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What It Really Looks Like to Run a Location Independent Business

One of the reasons I wanted to freelance full-time was so that I could travel more. I figured if I could get work done from my laptop then I could have a location independent business and work from anywhere.

While I’ve been traveling domestically while running a business for a couple of years, I recently took my first international trip while running a location independent business. I also spent my time out of the country with other location independent business owners so you can bet we swapped stories about working while on the road.

In case you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to run a location independent business (note: it’s not sipping Mai Tai’s on a beach and watching money roll in on PayPal), here’s an inside look of what it was like for me in Mexico.

Airport and Airplane WiFi

Have you ever taken a flight and watched those people taking meetings at an airport while their laptop is hooked up to a charging station? Have you also seen them continue this meeting without skipping a beat as the airline announces a gate change that requires you to move?

Yeah, that was me.

How about people ferociously typing away on their laptop while in flight?

Yeah, that was me too.

When you’ve got a location independent business and are on the road, you work wherever you can find some WiFi. Besides, it’s not like you’re going anywhere once you’re past security or 30,0000 feet in the air. You might as well get some work done while you’re at it.

Mapping out every internet cafe in town.

When you’re in other countries, you may find yourself in internet cafes to get some work done or send a couple of emails. I found it helpful to map out every place in town with WiFi. In fact, my friend and I ended up hanging out at an internet cafe one late afternoon after exploring San Cristobal de las Cases in Mexico.

Delegating….like a lot.

My virtual assistant was my life saver on my recent trip. Sometimes I couldn’t get what I needed because of a bad connection (like while on a plane) so I would have to send her a message to take care of something for me.

I’ve asked other location independent business owners what their thoughts are on systems and contractors are while they travel and apparently not everyone thinks they need to be in place. Some people are just fine working on the road without systems or contractors, I just personally think it would be way harder if you’re under a tight deadline and are running into a problem.

Working really weird hours.

When I’m home, I’ve got some basic structure that I stick to. All that seems to go out the window when I’m traveling. Between flights, hotels, transportation, exploring and hanging out with friends, we all found ourselves working some very weird hours.

For example, I was climbing Mayan ruins on a Saturday and basically spent all of Sunday catching up on work. We went out to a bar Sunday night and then two of my friends were up until four in the morning to meet a deadline.

Final Thoughts

Running a location independent business from the road can look a little crazy, but in my book it’s totally worth it. Since this was my first international trip, I’m sure there are things I could have done better. The real test will come as time goes on and I begin to travel more.

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