In our previous blog post, we discussed the extensive list of reasons on why working remotely at idyllic places like a beach is not optimal for productivity. When you think of a digital nomad, what’s the first thought or image that comes to your mind? Perhaps you think of a beach, too. Of course, there is nothing better than to work from a sunchair, margarita in hand, without a single worry in the world, right? Wrong! Actually, working as a remote employee, and a digital nomad can quickly become more of a vacation than work. This, in fact, is one of the main reasons why digital nomads end up coming back ‘home’ and decide to stay there.
So, we decided to continue our last post by looking at the various reasons why certain businesses fail when they are led or founded by digital nomads. It is to be expected that always being in amazing countries, or having access to beautiful sceneries can lead you to lose some of your productivity. So, let’s talk about it: why some digital nomads fail with their business?
Confusing work with vacation and travel
We all have a different definition of the ‘perfect vacation destination’. However, it is fair to say that most of us would agree that relaxing on a beach or somewhere similar is synonymous with a vacation. Of course, if this is your permanent home, it may not be the case for you! In the case of a digital nomad who switches from one country or city to another every few weeks, it can be challenging to separate work from vacation. You may not have a physical office, or may only have access to the internet every few days, or so, hence you can have difficulty making time for work. In the end, you are sustaining yourself with your job to keep living the life you have created for yourself, right? So confusing vacation and travel with getting work done can have severe consequences on your profits, and therefore on your livelihood.
Similar to what we discussed above, confusing work with travelling and vacation can also mean that you lack the stability required for your business to either thrive or continue growing. If you are busy meeting new people every night because you want to socialise as much as you can, you may end up knowing a hundred new people at the end of the week. But how much work did you really get done?
Additionally, a lack of stability also includes having no stable income and apartment or general living space. As a digital nomad, the location of one changes every few weeks or months. This is the ‘nomad’ part. Digital refers to working online, which often means that you cannot predict exactly how high your income will be for the next three to four months. This can not only lead to a lot of stress but can make your life more difficult. Trying to find an apartment when you do not have a stable income (or a bank account in the country) is sometimes very complicated. In the end, not being able to have the stability of a permanent home or a stable income can leave you stressed and less likely to work. For example, some people will procrastinate and ignore the issues that worry them the most until it is too late– avoid this, especially abroad! This just contributes to stress, makes you less focused on your business and can ultimately hinder it.
Losing focus on what’s important
Speaking about focusing on your business, this is a significant point that impacts how well a business can do when one is a digital nomad. Of course, it’s understandable that you take a few days or two weeks to settle in your new location. It happens to everyone; you arrive somewhere incredibly different and just want to find out the most about it. However, if this discovery period lasts too long or is not managed well, it can make you lose focus on why you are really there.
You are in this location because you wanted to visit the world without having to stop working. This being said, you cannot do one without the other. Instead, I suggest you plan out well in advance the things you will do. For example, be aware that the first weeks will be less productive because you will need some time to settle in. After this time, however, you will need to be disciplined enough to make yourself work again. This does not mean that you can’t keep exploring, it instead means that you will need to plan your off-time carefully.
Lack of organisation
Planning your time falls into one category: organisation. This is one many of us have problems with. Think about how each of the points we have discussed above ties in with organisation. If you feel like you are always on vacation and end up losing profits because of it, it is most likely because you did not plan out your time correctly. Similarly, if you did not find a place to work, such as a coworking space or accommodation that has a proper desk to work on, stable internet, and that is in your budget range, it is probably because you did not organise these details well enough. Ultimately, making sure to plan your time, trips, and expenses is vital to making your business work as a digital nomad.
Stop eating out so much!
Finally, and although there are numerous other mistakes made, one of the major ones is spending too much. Think of it as your first semester living at university, or the first time you lived on your own. Did you follow your budget or did you overspend? I know multiple people who spent upwards of thousands of Euros on drinks and food– this could (and arguably could) have been sliced in half. When you are in a new country, you want to try out to local foods, want to find out more about this part of the culture, and want to meet new people. Let’s speak honestly here: most of us get open and friendly through food and alcohol.
Nevertheless, spending too much (and not making sure that you are on track with your budget) is one of the greatest mistakes made by nomads. This ties in with feeling like you are on vacation and having a hard time separating work from this. Think about how you would eat or go out back home: would you go to restaurants four times a week and enjoy mojitos on five different occasions?
So, what should you do instead?
We’ve talked about why businesses failed, but what should you make sure to do instead?
Of course, you should check your mindset and organise yourself well before going on your next digital nomad trip, but what else?
Make sure you have a plan
It’s great to think that you will be going to eight different countries or cities in Europe, but have you planned it out? Making sure that you have an itinerary and a budget that includes all travel-related expenses will reduce your stress levels and can make sure you do not run out of money. On top of this, making sure that you have an emergency fund (which is solely for that– emergencies. No, having that margarita with Paolo does not count as an emergency!) is key to reducing stress and making sure you stay on top of things money-wise.
Before you leave, reach out to digital nomad groups all over the cities and countries you are thinking of going to. Already having friends before you leave can reduce the anxiety you have if you are travelling on your own. It will also make you less likely to feel like you should be spending to impress. Less spending = more money left in your pockets, so less likely for your business to fail! Make sure to know what you need to plan, such as visa costs and perhaps taxes in the country you are residing in for a few weeks.
Know your product’s worth
One of the most challenging parts of selling products as a digital nomad (or freelancer in general) is to know how much to charge. Even if you live in Morocco for a few weeks, you should not charge international clients a price that is equivalent to the Moroccan cost of living. However, I’m sure you already know this. Your products have worth, so make sure not to undersell them. This can lead you to have to work extra hours without making any additional income, so what’s the point?
Many digital nomads think that the goal is to travel as much as possible while paying as little as possible. To be clear, this is also an option, but perhaps not the best one to make a business run well. Instead, try settling in the country for longer– at least a month, and the longer you stay, the better.
In the end, being a digital nomad can be the best experience you will ever have. Nevertheless, it can also quickly become the worst. Make sure to plan out your time, budget and reduce your expenses. Stay disciplined and focused on your business can help you stay on track and have a thriving business. Losing focus is one of the biggest challenges around working and building a business while being nomadic — and certainly one of the main reasons why most businesses fail.