5000+ miles from my home in the US, I sit back on a dark bus after an away game near the Slovakian border. I play professional hockey here and I’m the only foreigner on the team. Tonight’s game was played in front of a loud sold out crowd. The game is over, but my work day is just getting started.
I pull out my laptop, connect to wi-fi through VPN (virtual private network), and my second workday has begun. I sort through various messages, schedule meetings, and respond to a few customer e-mails. Over the past year, I have built a successful US based business from abroad. I don’t tell you any of this to impress you, but rather to press upon you that it’s possible to build a large business from wherever you choose to work (with the right system in place). The business I have built is a niche online personal training service company.
Technology is King
Without the right tools, apps, and software, running a business abroad is destined to fail. Before you even start a remote business, you need to answer these two questions in great detail:
- Can I create a profitable business that can run efficiently 24/7, regardless of where I live?
- How will I keep the business operating smoothly if something goes wrong (lose wi-fi, phone falls in the toilet, etc)?
If you can answer these questions with confidence, you will be much better off (problems will arise, you just need to adapt and handle them)
VPN- having a good Virtual Private Network is a beneficial investment. A VPN simply encrypts your data, which gives you total privacy online. For around $10/month, you are secure.
My gear: I use HMA Pro
Cellular Provider- when you are working abroad, you want to have a strong cellular provider. Research the location and country you are headed to before you arrive so you know who the best provider is.
Laptop- Spending a few hundred extra dollars on a good laptop is always a wise investment. A top chef wouldn’t use the same cutlery in his kitchen as you, so why should you use an old laptop? You shouldn’t. Pick a laptop that’s right for you (one that’s reliable)
My gear: I use a new Macbook Air which is really light for travel.
Clear Communication Cure
We communicate with our employees and clients solely via Skype & Viber. When sending larger documents/agendas, we use Dropbox and Google Docs. E-mail is used sparingly, mostly to respond to initial client/potential customer inquiries.
Too many businesses rely heavily on e-mail as their main form of communication. E-mail has its place, but back and forth e-mail on a daily basis within a business is not very productive. Good communication in real time is a must.
Pushing the Status Quo From Abroad (Marketing)
For your business to thrive today, you need to constantly look for new ways to grow your brand’s presence. We live in a world where everyone has more choices and less time.
What are you doing to stand out amongst the crowd in your industry?
I wanted to hire 10 more Health/Fitness Representatives for our business. Since I couldn’t hold formal interviews or make landline phone calls, I posted ads on specific jobs boards to find the best talent.
If you don’t have a large budget to hire, you can post free job ads on Craigslist & Backpages. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually some qualified candidates that use these services (it’s your job to identify them). Once you have a higher budget to work with, you can hire elsewhere too.
Whether you want to work from your living room in your pajamas or a chalet in the Swiss Alps, you need a burning passion for the work you do everyday. When you work remotely, it is your job to hold yourself accountable. People are always amazed that I can play sports for a profession alongside running a growing business abroad. It’s not rocket science! I stress to them that anyone with the proper insight can do what I do. Unconventional Entrepreneurship can work for a wide variety of businesses, large and small. If I can help a woman build her business selling quilts remotely from Canada, your idea can work too.
Lastly, I want to end with a meaningful quote from Seth Godin that resonates well (I may have a bias towards him since we’re from the same hometown in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York).
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”