Working remotely is on the dream list for a lot of people with a sense of wanderlust. Even if your work isn’t travel related, having a job that lets you move around certainly makes life more enjoyable. So how do you run your business from anywhere? Here’s a quick guide to the essential tools you’ll need if you want to pick up and run your business from all corners of the globe.
Invest in a good computer
This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you’re serious about running a business that can be executed from anywhere, your computer is going to be one of your main investments. Some businesses are obviously more computer dependent than others, but at a bare minimum you’re going to need it to do business transactions via the Internet, keep track of your finances, etc. So don’t skimp! Make a list of everything you are going to need your computer to do, and buy accordingly. Invest in insurance for your technology as well; dealing with a computer crash on your own is no business owners dream.
Skype, the Internet telephone service, is an excellent tool for keeping in touch with business partners and clients. Maintaining more than an email relationship is an important part of business relationships; people want to have real conversations, and taking time to hop on a 30 minute conference call can answer many more questions than a day’s worth of email can.
If your business clients have their own Skype accounts, you can talk for free. Otherwise, invest a few dollars in Skype Out, which allows you to call landlines for inexpensive rates. If you’re running a business where having a telephone number is useful, you can also purchase Skype In, which gives you a phone number that people can call from a regular landline as well as voicemail. You can also conveniently use the service from your iPhone.
With any work that you’re doing, you’ll want to be sure to back it up. External hard drives have become much less expensive these days and are an excellent investment. You’ll be able to store documents, photos and beyond, ensuring that everything you’ve produced in your business is in a safe place. A lot of my fellow freelancer and adventurer friends use the LaCie Rugged. You can also use online tools for backing up and storing data like Evault and Ibackup.
If you’re thinking about launching your own business, you’ll want to have all your papers in order from the get go. The more organized you are in the beginning, the smoother the ride will be later. Check out books like Small Business for Dummies, which has a great overview of all the things you need to be thinking about when running a business. Also, make programs like Excel and Quickbooks your new best friends.
Make sure you have a physical address
Even if you can run your business 100% remotely, you’re still going to want a permanent physical address. You will certainly need this for a business license, but it’s also always nice to keep a physical address that clients can send hard documents to if need be. If you’re running a business where you’re mostly on the run and don’t have a permanent address yourself, ask upon friends and family; just be sure you’re choosing an address that isn’t going to change every few months.
Google Apps for Business
If you’re running a business with a couple of partners, Google Apps is a great tool to collaborate on projects and stay in touch. You get the functionality of regular Google applications like Gmail, Google Talk and Google Docs, but with your business email. PC World has an excellent breakdown of just what all the applications are and how they help.
Harness the power of social media
In terms of marketing, using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook can be a small investment with a big pay-off, be it for newly launched businesses or already established ones. Setting up a blog is also a great way to create exposure for yourself as well as allowing you to brand your business. Write about what you’re up to and who you’re working with. A business-oriented blog also allows you to brand yourself as a specialist in your field, another integral part of landing more business contract. Remember that social media channels also allow you to do location-independent marketing, broadening your audience and getting you global exposure.
Do you have any other tips for working on the road? Offer them in the comments!