At the beginning of March this year I returned from a family vacation in Italy, Greece, and Turkey; packed up my apartment in D.C.; and flew on a one-way ticket to Mexico. A few weeks later I launched my new website and began actively building my business as a nomadic entrepreneur – and it was the best decision that I have ever made.
I’ve been in the entrepreneurship world for a while now working at startups, VC firms, and non-profits, and even running an entrepreneurship center at a university. I had clients of my own but I wasn’t fully committed to my own journey through entrepreneurship until I took the leap and figured out a way to combine my passion for entrepreneurship with my passion for travel. Now, I help first-time entrepreneurs plan, launch, and grow businesses that will fit with their overall lifestyle goals and I do it while living in a different country every month or so and exploring entrepreneurial ecosystems around the globe.
Was it scary to quit my day job and run off to a foreign country? Of course, but I couldn’t sleepwalk through my life anymore and this was the best way I knew to wake up.
If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips that can serve as your pocket guide to taking the leap and becoming a nomadic entrepreneur:
1. Make sure being a nomad makes sense for you.
Hopping from country to country every few weeks may sound glamorous, but it can be lonely and a colossal pain in the a— to actually do. If you’ve never been outside of your home state, I wouldn’t recommend running off to Bali on a one-way ticket as your first adventure. Get your feet wet by participating in things like Under30Experiences to learn your travel style and see if living out of a suitcase is something you really want to commit yourself to.
2. Figure out your finances.
If you haven’t yet launched your business you’ll need some ramp up time before you’re actually generating revenue and you need to make sure that you can survive until then. If you don’t have any savings, stick it out at your day job a few more months so that you can sock some money away before taking off on your adventure. Or maybe you should consider launching your new business before you hop on the plane so that you already have revenue coming in when you land in your new home of the month.
3. Make a plan.
I’m not going to belabor the point because it could be an entire book but, if you plan to live exclusively off of your new business, make sure that you’ve done the proper planning and have a solid business model so that you can realistically pay your bills with the money your new endeavor will bring in.
4. Remember to work hard and play hard.
This isn’t a tip sheet for how to escape on a permanent vacation so don’t forget that your business needs your attention to grow and thrive, but it’s also a pretty awesome way to live life that most people will never experience, so make sure you appreciate every moment of it.
5. Learn another language.
Trust me, you can get into WAY more fun if you can talk to the locals in their language than you can if you try using English and hand motions.
6. Be prepared to miss things you never even realized you liked that much.
Of course you all know that you will miss your family and friends once you take off to the other side of the world but, luckily, it’s 2013 and things like Skype and Whatsapp make staying in touch super easy. What you may not realize, however, is some of the other things that you’ll suddenly begin to miss because you can’t just run to the grocery store and grab them, like peanut butter. Be prepared to have to adjust to certain items that are incredibly common in the United States being tough (if not impossible) to find and often costing up to 4x what they do in the United States. My insider tips for those of you headed to Latin America: unless you want to pay $20 and not have an SPF lower than 50, pack your own sunscreen and ladies, bring a year’s supply of tampons.
Being a nomadic entrepreneur is an incredibly rewarding experience that will change you forever and I highly recommend it to anyone, but if you want to make it work for more than a couple of months you need to have a sound plan and be prepared for the pain points that come with it. Talking with others who’ve done it, many of whom are part of the Under30 community, is one great way to make sure you’re headed towards a dream lifestyle instead of an international nightmare.
Image credit: CC by Alexander Kuznetsov