Did you start your own business in part because you were weary of crawling out of bed, slamming a couple of cups of joe, and heading off to an office job you hated? Perhaps visions of combining work with travel provided a good part of the impetus it takes to chuck the rat race and be your own boss. All too often, the entrepreneur who dreams of working from anywhere ends up tethered to the home office or the tiny cubbyhole which serves as headquarters of Me Inc.
If your dream is to work from anywhere, it is within your grasp. You already have the desire to do so. If you’re going to journey far from home and still work and maintain business relationships, you need to make like the camel and create a portable storage system that will let you work and play from the veranda of that beach house in Maui that you saw in your dream. For the virtual worker, being able to carry what you need with you is vital. Here are basics you’ll need to have to truly be mobile:
Get a good laptop: With the powerful and versatile laptop you are going to purchase to serve as your office away from home, you can see the world and conquer the business world simultaneously. You can access your email from anywhere, of course, and with any old computer you find lying around. But don’t depend on a hotel computer, or the one at the beach house that you’ve rented from your friends. The laptop you will buy will allow you to access oceans of data quickly and efficiently. Don’t cheap out. Get a laptop with plenty of storage, one that can connect to any outside storage device, one that’s fast and can also take a beating.
Portable drives: You can save critical data from your home computer onto thumb/flash drives, which you can store in your pocket, or, if your data needs are greater, on an external hard drive. Most of us are familiar with flash drives, which are a cheap and easy solution to those who want to access key documents and other items. External hard drives are the solution for those who have greater data storage needs, and/or those who don’t want to trust their data to a cloud storage solution. These range in price from $50 to more than $300; to see which one best fits your needs, click here to read recent reviews in PC Magazine. Both of these drives can be accessed from your laptop or from any computer you happen to be using.
Cloud-based storage solutions: Forget those people who tell you to get your head out of the clouds. Get yours into the cloud now, and work where you want to! Services like Evernote allow you to store notes, documents, photos and other images, write proposals, create contract language–whatever you need to communicate that doesn’t really fit easily into email. If blogging is part of your business model, Evernote is a wonderful platform for capturing ideas for posts or writing an entire post. Evernote can be accessed from anywhere, it’s incredibly simple to use and versatile, and–it’s free! There are others out there; Google’s virtual office suite–Drive–can take a bit of a learning curve but it too offers invaluable free services for the work-anywhere aspirant. Remember, any document you think you can’t live without, you can store on your portable drives and/or email to yourself. But really, fear of the cloud is just something that the work-anywhere warrior must learn to get over.
Record it and store it: Travel can be a powerful creative stimulant. You’ll have outside-the-box inspirations that you won’t want to lose. You’ll see things that you’ll want to share and probably use somewhere along the line in your work, especially if you blog, write an enewsletter or contribute to someone else’s content site. Get a good, lightweight digital recorder, one that connects to your laptop, and record your thoughts and ideas as they spill out. If you’re not a photographer, or you’re used to taking photos with your phone, now’s your chance to expand your creative horizons. The Canon Rebel, or the Powershot, are good for beginners. You can get a basic Rebel new for around $500, Powershot for around $300, or go to craigslist and get a used one for considerably less. Your external hard drive is an excellent place to store photos, which can chew up too much laptop storage space if you get carried away. And there’s always the cloud, now that you’ve conquered your fear of it.
Get virtual IT support: You can’t access all that stored data if your computer is acting out. So make sure when you buy your laptop that you engage the services of a virtual IT team supporting your new purchase. If you have computer problems in a foreign country or out in the boonies somewhere, you don’t want to waste time trying to find someone who speaks your language and can be reliably depended upon to properly service the cornerstone of your work-anywhere strategy. Those folks in India know their stuff, their services are cheap compared to the service they provide, and you can access them any time day or night.