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This post is about my path to location independence, entrepreneurship and lifestyle design along with the lessons learned along the way. There are cliffs at the bottom if this becomes a bit too much.
I first became entrepreneurial at the end of 2005 (when I was 26); I quit my charity job of the time with the twin intentions of doing a ski season in Whistler and to then come back and set up a youth hostel in my home town in Norwich after doing on the road research around BC and Alberta.
Prior to 2005, and after a quarter century of living, I hadn’t developed one entrepreneurial bone in my body – I didn’t even conceive that you could make money outside of a job (let alone be able to make it anywhere in the world, i.e. location independence), none of my small circle (this was before Facebook) of friends were doing it and being an ‘entrepreneur’ wasn’t the cool it is now.
After an epic snow season at Whistler (over 4m fell in Jan) I stuck to my plan and came back in May 06 to start my hostel business. With the help from my mentor at the time I found a suitable building – a 5000 sq metre listed Georgian number in the centre of the City – and spent the next year of my life working on a business plan which got £80k of loan finance in place and negotiating on the terms of the lease with the owners, Norwich City Council. To cut a long story short, the Council, rather than welcoming new enterprise, put up as many barriers as possible before they ended up pulling out of the lease at the last minute – after much money was spent – and then tried to get away with not paying compensation. The end result was a feeling of failure and back to employment for me. Having now failed so many more more times since then with numerous business ideas I look at this time proudly – I think us Brits still view failure in such negative terms that it prevents people from trying; in the US, like I now view it, it’s irrelevant if you win or fail if you played the hand well.
I worked for another charity for two years before I couldn’t take it anymore (I felt like a caged animal and at the end couldn’t stomach being at my desk) and had to quit (something I’ve fortunately never had a problem doing). My plan for location independence at the time was to actually be a professional (online) poker player – something I learned out in Canada playing every evening in the condo and had taken very seriously over the last year clocking in 30k hands a month – but was smart enough to know that there was a high probability that this would not work out, and that it would not be looked on fondly by family, friends and future relationships (can you guess I was single?!) So at the end of 2009 I set up a company called Profit Is Good Ltd to become a director, trade through and legitimise myself but just as importantly to put a line in the sand from my anti-capitalist and charity loving days.
Where I’m at now (back in 2013)
I’m now in my fourth year of the company and things are finally going ok – I’ve survived my first 1000 days as the ridiculously insightful Dan Andrews puts it in his Lifestyle Business Podcast. My goal was always to become location independent, working from my MacBook anywhere in the world. Poker (fortunately) didn’t work out, but business finally is. In the first three years I never had any money (i.e. stone cold broke), it was all sweat (equity) and an endless process of trying to figure out what skills and services can pay the bills. By the end of last year I ended up with four businesses, three blogs and 7 social media accounts (that sucked) just so one or two could take off. Only after reading the Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss and finally understanding the importance of both prioritising and passive income combined with how to genuinely relate to customers by the awesome keynotes and books of Gary Vaynerchuk have I been able to focus on just two things that now finance the lifestyle I want to lead. These are SEO & social media monthly retainers and my first 4HWW ecommerce play iPanorama Prints. I will be getting further into niche sites and my intern Lorenza Sarti had helped with keyword research.
People say 9/10 businesses fail. For me those are great odds. I luckily only had to get to 5 before I finally figured out how to play the game (add value).
My 2013 new years resolution plan was to get to £3k/m of (net) income (not revenue as Brad Feld’s humorous post makes clear) so that I have a budget of £100 / $150 a day to live, work and enjoy life. One more SEO client and I’ll be there 🙂
I’ve been massively inspired by people who are living and traveling round the world such as Colin Wright, Natalie Sisson, Sean Ogle and Cody McKibben (check out his video below) financed by their online businesses.
I think it’s imperative that you find the people living the lifestfyle you want and then study how they do it – read their blog posts, buy the ebooks, listen to the podcasts and reach out. People really are happy to help.
It’s taken 8 years, bouts in and out of employment, and three years of being in business to finally work out who I am, what makes me inspired and happy (and where) and how to finance the location independent lifestyle I want to lead which would be impossible without the internet. I truly think kids today are so fortunate of the freedom it can give them, if they can filter out the noise and focus on what they desire. Now really is the time to crush it (Gary V) 🙂
– If your job is making you miserable, quit.
– Separate your time from income.
– You can only make a living online if you know how to sell either yourself or a product (or both) – this is the most important skill and the one I learned last.
– For me fitness is key for happiness and success.
– A lifestyle is a terrible thing to waste (Entourage)!
Learn the 6 principle for becoming location independent from my book here.
This is from the Location Independence Resources Hub