“I Want to Make Money From Anywhere in the World – Where Should I Start?”

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An old friend visited Bali a few weeks back and we had a great time catching up on life. A few days ago I received this email.

“…. might be a good topic for a blog post… what can I be doing now to better prepare myself for moving towards the location independent lifestyle? The hard part is where to begin. In your opinion, what are the top 5 things one can do to prepare themselves? I figure while I am stuck in this non-fulfilling but well-paid job I can be learning about new things and skills that will get me ready to be successful. I just need some direction on that. If you have some advice, or want to write a blog to the other half of us who haven’t yet grown the pair to make the transition to help us find our way that would be pretty sweet…”

My friend is a really smart guy with a lot of varied talents and passions. He’s got his MBA. He’s got a high paying consulting job that isn’t very intense or stressful. He’s got the power to make whatever he wants with his life.

Let’ me be clear: we are talking about entrepreneurship here. Not affiliate marketing. Not passion. Not niche sites. Not outsourcing. Not automation. Not social media community building.

We are talking about owning valuable shit– preferably businesses. That’s the name of the game. Owning businesses is the surest and most sustainable way to location and time independence.

Philosophically, the space to begin is with your mindset and habits. It’s not going to be about where or when you start. You start now. Your business and future will come from the types of actions you do everyday. You’ll skip around a lot until you hit something that works. Here are 5 things to consider, as requested:

1) Be ruthless with your personal finances.

Developing a smart personal finance plan is the first entrepreneurial act. It should roughly look like this: “we spend WAY less than we make.” My transition from worker to entrepreneur coincided with an aggressive debt reduction plan and bold new spending habits (including a cash based spending plan). I found Dave Ramsey’s resources to be extraordinarily useful. Ian likes this blog.

Your basic goal is to stop spending money. For every hundred dollars you spend on bullshit or retail therapy, the business gods shed a tear. Read Felix Denis and Mark Cuban on the topic. Take your money out of the market and put it in a savings account. Don’t listen to your friends who say otherwise. Get rid of your credit cards. I don’t care how many points they earn you.

Stop taking loans. Get rid of the ones you do have.

Finally, write down exactly how much money you want to be making (after expenses). Start thinking about how many units you need to sell to get there.

Congratulations, you are an entrepreneur now.

2) Quit your job.

This is the part of the article, where my father, if reading, does a face palm. “Dan… tone it down a notch…”

What I’m about to say will be derided by all others in your life. You’ll likely only hear it from me. All the more reason to give it a think.

Your job is the single biggest time investment in your life. When you don’t have big money working for you, you only have your time. You need to invest it better.

You have two options. First, you can super-hack the job to provide you with cash runway while you start small businesses on the side. Hustle during your lunch break, leave early, sneak work in to your desk, use company resources for your start-up (be wary, wary careful here… this could be illegal, immoral, or other….) get home and keep crankin’. If you don’t have the energy to sustain this (it’s hard), or vision to start executing (you need to know what to do), the single best thing you can do is quit and find a better job.

You often say your job is ‘boring’ and ‘unfulfilling.’ Entrepreneurship and location independence aside, that fundamentally isn’t good enough. Don’t make me launch into a carpe diem speech!

A lot of successful entrepreneurs parlay their professional skills into small businesses or freelance consulting work. If you don’t see a straight path from your professional career into a solo gig or small business, get the hell out of there. Find an industry that is training entrepreneurs. One that challenges you and forces you to learn. Start working out that hustle muscle.

In my limited experience, the best way to train to be a small business entrepreneur or start-up founder is to be the right hand man of an established one. Find a gig like that. Take less money to do it if you have to.

3) Get used to saying no.

Recognize the pressures that exist around you. If you don’t protect your time and your money, other people will spend them for you.

Your friends are throwing weddings in different countries. Can you attend? NoYour family throwing lavish reunions at 3rd party sites. Can you attend? NoFriends throwing 6 hour Sunday afternoon party. Coming? No. Beach vacation on the east coast! NO. Saturday morning shopping to ‘invest’ in a new mattress for your house? NO. NO. NO. I think you get the point here.

Dave Ramsey puts it best: “live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.”

4) Frame of the consequences of your actions in 3-5 year windows.

If all this stuff sounds intimidating, I understand. Don’t curl up in a snuggy yet. Here’s the thing: short term thinking fertilizes failure. Period. You’ll need to cultivate short term motivation, and long term thinking.

If you think about your life in 3-6 month timeframes, quitting your job seems dumb, irresponsible, crazy. If you think in terms of 3-5 year windows, it’s probably the single most profound thing you could change to improve your chances of succeeding as an entrepreneur. See also: businesses take 3 years to start.

Same for my decision to blog and podcast. If I’m thinking in 6 month timeframes, it looks like a waste of time. If we are talking 3-5 year windows the move makes more sense. On the surface long term thinking looks intimidating, but in action we’ve found it has freed us up to take greater short term risks and cop to bigger challenges.

5) Consume insane amounts of content and act on it.

Podcasts, audio books, books, blogs, websites, magazines, seminars. Cut the shit. Consider speed reading. Figure out quick what is good and what’s crap. Implement the ideas you learn. Don’t just read Adsense Flippers and catch yourself thinking “their model is interesting.” Buy a site and toy around with the thing. Talk to others who are doing the same. Are they making money? What can you learn?

By the way, a good rule of thumb with starting new businesses: stop thinking of doing new stuff. Find businesses that are making a lot of money, and find small ways you can improve their services or products and launch. Take some of that money for yourself and grow it.

Another way to look at businesses is as entities that gather intelligence on markets. By participating in markets– say by launching your own niche site– you’ll have more and better information on that market (or cash flow) than any bullshit business magazine ‘market prospectus’ is going to give you (oh yeah, don’t listen to business magazines).

Information overload is a term used by people who aren’t doing anything. Don’t let that be you. Set up a site with a buy-now button and start trying to convince people to click it. Immediately. Can’t find a niche? Just buy a site. You’ve got the money.

I can’t imagine Ian saying he’s “got too much information on this marketplace we are participating in!” Nonesense. As an aside, I often find this amusing, for a handful of the products that Ian designs for our company, there is no other human being in the world who knows more about them. No wonder it makes him a full time living.

Bonus : Nobody is going to give you the good shit… that includes money, power, and the answers.

It ain’t easy, but you’ll get used to it. Having a job is all about finding scripts that look good and falling in to the bit parts. Being an entrepreneur– and doing crazy stuff like making money from anywhere– or even just building successful businesses, is about writing your own scripts.

Fuck everyone in your life who thinks they know what they are talking about and doesn’t have exactly what you want.

The world is a big place and you don’t need to limit yourself to the people you found yourself with.

Identify exactly what you want in this world, and start to connect with people who have it. Learn from them, get honest feedback from them, and improve.

Stay in on Friday night. Hustle. Build a new life for yourself. The party gets better.

You might ask yourself: is this really all worth it? 

Only you can answer that for yourself.

You know my answer.

xo,

Dan

PS, enter your email address below to get my private emails and instant access to 50 podcast episodes that outline how I grew a million dollar business:

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Published on 12.01.11
  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    appreciate that man.

  • Kevin

    Sweet post! I get the part about saying NO, which is tough when you live in an awesome city with awesome people and endless things to do. I think there needs to be a balance. It’s not reasonable to expect anyone to become a hermit and live online in business mode. Even if you’re making NO money, there needs to be time set aside for some leisure….like going surfing or rock climbing or having a few beers with friends here and there. The difficult thing is to know exactly when to say no and when to take “breaks”.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    here here to some surfing!!! :)

  • Jill

    I currently work online and the job pays pretty well. If you want more information just email me at jilljones34@hotmail.com

  • MotivatedByWealth

    Heyy everyone…if any of you would like to start a business on an international scale and have extraordinary success..and willing to work hard…visit http://www.PaidOnYourBills.com ASAP…creating millionaires..one at a time

  • OBAMA

    HOWCAN IMAKEMONEY

  • moggyrich@aol.com

    Are you ready to make some real money?
    If you are like me and tired of all the bullshit on here?
    I will show you how to make 800.00 a DAY
    like I said NO bullshit
    If you are ready to learn more send me a e-mail
    moggyrich@aol.com

  • Megan C

    I’ve read a lot of blogs and even some books on becoming an internet entrepreneur. This is the first time I’ve seen the suggestion for purchasing a pre-owned website! It has really peaked my interest so I checked out Flippa. I already see a site I’m interested in, but I’m scared. All the stats are so foreign to me and I read about all of the scammers. How do I know if I’m getting a legit deal?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Cheers Megan! I can’t off the top of my head think of a particular piece of content, but it’s worth looking through the archives of the AdsenseFlippers.com website. They are very familiar with avoiding BS stuff on Flippa.

  • Hesham

    I don’t know about number 1. I think you should keep your credit card and make most of your payments with it. That way you’ll get the points instead of leaving them in a savings account which accumulates to barely 1.5% (ex. depends where your from). When you pay a bill from your savings you get absolutely nothing for it and have to pay it on that date. With the credit card you have roughly 21 days to pay it off. JUst make sure you pay it off before the 21 days and you don’t pay interest. Also most credit card companies don’t have transaction fee associated to them like debit cards. DEBIT Card – the rip off card. Charging me a fee for my own money hahaha – financial freedom is keeping that thing hidden.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Most people are better at racking up debt than points, but if they are the exception and can handle credit cards you are right. It’s the rare person who can do it, and generally this advice in general wouldn’t matter to them anyway because they are already thinking in an entrepreneurial frame. Cheers and thanks for reading!!!

  • Jaeden

    Great advice. So…what about any advice for those going back to school? And those who are already in their mid-20s? I had a fiasco that prevented me from meeting my 3 year goal – which had included being able to find a job anywhere in the world at a young(er) age – and now I’m starting at square one, but I really don’t want to have to take the long (3-5 year) route again. I’m female, and don’t have all the time in the world like you lucky men do (family wise).

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Back to school !? :D

    It’s a really tough question. Something will have to give. My experience is this stuff takes a long time :(

  • Jaeden

    How long are we talking…? I take it you are implying that I have to choose between family and living “the life”?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    No I just mean to say that being an entrepreneur or biz owner is a whole lifestyle. Many people do it with families. But 3-5 years of the entrepreneurial trajectory would just be the beginning. I rarely meet somebody who’s busted ass for 2 years then “cashed out,” that’s why we are all about designing businesses around your ideal lifestyles.

  • http://twitter.com/Big_Dave_Allan David Allan

    This one single line hit me like a ton of bricks and inspired me instantly…”Fuck everyone in your life who thinks they know what they are talking about and doesn’t have exactly what you want.”

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Cheers David appreciate that and thanks for reading!

  • Joey Bellon

    So you say near the end, “buy a site.” Great! Now what do we do with it after purchase?? Do you have any posts on specifics on buy/selling websites for profit?

    Thanks!

  • Tony

    Here´s a way of making money en be an entrepeneur at the same time of big time new business Bonofa should anyone wone now more let me know cube7bonopart@europe.com

  • Bsk

    Hi Dan, great article. I was reading number 1 and I am trying to spend less than I make, buuutttt I just bought a 20,000 dollar car. I needed a new car, just not that expensive, and my other credit cards are getting cut up when they are paid off. I read Hesham’s comment and that is what I’m doing, building credit, I’m also using this debt as motivation to make more money which will continue when all of it is paid off.
    Is this type of motivation a good idea, and is 20,000 to much?, my income for the last 2 years was roughly 16,000 per year

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Check out EmpireFlippers.com, Chris Guthrie also has good info on this topic. That should start you down a decently relevant rabbit hole :)

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    find other motivation. reduce your debt. ‘building credit’ is a scam. mostly.

  • nostic

    hey bsk , here is my email i.d , nostic123@gmail.com , get in touch with me , i have a business proposal for u , without investing anything

  • nostic

    contact me on this , nostic123@gmail.com

  • http://www.seedsofmusic.net Kyle Williams

    I consume a lot of content, but prioritizing action is what is tough for me. I want to build a lifestyle business that helps musicians and supports my own music. So it’s this split between being the entrepreneur and being the musician.

    Do you know of anyone in a similar situation?

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan

    Not directly, musicans can be a tough market … the question you are asking is a good one, who is making money in your marketplace that can serve as an example and as a role model? figure out how they got to where they are at and if there is enough pie to go around.

  • http://www.seedsofmusic.net Kyle Williams

    It’s a tough market for sure, but the industry has some massive problems asking to be solved. Thanks for the input.

  • Alon Shabo

    Reading this caused me to hit the big red “fuck it” button. One way ticket to Bangkok: impulsively purchased. BOOM.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan

    :D rock on sir!

  • Anna

    Hello Dan, great post! I really enjoy your podcasts and the blog. I always wanted to be location independent. I’ve been reading a lot about it, and it seems that coaching, consulting and teaching are kind of the standard way of earning the money. I am trying to figure out how to create my business as location independent. I am passionate about health and wellness but the internet is overloaded with free written, audio and
    video content in that industry. What could I possibly offer as a service or information that the people would be willing to pay for? Your advice would be much appreciated.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan

    Find something that’s already successful that you can pick a fight with. Whos successful that is doing something wrong or who isn’t addressing a marketplace you know about? That’s a good place to start.

  • 유 Soeren Gelder

    Chase the vision and not the $ (as Biggie stated, R.I.P.)

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan

    :D word

  • Gavril

    Another way to make money online.It takes long time and you have to be really patient but it’s worth it ! (A hint : Do minijobs in the begining to quickly start making some money ) :

  • Ryan Ferrer

    “the best way to train to be a small business entrepreneur or start-up founder is to be the right hand man of an established one. Find a gig like that. Take less money to do it if you have to.”

    - where do you suggest we look for such gigs? been looking for location-independent gigs for a while to no avail.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan

    generally you’ll have to create / pitch them… there isn’t a consistent place where these are listed yet… i expect that to change in the coming years but for now it’s a hustle

  • Dermighty

    Very interesting read. Thanks.

  • Whoopdatazz

    I like it. Although I had already done this, I quit my job and am planning on moving back to Taiwan. Just to get away from the rat race and do some scuba diving. Maybe teach some part time English to maintain a visa, and give me some free time to find a niche for my skillz.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan

    yeah also ya know I really hate the small business marketplace… they are difficult to identify, get on board, and to retain. i’d instead market your services to people who are *highly* invested in wordpress… go for the top of the market, these people know how / why to invest in tech solutions and they will see their ROI. one of the #1 mistakes I see is selling to people who know less than them (local biz) rather than selling to those who “know” more (top of market). best of luck with your big move and thank you for reading the site !

  • Robert Harper

    Dan I love this article. I would love your thoughts on something. I have a son who is 18, and getting ready to graduate from High School. Frankly I think college is a waste in today’s world. As a business owner I feel I wasted time going to college and if the time and technology allowed I wish I had done an internship with a group like yours. Is there anyone out there doing a immersion internships? I would rather pay for a scholarship like that then any university.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com/ Dan Andrews

    hey Robert thanks for your comment and for reading.

    I am not familiar with too many programs like you are describing, save things like CodeAcademy.

    Somebody for him to take a look at might be Vincent at SelfStairway.com.

    It’s almost like the active vs. passive model of learning, even with our apprentices we don’t really lecture or teach them stuff, we just throw them to the wolves, and the way we prepare them for it is we don’t :P That’s business in my book, smart people being resourceful and solving problems.

    Also have him look at GeorgeMilo’s story : http://georgemillo.com/why-you-should-drop-out-of-university-and-move-to-the-other-side-of-the-world/

    Also DavidHehenberger.me.

    Maybe another way I’d talk about it with your son: getting an internship like this is way easier than being successful at business. Convincing some relatively wealthy guy you’ll work for cheap? That’s an relatively easy deal to cut… but as I’m sure you know, most people are the deal cuttin’ type :)

    Thanks again for reading!

  • Robert Harper

    Dan thanks for the information. I know at 18 the hard part for any kid is they really don’t have many skills. Seems like the idea of a Skill Set Academy or Entrepreneurial Internship in SE Asia is a business idea that might have some traction. I would love to help him realize the choices and opportunity he has at this point in his life.

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