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How To Start A Location Independent Business As A Digital Nomad

We now live in a global village and travel offers the best education in the complexities of this globally interconnected world.

Fortunately, technology is also making it a lot easier to combine work and travel as a lifestyle so you don’t have to live the entire year in a single place.

Thanks to the Internet, you have the freedom to tell your story, build your own website and reach a global market with your talents and skills as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

The Internet is facilitating both the decentralization of human organizations and a globally connected culture where collaboration can be done across borders to solve global issues.

A New World Of Opportunity

Hundreds of millions of people are migrating to cities and immigrating to new countries each year in search of better opportunities.

While most traditional work requires you to work in a specific location, the new world of digital work gives you much more freedom of choice to live and work anywhere.

Digital work is easily incentivized and measured by results generated rather than just time spent sitting in an office.

Welcome to the world of location independence.

How To Set Up A Location Independent Business:

Location Independent Business
A roadmap with everything you need to start a location independent business.

Want this entire guide in a handy visual PDF guide for reference? Download it here.

Here’s everything you need to get started with a location independent business:

1. Start by incorporating to get much lower self-employment tax rates.

Entrepreneurs, freelancers, and self-employed people take more risks and create more jobs so governments are incentivizing them through much lower tax rates than employees.

You can start by incorporating your business in your local jurisdiction. If you are planning to reach a global market, you can incorporate in the United States through Stripe Atlas, which will incorporate your business in Delaware, which is the state preferred by most startups and investors for tax reasons.

If you want to be based in the European Union, Estonia’s e-Residency lets you start an E.U. company in a jurisdiction with some of the best taxes and least bureaucracy in Europe.

2. Create a paperless office in the digital cloud.

While I do most of my business through email, video chat, and a digital phone number that goes directly to my iPhone anywhere I am; you may still want to have a phone number and mailing address at home.

You can get a virtual address in the United States where all your snail mail is scanned and sent to you with Earth Class Mail.

You can get a phone number in Canada or the United States that works anywhere on your smartphone with Line2, or get a toll-free customer service number with Grasshopper.

You can use tools like Dropbox, G Suite, and Quickbooks to manage and outsource the repetitive tasks for your paperless office administration anywhere you go.

3. International banking for a new mobile generation.

It’s only a matter of time until cryptocurrencies replace national currencies because the central banking system has resulted in a level of unpayable debt that will eventually make government-issued currencies completely worthless.

Avoid absurd banking fees and get the actual exchange rate and the lowest transfer fees with Transferwise. I use to it pay the remote freelancers I work with and it saves me a lot of money over using PayPal.

I also recommend getting a bank account in Bitcoin through Bitwala. You can instantly exchange your cryptocurrency balance and withdraw your funds at any ATM worldwide with their handy Bitwala Debit Mastercard.

If you’re an early adopter, you might also want to set up a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (TAO) using Ethereum so you can delegate authority, incentivize employees with crypto-stock and issue options in cryptocurrency to crowdfund your growth.

4. Securing your data is essential.

An amateur hacker can hack into your computer through an unsecured wi-fi connection in 5 minutes. This means you should always use a VPN while traveling (especially at airports).

You can use Warp for free on your smartphone. Try ProtonVPN (affiliate link) for the best security across all your devices and the fastest speeds.

If you’re using the same password for different websites then you have a massive security liability if one of those websites gets hacked (which happens regularly). Use an encrypted password keychain such as LastPass across all your devices.

5. Get long-term travel and health insurance.

A lot of people don’t realize that you can get high-quality health insurance abroad for a lot less (80-90% less) than you would pay in the United States.

When I got dengue fever in Bali, my doctor’s visits and tests cost only $20, which was so little I didn’t even bother claiming it with my health insurance company.

For basic short-term travel health insurance, there is World Nomads and SafetyWing. For long-term health and medical insurance try IMG Global or Allianz.

6. Choosing where you want to live.

The whole world is competing to attract the best talent. This gives you a lot of freedom to choose the best places to live and work.

Whether you want to move somewhere long-term or just spend the winters abroad somewhere more rural where you can slow down and relax more like me, there are a lot of good options to choose from.

You can find the best spots for digital nomads using Nomad List. You will find the cost of living anywhere in your local currency using Teleport and you can find the best coworking communities with Coworker.

If you’re looking for somewhere sunny in the winter, read my guides to tropical nomad hotspots and if you want to surround yourself with other nomad entrepreneurs read coliving for entrepreneurs.

7. Paying taxes and getting dual citizenship.

I’ve met many digital nomads in my travels who don’t pay any taxes. This is a bad idea for a whole host of reasons.

To organize your taxes, I recommend a tool like Quickbooks or Xero. If you are a resident in a high-tax jurisdiction, you might want to consider getting dual citizenship in a tax haven for your international business.

There are many options such as Puerto Rico, Panama, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the Cayman Islands.

How To Make A Good Income Working Remotely:

Find a good coworking space where you can surround yourself with other entrepreneurial people.

There are many different options for making an income today without having a traditional 9-to-5 job that requires you to sit in traffic daily and show up at an office.

I’m a huge believer in having a passion-driven, long-term business that aligns with your talents and skills. This can be essential for staying focused and motivated on the road.

I’m going to cover the 3 best ways to make money anywhere: remote jobs, freelancing and online business.

1. Remote Jobs

Many smart companies are realizing that to attract the best talent they need to offer the option to work remotely. 

If you have the right skills and experience, you have the freedom to get hired anywhere because innovative companies are always on the hunt for new talent.

To land high-paying remote jobs, you should focus on building your personal brand and demonstrating your expertise on your website rather than just resumes, degrees and cover letters.

2. Freelancing

If you already have an established set of skills and expertise then you can work with your clients remotely.

This is relatively easy for most digital professions which are more results-based rather than time-based.

Many freelancers struggle to hit their income goals while working remotely, so I’ve created a guide with 10 great tips for becoming a high-paid freelancer.

3. Online Business

This is the best way to make a good income remotely but it requires the most focus, long-term vision, and energy.

I’ve seen so many remote workers lose motivation to put in the necessary hours while living in paradise simply because they’re not passion and purpose-driven in their work.

I recommend developing an online business plan before going remote. Read my guide to create your own DIY MBA.

The Location Independent Business Toolkit:

Mobile Office Playa Del Carmen
The tools I use to work remotely while managing and growing my 3 online businesses.

The essential digital tools (some are affiliate links) that I use to efficiently manage and promote my location independent businesses:

1. WordPress

I’ve been using WordPress for my websites since 2007. It powers close to
25% of websites and its ease-of-use and third-party community with 1,000’s of free plugins are unrivalled.

You can download WordPress for free and get your website online in a few hours if you have a web server or you can get it set up in 20 minutes using a fast and reliable host like WP Engine (affiliate link).

2. Asana

I use the project management platform Asana to keep track of my short-term and long-term goals and to make sure my daily tasks align with them.

I plan out, structure, schedule and track my time so I can consistently get in focused states of flow anywhere using Asana. 

3. ActiveCampaign

If you want to build an online audience and promote yourself from anywhere, you’re going to need an email marketing system to keep in touch with your prospects and customers.

I use ActiveCampaign to build my email lists and marketing funnels. They offer great support and an easy-to-use interface that’s much more powerful than rookie tools like MailChimp or ConvertKit.

4. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe makes the best professional tools for design,  photo-editing, and video editing.

I also love how they make it easy to host my massive video files in the cloud so I can easily outsource the tedious chore of video editing.

If you just want a free tool to make images, I recommend Canva.

5. Fiverr

If I have something really quick to outsource, I use Fiverr. If it’s more complicated, I’ll assign it to one of the freelancers I regularly work with.

The key to success in online business is focusing on your “zone of genius” where you can create the most value with your time. All the stuff that bogs you down and is outside your expertise should be automated or delegated.

6. WebinarJam

Teaching your knowledge and expertise over webinars is the best way to educate people about the value of what you offer.

For my live webinars, I like Webinar Jam because it provides the best analytics and marketing tools to fill the webinars.

They offer a $1 trial (affiliate link) for 60 days that includes excellent training for getting started and they make it easy to expand into automated evergreen webinars.

7. Content Studio

One of the biggest time wasters when running an online business is managing social media. 

Content Studio makes it easy to delegate your social media and they make it really easy to schedule and consistently share the best content I read every day.

I usually block social media newsfeeds when I’m working and just share content through Content Studio’s apps to avoid going down the rabbit hole of distraction.

8. G Suite

I’m a big fan of Google. I’ve built my businesses with Google Ads and Google Analytics is crucial for tracking and optimizing my marketing funnels. 

I’m also a big fan of their G Suite for cloud-based collaboration. 

I use their Docs, Slides, and Sheets applications daily to run my business and collaborate online.

9. Stripe

Hands-down the best payment platform.  Stripe handles payments in 35+ currencies with built-in fraud prevention, and they make invoicing, taxes and accounting painless.

PayPal is also good but as you scale Stripe will save you $1,000s of dollars a year with their lower fees.

If you’re invoicing clients as a freelancer, I recommend using

10. Video Gear

I’m a huge believer in the power of video storytelling. Anyone can be their own media channel on YouTube today and other social networks like Facebook and Instagram give video stories the best reach.

Build your personal brand with storytelling using just your iPhone or Android smartphone with my video storytelling toolkit.

Going Fully Remote: How To Start A Location Independent Business

Learn how to confidently sell your skills and expertise to a global audience online so you can enjoy the freedom to work anywhere.

Watch my 45-minute webinar training on how to start a location independent business from scratch and position yourself to sell your expertise online at scale.

You can watch it here.

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