The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Business as Digital Nomad

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It is not just a recent trend, but more and more entrepreneurs consider to start their companies as a digital nomads. In this article, we will learn 1) who are digital nomads, 2) why it is worth to become a digital nomad, 3) how to become an entrepreneurial digital nomad, 4) tools required for digital nomadic lifestyle, and 5) examples of successful digital nomads.


A Digital Nomad is an individual who performs his/her duties as an employee or worker for a business by working remotely, i.e. from home, from libraries, coffee shops, etc. These individuals make use of the various telecommunication technologies to fulfill their job responsibilities and conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic way. Digital Nomads or Nomadic professionals work as freelance photographers, freelance writers, affiliate marketers, software developers, logo designers, web designers and other types of knowledge-based workers who can work and deliver irrespective of their physical location.

Some of the technologies which Digital Nomads make use of to work include wireless internet, cloud-based applications, smartphones, VOIP (voice over IP), etc. to earn their income from wherever they live and even if they are travelling. In some cases, these individuals may also utilize co-working spaces as well as shared offices to work.

Short history of a Digital Nomad

It all started back in 1983 when Steve Roberts became the first digital nomad as he set out on a computerized recumbent bicycle. Later in 1985, Wi-Fi was born and made way for more people using the computer systems to search information. The number of people using the internet was between 20-30 million by the end of the next decade. The term ‘Digital Nomad’ was first used in 1997, but it was only in 1999 that digital nomads became technically possible for the masses. Later on, websites such as Elance and oDesk were launched and were meant for freelance workers to find work and get paid, irrespective of their location. In 2009, National Geographic launched the Digital Nomad Blog as, by this year, this concept had become fairly common. The floodgates however truly opened in 2011 and till date, there has been no stopping the Digital Nomads.


Top Reasons for becoming a digital nomad:

  • Nomadic lifestyle is cheaper – One of the top reasons why it is worth becoming a digital nomad is because nomadic lifestyle is much cheaper than staying at home, at least in some of the cases. According to the spending patterns of some of the digital nomads, it is cheaper to be on the go rather than staying put in one place. When you stay at one place, then you tend to pay extra sums of money for expenses like electricity bills, food costs, Wi-Fi costs, etc. But if you are travelling and working, then some of these costs may be cut down.
  • Nomadic Lifestyle makes you more productive – Another reason why you could consider being a digital nomad is because Nomadic lifestyle forces you to organize yourself more and this in turn helps you become more productive during the hours you spend working. At the beginning of your travelling period, you may be pumped up and excited about the new places and may end up exhausting yourself. Then it will finally occur to you that you are not on a vacation, and this will infuse in you more energy to perform better and be more productive using productivity tools.
  • Nomadic lifestyle increases your horizon, and you can get more ideas through it – It is a fact that as you travel and work, the nomadic lifestyle that you have chosen for yourself inspires you, the culture of new places acts as a backdrop for new ideas and you begin to inculcate these ideas and inspiration in the way you work. The life experiences of people you meet on the way act as a teacher and helps you avoid making mistakes they did. These people you meet on the way brings a fresh perspective to your ideas, and this helps you become better at what you do.


The following are some of the Steps you can follow for becoming an entrepreneurial digital nomad:

Step #1: Save a sufficient financial basis or Consider taking risks

The first step to being on your path of becoming a digital nomad is to consider saving some money. You need to secure your finances and have sufficient capital to support the lifestyle that you aspire to lead. You need savings to travel, move around, pay your bills and buy that flight ticket to your dream destination. Well, the amount that you need to save depends upon your needs, cost of living of the place you are going, the lenght of your staying as a digital nomad, and how much luxury you aim to live in. But on the other hand, if you are someone who likes to take a few risks in life and don’t believe in saving, then you can just go with the flow and see how it will turn out to be a digital nomad.

Step #2: Prepare essentials for being a digital nomad

The next step is to gather up the essentials that you might need on the way to a nomadic lifestyle. Well this one goes without saying but if you are a freelance writer and write on your laptop, then you will need to your laptop as well as the supporting accessories like the charger, portable net connection and others. Similarly, if you are a freelance photographer, then you need to carry your camera, the lenses, the charger, batteries, memory cards and other supporting accessories. While carrying the necessary is important, it is even more crucial to eliminate the unnecessary. As a nomad, you will be happier with the minimum possible stuff to carry.

Step #3: Try to find a partner

You might welcome the change of being a lonely traveler through the initial few days of your nomadic lifestyle, but you will soon realize that doing it all alone isn’t as easy as you thought it would be. When you travel, you are exposed to many uncertainties, and thus it is critical to have a partner or a backup. Your partner will not only be useful for your profession but will also share the dedication and burden of your work. Choose someone you trust and one who takes as much pleasure in this lifestyle and work area as you. Your partner can however either choose to travel with you or can take up a fixed base and work from there.

Step #4: Make sure the idea/business model is not adversely affected by your nomadic lifestyle

Another thing that you will need to keep in mind is that your business model or professional idea must in no way get affected by the nomadic lifestyle that you choose. The best way to ensure this is that the business or startup you are thinking of pursuing must not tie you or hold you down in one place. This is why it is important to do something where communication can be done online so that your work can be taken with you wherever you go. If required, you can adjust your lifestyle as per the requirements of your startup. Come up with a business model that will only benefit from the fact that you will be travelling or moving around from one place to another.

Step #5: Choose a starting location

There is no one best location in the world which is best for those who wish to be digital nomads or wish to tread on the path. There are numerous factors that may affect your choice of the country or location of starting such as cost of living per month, accommodation, your personal preference, etc. Some of the countries or locations that benefit those who wish to work as digital nomads include Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Costa Rica, Columbia and Malta, etc. You must carefully consider the choices, weigh the factors that affect these choices and then select the right starting location for your project or work. Choosing the right starting point is extremely important as it will give you a direction and if chosen correctly, will encourage you to continue.

Step #6: Figure out a reliable income without dependence on a location

The next step to becoming a digital nomad is to choose an income source that won’t be affecting or be dependent upon the location you operate from. For example, if you are a freelance writer, then your job mainly is to write and deliver the work to the client through the internet. This job is not dependent upon your location or on the location of the client. Thus no matter that part of the world you write at, with an internet connection, you can easily send it and make money.

Also, it is important to not expect some great cash flow at least in the initial few years of your startup since startups require investment and profit may only start showing after at least 2 years. But this is different than freelancing because freelancing doesn’t require a major investment. This is why it is important for a ‘fresh’ entrepreneurial digital nomads to save some money in advance so that minimum trouble is faced during the first few years when the money hasn’t started flowing in yet.

Step #7: Hire a virtual assistants and international team

The next step to becoming an entrepreneurial digital nomad is to start building on a team of workers around you. Hire virtual assistants from anywhere in the world, pay them online and get work delivered through the web as well. This will give you a support team around you to pull off jobs easily, faster and with much more convenience. Make sure you pay your team timely so that you don’t lose the talented and hardworking ones. The more international and diverse players you can get on board, the better it will be for your business. An amalgamation of ideas, creativity and work will give a strong boost to your startup.

Step #8: Stay fully committed and love your startup

It is extremely important for you to be extremely passionate about your startup and love it immensely. If you do not have the passion and the zeal to run it, you might end up giving up on it at the very starting, thus leaving you with nothing but loss and disappointment. If you love what you do, the chances of success will only increase. Even if results don’t start showing soon, don’t be disappointed and keep working hard. Also, only work on projects you think you will love investing your time, energy and money into.


Here are some initial tools you will need when starting your digital nomadic journey.

Traveling tools

  • Kayak – This platform helps to find the best travel deals and compares each with thousands of aggregators.
  • Priceline – This platform is yet another necessity for digital nomads since it bids low on last minute flights and checks their price breaker deals as well.
  • AirBnB – This platform helps to look for all kinds of accommodations such as hotels, bungalows, villas, and resorts, etc. for your stay in a new city.

Communication tools

  • Gmail – Outlook is out, Gmail is in and is a necessity for all digital nomads
  • Skype – Call anyone from anywhere for no cost at all! Not just call, you can also video call your friends using this communication tool.
  • Google Voice – This is a service that gives you one phone number to route and forward to any phone, highly customizable.
  • Doodle – This is a communication tool that helps to schedule meetings very easily and that too with people belonging to all parts of the world.

Invoicing & Shopping Tools

  • PayPal – This is a must have for anyone who works through the internet as it enables all payments via the net.
  • Freshbooks – This is a portal that enables online invoicing and bookkeeping.
  • E-Junkie – This platform handles all payment and fulfillment for your audio book, eBook and other products.
  • Clickbank – This is a digital products retailer that is priced very reasonably and offers an amazing affiliate community as well for your services and products.

Online Marketing tools

  • AWeber – This is a leading provider for customer list management/mailing and promotional marketing related needs.
  • Mailchimp – This is a competitor of AWeber, which provides a simpler email newsletter and gives a $30 credit too by signing up through thrilling heroics.
  • Market Samurai – This is excellent and most in-depth softwares available for doing in-depth SEO keyword research and market research.
  • Fiverr – This is a site that is very helpful for online promotions and is a kind of a marketplace where people will perform many actions for just $5 USD.

Self-Organization & Goal-Setting tools

  • Wunderlist – This is an easy and simple to use to do list that helps digital nomads in keeping up with their goals.


The following are some superb examples of digital nomads from whom all of us can learn something:

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is very popular and successful digital nomads in the world and is the author of the very famous book titled ‘Four Hour Work Week. Tim is an author, entrepreneur, angel investor as well as a public speaker who lives a nomadic lifestyle and holds many honors and recognitions to his name. After graduation, Tim worked with a data storage company but while he was employed, he started building his own internet business. Besides having written several books and blogs, he teaches a concept called lifestyle design under which he promotes mini-retirements and alternate career paths which he also himself follows. He truly inspires us all to take the plunge, engage in the unheard of and live life on the edge.

Jodi Ettenberg

Jodi Ettenberg began her career as a corporate lawyer and then quit her job to travel. She then started a blog by the name of Legal Nomads to share the stories of her adventures. As this site grew in popularity, she began receiving offers to work as a freelance writer and travelled around the world pursuing her digital nomadic lifestyle and living it all up. Her interest in the last few years has been more concentrated on food, and she also starts small group food walks in Vietnam.Jodi is an excellent example of someone who took the risk of leaving her settled life behind and took onto travelling and freelance writing. She continues to inspire people around the world.

Jay Meistrich

Jay Meistrich is yet another inspiring example for everyone who wants to live and work as a digital nomad. Jay lived in San Francisco before he sold everything and took up backpacking. He has travelled to more than 45 cities in 20 countries and works for about 50 hours a week on his startup. He says that his total cost of living as a digital nomad is less than just the rent he paid in San Francisco. Jay not only rejects the idea of a 9-5 job but also the idea of settling down, boredom and of having a bucket list. According to him too, travelling is cheaper than staying at home.

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