Tired of being chained to your desk and confined to a single location while running your business? You’re not alone… taking your business 100% remote and being purely location independent is becoming increasingly popular among entrepreneurs. 

And it’s worth it – you may not want to take your laptop to the sandy beach (the sun’s glare on your screen sucks, too), but could be paragliding after work in Cape Town today and exploring Renaissance art in Florence on your lunch break next week. 

Taking your business fully remote isn’t easy. I’ve been running my business fully remotely for 18 years, and in the last several years of traveling 5-6 months of the year, have learned much about what it takes to run a location-independent business the hard way. 

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to get remote ready as an entrepreneur, so you can run your business seamlessly from anywhere in the world. We’ll cover the five major areas of focus you’ll need to succeed on the road, and you’ll find tips to help you prepare in each area.

1. Your Mobile Office

Working on the rooftop patio of a family-run hotel in Antigua, Guatemala.

Your mobile office consists of two key parts: what you’ll take with you, and what you must be able to access to run your business.

Your Physical Office

Your office must fit into a suitcase now, so you may need to downsize. What do you need to get the job done, and can you condense this? Here are some of the things I have in my mobile office:

How you pack is important, too. I have an oversized Coach bag I use as a plane carry-on that perfectly packs up my mobile office when I’m walking to a coworking or taking public transit to work in a cafe. There are some awesome, purpose-built bags for digital nomads on the market now, but the price tag may be out of reach for many. Don’t worry about having the trendiest bag; find one that fits and protects your laptop and offers storage for your cards, pens, phone, headphones, power cords, and whatever else you need at hand to run your business.

Make sure your travel insurance covers your essential business equipment, and always keep it in a carry-on – never checked luggage.

Your Virtual Office

This is how you’ll collaborate with your team, communicate with clients, stay productive, and keep organized on the road. For example, these are a few of the tools I use:

  • Google Meets or Zoom for meetings
  • Drive and Google Suite for everything under the sun
  • Asana for project management
  • Acuity from Square for appointment booking with calendar integration
  • Loom for quick instructional videos for team and clients
  • 1Password for password security (more on that in a minute)

2. Get That Money

Moolah, dinero, brass – you better be able to get that cheddar. How will you pay your employees and/or subcontractors? How will you access local currency and keep foreign exchange fees minimal?

What’s your backup plan if your business account or card is frozen while you’re in another country?

I’ve been using Wise (formerly known as Transferwise) for 5+ years. It’s a popular online money transfer service that provides businesses and entrepreneurs various benefits, and while there are other options, it’s the one I know best. I use it to accept ACH transfers from US clients, convert currency, pay contractors in Malaysia, Europe, Canada, and more.

Working at the Hektor Container Hotel cafe in Tallinn, Estonia, where Wise and several other tech unicorns have been built.

Some of the other reasons people use Wise include:

  • Low fees: Wise offers lower fees for international money transfers than traditional banks.
  • Competitive exchange rates: Wise provides businesses with competitive exchange rates for international transactions, so you can save money on currency conversion fees.
  • Fast and efficient transactions: Transactions on Wise are processed quickly, often within hours.
  • Multi-currency account: Businesses can hold multiple currencies in a Wise account, which can help them avoid currency conversion fees and reduce the risk of exchange rate fluctuations.
  • Easy integration: Wise provides businesses with an API to integrate the service into their systems and automate financial processes. For example, I use its Stripe integration to deposit subscription payments directly into my Wise account.
  • Security: Wise uses high-level security measures to protect its customers’ data and money, including two-factor authentication, encryption, and fraud detection.

It’s not a perfect solution, and I did have a frustrating experience in December while in Cape Town for a month in which my Wise card was frozen due to a software glitch on their end for several weeks. At that time, I could still pay myself a salary from my business to my personal Wise account, then pay business expenses out of my personal account and file those as out-of-pocket with my accountant. It was a bit of paperwork and not an experience I care to repeat.

Even so, I won’t ever forget the nightmares that were PayPal, and I’ve enjoyed Wise for several years without issue. If you want to try Wise for yourself, use this link to register – your first transfer of up to $800 is free.

3. Beef Up Your Data Security

This can be a huge deal, depending on which clients and platforms you work with and where you’re going. For example, I once logged in to our agency’s Facebook Ads account from Cuba and had my advertiser account permanently banned. No amount of verifying my identification or begging in reconsideration forms could ever recover it.

It’s also important that you understand any client policies around data privacy and security, particularly as some countries enable themselves by law to spy on, seize, and even make copies of electronic data – both on your devices and in the cloud. There may be some countries you decide to stay away from, or your IT pro (or a client’s) may have measures you can take to protect your device and connected accounts while you’re traveling.

Use a password vault like 1Password to keep logins safe for all the tools and apps you use to run your business (and life).

Two-step verification is a good idea wherever you can turn it on, and for that, I often use the free Google Authenticator app.

You’ll also want a reputable VPN like Cyberghost to encrypt any data you send online. Some sites and services block VPN users, though, so you may be unable to use it for everything.

4. Figure Out Your Productivity and Motivational Issues Now

While working remotely from beautiful, interesting destinations certainly has benefits, staying productive and motivated can be a real challenge. Without the structure of a traditional office (or even home office) environment, it’s easy to become distracted by non-work-related activities, after-work plans, places you want to explore, and all the new people you’ll meet in coworking spaces and cafes. 

The lack of in-person interaction with colleagues can make it difficult to stay motivated and engaged, leading to feelings of isolation and disconnection. As much as you see location-independent business owners having the time of their lives on Instagram and TikTok, digital nomad life can be lonely.

Even if you travel slowly, the people you meet may be moving on before you know it, and it can be difficult to make lasting friendships and relationships. If you’re an extrovert and highly dependent on interactions with others to feel fulfilled, you may want to dip a toe in your remote business life by making your first few trips closer to home – just in case.

Working remotely requires a great deal of self-discipline and time management skills, and you are responsible for creating your own schedule and sticking to it. This can be especially challenging when you want to get out and explore the place you’re staying in.

Having set hours helps a lot. I like to get up early and work out of the way so once I shut the laptop, I can truly check out and have the rest of the day and night to explore. You never know what you might get into.

@mirandalmwrites Pinguuuus! 🐧 Took a group trip to Boulders Beach with Hacker Paradise in December. Weekends for digital nomads are just… better 😁 #remotework #hackerparadise #nomads #writerslife #locationindependent #fyp ♬ Walk That Walk – Dorrough Music

When team members and clients are available, your hours might be somewhat dictated. See if you can stack your meetings into a few timeslots to get all of that facetime caught up at once even if it means a late night one day a week, and make your focused work time whenever it’s comfortable for you in the timezone you’re in. This isn’t easy, and it’s one of the reasons I haven’t ventured to Asia in my wanderings. I couldn’t make the meetings and collaborative time with my teamwork.

It can also be difficult to separate your work and personal lives when your workspace is in your home, leading to potential burnout and decreased productivity. This is one of the things I appreciate traveling with Hacker Paradise, as each trip includes our living space plus a coworking space membership.

If you’re planning to travel solo, check out coworking spaces in the areas you’re visiting, and keep in mind when you book accommodations, you probably don’t want to be stuck working, eating, and sleeping all in the same place the entire time you’re there.

5. Internet, Everywhere and All the Time

Working from a private booth outside the NapCabs at Munich International Airport.

Or as close to 100% uptime as you can get. Plenty of places in the world will require that you have a Plan A, Plan B, and a Plan C for when those fall through. 

For example, brownouts and storm-related power outages are common at one place I housesit in Nicaragua. The house I sit at has a solar system for backup power, so in the three weeks I spent there last time I went, I didn’t have a single internet outage. (Check out Trusted Housesitters if you want to experience life like a local, make new furry friends in your travels, and find free places to stay!)

Rolling outages were common in Cape Town, too, and unfortunately, there were days when my apartment building and the nearby coworking space were both without power for several hours. In those cases, you’ll need a local SIM card with an activated plan to tether off your cell phone until the Wi-Fi returns.

Is Your Business Remote Ready?

No matter how prepared you are, there will be speedbumps and challenges as you settle into your remote journey. I hope that with the above, you’ll at least have a solid foundation for your location independent business, enabling you to get work done, stay safe, and most importantly get paid while you take your work on the road.

Still have questions? Follow me on Instagram for more remote work and travel tips, and stay tuned to Get Remote Ready.

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Miranda, Editor – Get Remote Ready