The paradox of entrepreneurs is that you strike out on your own to have more control of your time only to discover that the demands of your job take up all of your time, including any opportunity to travel. How can entrepreneurs become true digital nomads while enjoying the lifestyle that originally drew them to start their own business?
The first step in creating this lifestyle is to define what success means for you. For me, it means I get to work a flex schedule from anywhere in the world and spend as much time with my family as possible while making at least the same salary I used to make in my corporate job. For some people success means creating a business that they can scale or sell for millions of dollars.
Whether you dream of creating a lifestyle business or a conglomerate, you can define success in any way that works for you. The key is to have a clear picture of what that looks like so you can construct your work and lifestyle to achieve that goal.
Plan For The Worst-Case Scenario.
The very first thing I did when deciding to leave my corporate job and start my own venture was calculate the startups costs required and the impact cost of living expenditures would have on my savings account while not earning a salary. This allowed me to come up with a backup plan for the absolute worst-case scenario. This meant investing only as much as I was willing to lose and planning for my personal expenses if the business was a flop and I were to lose everything. Even though I knew the chances of this happening were slim, having a safety net in place allowed me to more confidently make necessary decisions while developing my startup.
Do Your Homework.
There are all the logistical and administrative things you will need to do, of course, such as getting a phone that works internationally or signing up for a Skype number, creating an invoicing system, contacting your bank, and freezing your credit to protect yourself from identity theft while you are working abroad.
You should also consider assessing the cost of living in the cities you plan to live and work in, at least for the near future. In the beginning, it would be very beneficial to live in a city that has a low cost of living, if possible, so your dollar can go further while you build up your business.
Know Yourself And Your Working-Style.
Some people love the idea of roaming freely around the world and working for themselves, but along with the lifestyle come some disadvantages and inconveniences too. It’s best to be very honest with yourself when weighing the pros and cons to decide if your love for travel and new experiences will outweigh the downsides such as not knowing when or where you’re next pay check will be coming from. Or whether you can be comfortable with a certain level of uncertainty and instability.
Knowing your working-style and how you are most productive is critical too, whether that’s something you’ve learned through past experiences or through the Myers-Briggs test, it’s an important factor to figure out in advance. I can’t count the number of times I’ve met entrepreneurs who tell me they are demotivated or frustrated because they work alone all day without much human contact.
Not to mention, working abroad requires you to be productive while juggling time zones. Are you the type of person that can be on a conference call at midnight and still be on your a-game?
If all this uncertainty isn’t for you, there are always options such as working remotely with your current job. In this way you can have the security of a steady paycheck while enjoying the perks of traveling or working from home. In fact, according to a study, one of the top perks employees say they want is the ability to work remotely. And the number of people who say they’ve quit a job due to lack of flexibility has nearly doubled from 17% in 2014 to 32% in 2017 .
According to the Freelancers Union 35% of the U.S. workforce, 55 million people, were freelancers in 2016, which is an increase of two million from 2014.
Additionally, 75% of millennials believe working remotely would have a positive impact on the productivity in their organization.
Build Clientele And Over-Deliver.
In order to guarantee a minimum income, it’s a good idea to build your clientele before you start living your nomadic lifestyle. Calculate your budget by backing into the income you would need to support yourself while working remotely, and then determine how many clients you need to attain before you can quit your day job or start traveling. For example, if you need to make a net profit of $3000 in order to support yourself, and you earn a net of $1000 from each client, then you need to secure a minimum of three clients before making any drastic changes.
I recently had the chance to speak with Adrien Harrison, Founder & CEO of Echo Studio, a company that provides strategic growth consulting for small businesses. Harrison helps other businesses achieve what he has done for himself, build a business that allows him to travel the globe.
Harrison recently got back from a trip across Asia and shared a tip that really resonated with me, “It's paramount to over-satisfy clients because of the innate precariousness of your working relationship. You only have a small window of overlapping working hours so making sure that you are always impeccably organized, and that the client is always delighted and eager to work with you, is necessary.”
Balance Work And Play.
“As a digital nomad you have to know when to work and when to play. Striking that balance can be really difficult if you don't consciously consider what's right for you. The system I've grown accustomed to for prioritizing work over play is what Ray Dalio would call "loving your pain" in his latest book Principles: Life & Work. Basically his idea is that whenever you feel pain or fear you should listen to that signal and run towards the source in order to fix the root cause of the problem rather than running away from it. The sooner you fix the problem, the less consequences you have to deal with and the faster you grow,” shares Harrison.
It’s important to set yourself up for success so you can spend time exploring the places you have the opportunity of traveling to, otherwise you may not be able to enjoy all the perks of the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to build.
I am the CEO of Studio 15, a socially responsible fashion brand. After leaving behind a 15-year career in the corporate fashion world, I started a company that focuses on doing good and supporting women. It’s Studio 15’s mission to promote and collaborate with other female-owned businesses and to support female entrepreneurs in developing countries through a partnership with Kleos MFG, a non-profit organization.