Why Moving to South East Asia was the Best Business Decision I've Ever Made : Under30CEO Why Moving to South East Asia was the Best Business Decision I've Ever Made : Under30CEO
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Why Moving to South East Asia was the Best Business Decision I’ve Ever Made

| July 17, 2013 | 20 Comments

ThailandI live a life that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Together with my husband, I run an affiliate marketing business; and up until 7 months ago we were flatlining. You see our business was growing, slowly. Our life was healthy, somewhat. We hired help but could only afford one employee. We craved growth; we so desperately wanted to level up, and we longed to shake things up and add a little discomfort to our lives.

We decided then and there we were going to do it – we were moving to Thailand!

184 days later and it has proven to be the best thing we have ever done for ourselves – both personally and professionally.

From harnessing the power of Geoarbitrage to surrounding ourselves with like-minded digital entrepreneurs, ridding our lives of bad habits to staying uncomfortable; we have been able to catapult our business from one that barely supported our Western lifestyle to five figures a month and the lifestyle we had been dreaming of.

Curious to know how you can do the same thing? Read on.

Leverage Your Precious Time

If there is one thing we entrepreneurs need, it is more time. Back home, we felt as though we had zero.

Every hour of every day was accounted for something – the gym, work, birthdays, family dinners, networking meet ups, brain-picking sessions or a ‘really important [fill in the blank] that we absolutely must attend’.

It can be downright perplexing figuring out how to fit it all into one week and still have the time, and brain space, to develop your business into the money-making, life-enriching, value-providing operation you have been thirsting for.

Not to mention – how the heck are you going to afford to bring someone on to help you when you have only been in business for a short time?

South East Asia, baby!

I know; you can’t just pick up and move to Asia. But, why not?

There are more opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to bootstrap their business than nearly anywhere else in the world. In fact, nowhere else can you make a few thousand a month, hire a small team of outsourcers and still relish in a lifestyle that is considered above average by Western standards.

It is called Geoarbitrage – or Tropicalization –, and it is the process of leveraging lower wage rates in developing countries to create a loyal team that churns out high quality work and helps build your business.

To further my point, let me give you an idea of what is possible: We live in Chiang Mai (Thailand) and spend about $2,000 a month for the two of us. We rarely spare any expense and do almost anything we want here.

It is because of this low cost of living that we have been able to outsource all of our content and social media, hire a web show editor as well as a graphic designer. Not only that but we have recently brought on two virtual assistants who handle all our formatting, guest post sourcing, domain purchasing and transferring, image searches, keyword research, niche research, link outreach and website setup.

Essentially, we outsource each and every task that makes us money. This, in turn, helps to create some personal white space in our lives and allows us the freedom to work ON our business instead of IN our business.

So, how can you get started with outsourcing?

It’s simple. Start by creating a list with three columns – things you don’t want to do, things you do not know how to do and things you should not be doing. From there, start ticking off the tasks you would feel confident delegating to a virtual assistant.

Once you have your list, you can begin finding someone who fits your criteria. We personally love Virtual Staff Finder (because they pre-interview candidates for you), but there are other options, such as Elance.com, Odesk.com, Freelancer.com and HireMyMom.com

It may seem like an intimidating step – handing off your business to someone you have only met online -, but if you are struggling to keep up with menial tasks, it is a crucial step you simply must take.

Surround Yourself with Those Who Understand You

Anyone who owns an online business probably knows that the majority of your friends and family do not understand what you do.

They may say things like: “But you work on the computer; surely you can take today off”, “Do you even make money?”, “It’s 6pm, the work day is over”, “You work online? Like, selling things?”.

It can be challenging keeping your priorities in line, not letting another person’s judgement dissuade you, or not being disillusioned when others minimize what you have worked so hard to accomplish.

It is something almost every online entrepreneur has had to deal with, and it can be a little defeating.

That is another reason why we decided we had to leave home and not look back: People simply didn’t get us.

However since stepping foot off the plane in Thailand we have been bombarded with an overwhelming sense of belonging. Everyone we have met is living an unconventional life, blazing their own path and not looking back.

They understand if you have to work on the weekend or that sometimes working from your besk (bed + desk) is just as productive as working from an actual desk. They take an active interest in what you are doing and more importantly, why you are doing it.

In addition to that, there are accountability groups, mastermind sessions and conferences full of people in the trenches, making their lifestyle dreams a reality. They talk about marketing strategies, business ideas and SEO practices and best of all are encouraging, intelligent, friendly and fearless.

But how can you find a community of people who understand you if you can’t afford to pick up and leave yet?

There is a community called the Dynamite Circle – an online forum of digital entrepreneurs created by Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen of Lifestyle Business Podcast fame.

Within the cyber walls of this forum are hundreds of supportive entrepreneurs ditching the constraints of the conventional 9-5 and creating a business and life they love, all by harnessing the potential of the internet.

It is a fantastic place to start if you are looking for strength and reassurance…or a swift kick in the pants to make things happen for yourself.

Form Healthy Habits on the Cheap

As mentioned above, before we took the leap and moved overseas we lived a comfortable life. We woke up whenever we pleased; slugged back a sugar-laden coffee with as much caffeine as our bodies could handle, scarfed down all-you-can-eat sushi dinners and kept irregular hours.

Here, it is a different story.

In South East Asia, there is a huge community of entrepreneurs who want to hack their health and uncover new ways of increasing their productivity and mental clarity.

They are exercising regularly, juicing daily (you would be surprised at how cheap it is to juice here – $1 a a day per person!), taking $1.50 fresh Wheatgrass shots, meditating, going to $5 yoga classes and setting goals that make them reach higher than they thought possible.

To follow in their successful footsteps try creating a morning ritual for yourself that helps kickstart your day on a positive note. Personally, we like Eben Pagan’s process which he outlines in his productivity course, Wake Up Productive.

Within the course, Eben talks about how a morning success ritual (as he calls it) is key to increasing your productivity.

He claims that the first ritual you perform each morning is your highest leverage activity of the day and  should be repeated each morning to reinforce your goals, keep you in a success mindset, get your blood pumping and nourish your body in a way that breeds productivity and success.

What kind of routine should you be starting? Well, here is my routine or as I like to call it my “Ritual to Riches”:

-        Get up at 7:30am

-        Drink 1/2 litre of water

-        Brush my teeth

-        Rinse my face

-        Workout for 45 minutes

-        Shower

-        Make a green juice

-        Visualize for 15 minutes

-        Read a work-related blogpost (or listen to a podcast or watch a video)

It may not be for everyone, but after that 90 minutes is up I am chomping at the bit to crush my to-do list, have been able to cut out caffeine and have more energy than ever before.

Just be sure you test out your ritual for at least 30 days so you give yourself ample time to relax into it and refine what works for you. Something as simple as waking up, drinking water, brushing your teeth, working out, showering and eating a clean meal could make all the difference in your entrepreneurial adventures.

Get Uncomfortable

If there is one surefire way to rip you out of your comfort zone and catapult you into a space in your life where you are uncomfortable, learning new things and meeting new people who can help you in your business, it is moving to South East Asia.

You see; one of the most important aspects of success is the ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Now that may seem a tad contradictory because most of us crave a feeling of comfort, but when you are comfortable you are not growing.

In fact, you are stagnant, and stagnancy will obliterate your business’s chances of growth. Not only that but it can make life downright boring!

When you move to a country such as Thailand you are facing situations that do not make sense by Western standards, adapting to a whole new way of living and learning something new every day.

That is uncomfortable. It is also pivotal, electrifying and inspiring!

After all, when was the last time you met someone extremely successful or interesting who lived in the same city all their life, spent their weekends with the same social circle and never tested their own limits? I bet not often, if at all.

If you want to kick your comfort zone to the curb, get daring.

Move overseas, learn a new skill set or meet new people who are aligned with your business and lifestyle goals.

You may feel a level of resistance, but if you can dedicate yourself to this level of discomfort you will transform your life in ways you cannot even fathom. You just have to stay committed.

Besides, life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So what are you waiting for?

Jill is a wanderluster and lifestyle business owner hellbent on teaching others how to live a life dripping with freedom and purpose. She can be found over at Screw the Nine to Five where she tries to get others to ditch their soul-sucking jobs and live a life they love by luring them with her free book The Art of Authority. She also lives out of her backpack, probably swears too much for her own good and isn’t afraid of a tall glass of gin.

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  • James

    Brilliant article Jill, I’ve bookmarked your blog & I’ll check out Dynamite Circle, sounds like just what I need. It’s so important to surround yourself with like minded entrepreneurs. Thailand sounds great too, an Under30Experiences trip there would be awesome!

    Huge fan of geoarbitrage too, some see it as exploitation but fail to realize how far money really goes in developing countries. Not to mention the fact that we create jobs, and help the economy. Working online for $5/hour is a lot better than $1/day in some dangerous sweatshop. Especially when the cost of living is so low.

    May I ask about your affiliate marketing business? Do you just have an affiliate site or do you run a network? …It’s just that I work in that area too

    - James

  • Jill Stanton

    Hey James,

    Thank you so much for the kind words, I’m so happy to hear you dug the post :-)

    As for our affiliate sites – we run a small (but growing) network. We currently have 3 big sites mixed with about 8 small sites (that we don’t really work on and just generate passive income) but are in the process of creating a whole whack of new ones.

    What about you?

  • http://www.viajeroemprendedor.com/ Viajero Emprendedor

    Love this article!! I am moving to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! I will be working in MindValley and building my online business meanwhile!! I want to share all the lifestyle business idea and being a digital nomad with the spanish speaking population! But I am struggling to find the way in spanish market as it is a completely new idea! I had been thinking of creating two project one in spanish and one in english …not sure yet! Want to get to kuala lumpur and keep figuring things out! My spanish project is viajeroemprendedor.com and I am doing a english crowd funding campaign in karma shop http://viajeroemprendedor.karmashop.org

    By the way I love your blog! I would definitely visit you in thailand and maybe we got to talk more!!And of course you would me more than welcome in Kuala Lumpur !! :) big hugs from Mexico City!

  • James

    No problem,

    Your setup seems pretty cool, it’s always been my dream to live off passive income!.. I’m guessing Pat Flynn had a bit of an influence on you?

    As for me, I run an Irish cashback site, but I’m currently looking into mult-channel attribution models and experimenting with related niche sites.

    Good luck with your new sites! :)

  • Melissa Krivachek


    Great article. I find myself giving up all that I ever owned and traveling the world. While most people consider it crazy I absolutely love it. It is quite amazing what we can accomplish when we get out of our comfort zone and take the risks, being daring and live the life of our dreams. Looking forward to more great content from you. Cheers!

  • Mike Darche

    Jill, awesome post! You’re absolutely right, I think the comfort factor is the biggest fear and also the biggest reward that comes into play when we make decisions. You can learn so much from situations that make you feel unfamiliar or vulnerable- you just need to be willing to take the risk and try something new…Thanks for sharing!

  • Jill Stanton

    Oh wow, that’s interesting! I hadn’t heard of that being a niche before…but I think I’m surprised daily at the kind of niches people are involved in. There’s just so many! lol

    As for Pat Flynn…I do like his stuff but he didn’t really have an influence on us whatsoever. My husband has been involved in affiliate marketing for about 6 years now and I only recently hopped on the bandwagon and joined forces with him just under 18 months ago :)

    But I do think Pat has some good content…I’m just not a fervent follower of his.

  • Jill Stanton

    Mike I could not agree more! I think it’s probably the number one thing that holds people back. But in reality it should be the number one reason someone does something – because you never know how drastically your life is going to change because you stepped outside of your comfort zone :)

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Jill Stanton

    Hey girl, thank you so much for the kind words :)

    And how exciting that you are moving to KL! We go there quite a bit actually as we have to leave Thailand every 90 days to renew our visa and we have a couple of great friends there.

    Keep in touch and maybe we could meet up there!

    Good luck with your sites, they sound fantastic :)

  • Jill Stanton

    Melissa, congratulations! That’s so exciting and I feel incredibly proud of you :)

    It’s not crazy, it’s bold! And besides, I make it a point not to discuss this life with people who are stuck in their comfort zone and the 9-5 because they simply don’t understand and usually cut it down to make themselves feel better about choosing a comfortable life.

    But the good thing is, you and I know differently :)

    Where are you headed on your adventures?

  • Melissa Krivachek

    It’s funny because I’ve lived this lifestyle for almost 4 years now and in the past week alone I’ve been to 6 different states. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, & Michigan. At the end of our lives it isn’t the things we collect but the experiences that matter. Being completely uncomfortable is such an amazing yet scary feeling at some points but it’s a lifestyle not a full time or part time job which is what many people fail to realize.

    Where am I headed? It’s a puzzling question because I have no idea LOL I normally get in the car and drive however now I’ve found a man that is just like me and so instead of driving he likes to go backpacking. Who knows where life will take us, it’s a grand adventure and there really is no arrival.

    Where do you find yourself headed to next?

  • Jill Stanton

    I love that – “it’s a grand adventure and there really is no arrival”

    So perfect :)

    As for where we’re headed…well we’ll be in Asia for the rest of the year but next year we’re planning on checking out San Diego, Greece, Argentina and Chile!

    I’ve convinced my husband that I need to learn how to do the Argentinian tango in the streets hahaha ;)

  • Melissa Krivachek

    Too funny Jill!

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  • http://under30ceo.com MattWilsontv

    Hey Jill, I spent 6 weeks in SE Asia last year and had a blast. You guys must live like Kings on $2k a month in Thailand… money goes a long way. There are lots of little outcroppings of entrepreneurs doing the same thing, settled in different little places like Bali, Thailand, and the Philippines. Really enjoyed this article. Thanks for writing!

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  • MasTer

    “One of the most important aspects of success is the ability to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Now that may seem a tad contradictory because most of us crave a feeling of comfort, but when you are comfortable you are not growing”.

    So true.

    Reminds me a quote by Epicurus the well known Greek philoshopher: You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.

  • Jill Stanton

    Sorry I’m so late at responding!! Thanks for the kind words Matt and YES! There are a ton of webpreneurs cropping up all over SE Asia it seems :)

    We’re heading to the Philippines in March and cannot wait to check it out!