Starting a business doesn’t have to mean living tethered to the office. With the right gadgets and smart business strategies, you can keep your small business running even while exploring the Great Outdoors.
In this guide, you’ll learn the must-have gear for outdoor entrepreneurs, how to choose campsites to work from, and tips for running a business without sacrificing your love of the outdoors.
Tent, camper van, or RV?
RVs offer more amenities – not to mention a power source – for working while camping. However, you can’t access wild camping spots in a big bulky RV. With a tent, you can go practically anywhere.
Campervans offer the best of both worlds and are the preferred choice of off-grid entrepreneurs. You can convert a van into a mobile office yourself or buy a conversion kit from companies like Wayfarer Vans.
Essential gear for working while camping
You’ll of course need all the go-to camping gear, but what else should you pack to turn your campsite into a remote office?
1. Wi-Fi Hotspot
If you’re only sending the occasional email, tethering to your phone’s Wi-Fi may be enough. However, you’ll want a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot device if you plan to knock out a few hours of work at a time. Verizon Jetpack is a popular hotspot among digital nomads thanks to Verizon’s comprehensive coverage compared to other providers. You can also use Skyroam hotspots, which connect to whatever tower is closest regardless of provider.
2. Wi-Fi Booster
A Wi-Fi booster won’t create a signal where there’s none, but it can boost a weak signal into something usable for work. That comes in handy when you’re staying in a campground with Wi-Fi but can’t get a strong enough connection. Portable Wi-Fi boosters are ideal for tent campers, but if you’re staying in a campervan or RV consider splurging on a long-range extender like the Alfa Camp Kit 2.
3. Power Inverter
Most USB ports in vehicles don’t have enough power to charge laptops effectively. Power inverters convert the 12-volt direct current power from your car into the 120-volt alternating current found in household outlets. You can find a simple power inverter for under $50 that should be plenty for computing needs.
4. Mobile Power Station
Mobile power stations keep your devices charged while tent camping or when your car isn’t running. However, inexpensive power banks for phones won’t work on your laptop. 20,000mAh is the minimum capacity to charge laptops but you can find chargers up to 50,000mAh. Those operating off-grid will appreciate the solar-optimized Voltaic Systems V88 Portable Laptop Power Bank. It’s also TSA-approved for taking your adventures overseas.
5. Portable Folding Table
A table is the final piece of your campsite workstation puzzle. A camp table saves your back while working on the go and stows away for easy storage. The Camp Time Roll-a-Table is a classic choice that’s great for digital nomads. Not only is it lightweight and compact, but unlike other camp table styles the Camp Time Roll-a-Table offers plenty of knee room.
How to choose work-friendly campsites
No amount of gear will help when you’re deep in the backcountry miles from the nearest cell signal. That’s why campsite selection is key for outdoor entrepreneurs. Your best choices are campgrounds with Wi-Fi or campgrounds close to a town where you can pop into a coffee shop or library for free internet. You can even choose campsites with power so you don’t have to rely on your vehicle for charging, but expect to pay extra for the convenience.
You’ll find the best campground Wi-Fi at RV parks, especially the more high-end ones. Some KOA campgrounds also have Wi-Fi. Keep in mind that even the “best” campground Wi-Fi is pretty unreliable, so you’ll want to come equipped with your range extender and hotspot just in case.
How to plan a business built for the outdoors
Don’t expect to perform at peak productivity when sitting in a campground surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery. While a campsite certainly beats a cubicle, it defeats the purpose if you don’t take time to enjoy the outdoors while you’re there.
That means you need to be comfortable stepping away from your laptop to take that scenic hike or calling it a wash when nature gets in the way of your plans.
1. Put flexibility first in business planning
The first step is choosing a startup idea that’s flexible by nature. It’s hard to get away if you own a brick-and-mortar business or one that relies on on-site services. However, there are tons of people living the digital nomad lifestyle and earning a living as content creators, consultants, market researchers, app developers, and other flexible business opportunities.
2. Build your business in the cloud
Cloud technology is the key to working from anywhere. Build a cloud-based business using cloud tools for document management, file storage, accounting and invoicing, customer relationship management, and other essential business functions.
3. Outsource and delegate
Cloud-based tools also make it possible to collaborate even when you’re in the middle of the woods. That opens the door to adding remote employees to your team. If you’re not ready to hire permanent help, delegate the simple, but time-consuming tasks like admin, social media management, and accounting to freelancers.
4. Set boundaries with clients
Don’t feel like you have to stick to the standard work schedule or answer every call and email the second it comes in. As long as you’re consistent, you can train your customers on a routine that works for you. Manage client expectations by being upfront about the best methods of communication and expected turnaround times. If you’ll be away longer than usual, use autoresponders to let clients know when they’ll hear from you.
5. Know when to ditch a bad client
Nearing the end of your rope with a client who won’t respect your boundaries? When you’ve been clear about your schedule and they’re still blowing you up with non-urgent questions, it may be time to fire a bad customer. Clients with unreasonable demands are often more trouble than they’re worth, especially when you have a campfire to tend.
The daily grind doesn’t leave much time to get away, so why not get away from the daily grind? When you’re the boss, you can decide when and where you work – campgrounds included! Whether you want to take your work on the road in a campervan or just enjoy more long weekends in the woods, the right gear will let you turn a campsite into your own outdoor office.
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