5 Digital Essentials to Run Your Business From Abroad

12/07/2016 12:08 pm ET
Working by the pool in Playa Coco, Costa Rica with some fresh orange-lime juice!
Tina Dietz
Working by the pool in Playa Coco, Costa Rica with some fresh orange-lime juice!

In the last 3 years we’ve changed locations with our family 7 times between the US and Costa Rica, with a sprinkling of Canada. Have you considered ‘going mobile’ with your career or business? If you are, a good Internet connection is going to be on your top list of essentials. Did you know that the average download speed in the US is 33.1 mbps and the average upload speed is 10.3, but in Costa Rica the average download speed is 5.3 mbps? As for uploads, well, you don’t want to know. Here’s some tips on dealing with internet while working and living abroad.

Tip #1

When planning your travel, find out what the internet speed is where you’ll be renting, and if it is a shared connection. In Costa Rica specifically, I’ll now only live places where Tigo is offered, because they allow you to increase your internet speed up to 20 mbps. To run a household with 2 adults and 2 kids who have heavy computer usage, we find that 10 mbps is enough to keep everyone pretty happy. I also recommend bringing your own router, as electronics can be massively more expensive outside of the US and Canada, so you may have a good internet connection...but a router that only allows you to work 5 feet away from it. Not fun when you want to be working by the pool or the beach!

Tip #2

Power outages happen, so I recommend that you have a battery backup whether you travel or not. We have more power outages in Florida than we ever did in Costa Rica! You can plug in your router as well as your computer or other essential electronics to these handy dandy devices. These beauties have saved my bacon more than once when the power went out while I was in the middle of a live interview or webinar. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about from Amazon (non-affiliate link, I chose it because it’s highly rated and similar to the one we have).

Tip #3

Have backup locations with decent wifi connections. I have standing agreements with several friends to share their internet connection in case of emergency wherever we’re living. I also scout out free wifi spots within the first week of moving to a new location, usually at coffee shops, libraries, and restaurants.

Tip #4

Request to pre-record interviews, teleclasses, and webinars rather than do them on a live feed. Many radio shows will give you the option to do live or pre-recorded, and you can still be on the line for a webinar or teleclass to do Q&A, welcome people, etc. even if your assistant runs a recording of the main content from a different country.

Tip #5

Never rely on having just one way to communicate. Overall, Skype is overall still my favorite communication software, although Zoom is a close second -- I use it for calls, team meetings, client sessions, and interviewing guests for the StartSomething Show. It's less bandwidth heavy than Google options, and more robust than the call feature in Facebook Messenger, and far less infuriating than Magic Jack (I could write an entire article on the evils of Magic Jack). But, there have been times when Skype wasn't happening, so I had a backup of using my Google Voice number through my laptop, which is also generally reliable and good sound quality, and Zoom as well.

Since we began our travels we've had more time for family and pursuing our interests, as well as experiences that money simply can't buy. I've gotten much more laid back about things not going as planned, which has led to less stress and more deep satisfaction with life. At the same time, at the beginning of our travels...hoooboy, I was not prepared for the amount of "I need a plan B!" that I was going to have with technology. Hopefully, with some of this advice, you'll get to the good parts even faster.

NOTE: Source of the average upload speed – http://www.netindex.com/download/2,1/United-States

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