Meet Valerie, a US CPA travelling the world with her family
Where are you from?
Western New York – USA
Where are you currently located?
Tell us a little bit about you and what made you start travelling in the first place?
We (my husband and I) decided to leave the snow of western new and settle on the west coast – moving our CPA business to a more densely populated area to expand the business. Once we presented this plan to our current clients in New York, they agreed that they wanted to stay with us no matter where we went! So….why not just keep traveling if it didn’t really matter? We sold our house, purchased an RV and hit the road w/our then 5 year old son!
Tell us 3 things you love about your new lifestyle and what do you miss from your home country.
I love the variety of living in new places periodically – experiencing new locations, people, etc. I also love the freedom to just leave and go someplace new. Finally, I do love that it’s somewhat unique and out of the norm – although I also find that there are more people doing this than I would have imagined before I joined them. The only thing I miss is my family – especially my parents. I don’t see them as often as I’d like although we skype, etc. as much as we can.
Tell us about your current business – how did that come about?
I help clients with their accounting and tax. I’m a CPA so I can also represent them before the IRS as needed to help with certain tax issues. My clients are mainly small businesses and entrepreneurs so I advise on business structure, bookkeeping and tax. You can find out me about what I do on my website www.sparrowfinancial.com or connect with me on my personal LinkedIn account – Valerie Lee CPA.
I went completely virtual in 2014. My husband and I wanted to leave the piles of snow of western New York. Although I loved my little office in our small town where I’d go every day to work and meet with my clients, etc. we wanted to (1) get away from the snow and (2) perhaps grow the business in a more populated area. When I told my clients I was leaving the area, they all said they wanted to stay with me no matter where I went. This was awesome and somewhat unexpected! Once we knew this scenario, the wanderlust took over and I convinced my husband to travel (for just a little while until we settled again on the west coast). We sold our house, purchased an RV and hit the road with our then 5 year old son. Well, that was at the end of 2014 and we never stopped – we are currently in Spain with no definite end in sight.
Was it easy to start your own business and work remotely ?
My husband’s background is IT and so I rely fully on him to make sure I have what I need as far as computer equipment, secure connections, VPN, etc. He is always our location planner also – we have stayed mostly in Airbnb’s and he always makes sure we have great internet, etc. so I can connect with my clients in the US. I don’t rely on any local connections for business which makes this job really easy to do from anywhere. As long as I have computer and internet, I can do my work.
What advice would you give to anyone willing to become a digital nomad or set up his or her own business online?
I would say that it’s important to be both structured AND flexible. Sometimes its difficult to make yourself sit down and actually work! There are so many awesome things to see and do wherever you go. But to make it work (if you need the money), you must just do it. BUT, it’s super important to be flexible also. It took me a while to get used to this because I love to have structure and a defined schedule but sometimes this just isn’t possible. If you travel a lot, like we do, there are days where you just can’t get anything done. Which means the days following might be super long to make up for what needs to be done. It’s not unusual for me to sometimes work 12 – 15 hour days just to make up for time I was doing something else. It’s sometimes difficult but definitely worth it in my opinion! And make sure you do actually get out there and explore. You don’t want to regret not taking advantage of the new locations, etc. once/if you move on.
Thank you very much Valerie and if you want to read more interviews like this one, head over to this section of my blog to get more inspiration from women and men who decided to start their own location Independent business while enjoying their life abroad.
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