The Suitcase Entrepreneur

"You have the right to live your life how you want to, without sitting in endless meetings, getting stuck in long commutes and having to be in one location in order to run a successful  business and ultimately enjoy your life."

- The Suitcase Entrepreneur, page 219

Have you ever found yourself dreaming about a life of travel? Where you could go anywhere and do anything? Maybe you’ve been bit by the travel bug. But then you start to hone in on your life as it is now – maybe a 9-to-5 job, a family, other commitments – and it seems like a far stretch.

Natalie Sisson, author of The Suitcase Entrepreneur, unpacks this myth in her book to give readers a clear guide to achieving freedom and adventure in life and business. Natalie’s personal journey to a wanderlust life–and successful business owner to boot–serves as wonderful inspiration and is coupled with extremely practical advice for building your own ideal lifestyle and business.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

You are the only thing standing in your way

"The right mindset can take you anywhere and everywhere."
- The Suitcase Entrepreneur, page 37

Sisson lists the four things you need to create the business and lifestyle you want – a laptop, an internet connection, a sound business idea and the right mindset. But that last point is the key to a real breakthrough. From my own experience of transitioning to entrepreneurship this year, I can attest that mindset is everything and it is very easy to become the road block that keeps you from achieving what you want. “You really don’t need much at all – just your health, a smile and a sense of adventure”.

In our society there are many varying opinions about what success looks like and what material things should make up our lives. A house, a car, a nice office, etc. But that’s just what society and our culture tells us. That’s not necessarily what we need to feel successful and have a great life. Thus achieving the right mindset is a process of shedding this traditional value system and opening your mind to new ways of defining your life.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Set yourself apart

"You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to reinvent yourself and your skills to ensure you stay one step ahead of the rest of the world."
- The Suitcase Entrepreneur, page 80

A large portion of this book is spent discussing how to build and set up a mobile business that you can run from your laptop. In conceptually thinking about your business, Sisson imparts a great piece of advice regarding how to position yourself to stand out from the crowd and she lists two key ways to achieve this.

1. Simplifying information overload. We live in an era of information consumption, which can become daunting. Position your business to prune the amount of information people need in an effort to simplify their lives.

2. Supplying quality over quantity. The Internet has revolutionized the availability of information and vastly lowered the cost of accessing it. In business, the advantage lies in your ability to package that information in a way that is appealing to your customer and clearly enhances their life.

The basic concept behind both of these ideas is to make yourself really useful to your community and audience, which is something that not a lot of businesses are good at.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

It doesn't have to be totally unconventional

"It’s all very well having a business that gives you all the freedom in the world to do what you want. But the flipside of this is knowing what to do with it, and how to manage it all."
- The Suitcase Entrepreneur, page 196

This was the thing that surprised me most about this book – just because you might be traveling and have an online business, you’ll still face day-to-day challenges that might not look or feel any different than if your life was “normal.” Sisson spends a chapter discussing how she stays focused and well on the road – something I was definitely curious about – and the answers were not totally unexpected. For instance, the type of lifestyle that Sisson has and describes is one with endless choices. Yet, the antidote to this is to have a schedule or daily routine that helps you ensure that you complete your “most important actions” and create distraction free time in your schedule.

Here are a few additional tips that Sisson offers.

  • Create balance and routine. No matter where you are or what you are doing in life, balance is a constant struggle. Sisson suggests that the more discipline you develop, the more freedom you will have.

  • Set boundaries. It is important to find time to disconnect from work and make time to really experience what’s around you – regardless of whether you are traveling or not.

  • Keep up appearances. Timezones, hectic travel schedules and other circumstances can make it difficult to maintain good relations with your clients and friends. Be transparent and communicate clearly with everyone.

When I finished reading The Suitcase Entrepreneur, I felt a renewed sense of excitement about what is possible in my life. In particular because Sisson provides wonderful tales of inspiration and practical tools to make it a reality. The world really is our oyster.

If you desire a life steeped in freedom, what is one step that you can take today to work towards your vision?

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Vanessa Chase

ABOUT Vanessa Chase

I am a fundraising strategist and copywriter, and run the non-profit resource website, Philanthropy For All. Through my work, my goal is to help passionate non-profit folks better articulate their non-profit’s impact and work is a way that translates to engaged philanthropic communities...
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