I am launching a new book this week! At this exact moment, it is not live, but it is coming soon and I wanted to give you the chance to read the first couple chapters!
Enjoy – and I welcome any and all feedback (positive or negative).
Keep an eye out for this on book being sold on this blog and on Amazon later this week!
P.S. Apologies – the formatting is kind of screwy adding this into a WordPress site.
Section 1: Your New Life
I’m freaking out. I have 12 days to sell all my s—-, move out of my apartment, and get to Asia.
This is what I told my good friend and duplex-mate Paul as I checked my bank account, and realized I’d be going with less than 500 dollars to my name once I replaced my 4 year old laptop that was fall apart. A necessity when your work 100% relies on a laptop.
I had been working and hustling constantly for the past year and it was starting to pay off. I could feel it – this was a turning point.
And the ticket to get there would just have to go on a credit card…
A big thanks to Paul for reassuring me back then that I was making the right decision. As I look at my life in this moment, the way things turned out proved him right and those crazy irrational fears that everyone has when they embark on a new path…totally wrong.
I’m casually writing this book from a cozy cafe in Thailand, sipping on some Vietnamese coffee for the first time. It’s quite good, if a little confusing to figure out how to drink at first.
When I checked my revenue streams and messages this morning, I smiled again as I see that I am earning far more than I need, while getting inspiring messages from thankful customers, all without lifting a finger. Last week a client eagerly convinced me to let him pay me what is a month’s wages in this part of the world for a few hours of work. I started to say no – peace of mind and focus is priceless once you have the essentials covered – but he is a friend as well as a client so I am happy to help him out.
While I may have taken huge risks to get to where I am today, that is not the point of sharing my story. I’ve always been a bit of a risk-taker, but you do not have to be to get value from this book. In fact, one of the major goals of this book is to make your journey cleaner, faster, and more certain. Taking unconventional paths in life is always a difficult thing. Taking that leap of faith, no matter the size, is difficult for everyone.
It’s worth it.
Chapter 1: Definition of Location Independence, Financial Independence, and what these really look like. Note: freelancing is location independent but not financially independent.
What do you do?
Where do you live?
Where are you from?
These are common questions that you get asked when you are traveling, if only because the other member of the discussion can only summon this level of English to ask these basic questions. Unfortunately, while I have a definitive answer to the first, it is very rarely understood without extensive explanation. If I answer the second and third, I sound like frumpy hitchhiker/gypsy, or maybe a student on a gap year. In the Philippines people decided I was a “webmaster” and in Thailand people usually think I teach English like most other farang (what they call foreigners). Everyone has the own interpretation.
Imagine if you had total freedom of time and location. If you had no compelling reason beyond your own goals and desires to live anywhere in particular. If you only spent your time on projects that you decided to pursue. This is the dream, right? Well, you are in luck. These chapters will detail how this isn’t some unrealistic dream, but rather a path you can legitimately pursue. And while it certainly takes a bit of work, it’s easier than you think.
Now let’s define some terms to get on the same page.
Location Independence: the ability to permanently sustain oneself without geographical anchors.
Note: this does NOT mean traveling for 3 months on savings until you run out of money!
The worst part of a conventional job is having to go to the office every morning at 8 am. I have soul-sucking memories of being constantly stuck in traffic on the way to a cubicle I hated with a passion. How can one live up to their full potential like that?
At a minimum level, to achieve total location independence, which frees you to pursue indefinite travel, work from home, or live from whatever city you’d like, the formula is quite simple. Money made > money spent, conditionally dependent upon zero in-person requirements.
Lucky you. There is this emerging trend where more and more companies are allowing their employees to work from wherever, at least on some level. Great! If you 1) currently work for one of these companies, and 2) have ONLY the goal of freeing yourself up geographically, then you can probably stop reading here. You’ll still continue to trade hours for dollars on some level (tsk-tsk, you time-prostitute you) but you’ll have at least accomplished one level of freedom. Boom. Done.
But what if you can’t do that, if your company is old-fashioned? Or if you are unemployed (or newly-employed)? What if you don’t want to rely on someone else giving you your paycheck? Better yet, how do you want to develop business assets that generate income not tied to your time? Keep reading.
Financial Independence: the ability to generate income greater or equal to living expenses with no direct time for money trade.
Most ultra-rich individuals don’t need to continue to work, though they usually do. This is not because having a million dollars in the bank means you can gradually spend that and it won’t run out before you die (it might, but lets not gamble with lifespans and inflation here). But rather because even with extremely conservative investment strategies, at a certain size of your principal savings even a tiny rate of return can cover your living expenses.
Cool fact: some projections indicate that if you make 3x your required income level (assuming some level of consistency) for 10 years, after that you can “retire” off the return on the savings you’ve accumulated, and maintain that same income level without working.
Some assumptions about you: I am guessing you probably 1) don’t have millions of dollars nor want to wait to become financially independent until you do, and 2) don’t want to make triple your required income and then wait 10 years. Good, me neither.
Breaking news! There is that there is a much quicker way to achieve financial independence. There are many ways you can work for yourself and achieve location independence, and some of these business models also grant financial independence as well. The author living off revenues from past books, the blogger, the dropshipper, the app creator, the founder of a content marketing agency, even those channels on youtube that you watch when you should be working. Each of these individuals makes consistent income based on the existing systems or following they’ve created.
Now I know what you are thinking. But Grant, bloggers still have to blog, dropshippers still have to dropship, and youtubers still have to youtube! Yes indeed, and the mega-millionaire might have to spend an hour a week keeping an eye on their portfolio. But let me ask you this: do any of these individuals have an hourly rate? Do they have a salary paid based on working full-time or even half-time? Would they still make a sustainable income if they took a week, or even a month-long vacation? If they are doing things right, then they’ve created sustainable systems which grant them financial independence, and the answers to those questions are exactly what we want them to be.
It’s time to chart your journey towards location and financial independence. Chances are you will do this in a two-step transition. The reality is you will likely achieve location independence first, then financial independence will follow as you gain experience and refine your business. For example, one strategy which will be discussed is how freelancing can be a good starting or transition, and is something most financially and location independent entrepreneurs have utilized at some point. This is an example of having achieved location independence without financial independence.
But, even from the very beginning, you will be working for yourself. No matter what happens to the economy, or your old company, you will make a sustainable, durable income that frees you up to live in the way you choose.
Chapter 3: It’s easier than you think – go through cost of living differences, different cost breakdowns of geographical locations, how to break free from being back home.
So I’ll admit I’ve made a big claim – working for yourself and traveling the world, achieving that kind of freedom, is easy? Now I will say it indeed takes quite a bit of work, but let’s take a look at why it’s much easier than you’d expect to achieve independence, and travel the world.
First off, how much do you spend per month right now? How much do you make? The budget that the average American lives on is $4,258 (as recently as 2012) according to the U.S. government. This is a budget that you can translate easily to almost every city in the world. The most interesting aspect about being location independent is that once you achieve this status you can automatically start spending less money. As a quick example, if you work from home, what happens to your monthly gas payment? How much more will you end up eating at home versus at restaurants?
But those aren’t very exciting examples. Instead, consider how the average American spends over $9,000 per year on transportation – car payments, gas, etc., and this doesn’t event include car insurance. Now imagine walking down the street in Berlin to a nearby coffee shop, or grabbing a Tuk-Tuk in Bangkok for the equivalent of 3 dollars. Ironically, once you start traveling most people end up spending LESS on transportation.
If you think about those surreal, exotic travel destinations on your list, chances are you will automatically become richer just by going there. As I like to quote one of my entrepreneur friends who recently said this: I lived a second-class lifestyle in the U.S., and then I came to Asia and even though at first I was making less, I could automatically afford a first-class lifestyle. There are first-rate travel destinations on every single continent on Earth, which, just by traveling there, the purchasing power of your same income automatically double, triples, or even quadruples.
Just take a look at budgets (in USD) for traveling entrepreneurs all over the world:
Average American 4,258
Hong Kong 3,237
Brasilia, Brazil 2,712
Auckland, New Zealand 2,674
Madrid, Spain 2,668
Hamburg, Germany 2,559
Cape Town, South Africa 2,476
Lisbon, Portugal 2,341
Como, Italy 2,270
Dallas, Texas 2,265
Ottawa, Canada 2,181
Taipei, Taiwan 2,096
Las Palmas, Spain 1,953
Seoul, South Korea 1,938
Cebu, Philippines 1,754
Buenos Aires, Argentina 1,698
Cluj, Romania 1,599
Beijing, China 1,572
Shanghai, China 1,556
Bangkok, Thailand 1,353
Riga, Latvia 1,352
Prague, Czech Republic 1,133
Cairo, Egypt 1,124
Antalya, Turkey 1,101
Lima, Peru 1,070
Saigon, Vietnam 971
Cali, Colombia 847
Chiang Mai, Thailand 641
Note: these budget are primarily based on food, accommodation, transportation, and renting a work space, and so relate to living slightly conservtively. Add 30% to estimate a more “first-class”, very comfortable lifestyle.
Dream of chilling on the beach drinking a fresh coconut in on a Thai beach? You can do this for an entire month for $600-1000. Margaritas and practicing your Espanol in Peru or Colombia? $1000-1300 per month. Even places like Hong Kong and New Zealand can be done for less than you are paying now (I say this from experience, as I’ve done 6 months in the latter).
Chapter 4: Freedom Math – Making Enough to Escape
Knowing that you can travel the world and see mind-blowing places while saving money and living money probably isn’t terribly helpful for that desk job you are currently tied to. In fact, might be torture to know that. Oops, sorry!
The next step is to show you how you can make enough to escape! Let’s pick Prague as an example to see how we can do this. As a mid-range option that’s also on several lists of the Top 25 Cities in the World to visit, it’s not a bad starting point. Let’s start from scratch with a “comfortable” budget – $1,133 x 130% = $1472.90, so let’s just round up to an even $1,500. While you can probably live several months at this level on your current savings, the goal is to NOT use savings. Ever. In fact your savings should be growing while you are traveling.
Let’s go through a variety of business models you can create which generate this income, with a variety of options in terms of time spent, freedom, and knowledge required. No matter your level or experience, at least one of the options below will apply to you:
Required income – $1,500
1. Freelancing (low skill requirement but tied to your time)
- Part time work – 20 hours per week at $19/hour
- Full time work – 40 hours per week at $9.50/hour
2. Service Business (Content marketing, SEO, brand management, email marketing, web development – some previous experience required)
- Medium-low end clients – 3 clients at $500/client
- Medium high end clients – 1-2 clients at $1,000+/client
3. Product Businesses (knowledge or research abilities required)
- Ebooks (poorly launched) – 8 short ebooks selling $200/month per book
- Ebooks (decently well written/launched) – 4 ebook at $400+/book
- Udemy video courses – 3 udemy courses at $500+/course (based on Udemy’s stated instructor earnings)
- Dropshipping or Amazon Products – 1-2 sites or products at ~$1,000 each
Keep in mind these are MINIMUM requirements to show you how you are much closer than you think to the kind of freedom that enables you to pursue what interests you without being tied to a paycheck. In reality, this is a first step which is easily attainable, and from there you can scale or diversify. For example, I have several entrepreneur friends who make 6 figures from ebooks, make triple this Prague budget from ONE dropshipping site, and I make several multiples of it from my Udemy courses and also have much more than 3 clients in my service business. But the first step for each of us was getting to this minimum level, then growing our businesses to the next level. Now each of us makes more than we did back in the States, while spending less and living better because of the freedom of our lifestyle.
In the next section we will get into exactly how you can get started getting to this point in your business and finances as fast as possible, starting from scratch! But first, in this last chapter of Section 1 we will be removing the last couple objections and fears that will inevitably trip you up until we get them out of the way.
Chapter 5: What Your Afraid of and Why it’s Wrong
What happens if I break my leg?
Run out of money? Lose all my clients?
What if people figure out I don’t really know what I’m doing?
What do I do when I get lonely and miss my family/friends/goldfish? What if no one speaks English?
Where will I buy that special brand of conditioner that smells like cinnamon and strawberries?!
…What if I fail?
Once a dream starts to become a reality, inevitably there is a moment where the abstract desire for something starts to become more concrete, and along with the details typically comes lots of fear and even more what-ifs.
Don’t worry, we all go through this. But here is some help from the perspective of being on the other side of things. Typical fears tend to fall into a couple categories:
Category 1: Business or Financial Failure
Fear of failure is one of the most common and undermining fears. And it is almost always unfounded. You are embarking on a new adventure, in business and in life, and with this comes lots of ambiguity and uncertainty, which gives rise to fears of failure. You’ve got that $1,500 budget – now what? What if something happens and you lose all your clients, or your accounts get pirated, or you get sued? Let me tell you a secret: one of my friends who makes $50,000+ per month has the same fears. That should show you how unrelated to reality it is. Last week I got threatened with a lawsuit. A couple months ago another entrepreneur friend lost most of his clients (and 80% of his revenue) in one week.
These kinds of things happen, but here’s the kicker…they really aren’t that big of a deal. They are just minor setbacks on the way to something greater.
Sure, it’s inconvenient to lose clients, but if you got them in the first place you can surely get more. In a freak accident, your million-dollar business gets destroyed.
- Well aren’t you lucky you had one of those to lose in the first place
- There is always some salvageable part of the business, experience, or client-base
- You built one and you can build another, and this time bigger, faster, better
I spoke with a friend last week who is doing insanely well in his online business, better than me in fact, and yet he keeps his day job despite wanting desperately to travel. Why? Exactly the way he put it:
What if I fail?
This is a guy who can afford at least a year of nonstop travel based on his current savings, even if he lost 100% of his income tomorrow.
In that unimaginable situation, even then he could replicate his own success using the same process that led to his current success. It might set him back a month or two, but even then he would be traveling and living a great lifestyle. If you are just getting started and don’t have much experience, then at the very least you can take solace in the fact that even with minimal experience, if your first project fails, you lose all your income, and are about to run out of savings, you can ALWAYS fall back on some simple freelancing until you get back up and running again. I’ve had rates for as much as $50 per hour for freelancing 6 months after I graduated college, and with even an hourly rate of $10 you’ll never have to pack up and “go home”. Unless you want to visit all your old friends back home that are slowly suffering I-hate-my-job/boss/life-death.
Category 2: Access to Healthcare, Comfort Products, Clean Water, etc.
You might be gluten-free, allergic to dairy, diabetic, have IBS, or be hopelessly dependent on contacts to see. It’s ok. The access to the things you need are available even in extremely underdeveloped countries. In fact, “underdeveloped” is a relative term, and these countries will probably surprise you.
For example, the Philippines has terrible infrastructure, in SO many different ways, as any Filipino will agree. Yet I got LASIK eye surgery in Manila. I don’t like to eat rice, and yet have spent a lot of time Asia. Is it inconvenient sometimes? Sure, but no more than trying to be gluten-free while eating at Panera by asking the bread to be removed. Doable if it’s important to you? Without a doubt.
This was something I was concerned about when I first set off to travel. I had never been much of anywhere, so I just didn’t know much beyond the American stereotypes of what other countries are like. A friend from Zimbabwe put it best: “You know how everyone just thinks of Africa as a desert? You see this grass and these trees? Yeah, it’s basically just like this where I am from.”
But what if the water isn’t clean to drink?! Yes, this is something to be aware of, especially in places like India. In reality, it is a pretty easy workaround. Drink only bottled water if you are concerned – basically every country on Earth has this everywhere – and carry some probiotics and Loperamide. About once every 6-12 months you might eat something bad and be out of commission for a day or two, but that’s only slightly more often than it happens back home anyways.
And finally, when it comes to beauty and comfort products, almost every culture likes these kinds of things, so while the exact types might be different, you’ll be able to get what you need (or order it from abroad from places like iherb.com). In fact, some people underdeveloped countries actually use MORE of these types of products that you do. It’s ok – not something I would have expected either.
Category 3: Social Fears
Out of all the fears people tend to have, I’d say this one is what most people should be concerned with, however probably not for the reasons you’d think. Inevitably when you leave the safety of friend groups and family, there is a sense of insecurity that often develops. Despite that you can instantly message, FaceTime, tweet, poke, and whatever else to people back home, you are still setting out among a sea of strange faces (at least at first) and this can be a challenge. Any feelings of loneliness are going to be overridden by the excitement of new experiences and new places for a time, but come Christmas when you are going to the beach in tropical weather on the other side of the planet…it can feel a bit weird.
All of that is not what I would warn you against, however. In fact this forces you to get out of your comfort zone, and to connect with the people around you, even if they don’t speak English! This can be a beautiful thing. Even the biggest barriers of the most foreign cultures can be broken with just a touch of open-mindedness.
The real concern for most people is losing their social anchors. Accountability and social influence is a powerful force, and this dynamic instantly changes the moment you set foot abroad. Are you use to type A entrepreneur types to kick you in the butt to keep moving forward? You’ll have to find a way to maintain that drive and focus amidst tourists looking to do nothing but party in Amsterdam, or the countless retired white guys who just sit around drinking San Miguel beer all day in the Philippines.
Most people struggle with maintaining motivation and focus even in traditional settings, teased away from their important projects by facebook bleeps and alluring YouTube videos of that guy who messes up a backflip off that house. Now imagine you are in a place where everything is new. There is new alien-looking fruit to try, ancient ruins to see, mind-blowing natural splendor that is like nothing you’ve ever seen! But you still have to get up early and put in focused work before you go have fun.
Here are some suggestions about how to not let your business slide while on the road:
- Plug into a group of motivated people (particularly entrepreneurs) wherever you go. There are plenty of tools for doing this. I personally use www.dynamitecircle.com and www.nomadlist.io.
- Create a weekly accountability call with a small group of them to keep yourself (and them) on track.
- Understand that your business will likely stagnate, or at best stay consistent, while you are more actively traveling. Live abroad (as opposed to doing the tourist thing) for periods at a time to actually grow your business. I’ll spend at least 3 months in one location sometimes when I’m in “work” mode.
- Put in your 4 hours before lunch. Get focused work out of the way every morning. 8 hours scattered throughout the day is nowhere near as effective as 4 focused hours completed before the interruptions start to creep into your day. Make it an ironclad habit. You’ll get more done, but work less and have more fun time to explore or go on adventures. Note: it’s important to get up a bit early and do this in the morning, even though you can wake up whenever you want now! Inevitably, come lunchtime, the never-ending interruptions begin.
- Reflect every night on what you are working towards. The thing I struggled with most on the road is an odd sense of having accomplished my biggest life goal. Immediately afterwards, I had this nagging question of “now what”? I was not prepared to answer that question! Should I just shoot for some arbitrary level of high income? Should I try to travel more to just do something? For a while I ignored the question, but when you do that the answer tends to creep in from your environment. Your purpose in life should not be something that is passively accepted from others! I have seen many who begin traveling getting swept up in their surroundings because they lost sight of what they needed to do for themselves. Usually they end up somewhere they regret: a failed business, running out of money, or just becoming aimless. Once this began to happen to me, I spent a lot of time reflecting and revisiting my dreams and goals and created an updated path forward in life that I found extremely inspiring. Immediately everything became much more clear, stable, and exciting. I had reestablished internal anchors for myself, and had a new purpose.
…To be continued