According to a 2017 poll from Gallup, 43% of employees worked remotely at least sometime in 2016, and 31% of employees spent at least 80%–100% of their time working remotely. And according to the State of Remote Work 2019 report from Buffer, 44% of remote respondents stated that they travel between one week and one month each year, while 19% indicated that they travel between one and six months each year. The idea of running an online business while traveling the world is now a reality and can be an enticing lifestyle for current office workers who are looking to make a significant career and lifestyle change. While there are unquestionable perks and freedoms that are associated with working remotely, aspiring online entrepreneurs need to take steps to ensure that their businesses thrive. These steps include having a strong financial footing, building a reliable customer and partnership base, and evaluating whether the business concept itself is viable and sustainable.
For entrepreneurs interested in running an online business while traveling the world, these tips, guidelines, and resources will be beneficial.
Fill a Need Through Your Unique Skill Set
Companies and organizations often are formed to serve a need. When starting and running an online business while traveling the world, entrepreneurs need to consider their unique skill sets and what they have to offer that sets them apart from their competitors. For example, a person who wants to start an online business providing social media consulting but doesn’t have strong professional experience in that field will have difficulty competing with companies that have been providing that service for years. However, an entrepreneur with extensive video editing and producing skills and years of experience working for trusted, noteworthy organizations could likely leverage those credentials to form a successful online business.Writing for Entrepreneur, Larry Alton describes steps for how to turn a hobby into a business venture, such as creating a plan, maximizing time, and building an online presence. “If you’re good at what you do and there’s a market for your hobby, then there’s no reason why you can’t monetize it and earn a second stream of revenue. Dive in and see what happens,” says Alton.
Determine If Your Business Is Viable Operating Abroad
Freelance writing is a popular remote working profession, as there are few limitations or restrictions to where writing can be done. As long as they can fulfill client requests, professionals in this field can operate their businesses while traveling the world. Not all businesses are as well suited to being operated online by traveling owners. Entrepreneurs should consider if a business idea or concept is viable operating abroad. For example, video editors/producers may be challenged to transport all the equipment required to create video content as they travel the world. Potential clients for some businesses may prefer to work with a partner who they can meet with regularly in person. And even if an entrepreneur’s skill set is presently in demand, such as a professional who holds 15 or more years of experience in email marketing, future industry shifts may make that skill set less desirable and call into question the entrepreneur’s dreams of running an online business while traveling.Even when a business idea is viable, entrepreneurs can still face challenges. Kathleen Peddicord, a contributor for HuffPost, notes that in addition to perseverance, one of the most important things an entrepreneur abroad will need is perspective. “You’ve got to be able to see what’s before you in the context of the bigger-picture agenda. Most of the time, you’ve got to do this on your own, reminding yourself that you’re making progress,” says Peddicord.
Ensure That Your Business Is in Strong Financial Health
A professional who maintains a writing business while traveling may have enough clients and generate enough revenue to cover the costs of travel, lodging, and any other immediate financial obligations. But those clients may suddenly have to reduce their consulting budgets, which in turn may lead to less work for the writer. If the entrepreneur isn’t in strong enough financial health to handle a temporary reduction in work, the business may not be sustainable. Additionally, if the entrepreneur employs other individuals, a downturn could impact the ability of the entrepreneur to pay their salaries and benefits packages or even to keep them employed.
Three of the factors covered in Investopedia’s eight-point viability test regarding starting a small business are upstart funds, economic mood, and continuing cash flow. An entrepreneur needs to allocate enough funds to start the business and carry it through downturns, as well as ensure that revenue is continuing to come in so that the business can meet all its operational requirements.
Understand What Tools Your Business Needs to Succeed
Consider this scenario: An entrepreneur decides to start an online business and travel. The business offers custom T-shirts to companies, sports teams, and other groups. The tees are priced 25% less than those offered by conventional brick-and-mortar retailers. Because the entrepreneur only needs to communicate by phone, email, or video chat with partners and clients, the entrepreneur believes it’s realistic to operate the business remotely. But what that entrepreneur may not have considered are the other tools needed to operate the business. This can include physical materials, such as the ink for the designs and even the shirts themselves; access to reliable printing and shipping facilities; and software and digital devices that can help manage payments, organize product deliveries, and address customer concerns. Even with the entrepreneur’s great idea and market advantage, it’ll still be necessary to invest in these tools to thrive and to ensure that the tools are effectively maintained, serviced, and upgraded while running the business abroad. The U.S. Small Business Administration lists 10 different steps that entrepreneurs can take to start a business, such as conducting market research, choosing a business structure, and obtaining licenses and permits.
Entrepreneur magazine writer Jon Nastor lists 17 essential tools that help small business owners and their companies thrive and grow. Some of these tools are particularly beneficial to entrepreneurs running an online business and traveling, such as Asana, Trello, and Google Docs, which help online entrepreneurs to manage projects and collaborate with peers in other locations.
Use Your Travel Experiences to Build a Network
While working remotely and running an online business, entrepreneurs will likely encounter various professionals throughout their travels. These can be professionals who are also taking advantage of the benefits of remote work or individuals who they just happen to cross paths with. Every one of these new encounters and relationships is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their networks and potentially find new clients or partners for their business activities. Other remote working professionals may be in need of another entrepreneur’s services. An entrepreneur can also take advantage of networking events in other locations to connect with new professionals and use social media to share travel experiences and to form digital relationships with new peers.
Writing for Inc.com, Sam Bahreini says that professional networks enable professionals “to connect with like-minded people across the globe on a different level. Building a strong and diverse professional network is crucial for entrepreneurs. It embeds you within a valuable community filled with knowledgeable and resourceful people.”
What it Takes to Run an Online Business While Traveling
Regardless of whether an entrepreneur’s business is based in a physical location or operates online only, clients and partners will want to ensure that the entrepreneur holds a diverse skill set, is knowledgeable about historic and future market trends, and can deliver results that exceed their expectations. Developing a viable business plan, understanding the tools that can help a business thrive, and building strong networks can help entrepreneurs succeed in running an online business while traveling the world.