours a day to complete all jobs from all five clients.

That means you earn a week’s pay from 10 hours of work.
The conventional way to earn a week’s pay is from 40 hours of work.

One might say that he/she earns more than RM600 a week. But let’s not forget about lifestyle design! Imagine the things you can do with the extra six hours a day. You could do whatever your heart desires. In fact, you could easily create a new income stream from the extra hours.

The 4-Hour Work Week emphasises on automating most of our tasks to liberate ourselves from trading time for money. Because the world becomes a beautiful place once you don’t have to trade these two elements.


In conclusion, all three books help if you aspire to design your lifestyle by starting a business. I’m not saying this works for everybody but it might be for most people.

When I started my business two years ago, I quickly learned that it was never about becoming your own boss or about being employed as a business. Rather it is about being a business owner and having a say on how you spend your time.

With life expectancy increasing to 79 years, the rule of the game is to NEVER RETIRE. Find your Ikigai, and design your lifestyle is the way to go. The fad about working hard and retiring at 40 has lost its lustre. Because the reality is, people who love the way they make money don’t think about retiring.

And it is my personal belief that everybody has an ‘Ikigai’ that’s just waiting to be discovered. The financial difficulties we face now with the unprecedented COVID-19 might have accelerated the discovery of our ‘Ikigai’. And once you’ve created a business and designed your lifestyle, I’m sure you would need some help with how to work from effectively which you can read here *winks*

Thank you for reading this far! If you enjoyed reading this, you might want to subscribe to my weekly newsletter because that is where I share most things that I don’t share anywhere else. You may subscribe here.

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