How to Set Up a Profitable Location Independent Business — A Step-by-Step Guide

Xolo
Written by Xolo
on August 09, 2017

Location independent jobs are on the rise.

With high-speed cellular connections spreading all over the world, being permanently connected to the internet is becoming a reality and it brings with it a radical change in the way people work.

While our parents had to work behind a desk for their entire life, we now have the unique opportunity to set up our fully-functional office on the go, virtually, anywhere on the planet.


Why would you become location independent?

People become location independent workers for many different reasons. It could be the need to follow a particular time schedule, the need for more freedom, the desire to travel, the need to follow a spouse on a relocation, the list goes on and on.

Whatever your reason, just be reassured it can be done. I’m writing this from a hammock hanging between 2 trees in a beautiful garden in Tuscany, Italy. The sun shines high in the sky and it’s almost 40°C out of this shadow. My fingers are typing fast, driven by the excitement of sharing with you the tips that brought me here. And I’m not alone.

There are currently hundreds of thousands of people (soon to be millions) working remotely as location independent bees.

BE WARNED: remote working is truly addictive!

In the mind of those who don’t do it, this kind of working lifestyle may look unattainable, and many wouldn’t even dare to think they have a shot at it. In reality, anyone can become location independent with a little time dedicated to perfecting just two things: mindset and workflow.

What are your job options?

You have several options to get started. The best choice depends on your current situation, your skills, your connections, your previous experience and your career capital. To better understand which roads you can take, let’s have a look at a few examples of location independent work arrangements.

There are essentially three ways to become location independent: you can be an entrepreneur, a freelancer or a remote worker.

Remote Worker

If you’re in a rush to leave your 9–5 job and free yourself from the office, this is the fastest option. It doesn’t require you to have special connections or particular knowledge of remote working and, as long as you’re good at what you do, you are a great candidate for this type of position. However, keep in mind that companies offering remote jobs are still pretty rare and these kind of jobs are in high demand (everyone loves the flexible schedule and the possibility to work in their pyjamas).

Also, remember that being a remote worker doesn’t entitle you to work less or to slack on the job. If the assignment you’re taking is anything serious, you’ll be asked to report back quite often and your superiors will expect deliverables and evidence that the money invested in you is well spent.

In fact, working in an office you can sometimes get through the day just warming your chair, but when you work remotely people expect you to get things done. And since they can’t actually see you busy at your desk, your output will be the measure of your success.

Companies who’ve switched to remote working understood that it’s far more productive than office time, in many ways. For example:

  • people are judged based on actual output, hence the company gets higher quality work done, in a shorter time;
  • by removing the location constraint, the company has now access to a huge base of candidates;
  • the company can save on office costs;
  • depending on the location of the headquarters, the company can save on salaries;
  • by spreading workers across different time zones, the company can offer services 24 hours per day.

Despite its awesomeness, not everyone is interested in becoming a remote worker, or simply not lucky enough to be picked. Some prefer to (or have to) embrace the way of freelancing or entrepreneurship.

Freelancer

Freelancers are professionals that work with several clients, usually delivering a very specific kind of service.

In order to be a good freelancer, you need to specialize in something. The more you specialize, the more clients you’ll be able to attract. Ideally, you want to be known as the go-to person in your industry.

Being a freelancer can be extremely rewarding and lucrative. The more you’re in demand, the more you can raise your prices. But it’s not easy to get there.

Generally, it takes time to develop the skills, and even more time to develop a good reputation.

As a freelancer, you decide how much you work and how many clients you want to serve. Your future is totally in your hands and it’s pretty easy to become location independent once good opportunities start coming your way.

Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, you must get things done. However, your worth isn’t measured in terms of assignments carried out. Entrepreneurs create assets.

Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to be skilled at doing practical tasks. They need to have an idea, and the vision to transform it into reality. They need to be able to involve others on their project and able to attract investments and clients.

Some entrepreneurs come from successful careers as freelancers or well-paid employees, and they bootstrap their way to success with their own capital. Most commonly, entrepreneurs rely on investors to start up their business. Either way, they put their soul into what they do and work is often an obsession for them.

The upside of this high-paced working lifestyle is that they get to be creative, to work on high-level tasks, and they can do the thinking instead of doing the heavy lifting.

Getting things straight

Unless you’re employed as a remote worker, you’ll need to set up your own infrastructure to work “legally” and to be able to invoice your clients. Depending on your location, there are several ways to do that.

Just be informed that, no matter where you are, you can take advantage of Estonian e-Residency and get yourself a company registered in Estonia, that you can use to invoice your clients as a freelancer or to run your entire business as an entrepreneur.

Services like LeapIN can get your Estonian company up and running with minimal effort and they’ll help you to run it efficiently and at minimal cost, so you can just focus on your business.

So what are the steps?

1 - Get clarity 9 - Focus on growth & learning
2 - Persevere 10 - Build habits
3 - Be biased to action 11 - Manage your expenses
4 - Don't get comfortable 12 - Have a digital presence
5 - Network 13 - Set up systems
6 - Actually work 14 - Be ready for disaster
7 - Wake up early 15 - Create assets
8 - Be obsessed 16 - Get repeat customers

 

So, let’s get to the core of this article: the step by step guide to make yourself location independent.

Becoming location independent is all about developing the right mindset and the right workflow. You’ll most likely work alone and you’ll have no-one watching your back. So you need to be strong. Your workflow is your safety net and your mindset will save the day each time you hit a roadblock.

In order to succeed, you’re going to need all the things listed below.

Let’s see them one by one.

Mindset

1. Get Clarity

Getting clarity can save you a massive amount of time and literally shift the direction of your career from going nowhere to being super successful.

To get clarity you must be able to free your mind and get a bird’s eye view of your situation. Meditation is a great exercise to improve this skill.

The most successful people make time for meditation, and get clarity first thing in the morning.

Suggested Read: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Stephen R. Covey.

2. Persevere

While clarity tells you what to do, perseverance gives you the drive to get it done.

Perseverance will keep you going on the darkest days and push you through resistance when things seem to lead nowhere.

It will make you unstoppable, and people around you will be able to sense your determination and your passion.

Suggested Read: “Mastery”, by George Leonard.

3. Be biased to action

It is as simple as Newton’s First Law: “an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force”.

If you want things to happen, you have to act on it. Nothing will come your way on its own.

If in doubt, go for it.

Sometimes we get stuck analyzing situations and we can’t make a decision. The more information we get, the more confused we are and wish we could have more time. It is called paralysis by analysis.

Thinking more doesn’t get results. For results to happen actions must be taken.

True, good actions come from good thinking, but a course of action can always be adjusted if you see that the results send you off-course. If you didn’t take action there wouldn’t be anything to see.

This is the baseline philosophy of A/B testing and Lean Development. In a nutshell: every idea you come up with is a failure and it’s only through constant adjustments that you make it perfect.

Suggested read: “The Lean Startup”, by Eric Ries.

4. Don’t Get Comfortable

Marketing and sales guru Grant Cardone says: “if you ain’t scared, you ain’t growing”.

You should make a habit of putting yourself into situations where you’re uncomfortable.

Every time you push yourself out of your comfort zone you grow a little. You either succeed or you learn something new. Either way you get to know yourself better, and this in the long run is what makes you bulletproof.

Suggested Read: “The 10X Rule”, by Grant Cardone.

5. Network

No matter how good your marketing skills are, the biggest work you’ll land will come from people you know. It makes sense to work on developing your network of connections and getting to know as many people as possible.

The primary focus of all the events you attend (conferences, seminars, talks, boot camps, bus rides) should be the same: make people know you exist.

Don’t always make it about work though. People are human beings, they have passions, worries and fears, they get excited about things and facts. Make it about those, and work comes next.

Suggested Read: “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age”, by Dale Carnegie & Associates.

6. Work

This is where the rubber meets the road.

As a location independent individual you get to party a lot, but at some point goods have to be delivered. It’s time to do your thing.

You should allocate long, uninterrupted chunks of time to do your work. Remember that in order to stay relevant, and to attract good clients, your work needs to be complete, on-time, and remarkable.

Before starting to work, get all the clarity you possibly can about what you need to do. Rewriting your to-do list for the day is a great way to begin a productive session.

Go to your favourite quiet space, turn off all distractions (social media, phone, kids, girlfriends and boyfriends) and simply start to work.

If you want to isolate yourself from the environment you can get noise canceling headphones (quite an expensive solution) or just plug a Japanese garden into your ears.

Finally, get some training about productivity (Brian Tracy is the man to follow here) and maximize the juice you get out of your working time.

Suggested Reads: “Eat That Frog!”, by Brian Tracy; “Deep Work”, by Cal Newport.

7. Wake up early

There is no better time to get things done than when the rest of the world is still asleep.

To make the most of your energy you should follow your natural circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle based on light and darkness that regulates the life of nearly every living organism.

Humans are made to function well during daytime. There are tons of studies highlighting how our body works in response to cortisol and melatonin levels and how these levels change during the day.

If you wake up at 5:30, you can do most of your work before lunch. This leaves you plenty of time for networking and adventure in the afternoon. Personally, this is the working style I prefer and strongly recommend.

And it’s good to know that most successful people are known to be early risers— Richard Branson is one of them and here are 23 others.

Depending on your “chronotype” working in the early morning might not work well for you. You can find more about your chronotype by taking this test.

Suggested Reads: “Sleep Smarter”, by Shawn Stevenson; “The Power of When”, by Michael Breus.

8. Be obsessed

In order to have a good business and to stay in business for a long time, everything about you should be remarkable. You should constantly think of ways to improve your work, your services, your online presence, and your image, although not in a compulsive way.

This kind of obsession is what makes you stand out from the crowd and what will make you thrive in the long run.

Suggested Read: “Be Obsessed or Be Average”, by Grant Cardone.

9. Focus on Growth & Continuous Learning

Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life.

Don’t go after the location independent lifestyle with the goal of sitting your butt on an island. This alone won’t make you happy.

What will make you happy is the growth process that comes with it.

To put it in physics terms: happiness doesn’t depend on your position, it’s a function of your trajectory.

You should never compare yourself to others in your field. You should instead compare yourself to your yesterday’s self. Are you better than you were yesterday?

Yes? Good! This is what makes you happy.

Also, make time for self-development. Make it a priority: never stop learning.

How many books did you read in the past 12 months?

Suggested Read: “The Miracle Morning”, by Hal Elrod.

10. Build Habits

We tend to admire people who can produce good work consistently, who have the stamina to keep grinding, who give their time to others and their money to charities.

We see them as accomplished and we secretly think they’re way out of our league.

In reality, their lifestyle is nothing more than a well planned set of habits.

Habits are the backbone of the life of successful people.

Try pushing yourself to do one thing every day, until it becomes a habit.

Take waking up early for example. Force yourself to wake up at 5:30 every morning. Do it for 3 weeks.

On week one you’ll hate it.

On week two it’ll become bearable.

On week three you’ll start to enjoy it and see the benefits.

Congratulations, you just got a new superpower :)

Once the habit is acquired, you can introduce a new one — reading one book a week, running 5k every day, writing a blog post each week, meeting a new person every day, and so on.

If you stick to it, you can introduce over 15 new habits in a year!

By choosing the right habit you can transform your life in ways you never thought possible.

Suggested Read: “The Achievement Habit”, by Bernard Roth.

11. Manage your expenses

Don’t dream of mansions and Lamborghinis. At least, not yet.

Especially when you’re starting out, you should aim for a more humble lifestyle and make freedom your priority. This means you need to let go of ‘things’.

Being location independent means keeping your freedom to relocate quickly. If you want to enjoy this kind of freedom you should free yourself from all financial burdens such as mortgages, loans, leasings, etc.

Owning things weighs you down and will ultimately end up tying you to a specific place. Be careful not to kill your freedom with the money that freedom provided you!

Suggested Read: “Life Leverage”, by Rob Moore.

Workflow

12. Have a digital presence

As you’re building up your network of like-minded people, friends, and potential clients, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about who you are and what you do.

Unfortunately, words alone aren’t enough to convey the message and make it stick. You need to have a remarkable presence on the web.

Your personal website is the extension of yourself. How do you want people to perceive you?

Use your website to align the perception of others with what you want them to think about you.

Make sure you have a pitch (a short and clear one) and make sure it’s clearly stated on your homepage. A visitor should have no doubt when it comes to what it is you do.

Get professional photos taken and use them. Yes, there’s no way around it: you have to show your face. Showing your face is something you do all the time when you meet people in public, so there’s nothing awkward about showing your real self on the web.

Have fun with it. Experiment.

Suggested Read: “Key Person of Influence” , by Daniel Priestley; “Known”, by Mark W. Schaefer.

13. Set up systems

As you start attracting more clients you’ll have to deal with more work. Also, your clients expect a consistent quality over time.

You need to set up systems that allow for repetitive tasks to be processed fast and to a high standard.

Get in the habit of making checklists for all the repetitive parts of your job. Use those checklists for all your work. Review and improve the checklists every time you process a new job.

The more you document your way of doing things, the more effective you become. You’ll gain better clarity on your process and become faster and more confident.

Your clients will buy into your confidence.

Suggested Read: “The 4-Hour Workweek”, by Timothy Ferriss.

14. Be ready for disaster

When working solo or with a small team, you can’t really afford to lose data. This might mean starting from zero again!

Use cloud-based services to host your files. The best solutions are Google Drive and Dropbox.

Expect technology to fail you. Your phone and your laptop should always be synced to the cloud. You should always be in a position to let go of your phone and laptop with no regret and no harm to your productivity or your data. This also means being password protected!

You can’t afford losing your phone and putting your data at risk. Same goes for your laptop. Make sure you use long and strong passwords and change them often.

Every once in a while, see if you’re able to start working in less than one hour from another laptop or phone.

Suggested Read: “Virtual Freedom”, by Chris Ducker.

15. Create assets

Assets are all the things of value that would be there tomorrow should you be hit by a bus today.

Assets will make your business run faster and generate more money, allowing you to go after bigger and better opportunities.

There are assets that are meant to shape the image of your brand (or personal brand). These are your website, your social media accounts, your guest posts, etc.

Some assets are meant to make your workflow easier and faster. These are your checklists, your processes, the software automation services you use daily, etc.

Then there are assets that are more intimately connected to you, like relationships. Creating new meaningful relationships and nurturing existing ones should be part of your daily routine.

Finally, there are assets that are just assets. Things like immovable properties, shares and companies. Although it’s important to capitalize your net worth into these type of assets, this is the last step you should take.

According to Brian Tracy your most valuable asset is your capacity to make money. You should never compromise that. This mostly means you should always strive to be an example of integrity and to deliver excellent work.

Suggested Reads: “Entrepreneur Revolution”, by Daniel Priestley; “Your Most Valuable Asset” by Brian Tracy.

16. Get repetitive jobs

Finally, if you’re a freelancer, the best way to make yourself location independent is to grow a portfolio of loyal clients that come back asking for more.

You should aim to offer repetitive services as these can be systemized and partly automated or outsourced.

Automation and outsourcing can free up your time, allowing you to work on your business, instead of getting stuck working in it.

Remember, being location independent is cool as long as you’re able to enjoy the freedom it comes with.

Suggested Read: “Virtual Freedom”, by Chris Ducker.

Bonus: A couple of words of advice

1) Listen to your body

When your physical and financial independence depends on the amount and quality of your work, you might tend to focus on it too much.

Other times, when you’re on a roll and you like what you do, you’ll find yourself losing your sense of time and getting lost in what you’re doing. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls this state “flow”.

When you’re in flow, your work comes easy and your mind is totally absorbed by it. You can go hours without moving, drinking, eating.

While flow is a great state to be in, you should take care of your body and make sure you don’t work in an uncomfortable position or keep the same position for too long.

You should also get proper hydration, especially if you’re in a warm climate.

It’s a good habit to have a break from time to time and let your brain rest. 5 to 10 minutes break every hour is proven to increase concentration and productivity.

If you have troubles breaking your concentration, you can set a 1 hour timer on your laptop, or you can wear a fitness tracker to remind you you haven’t been moving for a while (most fitness trackers now have this handy feature).

If you wake up very early and do most of your work in the morning, you might sit for several hours and never see the sun until after lunch. This doesn’t help your body.

We need sunlight to function properly and the best way to get it is directly on the skin (or eyes) in the morning between 8 and 10.

A short half an hour walk will recharge your battery and set all hormonal functions back to normal.

Bottom line: don’t bury yourself in work. Health comes first!

Suggested Read: “Head Strong”, by Dave Asprey.

2) Live in the moment

All your efforts to create something good for yourself will be for nothing if you don’t have the right mindset to enjoy your new life.

You should avoid becoming a slave to an endless train of thought and you should be able to stop thinking if you wish. Meditation is a very effective training for this.

You don’t want to build the life of your dreams and miss out on it just because you’re too busy thinking “what’s next” or “what if I did this”.

Learn to live in the moment.

Suggested Read: “The Power of Now”, by Eckhart Tolle.

3) Be prepared to deal with naysayers

As you grow, more successful people will start noticing you.

This will bring along new connections and new friends but it will also poison your existing relationships. You have to be prepared to deal with it.

People around you aren’t bad. They just know you as you are and don’t want you to change. Some want to keep you as you are to protect you (your family), while others don’t want you to change because this will harm their sense of who they are (your friends).

Expect criticism, envy, arguing. If you’re prepared, you can deal with it without experiencing major setbacks.

Suggested Read: “Be Obsessed or Be Average”, by Grant Cardone.

Are you hooked on the idea of becoming location independent?
 

This blog post was written by Andrea Bronzini — data-driven growth expert and writer.

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