Tips From Ten Successful Location Independent Business Owners

This past year, born out of an international pandemic, I launched my first ever location independent business. It has been a dream of mine since before I can remember, and now finally, at the age of 48, after careers in dance, real estate, event planning, and start-ups, I have done it. For the first time in my life I have truly aligned my passions, my talents, my skills, and my values, and poured them into a business that allows me to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives. And I can do that from anywhere in the world as long as I am connected to the Internet. 

But we all know that starting a business isn’t easy. In the beginning, as you are building, it feels like you are pushing a boulder up a hill. Some days you make very little progress. Other days it feels like there are too many obstacles. Then there are glorious days, where the ground seems to level out, even just for that day, and you make enough progress to keep you going. 

As I continue to push my boulder, I look up at those who have made it farther along the journey than I have. I reached out to ten successful location independent business owners because I wanted them to share their top tips not only with me, but with you. I wanted you to hear this if you're still standing at the bottom of the hill, wondering whether or not you want to make the climb at all. Maybe you are working a job that you hate, or that isn’t fulfilling. Maybe you feel like the career path you are on just isn’t right for you anymore; you have grown out of it. Or maybe you have always felt like there was something more. You have had a dream or fire inside that you have been pushing to the side. You are not alone! We all started somewhere, and we need to learn from and inspire each other.

I asked the same three questions to each of these ten inspiring women who are blazing the trail for us. See their insightful answers below. 

 

Nora Dunn (aka The Professional Hobo

Nora is one of the original Lifestyle Travel Bloggers, having sold everything she owned in 2006 to travel full-time. She traveled full-time for 12 years, and while she now has a home base in Toronto, she continues to travel short and long-term. She combines her expertise as a former Certified Financial Planner with her lifestyle travel experience, to teach people how to travel full-time/long-term in a financially sustainable way. Now she’s paying it forward; she gives people confidence to travel long-term, knowing they’ve set everything up in the best possible way from logistics to finances to travel plans and beyond. She does this with instructional and inspirational content on her website, a video interview series, personal coaching services, books, speaking, and Long Term Travel Consulting

What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?

Taking the plunge is one of the more difficult steps to starting a business, largely because you can’t fail if you don’t try! And the reality is not all businesses will work, for a variety of reasons. 

In order to hedge your bets and increase your chances of success, there are a few things you can do, such as clearly defining exactly why it is you want to be in business for yourself, as well as why this business is the one for you. With these intrinsic motivations defined and in your sights, it becomes easier to stay motivated and overcome the inevitable obstacles you’ll face. 

It’s also important to be prepared for a lot of hard work and possible adjustments and iterations in order to find the right strategy/customer combination. It’s not failure if you aren’t successful right away; it's only failure if you give up. 

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

When I was working in the cubicle environment, I often finished my work for the day hours ahead of time. But instead of being rewarded for my productivity and perhaps allowed to just read a book or even leave early, I was forced to pretend to be busy for the rest of the day - which is much harder than actually being busy! 
 
“I should work for myself,” I ranted one day, “because then when my work for the day is done, I can do whatever I want!” 
 
What I wish I’d known was that when you work for yourself, your work is never done! Ha ha. 
 
Unfortunately, this led me to a few episodes of burnout, until I learned to set goals and be prepared to close my computer for the day before everything is done. There will always be more work; there may not always be another day to enjoy whatever destination I’m visiting or person I’m spending time with.
 
What has been your biggest win on your journey?
 
I became a location independent digital nomad in 2006, before such terms existed. As I traveled the world full-time, I also had a travel blog as a personal passion-project (again travel blogging as a monetize-able industry didn’t exist). I was simply following my heart and doing what my soul called me to do; to travel the world and to write about it. My biggest win was to quite inadvertently become considered a “pioneer” in these fields! I don’t generally consider myself a leading edge thinker or visionary; but listening to my heart (even if it defies conventional logic) has served me well. 
 
Follow Nora on Instagram
 

Danielle Hu (theWanderlover)

Danielle Hu is an influencer, online business coach, and podcast host helping creatives build influential + profitable businesses on social media. Her mission is to enable travel and freedom through entrepreneurship. Since quitting her corporate finance job, she has been living in the tropics full-time, helping others achieve time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom through resources and coaching.

What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?

Write down today’s date and give yourself a deadline! Whether that be start your business within 3 months, quit your corporate job within a year, putting a date down makes it real. It also helps you realize what you have to get done on a daily and weekly basis to make it happen. Once you commit to your business, your business commits to you. 

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

There’s no reason to do everything yourself in the beginning. It’s ok to ask for help when needed, and outsource if you get too busy. In the beginning, I wore every single hat in business, thought I had to know everything or else it meant I wasn’t cut out for entrepreneurship, and thought I HAD to be busy or else it meant I was slacking.

But now I invest in coaches, courses, books whenever I can, and value my free time to recharge. I feel no guilt when I outsource tasks that I don’t enjoy doing and you shouldn’t either! 

What has been your biggest win on your journey?

My biggest win is living the freedom-based lifestyle I only dreamed of a few years ago, and helping clients realize the same. I’ll be traveling from Costa Rica to Hawaii and Bali, and still have weekly calls with business clients who are also traveling through the tropics. Not only am I fulfilled through travel and entrepreneurship, I now own a creative business that impacts others lives just as much as mine.

Follow Danielle on Instagram  Connect on LinkedIn  Check out The Wanderlover Podcast

 

Lauren Melnick (Wanderlust Movement)

Lauren Melnick is a South African travel blogger and full-time digital marketing freelance writer. When she isn't writing blog posts for clients like Plann and Neil Patel, she's running organized hikes and retreats across South Africa and teaching other writers how to get paid from anywhere in the world.

What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?

Investigate what is holding you back. What are you afraid of? Why do you have that fear and where does it stem from? Is holding onto that fear worth more than taking the first step towards your dream?

From there, list all the action steps you need to take. Do you need to buy a domain name? Create a market research survey? Learn how to use Instagram.

When you have a list of action steps, you can SEE exactly what you need to do to work towards your goal. It can feel less overwhelming because you're focusing on one step at a time.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

I wish that I had a mentor. It would have been a lot less painful if I had someone guiding me and helping me figure out tax, handling my money, scaling etc.

Besides that, I wish I had learned about years ago is money mindset. Your rates are directly related/reflection of your self-worth. Not having a good money mindset is daunting when you go from a steady paycheck to working for yourself.

All of a sudden, you don't have a boss telling you what your time is worth. That's up to you, and you have to communicate that to potential clients which is terrifying.

What has been your biggest win on your journey?

The freedom my business gives me. I've been fortunate enough to work remotely from multiple countries around the world, travel whenever I feel like it, control my work schedule, and remove the cap on my earning potential. 
 
Follow Lauren on Instagram
 
 

Trisha Velarmino (P.S. I'm On My Way)

Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.

What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?
 
All the great things will come if we dare begin. As the world turned around during the pandemic, having your own business or working from anywhere in the world is becoming more and more acceptable. Take it to your advantage to build something that is YOURS and push through it. 
 
Many women are afraid to take the plunge because there's always this way of thinking: "what if it doesn't take off?" "what if I don't succeed?" 
 
While the negative outcomes of building your own business is a great way to have balance in life, it's also what hinders us to live the life we always imagined. I believe in using positive words when starting your endeavors so we might want to replace those questions with affirmations like: "What if it takes off and I succeed?" "What will I do with all the money that I will earn???"
 
There is great power in manifestation (if you believe) but it takes hard work. Nobody succeeded in their business overnight so be prepared to work harder. It's not 'work' anyway since you are doing what you love!

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

A lot of technical stuff. I wish I spent more time on educating myself. The Internet is a fast-paced environment and when we get comfortable and complacent with our business methods, we tend to stop learning. 
 
Right now, I dedicate an hour a day to studying whatever is relevant to my business (i.e. Pinterest marketing). I also invested in a lot of courses that will help me become better. It is so hard to keep up with online business trends so make sure to put some time into studying! Our learning process should never end and it will give us more credibility in our field.

What has been your biggest win on your journey?

My biggest win is that I never had to work a day in my life. Believe it or not, I never had to work in an office all my life. I never had an experience on how it is to be an employee except my internship which required me to go to the office. And that internship was 14 years ago!
 
I've been working for myself for the last decade and I am self-taught. When I was starting my business, the resources were very scarce - I had to learn everything on my own! Now the Internet provides all the information you need in order to start a business so take advantage of that!
 
I work 12 hours a day or sometimes even more but I won in life because I love what I do and it does not burn me out. I am also in complete control of my time and I can go wherever I want because my line of work permits me to do so.
 
Follow Trisha on Instagram
 
 
 
Mom of three, honorary island girl, creative copywriter, and brand clarity coach, my adult life has been spent doing things a little differently from the norm. I help purpose-filled businesswomen embrace their voice and upgrade their business through transformational copywriting experiences and brand clarity coaching.
 
 
What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?

Starting a business is scary. It’s scary in the beginning and it’s scary even when you’re impacting tons of clients and making great money. But so is working a job or being a stay-at-home parent sometimes, isn’t it? I believe EVERY woman has the power, creativity, and intellect needed to start their own business.

My recommendation for any woman looking to start a business would be to start off slowly. It takes time to find your inner-entrepreneur and so starting with one offer, one ideal client, one specific plan is the best way to go. I am multi-passionate and always have a million ideas running in my head at once. If this is you too, I recommend slowing down, starting with one thing, believing in yourself, and committing to showing up in one way or another every single day.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

 One thing I wish I had known before I started my business was that it doesn’t happen overnight. From the looks of the internet and social media, one might believe that you can scale from $0-6-figures overnight…especially if you invest in the right coach. This is far from the case. Entrepreneurs who have had ‘overnight success’ have likely been at it for a while in some way or another and finally figured it out. Can a coach help? Definitely! I have a coach, I am a coach, and I am an advocate for investing in coaching. But expecting to build a stable $6-figure business from the ground up in less than a month, even with a high-ticket expert coach is oftentimes unrealistic.
 
What has been your biggest win on your journey?
 
My biggest win has been learning to believe in my abilities even when things feel impossible. I have learned to keep going, to persevere, and that challenges are incredible growth opportunities for me. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up, throw in the towel, move back to the states, and pick up a job, but I didn’t. I’ve learned to pivot, be flexible, make adjustments, and pick myself up. I think those are qualities all entrepreneurs need to learn.
 
Follow Gabriella on Instagram
 
 
 
I light fires. Preferably in hearts. If necessary, under feet…

See opportunities where others see obstacles. Learn to use bricks thrown at you as stepping stones. Carry your story out into the world and give your business the boost it needs to get to that next level. Success can be easy if you follow your heart, not your head. Let me show you how.
 
They call me the ‘No Excuses Lady’ because I get things done, whatever the circumstances. In the past 30 years as an entrepreneur I have turned many challenges into opportunities. Uncertainty has become my comfort zone. My secret? Focus only on the things you can influence. Work with what you have. This mind-shift not only puts you in charge of your own life, but also makes you an inspiration to those around you.
 
I am a digital nomad (location independent entrepreneur), author of 30 books, international (TEDx) speaker (more than 100 keynotes). My passion is to empower remarkable people to feel more freedom, leverage their strengths, share their unique story, and make a positive impact on the world around them.
 
My ‘How to turn anything into a business workshop helps you to discover your added value and to turn your passion into a business: www.estherjacobs.info/business-workshop
 
What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?
 
I wouldn't advise anybody to take a plunge. I would never burn the bridges behind you. Instead I would start with a small side business beside your regular job. Once you find out what is working for you and you get more confidence, then you can slowly make the transfer to maybe working four days a week and being an entrepreneur for one day or maybe making some other transfer.
 
While you still have a job and you have a steady income it is the ideal time to try out different things and to see how you can turn your passion into a business or how you could find out your added value that other people are willing to pay for. 
 
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?
 
It is actually a saying:  You can't stop the waves but you can learn how to surf.
 
What I have learned is that you cannot influence things you don't have control over. If you keep trying you'll only get frustrated and eventually burn out. If you concentrate on the things you DO have influence on, then you have a feeling of being in control. This can be applied to relationships, business, government, choices you make.
 
It sounds very obvious right now, but back then I wish I had known, and then I would have only put my energy into things that I had any influence over and I would not try to change any given situation.
 
What has been your biggest win on your journey?
 
It is just that - realizing that there is ALWAYS in ANY situation something that you CAN influence. You cannot stop the waves. If you wanted to go swimming in a flat sea, you won't be able to do that. You can try to sue the weather channel, you can have a tantrum on the beach saying "I want there to be no waves", but there are waves.

What you CAN do in a situation like that is accept the situation - accept reality, and try to do something with the waves. For example, surfing! When you do that, you'll never have the feeling of being a victim again. You'll never have the feeling that you are only waiting for something to happen, that you are dependent on something or somebody else.

You are in control. You decide what you want to do. You work with what you have right now. The given situation, the knowledge you have right now. No more waiting. No more extra diplomas. No more investing. Just start right now with what you have right now. 
 
Follow Esther on Instagram
 
 
 
April Beach is an award-winning strategist who teaches entrepreneurs to launch and scale their business online with signature programs and offer-suite blueprints. She’s an author, speaker, online courses pioneer, and the mastermind behind some of the most trusted frameworks by coaches, consultants and service-based leaders.

April has been teaching experts to extract their genius, design their methods, architect their programs, and launch custom business models since 1996. Her guidance has led entrepreneurs in 56 countries to develop transformational online courses, coaching programs, masterminds, memberships, events, certifications, and content licensing packages.

April has been featured on Today, MSNBC, and Fox News, in the New York Times, Austin Women’s Magazine, 5280 Magazine, the Denver Business Journal, and by Patagonia®. April has partnered with numerous leading brands to creatively expand their reach. She was named the “Greatest Thinker of 2011” by the Denver Post, and “Top 50 Moms In Podcasting” in 2021 for her leading show, SweetLife Entrepreneur™.

April’s a proud disruptor, flow state addict, surfer, and mom of 3 rad teenage boys, and an environmental nonprofit founder. She currently owns 5 companies, including 2 international business consulting firms.
 
What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?
 
The first thing we need to address is "why" haven't you taken the plunge. That's usually because of fear. The primary things that most women fear are: not being able to provide for our children and not actually making it happen.

The very first thing to anybody who is not taking the plunge because of fear is that you have to have a plan. There really does have to be a plan. You can take the plunge, and it's never going to be perfect when you start that plan, but you need to have a strategic plan in place. It's like going on a hike and not knowing the destination if you don't have a business plan in place. We're not talking old school business plans like 500 pages of typed documents. We don't build those kinds of business plans anymore.
 
All we need is a strategy to determine:
  • What is the business model - how you work with clients, how you make money, how you serve people
  • What is the financial/profit matrix?
  • What is the marketing strategy to get there.
Make sure that you are following a coach who has not only accomplished what they want to accomplish, but they accomplished it from their same starting point You want to find a coach who has walked your same journey and reached success that way. A proven, trusted coach. 
 
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?
 
I have been an entrepreneur my whole entire life; I've never worked for anybody else. I have been very blessed to have started entrepreneurship the first day out of the womb. My parents were the first lifestyle entrepreneurs so I have a very rare and unique perspective.
 
My clients who I coach to launch and grow their business wish they had known the importance of nailing down their signature offer - nailing down the one thing they want to be known for first. Most people try to do all of the things. Especially in very noisy entrepreneurship, that is one of the biggest mistakes. We want to do one thing really well to help you reach your first 10k months, and then once we do that, we can expand you beyond that.
 
What has been your biggest win on your journey?
 
I am the creator of the parent coaching industry. My biggest win is that I created an entire coaching industry from scratch when nobody had ever heard of it before, and now it is an international coaching industry. It's baby planning, parent coaching, and maternity concierge. I own a completely separate business that operates in that area. That's a great example of how you can start doing one thing and then pivot. That is what I'm most proud of, creating an entire industry from scratch. 
 
Follow April on Instagram
 
 
 
Alyson Long is the owner of World Travel Family travel blog and several other websites in various niches. World Travel Family is a huge resource for travellers, bloggers, and worldschoolers and is Alyson's family business. She started this blog in 2012 when her family decided to hit the road. They didn't go home for 7 years. Through writing about destinations and many other topics Alyson has been able to fully fund an incredible lifestyle for herself, her husband, and two children. The whole family is now involved in running their business.
 
What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?
 
Being self-employed, working in a field I absolutely loved, and being able to work from my laptop anywhere in the world has been a dream come true. The freedom my business has given me and my whole family is priceless. I can't offer business advice because my hobby became my income, it was never planned. I never did anything the "right" way. All I can say is follow your passion. To put the hours in you have to love what you're doing and wake up every morning excited to get back to work.
 
I'd add to that, have a backup. Nobody saw Covid coming and it devastated my business. I was lucky to have some income from other niche sites, but I wish I'd put a little more effort into those ahead of the pandemic. Always have multiple income streams. You never know what's around the corner.
 
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?
 
I could give you a very long list of "one things" but they'd all be super techy web-nerd things related to SEO. In my industry, blogging, website creation, there is much to learn and no course or guide will ever tell you exactly how to do it. Each blogger will do things differently and we're all learning new ways every day. Also, people in this industry have secrets and tricks they will never share. You have to figure a lot of it out through time, data, and experience.
 
It would have been nice to know for sure that it would all work out, that I would get there. But I think I always knew that. I had so much determination once my little hobby blog began earning, that I was never going to allow myself to fail.
 
What has been your biggest win on your journey?
 
When my blogging income grew to the point that we had total freedom to go anywhere, anytime, and not worry about expenses, that was when it felt best. Standing in Bangkok holding my Druk Air boarding passes about to board a plane to Bhutan and being able to pay to visit the most ridiculously expensive country on Earth (and my dream destination) was pretty cool.
 
But also there are smaller wins along the way, like the first press pass, the first time I was asked to write for Lonely Planet, the first newspaper interview, our first stay on a private island, and when I was first able to take over as family bread-winner. There are many triumphs along the way.
 
Some of my favourite times have been taking my elder son with me on business trips as my assistant. He started coming along when he was about 14 years old and was involved in videography, photography, and writing.
 
My next biggest win will be when we finally come out of this pandemic. Things are starting to pick up as the world starts to travel again, but we're still stuck behind closed borders. I do love my other websites, but being a travel blogger is what I love most.
 
Follow Alyson on Pinterest          Follow Alyson on Instagram
 
 
 Jenny Mowbray (Orchids to Olives)
 
Jenny is an Educational Freelancer. Several years ago, she edged out of an unfulfilling stressful teaching career and built a dynamic freelance portfolio of work that consists predominantly of external quality assurance, exam writing, examining and a small amount of online teaching. She was driven by a strong desire to create a freedom orientated lifestyle, so that she could follow her passion for travelling and to live life on her terms. She hasn't looked back!

 
What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?
 
Follow your dancing spirit, your heart, your dreams – if you have a burning desire to create a business or go freelance you can make it happen. If you feel anxious or fearful that it may not work out, that’s really normal, but that fear is because you are stepping out of your comfort zone. Fear can hold us back, but when we step right into it, it begins to evaporate, and we’re left with an open road of possibility.

I am truly fascinated by what happens to people when they step out of that comfort zone and onto the open road. When we are in that nice warm cozy zone, we cannot even begin to imagine what opportunities actually exist, we cannot predict the doors that will open, the people that will help us nor the things that we will learn. As soon, as we make that leap, a space unfolds ripe with opportunity.
 
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?
 
I wish that I had trusted in my abilities, I was regularly enveloped in ‘imposter syndrome’ – that I wasn’t good enough or clever enough to not be attached to a salary; that other people could do it, but I couldn’t. However, actually, the total opposite was true – I am very good at what I do, and this isn’t because I am the best at it (I don’t need to be) but I am driven with a passion that enables me to be successful.
 
What has been your biggest win on your journey?
 
Living each day knowing that I am living a life that is congruent with my heart.
 
 Follow Jenny on Instagram
 

Abbey Ashley (The Virtual Savvy)

Abbey Ashley is the Founder of The Virtual Savvy. She helps aspiring virtual assistants launch and grow their own at-home business from scratch. Abbey started her own virtual assistant business as a new mom and was able to double the salary from her full-time corporate job, working only 20 hours a week... in just 30 days! She's since gone on to grow a seven figure business and retire her husband ALL from her at-home business. It's now her passion to help others start their own VA business so they can taste the freedom and flexibility of entrepreneurship as well.

What would your advice be to a woman who has a dream of starting a business but hasn't taken the plunge?

My best advice is, just start! If you have a dream of starting your own business or even just having a “side hustle,” know that it is possible for you.

I know what it feels like to be a working mom and have financial hardship. I get it. And starting a business can be really scary! BUT, if I can do it so can anyone else! I’m not a “special case.”

I would just say to do the best you can with what you have - even if that means starting small. But the important thing is, to start somewhere.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started?

I wish I had started sooner! There are always going to be things to tweak so I would advise to just START and don't put it off. I tried many other things before finding my niche and if I could go back, I would have zoned in on my expertise sooner.

What has been your biggest win on your journey?

It’s been a huge blessing to be able to create the kind of financial freedom for my family that would have been impossible working a typical 9-5. My husband was able to quit his job and now works for the business full time. We are able to travel and share adventures with our kids that we never would have been able to imagine we could do.

One of our core values in our family and at our company is “irrational generosity”, so we’ve also been able to give to efforts we care about around the world, whether that is building wells so families can have clean water or contributing to individual foster care families we decide to support.

Follow Abbey on Instagram      Become a Booked Out Virtual Assistant - Free Training

 

I want to send a sincere Thank You!!!! to all of these amazing women who took the time provide advice and motivation those of you out there who are holding a dream inside but haven't yet given it life. My hope is that this could be that piece of inspiration that you needed to breathe some life into that dream. Sign up to follow my blog for more inspiration, life coaching tips, and strategies to help you build a life and a business that you don't need to take a vacation from. 

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