Jacob Laukaitis is a location independent entrepreneur. When Jacob Laukaitis was a kid, he tells us, he hated not being able to control his own life: “I couldn’t travel alone, I couldn’t drive a car, I couldn’t (legally) work, heck, I couldn’t even stay at my friend’s place if my parents didn’t agree!”
That’s why Jacob always dreamed of starting his own business so that he could make his own money and be able to do whatever he wanted to do with his life. And one day he succeeded! Let’s have a look at Jacob’s story.
Quitting Something You’re Good at Since You Don’t Like It?
As a teenager, Jacob was a ballroom dancer. His carer looked as if it was set for success: he scored in the top 15 in the world championships, he could give private classes for 15 – 30 euros per hour, and everybody was in love with what he was doing.
Except for Jacob.
He says: “I wasn’t happy. I wanted to never work for anyone else and to be my own boss, I wanted to have freedom, and to create something that thousands of people would use. Even though everyone was certain I would achieve great results in dancing, it just wasn’t for me… I realized that even if I became the best dancer in the world, I wouldn’t be happy.”
That is when Jacob decided to quit dancing and learn what he could do instead.
It was a hard decision, as he lost contact with many people from his dancing social circles, and even the relations between Jacob and his parents became worsened. To fill the gap of time he suddenly found himself with, and to learn what he wanted to do, Jacob started reading. “Anywhere from 100 to 250 pages every single day. I’d come back from school and read books till late at night. I read dozens of online marketing success stories of companies like Amazon or Google, and I remember being particularly inspired by Richard Branson’s biography called ‘Losing My Virginity’, as Branson also began at a very young age of 16 and grew his business to one of the largest corporations in the world.”
At this point, Jacob decided it was time to try his own luck at business. He took the leap.
How a 15-Year-Old Can Start a Business?
Jacob began attending business and networking events and looking for people who had already started a business and could teach him how to do it. In one of those, Jacob met his first business partner – who was 23 years Jacob’s senior.
Jacob and his new business partner had long conversations, and they eventually decided to start two businesses related to Jacob’s new-found passion – books. They set on starting an online book store and a book publishing house. Jacob says: “I eagerly did customer support, marketing, shipping, HR and all the other things, working hard every day – and the business slowly started taking off.”
However, just 10 months later, Jacob realized him and his business partner had grown very far apart, and could hardly agree on anything business-related. That’s when they decided to part ways. Jacob sold 10 months later for €7,800 to his business partner and left.
But Jacob didn’t stop. For the next three years he continued running various online businesses ranging from a recipes website to a vintage fashion products’s marketplace to everything in between. In those years, he says, Jacob “couldn’t think about anything else other than my business – it was my work, my passion and, essentially, my life”.
However, when Jacob graduated from high school at the age of 19, he got a completely random opportunity to spend 2 weeks exploring Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with a business event for young entrepreneurs. That experience made him realize how big and interesting the world was and sparked his interest in travel.
Even though at that point he had been financially independent for quite a few years, he wasn’t location independent, as he had to attend team meetings, conferences, meet his team members and customers face-to-face.
At that point, Jacob says, he did not even know what a “Digital Nomad” was, but he realized that, if he could create and run an online business remotely, that would allow him to travel absolutely anywhere and stay for as long as he wished (as long as I had a Wi-Fi connection, of course). He thought that was worth a shot.
Becoming Location Independent
After thinking about all the different businesses he could start, Jacob decided to establish a social media marketing agency that would provide Facebook marketing services to small businesses.
The idea was this: every small business had a Facebook fan page, but they were so busy with all the operational tasks that they didn’t have time to manage it. Even if someone did have a little bit of time, it would usually be a person who’s doing 7 different jobs at the same time and obviously wouldn’t know much about social media marketing.
That’s where Jacob’s new business would come in.
They would create a marketing strategy for the company, and once the company approves it, Jacob’s agency would start managing the company’s Facebook fan page. They would post 3-6 times a week (write all the captions, put the company’s watermarks on the photos, reply to people’s comments, etc.).
Jacob smiles: “the best part of the whole business was that I didn’t hire anyone”.
Every client worked with one project manager and one content manager, to whom Jacob would pay a monthly fee per client. Let’s say Jacob’s company was getting paid $250 a month for one client. Jacob would then pay $75 a month to the project manager and $75 a month to the content manager, in which case he would be making $100 profit.
Not only that, the company would be profitable even if they only had a single client, which would, of course, would have been impossible had Jacob been paying his employees full-time or part-time salaries.
The only thing Jacob had to focus on was acquiring customers and making sure they were happy with the services his company was providing.
Jacob remembers: “In those days I was only working 6-8 hours a week and making from $1,600 to $2,400 a month. That is not a lot of money, but it’s definitely enough to travel to most places around the world and that’s exactly what you need to be a digital nomad. You don’t need a million dollars, you just need enough money and time to do anything you want to do”.
How to Start a Remote Agency Business
If you would like to establish a similar online business, here are a few ideas you are welcome to steal:
- Translations – this works really well if your agency translates to/from niche languages that are in demand by a lot of businesses, such as Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and others (learn more);
- Copywriting – tons of businesses these days want to outsource their sales copy, blog posts, e-mail newsletters and especially SEO (search engine optimization) articles and you can certainly help them (learn more);
- Social media marketing – simply copy the model described above. I would suggest focusing on a single social media platform and positioning your agency as experts in that specific social network (learn more);
- Design services – most design services do not require meeting face-to-face, which allows your agency to be completely remote. Examples: logo design; banner ad design; website design; and others (learn more);
- Video editing services – people would send you the footage from their birthdays, vacations, weddings, or whatever else and your editors would then edit the videos, paid on a per-video basis (learn more).
There are hundreds of other services you could provide online in the same way, we’re you can think of at least a few.
If you hire freelancers to provide that service, your main task will be to acquire customers and make sure they are happy with the services you provide. Here are some tips on how to acquire customers for your online service business:
- E-mail outreach. When you’ve chosen the sort of service you will be providing, you should have a clear idea of who your target audience is. I would suggest making a list of at least 200 potential customers and sending them e-mails describing your service. Offer them something for free. For example, if you’re providing social media marketing services, tell them you can analyze their current marketing strategies and give them free tips and recommendations on how to improve them. It will build trust with your potential customers and highly increase the chances of them buying your service;
- Write a blog. Writing articles with tips and advice for your potential customers is always a good idea, because it brings a lot of value to your potential customers free of charge. If those articles are really useful to your target audience, people will quickly realize that once they start paying you, they will receive a lot more value, which will help their business grow. In order to write good quality articles, research what your competitors have written and make it better. And always remember – the more value you provide for free, the more make you will make;
- Offer referral commissions. Once you’ve already acquired some clients, ask them to refer you to their friends and colleagues and offer them a commission on every client they bring your way. In this case your current clients will be even happier working with you and you will get a steady stream of new clients coming your way. It’s a win-win!
Need more tips? We’ve written a guide which covers the topic of finding clients as a freelancer.
Jacob’s story leaves us with a simple model: find a service people want to buy, outsource that service to people who want to provide it and find ways to provide value to your potential customers for free. If all those things are in place, you are on your way to your remote business.