Location Independence is a term I hear volleyed about in entrepreneurial circles. What does it mean to you? Does it mean being able to run your business while living out of a suitcase? While backpacking around the world? Or does it simply mean being able to manage your affairs from the local cafe with your MacBook Air or iPhone?
My business is not location independent in the travel-around-the-world sense. And it doesn't need to be. I live here (in Japan) and have no immediate plans to relocate. Earlier in the year I thought I might have to leave (that long story I haven't told you about completely yet).
I concluded that two of the three legs of my business are semi-portable.
- Coaching and advising women on how to build their ideas into a business can be done from anywhere with an internet connection = portable, location-independent.
- Sewing bags for kids could also be done from anywhere but my tagline is Handmade in Japan. I would probably have to set up a local workshop and employ a manager and staff to take over, to maintain authenticity. Or change the tag line. I'd still need help sourcing the fabric = therefore not location-independent - in fact it is heavily location-DEpendent. Being made in Japan is what makes my bags completely unique and desirable.
- My conversation classes for Chatty Cafe are not transferable at all, unless the ladies agreed to meet regularly over Skype. They're fairly tech-savvy but the biggest drawcard of my ESL class is the homemade cake and freshly-made coffee. My home and the ambiance I work hard to create are also crucial. And me, in person, is probably most important. All that special sauce would be lost through the screen.
Lots of the women I talk to are somewhat location-independent or are striving for that. Some are trailing spouses, expat families that move every few years because their husband's job. Some are married to men from other countries and like to be able to travel to his country for extended periods of time, while still doing some of their work. Some have immigrated to a completely new country but maintain ties with their home country through their business.
Regardless of what your exact situation is we can all agree that work is less tied to a specific location than ever before. Technology enables us to do so much.
Here are a few of my favourite tools which enable my work to be managed 24/7 from anywhere with an internet connection:
Evernote - I clip files, save PDFs, save website links and write client notes on Evernote from home then sync with my iPad for later reading at the beach (no internet which is why I go - to concentrate) or while waiting for my son at his swimming lessons.
Podio - I use this tool to manage my own projects and to collaborate with clients. It's much more efficient than email since a record is kept of everything, email tends to slip through the cracks sometimes and gets confusing when there are several threads going on simultaneously. With Podio it's all there. In a feed. And organised into your own customisable categories.
Schedule Once - is my online appointment scheduler. I love it because a lot of my clients are in different time-zones and we are all mums so we're not online all the time. It saves on all the back and forth trying to set up times to meet. They say it themselves on the website: Works globally When it comes to time zones there is nothing better than ScheduleOnce.
FreeAgent is a cloud-based accounting program. I can update my books as and when transactions occur, sync with my bank accounts and have invoices sent out automatically to clients each month. If I decide to hire an accountant all the files can easily be shared. It's designed for Freelancers and solo-business owners and is simple to use once you get the hang of it. They provide tons of great tutorials to help with that.
Skype - the obvious. I also like FaceTime since it applies a nice filter to the screen, I always look great!
What are your favourites? Share a comment via Facebook.