After feeling inspired by the article “How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries”, I decided to try to work on my startup while traveling around the world. After a few weeks, it struck me how much I had learned by being a nomadic entrepreneur. Here are the 5 key things I learned while working all around South East Asia.
How to be more organized
At home in Australia, I knew where all the co-working spaces were, their open days where I could work for free for one day in the week, the libraries, or nearby coffee shops with free WiFi.
It is a bit different in a country like Cambodia where I didn’t know the language and have never been there before. Being organized meant having an up-to-date calendar with achievable tasks and a Kanban tool (such as Trello). Sometimes, it took me a few hours to be set up with reliable WiFi. So as soon as I found wifi, I wanted to hit the ground running.
How to socialize quickly
Being a digital nomad, I met a lot of people but I might only be in a particular location for a few days. In some places, I didn’t want to stay for long, because I didn’t feel comfortable or safe. In other places, I wanted to extend my stay.
That’s the advantage of being a nomadic entrepreneur; you can stay as little or as long as you want. But regardless of how long I stayed, I became a real social butterfly. I became more open to people and discovered that a smile can go a long way. I was able to ask for feedback from other entrepreneurs and learned a lot about my startup.
About my startup
During my trip, I met a lot of entrepreneurs with different cultures. There seems to be a common quality among entrepreneurs. They love giving feedback. So working from a coworking space in Bangkok (Hubba), Thailand gave me the opportunity to talk about my startup and get a lot of feedback from users from another culture.
Based on the experience in my previous startups, nailing the cultural part increases the conversion rate significantly. That’s why Facebook displays different call to actions according to the location of the user. If I wanted my startup to be a global app, it needed to be available anywhere in the world and understood by anybody in the world.
My dream was to work on a remote island by the beach. So I headed straight to Ko Phi Phi in Thailand. But after a few days, I got hit by a syndrome called Island Sickness. I enjoyed the beach and all the facilities of the island, and I simply got bored. There is only so much snorkeling you can do before all the fish look the same.
By comparison, in Bangkok, I have access to more facilities, such as cinema, bowling, and live sports. Also, my country’s expat community was available, just in case I got homesick. Now, I usually stay in a medium-sized or large city and award myself a trip to the beach if I reach a milestone, such as a feature or a revenue goal.
How to focus
South East Asia is not the quietest place on earth. They are more tuk-tuks with holes in their mufflers than noise-free Tesla cars.
So I had to learned how to focus in any situation. I thought I was ready to work efficiently in a noisy environment as I worked in co-working spaces, libraries or coffee shops in Australia. But working in a coffee shop in a busy street in Phnom Penh is probably as noisy as being in a plane full of toddlers. I wish I had worked for a few weeks in Chuck-E-Cheese‘s before becoming a nomadic entrepreneur.
Hopefully, what I learned along the way will convince you to join the wonderful world of digital nomads. You will meet amazing people along the way, be they locals or other digital nomads, and that’s an experience you’ll never forget.
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