Right now I am road-testing ‘the laptop lifestyle’. It’s been over three years since I started my business and the first real time I’ve tried this. Every other trip I was on holiday or I was only away a couple of days. So far I’ve been to Frankfurt, Hannover and Dusseldorf in Germany visiting friends and hanging out in my old stomping grounds. Mid July I move on to New York City. Woo hoo!
Honestly though, as much as I love freedom and having control over my schedule, I’ve always been nervous about trying to work away from home. I like having a proper desk with everything set up – think note pads, coloured pens, printer, comfortable chair etc etc. I’m the kind of person who can’t even work in a cafe because it’s too distracting. So this trip has been quite an experiment!
So here’s what I discovered so far:
Unsurprisingly you’re going to have a lot of distractions!
When I’m at home my biggest potential distraction is the idea of going out for lunch/a cake/shopping/to walk the dog. The thing is though, I can do those any day. Whereas everything while you are traveling is time sensitive.
If you don’t meet that friend it may be the last chance for a few years, or if you don’t go to that concert you won’t get another chance. There’s more urgency around everything. Better go and walk along the Rhein while the sun is shining!
This means need structure around your work.
I am pretty lucky in this respect as I love systems. I’ve been honing getting what needs to be done done in the shortest amount of time ever since I started working from home. I actually have a whole implementation system around my work, if you are interested you can see more about how I do this here. Still, of course, there are huge temptations and staying disciplined can be a challenge. I did exactly 17 hours of work last week, compared to my normal 25-28 hours.
Here’s the thing though – if you got it all done, no need to beat yourself up!
We don’t become entrepreneurs to further the idea that you have to be present or ‘seen’ at your desk. It’s all about the output, not the attendance rate.
Your friends might not understand what it means that you are are traveling, but working
One interesting thing I noticed is that people who work at a normal job have a hard time understanding that something exists in between being on vacation and having to work.
Here’s a conversation I had late on one Tuesday night after a particularly amazing concert when everyone was discussing who either a) didn’t have to work in the morning because they worked at a school and it’s summer holidays or b) planned not to go to work:
Friend: You’re on holiday, you don’t have to work!
Me: I’m not on holiday, I’m taking my business on the road with me.
Friend: So are you on holiday or not?
Me: No, I still have work to do.
Friend: But you don’t have to work?
Me: Yes, I do, I have a deadline for 8pm tomorrow.
Friend: Large confused drunken gesture :-)
You may well discover you love your work even more than you thought you did!
After this conversation I realised a really big distinction. I didn’t HAVE to work tomorrow, I actually WANTED to work tomorrow.
Which is a huge difference and a place I feel incredibly fortunate to be in. I was looking forward to writing the article I had planned for the day, so staying out drinking wasn’t in line with what I really wanted and I went home without the slightest feeling I was missing out.
As someone who suffers from FOMO if fun is being had without me this is an interesting development. So the conclusion I am drawing is being an entrepreneur is at times more fun than plain old normal having fun, which I think comes from the fact there’s a lot of personal growth and achievement attached to it.
The rest of the world is very curious about entrepreneurship
People are very curious about entrepreneurship, even though I speak to people every day who want to start businesses I forget that for a lot of people working for themselves may not even be in their minds as a possibility.
Everyone that I have come across who has asked about my work has been super curious to hear more. So many people haven’t yet discovered what is almost this parallel economy that allows people to side step the standard go to uni, get a job routine.
Your achievements get a whole new level of perspective
Because I am operating outside my day to day circle of entrepreneurial friends everything I have done to get this far ‘seems’ more impressive because it’s being judged by different people.
My friends were very impressed about my Business Insider article whereas in my entrepreneurial circles while it is certainly something to celebrate it’s not that unusual. Same goes for being a Huffington Post blogger. I think it’s really easy to write for these publications because there is a strategy to make this a reality, but to people who don’t have ten friends who already did it it’s a BIG DEAL.
My initial instinct was to minimise this and say ‘Oh no, it’s not a big deal.” But actually, it is a big deal! i just forgot because it’s not unusual for me. Doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. So current and future entrepreneurs – you are more awesome than you realise!
It is definitely more difficult to concentrate in a new environment. This can go either way – either nothing gets done or you can be more efficient with your time because you have to be. I am finding I’m getting more efficient with my time but there are still some things piling up for when I get back (hello new webinar!).
The ‘real’ world will give you a lot of perspective in terms of how far you’ve come and the incredible advantages you have being in business. Spend 10 minutes listening to a friend complain about work politics and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Not in business yet and wishing you were on the road already? Book in with me to kick start the process (it’s free).
Some pictures :-)
My hotel room view in Frankfurt:
Meeting friends in Dusseldorf:
My fabulous friend Amanda who is my host at the moment:
My office view in Hannover:
My dog FaceTiming my host’s dog:
And a European trip wouldn’t be complete without a (comedy) pic in front of the ‘Eiffel Tower’…