How I Built a Million Rand Business While Traveling (PLUS My Year In Review Template)
What a year in review! You see I never planned this. I quit my job in October 2015 and packed my bags for a year in South East Asia. A year later I returned to a growing business. We had our first six figure month in November 2016 and made almost one million rand last year.
A Year in Review?
I hate those people who are perpetually in pursuit of the next milestone, the next destination, the next big thing. To be honest, I am one of those people. (I think the official term is destination addiction).
So after finalizing my tax return for the February 2017 year and realizing that I had just missed my first million rand year for Superhost SA, I thought it would be as good a time as any to take a second to reflect on some recent purchase order financing and map the rest of my journey.
Also. I needed an excuse to spend some time going through holiday photos and editing them. Check out my Instagram feed over the next few days for all those photos I never posted last year.
In this process of reflection I found a simple format for completing a Personal Year in Review – so hopefully this is not just some self-indulgent gloating session but rather a useful post 🙂
In this Post:
- My Year in Review (more like a year and a half)
- My Time Capsule
- What Went Well This Year?
- What Did Not Go So Well This Year?
- The Next 12 Months Will Be Perfect If…
Download My Year In Review Template:
Just in case you are asking yourself: Why on Earth must I waste my time reading about Brigid’s year in review? Here is your chance to complete your own Year in Review.
I have created a template of the process I have followed. Download it below, grab a cup of coffee on a Sunday morning, snuggle up in bed and treat yourself to some much deserved me-time.
Year in Review
- Work: I managed to start a little property management business, Superhost South Africa, before leaving for Asia in November 2015. In November 2016 I had my first six-figure month and got pretty close to a million rand in revenue for the year.
- Travel: I visited Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. And realized there is no place like home (I am such a cliche but I fucking love Cape Town).
- Health: I gained some weight and lost some weight – in the end it doesn’t really matter (unless you need stupid Discovery Vitality points).
- Love: I spent every second of everyday (basically) with Adam and don’t feel sick of him yet (so he is definitely the right one). And no, we did not elope. And no, we don’t plan to.
- Family: My mom passed away and that just made me realize how lucky I am to be able to work with my dad everyday on Superhost – it has its challenges (maybe one day he will understand how to copy and paste) but I treasure every day.
- Friends: I met so many amazing people while traveling but it can get lonely too. After one too many “Where are you from? What do you do?” conversations it was amazing to come home and hang out with people who knew me, who got me and who I love dearly.
- Mood: I have never had a year where I doubted myself as much and yet I feel like I have come out on the other side a lot more confident about who I am and what I need to do in this world.
It is almost impossible to think back on every single amazing experience from the last year and a half. But off the top of my head, here are some of my favorite memories:
- Walking the streets of Mandalay (Myanmar), dodging traffic and livestock from all directions in search of Chewy Junior only to discover it had closed down. (We eventually discovered a Chewy Junior in Ho Chi Minh City and it was everything we imagined and more).
- Early morning boat rides on Inle Lake and celebrating Christmas in Myanmar with a glass of warm wine and massages.
- Renting e-bikes (like small shitty scooters) at 5am in the morning and fumbling our way through the dark to watch the sunrise over Bagan from our very own private pagoda.
- Bouncing up and down (with some serious clearance) on the overnight train from Yangon to Mandalay while sharing our train cart (and beers) with friendly American teachers. Then rocking side to side in our own private train car on the overnight train from Bagan to Yangon.
- Becoming locals at a small roadside cafe in Ho Chi Minh City (where we ordered rice and eggs followed by sweet Vietnamese iced coffee EVERYDAY for two weeks). Partly because it seemed like the safest option and partly because we did not know how to order anything else.
- Writing my first blog post for Superhost SA and having it go viral (well kinda).
- Skype calling Bruce Whitfield from 702’s The Money Show from a small Vietnamese Homestay in the middle of the night as the crazy Spanish woman next door was screaming some profanities at us. (Listen to the interview here)
- My love-hate relationship with Thien – that homestay’s evil 4 year old daughter.
- Celebrating Vietnamese New Years in Hoi An with the very real threat of “death by fireworks debris” (no seriously – I was wearing a very flammable K-Way jacket with burning pieces of cardboard falling all around me).
- Having an article about me published in Entrepreneur Magazine. (Read it here).
- Recruiting a Vietnamese Frank Underwood on Cat Ba Island. (Long story – ask me to tell you some day over a cup of coffee).
- Spending 5 months in Bali living the “real villa life”: renting a private “villa” (used loosely in Bali), living with the AC on full blast all day and alternating between eating Adam’s special “brown” and chocolate danishes from Kakiang bakery.
- Sending the drone all the way to Jakarta for repairs (and actually getting it back).
- Our failed Singapore housesit (the people we were supposed to housesit for never left) and the resultant video montage of Adam and I complaining about how hot it is in Singapore.
- Living like kings for two nights at Samabe Bali (and then posting it to Instagram making it seem like our entire time in Bali was pure luxury). (Watch the video here).
- Discovering Canggu and wondering why we spent so much time in Ubud.
- Milk and Madu, The Shady Shack, Betelnut, Crate, repeat.
- Finally feeling like a real digital nomad – slaying things from the comfort of the Bali villa, ordering GoJek for lunch and supper (like UberEats) and befriending our own Bali dog, Mama.
- Trips to Denpasar on the scooter for laptop and other repairs.
- Renting a Suzuki Jimny and road-tripping around Bali for a month. Literally the best thing ever. I have about 700+ video clips to edit down to 3 minutes but AMAZING BALI ROAD TRIP VIDEO COMING SOON.
- Nearly being killed by a crazy bull at the bull races in Negara (I am being serious). In the end I only lost a flip flop but seriously it could have been way worse.
- Hair pin bends at near vertical ascends in a car that cannot handle 2nd gear.
- Waking up at 3am to hike to the top of Mount Batur (an active volcano) and the amazing guide who held my hand all the way down the other side.
- Spending a month in Yogyakarta, living in a brand new hotel and being treated like VIP’s. (When I say VIP’s I basically mean getting our own bowl of chocolate covered Churros every morning).
- Starting a daily vlog in Singapore, committing to 12 weeks and stopping 3 days later. (You can watch the videos here, here and here). I massively under-estimated how many hours it takes to edit a video daily.
- Two solid weeks of shopping in Bangkok, mourning the death of the Thai king, coming home to South Africa and finally seeing my friends and family. There really is no place like home. (In case you missed it, read it again: “On a year of travel, finding myself and starting again (again)“.)
- Celebrating Adam’s 30th at the Addo Elephant Park (a taste of what’s to come this year – see travel plans below). *heart eyes* Africa *heart eyes*
- Finding and renting my first office ever, having my first six-figure month with Superhost and celebrating it with the first Christmas lunch with the amazing staff who have become family.
What Went Well This Year?
Building a Million Rand Business While Traveling
It is the dream, right? Making money while traveling. Well that’s exactly what happened to me last year.
Making a million Rand (about $80,000 at the time of writing this) may not seem like much to some people reading this. (Yes you – my CA friends). But there is something about MAKING that money.
It is so hard to explain but there is really something magical about that. At first there was nothing but an idea. Now there is this thing that employs people and makes money everyday. And I made that. And I could do that again. And again. And I intend to.
So how much I made is really not that important to me. Of course it matters when writing a headline for a blog post because of click bait. But doing something, anything, meaningful is worth much more than any Rand value.
Traveling for 11 months
Travel is an amazing privilege. It is easy to forget this when you travel in South East Asia. There are just so many 18 year olds dishing out wisdom from their yoga mats and hula-hooping their way around the world.
But I learnt a few important things while I was away:
- Want to travel long-term? Step one: decide. Step two: go. There is nothing stopping you. You will be surprised just how many people live like this now.
- You don’t need much to be happy – just a comfortable (ish) bed to sleep in, enough money for street food and the occasional warm shower. But you will realize that true luxury is good coffee, fast wifi and air-conditioning that works.
- The world is not as dangerous as you imagine.
- After a while everything starts feeling kind of normal.
- There is no place like home.
Really Becoming The B Boss
This last year was the first time I could really remove myself from that influence of peers and family long enough to realize who I really am and what I really want.
You see, travel offers a sense of anonymity – a chance to be whoever you want, to start from scratch. The temptation is to define who you are by what you do – take that away and what are you left with? Travel gave me the ultimate luxury: The luxury to find out what I would choose to fill my time with when no one else demanded any of it.
What Did Not Go So Well This Year?
Work AND Travel
As I mentioned above, building a million Rand business while traveling had its ups and downs. On the one hand it was amazing – there were moments I found myself sitting at our “villa” in Canggu wondering how on Earth I got so lucky.
But then I would realize I was sitting in a villa in Canggu ON MY LAPTOP.
Working and traveling is hard. Of course there are the obvious things: internet access is intermittent, it is not always easy to get work done in noisy coffee shops and your laptop gets hot as all hell on your lap after a while.
But there is also the inner turmoil – I struggled with this a lot. Whenever I was working I would feel like I should be exploring and experiencing the place we were in. But the moment I would leave my laptop for more than 30 minutes, I would end up getting very anxious about the work I had to catch up on.
I am definitely the type of person who always needs a side hustle.
When I was studying I tried basically every job including being a receptionist at a gym, au pairing, waitressing, hostessing, promo work, naked full body painting model (once), tutoring – you name it, I did it.
When I started working at KPMG, I made more on weekends tutoring accounting on a white board in my lounge than I did working 9 to 5 for the auditing giant.
So it would make sense that, even with a profitable and growing business, I spend a fair amount of time conjuring up other things I want to do “When I have time”.
Other blogs (and this one really), other businesses, other interests. All these things have been a bit neglected in the wake of Superhost. This is definitely something I want to change in the next year by getting really serious about my productivity and time-management.
There was this period of time in Canggu, Bali, where Adam and I ate smoothie bowls for breakfast and salads for lunch and supper. And did Freeletics in the afternoons on cheap yoga mats we placed next to our villa pool. I felt great then.
But for 90% of last year my diet and exercise were both a massive shambles. And to be honest, it is a bit of a mess right now. I drink almost exclusively coffee and wine (like no water), manage to get to the gym once a week if I am lucky and have gotten into a very bad Debonairs habit (why did we figure out how to order online???).
While I am so over pursuing an unrealistic ideal when it comes to my body, I also feel like it is not super productive being this unhealthy. My energy is not great and my stress level are off the charts. Making this a priority in the next 12 months is very important to me.
The Next 12 Months Will Be Perfect If…
- Work: SHSA has grow from 40 to 100 properties and my team can handle all the operations without my daily supervision (i.e. I can run this business remotely and Tim Ferris the shit out of it).
- Interests: I have launched and/ or monetized Love Love Travel, Love Love Cape Town and Becoming the B Boss. I have developed a weekly writing habit. I finished Bloc.io (finally).
- Travel: We have gone on loads of local adventures in Cape Town, explored our beautiful country, South Africa and visited Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Barcelona and New York. Oh and of course, we saved and bought the Landcruiser baby!!!
- Health: I have found a way to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise routine in my busy and often unpredictable life through better planning and good habits.
- Love: I still love Adam more than anyone else. We continue to make time to nurture our relationship. We manage to keep the romance alive, even when we spend every day together. More cool date nights, less Debonairs.
- Family: I have made the time and effort to appreciate my family while they are still around. To support them and call them out when needed. But most importantly to let them know I love them.
- Friends: I have made a concerted effort to spend more quality time with people who “get” me, support me and challenge me. No more superficial small talk – let’s get real for a second.
- Mood: If last year was the year of “Faking it” this is the year of “Making it”. #10X #tenX
Last year was an amazing year. It also had amazing challenges. I am pretty sure this year is going to be even better (and probably a lot more difficult). I cannot wait!
I definitely plan on holding myself accountable this year. So with that in mind I am going to aim to check in with myself monthly in the form of an Income and Lifestyle Report. So check back here soon and do call me out if I am not sticking to my promises.
Download My Year In Review Template:
It is not always easy to make time for yourself. But it is so important. I am really trying to be better about this by forcing myself to have a real weekend and indulging in some me-time on Sundays.
So if you feel like a little reflection session download my Year In Review Template below. Print it out and spend a lazy morning in bed being honest with yourself.