The notion of the digital nomad is an attractive one, but brings with it certain clichéd images. The phrase has probably conjured up a picture of someone young, carefree and living the hippie lifestyle in a beach hut in Cambodia – doing some freelance writing or web design to keep the food on the table and otherwise relishing the opportunity to see the world.
A digital nomad is sometimes envied to remain self sufficient before returning home, than settling into a “proper routine” of career, mortgage, kids and all the rest of it. It’s almost seen as a variation on that late 20th century phenomenon, “the gap year” – and few really consider it as a long-term career and lifestyle choice.
That doesn’t have to be the case, however. This is the age of the modern entrepreneur, more people are setting up on their own than ever, and there are plenty of business sectors that do not demand a physical office base. There is nothing to stop the digital nomad from staying right there on the beach and developing that lifestyle into a thriving enterprise…
#1 – Changing business for changing needs
There has been plenty of research conducted on the aspirations of Generation Z, and the overwhelming conclusion is that they are more driven by the ‘quality’ of life than accumulating materialistic wealth. The thing to keep in mind is that this is a generation that is only beginning to hit its early 20’s. At that age, previous generations were not so different, but as years pass by and family commitments increase, priorities will also have to change. However, that doesn’t mean throwing away those work/life aspirations.
#2 – Nurture existing customers
If you are nomadic in the true sense of the word, it can cause disquiet among regular customers. They might be concerned that you will become unavailable, or that different time zones and unreliable internet connections will disrupt delivery and turnaround times.
It is vital to communicate. Be upfront about where you are, and if there are going to be periods of unavailability, simply let them know. When a business is dealing with an individual, it is inevitable that he or she will not be available 24/7. The most important thing is not to suddenly disappear off the radar without warning. However, as you grow your business, there are technological tools that can help to take the strain.
#3 – Use backorder software to improve flow
When a freelance enterprise starts to grow into something bigger, there inevitably comes a pinch point where capacity becomes an issue. You don’t want to turn down work, but at the same time, there are only so many hours in the day. This is where a backorder philosophy can really come handy. The benefit here is that your order book remains full and both you and your customers have perfect clarity on delivery dates and deadlines.
#4 – Get some virtual assistance
If you thought a VA was just a box that you can tell to switch on the air conditioning when the Bali sun is at its strongest, think again. Hiring some virtual assistance, perhaps for a few hours a week, is the first step towards business maturity. Delegate those boring, repetitive and time-consuming tasks, and you will be astonished by the time that is freed up, to both drive your business forward and to enjoy that nomadic lifestyle to the full.