A location independent business is awesome! One reader said that it offered him this:
- Freedom for going to an office and answering to managers
- Freedom of having your own routine where I don’t answer to a lot of people
- Freedom to take a holiday whenever you want to
- Freedom to work from cafes, in your shorts
This might surprise you. When we look for location independent business ideas, one of the most counterproductive things we can do is get stuck with a long list of ideas.
It takes us in too many different directions and we get stuck with the paradox of choice, which says that with too many choices we’ll choose none.
I’ve been location independent on and off for years by now. Before we jump into the only business that works well if you want to become location independent sooner rather than later, let me share my story with you.
I’ve been playing around trying to make a location independent business work for the last seven years or so. Without anyone legit to ask, I tried out a bunch of different types of business ideas recommended online not knowing about all the “secret” details needed in order to make a living from it.
That is what we want, after all, right? If we can’t make a living with a location independent business, what is it really worth?
I first tried learning to program and completing small jobs on freelance platforms like Upwork. Then I learned how to run ads and get paid a commission per sale of the ad campaigns followed by selling t-shirts on a webshop and helping other businesses run ad campaigns on Facebook.
I also created a blog on the same topic and got paid to write articles for other blogs on how to run ads while coaching small businesses on how they could run ads themselves.
All while being location independent most of the time. It has been quite a journey and after experimenting with even more ideas, I’ve now settled on one that is working well for me.
All of it worked — and maybe that’s the moral of the story — most of the ideas you see online work for someone as a location independent business out there.
But the reason I moved on from most of the ideas — even though I made every single one of them work — was that there were things that no one told me and I had to discover on my own.
Things that made me realize that it would take way longer than it had to. For example, if we want to sell t-shirts or any other products, we need to create a TON of content to drive visitors to make any money. Unless we spend a lot of money paying for ads.
Just creating content and getting visitors can take YEARS.
If you’d like to skip most of the process I’ve been through and go right for the gold, let’s dive in.
Location independent business ideas and the ONE you need to get started fast
There are many different location independent business types that are often suggested:
- Affiliate marketing
- SAAS or mobile app
- Create an online course or subscription
The ideas are good but they don’t tell the whole story. Many of them take a long time to build. For example, to earn enough to live by creating an online course also means finding enough people that will buy it and understanding which problem we are solving for them.
It involves customer research, getting people to visit your course page in order for some of them to buy. And then doing it over and over again to earn money consistently. For most of us, it’s a multi-year process just to get started.
Another is to create an agency. The challenge here is the upfront cost of hiring people and one of the most challenging elements for anyone in business, is managing other people well.
If it is difficult for so many other people around the world, there is no reason to expect it would be any different for us at the beginning.
Yet there is one idea, in particular, that can offer you location independence within a year.
The one that I recommend is freelancing.
You get to earn money immediately and see if your idea works, instead of doing a lot of work upfront only to earn in theory later. It makes all the difference.
I noticed that earning money right away is motivating. The only thing that matters, in the beginning, is to get out there and do it again, so we can get better and better.
Freelancing is the quickest way to get paid for our work. And get paid well.
In my experience, the process is to send out an email to a business or go onto freelance platforms and send a proposal for a project.
Then speak with the business, complete the project and get paid. Simple and quick.
Sure, you can find people out there arguing that you need a website, social media accounts, and whatnot but in reality, you don’t even need a professional email address. Your personal email will do just fine and there are so many examples on this blog to prove it.
How much do you need to become location independent?
Okay, let’s have some fun here. Let’s calculate how much we need in order to be location independent.
First, we need to figure out how much our living costs are per month. You can use the calculator I prepared for you here. Click FILE > make a copy to download an editable copy for yourself.
If you like to travel and want to live somewhere else you can use numbeo.com to get a better understanding of what the living costs are compared to your city.
I also like to look at the hidden costs like insurance, flight tickets, and other things we tend to forget along. With items that I pay yearly like insurance, I might divide it out to the amount per month and then set up a savings account to automatically move the money over to monthly.
That way, the money is right there when I need to pay the bill and I don’t have to worry about taking it from anywhere and I don’t even have to remember to move the money each month.
Next, let’s look at when we might become location independent. This is much more complex since unexpected things could happen.
If you are serious and committed, as a general rule, a year is probably a good bet with freelancing. I’ve seen readers do it quicker and slower, so it depends on your specific situation.
Let’s say that we need to earn $3,000 per month as an example.
From experience, starting on the side is a good choice. A good goal to start with, if you’ve never freelanced before, is to earn your first $1,000 in three months.
During the following three months, it is realistic to go from earning your first $1,000 to earning $1,000 per month. At that point, you begin to see that there is really something here you can leverage long term.
During the next three months, you’d probably be able to reach your goal of $3,000 per month but I don’t recommend going full time on freelancing just when you reach your goal.
There are always unforeseen things that can happen at any moment — just look at the Coronavirus.
If you are smart you save up at least six months worth of living cost but ideally enough to cover a whole year.
This serves two purposes: you’ll be able to weather out any storms and earning over and over again, will make you feel confident that this is something you can continue doing rather than just a lucky chance.
When you are location independent and want to travel, there will likely be some added stress with the new environment, so you don’t want to be stressed about work at the same time.
Next, let’s look at some tips that I wish someone had shared with me when I started out.
6 tips I would tell myself if I had to start over again
These are the tips that will give you a leg up on your journey to a location independent business.
- I suggest working with businesses that are already remote or at least clearly comfortable with remote work to make things easier. It’s much harder to persuade a business to remote work that it is to work with one that already is
- Pick a service offering that is digital since that makes remote-friendly. On this blog I show you how to help clients with digital marketing services but there are also other digital options like programming, design or writing
- Stability is everything for mental wellbeing and happiness, so keeping savings is key. Six months of living cost is good but a year is even better
- If you want to travel to a foreign country you’ll need a “setup” that makes it easy for you to pay yourself and get cash in hand. The banks that are good for this purpose are different in each country. A good sign to look for is that they have a mobile app where you can handle everything like savings and paying bills
- It’s easy to get distracted trying out new ideas all the time but often we need to focus on doing a few big wins well
- Give yourself buffer time with deadlines.. You never know when you’ll need it
Now over to you: where would you go if you could have a location independent business tomorrow? Share your ideas in the comments.