I made the jump to location independence before it made sense. My business wasn’t ready, neither were my friends, family, or business partners. Hell, I wasn’t even sure if I was ready. There are a lot of reasons why I was brought to finally take the plunge– but by living this lifestyle for two years now I’ve realized that a lot of my initial worries (and the warnings of just about everyone) weren’t that helpful or predictive of how things played out. Further, I’ve found a lot of reasons to go location independent before you feel you are “ready.”
This isn’t a step by step guide to this stuff. Some of it is anecdotal and it won’t apply to everyone. In general, if you are deciding between starting a cash flow “freedom” business vs. jumping quickly into a location independent lifestyle via a half measure like teaching English, consulting, digging into your piggy bank, remote working arrangement, or other radical maneuver, I recommend starting with location Independence. I’m assuming you are passionate about owning your time and mobility (so much so that you are willing to act a little crazy to earn them back). Here are the reasons:
- If you wait for a sustainable source of income, you might be waiting a long time. Its difficult to get a company to the point where its generating enough cash to support your lifestyle, or get you to the point where you would feel comfortable jumping ship and replacing yourself. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs inadvertently build themselves into their businesses, even if they had other intentions. It hurts your wallet big time to “leave” your business, mid-start up phase, and go for a more flexible arrangement. If having location independence is something that is valuable to you, its worth going for it right now. It doesn’t get easier once you have a business on your hands.
- Very few distractions. No family, established group of friends, commute, arbitrary 9-5 desk time, in-laws, “stuff”, community obligations, I could go on forever. Its all gone, and it makes a big difference.
- Easy access to top talent. Selling to a western market? You’ll be able to afford top assistants, programmers, and administrative personal in countries like the Philippines. You’ll have the flexibility to meet their requirements and give them a great experience growing a global, results-oriented, earth-shatteringly cool business that allows all its employees the opportunity to live a great life and contribute to something great. Feeling crazy? Try in-sourcing some talent from the west. Found somebody good via twitter? Go visit them. Even crazier? Try renting a budget resort and flying in creative, talented people who want to learn your business and earn back their time, freedom, or just blow off some steam in a tropical paradise. Hmm. That does sound good. Who’s going to beat me to it? You have a few months… I’ve interviewed several resort operators here in the Philippines and annual burn rate for a fully functioning resort with restaurant starts at about 35,000K a year. YEAOH! Why aren’t software development shops taking advantage of this?
- Easy access to top investors. There are TONS of medium level, very liquid investors in “lifestyle destination” foreign countries (especially the Philippines), and they are easy to find and access. I can’t speak for other parts of the world, but I can say this, the guys and gals “at the top” are much easier to access in foreign countries. Often expats are older, successful individuals (of course these a big clump of the opposite case) who are sitting on a lot of cash because its difficult to manage investments back in their home countries. Many of these folks are former and current entrepreneurs as well, and the same drive that brought them to build companies and wealth brought them to new lands for adventure. There is also oftentimes a generation gap– and am assuming here that most of my readers are under 45 years of age. Even if that’s not the case the very fact that you are reading blogs will often make you much more tech savvy than potential investors, giving you instant edge and leverage for an excellent equity stake. This issue is big in scope, worth a better look in another article.
- Less of a cash burden on the company during start-up phase. I can afford to draw a much lower salary than I would be comfortable with if I was living in California with all the trappings of my old yuppie life (man, I used to have an Italian shirt, ew!). Now I can still pull a decent salary, put it in the bank, and keep cash flow in the company for hiring and investing in new product lines.
- Get used to being off the path. That’s where the value (and incidentally, the fun) is. When I left my real world trajectory, “the path,” I thought, we’ll hey, I’m not gonna be big time rich for a while, but its worth it. My time and freedom is worth the sacrifice. But of course, successful entrepreneurs do exactly that. They leave the path. They get used to it, and they become adept at creating value where others couldn’t see it, or weren’t brave enough to go for it.
- Nothing to Lose. When I quit my job and took up a backpack, I was prepared for the worst. I still have a million scenarios in my mind that allow me to keep the “nothing to lose” mindset. I tell myself: everything could blow up and I could still keep this thing going. I love Dave Ramsey’s quote: “you’re only as secure as your ability to go out there and drag it home.” We’ll I believe that, and its worth ensuring now you’ve got the skills now to go and drag it home. To turn the phrase: if you don’t learn how to drag it home, you are probably getting drug, to the tune of 40+ hours a week.
- You’re already rich. I try not to gloat too much about my lifestyle, especially when some of my employees still work in an office (although its not required!). But its difficult not to. The bottom line, is that in countries like the Philippines, you can live like a real rock star for next to nothing.
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