I had the pleasure of speaking at an event in London on the topic of ‘How to Build a Life Working from Anywhere’. The challenge for me was how to distill 7+ years of running my own business, with 5+ years of those being location independent with a fully online business, into just an hour’s talk.
I know how it goes with these kinds of talks. People get all fired up to do something, then they go home and…do nothing. Life gets in the way and, more often than not, nothing much changes.
So I prepared a a list of 6 key things that you could start doing straight away, no matter what your current situation is (and they’re in order of priority, in my opinion)…
#1 Build Your Freedom Fund
In a nutshell, I recommend building a fund which would cover your expenses entirely for at least 6 months, ideally 12 months – bills, expenses, food, entertainment etc. – all in.
Your freedom fund basically buys you time.
If you don’t have a profit-generating project up and running (or at the very least, making enough to cover your expenses) by the time you decide to leave your job, you need to be realistic about how long it will take before your venture makes money. 6 months is pushing it, 12 is safer.
If your project is profit-making by the time you leave your job, then your freedom fund can be used to buy flights, fund some travels or even invested back into the business to take it to the next level.
It’s entirely down to your own personal circumstances as to what and how you might need to use a fund such as this, but having one in the first place can be the difference between making it or not.
#2 Make (Head) Space
In the hectic merry-go-round of big (or small) city life, it is easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month and yes, year to year without giving yourself any time and space to…just be or think.
One of the biggest things that stopped me from leaving my job as a management consultant and starting up my own business was that I didn’t have any ideas.
…Because I literally never gave myself the head space which is necessary for the creative juices to flow. And so I never had the big (or even little) ideas.
If this means not going out for one or two nights a week, or taking an entire weekend to yourself every now and then, do it.
Do what it takes to give yourself the space you need to think.
It’ll pay off because it also means you’ll be carving out the time to…
#3 Build Your Personal Brand
In a nutshell, this means being known as the ‘go to’ resource for something…whatever you decide your area of expertise/passion is. And in location independent terms, it typically means being the ‘go to’ destination online.
Your personal brand is at the foundation of all your marketing efforts – and if you plan to travel and work from anywhere, it naturally begs the question, “Should you build this aspect into your brand?”.
My response to this question is as follows:
- Only do this explicitly if you feel it will give you an edge or some kind of advantage.
- Equally, never try and hide it from customers and clients.
In all the years of running our businesses, we have never had an issue with someone not wanting to work with us because we were location independent.
When it comes to establishing your online presence, it’s pretty simple. You need:
- To build a website of some sort, and possibly a blog depending upon what your business is.
- Profiles on the social media tools which are most relevant and useful to your business (i.e. the ones where your paying customers want to interact with you).
- A mailing list, which is the foundation of many online businesses who want to sell effectively and efficiently.
As for resources to help you build the above, these are the starting points, I’d recommend:
- Read all you can about writing for the web – Copyblogger is a good start.
- Get up to speed on social networking – Social Media Examiner is a good start.
- To earn a living from a blog, read all you can about blogging – Problogger is a good start.
- For software development, check out Rob Walling.
- For the practical nuts & bolts of how all the tech tools fit together, that’s exactly what we help you with in the Circles.
#4 Skill Up
Naturally, as captain of your own ship, you’ll be responsible for everything – at least to begin with.
As entrepreneurs we all wear multiple hats on a daily basis to begin with – CEO, press/PR spokesperson, marketer, copywriter, brand strategist, web developer, coach, consultant, writer, blogger and more.
I’ve learned everything I currently know by trial and error and just diving in (and making mistakes, left, right and centre).
In the corporate world, there’s always a lot of talk about ‘transferable skills’ – often the softer skills rather than the content- or industry-specific skills.
While many of the skills I developed and honed in the workplace have been useful, it took me about 2 years to figure out exactly how they really benefited me in my own business – and by that stage, they’d kind of become integrated into the new stuff anyway.
The kinds of skills, often honed in the corporate world, that are useful as a business owner, include:
- Client management – the logical processes and well thought-out customer experience processes that are put into many client relationships in the corporate world.
- Decision-making processes – while these may be very different when running your own business, the fact that a decision-making process typically exists (for almost everything) in the corporate world is a lesson many business owners would do well to learn (and apply where necessary).
When it comes to revenue-generating skills, these are obviously many and varied. The biggest revenue generating skills for me are:
- Strategic business consulting and coaching
- Blogging/writing (using a subscription model)
- Community building right here with the Circles
#5 Surround Yourself with Like-minded People
One thing I failed to mention during my talk that was a big oversight is this:
Location independence is a lifestyle. A life style. A way of living.
Think about what that means for a minute…
It means you live it. All the time. It is not something you dip your toe in and out of. Not if you want it to work for you on a permanent basis.
When I say “Surround yourself with like-minded people”, it’s like believing in a particular religion passionately, and going to a church where you know you’ll be surrounded by people who follow the same religion, ascribe to the same ideals as you, believe the same as you do, share the same world views as you and make the same big life choices as you.
It’s the same with entrepreneurship and location independence…
It’s as simple as attending events , going to meet-ups with entrepreneurs, working out of co-working spaces in your evenings and weekends…these days, especially in London and most global cities, you are literally spoiled for choice. And online, you’ve got communities and proactive support groups.
Spend as much time as you can surrounded by the people who are already doing what you want to do. Why not join a Circle?
#6 Do Something. Anything.
Paralysis. Overwhelm. Uncertainty. Your mortal enemies which will keep you where you currently are, if you let them.
The best thing you can do to defeat these enemies is to do something. Anything. That may sound extreme, but I’ve found that any move is better than none.
As I’ve frequently written…
Any kind of move provides you with a fresh, different (not always better) perspective. It usually also means a next step will present itself. It’s your job to take it.
Take that step and the next one will appear…