The suitcase entrepreneur is the business man or woman who can work from anywhere, who spends his or her life on a plane to another location and who never needs to clock in to “the office” environment. The suitcase entrepreneur is THE entrepreneur of the 21st Century.
Anyone aspiring to be a suitcase entrepreneur must be willing to learn from others. More and more companies are investing in products and services to make the life of the suitcase entrepreneur easier and more successful because the industry is growing fast. Therefore, it is important to stay in touch with the expanding face of this particular world of work and take advantage of all ideas on offer.
My suitcase entrepreneur dream led me to a life of freelance writing. Yes! It is possible to live, eat and pay your bills comfortably as a freelance writer. Read The real-life Carrie Bradshaw: lessons in love, dating, travel and going freelance, for more tips on becoming a freelance writing entrepreneur.
Your suitcase entrepreneurial idea might lead you down a completely different route. However, the concepts, needs and skills of the suitcase entrepreneur are basically the same, no matter which industry you decide to capitalize on. With this is mind, and from personal experience, I leave you with the following tips and ideas to help you set off through another set of immigration doors with confidence and ease.
Managing a Virtual Office or Working Alone
The suitcase entrepreneur tends to form a business which can be run as a one-man/woman-show, as it is a lot easier when travelling around and rarely in a fixed location to work alone and be free of managing a team. However, there are a wide number who also choose to build and nurture a team of staff which is managed virtually.
Some may choose to manage their virtual offices using a number of different programs and resources, including Skype, PayPal, Drop Box, Google Docs and GoToMeeting, for example. There are others who choose to set up a fixed office in their hometown (or a location that they are very familiar with). They employ a team of staff who work in that one office and they manage that team of staff from afar.
There are other suitcase entrepreneurs who take their teams with them. They make use of rent-by-the-day offices in a wide number of world locations and the team trots from one place to another, as and when business requires it, paying for office space on a need-to-have basis.
Choosing which way to work will depend on your leadership skills, your management style and the needs of your business. The important thing to recognize is that there are many ways of managing a team of staff and many reasons for choosing to go it entirely alone too.
The Absolute Basics
Whatever kind of business adventure you set your sights on and whether you decide to have a team of staff in tow or not, you will have to set up the following business features at some point and, from experience, it is far better to set up these features sooner rather than later.
1. Fixed business address
There are a number of different services that will manage your post and send it on to you, wherever you might be in the world. This makes it easy to have a fixed business address whilst on the move. Without a fixed address, your business appears less trustworthy and reputation, particularly when relying on the Internet, is everything.
2. Quad band, unblocked cell phone
Every suitcase entrepreneur needs to get setup with a quad band unblocked cell phone. Only quad band cell phones will work in every single country in the world and when the cell phone you have is unblocked you can gradually build up a stash of pay-as-you-go SIM cards to slot in to that phone every time you land in another country. Your number in each country will remain the same and you only have to pay for what you need instead of tying yourself into loads of different cell phone contracts worldwide.
3. Top-notch laptop and external hard-drive
The suitcase entrepreneur cannot function without a laptop. Make sure you buy one that is light and fairly compact but which also has a lot of power and disc space for different programs you might want to install. Splash out on your laptop. It is your most important business resource. Buy an external hard drive too, with lots of space, and back EVERYTHING up. It’s a sad day for the suitcase entrepreneur who loses everything because his or her laptop crashes and dies from too much hard work.
4. As many forms of payment and access to cash as possible
If there is one thing that you will need most, it is access to cash and a variety of ways to pay for things, send invoices and invest money in projects and ideas without having to be in your “base” location. Therefore, make sure that you get setup via PayPal, Western Union and credit cards with low or little fees when drawing out money in foreign locations. Consider signing up for a PayPal debit card too (a new service which allows you to use money directly from your PayPal account instead of transferring to your bank account) and the Travelex Card (a safer way of drawing out cash abroad, which you can manage online and which charges less in fees than PayPal).
You should also make sure that you have a direct telephone number to your bank manager and develop a strong professional relationship with this person before you start leaping across the world on your entrepreneurial adventure. You will welcome their support in difficult times.
Quite simply, if you plan to work and do business in a foreign speaking country, invest in language classes and focus on your fluency before you set foot on your first plane.
Suitcase Entrepreneur Accommodation Solutions
There are lots of businesses which devote their time and energies to supporting entrepreneurs and there are lots of networks and communities for the soon-to-be-entrepreneur to join too, all of which can help save time and money for new start-ups and set them on the road towards success with fewer hiccups along the way.
One particularly useful resource for those entrepreneurs looking to make international business links is Love Home Swap.
Love Home Swap is an online site designed to help frequent travelers find a way of staying in unique homes all over the world for free. When you join, you create a profile for your home and take advantage of being able to temporarily swap your home for someone else’s and save on accommodation costs when travelling for work or pleasure. It’s also a lot more comfortable staying in a home-away-from-home than it is staying in a hotel or hostel when on your travels.
Author bio: Tracey writes her way around the globe focusing on travel, culture and matters of the heart. She recently downloaded another Calle 13 album, plans to go on her own Eat, Pray, Love adventure to India at some point and notably misses living without daily coverage from the BBC.
Category: Startup Advice