The last time I wrote on this blog I was in Goa, India. I’m now back in South Africa, preparing to move to Sri Lanka for 3 months.
Please welcome back guest contributor Vangile Makwakwa as she shares her experience of suitcase entrepreneurship.
People assume you have to make a lot of money to travel, but in my experience, big money is not a must. You can enjoy the freedom of location independence – even on modest or irregular income.
Become a suitcase entrepreneur by embracing these guiding principles.
I have very few possessions.
I own an apartment, but sold all my furniture to my rental tenant and donated my 63 piece cutlery set and 80 piece dinner set to my mom. I kept some of my sheets, towels and bedding in storage containers, but my clothes all fit into 2 suitcases – one stays at my mom’s house and the other I travel. This cuts down on both baggage and storage costs, but the best part is having a tenant pay my mortgage while I travel!
To keep travel expenses in check, I pre-book all my accommodations and set aside additional spending money for food and other discretionary items.
To find the best deals, I use AirBnB for accommodations and Skyscanner for flights. Once I know what everything costs I use Excel to list all my expenses for the next 6 months, including monthly retirement savings and investments. I then use that to determine the minimum income I need to break even.
My financial advisor thinks I’m crazy and admittedly, she spends a lot of time trying to get to me to change my lifestyle.
Still, she’s awesome – whenever I have a meltdown and threaten to dissolve my investments or skip saving for retirement to keep my company going, she calmly tells me that I’m one of the most resourceful entrepreneurs she knows and she’s sure I’ll find another way to eat.
And she’s often right – I do find another way.
She helped me understand that her job as my financial advisor is to help me save and invest money that helps me reach my goals. Even if they are a little “crazy”.
One of the main reasons I can afford to live and work around the world is because of the incredible friendships I’ve fostered with people from all walks of life.
People I meet in one country will introduce me to friends in another, who’ll then adopt me as a family member and help me navigate as a local – helping me negotiate rent, telling me which neighborhoods to avoid and showing me where to shop.
Not only does this make being a suitcase entrepreneur a whole lot easier, it helps me score really good deals wherever I am.
I’ll be honest – negotiating isn’t my strong suit. But the more I travel, the more I learn it’s an absolute necessity.
When I was in India last July I took whatever price I was quoted at clothing shops and jewelers. Later on, I learned I’d paid double, even triple the original price because I never bothered to negotiate.
When I went back to India in October, one of my Indian friends told me, “Whatever price you’re quoted, just ask for half and go from there — even your rent.”
Best advice I ever got.
It’s cheaper for me to live outside my home country of South Africa, as long as the countries I visit have a weaker currency than the South African Rand.
That’s partly why I’ve fallen in love with Asia. I spend way less on a monthly basis than I do at home and still enjoy a fabulous lifestyle.
As important as exchange rates are, it’s also important to go to places that interest you. They’ll inspire you creatively, emotionally and spiritually, which help motivate your entrepreneurial journey.
Being in Goa inspired me to get my tantra yoga teaching certificate, which has completely changed the way I coach people on their finances. I now have a deeper understanding of how our memories and stories about money are stored in the body and how important it is to go into the body to release these memories, for example.
New cultures and experiences change the way we see the world around us, which changes the way we approach things, even our companies.
As an entrepreneur, you already know that your networks are critical, so take the time to connect with local entrepreneurs and businesses when you travel too. They’ll often introduce you to fellow entrepreneurs and they may even connect you to new business opportunities.
When I was in Goa, I hosted a tantra yoga and money workshop at a local resort. I’ve since been offered an opportunity to teach daily yoga and host workshops every tourist season.
This should really be at the top of the list, considering my business approach and book, Heart, Mind & Money.
The truth is, juggling your personal finances, running a business and traveling all at once can be challenging.
Cultivating a daily spiritual practice can keep you grounded as your environment changes – keeping you focused on your entrepreneurial goals. With every trip I get to challenge myself and build the courage to leave my comfort zone yet again. I see my confidence increase and my ideas of what’s possible expand.
If you ever have the opportunity to travel – go for it, and follow these guidelines to successfully run your business, maintain your financial health and master being a suitcase entrepreneur while you do it.
Vangile Makwakwa is a personal finance blogger, author and speaker, and of course, a global nomad. Connect with her on twitter @vangilemakwakwa
If location independence and suitcase entrepreneurship have long occupied your list of “someday” goals, why not be bold and attach a deadline to that dream, making someday “this” day (Maybe January 18th, 2017)? Use the 2016 goal setting and getting playbook to put the financial building blocks in place to make it happen, and turn that dream of suitcase entrepreneurship wish into a plan!