How I Started my Business and Became a Digital Nomad
I was always on the hunt for more freedom.
During my brief stints in “normal jobs”, I experienced what these jobs can do for you. Nothing. The routines embedded in the average job description are very disappointing. Over time they make you bland, uncreative, bored. When you are fresh on the job you may have some ideas on how to improve business or how to bring more joy in the work environment. But most of the long-time employees just do not really care and are doing the minimal for the next pay check. “Going with the flow, nobody gets hurt”. This is especially true for those who are working non-managerial jobs without a shot at the upper echelons. And, in a way, I could understand why they think like that. Why working harder or better for others so they can profit from your extra work? Therefore, instead of going into the grind of mediocre routine – or the way up to top management during mind boggling boring years – I decided I wanted to make my own destiny. Entrepreneurship was the only way to go.
At that time I was open to almost any kind of business, as long as I was independent. A bit of an overoptimistic early 20-something, when I had a thought or someone came to me with a good idea I would try to see the positive side of it and how we could make it work. Even if the idea was horseshit – which it often was – I really wanted to make the idea reality.
So at one point I started a business with some friends. Our core idea was to develop a digital business card. Kind of like LinkedIn in those years, but then with a real life component so that two persons could swap their business cards by having their phones bump each other. I thought the idea was promising at the time. However, everything else was lacking. To make this kind of thing work you need a lot of upfront investment power, technical know-how and so forth. Which we did not have. We were just a couple of over-optimistic business students who thought a good idea was enough to build a successful company.
We did not even have a good programmer. So that business obviously fizzled out.
Determined however, I knew that working in an international company or such was not for me. I wanted to be responsible for my own successes and mistakes. So I started another business. This time I had smartened up a little, and I decided to work with more specialists and even seasoned programmers. The main idea was to make an online software tool that enables companies to create their own survey groups and take surveys with these groups and engaging these potential customers at the same time. Good for market research and non-profit business and the lot. Sounds vague. Which it was. In fact we never really got the product fully running on the market as the technical development was suboptimal, and me and my business partners disagreed heavily on future strategy and development. So eventually we sold all the software (with profit) to a foreign company. Although we ended the project financially ok, I knew we never reached our potentials in ourselves and the product. Good cooperation was lacking. It all was sort of disappointing.
After that I knew my next business endeavor would be just for me on my own. Having some experience with the field of online marketing from my previous businesses, I decided to explore this field further. I did not want to do any big upfront, inflexible investment but to have a lean and mean business, run by myself as the one and only CEO.
At the same time, I became more and more interested in the world outside of my native country (The Netherlands) and going further than the common 2-week holidays in Europe. I wanted to see the world. I owned a house but I did not have real other obligations at home. And I was on the brink of starting a new business.
Therefore I decided this was the perfect moment to combine both my new business and my personal lifestyle in going location independent.
By creating my marketing business purely online, I knew it would be the perfect fit for my dream of travelling the world and living in places wherever I wanted.
Problem was, I first had to start to make money with my online marketing business. So, I decided to read articles and literature on other interesting career topics.
So I read as much as I could, browsed all the important forums and websites, experimented, wrote everything down, and read it again. At the same time I just started to build websites from scratch. As I knew nothing about programming at the time, I wanted to learn the basics. Of course those first websites turned out to be really crap. The only way to cope with these websites was to view them as tools for fulfilling my purpose of learning more along the way. Eventually the websites started to improve and I started to make some money, little by little.
Still living in the Netherlands, I worked non-stop for 3 months, day and night, to make it work. Eventually I transitioned from purely building websites to a combination with online marketing by buying advertising spaces on other websites and selling products that way. After 3 months of hard work, I started to make a decent income.
At that moment the decision was easy. I had a location independent income – albeit modest at the time – and no real obligations. I rented out my apartment to a friend. I opened my internet browser and booked my first flight to Latin America. This was 3 years ago. Since then, I travelled many countries, met many interesting people, met my current girlfriend, had the best times of my life.
And I do not regret any choice I made.