Let’s face it: Whether you’re thinking about building a business or are already in the throes of entrepreneurship, you didn’t get into it to spend your life behind a desk. When I realized I wanted to be a successful business owner and travel while doing it, I was enjoying the crisp air and breathtaking view of Machu Picchu. I knew right then and there that the desk life wasn’t for me. But how was I going to make that happen? To be honest, I had never heard the term “digital nomad.” I simply had a passion for travel and new experiences. I knew I wanted to make my career goals fit into my life goals, not the other way around.
More than seven years later, I operate a successful advertising technology business and lead a team of over 70 employees all while traveling the world. It is possible to live your dream, but you need the right tools and motivation.
Take a look at these essentials for mastering digital nomadism.
Keep up appearances
We’re not talking business suits and $500 haircuts here. We’re talking people. Being a business owner is as much about connecting with people as it is meeting sales goals or staying ahead of the competition. At times, you may need to meet with others whether you’re on a train, bus or plane, and will need a reliable way to do so.
Skype is a convenient, free way to make voice or video calls when you’re local, and it also offers the ability to purchase Skype Credit. With purchased credit, you can call any country or region and your credit never expires. While different countries have different rates per minute, you can sign up for automatic renewal if your credits are running low.
Be mindful of time zones
When I first started running a business while traveling, I encountered an issue with time zone changes. Before I founded WorldTimeBuddy, I spent a lot of time doing mental gymnastics to try to ensure I wasn’t calling someone in the middle of the night.
Use WorldTimeBuddy to map the best meeting times for multiple parties depending on their location. One of the best features about this app, in addition to being available on mobile, is the option to overlay Google Calendar. If you’re already using Google Calendar to track meetings or appointments, this tool lets you find available meeting times quickly. It also alerts you if the country you’re mapping doesn’t share the same weekend days, so you don’t try to schedule a business meeting on someone’s day off. How cool is that?
Get paid from anywhere
Depending on your business model, you may need to get paid in another currency while traveling. How do you sort that out? Do you collect paper money, convert it to your home currency and then find a way to deposit it?
If you’re just starting or bootstrapping your business, your resources are precious. Fortunately, services like PayPal have expanded to support more than 200 countries and 25 currencies. Many entrepreneurs, however, find that fees for transfers and currency conversions add up quickly. Alternate payment tools, such as Payoneer, offer lower fees and the ability to withdraw funds at ATMs or to transfer them directly to your local bank account, all while supporting transactions in over 150 currencies.
Manage team collaboration
If you’re like me, you want to stay in touch with your team and know what’s going on at all times regardless of your location. A great way to do that and keep everyone on the same page is by implementing G-suite across your business. As Google’s affordable business solution for teams, G-suite encompasses everything from collaboration through Google Chat and Hangouts to production via Google Docs and cloud storage. Most people are already accustomed to using at least one Google tool, so implementation of G-suite involves a very short learning curve.
Another collaboration tool is Slack, which offers a transparent overview of all projects and can also run alongside your existing platforms through integrations, including Google Drive, Hangouts, Skype, DropBox, Evernote, MailChimp and Twitter just to name a few. It’s a great tool that enhances productivity and communication, and it’s completely customizable to the unique needs of your business.
Unplug from your devices
Yes, you read that correctly. Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to the cloud. If you’re completely new to the area you’re traveling in, do some research to find local businesses that interest you. Perhaps set up a meeting or two with business owners to have coffee or lunch — after all, nothing brings people together like food, no matter where you are. I’ve hired more than a few people after chance meetings in foreign lands and it’s helped my business grow.
Armed with these tips and a few handy digital tools, it’s time to get up, get out and get to work. Trust me: you’ll never regret leaving behind your previous life chained to a desk.