A bit about me…
After working for other people for many years, I decided that I wanted to go it alone and set up my own business. I didn’t know what business I was going to start, but I had ideas on what freedoms I wanted. There was no point setting up a business only to work longer hours than I was doing, being tied to a single place of work all without the benefits of sick pay and paid holiday each year.
I have huge respect for someone, anyone, who sets up their own business. If nothing else, it’s scary. Quitting a ‘proper job’ means you forfeit certain benefits however I can’t understand why some people end up doing things that make them more miserable and restricted than they would have been if they stuck with a normal 9-5 job.
One example I use regularly is that of a car mechanic. This, to me, gives you hardly any benefits over working for someone else.
Yes, if you run your own garage there is the possibility of earning more money than as an employee but with that possible benefit, comes an awful lot more work. The benefit of working for someone as a mechanic, or any similar job, is that you cannot take your work home with you. Come 5p.m. it’s time to go home and that’s it for the day. If you own the garage, you will probably have another three hours of work ahead of you to catch-up on paperwork or finishing any jobs that your staff haven’t managed in the day.
As a garage owner, you are also tied to that area. The business will serve local people and if you decide that one day you want to move to a different part of the country, you will have to start up a brand new business. Your customers cannot and will not follow you so you will have to sell up and start your business all over again.
And the key drawback for me is this – if you’re not working, you’re not earning money.
When I was thinking about starting up a business, I considered all sorts of ideas. One was a computer repair business. I was going to start it up as a home-based business, advertising online to find customers. Because I wouldn’t have rent to pay on a high-street shop, I could keep my costs lower than local competitors. The problem I realised though was that with any type of business like this (the same as setting up a garage) is that if you decide to take Friday off, you will not earn any money that day. You only get paid when you do something and therefore your time has an hourly rate.
Nobody ever got rich working on an hourly rate.
Money is great but free time is priceless
What I needed was a business model that would allow the money to keep coming in, even if I decided to spend the day with my family or simply decide that I needed a break.
Not only does this make good business sense, it also unties you from the burdens of work and lets you live a happier live. You can readjust the work / life balance in your favour.
What you do with all of your extra free time is up to you. You’re no longer trapped in the office so you can do what you want, when you want. My business is literally in my backpack – wherever I go, it goes. Whilst that may seem like a drag, keeping your business with you everywhere you go, it’s not because now your office is wherever you want it to be.
The mobile business
By organising your business into something that can be done with just the things that you can carry, you open up huge possibilities. If you don’t have a family of your own, you can travel the world or just your own country, working when you want to. If I were younger and didn’t have children I love the idea of packing up the car and just driving, finding a field to camp in over night and heading off again in the morning.
Now I’m older and have children, sometimes I take my backpack and head to a field and sit in the sun all day. Sometimes I take long walks with my dog and take in the scenery of where we live. Life is no longer rushed and I can pretty much do what I want to do when it comes to work time.
Because I have a family, I usually spend an hour a day doing the household chores so that when my wife and children get home, we’re not all rushing around tidying up. The work has been done so we can spend that quality time together.
Enjoy life now
When we are young we have a job to go to and plenty of things – houses, weddings, cars, savings – to spend our money on. More and more we are deferring enjoying life until we retire. We slave away for 50+ years hoping that by the time we retire, we’ll have enough time and money to go and enjoy ourselves. The problem with that idea is that there are too many X factors – what if we don’t live that long? Will your pension be enough to live on let alone spend money on holidays etc.?
Why not enjoy life now whilst you have the energy for it? The time and money can be made by setting up a business that works around you. Would you prefer an uninterrupted week-long holiday on a beach when you are 70 or the same holiday in your 30s but you have to work six hours whilst you’re there?
I chose the later because I want to enjoy life now.
This site is based on my own experiences of setting up an online business but a lot of the ideas and experience can be applied to bricks and mortar businesses as well. Not all of the examples will work for everyone. The examples are ones I have used and continue to do so allowing me to run businesses from my backpack, anywhere in the world.
I currently run 10 businesses in total, all from my backpack. They are in three different categories:
Various – Web Design and Maintenance
My original business was a web site design and maintenance business. Since starting, I have started or bought similar businesses from others so that there are now six brands that I operate. All are essentially the same in that I build and maintain web sites for other businesses but the price points vary depending on the market or sector I am targeting.
By far, the majority of my income comes from web design customers. I have mostly stopped marketing for these businesses now because I am still receiving a lot of business through referrals from existing customers and I am keen to concentrate on my other existing businesses and starting new ones.
After dealing with various hosting companies over the years on behalf of my web site design customers, I realised that there was a gap in the market for a UK hosting company that combined fair prices, excellent support and good set up.
Hosting companies seem to range from incredibly low cost but then offer little or no support to their customers. They cram as many sites on to their servers as possible which just slows everything down and they fail to add in features which customers desperately need, such as really good spam filters.
I started the business and failed to attract any customers for a long time but then bought a couple of small hosting companies from people looking to exit the market. This was useful and added a few customers. Marketing for hosting is difficult but I’m slowly building the number of customers.
I now have two dropshipping businesses which once set up are very easy to maintain. They are ecommerce sites that essentially just sit there. I do not need to do anything until an order comes in. One is a long-standing site which has been running for around three years, the other is something which I have just set up. The new one is a project which I am hoping to detail in a blog post called ‘How to set up a dropshipping business in 24 hours’ which is exactly what I did – created a dropshipping business in a day.