I have had an uncommon journey: I am a French national who left France at 23, lived 20 years in Southeast Asia, before relocating to Finland in the summer of 2019.
I am a solopreneur. I work from home and spend 70% of my time on Zoom calls, coaching and training clients abroad.
Honestly, it does not matter where I live. I started my entrepreneurship journey in Cambodia in 2017, but I chose to move to Finland because my partner is Finnish, and I wanted to settle down.
I consider myself a Remote Entrepreneur. Although my business is registered in Finland, it is location independent and I can run it remotely from any place in the world provided it has a good Internet connection (and I like it).
You may dream of becoming a remote entrepreneur yourself and traveling the world. It is possible but like any entrepreneurship journey, it is not easy.
There are specific rules that apply to remote entrepreneurs.
1) Register your business
It is not because you travel that there are not any tax implications. Most digital nomads choose between:
- Keeping paying taxes in their home country, even though they are not present there
- Getting rid of their home tax residency, if they can, and move around as a perpetual traveler
Both options are tax grey areas, they are not ideal and leave you open to tax liabilities.
Not to mention that working on a tourist visa is a criminal offense in some countries.
As an entrepreneur, you cannot give opportunities to the people you work with (customers, suppliers, staff, etc.) to discredit you. Building trust starts with being legitimate.
So, before you start traveling the world, register your business somewhere (it does not have to be in your home country), so you can get a business ID, a bank account, deal with taxes, invoice your customers and pay your staff and suppliers.
2) Stay on top of your finances
Your number one job as a business owner is to manage your cash.
This can prove difficult when you keep on moving because the costs of living can greatly vary from one place to another.
Regardless, you need to use at least 3 financial tools:
- Annual budget: the forecast of your revenue, costs, and expenses for the year to come so you do not drive your business in the dark.
- Cash-flow forecast: the cash-flow forecast of your business over the next 60 to 120 days, so you can plan payments and expenses according to your revenue, and never run out of cash.
- Profit & Loss: the financial statement that summarizes the revenue, costs, and expenses incurred during a specific period, usually a fiscal quarter or year.
My recommendation: hire an accountant or accounting firm to do your bookkeeping.
3) Cultivate Grit
Every entrepreneur will tell you entrepreneurship is a journey.
You usually begin from scratch with something you are passionate about but does not exist, and patiently build it up piece by piece.
But the construction never ends. There is always a new piece to add.
To make it more complicated, you have somewhat of a plan in mind, but there are no proper guidelines to execute it. So, you must figure out which piece is going where, how to place it and when as you walk the journey.
It is a slow process, full of uncertainty.
Sometimes, you must destroy part of the construction and re-build. Sometimes, you must entirely give up and do something else.
That is why being an entrepreneur is so addictive and difficult at the same time.
So how can you make it?
You have to make sure that your mindset is in a place where you are ready for the long run.
Imagine watering a plant. First, you do not see too much progress, but if you persist, if you continue to do it properly, feed it, take proper measures to make sure it is growing strong, eventually, the plant will blossom, and you will yield results.
It is the same with entrepreneurship. Learn to persevere toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions. Trust me, your entrepreneurship journey will be full of them.
4) Accept Failure
If entrepreneurship is a journey full of uncertainty, there is one thing that is certain: Failure.
You will fail. 100% guaranteed. If you think you will not, maybe it is time to check your ego.
The problem is that no schools teach you about failure. It is taboo.
You should not want to fail, but you need to recognize that there is the possibility of many failures during your entrepreneurship journey, even when you are good at what you do.
And working remotely will increase the number of challenges, hence the chances to fail.
But successful entrepreneurs understand that failure is part of the game.
Not only do they accept it, but they permit themselves to fail because they know humans make mistakes.
They dare to admit things sometimes are not going well and they do not pretend to be stronger than they think they are. They see failure as an opportunity to learn and strengthen their businesses.
Nurture such an attitude about failure. It will encourage you to be bold and try new things.
5) Find Your Purpose
Impact drives entrepreneurs.
They usually dream big, to the point they want to change the world.
By becoming an entrepreneur, they are in charge. It gives them control over how much impact they can make. They can influence how things are done; they can challenge the status quo.
There are many ways to make an impact: opening a social enterprise, focusing on a good cause, solving a painful problem for people as well as treating employees, clients, and suppliers correctly.
It always begins with finding a sense of purpose.
If you want to make a difference, you must find a reason for living (hint: it is not money, it often revolves around helping others). Your purpose – that one thing you are meant to do – comes from a place of passion and authenticity. It is something that will get you out of bed every morning because you understand your place on earth and in this life.
Think about what makes you, you. Follow your natural gifts, values, and principles.
Once you have found your purpose, your company simply becomes a tool to convey it through the services or products you sell.
6) Surround yourself with people
You cannot make it by yourself. You will not succeed without the help of others.
Others include people within your business, like your employees, as well as people outside your organization such as your clients, suppliers, advisors, mentors, and any other stakeholders.
My key message is simple: Surround yourself with people because they are more resilient than technology. When technology breaks, you need people to fix it.
And since you will be traveling the world, you will meet many people. So, do not stay isolated and take advantage of it: for instance, find people who complete you, who excel at what you are weak at, who can support you, and with whom you can share the load of being an entrepreneur.
You will save a lot of time, achieve more, and boost your motivation level.
7) Be crystal clear about who your customers are
Here is a question I ask mentoring session after mentoring session with start-up teams: Who are your ideal clients?
Usually, I get one of the following answers:
- Confusion between the customer, the person who pays for the product or service, and the end-user, the person who uses the product or service. Most of the time, the end-user is not the customer.
- ‘We target everyone’, which shows me no ideal client profile, or a very limited one was created.
Your business is best suited to serve a specific type of client, the ideal client.
If you are busy looking for customers who are not part of this segment, you are losing opportunities to work with the ones who are.
Everyone is not your customer.
Although reaching out to everyone and hoping for the best is easy (after all there must be someone out there interested in my brand is what you may think), it lacks efficiency, and will adversely impact your business long-term.
So do not waste your time and energy chasing the wrong people. Instead, define who the right clients are and focus on them only.
8) Become a Sales Master
You could have the best product or service in the world, but if you do not sell it, you have zero business.
In our digital era, things become more and more automated and as result, we develop a tendency to hide behind algorithms, automatic messages, and other chatbots. This will be amplified as you travel the world and want to automate things as much as possible.
No doubt technology is an accelerator of growth. However, I would like to remind you there is always another human being clicking on the Buy button on the other side of the screen. After all, someone must record the payment card details into the system.
The best approach to sales is to consider that selling is a person-to-person business.
Do your customers want to be told how fantastic your product is or do they want an explanation on how your product will solve their problem or make their life better?
Nobody cares how great your brand is, especially when your products or services look very similar to the many others.
Remember there are people on the other side of the sales interaction, so find out the best ways to connect with them. Do not talk about you, talk about them.
9) Adjust your nomadic lifestyle to your business
While you develop your business, you can no longer be a free spirit.
First, make sure your business model is not adversely affected by your nomadic lifestyle. The best way to ensure your business will not tie you to the same place is to go online, which will allow you to work wherever you are.
However, even some online businesses require staying in a stable base to manage inventory or important meetings, and that is a position you may not want to be in. So, create a business model that benefits from you being on the move.
Second, you can still be a nomad, but you must become a wise one because your business needs stability.
Feel like a few months trip to some beautiful islands on the other side of the world? You should better check the quality of the Internet connection first. You may also look at the time zone especially if you must liaise with people over Zoom. If you are used to working in co-working spaces because they are efficient, long stays in a remote village or a small town may not be for you because you will not find such spaces there. And what about the stability in that country? The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere because of political tensions.
So, travel yes, but plan according to the constraints of your business.
10) Take care of yourself
Living a nomadic lifestyle can quickly turn into being complacent, especially with yourself. You do not pay much attention to your diet, you drink too much (to celebrate all these fantastic views), you do not have regular access to gyms, you get up late, in brief, you let go.
On top of it, you always think about your business, you constantly work on it, you want to go fast, and as a result, you may be in a situation where despite all the beautiful places to visit, you rarely take any time off.
How long can you sustain such a pace?
Your body and mind can take a certain volume of stress before you eventually collapse. Worst case scenario: burnout!
Consider being an entrepreneur is like being a professional athlete: the best ones are not invincible. They reach their levels because they dedicate specific time to both mental and physical preparation and recovery.
Copy them: Work out, eat properly, drink in moderation, fix your sleep and spend time to relax.
And while we are on the subject, get proper medical insurance that is adapted to your nomadic lifestyle so you can get any support, anywhere, anytime, just in case. It is called peace of mind.
Laurent Notin is a Coach To Entrepreneurs, Start-up Mentor, and Host of Inter:views, Cracking The Entrepreneurship Code podcast. He works with entrepreneurs across the globe. He has also been an advisor to the Board of For Nomads Group Ltd. ever since it was just an idea on a piece of paper.
Reach out to him: email@example.com