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In this episode, Eric Dingler shares valuable insights on the common pitfalls faced by digital nomads and provides five essential tips to avoid crashing dreams while living a nomadic lifestyle. He also introduces the six stages of business, emphasizing the importance of leadership in achieving long-term success.

5 Tips to Avoid Crashing As a Digital Nomad

  1. **Start in a Compatible Time Zone**: Dingler highlights the importance of aligning your time zone with your customer base to ensure effective communication and business operations.
  2. **Business Stages and Leadership**: He introduces the six stages of business, focusing on the transition from being an all-in entrepreneur to a team builder, C-suite leader, and ultimately building a legacy.
  3. **Guardrails for Business Success**: Setting clear guardrails, different from rigid boundaries, ensures that you are alerted when your business is nearing potential risks, allowing for timely adjustments.
  4. **Gear Backup and Redundancy**: Recognizing the importance of having backup plans for crucial gear, Dingler emphasizes the need for redundancy in technology to avoid disruptions in your digital nomad journey.
  5. **Realistic Expectations**: Dingler advises having realistic expectations about the digital nomad lifestyle, debunking the myth of constant leisure and urging listeners to prepare for challenges.

Resources / Websites Mentioned in This Episode

Full Transcript

When we started out on this journey to become digital nomads, I nearly avoided a massive mistake. When we started out on this journey to become digital nomads, I narrowly avoided a massive mistake that would have bankrupted us, or at least come brought us right to the brink of destruction. Luckily for you, you get to hear from my experiences and help you avoid such a mistake. Because as we were preparing to get started, nobody warned me about this. Now, if you’re listening and you’re already traveling full time and you’re struggling a bit, maybe it’s because you are. You have one of these five pitfalls, if you will, that you haven’t addressed. And so stick through to the end, because I’m going to share with you five tips to avoid crashing your Dreams as a Digital Nomad. And then I’m going to wrap things up with a leadership tip of the week. Welcome to the Digital Nomad Entrepreneur podcast, everyone. My name is Eric Dengler. I’m a full time digital nomad traveling around the world with my wife and our four kids. In fact, we are currently in Costa Rica. If you are in San Jose, Costa Rica, and you are listening to this in the spring of 2024, reach out, let me know. Eric at Disney podcast dot com and I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee. We can talk about nomadic business, all kinds of exciting things. All right. So today I want to share with you five tips to avoid crashing your dream as a digital nomad. Tip number one, start in a time zone that’s very compatible with your customer base. This was the mistake I almost made when we started out. We were very set on Europe, Europe, Europe, and we did a test trip. And luckily we did the test trip. We went for three months. I talked about this in the last episode, and I’m not going to go into much detail on the test. I’m not going to be really I’m not going to go into any detail on the test trip. My wife has a podcast, Digital Nomad Family podcast. She I has a whole episode on the test trip. But luckily we did a test trip and I realized that my amazing business wasn’t quite as structured and organized as I had thought and hoped it was. And I needed to be in the time zone with our clients, with our customers. I was still too involved with day to day operations and just completely mis misjudged the impact that that would have. But really it really didn’t think about much of it at all. So tip number one is start out in a timezone that’s very compatible with your customer base. Tip number two, you want to be in stage three of six of the stages of business. Now, what I mean by this, what are the stages of business? Well, these are the six stages that most bootstrap, digital based businesses go through. Now, what’s a bootstrap business? It means you’re funding it. You’re not going out and raising venture capital, getting a massive amount of loan. You are paying for it. You are growing at the speed of cash. Your your your your funding funding it with sweat equity like that is bootstrap. That is bootstrap. And most businesses go through these these these six stages. Stage one is just the idea that they’re dreaming in this state, this stage it’s it’s, you know, creating the vision. The idea once they once they have an idea and they’ve they’ve flushed it out and they’ve talked to people about it, they they get busy doing it. They move into Weekend Warrior. So most people start in the Weekend Warrior. This is a side hustle. They’ve got a 9 to 5, but they’re getting up early, they’re working late, they’re pulling their, you know, putting in time on the weekend. And they’re just, you know, going crazy with this as a side hustle while still working a full time 9 to 5. Stage three is when you transition to the all in stage. Now, in the offline stage, this is where you’re all in and all of the work is on you. So you are all in with it being all on you. You’ve left the. 9 to 5. It’s sink or swim, do or die time. You’re you’re you’re going at it. And like 95% of the business, if not 100% of the business is being completely done by you. Then hopefully you’ll transition to stage four. Where I see people get stuck and not last very long is they never move to stage four. They stay in stage three. They stay an all in well, all in is you don’t own a business, you own a job. At that point, if all the work is on you, then you own a job and you are your own employee. So you may. It may be better than having another person as your boss, but it’s it’s it’s not a business. It’s it’s a glorified job and a really stressful one at that. Where you start to become a true business owner is when you transition to stage four, which is team builder. This is where you start delegating generally it’s delegating tasks at first and you might start with a freelancer, you may begin with a contractor. And and, you know, I got an episode coming up with a ten Stifler. Him and I are going to talk a little bit more about this different types of teams and processes to to get into that and stuff like that. So I’ll save more of these details for for that. But the, the team builder phase is where you start to really get the the the benefit of being a business owner. And this is the hardest stage, I think, for people to go through. The scariest stage is to go from weekend warrior to all in the hardest stage is to go from all end to team builder. I may have said that wrong. I’m going to say that again. The hardest stage is the scariest stage. The scariest stage is going from weekend warrior to all in very scary, very nerve wracking. But the hardest stage. The hardest stage is to go from all end to team builder to team donor. And so if you don’t make this transition, you just you’re just going to keep having your own job. And then one day you’re going to be done working and there’s nothing left. Okay? When you get into Team Builder and you get that solid, that’s where you start to have an asset that one day you can sell and so that so that you’ve got that. Then from this stage, stage four, you can transition to stage five. Stage five is I call it the C-suite. Now the C-suite means you are leading your company through leading other leaders. Okay? So you’ve got other leaders that you are working through. You are at least two people away. You’re at least two layers away from the front line. Every frontline interaction that happens with a customer, potentially even vendors, but definitely customers, they’re talking to somebody on your team and if it has to get escalated, if it needs to move up in the ranks, if you will, there’s another person that is leading. That person is supervising that front line person. Now, you may be leading then that supervisor once you have two layers between you and customers and you are leading those leaders that’s leading the people on the front line, you’ve arrived into C-suite and then from C-suite. The final stage of business is legacy, and legacy is where you really start to have fun with long term succession planning. You have margins of time and money to do some, you know, really exciting pet projects, philanthropy. That is just it’s where the the ultimate rewards lie. For all the work you’ve done to build something from an idea to us to a to a side hustle to, you know, all in and and working hard, it’s your only thing to to starting to bring in a team and and developing them and then starting to bring in leaders. And you start handing away leadership. And you’re not just delegating tasks, but responsibility. And then and then finally you get to this this legacy phase. Not very many businesses make it to that, especially in the digital world. A lot of businesses don’t make it to the C-suite. It’s totally possible. It’s it’s all totally possible. You know, many do. But but most all most get to team builder and stop right there. If they even get to there, I would say a lot of most. All businesses I see get stuck at it all in and they got to make that transition. Now back to the topic of this particular podcast, the tips to avoid crashing your dreams as a digital nomad. Well, tip number one is when you’re starting out, you know, don’t go all the way. Don’t go halfway around the world. Stay in timezone sync. Tip number two You need to be in at least stage three the all in stage and you’re not going to move out of timezone sync until you are in stage four team builder where you have onboarded and tried and proved and you have someone that can handle sales. When you have someone that can handle the sales cycle, initial discussions, onboarding meetings, sales presentations, when you’ve got somebody that can handle that in the timezone of your customers to clients, are they’re willing to work, you know, opposite hours of of your clients and, you know, they’re willing to work all night because, you know, they’re halfway around the world, whatever it is. I’m personally not willing to do that. But when you have that person in place, then you’re going to be out of total timezone. Okay. So that’s that’s tip number two. Be in at least stage three before you even start and then be in stage four team donor before you go out of time Zink All right, number three, tip number three, have a backup plan for your gear. I’ve seen a lot of nomads get caught off guard by this. They head out there. And I’ve seen people have to spend massive amounts of of money to replace a computer or to get one repaired, or they go down and they can’t deliver services, you know, for five, six weeks because they’re their computers. Now, it it can take a long time to get a computer repaired in some countries. And you go, you’re a digital entrepreneur. Your computer is the gateway to the lifeblood of your business. Like you, you got to have solid tech. You’ve got to have a backup up options for your your primary tech. You’ve you’ve got to have backups for your wi fi. You know, these are all things that are really, really super important. In fact, I the first section of my remote work success bundle for digital nomads, the first section is just on getting gear and having a backup. And I’ve got a video in there that is a video of me sharing my gear set up and the tech that I travel with and stuff like that. And I talk in there about my redundancy and what I use for it. And so if that would be helpful to you, you can get that at D and E podcast, Digital Nomad, Entrepreneur, D and E podcasts dot com and scroll down to you see the resource bundle drop in your name and email and I’ll email it to you. Happy, happy to share that with you. All right, number four, let’s recap where we are. Let me let me you know, we’ve been talking a lot here, so let me let me bring it back. Help you help make sure that we’re on the same page. We’ve got the five tips to Avoid Crashing Your Dreams. It’s a digital nomad, number one. Stay in timezone sync. All right, definitely start there. Number two, be in stage three before you step out. Be in stage four before you get out of timezone sync. Tip number three is to have a backup plan for your gear. Tip number four is to set very clear guardrails. You thought I don’t say boundaries. Then you’re not bound is guardrails. There’s a huge difference between setting guardrails and setting boundaries. What is that? What is the difference? Well, a boundary is the end. I mean, there’s the boundary is the hard cut drop, boom, nothing on the other side of it. The boundary line is the boundary line. The boundary marker is the boundary marker. They are on movable or let’s use it. Let’s use the example of a bridge. If you’re driving over a bridge where the road on the side stops, okay, and it falls off into air, that is the boundary edge of the bridge. You go past that boundary, you better know how to swim or have a parachute. All right? Like bad, bad things are going to. Guardrails are almost always where you actually could drive. They’re close to the boundary, but they’re on just this side of the boundary. They’re on just this side of the danger. And what we want to do is we want to set very clear guardrails. All right. So a guardrail is an indicator that you’re getting close to the the the boundary. And it it it really should bother you. It should ruffle you up. It should it should ruffle your feathers. Like, if you’re driving down the road and you you hit a guardrail, normally you’re able to walk away from that. Your car may be best stop, but you’re not dead. Okay. Where if that guardrail wasn’t there, you’re almost always going to be dead if you hit the thing the guardrail was keeping you from. And so the idea of a guardrail on business, for example, you need to have a bare minimum for your retained earnings. Like, especially if you’re going to leave and travel, you need to have some minimums in the bank and it’s numbers you’re looking at all the time. These are metrics you’re constantly looking at and they aren’t disaster level. Like zero would be a disaster level. So you may look at say, hey it at at 5000, at 10,000, at 15, at 20, whatever your retained earnings minimum is, if we go below that, it is all hands on deck. Sirens blaring. We gotta get this. We got to to to bring things back into the center of the road here. Like, it’s it’s going to hurt a little bit, even. Like you’re going to have to put in some extra time, some extra hours. You’re going to you’re going to have to do something different right away very quickly. To pull things off of that guardrail back into the center of the road. But you’re not you haven’t crashed and burned your business. So guardrails are so important. You can have guardrails in your personal life. You can and you can have guardrails in your business. We love guardrails. We’re big. I like I like guardrails, like talking to guard about guardrails with my kids at guardrails and in several dare I guardrails in my marriage I have guardrails, you know, and in our in our finances have guardrails in my business have guardrails in my leadership like the. You need to set some very clear guardrails. I’ll spend more time talking about guardrails in upcoming episodes. All right. Number five. Number five. The fifth tip I have for you to avoid creating your dream is. Well, actually, yeah. I’m going to share. The fifth tip I have for you is to have realistic expectations. If you are struggling on the road right now, if you’re a digital nomad and things just aren’t going the way you thought they were going to, you’re probably not meeting your expectations. You don’t have realistic expectations. All right. And if you haven’t started out, you want to get out there in the world with some realistic expectations. This is not perpetual vacation. Being a digital nomad is not living on perpetual vacation. And it and I don’t care what pictures you see out there from, you know, digital nomads, social media influencers. It’s not all life at the beach. Okay. You’re not at it sightseeing. Amazing. You know, tourist things and insights and everything every single day. It’s just not realistic. Okay. And honestly, if. Well, we’ll just leave it at that. All right. You need to have some real world realistic expectations. Without those, you’re going to crash. I I’ve seen several people that, you know, they’re giving up Nomad after a year. Why? They stopped being a nomad. Why they why they stopped Vanlife after a year. And one of the things that I see is the common theme is that it was just harder than they thought it was going to be because they didn’t have realistic expectations. They weren’t prepared, as they should have been. All right. So these are both that you got a twofer today. All right. You’re welcome. You got a twofer in this episode. One we talked about the five Tips to Avoid Crashing Dreams is the digital nomad. Plus, we talked about the six stages of business. And you’ll hear me bring up these stages of business a lot. When I work with my coaching clients, the very first thing we do is, what stage of business are you in? All right. And, well, do you want to move to the next stage? And how do you move to that next stage? All right. And I’ll tell you right now, there are five business processes that move a business from one stage to the next. Every time you improve these processes, your business grows. In fact, running a business is just about constantly going through these five processes and improving them. And every time you go cycle through and you improve them, your business is going to grow. And it doesn’t mean you you immediately move to the next stage as you go through these stages. You’re in them longer each time and you have to cycle through the processes more times in each stage. But it’s these processes that move along. And in fact, the very next episode I’m going to talk about those five processes. Before I wrap up this episode, though, and let you move on to the episode three about the five business processes. I want to thank you for making it to this point, and I really appreciate the fact that you’ve listened and I have a huge favor to ask. I would it would mean a great deal to me if you would leave a rating, a review and subscribe. However you listen to this and share it, you’re you’re my whole strategy for reaching more people with with this podcast. And so it would mean a lot to me if, if you would do that. Now, if you reach this point, you’re like, I don’t think I won’t leave you or review your podcast kind of sucked. I would love to hear some constructive criticism, some constructive feedback. If you got some suggestions on how I can be better at this. Send me an email. Erica Danny podcast dot com. Now if you just want to complain, I would just suggest that you go find another podcast. Listen to I don’t know why you’re still listening and you can send me an email. I’ll laugh at it. And if you leave a rating and review ears thing, any time I see somebody leave a bad rating or a bad review of something that they went through, they sat through the entire thing, especially something like this, like they sat through the entire package. I’ve listened to several episodes now and every time I’m just like, you know, and they just bash the host. They bash the podcast. I don’t sit there and go, Wow, maybe I won’t list that podcast. I think, Wow, that human being needs to get a life. Nobody’s impressed by your negative opinion, and because you went online and shared your thoughts somewhere like you’re not adding value, you’re not helping. Now, if you’ve got something really constructive to say that can help me, please add value to me. Send me an email. I would mean so much to me to get from feedback from a listener saying, Hey, your podcast would be better if you thought of doing this all right if you did this. And so I would love to hear that. But if you’re like, Nah, man, you’re doing good, it’s just episode two, you’re going to get better. The content is helpful. I see the potential here, then leaving a rating, a review, subscribing, sharing all the things do all the things you do would really, really be appreciated by me. All right. So today I’ve got a leadership tip of the week, as I do in every podcast episode, because your leadership skill level is the roof to your businesses capacity. All right. Your your business, your lifestyle will never move past the capacity of your leadership. And quite frankly, there’s not enough being talked about in the digital business space for people like us about leadership. And it’s really, really sad because this is the key to your you moving past a frustration. If you’re frustrated, if you’re if you’re repeating, you know, broken patterns, it’s a leadership issue. And so every single episode I want to wrap up with a leadership tip and today’s leadership tip is this consider the third option. This is what I talk about all the time. My kids talk about the third option. My wife talks about the third option. My team talks about the third option. When I do coaching, one on one coaching with folks, we do a three month coaching sprint. And at the very first session, it’s, you know, what stage of business are you in? What do you want to grow? All right, cool. Well, let’s let’s we do an evaluation of the five business processes and we figure out what process needs the most critical work. And we set some goals for the next three months. And then the three months is all about cycling through those processes, starting with the one that’s the most broken and making improvements on each business process to help help that person, you know, move their business forward. And then we meet every single week on Zoom. And then in between those times they I use an app called Marcopolo. It’s basically a video messaging app, an asynchronous video messaging app, and my one on one coaching clients can send me questions in between our one on one sessions and the first couple weeks. It’s pretty common. I’ll get it. You know somebody to say, Hey, Eric, you know, I just got off the phone with a prospect and, you know, I’m trying to make a decision here and I could see recommending either this or this or, you know, I’ve been presented with this opportunity and and I’ve got to decide to either buy this or not buy this, do this thing or not do this thing. And every single time, I’m always like, well, I go back to them and I’m like, Well, we need to consider the third option. You believe there’s only two options. You’ve got a fixed mindset right now that you’ve only got these two options. A growth mindset is there’s a third option and I’m going to find it. And this is where creativity happens. Business iteration happens. Growth is the magic spot in decision making. I love the third option. And what happens is, as we near the end of their three month coaching sprint, I start to hear them come to me and say, Eric, I’ve been presented with this option or this opportunity and and I’m trying to make a decision. And I see I see three options. And I always laugh out and not laugh, but I always smile when I see it because I’m like, yes, they’re getting it, they’re getting it. And so, yeah, so that’s that’s my leadership. Tip of the week. Consider the third option. Couple of ways to use this as a digital nomad. Let me let me give you two examples of this. One, it would have been really easy for my wife and I to have a fixed mindset. And after we went to Istanbul on our test trip to get back to our passport country in the United States and go, that was harder than we thought that the business isn’t in a position as we thought it was for us to to to be to be nomads. So let’s just wait a year. Let let’s just wait because it’s either it’s either go to Europe or not go to Europe. Go to Europe are not going to be start nomadic, not start nomadic, start nomad, not start nomadic. And what we did is because we’ve learned and we’ve become people that don’t have fixed mindsets but growth mindset. We sat down and we said, okay, listen, that was what will we want to do this but but Istanbul that you know, Europe Asia, that’s just too challenging. Let’s go to Latin America. And it wasn’t even on our radar. I mean, we didn’t even talk about it. And boom, here we are. And we’ve we have spent, you know, five months in Peru and we spent time in Mexico City, in El Salvador, and now we’re in Costa Rica. And we were so glad we came here. We’re really having a great time. And and in April, we’re headed to Europe, we’re headed here, we’re headed to Spain. And so that was an example of us considering the third option. Maybe you’re thinking, you know, well, how do you know? We we either got to sell everything in go or we need to, you know, put our house up for rent. We got to get the house ready to be on Airbnb or whatever it is. And and we’re going to start nobody, you know, do we start? Do we not start? We start. Do we not start when when the third option is, hey, let’s do a test trip. How do we test this? Let’s do it. Let’s do a test trip. Let’s do a test trip. So just some ways that you can use this and no matter the options go on and on and on. Well, thank you for making it all the way to the end of the podcast. I’m really thankful for you being here. It means a lot to me. I look forward to reading your review in an upcoming podcast episode and until next time, chase the Big Dream Lead with courage and safe travels.