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3 things I’ve learnt about working as a digital nomad

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By Jane Copeland

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Have you ever dreamt of escaping the cubicle for a life of freedom of the open road, and being accountable to the best boss in the world....you?

work from home, digital nomadIt’s the ultimate dream, and for a  growing number of entrepreneurs, or ‘digital nomads’, making a decent living wherever there’s Wi-Fi has become a reality.

I’m one of these digital nomads. Since the birth of my son two years ago, I now operate a location-independent, “in the clouds” business. The idea behind the move from corporate to footloose and fancy-free solopreneur, was to do meaningful work and to create the coveted work/life balance.

Sounds lovely right? I bet you’d have thought that the office would be long forgotten by now. Uh-uh. There are certain aspects about working as a digital nomad, that may surprise you. Like these three:

1. Not having an IT department sucks

Twenty years in corporate has it’s luxuries. I know this now.  I’m not talking about the cakes at morning tea, or drinks on the company card. Would it shock you to know, that it’s actually the IT department that I miss the most?

I look back and fondly recall when a simple issue such as, a forgotten password, configuring a new laptop, retrieving an achieved document, or even sorting out a testy printer, would after a  press of a button call to the IT department, fix itself. Okay there were often times when IT may have helped me sort out my iTunes too.

God forbid if any IT related issue wasn’t sorted within an hour! How veerrrrrry frustrating. “Why is IT taking so long? “, I would grumble.

But my click of the fingers expectation, was really not that surprising when you consider that like other corporate junkies, I had never known anything different.

But ex-corporate types, do.

When you are operating an “in the clouds” business and you’re working remotely from anywhere – and it’s just you – what happens if you don’t have a techie person on hand, and you’re not techie yourself?

You spend hours doing  various crash courses at YouTube university, that’s what!

While I now dream of the good old days of having an IT department at arm’s length, here are some of my favourite substitutes – and they’re quite easy to put on speed dial too:

Teacup Techies Technology training – at home, at work, individual or small group.

I hate my pc Your computer’s guardian angel or your computer coach helping you with what needs to be done.

2. Work, life, balance – bahahahah!

Balancing is for ballerinas and not so much for solopreneurs in their first year of business.

The thing is like so many others who run their businesses from home, I work from my dining room table. On the one hand this is fantastic because I can work at times when I’m most productive, and around my family’s schedule.

It’s wonderful to have a lovely big “desk”. However along with my workspace which now consumes the whole dining table, so too have the hours I work, spilled into “non work” time. Time that was meant to be for the work/life balance thingy.

So yes on the other hand, theboundaries between work and life have become blurred. Boundaries are goal posts that are easily moved. This isn’t helped by the fact that I’m doing work which I enjoy, which means it’s difficult to stop doing it.

But it’s the productivity that’s the potential killer. Sometimes it’s not the easiest thing to be productive at home. This could be a whole post on its own, so I’ll leave this topic for now.

3. You get lonely

It’s true.

There is a solution to this and I plan on trying it out. Coworking spaces encourage like-minded entrepreneurs and other professionals to come together, kindle new network connections, and perform business in a professional setting. The best thing though is that coworking spaces create fellowship.

The coworking space, Hub Sydney will be launching in Sydney in May and I have joined as one of their founding members. You can still purchase membership for 50% off. Check out the details here

Should you start your own business?

I DO want to help you pursue your own exciting entrepreneurial career and liberate you from thinking traditionally about work. However now that I’m doing it myself, I believe that it’s useful to have some idea of the lifestyle you’re entering.

One useful resource I’ve come across recently, is the new book learn-small-business-startup-in-7-daysLearn Small Business Start-UP in 7 Days, by Heather Smith. Heather has worked with hundreds of business owners during the start-up phase of their business and in this book, shares everything she has learned along the way from their successes and mistakes.

Most importantly the book is an easy to read  practical guide to setting up your business. It gives you the 2013 blueprint of what you need to know, to transition to the start-up lifestyle. If you’re thinking of starting a business, don’t not read this book. I can guarantee it will save you a lot of time and money.

I have a copy of Learn Small Business Start-UP in 7 Days to give away. All you need to do is to leave a comment below.

Heather is also online to answer any questions you may have so feel free to leave a comment and ask Heather any questions you might have.

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Jane Copeland - to view all of Jane's blog post click here

Jane Copeland is an Australian entrepreneur and head of The Business Made Beautiful Academy – an online business school for women utilising her unique Next Top Coach ™ System. She is also a digital marketing authority, publisher of the award winning blog Copingwithjane.com and author of the book Boardroom to Baby. Jane's obsession with internet marketing and her teachings, have helped many people across the globe to stand out from the crowd and redefine their version of success. Learn more about Jane’s programs here.

  • Sam

    Great blog Jane! I pissed myself at you being a graduate of youtube university. Everything I know about WP came from youtube and help forums. Admittedly, ‘everything’ in that sentence does not mean ‘a lot’.
    I totally hear you re productivity at home, as well! I’m trying to convince myself I need a laptop (instead of the desktop I have) so I can work in the library and other places with people around and less distractions…

    • Hi Sam, ha ha – YouTube university can come in very handy. I don’t mean to scare you but wait until you have your baby then there will be a whole new world of distractions!

  • Stephanie

    Really helpful article . I’m looking forward to checking out “tea cup techies “. Will be a nice mix up from my usual YouTube tutorials .
    Thanks for an honest & real perspective .

    • Thanks for your comment Stephanie. Tea cup techies are great, and appear to be a service that’s in demand.

  • Pick me pick me!! I’m starting my own business selling exquisite French toys in Australia. As a writer Ive discovered I know nada about marketing and business. I loved the teacup techies idea Jane. Very encouraging, Kim

    • Bachelormum, how is your gorgeous blog going? I LOVE your french toys – such quality items. I’ll be making a purchase soon for sure.

  • Olivia Wilson

    I have just launched a financial planning business to provide clients with a financial health assessment and recommendations to educate, empower and improve their financial circumstances both immediate and in the future.
    Would love the chance to find be learn more about start ups business though as believe it would be invaluable

    • Your business sounds great Olivia! Congratulations on your launch, I wish you the greatest success with it.

  • Anjanette

    Another great post, thanks! I keep referring your blog to my husband as it’s not just us mums that can benefit from your advice about start ups 🙂 I think YouTube University is a great resource…just staying on topic is the challenge 🙂

    • Thanks Anjanette, I’m so glad you liked the post. There’s probably too much pink on this site for your husband LOL! I agree, on topic on YouTube is the challenge and so is finding the right quality tutorial.

  • Jane! Brilliant article …. love, love, love it!! I too miss the good old IT department and laughed out loud at being students of YouTube University, yep …… I think I’ve learnt more there than I ever did at school 😉 And so glad you touched on loneliness … this is a very real part of working ‘in the cloud’ and being location independent. Oh and the balance thingy …. huh! Nail. On. Head. Thanks gorgeous xx

    • Thanks for your lovely comment Sonya! It’s nice knowing that you ‘get’ what I’m talking about.

  • Beth

    Very interesting reading. Starting to fear I’ll be in the’ information gathering’ phase for a long time. But this book does sound useful!

    • Beth, careful you don’t get caught in paralysis by analysis!

  • So pleased to see we attended the same university! LOL

    Oh what a journey it is! I think the work/life balance thing is possible if you don’t set expectations too high. Nothing is perfect including the balancing act!

    • Jodi, it’s amazing how many of us have attended the same university! I agree about nothing being perfect including the balancing act x

  • Id love to read Heather’s book as I’m toying with the idea myself! Having a young family makes the idea of having a home business attractive, but I do want to be realistic about things!!!

    • How exciting that you’re toying with the idea of starting your own business. Sounds like you’re approaching it in a smart way. Good luck with it.

  • I love this honest post Jane, it’s keeping it real.

    I do think you can get around the loneliness by doing Google hang outs, going to co-working spaces, libraries, events and meeting other nomads for lunch. It takes a bit of motivation though doesn’t it.

    I would love to see co-working spaces grow and pop up everywhere in the future.

    • Thanks Clare. Ahh yes, Google hang outs – I need to explore this more. Yes it does take motivation to make the effort to go get out of your own space and go itneract! I’m looking forward to seeing what the coworking gig is about.

  • I so agree with the lack of IT support!! God I miss them! I too am a graduate of YouTube and any website that will help me…’Google it’ is my catch cry!!

    The lonely factor is also very relevant especially when travelling the world! You miss not only colleagues, but just people who know you!

    Love the article!

    • Kylie, you know I honestly had no idea that so many of us have difficulties with the lack of IT support. I thought I was just technically challenged. Thanks for your comment x

  • Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in truth was a enjoyment account it.
    Glance complicated to more introduced agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we be in contact?

  • Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content
    seem to be running off the screen in Chrome. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon.

    Many thanks

  • Brook McCarthy

    Co-working! Might be time. My personal hygiene is slipping. I’ve forgotten how to make small talk and I rely on Google like a user relies on their next hit.

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