There’s much to love about the modern age, but we don’t always give it the credit it deserves. Let’s take, for example, the world of work. Since the industrial revolution, people have been tied to one place of work; it has become, to many, something of a prison. But the internet has changed all that. Now, people are able to work from more or less anywhere — all they need is a connection. This has lead to a rise in ‘digital nomads,’ some of whom work as a traditional employee but on a flexible schedule, some of whom are running their own business. So if you’re thinking about creating your own company, you don’t have to pick one specific site near to your home to work from. The whole world will be open!
It’s all part of the ‘Digital Nomad’ movement, which has risen in popularity in recent years. All over the world, there are location independent workers who make their money from wherever they happen to be. If you’re going to grow a business, however, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind — it’s easy to lose momentum when you’re living this sort of lifestyle. We take a look at a few useful tips below.
- Is It Right For You? Before you book that plane ticket, you’ll need to first thing about something that’s pretty important: is this type of arrangement one that’s right for you? If you’re someone who always likes to have every detail of your company watertight and organised, then the desire for a more hands-on approach might mean it makes more sense to stay in one area until things are running on autopilot. Even forgetting the business aspect for a moment, you’ll want to think about whether a life on the road suits your personality. Are you comfortable in unfamiliar situations? Are you good at meeting new people? Don’t worry if you’re not quite there yet, because you’ll learn these skills as you go, but you will have to learn them eventually.
- What You’ll Need. The beautiful thing about the digital nomad life is that you won’t need all that much to get up, running, and productive. You’re going to be conducting all of your business via the internet and the phone. As such, all you need is…a reliable laptop, a smartphone, and that’s it, in terms of hardware, at least. It’ll be the software that makes running the company possible. You’ll need to have cloud storage (so you can access your important documents via the internet), tools for staying in touch with people back home, and other applications and services that boost productivity.
- Where To Go. The main selling point when it comes to the digital nomad lifestyle is that you can “work from anywhere,” but this isn’t strictly true. Though we tend to think of the world as “connected,” most of the world isn’t online, though of course, it’s moving in that direction every day. Even if a place is connected, you’ll need to check the quality of that connection. You can’t run a business with dial-up speed internet! Some corners of the world are hotspots for digital nomads because they offer good internet connection, a high quality of life, and an entrepreneur-friendly environment. Wherever you choose, it’s important that you’re doing your research beforehand. Just because one person recommends one particular destination, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be right for you — it’s all about the type of environment that you need.
- Staying Disciplined. While you might have visions of setting down to work, work, work, with a sprinkling of good times on the side, it’s worth keeping in mind that, as you’re somewhat in “vacation” mode, you’ll have to stay on top of your discipline. When you’re surrounded by excitement, new people, and good times, it’s not always easy to stay in and get some work done. As such, you’ll need to work to develop a routine that works for you. If you’re just working as you please, you’ll find the invitations to do…anything other than work too difficult to resist. It’s generally best to work first thing in the morning, though this will depend on the timezone you need to sync up with. Once you’ve got everything done, you’ll be able to enjoy all the fun that the region offers.
- Meeting Others. It can be somewhat scary, to think that you’re out there, miles away from home, all on your own. But you’re not — as we said earlier, the digital nomad is pretty big right now. Unless you pick somewhere well out of the way, you’ll find that there are people just like you who are also trying to develop their business from afar. So make sure you’re connecting with them. They’ll be full of good advice, especially if you’re new in town and they’ve been there a while. Plus, with them, you can form a social group, too. So where do you find these like-minded people? There are two options — you can look at entrepreneur groups on Meetup.com, or work from a coworking space. You’ll have to pay for the latter, but they are generally worth it — you meet people, and they provide something of an anchor.
- The Professional Look. So far, we’ve talked about how you can get set up and making progress when you’re working away from home. But there’s another side of the digital nomad life that you’ll need to address: the (potential) barrier it places between you and your customers. While there’s much to enjoy about this kind of lifestyle, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your customer service. This means responding to emails and queries during hours that make sense to your customers; if you don’t know if you can do this, outsource the work to a third party company. You’ll also want to set up a business phone system that forwards all your business calls to your cell phone. So long as they can get through and talk to you as and when it’s needed, it won’t matter where you’re based. Just make sure you’re taking the calls in a professional environment, as opposed to, say, on a beach.
- Checking In. You’re unlikely to be the only person in charge of building your business. You may have staff, you have suppliers, you may have business relationships, all of which will need managing — they can’t be run on autopilot! Because you’re based further away, you’ll want to take additional steps to ensure that the connections you developed prior to leaving are kept intact. Because there’s only so much of a rapport you can build via email, you’ll want to get comfortable with video chats and phone calls. Make sure you’re making a special trip to see the people most important to your business when you’re physically there, too.
- Plugged In. One potential problem you may face when you temporarily move to a new area — especially if that area is overseas — is that you could lose touch with the latest happenings in your industry. In certain spaces, what’s going on in your business world just comes to you naturally. If you’re working from a space that’s a little more remote, this is less likely to happen. As such, you’ll want to take extra steps to stay up to date. You can do this by meeting other people who work in your industry, reading trade magazines, and being active on related social media groups.
- Visas and Staying Legal. Make sure your business isn’t thrown off course by legal issues! When you’re living and working in a place, you’ll likely need to pay taxes, especially if you’re staying there for more than a couple of months. Wherever you’re planning on going, make sure you do your research on the requirements. It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are certain countries where you may be unable to work, depending on your citizenship. Because the digital nomad lifestyle is becoming more popular, there are more agreements and special visas for those who will only be living in the country temporarily.
- It’s Not a Dream. As we’ve said, there’s much to love about working from wherever you want! But it’s important that you avoid falling into the trap of believing that it’s some magical existence. While you might initially think it’s everything you wanted, sooner or later, reality will set in. You’ll have low moments, times when you’re not as productive, times when you wondered if it’s a mistake. They’ll pass, but just be aware that they will arrive.
- Conclusion. We live in a golden age of opportunity. No longer are we bound by one worksite — the internet has liberated us. If you’re growing a business but also want to infuse your life with excitement and new experiences, then look at taking your professional life on the road. It’ll open new avenues and ways of thinking. Even if you only end up doing it for a year or two, you’ll find that it’s a worthwhile experience!
Note: this post contains contributed content.