Wouldn’t you love to bring your business with you anywhere in the world, if only to the nearest cafe? I’m running my business from a sailboat since 10 years and it has been a fun ride. (So far I have worked only with Swedish speaking clients but that is about to change.)
When I started my business, I had just left the corporate world. I had no entrepreneurial experience. During these years, I have violated most of the top advice to succeed as an business owner – out of sheer inexperience and stubborness, sure. But also out of a great need to think in new directions when traditional rules and advice didn’t match my lifestyle.
Here are five common business rules that proved to be the very best to break.
- Make cold calls!
- Go to networking meetings!
- Make a business plan and stick to it!
- Schedule your work at fixed hours!
- Monitor the competition!
1. The idea of making cold calls almost stopped me from starting my business. It was really one of the most daunting challenges. But as a digital nomad I seemed to have a good reason to ignore them. Long distance calls are expensive and choppy. Instead, I focused a lot on:
- writing good sales copy for my services
- creating a website that was easily searchable with clear keywords
- offering services that my clients liked and shared the word on.
I started collecting email addresses quite early and have over the years acquired a large mailing list of prospects and clients who are interested in what I have to offer. Each newsletter is a sales conversation.
2. Going to networking meetings in Spanish fishing ports and Turkish spa resorts can certainly be nice but hardly a great opportunity for a small business owner with a Swedish audience. Instead, I’ve networked on – tada! – the Internet. Hanging in forums where like-minded business owners and clients hang. Done trainings with the Internet gurus and networking with their participants in online groups. Of course personal meetings are fantastic – but your business does not have to depend on them. You can get really good contacts in other ways. (But a little secret: the few times a year when I get the chance to go to meetings, I jump at it )
3. Make a business plan and stick to it – yes, it is good advice. But also an inhibitory advice for those who are curious and can seize new opportunities as they come into sight. I like to have lots of time for new opportunities, and today I have some 20 different courses and services that were not on the map when I started. New ideas arrive every day, and some of them I’ll get working on. This does not mean that you should catch anything that moves. An important business advice I still follow with the greatest passion: Keep doing the things that really work!
4. To work 9-5 and not let the job impose on your free time is of course a good advice, but it does not applywhen the day calls for a five hour lunch with Spanish friends or you suddenly get invited on a two-day trip to a Portuguese castle. I work in projects, make a plan on how many chunks of time I need for them each week and allow life to enter. For me, it could mean that I read a manuscript on the beach (almost feels like vacation), write copy in a luxury hotel lobby, take coaching calls via Skype during a long walk along the harbor … Some days I will get up at 4am and be free by 10am. No day is ever the same. Honestly, I’ve worked myself blue to create daily routines and it was a great relief to discover that I could drop them. I am more focused and get more done if create projects chunks here and there. They lasts 15 to 90 minutes.
5. Competitors don’t exist when you are doing your own thing. Sure, there are companies that compete for the same customers, but staring desperately at how they manage instead of providing your signature services is meaningless. The very best way to handle them is by cooperation. Most of the so-called competitors that I’ve partnered with over the years have become friends. Now we support each other which benefits everyone – including customers.
My 5 tips to succeed as a digital nomad
- Be curious
- Build a solid platform for your business online
- Create products and services that do not require any of your time once they are launched
- Embrace your new lifestyle
- Create partnerships for all major projects
I will keep exploring these tips in future posts.