The Pro’s and Con’s of Running An Online Business

For the past 80 days (to be precise), I’ve been 100% location independent. I’ve made money solely from online resources.

working online

80 days is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it so far has given me a good insight into the life of a digital nomad – for want of a better phrase!

I’ve always been well accustomed to endless hours in front of a computer, so the transition was very smooth in that respect.

Running an online business can be very rewarding, as well as being very frustrating.

So what are the Pro’s and Con’s that I can see so far from a laptop lifestyle?

Let’s start with the Con’s – and get these out in the open straight away.

There’s no point in thinking that living this laptop lifestyle has no negatives – it does.

Con’s

1. Wifi and Internet Connection

Yep, you may think you can wander literally anywhere you like, but in reality you must have access to the internet at some stage.

There’s no way you can go for weeks on end without getting online.

That wouldn’t work. In fact, it could end up costing you a lot of money.

You need to have a reliable connection to the internet every few days. This will allow you to respond to emails, outsource and catch up on work that needs to be done.

2. Potentially Long Hours 

Ok, so this varies from person to person. But for me at this moment in time, I’m putting in a lot of laptop time.

It’s necessary for me to put in the time early on, so that I can scale up my business and also work on a few other projects that I’ve in the pipeline.

Sometimes this can be stressful, as things build up if you don’t attend to them regularly.

The long hours are par for the course when you’re starting to build a mini online empire in my opinion.

So I really don’t mind the big effort.

long hours anywhere

3. Motivation

This can be a big hurdle to keep control over. Because you’re on your own time, it’s very easy to become complacent.

Because you don’t have an office to go to and from work(so to speak), you can sometimes find yourself lacking the drive to get things done.

Luckily this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I know it could easily happen if I don’t keep a tight eye on it.

What I find best is to keep a daily “to do” list bookmarked, so that I know exactly what needs to be done for each day.

This gets checked first thing every morning.

This keeps things on the straight and narrow and also helps with achieving targets/goals.

4. Distractions

Now this is the big downfall for me personally. Ok, so I’m writing an article about a certain topic. I’m in google doing some research.

Then, 5 minutes later I’m on youtube watching a completely unrelated video about gadgets or some travel video!

That’s how easy it is to get distracted, in my case anyways while working online.

Also, because a lot of my clients are on facebook, there’s the added distraction of messages popping up in the middle of stuff.

Losing focus is never a good thing, especially when you’ve deadlines to meet and targets to try and hit.

Without a doubt, this along with the potential issues of finding suitable internet as I travel are the two main negatives I can associate with working online.

For now anyways!

So the only way I can see myself preventing this from happening is having to log off facebook and social media when I’m writing or doing other things that need 100% attention.

5. Power/Electricity

Now, if you work at home then power shortages aren’t going to happen often, but that obviously depends where in the world you live, right?

Well, being a freelance means working from a variety of potential locations, and relying on your laptop means that you need a power source.

Losing unsaved work, files etc could prove disastrous if a power cut hit suddenly.

 

Ok, so enough with all the negativity and on to the Pro’s of working online!

Pro’s

1. Location Independence

For me this is the dream. Having a sustainable business that you can take with you on the road as you travel is something that can be achieved.

Obviously this only applies to those that actually want to travel. There’s nothing wrong with working online and choosing to stay put.

That’s an individual choice that we all have.

Just because location independence is the number one positive on my list, doesn’t mean it’s the one everyone has.

Far from it.

But needing just the laptop to do your work allows you to have your office in some pretty cool spots.

I’ve worked(only for an hour) from a beach here in Thailand – right on the sand, using the internet from my mobile phone as a wifi connection.

Multiple times I’ve stopped off at starbucks and grabbed a coffee while I munched through emails and blog stuff, and I’ve even done some work on the boat over to Koh Phangan from Phuket!

So as I said, the possibilities are indeed unlimited when it comes to your own mobile office space.

location independence

2. Your Own Boss

If you’ve created your own business yourself, then the only person you have to answer to is – You!

This creates a sense of freedom that a conventional 9-5 working for a company can’t provide.

Again, nothing wrong with 9-5 work – just stating the fact of how it differs.

If you work online, but work for someone else, then you’re still pretty much your own boss, as you have to manage your own time.

You will have to answer to someone else, but there’s still loads of freedom to maneuver.

3. Have a Break? Have a Kit Kat!

You get to go on as many breaks as you like, whenever you like.

It’s not like you’re being timed or watched, so you can simply get up from the laptop and go and do whatever it is you want.

If you don’t feel like working for the day, then you can just take it off.

The key here is to make sure that you have some system in place so that things run smoothly when you do this.

So for instance, if you’re on a tight deadline for some article writing that needs to be completed(in my situation), then you can outsource this work to good writers, who for a fee will write the stuff based on the guidelines you give them.

4. Tax Free

While I’m still only very early on in my own online ventures, I do know that the money you earn when travelling around is tax free.

I don’t want to talk much about it at this stage, simply because I’m still finding out more information about it, and I don’t want to say stuff that might not be true.

However, I did want to list it here, as it’s a major plus for people working online and travelling around from place to place.

5. Money Anywhere You Go

So all you need to have in order to get funds anywhere in the world while working online is a paypal account, and a bank account that’s linked to it.

You simply get paid via paypal from clients and then you transfer the money back into your bank account and withdraw it as needed! Simple as that.

Paypal has proved to be a lifesaver in this regard.

In fact, without it, getting paid for online stuff would be a chore if you had to deal with bank transfers etc.

beach life

So there you have it. Not an exhaustive list of pro’s/con’s by any means, but enough to give someone an idea of what’s involved by running a business online.

As with most things in life, there’s a balance that needs to be found in order to keep things level.

While it may look all cool and exotic from photos here and there, it’s also a job, like anything else.

A lot of work goes on behind the scene to keep the cogs well oiled.

That being said, I’m enjoying life at the moment and I hope to enjoy it this way for a long long time.

If for some reason, the bubble was to burst tomorrow, then no biggies…..

Reset, Rince and Repeat!!

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About the Author


Carlo and Florence are an Irish couple who left home in 2013 to pursue their dreams of travelling the world while building an online business so that they could work from anywhere. They've both visited over 50 countries together so far. Stay in touch with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat.

21 Responses to “The Pro’s and Con’s of Running An Online Business”

  1. Jonny Blair says:

    Great post Carlo! Hope everything is going well and you are living your dreams. I totally agree with the 5 cons you have on here. Hard work and motivation also account to nothing if you can’t get online!! It’s frustrating but we get there! Safe travels. Jonny

    • Carlo says:

      Very true Jonny. It can be a constant struggle and worry trying to find reliable connections all the time. Those Dead Sea pics look pretty cool. I hope to get over that direction some day. We don’t hear back from the World Cup ticket applications until November right?

      Man, I would love to get tickets to a match. Either way, I’m hell bent on going over regardless 🙂 Cheers for the words mate.

  2. Really enjoyed that post, as I’m working towards a similar goal. Would love to hear more about your online businesses!! 🙂

    • Carlo says:

      Thanks for stopping by Phoebe! Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Yeah I think reaching these types of goals are very doable. I started off and just took one step at a time and went from there. Things have panned out nicely so far and long may it last!

      You’re in Europe right now yeah? How are you finding that? Really cool trip by motorbike. I must say it’s one of those things that I’ve only ever wanted to do since I came out here to Thailand.

      I think it’s because of the fact that I’m riding a scooter around the place out here and it’s very liberating to say the least.

      How long are ye planning on biking around the world for?

  3. Great lists. Another con I can think of is security. If you are traveling on a more modest budget that occasionally includes guesthouses and hostels (and even if you’re in nice hotels sometimes) there can be concerns about the security of your gear. I know PacSafe makes different kinds of secure backpacks (as do other companies). Might be a good consideration if you are frequently in areas where you want to protect your goods.

    • Carlo says:

      Very good point Vanessa. I totally agree with you on that score. I’ve certainly carried all my gadget gear around with me in certain places – as I didn’t feel it would be safe to leave them in the hotel room/hostel.

      The PacSafe are a definite option.

      Thanks for stopping by 😉

  4. The Guy says:

    A good summation of points here Carlo. I certainly become frustrated when I can’t access the internet when abroad. On honeymoon for 2 weeks earlier this year meant 2 weeks without the internet. It took a long time to catch up on the e-mails I can tell you!

    Tax rules are a minefield. They vary country by country and change often. I trained to be an accountant in the 1990s and the rules have changed tremendously since then. I’m glad that I don’t specialise in tax.

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Guy,

      Yeah, the tax laws are really complicated, but I’m going to be finding out some useful information from my end from a mate who works in the department.

      It can be a tricky situation to understand at the best of times for sure. 🙂

  5. Sam says:

    Great post, Carlo! I found your blog through the interview you did recently with Jonny Blaire from Don’t Stop Living, and I think it’s really inspiring! My partner and I are trying to make it as ‘digital nomads’ too as we’re travelling around South America, so I can certainly relate to this list!

    In order to try to minimise distractions, I’ve found an app called Toggle that I use on my iPod to time myself doing certain tasks, so every time I’m tempted to look at something that is unrelated to what I’m working on, I have to consider stopping the timer, and usually I don’t want to, so I carry on. I find the pressure of being timed helps me to stay focused.

    I’m interested in what you say about money earned while travelling being tax free. I’m from the UK, and I always assumed that as long as I’m a resident of that country (even if I don’t live there most of the time), my tax is payable there, and the UK government doesn’t care that I’m earning the money while travelling; it’s all the same to them. Perhaps it’s different for residents of Ireland, which I assume you are. As you learn more about this, I’d be very curious to hear more about it!

    • Carlo says:

      Great to hear from you Sam. South America is on our cards too, as we’ve just booked our one way flight to Rio for June to coincide with the World Cup 🙂

      I’ll check out your blog, as I’m interested in finding out all I can about travelling there, wifi availability etc.

      Regarding the tax situation, my buddy just gave me some info regarding my situation, so if you wanted then look me up on facebook under “nextstopwhoknows” and pm me. I’ll be glad to share what I’ve found out.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Carlo

  6. Nathan Buia says:

    Do you plan on releasing a post on the tax information you mentioned?

    • Carlo says:

      Hey Nathan,

      Not at this time. There’s a lot into it, so until we’ve it all figured out – then we won’t be posting anything.

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