Last fall, through the power of social media, I connected with the founders of Abroaders who are game changers in entrepreneurship and travel.
What is Abroaders?
Abroaders is a resource and community that helps people make travel affordable through frequent flyer points and credit card deals. It provides members with “travel hacking news, members only travel tips, and information on how to leverage international travel for explosive personal growth and business development. Cheers to a life without borders!”
I asked co-founder, A.J. Dunn, to provide us with his perspective on Abroaders’ approach to entrepreneurship and travel. Thank you, A.J., for sharing your insights!
It has never been a better time to consider entrepreneurship. Especially if you value travel.
There are lots of ways to quench your thirst for travel. Teaching English abroad, using vacation time to travel, negotiating remote work, etc. If your thirst for travel is similar to mine, the above examples are great, but won’t fully satisfy the need to travel. I really wanted to travel with no limits. Never be bound to one location for any reason other than I wanted to be there. I wanted location independence. The only way I saw how to do this was win the lottery (be independently wealthy) or have a source of income that didn’t require me to be in any particular place at any particular time unless that was my wish. I chose the latter.
This post isn’t meant to serve as a measuring stick for success, or to measure our travel prowess against one another. So many digital nomads have made more money than me and so many digital nomads have been to more countries than me. But I am living my dream, and that is all that matters. We are all on personal journey’s and most of us envision our journey’s to have a different sequence and we are all en route to different places, both literally and metaphorically.
Where you’ve been is nice, where you’re going is exciting, but nothing can compare to right now.
This post is going to outline how I’ve been able to travel the globe (both fast and slow travel) over the last 4 years thanks to entrepreneurship as well as beating the airlines at their own game.
A quick explanation of how I can travel the globe full-time.
Like I said, I am where I want to be. Maybe it isn’t where you want to be. But there are certain concepts and tools that grant us the true freedom to do with our time whatever it is we please.
In a nutshell, I can travel the globe and experience all things travel because of two things.
- Entrepreneurship: Using award points and frequent flyer miles allows you to fly for next to nothing….However, food, shelter, water, and having a social life typically require some actual cash. Entrepreneurship has provided me the income to pay for everything outside of plane tickets.
- Mastering award travel: International airfare is really expensive. My business partner and I save tens of thousands of dollars each year thanks to research, a strong attention to detail, and strong systems that have allowed us to master the “frequent flyer miles” or “award travel” game.
Note: If you’re willing to invest your time and are interested in learning how to master award travel, my company has created some free resources on how to do this. We created a quick start email course (get sent a series of emails teaching you the essentials). And we have a weekly podcast that is free and takes a deeper dive into different topics pertaining to award travel. If you want to reap the rewards without investing the time, we have a paid service as well.
Things to consider before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is a wild ride. I highly recommend you watch this 3-minute YouTube video that explains the entrepreneurial journey in a more concise and elegant way than I can.
Here are some key points and questions I think are very important before you take the plunge
- Before starting a company, seriously consider having a business partner (will touch on starting a business with a friend later)
At the end of the day, there are like 39842903843342987324 things that need to be accomplished or accounted for. And what happens if you get sick? Or have personal things you need to attend to? In my opinion, a business partner is crucial and it allows you to share some of the stress and responsibility of being the head honcho.
- Are you mentally tough?
If you aren’t, do yourself a favor and don’t start a company. Are you offended that I asked that question? Do yourself a favor and don’t start a company. There are a lot of stressful things about starting and growing a company and if you don’t consider yourself to be mentally tough, you probably can’t handle it, or maybe you could handle it but lack the confidence necessary to grind your way to success. I haven’t met a successful entrepreneur that wasn’t mentally tough.
- Do you REALLY want it or would it be nice?
You have to be a good kind of crazy and obsessed with either your business idea or at the very least obsessed with the freedom that a business could provide you.
- Are you prepared to make a comically low hourly wage in the beginning?
You can definitely achieve great success entrepreneurially and create systems and build a team that allows your company to remain a well-oiled machine without you….But you need to start somewhere, and it’s tough to train somebody to do something if you haven’t done it yourself. Sure you can source things like web design, and copy writing, but your core product or service, at least at the beginning you will need to be involved.
Quick tip on remote work.
- Have a reliable work space (especially if you’ve never worked remotely before)
You don’t need an office. You don’t even need to be a member at a co-working space (although I do advise this). But working remote is more challenging that people think. I’ve learned I am most productive when I have a dedicated workspace as opposed to working in bed, at a desk, dinner table, then couch, and so on. Working from home is a blessing and a curse. TV, laundry, your bed, no boss keeping tabs on you. Those things are the devil and a distraction for your work day. But there are great pros like saving money on a commute, not having to drive in traffic, and being able to work from anywhere in the world you want.
Questions to answer before starting a company with a friend.
- Is this a friend that I ever bicker with over petty things?
If you argue about petty things with someone, you should really avoid going into business with them. Because there will be non-trivial things you’ll have to have very serious conversations about and come to a joint-conclusion.
Erik and I are both rather frank people that naturally seem to avoid pass-aggressive behavior. This bodes well for a business partnership IMO. I can tell Erik I think an idea of his will not work and he doesn’t take it personally (I’d like to think I’m the same way).
My next question is really important in regards to coming to those joint-conclusions both people can buy into I previously mentioned and move forward with.
- Do both friends (or a group of friends) share the same vision and goals for the venture?
What do you both want? Money? To make a change? To offer a service to help as many people as while making sure you can at least pay the bills? I feel it’s inevitable with any business you’ll come to the following fork in the road: make more money now, or continue to build as much equity as possible in your core business and turn down faster and larger profits.
That fork in the road seems to be a push-pull thing. Erik and I have gone both ways at different points in our business. Our decisions pretty much always came back to the vision we both shared for our business. The first priority was to achieve location independence. The ability to be anywhere we wanted whenever we wanted. To work from anywhere. But we also have lofty financial goals as entrepreneurs based on certain future goals we have as individuals (I’m passionate about education and want loads of cash to put into a non-profit in that space). We also both wanted to have reasonable standards of living on our entrepreneurial journey. If we both had some cash in our checking accounts in those early days, we decided to turn down quick wins to build equity in the long game or to take some time off and travel.
- Are you prepared to do more work than your friend, or believe you do more work than your friend without complaining about it?
This thing is cyclical. There’s times Erik is more motivated than me to work like a crazy person and vice versa. When you’re in the zone or really passionate and motivated about an aspect of the business to grow and improve, you can’t assume the other person is “there” with you. It goes both ways and you just need to accept sometimes you’ll do more heavy lifting than the other person. And there will be times they do more heavy lifting than you.
- Is the business more important than your friendship?
This isn’t a rhetorical question. Some people really care about their businesses and are willing to burn a bridge here and there. Erik and I have known each other forever and from day 1 we agreed the friendship came first. That was a non-negotiable.
This is not a question to answer, but something to take advantage of….This is your friend. There’s an incredible amount of trust already built. Leverage this. Continue to allow yourself to trust the person you know and trust the strengths you know they have. Lots of people go into businesses with certain people for strategic reasons. There isn’t the trust built up. There isn’t the chemistry. This is an advantage you have when you go into businesses with someone you know well. It limits the emotional and stress overhead of watching finances like a hawk/etc.
Finally, trust your gut! Our instincts seem to have evolved further than our ability to rationalize and “think” some things out. This isn’t always the case, but when in doubt, I firmly beleive that whatever your gut tells you should trump everything else.
My hope for this post is that you found useful information/tools and are inspired to make entrepreneurship and travel a part of your daily life. Feel free to reach out through the Abroaders website if you have any questions.