Adventure is my drug of choice. I crave exploring far-flung and little known corner’s of Asia, climbing mountains of crimson sand in the Middle East, and have made the aqua sea of the Greek Isles my office more than once. I built my career in a way that allows me to travel (mostly) whenever I want while working from (mostly) wherever I want. This week one of my favorite entrepreneurs and fellow wanderluster Electra Gillies shared with me how she built her career in the same way I did and wishes more people knew how to do the same. Also a writer, Electra created the gorgeous virtual destination “The Eco Gypsy” — a trove of ethically made products, all luxuriously bohemian in nature merged with high-end content that ranges from lifestyle to travel and fashion. Read on for some serious inspiration from Electra based on her experience that might help you finally ditch your current office for an ocean somewhere magical.
1) Build a Business Based Around Your Beliefs & Ethos
I decided to create The Eco Gypsy to show that an eco-conscious and ethical lifestyle was just as glamorous as a typical one. My issue was — this was WAY before eco conscious was a phrase in our everyday vocabulary. I was ahead of my time and it took a minute (or rather a few years) for me to really build my following and create a viable business. However — I stuck to what I knew and what I loved and THAT is what made me successful. When you want to start something virtual — remember to make it an extension of who you are and what you stand for.
2) Take Risks On New Things
You might have to create something that does not exist yet. Don’t look to the competition too closely because you might miss the innovation that you are destined for! I’m a travel journalist and editor originally, but always had my clothes and accessories handmade because my taste was hard to find in shops and I have a naturally curvy body shape. I attempted to create a small collection of what I was making for myself and launched my online shop with those pieces. Then, voila! The Eco Gypsy Bazaar went online and grew more than I dreamed. Never be too afraid to try new things!
3) Don’t Rush
We have a saying here in Asia ‘Slowly slowly catch the monkey’. My business has grown organically and I have gone from the magazine, to the apparel brand and now to our boutique houses launching next year in Bali. It all happened without huge advertising, paying influencers or throwing launch parties. This is not to say that marketing is not important but don’t spend a fortune to build a following at the start. See what works for you and be patient.
4) Your Numbers Are Sometimes Irrelevant
We all obviously need to make a profit for our businesses, but there is an unnatural obsession with social media at the moment, and I think this is not a long-term sustainable business model. Eventually these channels will die out and something new will replace them. Concentrate on building the quality of your business into a long-term brand, not one based on likes on social media or current trends. Focus on telling the “why” of your story instead.
5) Learn To Block Negativity
Many people will tell you that it’s really hard to run a virtual business and travel the world or make any dream you have come true. There will always be critics who actively criticise your business or worse — abuse you personally. It hurts. I used to get upset but now I realize it’s the other person who has the issue. Always ignore people who are not inspiring you to live your dream.
6) Create Life Balance
Designating time to my business and being a mother sometimes leaves me exhausted or feeling guilt ridden that I am not spending enough time with my family. Remember to take time for you and your personal life by taking out at least an hour a day. Your business should be a pleasure not a pain.
7) Stop Deadlines
The best part about working for YOU is you don’t have to adhere to anyone else’s schedules. I created my virtual magazine without a set schedule and I designed a seasonless beachwear line because — why not? You don’t have to follow trends or adhere to someone else’s deadlines when you build your own virtual empire. Create your own schedule that works for you.
8) Budget Your Biz and Your Travel Wisely
You have to understand your profit model with your virtual business. How are you making money? A virtual product? Advertising? Consulting? Know how you are making your money and then figure out where you want to live or travel. You can live like a king on a shoestring in some countries but do your research first!
9) Pay it Forward
I believe very strongly in giving back and am always asked what charities I donate to. I don’t and you don’t have to either because making a difference can be done in many ways. My business model is BASED on giving and every aspect of it is ethical in a way most companies are not yet. I pay my workers a fair wage that means usually up to three times more than other brands. I also have a personal relationship with everyone who works with me and prefer to know I am helping individuals and their families directly. You too can pay it forward with how you build your virtual business.
10) Keep Dreaming
There are days you will wonder why you are doing this, feel like a failure, and wonder if anyone is even interested, but keep dreaming big. Today my dream has become a reality and it is the dreamers who will have the best virtual businesses because they never stop creating, evolving or learning. Keep dreaming!
Originally published at medium.com