How Digital Nomadism Is Changing the Entrepreneurship Landscape
Lockdowns and border closures have created a new era for digital nomadism.
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The pandemic has accelerated the growth of remote work and has transformed the landscape into something much more dynamic. While digital nomadism has existed since before the inception of Web2, with Steve Roberts being called the first digital nomad, it wasn't until social media became a forerunner in today's society that it really took off. Now, paired with the transformative changes that lockdowns and border closures have implemented, we are seeing emergent trends that point towards a new culture that will go on to transform retail, commerce and entrepreneurship.
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Work is redefined by growing desires for travel
Travel is seen as an escape from our humdrum lives and the conventional 9-to-5 jobs. With the rise of remote positions and a shift from traditional working roles, people are in a position to travel much more freely and will also be used as a tool in order to rebuild the travel industry.
"Covid-19 briefly wrecked the travel industry because of closed borders and travel restrictions, but we now see a very strong recovery. Domestic or localized travel has also become trendy and we're focusing on fostering the local economy and supporting small businesses," says David Stewart of Guide to Europe, a platform that gives users the ability to book tours and discover Europe without having to waste their energy sourcing for flights and research, making travel planning much more convenient.
"Travel and business have become intrinsically linked and in a digitized world where many operations can be done remotely, there's no reason to foster the kind of growth that will eradicate borders and office hours," explains a digital nomad who has been backpacking in Asia even during the midst of the pandemic, saying that being unable to fly home wasn't a problem for him, as he enjoyed his life on the road and had a programming job that could facilitate his lifestyle. The digital nomad, who prefers to go unnamed, elaborated by adding, "I'm sure that travel culture will evolve and become an entity that challenges current societal norms. There'll still be people who crave the stability of an American Dream, but for the rest of us, we won't have to contend with those same values and still be respected and taken seriously for what we do."
There are plenty of entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of the rampant travel culture and used it to build their businesses, but the relationship between travel and entrepreneurship goes deeper than that, and most of it can be traced back to the pandemic, which Forbes wrote is, "the biggest work-from-home experiment."
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Will entrepreneurial digital nomads be the next generation?
"Essentially, every digital nomad that runs their own blog is an entrepreneur. Blogging is a business. You create your demand by offering services that only you can fulfill," explains a digital nomad who quit her job and ran her blog full-time. She gets sponsorships and is paid to stay at luxurious hotels, because her website focuses on hotel reviews.
Oftentimes when we look at luxurious lifestyles, it is easy to get swept up in the glamour of it all, but Christine explains that, "Work is always hard. The moment you put a price tag on your hobby or your passion, it stops being a hobby. You start commercializing it, thinking about how to maximize profit and deliver the kind of quality that your price commands."
CEO and founder Vestigo, a company that produces VR adventures for employees, said the following, "I traded my cubicle for a van to restore work-life balance and I don't think I'm alone. Many entrepreneurs feel burned out, exhausted and uninspired after two years of pandemic living. Remote living offers a solution, making work fit into my life instead of building my life around work."
Marshall Mosher proves that it is possible for CEOs and entrepreneurs to go full-time digital nomad, but he notes that "it's hard, you need a lot of discipline and focus."
Arguably, travel bloggers were the first generation of entrepreneurial digital nomads, as they leveraged their skills in order to live a carefree life on the road. Of course, many travel bloggers will beg to differ on the "carefree" bit, but nonetheless, their non-conventional lifestyle has drawn much attention and has also allowed the industry to become ripe for new innovations and business ideas that will take them one step closer to their dreams.
Related: 12 Practical Steps to Become a Digital Nomad and Live a Location-Independent Life
The next chapter includes a multitude of players from digital companies recruiting from all corners of the world and entrepreneurs looking at remote teams for top talents instead of focusing on just who is available locally. The government should also keep in mind that the world is changing, and they need to adapt to the changing culture and give these long-term visitors special benefits if they hope to get on top of the trend of working tourists.