Running a business while traveling is akin to shaving while sprinting to get to work on time. It’s madness, uncomfortable at times and will likely lead you to a lot of pain and suffering. However, it’s necessary for some people. Especially people like me.
I’m a free spirit and love traveling but I wasn’t born with a silver spoon or a trust fund. I use to wish I had, and I still do, but at least now I’m less concerned. I was fortunate enough to have a supportive family, go to a great school, become a programmer and start building a business when I was in college. I’m blessed. However, it wasn’t all luck. A lot of it was hard work.
Running a business is hard.
“But you control your time and get to keep all the money!” is probably what you are thinking, right? Yeah, it sounds glamorous. Like a bowl of cherries covered in gold. And then you realize that if you don’t bring money in your toast. And on top of the work, you also need to do marketing, find new projects, draft up agreements, track your progress, maintain your finances, budget accordingly, invoice customers, submit your taxes, and hope…hope…nothing big goes wrong.
It’s almost more investment than it’s worth.
Investing in your business is like taking money out of your pocket, burning it and hoping the ashes turn to gold so you can sell it for a few pennies in the future. Ok, I’m being dramatic. But seriously, it takes 2’ish years before any business will be reasonably successful. And that’s after you’ve worked for employers to get the experience necessary to run a business. I’ve worked for 5 different tech startups. I learned a lot, but becoming a business owner didn’t happen overnight. It took years of personal investment, thousands of dollars investment and hundreds of hours reading and learning how to do things correctly.
But…it is definitely worth it.
I’ve complained a lot in this article so far. But the reality is that it’s 100% worth it. Any successful professional travel blogger, web developer, programmer, freelancer or small business owner will tell you that their business made their life better. Entrepreneurs have a certain spark about them. They’re not stuck in a cubicle or confined to someone else’s schedule. Not a large percentage of people can travel often, work from a laptop, visit a different country when they want and have a tight grip on their life choices.
You must start NOW.
Sometimes my friends back in my home town were bored. I was not. Every moment of down time was a moment I could have been working towards the future I wanted: namely owning a business and traveling frequently. It pains me to hear that people are bored…they’re passing up the one thing they can’t get back…life!
Stop dreaming. Stop hoping. Start taking baby steps towards what you want. Sacrifice “bored” for “inspired”. The fact that you are reading this shows that there’s a glimmer…maybe a small glimmer but visible glimmer of hope that you want to travel. So start doing it. Ok…now on what to do…
Automate and make it easy.
Running a business is about automating things. Sending out email often? Automated it. Checking your mail often? Automate it.
The key to all automation is technology. There is literally software and apps that will solve almost ALL of your life problems. I utilize that to run my business. Gmail alone is a powerful tool for labeling and filtering emails. Google Calendars makes setting reminders easy. Realistically, Google services altogether make my life possible. Without these services, my world would be a mess.
Choose a business you enjoy.
You’re going to be doing this for thousands of hours. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t even think about it. Also, the key is too choose something you can do while traveling. For example, even being a mechanic can work. People have cars everywhere. If you can fix them, people will hire you. If you bake wedding cakes though, you’re going to have a hard time because now you need equipment, a location and referrals. That is a bigger challenge. However, baking pastries at a local kitchen and selling them is still not impossible…it depends on how creative you are.
Become the expert in the field.
People find interest in what others do. People remember faces and careers. “Oh, I met Debbie Jacobs today, did you know she’s a massage therapist?” See my point? We’re all guilty of it. In college we wanted to know what our friends were studying. In adult life everyone wants to know what we do for work. Now embrace that fact.
When you speak to people, briefly demonstrate your value by discussing an example of your work. Talk about how your customers are satisfied and what makes it interesting. These things will lead people to spread the word. When someone refers you, show your appreciation by sending them a thank you note.
Don’t forget, you truly are the expert. Chances are, not many people know nearly as much about the field as you do, even if you only Googled the subject for 2-3 hours. Sounds funny, but most people simply don’t read.
Getting people to like you is perhaps the most important THING.
People like cool, fun and interesting people. I will pay $20 for a hat from someone that I like versus $0 for a hat from someone I have no interest in. And I don’t even wear hats. The point is, charismatic people are valued. It’s something you can benefit from. It’s the same reason Vince Vaughn is damn awesome in Wedding Crashers. He’s hilarious, cool and someone you can understand somewhat.