What Comes First: The Dream Or The Business?
Do you want to work from anywhere so you can travel? Or do you want a business you love with built-in flexibility?
This is a dilemma facing many who are interested in a life full of freedom with no office cubicles in sight. It's been proven travel and work can co-exist.
Who wouldn't want to travel the world while they worked? But if you're still doing work you hate (even in your beach house) then the high you get from traveling will be minimized to nothing.
This is why it's important to start from a place of "I love my business" first and foremost.
How to determine a business model you love?
Start with what you love doing! But keep in mind just because you love something doesn’t mean you’re good at it. So it’s time for some #truth.
If you’re interested in blogging but it feel likes a chore, you will not be successful. If you love coming up with ideas for stories but hate writing, just forget about it.
What not to do
Be obsessed with traveling the world at all costs and take on work you despise just to fund your life. There are way too many coaches/branders/web designers promising you an online business that let’s you “travel the world!” if you only take their course/buy their package/join their newsletter.
These are scams because no matter how much you WANT to travel the world, you won’t enjoy any of it if you don’t love the work you do. And you won’t do good work because you’re not in love with the mind numbing task of *insert boring remote job here*. Duping people into thinking you’re a pro resume writer when you can barely write your own resume isn’t going to make you successful or bring home the big bucks. I am very much against all these inspirational and aspirational websites that say “If you can just learn a skill by taking a course you can build your business around it”. When you do that, you don’t position yourself as an expert in your field because you’re just meh. You don’t stand out, and as a result will be competing for all the low paying work every other “wannabe” wants.
The way most businesses go about it is backwards.
They start with the dream and work backwards to create a business.. but really you need to start with the business to achieve the dream.
It’s important to have your dream in mind while building your business, but selling everything you own and moving to Thailand is not a plan. It’s foolish to think you’ll “figure it out” because while you might be super motivated/smart/qualified… you aren’t setting yourself up for the pinnacle of success. You want to be so successful that you can live anywhere- not just the cheap countries.
I like to think this is what sets me apart from nearly every “digital nomad” course/designer/wannabe coach: I actually understand the value of an online business and how to build one without gimmicky things like drop-shipping or being a virtual assistant. Next time you come across a person touting the best strategy to build an online business- ask them how many online businesses they have built themselves. Probably none.
Not to mention, finding work on Upwork or other menial jobs are extremely HARD to get. The competition for sub-par talent is hot! Tons of clients are looking for pay someone $100 to set up a Squarespace website. Or $$5 to write a blog post. But really.. is this the best use of your time? While you COULD travel the world (cheap countries only) on a $30,000 income, why would you want to? Don’t you want a thriving business based around your expertise?
Making a “living” this way sets you up to be a disposable service provider. Your time, work, and sanity are not valued. You’re always scrambling to make a buck and then stretch that buck out.
That’s the path to go down if you have no sense of pride and are willing to cow tow to someone else’s whims. Taking charge of your life doesn’t include working for minimum wage so you can sleep in a hostel.. it looks way more like OWNING your skills, earning top dollar for them and working less so you can relax.
The solution is to start turning the wheels now with an online business while you continue to work your day job. Or, if you have an established network in your chosen industry, to put all your efforts into your shiny new business.
Now that we have established the business comes first, how do you figure out what that business is?
Ask yourself these questions:
What do I love?
Do you love design? Creating things?
What am I exceptional at?
Maybe you’re really great at designing eye-catching book covers. While you enjoy designing flyers, ads and other things- you really excel at book covers. From here, you can narrow down your focus.
What do I want my daily life to look like?
Maybe you want to wake up by a beach, bike and swim for a few hours and then work for four straight hours until dinner. Or maybe you want to work 5pm-12am, go out and party and sleep all day. The more specific, the better.
Freedom doesn’t come from working few hours. Freedom happens when you are in control of doing work you love.
The online business waters are murky at best, because I would take a bet that half of all online business aren’t making any money. Probably due to the fact they put their dreams in front of a solid business strategy.
Moral of the story? Dream big. But build a business that’s bigger.