- Johannes Larsson lives the dream of many young people.
- The 27-year-old Swede is a digital nomad — he’s young, successful and travels the world without having to sacrifice his salary.
- The entrepreneur explained to Business Insider how to make the dream of living as he does a reality.
For the majority of us, a large part of our formative years is spent learning at a desk.
Many of us get through all the grueling tests — only to find ourselves at yet another desk from dawn till dusk.
Is this the life we’re all resigned to once school is over? Apparently not, looking at Johannes Larson.
“I didn’t really like school,” he told Business Insider, “I knew I had to find another way.”
When Larsson was 15 years old, he stumbled across online marketing. After a few experiments, he managed to start earning income on a daily basis. He noticed how much potential there was in the industry — and wondered what the point was in going through years of study when he could just make money while at school.
Rather than an academic career, Larsson decided to travel the world and make it his mission to build a location-independent business that required neither management, office, nor staff — and that still had the potential to generate income.
Eventually, in 2016, Larsson came up with the idea for his main business: a financial comparison portal called Financer.com, a comparison portal that works via Google and social networks that can be used as a tool to find better credit cards or savings accounts, among other things.
“Our tool compares all the data and presents a user with the best option — if the user chooses one of our options, we get some commission.”
Today Larsson’s business is comprised of a team of 42 and operates across 26 markets.
“Our business doesn’t rely on third parties or on being active to generate revenue,” explained Larsson. “We spent a lot of time ensuring there was no inefficiency in the operation of the business and that the whole process would work without our interference.”
It may well have been worth the effort — in 2018, Larsson’s online businesses generated total sales of around $1.69 to $2.25 million.
Even with just 42 employees, Larsson can continue to travel around the world and discover new countries.
“Since everything is online, location doesn’t present a barrier,” he said. According to the founder, the team uses online communication tools like Slack to collaborate, with clients and business partners also operating online.
The young entrepreneur is currently based in Cyprus, where there’s an office his company plans to use in the future as a place for meetings and closer cooperation.
The entire company is based on the “intrapreneurship” principle, whereby bosses hire employees who act as entrepreneurs themselves.
“Instead of telling your employees what to do,” he explained, “you hire people with the entrepreneurial spirit to help you steer the ship and to build the business together.”
Larsson is convinced that this model will become more popular in years to come: “It promotes growth and development in the company because everyone in the team wants to give their best.
Life on the move does, however, have its disadvantages
“I remember, I was on a six-month trip to the Caribbean and I could just relax on the beach — with my laptop, of course. I really started to enjoy the fruits of my labor and had this great sense of achievement because I was able to work remotely, allowing me to enjoy life while still earning a decent amount of money,” Larsson recalled.
Lying in a hammock and working on a laptop may seem dreamy at first glance, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be — the life of the digital nomad isn’t always quite glamorous as it may seem.
As Larsson explained, anyone who has traveled for a long time with no fixed home will know the dark side of this lifestyle: “One of the disadvantages is the lack of deep friendships.”
“Any friendships you form, you have to leave behind as soon as you start traveling again,” Larsson said. “For me, this is never particularly dramatic as, nowadays, everyone’s just a flight away and there are so many ways to stay in touch — but it’s still not the same as having a close circle of friends you see every day or every week.”
Another disadvantage of this lifestyle for Larsson is also a bit of a double-edged sword — you can’t have too many possessions.
“After traveling for around two years, I sold or gave away all my possessions,” said Larsson. “What I had in my pocket was all I owned.”
Larsson said that detaching himself from his material possessions was a really good experience — but, of course, it means you miss out on the perks that often come with a permanent office such as a spacious desk, a free coffee machine, or a more ergonomic chair.
Overlooking these small pitfalls, Larsson explained that the lifestyle he leads is the sort people dream of, but that it doesn’t just have to be a dream: “First realize that it is really feasible.”
Provided you have the right approach from the start, his lifestyle is, apparently, not that difficult to obtain — according to Larsson, it’s all based on creating value.
“I often see people make the mistake of starting at the wrong end. They start out by living the glamorous life before they’ve built a successful business — or they haven’t even thought about how they’re going to create value for anyone.”
Ultimately, it’s clearly possible to set up and run a business while traveling. In the beginning, however, there’s a great danger of being too distracted and not working hard enough when you’re in a new, exciting place every month.
“Don’t make yourself comfortable until you’ve earned it,” advised Larsson.