Here is an interview with Jo Livings. She has been working remotely for 15 years and has never looked back. She works as a VA for several different businesses and also works for Forever Living. She is a self-proclaimed snowboarding addict and freedom seeker. She couldn’t imagine working a 9-5 and not living by her own rules.
So Jo, what’s your story?
I used to work for corporate mobile phone giant until I had my daughter and then I was a stay at home mum until I broke up with my daughter’s dad. So I had to take loads of dull jobs to try and make ends meet. I met my current partner who also works remotely and encouraged me to do the same. I have always loved organising and helping people, so I set up my own P.A company. In 2008, I was working as a part-time virtual PA helping mums, but that was the wrong market. Mums tend to work in their spare rooms and do everything themselves.
I decided to create a community to connect everyone and built it to several thousand members through word of mouth… it grew really quickly, but wasn’t really making an income and was becoming a pain to manage. I ended up selling it because I started targeting different people. I sometimes regret selling it because nothing happens with it anymore.
I then got into Forever Living, which is a second income stream. Forever Living sell aloe vera based products. They are famous for their clear 9-day detox, which invites clients to drink aloe vera and take aloe vera supplement tablets. The detox makes you feel great and is perfect quick fix for losing weight for an event or wedding. They also have a skin care range and beauty products that are all based around aloe vera. They aren’t expensive compared to other products from similar companies. I have been growing this business over the years and now I have a great community of buyers around it and can do it remotely. It’s great!
Thanks for sharing. It’s great to hear that it’s all going well for you. What has it given in terms of freedom?
Both mean that I can do what I want when I want to… and can do my work in flip flops if I want to and go on holiday whenever I want… well to some extent as I have kids. It allows me to put life before work and lets me feed my travel addiction! Even if it’s just at weekends. All I have to do is get everything done that I need to do before I go… or just do it when I’m out there so I am not restricted to coming back on Sunday.
People don’t realise that it’s a lot of work. I get asked to do stuff with babysitting nieces or looking after dogs. The Dog thing I don’t mind really… I have 2 dogs so I can just pop out and do it all at once. Also, if it’s a quick thing I am happy to help and obviously I am happy to help in an emergency, but I refuse to do 9-5 babysitting because I have to do work.
Haha, I get that. I always get asked to hang up people’s washing and whether I am in to receive a parcel… can be a nightmare at times! What would you say is the most challenging thing of being a remote worker?
Loneliness. I work in the spare room and partner works in the study. I combat that with online groups and build my network and friendships in interactive groups. It’s quite nice to chat to different people from different industries to bounce ideas. Also, groups sometimes have events and retreats for training and networking. It’s really good for meeting like-minded people and is very different to working in an office because you meet people similar to you.
And what would you say was the scariest thing about setting yourself up?
Financial security. I was lucky to have been supported when setting up. In the early days, people end up balancing office job and own business. My only advice is to take the leap and know that everything will be ok if you work hard at what you do.
Definitely. How would you advise combatting that fear?
I schedule everything so I know what targets I need to hit. So I look at how much I want to earn that month and what I need to do to earn that money. And then I will have a manic week or two to make sure I hit those targets. It works for me. It’s very good as it stops you from being lazy. Also, having a 4-week plan or 3 month plan important.
Oooh, I create goal boards with my dream car, caviar and flip flops to remind me why I am doing it. And I don’t just have things on there, I have pictures of my children on there as well and what they want to do. They aren’t little children. They are very demanding financially. My oldest daughter has a Saturday job but hardly gets given shifts, so maybe when she’s 16 she will get a more consistent job.
Any tips to newbies?
Don’t be afraid. A lot of ideas and don’t doing anything about them. It doesn’t cost anything to give it a go and time to see where you get with it. You never know who might be waiting for you to start up your business. And plan! I work in power hours. The day before I write a to-do list and each day I work through my to-do list. You can get a lot done if you completely focus and do your to-do list.
Thanks for sharing, Jo. I’m sure that there are loads of people who will take what you have said as really valuable and inspiring. You are a true freedom seeker!