Can You Run a Business As a Digital Nomad Entrepreneur? It Depends

The life that I’m living right now has been a dream of mine for years. 

Ever since I studied abroad in France four years ago, I had a five-month-long taste of what my life could be like in the future. At that point, I also had the realization that I’ve been working remotely for years — I just didn’t recognize it. 

In all of my university years, I worked from my laptop — not from the dreaded library. And I worked primarily from home. It was remote work without the recognition!

So let’s establish this: working remotely is absolutely possible. And starting a business remotely is more possible than ever these days. 

But can you run a business as a digital nomad?

Let’s find out. 

Can you run a business as a digital nomad?

The Challenges of Nomadic Entrepreneurship

Being a digital nomad while starting and running a business — and having a full-time job alongside it — certainly has its challenges. 

But in life, can you really accomplish anything without having challenges along the way?

Financial costs depend on your situation

I’m in a lucky situation where I haven’t had to spend my personal money to start my business. The founder of the business (that I run marketing at) co-founded FoundCopy with me. We are co-owners of FoundCopy and while I run operations and marketing, he runs outbound sales and pays the bills. 

It’s not often to have someone believe in you enough to invest in you to the degree that my partner has. 

That said, our operating costs aren’t that much because of our business model and low tech overhead

Regarding our business model, some of our teammates at SalesPipe are account managers and writers at FoundCopy because they have previous writing experience. They have demonstrated themselves as masters of prose. So it helps that we already have a network of internal writers on our team. But we also compensate them because of our business model: they get a share of the cash that flows from a customer deal. 

We have a low tech stack because the beauty of working at a writing agency is that you don’t need SaaS service business tools other than Grammarly, Semrush, G Suite and Notion. If you have a bigger team of people, then Profi Team would be a good solution for us. We make back what we spend on software pretty fast. 

In the end, we are a profitable nomadic service business. 

My situation makes it possible to do what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s truly having the right conditions (already having service-market fit and a financial backer).

I’m grateful to be in the position we’re in because many entrepreneurs instead try to be digital nomads while running a product business. Building a product and selling it is much harder to do as a digital nomad. That’s because you have to be sure that you have product-market fit and it may take several iterations to achieve. Iterating your product might not be enough: you may have to pivot the entirety of your business concept… sometimes more than once!

In our case, we already knew we had service-market fit for our first and only concept: blog writing for companies. Because FoundCopy was created based on the copywriting and marketing work we were already doing at SalesPipe. It was a business need for us and so we knew it would be a need for other businesses. We already had the core competency to get the business started, all we needed to do was incorporate and develop our brand. And we got our first B2B customer within less than two months of being in business. 

My situation makes it possible to do what I’m doing. Sometimes it’s truly having the right conditions (already having service-market fit and a financial backer). 

But I took advantage of this in a good way and made the most of it — as opposed to taking my situation for granted. 

Time zones disrupt and require you to compromise

As an American living in Europe, I am usually six hours ahead of the East Coast. Having meetings with people in Pacific Daylight Time proves to be my biggest challenge. A whopping nine-hour difference!

I work with a core group of five people other than myself. Two of them are digital nomads here in Europe as well, although from time to time they return to their home countries in South America. The other three are in North America. So I’m the main team constant in Europe. 

I almost never have meetings with people in my morning unless they are customers; some of our customers are based in Europe. All of my internal meetings happen after 5 p.m. locally for me. 

I don’t mind this at all because I work much better in library conditions. I need to either be by myself or around people I don’t know to get anything done. Otherwise, I’ll get distracted and start a conversation when I need to do things like… write this article!

I prefer to have meetings in the early evening since I’ve completed most of what I needed to get done for the day by the time they happen. 

It was originally a compromise I had to make, especially when one of my teammates works in Pacific hours. But I prefer to do it this way rather than have 8 a.m. morning meetings when I’m still tired and groggy. 

The Gains of Nomadic Entrepreneurship

I called the previous section “challenges” instead of “costs” because costs have a negative connotation. 

Yet anyone who’s been doing what they love for long enough knows that costs don’t always have a net negative. 

Oftentimes, in fact, costs have a net positive. 

America is expensive & how I save on housing, food, and transportation

Living in the United States is extremely expensive and financially burdensome. 

In much of the country, you can’t survive without driving a car. That costs a lot when you have parking, insurance, and gas to pay for. Healthcare is also more expensive than in other countries and rent is crazy high. 

Where I’m from, the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, rent has increased by 41% in the past year alone!

It’s easy to think that my life is expensive because I travel a lot. The truth is that my life would be much more expensive in America. 

Instead of spending $1,600 or more on an apartment far away from any East Coast city center, I spend less than a thousand dollars on monthly rent. I’ve never spent more than $900 on rent here in Europe. And some months I go back to Spain, where my family currently lives, to see and hang out with them. So some months I live rent-free. 

It’s easy to think that my life is expensive because I travel a lot. The truth is that my life would be much more expensive in America.

Food is also much cheaper if you want to eat out. I can get a coffee and a sandwich in most European countries for less than four dollars and that’ll fill me up for hours. I commonly eat for less than ten dollars a day. Less than five dollars a day if I’m cooking both meals. 

I don’t use paid transportation to move around. That’s because European cities are incredibly walkable. Most were built before the emergence of the car so European cities are much denser than American ones. I never take public transportation, I mainly go by foot which is free…and healthier! 

I only pay for taking the bus or train to another city or for a flight. Flights are more or less expensive Ubers in Europe: I fly regularly for under $50 thanks to budget airlines like RyanAir. 

You become amazing at time management

Being a digital nomad in my case means that I work with colleagues who are in different time zones. My closest colleagues work in four separate time zones alone. As I mentioned before, there are compromises we have to make in order to have team-wide meetings. 

But because of that I have the rest of the day to do whatever I want and need to do. 

I’ve been writing this article over an espresso after taking a long walk listening to System of a Down. 

After writing this I’m going to take a break so that I have the energy to edit it. Then I’ll edit a few other pieces of content I’ve written, take some more time to relax and do more work I need to do. 

This may be less about being a digital nomad entrepreneur than it is about being a remote worker. 

Managing your time as a digital nomad entrepreneur is easier when you’re always having fun.

Yet I believe being a digital nomad has something to do with this. I feel less pressure to get work done first thing when I wake up since many of my colleagues are at least six hours behind me. Living hours ahead of everyone else gives me permission to live my day the way that I want to, and I’m more productive because of that

Managing your time as a digital nomad entrepreneur is easier when you’re always having fun. 

You learn how to build a high-achieving team without a location

It’s hard to get anything done without team alignment. All teammates should know the purpose of what they’re doing so they can help achieve your business goals. 

Team alignment is something that comes from building, and building a team doesn’t require an office. 

Instead of having meetings with my teammates for the sake of status updates, 99% of my meetings with them are purposeful. They entail having deep conversations on strategic topics such as creating demand through content creation, making content within a certain vertical and more. If teammates want to update each others’ statuses, we do it through Slack and Gmail. 

A lot of business coaching is time intensive as well since we’re constantly iterating our approach and end product on the content creation front. I’ve recently spent much of my time in meetings coaching people on creating posts for LinkedIn. I’m learning more about how to be better at it through teaching and teammates are learning how to be better at it through our writing circle exercises hosted on Google Meet. 

Beware of what I call “remote work stagnation,” which is something that isn’t good for anyone involved.

Doing this type of team building to create high performers can be done in an office or on several servers. This falls under the paradigm of work culture more than anything. 

Beware of what I call “remote work stagnation,” which is something that isn’t good for anyone involved. Remote work stagnation happens when you have a task-based job and you do nothing but the tasks assigned to you, attend virtual mandatory meetings, and call it a day. It’s not good for employees as they stagnate in their careers and it’s not good for business owners since their employees are not interested in anything beyond getting their daily tasks done — when they can alternatively be voracious to make improvements in the business. 

In the end, though, it’s up to us business owners to create a work culture that averts remote work stagnation and fosters innovation

Last Words on Running a Business as a Digital Nomad

So, can you really run a business and do it successfully when you’re traveling the world?

I can because I’m lucky to be in the situation I’m in. I also created my situation. 

Do what works best for you but if there’s a will, there’s a way. I believe anyone can do everything that I’m doing, even if they don’t have the same support system as I do. 

You’ll gain so much out of it, I promise.


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