My New Virtual Life- No More Stuff!

2011 was an interesting time for me. It was a year of lots of change- some good, some bad. When we rang in 2011, I declared that I was going to play bigger. I was going to move boldly forward into growing my businesses and make definitive statements that would support my decisions to play bigger. Up until last year, I had always had a home office, but I started feeling closed in and like I needed to grow up with the business. To hear all of the business coaches and experts tell it, in order for my businesses to be real I had to be bigger and play bigger. In fact, one such expert said “you have to make a statement to the universe that you’re ready to play in the big leagues and take your business to the next level“. What a crock!

OK I’m not saying that I wasn’t supposed to play bigger because I am. But I found myself moving in directions I clearly was not ready for, and that made absolutely no sense for my businesses. Last January, I made the decision to move out of my home office and got an actual office. You might have seen pictures and video I’ve posted in my new office. I convinced myself that I was much more productive there (which some days I really was) and that it was crucial to have it to meet clients. But I have to tell you, I felt like that was a big fat lie. But I ignored it and moved on. Then I took a look at my operations and equipment. I did a complete upgrade, which I don’t apologize for because that decision was instrumental in me later making my decision to go virtual. My upgrade included a brand new Mac (for me), extra laptops for staff (I didn’t yet have), printers, some web/cloud based programs and upgraded to Android.

Next up, I had to declare to the universe that I was serious about playing bigger, so I paid for the building management to add my company name to the lobby directory. You might have seen that picture too. The day it went up I was so proud. I kept telling myself I’m playing with the big boys now. But within a week, for some reason I was feeling weird about it. Once again, I shrugged it off and decided I needed to add more staff. The first rule as a recruiter I stress to my hiring managers is that there should be an actual need to hire. Well I didn’t follow my own lead. As I look back, I think my decision was more laziness on my end because there were tasks I simply didn’t want to manage myself. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you must delegate out tasks. That’s what business owners and CEOs do. But on reflection, I really didn’t need to make the hires. I was moving way ahead of myself.

All was well until May when I decided to get an iPad (I know, it sounds crazy, right?). I had already had the Macbook and Android but somehow when I added the iPad, it all started clicking for me. As I began playing around with it and really getting my mind wrapped around all of the things I could do on the road, at home, in the airport or whatever with my mobile technology, I started feeling like maybe I made a mistake. As the months moved on, I spent less time in my office and more time at home, in my original home office and at various Starbucks. Actually, as I was writing and creating content, my deck was my go to place to create. By the time October came around, I decided I didn’t need an office outside of my home. In all honesty, I do some of my best work on the road or somewhere where I don’t feel chained or obligated. Towards the end, the office was a heavy albatross around my neck and stifled my creativity.

By the end of the year, I moved completely back home and severely downsized my staff. It was a painful move for me because I didn’t like having to let go of people, but I couldn’t justify the cost. As far as the office, I wanted to be legit and have a real office, but in the end, I really didn’t need it. I knew that when my assistant was spending more time in the office than I was, it was time to let it go. Financially, it didn’t make sense. Looking back I think the office was more vanity than necessity.

Now that I’m completely mobile I have this freedom. I no longer have a dedicated place to meet clients, but guess what? I don’t need it! For the longest I had been using Skype and conference calls, and now I use Google+ Hangouts. Whether I use my Macbook, iPad or Android, I can do a video call from anywhere. My home office is really just a place for me to do my radio show and a few business tasks. But I love that I can just pick up and go to a Starbucks, or work while I travel, or just work from home. It’s winter, so my deck is off limits, but I’m eagerly looking forward to the spring. I have mi-fi service, which means I can work from anywhere (literally). I use Dropbox so that wherever I am and no matter which device, I can access documents I need to work with. My business is always at my fingertips and I love it!

I’m almost completely paperless. PDF is a beautiful thing and thanks to apps, I can keep as paperless as I need to be. Just about every app I have on iPad is also on my Android. I use DocuSign for getting contracts and important documents signed. I use Xerox Mobile Printback if I need to have documents printed from my Dropbox (which I use to store documents). I use QuickOffice and OnLive Desktop when I need to edit documents. eFax.com allows me to get my faxes sent to me. Dragon Dictate allows me to record and dictate thoughts, strategies and ideas for writing projects. WordPress has an app that I can use to compose blog posts for my site. Even the US Postal Service has an app I use for postage and shipping. I can access my payroll online through Intuit Online Payroll and accept payments via Square, Paypal or Intuit Go Payment. I can manage my social media activities and of course I have other tools on there for online banking, reading magazines, QR codes, books and even Comcast Xfinity Mobile (soon I’ll be able to stream shows). Let’s not forget my bible and TBN, which I had installed on there, when I need to get into the Word. And who needs white boards when I have one on my iPad!

I have over 100 apps on both of my devices and my Macbook is light and portable. I even got MagicJack (which I don’t have to use with an actual phone) because I can use it as a speakerphone on my computer. I can do videos and my radio show from anywhere as long as I have my phone or ipad and an internet connection. Google has made my life even easier with the calendar, Google Voice, Gmail, and Google Docs. I love that all my devices are synced. So I’m not worried about losing anything. Even my book orders are processed virtually with no inventory necessary. I admit though, I was going through the expense of printing and ordering books to keep in my garage. But now, I rarely process an order where I have to go to the post office to mail it out myself. I often joke to my family that now I can live my dream of getting rid of my house and get a decked out RV so I can live on the road. Well, I’ll tell you this much. I’m nowhere close to that (I love being able to take hot showers, sleep in my own bed and watch cable). But I love that I can jump in the car with my sister or my mom and take an impromptu road trip and not have to lug around tons of papers and heavy equipment. It can be a pain in the butt having to unpack the laptop bag at the airport. Now all my devices weigh next to nothing.

Will I ever be completely mobile and paperless? That’s what I’m shooting for. And eventually I’ll be bold enough to get that RV. These days I just want to be free. I don’t want to be tied down to anything. I’m proving that you can grow a successful company and be mobile. I don’t regret getting an office and attempting to grow my businesses out. It was a great learning experience. But in times like these, lean is best. Next up, I’ll be getting all of the books in my library in digital format and scaling back on my clothes. I don’t need as much as I used to. Less is more, and definitely more effective.

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham
I want to be rich, yet live the simple life.

 

 

Check out my new book Get Recruited: Secrets from a Top Recruiter on Using Unconventional Tactics to Get Noticed in an Inconvenient Economy in paperback or on Kindle! While you’re at it, order your paperback copy of No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. Or if you can’t wait, get it on Amazon Kindle

 

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Adrienne Graham is the Founder & CEO of Empower Me! Corporation (www.empowerme.org). She is a strategist that helps people grow their career, business or network in any economy. She is the voice behind Views from the Top Radio Show, and the creative visionary behind Empower Me! Institute and Empower Me! Magazine. Her writing and shows focus on Career Management, Networking Strategies, Entrepreneurial Success and Small Business Management. You can also find her causing a ruckus on Forbes.com.

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