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How I Run A Business While Living Abroad

By Anneliese Gartner

About  six months ago, I came up with the crazy idea to move abroad and leave New York City. I was infatuated with the fact that there were other creatives and freelancers that were living the remote lifestyle while traveling the world. It looked fun, exciting and it would give me the opportunity to travel whenever I wanted and where ever I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, New York City is an amazing city to live in but after almost eight years, four years of college, eleven apartments, and hundreds of NYC subway steps I climbed,  I was ready to experience more.

Anneliese Gartner, courtesy of Anneliese Gartner

This wasn’t the first time I’ve lived abroad, and I felt that I needed to go back now while I had no financial obligations. I don’t own a house or a car. I don’t have any children and my family is all in good health. It was the perfect time for me to leave New York City and experience life abroad before – as everyone keeps telling me – I’ll want to “settle down.” I had one MAJOR drawback. I recently started a video marketing business and I was completely booked through October.

So I started googling. Was it possible to turn a client location based business remote? Could I live abroad, with a time difference, and successfully run a business? And of course, was it financially possible? Honestly, no one really had the exact answer so I figured I would have to find out myself.

Four months later I put all my belongings in storage, left my Brooklyn apartment, told all my clients of this new adventure, and transformed my video marketing company into a remote business.  It’s been almost two full months of running my business while living abroad. While I have made a lot of mistakes along the way, I’m happy to say that I have successfully booked new clients and maintained my current clients, all while living 8,000+ miles away. Here are a couple ways of how I set up my business for success:

Talk to your accountant

In my mind, this is the most important thing you can do to set up your business abroad. Talk through what you want, what you need, and everything that could go wrong by moving your business abroad. My accountant laid everything out for me on a silver platter and each month she gives me a beautiful report that states exactly what my profit and loss is in every part of my business. She told me the amount of income I would have to make in order to cover my expenses, how much I would have to pay in taxes, and my projections on moving my business financially forward.

Be upfront with your clients.

If you have a client based business you need to tell them of your plans immediately. I found out only two weeks before I left that I was actually going and the day that I found out, I told everyone. I made a plan of how I was going to maintain the workload, and the hours that I would be available (and not available). This was the best thing I could have done as all my clients then knew exactly what to expect.

Anneliese Gartner, courtesy of Anneliese Gartner

Plan out your work hours

As I’m in currently in Bangkok, Thailand there’s a 12 hour time difference between here and New York. Instead of looking at the time difference as a problem I looked at it as beneficial. The time difference allows me to go through my day (while New York is asleep) and complete tasks without clients constantly emailing me, texting me, or just needing my attention. I set up a Calendly account and set my hours that clients can call me, between 7pm-11pm (7am-11am EST), if they need to talk about any big upcoming projects, deadlines, etc. Planning out my hours, and working on the time difference, has ultimately allowed me to work more efficiently and move my business forward faster.

Create an invoicing strategy

One of my biggest concerns was, how are my clients actually going to pay me on time? Well, thanks to HoneyBook (referral code for 50% off: http://share.honeybook.com/anneliese642) I’m able to create brochures for new clients, send invoices, and schedule payment reminders all online. My clients can easily pay me online via credit card and two days later the money shows up right into my bank account.

Find a solid team

As I have a client location based videography business I needed to find videographers in New York before I left so that if any of my current clients needed a project completed I could still complete the project. Luckily I found two great videographers that have joined the Apto Media team and are readily available when I need them. Finding a solid team is the only way you can truly run a location based business remote. Do not forget to create contracts and NDA’s for your team to sign. A solid team still needs to be documented on paper.

Allow Time to Actually Move Abroad

Once you have everything above set up and you’ve hopped on a plane, DO NOT FORGET to allow yourself time to adjust. This was my biggest mistake I made while I was moving abroad. I had told my clients that I would not be available for 32 hours while I was traveling but that as soon as I landed in Bangkok I would be easily available, no problem. Well I didn’t anticipate my phone not be unlocked right away (thank you Sprint) so I couldn’t access email, I forgot about jet lag, and the WiFi  at my first hotel only worked between 7pm and 11pm. Make sure you plan for success but also for everything to go wrong at once.

Moving abroad has not only taught me more of what I want in life but it has showed me the endless possibilities of what I can do for my business. As it has only been a couple months I know that I have a lot more to learn, but these tips were what immediately set up my business for success. For more information about my business, what video marketing can do for your business, or how I moved my business remote follow my blog at www.aptomedia.co/blog (yes .co not .com).

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