Ten Critical Points to Consider Before Heading Off as a Remote Working Global Nomad

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working-remotelyAre you thinking about packing up and working remotely from an overseas location? Do you long to have your office on the beach in the Caribbean or perhaps on a hillside in the Swiss Alps?

Having spent a good portion of the past eighteen years working remotely and internationally in places like Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tortola and Puerto Rico, I wholeheartedly support the pursuit of the remote worker dream.

With the advent of remarkable workspaces like Piloto 151 and emerging platforms like Teleport , there really is no reason (for most of us!) to report to the same work office every day.

However, if you have not lived internationally or worked from overseas before, I thought that I would provide you with some details that you might want to think about.

Ten Critical Tips for Working Remotely

1. Are you ready for challenges that come with living in a foreign country
Living some place is much different than just visiting for a week on a yearly vacation. This might sound completely obvious and like common sense, but during my time overseas I’ve seen many folks pack up all of their personal belongings and move 5000 miles away from home only to arrive at a destination and realize a week later that they can’t stand living there.

If you can afford to do so, a pre-move visit is always encouraged and could help you to avoid a potentially costly mistake.

2. Moving is stressful.
Relocating to another city within your own country is difficult enough. In fact, stress wise, moving typically ranks as one of the most difficult life changes an individual (or family) can make. When you decide to become a global nomad and move overseas you can multiply the stress factor on a scale of magnitudes—language barriers, new customs, and etc.

Part of the allure of living overseas can be the challenges that one might expect to face. However, you need to really consider if you are ready for the language difficulties, cultural barriers, and bureaucratic red tape that can that can be associated with an overseas move.

3. Are you ready to be away from family and friends (support network)
Working remotely seems glamorous. Certainly tools like Skype, Google+, and Facebook make it easy to keep in touch on an almost daily basis. But, homesickness and being away from family and friends around holidays and special occasions, and during serious illness, can quickly tarnish beachside living or skiing every morning.

Before packing your bags check to see if there is an existing expat or remote worker community to help act as your surrogate support network.

4. What are the immigration policies at your desired destination?
Many countries require you to show proof of an onward ticket before they will even allow you to enter. You need to find out:

  • How long can you legally reside in the country you wish to work from? (Is it thirty days, three months or one year?)
  • If you need to renew your immigration status is it as easy as crossing the border for twenty-four hours and coming back in again? Or, do you have to go back to your home of record?
  • Are there any passport stamp fees associated with an extended stay?

I have a good friend who overstayed his visa in one of the countries where I was working and he wound up spending eight months in the local prison. (Hint: Watch the movie Midnight Express to get an idea of what you might be in for if you decide to overstay your welcome.)

5. Can you legally run a business or work online at your chosen destination
Will you be required to get a work permit if you want to work remotely? Even if you are running an Internet based business, some countries do not want you working within their borders. Other countries will make you fully disclose the type of work you’ll be doing or the business you will be running and may require you to get a special work visa.

6. What will your tax status be?

Although you might not be working for a local company, you should check with the country’s treasury department to determine if you have to pay local taxes. Additionally, if you are a United States resident living outside of the states you will need to determine if you qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

7. Will you have access to medical coverage and medical care?
Nobody likes to think about a serious medical condition arising. If you’re heading overseas and currently have insurance you will need to find out if the hospitals and clinics in your new country of choice accept your policy. In the event that they don’t, try to find out if you can you get an international travel add-on from your existing insurer or purchase supplemental expat insurance.

Once you feel secure with your insurance situation, you might want to find out what medical care is care like at the destination you are heading to. Consider the following, do you have a particular medical condition that requires special treatment or medicine? Can you get the help you need at your new location? Additionally, discern if there are any serious health concerns such as malaria or typhoid and look into proper prophylaxis and immunizations.

8. How is the cost of living?
In your home city you might be so familiar with the prices for everyday goods that you don’t necessarily pay attention to the standard living costs.

For your new remote working location you may wish to research what can you expect to pay for every day essentials like rent, bread and eggs, a car, gas, and beer. Moreover, you might be accustomed to very low prices for water and electric utilities. Other costs to consider would be the price for mailing and shipping items.

9. Can you legally purchase property?
This question is for the hardcore, expat/remote worker, but if you are going to be in a country for any length of time it certainly is one worth considering for living or investment purposes. Although, it is important to remember three things:

  • Property ownership does not necessarily make you a resident.
  • In some cases countries will restrict the purchase of property by foreigners.
  • Always do your due diligence to check for clear title and hire local legal counsel.

For example, in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) the government requires that you apply for what’s called a, “Non-Belonger Landholding License.” The whole process can take well over a year, and even if you are successful at obtaining the license, you are not allowed to reside there while waiting for it. Once you do have it, you are only allowed to live in the BVI for six months out of the year.

If purchasing a home or property is part of your overseas remote working dream, then check the real estate laws carefully.

10. Everything else!
If you made it passed all of the items above then you can actually begin to think about your in-country work needs such as, living arrangement, office space, and internet access.

Final thought, before you head off and begin working remotely, do your research and you’ll make out just fine!

image credit: flickr.com John Roberts

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pushing, pulling, struggling and fighting to…DO the WORK

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do the workSteven Pressfield has released a fantastic new book called, Do the Work, which also happens to be the latest offering from Seth Godin’s Domino Project.

Creating art is hard work. I’ve never considered myself a naturally creative person (or writer) and at times I can get frustrated with how easy it seems for everyone else. Whether you write, draw, or produce spoken word poems I think you will find value in Pressfield’s book.

Mr. Pressfield masterfully terms the struggle to create the Resistance. If you’ve ever wanted to rip your hair out because a word wouldn’t come to you, or even worse, because you’ve never actually taken action to implement any of your great ideas, then you know the Resistance all too well.

According to Steven, the Resistance is a dragon whose sole purpose is to keep you from doing and creating your great works of art and it’s a beast that needs to be met in the middle of the battlefield. No hiding, no procrastinating, no busy work and no coffee breaks.

His concept of Resistance spoke right to me. In fact, Mr. Pressfield could have been sitting down right next to me as I struggle to complete the ebook I’ve been working on for ProBlogger. Fortunately, he didn’t have to because Do the Work has been released and it has become a mini-companion for me when I work. When I feel the pull to quit, to give up, or to retreat into busy work I see the cover staring right at me!

It’s not easy disregarding that niggling negative voice in your head while trying to maintain focus and push through to the other (creative) side. But the hard facts are, if you want to create great work then you must face the Resistance, fight it, and struggle with it.

You might disagree, but I feel like the book has been released at the perfect time in our evolution. Blogging and social media are creating an environment where we all need to be in charge of our own brand, responsible for our own reputation, and the chief evangelist telling our own story that we want the world to hear and connect with.

In order for individuals to step up and take advantage of all of the possibilities that are now available thanks to social media, however, you must take responsibility and become the champion of your own message, your own work…your own art.

If you’ve been struggling with fear of failure, the productivity demons, or working to get through your first (or tenth) creative project, I think you will find tremendous value in what Steven has to say. It’s really a great framework for when you want to throw your hands up in frustration and quit.

There is no getting around the fact that you have to Do the Work. There are no shortcuts.

(Note: the above are NOT affiliate links. And if you’re still not convinced have a look at what Colleen, Pam, and Chris have to say.)

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10 Social Media Tricks I Learned From My Dog

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Ah … yes, we all think that we are smarter than our dogs. Don’t we?

In fact, we are supposed to be the masters of our furry, four legged, K-9 creatures, but sometimes they do teach US a new trick or two.

While I was out walking my dog this morning I started to think, that perhaps, my dog can actually teach those of us who are working to develop a social media footprint for our small business some valuable lessons.

I have three dogs that are all rescues, but this post is specific to our (highly) mixed breed dog named ‘George’ and how his personality can help you (US) to discover how to “Do” social media.

Trick 1: Friendly and non judgmental – George doesn’t care who or what you are – – skinny, fat, orange, green, tall, short, a celebrity, etc – – to him, we are all the same. There is no better way to develop trust portals, grow your reputation, and build your small business social media footprint than being open and honest.

Trick 2: Consistent – George is here everyday. If you are attempting to develop your small business reputation in the social space, consistency is key.

Trick 3: Eager – When he knows he is going for a walk or a beach trip, George does an all over body wiggle out of pure excitement that is akin to someone who is being tasered. Now, I am not suggesting that you need that level of enthusiasm, but if you’re passionate and excited about what you are doing it’s going to resonate with your followers, friends, and fans.

Trick 4: Happy – We all have bad days, but very few brands and small businesses pull off sulky and desultory well.

Trick 5: Helpful – George has actually been known to carry a water bottle on a 10 mile run. Are you being helpful and obliging others before seeking assistance for yourself. No matter how big you get, always try to be helpful.

Trick 6: Smart – I don’t know George’s IQ, but I would venture to guess he is pretty smart (in dog terms :-)). Original, smart, and thought provoking ideas will help spread awareness of your small business.

Trick 7: Playful – George does not take himself too seriously and you shouldn’t either.

Trick 8: Loyal – Perhaps one of the most important tips that George can teach us about using social media for small business or brand awareness. If you have followers and fans who continually support your work, repay them by being loyal in return. (Remember karma?)

Trick 9: Persistent – George has been known to eat green coconuts with the focus of a brain surgeon. Never give up!

Trick 10: Your turn – – What would you add to this list?

(OK, you got me! Most of these are traits not tricks….but “Traits” just didn’t work in the title.)

If you liked this post, let’s connect on Twitter @mark_hayward. And you might also like:
Ideas for Social Media Types (from a Small Business Owner)
How to Use Big News Stories to Improve Small Business Search Engine Rankings
How I Use Social Media to Promote My Business

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15 (NO Cost) Actionable Social Web Ideas to Help Promote Your Small Business Today

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Have you been meaning to use the social web to help promote your business, but have been holding back because you did not know where to start?

Today, you have NO more excuses.

The other day I did a guest post over on Twitip, 20 Must Read Beginner Twitter Tips for Small Business Owners, which had over 700 ReTweets. (Not meant as backslapping just seems to intimate that there’s a need for this kind of information!)

That post came about came about because a friend of mine, who is also a small business owner, was hesitant and did not know how to start using Twitter.

Today I thought that I would build upon the Twitip post and broaden the scope to include more of the social web. Here are my suggestions for you as you work to build your social media footprint:

  1. Register for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), read through the notices, and reply to all inquiries that are related to your business.
  2. Connect with, or promote, at least five people in your field on Twitter.
  3. Find the most visited forum that covers your industry and leave a non spammy comment or post as you work to begin to gain the trust of your potential customers.
  4. Upload 20 well-tagged pictures to FLICKR that show us how you ply your craft.
  5. Start a “Customer of the Day” photo section on your website or blog and provide a story to go along with the picture.
  6. Setup Twitter Search and Google Alert to see who is talking about you or your industry.
  7. Create a blog and with your very first post teach us something.
  8. Make a fan page for your business on Facebook and encourage your customers to drop by.
  9. Have a look at your ‘About’ page and rewrite the whole thing.
  10. Write a useful and amazing guest post and submit it to a very large blog. (Note: If I can get published on ProBlogger, Zen Habits, and Chris Brogan then YOU most certainly can.)
  11. Think creatively about your website’s search engine rankings (and SEO) and find new ways to rank better in Google. (Here’s one example of what I did last week!)
  12. Define who your customers are, fire your customers who don’t fit, and then let us know what you offer and who your ideal customer is via a detailed FAQ’s page.
  13. Shoot an interesting video that’s somehow related to your business and your brand’s story and then post it to YouTube.
  14. Do a Twitter or FaceBook only promotion.
  15. Depending on your business, study sites like Epinions, Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo! Local, TripAdvisor,  and OpenTable. Thank those who are singing your praises and respond to your critics in a professional manner. But, most importantly, try to find the kernels of truth from those who criticize.

I am sure you know that social media is not rocket science. Sometimes the hardest part is just taking action and getting started. The keys are to listen, learn, engage, and be helpful. (Once you’ve started, consistency counts!)

As a final note, you should realize that if you don’t begin to manage your business’s online reputation today, sooner or later someone else will.

Over to you. What do you think? Do you have more suggestions?

image source: Matt Hamm

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Do Great Things Today!

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If you don’t do great things today – Who Will?

Right now, today, this hour, within the next second, if you aren’t willing to take action and do something great, someone else will:

  • Launch that amazing website you’ve been thinking about.
  • Develop that killer app you’ve been hoping to develop.
  • Sign a contract to write the book you’ve been meaning to write.
  • Provide amazing, conversation worthy, customer service.
  • Jump in and help with the social cause you’ve wanted to support.
  • Open *your* business in the exact same location that you’ve been driving past for months.
  • Pursue their passion for travel and purchase a round the world ticket
  • Start working from home.
  • Publish that server crashing blog post.
  • Help cubicle dwellers to find their true calling.
  • Turn the creative activity that they love into a way to generate income.
  • Be awake at 1:00am working on …

Fear, procrastination, and a genuine lack of hours in the day afflict us all. But, if you don’t take action and do great things today, someone else will, and that’s an opportunity lost.

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