There comes a time in everyone’s life where you look at what you’ve been working towards for years, and wonder: is this all there is?
You studied hard. Put in the time in high school and college. Finished near the top of the class and have spent some time working your way up the ladder. You’ve probably done pretty well for yourself. You’re comfortable, stable and secure. But sometimes, that’s not enough.
More and more people are choosing to become digital nomads. Trading their safe, stable lives for travel, work life balance and building memories. Believe it or not, even accountants and bookkeepers can live this lifestyle – with a few changes to the way you think and how you do things. Here’s what you need to know to set yourself free (without losing everything you’ve worked for!)
Cut Ties to the Office
Whether you choose to start your own bookkeeping or accounting practice or find a remote job, the first thing you need to do to become a digital nomad as an accountant or bookkeeper is to free yourself from those four walls. You can still earn a great living without being in a particular chair at a particular address. You can still do great, meaningful work. But not if you’re stuck in that seat every day.
Plan the Logistics
Unless you’ve just started your career, there’s a good chance you have some logistics to plan. How will your kids do their schooling? What will you do with your house? Will you be able to take the dog with you? What will your partner do while you’re working remotely?
All of those issues and more will need to be addressed – but don’t see them as obstacles.
Instead, make a list of everything that is keeping you tethered in one place, and start developing solutions for each one of them. You’ll be surprised at how easy it actually is to plan your “escape” once you start working on it!
Make sure you also plan and arrange things like travel medical insurance and other essential and practical things. It’s not all about deciding how much beachwear you want to pack!
Decide Where You Will Go
It’s not always that easy to move somewhere longterm and start working there. In fact, many immigration laws prohibit visitors from working at all. However, more and more countries are changing the rules specifically for remote workers – so you can get a residency permit for a year or more to live and work in that country.
A quick search of the Internet using the term “digital nomad visas” will get you several lists that you can use to narrow your options.
Make sure you factor your visa applications into your planning. They can take some time, and while they usually aren’t very expensive, there will be a cost for the application.
Get the Right Hardware
If you’re going to be swapping your desk for the digital nomad lifestyle, but you still need to keep up productivity, you’re going to need the right hardware.
A powerful laptop, smartphone and tablet are all must-have items, and you might want to add a good wireless headphone and headset combination, so you can take calls and attend video conferences easily.
A small, portable printer and scanner is a good addition to your tech hardware if you need to have paper copies of some of your documents.
No matter where you plan to go – whether it’s a beach in Belize or a treehouse in Costa Rica, the most important factor is the quality of the Internet in the area.
You are going to need to limit your digital nomad planning to places that have the Internet infrastructure to allow you to maintain productivity. Your clients are still going to need to get their work done on time, and they won’t want to hear about poor Internet being a problem.
Software and Apps
Once you’ve got a destination in mind, your logistics planning is underway and you’ve researched the Wi-Fi destination in your home away from home, the next step is making sure your business is portable. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps and software that you can use to do exactly that. We recommend that you use:
The QuickBooks online platform is made for accountants and bookkeepers who don’t always work from an office. They’re accessible anywhere and have all the features you need to get your client’s accounting done from nearly anywhere.
Cloud based storage is another must have when you’re living and working as a digital nomad. Google Drive is a great choice, because it’s free and because it’s compatible with Google Docs, Sheets and other tools and apps. So there are no compatibility issues, and you can share and collaborate on files or folders with anyone you need to.
It’s time. Walk away from Excel and start using Google Sheets. It’s also free, and it plugs into so many different things. It’s got most of the functionality you are used to in your spreadsheet software too.
LiveFlow creates a bridge between QuickBooks Online and Google Sheets, so you can transfer data to your reports and spreadsheets quickly and easily and lay back with a Mojito enjoying your free time.
Online project management tools like Clickup or Asana can help you to keep track of deadlines, communicate with customers and more. It’s a quick and easy way to keep track of everything, so you don’t need to use calendars, CRMs and other standalone tools.
Zoom or Google Meet
When you’re living and working as a digital nomad, you still need to stay in touch with customers. You might even have to attend a meeting occasionally. So make sure you have a reliable, blazingly fast online meeting tool installed.
When you were still working as a “hands on” accountant or bookkeeper, you probably spent some time with colleagues or clients, explaining how to do things on various spreadsheets or softwares. When you’re working from a beach thousands of miles away, that’s not an option. But you can still use tools like TeamViewer or AnyDesk to remote into customer’s computers and help them to get things done.
When you’re not in the same city or country as your clients, you’re going to need to rely more on standardizing your processes and automation using various tools. It’s a good idea to work out what your process will be before you get started, so you can inform your clients how you work during the onboarding process.
Most clients are only too happy to let their accountant or bookkeeper give them a process that works, and by doing this, you will set yourself up for growth. Because when it’s quick, easy and predictable to get the job done, you can get more done every day, and that means more money in the bank.
When you’re working as a digital nomad, if you’re not working remotely for a company, you’re going to need to keep your client list full. There are several ways you can do this.
- Use sales tools on LinkedIn to find companies that might need to hire a freelance accountant or bookkeeper and reach out directly
- Look for remote work opportunities on sites like Flex Jobs or Indeed
- Use freelancing sites like Guru or Upwork to find customers who need bookkeeping services
You can also do things that aren’t strictly accounting, like write and publish an ebook about accounting or bookkeeping, or create an online channel and community with videos, and sell training courses. Many people who have embraced the digital nomad lifestyle are making many times what they did when they were in a formal job!
Things to Consider
While you’re planning your escape to paradise, remember that there are a few tricky elements you need to consider.
One is time zones. If you move somewhere that’s in a very different time zone to your clients, you might have to have meetings in the middle of the night or early morning, if that’s when your clients are working.
You also want to consider taxes. Living as an expat complicates your taxes quite significantly, so factor that into your choices and planning.
The Cloud Makes the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Possible
One of the reasons the team at LiveFlow is so excited about cloud based applications and platforms like our own is that they do open up the world for so many people.
Where we used to be tied to one computer with a licensed version of our software, we can now access it anytime, from anywhere in the world. All we need is an Internet connection and a device, and we’re set up to get things done.
The world may only just be waking up to the possibilities technology offers us, but there are thousands of people out there, living the digital nomad lifestyle, getting things done while they also get to live their best life. If you’d like to be one of them, there’s no time like the present. So start planning, make your work portable, and go see the world!