The laptop lifestyle has been the dream of many for the last 13-ish years, since the Internet first exploded during the acai berry craze in 2005. Nowadays, it’s a definite reality in nearly all contemporary industries. The idea a person can run a business from anywhere, while traveling for business or personal purposes, is a reality made possible by the Internet, and made even more practical with the multitude of tools available in 2018.
Here are 5 recommendations you can use to make sure your online business runs as smooth as possible, while keeping your stress levels as low as possible.
This might sound obvious, but we currently live in a world where mobile phones and tablets have become the preferred tool used in business. A laptop is actually more productive when you have time to sit in a hotel room, bus, train or at a comfy cafe wherever in the world you might find yourself. Having a larger screen, keyboard, and touchpad or mouse is indispensable for digging deep into daily writing, research, or sales data scanning. Using mobile devices for larger, time and resource-intensive tasks is taxing on your eyes, hands, neck, and the device itself.
Buy laptops brand new, and look for a modern beast of a machine you’ll never have to worry about becoming slow or outright breaking down. At minimum, look for the following, both to maximize productivity and future-proof your purchase:
- 15.6 OLED screen (touch screen is a great idea if you can afford one) with minimum 1080p resolution. Keep in mind that 1440p and 4K are becoming much more cost effective.
- Onboard graphics with a minimum 1920×[email protected] capability, and 2GB of available DDR4 RAM. Stick with Nvidia — preferably GeForce or prepare for software compatibility issues with most operating systems.
- 4 to 6 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM (DDR3 might come more cheaply, but DDR4 runs faster and cooler, and may prove less apt to fail in the coming years).
- 2.3 gigabyte quad core processor (Intel or AMD only).
- 500 gigabyte SSD hard drive.
*Stick to reputable brands like Apple, Alienware, Lenovo, ASUS, along with higher-end offerings from Acer and Toshiba.
A Virtual Private Network is going to fast prove essential in your life as a hustling entrepreneur living a nomadic lifestyle. Even if you just want to use your Netflix subscription in another country, you’ll want a VPN to enjoy your chill time when the rain starts pouring down in Tahiti, etc. From a business perspective, many countries like China will sensor essential resources like Wikipedia and Gmail, along with social networks like YouTube and Instagram.
A good VPN provider will allow you to circumvent such restrictions, while encrypting sensitive data from prying eyes, such as governments and hackers. Just make whomever you choose offers more than 100 server locations, 24/7 tech support, guaranteed anonymity — minimum 256-bit encryption, and seamless HD streaming ability — to ensure you’re going to get the fastest speeds possible wherever you are in the world.
There’s nothing worse than putting the wheels down in a country, only to find yourself lacking essential web access you need to run your business.
3. Virtual Office
Living the laptop lifestyle will likely make everyone you know — including your customers — jealous. However, consumers aren’t going to trust a business that doesn’t operate out of a fixed location. Worse, if you’re the only staff member on the team, keeping up with marketing, sales, customer service, and administration is going to be all but impossible. A modern business must have a headquarters, support staff, and the ability to be reached 24/7 including holidays.
Signing up for a virtual office service helps get by these limiting factors by giving you a real-world address you can register your business at, anywhere you choose in the world. Other essential services like virtual reception and access to skilled virtual assistants are also often included with a virtual office, or offered as an add-on for a reasonable price. Best, a virtual office provider will usually offer limited access to their network of national or global offices when you need an actual place to plug in and get down to business.
4. G Suite
Listen, if you’re stuck on Microsoft, head on over and try out OneDrive. It’s purely a personal choice, but Google offers a growing list of cloud-based tools to run your business from anywhere. G Suite also costs less than half what the competition charges, even though their minimum offering only offers 30GB of cloud storage, over OneDrive’s 1TB when you upgrade to Office 365 personal (cheaper or free options won’t give you access to office software).
G Suite allows you to set up gmail accounts using business domains (Eg., “[email protected]”) as long as you own and can verify domain ownership. It also gives full access to their cloud-based office suite (Ie., Word, Spreadsheets, Presentations, Calendars, Conferencing, and other collaboration tools).
5. Money transfer tool
When you’re travelling the world, one of the most troublesome activities that is also, unfortunately, must-dos is money transfer. Receiving/sending payments, sending funds to your account back at home, or any other activities involving money transfer is a hassle when it’s done on the go and/or involves multiple currencies.
Bank transfers are really a pain. Therefore, you should use tools like the widely-used-but-expensive Paypal, oldies-but-goodies Western Union, or fast-and-intuitive Conotoxia to move funds to/fro.
6. Project management app
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, projects are part and parcel to running a successful business. Innovation is key to ongoing success, meaning you’re going to have to organize your day so no sale is left on the table, no customer left feeling they didn’t get the value they paid for, and no potential opportunity is ever left uncovered. Project management apps help get over this hump by helping you to structure projects in a way that all variables are cataloged and tracked, and ensuring you and any team members you might have stay on track and don’t waste valuable time.
There are plenty of free apps that allow access to essential limited features such as Kanban boards, mind maps, task scheduling, whiteboards, collaboration, and apps for managing big client projects. Be sure to try several, to determine which software works best for you and your unique needs. Once you find one you like, make sure it can scale with your business, so you’re not suddenly forced to abandon ship when you outgrow its limitations.
These six tools are essential for any digital nomad seeking to take over their own respective corner of the globe.