How I Became A Location-Independent Entrepreneur Without Trying … And Seven Simple Ideas to Help You Do the Same

location-independent entrepreneur

The author Erika Awakening visiting Phuket, Thailand on a 7-week trip to Southeast Asia as a location-independent entrepreneur.

It’s all the rage now to become a location-independent entrepreneur (also called digital nomad or location-independent professional). Lots of people want to do it. And the truth is, with internet technologies like Skype and WordPress, it’s not as difficult to become a location-independent entrepreneur as people make it out to be. In many ways, it’s easier than succeeding with a brick-and-mortar business … if you do it right.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were times on this journey when I felt extremely frustrated and thought the business would never really become sustainable. This was especially frustrating during the time period when I wanted to quit my day job yet did not feel enough confidence to do so. And still that was easier than managing physical office space or a bunch of location-dependent employees.

During the process of getting where I wanted to be, it felt like it was taking FOREVER. The reality is that it happened amazingly fast. I started my first blog in late 2008 and wrote for free for about a year. I didn’t start my actual money-making business until well into 2009. For the first nine months or so of my business, I felt discouraged. And then I applied my coaching method Holistic Belief Reprogramming to the situation. Amazingly, by the end of 2010, I had made over six figures USD working part time on this business. All told, I have made over $1 million online from all sources. (Learn more about How to Attract Money with EFT Tapping.)

location-independent entrepreneur

View from the top of Phuket in Thailand: Imagine the places you’ll go as a location-independent entrepreneur.

So while my ego was constantly kvetching about “how long everything was taking,” in reality I made six figures of gross income working part-time during my very first full year in business. And I’ve made in excess of six figures of gross income every year since, four years in a row, including this one. That’s my “why you should listen to me” pitch. Most people who start these internet businesses struggle for years before they make a decent income. I didn’t. That’s due to my highly effective coaching system, which I applied to the situation (learn more about the foundational product, the 30-Day Abundance Challenge here).

The perspective I can offer here is unusual because – unlike most location-independent entrepreneurs – I did not go the “live in cheap countries and cut costs” route to get here. In fact, it was only this year that I ventured out into Southeast Asia and Central America to experience extended trips abroad as part of this lifestyle. For various reasons, it was important that I keep my home base in San Francisco. I have two beautiful cats who live with me. I have a house about three hours away in Tahoe where I love spending time.

Those who are familiar with San Francisco are well aware that it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world. Just to give you a sense of perspective, it’s typical when I leave my apartment for a few hours that I drop $500 within a few hours. Gas at $75 for a tank. Groceries are $250 for one cart. Try getting your shoes repaired or any other basic necessities for less than another $100. Parking ticket for $65. This is not like Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, where $500 could stretch on for weeks. Here in San Francisco, $500 is gone in a flash.

And when I quit my job – yes, hold your breath for this one – I still owed $200,000 on my mortgage. My cat’s health care bills and need for a new car added another $60,000+ debt to the pile. So … trying to live abroad on $15 a day was not an option for me to solve my business problems at that time. I had to make more money, and that’s what I did.

Here are a few tips to get yourself on the way to being a location-independent entrepreneur:

1. Start With Your Authentic Passion

location-independent entrepreneur

Sunset in Langkawi, Malaysia. One of the most stunning sunsets I’ve ever seen, and it’s all yours as a location-independent entrepreneur!

I see way too many people starting with the goal of having a business or becoming location independent rather than starting with their life purpose and passion. We all have a dharma, the one thing we are meant to do in the world that nobody else can do. Until we find that life purpose or dharma, we are mostly just spinning our wheels trying to start businesses or become location independent. Invest in training and education, delve into your passions, and only when you have a driving purpose that is going to help you overcome ALL obstacles is it time to create a business around it. If you have a day job, you can do what I did: start a blog for free on the side and don’t even try to make money doing it until you’re sure you’ve got something with some real juice.

2. Keep Overhead Low Until You Build Your Confidence

Although I invested an ENORMOUS amount of money in personal development in the years leading up to starting my business, I kept my business overhead expenses low at the beginning. I started with a free blogspot blog, YouTube videos, Facebook and other social media marketing. My other costs like traveling to conferences were not “fixed costs” and could be cut back at any time as needed. This way, I built my business confidence before increasing my fixed overhead.

I cannot tell you how many people have come to me for coaching with businesses that have already or are in the process of going bankrupt. How is that possible? It’s always the overhead. If you didn’t have the overhead, how would you go bankrupt? You might not be making any money but it’s the fixed overhead that kills the business. Yes, eventually you will want to do what I did and add lots of bells and whistles to your websites. Don’t do it until you have the confidence that all those bills are going to get paid.

3. Set Your Sights Higher

Nearly every location-independent entrepreneur I’ve ever encountered is obsessed with “saving money.” Living cheaply abroad, living with parents, not getting any extras. And hey that is one way to do this. I recently in Vietnam and Cambodia had the experience of $100 in cash lasting for weeks unlike the day or two it would last in the States. As I mentioned above, I was not in a position to go that “live cheaply” route unless I was willing to unsettle the entire life I had already created for myself. Which I wasn’t. In my mind, I should not have to sacrifice in order to help other people. In fact, the entire idea of “sacrifice” goes against everything I teach because Holistic Belief Reprogramming is about finding the perfect solution that gets everyone’s needs met. So I didn’t sacrifice.

What I found is that money expanded to meet my needs. Would I have made nearly $400,000 last year from all sources if I did not really, really, really want all my debt paid off? I doubt it. It’s because I needed the money that it was relatively easy to make that much money. I’ve seen lots of people “pinch pennies” only to make less money and have the savings not matter all that much. (Learn more about expanding your prosperity consciousness here.)

I’ve figured out now from my recent Thailand travels that if I liquidated everything in the States and moved there, I could probably live for decades without working another day. Of course, I have no desire to do that. Why would I not want to work when I love what I do?

4. Never Open Physical Office Space

Because I perceived myself as grounded in San Francisco … becoming location-independent as an entrepreneur was not intentional on my part, at least at the beginning. In fact, I looked into getting physical office space in San Francisco. I was deterred by the high overhead costs and bureaucracy that I would be taking on … It seemed so much simpler to have a home office and eliminate any commute or extra expenses, yet I could not realistically see clients at my home due to zoning regulations. Right there, having a “physical business” was already seeming unnecessarily complicated.

Plus, although it almost seemed baffling at the time, I was not getting any local clients. My clients were coming from the East Coast, Italy, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Canada, and pretty much everywhere in the world OTHER than California. In retrospect, this was clearly because a Higher Power had better plans in mind for me than I did for myself. With no local clients, there was no reason to get office space. And eventually I realized that this was going to free me up after I quit my job to be spending a LOT more time at my house in Tahoe.

(I used to race back to San Francisco after a weekend, it was insane. The mileage I put on my car was off the charts. Now I’ve had a new car for two years and it still has fewer than 9000 miles on it. What’s good for us is also good for the environment!)

I still remember how much resistance I had to trying Skype for the first time. Credit to Eric von Sydow (Hypnotica) for practically forcing me to download it and get on it for the first time. Once I tried it, though, I was hooked. Worldwide calling for free? Easy recording and video capability? All of a sudden, I put two and two together and saw that Skype made an international coaching business not only possible – but easy. With no need for office space at all. I never really looked back. Except for a few private intensive trainings that I offer in person, all of my client calls are on Skype. And that opened my business to be worldwide and … YES … location independent.

When I got into product sales, I also considered the possibility of “physical” products. Again, a huge can of worms was staring me in the face. Physical products meant tracking sales tax and dealing with shipping and all that. I opted to create a totally virtual business, and I must say, this has been the best decision ever.

5. Get All Your Debt Paid Off

location-independent entrepreneur

Gorgeous view at Ulu Watu Temple in Bali, Indonesia: One of many exotic places to visit as a location-independent entrepreneur.

Although it was certainly wonderful to make so much money last year, it was also a lot of pressure. Knowing that I had fixed car and house payments every month created quite a bit of fear. On the one hand, that motivated me. On the other hand, I had to focus on sales all the time. This year with my debt paid off, I’ve had the luxury of attending to some other areas of my life that had remained unresolved.

There are good reasons to get into debt sometimes. I am very glad I have this beautiful house, and I have a feeling it will be very useful for the business for many years to come. That said, get out of debt as quickly as you can so that the constant pressure to meet those fixed payments is not driving everything you do.

6. Consider Keeping A Home Base

During 2013, I have spent about 12 weeks traveling abroad and living out of a suitcase. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m always happy to come home. Personally, I find that living out of a suitcase gets old. I don’t like hotels that fail to meet a pretty high standard of cleanliness, and while I can tolerate them for a while, I would not want to do it all the time. I also miss my home cooking and smoothies when I’m traveling and find it frustrating how difficult it can be to eat vegetarian and healthy while living abroad.

location-independent entrepreneur

Exploring the ruins at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia as a location-independent entrepreneur.

This is where having an expansive abundance consciousness comes in. I actually have TWO permanent home bases: A beautiful apartment with a Bay View in San Francisco, which is rent-controlled. And a house that I own free and clear in Tahoe. The house provides significant amounts of rental income through short-term vacation rentals. Which makes keeping the apartment a no-brainer for financial reasons. I love having these home bases. Perhaps a day will come when I don’t need or want them anymore. In the meantime, I am grateful that I went the “make more money” route rather than the “cut costs and live cheaply” route. Given that How to Attract Money with EFT Tapping, why sacrifice?

7. Above All Else, Clear Your Limiting Beliefs

If you take nothing else away from this article, this #7 is the one to remember. Until I started this business, I had for most of my life suffered from the fixed limiting belief that “I don’t have what it takes to succeed in business.” It’s almost laughable now that I ever believed this, but I believed it for years. It’s why I went to law school and not business school. It’s why I let myself work at jobs that really did not suit me because I did not think I could do any better.

There is NOTHING MORE POWERFUL you can do than make a commitment to reprogram your subconscious mind. All the action you take in the world won’t add up to squat if you have fixed negative beliefs about “there’s too much competition” or “it’s too good to be true” or “I’m taking from others if I ask them to pay me money” and so on and so forth. And this is where I can really, really help you, if you are open to be helped. The 30-Day Abundance Challenge has helped countless people get beyond their limiting beliefs into previously unimagined possibilities in their lives. There is absolutely NO WAY I would be where I am now if I had not practiced this subconscious mind reprogramming day in and day out for the last few years.

Learn more about reprogramming your subconscious mind for abundance here.

A Note of Caution – Be Honest With Yourself: Do Not Fall Into the “Avoidance” Trap

location-independent entrepreneur mark manson escape plan

Exploring the streets of Saigon, Vietnam as a location-independent entrepreneur.

My ex, blogger Mark Manson, is a successful location-independent entrepreneur and a good example of the dark side of this location-independent lifestyle. If you are using location independence to avoid your home country, your family, your debts, your problems, the many women who are pissed off at you, or your ex … you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. If you are using location independence to make it easy to live in denial and pretend you don’t have any problems that need facing … you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. And eventually you can’t run any farther and like Mark Manson you’ll need an “Escape Plan” because the avoidance is going to bite you in the butt. ;) Don’t use location independence to “run away” or “escape” from your life because long-term it won’t work. Face all your issues at home with courage so that becoming a location-independent entrepreneur can truly be about freedom rather than avoidance.