|First look at Orient Beach. Please note, I'm carrying a baguette, grocery bag of rosé and a bag of chargers.|
As I prepare to depart island life, here are the things that really helped make this week a success - and the things I would do differently.
1. Scale You.
One of the reasons I was able to do this was because I have really found an amazing tribe of talented, business-savvy women to work with me. Before I left, I met with each of them and we talked through the client needs for the week, when they would be there in person or on the phone (because I would be mid-air), and being my back-up. I can not overstate how wonderful it is when you are starting a business to have someone that you trust to do great work and to make sure your clients remain happy if you are not there in person.
This does not mean you walk away for a week, lay on beaches drinking rum drinks and letting the business happen. When you are starting your own business, you are never off. Use your talent to scale you. Determine when you need to be present. And, be there for them when they have questions.
2. Proximity Matters
Where you are staying plays a big role in crafting your work day. The Home Exchange that I had was just a few blocks from Orient Beach. This meant that I could get up early, work in the morning and then go have breakfast and reply to morning emails from the beach. At lunch - I needed a sun break anyway - I would come in and get more work done. Once the mid-day rush was done, I would return to the beach through sunset and then handle anything else that had arisen in the day.
|Closest beach chair to my house.|
Let me assure you that you think you can take that conference call from the beach - you should not take that call from the beach. There are so many factors that can go wrong, from wind, to loud people, to just a bad connection. If you have a scheduled client call, plan to take it from your house. (Trust me, I made this mistake for you.)
Depending where you are on the island, a wifi-connected Skype or Google Hangout may work better than a phone call. Learn your surroundings and what works best - before your client call.
That said, sometimes you can't plan ahead. My friends were shocked when I got a 9pm call and took it. Business comes fast and when you are the principal, that means taking an emergency call from a Jeep whizzing across the island after dinner. I communicated quickly that I was in a bad location, but would be back home shortly and could respond to the need.
4. Pack Sunscreen and Bug Spray
This doesn't seem like business advice, but packing sunscreen and bug spray means that if you find a great spot to work from outside, that mosquitos or sunburn won't mess up your day. Sometimes sitting by a beach and letting your mind wander is a great way to come up with inspiration for your clients or new business. Don't cut that short because you didn't plan.
5. Double Down on Chargers
Island wifi and data is rough on the phone battery. I found that even a fully charged phone drained multiple times a day if I was working. I was constantly keeping backup chargers plugged in and in my bag. You can never run out of battery. That means business is at a full stop. Charge. Charge. Charge.
6. Activate Your International Data Plan
If you think you can come to Saint Martin and work with wifi alone, think again. It will save you money, for sure, but you will be limited to working wifi at home and at bars. And, let's face it, bars are probably not the best place to do business.
I was just there for five days, so I didn't settle into daily life and office hours the way I did in France. But, this still worked really well. I managed to get in a little rest and relaxation, explored a beautiful island - and stayed on top of business. Don't be afraid to try it. It just takes planning and discipline.
7. Find the Best Spots for Wifi in Saint Martin (or Your Island)
These spots will become your anchors when you are away from home base. In Saint Martin, I stayed in Orient Bay. My favorite wifi spot was CoCo Beach, which had great breakfast, friendly service, a beautiful view, and wifi that reached the beach chairs.
Watching planes land from Sunset Bar & Grill is kind of a rite of passage on this island. The bonus - the wifi password is posted behind the bar and is strong enough to support everything from you checking email to a livestream of the planes landing.
|Me broadcasting a Facebook Live of the plane landing.|
I don't have much desire to be a full-time digital nomad. I'm building a business and a life in the States that I love. But, it is so nice that as I break away from a traditional 9-to-5 job environment, that I can still find ways to make an escape affordable and compatible with my business needs.
I've got Home Exchange offers in my mailbox for Italy, Iceland, Croatia - and more locally in Asheville, NC and Captiva Island. Maybe if I keep growing the business, I'll be able to make one of those happen by the end of 2016 or early 2017!
Let me know if you have any questions - in the comments below or on Twitter at @tammy.
NOTE: I also wrote a post on my favorite places to eat and drink on island - get my tips here.
If the islands aren't your scene, here are my tips on working from the South of France.