Location Independent Career Basics
Would you like to have the ability to work from anywhere you wish? The backyard? The café down the street? Your bedroom? Or even on the road…a tropical island somewhere, perhaps?
A location independent career is your ticket to workplace freedom. More and more people are striving for this freedom themselves. We’ll look at the basic qualities (good and bad) of a location independent career, and in so doing, you may come up with a few ways to make your own career location independent.
What is Location Independent?
As it sounds, location independent refers to a career that does not require your presence in any one place for your job to be done. You may still opt to attend meetings or networking events here and there, but for the most part you are free from any geographical commitments.
The Basics – How it’s Possible
Location independence is enabled by technology. Without telephones and cell phones, the Internet, virtual offices and conference functions, scanners, faxes, and express postal services, most location independent careers would not be possible.
So although you don’t need to be a technological wizard with an ability to speak three different computer languages, you will need a basic understanding of computers, the Internet, and the various modalities of communicating.
Many location independent careers do indeed require a high level of proficiency in all things Internet, but this is not always the case. As you will see further on, there are many people out there who have the ability to be location independent; some may not even know it!
Advantages of a Location Independent Career
- You save money, time, and resources since you don’t have to commute to work.
- It’s more casual. Most location independent people don’t wear suits. Heck – you can work in your PJs if you want to (just turn the video off on those conference calls).
- You make your own hours. Are you a night owl? Then feel free to work until 3am. Would you prefer to take time off in the afternoon to be with your kids? Go ahead; you’ll make up the time when you need to.
- You can explore the world slowly with long-term travel, since you can work from the road.
Disadvantages of a Location Independent Career
- You must be very self-disciplined. Rarely is anybody holding you accountable.
- It is easy to become distracted if you work from home. You can potter around the house all day in the name of “working” without actually getting any work done.
- It can be very lonely. Depending on your line of work and the degree of social contact that it entails, location independent careers can be a touch lonesome. Sometimes office banter is refreshing.
- It can be easy to lose yourself in your work and be at the grindstone for longer hours than you should be. (Again, this is a matter of self-discipline).
Three Types of Location Independent Careers
Location independent careers tend to fall under three main categories: entrepreneurs, freelancers, and telecommuters.
As an entrepreneur, you are your own boss, and have complete freedom to call the shots. But simply being an entrepreneur does not give you a ticket to location independence; many industries or business structures require your physical presence.
Where entrepreneurialism enters into the location independent realm is in the entrepreneur’s intrinsic ability to see (and act on) business opportunities and market needs. Successful location independent entrepreneurs tend to be inventors of items or technology, import/exporters, or pioneers of business ideas that can be marketed virtually.
Any location independent career involves a degree of organization and self motivation; qualities which most entrepreneurs and freelancers share. Where freelancers differentiate themselves from entrepreneurs is in the nature of their work and who they work for. Freelancers usually juggle projects for multiple clients, and in the location independent business, frequently work across different industries.
I have met any number of location independent freelancers who wear multiple hats, such as online marketing, PR, writing and copywriting, business strategizing, virtual assistance, and publishing. Many will package up their repertoire as “business services” and take whatever work comes their way, outsourcing what they cannot do themselves.
I am location independent myself, and although I boast a mean entrepreneurial streak, I am solidly planted in the freelance category, with multiple clients and publications that I write for in the realm of personal finance and travel.
Rounding out the spread of location independent career categories is the telecommuter. This is somebody who (usually) works for one boss or company, but has the flexibility to work from home (or anywhere that has the technology available for the telecommuter to keep in touch with the office).
Some companies are incorporating “flex hours” into their employee incentive programs, which allow employees to do some of their work from home. It saves the company paying for dedicated office space for all employees, in addition to the advantages of location independent careers, listed above.
As more and more companies look into outsourcing to reduce their expenses and increase productivity, I believe that telecommuting will become even more prevalent. In fact, the gap between telecommuting and freelancing is easy to bridge; if your company cuts your hours or responsibilities as a result of these hard financial times, you might complement your work with another part-time telecommuting job, and whamo: you are a location independent freelancer before you know it.
And just in case you still think that location independence is solely for computer geniuses, here are a handful of wacky location independent careers that I’ve come across in the last week alone:
- Jewelery Designer
- Hand Analyst
- Professional Barterer
- Coach (this encompasses a lot, since you can coach within many areas of specialty)
- Industrial Designer
- Voice-Over Artist
- Airport Services
- Game Designer
- Financial Planner
If you have a pressing desire to embrace a location independent lifestyle but aren’t sure where to start, there are plenty of online resources for you to check out. For starters, you may want to take a peek at the Web Site whose address says it all: locationindependent.com.