So, you’re thinking of quitting your full-time corporate job, starting your own digital nomad business and traveling the world? Congratulations — the idea of exploring continents and working less is a dream a lot of people have. But before you take the plunge, it’s important to understand the challenges and risks that come with starting a digital nomad business.
Finding the Perfect Business Idea: Most of the time, you can only be successful as a digital nomad if you’re already awesome at what you do. When it comes to a freelancing and digital nomad lifestyle, competition is everywhere, so reputation is everything. You have to be careful to maintain and build on that reputation and develop excellent relationships with customers. That comes from delivering exceptional work.
Dealing with Financial Insecurity: Most freelancers and digital nomads are very familiar with the “Feast - Famine” idea of revenue. Some months will be amazing and you’ll take in thousands of dollars. Other months will be lean and you will have to tighten your belt. One of the best ways to deal with this challenge is to build up a financial buffer of savings as quickly as possible. That way you’re not living hand-to-mouth and you will reduce your stress and anxiety.
Handling the Demands of Multiple Customers and Clients: Customers and clients can be demanding. Being able to deal with them well is essential for any digital nomad or freelancer. That means meeting deadlines, always being professional and polite and using very proactive communications. Deal with questions quickly and effectively to avoid any negative impact on your reputation.
Building Flexibility into Everything You Do: Running a successful digital nomad business is all about flexibility. The ability to work from anywhere, on anything your clients need. The resilience to deal with multiple deadlines and stressful customers. The administrative ability to make sure nothing slips through the gaps.
Focusing Daily on Tasks and Deadlines: When you're a digital nomad, it can be compelling to head off with a group of travelers on a plantation tour, or explore a local farmer's market all day. With the world at your fingertips and an interest in exploring, it can be a challenge to buckle down and focus on the work you need to do.
Rolling with Internet Delays, Coffee Shop Crowds and More: When you're a digital nomad, you're getting your work done in far-off locations, no matter the working conditions. Some countries and cities can have power or internet outages, or it can be difficult to find a co-working space or a coffee shop with good wifi and space to spread out. A great way to find high quality working conditions or cities to work in with reliable internet connection is to become a member of Nomad List.
Living and Working in Isolation: A number of digital nomads who have lived the lifestyle complain that it can be an isolating way to live. Always traveling to a new spot means you don't have the relationships or community you might have if you hunkered down in one spot. There are some co-working retreats that are trying to solve this problem by offering a month of remote working with a community of digital nomads around the world. Check out Unsettled.
Ben Gran is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. Ben has written for Fortune 500 companies, the Governor of Iowa (who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture), the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and many corporate clients. He writes about entrepreneurship, technology, food and other areas of great personal interest.