Recently, my life has become a near constant barrage of questions. From the perspective of our friends and family, the sudden transformation that my wife and I have experienced makes little sense. One moment I was an overworked business owner with failing health, the next we were bouncing around the globe on a permanent vacation. Everyone wants to know how I did it. So here it is, this is the story of how I went from hospital bed to hammock in eight weeks.
The adventure begins…
I sat there, in a daze, listening to the monotone voice of a man who had repeated himself one too many times. “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the panel above you.” I peered at the overhead compartments, wondering if any other emergency might warrant the use of oxygen masks.
We had ditched almost everything that we owned, said good-bye to our friends and family, and bought a one-way ticket to Bali. My wife gripped my hand nervously as the enormous aircraft meandered its way towards the runway. We were both wondering the same thing: “What the hell are we thinking?” The next couple of years would be far from ordinary: Bali, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and then, who knows?
This new way of life would be quite an adjustment. It had, after all, been less than a year since I spent the bulk of my time working like a crazy person and looking forward to my weekly panic attack. From my seat on Flight SA316, this 10-year period felt like little more than a bad dream. Who would have thought that I, of all people, could achieve such a dramatic change so quickly, or easily?
The hospital bed…
I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey
I started my first business, a cosmetics distribution company, at the ripe old age of 13. As the Internet grew in prominence, I quickly transitioned to e-commerce and online marketing. By the age of 25, I was consulting for the likes of: Virgin, Old Mutual, HTC, etc. If you’ve ever worked with listed corporates, you’ll know that it’s about as fun as getting a colonoscopy. Around this time, a particularly unpleasant panic attack put me in the hospital and the ominous warnings from my doctor forced me to have my mid-life crisis a little earlier than most.
The world is overflowing with beauty, wonder, and adventure. There is more to experience than anyone could hope to fit into a single lifetime. Yet there I was, trading the best years of my life for a paycheck. As I considered my predicament with my new perspective, everything came into sharp focus. Something needed to change.
The first step was obvious. We needed a clear picture of the life that we wanted to live. So, one day, my wife and I sat down and started to list everything that we wanted to do, see, learn, and give. Several weeks later, we completed the first draft of our Vagabond Bucket List, which has become the central theme of this blog. With our bucket list in hand, we lacked just one thing: a vehicle that would finance it.
The eight weeks…
The path to success is to take massive, determined action.
Tony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within
In essence, we wanted to become full-time global adventurers. To the man on the street, this is an outrageously unrealistic goal. A quick Google search, however, revealed that thousands of people, from all walks of life, already enjoy this lifestyle. All that I needed was to find out how.
I decided to focus all of my energy on answering the question, “how do they do it?” As I studied this group of people, I was able to identify five primary strategies that were being used to finance their full-time travels:
- Remote employment
- Moving employment
- Travel blogging
- E-commerce business
When done well, all of these options come with clear advantages. For me, starting an online business was the obvious choice. I have a wealth of experience in the arena, and online business offers something that none of the others options can: automation.
Most big corporates share a similar marketing strategy: throw $10 000 000 at it. Not having $10 million to spend, my partner, Nathan, and I went to the drawing board. We wanted to find an easy way to start an online business without risking much time or money. As we discussed our past strategies, and studied existing online businesses, we slowly put together a model that we called: “online arbitrage.” In essence, we were going to eliminate our risk by selling products first and produce/sourcing them second.
It took us about two days to set up our first business, which was a website that sold cycling safety products. When we were satisfied with our store, we posted a couple of ads on Facebook and paid for them to appear in front of potential customers.
Money isn’t the goal; money has no value. The value comes from the dreams money helps achieve.
Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
While there was a bit of additional cleverness to our marketing, product selection, supplier relationship, etc. the process itself was really quite straightforward:
- Cyclists would see our ad on their timeline.
- When they clicked on the ad, they were redirected to our website.
- On average, 10 percent of these people ordered our product.
- When the money appeared in our PayPal account, an email would be sent to our supplier who, in turn, shipped the product directly to the customer.
We had no staff, no warehouse, no stock, and almost no overheads. In addition, it took us just 2 days to set up a website and find a supplier. The results were astonishing; within the first six weeks, our new business went from a cold start to $1 000 per day! I was utterly gobsmacked. During this period, I nearly developed carpel tunnel syndrome by repeatedly clicking the refresh button on my PayPal account. With time, we were able to improve our marketing tactics and generate even better results.
Just do it!
Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it…
Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek
So often, we stick with our job because it’s comfortable. We trade the best years of our lives for a monthly paycheck and allow our time to simply pass us by. I started this blog for one reason: through my adventures, I hope to inspire others to have adventures of their own. Online business may not be the right path for you, but, if this is the case, I encourage you to go out there and find another option.
In my opinion, online business is both the simplest and most effective way to attain the professional vagabond lifestyle. For most of us, the problem is that we have no idea where to start! When I began my journey, I would have killed to get advice from someone who had already achieved my goal. Now, I would like to be that someone for you. If you would like to find out exactly how I set up my online business, click here to download my “Vagabond Business Case Study“.
Finally, if you have any questions or comments related to my story, online business, or any of the other five paths, then feel free to post them in the comments section below. I don’t always have Internet access, but I will respond to all comments as soon as possible!