Note from Sean: A lot of the marketing and posts on this site plays up the whole save a little money, grab a backpack and hit the road. The reality is, most of us don’t necessarily want to work from a beach. Many of us just want to work from home and have a little more flexibility.
That’s why I was so excited when Location Rebel member David sent me an email saying “I want to write a post specifically about starting a business in your hometown.”
“Sweet! Write it up!”
Today’s post is the final result. So grab some coffee, settle in, and stop making excuses for not starting your business today.
Take it away, David!
How bad do you want to work for yourself and travel whenever you feel like it?
Allow me to rub it in for you…
Last Monday, I decided to sleep in for two reasons: 1) the Broncos experienced a horrible loss the day before and 2) I felt like it. I didn’t have to call in or report to anyone, and I still got paid.
During the winter, whenever I want to ski and hit the slopes of Vail or Breckenridge, I avoid the bumper-to-bumper weekend traffic by going on the weekdays (without putting my business on hold).
Although I don’t always stay in places like this. Screw you Sean….
I live a location independent lifestyle through my online marketing business in Denver, Colorado.
Everyday, I do what I love and help local business owners with their online marketing. I’m not tied down to a boring office. Instead, I hop around local coffee shops or businesses around Denver.
I might not roam the streets in Southeast Asia or explore the beaches of Brazil (yet!), but I am building a successful business that gives me more freedom and opportunities than I could ever imagine.
These are all places within a short drive that I visit on a regular basis (even weekdays!):
My “office” in the mountains:
So are you ready to build a business, but not ready to be a full-fledged traveling nomad? Who ever said you had to pick between the two? Being location independent means you have the OPTION to travel or not.
On top of that, building a business in your hometown has some huge advantages over starting one while traveling.
Let me share with you my experiences of starting a location independent business, and how I’ve dedicated the past year to growing strong roots before I venture off to other countries.
Life Before Location Independence
One year ago I had a totally different lifestyle than I do today.
I had a comfortable corporate job at a big .com company. I made good money (especially for my first job out of college). I was promoted after my first 6 months. I was promoted again after my first year.
Yet, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to work for myself, and I wanted to travel more. I aspired to have my own location independent business.
I dreamed of breaking free from the 9 to 5 lifestyle…(actually, I had to be in the office by 7:30am!)
Does this sound familiar at all? Read on..
Then a tragedy happened. After working nearly 2 years at my job, a family member of mine was diagnosed with a terrible illness. So I decided to take a 12-week leave of absence to take care of her.
I took the time off as a window of opportunity to start my own business without risking my job.
By the end of those 12 weeks I closed 2 big clients and decided to work entirely on my own. I’ve never been back in the office since. On top of that, my family member is now healthier than ever!
That was nearly one year ago, and I’m still surviving today. *Gasp*
What to Expect When Building Your Location Independent Empire
It takes hard work, dedication, and a little blood and sweat (okay – maybe just sweat) to create a location independent business.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I’ve encountered a lot of struggles this year, including:
- Staying grounded
- Keeping motivated
- Having direction
- Hiring or teaming up with the wrong people
- Breaking into the market
- Being thrown repeatedly backwards, downwards, and against the wall
- Most importantly, making money
Needless to say, obstacles will come your way. However, starting your business in your hometown will help minimize (if not avoid) them.
Let me share with you how…
WARNING: this is only for people who are ready to GO.
7 Steps to Start and Build a Location Independent Business in Your Hometown
Are you sure you’re ready for this?
Don’t worry – if you aren’t, you can stop here.
Here are some funny cat memes to check out…
However, if you want a location independent business as bad you as you want to breathe, I’m here to help you take a breath of the fresh, sweet air!
1) Focus on Why and What, Not How
When you’re starting off it’s easy to get caught up on the skills, services or products you provide – or as I like to call, the “how” of your business.
It’s overwhelming when you think of all the “portable” skills that will enable you to create a location independent business. I taught myself a handful of them through Sean’s Location Rebel.
But when I first started, I continuously asked myself, “How am I going to help my first client? How am I going to deliver quality service? How am I going to even do this?!”
Stop right there. Don’t get wrapped up on how you will deliver to your clients because it’ll change anyways.
For example, my “how” includes copywriting, web design and motivational sales coaching. But guess what? It’s not permanent. My “how” evolves and improves over time.
That’s because I focus on my “why” and “what”.
My “why” is the reason I want to run a business. My “why” is I’m incredibly passionate about entrepreneurship, and I love helping other entrepreneurs.
My “what” is the value I want to provide in my business. I enjoy business growth and I love Internet marketing. So my “what” is to help business owners attract more customers online.
Steps to find your “why” and “what”:
- Take out your favorite pen and a blank piece paper – right now!
- Answer the following question, “Why do I want to start a business?” You can have multiple answers. Answer this one too, “If I could change one thing that people did in this world, what would it be?” i.e. More people should travel, People could teleport, etc
- Brainstorm. Write down as many things that you do or want to do that make you feel happy.
- Ask people in your hometown, friends, and family, “What are some of my strengths? What ways can I help you?” Normally, people who are around you long enough can answer these questions to help pinpoint your best qualities.
- The most important step: Once you discover your “why”, solidify your “what” by writing it down daily. Read it aloud and demand the universe for it to be true. Include the income you want to make, unless you’re okay with starving to death! My daily statement is, “I make $(magic number) a month as an online marketing consultant helping business owners grow.” For more on this concept, check out Think and Grow Rich.
Still don’t know what you’re passionate about? Find someone who can help you discover your passions. There are coaches, consultants and businesses that can help you discover your inner passions.
The important takeaway is to discover the deeper meaning as to why you want to work for yourself.
Recommended blog post to discover your “why”: Does What You’re Doing Actually Matter?
2) Find Your Local Niche
I know, I know – I’m sure you’ve heard this advice a million times, but what if you’re not sure who your perfect client is yet?
One of the great advantages of working in your hometown is that your local area can be your niche.
There’s absolutely no reason to stress about your perfect niche. Instead, discover your “why”, find your “what”, and develop your “how” – your skill, service or product.
When I first joined Location Rebel, I decided to dive into copywriting along with web development. I already had prior experience with sales and web design, so I wanted to improve on them.
So I focused developing my skills in my hometown, Denver.
I’ve now helped salons, restaurants, mortgage lenders, construction workers, real estate agents, web developers and several other types of local businesses in my area. It’s not the smallest niche, but it’s a start.
Steps to find your niche:
- If you haven’t found your “why” and “what”, go back to Step 1 – and don’t come back until you do!
- Choose your skill (or “how”)
- Develop your skill by doing it in your hometown- don’t get hung up on reading blogs and books all day. Offer your services to someone who will pay you.
- Can’t find someone who will pay you? Offer your services for free, so you can learn and build up a portfolio. The first website I built in my business was for my dad’s chiropractic practice.
- The more you do, the more you will learn who your favorite client is. You will also learn what skills you enjoy. Do more of what works, and do less of what doesn’t work for you (or delegate it!)
Recommend blog post to find your skill: Essential Skills for Starting Your First Business Online. And if you’re serious about this, you won’t find a better way to learn or community than Location Rebel.
3) Network, Network, Network
You need to find clients and you need to work with quality people. There’s only one-way to do this: network.
The good news it’s much easier to do this from your hometown versus when you travel to a new place. You can grow strong roots to help your business flourish.
How do you network?
Start with your sphere of influence. Talk to friends and family. Reach out to customers or people you’ve helped from previous jobs. Tell everyone and their mother about what you do and how you can bring value to their life.
Don’t just focus on expanding your network. Try to connect your network. You might not benefit right away, but you will gain opportunities in the future.
What do I mean by connect your network?
Introduce two different people that you think could benefit from each other. This way you begin to grow a stronger network.
Through your network you will gain solid connections, including clients, employees (or subcontractors), business partners, or people who will give you great advice.
Here are a few ways I’ve landed my connections, and so can you:
- Go out and get social! This should be easier if you start in your hometown. Tell people what you do when you hit the bars, play sports, go to the gym, or wherever you hang out with people. Most importantly, have fun!
- Try meetup.com. This is a hit or miss, but definitely worth it. I normally focus on entrepreneurship-based or industry-related meet ups.
- Attend big local events. This is easier if you live in a big city. Find local events and get mixed in your local scene. Google “upcoming events in (your city)”, ask people you meet from meetup.com, or keep an ear out for big events in your area. The best one I’ve attended so far was Denver Startup Week.
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce. (Your City) Chamber of Commerce or the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are great options to meet local businesses. Google search your local chamber and attend the next meeting.
- Print out business cards and pass them out. Call me old school, but having your own portable billboard has a legitimate feel to it. Even if you just print a card with your name and contact info, you still have a tangible item you can pass around to everyone you meet… and their mothers.
Recommended go-to website for local networking: Meetup
4) Get Sales Focused
This step goes straight for the heart of the biggest problem starting your own location independent business: making money.
I’m part of a few entrepreneurial masterminds. I also have several friends who run their own business. Each one of them had or has trouble with steady revenue.
Anytime I hear about this problem, I suggest the same solution: GET SALES FOCUSED.
When you’re starting a business, it’s so easy to lose focus and get sidetracked…
You get shiny object syndrome, start several ideas at once, worry about the perfect time to wake up, have a bad day, or get discouraged when someone tells you to stop your business idea. This creates a recipe for failure.
Get sales focused and you will simplify your business experience.
When a business owner is not sales focused, they ask themselves:
- What time should I wake up today?
- Why am I not making any money?
- How can I improve my time management skills?
- Any unproductive question that doesn’t directly lead to bringing food on the table.
When a business owner is sales focused, they ask themselves:
- How do I make more sales?
- How can my product or service be better for the client?
- How can I reach out to more potential clients?
- Any productive question to run a money-making business.
Steps to get sales focused:
- Think about the questions relating to your business that you have been asking yourself all week. Now be aware of the questions you ask yourself the rest of the week. Are they sales focused? If not, start changing the questions you ask yourself.
- Ask yourself questions that are sales focused. You can start with the questions above.
- Find accountability buddies in your hometown. Don’t have a mastermind yet? Tell friends and family about your new focus and make them to hold you accountable.
- Surround yourself with big personalities. We all have that friend that everyone seems to love. They have a big personality and for some reason make you feel great every time you talk to them. Surround yourself with more people like that and it will catch on.
Don’t know how to sell? Build up a personality that attracts people towards you. Read a book on sales and you’re already ahead of the majority of salespeople that never read.
And don’t worry – I use to be extremely introverted. There’s no excuse as to why you shouldn’t learn how to sell.
If you need help with polishing your sales skills, just ask me or someone else you know for advice. You can drop a comment or book a free call with me at Nitroworks Help.
Recommended book for sales: SPIN Selling
Recommended book for online sales: CA$HVERTISING
5) Educate Yourself Before You (Wreck Yourself). Ahem, Delegate
Make sure you understand a skill before you delegate it.
I lost thousands of dollars hiring the wrong type of person for a job I didn’t understand.
When I started hunting for clients, I found most of them wanted to get on top of Google. Like it was some cheap, immediate thing you can do. (Definitely, absolutely not true!)
So I found someone to use “grey hat” methods for SEO. He showed me previous results and even ranked an easy keyword for me within a week. I was sold.
I paid him to work on two projects for me. He promised results within the first 2 weeks. Well 2 weeks became 4 weeks, and 4 weeks became 8 weeks. Still no rankings.
Before I knew it, the SEO guy I paid went AWOL. He stopped returning my calls and emails.
On top of that, I had a very angry client call me to let me know his website was penalized. He basically paid to move downward on rankings, not upwards!
I’ve never offered SEO services since.
If you hire someone for SEO work, you better understand SEO. If you want to delegate the graphic design work for a web design project, you better understand graphic design.
What’s the best thing about hiring someone locally? It’s easier to trust people when you meet them in person versus finding them online. They’re more likely to give you better results when you see them in person, especially on a daily basis.
*Note: I hire people online all of the time, but I found out how to hire quality subcontractors the hard way. My go-to guys are still local.
Good rules of thumb to hire:
- Educate yourself before you delegate. If you can perform a task yourself, then you’re ready to delegate it. Otherwise, you’re relying on pure judgment.
- Understand this rule – humans are lazy by nature. It’s rare to find happy, quality workers. Notice, I said rare, not impossible. So be patient and take your time when you’re looking to hire.
- Ask for a portfolio. Their previous work helps your judgment.
- Referrals. It’s easier to get referrals from people who are established in your hometown versus jumping online into the unknown. Ask your connections how they heard about a particular person and what work they’ve done in the past.
- Find someone who will get in the trenches. This is the best one of all. It’s that hardworking grunt that’s right by your side every damn day. You’re lucky if you find one. It can be someone who wants to learn from you or someone who owns their own business and complements yours. Personally, I work directly with another guy who runs his own marketing business in Denver. We complement each other’s projects, and we keep each other motivated.
Recommended blog post for hiring: Hiring Your Startup’s First Employee
6) Join Competitors In Your Local Industry
I would have included “How to Setup a Mastermind” as a VITAL step, but Liz Froment already gives some killer advice in her recent post.
Instead, I’m going to throw a different spin on building up a team…
Join your competitors.
They might not always be direct competitors in your area, but they serve the same purpose.
I apply this principle with my company all the time.
I can help a video production marketing company with copywriting. I can help an SEO marketing company with web design.
In return, I ask for their help when I need their services for my marketing company. My strengths are in web design and copywriting, not video or SEO.
You can do the same in your hometown.
Steps to build up your local industry network:
- Write up a list of 10-20 competitors in your local area.
- Contact the owner (call or email) and tell them you need their services for your clients. For example, I’ll call an SEO company and tell them I need SEO services because I build websites.
- Set up a meeting to talk about how you can help each other. There are no obligations. It’s kind of like a sales meeting for both of you.
- At the end, ask them for all of their pricing and packages. This helps you understand market prices and more about what competitors have to offer. You might even hire them one day.
- Keep in touch with your competitors. Write them a thank you note. Send them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. Let them know you’re here to stay.
Recommend blog post with video: Keep in Touch
7) Prospecting, Lead Generation, and Surviving
Like magic, prospecting is the process of creating leads (or birds) out of thin air.
I never realized how important this skill was until I quit my sales job – where leads were provided to me – and started working for myself.
When you build a location independent business, you have to prospect to get leads. If you want to survive, at least.
Another advantage of working local is that you don’t have to wait to build a big online presence.
You don’t have to wait for your SEO to improve, your blog to grow, or closing a client over email. Instead, you can take faster action.
When your business is local you can network in person, close a client in person, and build a presence through word of mouth.
Steps to prospect:
- Brainstorm. Write down every possible way you can prospect. Call it your “prospecting list” i.e. Connect on LinkedIn, pass business cards out, make a cold call, send a cold email, write a blog post to bring in traffic to your site, etc
- Get in the habit of doing one thing a day on your prospect list. For example, cold email 10 businesses today.
- Go back to Step 3 about “Network, network, network” and do that more.
- Hunt for clients as if your life depends on it. Because it does.
- Try the hybrid style: Combine online and offline prospecting methods. Email local prospects in your area or connect with them on LinkedIn. Let them know you’re local and you can meet in person. This greatly increases your chances to get a client!
Recommended blog post: Kevin Cole dives deeper on how to start a business and get local clients.He explains this through an SEO writing business, but the same principle can be applied with any other skill.
Also, Sean writes about how to make finding clients dead easy.
Get In the Trenches Today
As nice as a money-making location independent business may seem, it takes time to build. You have to GRIND and embrace the hustle.
Dive deep in the trenches and find others who will jump in with you.
Need a motivation boost? Watch this video.
So let me ask you…
What is the biggest obstacle holding you back from running your own location independent business?
I hope this post helps you clarify your next steps.
If it does, let me help you take those next steps. Drop a comment below and answer the question above for me.
About The Author
When David isn’t on the daily hustle, he enjoys skiing, traveling, golfing, playing guitar, cooking, lifting at the gym, and watching college football, especially his alma mater, Florida State University….GO DUCKS! Sorry David, had to throw it in there :).
He also enjoys coaching other entrepreneurs to help them attract more customers.