I’ve been self-employed for about a year now, and that year was definitely the best ever. Working on my own business and combining work & passion is a great feeling that I enjoy every single day. I traveled to more place that I ever did before, lived for months in new countries, and met amazing people all over the planet.
But this article is not to tell you about all the advantages of being a location independent entrepreneur, there are many other articles for that. Instead of that, I want to tell you about 5 mistakes I made since I started as an entrepreneur, so you can avoid them if you are in that case too. Enjoy!
1. Not Exploiting my Location Independence Enough
The first mistake I did is not exploiting my location independence enough, and lots of times choosing lifestyle over business. As a new entrepreneur it is easy to get lured by all the good things you can have: living just next to the beach, enjoying the sun, and reducing your expenses by moving to cheaper countries.
But that’s not what it is all about at the end. Being an entrepreneur is also about business, and choosing where to go based on the opportunities that you will find there. In my case, it would have been spending more time in large hubs where hardware startups are active (like Eastern Europe and cities like Berlin, for example) and not spending months traveling in New Zealand. I don’t regret any of it, but in the future I will definitely use my location independence at the service of my business, for example by going to conferences that make sense for my business and meeting other entrepreneurs.
2. Focusing Too Much on Reducing Costs in my Lifestyle
My second mistake was to focus too much on reducing costs in my lifestyle, without realising that what I was doing is actually staying cheap without actually developing my business as much as I should have. The word baselining is often used in the location independent entrepreneurship community, which means to reduce lifestyle costs to be able to develop your business without having a job to support yourself financially, for example by moving to South East Asia or other cheaper countries.
But I realised that’s not the end goal: the goal is not to stay cheap, but just to use that situation to grow your business without caring too much about running out of money to support yourself. I’ll give an example with my internet connection when I first started out as an entrepreneur: because I focused on reducing costs, I chose the cheapest plan possible when I first moved to Eastern Europe. Needless to say, the connection was horrible and it actually slowed me down a lot when developing my business. That’s when I realised that you sometimes have to invest some money, even when you are baselining, to save you a lot of time when growing your business.
3. I Have Been Following Other People’s Thoughts a Bit Too Much
After my first travel as an entrepreneur which was a three-months trip to New Zealand, I realised that I have been following other people’s thoughts a bit too much. Let me explain. In the Four-Hour Workweek that we probably all read, the author Tim Ferriss explains that the best thing to do when you are running your business from your computer is to travel for something like 3 to 6 months in a same country. And I really wanted to follow that advice. After all, it was Tim Ferriss that gave this advice, so it must be good, right ? But after my first trip, I realised it was not really for me.
I now prefer to have a “base” somewhere and then only travel for a month maximum at a time in other countries. That just corresponds better to me. So the lesson here is to really think of what you want to do with your time, and not to listen other people that much. For example Dan Andrews from TropicalMBA says quite often that he didn’t follow the advice from his first business mentor that told him not to travel & run a business remotely. Becoming an lifestyle entrepreneur is all about getting your time back, so don’t let other people that you don’t even know tell you what to do with it.
4. Not Focusing on One Business Only
My fourth mistake was to not focus on one business only. Or at least should I say on one business at the time. Many entrepreneurs are running multiple businesses at the time, but I had so many ideas when I started out that I launched several of them at the same time, working everyday on small pieces of each of these businesses. As a result, one day of April 2013, so just a few months after I started out as an entrepreneur, I was completely burnt out. I couldn’t focus on any project at all.
You just can’t be efficient when you are constantly jumping from one project to an other during the same day. So I decided to run several businesses, sure, but to only focus on one during a given day. This way it is really manageable for me and I am able to create without my mind wandering and thinking about all the other things I have to do for my other businesses.
5. Sitting Too Much
Finally, the last one might comes out of nowhere but it is about … sitting too much. Many articles and studies showed that sitting too much can kill you, and as a location independent entrepreneur you exposed to the same risks than someone that works all day in an office. Like many entrepreneurs I like working from my desk at home or from coffee shops, and that usually means sitting. So during the end of last year I decided to sit less and change my work habits.
At home, I would usually use my kitchen table to work because it is much higher than a conventional table, so it allows me to stand up while working on my computer. Of course, the best would be to have one of these stand-up desks at home, that’s planned for later in the year. In coffee shops, I am now using as much as possible the higher tables that usually nobody wants to use, so I can also stand most of the time there.
That’s all for the main mistakes I did as a location entrepreneur. Are there big mistakes that you did yourself in your journey to become an entrepreneur ? Please share in the comments!