ll archives: How I Run My Business While Living Abroad
Owning a business and working full time can be tough. For all my side-hustlin’ ladypreneurs out there – you know what I mean! So, when I was chosen to take a 3-month assignment in Guatemala, I was overcome with two emotions – excitement about the amazing opportunity and anxiety about what this meant for my business. Here is a quick peek into how I decided to handle it and how it is working out so far!
The Big Decision
I am an Economist by day, so my career and my side hustle have absolutely no overlap. Throw in an overseas assignment and the gap widens. Keep in mind, I am a one-woman-shop. I am the accountant, designer, social media manager, customer service rep, order fulfilment specialist...you name it, I do it and I have been doing it alone for almost three years. Ninety percent of the products in my shop are shipped by me (a few are shipped by the manufacturer that I designed the product with to cut down on shipping costs for my customers).
So, accepting the overseas assignment meant I had two choices: Temporarily close my business or outsource all order fulfillment. I decided to outsource order fulfilment because consistency and presence is key when building a successful business. Shutting down my business for three months could have potentially damaged my credibility, tarnished my business image and would have left the niche market open for another business to grab market share. But here is the kicker...I decided to hire friends and family to step in and fill orders. Yep, you read that correctly. Friends and Family. (gulp.)
Outsourcing to Friends and Family
I know what you are thinking… "Rule #1 of owning a business – never outsource to friends and family!". I know, I know, but there are three reasons I decided to go this route:
- It is not wedding season. Thankfully the three months I am gone line up perfectly with the off season in the wedding industry, so sales volumes are low. This is the perfect time to outsource!
- Since sales are low during the off season, I could not afford to hire a fulfilment center. I did plenty of research and found some awesome shipping fulfilment centers, but they would have eaten deep into my profit margins at this time.
- My friends and family were more than willing to help and I am so thankful that I have such an awesome support system! They were even willing to help for free! However, I insisted they accept payment for the work. I love that I am able to invest in friends and family as they invest time into helping with my business.
Was it scary entrusting my business to friends and family? Yes. Was there a learning curve? Absolutely. After doing everything alone for so long, it was really hard to hand over the reigns, but everything has gone smoothly so far!
During this time away, I decided to shift my focus to three specific areas:
- Promoting products that do not require shipment (like the downloadable wine labels).
- Promoting products that are already shipped by the manufacturer that I worked with to design them (like the drinkware).
- Generating passive income by starting a Society6 shop (read more about that here).
With one month down, and two to go, I am confident that everything will continue to run smoothly. Just know that if you get an opportunity that takes you out of the country, running a successful business is totally doable!
Have you ever outsourced to friends and family? Any tips on using fulfilment companies? Share your experience below!