Move over, millennials! Traveling the world while running a business isn’t just for 20-somethings without partners or kids.
Recent statistics show that almost half of all digital nomads are over the age of 38 – and that number keeps growing. What’s more, 57% of digital nomad women tend to make more than the average income for their age bracket and gender. This is very good news for anyone who is looking to start a business.
Almost anyone can make this laptop lifestyle work, it just takes a bit of planning and a shift in perception. I spoke with Heidi Hapanowicz, a personal brand photographer who runs a six-figure business traveling all over the world, to get her tips on creating a location independent business in your 40s.
If you are thinking about a location independent business – with a family in tow – Heidi’s tips will help you get there.
1. Understand That Almost Any Business Can Be Location Independent
“Whether you want to consult, coach, teach, write, design or inspire, all you need is a decent wifi connection and a bit of creativity to bring your offline business online. Teachers can teach English as a second language or even tutor students online at night while they spend their days hiking the Himalayas. A couple’s therapist could hold in-person workshops at a resort or spa in Hawaii,” Hapanowicz says. “I lived in Florida when I hosted my first photography event in London. If you’re married, consider brainstorming ways your partner can take their business on the road so they see this as a win-win for both of you.”
You might be clear on how your business can be remote, but your challenge may be to figure out how your spouse’s job/business could be too if you want to travel together. Luckily, we have the technology to make almost anything happen – Virtual Reality (VR) being one of the most innovative ways to that right now.
2. Think Local – Not Global – At First
The initial steps you take to become a digital nomad should happen right in your own backyard. That’s because the idea of a global lifestyle can seem overwhelming and downright intimidating if you think too big, too quickly—especially if you have kids.
“Dream of hosting a yoga retreat in Bali or Costa Rica? Start by signing up a few members from your local studio. Plan the event for when your children are away at summer camp, spending a week with their grandparents or having quality time with your partner. Ready to leave the 9 to 5 as a web designer? Don’t quit your day job just yet. Start by picking up some freelance work in your city until you’re busy enough to replace your current income abroad. Put in those extra hours while your kids are at soccer practice or your aging parent is napping. As your reputation and following grow, so will your business,” advises Hapanowicz.
3. Be Strategic And Flexible
“If your children are still too young to be left alone while you lead a retreat in Costa Rica, focus on planting the seeds for your future business right now. When I started my photography business, becoming location independent was a priority for me, so I made key business decisions accordingly. Instead of opening a local studio, which would have given me fast cash but was contrary to my goals – I was patient,” says Hapanowicz. “Yes, I took clients in my own city, but I also began building a worldwide network of friends and ideal clients and slowly the word got out.””I optimized my website for the cities that I’d love to work in. I joined online communities. I went to events where I knew my dream clients would be. Slowly, my reputation and email list grew,” she says.
My children are 3 and 2, which makes it difficult – logistically and emotionally – to be away from them too long. If you are in the same boat, planting seeds is a great idea. Thinking long term about the set up of your business, start building your email list, and showing up online will allow you to reach your goals of being location independent, even if it’s not right away.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Introductions
“Dream of living in Spain next summer? Email your mailing list and let them know of your plans — ask them to recommend friends and make introductions. Post on social media, scream it from the rooftops if you want to, you’ll find that people will be excited to help you make connections. The internet is full of online groups and there are countless sites where you can connect with other global business owners. Remember your network is your net worth!” Hapanowicz reminds us.
A lot of entrepreneurs will put out a social post or an email letting their community know about travel plans. They will create meetups, dinners, attend networking events, conferences, etc. in different cities. This smart strategy allows you to create a global network that you’ll be able to tap into throughout your career.
5. Put Out An Offer
“The online world can initially be intimidating to many people over forty – which leaves a lot of us dreaming but not doing. But the truth of the matter is: these days you don’t have to be super tech savvy to make a digital living. For most businesses, all you’ll need to do is put up a simple website, create an email list of potential clients and set up a payment processor to take payments. If that seems daunting, you can pay someone to set these things up for you,” says Hapanowicz. “Create an offer, put a price on it and let the world know you’re open for business. Take one step at a time in the direction of where you want to be and you’ll be local independent in no time.”