Rae is a freelance contract paraplanner who works remotely with accountants and financial planners to help plan clients finances by making sure they are putting away enough into super, have the right investments and insurances in place and to help them to maximise their Centrelink entitlements during retirement. We all know the stereotype of the “boring accountant” but Rae has successfully managed to setup her business to ensure she can travel for at least 3 months of the year to exotic locations all over the world while continuing to work.
So how does she do it?
Q: How understanding are your clients to your exotic working conditions?
Initially, I left my full-time job in the city managing financial planning software for AXA to set up my business part-time and found a new part-time job at an adviser practice. It wasn’t until two years passed that I built enough of a client base that I decided to leave my part-time job, solely work for myself and take my business “on the road”. The quality of my work or my turnaround times doesn’t change just because my location does. If anything, my turnaround times improved as I no longer had my ‘day job’. My clients know this. I’m always upfront with my clients about when I’m in and out of the country. Quite often they’re intrigued where I’m working from so I often email photos of my laptop, with their job on the screen and my surrounds. Although I often get called ‘certain’ names, they love it otherwise they wouldn’t keep asking for the photos.
Q: How do you deal with the many distractions of being overseas, the sights, the sounds?
My first major trip, would have been the six month stint I did across the UK and Europe. I was quite lucky in the fact that my business was still new. I only averaged about 20-25 hours’ work per week so it was quite easy to juggle the sights, sounds, day-trips and nightlife whilst still meeting my turnaround times.
I just got in the habit of checking my emails every morning. If I didn’t have a job to do that day I went the beach. If I did, I still went to the beach…I just remembered to bring my laptop!
Now however things are a lot busier. My client base has doubled and so has so my workload and I often find that I have to work 6 days a week to keep on top of everything. Which I don’t mind…most of the time. I’d rather be busy working in a tropical paradise, than working through another Melbourne winter.
I don’t really have any secret tips in relation to productivity. Although I do prefer to only communicate with my clients via email as opposed to discussing things over the phone (and that’s not just when I’m overseas). It’s just easier to track the flow of information as I’m not always at my desk “ready to take your call” Monday to Friday from 9 to 5. Sometimes I work 7 to 4, sometimes 10 to 8. Sometimes I’ll work through the weekend and instead take time off during the week.
Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?
A typical day for me right now? Well I’m currently on Lamai beach in Koh Samui Thailand. I get up around 7:30 and go for walk along the beach and head to the fresh food market for my daily supply of mango, mangosteens and papaya…if it looks good. By the time I get back, have breakfast and get ready to go into “the office” it’s about 10am. I’ve pretty much set up my office at a bar/restaurant here in Lamai. The internet is fantastic. I’ve found a nice spot in the restaurant in the corner with 270 degree water views and a power socket nearby.
When Nok or Meu see me arrive they bring me my morning coffee and I just get to it like I would if I was working anywhere else. When in Thailand I replace my second coffee with fresh coconut water and the girls bring that around, around midday. I eat lunch at the restaurant at around 2pm and work through until at least 6 or 7pm when I order a G&T to wind down.
In the evenings I tend to go to the night market for great Thai street food and then pop in to visit my friends at my regular place for…you guessed it…a Thai massage! As work is quite busy at the moment…cocktail consumption is at a minimum most nights. On my days off…I just hit the beach with my latest Game of Thrones book.
Q: How important is technology and internet in keeping it all together for you?
Extremely. Quite simply…No internet…no online based business. I’ve travelled to the Philippines and visited one of the most remote prettiest places I’ve ever seen…El Nido. Whilst beautiful, the town had no power between the hours of 6:30am and 2:30pm and despite my hotel advertising they had Wi-Fi, trying to open a 50 page PDF was impossible, regardless of whether the electricity was on at the time. I managed to find one internet place that opened after 2:30pm (within a corrugated shed) that had a decent internet connection however they didn’t let me plug in my laptop to their network, I could only use their prehistoric desktop so had to transfer files to and from my laptop to this machine with a USB stick to get internet based work done. Although I loved the town, trying to run a business there remotely was a bit of a nightmare.
Q: What are some of the destinations you have worked from?
Let’s see. Hawaii, Philippines, Thailand, England, Ireland, Wales, Belgium, Turkey, six Greek islands, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Austria and how can I forget Depo8. Oh and in a months’ time I’m headed to Langkawi, Malaysia.