by Inés Ruiz, founder of the Women Entrepreneur Community
I became a location-independent entrepreneur as a matter of necessity. I had always worked the typical 9-5 workday like the vast majority of people. I was an educator at Cambridge University, and like many people, the only reality for me as far as career was working like a bee in a hive, in a particular building, comfortable in the safety and certainty that working for a large institution provides.
When I met my husband that all changed. My husband was in the US Air Force, which meant that I was now a military spouse and that I was going to have to relocate every few years.
This presented a unique challenge. I discovered that it’s very difficult to find work as a military spouse, no matter how your resume shines with all your degrees and accomplishments. I found myself getting turned down for jobs that I was overqualified for. Being a military spouse, I found out there is an epidemic of underemployment that comes with the territory. So I had a choice to make. Either go from job to job, with little hope for growth, and no hope for financial gain, or create a career that I could do anywhere. My question to myself was, “How can I create something that it doesn’t matter where I go?”
You may have asked yourself that question. And it’s a very timely question. Right now, in this day and age, being a Location-Independent entrepreneur is a new wave, particularly with millennials. The old paradigm is shifting and there is an upsurgence of freelance services and commerce offered online.
While you give up the certainty and safety of the standard work model, what you get is the adventure of entrepreneurship which can be very satisfying. And without being tied to a location, you can enjoy the freedom of working anywhere in the world.
One of the basic things you can do, which is what i did, is create a digital product. All you need is a decent backdrop, a solid internet connection, and a good camera to get started. It’s a great choice for people who have little to no capital to start with. If you have a physical product, you’ll need a warehouse or storefront, and the objective is to be untethered to any location.
Do you have something that people want? Do you have something teachable to offer? Do you have a service you can provide? If you can create a viable product, that fills a legitimate need, for instance coaching services or consulting, you can have a future as a Location-Independent entrepreneur.
While it may seem like a daunting task, striking out online with your product with no idea what you are doing, you can certainly do it. I had no idea what I was doing.
I have a stellar international team now, but I started by getting everything on Fiverr. I would hire out for individual jobs like, “Hey! I have a problem with my website.” or “Hey! I need images.” Even my logo that I still use now is my original $20 logo from Fiverr which I find hilarious. Baby steps. Start with what you have. There are lots of platforms where you can find people to do things that you’re not good at. For instance, if you’re hopeless at photoshop don’t let that stop you. Find someone who is good at it and keep moving.
My team grew organically over time and now I have a solid foundation that runs like a well-oiled machine. A few months into my business I hired a Virtual Assistant, just an hour here and there answering emails and the like. Over time he has grown into the role of Project Manager and is indispensable. My team handles a lot of the workload for me so I’m not drowning in busy work and I can apply my energy into growing the business. I found my people mainly by reaching out to influencers in my field. Search within your specific field community. Grow your team based on your gut and hire people you can trust.
If you are just getting started, I recommend finding people you admire in your niche. These influencers can supply you with helpful guidance and connect you with the right people.
Another way to facilitate being Location-Independent is the Virtual Office. You don’t need a brick-and-mortar office or storefront anymore. You can get a Virtual Office and a virtual address. For example, I have a Virtual Office in Miami, which I pay for the address that I can use in my email marketing. When you get any software like MailChimp to send emails they require that you have an official address, and you don’t want to use your home address. If I receive any mail my Virtual Office forwards it to me.
If you need a meeting space or want to set up a team meeting, you will have a physical space and a physical address. This is not an office you clock into everyday. It is there for your convenience. They have someone there to answer the phone and greet my people who arrive as needed. I branched out from my original online business to create a community that supports and educates women entrepreneurs. And if I decide to have a mastermind meeting then I have a space available.
The Virtual Office is one of many hacks and services available to the entrepreneur who seeks to be Location-Independent.
You don’t have to be a tech wizard, you don’t need any special certification, and you sure don’t need permission. There are myriad resources available to support your Location-Independent business. You have just as much right to this burgeoning economy as the next guy. This is a great time to be an entrepreneur, and if being Location-Independent is your goal it is very much attainable.
Inés Ruiz is an e-learning and instructional designer and founder of the Women Entrepreneur Community, the first three-prong online education community to help women learn the individual tech, business and marketing skills they need to start or level up their business with less craziness. Creator of the first-ever Virtual Learning Platform at Anglia Ruskin University and the first Moodle for the Spanish department at Cambridge University, Ines has myriad experience both teaching and creating virtual learning programs.