Think digital nomad, think travel blogger or freelance writer? Think again.
Yes, the lifestyle of a digital nomad goes hand-in-hand with the flexibility of freelancing. But it actually attracts a much more diverse community of freedom-loving entrepreneurs and remote workers than you might expect.
What is the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
A digital nomad isn’t the same as a remote worker. Remote work can be accomplished anywhere — at home, on the train, in a hotel lobby, or in a coffee shop. Often, remote workers have a base that they return to regularly, such as a centralized or home office.
As the name suggests, digital nomads are nomadic by nature. They tend to move around from place to place, typically combining a love of travel with the opportunity to work on the move.
The Digital Nomad Trend is Growing
It is thought that millions of working people now refer to themselves as digital nomads.
In the 2018 MBO Partners State of Independence Research Brief, 4.8 million Americans described themselves as digital nomads.
This rising trend is possible thanks to mobile technology and wireless connectivity, but also greater acceptance of this particular lifestyle.
Technology has transformed the way people work, and we humans are taking full advantage of this new-found freedom. New collaboration tools, platforms, apps, and virtual communication facilities are emerging every day, which makes it easier for people to work and run a business while on the move.
Tips: How to Run a Business While Traveling
Before you set out on the digital nomad lifestyle, check out these must-know tips:
Set a Business Budget
Like any business, it’s important to keep a lid on your expenditure. This is even more important when traveling. While getting to know the local culture you’ll have the opportunity to visit exciting places and try new things — but be mindful of how much you spend.
It helps to know in advance the general cost of living of the places you plan to visit. Sites like NomadList and The Earth Awaits are handy resources and give a detailed breakdown of the costs of living, ranging from food and transport to hotels and accommodation.
Use the Right Apps and Tools
When you’re working remotely, it’s essential to use the right technology to help you collaborate with your team and get the job done. Some of the most popular productivity apps include:
- Team chat: Slack rules instant chat. You can create groups, known as channels, based on teams, projects or office locations. Slack integrates with various third party apps to help make your workflow easier.
- Video calls: Video chats help replicate much-needed face time. There are various free and easy-to-use video software apps on the market, including Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom.
- Online file storage: Dropbox is the most popular choice; it’s been around long enough to iron out any quirks and it’s very easy to use. Other options include Microsoft’s OneDrive and G Suite from Google.
- Project management: For shared task lists, clear visibility over who’s doing what, updates, deadlines, and timely reminders, a project management tool like Asana or Trello keep things humming along smoothly.
Communication is Everything
One of the most important things about working remotely, particularly for digital nomads who may have no fixed schedule or location, is to stay in touch with your clients or coworkers as often, and in as many ways, as possible.
- Engage regularly and communicate often. Schedule one-on-one time over the phone or organize a video call at least every one or two weeks.
- Stay in touch frequently, every day if possible, by online chat, SMS, or over email.
- Set clear expectations, timelines, and deadlines — and meet them! If you’re running late, be sure to let your team know well in advance.
- It’s a good idea to get together face-to-face with your team or with your clients occasionally, ideally at least once per year. Be mindful of the places you plan to visit and try to coordinate a meeting when you’re in the area.
- Use project management tools to keep everyone in the loop. It’s a great way to stay on top of tasks and deadlines, and it also helps keep your inbox clear of long task-related email conversations.
Keep your Business Grounded
Any entrepreneur who blends work with travel still requires a centralized office for mail as well as legal and tax purposes. It also helps if you can show a recognized office address to new clients, as some people distrust companies with no apparent fixed abode.
For those reasons, it helps to have a central location to keep your business ‘grounded’.
That doesn’t mean you need to pay for an expensive office that sits empty most of the time. One solution is to use a virtual office, which helps you keep a local presence even when you’re thousands of miles away.
A virtual office provides all the regular services you will find in an office environment, minus the actual office. With most providers you can expect a business address, mail sorting and forwarding, live receptionist call answering services, appointment scheduling, a VoIP phone system, and on-demand access to meeting rooms when you’re in town.
What’s more, a virtual office business address can form part of your business setup, which provides the foundation you need to register your business as an LLC. This is particularly important if you have plans to grow your business or apply for credit at a later stage.
So, now you know a little more about the digital nomad lifestyle and how to run a business while you’re on the move, the only question that remains is: where next?