So you want to become location independent? But you don’t want to end up poor and depressed? I’m with you here!! You want a plan, you want to build a business and have steady income before you start dreaming of running it remotely? Yeah! I am definitively with you!! My UPGRADE series is here to help. I’ve been an independent consultant for 4 years now. Although I’m not yet 100% location independent, I’ve learned a thing or 2 and I’m sharing those with you in this series.
What does it mean to be location independent?
Being location independent means being able to work on your business and make money, from anywhere in the world. It doesn’t mean you have to be on the road 24/7, it only means you can, if you want to.
To become location independent, chances are that the project you will transform into a business has to be location independent as well. If you dream of opening a coffee shop, you will have to be there physically and the hours, you will need to put into it, will be long. If you dream of being a life coach, chances are that your fan base and potential clients will be physically located around you. Yeah, Skype is great, physical meetings are still better.
However, it’s not necessarily entirely the case. It is, in some cases, possible to run a ‘normal’ business from afar.
If you want to have a location independent business, you need to think & chose carefully.
The wrong way to choose a business
Google ‘how to make money as a digital nomad‘. What do you find? Mostly list of activities you can do to earn money which usually include: coding, web design, graphic design, teaching English, blogging, affiliate marketing, photography, freelance writing and coaching. This isn’t an exhaustive list, there are more out there!
Now, there are a lot of things those lists won’t tell you.
Like the fact that very few people are going to hire a photographer who lives on the other side of the world, as there are hundreds photographers available in their own city. if they do hire you, it’s because you are absolutely extraordinary!
Those lists don’t tell you that not many people are going to hire a coach with whom they will never be able to meet.
Or that not many people are going to hire a virtual assistant who is not in the same time zone.
And, oh… those lists usually don’t mention that affiliate marketing requires tons of traffic which you probably won’t get overnight!
Other things, those lists especially don’t tell you include the facts that:
- You could probably earn some money, doing this or that, but you probably won’t get rich.
- It will take a lot of work that you won’t be doing from a dreamy beach.
- Some of those jobs you could do from a different location, but not any location.
- You got to be really good in the field you chose.
- You got to be really good in other fields like communication, marketing, dealing with clients…
- Managing your cashflow is going to give you nightmares.
So, yeah the list of things those lists don’t tell you goes on and on!
Instead of looking at those lists other than for inspiration, you should craft your business based on your own criteria.
The right way to choose a business
The first question might be: What is a business?
A business can be defined as a system where goods or services are exchanged for money.
A business requires some sort of investment, at least your time, energy and brain and eventually some sweat and tears.
A successful business has enough customers spending money on the offered products or services so it makes a profit. I highlighted successful and profit as those are keywords which go hand in hand! A business that does not make a profit will not succeed in the long run.
Yes, you can argue with this definition (which isn’t perfect) but it won’t take you far to spend time arguing.
It is more important to understand that customers spend money on things that fulfill their needs. Needs is a loose word with a broad application. Do you need the latest iSomething? 50, 60 or more pair of shoes? A hands free umbrella?…
What customers need is a very broad notion. Needs and desires are intertwined and is a complex topic. The good news is your business can serve any of such needs or desires.
The first thing to do is: Research, Research & Research
Based on the above business definition, you know that the possibilities are pretty much endless. To find a business idea, you should find a need people may have and that you are able to fulfill. Here is a 4 steps process that you can use:
1 – Find what you are really good at or what you could learn and become really good at
Capitalise on what you already know. It could be business skills: You are super organized, you work in a very specific market, you studied this or that… it could also be skills linked to hobbies: your dog is superbly trained, you are an enthusiast cyclist… or something linked to experience: Your house is spotless, you had to deal with asthma all your life…
2 – Find a few topics, you could see yourself dealing with daily
There is really no reasons to choose a topic that you don’t truly like. You will have to breathe it in and out, so you’d better like it!
3 – Match 1 & 2
OK that’s the hard bit! You might want to read first, the section below, about the different types of business. Remember what we are discussing here: how to create a business that will allow you to be location independent. Keep it in mind when matching your competences and your favorite topics.
4 – Test your idea
The question to ask is: would someone pay for this product or service?
If it already exist, you’re in luck as you can study the competition.
If it doesn’t exist, than the other way to ask the question is: Am I fulfilling someone else needs? Ask your friends, your network…
Repeat steps 1 to 4 as many time as required!
You may come up with a brilliant idea overnight but if you don’t research the pros and cons of it, it might become a nightmare or worst, a financial disaster. Test your idea(s) and make sure they fit in your short to medium term goals.
Focus on short to medium term goals
Building a business isn’t about the brilliantly crafted business plan you have and is not a straightforward road. Instead it is a long winding road where you, as a person, will change and where your goals and expectations will change too. It’s not a bad idea to know where about you want to be in 5 years or even 10 years, but it is not mandatory either. You are allowed to change your mind!
Yes, do have short-term goals.
Sure, you can have medium term goals too.
It’s ok to update your long-term goals as and when necessary!
Building your own business is like having a baby. A long-term commitment which can take unpredictable turns. You might love being a wedding photographer now. You might not like it as much in 10 years. It just might get boring or exhausting. You as a person will evolve, and your business will evolve too.
The right way to choose your future business is to find something that people need and fulfill their need while enjoying doing so. You can get inspiration from lists and examples that you can find online but please do the required research to find what fits YOU.
The different types of Businesses
There are 3 main types of businesses and they are not all easy to adapt to a ‘location independent’ lifestyle.
A service type of business offers professional skills, expertise, advice, or usually non material products. Examples of service type business include architect, accounting/ tax services, dog walker, writer, blogger, photographer, coach… You can find a long list of examples on www.entrepreneur.com
Providing services while on the move may seem like an obvious choice. However, you need to choose carefully what type of service you want to provide. Some services require specific professional licenses (doctors, architects, lawyers…) for example. Most importantly , in our quest to the best location independent business, some services require you to be there to serve regular clients. If you start a dog walking business, people will expect you to be there and walk their dogs! But it’s true that you can delegate this part!
Merchandising type of business is about buying products and reselling them with a margin.
At first, this may seem incompatible with being on the road, but you could always consider outsourcing the product handling part. Drop shipping services are easily available and you ‘only’ need to handle the marketing, administrative tasks and customer services. Think Amazon, Shopify or even eBay…
I won’t go into too much details on this because 1 – I don’t have experience and 2 – I’m not 100% convinced this is the best business type. It does seem possible to make good money with this, but it’s just not my think to rely on a 3rd party website (including their specific rules, regulations and change of mind) to make a sustainable living.
A manufacturing business is about creating a new product from scratch. It’s about buying raw materials and transforming these into a product to be sold.
You may be thinking right now that manufacturing products and travelling is incompatible. Well, it’s probably a bit hard. But think of a jewelry maker, think of a painter, or a wood-carver…. They can keep their tools and supplies to a minimum and carry those around. As a matter of fact, for some artists, these tools and supplies could fit in less space than the tools required by a professional photographer.
In addition just like with the merchandising businesses, you can also outsource the manufacturing part and even the inventory part.
Wait what? That’s it? But I want to earn passive income?
I hear you! But do you know what passive income really means?
What is passive income?
Passive income includes regular earnings from a source other than an employer or contractor. The IRS says passive income can come from just 2 sources: rental income or a business in which an individual does not actively participate. Examples include book royalties and dividend-paying stocks.
Popular culture, however, defines it as “any money you earn while sitting on a beach sipping mojitos”. I hear you screaming: “Yeah! that’s what I want!!”
So let me confirm this bluntly to you: There is nothing passive above passive income. You got to work for it! Work to create a product, work to market it, to sell it and to assist your customers. Wash and repeat!
The main difference with a ‘regular’ service business is that you do not trade your time for money one to one and therefore have a far bigger potential of growth.
So how do you get passive income?
We will skip affiliate marketing, ads ghost writing and even stock photography, to go straight to the current hot trend: information products.
Selling information products
An information product can take various forms. It usually starts with a small sort of pdf but can include video tutorials, facts sheets and various lists of actionable. Selling information products is a hot trend and is pretty much what everyone is recommending you to do.
Selling information products falls into the passive income business model.
Don’t be fouled by what you can read online, it takes a massive amount of work to create an online class, a great e-book or any other sort of information product. To create a great product and not something that is a copy / paste of existing ones, is simply extremely time-consuming.
Let me take the example of my mini guides, which are free but are still a good little example of an information product. The first mini guide, I created about castle vocabulary took me 3 full days of work. It’s only one page. Is it great? I think it’s pretty good, and seeing that some schools are recommending it to their students is probably a sign that I did a fair job.
My 3rd mini guide? Well over 2 weeks! It’s only 2 pages…
Information products take time to create. That’s it!
The other thing that online gurus are not telling you or at least not enough, is that creating your product is only the first step and it’s almost the easiest one! Sales are not going to fall from the sky. You have to market your product like crazy. You are going to spend more time marketing your creations than actually creating them.
Once your first information product is out, you need to start working on the second one!
There is no 100% passive income in selling information products but it probably still is one of the best business model for an independent location business. At least currently.
So let’s be very clear, I have nothing against information products. I might be creating one myself! I could however rant for hours against gurus who say they have the secret formula to make your earn millions in no time and with no work. There I said it!
To become a location independant business owner, you first need to think hard about yourself, your assets, your goals. You also need to do a lot of research and test your ideas before jumping all in. All the type of businesses described, let it be services, merchandizing or manufacturing can become profitable businesses. Most of them can be run, one way or another from a remote location. It only depends on how you get organized.
With this UPGRADE series, I’m here to help.
I rant quite a lot because a lot of recommendations out there are cringe worthy to me. I might be a little too blunt or may sound pessimistic but I’m not. I’m just realistic when saying that it takes a lot of work. That’s it!
And just to be clear, I’m not here to recommend you one type of business more than the other. It is your choice. You need to find what type of business is the most appropriate for you. You’re actually the only one who can decide. It depends of your time, your background, skills, personality, plans, expectations… There is something out there that is perfect for you, I’m sure!
If you are ready and want to start working on your website, you can go to: Create a Website – Part 1. There are 4 articles ready for you on how to create a website (these include not so usual recommendations!)
Keep being inspired and keep taking actions toward your goals!
This article is part of my UPGRADE Series. Click below to learn more:
Eventually I will get to the point where I explain why Brainy and Papa Smurf are here… I’m working on it but you’ll have to be patient!!