I’m currently writing this post from my girlfriend’s mother’s house without power, living out of a single backpack and on my old 2008 Macbook Pro. Hurricane Matthew made us evacuate our home and with little time to spare, I quickly became a minimalist.
Another major problem came up during our evacuation – Running my Amazon FBA business. My business is not currently location independent like most private label companies. Instead, I focus on local retail arbitrage and online arbitrage to source my inventory.
Luckily, I was able to source during our evacuation and bring the inventory back home. Although I was able to still turn a profit during the hurricane, I wouldn’t be able to successfully run my business if gone longer than a week. I’m currently behind on sending in inventory, but not in a major way like I could be.
Working from my 2008 Macbook Pro in Tifton, Georgia….
This has led me to two very important realizations that can dramatically increase and streamline the quality of your life.
The Case For Minimalism
How to live out of a backpack
I’ve always loved the idea of being a minimalist, but never really attempted to make the transition. I’ve been toying with the idea for the last few months and have been slowly getting rid of as much useless things possible. I’m now at the point where I’m having to make some really tough decisions to get lower than 100 material possessions. My desktop computer….. wasteful. One-third of my current clothing….. wasteful. Something interesting happens mentally when you begin to question the value of everything you own and and why you own it. Even better is when you begin to ask yourself exactly what you need to live and be happy.
That’s what I’ve been doing and it’s made me question everything. Why do I keep building my book collection when I could easily buy an Amazon Kindle for $50 and keep all of books digitally. I could easily trade 100+ pounds of material possessions for less than a pound. I’ve had a strange curiosity to strive to live a “one bag” lifestyle. the idea is pretty self explanatory, but is often used by long-term travelers and digital nomads.
I don’t want to live out of one backpack, but a few would do. The main idea for me is to live a light and easily movable life. This lifestyle becomes incredibly valuable say, when a natural disaster hits your home and you need to leave and don’t want to lose anything. Or, perhaps when you decide to move and travel more frequently. This light lifestyle lends to flexibility, freedom and incredibly low living expenses.
I challenge you to look further into minimalism and find the right amount of material needs to make you happy. Anything over your baseline, should be considered waste and either donated or thrown out. The best way to get started is to take stock of everything you own and then start prioritizing everything into the following three groups: Things you couldn’t live without, Things you haven’t used in the last 6 months and should get rid of and things you aren’t really sure what to do with.
Once you have your three piles, get rid of the things that you know are wasteful. This should include everything you currently own. No exceptions. Next, really think about your “can’t live without” pile and get rid of 20% of what’s there.
Your maybe pile should be put into boxes and put somewhere that isn’t easily accessible. This is to test everything in that pile. Over the next three months, anything you haven’t needed to take out of those boxes should be donated or thrown away immediately. Do this and you’ll be able to eliminate more than 50% of your material belongings and see how flexible and free your lifestyle becomes as an outcome.
Although I don’t travel as frequently as I would like to, I still use minimalist travel ideas to streamline my life both physically as I stated above and digitally.
Why You Need A Location Independent Business
Running your whole business from a laptop anywhere in the world
A strong desire of mine has always been to run a successful business that I can run completely from my laptop anywhere in the world. This is easier said than done, like most things in life, but any business, including a brick and mortar can be ran from a laptop with the right systems and tools in place. The hard part, of course, is figuring out which systems to put into place and ensuring they increase profitability without making things more complicated.
My business is not ran in this fashion, At least, not yet. I’m working on shifting my sourcing system from local retail arbitrage to online arbitrage that can be done via my laptop and wholesale sourcing which can be done in the same way from my laptop. I’m tested the waters in hiring a virtual assistant to assist in sourcing products for me online, but quickly realized this is a fool’s job without giving my VA the right tools.
Unfortunately, the combination of the required tools and the cost of employment is just too much for my small business. Instead of continuing with my VAs I put them on pause so I could shift my capital towards to cost of the tools to do things myself. But, as profits grow I’ll quickly add on my VAs again to use the tools and quickly scale up.
Being taken away from where I did my work that included my desktop Mac that kept me moving quickly and the garage I prepped, labeled and packed all of my inventory really puts me in a difficult place. I don’t have the access to my logistical system, which is a major issue.
Here’s the damage we came home to. No power and no Wifi. How would I live?
The easy solution here is to start using a prep company who will handle all of my inventory sourced online. This won’t do anything for me in regards to my local sourcing methods, but does dramatically off-set my logistical requirements and efficiency, which is key to scaling a business.
I’m including systems of scale within my business as capital becomes available and revenues grow. Things will not happen overnight and you need to have the capital to cover the sunk-costs that come along with adding new systems to your business. Outsourcing my inventory logistics and hiring a sourcing staff will be the key to taking my business to the next level and creating enough cash flow to begin heavily invest in even more growth of my business.
I challenge you to think of what you would do if you have to donate or throw away 50% of your belongings. I also challenge you to consider what you would do if you were given a laptop, moved to a new city and had to run your business successfully. This challenge will make you think in ways you’ve never done before. It will challenge what you think is possible, but more importantly, it will show you the pathway to true freedom, both in location and financially.
Tools and Resources
Tips, Tricks and Further Reading…
- How Minimalism Brought Me Freedom and Joy by James Altucher
- “OneBag” sub-Reddit – For those who carry their lives on their backs
- How To Travel The World With 10lbs or Less by Tim Ferriss
- The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss for all things becoming location independent
- The Tropical MBA podcast and blog ← Cannot recommend this enough!