5 Things I’ve Learned About Running a “Mobile” Business
Man, things got a little hot and heavy in that last article, didn’t they? I told you I have a hard time coming down off that soap box. Don’t worry, this subject is way more light-hearted because running a business is something I’ve failed at far more than succeeded, and as such, I simply can’t take this subject as seriously.
It seems to be all the rage these days to quit your job and become an entrepreneur. The internet claims perks of this choice include: working from anywhere in the world—like the beaches of Tahiti, getting to show up for work in whatever attire you choose, setting your own schedule and answering to no-one other than maybe the IRS.
I can vouch for all of it. It’s true, I’m currently in my sweat pants, have held conference calls from an island in Malaysia (without anyone knowing), I get to switch things up everyday depending on my workload and as long as I’m compliant with all relevant rules and regulations, there’s no one storming my patio—um, I mean, office—to file a complaint or threaten to fire me.
There are obviously a few hang-ups to the whole situation as well, but you can google those and let someone else burst your bubble. Instead, I’ll share a few things I’ve learned along the way while setting up a “work from anywhere” online business.
1) The Internet is Your Number One Asset.
It seems obvious, but after my last move, I have struggled for nearly five months to get an internet connection and have lost nearly every single client I had in the process. Before this move, I had devoted considerable time to building up not just local clients but a global network, in order to ensure a pipeline of work while I relocated to the other side of the planet.
Months later, I’m still sitting in coffee shops with spotty internet and apologizing profusely to clients when the connection breaks down for the fifteenth time during a call or a file fails to properly upload, again. All I’m saying here is the that “work from anywhere” thing is true: just research internet availability before you buy your one-way ticket to that tropical paradise.
2) Mind Your Timezone.
Find a good timezone converter and just leave it open in your browser. That’s my tip. When you have clients around the world, there’s a good chance that some work calls might have to take place at 11pm or worse (at least for me) at 5 in the morning.
If you’re working while you travel, keep in mind that your timezone might be different from when you originally scheduled that deadline and that time change does not actually happen on the same day worldwide. If you want to run your business from anywhere, be sure you’re not the one constantly missing appointments due to miscalculation. *I still do this far too often.
3) Find a Local Community.
Working around the world is equally freeing and isolating. Which is why it’s so important to find a local community, even if you’re only in a place for a short time. Through LinkedIn, Meetup.com or any other social site, see if you can plug-in to a local entrepreneur community. Join a Mastermind group, attend Pecha Kucha nights or find a few networking events so that you have real, in-the-flesh folks around. It makes all the difference, it really does.
4) Be Adaptable.
While I still do a lot of work with clients around the world, I also inevitably end up gaining local clients through word of mouth. But what works on a global scale does not always apply to local practice. For instance, when you find my services online, it’s pretty clear cut what I do and how much I charge. But here in town, expectations work a bit differently. I also have to be aware of local tax laws, market prices and cultural expectations.
While it can be a steep learning curve with every relocation, I have always enjoyed working in person more than simply consulting over Skype. Just be willing to adapt as needed.
This applies to any business, but I find it to be even more true for the go-anywhere folks. Jump on Odesk or any other skills-for-hire site and start outsourcing. You really can’t do it all yourself (despite what they say) and you’ll be far more productive (and therefore profitable, hopefully) if you’re smart about delegating aspects of your work to others.
Most people go the route of hiring a virtual assistant or bookkeeper, but if you’re like me, it might be wiser to hire a project manager who is able to manage you (just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you don’t need someone to keep you in line and on task!). It also helps to have someone who’s “stable” and available while you’re out of touch or on the go or still searching for wifi.
Have any tips for running a “work-from-anywhere” job? I’d love to hear them (so I can do a better job, myself)!