by Steve Wolf | Jun 7, 2016 | Business, Lifestyle, Travel
In my last blog I wrote about the Joy’s and freedoms of working remotely. If you missed it, read it here! This will give you a little better context of what I am writing about in this 5-Step process to finding the perfect remote job to keep you traveling and experiencing the world all while making money from your lap top.
Here is my 5-Step Process.
1 – Find a job, skill, or way that you can actually do that will produce income with out you physically needing to be there.
This is going to be your most difficult task. You may be saying to yourself “well I am a doctor, how could I possibly practice medicine from a laptop?” Well this comes down to how resourceful you want to be. My dad is doctor, a Podiatrist to be exact and he has been looking into what is know as “tele-medicine” which is basically on call and on demand video conferencing from doctors to patients. Say you have a foot problem, you go on the site, set an appointment, my dad would accept it, you are instantly connected, he gives your advice and recommendations and your done. The system charges the patients credit card and they go on their way. Booya, there is a way a doctor can work 100% remotely. You may be surprised what you find if you really start thinking of all the different ways you could monetize your skill sets right from a computer from anywhere in the world, don’t worry, we will get to that in number 2.
2. Get really good with technology.
If you are going to have any chance at being an entrepreneur on the road, then you are going to have to get really good with leveraging technology and automation. What do I mean by this. Well put it this way, I can pretty much run all of my business from my iPhone. Everything from a CRM to a VOIP telephone system that allows me to communicate effortlessly through WIFI any where in the world. This means that if you are planning on getting in to a business that has to ship “real” goods and logistics as well as a customer service dept. will be necessary, than you are going to have your work cut out for you. I am not saying that it is impossible, just going to take a couple extra steps of strategic planning and utilization of technology that automates the process.
3. Simple is better.
A good business is not necessarily a complex business. I would consider a solid business to be one that is profitable, allows you to live the life you desire and takes care of it’s employees and it’s customers. Some of the best businesses that I know of were born out of the simplest ideas or needs by a consumer. Take for example the work we do at the FX365 Institute, we teach people how to trade currencies all over the world from office in San Diego. We have students in 20 U.S. States and 4 countries that take our course 100% remotely and learn a skill set that allows them to make money in the foreign currencies market anywhere in the world from a laptop. Don’t over complicate this part. The less you need to run your business, the better off you will be.
4.How much do you really need to make?
My favorite part of explaining these concepts to people is conveying the fact that a business only needs to make you a “enough” money in order for it to change your life. If you added up all of your expenses annually, and then added in the costs to live in another country or to travel a couple months out of the year I think you will be surprised to find that you don’t need to make $300K per year to achieve your goals. In fact, I have been able to travel about 2 months out of every year for the past decade making around $100k per year. The best part is that I only really needed about $60K to sustain so any extra money that I make on top of my yearly nut goes in to savings and investments. This allows me to stay diversified, active in the markets using online portfolio managers, and open to new ideas and businesses while I can keep the quality of life I have come to enjoy. The point is to make enough and then a little more. You don’t need to be a millionaire to pull this off.
5. Multiple Streams of Income remotely
I know you have heard this one before, but maybe not through the lens of doing it remotely. Every book I have read on this topic is about real estate and multiple businesses that would require you to physically be somewhere to manage those streams. When you start to venture down the road of working remotely you start looking at businesses in a whole new light.
I have come up with a couple of questions that I use to test the remote possibilities of a business. These days, if they do not get passed these questions with a yes, then I am probably going a different direction. I wrote two articles that may give you more context when it comes to working remotely, follow the links below to check them out:
by Steve Wolf | Jun 3, 2016 | Business, Lifestyle, Travel
Does your Remote business pass the litmus test? Could you actually leave the country for weeks or months at a time and still count on the business to grow on its own and produce income.
In this article I am going to share with you some of the most important questions that you should be asking yourself to avoid a career that is going to keep you chained to your desk.
When I am approached with a business or come up with an idea, I ask myself these following questions to help me decide if I should even consider pursing the business. I wrote a blog recently about The Joys of working remotely and also my 5-Step process to finding the perfect career where you can travel the world and work from a laptop.
I have come up with a couple of questions that I use to test the remote possibilities of a business. These days, if they do not get passed these questions with a yes, then I am probably going to go a different direction. I wrote two articles that may give you more context when it comes to working remotely.
Now for the smell test questions:
1. If I spent a year building this business and I left the country for 2-4 weeks with out being able to call back or answer any emails would it still be standing when I go home?
This may take some introspection and some deep thinking about what the business is, who it would involve and what you would need to figure out to get all of the pieces together. This type of think and evaluation will become paramount when assessing situations for your business in the future, so play the tape out and visualise as best as you can where you would see yourself and the business in a year or two.
2. Is this a business I can run myself, or will I need to hire or contract out work to properly run it and if I do, will I be able to effectively manage the team remotely?
If you can do it on your own, great, do it! Unfortunately most enterprises even small ones will need to depend on others to accomplish what ever it is your business will do or provide for people. The question you need to concern yourself with is can you effectively manage then from a far or set the business up in a way where employees or partners can or would be self serving and motivated to accomplish tasks day to day to keep the company running smoothly.
3. On a scale from 0%-100% how much of the business can I automate?
(0%-60% is no good / 60%-80% is ok / 80%-100% is ideal). Automation is going to be key for you to managing efficiently from a far. It will allow you to batch work and delegate important work properly. Also it really allows you to step away from the business or parts of the business for days or weeks at a time and then come back to spot check at a later date. Most importantly automation usually takes the place of what human used to do and will allow you to perform more high value activities for the business.
4. Will it make me enough money to give me the life I desire to have and if so how long will it take to get me to that point? 60 Days? 6 months? A year?
For more on this topic check out my blog I wrote on Time vs. Money! This will really put this step in to perspective for you.
5. Pros and cons list – Now for the final step, write down all of the great things about how the business is going to get you what you want out of it. Examples could be things like “90% automation” or “allows me to travel 6 months per year” etc and then do the same for all of the potentially negative elements about the business. Make sure to be real with yourself here. Don’t sugar coat this part.
Once you have completed all of these steps, then you will have a solid understanding about what you could potentially be getting involved in. I can’t stress the importance of the exercises!
Working as a management consultant for a number of years I have a keen ability to understand what is going to make a business succeed or fail. Unfortunately most folks don’t even think about these things when starting a business. Instead they get excited about the idea, or one aspect of the new business and run with it throwing caution to the wind and ignoring or simply not flushing out the idea and all the pit falls that would ensue first.
Be smart, be savvy and get the business that will give you the life you desire but don’t ever be afraid to give your idea a litmus test! It will save you time, money and heartache in the future. These simple actions will keep you on the right track helping you to avoid a business or an idea that will stand in the way of a more well suited business or opportunity that will give you everything you need.
by Steve Wolf | May 15, 2016 | Business, Travel
If you are like me and are a nomad traveler that works remotely then having a working smart phone is an absolute must. Aside from getting work emails, checking the market and other tasks that you may use your smart device for on a daily basis, your phone is the most incredible travel essential for a remote nomad.
Imagine being in Viet Nam for the first time and you need to rent a scooter to find your hotel you booked on kayak, well imagine if you could get turn by turn directions from your iPhone with out having to ask a sole for directions.
Or, what if you are in Indonesia for the first time ever and are trying to haggle with street vendors to buy a shirt or exchange American Dollars for Indonesian Rupiah but you have no idea what the exchange rate is? Imagine being able to jump on to the XE currency app and know exactly what your $20 USD is actually worth.
Smartphone owners spend an average of more than three hours per day using their devices. That doesn’t necessarily stop when they go on vacations or work trips outside of their home countries. But if it’s not done right, international mobile internet access can be sketchy and it can cost a lot.
Here’s everything you need to know to get affordable access to data while abroad.
Find out what you’re working with
International roaming has gotten easier and cheaper over the past few years, but some older phones may still have issues. The vast majority of smartphones in the world run on a common type of network called GSM, but some older phones from the US and other countries use a different, incompatible technology called CDMA, which could limit where they might work. (Most newer phones sold by CDMA carriers, including Verizon and Sprint in the US, are “world phones” that can use GSM networks.) When it comes to newer, faster “4G” networks, most operators use a format called LTE, which has other compatibility issues between wireless bands. But roaming often still happens on older, slower networks.
If you know your phone will work where you’re traveling, next check to see if your phone is unlocked, which would allow you to switch SIM cards to another operator. Many carriers still lock phones to their networks, especially when they subsidize the price. In the US, nearly all Verizon Wireless smartphones are sold unlocked. Some providers, such as Vodafone in the UK, also need to be told if you’re leaving the country, so make sure to check if you need to let your provider know before you leave. If you bought your phone unlocked, or have unlocked it through an unlocking service, then you’re all set.
Figure out what your provider offers
Most mobile providers have international partners and offer international calling and data plans. And while they continue to come down in price, most are pretty expensive—and some are absurd. In the US, for example, AT&T charges $30 for 120 megabytes of international data use—which could last hours or days, depending on your mobile-data frugality. Sprint is worse, charging $80 for just 85 MB of international data. WIND in Canada charges C$8 ($7) per day to lower its international data rate to C$1 per megabyte—which is still rather expensive. The worst are plans or countries that still charge very high amounts per megabyte. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, Verizon Wireless still charges $20.48 per megabyte, which is prohibitively expensive for almost all uses.
Some providers offer a flat daily rate for international use, on top of regular charges. Vodafone in the UK charges £5 ($8) extra a day when you use its phones abroad. The European Union recently slashed data maximum roaming rates allowed across the region, so if you’re traveling from one EU country to another, you can find out the maximum that your provider can charge you.
There are a few providers that have international roaming—to select countries—included at no cost in their plans. Recently, T-Mobile in the US started offering unlimited roaming to over 120 countries, with the catch that download and upload speeds are capped at slow speeds. (It’s fine for most uses, including email, maps, and social media, but it won’t work for video or VoIP calls. But you can pay more for faster speeds—$50 for 500 MB over 2 weeks.) Three in the UK offers free roaming in some other countries, such as the US, France and Australia. Japan’s SoftBank recently launched a promotion that allows customers to pay the same rates when using Sprint’s US network (which SoftBank owns.)
Buying a phone abroad
If all you want to do is make calls while you’re abroad, there are some countries where you can buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. In the UK, you can pick up a simple phone for just 99p ($1.50). Some of them even have some amazing Siri-like features. In most countries, however, the cheapest phones won’t be less than about $50, so it would make sense just to stick with getting a new SIM-card for your own phone, or using a Wi-Fi-calling app on your smartphone.
Buying a SIM abroad
If you’re going to be somewhere for more than a week, or plan to use a lot of data, it may be worth buying a local SIM card. At London’s Heathrow Airport, for example, you can buy a variety of SIM cards from vending machines after baggage claim.
For the best deals, you’ll be better off heading to the local high street or mega-mall. With Vodafone UK, for example, you can buy a £10 ($16) top-up and get 500 MB of data and 100 minutes that you can use for 30 days. In France, Orange sells prepaid SIM cards at its stores, and 500 MB data top-ups for €10 ($12). If you’re visiting the US, T-Mobile offers prepaid SIM cards for $10, with an option to pay by the day for unlimited data for $3 a day. In Japan, B-Mobile offers relatively inexpensive data-only service to foreign visitors.
Some providers, like Three in the UK, also offer short-term contracts that you can cancel after the first month that are equally affordable. Just don’t forget to cancel them when you leave the country. China Mobile offers a SIM that works in Hong Kong and mainland China for 90 days for HK$120 ($15).
Some countries have mobile resellers, like the UK’s Carphone Warehouse, which will have options for multiple mobile providers. Find a sales representative and ask them to help you figure out which option works best for you. If the country doesn’t have resellers, many will still have standalone stores for each mobile provider. If you’re buying a SIM for your phone, figure out which providers are compatible with your phone before you go in. If you don’t speak the language, it might be helpful to write down some basic requests, like “nano-SIM, 1 GB data”—or look for their sales pamphlets.
If you’d rather have everything sorted out before leave home, GigSky is another option. For $19.95, they’ll provide you with a SIM that lets you access data networks in most countries. But their rates are generally higher than buying a SIM from a local provider.
There are some downsides to using a foreign SIM. Most notably, unless your phone has two SIM slots, you likely won’t have access to your home number, or calls or text messages that go to it. And certain services tied to your home number, including Apple iMessage and WhatsApp, may need to be reconfigured—an annoyance at best.
An O2 mobile store in the UK. Mobile stores are often clumped together, so make sure to shop around.(Reuters/Luke MacGregor)
Many countries ask for a passport for identification when you buy a mobile service. In some countries, such asSouth Korea and South Africa, it’s difficult to purchase any mobile service without a local address or a visa that lasts longer than 90 days. If you have a friend in the country you’re visiting, ask them if you can use their address to sign up for an account. If you have no contacts, check to see if there are options to rent a phone from a local provider. Otherwise, you may have to rely on Skype and messaging apps over Wi-Fi, or whatever roaming your home provider offers.
Using your phone
Make sure to test out your new SIM card before you leave the store. Usually, you’ll need to restart your phone before the new service will start working. (Sometimes, it could take hours to activate—less ideal.) It’s a good idea to send a text or call someone just to make sure everything is working. You’ll also need to figure out the country dialing code for the country you’re in so that people back home will know how to reach you.
Penalty fares for going over data limits are severe on most carriers, so make sure to choose a plan that will cover the amount of data you’re likely to use while abroad. AT&T has a calculator to help you estimate how much data you use if you’re not sure. It’s probably best to avoid doing anything too data-heavy while abroad, like streaming music or videos, or downloading games.
Calling home will be expensive on almost any plan you purchase. You can check to see if the provider you’re using offers any international dialing plans that you can add on to your service. In the US, AT&T’s international dialing plan is an additional $5 a month. In the UK, you can add an international dialing package to a PAYG plan for £10 ($16). Alternatively, you can stick to Wi-Fi options, like Skype or Apple’s FaceTime.
There are also apps you can use to call from abroad. Roamer lets you make and receive calls from your regular number, even while you’re out of the country. Vonage also offers cheap VoIP calls through its apps for iOS and Android phones.
Other things not to forget
- Buy an adapter for your phone’s charger before you leave. It’ll be cheaper to do at a local electronics store or from Amazon than the airport.
- Download anything that’s going to be useful—city maps, travel guides, futuristic translation apps—before you leave, so you can use them to get around the city before you purchase a new SIM.
- Turn off data roaming or leave your phone in airplane mode when you land. This way you won’t get surprised with data charges from your local carrier.
- Make use of Wi-Fi at cafés and hotels. Many cities also have hotspot networks that you can join for a fee. There are also worldwide Wi-Fi networks like Boingo, but they’re often as expensive as buying a local SIM plan. Fon lets you join Wi-Fi networks around the world if you share yours at home.
- Both Android and iOS phones let you check how much data you’re using. On iOS devices, go to Settings, then Cellular. On Android, go to Settings, then Data Usage. You can also set a limit on Android so you won’t exceed your plan’s data allowance. It’s smart to reset your counters when you start using a new network or SIM card so you get a good idea of how much you’re using toward any limits.
by Steve Wolf | Jun 4, 2014 | Business, Giving Back
In the winter of 2013 while searching for business opportunities (like I always am) an idea came to. I wanted to start something new and since I had been out of the CEO seat for a couple of years, I really wanted to make a splash. I was looking for a BIG idea, and guess what, I found it!
J. Candace Covington
I was in my car driving on the freeway thinking very hard about new business ventures (I like to go out for a drive to think). Then it hit me, initially the idea I had was doing something like a dating website/app but specifically for the purpose of finding a roommate. BING, lightbulb. I immediately called some people I respect to get their opinion of my idea, one of those people was my friend and now business partner J. Candace Covington. She loved the idea and helped me vet it out more adding some innovation to the mix by adding the idea of combing background and credit checking to the profiling system giving us a complete one-stop-shop for a “rooommate-finding/vetting” system. It was gold, now the next step was to see if someone had created this before us.
Watch the Roommatefax promo video by clicking this Image now!
My initial reaction was that someone would have had thought of this before because it was so simple and right in front of us. “Who wouldn’t use this?” I kept asking myself that over and over again. Knowing the pain we have all gone through living with a bad roommate(s) or renting a place to a bad tenant(s), I would have paid hundreds or thousands to avoid that painful process. So, we starting researching, and sure enough, no one had done it yet! That’s the crazy thing about a great idea, some descent ideas become great simply because no one has done it yet. Have you ever thought of an invention or business and then saw your idea on an infomercial years later? That’s happened to me before, and more than once too. If you are anything like me, you are a methodical person with a dash of crazy. You see, to run with an idea and try build a company around it is no easy feat. Although this is not my first rodeo when it comes to start-up’s the environment changes daily, especially if you’re in Tech. What I have learned over the years is that some can get lucky once, rarely do they get lucky twice, and you pull it off a third time, it’s not luck, it’s a learned skill and habitual.
Jim Hamerly Ph.D.
So, knowing we had a solid idea, and no one else was doing it, we ran with it. Filed all the paperwork, raised a little seed money, wrote a business plan and starting building a team. We needed advisors, a development team, an attorney, and most importantly, we were going to need some investors! The amount of work and sweat equity that go in to the beginning stages of a company are dizzying, and most people can’t imagine doing it because the name of the game is work for free and ask a lot of people for help your first year, and then maybe you will get a shot at the big time. Remember that 95% of small business fail, and you don’t even want to know the percentage rate for start-up ventures! I eventually brought Dr. Jim Hamerly the idea. Jim started the entrepreneurs track at the CSUSM (my Alma Matter) and helped “reform” the school of business there. He was the former VP of AOL Time Warner and former VP of Netscape (He has so many big accomplishments, I could write a blog about it 😉 )I met him while I was giving a lecture the CSUSM Entrepreneurs society 4 years ago. We quickly became friends and shared many of the same business philosophies. I would run ideas by him, but I had never seen him as excited as he was when I ran the Roommatefax.com idea by him. I immediately asked him to be our lead advisor to the company and he accepted.
Eric D. Morton
Armed with a small team and a little bit of capital, we picked up an attorney advisor Eric Morton. We realized quickly that if we were going to make this happen in a big way we would need to team up with a law firm that could advise us on any problems that could arise in the future. Although I have owned and operated several companies, we quickly learned that if one day we were to go public there were many things that needed to be taken into consideration and that it is best to tackle those things early on. Eric Morton has played an integral part in helping us set up the business properly and filing our trademarks and copyrights to protect the hard work that everyone has put forth to get this project going along with user agreements among other necessary documents.
We had spent countless hours researching the market place and now we knew what we needed to have to make us stand out from rest. The next step proved to be the most difficult. Who was going to help make this dream a reality? We knew time was not on our side but it was extremely important that we picked the right development team to build the Roommatefax site and app. We began a checklist of things that we were looking for in a development team and began interviewing teams across the country. Some of the criteria most important to us included the development team believing in the idea (like it was their own), be in the United States, willing to work closely with us and have successfully launched websites and apps on all platforms. So after meeting with several firms, we were introduced to Prakash Chegu. Prakash was really excited about the project, and met all the criteria and best of all, he was local and really easy to work with. We did some wire frames, cut a couple checks, and the development of our dream commenced.
Finally we were going to need some awesome design work for the company. My good friend Shaun Briggs answered the call. I have known Shaun for over 6 years now and his design work is so good, that as a designer myself I feel like I stand in his shadow. I was always told by my mentor that you should look for people better than you, and then work with them. In a strange turn of events, it turned out that Shaun actually used to work with Prakash 10 years ago when he was running his brokerage firm in San Diego, that was fate, and in the start-up phase of a company, you need all the help and good luck you can get! Its been a year and a half since we started out on this mission and a lot of blood sweat and tears have gone into this project. And I knew this was going to be a lot of work putting all the pieces together. Although it is nice to know that we are on the home stretch of the development process, the real hard work is about to begin. So where are we at now? We are currently seeking investors while getting ready to close out our seed round of funding that will continue until about mid-late July. Then we plan on launching our beta versions of the site and app (on IOS and Android) by late summer. Currently we have a profile on crowdfunder.com where we can seek investors from friends, family, and supporters of us. We know we are in the toughest phase of the start-up process and are ready to take it on. So if you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved in our company as an advisor, investor or member of the team, please get in touch with us here.
Thank you so much for all the love and support. We are looking forward to helping a lot of people with our idea, and truly believe it will make the world a better place! -Steve Wolf
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