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“We decided to purposely not do as well at the business that we’re running in order to maximize the amount of free time we have to do the stuff we want to do, and that’s okay.” -Sam, on opting to run Pipehouse Gin remotely

Most businesses can be run remotely, just worse. And that’s OK.

Recommended Listening:

  • Episode 43: Don’t Compete On Price
  • Episode 14: The Pros & Cons Of A Digital Nomad Lifestyle
  • Episode 4: When Should You Go All In On A New Business?

Resources Mentioned In This Episode Of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast:

Listen to this episode of The Lazy Entrepreneur Podcast on:

iTunes | Spotify | YouTube | Stitcher

01:05 – The breakdown of professions in the coworking space
02:58 – Running ecommerce businesses remotely
04:17 – Gin business conundrum
07:03 – The consequence of copycats in business
08:44 – Don’t be afraid to do a remote job that no one has done before
10:17 – Even if you don’t want to work remotely, you should get your business ready for remote work
13:00 – There are some benefits to working remotely and so you should leverage them as much as possible
15:45 – Gin specific business benefits to travelling
17:05 – Impromptu photo shoots

SAM: Hello and welcome back to another episode of the Lazy Entrepreneur, we’re your hosts, Sam and Emma Priestly.

EMMA: Hello.

SAM: What are you squinting at?

EMMA: You haven’t even told me what we’re doing.

SAM: Oh, well today we’re doing an episode on, most businesses can be run remotely, just worse.

EMMA: Ouch.

SAM: Ouch, yeah, I think that’s true. I wanted to bring this up because we went to a talk on the struggles of being a digital nomad a couple days ago.

EMMA: Which was as cringy as it sounds.

SAM:And someone in the audience put their hand up and asked, so what businesses do people run remotely, so does everyone here do the same sort business? And it is weird that you do often see people doing the same sort of thing in, so we’re in this coworking called dojo which has about 300 members currently of which it’s like a third of them are programmers, a third of them have like e-commerce one-off businesses, and then the rest are doing a mixture of sort of life coaching or marketing. There’s load of those marketers, maybe a third of them are marketers.

EMMA: Yeah I’d agree with that.

SAM: Either way, everyone seems to be doing quite similar things, and when we come in, I mean they say what do you do, and we say we run a gin business where we make alcohol, we get like the weirdest look and everyone is like, oh, you can do that remotely?

EMMA: Yeah they think it’s pretty cool and they want to know more because we stand out.

SAM: We stand out it, it’s a bit different. And it is quite cool, that’s why we do it right. Trying to look cool.

EMMA: We are cool.

SAM: Anyway, it kind of got me thinking is why are people doing all these sorts of businesses and why do we not see this huge breadth of businesses that we see in the world. And the jobs that people have in the world. Why is that not replicated in Dojo?

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: Because the truth is that most businesses and most jobs can be done remotely, just worse. That’s the caveat that we kind of got to talk about because there is this falsehood about remote jobs that people say you’ve got to find a job you can do better or just as well remotely to be a digital nomad or you’ve got to start a business, you’ve got to start over a remote business in order to be a digital nomad. The problem is there aren’t that many businesses that are better run remotely or can be run just as well remotely. Even the ones that people kind of say these are good remote working businesses, it’s not true. Those businesses are often better run from a set location, pretty much all the ones we mentioned earlier. Like an ecommerce business. It’s fine running an ecommerce business when you are one man man band traveling the world, but as soon as your business grows and you take on employees, having a set location is really good.

EMMA: And business partnerships and relationships.

SAM: Yeah, ecommerce sometimes then goes local like your brand of tea cups or whatever it is that you sell doesn’t need to always and only be online. You probably want to expand it and doing that, you’ll do better at if you’re in one place. Same with life coaches, that seems to be the popular trend at the moment, becoming life coaches well would you rather talk to a life coach over a dodgy Skype connection across the role world where there is a delay between each word.

EMMA: And it’s hard to and schedule a time.

SAM: It’s hard to schedule your time because you’re 12 hours apart or something you can go in and meet face to face.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: We see a lot of online English teachers. Well again, would you rather have an English teacher who you meet up to face-to-face or someone you speak to over skype. So yeah these businesses can be done online, but generally you’ll be better at it in one place. Same with the gin business. We had to decide with our gin business whether we wanted to scale it and we had this conundrum, did we want to stay in one place, double down on the business take on investment, get a load of employees in, and then try and make it huge or did we want to keep it as a lifestyle business, taking over how it is, making a bit of money and then just go off and do our own thing. Go travelling. And we decided to go traveling. We decided to purposely not do as well at the business that we’re running in order to maximize the amount of free time we have to do the stuff we want to do and that’s okay. And I think that’s something that nobody will tell you is it it’s okay for your business not to reach its maximum potential. You can go off and do other things, you can get your business to a point where it’s paying for your life and you’re happy with it, you can run a business remotely that is worse than if you ran it from one place and that’d be okay.

EMMA: Yeah. Because your priorities change don’t they?

SAM: You know your priorities change, you have different things you care about. But also like what about what costs living.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: Cost of living in Bali is tiny compared to cost of living in London.

EMMA: So you don’t need as many sales.

SAM: Don’t need as many sales to have the same quality of life here as we do in London. We need to do a fraction of the amount of business. So yeah, our business would be better if we were based in London, but maybe it wouldn’t have the same impact on the quality of our life. Because we would be working much harder, probably still reinvesting all the profits honestly, I don’t think we’d be taking much out. And then living like a worse life basically. It’s just weird to say that your business doesn’t need to be as good as it can be. It is okay to do a weird business that doesn’t really suit remote working but still makes some money.

EMMA: I guess there’s something to be said about the price, like particularly if it’s like a service that you’re offering, like a life coach or marketing. I think making your business remote I think people tend to then charge out less and therefore you’re kind of downgrading yourself and your value.

SAM: Yeah and that’s the reason why your business would be better if you’re based in one place because you can charge more. People will pay more because you’re not competing with every other life coach or online English teacher or whatever the businesses is in the world, which you are if you’re just remote.

EMMA: Yeah and it’s a trap, like you have a whole podcast on pricing.

SAM: Yeah yeah that’s well worth listening to if you’re doing this sort of business is that everybody gets their pricing wrong. I think the other thing to add that is a trap as well is that because you see some people succeeding as remote working in these things, everyone else then copies it and then something becomes a lot harder to succeed in that business. So at dojo there are a lot of people struggling to make a copy of a business that someone else succeeded at because suddenly, like competition is huge. Whereas we are literally the only gin business dojo.

EMMA: Yeah definitely.

SAM: And it’s weird right because a life coach, your customer is, could be everyone at dojo. Could be everyone in the co-working space.

EMMA: Yes.

SAM: You could legitimately sell to those people and hopefully make a bunch money. But those savvy people they know that half people there are life coaches and they’re really skeptical and the chance of getting many customers is just not gonna happen.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: Whereas if we went in with a pallet of gin and started selling gt’s to people, everyone would take us up on it. And they would take us up on that because they want to support us as well, because it is like something weird, like ah, there’s a gin business at dojo, how cool is that.

EMMA: But that goes back to the types of businesses people just like to do online, and they are pretty much the same. There isn’t a huge amount of creativity.

SAM: And there should be.

EMMA: Which i think us surprised us about being in this massive digital nomad community here in Bali.

SAM: Yeah there’s a lot of stuff that’s a little bit too similar.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: Don’t get me wrong, a lot of that is working so there’s a reason for that, but there is a lot of similarities.

EMMA: Is everyone listening to the same podcast, reading the same book, reading the same blog that’s telling them to all do the same thing?

SAM: And what they’re doing is they’re following the pioneers of remote working and then trying to copy what they’re doing.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: Okay I got three points I kind of want to bring up that kind of points this episode and that is the first one instead. Don’t be afraid to a remote job that no one has done before. Being unusual is a unique selling point and I mean you’re probably more likely to do better.


EMMA: Yep.

SAM: If you’re working a normal job, like yeah you might need to take a pay cut in order to do it remotely and you might be worth, you might need to work the same number of hours and be less productive than if you were in the office and therefore get paid a bit less, but that’s okay. Similarly, you can be doing a business like a gin business that no one has done remotely before, that’s okay too. Or, like, do you know one the other remote businesses that used to run? A coffee shop.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: How on earth do you run a coffee shop remotely.

EMMA: Yeah you hardly ever went in did you.

SAM: And when we first went traveling, remember when we did my conference calls from hostels in like South America, calling in with the management team. Getting the weekly stats and making decisions.

EMMA: It’s actually bit ridiculous looking back isn’t it?

SAM: Its completely ludicrous but you can do it, you can run a coffee shop from the other side of the planet due to the wonders of the internet. It’s just gonna be worse.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: So there we go, the first thing: don’t be afraid to do a remote job that no one has done before. Being unusual is a unique selling point. The next step is, you’re probably thinking well that’s nonsense because I need to go into the office each day or my bosses aren’t gonna let me work remotely but onto my second point is that even if you don’t want to work remotely, you should get your business ready for remote work because a business that was relying on you means that you are the bottleneck for that business, so a good business should be able to run itself and that is pretty much what all the podcast episodes we do talk about is building a business where every step is either automated or outsourced.

EMMA: Yeah and able to scale.

SAM: Exactly, yeah if you are the person packing envelopes, packing parcels and send them out, you are limited by how many parcels you can pack.

EMMA: Well yeah and you’re limited by the hours in your day.

SAM: Exactly, you are a bottleneck, you can’t, you might be able to double the size of your business but you can’t 100x the size of your business whereas you can if you can build your business with the idea that you want to take yourself out of it, that can be so you can travel the world or it can just be so that your business is good. This is something you should be doing anyway, even if you don’t want to go traveling. That’s what we have at the coffee shop, the coffee shop had a management team in place who are responsible for the day-to-day runnings, everything about the business day-to-day was automated, it was just a strategy, larger scale decision-making that I was involved with and that could be done via emails and via fortnightly calls about it or maybe once a month I can’t remember. Same with the gin business, we’ve built a supply chain that doesn’t involve us at all, so for our stock to go from being made for all the bottles to arriving at the right place for the ingredients for the gin to get there, for then the gin to be distilled and made, we put in a bottle the label put on, the cap put on, for that then to be stored in a warehouse and then we a customers orders online or a business wants to order another case and it all gets sent out automatically. That is a good business. If we were trying to do that ourselves, we wouldn’t be able to do it.

EMMA: Yeah it’s not scalable.

SAM: So yeah, so you should be trying to build your business anyway like you aren’t that important to it, that you you aren’t the key person, you aren’t the bottleneck. And also we don’t really talk about selling businesses in these podcasts. If you ever want to sell your business, you being the most important cog in the machine means your business is basically unsellable.

EMMA: Yeah, you need to be removed from it.

SAM: You need to be removed from it or else how can you ever be taken over. So that’s #2. Get your business ready for remote work because a good business is not reliant on you. And then the third point which hopefully will be a bit more positive, yet the business can be worse because you are running it remotely, and that is true for most businesses, but there are some benefits to working remotely and so you should make the most of them and leverage them as much as possible. So we spoke about all the different weird people in Dojo, someone said to us the other day that it is on the fringes of society that you meet the most creative people, you get the best ideas, you get to see people living in different lives and starting weird businesses. And that’s true. In Tunbridge Wells we’ve met a lot business people, but they’re very

EMMA: Traditional.

SAM: Yeah we met a lot of very traditional businesses, people doing business in the same way that’s been done for 200 years.

EMMA: Generations yeah.

SAM: No one in dojo’s co-working space is traditional.

EMMA: Yeah.

SAM: None of them are running a traditional business, they’re all trying to be a bit creative or working it out and just chatting to them, you get inspired and you get ideas that wouldn’t have thought about other ways, so leverage that. The other nice thing about travelling and working remotely is that each country will have businesses that you just don’t have a home, and so even though you might not be meeting the entrepreneurs behind it, you’ll get inspiration from, oh this can really work in England.

EMMA: Yeah, this app or this type of restaurant or this type of restaurant or whatever it is.

SAM: This food stall or this coworking space or whatever it might be. And that is quite cool, just travelling around you get inspiration from stuff that we just don’t have at home. Also for products, well I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked what their product is they’ve told me something I’ve never heard of before and they’re like heres something online, oh when I was traveling and I was in Uzbekistan and Timbuktu or whatever and they have this great product, this great foot scrub or something that I thought would do really well, so I found someone there who was making it and then imported it to the UK and started selling it, which is good, you get inspiration. It’s also your chance to then expand internationally, check out a new market, that’s one of the things we want to do with our gin, is that while we’re here in Asia, we think Asia could be a really good market for Pipehouse Gin, we think that our earl grey and cucumber gin from Tunbridge Wells in England would do really well at places like Hong Kong, so that’s what we’re exploring. We’re using this opportunity, we’re not spending all the business money for really expensive flights to Hong Kong, we’re just traveling naturally and when we end up in these places, we’re seeking out distributors and people in the know that we can talk to. Just a couple of days ago, we met a importer of alcohol here in Indonesia. So yeah we’re definitely going to talk to them about what we can do to import our gin here.

EMMA: Yeah and before that we met a drinks rep for several big drinks distributors in Hungary, we’ve got loads of advice from her in terms of trends and yeah we’re thinking Hungary.

SAM: Yeah and in Ireland we met someone else who’s the head of marketing for a big drinks distributor in Ireland.

EMMA: Yeah I forgot about that.

SAM: Yeah so it’s a bit weird, it’s bit random but it’s international expansion, also if you’re doing e-commerce, it’s a good chance to meet your suppliers. You know I say that if you’re running a business where you’re finding a factory in China to make something for you and you’re importing it to the west and selling it, you don’t need to go and meet them, and often it’s cheaper for you to create your first product or get loads of samples through then if to fly out there and often flying out there isn’t as useful as you think it would be. But if you’re in that part of the world anyway, why not go and meet them, why not go and see them and help build that relationship? Another opportunity, another good thing about it is to take great photos of your products, of your brand, do some marketing. As a guy here living in the same hotel as us who makes jeans for guys whose thighs are too big for regular jeans.

EMMA: That goes to the gym a lot.

SAM: And so the other day, we asked him what he’d been up to today. And he said, oh well at this co-working space he met someone who’s a professional photographer and there’s someone who’s a professional model and they went and did an impromptu day of going to all the cool locations around Bali to take photos of his products? That’s pretty cool. Why not leverage that? Something else for those of you in a regular job is it’s a good opportunity to send those early morning emails. Your time zone means that your afternoon is their morning, you can really impress them by then waking up and they’ve got all these emails, and thinking Emma’s being really productive today.

EMMA: Or Sam being on a conference cool before 10 a.m..

SAM: Yeah yeah we had it, it was at 7 a.m. their time.

EMMA: It was quarter to 6:00, 5:45 am.

SAM: Yeah because we’re trying to set up this sort of franchise system for pipehouse gin for running events around the UK, so we were chatting with one of our first potential franchisees and they were friends of ours who know me quite well and they found it hilarious that they were chatting to me at quarter six, so much so that they put it on their instagram story.

EMMA: It was so shocking that they even recorded it.

SAM: There you go, that’s me, early riser. Something else we hadn’t really mentioned is when you’re working remotely, you can live a lot cheaper. When starting a business, you don’t have that much money and the more money you can reinvest in the business, the better it’s going to do whereas if you’re living in a high cost of living place, it means that you have to take out enough to cover your expenses, whereas if you’re in Thailand or somewhere cheap, you might need to take a lot less so you can bootstrap it for longer, you have a longer runway to make the business succeed, and yeah that’s it. So those are my three things, don’t be afraid to do a remote job or start a remote business that no one has done remotely before. Being unusual is a USP and even if you don’t want to do a remote job, if you don’t want to work remotely, you should be getting your business into position where you could because a good business is not reliant on you. A good business doesn’t need you there every day. Yeah let me rephrase that because a good business is reliant on you, it’s just not reliant on you for the day-to-day running of it. It’s reliant on you for the big thinking, the strategy.

EMMA: Creativity.

SAM: The creativity, if you are the necessary for the day-to-day running of the business, it also means you are a bottleneck to expansion and scalability and then if you are working remotely, yes your business will probably worse than if you’re just based in one place, but there are some benefits so leverage those benefits and make the most of it. Alright, Emma Priestley, remote gin distiller, anything to add?

EMMA: No, I don’t think so.

SAM: Awesome, well thanks for listening, if you got any feedback or you happen to have a business that works much better remotely, actually there probably is one, if you’re a travel blogger, being remote is quite important for that. Unless you’re a travel blogger, and you have a business that works better remotely and get in touch, then prove me and yeah, any feedbacks, say hello at sam priestley dot com and until next time, adios.

EMMA: Bye.