Should Your Business Be Aspirational or Relatable?

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

For the most part, businesses fall into one of two categories: aspirational, or relatable.

Aspirational businesses seek to sell an idea to the general public. They sell a lifestyle; their entire focus is tempting, somewhat luxurious. Their products or services are sold in a way that makes customers want to buy, rather than customers seeking them out because they need to buy.

Relatable businesses are almost the exact opposite. They sell their products and services based on need. They relate to their customers’ existing lives rather than trying to sell them a better, brighter life; they seek improvement rather than replacing.

Almost any product or service can be sold in an aspirational or relatable way.. For example, if you sell luxury soap:

  • Aspirational: “You deserve this soap. Your skin, and your life, will be better if you use this soap. This soap will grant you a touch of luxury during an everyday routine. It’s a treat, a way to care for yourself.”
  • Relatable: “Your life is tough, and it’s nice to have to have a little luxury to cheer you up after a hard day. This soap can be a ray of sunshine that powers you through, ensures your hands are clean, and is kind to your skin at the same time.”

The above text has been somewhat embellished to make the point, but the basic idea is the same: anything can be aspirational or relatable.

Which is better: aspirational or relatable?

Here’s the thing: there is no “right” answer to this question. Both aspirational and relatable services can be incredibly successful; they just represent different approaches.

So why does the decision matter?

If both types of approach can produce a successful business, it’s natural to wonder why you have to ponder this question at all. The answer is simple: the aspirational/relatable choice influences nearly every decision you will make over the course of running your business. For example:

  • As mentioned, marketing choices you make are most influenced by the aspirational/relatable choice. The wording you use, the images, what you’re trying to sell to your customers – they are all governed by this decision. When you have a strong relatable or aspirational vision to take to professional marketing services from Third Angle and similar companies, you will be able to achieve a cohesive campaign that genuinely benefits your company.
  • If you sell products, the packaging you choose is influenced by the aspirational/relatable choice also. For aspirational products, you would use high-end packaging that looks good in a cupboard or on a dressing table; for relatable, you’d keep things more basic and friendly.
  • Your brand’s voice is highly affected by this decision also, encompassing everything from product labelling to how you communicate with customers on social media.

The above areas are just the most obvious areas that are governed by this choice, and are in and of themselves highly significant to the success of your business. While there is no right or wrong decision when contemplating this choice, the fact that you have to make a choice is undeniable.

Whichever you choose, be sure to continually adhere to the same principle throughout every business area. Not only will this help ensure that your business is cohesive across its presentation, but it will also allow you to make quick, concise, on-brand decisions every time.

Is a Lifestyle Business the Right Choice for You?

The way we perceive work is changing, quickly. The days of accepting any old job as long as it pays a nice salary and has decent benefits are quickly disappearing, mostly because of the internet and digital revolution; there are so many more options, there’s no need to settle.

Nowadays, people want work to be something fulfilling and meaningful, and they want something that supports their desired lifestyle.

Enter the lifestyle businesses. Essentially, a lifestyle business is one that is set up to facilitate the lifestyle the owner wants to live. They tend to be small, are often run over the internet, and require minimal intervention by the owner.

The financial and personal freedom this business model offers makes lifestyle businesses an attractive option for many people. But as with anything, it’s not for everyone. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to see if a lifestyle business is the right choice for you.

Where do you find your passion?

For lifestyle business owners, their true passions usually lie outside of work. Many love to travel, hike in remote locations, create art, SCUBA dive and so on, and since these hobbies don’t often pay too well, they set up businesses to help support their pursuit of what they love.

But not everyone is like this. Maybe you’re not all that adventurous, you crave routine or you simply prefer a job where you have to immerse yourself completely each and every day. If this is you, then a lifestyle business may come up short of meeting your professional needs. The whole point of a lifestyle business is to put in a lot of work in the beginning, then step back and let your hard work bring in modest yet sufficient revenues.  

But don’t make the mistake of thinking lifestyle businesses aren’t for the passionate. Most of these businesses have at least something to do with owners’ interests. For example, this coffee subscription service was set up because the owner loves coffee and wants to use it to transform people’s lives and the world. While he may not want to pour hours and hours into running the business, the business itself is in-line with what drives him.

Do you want to make a lot of money?

It’s important to be clear that a lifestyle business is not set up to make the owner filthy rich. Lifestyle entrepreneurs usually know what they need to be happy, and therefore don’t look to earn much above that threshold.

If you are looking to start a business because of the massive earning potential, a lifestyle business is going to come up short. This isn’t to say you’re guaranteed to get rich starting up another company, but the chances of this happening with a lifestyle business are pretty slim. Take stock of your financial needs and desires and this should help you decide if a lifestyle business is right for you.

The takeaway

If you’re someone who finds joy outside of work and who doesn’t need a ton of money, a lifestyle business can be a great career move. But if you’re looking for something more involved and financially rewarding, you might need to look elsewhere.

Author bio: Caroline is a writer and marketer who has been involved with several successful lifestyle businesses. She loves the flexibility, learning opportunities and dynamic environment but fully understands they aren’t for everyone.

The 1 Word That Changes Entrepreneurship

The difference between failure and success as a business owner can be minuscule.

Being an entrepreneur for 10 years I’ve had to learn a lot of hard lessons, but one concept has been clear-cut lately.

Systems beat sweat.

That doesn’t contradict hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, instead it signals that “smarter” refers to systems when it comes to efficiency.

The simple shift from “my” business to “the” business can be the difference between being profitable and a hobby.

A lot of entrepreneurs describe their business as their baby (as did I) which can be a huge mistake.

If you watch a lot of business shows on TV like The Profit, Shark Tank & Restaurant Startup the common theme you’ll see is a clear system in place. The term scale is thrown out like common lingo meaning to strategically plan for exponential growth.

For myself I didn’t embrace this theory early on because my reasons for owning a business had more to do with flexibility than money. If you fall more into the lifestyle entrepreneur category like me, scaling is still very important.

Most people who leave Corporate America do it because they want to be their own boss. What you don’t realize is you’re leaving a systemized company that has already figured out how to scale. Besides now figuring out how to make money, the challenge of creating a repeatable, predictable system falls on you.

Once you start looking at your idea (pre-business) as a business, not your business, it becomes less personal and more objective. Ever wonder why it’s easier to give advice to other business owners than to your own? It’s because it’s not yours!

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be invested and passionate about your business, but less attached and more determined to make it run without you.

Successful business owners almost seem a bit detached from their business and that’s actually healthy. They are more focused on strategy and automation than having their hands all over it. In fact, similar to most authors, once you start a business there’s a good chance it won’t be your last (regardless of the success of failure of one).

Serial entrepreneurship is a lifestyle. It’s being obsessed with ideas and figuring out how to monetize them. I can’t say I’ve figured it out, but it’s a ride I hope I never get tired of going on.

One word makes all the difference.